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September 11, 2006

A Grim Anniversary

Filed under: Global Jihad, Islam, Terror, USA — limewoody @ 8:01 pm

 http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/cgi-bin/newsviews.cgi/Intelligence/A_Grim_Anniversary.printerAmidst the lakes of ink, tons of toner, and exabytes of memory expanded on the fifth anniversary of 9-11, it is easy to lose sight of three key issues concerning the “War on Terror”: What is it? Are we winning—and if not, why not? How are we to define “victory,” and how can we score it?


The warring parties’ offensive potential provides a reliable indicator of the likely outcome of the conflict. After von Paulus surrendered it was obvious that the Reich was doomed: for the remaining two years it was on a downward slide that had to end in the ruins of Berlin. After Russia Napoleon was finished, although the actual finis came almost three years after the Berezina. And after the carnage in Pennsylvania the Confederacy fought on for twenty desperate months, but it could no longer turn the tide.

On this grim anniversary only the most zealous supporter of President George W. Bush will claim that we are “winning” the “Global War on Terrorism,” a misnomer that fails to differentiate between the enemy’s modus operandi and the enemy himself. Yes, a war is going on, a Fourth Generation war in which the enemy will not stand up and “fight fair.” It is waged by a loose global network of Jihadists against the rest of us. The proper name of the enemy is still absent from our public discourse, however. “Islamofascism,” popular of late, is a red herring: the foe is not a “fascist” fringe distinct from the “anti-fascist” mainstream. The enemy is an inherently aggressive, demographically vibrant, and ideologically rigid Islamic movement of global proportions and world-historical significance. It has different guises—Wahhabist, salafist, Shia—and often mutually antagonistic protagonists: Iranians Mahdists and their Lebanese clients, Saudi royal kleptocrats and their sworn Al Qaeda enemies, Pakistani generals, Afghan guerrillas, Bosnian politicians, coarse Chechen child-killers and suave professors . . . The contemporary upsurge of Islam as an ideology and Islam as a blueprint for political action, is a multifaceted and decentralized phenomenon that cannot be compared in dynamism, energy, and potential consequences with any other creed or ideology in today’s world. It demands a sustained and bold Western response that has failed to materialize so far.

The all-pervasive Western unease in naming the enemy reflects a spiritual debility, common on both sides of the pond, that impedes serious defense. Had Rome declared the War on Elephants in 216BC, Hannibal would have won. Had World War II been waged against Guderian’s Blitzkrieg, the Reich would still have 927 years to go. But the free citizens of the Roman Republic, and even our grandfathers six decades ago, were not afflicted by that debility which undermines Western identity, culture, and sense of rootedness, and which is manifested in the reluctance to name the enemy.

Five years on, even his methods remain widely misunderstood. Terrorism, defined as arbitrary violence against civilians in pursuit of ideological, religious and political objectives, makes sporadic appearance in various conflicts that do not involve Muslims, notably in Sri Lanka. Yet Islamic terrorism—that used by Muslims in pursuit of objectives inspired by Islamic teaching, tradition, and historical practice—is the only variety that targets the United States, the rest of the West, Russia, India, Israel, and other “infidels” as such. (And yes, we deliberately avoid the modifier “Islamist,” as distinct from “Islamic,” because it implies a distinction between the political, cultural and religious aspects and programs upheld by the followers of Islam that is neither clear-cut nor regarded as valid by the Muslims themselves.) It is also the only kind of terrorism that is global in scope and ambition, and against which the war imposed on the Western world should be directed.

This war belongs to fourth-generation warfare in which it is inherently hard to target the enemy and to evaluate results. It cannot be understood, let alone conducted, in conventional military terms. Body counts are of dubious value. Hundreds may be dead or safely locked at Guantanamo, but thousands are ready and willing to take their place. The enemy has de facto unlimited human assets. The enemy has an operational reach that is limited only (1) by the limits of penetration of the Muslim diaspora in the Western world, and (2) by the growing awareness of the Diaspora’s local leaders and external financiers that terrorism is counterproductive to the apparently attainable objective of gradual demographic conquest. The current threat typically comes from freelance amateurs among Western Europe’s second-generation Muslim immigrants. The attacks in Madrid (March 2004) and London (July 2005) and the foiled conspiracies in Britain (2006) indicate a decentralized pattern with no command and control hierarchy, or even coordination, among the cells embedded inside the target-nations. Usama Bin Laden’s network has been hit hard over the past five years, but self-starters have taken over.

A new strategy is needed to win this war. It can’t won in the conventional terms of destroying the enemy and his will to fight, but the threat can be effectively managed, and the enemy contained. As I wrote in these pages eight months ago, the victory will come not by conquering Mecca for America but by disengaging America from Mecca and by excluding Mecca from America; not by eliminating the risk but by managing it wisely, resolutely, and permanently. The task has three key elements.

(1) It is essential to define and understand the enemy, and to move beyond the phony distinction between “Islam” and “Islamism” or “Islamofascism.” Terrorists belong to the doctrinal and moral mainstream of their ideology-cum-religion. This conclusion does not come from a priori judgments by Islam’s apologists and non-Muslim multiculturalists. It comes from the sacred texts of Islam, from its record of interaction with other societies that is almost 14 centuries old, and from the character of its founder. Taken together, they provide the clue to the motives, ambitions, and methods of our enemies, and the explanation why those enemies do not represent an aberration, but a conventional consequence of the ideology of jihad.

(2) The second task is to clean up the home front. All over the Western world the elite class regards above conclusions about the nature of the enemy as shockingly heretical. On both sides of the ocean there also exists an elite consensus that the existence of a large Muslim diaspora within the Western world is to be treated as a fixed given and should not be critically scrutinized. That consensus is ideological in nature, flawed in logic, dogmatic in application, and disastrous in results. It needs to be tested against evidence, not against the alleged norms of acceptable public discourse imposed by those who either do not know Islam, or else do not want us to know the truth about it. The impact of ongoing Muslim migratory influx, and the consequences of the existence of a multi-million Muslim diaspora in Western Europe and North America, are inseparable from the coherent long-term defense of the homeland. That strategy must entail denying actual and potential terrorists the foothold inside the United States. Much has been done but not nearly enough, because of the heavy focus on the failures of government agencies rather than on the institutional culture of the decision-making community that makes such failures likely. Above all, operational effectiveness must no longer be confused with strategy itself. Controlling the borders is only the first step. The application of clearly defined criteria related to terrorism in deciding who will be admitted into the country, and in determining who should be allowed to stay from among those who are already here, is essential. Stopping Muslim immigration and expelling seditious resident aliens and naturalized citizens is an essential ingredient of any serious anti-terrorist strategy. It is high time to start treating Islamic activism as an eminently political, rather than “religious” activity. Homeland can be made secure, but not under the banner of open immigration, “tolerance,” diversity, and multicultural all-inclusiveness.

(3) An effective defense against terrorism demands a re-think of our foreign and military policies, and that is the third task. Would America be safer with her GIs patrolling the Rio Grande or the Euphrates? What are the costs and benefits of supporting the Muslim side in the Caucasus and the Balkans? In an ever more “globalized” world that is ever less “Westernized,” America will remain the strongest actor—economically, technologically, and militarily—for many years to come; but the shape and nature of international alignments are changing. The United States will lose ground to its combined global competitors, and any attempt to continue projecting its power offensively (especially in the greater Middle East) will be self-defeating. The path of “benevolent global hegemony” leads to the cliff’s edge, and should be discarded in favor of the rediscovery of a realist, national-interest-based global strategy.

Rediscovering who we are is the essential prerequisite for all of the above. The victory in the war on terrorism ultimately has to be won in the domain of morals and culture. As I have argued repeatedly in recent months, the war can be won only by the nations of the great European family that have regained their awareness of their moral, spiritual, and civilizational roots. If that happens, the renewed impulse to defend those lands and to procreate will come, too. While the likelihood of such belated recovery remains in doubt, this grim anniversary offers us an opportunity to renew the hope that it is not impossible. Miracles do happen, and therefore they will happen.


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