The West Needs To Fight Islamofascists With Big Ideas
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The West’s war on terror is going tactically well enough, with its mission to put out fires here and there before they start. But it sorely misses the larger strategy that must be implemented. The concept is this: It isn’t enough to get the guys with the bombs or beards but to alter the environment that produces them.
Just like the war on communism, the war on terror must combine the force of arms with the power of ideas, a higher moral purpose with a mechanism of action. In other words, the West, along with Russia and China — which have no interest in jihadist uprisings within their own territories, needs a roadmap for its war on terror, clearly detailing its ultimate goals and how it will achieve them.
Such a strategy must be forged in G-8 Summit Meetings as well as the manuals of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the parliaments of the European Union. It must be defined unambiguously as the obliteration of an ideology that reduces Islam to a cult of mass murder and suicide.
Here is a blueprint:
1.The West needs strategies conveying to the vast majority of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims that acquiescence to jihadists and their ideologies means a rupture with Western civilization. The consequences for this should be spelled out by withholding Western commerce, the Internet, arms, machinery, and know-how — all of which still represent the bulk of progress as we define it in today’s world. Imagine a ban on weapons and technology, on Microsoft and IBM, on Boeing, Ilyushin transport planes, and Airbus spares.
2. Draconian sanctions such as these should be applied in unison with Russia and China and clearly framed within the U.N. code. Islamic so-called moderate or client states including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Indonesia, among others, as well as enemies such as Iran, should be provided with a yardstick to define the dismantling of the infrastructure and software of terror at home — in mosques, in schools, in theocratic institutions, and inside government itself.
That will demand total elimination of the madrassa rote systems, the restructuring of religious teachings, and the outlawing of political groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which adopt religion as political vehicles.
3. In the West itself, the last vestiges of tolerance toward Islamic fundamentalism must be removed. Laws targeting extremist speech, Islamic dress, storefront unregulated mosques, and the traffic of immigrant Muslims who do not speak the language nor share the values of freedom must surface in the legal codes of America, Europe, and Australia. The West must clearly process the fact that it is facing an existential threat to its core values, and it cannot be shy about installing tools of war in its democratic practices.
Lest anyone think this is much ado about little, five years ago on one of America’s darkest days when airplanes were crashed into the World Trade Center, it seemed that only a few hundred jihadists were aiming to make a point.
Now, it is clear that the people responsible for those burning towers in Manhattan were only small filaments of a spider’s web encompassing millions of Muslims. Beyond towers, their aim is a freeze on freedom, democracy, and secularism — foundations that took centuries to develop, requiring the defeat of communism in order to prevail. The new plan is tyrannical rule by another name — jihad. But jihadists and secular tyrants are quite willing to join hands on this one.
Long before 9/11, jihadist adherents and sponsoring secular states, even communist states, had been stretching cobwebs into the suburbs of London and Islamabad, the streets of Baghdad and Kabul, the valleys between Syria and Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, and inside Western Europe and across Africa.
Enablers include our closest allies in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, tribal leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the merchants of Dubai and Kuwait, all the way into the Indian Ocean, Indonesia, and Asia.
So, just imagine a world where the likes of Muammar Gadhafi of Libya, President Chavez of Venezuela, Bashar Al-Assad of Syria, Fidel Castro of Cuba, President Ahmadinejad of Iran, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, along with Hosni Mubarak and his sons in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood movements of Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and carbon copies in Indonesia, Pakistan, and across Asia all join hands.
This is the perspective that the larger strategy requires. It’s the big picture.