Thinking about the fact that Peace Prize Obama is taking us to war again, what popped into my mind was “Don’t bother; we’ve already lost.” I know that’s an awful thing to say, but bear with me, as I explain why. And, true to my post caption, I’ll also explain what I think our war strategy has to be if we have any hope of winning against a violent, implacable enemy that willingly carries a hot grudge for centuries.
As I often do, let me start with an anecdote to put my thoughts in context. It all started when Mr. Bookworm asked me to watch an interview that Jon Stewart did with Gen. Tony Zinni (ret.), who’s shilling his new book. Mr. Bookworm was beyond thrilled to hear Zinni say that George Bush didn’t know is Arab from a Persian or his Shia from a Sunni when he started the war. I wasn’t as excited. I’ve heard Zinni make such comments before, and I think they’re for effect.
I have no doubt but that Bush and his crew knew the difference between Persian and Arab and Sunni and Shia. They just thought that they could paper these differences over by toppling dictators and plunking a boat load of democracy on top of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Bush administration’s naiveté didn’t lie in not knowing the differences, which is a clinical, academic sort of knowledge. Their failure was their inability to understand that, just as Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, Judeo-Christian cultures are from Earth and hardcore Islamist cultures (no matter whether they’re Arab, Persian, Shia, or Sunni) are from the Star War’s Death Star, with a mad dash of Star Trek Klingon culture, the only difference being that the Islamists are even less nice than those dark, imaginary places.
If you don’t have centuries to wait for a death-centric culture such as the Islamic culture to mellow, and you want to turn it around really quickly, you have only one option: completely destroy its cities, as the Allies did to both Japan and Germany at the end of WWII.
What you cannot do, as Bush’s wars definitively proved, is destroy the upper level structure and hope for trickle down democracy carried on the backs of soldiers armed with both guns and lollipops. Democracy has to start from the ground up, and the ground must first be cleared and plowed over for Democracy to take root. Even under those optimum circumstances, you have to tend your crop for 50 or 60 years, rather than stop the moment a few of freedom’s little seedlings start poking their heads above the soil. To continue with my agricultural metaphor, if Iraq and Afghanistan were farms, what we did was tantamount to killing the farmer, burning a few of his crops, ripping out some others, scattering a handful of seeds over parched, hard ground, and then walking away blithely confident that a lush, bountiful harvest would suddenly appear.
Recognizing that the problem lies with the fundamental clash between Islam and the West allows us to get away from the statist habit of claiming that Bush’s two wars are the reason that radical Islam is suddenly in everyone’s face. Both Stewart and Zinni were in agreement that this was so, but they’re wrong, and speaking out of profound historical ignorance. If you pull back from America’s hot war between 2003 to 2013, though, you realize that radical Islam was already and always in everyone’s face.
From the moment Mohamed’s little tribe burst out of the Arabian desert, its focus was on conquest. This aggressive trait was a necessity, because the faith’s stifling strictures mean that its adherents are virtually prohibited from doing anything that creates wealth. The only way that they can bring wealth into their country is through conquest, slavery, and taxes on those who are neither Muslims nor slaves. For that reason, Islam’s swift, massive expansion (as seen in the video below), did not occur organically or through proselytizing. It happened at the point of a sword.
In this context, one can see that the 260 years of relative Islamic quiescence between 1683 and Israel’s creation wasn’t a permanent peace. For Islam, the problem was that the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, by powering Western engines, became too strong for Islam, which was primarily represented by the corrupt Ottomans and which was hopelessly mired in the Middle Ages.
During the 20th century, those Muslims who still dreamed of a caliphate realized that they had to re-group and they did, in the most toxic way possible. With a helpful assist from the West’s desperate need for oil thought to exist only under Muslim sands, Arab Nationalism, Islamism (with funding from Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich nations), and antisemitism blossomed all over the Muslim world.
After Israel’s creation, this toxicity was seen at its most obvious in the Palestinian’s battle against Israel. Many people assumed that, because Israel was the only visible front in the war, that Israel was the cause of Islam’s anti-Western anger. A longer view, of course, makes clear that Israel was just another front in a long war. One proof of this fact is that, with America having engaged in active warfare with Islamic nations, the same uninformed people tell us that these Bush-led wars are the reason for Islam’s anti-Western anger. The fact is, though, that Islamic’s anger against everyone is hard-wired.
Having had an intellectual and (thanks to oil) financial resurgence, the Islamists spent the latter part of the 20th century, repeatedly poking and prodding the West to determine whether it was safe for radical Islamists to resume all-out warfare. Long before Bush went to war we had Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 assassination (by a violently anti-Zionist Christian Palestinian); the 1972 attack at the Munich Olympics (ostensibly aimed at Israel, but also a test of Western will, which the West failed); the 1976 hijacking that led to the raid at Entebbe (another test of Western will, which the West promptly failed); the 1979 Iranian revolution and hostage crisis, which Carter fumbled and which led to massive new funding and organization for radical Islam; Anwar Sadat’s 1981 assassination at the hand of radical Islamists; the 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II by a Muslim Turk trained by Palestinians; the 1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut; the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; the multiple US embassy bombings in 1998; the 2000 USS Cole bombing; and, of course, the culmination of all the preceding Islamic efforts: The September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (and, had things gone right, the Capitol), resulting in the loss of 2,996 people, mostly Americans.
It took decades of ever-increasing provocation (increasing in both frequency and intensity) before America finally sat up and took notice of the Islamists’ fervent desire to engage us and destroy us in open warfare. To switch from my earlier agricultural metaphor to an elephant one, we were the sleeping elephant, and Islam was the sharp-toothed mouse that keep running up, biting our legs, and running away. We were irritated, but fundamentally unconcerned. It was only when that mouse stuffed a bomb up our trunk that we realized we had to act.
And when we acted, we acted wrong. We failed to realize that we were not in a war with individual tyrants or individual nations but, instead, had to do battle with an entire world view, one that has existed virtually unchanged since the 7th century. The ideology’s diffusion doesn’t mean that America shouldn’t or couldn’t invade the territories in which the most ardent practitioners of this world view have their strongholds. To the extent Islamists want conventional war, we should give them a snootful of conventional war. But because the ideology extends far beyond a small nation here or a big city there, there are two other things a Western nation must do if it has any hope of prevailing against the Islamists. It must (1) Attack the radical Islamist ideology and (2) reinforce the virtues and values of our own Western culture and our American nation.
Starting with George Bush, we neither attacked radical Islam nor celebrated America. At the White House level, both of our Presidents have gone out of their way to praise Islam. It’s a religion of peace, they’ve said. Most Muslims are good, they’ve said (which is true). We’re just going after a very narrow stratum of bad people who have perverted a wonderful, loving faith, they’ve said.
The only reason Obama has been more irritating in saying this than Bush was is because, Bush limited himself to talking about the word “Islam means peace” and praising the world’s non-militant Muslims. By contrast, Obama has been apologizing non-stop to the worst kind of Islamists since his first day in office; he’s been incredibly hostile to Israel, our ally in this long war; he consistently sided with the radical Muslim Brotherhood, rather than more reformist movements, during the Arab spring; and, in this last go-round, he’s taken upon himself the role of true apologist for the religion, carefully explaining to those who are breathing new life into Mohamed’s explicit instructions that they’re doing it wrong, and thereby inconveniencing him.
The Left wing establishment — in politics, in the media, in education, in Hollywood — has been delighted to follow both presidents’ lead when it comes to whitewashing Islam. Newspaper articles keep writing stories about men and women who, for reasons no one can ever seem to understand, suddenly start killing people while hollering “Allahu Akbar.” TV shows and movies have added to their repertoire of stock characters (e.g., black judges and police captains, Asian nerds, and women’s gay best friends) a new stock character: the saint-like Muslim who is wrongly maligned by racists with tea bags pinned to their lapels.
In schools, where facts sometimes have to be acknowledged, educators assure dewy-eyed children, adolescents, and young adults that, to the extent Muslims keeping doing things like blowing up people, planes, and buildings, they’ve done so only because we’ve baited them beyond bearing by using their oil. Protests about misogyny and homophobia have been brushed aside as quaint cultural artifacts that must be respected on multicultural grounds. This whitewashing job probably could have gone on forever if the Islamic State hadn’t gotten the bright idea of boasting about beheadings all over social media.
For thirteen (or thirty, or seventy) long years, America has failed utterly to state the stark truth: In the Quran, the Prophet Mohamed explicitly demands world domination, the slaughter of the Jews, the subordination of Christians, the physical and mental imprisonment of women, pedophilia against young girls, the death of gays, the death of apostates, and all the other anti-Western, anti-Enlightenment practices that repulse any non-Muslim who is able to see around the lies and obfuscations emanating from the White House, the political class, the entertainment world, and the education establishment.
What may be even worse than our refusal to acknowledge the monstrous theme of conquest running through Islamic doctrine and history, is a political, cultural, and educational class’s refusal to reinforce the worthiness of our own culture. Bush, bless his heart, did (and does) believe in American exceptionalism but, not only was he inarticulate on the subject (as was Romney), he was shouted down and drowned out by the media, by Hollywood, by America’s educational institutions, and by roughly half of our political class. President Obama, of course, holds no brief for America.
Since 2001, when al Qaeda, by bombing the Twin Towers, finally forced ordinary Americans to see that there’s a war going on, the loudest voices in America have alternately been accusing us of the worst kind of “isms,” while apologizing for who and what we are. A toxic combination of political correctness, multiculturalism, institutional feminism, the gay mafia, the La Raza crowd, the climate change hysterics, and all of the other usual suspects ranging from the Communist party to the Democrat party, resulted in our being subjected to a decade’s worth of anti-American venom spread far and wide.
Our children, who live in a world of public schools, TV shows, and movies (and, for these youngsters who fancy themselves to be budding intellectuals, heavily Left/Democrat newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, etc.), have been told relentlessly that Americans are misogynistic, patriarchal, racist, fanatically Christian, imperialist, and homophobic, and that we steal our nation’s vast wealth from poor people at home and abroad, transferring wealth solely to a cadre of angry, rich, white men who clutch Bibles in one hand and guns (complete with bullets labeled “this one’s for a black person”) in the other. Reality never intrudes into this institutionalized self-loathing.
The reality is that women are thriving in America, at men’s expense. In the Muslim world, they would be lucky if they were merely 2nd or 3rd class citizens. In a sharia-compliant country, women aren’t citizens at all; they are chattel, and poorly treated chattel at that.
The reality is that America is the least racist country in the world (with Israel probably following a close second). There will always be bad apples, but anyone who has ever stepped foot out of America knows that all other nations, regardless of color, routinely practice both social and institutional racism. The same is true of the Islamic world. While it likes to tout its color-blinded when compared to the 1950s Jim Crow south, it’s worth noting that the northern Sudanese Muslims (light brown), after purging their nation of Christians, then engaged in genocidal attacks against southern Sudanese Muslims (dark brown). Also, it’s worth noting that the confluence of the race hustlers and the feminists is abortion. Honest abortion supporters will admit that encouraging mass abortion in 2014 has the same intended purpose it did in 1914: to wipe out blacks and other “undesirables.”
The reality is that, after more than a thousand years of often painful and destructive doctrinal refinement, the Western Judeo-Christian tradition ended slavery, emancipated women, freed children from the factory, and simultaneously elevated man’s highest impulses while taming his basest ones.
The reality is that, beginning with WWI and continuing through to the present day, America has never engaged in a true Imperial war, one that sees her invade a country, subordinate its people, and redirect its wealth to American coffers. Instead, America’s so-called “imperialism” consists of being the country that practically every Third World poor person wishes he could call home, and of having a culture that most young people around the world want to emulate. ISIS is the face of Muslim imperialism.
And lastly, the reality is that, while Americans have been cautious about jettisoning the definition of marriage that has been in place since time immemorial (a definition that harmonizes with the biological imperative of procreation) and while most Americans believe that the First Amendment shouldn’t force individuals to lend their labors to a marriage ceremony that clashes with their most closely held beliefs, Americans since the Stonewall riots have made a complete turnaround when it comes to accepting the entirety of the LGBTQ spectrum. While there will always be biased individuals and, sadly, individuals who bring violence to their bias, people across the sexual spectrum have exceptional freedom and respect in America, even as ordinary Americans engage in the delicate balancing act of respecting faith too. In Muslim countries, homosexuals are first lashed, then hanged.
America is a truly great and wonderful country. It’s not a perfect country, because humans are imperfect, but looking back through time and around the world, our nation is one of which we should all be rightfully proud. It’s beautiful, its people are friendly and hard-working, it still hews (at least in the heartlands) to a Judeo-Christian morality that elevates the individual in all ways, it’s rich at every level — in its land, in its many cultures, in its energy and innovation, and its people’s fundamental decency.
It’s a tragic — possibly a suicidal one — that for the last thirteen years, the loudest voices in America have worked hard to denigrate and hide her wonders, rather than celebrating and cultivating them. The result is that, as we stare at yet another war, the American people have been taught three things that ensure defeat:
1. America is a lousy country, not worth defending.
2. Islam is a religion of peace that has reared up only because lousy Israel and lousy America keep getting in its face.
3. The bad actors who pop up with increasing regularity and ferocity are not really Muslim.
4. In the absence of actual bad Muslims or Islamic nations, our military is reduced to fighting scattered and fragmented bad actors, and is incapable of doing so — and anyway, why should it do so? We Americans aren’t worthy.
It is our mindset thirteen years after 9/11 that had me wanting to name this post “Don’t Bother; We’ve Already Lost.” A nation that loves its enemy and hates itself cannot win a war.
But maybe we haven’t lost just quite yet. Maybe, just maybe, it’s true that where there’s life there’s hope. And maybe we can change our political, social, entertainment, and education culture.
I know that, if it were up to me, I would trumpet America’s wonders to the sky. I would also make sure everyone knows of Islam’s myriad and quite dreadful failures, while simultaneously cultivating and elevating those who seek to reform Islam. (And yes, I know it’s a tough road to hoe, given Muhammad’s strictures, but it needs to be done.) In other words, I would fight a war of hearts and minds at home, rather than in foreign fields, populated by simple farmers steeped in Islamism. Only after winning, or at least beginning, this absolutely necessary war at home would I engage in conventional warfare — and, when I did, I’d listen to the military because, unlike a civilian constitutional law professor and community organizer, the military knows its capabilities best.