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Jihad’s Fellow Travelers By: Srdja Trifkovic
ChroniclesMagazine.org | Thursday, September 29, 2005


The following are excerpts from Dr. Trifkovic’s new book, Defeating Jihad, which will be published by Regina Orthodox Press later this year.

Members of the West European and North American elite class approach the war on terrorism in a schizophrenic manner. Their world view rejects any possibility that religious faith can be a prime motivating factor in human affairs. Having reduced religion, literature and art to “narratives” and “metaphors” which merely reflect prejudices based on the distribution of power, the elite class treats the jihadist mindset as a pathology that should be treated by treating causes external to Islam itself.

The result is a plethora of proposed “cures” that are as likely to succeed in making us safe from terrorism as snake oil is likely to cure leukemia. Abroad, we are told, we need to address political and economic grievances of the impoverished masses, we need to spread democracy and free markets in the Muslim world, we need to invest more in public diplomacy. At home we need more tolerance, greater inclusiveness, less profiling, and a more determined outreach to the minorities that feel marginalized and threatened by the war on terror. The failure of such “cures” leads to ever more pathological self-examination and morbid self doubt. If the spread of jihad is not due to the ideology of jihad itself, which it cannot be, then it must be our own fault.

Already with the Rushdie affair 17 years ago an ominous pattern was set. It has been replicated on both sides of the Atlantic ever since. It has three key ingredients:

1. The Muslim diaspora in the Western world, while formally denouncing “terrorism,” will accept and condone religious justification for acts that effectively challenge the monopoly on violence of the non-Muslim host-state.

2. The Muslim diaspora will use a highly developed infrastructure of organized religion in the host-state—a network of mosques, Islamic centers and Muslim organizations—and deploy it either as a tool of direct political pressure in support of terrorist goals (e.g., British Muslims vis-à-vis Rushdie), or else as a means of deception and manipulation in order to diminish the ability of the host-society to defend itself (e.g., CAIR vis-à-vis post-9-11 America).

3. The non-Muslim establishment—public figures, politicians, journalists, academic analysts—will seek to appease the Muslim diaspora, or else it will shy away from confronting the problem of the immigrants’ attitudes and impact by pretending that it does not exist.

The issues of immigration, identity, loyalty, and common culture are accordingly not treated as an area of legitimate concern in the debate on terrorism. The result is a cloud-cuckoo land in which much of what is said or written about terrorism is not about relevant information that helps us know the enemy but about domestic political agendas, ideology, and psychology.

The New America Foundation Conference on Terrorism, Security, and America’s Purpose, which was held in Washington D.C. on September 6-7, 2005, provided an excellent illustration of the above mindset. It gathered over 70 politicians, top bureaucrats, policy analysts, nationally known journalists and top-tier academics. It was scary.

There was the billionaire “philanthropist” George Soros, insisting that the War on Terror has “done more harm than good.” It has alienated Muslims and diverted our attention from other vital missions, such as fostering “democratic development in order to provide legitimate avenues for dealing with grievances that otherwise might be exploited by terrorist movements.”

Francis Fukuyama saw the root problem in the Muslims’ “alienation from modernity.” The solution would be for young Muslims to learn how to choose a personal identity just like everybody else, rather than accept Osama’s prefabricated one.

Madeleine Albright, of all people, declared that it is “important to listen to what others are telling you” and to distinguish friends from foes. James Steinberg of Brookings urged America to ask itself how she can help provide better governance, better economic lives, better political contexts. Senator Joe Biden argued for debt relief and funding of education programs in Muslim countries. GOP ex-Senator Warren Rudman argued that “America and our allies must address global poverty, disease, and underdevelopment in a far more aggressive and comprehensive manner.” General Wesley Clark (he who helped make Kosovo safe for the KLA) now wants a new global security framework based on the United Nations. Charles Kupchan, former Director of European Affairs on the National Security Council, headed a working group on strategy that focused on “stepped up efforts to secure fissile materials in the former Soviet Union . . . and vigilant efforts to contain and shut down nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran.”

On the key issue of the identity of the enemy, on the scriptural message and historical record of Islam, the conference had nothing to say. On the role of the Muslim disapora in the West the conference’s Summary Report was brief and to the point: “The government must rebuild vital relationships with Muslim and Arab communities in the U.S. and around the world, that have been so severely strained by actions and policies undertaken in the name of homeland security.” Furthermore, “changes in visa policy and passport reform . . . have made America less attractive to students and visitors” from the Muslim world, which is allegedly detrimental to U.S. interests. Furthermore, privacy and due process must be protected so as to avoid “disproportionate law enforcement efforts against Muslim Americans.”

Are these people merely deluded, or malevolent, or perhaps both? It is worth examining the record of one of them, multibillionaire George Soros. A year before addressing the Washington conference Soros had already made his contribution of sorts to the war on terror by bankrolling Northeastern University’s project known as the Promising Practices Guide: Developing Partnerships Between Law Enforcement and American Muslim, Arab, and Sikh Communities. This self-styled “basic curriculum for future law enforcement and community training activities” claimed to offer ways to take advantage of the unique “linguistic skills, information, and cultural insights” of Arabs and Muslims in America (forget the Sikhs, they were added for diversity’s sake) in the war against terrorism.

The Guide’s three authors (one of them a Muslim) have an eccentric view of what are “most dangerous threats in this war.” They are to be found not in the ideology of jihad but “in the successful propagation of anger and fear directed at unfamiliar cultures and people” among us Americans. The problem is not with the Muslims who perpetrate terrorist crimes but in the bias against Muslims that is supposedly rampant in today’s America. Anti-terrorist measures therefore must not focus on religion or national origin, as “this creates an impression of unjust, religious, and/or national origin-based targeting.” The refusal of the Muslim diaspora to cooperate with our law enforcement agencies is explained by the immigrants’ mistrust of “unjust legislation from the highest levels of government and the American public’s acceptance of racial profiling.” Far from developing a counter-terrorism initiative, the guide helps terrorists in the United States avoid arrest. By funding the “Guide” Soros has confirmed yet again that he is a visionary who sees immigration as an essential tool of revolutionary change. His metaphysical concept of Muslims’ victimhood based on their exclusion from the society demands the change of the society, not of the Muslim mindset. That is the meaning of his claim that the War on Terror “creates innocent victims and that helps the terrorists.” By encouraging the emergence of a subculture of hostile aliens within America, he promotes the growth of an alternative social and political structure of which the potential for further growth of Islamic terrorism is but one consequence.

In Great Britain this pathology has reached a fully mature form. The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone reacted to the bomb attacks on his city of July 7, 2005, by blaming Britain’s participation in the war in Iraq for the outrage. Two months later he compared an outspoken Muslim scholar who backs suicide bombings, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, to the late Pope John XXIII, because both believed that their faiths “must engage with the world.” While giving evidence to a House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the terrorist attacks in London, Livingston said that Sheik Qaradawi is “very similar to the position of Pope John XXIII. An absolutely sane Islamist . . . Of all the Muslim thinkers in the world today he is the most positive force for change.”

Al-Qaradawi’s “absolute sanity” is reflected in his reference to suicide bombings as “martyrdom operations”: indeed, no true “Islamist” could do otherwise. Far from being a moderate, however, the sheikh is a mainstream member of the Muslim Brotherhood. His Ikhwani affiliations led to his imprisonment in Egypt in 1949, then in 1954-1956, and again in 1962. And yet in 2004 he came to Britain’s capital and spoke at the “European Council of Fatwa and Research” in London’s City Hall, hosted by none other than the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.

The assumptions behind the “New America Foundation Conference on Terrorism, Security and America’s Purpose” and the activities of people like Soros and Livingstone have contributed to the fact that we are losing the war on terrorism. Bin Laden’s network may have been damaged and disrupted since 2001 and his cause may in many places be in the hands of self-starters and amateurs, but he could never have dreamed that the world, more than four years after 9-11, would look so favorable to his objectives.

A new strategy is needed to make it less so, the one that may give America and the West a clear edge in this war. It can never be “won” in the sense of eliminating the phenomenon of terrorism altogether, but it can be successfully pursued to the point where America (and the rest of the West, i.e. Europe, if it follows) can be made significantly safer than they are today by adopting measures—predominantly defensive measures—that would reduce the danger to as near zero as possible. The victory will come, to put it in simply, not by conquering Mecca for America but by disengaging America from Mecca and by excluding Mecca from America; not by eliminating the risk but by managing it wisely, resolutely, and permanently.

It is essential to define and understand the enemy. Are Muslim terrorists—the only variety that seriously threatens the United States and the Western world—true or false to the tenets of their faith? That they are indeed a minority of all one-billion-plus Muslims in the world is not disputable, but do they belong to the doctrinal and moral mainstream of their creed? The answer has to be based on the facts of Islam’s history and dogma, and not on an a priori judgment imposed by the inviolable blinkers of political correctitude. The straightjacket has to be discarded because it yields false results and because it serves an agenda inimical to the survival of our culture and civilization. It is essential to establish whether, and to what extent, the sacred texts of Islam, its record of interaction with other societies, and the behavior of its founder, Muhammad, provide the clue to the ambitions and methods of modern terrorists. The notion that terrorism is an aberration of Islam’s “peace” and “tolerance,” and not a predictable consequence of the ideology of Jihad, reflects an elite consensus that is ideological in nature and dogmatic in application. That consensus needs to be tested against evidence, not against the alleged norms of acceptable public discourse imposed by those who do not know Islam, or else do not want us to know the truth about it.

Better informed about the adversary, we may proceed with the second task: to develop more effective homeland defenses. Much has been done already but not nearly enough, because the focus has been on the institutional failures of the intelligence community and government agencies rather than the culture that makes failure inevitable. The impact of ongoing Muslim migratory influx onto the developed world is inseparable from the phenomenon of Islam itself, and in particular from Islam’s impact on its adherents as a political ideology and as a program of practical action. Controlling the borders should be only the first step in neutralizing this impact. The application of clearly defined criteria related to terrorism in deciding who will be admitted into the country, and in determining who should be allowed to stay from among those who are already here, is essential. To put it bluntly, carefully evaluating the profile of all prospective visitors to America and systematically re-examining the behavior of resident aliens and the bona-fides of naturalized citizens, is an essential ingredient of a serious anti-terrorist strategy. To that end Islamic activism needs to be treated as an eminently political, rather than “religious” activity. Swift and irreversible deportation needs to become a routine tool for dealing with the offenders.

An effective defense against terrorism demands a re-think of our foreign and military policies. American soldiers should patrol the border with Mexico, not the streets of Falluja. In an ever more globalized world that will also gradually become less Westernized, the United States may remain single most powerful actor economically, technologically, and militarily for many years, even decades. The shape and nature of international alignments are in a state of flux, however. Continued attempts by an America that will grow progressively weaker vis-à-vis its global competitors to continue projecting its power offensively—especially in the Middle East—will have the same reward reaped by the Soviet Union after Afghanistan. Pursuing the path of “benevolent global hegemony” is certain to take us the same way. That would be the greatest favor the terrorists could hope for.

Rediscovering who we are is the essential prerequisite for all of the above. The victory in the war on terror ultimately has to be won in the domain of morals and culture. It can be won only by an America (and Britain, and France, and Italy. . .) that has regained its awareness of its moral, spiritual, and civilizational roots.

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