Monday, March 3, 2008

The Dershowitz Questions

How do we deal with a religion that causes mothers to encourage their son's to commit murder and suicide in furtherance of that religion? Alan Dershowitz asks the question in today's WSJ.


Alan Dershowitz writes a very thoughtful essay in the WSJ today, posing very troubling and potentially existential questions that we in the West fail to address at our peril:

Zahra Maladan is an educated woman who edits a women's magazine in Lebanon. She is also a mother, who undoubtedly loves her son. She has ambitions for him, but they are different from those of most mothers in the West. She wants her son to become a suicide bomber.

. . . Zahra Maladan represents a dramatic shift in the way we must fight to protect our citizens against enemies who are sworn to kill them by killing themselves. The traditional paradigm was that mothers who love their children want them to live in peace, marry and produce grandchildren. Women in general, and mothers in particular, were seen as a counterweight to male belligerence. The picture of the mother weeping as her son is led off to battle -- even a just battle -- has been a constant and powerful image.

Now there is a new image of mothers urging their children to die, and then celebrating the martyrdom of their suicidal sons and daughters by distributing sweets and singing wedding songs. More and more young women -- some married with infant children -- are strapping bombs to their (sometimes pregnant) bellies, because they have been taught to love death rather than life. Look at what is being preached by some influential Islamic leaders:

. . . "The Americans love Pepsi-Cola, we love death," explained Afghani al Qaeda operative Maulana Inyadullah. Sheik Feiz Mohammed, leader of the Global Islamic Youth Center in Sydney, Australia, preached: "We want to have children and offer them as soldiers defending Islam. Teach them this: There is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid." Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech: "It is the zenith of honor for a man, a young person, boy or girl, to be prepared to sacrifice his life in order to serve the interests of his nation and his religion."

How should Western democracies fight against an enemy whose leaders preach a preference for death? . . .

Mr. Dershowitz never answers that question, but there is an answer as to how to begin that fight. The first defense is knowledge and mobilization of public opinion throughout the West against Ms. Maladan and the doctrinaire branch of Islam that holds her in thrall, both within our shores and without. That branch of Islam has a name – Wahhabi / Salafi Islam, and the branches of Islam it has infected, Deobandi Islam and Khomeinist Shia’ism. This proliferation of Wahhabi / Salafi ideology is a modern occurrence.

Until recent times, Salafi Islam was confined to the hinterlands of Arabia. Winston Churchill, who observed Islam throughout the Middle East during his time in the military and later in his various official capacities, described Salafi Islam nearly eighty years ago as bearing, "roughly speaking, the same relationship to orthodox Islam as the most militant form of Calvinism would have borne to Rome in the fiercest times of [Europe's] religious wars."

Yet now Wahhabi / Salafi Islam is gaining dominance throughout the Middle East and the West on the basis of billions of Saudi petrodollars and the silence of Western governments to take any sort of principled stand against it. The language Ms. Maladan speaks is the language of Salafi Islam. Former Salafi terrorist Tawfiq Hamid, in another context, explained the Salafist religious motivation that is fully apparent in the words of Ms. Maladan:

Jihad against non-Muslims seemed to me to be a win-win situation. The following verse, commonly cited by Jamaah members, validated my duty to die for Allah: "Allah has purchased the believers, their lives and their goods. For them [in return] is the garden [of paradise]. They fight in Allah's cause, and they slay and are slain; they kill and are killed... it [paradise] is the promise of Allah to them" (Koran 9:111).

We are not at war with Islam. But let there be no doubt that for the Salafists and the Salafi influenced schools of Islam - primarily Deobandi and Khomeinist Shia'ism, we are in Dar al Harb - the house of war.

The goal of Salafi Islam is "complete Islamic dominance." Salafi dogma holds that the duty of every Muslim is to wage "jihad against non-Muslims and subdue them to Shari'a - the duty of every true Muslim . . . [It is] to engage in war against the infidels, the enemies of Allah.

. . . The civilized world ought to recognize the immense danger that Salafi Islam poses; it must become informed, courageous and united if it is to protect both a generation of young Muslims and the rest of humanity from the disastrous consequences of this militant ideology.

Read Dr. Tawfiq Hamid's autobiographical explanation.

Yet as to information, our governments in the West have failed us completely. The most important thing that we can do is shine a light on Wahhabi / Salafi Islam, mobilize Western public opinion in criticism, and bring our government policies in line with the fact that Wahhabi / Salafi Islam is an evil that must not be allowed to metasticize in the dark. Yet that is what is happening in the West and throughout the Middle East.

We tolerate this lunacy without condemning it utterly and completely. Saudi funds have been used to build and maintain over 1,500 mosques, 202 colleges, 210 Islamic Centers wholly or partly financed by Saudi Arabia, and almost 2,000 schools for educating Muslim children in non-Islamic countries in Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia." The North American Islamic Trust - a Wahhabi Salafi organization owns between 50% and 80% of all mosques in North America. Salafists are, in many cases, taking over existing Mosques throughout the world. Examples abound, such as Belgium, Somalia, and Indonesia.

And on top of this, we fund a UN that has become little more than a mouthpiece for Salafists. We tolerate Saudi dissimulation within our borders, at our grade schools and at our universities. We send aid from the West to the PA which is a blackhole of terrorism while in Gaza - an area that also receives humanitarian aid - Hamas is using its television programming aimed at the youngest ages to teach them to hate the West, to hate Israel, and to embrace jihad and martyrdom. And our MSM, dominated by the left, is complicit – as amply demonstrated during the Mohammed al Dura affair and the coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006.

We have no chance of stopping the spread of the ideals Ms. Maladan is teaching her son until our government begins to educate the populace of the West on those ideals and their origins. That is step one.

Step two is to try cause a reexamination and reinterpretation of Islam to challenge directly the 7th century form of Salafism that has infected Ms. Maladan. Islam as a whole has suffered tremendous stagnation since the "gates of ijtihad" were closed nearly 8 centuries ago at the behest of Muslim rulers who wanted no challenge to their rule. There has been no significant reinterpretation of the Koran, the Hadith or the Sunna in the intervening centuries – and Salafi Islam even rejects the more 'modern' centuries old interpretations in favor of a return to an Islamic utopia of 7th century Arabia.

This lack of a period of Enlightenment or a Reformation is critical. We need to empower and give voice to those who would reject these ancient interpretations of Islam – which includes the majority of Muslims in the West. There are individuals in the West whom I have named before who propose such reinterpretations, Tawfiq Hamid and Zhudi Jassser among them. We should be supporting them, not enabling those organizations that in fact want to spread Salafi Islam in its current form.

Iraq is of critical importance in this regard also. The Sunni population of Iraq accepted the champions of Salafi Islam – al Qaeda - into their midst, and have now rejected them. The NYT reports today on how that rejection is exhibiting itself in Iraq. This could potentially reverberate throughout the Middle East if we are able to stabilize Iraq as functioning democracy, allowing the message and success of Iraq’s Sunni’s to exist as an example in contrast to the Salafi vision. Likewise, to show al Qaeda as defeated by the West is of critical importance to the ideological struggle against further spread of the Wahhabi / Salafi ideology.

And lastly, there seems to be good news out of Turkey. Turkey has announced its intent to sponsor the first major reinterpretation of Islam since the gates of ijtihad were closed near a millenium ago. This may well be momentous - and it is a direct challenge to the 7th century Wahhabi / Salafi interpretations. This is something the West needs to watch carefully. It may be the key to putting the mother son relationship of Ms. Maladan on a more traditional and civilized keel.

To continue with Mr. Dershowitz’s essay:

The two basic premises of conventional warfare have long been that soldiers and civilians prefer living to dying and can thus be deterred from killing by the fear of being killed; and that combatants (soldiers) can easily be distinguished from noncombatants (women, children, the elderly, the infirm and other ordinary citizens). These premises are being challenged by women like Zahra Maladan. Neither she nor her son -- if he listens to his mother -- can be deterred from killing by the fear of being killed. They must be prevented from succeeding in their ghoulish quest for martyrdom. Prevention, however, carries a high risk of error. The woman walking toward the group of soldiers or civilians might well be an innocent civilian. A moment's hesitation may cost innocent lives. But a failure to hesitate may also have a price. . . .

As more women and children are recruited by their mothers and their religious leaders to become suicide bombers, more women and children will be shot at -- some mistakenly. That too is part of the grand plan of our enemies. They want us to kill their civilians, who they also consider martyrs, because when we accidentally kill a civilian, they win in the court of public opinion. One Western diplomat called this the "harsh arithmetic of pain," whereby civilian casualties on both sides "play in their favor." Democracies lose, both politically and emotionally, when they kill civilians, even inadvertently. As Golda Meir once put it: "We can perhaps someday forgive you for killing our children, but we cannot forgive you for making us kill your children."

Civilian casualties also increase when terrorists operate from within civilian enclaves and hide behind human shields. This relatively new phenomenon undercuts the second basic premise of conventional warfare: Combatants can easily be distinguished from noncombatants. Has Zahra Maladan become a combatant by urging her son to blow himself up? Have the religious leaders who preach a culture of death lost their status as noncombatants? What about "civilians" who willingly allow themselves to be used as human shields? Or their homes as launching pads for terrorist rockets?

The traditional sharp distinction between soldiers in uniform and civilians in nonmilitary garb has given way to a continuum. At the more civilian end are babies and true noncombatants; at the more military end are the religious leaders who incite mass murder; in the middle are ordinary citizens who facilitate, finance or encourage terrorism. There are no hard and fast lines of demarcation, and mistakes are inevitable -- as the terrorists well understand. We need new rules, strategies and tactics to deal effectively and fairly with these dangerous new realities. We cannot simply wait until the son of Zahra Maladan -- and the sons and daughters of hundreds of others like her -- decide to follow his mother's demand. We must stop them before they export their sick and dangerous culture of death to our shores.

Read the entire article. People like the son of Ms. Maladan will always have the first step. There are no rules we can change that would allow us to shoot first and ask questions later short of an embrace of genocide. The question of rules Mr. Dershowitz leaves hanging in the air run afoul of the Judeo-Christian ethic and, indeed, amongst the majority of Muslims who have not been infected with Salafi Islam. Not long ago, a Deobandi Islamist held up a baby wired to explode near the car of Benazir Bhutto in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate her. To stop that will require good intelligence on one hand and a determined attack upon the ideology leading to that barbarous act on the other.

Thus the most important fight against the likes of Ms. Maladan and her son is on ideological turf - the war of ideas of which I spoke of earlier. Indeed, as Zhudi Jasser has noted, that war is just now beginning. We need our governments in the West to engage in the war or it will never be won.

That said, and although the fight will begin and end on ideological turf, in the middle there is the practical reality of defending ourselves, and that means taking the fight to those who would attack us. And Mr. Dershowitz is correct, that we need at least some new rules. Consider this report from Iraq last year at the start of the surge:

At first they are ghost figures in the weapons' system monitor, glowing with body warmth and two-dimensional. From inside the American Bradley fighting vehicle approaching Burhiz, an insurgent neighbourhood of Baquba, you quickly acclimatise to the reality of this representation of human life.

Boys on bikes cycle backwards and forwards on a footbridge over a small canal lined with houses and groves of date palms. Women in headscarves look anxiously in groups from windows. Men walk with shopping bags. A gunman, clutching an AK-47, bobs his head around the corner of an alleyway close to a school.

Once. Twice. On the third occasion a child, a boy seven or eight years old, is thrust out in front of him. The gunman holds him firmly by the arm and steps out for instant into full view of the Bradley's gunner to get a proper look, then yanks the boy back and disappears.

"That is really dirty," says Specialist Chris Jankow, in the back of the Bradley, with a mixture of contempt, anger and frustration. "They know exactly what our rules of engagement are. They know we can't fire back."

A few minutes and a few hundred metres later the performance is repeated. A woman and three small children emerge uncertainly from behind a building, little more than a shack. They stare at the approaching armour. After a few seconds they retreat from view; then the process is repeated. The third time they emerge, a fighter is crouching behind them with a rocket-propelled grenade aimed at Jankow's Bradley. The group disappears.

There is a long pause, a moment of excruciating moral conflict for the soldiers and for the gunner in particular.

Not to shoot would be to imperil their own lives or those of their colleagues, both American and Iraqi. To shoot would be to risk killing civilians who have been shoved in front of their guns to shield insurgent fighters.

Suddenly, the decision is made, announced by the Bradley opening fire with four rounds from its 25mm gun, blasting a large hole in the corner of the building. Three bodies fall into view.

For a sickening few seconds it seems inconceivable that the woman and her children are not among the dead. A silence descends on the vehicle. But the bodies are those of men.

"This whole human shield thing is all fucked up," says Specialist Orlando Garcia, sitting in the Bradley's back. "You know, if I heard a Bradley [coming at me], I would be under my house. I wouldn't be out here."

This is the horrible reality of a brutal and unconventional war in Iraq's north - where jihadi fighters use human shields and force children to run weapons for them. . . .

Read the entire article here. This was an exceptional article in the Guardian, and I have not seen its like in our leftist MSM. Which brings us to the first "change in the rules" that we need.

Our MSM and leftist organizations are wholly unrealistic - whether deliberately so I do not know - in setting the standards for how we are to prosecute warfare. The reality of warfare has not changed over the millenia, but what has changed is the rise of the socialist left over the past half century in America and their impact on our warfighting capability. They hold the West to an impossible standards as regards non-combatant casualties while, at the same time, they wholly gloss over the fact that Salafists and Khomeinists do all they can to make such casualties inevitable if we are to defend ourselves. Further, they dwell on collateral damage - or assert that such casualties were targeted - and are quick to condemn our soldiers first. And some on the far left, an example of which is George Soros's Lancet study, are not above grossly exaggerating the number of civilian casualties in order to undermine the war in Iraq. No wars in the last two millenium were ever fought to the standards the left would hold our military to today. Nor will any be won by holding us to those standards. In a comment to a post at The Belmont Club, Wretchard wrote:

The brilliance of the new barbarism is that you cannot fight it without destroying your own value system into the bargain.Traditionally the solution has been to consider wartime a discontinuity, when civilization's rules are suspended. It becomes possible, for example, to lay waste to the Monte Cassino Abbey. Berlin was bombed without regard for its buildings, churches or people.

The alternative is to create methods of fighting so discriminating that we can literally shoot between the raindrops. But that creates a different problem, for we will need an intelligence system so comprehensive that it will become intrusive.

Either way, the war cannot be won without cost. And the fundamental fraud foisted on the public is to claim we can have war without horror, conduct an intelligence war without dishonesty and cunning and obtain victory without sacrifice.

So the first thing that must be done is to push back against this insanely utopian standards that the left is hoisting upon the West. That is not to say that we need not attempt to limit civilian casualties whenever possible. Moreover, if we are ever to gain the support of the populace – which is critical to a counterinsurgency – than we absolutely must take reasonable pains to limit civilian and non-combatant casualties.

What has allowed the U.S. to be at least somewhat surgical in Iraq – the fact that a substantial portion of the populace that supports the US or at least supports it more than the Salafists of al Qaeda – does not exist in Lebanon or Gaza. Terrorists in areas abutting Israel are supported by their populace, thus making total reliance on surgical strikes by Israel to defend itself impossible. This is truly problematic for Israel because the MSM, the UN, and other leftist organizations ignore the daily attacks on Israel and hold Israel to account for all collateral damage. Israel will not survive beyond a few decades more if it does not strike back against Hamas's daily bombardments with all of the ferocity necessary to force an end to such attacks. It cannot frame its attacks on the shackles the MSM and the UN would place on it. And it will not long survive if it fights Hezbollah in Lebanon with one eye on public opinon driven by a leftist media.

And here again our government is failing us. Our government continues to fund the UN whose ridiculous barbs are aimed at both the U.S. and Israel while providing cover for the Salafists. They are a major component in the left’s effort to hamstring Western nations ability to defend themselves. Indeed the UN has become, in many ways, an apologist and propagandist for Salafi Islam.

We must not bow to the Salafist or their apologists else the price we pay in the long run will be dear indeed when the son of Ms. Maladan arrives at our shores. Nor can we ignore it – either in terms of pretending it does not exist, as Britain has now adopted as official policy, nor in terms of simply failing to educate the populace about the threat and how it has manifested in many forms. Appropriate rules that will allow us to neutralize Ms. Maladan and her son will only develop when the problem is no longer being ignored.

I will give the last word to Dr. Sanity, who wrote eloquently on a similar topic some time ago:

I am confident that we in the West are not in danger of losing our fundamental values; and that our overall moral heading can be recovered should we need to temporarily deviate from the course of the moral compass that guides us. Because, in order to combat and defeat this new barbarism, we must confront it directly and be willing to do whatever it takes to defeat it.

If we appease or ignore it, it will continue to menace everything we hold dear; and sooner or later, it will sink us--no matter how moral we are or how much restraint we demonstrate to their provocations. Moral virtue and saintly restraint will not win this conflict, at least not without the help of pure, unadulterated brute force to back them up.

Read her post here.


MK said...

The westerner cannot win against this enemy as long as he gives the enemy the right to free speech and religious freedom in the west.

What we are doing is stupid, western countries were built by Christians, but now we place all religions as equal. In Muslim countries, they have no such thing, and they have no issues with Christians in their midst preaching and hatred, not that Christians do that anyway.

But the westerner is not prepared to give up on his precious free speech and freedom of any religion, so he will only be bombed and burned to his senses by the likes of this hateful woman and her homicidal offspring.

Hube said...

I don't believe the West has to retreat from freedom of speech and religion to win this war. However, it does have to press harder to apply the actual wording of the Geneva Conventions regarding terrorists, and to refuse terrorists the exact same rights that [citizen] civilians have with regards to the court system. In addition, codify that things such as waterboarding -- in extreme necessary cases -- are not "torture."

(And great post here, Wolf!)