Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why Islamism Will Not Be Defeated

In my last post, I mentioned three possible alternative futures given the rise of political Islam (Islamism), of which the first is that Islamism is crushingly defeated and therefore goes quiet. This is possible, in that the world's mightiest powers are all non-Islamic: The U.S., Europe, India, China, Russia, Japan, Israel, and indeed most of the world does not conduct its prayers at a mosque, radical or otherwise. And Islam is strong in shame/face based cultures, so a massive defeat would result in a significant quieting and perhaps even a total repudiation of the Islamist idea. But it isn't gonna happen. Here's why:
  1. It is in the interest of many of the world's great powers that Islamists prosper. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is generally understood that we live in a unipolar world, a situation which is not very likely to change any time soon, as none of the potential contenders have anything like the strength required. Yet many of the nations of the world are not our friends and reason that if they cannot raise their own power to match, then at the very least they can try to tear a chunk off of ours. Thus Russia assists the Iranians with building nuclear reactors and the nations of the Islamic world (and probably China and Russia, if I had to guess) not-so-covertly funnel money to terrorist organizations abroad while they imprison them at home.
  2. We aren't committed to defeating Islamism. Oh sure, we want to deny Al-Qaeda and like-minded organizations place to plot and train for jihad against us. But we don't want to engage on all of the levels of conflict to defeat a committed, ideological enemy. Don't believe me? Let me present Exhibit A: The street protests in Iran against Ahmadinejad following his rigged re-election in 2009. Pro-democracy, anti-Islamist demonstrators filled the country, begging for the President to stand with them. What did they get? Bubkus. Or consider Exhibit B: Egypt is aflame right now with anti-Islamist, pro-democracy protesters. What did Secretary of State Clinton say? “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” Seriously? This is the best we can do? I thought progressives believed in freedom. Not anymore, apparently.
  3. The non-Islamist world is in denial about its nature. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt, it's also the state of policy in Europe, the US, and the rest of the non-Islamic world. We continue to believe and act, as a culture, as if there is a peaceful, moderate Islam which will sweep to power any day now. Yet while it is obviously true that most Muslims are peaceful and moderate, it is not true that they will overwhelm the Islamists. The energy, momentum, and don't forget, guns and willingness to use them are all running the other way. So it is moderate Islam which will be silenced and the Islamist version which will be advanced, and comforting nostrums about the "religion of peace" will avail us nothing. It is past time for us to come to grips with the fact that if we want moderate Islam to flourish, it will do so only after the death of the Islamist version, and that this is going to require a whole lot more arranged meetings between the terrorists and Allah, courtesy of the 10th Mountain Division, 3rd Armored, and 82nd Airborne.

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