Know Your Enemy
Five years after we finally noticed that Muslim enemies were at war with us we still haven't identified those enemies or developed a realistic strategy for victory. The depth of our confusion shows in the ridiculous debates that preoccupy our politicians and journalists.
Is it proper to call our enemies "Islamic fascists?" Does this term denigrate Islam with the unfair suggestion that the Muslim faith is responsible for terrorism? Strangely enough, nobody asks whether the term unfairly denigrates the memory of "Il Duce." President Bush's speech writers used the term "Islamic fascism" just once recently. The resulting firestorm sent the administration scurrying for cover; the offending term has disappeared from the President's public vocabulary.
Did Pope Benedict give Muslims cause for offense by quoting the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus (born 1350, died 1425)? Manuel once scored debating points on a Persian scholar by demanding
"[s]how me just what Mohammed brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
The Pope quoted this language in the midst of an interesting lecture on the proper relationship of faith and reason. The Muslim world still is ramping up for another tantrum like the cartoon riots that broke out last February.
Manuel certainly knew what he was talking about. He spent some time as a hostage in the court of one Muslim neighbor and he spent a lifetime fighting back against expansionist Islam. Almost nobody pauses to consider that Manuel might have something to teach us. Instead our conversation centers on whether the Pope is to blame for riling Muslims up and what he (and we) can do to mollify them.
Our preoccupation with such trivial matters says something important about the chattering class — it is incapable of seeing our problem with Islam. Even the shock of September 11 failed to open many eyes, and the shock wore off long ago. Very few people who comment on public affairs for a living have the courage to face a long, bloody world war. Instead they pretend that our problem with Islam is vastly more manageable than it is.
They pretend that terrorism is the work product of a few demented individuals who have Hijacked a Great Religion for their own perverted purposes. That way they don't have to deal with the grim reality that tens if not hundreds of millions of people want us all dead. Nor do they have to face the horrible truth that this urge to destroy us is as much a part of Islam as facing Mecca to pray.
Our enemies include all the Muslims who dream of knocking Western Civilization off its perch atop humanity's dung heap. Islam is fractured into any number of sects, tribes and ethnic groups, but the dream of destroying us cuts across all the fault lines. Islamic terrorists are merely the tip of a very large spear.
The Muslim texts that mandate killing or subjugating the infidel are well—known to anyone who hasn't spent the last five years with eyes screwed shut and fingers in ears chanting "nyah, nyah, nyah, I can't hear you." (Qur'an 9:29, Sahih Muslim 4294). The major strands of Muslim thought diverge on many points but they are united about duty of the believer to fight against the infidel for the expansion of dar al Islam.
Muslims have a long history of doing that duty. Since the 7th Century they have left Christendom in peace only when they were too weak to reach it.
Militant expansionism is not a peripheral aspect of the Muslim faith.
Mohammed, unlike Jesus of Nazareth, was a merchant, a politician, and a warlord. His religious teachings were intertwined with his secular career. They were the ideology that bound his followers together into an instrument of conquest and domination for the purpose of enhancing his power and wealth.
If Mohammed had been born in the 20th Century he could have chosen from a menu of secular totalitarian ideologies. He was a man of the 6th and 7th Centuries and the ideology he developed had the mystical trappings of his time. But the will to power was at the root of Islam. Like a plant, a religion cannot grow far from its roots.
Islam has remained frighteningly close to its roots. Al Qaeda and all the other terrorist groups don't exist in opposition to mainstream Muslim society. They are the mainstream. They exist in response to a strong demand for their services in the Muslim world, particularly in Arabia. "Moderate" governments, including some of our "allies" support them. The storied "Arab Street" celebrates their triumphs. Never forget the savages dancing and ululating in Ramallah on September 11. On the rare occasions when Arabs get to vote they have a disturbing tendency to vote for terrorists. Muslim mass media spew terrorist propaganda.
Somehow the "moderate" Muslims who are supposed to counterbalance the "radical extremists" never stand up to be counted in any great numbers. There is no reason to believe that any significant number of Muslims are appalled by terrorism and stand ready to help us purge their faith of the few dangerous extremists who are responsible for it. Nevertheless many of our best and brightest do believe exactly that. This is the sort of wishful thinking that makes a mockery of military planning and gets people killed.
As Samuel Huntington famously observed, Islam has "bloody borders." In our interconnected world those borders are everywhere. History fades seamlessly into current events leaving no doubt that, among modern religions, Islam is uniquely violent because it is uniquely prone to violence. We are reaping exactly what Mohammed sowed.
Only by understanding the deep religious roots of the violent hatred that touched off our "war on terror" can we begin to see both the likely cost of defeat and the price of victory.
Defeat will mean that millions of us will die prematurely and our way of life will disappear. The enemy we face is powerfully motivated to destroy us and the combination of modern technology and vast oil wealth puts the means to do so within reach.
Ever since September 11 all our Muslim enemies have had the recipe for striking us without fear of retaliation. Get a terrorist group to front for you and avoid leaving proof beyond reasonable doubt of your involvement. If America responds at all it will flail away at the puppet while the puppeteer laughs.
Now that we have taught our enemies this lesson we can't deter them. If they can melt our cities with nuclear bombs disguised as a yachts, freighters or truckloads of cargo from Mexico, they will. If they can infect a dozen jihadis with smallpox and set off an epidemic that kills millions, they will. If they can bring the horror of Beslan to our shores over and over again, they will.
Whatever they do, they will expect us to continue chasing shadowy terrorists leaving the terror masters free to sponsor more attacks. We have given them every reason to believe that they can safely pummel us into oblivion while we bicker about how to craft a proportional, narrowly—tailored response.
The price of victory is going to be a long and bloody war, far greater in scope than almost anyone now imagines. We can't win our war by playing whack a terrorist in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. As long as the Muslim world generates a demand for terrorist attacks on the U.S. and its interests there will be suppliers no matter how many terrorists we manage to kill.
To win, we have to suppress the demand for terrorism.
Some have claimed that we can accomplish that goal by withdrawing our support for Israel or by tweaking our foreign policy in some other way. This is dangerous, ahistorical nonsense. The first step toward understanding our strategic situation is to accept that our enemies don't attack us because of anything we do. They attack us because of what we are and are not. We are the heirs of a culture built on Christian foundations and we are not Muslim. Anything we do to placate our enemies will only make them bolder and more dangerous.
Winning our war means nothing less than separating the Muslim world from one of the central tenets of its faith. We have to teach a proud culture a bitter lesson. We have to convince it that Islam can only survive in the modern world by adapting to the reality that the infidel calls the shots. Muslims have to accept that our culture is dominant over theirs and, however much this offends their religious sensibilities, no amount of brutality and barbarism will change that.
They need to understand that sending terrorists to wage war against us is self—destructive lunacy, not a low risk way to soothe a well—earned inferiority complex.
To defend ourselves effectively we have lessons of our own to learn. We have to understand that millions of Muslims who are not active terrorists are nonetheless our enemies. We also have to understand that while we may have Muslim allies of convenience we have very few friends in the Muslim world.
Acknowledging all this is not bigotry. It's realism. If we are going to survive we need a lot more realism.
J. Peter Mulhern is an attorney in the Washington, DC area. He regularly appears on KSFO radio in San Francisco and in American Thinker.