The war with radical Islam is ongoing
In the wake of Biden's unmitigated catastrophe in Afghanistan, he has been attempting to assuage his incompetence by providing the public with the false choice between leaving and committing America to an endless war.
Even after we leave Afghanistan, we will still be engaged in an ongoing war, for the war with radical Islam does not take two parties. Radical Islam has been at continual war with the West since the hordes of Muslims emerged from the Arabian Peninsula and fought their way into Western Europe to be stopped in France by Charles Martel and centuries later by the Polish cavalry at the gates of Vienna.
Osama bin Laden demanded that Spain (Andalusia) be returned to Islam, for whatever is once Islam's is always Islam's, according to the terrorist who brought down the Twin Towers on September 11.
Even among Muslims who seek refuge in the West, there is a faction that seeks not to assimilate into Western culture but to replace Western democracy with a fundamentalist version of Islam. "To hell with your democracy," read signs held high by fundamentalist demonstrators on the streets of London.
Obviously, these people do not represent Islam in the West, but it only takes two or three radicalized people to foment a terrorist operation and cast a stain on an entire community.
Muslim communities, like all immigrant communities, are divided. The majority seek to go about their business and make a decent place for their families, but there is a segment that feels alienated from life in the old world and unable to surmount the cultural barriers to life in the new. There is a reason that Muslim would-be terrorists are disproportionately not foreign, but home-grown. Many are American citizens.
As long as there are Muslim societies extolling the virtues of terrorism as Islamic virtues, there will be alienated Muslim youths in Western society that will heed the call. Therefore, beyond the strategic consequences of the fall of Afghanistan to the fundamentalist Taliban, Afghanistan will present a signal to those who are susceptible to mobilization by fundamentalist ideology. The Biden administration has been oblivious to both the obvious strategic consequences of its debacle in Afghanistan and the impact a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan will have on mobilizing terrorists in the West.
What will become of the Afghans we resettle in America? Fremont, California holds the largest Afghan population in the Western world. The head of the local state university is himself an Afghan. Fremont also produced the celebrated author of The Kite Runner, a successful physician turned prominent novelist. They represent the successful members of the community, who have integrated into the fabric of American life.
But too many of the community are described as existing in a state of suspended animation between Afghanistan and America. They feel as if they belong to neither culture and are suspicious of outsiders. Every uptick in the war in Afghanistan leads them to question whether the people who gave them shelter are going to be responsible for the grotesque civilian casualties that the fighting has produced.
The lack of assimilation has been attributed to language difficulties. The early refugees were successful, highly educated professionals, who came in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion. These people assimilated. Later, more rural people came, who did not share the same intellectual accomplishments of the first wave of immigrants. These people are the ones caught between two cultures as a function of access to English literacy because they were not highly literate in their own language.
But others have characterized the divisions in the Afghan community as one of a conflict of generations, with the second generation being more alienated, seeing themselves as a generation without a culture.
Discussions of the character of the community almost invariably fall on issues facing the Afghan community. There is almost no discussion of what the larger community can do to facilitate assimilation.
If we simply transport people out of harm's way without attending to their emotional, cultural, and psychological needs, we will have placed into our midst people ripe for exploitation by radical ideology, if not in the first generation, then in the second.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati.
Image: بدر الإسلام.
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