“All of us here today understand this: We do not fight Islam, we fight against evil.” ~George W. Bush
“We are not at war against Islam. We are at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam,” ~Barack Obama
Surely we are not at war with Islam. If we were, we’d kill everyone who professed the Muslim faith. The problem with Obama’s and Bush’s statements is that they lead many to underestimate the level to which Muslims in the Middle East and Asia support the jihadists. Throwing out statistics that show only a small percentage of Muslims are responsible for the destruction wrought is a bit like saying that because less than 1% of Americans serve in the US Army, only 1% of Americans support the US military. People fail to realize the power of both the “our team” mentality and religion, especially in parts of the world where the people have little hope in this world and nation states have been shamed in war by America and Israel.
Many people throughout the Muslim world gain satisfaction when the US suffers a setback at the hands of extreme Islam. Otherwise, the extremists could not exist to the extant that they do. Polls throughout the Muslim world show that Muslims in the Middle East support the actions of the jihadists. Most Muslims, even those living is Western countries, support Sharia Law, which is fundamentally at odds with Western values. In a poll of 9 countries, Turkey was the only nation in which a majority of the people said that Sharia should not comprise the law in entirety, or be a “source of legislation.” Pakistanis, despite the billions of military and domestic aid poured into their country by the US, continue to despise Americans. Most Pakistanis also wish that bin Laden was not dead.
People shocked at the recent Egyptian election results should study some history. I’ve long said that Egypt was the spiritual center of jihadism, not Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia made good fodder for the Left because of oil. Egypt, in the poll cited above, had the highest percentage of people that believed Sharia should be the sole root of law.
The Muslim countries that have in recent years received the most American aid are Pakistan and Egypt. Approximately 25% of the money used to fund the Pakistani army comes from American aid. The top recipients of US foreign aid in 2011 are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Egypt in that order. Egypt has routinely ranked among the top nations in the world in the number of dollars given to it by the American government.
There appears to be an inverse correlation between the positive views in a country when measured against the amount of US aid provided to it. The argument of course is that America is trying to show these countries that the US is not the enemy. This method of appeasement is failing. In a poll published by the Washington Post shortly after Mubarak stepped down, 79 percent of Egyptians viewed the US negatively, with 20% saying they have a positive view of the US. This is a sharp decline from the Bush years when 30 percent of Egyptians viewed the US positively.
The problems in giving countries like Pakistan and Egypt lots of money are macrocosmic of what I saw happening in local projects in Afghanistan. The money will always find its way into the hands of America’s enemies because they are the most ruthless, devious and aggressive portions of those societies. They also in many cases have a monopoly on violence, something the state usually lays claim to–if it is not a failed state. In Afghanistan the people were not “all in” for the Americans. They really didn’t care that much, at least in areas far from Kabul, if the insurgents blew up a few American Imperialists. They’d take five bucks to plants a bombs and be on their way. In one fell swoop they’d made a month’s wage, killed some infidels, impressed the locals with their “bravery”, and maintained a semblance of national pride.
Egypt’s Mubarak held the forces of Islamic jihad at bay with the only weapon that works against it: Decisive brutality. As with Saudi Arabia, Egypt was a police state, as much because of the extremists as Mubarak. Only with extreme vigilance could the Egyptian government survive. Frankly, Mubarak may have been the West’s only hope in Egypt, but starry-eyed Westerners with a Democracy fetish ran him off, unleashing a hoard of militants, radicals and young men electrified with a rage whose dynamo was built in 1967 and 1973 during the humiliating defeats of the Egyptian Army at the hands of the Israelis. The effect of these defeats upon the Arab psyche cannot be overstated.
The Arab Spring has generated nothing resembling Western democracy and displays brilliantly the weakness of Democracy itself: People can vote for any horrific idea they choose. Hitler was democratically elected. Muslims have voted and acted exactly how we should have expected them to. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists now hold power. The Salafists in Egypt hold the same views as al-Qaeda and Hamas. Christians are trying to leave the country, fearing for their safety.
The revolutions in Egypt and Libya were hardly induced by only few extremists. In fact,it seems the revolutions enjoyed the backing of millions upon millions of extremists. It is the same sort of thing we saw in Nazi Germany. Many Germans were not Nazis or did not take part in the actual fighting. But most of them wanted to see the Nazis win. And so it is with Muslims in Libya, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. The Muslims there overwhelmingly want to thrash Israel and the United States in any manner they can. If the terror proxies can trounced by the hyperpower or the Jewish state, we can of course expect the “innocent” population of “moderate” muslims to melt back into the woodwork.
Islam unifies people against Israel and the West. As Mark Steyn writes in his book, America Alone, the draw of Western “McWorld” to the average Arab male is vastly overstated. Secularism is about as un-motivational as a Rosie O’donnell workout video. It is meaninglessness and provides no promise of power or life after death, no cloak of righteousness; something that means far more to a poor 23 year old man in Cairo than does the promise of flipping burgers.
Now Israel has a monstrous number of problems on its hand, all coming to bear at once. Iran wants the bomb and is not far off from getting it. Egyptians are muttering that they want the Camp David Peace Accord “adjusted.” 20,000 surface-to-air missiles are missing from Qaddafi’s stockpiles. The current American president’s negative comments about Netanyahu were caught on an open mic.
The vast majority of Muslims in the Middle East are not jihadists or terrorists. But most of them support the actions of extremist Islam when those actions are directed against Westerners or Israelis. Our money and McDonald’s cannot possibly fill the same void that is filled by Islam. And Democracy, as with any form of government, is only as good as the people that comprise it.
So what is the answer? Does America have to kill every last Muslim? Not any more than it had to kill every last German or Japanese. America has only to decisively defeat the front-line troops of Jihad. But decisive victory may no longer be something the West is capable of, despite its overwhelming superiority in almost every facet of military and economic might.
The Arab Spring has not created Arab states that are more stable or less violent. It has provided kindling for another 100 years of Jihadist immolation. Our children’s children will see The Long War continue.