Sunday, August 1, 2010

The War Against Radical Islam & The Battlefield of Ideas

Andrew McCarthy, writing at NRO, is effuse in his praise for Newt Gingrich's remarks concerning our war against "radical Islam" in both its militaristic and 'fifth column' forms. Gingrich, he says, is that exceedingly rare combination of a politician who both understands the nature of the threat and is willing to speak out about it honestly. This from Mr. McCarthy:

. . . Gingrich grasps that there is an enemy here and that it is a mortal threat to freedom. He knows that if we are to remain a free people, it is an enemy we must defeat. That enemy is Islamism, and its operatives — whether they come as terrorists or stealth saboteurs — are the purveyors of sharia, Islam’s authoritarian legal and political system. . . .

The single purpose of this jihad is the imposition of sharia. On that score, Gingrich made two points of surpassing importance. First, some Islamists employ mass-murder attacks while others prefer a gradual march through our institutions — our legal, political, academic, and financial systems, as well as our broader culture; the goal of both, though, is the same. The stealth Islamists occasionally feign outrage at the terrorists, but their quarrel is over methodology and pace. Both camps covet the same outcome.

Second, that outcome is the death of freedom. In Islamist ideology, sharia is deemed to be the necessary precondition for Islamicizing a society — for Islam is not merely a religious doctrine, but a comprehensive socio-economic and political system. As the former speaker elaborated, sharia embodies principles and punishments that are abhorrent to Western values. Indeed, its foundational premise is anti-American, holding that we are not free people at liberty to govern ourselves irrespective of any theocratic code, that people are instead beholden to the Islamic state, which is divinely enjoined to impose Allah’s laws.

Sharia, moreover, is anti-equality. It subjugates women and brutally punishes transgressors, particularly homosexuals and apostates. While our law forbids cruel and unusual punishments, Gingrich observed that the brutality in sharia sanctions is not gratuitous, but intentional: It is meant to enforce Allah’s will by striking example.

On this last point, Gingrich offered a salient insight, one well worth internalizing in the Sun Tzu sense of knowing one’s enemy. Islamists, violent or not, have very good reasons for the wanting to destroy the West. Those reasons are not crazy or wanton — and they have nothing to do with Gitmo, Israel, cartoons, or any other excuse we conjure to explain the savagery away. Islamists devoutly believe, based on a well-founded interpretation of Islamic doctrine, that they have been commanded by Allah to kill, convert, or subdue all who do not adhere to sharia — because they regard Allah as their only master (“There is no God but Allah”). It is thus entirely rational (albeit frightening to us) that they accept the scriptural instruction that the very existence of those who resist sharia is offensive to Allah, and that a powerful example must be made of those resisters in order to induce the submission of all — “submission” being the meaning of Islam.

It makes no sense to dismiss our enemies as lunatics just because “secular socialist” elites, as Gingrich called them, cannot imagine a fervor that stems from religious devotion. We ought to respect our enemies, he said. Not “respect” in Obama-speak, which translates as “appease,” but in the sense of taking them seriously, understanding that they are absolutely determined to win, and realizing that they are implacable. There is no “moderate” sharia devotee, for sharia is not moderate. . . . Islamism is not a movement to be engaged, it is an enemy to be defeated.

Victory, Gingrich said, will be very long in coming — longer, perhaps, than the nearly half-century it took to win the Cold War. . . .

Debate over all of this is essential. The crucial point is that we must have the debate with eyes open. It is a debate about which Gingrich has put down impressive markers: The main front in the war is not Afghanistan or Iraq but the United States. The war is about the survival of Western civilization, and we should make no apologies for the fact that the West’s freedom culture is a Judeo-Christian culture — a fact that was unabashedly acknowledged, Gingrich reminded his audience, by FDR and Churchill. To ensure victory in the United States we must, once again, save Europe, where the enemy has advanced markedly. There is no separating our national security and our economic prosperity — they are interdependent. And while the Middle East poses challenges of immense complexity, Gingrich contended that addressing two of them — Iran, the chief backer of violent jihad, and Saudi Arabia, the chief backer of stealth jihad — would go a long way toward improving our prospects on the rest.

Most significant, there is sharia. By pressing the issue, Newt Gingrich accomplishes two things. First, he gives us a metric for determining whether those who would presume to lead us will fight or surrender. Second, at long last, someone is empowering truly moderate Muslims — assuming they exist in the numbers we’re constantly assured of. Our allies are the Muslims who embrace our freedom culture — those for whom sharia is a matter of private belief, not public mission. Our enemies are those who want sharia to supplant American law and Western culture. When we call out the latter, and marginalize them, we may finally energize the former. . . .

These are points that I have been making ad infinitum on this blog. For but one example, see National Security At The End Of Obama's First Year (its a long post - scroll half way through to get to the section on 'war of ideas'). The bottom line is that we have to engage in the war of ideas or the Islamist's war against the West will still be being fought by our grandchildren's grandchildren. Moreover, given the push of radicals for weapons of mass destruction, the far too widespread support for radicals throughout the Islamic world, and the continued push of Salafi Islam into the West on the back of Saudi petrodollars, the chances are very high that the war will likely become far more bloody and expensive as time goes on, as well as ever more threatening to the fundamental freedoms of Western civilization. This is a war that we could indeed lose if we fail to engage.

Step one in the war of ideas is to identify the enemy. We have to expose Wahhabi / Salafi Islam and shine a light on it in to engage the strongest force in any democracy - public opinion. Bush never did this. Obama is exponentially worse, pretending that there is no threat to the West originating out of Islam. It is not merely an incredibly dangerous falsehood, it is treasonous. Gingrich is the first major politician of either party to step up.

Dafydd ab Hugh at Big Lizards has done two recent posts on this topic, both of which should be required reading. In Brilliance At Midnight, Dafydd notes that the threat from radical Islam to Western society is really two fold:

The take-away from the massive dumping of leaked U.S. military documents on WikiLeaks, documents related to the conduct and progress of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is this: The putative "rift" between Islamist terrorists on the one hand, and radical Islamists who "reject terrorism" (at specific times and places) on the other hand, has nothing to do with any ultimate goal of Islamism.

The rift reflects only a difference of opinion about the precise strategies and tactics for achieving that goal. Islamist victory conditions are the same in both groups: a pure, radical Islamism dominant across the globe, with sharia the final law in every country. . . .

Our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are involved in the physical war against this threat, but in the long run, it is the war of ideas that matters more. In Brilliance at Midnight - the Dawn, Dafydd flushes out the tools available to us to engage in the war of ideas:

. . . The most important task before launching into a war of ideas is to fully arm and equip our "soldiers" -- in this case, our soldiers comprise all Americans willing and able to defend Western values of individual liberty, property and Capitalism, freedom of speech and religion (not merely freedom of worship, as Obama would have it), actual rule of law, and governance by the consent of the governed. Bluntly, I mean educating the masses about the Grand Jihad, its goals, its methods, and the existential danger it poses. . . .

Do read both of his posts. We fail to engage in the war of ideas at our own existential peril.

Lastly, as to Gingrich himself, I wrote recently that I consider him the best candidate for President the Republicans could field in 2012. His above remarks on the threat we face from Islamism merely increase my conviction exponentially.

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