Raymond Ibrahim and the History the Army Refuses to Heed
Sword and Scimitar: 14 Centuries of Conflict Between Islam and the West, by Raymond Ibrahim, Hardcover pp 481 $20.42 Kindle $16.99, ISBNs 978-0-306-82555-2, (DeCapo Press NYC 2018).
In the book Sword and Scimitar Raymond Ibrahim, an Egyptian Christian, tells the story of the millennium-plus of conflict between Islam and Western (Christian) Nations, structured on 8 landmark battles. The first, Yarmuk in 636 AD, was a devastating defeat for the West, and the last in 1683 at Vienna, a defeat for the attacking Islamist army of the Ottoman Empire.
Ibrahim uses contemporaneous sources that provide insight into the cultural and religious mindsets of the opposing parties, essential for understanding the nature of the conflict that was, at that time and since, so long and horrific. The 8 battles of import are dealt with in the book are, with the Islamic armies arrayed against Western Opponents (in parens), are Yarmuk (Bysantine) 636, Constantinople (Bysantine) 717, Tours (French) 732, then Manzikert 1071, Hattin 1187, Las Navas de Tolosa 1212 (all three Crusader opposition), and Constantinople 1453 (Bysantine), and, finally, the Muslim defeat at the siege of Vienna, 1683 (European forces).
Ibrahim shows that Islam is an unrelenting lethal danger for Western Civilization and asserts “Muslim hostility for the West is not an aberration but a continuation of Islamic History.” In the first few centuries of Muslim conquest and depredations of conquered countries, all the main targets were Christian societies, Middle East, North Africa, Sicily and Iberia, all countries that that suffered brutal conquests and a horrific trail of death and bloodshed as well as cruelty, rape, pillage, and genocide. A reader cannot ignore the bellicose acquisitive nature of Islam.
Both Robert Spencer in History of Jihad and Raymond Ibrahim in Sword and Scimitar make a good case for the commitment of jihadis and the Islamist fanatics to destroy infidels and Western Civilization and their purposeful use of terrorist tactics, rape, pillage, taking slaves, wonton slaughter of non-combatants as a method of intimidation and an asset in their campaign of conquest. Islamists are committed to conquest and that means submission to Islam, slavery and dhimmitude or destruction in the process. Mohammed himself attributed his successes to terrorist tactics. "The Prophet Muhammad boasted, “I have been made victorious with terror". [Bukhari: 4.52.220]
Ibrahim did his graduate work under Victor Davis Hanson -- renowned and respected historian and author of many books on military history and politics, but also a widely published and prolific essayist. Dr. Hanson provides a forward for Mr. Ibrahim’s book that is worth the book all by itself, since Dr. Hanson writes at length about the important points of the book that he considered dispositive on the question of Islamist aggressiveness and remarkable aggressive cruelty, that clearly exceeded anything that the West might be accused of. Dr. Hanson approves of the high quality of the military history presented, but also the importance of other aspects of the Ibrahim effort to explain the cultural and political dynamics that energize the long standing Western/Islamic conflict that continues to the present, unabated.
In his preface Mr. Ibrahim lays out his intention in the book that “documents how the West and Islam have been mortal enemies sine the latter’s birth some fourteen centuries ago. It does this in the context of narrating their military history, with a focus on their most landmark encounters, some of which have had a profound impact on the shaping of the world.” He concludes his preface by asserting that his book “demonstrates once and for all that Muslim hostility for the West is not an aberration but a continuation of Islamic history.”
I will never forget reading The Rage and the Pride and The Force of Reason by Oriana Fallaci, famous Italian journalist, who made it clear that Europe had forgotten the evil that was Islam with a history of violent and barbaric depredations of Europe visited by Muslim pirates and armies. She revived the experience of European coastal towns -- THE TURKS ARE COMING, that commenced rape and pillage and the taking of men, women and children into slavery or for ransom. Muslim atrocities and crime was the nature of things for Europe for centuries not to mention the threat of conquest. Recall that Muslim pirates were the first American enemies in a foreign war and the “leathernecks” were because of the scimitar. The Barbary Pirates predated the Mediterranean countries for centuries and European nations paid them tribute.
Fallaci was persecuted after she condemned the political correctness insanity of Europe with clarity and eloquence and advocated an effort to stop the Islamist migrations that brought with them societal disruptions, civil strife, widespread out of control criminal and political lawlessness fueled by Muslim antagonism and hatred of any Western Europeans who were infidels.
All that Fallaci asserted is well established by the evidence of history, but Mr. Ibrahim puts it all together to make a brilliant case for the magnitude of the Islamist threat -- as evidenced by the Islamist persistent and energetic, unrelenting effort to destroy anything that is not Islam, or compliant to Islamic demands. He documents the case in his book on Islamic conquest and barbaric destruction of all they find offensive, and the list is long, anything that is not Islamic. Ibrahim asserts
"Non-Muslims are described in the Koran as 'vile animals and beasts, the worst of creatures and demons; perverted transgressors and partners of Satan to be fought until religion is Allah's alone. They are to be beheaded; terrorized, annihilated, crucified, punished, and expelled, and plotted against by deceit.'"
As a strategic variant of terror and violence, deceit is a well-established tactic traceable to Mohammed, who used treaties and agreements mendaciously for any advantage he could achieve against the infidel -- exemplified by his conduct in the matter of the Treaty of Hudaybiyya with the Quraysh that he violated in the Battle of the Trench and his subsequent slaughter of the men of Quraysh. The lesson was Mohammed was not to be trusted in agreements with non-believers, and when circumstances changed and Muslims had an advantage, treaties meant nothing. The practices taqiyya, kittman and dawa are all forms of deceit to be used in dealing with infidels and non-believers, imitating the conduct and teaching of Mohammed. So treachery and terror have been used as jihadist methods throughout their history, with awful cruelty visited on the hated and detested infidels and non-believers in pursuit of conquest and the world wide Caliphate.
Samuel Huntington, in his well-received book Clash of Civilizations and Remaking of World Order (1996) points out that Islamists are involved in the majority of all the wars and conflicts around the world, and we should not ignore the reality that Islamists are committed to conquest and have no taste for resolution of their enmity for non-believers.
Ibrahim made the news before and after his book came out and he was recognized and acclaimed as in important voice in the matter of the threat of Islam, the problem of persistent and dangerous Islamic Jihadis personified by Hamas, Hezb’allah and of course the pretentious attempt to create the new Caliphate, ISIS. Ibrahim showed by history that the West was naïve to think that Islam is a religion of peace. He asserted that naiveté in these matters ignores hundreds of years, more than a millennium of conflict between Muslims and Christians (identified as “the West”). Of course, history shows that other religious groups and societies, nations were also dealt with by Muslim Jihadis in the same manner: Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, any non-believer. Islam has a deep reservoir of intolerance and hate.
As Ibrahim asserted, history did not begin with Western Imperialism and slavery did not originate in the United States. Muslim Imperialism lasted from 630 to the end of the Ottoman Empire after WWI. It enslaved millions of people from all of the lands it conquered, those that it allowed to live or avoid slavery. Consider such a stark contrast from Christian practices and certainly Christian non-violent expansion in the first centuries of the first millennium.
The Crusades were not an example of "aggression" against peaceful Muslims but an effort to take back the Holy Lands from the Muslim conquerors who had taken the Middle Eastern Christian Countries by violent conquest and were persecuting the remainders of the Christians that inhabited the lands Islamist conquerors had subjugated and enslaved. Genocide is still a practice among modern Muslims -- exemplified in Africa and the Middle East, in all Islamist countries.
There is nothing adequate to describe the nature of Islamic violence on infidel enemies and the book describes shocking beheading deaths, wanton destruction, devastation, burning alive, crucifixion, skinning alive, impalement, rape, pillage, kidnapping, abominable abuse and slavery that accompanied the spread of Islam. Conquered towns and cities with stacks of skulls at their entrances to intimidate. In the book Ibrahim provides details, and the butchery and shocking violence was over 14 centuries. The author of a contemporaneous account in Sword and Scimitar ends his bloodshed-riddled account with "But let us say no more, for it is impossible to describe the horrors the Muslims committed." Such things were common to the Jihad.
Raymond Ibrahim was invited to talk about his book at the Army War College. Then he was "uninvited" after pressure was exerted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation efforts to fund terrorist organizations promoting jihadi anti-American entities. Don’t ask me to find excuses for the US Army for such a thing, but may I give another example of inane Army political correctness in a personal experience. I was at the door of the emergency department to receive the victims of the Nidal Hasan mass shooting November 5, 2009, and a few days later General George Casey, then Chief of Staff of the US Army, visited Fort Hood and expressed his concern that the event might impede his project to promote “diversity” in the Army. (Translated that means increasing Muslim soldiers.)
Ibrahim provided an excellent rebuttal to this scurrilous propaganda/nonsense promulgated by CAIR, and the weakling decision by the War College. More important, he pointed out that the American Military is obligated to know the nature and the motives of the enemy, including terrorist Islamists. But the Army caved and cancelled the engagement, but that’s what the Army does. They have a politically correct diversity project that includes ignoring the threat presented by Islamic Jihadists and Islamic antagonisms and ambitions, particularly Islamic hatred of non-believers. There is a strange political blind spot and willingness to accept disadvantage. 0212
Sun Tzu, the renowned military sage said know yourself and know your enemy.
John Dale Dunn MD JD is a physician and inactive attorney in Brownwood, Texas.