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  • A Civilization is at Stake Here

    Posted by T. Greer on March 3rd, 2015 (All posts by )

    This essay was originally posted at The Scholar’s Stage on 27 February 2015. It has been re-posted here without alteration.

    Perhaps the most predictable fall-out of Graeme Wood’s influential cover article for The Atlantic, What the Islamic State Really Wants,” is another round of debate over whether or not the atrocities committed by ISIS and other armed fundamentalist terrorist outfits are sanctioned by the Qur’an, Hadith, and other Islamic texts, and if not, whether these groups and the evils they inflict upon the world should be called “Islamic” at all.  Michael Lotus, co-author of the excellent America 3.0 and a generally sharp political observer all around, suggests that American policy makers shouldn’t bother themselves with the question:

    Fortunately for non-Muslims, who have neither the time nor the inclination nor the scholarly competence to get into intra-Muslim theological disputes, we do not need to figure out whether ISIS or [their theological opponents] more properly interpret these passages. We just need to know that ISIS reads the texts the way it does, believe them to be divine commands, and acts accordingly. Knowing this, we are better able to plan whatever military response is necessary to defeat them, and hopefully destroy them entirely. This is both theoretically and practically an easier task than debating them.[1]

    There are two separate issues at play here that need to be clearly distinguished from each other before the United States crafts any strategy to defeat ISIS. The first is what, if anything, the United States should do over the short term to stop and then reverse ISIS’s advance. The second is how the United States should approach the long term threat posed by Salafi-Jihadist terrorism and the ideology that inspires it. Inasmuch as the goal of American policy is grounding ISIS into the dust, then Michael is entirely correct. Conquerors the world over have shown that one does not need a nuanced understanding of an enemy’s belief system in order to obliterate him. But ISIS is only one head of the hydra. If the goal of American policy is to permanently defeat “global extremism” or “global terror” or whatever the folks in Washington have decided to call Salafi-Jihadist barbarism this month, then this view is insufficient.

    I should be clear here. I am not advocating a perpetual, open-ended war declared against some nebulous concept like “poverty,” or “drugs,” or “terror.”  James Madison once declared that war is the “most dreadful” of “all public enemies to liberty, and I take his warning seriously.[2] We cannot continue on an indefinite war footing without permanently damaging the integrity of the America’s republican institutions.

    But there is more to this conflict than America’s internal politics. It is worth it to step back and remind ourselves of exactly what is at stake in the global contest against Jihadist extremism.


     


    At the turn of the twentieth century, China, Japan, and Korea saw vast changes in the shape of their society because the old Neo-Confucian world view that had upheld the old order had been discredited. In Europe both communism and fascism rose to horrific heights because the old ideology of classical liberalism that had hitherto held sway was discredited. As a global revolutionary force communism itself withered away because the events that closed the 20th century left it discredited. If Americans do not worry about communist revolutionaries anymore it is because communism was so thoroughly discredited that there is no one left in the world who is willing to pick up arms in its name. [3]


    We cannot “win” this fight, in the long term, unless we can discredit the ideology that gives this fight teeth.

    Luckily for us, this does not require discrediting a fourteen hundred year old religion held by one fifth of the world’s population. It is worth reminding ourselves that the ideology we seek to discredit is a comparatively new one. It was born in the sands of Najd shortly before Arabia became “Saudi,” crystallized in its present form only in the 1960s, and was not exported abroad until the late 1980s. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict excepted, almost all “Islamist” terrorist attacks can be linked directly to this new Salafi-Jihadist ideology and the madrassas and proselytizing media used to spread it. It is an ideology that directly threatens the sovereign rulers of every country in the Near East, and one whose interpretations are not only opposed by the majority of Islamic theologians, but have little relation to the way Islam was practiced in most places a mere 30 years ago.

    That an ideology is new or rebels against established world views does not make it less dangerous. Novelty also says little about a movement’s future success–once upon a time Protestantism was a novel ideology. I encourage people to use this analogy. Think of these Salafi reformers as you do the first wave of Protestant reformers back in the 16th century. The comparison is apt not only because the goal of the Salafi-Jihadists is, like the original Protestants, to bring religious practice back to a pure and original form, or because the savagery displayed by many of the Protestant reformers was quite comparable to ISIS at its worst, but because this comparison gives you a sense of the stakes that are at play. This is a game where the shape of entire civilizations are on the table. The Salafi-Jihadists want to change the way billions of people worship, think, and live out their daily lives. ISIS’s success in the Near East gives us a clear picture of exactly what kind of society the Salafi-Jihadists envision for the Ummah.

    I will not mince words:  humankind faces few catastrophes more terrible than allowing Salafi-Jihadist reformers to hijack Islamic civilization. Theirs is an ideology utterly hostile to human progress and prosperity, and their victory, if attained, will come at great human cost. The Protestants secured their Reformation with one of the most destructive wars of European history; there is little reason to think Salafi-Jihadist victories will be any less disastrous. Not every ‘great game’ of international power politics is played for civilization-level stakes. But that is exactly what is at stake here. We must plan accordingly.



    The other day a Palestinian friend of mine posted the following note on Facebook:

    ISIS has zero connection to Islam. The only people who think ISIS is Islamic either know nothing about Islam, are part of ISIS or write for The Atlantic. If you doubt this, please take the time to read this letter written by some of the most prominent Islamic Scholars of our time in which they go into excruciating detail highlighting the VERY Un-Islamic nature of ISIS. It is 23 pages long and in 10 different languages.

    P.S. Stop saying Muslims aren’t speaking out against ISIS.


    He links to an open letter to al-Baghdadi signed by several hundred Imams and muftis across the world, debating various theological claims made by ISIS point by point. The status started a long debate–some 40 comments long last I checked–on whether or not ISIS was indeed “Islamic” or if it was something else. Had the debate been started by anyone else it would almost seem parodic. “Of course the Islamic State is Islamic!” one wants to shout. By denying the theological underpinnings of the group and its explicit religious–indeed, Islamic–goals we deny the threat it poses and the permanent impact ISIS and Salafi-Jihadist ideology may have on Islamic civilization as a whole. Lily-liberal progressives are intellectual cowards for refusing to face up to this fact.


    But my friend is not a lily-liberal progressive. He is a practicing Muslim, forwarding a message written by other Muslims meant to be read first and foremost by Muslims. What those in the comment thread upset at my friend’s refusal to “own up” on the Islamic nature of ISIS could not see is that the boundaries of a religion and its attendant ideology are not set by old texts or theological debate, but by the perceptions and actions of the devout themselves. What the average American Protestant–and even more so the average American Catholic!–does to worship Christ is only tenuously connected to anything found in a Biblical text, and the lifestyle of today’s Christians would be alien and scandalous to Christians of both the 4th and the 15th centuries. One age’s heretics are another age’s fellow saints. What is or what is not “Christian” is entirely determined by the perceptions, mores, and opinions of those who call themselves Christian. If the great majority concur that something is or is not Christian then, for all intents of purposes, thus it will be. As with Christianity, so with Islam. The Islamic State will be ‘un-Islamic’ once there is no one left who believes its actions are grounded in the Islamic faith.


    It is a hard nut for Westerners to crack. President Obama and Bush show some awareness of the problem when they declare that ISIS, Al-Qaeda, terrorism, or whatever “is not Islamic.” In the end, however, these statements are self defeating. Those most tempted to join the Jihadist cause are those who will respond least well to a Christian emperor telling them how to express their faith. The crux of the problem is that we have picked a side in an ideological civil war, but the clearer it becomes that we Americans have chosen this side the more difficult it becomes for our chosen side to win.

    That is when we do recognize the crisis of Islamic civilization for what it is. We often do not. With depressing regularity we fall into the trap of expressed best in all of this “clash of civilizations” talk. The problem posed by Islamic terrorism is not the ultimate consequence of a clash between civilizations, but a violent expression of a clash within a civilization. More Muslims die every year at the hands of Salafi-inspired terrorism than non-Muslims do, and even those attacks carried out against non-Muslims are overwhelmingly about forging a more perfect Ummah. What we are witnessing is a global contest for the soul of Islam. Unfortunately, so caught up are we in our own culture wars that we have completely lost sight of what is happening around us. In the American mind the Islamic terrorist is first and foremost a weapon to be used against her domestic opponents.  Tribe Red sees every attack and atrocity as another talking point against Tribe Blue’s multi-cultural program; Tribe Blue, in turn spends more time worrying  how Tribe Red will spin these atrocities than what their actual impact will be on the broader contest over the souls of the Ummah. As Gary Brecher put it in a recent War Nerd column, we are blinded by sort of “American narcissism”  where “a man burned alive in the Syrian desert becomes nothing but an excuse for a sermon on American History X, because only America matters, only America’s sins [or in Tribe Red’s case, triumphs] are real.[4]


    The flight of Christians away from the Near East, 1920-2006. 

    Source: Stephan Farrel and Rana Sabbagh Gargour,
     “All the staff at the Church have been killed–they disappeared, 
    The Times (23 Dec 2014).

    As Americans bicker as the old Islamic order burns. We are only in the beginning stages of this collapse and already the shape of the Arab world has irrevocably changed. 120,000 Christian refugees fled for safer lands as ISIS advanced across Iraq last year, effectively ending Christianity’s 2000 year long presence there. This same sort of pressure is being placed on ancient Christian communities across the Near East. That is worth reflecting over. The arguments we have about trigger warnings and American Sniper are froth upon the wave. They will not be remembered in thirty years time. The same cannot be said for the kind of demographic and cultural changes Islamic extremists are trying to bring to  the Mahgeb and the Middle East. What is happening today in mosques and madrassas across the world may shape human society for centuries.


    I have painted a picture in broad strokes, speaking of civilizations and centuries. That is what is at stake here. Given this knowledge I think it is appropriate to bring the discussion back down to where we started: what, if anything, can American statesmen and policy-makers do to discredit Salafi-Jihadist ideology?

    Recognizing both the scale and the nature of the threat helps us. We need to realize that the daily lives of billions of people around the world are being decided right now, and that a virulent ideology, not an individual terrorist group or force, is the prime enemy in this fight. This ideology will not be stopped by rational discussion or theological debate. No political or religious ideology ever has been. Victory can only come through discrediting it. However, if we transparently lend our support those within the Muslim world who argue the position we like then we discredit them.

    The implications of all this in my mind are:

    1) We should not try to take part in the theological, intellectual, and cultural conflicts that are driving this ideology forward. American politicians making takfir are at best embarrassing and at worst destructive to our cause. Government officials should only give active support to prominent Muslims who oppose Salafi-Jihadist ideology when we can do so secretly or when our intentions for doing so can be obscured.


    2) However, we should become very fluent in the details of these beliefs and these debates, even though we do not participate in them directly. It is possible to discredit an ideology without understanding it–there are few things naked force can’t accomplish if applied in large enough doses. But the human costs of such a campaign would be horrific and could not be done without severely damaging the character of American democracy.  Better to be smart than to descend into barbarism.

    3) As we cannot discredit Salafi-Jihadist ideology through debate, we should focus our efforts on figuring out what events in the real world will discredit it and then do everything in our power to make these events happen. In his Atlantic article Graeme Wood provides one good example of this sort: if you can dislodge a Caliphate from its territory, he notes, it can no longer claim to be a Caliphate. If we properly understand the ideology that drives these men and their supporters we can find other weak points that can be exploited.

     (Another example, again in the context of ISIS–I would suggest that our campaigns against ISIS would have far greater power if they were perceived to be led, planned, directed, and fought by Sunni Muslims. America’s role should be muted. This will be hard to pull of given realities of current U.S. domestic politics though).

    4) We should do all we can to stop the dissemination of Salafi-Jihadist ideology. On the short term that means taking down Jihadist web-sites and forums; on the medium term that means confiscating the funds and barring travel visas of the rich Saudi and emirate sheiks who fund the madrassas, presses, preachers, and websites that produce the Jihadist filth; on the long term it means recognizing that Saudi Arabia poses a greater threat to the interests of the United States specifically and of humanity generally than any other state, and do what we can to terminate our relationship with the house of Saud as soon as possible. [5]

    5) Related to that last point, we need to fundamentally rethink the structure of our alliance system in the Middle East. There are no good options in the Near East, and no good allies. We must settle for least worst. That is almost certainly the Iranians. It is too much to ask for an alliance with Iran, but truly, of all the important  regional players they are the least dangerous. Tehran is not exporting an ideology that inspires terrorists around the world. (Indeed, outside of the Middle East itself you won’t find a Shi’i terrorist). The Persians have a stronger interest in combating Salafi-Jihadist extremism than any other power in the region.   Growing Shiite power also means that more of the energy currently spent on attacking the West will be spent attacking Iran, while we can safely support Iranian ambitions without discrediting them, as would happen with many a “moderate” Sunni.

    This last point is radical but it may be the most important. Lately there has been a growing discussion in foreign policy circles over whether or not true U.S.-Iranian rapprochement is possible, or if the Iranians will take advantage of U.S. overtures to act against American interests with impunity. I am skeptical that the current generation of leadership in Tehran will ever be anything less than hostile towards the United States. But in the long term this does not matter.  Even if the Iranians resolutely oppose every American initiative in the region the damage they might do–both to America, but really more importantly, to Islamic civilization, and by extension, to humanity as a whole–will be far, far less than the havoc our “allies” now wreck.


    FURTHER READING


    T. Greer, “Radical Islamic Terrorism in Context, Part I,” and “Radical Islamic Terrorism in Context Part II,”  The Scholar’s Stage (9 and 10 October 2013).


    Seth Jones, A Persistent Threat: The Evolution of al Qa’ida and Other Salafi Jihadists (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corp, 2014). PDF file.

     Brookings Institution Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, “Ancient Religions, Modern Politics:  Comparative Discussion of Islamic Tradition and Revivalism,” Panel discussion at Brookings (20 May 2014). Transcript and audio. See also the book that inspired the discussion.

    “Lorenzo,” Review of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, Post I and Post II, Thinking Out Loud (19 and 20 February 2015).

    Abdul Ghella, “Tackling the New Wahabi Extremism: Africa’s Menace for the Coming Years,” Pambazuka News, iss. 605 (11 August 2012).



    ———————————————————————



    [1]  Lexington Green, Comment #1 (26 February 2015) on Charles Cameron, “Definitely my ‘Best Book’ of 2014,Zenpundit (23 February 2015).

    [2] The phrase comes from his 1795 political pamphlet, “Political Observations.”  I have written extensively about this quote and the historical context for it in “James Madison of War and Liberty,The Scholar’s Stage (8 Oct 2010).

    [3] This is of course not absolutely true–India’s most serious insurgency, the Naxalites, are nominally communist. But the very fact that they are now called Naxalites instead of their official name, CPI-Maoist, is a pretty telling indication of how large a role Marxist or Maoist ideology plays in their operations. 

    [4] Gary Brecher, “The War Nerd: The Islamic State and American Narcisism,Pando Daily (12 February 2015). His most recent column about Boko Haram strikes a similar note: “Boko Haram and the Demon Consensus,Pando Daily (28 January 2015).

    [5] This is also true, though to a lesser extent, of both the Emerati states (like Qatar) and Pakistan. The Pakistanis are a particularly dangerous lot, because they have the power to export this ideology to India, China, and Central Asia and are actively doing so.


     

    48 Responses to “A Civilization is at Stake Here”

    1. Whitehall Says:

      I find this statement difficult to swallow:

      “Tehran is not exporting an ideology that inspires terrorists around the world.”

      The Iranians have directly sponsored terrorist and terrorist acts. Putting a price on the head of Salaman Rushi was not terrorism? Hezbollah does not count?

      That said, The population of Iran has been the most civilized in the region – whether that high civilization will survive the mullahs remains to be seen.

      But right now, reverting to the cultural understanding and colloboration that existed prior to 1979 seems like a dim hope. Yes, Iran and the US should have better political and military relations based on common long-term interests. But is that opposition America’s fault?

    2. Jim Says:

      ISIS exists in large part because of the stupidity of our past Middle East policies. Our attempts at social engineering in the Middle East have been even more disastrous than our attempts at social engineering in our own country. Now thanks to our monumental stupidity the possibility is being discussed of ISIS attacks from Libya on Mediteranean shipping. Despite out massive fuck-ups so far I am convinced that we will probably fuck-up even worst in the future.

    3. TMLutas Says:

      Americans who hold the muslim faith have every right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that non-muslim americans have. If they are targeted and we do not defend them, then our own protection against outsider violence is revealed as worthless and we’re all vulnerable. America’s interests are involved fundamentally because we must defend our own citizens.

      American muslims have an obligation to pick a side in their religious civil war obvious enough so that America, in its government’s natural efforts to fulfill its promise of safety and national security does not target them by accident. We want a lumpectomy, not a mastectomy, if possible. But violent jihadi religious court decisions that claim jurisdiction over our citizens are acts of aggression that must be responded to because they deny our sovereignty over US territory.

      We do not publicly track these court decisions. We might not even track them in the classified world. This is a mistake. It leads to confusion over what we are upset about and causes unnecessary division inside our own politics.

    4. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      >>American muslims have an obligation to pick a side in their religious civil war obvious enough so that America, in its government’s natural efforts to fulfill its promise of safety and national security does not target them by accident.

      My understanding of islam is that it does not recognize the legitimacy of any government other than islam. To the degree American muslims can stay off the radar and out of the line of fire I expect that’s what they will do. I don’t think we’re going to get any help from them.

    5. TMLutas Says:

      Michael Hiteshew – I think in practice, very few muslims do not recognize the government of the USA or the 50 states or even their local municipalities. If that were true, you’d be seeing a lot of muslims in jail for not paying their taxes, etc. To my knowledge that simply doesn’t happen so what are you talking about? We might be using common terms differently.

    6. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      TML, I think they follow the law to the degree that is required to survive. Nothing else. I’ve only known two muslims well and both explained to me that islam derived law is the only real law. Law and religion are one and the same to them. I recall seeing polls that most muslims in Europe want sharia law imposed across Europe. Maybe I’ve got that wrong. The muslims that I’ve known casually who are pro-West are no longer muslim in any real sense of the word. Or maybe never were.

    7. TMLutas Says:

      We’re going to have agree to disagree whether following the laws obediently is/is not recognizing the USA. I think it is.

    8. Ken Hoop Says:

      What can the US do to reduce the ranks and animus of “militant Islam?”
      You have to ask that question?
      Get out of the Mideast.

    9. Mike K Says:

      “You have to ask that question?
      Get out of the Mideast.”

      OK. We now have the energy sources to allow that. Why is the political left fighting to stop US self sufficiency ?

    10. Jonathan Says:

      what, if anything, can American statesmen and policy-makers do to discredit Salafi-Jihadist ideology?

      What did American statesmen and policy-makers do to discredit fascism?

    11. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      During WWII Hollywood was invited (directed?) to create Why We Fight movies.

      Wiki:

      Why We Fight is a series of seven documentary films commissioned by the United States government during World War II whose purpose was to show American soldiers the reason for U.S. involvement in the war. Later on they were also shown to the general U.S. public to persuade them to support American involvement in the war.

      Most of the films were directed by Frank Capra, who was daunted yet impressed and challenged by Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda film Triumph of the Will and worked in direct response to it. The series faced a tough challenge: convincing a recently non-interventionist nation of the need to become involved in the war and ally with the Soviets, among other things.

      Can you imagine a Steven Spielberg doing that today? Me neither.

      The Great Dictator was produced in 1940. Casablanca was produced in 1942. To Have and Have Not was produced in 1944.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_II_films

      None of this was necessarily aimed at the abroad, it was for American audiences primarily. Other than Why We Fight, none of it was the result of statesmen trying to discredit fascism directly. I wonder, though, at FDR’s influence and whether he encouraged films with these themes.

    12. T. Greer Says:

      @whitehall-

      “The Iranians have directly sponsored terrorist and terrorist acts. Putting a price on the head of Salaman Rushi was not terrorism? Hezbollah does not count?”

      I made the distinction between sponsoring terrorist groups and sponsoring “ideology that inspires terrorists around the world.” Hezbollah is a case in point. This group gets some of its funding from helping international crime and terrorist outfits, but it is not connected to them in an ideological way. Their propaganda in Lebanon is religiously tinged, but that is just as much about identity politics (the same kind that are driving the Kachin and Shan militias in Burma right now) as it is about ideology, religious or otherwise.

      A comparison between ISIS and Hezbollah drives home the point. Hezbollah is completely comfortable forming a unity government with Maronite Christians. ISIS would never do this.

      @Michael H-

      “My understanding of islam is that it does not recognize the legitimacy of any government other than islam”

      I’ll note two things:

      1) For almost all religions in the world, Islam included, there is but a tenuous connection between the high doctrines in the books and actual understanding and practice of religion among average people. (e.g. official Christians believe in the ‘trinity’, but 80% of those I have canvassed have told me that they think Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings; Christ unequivocally condemns divorce in the New Testament as evil; plenty of American Christians still do it, etc). So what official doctrine teaches is in my mind much less important than the attitudes and beliefs of every day people.

      That can be hard to gauge sometimes too though. Take this table taken from Pew – 54% of devout Indonesians muslims believe that their country’s laws accord closely to Sharia, about the same as in Iraq and Morocco – and this despite the fact that the governments, social mores, and actual laws on the books in Indonesia and the Arab world are hardly the same! clearly people from both regions have a different idea of what “sharia” means.

      @Jonathan-

      “That did American statesmen and policy-makers do to discredit fascism?”

      That is the right question to ask. The on thing that might make the ‘brute-force’ approach used to destroy fascism less useful for destroying Salafi-jihadism: the entire ideology of fascism was caught up in national states ruled by charismatic leaders. They were an easier target to spot. When Hitler was dead the movement was gone. Osama bin Laden is dead but his movement lives on. It doesn’t need a state to survive.

    13. Grurray Says:

      “Hezbollah is completely comfortable forming a unity government with Maronite Christians. ISIS would never do this.”

      True. Hezbollah has a political wing that forms coalitions. A comparison can be made with the IRA and Sinn Fein.

      It should be noted that they really plan to form a unity government with one Maronite Christian, former general and current charlatan Michel Aoun, who serves as their paid stooge. In the 6 years between when Syria ended its occupation of Lebanon and the Syrian Civil War began, Hezbollah engaged in an assassination campaign against Christian political opponents. Aoun was able to consolidate his control of the Christian block and deliver it to Hezbollah.

      Since the war in Syria, political fighting and assassinations in Lebanon have basically stopped, probably because Hezbollah has found new enemies outside the country to keep them busy.

    14. Grurray Says:

      Should’ve read “planned” -typing on my phone.
      Planned to form a coalition.

      When Syria assassinated the Lebanese Prime Minister in 2005 and then we’re subsequently forced to withdraw, Hezbollah brought in Aoun, who had been in exile in France since the end of the Lebanese Civil War. They needed a Christian front man to provide cover for their counter-revolution campaign.

    15. Robert Schwartz Says:

      I certainly do not want to write a 500 word essay to refute Mr. Lutas or the other commentors above. But, they deserve it.

      I will dispose of the easy one first. What ever the United States has done in the world, the Middle East, or anywhere or at any time has absolutely nothing to do with the current state of play in the Middle East. What you see there is the one true Islam in all of its glory. Fighting and killing each other until the whole place will be a desert inhabited by tiny tribes of Bedouins too far apart and too poor to do each other much harm. This is the ground state they were headed towards when Napoleon showed up in Egypt. From then until after WWII, the European Powers sat on them and prevented much harm. During the Cold War, the US and Russia took the place of the Europeans. Also, the discovery of oil showered money on societies that enabled their rulers to buy off trouble makers. But, there are too many mouths to feed and Islamic society is absolutely incapable of investing money in its own progress or indeed doing very much but buying weapons and killing each other and a few kufirs.

      As the restraints imposed by foreigners have disappeared from the Middle East, they have been able to go back to their accustomed ways.

      I would accuse Mr. Lutas of joining Hussein Obama in la-la land on the subject of Iran, if I did not know that Hussein’s ideas are not his own* and indeed, have a perfectly respectable establishment Republican origin in the work of James Baker (may his name be blotted out), Robert Gates (Sec. Def. 2007-2011), and nominal Democrat Lee Hamilton in the Iraq Study Group.

      The problem is that what is perfectly lucid geopolitical calculation simply crashes on the rock of reality. The Iranian Mullocracy is just as apocalyptic, savage, and hateful as ISIS. During the Iran Iraq war of the 1980s, they hit upon a low tech method of clearing minefields. The gave young children plastic house keys, and told them that if they died clearing the field, they would go to paradise. The children were then marched across the minefield.

      The Iranians have sponsored many terrorist attacks on the US and Israel. Beirut 1982, Kohbar towers 1994, and even a role in the 9/11 attacks. Further they sponsored, organized, and commanded attacks on American and allied troops in the Iraq war and in Afghanistan. They say the United States is the Great Satan and and we should respect what they say and do. They hate the United States and are at war with us. One day we may do something about it.

      The major portion of the thesis of this article that Jihadism is an innovation is wrong. Whabbism/Salafism is not a 20th century invention. It dates back to the 18th Century, and indeed, as Mr. Lutas alluded to previously, it echos the Kharijites of the 7th Century. Islam has had its protestant revolution*, and it will always be intolerant, domineering, and violent. As Spengler wrote in “Jihad and Self-Sacrifice in Islam”: “Religious war of conquest, that is, jihad, has the same role in Islam that the Lord’s Supper has in Christianity. Christianity (and Judaism) have exercised violence in the past but never sacralized violence. That is unique to Islam among the self-styled Mosaic religions.”

      There is no reason to prefer Iran to ISIS, they both hate the Untied States, and both will the destruction of Kufirs. If any thing we should be more concerned about the Iranians who are on the cusp of manufacturing Nuclear Weapons, than about ISIS which is stuck in the middle of the desert and does not appear to have a way out.

      As for allies in the Middle East, I find it passing strange that Mr. Lutas does not mention Israel, which has been our loyal ally since 1967 and which would like to continue to be our ally. Of course Jim Baker and Hussein want to dump Israel because they hate Jews, and that is why they clutch at the Iranian will-o’-the-wisp.

      It may be that Mr. Lutas meant a Muslim ally. And indeed that would be a problem. The only way that the US will find a Muslim ally in the Middle East is to create one by making Kurdistan a reality. When would than have a Muslim ally. Yes, I know that the Turks would hate us, but tough noogies. They had the chance to help us, and they have done nothing but hinder us. I think it would be a marvelous strategic stoke, but I am sure that nothing short of a nuclear weapon exploding in an American city would cause him to abandon his Iranian delusion.

      *I have never heard an original idea come out of Hussein’s mouth, and I rather suspect that he has never had one. Whether is a dull man or a somewhat, but not highly, intelligent man who is lazy and doesn’t like to think, I do not know.

      * No, the Protestants resemble ISIS about the way that our tabby cat resembles a Bengal Tiger in the wild.

      Almost 900 words. Damn.

    16. Jim Says:

      To Robert Schwartz – An independent Kurdistan will destabilize Turkey. Perhaps we have sufficently fucked up everything in the Middle East already.

    17. Jim Says:

      To Robert Schwartz – Any cost-benefit analysis of our relationship with Israel would indicate that the costs have far exceeded the benefits. We need an alliance with Israel like we need a hole in the head.

    18. Mike Doughty Says:

      Maybe the answer to ISIS (and other like groups) suggests itself if you ask the right question.

      How do you stop a group of people who are committed to killing you and yours, and are quite willing to die doing so?

      You kill them first…..all of them.

      But we don’t have the will to do this, so we debate and dither about, and a few more of us die at their hands.

      If we don’t do something soon and Iran gets the bomb we will be in real trouble. It won’t be a few getting their heads chopped off.

    19. Grurray Says:

      “An independent Kurdistan will destabilize Turkey”

      Wouldn’t that be a shame, after they kickstarted the Syrian civil war by supporting the rebels including Daesh, and now smuggle their oil for them. Yes that would be a tragedy, especially now that they and Russia are partnering to build a gas pipeline which would bypass Ukraine. My oh my, we can’t have the Turks destabilized, no sireee. Who would Obama take then orders from?

    20. Mike K Says:

      ” An independent Kurdistan will destabilize Turkey. ”

      That is the reason why GHW Bush did not support them after Gulf War I. That reason is no longer operative. It is, however, the reason why the Turks have been sitting a few miles away watching ISIS trying genocide and doing nothing. Turkey is now part of the problem. The Kurds also have a major effect on Iran as Kurdistan runs all across the northern tier of three countries.

      If independent and intact, it would be our only other real ally in the middle east.

    21. Jonathan Says:

      There is a very interesting piece on related topics by Joshua Muravchik in Commentary. One of its salient points is that public opinion in Muslim countries favors jihadist violence in inverse proportion to the actual experience of each population with such violence. For example, Pakistanis have been on the receiving end of much jihadist terrorism and support it at much lower rates than do, say, Palestinians. This is good news because it confirms that Muslims respond rationally to experience and incentives like everyone else does. If we consistently use force against jihadists as we did against fascists we will 1) kill off the true believers and 2) make clear to the rest that jihadism is a dead end not worth pursuing. The caveat is that we may have to use a lot of force, particularly if we continue to be inconsistent as we have been in using force, but the alternatives may all be worse.

    22. TMLutas Says:

      Robert Schwartz – I’m trying to figure out what I wrote in this thread that you disagree with so energetically. I am at a loss.

    23. Mrs. Davis Says:

      Better to be smart than to descend into barbarism.

      If only Curt LeMay had been smarter things would have worked out better.

    24. Mrs. Davis Says:

      If we consistently use force against jihadists as we did against fascists

      We did not use force simply against fascists. We used it against the nations and people of Japan, Germany, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia and Albania. We will eventually do something comparable to significantly reduce the power of this Islamic ideology by whatever name you call it. Note that there are still fascists in the world. They simply are not in power. As I suggest above, we will be equally barbaric to adherents of the ideology as well as innocents in proximity to them to assure they are no longer in power. Because over the last 150 years we have demonstrated consistent effectiveness in bringing overwhelming barbarity to bear when sufficiently motivated. We now appear to be willing to allow them to run wild until they have so motivated us. I shudder to think what will so motivate us. Then we will show them that war is hell and they will howl.

    25. Mike K Says:

      “Then we will show them that war is hell and they will howl.”

      As Sherman said, “I will make Georgia howl.”

      The irony here is that the people of Iran are probably the least devout Muslims in the Muslim world. The leadership and the Revolutionary Guard are leading them into terrible danger. Mosque attendance is at about 2% and “Iranian women are voting with their uteruses.” The birth rate is below Europe’s.

      Even in 2009, Obama ignored their protests of a stolen election because he was, even then, intent on a deal with the regime. Why ?

      Is Valerie Jarret the real Secretary of State ? Is Obama’s affection for Rashid Khalidi the answer ?

      Khalidi stated in an interview, “every other single place on the face of the earth is in support of the Palestinians, yet all of them together aren’t a hill of beans compared to the United States and Israel, because the United States and Israel can basically do anything they please.

      The LA Times video of Obama’s encomium to Khalidi is still secret.

      In what will doubtless be a vain attempt to quell the bleating from the political fringe, I offer here a review of the true history of the “Khalidi tape,” why dreams of its transformational import are overblown and why the political noise machine should be thanking The Times, rather than vilifying it.

      They could put all this speculation to bed by releasing it.

    26. JNorth Says:

      If we really wanted to we could but too many people in this country prefer to stick their head in the sand and think it could be done with little to no harm to the populations as a whole.

      The Middle East and North Africa can not feed themselves, hell, in Saudi Arabia much of their water comes from desalinization plants. The Navy could block all imports via the sea which is how most foodstuff comes. Then the Navy and Air Force could eliminate all power plants, water treatment plants and desalinization plants in the region. After that just let nature take it course, half the population wouldn’t last the summer.

      You do not decide when the enemy is defeated, only he can do that. Until you break his spirit the fight isn’t over, at best you get an temporary pause in fighting while the enemy rebuilds like we had from 1919-1935. Only one other way to defeat an enemy but the folks in Carthage don’t seem to want to talk about that.

    27. Jonathan Says:

      We did not use force simply against fascists. We used it against the nations and people of Japan, Germany, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia and Albania.

      We didn’t start out as brutal as we became. We escalated as necessary. In the current situation, because our leaders have their heads in the sand, we might in the event of shocking provocation go from zero to full brutality and skip the intermediate steps. It might better for everyone if we began escalating now instead.

    28. Mike K Says:

      “The Iranian Mullocracy is just as apocalyptic, savage, and hateful as ISIS.” They are but the population is not the leadership.

      You could read David Goldman’s book

      or just read this essay.

      It’s true that the Muslim birthrate far exceeds the Western birthrate, but large parts of the Islamic world are catching up to the West’s demographic winter at startling speed. The Muslim world is passing from infancy to senility without going through adulthood. Muslim countries with a high literacy rate — Iran, Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia — have already fallen below replacement fertility. Islam is a religion of traditional society, where subsistence farmers have always had as many children as they could. The moment Muslims leave the traditional world — especially when girls get a high school education — their behavior changes radically. Most Iranians have six siblings, but will have one or two children.

      And more:

      With a hard hand, in the case of Iran. The foreign policy establishment has always seen Iran as a rational player. That was the view that Robert Gates brought into the Bush administration, and the reason that the Obama administration refused, disgracefully, to support the democracy movement that erupted in Iran in the summer of 2009.

      An individual, or a country, that knows it has no future has no rational self-interest.

      That is why Obama is wrong about Iran.

    29. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Jim: Horseraddishes.

    30. Jonathan Says:

      The mullahs are rational. However, their interests diverge from those of the Iranian people. The mullahs want to hold power, but declining population growth means there will soon be too few young Persian men for the dictatorship to maintain the kind of big army that it needs if it is to survive in the long term. Like Putin, the Iranian regime has an incentive to go for broke before its options are constrained by demographics, and while US leadership is weak and disoriented. The next couple of years promise to be dangerous for us. I think this is essentially Goldman’s argument.

    31. Mike K Says:

      ” I think this is essentially Goldman’s argument.”

      I agree and worry about a terrorist attack in a port. Los Angeles is farther from Iran than New York but it is still a worry.

      An EMP attack would be devastating. Could we even retaliate ?

    32. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      I doubt the submarine missile force would be affected at all by an EMP strike. So, yes. In a devastating way.

    33. Mike K Says:

      An interesting piece about what could have been a Chinese EMP test.

      A new report circulating in the Kremlin today prepared for Prime Minister Putin by Director Anatoly Perminov of the Russian Federal Space Agency states that an Arkon-1 military satellite monitoring the western coastal regions of North America detected an “EMP anomalous event” occurring on November 8th at 0600 Pacific Standard Time (-8 hours GMT) that bore the “direct signature” of a YJ-62 subsonic anti-ship missile fired from a Chinese People’s Liberation Navy Type 041 submarine (NATO code name Yuan-Class) [photo 2nd left] known to be patrolling approximately 200 kilometers off United States coast.

      It’s not clear if it was nuclear.

      The “immediate effect” of the Chinese Navy’s firing of their EMP missile, this report continues, was the “catastrophic crippling” of the US based cruise ship Carnival Splendor [photo 3rd left] that stranded its nearly 4,500 passengers and crew in a “dead in the water” boat and prompting the Americans to send the US Navy’s Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, warplanes, and supply aircraft to protect it from further attack after all of its electronic systems were destroyed.

    34. Anonymous Says:

      Somebody’s spooking about the Carnival Splendor. And based on this report from USNI I doubt it’s them. Too many people had to know about the event for it to have been the result of emp and not the kind of accident that occurs regularly. Could be, but I doubt it.

    35. Anonymous Says:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDNeYY5HV7c&feature=player_detailpage

      How terrifying that such an event would not make the news. Eleven hours for a reaction time? and only 200 km out? A shipspotting channel on Youtube had some Chinese Naval vessels in Rotterdam recently. Doesn’t seem like a good time to be dismantling the military. In fact, no time is a good time.

    36. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      It would be in Russia’s interest to stir up conflict between the US and China. I do not trust them as a source.

    37. vxxc2014 Says:

      I’ll give you a big problem with all this: No Veteran trusts those behind him. Not his Officers with the exception of those individuals who go and fight with their men and back them up when the ugly truth of killing comes out, certainly not our Chicken Little Generals who let the media and lawyers eat them for the evening news snack, not the Institution. There’s a price to be paid for being faithless and distrust is the beginning of it.

      As far as debating Islam…they’re debating us by cutting off heads, but also each other. It’s probably of limited but valuable return on the effort to point out this is a heresy from murder of Ali that admits of only 1 solution- Kill them.

      Too bad your Killers can’t and don’t trust you.

    38. vxxc2014 Says:

      Our leaders don’t have their heads in the sand.

      Our leaders have their snouts in the Saudi/Gulf Arabs money trough.

      http://www.al-monitor.com/lobbying

      Now that right there rules out use of military force-you don’t send people to die for 2 faced traitors playing both sides in the open-that stops all work.

      As for all our foreign boogeymen going for broke, I don’t think it’s foreigners desperately trying to get America engaged in all out war with them, nor do I see them committing suicide as a plan. However they’re quite capable of doing all of this on their own and don’t need any more vital* American Valiant blood watering their beloved sand. America needs to husband it’s brave blood, and it needs it at home.

      For it’s not the foreigners going for broke at all.

      *courage is always a very limited quality possessed by a few, and as it appears to run in families death of the courageous has long term effects.

    39. vxxc2014 Says:

      It’s not Iran, Putin or Sapient Ebola that’s going for Broke against America. Or rather…Americans.

    40. Robert Schwartz Says:

      OK Mr. Lutas:

      I wrote the 5000 words so that you could understand what we disagree about. I will break it up into a few separate posts so as not to choke the system. It is in the form of quotes from your post followed by responses.

      TL:
      We cannot “win” this fight, … unless we can discredit the ideology that gives this fight teeth. Luckily for us, this does not require discrediting [Islam]

      RS:
      Religions cannot be discredited by logical argument. They are social structures, not logical structures. Social structures can fall prey to many forces, internal and external. One possibility is war. War discredited Naziism, Fascism, and Neo-Shintoism. But, Soviet Communism was discredited by its economic collapse of its own weight (Yes, we pushed. Reagan Thatcher, and John-Paul deserve a lot of credit). The shattering of social structures by contact with foreign civilizations is exemplified by the series of explosions in 19th Century China due to contacts with European powers. Another model is the collapse of the Meso-American Civilizations on contact with the Spanish.

      TL:
      the ideology we seek to discredit is a comparatively new one. It was born in the sands of Najd shortly before Arabia became “Saudi,” crystallized in its present form only in the 1960s, and was not exported abroad until the late 1980s.

      RS:
      This shirttail history is wrong enough to be misleading. Salafism was first preached in Arabia by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792). He allied with the Saud family in the Middle of the 18th Century. His name decorates the Saudi branch of Salafism.

      But, that is not the only strand. Another one is the Deobandis of the Indian Subcontinent. That movement was founded in 1867 to oppose the British and to purify Islam in India. In recent years the Wahhabis and Deobandis have made common cause and the Sauds have contributed a lot of financial support.

      The third strand comes out of Egypt as the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in 1928. Their motto is: “Allah is our objective; the Koran is our Constitution; the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; Death for the sake of Allah is our wish.” You can’t get more upfront than that.

      There is another strand that was imported into the Muslim World from Europe. Fascism, Nazism, and Communism (which I regard as national manifestations of the same underlying ideas) all contributed to the ideological poison that perfuses the region.

      The preceding discussion leaves out the Iranian Revolutionaries, who have a different religious take on things, but who are every bit as nasty as their Sunni cousins.

      My conclusion is that the movements are are locally rooted and deep seated, and are of long standing.

    41. Robert Schwartz Says:

      TL:
      almost all “Islamist” terrorist attacks can be linked directly to this new Salafi-Jihadist ideology and the madrassas and proselytizing media used to spread it.

      RS:
      Michael Leeden has always emphasized the agency of Iran. “AQ was working in cahoots with Iran all along.” Even when the attackers have been Sunni, Iran has had a hand in many notable terrorist operations. E.g. they transited the muscle for the 9/11 operation from Afghanistan to Europe. From the Wall Street Journal:

      “Iran is a state sponsor of terror and has been officially listed as such for more than 30 years. It has developed an extensive military-industrial complex, the Defense Industries Organization, which is capable of supplying all of its own military equipment, weapons and ammunition. With this capability, Iran has become the primary supplier of weapons to two other state sponsors of terror, Sudan and Syria, as well as the primary sponsor of other foreign terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah, Hamas and numerous Shiite militias in Iraq. With Iran’s help, Hezbollah has stockpiled about 60,000 surface-to-surface rockets in Lebanon while Hamas has stockpiled about 10,000 surface-to-surface rockets in Gaza, all for the stated purpose of wiping Israel off the face of the earth.

      “Tehran’s regime suppresses internal dissent and has executed tens of thousands of its own citizens for opposing the regime. It is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. military personnel in Iraq through improvised explosive devices supplied to Shiite militias in the past decade. Iran counts as close allies Russia, China and North Korea, which team with the regime in developing ballistic missiles and nuclear capabilities.

      “Iran is not just a problem for the Middle East. In South and Central America it has engaged in money laundering, drug and arms trafficking, counterfeiting, promoting jihad, and plotting terrorist attacks.

      “… not to mention Iran’s recent backing of the coup in Yemen,”

      The willingness to separate Iran from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is a key flaw in Mr. Lutas’s analysis.

      TL:
      It is an ideology that directly threatens the sovereign rulers of every country in the Near East

      RS:
      Not Saudi Arabia, they have the Salafis in their pocket. And not Iran, the Mullahs run the Country, and there is no Salfist opposition. Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are not threatened because they are already dead. Egypt is back under military government as it has been for most of the last 700 years. The Gulf States don’t have much of an insurrectionary problem, except for Bahrain which had a Shia insurgency that has been crushed. Yemen is now run by Iranian backed Shia insurgents. Tunisia seems to have survived the Arab Spring in good condition. Algeria is under the same leaden Military dictatorship that it has been under since the French left. I wonder how many of the old folks pine for the days when the French ran the place.

      TL:
      but have little relation to the way Islam was practiced in most places a mere 30 years ago.

      RS:
      That is something the Salafist would agree with you on, 100%. Their argument is that Muslims have suffered in the modern world because they have lost the purity of that old time religion and that it is only by following Salfism that they can be rescued from their downtrodden state.
      See how it works. Like jujitsu.

      TL:
      Think of these Salafi reformers as you do the first wave of Protestant reformers back in the 16th century. The comparison is apt not only because the goal of the Salafi-Jihadists is, like the original Protestants, to bring religious practice back to a pure and original form,

      RS:
      This is a way to confuse yourself not enlighten yourself. The first thing to remember is that the initial subject of the Reformation was the government of the Church. The Church was governed by the Pope and the other institutions of the Roman Church in condominium with secular princes. The Reformations chief object was to alter that government. In the Lutheran lands to hand it over to the local synods and princes. In the Calvinist lands, government was given to the congregations, and to some extent local civil rulers. Most of the Reformation was carried out in law courts, royal courts, church synods and councils, and parliaments. Force did play a part, but mostly to preserve local jurisdictions against the claims of Rome, the Empire, and other foreigners.

      In the Christian world the desire to bring religious practice back to a pure and original form was most visible in the Anabaptists who were communists and pacifists. Nothing like that has been sighted in the Muslim World.

    42. Robert Schwartz Says:

      TL:
      or because the savagery displayed by many of the Protestant reformers was quite comparable to ISIS at its worst,

      RS:
      The linked article is a demented screed about Thomas Cromwell and the new TV series “Wolf Hall” The article provides absolutely no support for connecting the Reformation to the “svagery”. Here are some key quotes from the article: “any attempt to cast Cromwell’s despotic actions as sincere theological reform are hopeless. Cromwell himself had minimal truck with religious belief.” The article points to old fashioned greed as the motivation: “Cromwell moved on to confiscating the Church’s money. … It was the biggest land-grab and asset-strip in English history”. Nor is the comparison of “He dispatched hundreds under his highly politicized ‘treason’ laws” to ISIS sacralized ritual violence apt. Cromwell was just a gangster with a very thin theological shell. As Spengler point out, and as the Muslim Brotherhood demonstrate, Jihad is a religious obligation and ritual. The slaughters and crimes of ISIS are not mere killings or rapes, they are ritual human sacrifices. It is an entirely different level of horror.

      TL:
      The Salafi-Jihadists want to change the way billions of people worship, think, and live out their daily lives. ISIS’s success in the Near East gives us a clear picture of exactly what kind of society the Salafi-Jihadists envision for the Ummah. I will not mince words: humankind faces few catastrophes more terrible than allowing Salafi-Jihadist reformers to hijack Islamic civilization. Theirs is an ideology utterly hostile to human progress and prosperity, and their victory, if attained, will come at great human cost.

      RS:
      You are missing the the publicly stated goal of the S-J, it is not merely to govern the entire Muslim community (ummah) under their vision of Islam, it is to establish a universal Muslim empire (the Caliphate), where all Kufirs (all 5 billion of them) will be systematically treated as an inferior caste (dhimmi). This is not an invention of the 20th Century. It was common in pre-modern Muslim countries, and not abandoned until the European imperial powers forced Muslim rulers to dismantle the institutions.

      In classic Islamic legal theory, dhimmis must openly acknowledge the superiority of Muslims, and pay tribute to their Muslim rulers in the form of a yearly poll tax (Jizyah). The Jizyah must be paid with “willing submission, and [the payors must] feel themselves subdued” (Sura 9:9).

      Further restrictions were imposed on Dhimmis. On pain of death, dhimmis are forbidden to mock or criticize the Koran, Islam or Muhammad, to proselytize among Muslims, or to touch a Muslim woman. Dhimmis are excluded from public office and are forbidden to bear arms. They are not allowed to ride horses or camels, to build houses of worship taller than mosques, or construct residences higher than those of Muslims. They are not allowed to pray or mourn in loud voices. Church bells are forbidden. Dhimmi must yield the center of the public way to Muslims. Dhimmi are not allowed to give evidence in court against a Muslim, and their oaths are unacceptable in Islamic courts. Dhimmis must wear distinctive clothing. In the 9th century, the Caliph ordered Jews to wear a yellow badge. The Nazis invented nothing.

      TL:
      The Protestants secured their Reformation with one of the most destructive wars of European history;

      RS:
      The 30 Years War was an important event in European history. But it was only partly about religion. Certainly it was sparked by religious tension over the Augsburg settlement of the 16th century, which had been destabilized by the Counter-Reformation and the growth of Calvinism which had not been a party to Augsburg. But, the first moves of the eventual initial combatants were political not military. The Catholic Hapsburg Emperor issued decrees on the status of Catholicism in Bohemia (Modern Czech Republic). The Bohemian Estates responded politically by electing a Protestant Kurfürsten (Imperial Elector) to be the King of Bohemia instead of a Catholic Hapsburg. This triggered the Imperial invasion of Bohemia and the Battle of White Mountain. What had begun as a political and religious confrontation thus became a civil war of the Holy Roman Empire. Within a few years the civil war turned into a struggle between the French Catholic Bourbons and the Austro-Spanish Catholic Hapsburgs for hegemony in Europe. That contest was followed by the War of the Spanish Succession of the early 18th Century, (Catholic France vs Catholic Austria and Protestant England), War of the Austrian Succession of the middle of the 18th Century, The 7 Years War (French and Indian War), The French Revolutionary War and Napoleonic Wars, The Franco Prussian war, and the 20th century Great War/WWI/WWII, the Cold War. All of these were in the final analysis the contest for hegemony in Europe. Religion was there, but really, it was national power and geopolitics that ruled the 4 century contest.

      The current crisis in the Middle East is quite different in character. It is a religious war begun as jihad by insurrectionist Muslim factions. They are not trying to secure their territory, they are trying to overthrow the existing order and impose their vision of Islam. The end, as I said, will be the mutual slaughter of Muslims and the final victory of the sand.

      TL:
      It is a hard nut for Westerners to crack. President Obama and Bush show some awareness of the problem when they declare that ISIS, Al-Qaeda, terrorism, or whatever “is not Islamic.” In the end, however, these statements are self defeating. Those most tempted to join the Jihadist cause are those who will respond least well to a Christian emperor telling them how to express their faith. The crux of the problem is that we have picked a side in an ideological civil war, but the clearer it becomes that we Americans have chosen this side the more difficult it becomes for our chosen side to win.

      RS:
      We have not chosen a side. A side attacked US. They hated us before they attacked us, which is why they attacked us. Nothing we can say about them will make them hate us less. If we said to are attackers: “you were right and we were wrong” they would hate us even more for being craven. Hussein tried that line with Iran and see how far that has gotten us. If we said you are wrong and will punish you, they would still hate us.

      It is apparent that our communication strategy cannot depend on Muslim reactions. Further, the US government should direct most of it efforts toward communicating the truth to the American people. We need to find out what is happening without having to parse our own government’s communications in the same suspicious way that Russians had to read Pravda in the Soviet era.

    43. Robert Schwartz Says:

      TL:
      1) We should not try to take part in the theological, intellectual, and cultural conflicts that are driving this ideology forward. American politicians making takfir are at best embarrassing and at worst destructive to our cause. Government officials should only give active support to prominent Muslims who oppose Salafi-Jihadist ideology when we can do so secretly or when our intentions for doing so can be obscured.

      RS:
      I do not agree, communications with the Muslim world are utterly hopless. No matter what we say or to whom we say it, they will hate us because we are Kufirs and we are rich and powerful. Governmental communications need to be truthful and directed at the American people.

      TL:
      2) … there are few things naked force can’t accomplish if applied in large enough doses. But the human costs of such a campaign would be horrific and could not be done without severely damaging the character of American democracy. Better to be smart than to descend into barbarism.

      RS:
      I cannot begin to communicate how deeply I detest this argument. I am sure it was originally crafted by the Soviet dezinformatsiya operations hoping to paralyze their western opposition. Although, it probably came out of the post WWI self laceration literature (“For an old bitch gone in the teeth, For a botched civilization,”) and was simply recycled by the Soviets.

      American democracy survived Sherman’s March to the Sea, the Fire Bombing of Tokyo, and the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We must always do what we need to do to win any war that has befallen us. When we gave power to the Wallaceite Democrats (the pro-Soviet wing of the party) in 1974, they protected our democracy by betraying the South Vietnamese which resulted in the deaths of a couple of million Vietnamese and Cambodians. When we made the same political mistake again in 2008, the party of sensitive souls betrayed Iraq. The butcher’s bill has not yet been presented.

      I am willing to push the argument even further. I view it as a tragic error that we did not drop thermonuclear weapons on Mecca and Medina on 9/12/2001.

      The Arabian attack on the United States homeland was far worse than the attack on Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor cost Japan, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It worked wonders on the Japanese character, which was almost as refractory as the Arab. It also saved several million Japanese lives, by preventing the famine and plague that would have attended any invasion of the Japanese Islands.

      9/11 was brought to you by Saudi Arabia, not just in the form of the hijackers, but because Al-Qaeda was created and funded by the Saudi royal family. We should have retaliated against them by removing two of their cities from the space time continuum.

      Mecca and Medina would have been logical candidates, because of their symbolic valency. The Sauds claim the title of protectors of the two holy mosques, they would have had to have changed that to the protectors of the two glowing holes in the ground.

      Nuking those two cities would have been the condign and canonical punishment. It would have instantly terminated the War against Terror, and have deprived all future enemies of the option of attacking the US homeland. We would not have bothered with Afghanistan and Iraq, saving trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives. It probably would have saved a few million Arab lives too.

      I could have been talked into giving 24 hours warning to the populations of those two cities. I doubt that it would have reduced the casualties, because Muslims believe that Allah protects those cities from any attack, and they would not have heeded our warning.

      Our failure made the next attack on the US homeland more likely, and made our response to that attack even more likely to be a nuclear firestorm that will remove the Middle East from human history.

      Yes, the Euro-weenies and Leftist pansies would have hated the US, and denounced it. But it is better to be feared than to be loved. It would be many long years until the American homeland were attacked again.

      As for discrediting Islam, it is unlikely, but it is possible. Islam’s fundamental message is “Come to Islam, Come to Victory”. Blowing up Mecca and Medina would make that sound very hollow.

      My bottom line is that the failure to use force due to failures of courage and convictions induced by the pearl clutching of the “decent into barbarism” people, can be and has been far more dangerous to us and to the world than any force we can contemplate.

    44. Robert Schwartz Says:

      TL:
      3) As we cannot discredit Salafi-Jihadist ideology through debate, we should focus our efforts on figuring out what events in the real world will discredit it and then do everything in our power to make these events happen.

      RS:
      I understand that everybody wants to do something about ISIS, but it is not at all clear to me that we should do it now or in the current geopolitical posture.

      “Iran Flexes New Clout Beyond Its Borders” By Bill Spindle, Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2015

      “Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite troops known as the Quds Force, was one of the spy world’s most covert operators. … Mr. Soleimani surfaced this week in Samarra, Iraq, to bolster the morale of Iraqi troops and militiamen embarking on a fight to free the nearby city of Tikrit, now controlled by Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. …

      “In Iraq, Iranians coordinate as many as 100,000 Iraqi fighters mobilized by Iranian-allied Iraqi clerics with a religious order to confront Islamic State. …

      “[Shiite] militias have been organized into a quasigovernmental military force by Hadi al Ameri and Abu Mahdi Mohandes, close allies of Iran. … Mr. Mohandes is now helping Mr. Soleimani coordinate the fight against Islamic State, Iraqi officials said. Shiite militias have pushed Islamic State from the edges of Shiite-majority areas in the south, while Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have won back territory in the north, in part with Iranian help. …

      “Messrs. Soleimani, Ameri and Mohandes are now targeting a string of Sunni towns and villages, paving the way for a planned offensive to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, which is controlled by Islamic State.”

      “Iraq Wants More American Bombs Dropped on Iraq” by Michael J. Totten

      “Tikrit is occupied by ISIS. Baghdad wants it back. Washington would like to see Baghdad get it back, but the Pentagon has good reasons to keep its finger off the fire button right now. … Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey says Iranian support of Iraq’s push into Tikrit might be “a positive thing” if it doesn’t exacerbate sectarian tensions. Okay. But in what alternate universe will Iranian armed forces and undisciplined Shia militias not exacerbate sectarian tensions?”

      It’s Hobson’s choice and I vote that we sit this one out.

      TL:
      (Another example, again in the context of ISIS–I would suggest that our campaigns against ISIS would have far greater power if they were perceived to be led, planned, directed, and fought by Sunni Muslims. America’s role should be muted. This will be hard to pull of given realities of current U.S. domestic politics though).

      RS:
      The Sunni powers are far more worried about Iran than they are about ISIS. They won’t do anything. And I don’t blame them. Hussein has pissed on them for the past 6 years and they are sick of it. They won’t do anything for him. What this has to do with domestic politics though, I cannot fathom.

      TL:
      4) We should do all we can to stop the dissemination of Salafi-Jihadist ideology. On the short term that means taking down Jihadist web-sites and forums;

      RS:
      Sure. Why not.

      TL:
      on the medium term that means confiscating the funds and barring travel visas of the rich Saudi and emirate sheiks who fund the madrassas, presses, preachers, and websites that produce the Jihadist filth;

      RS:
      Above you argued that mere words were not important. That “the boundaries of a religion and its attendant ideology are not set by old texts or theological debate, but by the perceptions and actions of the devout themselves”. So which is it.

      We have a very limited ability to do much that you urge here. If we confiscate funds, they won’t be deposited in our banks. If we bar visas, they will go somewhere else where they are welcome. And the First Amendment hinders us from stopping the flow of words. Further the internet really hampers our ability to stop words. Even if we kept them off every server under US jurisdiction, they could flow around us or over us.

      TL:
      on the long term it means recognizing that Saudi Arabia poses a greater threat to the interests of the United States specifically and of humanity generally than any other state, and do what we can to terminate our relationship with the house of Saud as soon as possible.

      RS:
      I think this is hysterical. Putin is the one with the cold war arsenal. China has that and a rapidly growing military. The drug lords of Meso-America are another serious problem. I might have agreed with you about Saudi Arabia in late 2001. But, times change. Saudi Arabia got taught a fierce lesson in 2003-2005, when the were attacked by Al Qaeda at home. They took measures. Even a few princes disappeared mysteriously. They really seem to me to have cleaned up their act. The Qataris have been more problematic than the Saudis, but they are smaller, and the Saudis have been leaning on them to stop being obstreperous. I recognize that Saudi Arabia is a tyranny, and that it is not about to turn into Canada, but the Keith Olberman prize should not be bestowed on them.

      TL:
      5) Related to that last point, we need to fundamentally rethink the structure of our alliance system in the Middle East. There are no good options in the Near East, and no good allies.

      RS:
      I find it passing strange that Mr. Lutas does not mention Israel, which has been our loyal ally since 1967 and which would like to continue to be our ally. Was I wrong? Or does Mr. Lutas agree with Hussein that Israel is the source of Middle East instability, which would disappear if the Jews only had the good grace to kill themselves and their children.

      It may be that Mr. Lutas meant a Muslim ally. And indeed that would be a problem. The only way that the US will find a Muslim ally in the Middle East is to create one by making Kurdistan a reality. Then we would than have a Muslim ally. Yes, I know that the Turks would hate us, but tough noogies. They had the chance to help us, and they have done nothing but hinder us. I think it would be a marvelous strategic stroke

      TL:
      We must settle for least worst. That is almost certainly the Iranians. … of all the important regional players they are the least dangerous.

      RS:
      For the fourth time: this is just plain delusional. The Iranians hate US and call US the Great Satan. They are developing nuclear weapons, they are apocalyptic. They will not only shoot at Israel, they will not hesitate to blow up some American cities too. Any estimate of the Islamic threat to world peace that doesn’t place Iran as number one with a bullet is worthless.

      TL:
      Tehran is not exporting an ideology that inspires terrorists around the world. (Indeed, outside of the Middle East itself you won’t find a Shi’i terrorist).

      RS:
      Shia Islam is a minority tendency. 85% to 90% of the worlds Muslims are Sunni. Shia are a majority only in Iran and Southern Iraq. There are a substantial number of Shia in the Subcontient, but they are distinct minority. The Sunnis are the vast majority of Muslim Terrorists because Sunnis are the vast majority of Muslims. There are a number of Shia in Syria/Lebanon where they have formed Hezbollah. And there is a substantial Shia population in Yemen, where an Iranian backed Shia group has taken over the capital, much to the annoyance of the Saudis. Thank your lucky stars that there are so few Shia outside of south central Asia.

      TL:
      The Persians have a stronger interest in combating Salafi-Jihadist extremism than any other power in the region.

      RS:
      The enemy of my enemy may still be my enemy. Right now ISIS is incredibly nasty and repellant, but Iran is by far the more serious threat. I can safely predict that ISIS will never develop any industrial capability. They are headed straight for the 7th century, not the 21st.

      TL:
      Growing Shiite power also means that more of the energy currently spent on attacking the West will be spent attacking Iran, while we can safely support Iranian ambitions without discrediting them, as would happen with many a “moderate” Sunni.

      RS:
      I believe there is a lot to criticize in that word string, but I cannot disentangle it.

      TL:
      This last point is radical but it may be the most important. Lately there has been a growing discussion in foreignpolicy circles over whether or not true U.S.-Iranian rapprochement is possible, or if the Iranians will take advantage of U.S. overtures to act against American interests with impunity.

      RS:
      Well, as I pointed out above, the paleo-con Republicans like Jim Baker and Pat Buchanan, who are Jew haters from way back, and the hard core Jew hating leftists like Hussein himself, have certainly been floating the idea of siding with the Iranians. They are delusional. Just plain crack smoking insane. The Iranians have been twisting Hussein like a pipe cleaner to consolidate their regional power. They have staved off the loss of Syria and just about crushed the rebellion there, with no little help from Hussein’s ham handed ineptitude. They now own the Southern two thirds of Iraq also with a big assist from Hussein. Iran has been and will continue to “act against American interests with impunity”. Only a fool would want to help them in any way however minor.

      TL:
      I am skeptical that the current generation of leadership in Tehran will ever be anything less than hostile towards the United States.

      RS:
      And, most likely the the next generation. By the third generation, the rot may set in. But I will not live long enough to see it.

      TL:
      But in the long term this does not matter. Even if the Iranians resolutely oppose every American initiative in the region the damage they might do–both to America, but really more importantly, to Islamic civilization, and by extension, to humanity as a whole–will be far, far less than the havoc our “allies” now wreck.

      RS:
      That is pure foolishness. The Iranians are evil and they are close to having nuclear weapons. They are a far greater danger than the craziest Sunni Salafist Jihadist. ISIS might be worse if they had WMD, but they don’t and they probably won’t any time soon.

    45. Veritas Says:

      Neither the National Socialists nor the Japanese Imperialists saw their political belief structures descredited before they were destroyed. Those systems were simply smashed by military power to a point where peace was the only option available except death and further destruction. Nothing compares nor has surpassed this approach.

      People simply do not learn until it is too late.

    46. Mrs. Davis Says:

      What is clear to me is that Mr. Schwartz’s disagreement here is with Mr. Greer and not Mr. Lutas, though he may have other disagreements with Mr. Lutas.

      This is an excellent discussion of what should be in the forefront of the debate as we head into 2016. Unfortunately, political correctness and the MSM will do everything they can to prevent this. Thank goodness we have the internet, for now, to allow such discussions to take place. Events by others will determine the outcome of the debate. When the time for action is apparent to most, there will be no need for debate, unfortunately.

    47. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Mr. Lutas: I have erred. I am embarrassed. I owe you a profound apology.

      My only excuse is that most of what I wrote above was written well past my bed time.

      If there were edit buttons on the posts. I would go back and substitute Greer for Lutas all the way through.

      Since my disagreements with the original post are not personal. The rest of my argument stands.

      Mrs. Davis: Thank You.

    48. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      >>Thank goodness we have the internet, for now

      They’re working to fix that problem.