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How Can We Fight Them?

Will Collier asks how we can fight Islamofascism:

One of the more pressing questions in the ongoing war against Islamofascism is, how do we fight these people?

It's not just an academic question. The opponents of classical liberal civilization have become adept at using the West's principles against us. The Geneva Conventions, for instance, were originally designed to protect both civilian populations and members of lawful armies from mistreatment. Terrorists from Lebanon to Somalia to Afghanistan, with no small amount of help from jurists and journalists in the West, have learned to turn those principles on their heads, regularly using civilian populations as shields from attack, only to turn and claim "atrocity" when attacks are carried out against terrorists hiding amist civilians. They have also used the West's legal systems as defenses, claiming rights to which they are not entitled under the letters of prior treaties, but accepting no responsibility for their own barbaric treatment of captured Western soldiers or civilians.

These conditions are not likely to change. Gunmen in Mogadishu learned early that Americans do not attack women and children; they quite literally hid behind civilian women while shooting at US troops as a result. What then can the response be from the civilized world?

He goes on to talk about the Israel - Hezbollah conflict. Read it all.

This is something that I wonder about often. Those on the American left constantly criticize the length of time we have been in Iraq, and question the progress made there and in Afghanistan, yet they want our troops to fight with one hand tied behind their backs. They don't give our military, or the administration, any credit for the great lengths that have been taken to minimize civilian casualties and to lessen human suffering. (Remember those food drops into Afghanistan? They were laughed at by many.) Instead of praising our military for the excellent job done, and the comparatively low casualty rates we have achieved, many in this country, to gain political advantage, concentrate on acts (some real and some just alleged) at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

I sometimes wonder if we had gone into Iraq with no regard for innocent human life, if our troops might be home by now. But we do honor innocent life, and that sometimes is to our disadvantage. Our enemies know this and they use it against those in our armed forces everyday. It happens in the field when our soldiers are fighting cowards hiding behind women and children and even, to a smaller extent, as seen in Kim's post from last night, to the guards at Guantanamo who are regularly attacked.


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Comments (22)

Toward the end of the Cold ... (Below threshold)
McCain:

Toward the end of the Cold War, I remember thinking to myself how could western civilization, and the U.S. in particular, triumph against the march of communist totalitarianism? They seemed to have everything going for them -- central planning which allowed them to put anything they wanted into the military, centralized decision making which allowed only a few people to make big decisions, and a callous disregard for public opinion which served to insulate the decision makers.

What I know now is that the wealth-producing effects of our efficient market system allowed the U.S. to spend the commies into bankruptsy. It is the superior nature of western civilization, with its twin engines of democracy and capitalism leading the way, which beat communism into the ground.

And our superior culture and systems, will in turn, beat the Islamofascist threat. Our ideas are better, and we have the money and the time to make sure those ideas are fairly heard. Have faith in your culture -- it has proven itself more than a match for all threats that have come our way.

Sorry, McCain, but it wasn'... (Below threshold)
Adjoran:

Sorry, McCain, but it wasn't our culture or market system which defeated communism of themselves. After all, we had enjoyed those advantages throughout the entire Cold War, and yet the Soviet Empire and international communism were on a slow and gradual upswing through the entire period. Upon leaving office, Reagan said he was most proud that not one inch of ground had fallen to communism on his watch. He was the first American President who could truthfully say that since William Howard Taft.

A few months after Reagan said that, the Berlin Wall fell. It was a shock to the whole world that it happened so soon, so fast, so peacefully. Almost two years later, the Soviet Empire itself fell; again, it was unexpected.

The fanatical ideologies are indeed easy to beat with resources and character. We have sufficient of the former, but the latter is in question. Just look at how many of our fellow citizens are weak of will to fight, and eager for America and Israel to suffer setbacks, and our enemies achieve victories.

But before you have the chance to beat them down, you have to stop their momentum. That's what Reagan was able to do with the Soviets. Once their progress was checked, and they were forced to merely administer their territories, their system choked on its flawed economics. The excuses finally ran out. As Reagan joked, "The history of Soviet agriculture is 70 consecutive years of bad weather."

The question with radical Islamism is: where and when and how do we STOP its progress? Western democracies are tolerant and open, protecting the rights of speech and association that we so cherish, but which our enemies also use to implant their poisonous seeds in our own lands.

Our sensitivities towards human rights also incline us to pressure those non-democratic regimes who might suppress the radicals with brute force arbitrarily dispensed. So, if we cannot stop them in the formative stages, and we won't let other regimes stop them in their countries, where exactly is it that we stomp this crap out?

I don't buy any "freedom of speech and religion" nonsense. The Constitution is not a suicide pact; no rational reading argues that speech advocating and inciting murder and insurrection are protected speech or religious practice.

We would not tolerate for long a KKK lodge or a Nazi hall anywhere in America. Oh, there wouldn't be a police raid. The property would just be rezoned to shut them down. But it would stop in most communities.

Yet, the Islamists preach almost verbatim hate, and call even more explicitly for violence than those groups do, and they are not only tolerated but actually protected.

"How can we fight them?" We can only fight them in total war, the way they fight us. We can kill them, or be killed by them. There are no alternative universes.

Our ideas and culture are b... (Below threshold)
Ric:

Our ideas and culture are better, and we will spend them into the ground. I am just some bumpkin from Arizona, but if someone thinks MTV, partial birth abortions, lack of a will to fight, and taxing Americans out of prosperity will defeat the Islamic threat, best of luck

We don’t win wars and conflicts anymore because we don’t unleash the utter devastation this country and its armed forces can inflict. No, today we have attorneys reviewing combat patrol notes and reports to determine if a “proportional response” was returned after receiving fire. In addition, our elected officials cower at world opinion and the United Nations in some attempt to appease them. We aren’t playing to win.

I don’t think Congress has really grasped this, but this is a war. When provoked, if our armed forces were allowed to place an aggressing country back into the Stone Age, there would be more people playing nice.

I am going to rest my money on playing to win and let our armed forces inflict maximum devastation on countries and ideologies that threaten American lives.

I don't see anything in the... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

I don't see anything in these first three posts I disagree with at all, but I would add the poisonous tone of our mass media to the mix as a major strategic disadvantage.

On a daily basis, the media gnaw at our willingness to take on this threat, often destructively and occasionally deliberately. From the major wire services, to broadcast news, to print media, agenda-driven journalism is enthusiastically grinding down our will to fight and our confidence in our own government. If a story can be made to reflect badly on the administration, it gets coverage, whatever the cost in our security and our harmony as a country.

There is no complaint about Bush too petty to rate major coverage, no story that can't be spun negatively, and there are no secrets in our government that aren't worth leaking to the press. All in support of "the public's right to know", as if it's some newly discovered paragraph in the Bill of Rights.

I cannot imagine this kind of despicable and arrogant behavior during World War II. I'm old enough to remember when the press rooted for our side to win.

Ric,I think most I... (Below threshold)
dr lava:

Ric,

I think most Iraqis would agree that we have pretty much "devaststed" their country.Do you honestly think that our actions there have decreased the numbers of people that hate and want to destroy America?

America is at war with i... (Below threshold)
David2:

America is at war with itself and the uncivil war moves towards November. Leftists may pick up seats in Congress and gain a temporary increase in power. Their antics over the next two years will guarantee Republicans once again own everything in 2008.
Hopefully, Iraq will not go south when that happens. A lot of work has gone into restoring basic services and encouraging a democratic process there. Terror is no longer just outside the door. Why this does not impress the left is beyond me.
America has gone slow in the ME because hardly anybody was ready for it to go fast. All the dictators would be gone if our military was in charge. But Nato would be fractured. Our infant alliance with Russia would be fractured. And our military would be overtaxed by the burden of keeping order throughout the ME.
While the present approach is excruciatingly slow it has the virtue of maintaining many things that keep people calm while it slowly strangles the main foe. A large snake is wrapping itself around Syria and Iran. They continue to bite but they are not going anywhere. I look forward to the day they can no longer breath. And then, a two year party!! With the Clintons and the Kerrys and their noisemakers.
Remember 9/11. And listen for the sound of something moving slowly thru the Bekaa Valley.

dr lava:RE: I thi... (Below threshold)
kevino:

dr lava:
RE: I think most Iraqis would agree that we have pretty much "devaststed" their country.
worldpublicopinion.org (and others) have done numerous surveys of the Iraqi people. Their poll asked: "Thinking about any hardships since the US-Britain invasion, do you personally think that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it or not?" Jan06 results: 77% of all people said it was worth it. 83% of the Sunni said that is wasn't. Of course, as a group, they benefitted from Saddam's regime, but they are only about 20% of the population.

Islamic expansion can be st... (Below threshold)
Matt:

Islamic expansion can be stopped, as it was when orginally expanding into Europe. The unbeatable forces were beat by early European countries that banded together to face the common threat.

Islamic expansion was ultimately rolled back and expelled from Spain when the Spaniards that hadn't been conquered and given up finally coalesced and organized and defeated the Muslims. Ultimately they drove them into the sea and back to North Africa.

Islamic Fascism will stop it's forward progress when a couple of events happen.

1) We must make sure they do not find fertile ground which to sow their seeds of hatred. The "West" has to be united in not allowing them to justify themselves, or be seen as fellow travelers. We mus stop allowing them to create their own independent enclaves in once unified countries. Madrassas that preach evil, violence and revolution must be shut down. We don't allow it of Western Religions, we must not accept it from Islam.

If moderate Islam exists, we must get them to stand up to the Islamic Fascists that hijack their religion, countries and political apparatus.

We must stop supporting despotic Muslim rulers and encourage true democracy (peacefully) in more middle eastern countries. We must support democratic governments, whether Muslim or not, in the nations of the Far East where Islamic Fascism is trying to gain momentum.

2) We must fly the Black Flag against the actual Islamic Fascist combatants themselves. No quarter, no reprieve, no negotiation. It is all they understand. Yes, we will make Martyrs, but a dead Martyr is still dead. If you kill enough, the value of being a Martyr goes way down, and becomes less desirable as its surety rises. Once they realize that all they can do is die for the cause and make no progress the combatants with weak faith will begin to remember that home wasn't so bad after-all.

We can interdict their logistics and re-supply. It might get messy, but with will and precision munitions it can be done.

We have to set the conditions so that they will live with what they have and decide peace is better than sure death.

The IF's goal is to make us... (Below threshold)
epador:

The IF's goal is to make us spend as much of our time and resources as possible fighting their shoestring budget war machine until we spend ourselves into ruin.

McCain:The Cold War ... (Below threshold)
kevino:

McCain:
The Cold War was a struggle between two countries, and a major front of that struggle was economic. Russians got tired of standing in line to buy stale bread when Western countries had supermarkets stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables. (Not to mention being able to pick up the phone and have hot food delivered.)

This is not about economics.

In Western counties such as England and Canada you have militant minorities who have access to every Western economic and cultural advantage, and they are building bombs to destroy it.

I give you the words of the wives of the Canadian bombing suspects:

“Are you accepting a system that separates religion and state? Are you gonna give your pledge of allegiance to a party that puts secular laws above the laws of Allah? Are you gonna worship that which they worship? Are you going to throw away the most important thing that makes you a muslim?”

One of them avoids calling Canada by name; instead she refers to it as "this filthy country.” When asked about Canada, another responds, ”Who cares? We hate Canada."

To defeat this enemy, we have to defeat their strategy, and to do that, it is important to understand their goals. They want impose Islamic fundamentalist law all over the world. They consider this absolutely necessary. Western values and western culture are corrupt and take people away from the one true faith. This is not a big secret, folks. Bin Laden said it very plainly in his declaration of war against the US. Numerous fundamentalist Islamic writers have made this a major theme. One of the most important is Sayyid Qutb, a man who lived and studied in the US. His writings are filled with his disgust of western values in general and the US society in particular.

Adjoran, you are absolutely... (Below threshold)
McCain:

Adjoran, you are absolutely correct about Reagan. My point is larger, which is that our superior capitalist system gave him the resources to do what his great will demanded. Without resources, Reagan would have been talking the talk without walking the walk. In contrast, the inferior commie economic system left them resourceless.

Kevino, their goals are precisely as you stated. They want to kill you or convert you, just as Muhammad put villages to the sword 1500 years ago. However, you are mistaken in trying to make too great a distinction between communist totalitarianism from Islamofascism. They are both systems of beliefs that think they have a superior moral way. Both are full of rabid ideologues and opportunists. Both represent themselves as populist. Both are cruel to those who dare dissent. Islamofascism will fail as an ideology, just as communism failed, because it is a morally and economically inferior belief system. But it won't die easy, just as we still see remnants of communism despite a clear and convincing ideological defeat. Because western civilization is morally superior, we will win the battle of ideas eventually, and our resources will fuel the fire necessary militarily.

The alternative media, and ... (Below threshold)
nell:

The alternative media, and each of us in our daily lives, just has to keep insisting, again and again and again, that the Islamists are the bad guys and explaining why, as if we were reasoning with emotionally distraught children. The truth has to be repeated even more often than the lies, to shame every supporter of terrorism who has any capacity to reason. It's hard on the conscience of anyone who has any desire to appear sophisticated and reasonable to defend or support cowardly, barbaric zealots of an antiquated cult, even though they may hate their political opponents more.
We especially must not tire of exposing and shaming the MSM for its disgraceful and unprofessional bias, incompetence, and outright dishonesty. Islamofacism has no moral integrity, no human dignity, and no claim on our sympathy. We'll just have to go on explaining what's so evil about it to those who don't want to think so, and insisting on responding to its violence with force when that's the sane thing to do.

Folks we are definitely goi... (Below threshold)
Big D:

Folks we are definitely going to win this thing.

Every advantage the islamofacists currently have over us is an advantage we give to them, and can easily take away. They are parasitical in every sense of the word. Our goodwill is not a bottomless well.

They are just like communism and fascism, and will ultimately be defeated. Remember that both fascism and communism had their early defenders in this country, people too blind our foolish to see the truth.

There sure is a lot of whis... (Below threshold)
Lee:

There sure is a lot of whistling going on in this graveyard...

"Terror is no longer just outside the door. Why this does not impress the left is beyond me."

Instead of "just outside the door" terror is inside every living room in Baghdad, and spreading. Iraq is a failure, but you guys will see if you can ignore the obvious, and trick the rubes through November and hopefully through the 08 elections.

The ignorance of conservatives is legendary - so I'm know you guys can do it. Stay the course -- ignore the truth!

One need only turn to curr... (Below threshold)
Lee:

One need only turn to current headlines ot prove you guys wrong again>

Iraq is yet another republican failure:

45 reportedly kidnapped in western Iraq - AP

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A provincial governor said Tuesday that 45 people from his predominantly Shiite region have been kidnapped in a Sunni area of western Iraq while en route by bus out of the country. Asaad Abu Kilal, governor of Najaf, said the victims were traveling in six buses when they were waylaid near the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi � the main land route to both Syria and Jordan.

Iraq is a festering cesspool that is worsening every day. The Republican adminstration has filed in a huge way, but keep whistling you guys --

Baghdad is under seige, and the problem is spreading outside of the capital. Before too long it'll be a full-blown civil war. Amazing that you guys will try to spin a failure like this that is so hugely monumental.

Oh gosh Lee, stop wringing ... (Below threshold)
McCain:

Oh gosh Lee, stop wringing your soft liberal hands. What you don't know, because nobody can know now, is what the long-term prospects truly are in Iraq. We'll need to look back ten years from now to assess whether mankind is better or worse off for their opportunity at freedom. And we'll have to consider the consequences in the region beyond just Iraq -- for example, anybody but a demented liberal will conclude that Libya giving up its WMD programs is a good thing.

With respect to Iraq specifically, clearly we do know that the mortality rate now is less than under Saddam. Come to think of it, I wonder how the mortality rate in Iraq compares to your own neighborhood or to, say, Washington D.C. While you are looking it up, do you know how many kidnappings occur in the U.S. each day?

And we know that we've killed a lot of terrorists in Iraq. It is quite possible that Osama made a tactical blunder by ordering the Jihadists to Iraq. He sure has less human resources now because of it. Now of course, it clearly isn't a great thing for Iraq that they flocked there, but it is sure good for us and bad for the global Islamofascist movement that you loathe to criticize.

So in conclusion, dear friend, while liberals will stereotypically draw grand conclusions from a single day's event, more contemplative people will consider the situation over time and consider the geopolitical implications throughout the region.

McCain:RE: "Because ... (Below threshold)
kevino:

McCain:
RE: "Because western civilization is morally superior ..."
The key to understanding "Islamofascism" is that it is fundamentalist Islam. Islam is, by definition, "submission". If you are a true believer, then you submit to Allah. Followers of radical Islam do not recognize the moral superiority of the West. Far from it: they consider us morally corrupt and spiritually dead. You cannot prove moral superiority. In their eyes, literally, "All of the world belongs to Islam."

And we are cannot win a "battle of ideas" because there is no battle of ideas: this is a belief system. There are no "ideas" to be tested; this is based on faith.


Big D:
RE: "They are just like communism and fascism ..."
No they aren't. Communism and fascism are economic and political systems. Radical Islam is a religous movement. Communism and fascism get their power by demanding loyalty to the State, and States (governments) can be defeated. Radical Islam derives its power from the individual. It is much more distributed. It even operates as small groups inside countries (e.g. the UK and Canada) that are hostile to it. Communism and fascism need to acquire majority status or near majority status to be a force in politics. Radical Islam can become a powerful force ever if they are a small minority.

There is, literally, a clash of cultures here. Western culture requires that we accept other cultures, value the individual, and seek peace. Radical Islam accepts that only its ideals are correct, demands service to Allah, and is eager to fight. If one side seeks to preserve peace at all costs and the other side is always willing to threaten violence, then the side that threatens the peace will win.

Lee:
Actually, the strategy in Iraq is correct, for reasons that I and others have stated many times. The Left has done a excellent job in cheerleading the insurgency and making the job in Iraq tougher. Many on the Left are so eager to prove the idea the "War never solved anything" that they are willing to cheer for America's defeat, Iraq's collapse, and the rise of radical Islam.

The sad part is that liberals just aren't very good at taking responsibility for the damage that they do in the world. If the Left had attacked the GOP instead of the war, we wouldn't be in this mess. Now our enemies believe that we won't fight anymore: we are going to leave the Middle East and never come back. They win.

By the way, one last word:<... (Below threshold)
kevino:

By the way, one last word:

It is by no means obvious why it is "civilized" to permit oneself to fall easy prey to criminal violence, and to permit criminals to continue unobstructed in their evil ways. ... Perhaps the notion that defending oneself with lethal force is not "civilized" arises from the view that violence is always wrong, or the view that each human being is of such intrinsic worth that it is wrong to kill anyone under any circumstances. The necessary implication of these propositions, however, is that life is not worth defending. Far from being "civilized," the beliefs that counterviolence and killing are always wrong are an invitation to the spread of barbarism. Such beliefs announce loudly and clearly that those who do not respect the lives and property of others will rule over those who do.

Jeffrey R. Snyder, "A Nation of Cowards".
The Public Interest 113 (Fall 1993)

While the quote above is from an article about gun control, it also applies to what happens when a country decides that War is always wrong or preserving Peace is the highest priority.

dr lava –This is a... (Below threshold)
Ric:

dr lava –

This is about the survival of me, my family, and my country. Do I care or lose sleep when someone hates me and wants to destroy me? No, and not a wink. While an ideology, country, or people, seeks domination or annihilation of me, my family or my country, I will play to win and survive and vote for those with like commitment (read “not McCain”).

Our elected officials took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. One problem is many elected officials in our country define a win through appeasement with our tax dollars and gambling with our lives. Our elected officials don’t even have the will or cajones to cut aid funding to our enemies or fix the southern border. This I care about.

If the upset barbarians across the pond bother you, start wringing your hands because they are making their way across Europe and Asia and are here now. If you want to wilt and succumb due to fear of their hate, go buy your wife, daughters, or girl friend a veil in preparation to kiss the hand that will feed you. I for one will not be a tame or willing slave.


"What you don't know, be... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"What you don't know, because nobody can know now, is what the long-term prospects truly are in Iraq."

Of course, no one knows - what we do know is that after 39 months the level of violence in Iraq against fellow Iraqis is out of control, and getting worse.

That represents failure. Sure - if we wait 20 years we may find it evolves into success, but only soft Republican hands will be willing to sit it out that long - the American people won't have it.

Actually, Lee, it is numeri... (Below threshold)
McCain:

Actually, Lee, it is numerically demonstrable that the past 39 months have been less "violent" as measured in human lives than life under the Saddam regime. 2,000,000 dead is gonna take a lot of time to warrant your apocalyptic hand-wringing.

kevino, your point isn't getting across. Mao and Lenin wouldn't agree with you that communism required a majority status or near majority status to seize power. As in most revolutions, it only takes a small group of rabidly devote individuals to cower the masses. I'm not seeing your distinction between "religious" based fanatacism and fanaticism based on other philosophical considerations. You'd be hard-pressed to actually define the difference, since religions are simply another philosophical set of beliefs that we've defined with a special word. Whether the appeal is to man's relationship with God (based on the Koran) or man's relationship with man (based on the Communist Manefesto), they are philosophies quite appealing to their followers.

Regardless, your definition of Islamofascism is fine with me, and your statement that they don't recognize our superior culture is obvious. But because our culture IS superior, they will come to understand over time while we kill the remainders if we really must. There are really two fundamental world wars going on now -- the one between Islamofascists and the West, and the one between Islamofascists and fellow Muslims. Luckily Western Culture isn't having to shoulder this battle alone.

McCain:Sorry for the... (Below threshold)
kevino:

McCain:
Sorry for the delay in responding, but things are really busy.

Even if you take your example of a revolution that starts with a core group "cowering the masses", the result is a Communist State. Countries can be isolated or defeated. Also consider that Communism and its parent, Socialism, are ways of organizing societies and economies. We can show our superiority because our societies are in competition socially and economically. Economically we beat them hands down - no argument. Socially we beat them because the members of our society are clearly happier and doing better. Again: Communism still gets its power from the masses. The USSR collapsed because enough ordinary people simply said, "This doesn't work." And no amount of force could change that.

Consider the inverse: a small minority of Communists or Socialists (e.g. the Socialist Party of America). What power do they have? Not very much. They can be total believers, but they don't affect policy very much - even at the local level. They are very, very weak.

Radical Islamic fundamentalism is different. A small group of individuals can make a huge difference, even effecting larger societies in which they live. They represent the pure power of the individual. Their members are willing to make any sacrifice to meet the long-term objectives of their faith, including killing themselves. They do not require large groups. Even if they choose to come together in groups, any group of, say, 100 would not require State sponsorship and could operate in a free society without detection. And yet a group that small could do a huge amount of damage to the society. By doing so, they can cause change. It is also harder to measure or compare a religious movement: they aren’t building a society hear on earth. They are fulfilling the requirements of their God. If you are living in an Islamic theocracy and your life sucks, tough. This is the will of God, and your path to the joys of heaven are assured.

You also brought up the point about moderate Muslims. The real battle here is over the future of Islam. It’s a difficult problem because totalitarian states in the Middle East are backing radical Islamic fundamentalism as a way of being pro-Muslim, providing an excuse for their people’s suffering, and providing an us-against-them environment. The other problem is that there is no single head of Islam: the religion is subject to numerous interpretations. There is a real battle going on between the moderates and the fundamentalists, and that is, ultimately, where this will be won or lost. However, this is very hard. If the West is weak and the fundamentalists are providing the source for Arab pride, the moderates will lose. Even worse, the same intimidation techniques that are working well against the West and also being applied to the moderates.




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