Why are U.S. think tanks pushing for state-sponsored Islam in Pakistan?
Once certain ideas go mainstream, it often takes a pretty big flop to disprove them. The United States was supposed to be hailed as the liberator of Iraq, just as it was going to be easy to turn Afghanistan into a democracy. Well now, according to commentators from the BBC to the Economist to the Boston Globe, Sufism, being defined as Islam's moderate or mystical side, is apparently just the thing we need to deal with violent Muslim extremists. Sufis are the best allies to the West, these authors say; support them, and countries as diverse as Pakistan and Somalia could turn around.
The Sufi theory has a lot of variations, but at its core, it's pretty simple: Violent Muslim extremism, rather than having material and political bases, is caused by certain belligerent readings of Islam usually associated with Salafism, a movement that attempts to resurrect the Islam of the prophet Mohammed's time, and Wahhabism, a similarly conservative branch. If Muslims can be indoctrinated with another, softer, interpretation of Islam, then the militants, insurgents, and guerrilla fighters will melt away.