ISLAM: What Is To Be Done?

In a nutshell, Fitzpatrick recommends a paradigm shift in the war. We, no longer, should be fighting this or that radical group who have “highjacked the religion”. Instead we should be fighting the ideology of Islam and its Jihad, stealth or otherwise.

We should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and encourage the warring parties to duke it out.

We should do away with PC and be highly critical of Islam. We should be attacking it as fascist, imperialist, misoginist, brutal and so on. We should limit Muslim immigration.

We should begin to dictate to Saudi Arabia that they must desist from promoting Jihad. If they are unwilling to follow our rules and impose an oil embargo, we should invade and take over the oil fields. (OK, He didn’t say that but I did.)

by Hugh Fitzgerald, New English Review

[The following is an expanded version of the speech Mr. Fitzgerald delivered to the New English Review Symposium on June 19, 2010.]

Shortly after the 9/11/2001 attacks, that have entered history under the too-casual shorthand of “nine-eleven,” the American government began to plan to conduct a war against those whom, it correctly believed, were those most immediately involved in the attack. These were the members of an identifiable group called Al Qaeda. Its head was a mediagenic son of a Saudi billionaire, Osama Bin Laden, ably seconded by the scion of a prominent Egyptian family, Ayman Al-Zawahiri (his great-uncle Azzam Pasha had been the first Secretary of the Arab League), with others who had, from their lairs in Afghanistan, been plotting against the West at least since 1993, when the first attack on the World Trade Center took place. And within months it carried out that plan, directed not only at Al Qaeda but at the Taliban that had given Al Qaeda refuge and succor in Afghanistan.

For the first few years of that war, the word “Jihad” was seldom used. Instead, the Americans had set out, so American political leaders said, to defeat a “handful of extremists,” those who had “hijacked a great religion.” The two most important leaders in the West, Bush and Blair, both assured the world that Islam was a religion of “peace” and “tolerance” though no historical evidence for this absurdity was adduced. – Blair even let it be known that he carried a Qur’an around in his pocket, which was meant to suggest his appreciative familiarity with its contents.

Nor did the word “Jihad” have any application in the war that began in Iraq when the Americans invaded that country in March 2003, with our leaders having been convinced by Shi’a Iraqis in exile that if only we were to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein, Iraq could become a Light Unto the Muslim Nations, for American policymakers, unaware of the real nature of Iraqi society, and the sectarian and ethnic fissures within it, fell for the line that Ahmad Chalabi and others peddled. They wanted to fall for such a line, of course, wanted to believe that “democracy” could be transplanted to a Muslim country, and wanted to believe, as well, that the combination of “democracy” – what Bush described as “freedom for ordinary moms and dads in the Middle East,” and prosperity, which would surely come if the Americans encouraged all those members of the Iraqi middle class just waiting to give free rein to their entrepreneurial flair under American direction, and this would make Iraq, a “key” country in the Middle East, a grateful and devoted friend of the United States. Nothing was said about the Shi’a-Sunni split, nothing was predicted about a Sunni refusal to acquiesce in the certain loss of power, or in the Shi’a determination to hold onto power that until the American invasion had been held by the Sunnis during the entire history of modern Iraq.

And no one wanted to consider that American interests might be better served by allowing sectarian fissures to fester, rather than to work to diminish them, and that, furthermore, instead of promoting Arab-Kurd reconciliation, or at least the avoidance of hostilities, it might make more sense to support a non-Arab people, the Kurds, in their attempt to extend their autonomy, even possibly to attain an independent state, for the spectacle of a non-Arab Muslim people successfully throwing off the Arab yoke could prove salutary for the 80% of the world’s Muslims who are not Arabs, and who might be made to understand that despite the universalist claims of Islam, the treatment by Arabs of non-Arab Muslims, and many of the practices that Muslims adopt, demonstrate clearly that Islam is a vehicle for Arab supremacism. And the recognition that this is so might make Islam slightly less appealing, or at least more vulnerable to attack, among those 80% of the world’s Muslims who are not Arabs, and do not have an ethnic identity, ‘Uruba, or Arabness, that reinforces Islam.

No, as in Afghanistan, so in Iraq, the subject not to be mentioned was Islam. American soldiers were taught nothing about Islam, and it was only here and there, as in an Arabic class taught by a Jordanian Christian in Tikrit, that some American soldiers were exposed to virulent denunciations of Islam.

The American military went out of its way not to make clear to its soldiers just what the ideology of Islam inculcated, which might, had it been understood, have made the troops more intelligently wary, but would at the same time, if the lessons about Islam had been thoroughly understood, would also have made the American effort in Iraq and Afghanistan seem more obviously foolish to those asked to conduct that war. So they were not taught.

And the entire premise of both wars was that in each country there was something called an “insurgency” and, for some of the Leavenworth colonels who were said to form such an impressive Brains Trust for General Petraeus, there were also said to be “laws” that governed “insurgencies.” For example, we were treated to the information that, “in general, insurgencies last about ten years.” This was a ludicrous conclusion, one whose silliness can be seen if, for example, we solemnly declare that “our research shows that, on average, civil wars last 12.7 years” or “our research shows that, on average, wars last 11.2 years.” Such notions offer a false arithmetic certainty. They ignore all kinds of things, but the biggest thing of all that is ignored is that, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the people we thought we were fighting were Muslims, and the people whom we were aiding were also Muslims, if of a slightly less virulent or fanatical brand – though even this does not adequately describe the situation in Iraq, where now Sunnis, and now Shi’a, of different kinds and with different interests, seemed to be the most dangerous enemy of the Americans, and their goals.

While the Shi’a were still not certain that they would have control of the country, they were the least difficult to deal with. When some of the Sunni Arabs believed that they had more to gain by collaborating with the Americans, and in any case welcomed all the money and weapons the Americans could give them to fight Al Qaeda (which had made the mistake of attacking local Sunni Arabs), understanding full well that that money and those weapons could be used later on against the Shi’a or, if necessary, against the Americans themselves, they were perfectly wiling to collaborate, in tribal allegiance temporarily assigned to “The Awakening,” and this was misinterpreted by the Americans as a great strategic achievment, when it represented merely the temporary rental of some allies who, for reasons of their own quite different from ours, were willing to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The Americans never allowed themselves to see their task in Iraq and Afghanistan as connected to a larger effort, that effort seen best as a war of self-defense, not by America alone, but by all the non-Muslim nations, against those promoting Jihad. There was a lot of talk about the “center” of the “war against terrorism” – first that “center” was Afghanistan, and then that “center” moved to Iraq, and then that center moved back to Afghanistan, and then it was located hovering somewhere between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and lately we read that perhaps the “center” has shifted to Yemen – or perhaps to Somalia, or somewhere else. It never was suggested that the very idea of a single “center” for Islamic terrorism – or, still more obviously, for those conducting Jihad through other instruments, such as deployment of the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da’wa, and demographic conquest – made no sense.

It showed a misunderstanding that the problem was not a “failed state” here, or a malignant regime there, but rather, the ideology of Islam, its appeal, its demands and pressures, that never let up, on non-Muslims, whether those non-Muslims lived in countries dominated by Islam, or whether they lived in countries that had always been peopled by, and developed by, non-Muslims who had, in an excess of negligent enthusiasm for the Idols of the Age, Tolerance and Diversity, had without too much thought, allowed milions of Muslims to settle within their borders. There is no “center” for Islamic terrorism, and no “center” for those who use other, even more effective, because less attention-getting, instruments of Jihad, in order to promote the Cause of Islam. as connected to the world-wide march of Islam, a march – or a Jihad, rather – made possible not because of any changes in the ideology of Islam, but in the ability of Muslims to conduct, or think they could conduct, Jihad against non-Muslims everywhere.

July 4, 2010 | 1 Comment »

Leave a Reply

1 Comment / 1 Comment

  1. Hugh Fitzgerald for President!

    A brilliant analysis that should be read by everyone in power in the US. Sadly, we would be lucky if perhaps five out of 535 members of congress saw this.