How the West Could Lose

After defeating fascists and communists, can the West now defeat the Islamists?

On the face of it, its military preponderance makes victory seem inevitable. Even if Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon, Islamists have nothing like the military machine the Axis deployed in World War II, nor the Soviet Union during the cold war. What do the Islamists have to compare with the Wehrmacht or the Red Army? The SS or Spetznaz? The Gestapo or the KGB? Or, for that matter, to Auschwitz or the gulag?

Yet more than a few analysts, including myself, worry that it's not so simple. Islamists (defined as persons who demand to live by the sacred law of Islam, the Sharia) might in fact do better than the earlier totalitarians. They could even win. That's because, however strong the Western hardware, its software contains some potentially fatal bugs. Three of them — pacifism, self-hatred, complacency — deserve attention.

Pacifism: Among the educated, the conviction has widely taken hold that "there is no military solution" to current problems, a mantra applied in every Middle East problem –  Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, the Kurds, terrorism, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. But this pragmatic pacifism overlooks the fact that modern history abounds with military solutions. What were the defeats of the Axis, the United States in Vietnam, or the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, if not military solutions?

 Self-hatred: Significant elements in several Western countries — especially the United States, Great Britain, and Israel — believe their own governments to be repositories of evil, and see terrorism as just punishment for past sins. This "we have met the enemy and he is us" attitude replaces an effective response with appeasement, including a readiness to give up traditions and achievements. Osama bin Laden celebrates by name such leftists as Robert Fisk and William Blum. Self-hating Westerners have an outsized importance due to their prominent role as shapers of opinion in universities, the media, religious institutions, and the arts. They serve as the Islamists' auxiliary mujahideen.

Complacency: The absence of an impressive Islamist military machine imbues many Westerners, especially on the Left, with a feeling of disdain. Whereas conventional war — with its men in uniform, its ships, tanks, and planes, and its bloody battles for land and resources — is simple to comprehend, the asymmetric war with radical Islam is elusive. Box cutters and suicide belts make it difficult to perceive this enemy as a worthy opponent. With John Kerry, too many dismiss terrorism as a mere "nuisance."

Islamists deploy formidable capabilities, however, that go far beyond small-scale terrorism:

* A potential access to weapons of mass destruction that could devastate Western life.

* A religious appeal that provides deeper resonance and greater staying power than the artificial ideologies of fascism or communism.

* An impressively conceptualized, funded, and organized institutional machinery that successfully builds credibility, goodwill, and electoral success.

* An ideology capable of appealing to Muslims of every size and shape, from Lumpenproletariat to privileged, from illiterates to Ph.D.s, from the well-adjusted to psychopaths, from Yemenis to Canadians. The movement almost defies sociological definition.

* A non-violent approach — what I call "lawful Islamism" — that pursues Islamification through educational, political, and religious means, without recourse to illegality or terrorism. Lawful Islamism is proving successful in Muslim-majority countries like Algeria and Muslim-minority ones like the United Kingdom.

* A huge number of committed cadres. If Islamists constitute 10% to 15% of the Muslim population worldwide, they number some 125 to 200 million persons, or a far greater total than all the fascists and communists, combined, who ever lived.

Pacifism, self-hatred and complacency are lengthening the war against radical Islam and causing undue casualties. Only after absorbing catastrophic human and property losses will left-leaning Westerners likely overcome this triple affliction and confront the true scope of the threat. The civilized world will likely then prevail, but belatedly and at a higher cost than need have been.

Should Islamists get smart and avoid mass destruction, but instead stick to the lawful, political, non-violent route, and should their movement remain vital, it is difficult to see what will stop them.

Daniel Pipes

By

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and the author of several books, including Militant Islam Reaches America and In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power (Transaction Publishers), from which this column derives.

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  • Guest

    HAS ANYONE NOTICED THAT EVERY TAXI DRIVER IN THE WORLD SEEMS TO BE ISLAMIC?
    ARE THEY ALL MEMBERS OF AN EMBEDDED ARMY SET TO ARISE EN MASSE WHEN SIGNALLED?
    WHAT BETTER WAY TO PARALYZE ANY NATION IN THE WORLD IF ALL TAXIS WERE LEFT ABANDONED.
    I ONCE ASKED A TAXI DRIVER IN ISRAEL IF HE WAS MUSLIM AND WHEN HE REPLIED AFFIRMATIVELY, I THEN ASKED “WHY?”
    HE SAID HE HAD NO GOOD ANSWER OTHER THAN HE WAS BORN THAT WAY BUT SINCE I HAD ASKED MAYBE HE WOULD THINK IT OVER. MAYBE WE SHOULD ALL ASK THE MUSLIMS WE MEET THE SAME QUESTION.
    ANOTHER GOOD QUESTION—
    DO YOU HATE THE WEST BECAUSE YOU ARE MUSLIM OR ARE YOU MUSLIM BECAUSE YOU HATE THE WEST?

  • Guest

    Uh…….We haven’t beaten the communists. They are getting close to beating us actually.

    The communists have successfully fought to open the door on aborting our babies by the millions.

    The communists are fighting with all their might to leave America’s borders open, against the will of the American people.

    The communist media has degraded our culture in myriad ways, pushing immoral entertainers and homosexuality on our children.

    The communists are here. Be unafraid to tell the truth.

  • Guest

    The west is voluntarily refusing to reproduce itself. I’m not sure if that falls under self-hatred, since it seems rooted in self-centeredness, but the west will eventually lose if by no other action than not having babies while the Muslim world has babies.

  • Guest

    Hi Guys!

    Yes Tak, I have noticed lots of taxi drivers are Muslim. I’ve also noticed stories here and there that can only be “dry runs”, tests to see the reaction times or perhaps test the readiness of people to respond to subtle threats. The four Imam’s on that airplane, two Muslim men getting on a school bus in Florida.

    These are just two stories I know about, but I’m willing to bet there are more. I’m saying it now, officially, these kinds of incidents point towards more terrorist attacks in the United States.

    Daniel Pipes is right, ignoring these incidents, not compiling them and searching the patterns is COMPLACENCY.

    Zephyr, we have beaten the communists indeed. Daniel Pipes is speaking about overt communism in action, the governments and policies of Germany, Italy and Russia. We could have let Germany and Italy alone to allow communism to cave in on itself as it did in Russia, but the end is the same, we beat communism there. Again, complacency here in the US is why we have day-care’s and pre-K, abortions and proponents for euthanasia.

    Protect the Rock, I feel the low birth-rate in the West is immaterial. One thing we all in the West have that millions of Muslims, by Islamic Law don’t, is HOPE.

    Everyone, please feel free to e-mail me at sheila_d46@yahoo.com if you’d like. :) Peace be with you all….
    ~Sheila

  • Guest

    Uh…….We haven’t beaten the communists. They are getting close to beating us actually.

    The communists have successfully fought to open the door on aborting our babies by the millions.

    The communists are fighting with all their might to leave America’s borders open, against the will of the American people.

    The communist media has degraded our culture in myriad ways, pushing immoral entertainers and homosexuality on our children.

    The communists are here. Be unafraid to tell the truth.

  • Guest

    Pipes is one commentator I have been reading and listening to for years, now. He is one who has steadily increased the tempo of urgency of his warnings about Muslimism. And, Islamism means nothing if Muslimism were to put it down by starving it. That non-Islamist Muslims don’t . . ?

    We have more ‘socialistic’ (more long-term than communist) inroads into traditional Western values, and getting higher in our culture simply by only hiring each other as they have the authority to do so. I think that ninty percent of our academic and their adoring MSM types are socialistic, viewing themselves as a ruling and/or influential elite. Worse, virtually three-quarters of our politicians are infected with it because it grants them greater powers than any republican form of governance – after all, the economy is also embedded in socialist government. Even most Western Marxists are more socialist than communist, if only to foster their views among common citizens.

    However, sheila, the lower-birth-rate is indicative of something rotten in the culture, however you term it. It is a decadence that will destroy us. We may have hope, we minority of believers, but all the martyrs died with just oodles of hope. Why must we settle for cultural death before martyrdom? Hence, too, if babies are all wrong for us, we are all wrong for us, harboring suicidal leanings if not intentions. And, maybe, too, our Western culture, absent Christendom, may be all wrong for God as a living tradition.

    I remain your obedient servant, but God’s first,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    Dearest Pristinus Sapienter: Do you really think that ANY culture, absent Christendom, is all RIGHT for God as a living tradition???

  • Guest

    Indeed a culture absent Christendom is wrong for God as a living tradition. But I don’t think that good Pristinus is suggesting this as desirable. He is simply pointing out a straightforward consequence of the Natural Law, doing it in the negative (“if babies are all wrong for us, then we are all wrong for us…”). Here it is in the positive: a culture where babies are welcomed is a culture that endures, and a culture where lots of babies are welcomed is a culture that endures for generations and millennia. Recall the words of God to Moses:


    You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God… bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments
    (New American Bible, Exodus 20:4-6, emphasis mine)

    Ultimately, those who love God work towards selflessness (albeit imperfectly), and this selflessness, when coupled with a vocation to the married life, produces children – sometimes lots of children. And this selflessness, when coupled to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, produces lots of spiritual children. And if these children are educated in the ways of God, and they then educate their children, who educate their children in turn, God’s will works across the generations, perhaps even perfecting the children’s children’s children’s children (and so forth) even more completely. This is not intended to diminish the action of God in perfecting the family through His Word and His Sacraments. Such is impossible when goodness reigns in the family for that goodness – that Love – is God Himself, and the family simply lives in God (and therefore God in each of them).

    Of greater consequence to us in the West is the possibility that the paucity of children could be the manifestation of a collective choice made by our culture to simply fade away. The West could then cease as a cultural entity… and for all we know the martyrdoms in Christian Africa and the Christian East are nothing but the planting of seeds for the new homes of Christendom in the centuries to come.

    I do not wish for such a pass to come to the West any more than Mr. Pipes (though I pray for widespread Christendom to return to both Northern Africa and the Middle East in particular). But like Mr. Pipes, I recognize in current events the possibility that the West could diminish or even disappear as a cultural entity. History teaches us the same lesson, for Rome fell in the West, though Christendom endured even when the great power fell. Nevertheless, we may yet escape from such a failure today, for as Pope Benedict XVI says, God demonstrates to us today His patience, offering us every chance to return to His narrow way.

  • Guest

    Reading this article reminds me of home – Malaysia. This is a country with a population of 26 million. About half are Muslims and the rest are Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. When we gained independence 50 years ago, the Muslims were able to live with the non-Muslims peacefully.
    Now, almost everyday, there are instances of Muslims asserting their need to live according to the Shariah. In fact about 20 years ago Shariah law was implemented for Muslims and for non-Muslims it was the secular law. Increasingly we hear demands that Malaysia should become a theocracy and all citizens including non-Muslims should live by the Shariah laws.
    All of this came about because our non-Muslims Government Ministers were lackadaisical. They gave an inch and now the Muslims are demanding a yard. The west shouldn’t take this threat from Islamists lightly, lest the west end up as Malaysia.

  • Guest

    Yes, jamespereira, first it’s taking American oath of office on the Qu’ran, which has no place in the traditions of our country.

    Next, it just could be having ‘shari’a zones’ sort of like Native American resrrvations without US membership . . . (Hispanic groups might also attempt this . . .)

    . . . And onward and – downward – as vote-buying goes.

    Cooky – the Western culture is the only place that had an era called Christendom – but, no, no cuture absent God’s powerful graces and influence is going to be and/or stay in solid regard for what God wills; and, hence, be secure in God’s regard.

    I remain your obedient servant, but God’s first,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    (Hispanic groups might also attempt this . . .)

    Hispanic groups would ask to vow their constitutional commitments before an icon of the Virgin of Guadalupe. There’s a palpable difference. We should be encouraging such a thing. Their “zones” would adhere more closely to Church teaching than the average American parish does today. They would not be Anglo-Protestant, but so what? They’d be Catholic.

  • Guest

    Being Catholic and American are not mutually exclusive – but, it would be cultural obstinacy within another culture that would be source of such zones – not orthodox Catholicism versus secularism.

    Indeed, the secularist culture needs (if said secularists themselves cannot see it as any requirement) the orthodox Catholic of every stripe and clan to stand and witness, not go off into their own conclaves.

    I remain your obedient servant, but God’s first,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

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