Skip to comments.Understanding the Enemy (A should-read!)
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 Hitlers 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 Hitlers Germany for Nazism and Josef Stalins Russia for communism, there isnt 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.
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.
Crush your enemy, Drive them before you and listen to the lamentations of their women.
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.
You obviously haven't read the Qur'an yet...or studied the life of Mohammed...
moderate Islam is the abberation, not the rule.
"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.
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.
Is this the aggression you are thinking of..?
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.
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.
I thought this was going to be about the other America haters, the liberals.
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".
Clash of civilizations?
Pardon my ignorance, but what court ruling is this? I'd like to learn more about it.
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.
In 1892, or thereabouts, the New York State Supreme Court deported a moslem imam, or some guru, and in the ruling stated that the First Ammendment did NOT apply to "..followers of imposters such as Mahommet..." but they were rather "..to be harassed."
That interpretation of the Constitution has never been overturned, vacated, or set aside.
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 is therefore up to Islam to police itself, since we can't tell them apart our only defense is to suspect them all.
One should understand the enemy one fights, true. But why avoid the clash of civilizations, if one could clash with advantages for doing so?
Well you got that right. I cannot believe how the basic problem gets missed by so many people.
Once again. Allah is God he wants you as a believer in HIM to conquer the infidels and kill them if necessary.
It's not much more complicated than that.
If you don't want to get infidel blood on your hands or if you are indifferent to what God (Allah) wants you to do ,then you will suffer in the afterlife. If you can't get with the program renounce Islam and a true believer will kill you, because you had a chance at paradise and turned your back of God(Allah). - tom
"the only way to avoid a horrendous "clash of civilizations" with Islam is to better understand what drives Islamism."
"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."
I see - and IMHO, that is why the CLASH is on.
Convert or die.
I haven't found the "moderate" translation anywhere.
"Regrettably, many terrorists groups have used the name Islam to promote their cause and this gave many non-Muslims a chance to asperse Islam and label the Muslims as terrorists. Deliberately ignored on the other hand, are terrorists who happen to be Christians or Jews.
With all the great laws established on earth by God or man, the evil among the human being, will find a way to abuse, distort or misinterpret them. This does not make these laws evil but rather proves the evil nature of these criminals.
Terrorism as an act of violence has been committed by people from all religious and political backgrounds. Terrorists who happened to be Christians ( e.g. in Bosnia, England, Ireland, Germany, Spain...etc.) and thsoe who happened to be Jewish (e.g. in Israel, Palestine and Lebanon) used their religious beliefs to claim legitimacy for the violence and terrorism they commit. Thousands of women, children and men, young and old have been killed in attempts to achieve or hold on to special interests whether political, social or "religious" .
Those who do not comprehend Islam and those who have an interest in distorting the truth about the religion of Islam, have been trying to make the word terrorists and terrorism synonymous to the religion. A mistake that had been common in the media in the West.
Several groups who called themselves Jews, Christians or Muslims, have used terrorism to force their agenda, issues or beliefs. None of these groups represent the true religion of the Jews or the Christians as much as these terrorists represent Islam.
Attacks on the civilians and the least expecting people around the world by these groups is the kind of strife that cannot be justified by any religion or under any cause and is strongly condemned in all religions including Islam as clarified by the words of God in the Quran, the Final Testament.
Some of the terrorist groups which massacre innocent people consider themselves martyrs. Those who kill the innocent people in the name of their religion or the name of God, who think of themselves as martyrs should think twice. Their act is actually strongly condemned by God in the the verses of the Quran. These people are disobeying God's commandments and the TRUTH in the Quran. Instead they blindly follow the opinion of their corrupted leaders (and scholars). It is not a surprise that God has not granted them victory. Quite the contrary they have been the most humiliated, defeated and oppressed people on earth. Worse, they are oppressed by their own rulers.
The Quran is very clear that the believers must defend themselves but never to aggress. It is true that Islam (Submission) calls for the followers to be strong. This call however is to use the strength to secure peace, provide freedom for the society and the country but never to agress unless agressed upon.
Our Creator is one and the same. The God of the Muslims is the same God of the Jews and the Christians and all the other religions. God does not permit one group the killing of innocent people of the other religions.
The blame lies with the terrorists and not the religion they claim to adhere to. Not everyone who calls himself a Muslim is a Muslim as much as not every one who thinks of himself as a Jew or a Christian is one.
The religion of Islam should not be confused by what these so called Muslims have done. They actually, by the definition of the Quran, are not Muslims or at least as much Muslims as the Ku Klux Klan are good Christians. We should not let our emotions overcome our logic and understanding.
United we stand against all kinds of terrorism , as only through unity will we be able to eradicate them and bring them to justice. We will serve the terrorists cause by name calling and false accusations of everyone who happens to be a TRUE God fearing Muslim."
These Islamic terrorists are no more faithful to Islam than the Nazis were to Christianity despite using a stylized cross for the symbol.
If we cannot respect the moderates of another faith who are our natural allies in ths war, then we are cursing our children to fight this thing forever, which is purely foolishness.
Interesting. Thank you.
"The Nazis and the Imperial Japanese were crushed militarily, economically and politically. Thats how you can the mind of a fanatic! (I know it's not pretty.)"
Well, when we crushed the fascist and Japanese in WWII, we occupied the states that were at war with us. We compelled them to make peace because we occupied their lands, cities, industrial centers and resources.
We control these today in Iraq, but it has not ended the war. Why do you think that is?
I dont know if you have access to them, but please read the 1st and 2nd Macabees, it would only take you a little while and would show you the perspective that these people see themselves in. The two books are accounts of the Jewish revolt against the Seleucids just before the Messiah came and can be found in any Catholic Bible, or maybe event he internet.
These people will not be defeated the same way we beat the fascists in World War II. The regard that as simply an opportunity for martyrdom.
We can only win by convincing them that they are not martyring themselves for the right cause, but instead throwing their lives away.