Melvin E. Kriesel
America recently commemorated the 2973 Americans who died in the infernos of September 11, 2001. The attack on 9/11 was a transformational moment in our history. Like Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 or the assassination of President Kennedy on November 23, 1963, all Americans know exactly where they were when they learned that planes were crashing into the World Trade Center in New York.
For me, it wasn't a surprise that we were attacked. Much of my military career was spent studying the Middle East and the rise of militant Islam. However, like most military planners and intelligence officers, I was astounded by the success of the operation. It is not the type of operation you pull off with amateurs. In that regard, 9/11 will go down in history as one of the most meticulously planned, superbly executed terrorist attacks ever conducted.
The attack on 9/11 was not only an operational success; it was and remains one of the most devastating psychological operations ever conducted. The attacks struck fear into the heart of America and gave encouragement to Islamist militant groups throughout the world. The attacks were also viewed by millions of Muslims as Allah's will. They continue to believe that it was Allah's punishment for the West's flagrant desecration of Islam and the sin manifest in our culture and way of life.
Since 9/11, I have spoken widely on the challenge we face from the global Jihad and the rising threat from Islamic militants. I am often asked, "Are we winning the Global War on Terror?" I try to explain that we are not fighting a "Global War on Terrorism." Terrorism is a tactic, not an entity to be defeated. In other words, you can't win a war against terrorism.
The question that should be asked is, "Can we stop the global mass movement that is now rising within Islam?" To answer that question, we must understand ourselves as well as the enemy we are fighting.
Political Correctness Will Kill Us
It is becoming clear that we can no longer tolerate the politically correct behavior and speech codes that prevent us from honestly examining and openly discussing the threat posed by militant Islam. Political correctness blinds us to the fact that the Muslim religion is being used to support a murderous ideology that seeks to impose an Islamic utopia on the world. It also explains our reluctance to use all available means to confront the threat from Islam. Simply stated, there is a pacifist strain within the West that argues for understanding, tolerance, and "dialogue" with the terrorists. By now it should be clear that there can be no dialogue with these men.
The best example is that of Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch film maker who was assassinated in Amsterdam in 2004 by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch Moroccan who was born and educated in Holland. Bonyeri killed Van Gogh because he made a movie ("Submission") that Bouyeri and Muslims considered insulting to Islam. Bonyeri shot Van Gogh in broad daylight while onlookers watched in horror. As Bouyeri bent to cut his throat, Van Gogh pleaded, "Can't we talk about this?"
That was a wake-up call for Holland. There were numerous other warnings that a sinister Islamic threat was gaining strength around the world. These warnings include the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the tragic night club bombing in Bali, the beheading of Christians by Abu Sayyef Islamists in the Philippines, the embassy bombings in Africa, and the train bombings in Spain and London in 2004 and 2005, and the now routine Islamic violence directed against Jews and Christians throughout the world.
The pattern is generally the same--shock, disbelief, and then the question, "Why? Why would anyone commit such a horrific atrocities against innocent men and women who have no chance to defend themselves."
Immediately after 9/11, there were few answers other than those from radically anti-American professors who said that we deserved the attack. There were other so-called experts and apologists for Islam who sought to explain that we had offended the Muslim World that was causing it to lash out against us. President Bush and others sought to reassure us that we were attacked by a small number of fanatics who had hijacked a peaceful and tolerant religion. None of these answers is satisfactory.
The main reason America was attacked on 9/11 is that it is the leader of the Western world and stands in the way of the world dominion Allah has ordained for Islam. The Jihadists firmly believed that they were fulfilling the demands of their religion and the instruction given to them by their Prophet Mohammad and as recorded in their holy book, the Qur'an. The attacks also had the support of millions of Muslims and were widely celebrated throughout the Muslim world. To believe otherwise makes us extremely vulnerable to the mass movement that is again rising within Islam.
Our Postmodern World
Let me try to explain why Americans do not fully comprehend or understand the challenge posed by renascent Islam. Our lack of comprehension derives from the postmodern, morally relative world that we live in. American society has been subjected to this culturally destructive project since the late 1960s.
The Postmodern Project seeks to completely deconstruct Western man and Western Culture. It aims to discredit the United States and the West by portraying them as imperial, colonialist cultures that oppress and exploit the pristine innocence of more primitive societies and cultures, most especially the victimized people of the Middle East. The project is profoundly anti-Western and within our borders, intensely anti-American.
Postmodernism is the Trojan Horse of moral relativism and political correctness in all its forms. It is managed by speech codes on campuses and by self-imposed media restrictions that forbid rational and open discussion of Islam's negative characteristics. If you openly draw attention to the violence that seems to be coming from Islam, you are immediately called racist or more recently, "Islamophobic."
You will seldom hear truly open discussion or examination of the underlying precepts within Islam that support and encourage Muslim Jihadists and suicide bombers. Such discussion or criticism is off-limits even though criticism or ridicule of Christianity or Judaism is fully approved and common on our campuses, in our mainstream media and in the public square.
We have also been "conditioned" by our media, by academia, and by Islamic front organizations such as The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), The Muslim American Society, to accept the PC myth of Islamic peace and tolerance. Fortunately, the West is waking up. By word and deed, Islam has proven that it is neither tolerant nor is it peaceful! The widespread Islamist attacks and Muslim extremism throughout the world have created an emerging realization that this widespread violence is coming from within Islam.
Jihad as a Mass Movement
A key part of this awakening must be the realization that we are in the early stages of a renascent mass movement within Islam. This modern Jihad (Holy War) represents a renewed effort to achieve Islam's historic mission of submitting the world to the will of Allah. The West and all non-Islamic countries have faced this threat since Islam began its conquest of the world in the 7th century. The modern Jihad is merely a continuation of this violent legacy. Only now it is using terrorism as a psychological weapon to counter the overwhelming military and economic might of the West.
The near-term global objective of the modern Jihad is to regenerate a mass movement within Islam that supports the historic Muslim goal of establishing Dar al-Islam (the house of submission) where all Muslim nations and eventually the world is ruled by shari'a or Islamic law and government.
The modern Jihad was formally declared on February 23, l998 in a fatwa or ruling declared by Osama bin Laden and the World Islamic Front. The fatwa has been generally ignored in American media and within academia. It shouldn't be ignored because it calls for the destruction of all Americans whether soldier or innocent civilian. The fatwa declares:
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies--civilians and military--is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem] and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim . . .
Confronting the Jihad
Our struggle with the Islamic Jihad is complicated by the difficulty of estimating the number of Muslims who directly or indirectly support the militants. In any case, we are dealing with some very large numbers. The population of Muslims across the globe is estimated at between 1.2 and 1.5 billion. Many analysts estimate that only 10 percent of Muslims actually support the Jihad and the militants. If that is the case, there are over 100 million Muslims potentially available for Holy War. The number of warriors available for Jihad will be even larger if the Jihadists are successful in generating a fully realized mass movement.
Where does the Jihad now stand? Some argue that we are at the beginning of WW III citing 9/11 as the opening salvo of that war. I would argue that the war actually began in 1979 when Iranian militants seized our embassy in Teheran and held Americans hostage for 444 days. We also chose to ignore the numerous probing attacks we were receiving before 9/11.
I also agree with those who say that 9/11 was our modern Pearl Harbor. At 8:46 a.m. on that terrible September morning, we lost 3000 men and women to the enemy. This closely approximates our casualties at Pearl Harbor at the beginning of WW II.
Dunkirk in WW II is another analogy that applies to our present struggle with the Islamists. An argument has been made that a modern Dunkirk in the Middle East will occur if the terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in Iraq force a premature withdrawal of our forces before stability is restored. If that were to happen, it is likely that another Holocaust will result as Jews in Israel are slaughtered in a genocidal Muslim rage and Christians are cleansed from the region.
Many will object to this scenario as too alarmist. I would argue that an Islamic Holocaust is already taking place in many areas of the world where Christians and other religions are suffering from Muslim persecution and violence. It is occurring in:
* Egypt where Coptic Christians are under a genocidal assault by the Ikwahan al Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood).
* The Indonesian Molluccas where Muslim "Komando Jihad" troops are trying to cleanse the islands from all that is Christian. They have killed thousands of Christians in the past decade and have driven an estimated 500,000 people from their homes.
* East Timor where thousands of Catholics were killed by Muslims in the 1970s. By November 1976, the death toll is estimated at well over 100,000.
* The Sudan where the murder of Christians living under shari'a government is routine. An unrestricted genocide is underway in Darfur Province where Muslim Janjaweed fighters have slaughtered over 100,000 innocent tribals. The number killed grows daily as the world watches.
* Nigeria and Kenya where Muslims are murdering Christians trying to resist the establishment of shari'a (Islamic religious law and government) in those countries.
* Pakistan where it is becoming increasingly murderous for Christians as radical Islamists kill missionaries, priests, and nuns on a routine basis.
Noted scholar Samuel P. Huntington has described this conflict with Islam as a "Clash of Civilizations." Huntington's 1996 book should be required reading if for no other reason than his prediction that conflict between the West and Islam is only "the latest phase of the evolution of conflict in the modern world." Huntington concluded that the Muslim religion is the most menacing force on the international scene and is a long-term threat to world stability.
There are many who disagree with Huntington and argue that his thesis is exaggerated and too alarmist. However, terrorist trend lines clearly show that Huntington is correct in his pessimistic assessment of the threat we are facing. As we see in Iraq and Afghanistan and throughout the Muslim world, the virulent hatred and intolerance rising out of Islam is fueling the fanaticism associated with all violent mass movements.
There are moderate Muslims who still maintain that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. They argue that the extremists do not represent the majority of Muslims who only want to live in peace. However, it is increasingly difficult for moderates and apologists for Islam to deny that modern Islamic extremism represents a dark side of the religion that lends itself to exploitation by the leaders of the Jihad. This deeply ingrained violence within Islam directly supports the modern Jihad and finds expression in al Qaeda as the "base" for all modern Islamist movements.
Changing the Heart and Mind of Islam
It is incorrect to think of our struggle as a battle to win the "hearts and minds" of the Muslim world. Actually, our struggle with the Islamists involves changing the "hearts and minds" of the Muslim world.
The West can begin by bringing diplomatic pressure and international sanctions to bear on Muslim countries that do not reject the hatred and violence directed against Jews, Christians, and other religions. Political and religious leaders in the West must demand that Muslims demonstrate that Islam is a tolerant religion as proven by deeds as well as words. Muslims should be required to forcefully reject the anti-Semitism and extremism common in mosques and madrassas (Islamic schools) around the world. The United States should join with Great Britain and other European countries that now immediately deport Muslim clerics when they preach hatred and violent Jihad.
Secondly, the West should demand reciprocity for religious freedom and expression in all Muslim lands. All Muslims must be asked to "do onto others" by demonstrating that their religion can accept pluralism and the democratic norms now observed by the civilized world. The West should no longer tolerate a one-way religious street. Saudi Arabia, for example, should be required to allow churches and synagogues to be built. We should also demand that Christians be allowed to openly worship in Mecca or anywhere else within the Muslim world. Economic and political sanctions should result if religious freedom and expression is not allowed elsewhere within the borders of Islam.
Thirdly, the West must find a way to force a reformation within Islam. There are moderate Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere, who want to reform and move their religion out of the 12th century. They must be protected and supported when they speak out against their violent co-religionists. They should be encouraged to begin the "independent reasoning" (ijtihad) necessary for a reformation within the Muslim religion. A reformation occurred within the Christian faith in the 16th century. Something similar must occur within Islam in the 21st century or the violence will continue.
Finally, democracy must prevail in Iraq even though many argue that trying to establish democracy in Iraq is a distraction that takes our eyes off the real enemy. I do not believe this to be the case. The attempt to establish a functioning democracy in Iraq is the "canary in the mine shaft." If Democracy dies in Iraq, the world will be condemned to a very bleak, shari'a driven future.
It is obvious that the Islamists are putting us to the test in Iraq. Their aim is not to turn Iraq into another Vietnam. Rather, they are trying to generate a guerrilla war in Iraq similar to that experienced by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. As with the USSR, the ultimate goal of the Jihadists is to force a humiliating withdrawal by U.S. and Coalition forces. We simply must not let that happen and withdraw in the face of adversity as we did in Vietnam, Beirut, and Mogadishu. To do so will only confirm the predictions of Osama bin Laden and his Islamist warriors.
The relentless suicide bombings in Baghdad and the recent bombings in Kabul coupled with the apparently senseless attacks on mosques, innocent civilians, and infrastructure indicates that the Islamists fully realize what is at stake in Iraq and Afghanistan. They understand the power of democracy to free men's minds. A functioning democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan is their greatest fear. And be assured that all of Islam is closely watching our actions in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The psychological impact of a forced withdrawal on the millions of Muslims watching this struggle would be incalculable.
Once again, America is bearing the burden of saving the world from an oppression that seeks to destroy liberal democracy as a way of life. Our nation was the deciding factor in the struggle with Japanese Imperialism, German National Socialism, and Communism. It is again bearing the burden of leading the free world against an enemy who will not be appeased. The outcome will be determined by the will of the American people. The future of Western civilization is in their hands. *
"On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders." --Samuel Adams