January 4, 2006

Toying With Genocide

1. The Most Dangerous Game

LURKING BENEATH OUR INTERNAL ARGUMENT concerning the relentless demographic expansion of Islam into the West without assimilation, is the persistent background question, "Oh, my, whatever shall WE do with THEM?"

WE are, you see, like muddlers and fiddlers since Nero, worried about THEM. Our doltish conservative muddlers and fiddlers worry about what "THEY will do to US" if we aren't very, very careful and selective about which of THEM we capture or kill while WE seek to give THEM the "gifts" of freedom and democracy. Our brave new fiddlers on the Left fiddle about worrying if THEY have enough to eat, enough to wear, enough respect, enough, in short, of the love THEY deserve for not killing US today.

Both bumbling groups may differ in the focus of their fretting, but fret they do. For the problem, as they have defined it, has to do with what is commonly stated as 'a statistically small group of Muslims around the world' who need to be dealt with in some manner so that greater Islam can get on with the historic task of being "a religion of peace and understanding." The majority of both camps of muddlers and fiddlers agree on this one thing: It isn't Islam that's the problem, just a few heretics that have gotten out of hand in their zeal to obey the will of God, and, hey, who hasn't done that from time to time?

One solution, commonly referenced as "the Left/Liberal" position is essentially "leave them alone and they'll come home. They know its for their own good." The other solution, "the Right/Conservative" position, is to force assimilation, modernization, reformation and democratic mechanisms upon Islam "for its own good."

The two positions agree that "something must be done." They differ only in their specifications for "a New!, Improved! Islam" that can play well with other religions and nations in the post-modern world where "business as usual" is worshipped more than any other state of affairs. Both positions, whether they focus on "giving" the benefits

of the modern world to the West's Islamic populations spread out in its cities and nations, or "bringing" the same benefits to the center of Islamic mass in the Middle East, share the belief that Islam can be "fixed."

Once you understand that the question posed by both enclaves of political "thinkers" boils down to "How can WE best fix THEM?" the subtext of the whole Big Argument starts to echo Richard II:
Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth,
Let's choose executors and talk of wills....

In short, both sides think that in some way "Islam is broken." Is it?

Finding myself in neither political camp, it strikes me that Islam -- especially if you look at the fertility rates of Muslims, mosque construction and attendance, and the retention and conversion of the faithful around the globe -- is doing just fine. It strikes me that a religion that doesn't view itself as broken is unlikely to take kindly to the notion that it needs fixing. Still, that's the proposition advanced by both camps in our broken and shattered society. But it is a proposition that is advanced only sotto voce, in whispers, because to ask, right out loud, if Islam wants to be "fixed" or indeed can be "fixed," is to know the answer in the act of asking.

The answer is a resounding "No." And that brings the persistent background question, "Oh, my, whatever shall we do with THEM?" into sharp relief in the foreground of Western minds. If history is any guide that is the single most dangerous question one group of humans can ask about another. It is a question no sane member of the West nor sane member of Islam would ever want thrust into the foreground, for it begins the process of transforming a group with whom a society lives in peace into the "Others" with whom a society cannot live in peace.

2. The Answer to the Other

ONCE A SOCIETY BECOMES CONVINCED that it is harboring something within it that is intractably "Other," and that the "Other" clearly and without quarter means to destroy it, that society looks for an answer that preserves it at the expense of the "Other." The classic answer is, in historic terms and sooner rather than later, genocide.

History is littered with mounds of corpses piled up in the name of preserving or advancing the status quo of the dominant powers in a nation or civilization by the eradication of a group within the main body that, rightly or wrongly, threatens the majority in word, deed or demographic. The targeted group is almost always a group that cannot or will not assimilate into the larger society. To do would make it other than it is; would make it become that which it is incapable of becoming without ceasing to be. One of the most difficult groups to assimilate into a society is one that draws its core identity from an inflexible religion. This is not to say that Islam in incapable of reformation, only that it has a solid track record of killing its Luthers as soon as it sees them. Still, past performance is no guarantee of future results so there is still, for now, a glimmer of hope. Especially in America where one of our core myths is that, like the Borg, we can assimilate anybody. Right? Right.

Much is made of the ability of the United States to assimilate all manner of national, racial, religious cultures and characteristics into itself and grow stronger. The eagle in the Great Seal of the United States holds the banner "E Pluribus Unum" (Out of Many, One) unfurled in its beak. But the process of this assimilation in the past has never been an easy one as the Irish, the Italians, and the African Americans, among many others, have learned. Still, over time measured in generations, the process has always succeeded. It has succeeded to such an extent that the American left now makes a fetish of dis-assimilation, code-named "diversity." Indeed, the reveling in diversity is not so much a fetish as it is a hobby. Americans indulge it, albeit with continued carping, because we can afford it. We have that much money and that much spare time. For now.

And perhaps only for a little bit longer as the present debate and rising anger over unrestricted the illegal immigration without assimilation of Mexican people illustrates. Whether or not immigration is illegal the American model depends on assimilation to function. When an ethnic or cultural minority swells in numbers and shows no interest in assimilation, trouble begins and grows. We not only want our immigrants to work in America, we want them to become Americans first and immigrants second.

3. The Classic European Response: "YOU will never be US."

NOT SO IN EUROPE where the expectation of immigrants was, from the start, that they would come in, do a bunch of scut work, and leave the rest of Europe to the Europeans. After all, the deeper thought goes, you can't really expect a Muslim from Morocco to every be a "a real Frenchman," "a real Italian," "a real German," or a "real Englishman."

The inner fixations on race and origin are much more firmly held in Europe than in the US. Regardless of the talk about assimilation heard widely in Brussells and the traditional capitols of Europe, the fact remains that for many decades everyone that was staunchly European was quite content to let "their" muslims live apart. Now, with the advent of the rising birthrate and violence emerging from the various Muslim ghettos in all the major and most of the minor cities, Europe is starting to re-examine their "Muslim problem" in search of a solution.

And Europe, right up to the war now on simmer in the Balkans, has a distressing habit of coming up with solutions that are all too final. Groups within Europe that do not fit into Europe, that dwell in ghettos and keep to their own language separate from the larger society, are often expelled or excised. In a way, although Germany took the point, the Holocaust was Europe's way of getting it's Jews to leave. Where to? At the time it didn't matter, just so long as they were -- in one way or another -- gone.

4. "Past Policy is No Guarantee of Future Policies"

TO DATE, the policies of the various European governments is to avoid Holocaust 2.0. After all genocide is not only unhealthy for children and other living things, but bad for business and a quasi-socialist economy that already has enough problems, thank you very much.

Socialist-powered policies which have penned up Europe's exploding Muslim population are being redoubled in funding, intensity and "sincerity", especially in light of the London bombing and French riots. Sensitivity towards the needs and issues of the Muslim youth of Europe becomes even more sensitive. Efforts to educate the non-Muslim populations of Europe towards an even more benign view of Islamic needs ( 'A religion of peace stained by the actions of a fanatic few.') are expanded. European leaders speak incessantly of tolerance and the time it takes for Islam to find its way and become, at last, truly European. And the various Imams and leaders of the INE (Islamic Nations of Europe) stage photo-ops shaking the hands of these understanding leaders the besieged EU. The Imams know the premise of Europe's policies to be false, but they would be poor leaders if they did not use it to buy all the time that it can.

The policies of the United States parallel these European attitudes. They counsel tolerance, patience and understanding at home while taking the same sheaf of ideals and adding the forced imposition of democracy abroad as the recipe for assuring Islam's ultimate assimilation into the West. Indeed, the schism here is, as noted at the beginning of this essay, is over how much force can be used to impose our way on a religion and a culture in a part of the world that is not known for its love of democracy and individual freedom. Where Islam has always found its version of freedom in submission to its theocracy and the melding of the individual into the mass, the big bet the Bush administration is making is that man is everywhere the same and everywhere yearns for "Freedom, American Style."

5. What If?

ALL WELL AND GOOD if the current leaders and policy makers in Europe and America are right; if Islam can be, with enough time and money, assimilated into the Western way. But what if they are wrong ?

What if, as has been repeatedly stated by Islamic spokesmen in their media and their capitols and their mosques, Islam has neither the interest in nor the capacity for assimilation? What if Islam continues, as it has for many centuries, to be implacably hostile to the West? What if, in a series of increasingly violent incidents coming quickly over a relatively short number of years, what we so tenderly term "Islamic radicals" continue to attack the cities and nations in which large numbers of Muslims live in relative isolation from the body politic, and it is known that those attacking come from and fade back into these unassimilated populations?

A year or so back, much was made of the concept of "the tipping point," a state in which the accrual of relatively small changes over time suddenly reaches a kind of critical mass and induces a rapid phase change in a previously stable system. This concept holds that while large events can and do change things, a lot of small events change things as well.

After the London transport bombings of last year, several commentators were quick to point out that they did not, in terms of human life, rise to the level of the Madrid bombings to say nothing of 9/11. The implicit notion underneath this sort of commentary is that, "Well, it's not so bad." In the same vein, some commentators, regarding the French riots, assured listeners as the car burnings faded away, "Well, it could have been worse." Both palliatives ignore the nature of terror accrual and compassion fatigue within the human memory.

At this point, most aware humans -- Muslim and non-Muslim alike -- assume that whenever and wherever on the globe a terrorist incident takes place it is almost certainly going to have a Muslim signature on it. Even when it does not, the Muslim's have been so effective in aligning terrorism with Islam that people assume terror's perpetrators are Muslim even if it is shown later that they were innocent of this or that particular incident.

6. How Fragile is the West Really?

PUNDITS LIKE TO SAY that Western civilization is fragile and that it is perched, like some gigantic teetering pyramid, on a single weak pivot formed of supply chains, consumer economies, global telecommunications, and an international system of finance. To an extent, that's true. The continuing prosperity we enjoy depends on these things if our present, pleasant happy world is to go forward day after day, world without end, always.

As long as all these modern innovations and a myriad others are up and running undisturbed, the West can continue to support Happy Meals, $500,000 chicken shacks in California, an organic chicken in every Williams-Sonoma pot, and a new hybrid Prius in every garage. Seen from this perspective, our prosperity is indeed delicate. The economic hit that would follow a second 9/11 on American soil would quickly put paid to all that. The Happy World would be put on hold for a number of years and we'd have the "Hard Times" our parents and grandparents have told us about. But we would survive and, in only a little bit, thrive again in "the Day After Tomorrow."

For, as much as we should do everything possible to avoid a second 9/11, the blunt fact is that the United States, Europe and the entire edifice of Western Civilization, can ride out a second 9/11. It can ride out 100 9/11s and still, in an inch of time, return and thrive. It can even ride out the killing by weapons of mass destruction of any kind of a number of cities. America, Europe, and Western Civilization can survive anything the radical Islamists can throw at us. What it will have much more difficulty surviving with its cherished "values" intact will be what happens to Islam should it continue to attack the West with increasing ferocity.

7. The Real Reason to Fear a Second 9/11

IT IS CLEAR that what will happen to Islam across the world should terrorist attacks continue and increase will be the arrival at the tipping point where the West decides, in a way that no internal political opposition can curtail, to expel Islam and Muslims from the infected nations and the world itself by any means necessary. A common catch phrase of Marxism is that "The capitalist will sell you the rope to hang him." I dread the coming catch phrase, "The Muslim will supply the West with the excuse to eradicate him," but that is clearly lurking in one of our possible future.

The first 9/11 brought out the Marines, the Army, the heavy armor, the B-52s and the Stealth fighters with their "smart bombs," and the effort at a new precise war in which the greatest care has been taken to minimize the killing of innocent civilians. Not always successful, but compared to the Blitz, the firebombing of Hamburg, and the obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this caring and careful warfare that is about as kind as we can make it. The most terrible aspect of the trend of war in the 20th century was to kill as much of the civilian population of the enemy as possible. The methods were skillfully refined over decades until World War II accounted for around 50 million dead. The current approach to war in Afghanistan and Iraq is one which can reasonably be called a patty-cake war; one that has been successful, if in nothing else, in minimizing civilian suffering.

I would submit that this approach to war against Islam is clearly one driven by the current policies of the West that aims to, essentially, talk Islam out of its current obsessions and madness. It is the very small stick wielded alongside our soft and enticing words of "democracy," "freedom," and "prosperity." In a way, the West's manner of war with Islam at present is essentially a kind of tough love: "Please learn to control your acting out. Please learn play well with others, or we're going to have to get serious."

Put somewhat baldly, the argument within the West on what to do with Islam is now between those who believe it should not be spanked at all but have its self-esteem boosted, and those who think that a small spanking now followed by the hot fudge sundae of freedom will result in acceptable behavior. Either could be right, but if both are wrong the next level of discipline is typically expulsion. And by "expulsion" I do not mean that Islam will simply be sent to its room.

A second series of attacks on America at the level of 9/11 or greater will not bring out more B-52s. They are already out. A second series will bring out the one arm of America's war machine that has rarely been asked about, written about, or even mentioned in passing since September, 2001; the ballistic missile submarines.

8. The Re-Activation of MAD

WE DON'T LIKE to ask or think about the current possible missions and targets of our ballistic missile submarines. Where are they? Few know. What can they do? Almost nobody remembers.

There has not been a publicly acknowledged live demonstration of a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere where it can be seen and reported since the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963. Our common memory of them usually revolves around some grainy black and white film from the Nevada test sight, disturbing vintage photographs from Ground Zero and its aftermath at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or some fading technicolor footage from Bikini Atoll. Every year fewer and fewer people are alive who have actually seen the horrendous scale of destruction these weapons create. A common description is "The sun brought, for a few moments, to the surface of the Earth," but that doesn't quite cover it.

What does cover it is that the use of these weapons by the United States or its allies is the current Western way of remote genocide. To use them, even under the most extreme provocation, is the greatest sin against humanity that can be conceived. But the cold fact is that should America or the West feel its way of life and the lives of its citizens are sufficiently threatened by Islam these weapons will, in the end, be used against the Muslim centers of mass.

It is well to remember that nuclear weapons were first built up under the Cold War policy of MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). Now that the Soviet Union is gone and China has not yet risen to the status of a bellicose enemy (it may well not go this way), the element of mutuality has faded from this acronym, but the capacity for assured destruction persists.

9. The "Unthinkable" Can and Is Being Thought

ANYTHING YOU THINK CAN'T HAPPEN can happen. Especially those things you think cannot possibly happen. Under the right circumstances, human beings are capable of anything. We hold within ourselves an eternal capacity for evil that has no bottom. Should Europe feel the threat of Islam within its borders too keenly it is not difficult to envision it returning to the up close and personal techniques of genocide it perfected in the last century. Europe is very, very good at police states, purges, death camps, massacres and Gulags. Although it may look to be weak and appeasing, Europe's final solution skill set is never stored very far away.

Should the United States come to feel threatened in a similar way, its preferred technique (also perfected in the last century) is remote genocide. To employ it would plunge this nation into a decades-long tunnel of political and spiritual agony, and change our destiny and character forever. But I have no doubt that, if we feel for any reason threatened enough, we will indeed come to the day when the unthinkable becomes doable.

This is why I still deeply believe that the current effort in Iraq and the Middle East to counter and expunge Islamic terrorism and turn Islam from the road it is on towards one of reformation and assimilation is the best path that can be taken at this time. Indeed, for all the ineptitude of the current administration, for all the expense in treasure and lives, this shoot-the-moon, Hail Mary of a foreign policy in Iraq is not just a policy to make America safer at home. It is the only thing that stands between Islam and its own destruction.

Sometime shortly after 9/11 in an online forum I frequented then, an exasperated idealist proclaimed that "After all, you can't kill a billion Muslims." Like so many others he spoke from somewhere outside History. History, especially the world's most recent history, shows us all that, "Yes, if you really want to, you can."

And that is the most terrible and terrorizing thought of the 21st century.

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Posted by Vanderleun at January 4, 2006 10:55 AM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

"this shoot-the-moon, Hail Mary of a foreign policy in Iraq is not just a policy to make America safer at home. It is the only thing that stands between Islam and its own destruction."

That, I think is absolutely right and I'm quite sure some of the cooler heads in the Islamic states know it.

Very nice essay, as usual.

Posted by: NC3 at January 4, 2006 11:40 AM

To employ it would plunge this nation into a decades-long tunnel of political and spiritual agony, and change our destiny and character forever.

If the provocation were an Iranian WMD launched by their current nutcake leadership, I suspect our spiritual agony would last about 2 weeks--except in Berkeley, Hollywood, Austin, and Ann Arbor.

Posted by: Mike Anderson at January 4, 2006 11:52 AM

Look, this is matter of cultural change. Period.

One way or the other, either the West changes, or "Islam" changes. (There could of course be lots of killing along the way). But in the end, there will be change.

This exercise in changing Iraq is going to cause ripples through the "Islamic" world. Once they get a taste of western consumer goods, its all over but the shouting. Most of these places are going to end up resembling Turkey.

Posted by: Eric Blair at January 4, 2006 1:06 PM

Actually, via television, the internet, and the global distribution system, they've been having a big "taste" for some decades. Buying an SUV doesn't cause you to change your religion, it just lets you take more people to the mosque.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at January 4, 2006 1:11 PM

The barbarians are at the gate and we fiddle hoping they will go away. That statement was made, I am sure,during the fall of the Roman empire. Sadly, they did not know it was falling, the books had not been printed yet. All great societies will fail, human nature will see to that.

Posted by: jeffersonranch at January 4, 2006 2:38 PM

The Islamic machine is fueled by jihad(struggle in the cause of Allah) of the sword(suicide bombers in modern terms) and the Muslim woman's fruitful womb. Muslims have the edge on demographics way beyond any European country and slightly ahead of the US. When they become 5-10% of the nation's population, they become active and assert themselves against the host country.
Why don't we believe them when they tell us over and over that they want to convert us all and rule with Islamic law, the sharia? For this is what finally happens everywhere they've become the majority.

We don't have to toy with genocide. Due to the lack of their education worldwide, many Muslims are extremely superstitious. If the Kaba at Mecca were destroyed, the superiority of their god Allah would be shown to be false. It would bring down two of the five pillars of Islam, as bowing 5 times a day and taking a pilgrimage to a hole in the ground instead of a black rock would be useless and extremely hummiliating.

Posted by: Heloise at January 4, 2006 3:29 PM

"Actually, via television, the internet, and the global distribution system, they've been having a big "taste" for some decades. Buying an SUV doesn't cause you to change your religion, it just lets you take more people to the mosque."

Not really. The "Elites" of the society have been having a taste for a while, not the general populace. Its sorta like China and India, just now are those countries beginning to develop that enemy of indigenous culture, the middle-class consumer. Wait till they get a taste, like the the great mass of Iraqis are, non state run TV, and all that.

All that being said, if somebody nuked Saudi Arabia off the map, I wouldn't even shrug.

Posted by: Eric Blair at January 4, 2006 4:06 PM

Well said. I take your point. Perhaps we can call upon Wal-Mart to start opening some stores.

Say, that's not a bad idea at all.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at January 4, 2006 4:21 PM

Another very thoughtful essay.

I wrote something on this topic (from my low-brow perpective though, not as refined a piece of writing as yours) the gist of which is that the terrorists really are just a bunch of fascists, even though, like the Japanese in the 30s, they have many of their people under their spell. If we concentrate on eliminating the bad guys we will find that it wasn't a problem with 'Islam' at all, just as we did with Japan.

The Japan analogy is a good one in other ways. America went hard against the Japanese population in ways (eg fire-bombing residential areas) that it might not have done with hindsight, and US troops outraged by Japanese atrocities committed some atrocities of their own. Obviously the Militarists/Fascists were much worse, but that's not my point. The point is these actions were used very skillfully by the Militarists to induce and increase a fanaticism in the population which (despite historical myths) is not a Japanese national/ethnic characteristic at all.

It was thanks to the apparent proof offered by the out-of-character behaviour of some American soldiers on a few occasions, that Japanese and Okinawans, even those who had previously visited the US, were utterly convinced that the Militarist propaganda was true.

By 1944 and 45, with the power the Militarists had by then, the difference this made was probably marginal, but that's not the case today. Those on the Right who paint grotesque pictures of monstrous Islam and its history of cruel fanaticism are doing our cause no good at all. Endless hyperbolising about a 'Fourth World War' just makes a needless clash of civilisations all the more possible (although let's be frank, still extremely unlikely).

Sensible opinions like yours are welcome and needed.

( Sorry, LGF, they really are just Fascists and Islam really is a religion of peace. )

Posted by: Kip Watson at January 4, 2006 4:48 PM

Perhaps we can call upon Wal-Mart to start opening some stores.

That would be interesting:

In Egypt, you'd have to bribe the greeter to get a cart, hire a 'shopper' to put the items in your cart, give a gratuity to the cashier to get them to bag your stuff, and then a hire a porter to take it to your car (which you've 'tipped' the parking lot attendant to guard).

In 'Palestine', 80% of the stock wouldn't make it into the store; the rest would get shot up by various militia units demanding jobs as stockers and department managers. And Hamas wants to control the electronics department...

The Arab side of the Gulf might do okay. The Saudis, however, would just hire more foreign laborers; no Saudi is gonna stand there in a blue vest and say "Welcome to Wal-Mart".

Posted by: P.A. Breault at January 4, 2006 4:57 PM

Most of us (certainly including Gerard) are well familiar with the three conjectures of our invaluable friend Wretchard at Belmont Club, but for those who are not, I urge a close reading of his seminal essay on this precise subject. Just google 'belmont three conjectures' and you'll find it.

Personally, I think that the Islamofascists are basically "calling Allah out" to reach down in a supernatural way and instantly reverse the present humiliating position of the Islamic world in relation to the the rest of humanity. True absolute faith is a very powerful and dangerous thing. Their only hope is that when our fish let loose with their deadly delivery to Mecca, Allah will simply not allow it to explode, thus demonstrating his pleasure with their commitment of faith in Jihad, and his omnipotence over mankind.

Understand - we REALLY do not think like these people do. See it as brinksmanship with a firm grip on the Koran, facing Mecca. The answer will be delivered with the presence of the mushroom cloud. They know not what they do - truly.

Posted by: mezzrow at January 4, 2006 5:05 PM

This reminds me of a comment a read a while back (can't find the reference, sorry).

Paraphrased it's "The way to solve this is for them to act like us for a generation, or for us to act like them for a day".

Posted by: Rich at January 4, 2006 5:33 PM

Thank you for a thoughtful essay, Mr Vanderleun.

May I add one minor footnote about the "demographics"?

The Asia Times Online columnist who uses the pseudonym "Spengler" has convincingly shown, in my opinion, that the "demographics" do not actually favor the Ummah, and that the Islamist terrorist upsurge we are currently witnessing -- armed jihad on all of the borders of the Muslim world, and in many places within them, as well -- should really be seen as the last-ditch effort of a failed civilization that is disintegrating as a result of its contact with the modern, western world.

Although Muslim countries at the present time have much younger populations than European countries, the pace at which the fertility rate is declining in the Ummah is even more rapid than the pace of that decline in Europe. Thus, the Iranian population is actually aging faster than the European population.

The Belmont Club has also written about what he characterized as the sharper side of the western world's two-edged sword -- not the overt military side, but the soft side: Wal-Mart, MacDonald's, pop culture, i.e. all of the things that grow out of a society that actually works. That's the irresistable force that will finally force the Ummah to emerge from the 12th century into the 21st.

Posted by: Gandalin at January 4, 2006 5:40 PM

That was another good essay.

I would add one point though, the situation as you describe it has a time limit. And probably a short one at that.

Once the Islamic world has nuclear weapons in sufficient numbers then the whole dynamic changes. Instead of being a nuke the middle east and assorted countries from over the horizon it becomes MAD all over again. This is what truly scares me, pondering the relative insanity levels of those with their fingers soon to be on the red button.

Posted by: lemmy at January 4, 2006 9:28 PM

Fantastic work, as usual.

Posted by: gabrielpicasso at January 4, 2006 9:54 PM

I am not confident that an aggressive Western respose can be implemented before Western societies are pacified by religious tolerance legislation, economic intimidation, silencing of criticism by lawfare or violence and the growing power of key Muslim swing votes.

In order to preserve an ability to act the West must preserve a freedom to criticise Islam and its adherents. At stake is the French nuclear arsenal first, and much else thereafter.

This is not helped by massive recruitment of Muslims into security services. There is the assumption that the religion itself is "moderate" and that radicals can be screened.

Posted by: Six Days at January 4, 2006 11:05 PM

A great essay and I agree with almost all of it. There is one thing that everyone needs to consider though. While we might agonize over the genocide of the Muslim people both here in a theoretical sense and in the possible future discussed here. I've seen nothing in my decade and a half of involvement with and study of the Middle East and Islam that suggests Islam would suffer from any such angst. In fact I have seen plenty to indicate that it wouldn't suffer any crisis of conscience at all. If the shoe were on the other foot, I have no doubt that they would annihilate the entire western world and never look back. All of our history and way of life would become a footnote in an obscure historical text written in Arabic and seldom discussed by Muslim scholars. Islam’s penchant for revising history to suit itself is well documented as is its ability to justify the most heinous of acts. They certainly don't hold a patent on either tendency. The west’s own history testifies to that, but let’s not gloss over Islam's many shortcomings by repeating platitudes about their fallacious status as a "religion of peace".

Posted by: Dan at January 5, 2006 2:46 AM

Despite the "Peace be upon you" greeting, Islam has never been a "religion of peace".

I know too much military history to believe that for a second.

Posted by: Eric Blair at January 5, 2006 5:26 AM
For, as much as we should do everything possible to avoid a second 9/11, the blunt fact is that the United States, Europe and the entire edifice of Western Civilization, can ride out a second 9/11. It can ride out 100 9/11s and still, in an inch of time, return and thrive.
I'm not sure the numbers support this. 9/11 has sucked $2 trillion out of our economy to date. Our economy is large and growing fast but it's not that large or growing that fast.

In my view the really correct solution is the equivalent of Israel's wall—a wasps in a bottle plan. You have to feel for the non-wasps trapped in the bottle, though. Unfortunately, such a plan would require worldwide cooperation at a level that I can't imagine.

A key problem is that the European approach so far is more rather than less likely to result in genocide.

Posted by: Dave Schuler at January 5, 2006 8:10 AM

I wrote something on this topic (from my low-brow perpective though, not as refined a piece of writing as yours) the gist of which is that the terrorists really are just a bunch of fascists, even though, like the Japanese in the 30s, they have many of their people under their spell. If we concentrate on eliminating the bad guys we will find that it wasn't a problem with 'Islam' at all, just as we did with Japan.

Kip W. is right, the goal of war should be to defeat the bad guys so that they can't harm your citizens - not to wipe out civilizations.

The goal of war really can't be to make the bad guys better people. You might be able to do that after the enemy is defeated, but you can't do that before. The Marshall plan worked because the fascists were no longer in power. The Arab states know that we can nuke them into oblivion - that's why they're fighting us this way. It's why they'll continue to use terrorism as a weapon in their war against us. Our soft diplomacy and our tendency to ignore the fact that these nations are at war with us encourages them to keep using this tactic.

If we're at war with terrorism, we should attack (without nukes) the fascist states that support terror, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran and Syria. We should acknowledge that anyone, no matter where they live or what their citizenship may be, who has recieved Islamist paramilitary training is an enemy combatant, to be dealt with through military means. Anyone who financially supports these paramilitary groups is also an enemy combatant.

Every Muslim on the planet is not a combatant, just as every Japanese person and every European was not a combatant during WWII. The terror supporters and the trained paramilitaries are fascists, those are combatants. You go to war, you kill the bad guys until they surrender and that's how you win. It's a concept that has survived throught the centuries because it works. I'm not sure why we're not applying it now.

Posted by: mary at January 5, 2006 8:19 AM

Alas, I believe that the last time we were in a state of total war in the 40s, the modus operandi was you kill the bad guys AND the populations surrounding them until they surrender.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at January 5, 2006 10:18 AM

Alas, I believe that the last time we were in a state of total war in the 40s, the modus operandi was you kill the bad guys AND the populations surrounding them until they surrender.

As you said, things have changed a lot since then:

The current approach to war in Afghanistan and Iraq is one which can reasonably be called a patty-cake war; one that has been successful, if in nothing else, in minimizing civilian suffering.

In WWII, we were in a state of total war against a military force that was equal to ours. Our current enemies have pitiful conventional military forces, a fact demonstrated by the Six Days War. A conventional war against these nations would not require overwhelming force.

They fight us with terrorism because horrific violence and deception are their strong points, not ours. They fight with terrorism because their conventional military forces are such a joke.

They want to avoid conventional war because they know they'd quickly lose. We should seek it because they're right.

Posted by: mary at January 5, 2006 12:20 PM

There is a photo of my friend's grandfather in the Pacific in WWII.

He's on some island, in front of a Billboard that reads:
"Admiral Halsey says, "Kill Japs, Kill Japs, Kill more Japs!"

We haven't quite got to that yet. As GvDL notes, we could. Would that, successfully implemented, in the end, really be so bad?

I don't think it would bother those doing the killing all that much.

Again and again I note that those that agonize over the subject are not the ones that are going to be pulling the triggers. (Or pushing the buttons).

If anything, Iraq has shown that there are enough Muslims willing to 'do it our way' (perhaps a bad phrase) that the rest would do the same, if they got the chance to decide for themselves.

Maybe even the Saudis.

Posted by: Eric Blair at January 5, 2006 12:20 PM

Gee, I'm sure glad George Bush is president and not some of you guys...

A few things:
- Small point, I don't think you can say killing doesn't bother those tasked with undertaking it. That varies, but if WWII is any indication a fair proportion of troops will suffer trauma from these experiences, no matter how righteous and justified the cause.

- Big point, Arab Islam has been so tied up with dictatorship for so long, fascist-type philosophies and propaganda have saturated that region since at least WWI, and the Ottoman Empire was a tyrannical state before that. Hitler-style leaders have ruled (eg. Nasser and Saddam), so definitely they have a serious fascism problem, but you can no more say Islam is responsible for any of this than that Confucianism was responsible for the Battle of Manila - it just ain't so.

In fact, unless you go so far back in history it becomes meaningless (what were your ancestors doing in the year 650? Mine were committing human sacrifice), the Muslims, and the Arabs, are an extremely passive people. Like the effect of Christianity on the barbarians of Europe, you have to see it for what it did to the people it converted. The Ottomans and Mughals were warlike, but they were only few generations removed from the Mongol horde! The effect was much like Christianity on the Danes, still militaristic but a huge improvement over the Vikings!

I think because of the ameliorating influence of Islam, their populations have been remarkably resilient to this overwhelming flood of Natinalist-Militarist (WWI and aftermath), Nazi (1930s), Commie (post war) and Islamofascist propaganda. A few decades of equivalent conditioning on a previously peaceloving population a fraction the size produced the monster that was the Japanese Empire (remember, if the Emperor hadn't surrendered America was realistically expected a million more dead troops before war's end).

No Arab leader, however charismatic, has had an army that would fight with any degree of fanaticism. When did any Arab army - or any Arab unit - die to a man in its foxholes like genuine fanatics do? "I don't think God wills it," they say, and trudge off home.

- Big point: Why oh why should we attack civilian populations? WWII was a glorious crusade for freedom, but no one feels pride swell in their breast listening to tales of the fire bombing of cities. And that tactic was a military failure. The methodical strategic bombing of German industry by the US in WWII is credited with seriously degrading their capacity of war. The British bombing of cities was a waste of a valuable military asset at the cost of many trained air crews. Whatever morale effect it had was minimal. Likewise the bombing of Japanese residential areas (not counting manufacturing an military targets) was entirely counterproductive, at a horrific moral cost, and just hardened the resolve of the civilian population.

- Ali and Alisha, the typical Muslim Mom and Pop, are not terrorists. Ali is a good family man, and a businessman at heart. They're moral in a rather strict way, and law-abiding. They're poorly educated and backward folk from a backward land (some lands more backward than others), strongly in need of friendship and guidance from their more worldy Christian neighbours. However they are far more promising citizen material than than squalid, wretched paupers and peasants who built America just a few generations ago.

For heaven's sake, man for man, the Irish are infinitely worse terrorists than the Muslims, and no one is discussing nuking the Emerald Isle!

Posted by: Kip Watson at January 5, 2006 2:49 PM

What is war? As defined by Clauswitz, it is 'politics by other means'.
What is, then, our politcal agenda? Muddled, as Mr. Van der Luen suggests.
Is thermonuclear anihilation really a viable politcal/military option? Steven den Beste argued this on his (now defunct) weblog a few years ago, and his reasoning was similar to Mr. Van der Luen.
But for a strategy (strategic goal) to be effective, it must be widely explained and expounded. Will an American president actually expound the above, and survive politcally for more than 5 minutes?
And P.S.: I grew up knowing more than a few officers in the Strategic Air Command, who were almost all very fine men and dedicated patriots, and dropping those bombs would indeed bother them quite a bit. They had quite a deep grasp on the responsibility they wielded.

Posted by: David at January 5, 2006 2:55 PM

A very well written article. I believe Momar Kadafi's recent, timely, diplomatic re-engagement supports NC3's comments above, and more generally the validity of arguments this article presents.

Posted by: NCP at January 5, 2006 9:47 PM

On Sept 12, 2001 the United States DID NOT : 1. Close it's borders north and south. 2. Suspend any and all Middle Eastern immigration. 3. Expunge any and all Muslims here on student visas. 4. The USA DID NOT put the Muslim world on notice by patrolling Mecca 24/7 with armed aircraft 365 days a year, indefinately. The Muslim world was NOT warned that another attack on western soil would trigger the obliteration of Mecca.
A weak administration did none of this. In it's place we chose to pretend that Islam is a true religion vice it's obvious ancient barbaric 12th Century culture. Have you heard ONE major reporting agency on planet earth refer to the '72 virgins waiting in heaven' as a silly fairy tale ? You have not.
For these terrible miscalculations the terrible deed will fall on a future administration---we will have to kill them in wholesale numbers. Teaching the muslim world democracy is akin to teaching my cat to play the piano.


Posted by: Matt Hooper at January 22, 2006 2:36 AM

Time for Macauley's "Lays of Ancient Rome", from "Horatius at the Bridge" (c. BC 700):

"Then up spake brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate,
"To all men living on this Earth, death cometh soon or late.
"And how can Man die better than by facing fearful odds,
"For the ashes of his fathers and the Temples of his Gods?"

In Peter Quince's "Owen's Alligator", Sargon the Great of Sumer, a God-king come to the Jersey Shore, enjoins Owen's father: "Two things are worth doing: Living well, and dying well. Believe."

Metrosexual neuters will depart the scene like smoke, leaving but a sticky smudge behind. Their butterflies will not even send out yellow death announcements.

Posted by: John Blake at January 27, 2006 4:12 PM

What do you know about Islam and Muslims? Where do you get your
information about Islam and Muslims? Is it important that you and the
people you come into contact with get their information from a reliable
source? Is a Muslim convert from Christianity over 30 years ago with a
Ph.D. in Near East and Islamic Studies a reliable source?

BookSurge Publishing has just released the publication of Hinduism,
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: A Comparative Religion, Inter-Faith
Dialogue Resource by Dr. Antar Ibn-Stanford, ISBN 1-4196-1954-3

As the title indicates, this book is an exposition of the beliefs and
practices of Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity. It is a treasure chest
of quotes from the scriptures of these world religions that illustrates
their similar beliefs and practices. In addition, it contains
autobiographical material of an American convert to Islam—how he
converted and his reaction to the beliefs and practices of Islam. The
material is invaluable to those interested in comparative religion and
inter-faith dialogue. Whether you are a high school or college student,
a religious administrator or layman, a political office holder or
government employee, a business official or employee dealing with the
general public, or any educational or research institution, I am sure
your understanding and knowledge of these religions and their
practitioners will be increased, God-willing.

It is an exposition of the results of a 35 year journey that began after
my conversion to Islam. Prior to my conversion after my Junior year in
college, I had been a bible toting, Sunday school and church going
baptized Christian. Among my past Muslim activities were: co-founding
the first masjid in Atlanta, GA some 35 years ago; being an imam, a
Muslim chaplain in a state prison in Michigan and in a federal prison in
Indiana, and a Muslim missionary on the streets of Cleveland, Ohio,
Columbus, Ohio, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Atlanta, GA, in various
prisons, and on the campuses of Ohio State University, the University of
Michigan, and Georgia State University. My practice of Islam has not
been limited to the U.S., but also included Riyadh, Mecca, and Jiddah,
Saudi Arabia. The ability to research Islam, religion, and other
academic topics was sharpened with the acquisition of a B.A. in
Sociology from Ohio Wesleyan University, a M.A. in English as a Second
Language (ESL) from Georgia State University, and a M.A. and Ph.D. in
Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan. Studying at the
Arabic Language Institute of Imam Muhammad Islamic University in Riyadh,
and doing research at Umm Qura University in Mecca added to my skills.
Finally, teaching Arabic Studies at Clark Atlanta University and ESL at
the Institute of Public Administration in Jiddah and at Georgia
Perimeter College has only enhanced my academic skills.

This book is available for purchase on
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Dr. Antar Ibn-Stanford Smith

Posted by: Dr. Antar at March 11, 2006 9:13 AM

The best way of combatting islam and islamists is through relentless ridicule and parody.
Let's have a "Life of Brian "style parody of "the
unholy prophet"and and a continuous avalanche of cartoon ridicule; to the point where, young muslims
become aware of the value of a free society and make the sensible decision(despite death threats)to abandon "the religion of peace"

Posted by: hellosnackbar at March 5, 2007 11:17 AM
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