Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Assessing the Threat of Radical Islam

 

640px-AQMI_Flag.svg-2From the Islamic State and al-Qaeda to the Islamic Republic of Iran and all their various affiliates — how dangerous is radical Islam to the West? There have been a number of posts on Ricochet that have touched on this subject. Paddy Siochain asked whether European democratic socialism can muster the will to fight for its own survival. In response, Majestyk argued that secular humanism — which he seems to define as scientific progress or rationalism — is so advanced in the West that Europe doesn’t need a will to fight because the barbarian, low IQ members of al-Qaeda, ISIL, and others can never really threaten us. This view was echoed in a comment by Jim Kearney, where he suggested that a will to fight is unnecessary, as we’ll soon have such advanced remotely-controlled or robotic weapons that we’ll never have to engage the Islamic radical man-to-man again. Though he admits that, in limited situations, there may be a need for actual human soldiers, I assume that he believes the Western cultures will be able to maintain a small warrior class of special forces operators who can carry out such limited actions.

So that got me to thinking that — even among the Ricochetti — there is a variety of views about the threat posed by radical Islam. I’m curious to hear what you think and why. For starters, I’ll lay out what I think.

The Current Threat

From Afghanistan in the East to Tunisia in the West, Islam is in a kind of civil war. The radical elements of the Sunni and the Shi’a theological schools compete both for power and for the right to be the main challenger to the West. That last part is what I find disturbing. The two wings of radical Islam are not just competing for the control of the Islamic world, but for the entire globe. A large component of the competition is about who is the most effective challenger to the West; who can subdue us most effectively. Now, just because someone wants to challenge the West doesn’t make them an effective challenger.

Right now, radical Islam has landed one very lucky sucker punch — 9/11 — that killed nearly 3,000 people. If they had been able to replicate that kind of attack once a year, no one would doubt its status as major threat, worthy of our full attention and might. However, 9/11 remains alone. Most attacks in the West from Radical Islam have been mercifully limited, and the death toll has been relatively low. Run-of-the-mill murders outpace deaths from radical Islamic terrorists in America and Europe. If that is the case, need we really be concerned about radical Islam?

It is not just a matter of body count. The countries where radical Islam is strong have a lot of natural resources, particularly in oil. The world economy would be affected by an Iran that controls not only its own oil fields, but also those of Iraq; combine that with a nuclear weapon and the threat becomes a nightmare. A rising Sunni tide that overthrows the Saudi monarchy could also change the world economy. As such, the location of radical Islam makes it dangerous and poses a threat to our interests in the world.

Given this, I’d say that a radical Islam confined to the Arab/Persian world is a serious-but-low threat to Western lives, but a great threat to the world economy. But if nothing changes, the militaries of Europe and America are adequate to the task.

The Potential Growth of Radical Islam

What keeps me up at night is the potential growth of Radical Islam, and I am afraid there’s a bull market for it in the world right now. When fighting broke out in Moscow in 1918 between Lenin’s Bolsheviks and the Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party led by Maria Spiridonova, there were about 1,800 men (both sides combined) fighting for control of Russia. Lenin’s regime did not look like much of a threat to the world. Even over the next 12 years — when the Russian economy could not match the level of output of the Czarist regime in 1915 — Communism hardly looked like the worldwide threat it would soon become. Nor did the Nazis, after the failed Beer Hall putsch in 1923, look like they would take over nearly all of Europe in just 13 years.

How things can change. Here are the reasons I think the prospects for the growth of Radical Islam are good.

We believe in tactical victories; they believe in survival. Any group forced to face the Americans, British, Canadians, or French in open battle will lose. However, our enemies see no need for tactical victory; their standard is survival. They draw powerful lessons from the PLO in this regard. Arafat became a legendary leader by losing — always and without exception — every battle he fought with outside enemies. But while losing, he slowly gained power until, ultimately, he was able to rule the West Bank and Gaza without ever defeating Israel. Arafat’s strategy was not to win outright, but to survive with just enough power to keep the conflict going.

We have seen this strategy employed in Iraq and Afghanistan to great effect. Once, beating the enemy comprehensively on the field of battle was enough for them to consider peace. Not any more. I am afraid we don’t want to defeat the radical Islamic fighters in a way that would make them feel as if they were defeated. Now, when we beat them in battle, they shrug and think that is part of the plan. It is very dangerous when what feels like a win to us does not feel like a defeat to our enemies.

America’s enemies need radical Islam. Radical Islam is not isolated on the world stage, and they do not fight America alone. Russia and China do not share radical Islam’s ultimate goals — and both face threats from it themselves — but see in a weakened and distracted West an opportunity to solidify their own power. Russia might even envision a triangulation such that it trades total cooperation against growing Radical Islam for a free hand in the former Soviet Union. In any case, Russia and China see an upside in the growth of radical Islam, so long as its primary focus is on the United States and Western Europe.

The Western response to radical Islam is heavily constrained. Fighting the war the terrorists want to fight is expensive and — perhaps — unaffordable. Look at the Charlie Hebdo attacks: the Islamists traded the lives and costs of training two terrorists for the lives of a dozen “enemies,” as well as the time, energy, and resources of tens of thousands of French police and soldiers. Even now, the survivors of Charlie Hebdo are not able to live in their own homes, have 24-hour protection, and are moved from place to place nearly every day. Who really won that exchange? The Kouachi brothers died … but did they lose? Do the radical Islamic terrorists feel defeated after that attack?

If radical Islamic terrorists get a safe area under the protection of even a weak nuclear umbrella, how much more could they ramp up the costs of the Europeans in fighting an insurgency in Europe? How likely are the Europeans to fight back effectively compared to the likelihood of their striking a deal? Spain backed out of the fight after a single attack. France rallied to Charlie Hebdo, but did they really set the radicals back in response? How many journalists are looking at the life of the staff of Charlie Hebdo and saying, “That is not for me”?

This is where the will to fight is so necessary. We have to be willing to inflict a defeat that actually feels like a defeat on the Islamic terrorists. I am not sure we are willing to do that. Iraq gave us one opportunity, but we threw it away in 2011. If Afghanistan slides back into civil war or — worse yet — back into the hands of the Taliban, will radical Islam feel defeated by the American-led war there?

Is not the lesson taught by the PLO still true? If the terrorist fights long enough, we give up and they win. They can lose every battle but, if they just survive, they will win.

Economic advantage is not enough. The constraints Western democracies face in fighting radical Islam are severe and the costs are asymmetrical, in the terrorists’ favor. This disparity gives radical Muslims a distinct edge. Claire Berlinski has written convincingly about France’s turn from political correctness to fighting Radical Islam, but she also writes about how defense spending is falling around Europe, even in France. It is not hard to see how the radical Muslims could continue to increase the cost of the war on Europe without suffering much in return. Outside of the deaths of the attackers, what cost has France imposed on them?

Technological advantage is not enough. While the West’s technological edge is a great strength, it is not enough to win by itself. Technology has to be applied correctly; if we do not apply our technological edge in way a that makes the radical Muslims feel they are defeated, it will be for nothing. I take little comfort in the stupidity of my enemies and believe that doing so makes you vulnerable to defeat. I don’t think they are so stupid that they can’t make at least some use of technology in a way that will pose a real threat to us. If Iran can develop ballistic missiles, they can develop missiles that can kill satellites.

Moreover, radical Islamists don’t have to develop all the technology they need. They can get it from more advanced countries that would like to see the West weaker. Even relatively small increases in the technology available to terrorists willy likely impose massive costs on us.

Culture does not win on its own. From the battle of Manzikert in 1071 to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Byzantines thought their superior culture, learning, and way of life would defeat or tame the Turks. Istanbul is the capital of Islamic Turkey to this day. We have a superior way of life, and our culture produces human flourishing, freedom, and wealth. By any measure we would use, we should be far more attractive to the Muslims than we are. But we are not more attractive to them, because they believe that even though their lifestyle is harder and poorer than ours, their current path might lead them to power. Power is a great tempter. As long as they believe that power can be theirs, they can avoid the temptation of Miley Cyrus, Facebook, and economic liberalism. If they are ever made to feel that they can’t achieve power and that their way of life will only lead them to defeat, our culture may look a lot better to them.

In conclusion, I feel we have not figured out how to impose defeat on our enemies. I think we had a chance to make the radical Islamists feel defeated in Iraq, but failed to follow through. When we win, our enemies don’t feel defeated; when they win, we do. No one wins a war that way. Because of the general belief among our enemies that you can inflict costs on the West while bearing the costs of Western counterattack, the threat of Islam will grow. Technologically sophisticated countries that believe their interests are advanced by a weaker West might well provide our enemies with technological aid. Without the knowledge or the will to impose significant defeats on the enemy, we will give them the time to grow in strength and numbers until they can become a much more significant threat than they are now.

I think there is no better time to impose a real defeat on radical Islam than right now, but fear most of the West lacks the will to do so. Does this mean we will lose in the long term? No, but we will eventually have to fight a much stronger enemy than we do right now.

What do you think? Where am I wrong? Where am I right?

There are 49 comments.

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  1. TG Thatcher
    TG

    The Enemies of America need Radical Islam” – I suspect you were thinking, but didn’t state explicitly, that it is possible that Russia sees an opportunity to profit as an oil supplier in the case of Middle East turmoil (right?)? What source(s) do/does China depend upon for oil needs (they do have coal supplies of their own)? 

    • #1
    • July 9, 2015, at 10:45 AM PDT
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  2. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf

    TG:“The Enemies of America need Radical Islam” – I suspect you were thinking, but didn’t state explicitly, that it is possible that Russia sees an opportunity to profit as an oil supplier in the case of Middle East turmoil (right?)? What source(s) do/does China depend upon for oil needs (they do have coal supplies of their own)?

    I can’t see my own post on the main feed or the member feed, how did you find it? Anyway to your point yes I think that Russia can find several ways to profit from a stronger threat to the West from Radical Islam. China needs oil from the Middle East but they feel fine dealing with Iran. China I think would make America blockading the Gulf difficult. Neither China nor Russia need perform any overt acts of war to help the Radical Muslim threat to grow they need just give them some political cover at the UN and maybe some technology transfers on the side.

    • #2
    • July 9, 2015, at 10:55 AM PDT
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  3. TG Thatcher
    TG

    Brian Wolf: “I can’t see my own post on the main feed or the member feed, how did you find it?”

    I dunno, maybe I’m special? Grin. I hope someone else does see it, I think there’s lots of meat here for good discussion.

    • #3
    • July 9, 2015, at 11:17 AM PDT
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  4. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf

    TG:

    Brian Wolf: “I can’t see my own post on the main feed or the member feed, how did you find it?”

    I dunno, maybe I’m special? Grin. I hope someone else does see it, I think there’s lots of meat here for good discussion.

    It seems to have shown up on the member feed now. I am sure glad you commented. Yes I hope I get more feed back on it.

    • #4
    • July 9, 2015, at 11:22 AM PDT
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  5. Kay of MT Member

    The Saudis have pledged 32Billion to implement Sharia in America, so Islam is a definite threat. All Islam is radical, their goal is to dominate the world, it’s just that some will take action themselves, the others will stand by and allow it. If you think anything differently then you are ignorant about Islam.

    http://pamelageller.com/2015/07/saudi-prince-pledges-billions-to-promote-islamsharia-in-america.html/

    • #5
    • July 10, 2015, at 6:37 AM PDT
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  6. Zafar Member

    Some questions/thoughts:

    What would victory look like? Or iow, what are the conditions that would need to be met for you to feel that the West was victorious?

    Today, does Islam dominate the West economically and politically, or does the West dominate the Muslim world? I would say the latter – so why does it feel like a condition of defeat to you? Al Qaida etc. seem motivated by feelings of being defeated and occupied by the West. You can’t both be right.

    Just about every Muslim majority country (I think all of them except Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan) was a colony of the West (or of the West and Russia, so say some variant of Christendom) for a significant period of time after WWI (and sometimes from well before, such as Indonesia or Pakistan/Bangladesh or the Central Asian republics). This didn’t result in a change of religion on the part of the majority of the people – unlike in places like Latin America or the Philippines – despite being completely dominated they retained the view that their own tradition had value and was worth retaining. Is this what you mean by not being defeated? Would defeat require cultural dominance by the West – expressed by Muslim conversion to Christianity?

    • #6
    • July 10, 2015, at 7:58 AM PDT
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  7. Casey Inactive

    Brian Wolf: As long as they believe that power can be theirs, they can avoid the temptation of Miley Cyrus, Facebook, and economic liberalism.

    Actually, they can have both. They can look over your shoulder while you surf, get all of the enjoyment, and then take the “high road” because it wasn’t them who was surfing.

    • #7
    • July 10, 2015, at 8:07 AM PDT
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  8. Casey Inactive

    I don’t think the real threat is radical Islam per se. It is what the radicals are doing to the global network of nations.

    I keep thinking back to WWI. Decades of building tension. Minor actions and reactions. Perceptions true and false. Then it all snapped.

    Today the radicals find themselves in the center of the global network web. And every time they move they pull and stretch at every string in the network. My fear is that at some point they snap a string.

    And because this one pledged to this one and this one had the back of that one against the other one we’ll find ourselves in a big stinking deal.

    • #8
    • July 10, 2015, at 8:17 AM PDT
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  9. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor

    How does one defeat a blob?

    Radical Islam is sort of like that – it grows by consuming things that surround it and people who engage with it sort of run the risk of being sucked in – certainly, you at least run the risk of getting covered in goo.

    I think the lesson of what Israel did with the Palestinians is instructive: After they completed the wall, it took almost no time at all for the various factions to begin joyfully massacring one another, because their primary target had been removed.

    Now, I’m not saying that we could or should build a wall around the Islamic world and let them kill each other to their hearts’ content – there are serious economic considerations to be made when it comes to the mineral wealth of the Middle east – but we need to be picking and choosing the place and manner of our interventions much more carefully.

    If our plan starting in 2001 after 9/11 was to utterly destabilize the Middle East so that the various radical factions would waste their time fighting one another, then I’d say that this strategy was a ringing success – although I think we could have come up with cheaper and easier ways of achieving this goal.

    • #9
    • July 10, 2015, at 8:24 AM PDT
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  10. I Walton Member

    I confess to never serving in a Muslim country, speak none of their languages and didn’t even read about them until after 9/11. But some knowledge is transferrable. The big lumpy things should give us some insights. For instance we could have known that Iran’s disintegration wasn’t because the Pasha was harsh, but maybe we could have helped him understand what the impact of a thousand percent increase in foreign exchange earnings would be if he tried to spend it all domestically importing goods, instead of, like the Saudis, importing debt instruments. Oh well Carter and his folks didn’t understand either. Also it seems that the historical lack of the rule of law and representative government, should have told us something about our ability to impose modern economies and modern representative institutions even if we got control for a while. We could know after 60 years of foreign aid muddling and corruption and failed central government economic planning, that we were not going to do much positive good by throwing a lot of money around. There are a lot of things we cannot control and cannot change, so we should focus on the things we can. We cannot change Islam. We can control our oil production, immigration policy, security apparatus, and intelligence capacity and the instructions we give our missions. The latter requires thought and realism from adults who have deep knowledge of these places and a sense of what can and cannot be accomplished.

    • #10
    • July 10, 2015, at 8:43 AM PDT
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  11. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Brian Wolf: In conclusion, I feel we have not figured out how to impose defeat on our enemies.

    I think this is something we need to re-examine.

    Let’s take the Islamic State. First, from their perspective, what are the worst things that could happen and/or signify major defeat? Second, can we feasibly make any of them happen? Third, of those feasible options, which are the best from our perspective?

    Then, ask the question the other way, starting with what things we want, examining their feasibility, and concluding by how their achievement would affect our enemies.

    If we do that right, we should have a pretty short list of objectives — military and otherwise — to pursue. We don’t seem to be doing that.

    • #11
    • July 10, 2015, at 8:45 AM PDT
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  12. Manfred Arcane Inactive

    “What keeps me up at night is the potential growth of Radical Islam, and I am afraid that there is a bull market for it in the world right now. ”

    Don’t understand this concern. The biggest threat for me to what we tend to call ‘The West” is, by far, the virus of creeping socialism and the lack of strong antibodies to fight, weaken and ultimately downgrade it to a ‘low-grade’ fever. This ‘enemy within’ is much more worrisome than the ‘enemy without’.

    The radical jihadism we see around us is more an opportunity than a curse, IMO. If we can’t educate folks in Muslim countries how much better Christianity, Judaism, or even ‘enlightened Islam’ – you name it is than Islam – in its current form at least, given the evidence of their own eyes, then shame on us for ineptitude and laziness. We fail to advertise the relative virtues of Western value and religion to our great discredit. Obama was correct in saying that we are engaged principally in a war of ideas, but neither he, nor any of his political class makes much effort to employ the considerable intellectual weapons at our disposal to wound our enemies.

    That being said, we have to go about this strategy humbly. Western culture comes with a degree of vulgarity and coarseness that needs acknowledging. We can gracefully allow that Islam can re-teach the West about piety and chastity, virtues that are regrettably much on the wain these days.

    • #12
    • July 10, 2015, at 8:48 AM PDT
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  13. Zafar Member

    Majestyk:Now, I’m not saying that we could or should build a wall around the Islamic world and let them kill each other to their hearts’ content – there are serious economic considerations to be made when it comes to the mineral wealth of the Middle east…

    That may drive the relationship, but the thing is, they have an opinion about it as well.

    • #13
    • July 10, 2015, at 8:50 AM PDT
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  14. GrannyDude Member

    Inexpert thoughts:

    Terrorism is, by definition, the strategy of the weak. If Al Qaeda had commanded mass support among Muslims, Al Qaeda would have been governing Saudi Arabia and yanking us around by our gas pumps rather than crashing American planes into American buildings.

    Radical Islam (as opposed, yes, to relatively moderate Islam) is dangerous in that it does not promise a better life in the here and now, but a better life in the hereafter. This removes a potential feed-back mechanism for people who live in an Islamic state. The man in the street question are you better off now than you were a year ago doesn’t apply.

    On the other hand, people being what they are, future bliss is always a bit of a hard sell when compared with present misery. And people do, after awhile, tend to notice corruption when it creeps into the behavior of their leaders—everything from cushier digs to immunity from losing their own sons to suicide attacks to a mysterious license from Allah when it comes to partying hearty.

    The needle that our leaders (whoever they are) have been trying to thread has been between fighting the horrifying violent extremists which does indeed demand fighting spirit, hands-on courage and derring-do …and the real need to avoid sounding like (and/or being) a blustering, posturing, know-it-all bully. Not easy. As Zafar points out, we drag a lot of history behind us, and often unconsciously echo the slogans of the past in ways that the people of the region instantly recognize and react to while we remain oblivious. Intelligence in all senses of the word, plus consistency patience and stamina need to be in there alongside the will to duke it out.

    • #14
    • July 10, 2015, at 8:57 AM PDT
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  15. Old Bathos Moderator

    Zafar:Some questions/thoughts:

    What would victory look like? Or iow, what are the conditions that would need to be met for you to feel that the West was victorious?

    /1

    Good question.

    Americans tend to believe that democracy, pluralism and tolerance is a default condition disrupted by bad regimes. Get rid of Hitler, Tojo, or The Soviet Union and democracy and self-determination flourishes as part of the natural order.

    I think Islam is qualitatively different. Sharia and pluralistic democracy are not compatible. Muslims (correctly) fear that Westernization means more exposure to pornography, extramarital sex, gay marriage etc all of which would undermine or destroy tribal societal structures.

    Islamic Arab culture seems to have a big dose of Inshallah non-productivity (if Allah wants the buses to run on time, they will, why should I worry..), a big dose of conspiracy-mindedness (the economic and political failure is the fault of others) and an enduring fantasy that all problems will disappear if and when total Sharia law is imposed.

    The first stage of victory is stop fantasizing about the supposed secret desire of Muslims to be like us and deal with them as they are.

    • #15
    • July 10, 2015, at 9:07 AM PDT
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  16. Old Bathos Moderator

    /2 

    Second stage of victory is clarity, the need to reassert the primacy of Western values in Western lands. You can pray the way you like but you may not impose sharia on any person or on any public space. Accept that where Sharia conflicts with western ideals, Sharia loses. Drop the expectation of tolerance for the rhetoric of jihad. The fog of tolerance for the intolerant needs to lift.

    Third stage is Lenin in a boxcar. The disaster of the current Arab world is the direct result of the line of anti-western, anti-secular ideologies that emerged in the early twentieth century. Surely, there must be attractive alternate, more constructive, secular or synthetic ideological approaches to be fostered, encouraged and spread? Surely, there must be an exhausted, battered audience willing to hear it. Soon, we won’t need the oil so maybe it’s time to foster even wider change and undermine regimes that are openly hostile to what we value most.

    Fourth Stage is Kennan containment. Be implacably hostile to Islamisist activity outside of regions where it occurs more organically. Keep it within the arc of the Middle East, under constant pressure from more materially successful cultures.

    • #16
    • July 10, 2015, at 9:09 AM PDT
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  17. Old Bathos Moderator

    /3

    The strength of Islam is its unmatched survival capabilities. Its weakness is that what helps it survive also creates a lack of adaptability and a susceptibility to various kinds of anti-empirical thinking. Eventually those conflicting aspects will have to be resolved. The more the world around Islam changes, the more likely that reckoning will occur.

    Final victory will be to remain free and productive when that new Islamic culture is ready to partner up for a better world.

    • #17
    • July 10, 2015, at 9:10 AM PDT
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  18. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor

    Zafar:

    Majestyk:Now, I’m not saying that we could or should build a wall around the Islamic world and let them kill each other to their hearts’ content – there are serious economic considerations to be made when it comes to the mineral wealth of the Middle east…

    That may drive the relationship, but the thing is, they have an opinion about it as well.

    Of course – the problem is, if Middle Eastern nations are going to use their unearned mineral wealth to build weapons of mass destruction which threaten global or regional stability, what should we do about that?

    • #18
    • July 10, 2015, at 9:11 AM PDT
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  19. Zafar Member

    Kate Braestrup:Radical Islam (as opposed, yes, to relatively moderate Islam) is dangerous in that it does not promise a better life in the here and now, but a better life in the hereafter. This removes a potential feed-back mechanism for people who live in an Islamic state. The man in the street question are you better off now than you were a year ago doesn’t apply.

    The man on the street’s never been given a choice about the here and now – it’s not as if ISIS has ever been popularly elected. I think there’s a hint towards a solution there.

    I know that Hamas and Hezbollah and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood aren’t popular here despite being elected in different situations as expressions of popular will – and each of them is certainly problematic in a number of ways – but they aren’t ISIS either.

    • #19
    • July 10, 2015, at 9:12 AM PDT
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  20. Zafar Member

    Majestyk:

    Of course – the problem is, if Middle Eastern nations are going to use their unearned mineral wealth to build weapons of mass destruction which threaten global or regional stability, what should we do about that?

    There’s a possibly apocryphal story I was told (really) about trying to save the endangered one horned rhino. Apparently they tried a bunch of stuff – eco-tourism, educating the locals, heavy policing and punishment of poachers – but Chinese demand for rhino horn for use in traditional aphrodisiacs was too great – they were willing to pay a lot, and so they got the horns and the rhinos were swiftly going extinct.

    What to do, what to do?

    Then out of nowhere came viagra, and suddenly the rhino population was doing a lot better. Demand fell, because that “need” was being met differently.

    Now the story is a little too neat, and I think the rhino is in reality still endangered, but it’s worth thinking about.

    Which real need are Middle Eastern countries trying to meet with a WMD? If it’s crazy (bomb Israel) there’s nothing to be done but oppose, but if it’s reasonable (don’t want regime change) then it’s something that can be addressed in another way. It doesn’t have to be a zero sum game.

    • #20
    • July 10, 2015, at 9:25 AM PDT
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  21. Kay of MT Member

    John Penfold: We cannot change Islam. We can control our oil production, immigration policy, security apparatus, and intelligence capacity and the instructions we give our missions. The latter requires thought and realism from adults who have deep knowledge of these places and a sense of what can and cannot be accomplished.

    Excellent points!

    • #21
    • July 10, 2015, at 9:25 AM PDT
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  22. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor

    Zafar:

    What to do, what to do?

    Then out of nowhere came viagra, and suddenly the rhino population was doing a lot better. Demand fell, because that “need” was being met differently.

    Now the story is a little too neat, and I think the rhino is in reality still endangered, but it’s worth thinking about.

    Which real need are Middle Eastern countries trying to meet with a WMD? If it’s crazy (bomb Israel) there’s nothing to be done but oppose, but if it’s reasonable (don’t want regime change) then it’s something that can be addressed in another way. It doesn’t have to be a zero sum game.

    I interpret the story a little bit differently. Because of technological advances that have essentially made more rhino horns (hydraulic fracturing) the price of horn has dropped to the point where many of the producers of rhino horn can’t actually compete.

    Eventually, a different form of horn is invented and makes demand for it practically negligible. We are but one technological leap (or notch in political will) away from making the Middle East economically barren.

    • #22
    • July 10, 2015, at 9:31 AM PDT
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  23. Kay of MT Member

    Majestyk: We are but one technological leap (or notch in political will) away from making the Middle East economically barren.

    The faster that happens the better off Western culture will be.

    • #23
    • July 10, 2015, at 9:34 AM PDT
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  24. Casey Inactive

    Majestyk:

    We are but one technological leap (or notch in political will) away from making the Middle East economically barren.

    Too late. The money is already there.

    • #24
    • July 10, 2015, at 9:51 AM PDT
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  25. Tommy De Seno Contributor

    The Islamofascists will be more dangerous, and actually more terrorizing, when they figure out they can kill more people striking less symbolic targets.

    They killed over 3,000 people flying planes into the World Trades and the Pentagon, and had to overcome security to do it.

    They can take out 10,000 people at a high school football game in Texas on a Friday night or the same number at a county fair in New Jersey, with no security to beat.

    • #25
    • July 10, 2015, at 10:10 AM PDT
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  26. Casey Inactive

    Tommy De Seno:The Islamofascists will be more dangerous, and actually more terrorizing, when they figure out they can kill more people striking less symbolic targets.

    They killed over 3,000 people flying planes into the World Trades and the Pentagon, and had to overcome security to do it.

    They can take out 10,000 people at a high school football game in Texas on a Friday night or the same number at a county fair in New Jersey, with no security to beat.

    Killing 3 or 4 people in a bomb blast in one suburb in every state within one hour would cause mass panic and thrust the nation into chaos.

    Of course, it would also galvanize the nation and make their long term project impossible.

    Ultimately, I think they just want one big powerful nation in their region that the other powers treat as legit. That is possible.

    • #26
    • July 10, 2015, at 10:24 AM PDT
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  27. carcat74 Member

    Manfred Arcane:“What keeps me up at night is the potential growth of Radical Islam, and I am afraid that there is a bull market for it in the world right now. ”

    Don’t understand this concern. The biggest threat for me to what we tend to call ‘The West” is, by far, the virus of creeping socialism and the lack of strong antibodies to fight, weaken and ultimately downgrade it to a ‘low-grade’ fever. This ‘enemy within’ is much more worrisome than the ‘enemy without’.

    The radical jihadism we see around us is more an opportunity than a curse, IMO. If we can’t educate folks in Muslim countries how much better Christianity, Judaism, or even ‘enlightened Islam’ – you name it is than Islam – in its current form at least, given the evidence of their own eyes, then shame on us for ineptitude and laziness. We fail to advertise the relative virtues of Western value and religion to our great discredit. Obama was correct in saying that we are engaged principally in a war of ideas, but neither he, nor any of his political class makes much effort to employ the considerable intellectual weapons at our disposal to wound our enemies.

    That being said, we have to go about this strategy humbly. Western culture comes with a degree of vulgarity and coarseness that needs acknowledging. We can gracefully allow that Islam can re-teach the West about piety and chastity, virtues that are regrettably much on the wain these days.

    When we can’t teach the original values of the Western world to our own citizens, or many don’t want to learn about those values, how can we successfully teach it to other countries? Much of what is presented as a better way by the West is belied by the behavior of so many people in OUR country. We have too many Fergusons, and not enough of the forgiveness represented by the members of that S. Carolina church. We have too many ‘Clintons’, ‘Jacksons’, ‘Sharptons’, ‘Holders’, ‘Sarandons’, and not enough ‘Carvers’, ‘Douglasses’, ‘Thomas’s’, ‘Alitos’ getting media attention. When Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin are extolled as martyrs & heroes, and Chris Kyle is denigrated and reviled, there’s something WRONG!

    • #27
    • July 10, 2015, at 10:45 AM PDT
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  28. AIG Inactive
    AIG

    Brian Wolf: The radical elements of the Sunni and the Shi’a theological schools compete both for power and for the right to be the main challenger to the West. That last part is what I find disturbing.

    Where is there any evidence of the last part, however?

    Brian Wolf: In any case, Russia and China see an upside in the growth of radical Islam, so long as its primary focus is on the United States and Western Europe.

    Where is the evidence for such a claim? Seems to the 180 deg opposite of what we see.

    Brian Wolf: If radical Islamic terrorists get a safe area under the protection of even a weak nuclear umbrella

    You realize Iran is the enemy of the people who perpetrated those terrorist attacks?

    Brian Wolf: Outside of the deaths of the attackers, what cost has France imposed on them?

    Besides intervening in half of Africa to fight Islamists?

    Mali? No Ricochet threads on Mali? Strange ;)

    Brian Wolf: What do you think?

    I think the “threat” is greatly overblown, and more importantly the need for American intervention is greatly overblown.

    Nothing could be better for America than civil wars in the ME where all the Arab governments are busy killing Islamists. Nothing could be better for us than Iran fighting the Islamists.

    And yet we have every “conservative” jumping up and down calling for the US to get between 2 enemies fighting each other.

    Nothing could be more counter-productive. And yet, here we are.

    • #28
    • July 10, 2015, at 11:37 AM PDT
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  29. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf

    Zafar:Some questions/thoughts:

    What would victory look like? Or iow, what are the conditions that would need to be met for you to feel that the West was victorious?

    Radial Muslims would fell defeated. They would feel like the follower of the Mahdi did in Sudan and stop fighting. Britain controlled Sudan with 100 British officials or so after Radical Islam felt defeated.

    Today, does Islam dominate the West economically and politically, or does the West dominate the Muslim world? I would say the latter – so why does it feel like a condition of defeat to you? Al Qaida etc. seem motivated by feelings of being defeated and occupied by the West. You can’t both be right.

    We are obviously more advanced and powerful than our enemies. Radical Muslims see that as a rebuke of Islam. They believe that because they follow the real God correctly that should correspond to real world power. Because of that they seek to change the balance of power between the West and Islam in Islam’s favor. I am not sure what you mean by me feeling defeated. Iraq feels like a defeat to me yes. I feel as if we are allow an enemy to grow stronger when we don’t have too. I don’t think that Radical Islam has won yet but that their threat grows.

    Just about every Muslim majority country (I think all of them except Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan) was a colony of the West (or of the West and Russia, so say some variant of Christendom) for a significant period of time after WWI (and sometimes from well before, such as Indonesia or Pakistan/Bangladesh or the Central Asian republics). This didn’t result in a change of religion on the part of the majority of the people – unlike in places like Latin America or the Philippines – despite being completely dominated they retained the view that their own tradition had value and was worth retaining. Is this what you mean by not being defeated? Would defeat require cultural dominance by the West – expressed by Muslim conversion to Christianity?

    This is a massive question. First I would say unlike Latin America nad the Philippines the governments that controlled the former Ottoman Empire and Egypt, as well as Persia, did not allow missionaries and sought rather successfully to keep missionaries away from Muslims. As for the culture dividends they were huge, Turkey became secular and joined NATO, Lebanon was a wonderful place to live, Egypt was growing more pro-Western in mores and values all the time. That was a good thing but it was cut off first by nationalistic socialism and then the rise of Radical Islam. I would define victory as Muslims view fighting the West to be insane and the conditions exist for a moderate Islam to flourish everywhere. The Palestinian people think that war against Israel is better than peace, they would have to start thinking peace is better than war.

    • #29
    • July 10, 2015, at 11:52 AM PDT
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  30. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Brian Wolf: In conclusion, I feel we have not figured out how to impose defeat on our enemies.

    I think this is something we need to re-examine.

    Let’s take the Islamic State. First, from their perspective, what are the worst things that could happen and/or signify major defeat? Second, can we feasibly make any of them happen? Third, of those feasible options, which are the best from our perspective?

    Then, ask the question the other way, starting with what things we want, examining their feasibility, and concluding by how their achievement would affect our enemies.

    If we do that right, we should have a pretty short list of objectives — military and otherwise — to pursue. We don’t seem to be doing that.

    The kind of questions you put here I don’t believe are even being asked by our leaders in Washington. For one thing people that fund Radical Islam should be terrified every day that their luck will run out. This should be one thing that we could do really well. If you handle money for the Jihad or you give money to the Jihad you have trouble sleeping peacefully at night. Instead Radical Islam never seems to be hurting for money. We need to change that.

    • #30
    • July 10, 2015, at 11:58 AM PDT
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