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Understanding the Enemy (A should-read!)
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ^ | November 25, 2004 | Bradley R. Gitz

Posted on 11/26/2004 9:38:27 AM PST by quidnunc

During the Cold War, vast sums of government money flowed into grants and think-tanks and thousands of learned tomes were written with the goal of trying to figure out what the Kremlin was up to and what made those who occupied it tick.

A similar effort is now under way regarding the Islamic world; more specifically, those minority sects within it that are committing acts of terrorism out of a hatred for America and the West. But the intellectual challenge in this case is vastly greater than for either German fascism or Marxism-Leninism for a number of reasons.

For Nazi Germany, understanding was not particularly crucial to combating. The particulars of Adolf Hitler’s belief system were thoroughly laid out in "Mein Kampf" a full decade before he came to power and were, in any event, not particularly complicated. His combination of racial pretension, gutter anti-Semitism and militant nationalism flowed from identifiable German historical antecedents (defeat in the Great War and resentment over Versailles, most obviously) and had little appeal for non-Germanic speaking peoples.

The German threat was largely military in nature, and claims regarding German racial superiority could hardly have been expected to survive their decisive refutation on the battlefield.

Communism posed a longer-term challenge by virtue of its promise of utopia on Earth and the universality of its tenets. Whereas only a select few could belong to the Aryan race, all peoples around the world suffering from oppression and alienation could look forward to an egalitarian communist future and the prospect of its scientific inevitability.

Of course, Soviet Russia also posed a military threat to the West, one which exceeded that presented by Nazi Germany if only because of the arrival of nuclear weapons and the possibility of global destruction through their use. But communism sought only to destroy capitalism to supersede it, and there would have been little to supersede in the event of a global nuclear catastrophe.

Whereas Hitler and fascism had to be confronted through military means in a short but brutal death struggle, the challenge of communism was more ideological in nature. Because the threat of nuclear war precluded alternatives, the competition between communism and democratic capitalism had to be determined ultimately by questions of economic productivity and political appeal, such that the West could prevail by containing communist expansionism until the point when its economic and political deficiencies caused it to implode.

Islamic fundamentalism poses a challenge that goes beyond the military and the ideological to the essentially cultural, in large part because its grievances and objectives are so incoherent, open-ended and lacking in any claims to rationality. Other than a hatred for Western civilization — and, in reality, any religious tenets other than its own — Islamism has no clear underlying program, no intellectual foundation and no assertions of scientific truth or inevitability.

Unlike Hitler’s Germany for Nazism and Josef Stalin’s Russia for communism, there isn’t even an identifiable nation-state actor representing, let alone controlling, Islamism, which tremendously complicates efforts to defeat it or even explain what would produce such a defeat and how we could recognize it when we saw it.

Because it claims to be speaking on behalf of a venerable religion with more than a billion followers, Islamism also presents the terrifying but crucial problem of differentiating friend from foe. It was never difficult to figure out who and where the Nazis were, and with the exception of some fellow-traveling Western intellectuals, atomic spies and Third World guerrillas, the communists were always proud to identify themselves as such for our benefit.

Because they swim in the broader sea of Islam and seem to draw inspiration from some of the injustices that many Muslims feel Islam has historically suffered, we are forced to fight Islamism in a more dexterous fashion than Nazism or communism. In World War II, we could win by killing fascists, in the Cold War by out-producing communists (when not actually killing them in places like Korea and Vietnam). Seldom was heard during those struggles the claim now regularly heard regarding the war on terrorism — that to be too aggressive in our pursuit of the enemy only turns more otherwise moderate Muslims into enemies.

As such, perhaps the only way to avoid a horrendous "clash of civilizations" with Islam is to better understand what drives Islamism.

Free-lance columnist Bradley R. Gitz teaches politics at Lyon College at Batesville.


TOPICS: Editorial; Extended News; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: clashofcivilizations; globaljihad; islam
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1 posted on 11/26/2004 9:38:27 AM PST by quidnunc
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To: quidnunc
"...the only way to avoid a horrendous "clash of civilizations" with Islam is to better understand what drives Islamism."

Nothing much to understand.
Their's is an oppressive religion. We must all be oppressed.

Their oppression has forced them to live in a backwards and barbaric society, while the rest of the world has progressed.

They are jealous of what we have.
2 posted on 11/26/2004 9:47:56 AM PST by baltodog (Feel free to believe that you descended from monkeys. I'm not gonna' stop you.)
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To: quidnunc

Islamacists can be defeated by promoting a moderate version of Islam that takes the Quran seriously which the Islamacists dont.

While Islamacism is a cultural fundamentalism, it can be trumped by a movement of people who might be thought of as religiously fundamentalist. While many may consider that a step backwards, the Quran, when read literally, does not allow for the use of inhumane tactics on Christians and Jews, but only for aggressive heathen or infadels which the Quran identifies as those who do not profess a belief int he God of Abraham.

This is a spiritual war fought on a physical level. We canonly win it if we engage in the spiritual struggle as well.

But the secularists will continue to tie our hands in this respect and will advocate the use of secular science to undermine the Islamic faith, and this will not and cannot work in the long run. Western science int he popular mind has become fundamentally flwed as it is percieved as hostile to religion and the Trojan Horse for every moral degeneracy imaginable. On that basis it will always be rejected by a moral people.


3 posted on 11/26/2004 9:48:57 AM PST by JFK_Lib
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To: quidnunc

Crush your enemy, Drive them before you and listen to the lamentations of their women.


4 posted on 11/26/2004 9:49:19 AM PST by molonlabe123
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To: quidnunc

The guy ought to try reading the Koran. Islam aims to dominate the world and kill anyone in the way, and authorizes any action to that end.


5 posted on 11/26/2004 9:52:39 AM PST by thoughtomator (The Era of Old Media is over! Long live the Pajamasphere!)
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To: JFK_Lib
moderate version of Islam that takes the Quran seriously...

You obviously haven't read the Qur'an yet...or studied the life of Mohammed...

moderate Islam is the abberation, not the rule.

6 posted on 11/26/2004 9:55:19 AM PST by weenie (Islam is as "dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog." -- Churchill)
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To: JFK_Lib

"that takes the Quran seriously which the Islamacists dont". This is false, The islamist practise a version of Islam that is more in tune with the islamic text than others.

"when read literally, does not allow for the use of inhumane tactics on Christians and Jews" This is false, the Islamic Text promote agression against these groups.


7 posted on 11/26/2004 9:55:30 AM PST by Haro_546 (Christian Zionist)
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To: quidnunc
Other than a hatred for Western civilization — and, in reality, any religious tenets other than its own — Islamism has no clear underlying program, no intellectual foundation and no assertions of scientific truth or inevitability.

I would submit that the question about Islamist incoherency obtains from a larger incoherency: the incoherency of Islam itself, and Islamic culture in very general terms. Respectfully, let me ask of any Muslims reading or posting on FR: what is it that your religion actually believes? If you want to know, for example, what all Christians must believe, read the Nicene Creed. There is a very short core of work in which observant Jews believe. You can summarize Buddhism in a paragraph of a few sentences (4 truths, and the 8-fold way). And so on. I submit that the people committing atrocities in the name of Islam are justified within their own belief system, because there is essentially nothing in which Muslims believe except that there is only one God, and Mohamed is his prophet. But unlike the other religions of the world, this belief leads nowhere: it isn't a prescription for a moral life, nor a recipe for salvation. It says nothing metaphysically that could benefit an individual.

8 posted on 11/26/2004 9:57:50 AM PST by FredZarguna (Free markets. Free Speech. Free Minds. But no Free Lunch.)
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To: Haro_546
"Slay the idolaters (Jews and Christians) wherever you find them" (Q. 9:5)"

Is this the aggression you are thinking of..?

9 posted on 11/26/2004 10:04:29 AM PST by weenie (Islam is as "dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog." -- Churchill)
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To: JFK_Lib
"...the Quran, when read literally, does not allow for the use of inhumane tactics on Christians and Jews, but only for aggressive heathen or infadels which the Quran identifies as those who do not profess a belief int he God of Abraham."

It's pretty difficult to miss the literal reading of "...kill them (non-moslems) wherever you find them.." The islamists are just obeying their koranic scriptures.

Too bad that we don't take seriously the court ruling in 1892 that essentially outlaws islam in America.

10 posted on 11/26/2004 10:06:20 AM PST by nightdriver
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To: quidnunc
As such, perhaps the only way to avoid a horrendous "clash of civilizations" with Islam is to better understand what drives Islamism.

No such clash can be avoided. Could the Italians in 1480 or Vienna in 1529, or the Allies in WWI, have avoided a clash with Muslims?

The West enjoyed a respite from Islamic attacks after the collapse of the Ottamans in WWI, but it was a certainty that Islam would attack again when they acquired enough (oil) wealth.

11 posted on 11/26/2004 10:07:17 AM PST by hlmencken3 ("...politics is a religion substitute for liberals and they can't stand the competition")
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To: quidnunc

I thought this was going to be about the other America haters, the liberals.


12 posted on 11/26/2004 10:09:23 AM PST by Modok
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To: JFK_Lib
What Quran are you reading?

There are two types of Muslims.

As quoted to me earlier...

A Muslim will kill you.

A moderate Muslim just wants you dead.

Enough said.
13 posted on 11/26/2004 10:21:49 AM PST by jan in Colorado (Have you hugged a terrorist today?)
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To: quidnunc
there's no mention of American liberalism in this article...the enemy within.

http://www.cafepress.com/patriotshoppe.14767648
14 posted on 11/26/2004 10:30:03 AM PST by Jon Alvarez
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To: quidnunc
As such, perhaps the only way to avoid a horrendous "clash of civilizations" with Islam is to better understand what drives Islamism

Whoa! This guy writes a perfectly coherent essay, making eminent sense -- until that last sentence, ostensibly the concluding nugget of truth.

But whoa! This "understanding islamism" did not seem to be his original drift. I thought he would conclude with something sensible -- like "What has caused Islamism to thrive in the modern world is the immense, politically-correct tolerance of Europe and America. Without this Mr.Rogers, JimmyCarter-esque posture, islamism could not have risen to the globe-threatening status we now are witnessing".

15 posted on 11/26/2004 10:39:19 AM PST by Migraine
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To: Migraine

Clash of civilizations?


That's plural.


16 posted on 11/26/2004 10:50:14 AM PST by gogeo (Short and non offensive)
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To: JFK_Lib
USF's guide to Islam 101:

THE AGENDA OF ISLAM - A WAR BETWEEN CIVILIZATIONS

WHAT THE QURAN TEACHES!

17 posted on 11/26/2004 10:59:24 AM PST by USF (I see your Jihad and raise you a Crusade )
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To: USF

Thank you.


18 posted on 11/26/2004 11:29:25 AM PST by jan in Colorado (Have you hugged a terrorist today?)
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To: nightdriver
Too bad that we don't take seriously the court ruling in 1892 that essentially outlaws islam in America.

Pardon my ignorance, but what court ruling is this? I'd like to learn more about it.

19 posted on 11/26/2004 11:50:56 AM PST by Dissident Aggressor
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To: JFK_Lib

Some have put forth the proposition that modern Islam has been high jacked by extremist and that the idea of defeating and or killing non-Muslims is a new and radical perversion of Islam.....not true.

General William Eaton, wrote to the US Secretary of State in 1799 reporting his dealings with the Barbary (Muslim) States:

"Taught by revelation that war with the Christians will guarantee the salvation of their souls....."

After beginning military action against Tripoli (with one of the objectives being to free Christian HOSTAGES being held for MONEY....), Eaton wrote in his journal:

"April 8th. We find it almost impossible to inspire these wild bigots with confidence in us or to persuade them that, being Christians, we can be otherwise than enemies to Musselmen. We have a difficult undertaking:

The leader of the Muslims on 23 May of that same year offered six thousand dollars for the killing of Eaton and double the sum if alive (for slavery), and thirty dollars per head for killing Christians.

Now, doesn't all this sound VERY familiar....Islam has NOT been high jacked....it was and always will be a religion of war, conquest, slavery, and thuggery.


20 posted on 11/26/2004 12:19:12 PM PST by Moby Grape
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