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The fat lady in Iran

January 8, 2020

In 2006, Calgary University Professor of government, Barry Cooper, developed a course titled Modern Terrorism that was based on his book, New Political Religions, or an Analysis of Modern Terrorism.

Professor Cooper examines the self-understanding of two major terrorist groups, the Japanese terrorists, Aum Shinrikyo and the so-called jihadists or Islamists, which includes the al-Qaeda network and its affiliates.

I was attracted to Cooper’s analysis because he bases his analysis on the political philosophy of Eric Voegelin.  Indeed, the title of the book is meant to echo Voegelin’s early analysis of the Nazis, The Political Religions and Professor Cooper’s approach is unlike studies offered in International Relations or Strategic Studies courses.

Most of those studies on the problem of terrorism and counterterrorism are, understandably, concerned with what terrorists do, how they do it, who supports them and how to stop them.  That information is valuable and useful for understanding a great deal about terrorism. But Cooper’s approach considers the self-understanding of terrorists based on the perspective afforded by political philosophy and using the insights of Eric Voegelin.

Cooper and Voegelin are relevant in light of President Trump’s preemptive attack on the Iranian leader Qassem Suleimani and his press conference this morning. President Trump began by stating that as long as he is president Iran will not develop nuclear weapons.

Iran’s response was moderate–and unanticipated–which should give  us pause and ask what is the motivation of the Islamic regime in Iran?

Radical Islam as seen in the actions of Osama bin Laden and the coordination of Islamic radicals throughout the Middle East by Qassem Suleimani is motivated by a political religion that the current leadership in Iran shares.  In that context, Iran’s decision to moderate its response is not a sign of change of heart. We should expect President Trump to respond again.  In other words, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.



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