(Final essay of the series.)
In previous essays in this series, I have described
Islam as a warlike and bloody religion subject to periodic fits of
violent fundamentalist revival. I have analyzed the roots of Islamic
terror in the Koranic duty of jihad, and elucidated Osama bin Laden’s
goal as nothing less than the destruction of the West and the establishment
of a global Islamic theocracy. I have analyzed the reason
Americans have trouble comprehending
the scope of the threat, and I have explained why Western-style
diplomacy is next
to useless in this situation. In this final essay I’ll suggest
paths towards a solution.
In order to win, we must begin with realism about the scope of the
war and the objectives of the enemy. We must realize that although in
theory and theology al-Qaeda is making war on the entire infidel West,
in practice they are only interested in attacking the U.S., the
`hyperpower’ that leads it.
There is no possible gain for al-Qaeda in attacking Europe and
risking a change in the pro-Arab, pro-Palestinian tilt of the EU
(which has just resumed support payments to the Palestinian Authority
despite conclusive evidence that the money is diverted to pay for
massacres of Israeli children). Nor can al-Qaeda gain any leverage by
attacks on the remainder of the world. The theaters of the war will
include the U.S. and terrorist base areas in the Islamic arc
stretching from Morocco through the Maghreb through the Middle East to
Pakistan, and perhaps in Indonesia and the Phillipines as well.
To people who view the entire world through the lens of the Western
tradition, the strategy I will outline is doubtless going to sound
bellicose and regressive. It is not; it is founded on a cold-blooded
realization that Arab cultures (and the Arabized cultures of the rest
of the Islamic world) regard victory in war as a sign of Allah’s favor
and regard compromise and concession as a sign of weakness.
The war against Islamic terror must be fought on three levels:
homeland defense, military power projection, and cultural subversion.
We must foil terrorist acts; we must imprison or kill the terrorists
who plan and execute them; and we must dry up the pool of potential
recruits before they become terrorists who can only be stopped by
being imprisoned or killed.
Homeland defense includes all those measures designed to make the
attacks on U.S. civilians less likely to succeed. These will include
conventional police and security measures. It must also include a
revival of the role of the unincorporated militia and the armed
citizen. Al-Qaeda has limited resources, but the advantage of
choosing where they will strike; since the police and military cannot
be everywhere, civilians (like the passengers of flight 93) must take
anti-terrorist defense into their own hands.
Military power projection includes direct military action against
terrorist bases and havens. As an anarchist, I would prefer a world
in which private security agencies under contract to insurance
companies pursued al-Qaeda; persons of some other political persuasions
might propose supranational agencies such as the U.N. Unfortunately,
under the current world system there is no alternative to governments
to do this work. The U.S. has begun it in Afghanistan; the war must
continue in Iraq, and it is likely to encompass Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi
Arabia as well.
The goal of military power projection must be twofold: physical and
psychological. The physical goal must be to destroy the physical
infrastructure of terrorism — the headquarters, bases and training
camps. While this is important, the psychological goal of humiliating
and crushing jihadists is even more important.
Islamic armies and resistance movements are fanatical in attack but
brittle on the defense. When motivated by the conviction that Allah
guides their arm, suicidal bravery is routine.
On the other hand, when the fortunes of a cause decline past a
certain point, Arabs tend to consider the will of Allah to be manifest
and abruptly abandon it. These tendencies form part of the cultural
background that includes even secularized terrorist movements
(such as Yasser Arafat’s al-Fatah) in the Islamic world.
The U.S. was able to exploit this brittleness effectively in
Afghanistan. By moving in overwhelming force when it moved at all,
the U.S. was able to intimidate many warlords affiliated with the
Taliban into switching sides — an important reason the campaign
involved so little actual fighting.
We must repeat this maneuver on a larger scale. We must teach the
Dar-al-Islam to respect and fear the power of the West. We
must not negotiate or offer concessions until it is clear from the
behavior of governments, the umma, and the “Arab street” that the
public will to support jihad has been broken.
Our most important long-term weapon against Islamic terrorism,
however, will be cultural subversion. That is, to break the hold of
the Islamist/jihadist idea on the minds of Muslims. To do this, it
may be necessary to discredit the entirety of Islam; the question
depends on whether any Islamic figure will be clever enough to
construct an interpretation of Islam purged of jihadist tendencies,
and whether that version can propagate and displace the
Sunni-fundamentalist varieties now dominant in the Islamic world.
I can do no better than to quote Michelle Efird, the woman who
inspired my essay
We Are All Jews Now. In private mail afterwards
(quoted with permission) she wrote:
I don’t want to appease them, I don’t want to understand them, I
don’t want to let them reap the benefits of our liberalism while
plotting our destruction. Like most Americans, I would have been more
than happy to let them pretend the last 400 years of progress never
happened, as long as they didn’t force their warped-vision goggles on
anyone else. But since they brought the war to us, let’s pave the
middle east with outlet malls, fast food franchises, and Disney
Mecca. Let’s infect their entire population with personal liberty and
dissension and critical thinking. And if that doesn’t work, let’s
flood them with porn spam.
Osama bin Laden may, in the end, have materialized his own worst
fears. The ideology of jihad has created its mirror and opposite; the
dawning sense that we in the West have the right, the power, and the
duty to wipe bin Laden’s brand of religion from the face of
the earth before it destroys us all.
UPDATE: N.Z. Bear has written an
excellent essay on memes and cultural subversion.