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Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Different Kind of War

Cross posted from Radarsite

From an original article at Counter Terrorism

Crossroads in History: The Struggle against Jihad and Supremacist Ideologies
By Jeffrey Imm

In fighting Islamic supremacism, instead of an approach only based on tactical measures and efforts at clever twists of terminology, what if America had a true strategy that was instead based on the defense of our values on human equality and liberty?

The true challenge of Islamic supremacism to America and the free world is not about Islam, Islamism, or terrorism, but about us. It is a historic challenge to determine whether we truly have the courage of our convictions on equality and liberty and we are willing to fight for these ideals, or if we will instead accept the continuing growth of anti-freedom ideologies here and around the world.

Islamic supremacists are counting on their belief that America is no longer willing to fight for such freedoms, that it has gotten too soft to do so, and that regardless of the success or failure of individual Jihadist tactics, eventually we will tolerate a continued growth of Islamic supremacism. The crossroads in history that we stand at remains whether or not we will prove Islamic supremacists correct, or if the idea defined in our very Declaration of Independence and chiseled in a marble memorial in America's capital - that "all men are created equal" - is an idea that America will once again sacrifice to defend.

America and the West are at a critical crossroads in history in their faltering struggle with Islamic supremacist ideologies and Jihadist terror tactics. Increasingly, groups seek to halt any meaningful debate and halt any challenge to the ideology behind Jihad, and they seek to redirect such debate and action to focus only on the terrorist symptoms of such a supremacist ideology. Such diversionary efforts are being made by non-violent Islamic supremacist groups and activists, government officials, academics, and media commentators. The solution to this can be found in recognizing how Islamic supremacism (as any supremacist ideology) is opposed to our values, and in understanding America's historical experience in defeating other supremacist ideologies.

A. The Islamic Supremacist Declaration of War on Equality and Freedom

From a counterterrorist perspective, the Al Qaeda declarations of war against the United States in 1996 and 1998 are widely examined as a basis for a "war on terror." However, the Islamic supremacist challenges to equality and liberty have been occurring long before declarations of war by Al Qaeda or any other Islamic supremacist terrorist groups.

Three years after the defeat of the Nazi supremacists, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly advocated a Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on human rights, freedom, and equality. In addition to abstention by Communist totalitarian nations, the Islamic supremacist Kingdom of Saudi Arabia refused to support such a resolution on equality.

In 1981, the Islamic supremacist Republic of Iran effectively issued a Sharia-based declaration of war on such ideas "when its representative affirmed that the UDHR represented a secular interpretation of the Judeo-Christian tradition which could not be implemented by Muslims; if a choice had to be made between its stipulations and 'the divine law of the country,' Iran would always choose Islamic law." The Islamic supremacists leading Iran were more forthright in their position than Saudi Arabia; they stated clearly and unequivocally that equality and Sharia were clearly incompatible. In the midst of the Cold War, few truly appreciated this as the Sharia declaration of war on equality and freedom that it was.

In 2000, a year before the 9/11 attacks, the 57 nation Islamist supremacist organization, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, officially resolved to support the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam as an alternative document that says people have "freedom and right to a dignified life in accordance with the Islamic Shari'ah" -- an exclusionary ideology only for Muslims that denies freedom of religion and many other fundamental human rights of equality.

In 2001, nearly two months before the 9/11 attacks, the European Court of Human Rights determined that "the institution of Sharia law and a theocratic regime, were incompatible with the requirements of a democratic society."

Throughout the world on a daily basis, as analysts pore over the details of violent groups and their tactics, the details of terrorist finance, and the details of battlefield theaters, the anti-democratic stories of Sharia repression are widely ignored by many as the war of ideas with Islamic supremacism is not fully understood even today.

B. "All Men Are Created Equal" Versus Sharia

Tacticians believe the war is between Al-Qaeda and the West, the Taliban and the West, Hezbollah and the West, between Shiite and Sunni "extremists," or between terrorists and those who advocate non-violence. But this tactical view of world war only sees snapshots of individual theaters of violent activity and propaganda. The true aspects of the war remain a clash of ideological views, not merely individual political demands or battles.

Many in the United States and United Kingdom government leadership positions definitely do not want debate on this clash of ideological views, because they rightly fear that this will lead to more, not less confrontation. The historical mistake that they make is the assumption that such confrontation is something we don't need and something we can avoid. American leaders who fear such confrontation ignore the historical lessons of how other supremacist ideologies were fought and defeated.

The root of the real war is the ideas of equality and liberty versus Sharia and an Islamic supremacist form of societal control. Little is written about this war, which has numerous fronts around the world -- violent and non-violent, with propaganda fronts, economic fronts, demographic fronts, legal fronts, educational fronts. It is really what happens in this war of ideas, not in the individual battles in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere that will be the deciding factor in our victory or defeat. But to understand this war of ideas, and understand the application of history in fighting supremacism to dealing with Islamic supremacism, we must understand the dual aspects of freedom and how they remain the greatest weapon in America's arsenal.

While Islamic supremacists view their growing population as their greatest weapon, America has its twin towers of freedom -- liberty and equality - which combined provides the greatest weapon on Earth against supremacism. Liberty and equality are the twin towers of America that can not and will not fall as long as American retains its commitment to its national values. America has proven the value of these hard-won ideological weapons against supremacist ideologies repeatedly throughout our history.

Liberty alone is not enough to fight supremacism. Liberty is only half of the equation of freedom; equality is the other completing half of freedom that provides the values to truly challenge any supremacist ideology -- the values of America that all men and women are created equal. We learned that nearly 90 years after America's creation, and we fought to rectify this with a dual commitment for equality as well as liberty.

In the larger, strategic war against Islamic supremacism, it is America's unique historical experience in the war of ideas against other supremacist organizations that our leaders must examine in finding answers and strategies in fighting Islamic supremacism today.

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A note from Radarsite: This, I believe, is a vital essay. It is both alarming and encouraging. Alarming in the breadth and depth of our challenges, but encouraging in our potential for victory. I have long suspected that behind our leaders ongoing denial of the true Islamic menace, that stubborn, and seemingly delusional refusal to name Islam as our clear enemy, there has been the practical fear of escalation. Seen in this light, their apparent denial is more readily understood. It could then be assumed that, rather than being a result of ignorance or cowardice this has been a calculated strategic decision. A decision based on a position of an implied weakness. It is simply a matter of numbers. If we openly declare Islam to be our mortal enemy then we will most assuredly set the course for our own defeat. It is a mathematical certainty that if we take on the whole of Islam we will lose -- there are just too many Muslims in this world. Therefore, this hypothetical reasoning goes, it's better to contain the threats, to localize them, to subdivide the war into more winnable battles. In short, to decline the greater challenge and accept the consequences. Hoping that by winning these smaller battles we will eventually either demoralize our enemies, or perhaps eventually win them over.

Although this strategy may make some sort of short term sense, it is at best a losing hand. Why? Because our enemies are not going to be dissuaded by lost battles nor converted by stealth. In the end, the major confrontation we seek to avoid still looms and we still must choose our fate. We cannot escape our fate by ignoring it.

But, now comes the encouraging part.

"America has its twin towers of freedom -- liberty and equality - which combined provides the greatest weapon on Earth against supremacism. Liberty and equality are the twin towers of America that can not and will not fall as long as American retains its commitment to its national values. America has proven the value of these hard-won ideological weapons against supremacist ideologies repeatedly throughout our history."

America itself, our author reminds us, is our most formidable weapon. The force of its promise of freedom and hope is simply irresistible. Once experienced, the taste of freedom and hope is unforgettable. How many people of this world have freely chosen slavery and subjugation?

This, then, is our greatest guardian. Our omnipotent defense.

But we must defend our precious freedoms and our liberties. And to defend ourselves we must have the moral courage to clearly and unequivocally identify our enemies, and if that makes more enemies, then so be it. But we must name them and protect ourselves from them. We must be strong in our resolve to defeat this alien invasion. Whatever it takes.

In the end, then, it's not just about numbers; there's more at play here than simple mathematics. Although our challenges are indeed formidable, our reasons for optimism are realistic. Because we are not alone in this monumental battle. We have our unassailable allies -- the indomitable human spirit, and that eternal will to freedom. - rg