Islam, Monoculture, and the Obama Caliphate

by G. Murphy Donovan (September 2014)

“The quickest way to end a war is to lose it”. – George Orwell

The end of innocence



Five years ago “Islam and Monoculture” was published in American Thinker. The author, a former Intelligence officer, had become convinced that the American Intelligence Community was spinning the Islamist threat. Making excuses for Islam seemed to have become an academic, think tank, and US government norm after the Muslim/Arab attack against New York City in 2001

In the Obama years, the twin vectors of rhetorical appeasement (John Brennan) and “humanitarian” intervention (Samantha Power) merged to create a kind of democratic imperialism, a foreign policy paradigm where regime change is the agency and democracy is the expected, yet improbable, outcome. The Obama national security team does accept any evidence, including beheadings, which might suggest that democracy and Islam are culturally irreconcilable.

Alas, the aim of Islamists is religious monoculture, not secular democratic pluralism. In the past decade, passive rhetoric and imprudent interventions have enabled theocracy, undermined sovereignty, and diminished democracy worldwide.

The global village, especially the Muslim street, is now littered with the nation/state victims of wishful thinking. Iran, Libya, Egypt, the Sudan, Yemen, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are among the casualties. Intervention in the name of “stability” has become a serial farce.

The mad dogs of Muslim hell are off the choke chain.

The standard bearer of Islam’s latest lurch backwards is the newly minted Islamic State of Iran and Syria (ISIS). Muslim terrorists have upped the ante and called America’s bluff again. Unlike the imaginary red lines drawn in the Oval Office, ISIS has now drawn a bright red line with American blood.

The cradle of civilization has become a charnel house, a manufactured tragedy wrought by the intersection of pandering, strategic naiveté, and blowback. Administration and media sycophants were inclined to ignore beheadings in Mosul when the victims were natives. Now that the Islamic knife cuts closer to home, decapitation is finally covered above the fold.

Such news might sound bad, but apparently not bad enough to interrupt the presidential partying on Martha’s Vineyard this summer.

When Mister Obama spoke of James Foley’s recent confession and execution, the president forgot to mention that the executioner was an Englishman. Yes, the man who severed Foley’s head was probably a Brit, one of many jihadi that America and the EU have allowed, if not sponsored, in the Levant under “regime change” policies. How does America and Europe lay with dogs and not get fleas?

Appeasing the so-called “moderate” Muslim majority in Doha, Riyadh, or Islamabad at the expense of enabling religious war, the global jihad, was always a recipe for failure. Now the coercive sword of Islam even threatens western Press apologists, the kind of Islamic blowback that only a moron or a masochist might ignore.

Poetic, if not historical, justice would be served if the shotgun marriage of Syria and Iraq is remembered as the Obama Caliphate.

Ironically, the original “Islam and Monoculture” did not suffer the fate of most internet ephemera. The essay survived in an unlikely venue, Islam Daily. There is some hope, however faint, that truth and religious reform is still possible midst 1.5 billion Muslims when an American Muslim website journal keeps a harsh critique of contemporary Islam available for five years.

Islam and Monoculture (18 August 2009)

An ideology that may come to power with appeals to diversity and pluralism often morphs into a culture of exclusion – a place where the external infidel (non-believer) and the internal apostate (independent thinker) become public enemies. Such developments are not limited to primitive political forms like monarchies and military dictatorships. Indeed, often the worst totalitarians begin as utopian prophets. Even with democracies, the first free election is often last the real election.

America, often held up as the exemplar of democratic probity, is no exception. Some of the most dysfunctional states and municipalities are the victims of single party arrogance and mismanagement. The District of Columbia, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, Cleveland, San Francisco and possibly all of the state of California are examples.

The problem with the layering of international, national, and local governments is that eventually, like the monoculture farmer, you have to work harder and run faster just to stay in the same place. And as the shrewd Baroness from Finchley observed, “Eventually, you run out of other people’s money.”

None of this has ever deterred utopian intellectuals who pedal uniformity, conformity, and the quest for some enchanted ideology or technology which eliminates conflict and brings unity, peace, equality, and justice to all. Serious people often take these things seriously.

Karl Marx thought a world commune was possible if only the proletariat would rise and seize the moment. Little did he imagine that the proletariat would be hijacked by a vanguard of venal intellectuals. Marx seems to have slept through French history.

Ignorance itself is an aggressive threat, one that threatens to infect the purity and divide the unity of true believers. Eliminating ignorance is God’s purpose, Mohammed’s purpose, and the Koran’s purpose. It is also the right and duty of all Islamists to fight any ignorance of God’s will. The ultimate goal of militant Islam is one God, one law, one path, and one community of believers – in short, monoculture.

The Islamist take on the role of ignorance in society however, is more political than theological. Indeed, it is a convenient rationalization for aggression.

But there is little debate within the Muslim community on the meaning of jihad. Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a former mujahadeen, cautions, “The doctrines of jihad are not taken out of context, as many apologists for Islamism argue. They are central to the faith and ethics of millions of Muslims.”

cue, yet their menace is underlined by spin-offs, cut-outs, and splinter groups which are more than happy to do the “wet” work as necessary.

In one case a brotherhood operative, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, taught at a Florida university for three years before assuming command of Islamic Jihad in Syria. His first act as chief was to call for the elimination of Israel.

In a more recent case, the grandson of the founder of al Akwan, Tariq Ramadan, was about to accept a teaching post at Notre Dame University when his visa was denied. Supporters of Ramadan represent him as a scholar and “reformer.”  Yet, the facts tell another story.

The Ramadan appointment was defended in the name of free speech, academic freedom, and ecumenicism. Nonetheless, there are no axioms of freedom that require the academy to provide a soapbox for hate speech, and more important, ecumenicism is not a suicide pact.

Or as George Orwell might put it, “There are some ideas that are so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.”

The liberation theologists of Notre Dame are not alone. There is an emerging if not bizarre convergence between Western intellectuals and Jihad dissimulators, an odd couple coalition of the American Left and the Islamic Right. John Walsh, writing for the Harvard International Review, Winter 2003, claimed that “there is no evidence to undermine the Brotherhood’s peaceful rhetoric.” He also repeats, without question, the party line, “The Brotherhood has never ordered an act of terrorism.”


As a practical matter, the historical record, of deeds not words, is what should inform judgments. Surely there are peace loving Brothers but, their existence in no way offsets the dark history and continuing excuse making for terror. Academic and official analyses of modern theocrats have two troubling deficits, little common sense and no sense of responsibility.

National security naiveté is not limited to journalists and academics. The July 2009 conference of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) provided a forum for Imam Warith Deen Umar, among others. He is the former director of NY State prison chaplains. Umar used the occasion to argue that a small number of Jews “control the world.” He offered White House aides Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod as evidence.

Imam Umar was preceded by Valerie Jarrett as keynote speaker. Ms. Jarret was senior White House advisor for public engagement, her appearance was a first for any White House official. ISNA is a Brotherhood affiliate.

Brotherhood proselytizers are now seconded in America by Hizb ut Tahir (HT), an organization now represented in at least 40 other countries. HT is a Sunni political party based in Palestine which openly advocates Kilafah, a unitary Muslim state controlled by clerics and Sharia. This theocratic movement has been outlawed in many Muslim countries yet, they held their first open international conference in America, in Illinois.

Al Akwan and Hizb ut Tahir are thought to be the largest and best organized radical Islamic political movements in the world. Although they make frequent peaceful protestations, they both rationalize violent jihad, non-violent sedition, and anti-Semitism.

The Brotherhood is infamous for its cut-outs or affiliates who represent a “whose who” of terror organizations including Hammas and al Qaeda. HT is thought to be a recruiting venue for mujahadeen who, once indoctrinated, are then passed on to frontline terror groups as required. Their alumni include known “jihad of the sword” soldiers, Abu Musad al-Zarqawi and Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Neither al Akwan nor Hizb ut Tahir appear on the State Department’s official list of terror groups.

The Brothers assassinated Anwar Sadat and they have been responsible for more than half dozen attempts against Hosni Mubarak. Al-Ikwan is illegal in Egypt where there are few illusions about “moderation.” The latest menace on the Israeli front, Hamas, is a Brotherhood export.

The list of so-called moderates like Sadat who have been assassinated for apostasy is international. Benazir Bhutto was a special threat, a presumptuous woman and a secular Islamist. The most notable martyr to “moderation” was Afghan President Mohammed Najibullah. In August of 1996, he called for the US and “the civilized world to launch a joint struggle against fundamentalism.”

This and other evidence that jihad apologists are willing to ignore is overwhelming. According to State Department figures, the number of terrorist incidents and casualties has increased tenfold since Najabullah’s death. More recently, a professional intelligence officer, Stephen Collins Coughlin, at the Pentagon, connected the dots linking historical Sharia precedents to contemporary jihadist military doctrine in a 300 page legal brief. Coughlin was labeled a “Christian zealot with a poison pen” and fired for his candor.

His nemesis turned out to be a former Deputy Secretary of Defense, Gordon England. Apparently Major Coughlin was asked to moderate his scholarship and legal expertise at the behest of a special assistant to England, Hesham Islam.

Egyptian born Islam was a “community outreach” expert for the Pentagon with ties to al Ikwan affiliates in America. Mr. Islam left his Pentagon post after several “anomalies” in his resume were exposed.

If nothing else, Jihads of the tongue and of the hand, these “peaceful” struggles, provide a kind of plausible deniability, a convenient separation from those with blood on their hands, the jihadists of the sword.

This jihad al-sayf is frequently literal. Never mind individual amputations or beheadings, recall the massacre at Luxor, the work of a Brotherhood splinter, where 84 were killed, 58 of them tourists, one of which was a child of five. Several were hacked to death with knives and swords. The literal symbol of the sword is lost on Westerners, the coercive power of the knife is not lost on Muslims.

In January of 2004, Basayev issued an annual report of sorts entitled “Nothing Can Stop this Jihad.” In it he highlights Russian losses and all the usual justifications common to such manifestos: appeals to Allah, blessings to the Prophet, cant about the righteousness of bloody jihad, castigations of kefirs, and one eerily prophetic note, he compares Russians to “children who close their eyes in order to hide.” Ten months later nearly 200 hundred Russian children were dead at Beslan.

Religion is the heart of the Western predicament. On the one hand, smug intellectuals dismiss religion as some primitive superstition. In the process they underestimate the power of ideas, the significance of Jihad and Sharia, and their relation to military doctrine in the Muslim world. On the other hand, these same self-anointed progressives defend the separation of church and state and freedom of religion.

Here they are skewered on the horns of the political correctness dilemma, tolerating intolerance in the name of tolerance. Separation of church and state is not the only core value in peril. The rights of women and children and freedom of thought and speech are also at risk under theocratic thugery.

One constant of despotism over the centuries has been anti-Semitism. The modern jihadist is no exception. Not only are 20th Century atrocities like the European Jewish and Armenian Christian genocides denied by Islamic politicians, but ayatollahs and imams regularly use the prophet and the Koran as touchstones for characterizing Jews as “apes and pigs.” This bigotry is not a “fringe” phenomena, it is a thread of Muslim history. Indeed, with Saudi Arabia and Iran, intolerance is a state sponsored activity.

Despotism has only three requirements: false prophets, slaves to immutable doctrine, and naïve apologists.

The oft repeated mantra that Israel, not Jews, is at the heart of Muslim angst is another deceit. Anti-Israel rhetoric is mostly anti-Semitism masked with a political veil. The structural bigotry of Sunni Deobandis and Wahabis all predate the state of Israel, in one case by millennia. Wahabism is the state religion of the wealthiest Arab state, Saudi Arabia. The irredentism of al Ikwan is the most infamous modern export of Egypt, the most populous Arab state. The Brotherhood was created in Egypt two decades before the state of Israel reappeared in the Levant. The official hate speech of Shiite Iran is a modern phenomenon, but its literary antecedents are as old as the Sunni variety.

Surely the mere presence of modern Israel in the midst of the Arab world is itself an irritant, and the many Israeli tactical victories has rubbed salt in the wound that now passes for Arab honor. However, any honest review of historical Muslim literature and commentaries reveal anti-Semitism to be part of the warp and weft of ancient and contemporary culture. Just as surely, apologists can find appropriate citations to the contrary. Nonetheless, these exceptions are not the rule. 

Official irredentism has been underlined by Arab and Muslim states at numerous human rights forums. The 60th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 7 April 2004, was no exception. Whenever issues such as the stoning of women, honor killings, mutilations, and the apostasy death penalty are raised, Muslim officials reject any criticism as interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. (Dar al-Islam scholars recognize secular or national boundaries when convenient to their arguments.)

Only two Muslim states address the apostasy issue in their penal codes, Sudan and Mauritania, both mandate the death penalty. In all other Muslim states the issue is covered by religious law where the penalty is the same. Wherever elected politicians are subordinate clerics, the first casualties are tolerance and human rights.

Religious dogma is not negotiable, the idea that “moderate” Islam can or will compromise core tenants is absurd. Why change a winning political strategy? In contrast, secular democratic values in Europe and America appear to be malleable at their best and marketable at their worst.

Indeed, serving and retired presidents, Bill Clinton is a prominent example, premiers, cabinet officers and military personnel all avail themselves of Petro-retainers with unseemly regularity. This is not to suggest that such officials are for sale, but their values, like oil, may have lease options.

Some ask the question, why now? Why has radical jihad now come to dominate the threat spectrum? The answer seems to be self-evident: because it can! The theosophy, dogma, and militant doctrine (as Major Coughlin reminds us), have been elaborated for centuries had anyone cared to look. The Arab world especially, now has the resources to resume the “struggle” in earnest. The largest transfer of wealth in human history is underwriting the attempt to undo the last five hundred years of human progress.

Nonetheless, the Islamic chimera of religious and political homogeneity is still a pipe dream. Cultural, political and theological unity can not be validated by virtue, history, or reason. Put aside for a moment the record of utopias or even the practical difficulties of establishing or maintaining a universal theocracy. The real evil is coercive cultural imperialism.

Najabullah and Sadat had the integrity and courage to identify the theocratic threat and its consequences – and they paid with their lives. Sadly, there are few signs at the moment that any Western politicians, save a few Israelis, are worthy of their mantle or their sacrifice. Appeasement is not so much a hopeful strategy as it is a symptom of fear, a signal of weakness, and a harbinger of defeat.

All monocultures are destined to fail eventually. They all suffer from insurmountable internal contradictions. Healthy biological and political cultures require diversity, competition and pluralism to thrive. Unfortunately, the lessons of the last century seem to be forfeit by the first decade of this century.

In an age where any principle or weapon might be sold if the price is right, the cost of relearning the futility of utopian visions will be high. Islamic monoculture is sure to fail, but before it does, the jihad could wipe more than Israel “off the face of the earth.” Words like holocaust may be inadequate to describe the impending clash.



G. Murphy Donovan was the last Director of Research and Russian (nee Soviet) Studies at USAF Intelligence. He was also a former senior USAF research fellow at the RAND Corporation, Santa Monica. The author served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive (1968) and the invasion of Cambodia (1970). 



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