Unless Of Course We Lose...
In order to understand the status of the conflict between Jihadist Islam and the West in general, one must first define the term enemy and how the juxtaposition as enemies comes about. At the present stage of the conflict there can be little doubt that it was these elements of Islam that declared the West to be their enemy, and had been engaged it committing act of war long before all but a very few bothered to take their actions seriously. Historically the argument could be made that the conflict goes back for nearly a millennium, having it roots in Moorish conquest and subsequent expulsion from Spain and Portugal and the conflicts with the Ottoman Turks in the Balkans.
The attitude of many practitioners of Islam is that once Islam conquers an area or nation its inhabitants have no further right to reassert themselves and reclaim their lands. Their only choices being to convert, pay the tax for not converting or die. That this is a complete anathema to Judeo-Christian Western civilization is an argument that should not even need to be made.
It is the Jihadists who have defined the alternatives as either our destruction or theirs. When a group or nation has declared itself to be your enemy, wages war against you, kills your soldiers and civilians and neither shows or expresses any inclination to negotiate except as a means to gain a position of political or military advantage from which to wage further war, WHAT CHOICE TO YOU HAVE BUT TO WAGE WAR AGAINST THEM AND KILL THEM AS EXPEDIENTLY AS POSSIBLE?
It is they who have declared us to be their enemy and waged war against the west. The time for turning the other cheek has long since passed but sadly our politicians lack the courage to wage total war as was done in WWII. As ugly as they are, wars are not won by negotiating from a weak or defensive position. Wars are won by killing the enemy and destroying their ability and will to continue the fight, leading to either their total destruction or their coming to the negotiating table from a weak and defensive position.
That is a lesson the history has taught a thousand times, but the moral relativists just won’t or don’t want to see it applied to this conflict.
No reasoned Westerner would define all Moslems as bad. But I must reiterate it is the Jihadist ‘s interpretation of Islam that has declared war against us and defined our status as non-Moslem as justification. I have heard no declarations of a need or desire to kill Moslems in the name of Christ, yet the opposite is the battle cry of the Jihadists. Neither the US nor any Western nation has declared that the desired end of conducting war against Jihadist Islam or the dismantling of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny in Iraq was their conversion to Christianity. Again the same cannot be said of the Jihadists.
To the Jihadists the absence of status as a Moslem or failure to adhere to their interpretation of Islam is the definition of the loss of innocence. But for the moral relativists the problem is one of “lack of understanding.” If there was such a thing as a Neville Chamberlain award they would win it hands down.
Putting forth the Crusades as an argument or justification is disingenuous at best. No one could rationally argue that Christianity as practiced today is the same as it was practiced in the 1100’s. The same cannot be said for Islam. Christianity went through a reformation and has evolved in its interpretation and practice. The inquisition is an historical fact but it is not an ongoing practice. Again the same cannot be said of Islam.
The supposition and expounding on only parts of the story of Christianity is what is dangerous. Twisting half-truths as the whole story is far more dangerous than lies cut from whole cloth. The spread of Christianity’s through most of the Mediterranean and Roman world came about because Emperor Constantine came to realize that it had grown to become a force he could no longer reckon with. Stories of his “miraculous” conversion not withstanding it became more a matter of “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.”
If Christianity then became a means through which he could exert control of the Empire so be it. He was a Roman Emperor after all. Rome had a long history of tolerance for the religions of conquered nations. It was only when the corruption of the likes of Nero, Caligula and Claudius wrought havoc upon the Roman economy that the Christians became the targets of convienience persecution and the scapegoats for the consequences of Imperial excess. Yet it continued to grow, leading to Constantine’s momentous decision.
Neither the excess’s nor shortcomings, successes or failures of the Bush administration are relevant to the issue. The Jihadists were at war with us before he came to office and will still be at war with us when Obama is gone, unless and until we address it as an issue of total war rather than one of “proportional response” or criminal acts, or as long as there are those in power who view the world through rose colored glasses or through a lens of political correctness or moral relativism.
To do so is to venture into the realm of the absurd. As stated one of the root causes of the aggression is because we are not Moslems. We should no more waste time and effort trying to ‘understand’ them than one should try to reason with a rapist. When faced with kill or be killed, you kill or you get killed. Even if one could reason with them or ‘understand’ their motive do you honestly think that it would change their tactics or murderous intent? To me that answer seems a pretty clear and unambiguous no.
So then getting back to the Jihadists, it’s not a matter of invasion or conquest, it’s a matter of destroying their will to fight. Look at the air campaign in the 1st gulf war. The Iraqi army's will to fight was destroyed before the first tank crossed the border.
My personal ideas or suggestions not withstanding are strategic not tactical. Just as in WWII if we knew the Germans or Japanese were using a particular town or city as a marshalling area or production center we bombed the crap out of it and civilian casualties were not of paramount concern. The object was to destroy the enemy’s ability and will to fight. We didn’t fight the war with one hand tied behind our back. When Truman made the decision to drop the a-bomb on Japan it was not out of some blood lust it was a calculated decision as the quickest way to end the war with the fewest further casualties on both sides.
To those who would choose not to accept the cogency of such an arguments, or would so easily dismiss it as vague or just plain wrong, that is of course their right and I might argue obligation. But with such rejection comes another obligation, one to propose your own course of action. The difference between the Germans of the WWII era and the Jihadist of today is that Germans at least had a rational fear of death and a semblance of what would become of their posterity. The Jihadists do not possess either of these. Hence their repeated call that they “love death” more than we “love life”. It is not possible to reason with the irrational. How else can we conclude otherwise than that if they are so in love with death that they will not stop until we give it to them?
The murdering rapist is in YOUR house, what are you going to do? As I asked at the very beginning: WHAT OTHER CHOICE DO WE HAVE? If you can’t or won’t answer that question with a viable solution that has a reasonable expectation of success, then what place do you really have in the argument, other than as a victim?
The Psychological Disconnect Of The Petrol Dollar.
Whether you are among those that consider the jihadists to be “terrorists,” or are among those who consider US foreign policy to be “terrorism” in its own right, or at the least is the source or cause of terrorism, has become quite irrelevant at this point of the conflict. Once one enters into the quasi-mystic world of moral and cultural relativism, all connections to logic, reason and historical precedent get left behind. This is how and when this particular form of political correctness becomes an obstacle to understand and addressing the clash of cultures between the West and Islam.
If one were to listen to much of the Arab and Islamic world and it defenders in the West, the source of the West’s “crime” against Islam has been our mere presence in the region, infidel boots desecrating the “sacred ground” of Islam. Since the dawn of time stronger nations have been influencing and manipulating if not conquering weaker ones as an instrument of foreign policy for their own benefit. How then is Western colonialism any different than the Moor’s occupation of Spain or the Ottoman Turk’s conquest of Greece and the Balkans? It’s not that there is anything inherently wrong with the concept of taking pride in a national or cultural identity. The problems arise when the element of religious fervor spills over into becoming a moral justification for an irrational blood lust exercised in the name of the supremacy one concept of “god” over another.
Such is of course the greatest of human weaknesses and failings over the centuries and indeed the hardest to overcome. “My god is better than your god.” “Worship my god, my way or be put to the sword or burned at the stake … etc… etc.” For much of the Arab world and particularly among the extremists elements, it is not just the presence of the “infidel” on their sacred soil, be it for whatever reason, that creates the offence, but that a modern world of advanced technology, mass and instantaneous communication, Western culture, be it in whatever form, automobiles, music, movies, television and now the internet have infiltrated and corrupted the desired static “purity” of their would be medieval 8th century societies.
Irrespective of whatever may be the foreign policy machinations of our governments, I’d think that most Westerners would be more than glad to limit our dealings with that part of the world to simply buying their oil at whatever price and wash our hands of most all the rest of it. Sadly the world of economic interaction does not work that way. The accumulation of all those petro-dollars does the recipients little good if they can’t in turn further exchange them for some other more tangible goods or services. Therein lays the rub, the source of the conflict. How can the Arab street aspire to maintain some ethereal and static 8th century cultural “purity” and at the same time desire all those technological innovations that are the epitome of, the very manifestation of the Western capitalist and cultural system? Under what paradigm can they benefit from interaction with and indeed absorption of these elements of Western culture and at the same time hope to remain apart and uninfluenced by it? Is there not some failure of logic, some rational disconnect in blogging on some jihadist web site that calls for the death of the great Satan and the imposition of Sharia law on the West and at the same time using the fruits and benefits of Western technology in complaining about the corruption of Islamic culture by influences of this same Western technology?
We are left then to assume that the desired interpretation of Arab and/or Islamic cultural “purity” would be one where children are seen but not heard, where women are neither seen nor heard, and the delusion that the intellectual liberation that comes from the exposure to a myriad of sources of information and influences from outside a previously closed society, is a genie that can and should be forced back into the bottle via the instruments of violent religious fervor, and failing that, at the point of a gun.
The fact remains that in spite of their adherence to tribalism, narrow moralistic interpretations and tolerating elitist, corrupt leadership structures, those Arab states floating in petro-dollars enjoy some of the highest standards of living in the world. At the same time these so-called sovereign states remain xenophobic in the extreme. They import the vast majority of their labor force to both, build, maintain and operate the means of exploiting their oil resources and to build the fabulous modern architectural infrastructures they now enjoy. They then keep their hired help largely confined to enclaves, kept separate from Arab society in general.
All this new found wealth has led to a considerable percentage of the native populations to have transitioned from the camel to the Corvette, from the goat herd to the art collection, and from living in tents into living in luxury high rise condos, and thus becoming, if not the idle rich, at least the idle well to do. Doing so absent any history of their fathers and their father’s fathers working hard, saving and sacrificing to provide for their progeny’s future and to build the society and the benefits they now enjoy. Deprived of the Western model of a generational economic, social and cultural evolution they find themselves, quite understandably in a state of culture shock, weather they want to admit it or not. How else then does one interpret Islamic families immigrating to the West to create a better life for their families and then turning around and slaughtering their wives and daughters for the cultural crimes of becoming “too Westernized,” or refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, or dating a non-Muslim, absent this contention of culture shock or a psychological disconnect in reason or logic?
In the West the transformation and growth of the middle class into widespread economic affluence took place over generations and decades if not centuries, driven by advances in technology and the governmental systems that grew out of the enlightenment. The accompanying changes and normalizations in social mores and attitudes about class and religious differentiations were slower to develop, take root and gain general social acceptance, often only after a great deal of social turmoil and conflict. A shorter-term example would be the contentious evolution of the American civil right struggle. A longer-term example would be the protracted and violent conflict brought about by the Protestant Reformation. The point being, that changes in social attitudes do eventually catch up with the economic changes that drove them, but it takes time and generations.
In the oil states of the Arab world, when measured against the Western example, this economic transformation has been revolutionary rather than evolutionary and has taken place in a virtual blink of the eye. There has been no generational time frame to allow for any gradual changes in the social attitudes to catch up to the implications of this economic revolution. This retardation of changes in social attitudes catching up to the economic changes has been exacerbated both by the absence of any underlying long-standing traditions of individual liberty and self-reliance as found in the West and the continuance of adhering to tribalism and narrowly constructed moralisms as defense mechanisms against the social implications of an irreversible economic revolution. It is emotional discomfort of this embedded culture shock and psychological disconnect from reason and logic that has become the fertile ground of Islamic nihilism and its demagogic practitioners. And we have been reaping the whirlwind of their corruption for the last 30 years.
Now throw in the added pressure of rapid inflation in food prices and you not only ignite the fires of even more social unrest, you further accentuate the contradiction with one of the most basic and universal of human desires, one that knows no borders or states; the desire to lead a better life than your parents, to provide a better existence for your children and grandchildren than you had yourself. Clearly the Arab and Islamic world has a lot of catching up to do. The questions becomes not ones of if it will be tumultuous and violent but ones of how much of that tumult and violence is the West responsible for, how much of it will spill over into the rest of the world and how deeply will the West get drawn into it while acting in its own self-defense.