FP: Mr. Wheeler, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Wheeler: It is a pleasure to be with you, Jamie.
FP: We are in a war against Islamic Jihadism. Define your view of the enemy. Who are the jihadists and what do they really want? Do you see Islamism as being a cousin of Fascism and Communism?
Wheeler: You just made the right start. We are not in a war on “terrorism” and the enemy is not “terrorists,” but as you say, Islamic Jihadism. We should call this The War on Jihadism. The crux understanding of Jihadism, or Moslem Terrorism, is that it is a form of envious rage.
All three of the great barbarisms of modern times have been pathologies of envy. Nazism, preaching race-envy toward “rich exploitative Jews”; Communism preaching class-envy toward “rich exploitative capitalists”; Jihadism preaching culture-envy toward “rich exploitative America/Israel/the West.”
A clear example is the Nazi-type hatred Arabs have for Israel. The root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict is envy. The Jews created a civilization out of the wilderness and a garden out of the desert, while the Arabs – even with their centibillions of petrodollars -- continued to mire themselves in medieval tyranny and poverty.
Israel is a fount of creativity and achievement, a bastion of Western Civilization built by scratch out of a desiccated wasteland, sparsely populated by Arab nomads herding sheep, goats, and camels. And that is why the descendants of those nomads hate and envy it so much.
It is also why they hate America so much. Jihadis do not hate America for its vices but for its virtues, for its freedom, its prosperity, for its cultural success. Just as Nazis hate Jews for their success, just as Marxists hate capitalists for their success, so Jihadis hate America, Western Civilization, Judaism and Christianity for their success.
Jihadism, Nazism, and Communism are all totalitarian ideologies masochistically obsessed with destroying what they are envious of. Jihadists may claim their goal is a Salafist Caliphate, just as the Nazis claimed about a 1,000 year Reich, and the Communists a New Socialist Man. These are utopian pretexts to hide the fundamental goal of annihilating the object of their hate.
That’s always the pathology of envy: the willingness to destroy yourself as long as who you are envious of is destroyed as well. The suicide bomber is an ultimate expression of envy.
FP: In terms of this expression of envy, it appears to make sense why the suicide bomber is its ultimate expression. And it begins to make sense why the Left today embraces the suicide bomber. The Left and Islamic terror are both inspired by the same impulse. Can you discuss this a bit – the common ground of the radical Left and Islamism?
Wheeler: They are both expressions of apocalyptic totalitarianism. Marx and Mohammed are ideological brothers. More than that, they are metaphysical brothers. Their fundamental bond is a denial of the Law of Non-Contradiction. [As defined by Aristotle: “It is impossible for the same attribute at once to belong and not to belong to the same thing and in the same relation.” Met. 1005b20]
That reality is contradictory is the basic tenet of Dialectical Materialism – the philosophy of Marx, Engels, and Lenin – and of philosophical Islam, for which it is blasphemous to claim Allah is subject to the Law of Non-Contradiction as that would limit and bind him in the chains of logic.
If reality is contradictory and logic is an illusion, then you are left with only one way to resolve conflicts and disagreements: violently. For Moslems and Marxists, change in the world consists of contradictory opposing forces – exploiters and exploited, believers and infidels – overcoming or being overcome.
Thus Marx claimed that “revolutionary terrorism” was “the only means of shortening the lethal death agony of the old society and the bloody birth of the new,” and Mohammed commanded his followers to spread Islam by the sword.
The fanatical followers of Marx and Mohammed, like those of Hitler, dream of the purifying fire of revolutionary justice, that once the evil scum of the world – the infidel, the heretic, the Jew, the rich, the bourgeois, the exploiter, the follower of Satan – are blown up by martyrs, burned at the stake, put to the sword, gassed in ovens, starved to death in the Gulag, or shot and heaped in mass graves, the world will be saved and there will be heaven on earth for all those who believe and obey.
FP: It is clear you do not think the Liberal-Left is equipped to defeat our enemy. Tell us the flaws and weaknesses you see in the left-liberal vision of our conflict.
Wheeler: Just as the totalitarian left is motivated by envy, the liberal left is motivated by the fear of being envied. It is a very ancient and primitive fear, exactly the same as a primitive tribesman’s fear of envious Black Magic or a peasant villager’s fear of the envious Evil Eye.
People in our society who are susceptible to this fear – such as heirs who inherited rather than earning their wealth and Hollywood celebrities who do so little to earn their millions – become liberals as a psychological strategy to avoid being envied. Liberalism is a not a political philosophy. It is the politicalization of envy-appeasement.
Thus liberals are masochists as well – for the more one fears being envied, the more one is driven to masochistic self-humiliation in attempts at envy appeasement. Liberals have a compulsion to apologize to those that envy them, apologize for being white, for being male, for being successful, for the success of their country, their culture, their civilization. This renders liberals incapable of passionately defending America.
FP: What will it take to win this war?
Wheeler: The same way we won the Cold War, a Reagan Doctrine strategy that identifies the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the enemy, then attacks those vulnerabilities every which way you can.
When the Reagan Doctrine was launched in the early 1980s, it seemed inconceivable that the Soviet Union would ever collapse, much less quickly, within 8 short years.
But our analysis showed that the structure of the Soviet Empire, including the Soviet Union itself, was brittle. A brittle physical structure, like a water glass, can be unchanging and unyielding -- but if the right stress is placed upon it, it doesn’t slowly give or crumble, it shatters. One minute it looks like it always has, the next moment it’s in pieces. Social structures can be brittle in the same way -- which is why the result of the stress placed upon it by the Reagan Doctrine was that the Soviet Union shattered virtually overnight.
The phenomenon of Jihadism is not a social structure -- it is a psychological structure; it is not located in any physical or geographical space, but in certain people’s minds. It is thus not a political or social or economic event, it is a mental event. If we want to get rid of it, we must understand and dissect it as such.
Moslem Terrorism or Jihadism is something which the 19th century British scholar Charles Mackay would have recognized as a “moral epidemic.” In 1841, he wrote a history of such epidemics entitled Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. What all such mass delusions have in common is an incredibly intense psychological energy that is impervious to reason, reality, and morality.
That is the strength of these mass frenzies. Their weakness is that the energy, however intense, is inherently unstable -- in fact, the more intense, the more unstable. There is thus a fragility to them. They spring into a roaring existence, wreak their havoc, then vanish. They are ephemeral.
What feeds their energy is irrational hope, hope oblivious to danger and fact, hope that drives the absolute conviction that prices of tulips and South Sea islands and dotcom stocks will forever rise, that driving a plane into a building will cause the disintegration of the richest economy the world has ever known, that blowing yourself up to kill a few soldiers will defeat the most powerful military force in history.
Appeals to reason and morality or attempts to negotiate are useless in dealing with a delusionary frenzy. There is only one way to reach the frenzy’s tipping point, where its unstable energy tips over and rapidly dissipates and dissolves. That way is: The loss of hope.
This loss will come with the rejection of Moslem envy. Such rejection then enables us to target their numerous Achilles Heels. One, for example, is women’s rights. It needs to be stated publicly by public figures for consumption in Moslem media: We just don’t care that men having more rights than women is sanctioned by Allah in the Koran, any more than we care that slavery is so sanctioned. If slavery and lack of women’s rights is sanctioned by Allah in the Koran, then too bad for Allah.
We need to go on the moral offensive. The moral currency of Islam is debased. It is infected with a moral virus that has rendered it a morally inferior religion. It no longer deserves our respect and if Moslems want our respect back they must earn it by disinfecting their religion of moral poison.
We also need to target Saudi Wahhabism as the financial locus of world Jihadism. This means shutting down by whatever methods necessary Saudi funding of Wahhabi mosques, madressahs, and terrorist training centers all over the world (80% of all mosques in the US, for example, are Wahhabi). It also means portraying in every possible public forum Wahhabism as an Islamic heresy, a blasphemous perversion of Islam that calls all non-Wahhabi Moslems infidels. It’s the Saudis who’ve got to change, not us.
And of course a necessary condition for winning this war is regime change in Iran. As my friend Michael Ledeen says, peace in Iraq requires regime change in Iran. If the CIA had any competence at all, it would have fomented a democratic revolution in Iran years ago.
It is completely unimportant that Jihadists or their Moslem sympathizers and apologists “understand” us. What is important is that they be afraid of us. That they have a conviction that if they attack us we will hunt them down and kill them dead. That they know we are the folks that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Dresden with no regrets and we will do the same to Mecca and Medina if necessary. That we have nothing but contempt for them and they have no hope of defeating us.
Jihadism is an unstable, fragile frenzy. Once the Jihadis lose hope, the frenzy destabilizes, and this war is quickly won.
FP: Mr. Wheeler, of course your analysis is very shrewd and appropriate but I think it is important to stress that we did have regrets about what happened in Hiroshima and Nagazaki and Dresden. Those were the lesser of two evils; they were decisions we had to make, but we still regretted them because, as a moral civilization, we always regret the loss of civilian life. It is disingenuous and counterproductive talk about doing similar things to Mecca and Medina. With all due respect, Mr. Wheeler, we are at war with radical Islam, not with all Muslims. Talk like this gives bin Laden and al Zarqawi exactly what they want: a war between civilizations. The terror masters want us to alienate ourselves from all Muslims and to make them see us as their enemies. We must be shrewd and prudent and understand that millions of Muslims are also our allies in this terror war. We do not need to insult and alienate potential Muslim allies and Muslim victims of Islamism by threatening their sacred places.
In any case, in reaction to the reports of Al Qaeda’s nukes being buried secretly in the U.S., you have discussed that the U.S. has a nuke buried secretly in Mecca. This sounds a little strange to me. What exactly are you talking about?
Wheeler: No pro-American thought it weird during the Cold War that we had nukes aimed at Moscow in response to the Soviets aiming them at us. It’s what prevented the Cold War from becoming nuclear hot. The threat to nuke Mecca may be the one reason we haven’t had another 9/11 or worse.
As Mecca is of ultimate value to the Jihadis, targeting Mecca is an ultimate deterrent for us. Whether the story that some Pentagon friends of mine hinted at -- that a W-80 warhead is already buried in Mecca equipped to recognize a unique signal generator from a satellite for detonation – is true or if it’s Psy-Ops, I don’t know. The important thing is that the Jihadis don’t know either. There’s a discussion of this with a picture of a W-80 in the Mad in Mecca article (October 5, 2004) in To The Point.
FP: Well, what can I say. First, again, I do not think that targeting Mecca and all the innocent Muslims there is a smart or humane way for us to fight Islamist terror – to say the least. Again, if anything, it will demonize us in the eyes of all Muslims and engender what bin Laden and al Zarwai really want. Also, what would make us think that the Jihadists care about Mecca and their sacred places anyway? These are not people influenced by mutually assured destruction like the Soviets were. These are people that seek death. They long for the other world, their happiest thought is this entire world blowing up and them going out right along with it.
Wheeler: The problem is that Jihadism is hard-wired into Islam’s founding document, the Koran – and so is anything else you want. The Koran is the most incoherent religious text ever put down on paper. That’s because it is not a book – it is a chant. It is not meant to be pondered and thought about. It is not meant to be read at all. It is meant to be chanted in a language – Classical Arabic – un-understood by most of the world’s Moslems as is Latin by almost all Christians, in order to put believers into an unthinking, unreflective trance.
The Koran was composed haphazardly at the end of the seventh century (two to three generations after Mohammed supposedly lived), as was the entire religion of Islam, to provide a religious rationale for the Arab Conquest and the continued rule of Arabs over conquered non-Arabs. The only way to forestall argument over the Koran’s innumerable obscurities and contradictions was to claim every word was that of God Himself, so to question any of it was blasphemy.
Thus “moderate” Moslems cite Suras that state, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256), while the jihadis cite Suras commanding, “When you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads” (47:4). The crux problem is that both are true since Islamic reality is contradictory. The moderates stress their suras and ignore the jihadis’ but can’t say Allah is wrong when he preaches violence.
Resolution of this problem is the Moslems’ job, not ours. Transforming Islam into an actual “religion of peace” has been achieved philosophically by Sufi imams such as Shaykh Hishan Kabbani. Sufism interprets the Koran metaphorically, and teaches that the path to Islamic enlightenment is not through compulsion of any kind, but through a personal ecstatic experience of the Divine.
We often hear calls for an Islamic Reformation. This was attempted 100 years ago by the Young Turks in Central Asia, who called it Jadidism, advocating a new (jadid in Turkic), flexible, and dynamic Islam.
Instead of treating the words of Mohammed as sacred petrified fossils, the Jadidists considered them as guides to the future, asking themselves not what Mohammed said centuries ago in the context of his day, but what he would say now if Allah brought him back to earth today. The Jadidists wanted Islam to embrace and flourish in the modern world. Tragically, the Jadidists were crushed by the Soviets in the 1920s, and their revival is to be encouraged.
But neither the Sufis and Jadidists can be encouraged unless something is done about the Wahhabis, the financiers of radical Islam.
The Wahhabis revile both the Sufis and Jadidists as heretics who should be killed – and they have the Saudi billions to spread what we should be calling a perversion of Islam. You are certainly right, Jamie, to point out that most Moslems are not radical crazies, that we are at war with the latter not the former, whom we need not demonize.
Most Moslems are human beings first. However much they see their personal identity suffused with Islam, they want the same things as everyone else: a peaceful and productive life, safety and happiness for their children. Were most Germans under Hitler, Japanese under Tojo, Russians under Stalin? Probably – and irrelevantly. It was not our job to “reach out to them.” It was our job to defeat their rulers and true believers, to render them no longer capable of being a threat to us.
This is why shutting down Wahhabi financing of radical Islam is a necessary condition to winning the War of Jihadism. The Sufis, Jadidists, and moderate Moslems in general cannot compete with Saudi Wahhabi billions which is washing over world Islam like last December’s tsunami over Phuket.
But until this is done, we have to buy time, and that is what the threat to nuke Mecca is doing. The Jihadis may think it is glorious to die for their religion, but not at the cost of the extinction of their religion, or rather its physical focus and center.
I personally suspect that the claim of a W-80 nuke buried at Mecca is Psy-Ops, that it’s a “useful fiction” which has in fact caused the Jihadis to hold off on another 9/11-type attack on America. I also have no doubt – and the Jihadis have no doubt either – that should another attack of this magnitude or worse – such as the nuking of an American city – take place, Americans will overwhelmingly demand and support making Mecca a radioactive hole in the ground.
And they won’t feel sorry about doing so, any more than over Hiroshima. Every action-adventure movie always ends with the audience applauding when the bad guys are wasted. Only liberals in the audience later feel guilty over their doing so.
It’s always regrettable when horrific violence is required to defend yourself from aggression. You always wish there might have been a better and more peaceful way. But there wasn’t with the Imperial Japanese nor with the Nazis and there may not be with the Jihadis.
It turns out there was with the Soviets. The Cold War ended peacefully with the implosion of Soviet Communism. Let’s all hope we effect a similar implosion of Moslem Jihadism.
FP: Yes, let’s hope for that. Mr. Wheeler much of what you say is wise and profound. We live in a very frightening age with a very frightening and evil enemy. I have no easy answers here and yes, we may have to take very drastic measures to try to stop a WMD attack on us by Jihadists.
But, once again, I would just like to reiterate that the talk of attacking Islamic holy sites is extremely counter-productive, as it alienates so many innocent people, many of whom are our allies. It also doesn’t necessarily do any good with fanatics running a death-cult ideology. Moreover, as scholar Robert Spencer has pointed out in a profound piece he wrote recently, actually doing it would suffice in what the abolition of the caliphate accomplished: the opposite of what was intended in the first place. In other words, it will simply give the Jihadists a greater grievance and cause to rally around and breath more life into their agendas.
Wheeler: I of course disagree with Spencer, who's a good guy, but has a problem claiming Attaturk's abolishment of the caliphate (which is only relevant to the Sunnis anyway) is the cause of jihadism -- namely, the half-century gap between the two.
FP: Well, this is a whole new debate and perhaps we can continue it in another forum.
Jack Wheeler, it was a pleasure speaking with you today. Thank you for joining Frontpage and we hope to see you again soon.
Wheeler: Thanks Jamie, I'm looking forward to continuing, as this was a genuine pleasure for me.
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