Islam: What Is To Be Done?

by G. Murphy Donovan (March 2016)

Mohammed’s Kaaba stone in art

moot in most nations with an Islamic majority. This is not to discount criminals, militants, extremists, terrorists, various Muslim small wars/insurgencies, or even “nefarious characters” and “lone wolves.” All of these euphemisms are symptoms; unfortunately, now also doing service as rhetorical burkas for metastasizing religious instability, a theopolitical movement of global dimensions. Call it Islamism, if a short hand is necessary.


Romancing the stone in modern Mecca

A few Muslim nations are “secular” in the same sense that the Democratic Republic of Congo is democratic or republican. National adjectives might be harmless for true republics, but for most of the contemporary Muslim world, the adjective “Islamic” is deadly serious. Just ask any resident minority, Jew, woman, apostate, or visible infidel. Tolerance is a national value for Islam only where Muslims are a voting minority.

Compassion in Islam is a one-way street too. While the West is awash in Muslim “refugees” and moral “obligations,” few migrants will find refuge in affluent Arabia or the affluent Muslim Far East. What the West calls humanitarian migration, Ummah imperialists probably see as missionary economy of force. Humanitarian values in the Ummah are a very selective and sometime thing.

If the non-Muslim world is to think of Islam as a morally equivalent ideology, then Muslims should reasonably be expected to behave at least as well as Anglicans. Islamic Immigration now serves three masters: religious proselyting, growing constituencies in social democracies, and terror cells when necessary. Votes and the dole are the most insidious 5th columns. The clear and present dangers of open borders cannot be obscured by humanitarian absurdities.

And with migration, the vector of empire is reversed. The irredentist now colonizes the advanced. Backwards is the new forward. The imperial Muslim refugee serves the ambitions of fascist and passive aggressive Islam alike. Demographic tsunamis augment the mythical “moderate Muslim majority” as well.   

Yuan Dynasty) proved to be the exception, Buddhist to this day.  

The modern Muslim Ummah is not so much a global political condominium as it is an aspiring religious monoculture. Feuding Shia and Sunni tribes might have varying claims to legitimacy, but goals, means, and ends are held in common. Cultural proselytizing, punctuated by blood and guts terror, now appears to be more effective than conventional variants of warfare. Sanguinary sedition is portable, cheap, and effective.

The grand leitmotif for future conflict is societal, a cage match between evolved democratic norms and a persistent strain of theocratic fascism. We say “persistent” because there is more than a little merit to the many arguments that suggest contemporary Islamism is merely the logical extension of Mohammed’s original crusade, an ambition never limited by time, geography, or Arab tribes.

The Modern Muslim theopolitical jihad, like its antecedents, is opportunist in origin and viral in effect.

The Pakistan Precedent

exporting terror cells and providing sanctuary for groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistan is host also to the first Islam bomb, a strategic land mine commonly ignored in global threat calculus. Nonetheless, the political janissary that passes for government in Islamabad often seems ripe for the picking, and like many Islamic states, a bullet away from theocracy. The religious terrorist is a snake that inevitably eats the host.

The Israel Miracle

operations since 1947 where Israel has, for the most part, prevailed. Indeed, Israel has done what the European crusades could not; rescued and defended the geographic cultural wellspring of Western civilization from Muslim iconoclasts, humiliating 360 million Arab Ishmaelites in the process.

Whither Israel, so goes the West.

Coup and Counter-coup in Persia

Ataturk Undone in Turkey

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) might be spinning in his grave today. Turkey, once a model of Ottoman and Islamic reformation, is undergoing a religious renaissance, a retreat to Muslim irredentism. The race backwards is attributable to two institutions and two personalities, one visible and the other a shadow government of sorts.

The visible institution is the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti), an autocratic Islamist political front led by Recip Tayyip Erdogan. The incumbent neo-Ottoman in Ankara is now notorious for double dealing, simultaneously a NATO “ally” and ISIS financier. Less well known is the associated Cemaat (community) or Hizmet (service) movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a very wealthy Turkish Sunni imam who resides in Pennsylvania (sic) and presides over a global network of businesses, secondary schools, and ideological synods.

Cradle of Civilization Chaos

Iraq and Syria are now the disaster twins of the Levant. Like Afghanistan and Libya, regime change campaigns gone awry. Indeed, Iraq and Syrian oil is now on a par with Afghan opium, commodities that finance Islamism and terror. The sectarian poles in Iraq were reversed by two American wars and now a good part of Saddam Hussein’s Army and the Sunni tribes have gone over to the dark side of Islam, to groups like ISIS, a new caliphate. Syria was to suffer a similar fate until Vladimir Putin stepped in and rescued Bashar Assad from an end similar to Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gadhafi, and Saddam Hussein. For the moment, regime change follies are on hold but the resultant chaos rages on. The best thing that might be said about Washington and Brussels foreign policy in the past fifty years is that it has facilitated the various local jihads and guaranteed the rise of ever more toxic terror phenomena like the Islamic State.

Countless lives and treasure were squandered in the sands of Iraq and Kuwait only to have America gift that same oil back to incontinent Arab tribes who now use oil revenues to finance jihad in the Levant and elsewhere. Blowback indeed!

The Arab Spring Charade

Generational cluelessness

The ISIS Tar Baby

What is to be done?

Surely, whatever passed for American foreign or military policy in the past three decades is not working. Just as clearly, in case anyone keeps score these days, the dark side of Islam is ascendant at home and abroad. What follows here is a catalogue of policy initiatives that might halt the spread of Islamic fascism and encourage religious reform in the Ummah.

Call a spade a spade

OIC problem to solve. Absent moral or civic conscience, unreformed Islam deserves no better consideration than any other criminal cult.

declared war on civilization. A modus vivendi might be negotiated only after the Ummah erects a universal barrier between church and state globally. Islam, as we know it, is incompatible with democracy, civility, peace, stability, and adult beverages.

Answer the Ayatollahs

Recent allied concessions to Tehran may prove to be a bridge too far. If the Persian priests do not abide by their nuclear commitments, two red lines might be drawn around Israel. Firstly, the Ayatollahs should be put on notice, publicly, that any attack against Israel would be considered an attack against America – and met with massive Yankee retaliation. Secondly, any future cooperation with NATO or America should be predicated on an immediate cessation of clerical hate speech and so-called fatwas, those arbitrary death sentences.

Persian political theater

Clerical threats to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth” and “death to America” injunctions are designed to stimulate jihad and terror globally. The only difference between a Shia ayatollah and a Sunni imam these days seems to be the torque in their head threads.

Ostracize the Puppeteers

Riyadh. The House of Saud, an absolutist tribal monarchy, does not have the moral standing to administer “holy” sites of any description – Mecca, Medina, or Disneyland.

expired when Edward Said vacated New York for paradise.

Jettison Turkey and Pakistan

black market oil racket. Pakistan supports the Taliban, al Qaeda, and ISIS with sanctuary and tolerance of the world’s largest opium garden. Oil and drug monies from Arabia, Turkey, and South Asia are financing the global jihad. Turkey also facilitates the migration of Muslims west to Europe while sending Islamist fighters and weapons south to Syria and Iraq.

With the advent of Erdogan and his Islamist AKP, Turkey has morphed into NATO’s Achilles Heel, potentially a fatal flaw. Turkey needs to be drummed out of NATO until secular comity returns to Ankara. Pakistan needs to be restrained too with sanctions until it ceases to provide refuge for terrorists. Pakistani troops harassing India could be more prudently redeployed to exterminate jihadists.

Recognize Kurdistan

Beyond Israel, Kurdistan might be the most enlightened culture in the Mideast. The Kurds are also the largest ethnic group in the world not recognized as a state. While largely Muslim, the Kurds, unlike most of the Ummah, appreciate the virtues of religious diversity and women’s rights. Indeed, Kurdish women fight alongside their men against Turkish chauvinism and Sunni misogyny with equal aplomb. For too long, the Kurds have been patronized by Brussels and Washington.

While Kurdish fighters engage ISIS and attempt to control the Turkish oil black market, Ankara uses American manufactured NATO F-16s to bomb Kurds in Turkey and Syria. Turkish ground forces now occupy parts of Iraq too. In eastern Turkey, Ergdogan’s NATO legions use ISIS as an excuse for bookend genocide, a cleansing of Kurds that might rival the Armenian Christian genocide (1915-1917).

Kurdish angel of death

All the while, American strategic amateurs argue for a “no-fly” zone in contested areas south of Turkey. Creating a no-fly zone is the kind of operational vacuity we have come to expect from American politicians and generals. Such a stratagem would foil Kurdish efforts to flank ISIS and allow the Erdogan jihad, arms, and oil rackets to flourish. A no-fly zone is a dangerous ploy designed to provoke Russia, not protect Muslim “moderates.”

Putin, Lavrov, and the Russians have it right this time, Turkish and Erdogan family subterfuges are lethal liabilities, not assets.

Create New Alliances

neo-Nazi cohorts in former Yugoslavia, Georgia, and Ukraine.

NATO support for the Muslims of one-time Yugoslavia is of a piece with support for Islamic trouble makers in Chechnya and China too. Throughout, we are led to believe that jihad Uighurs and caliphate Chechens are freedom fighters. Beslan, Boston, Paris, and now San Bernardino puts the lie to any notion that Islamists are “victims” – or heroes. Indeed, the Boston Marathon bombing might have been prevented had Washington a better relationship with Moscow.

Truth is, America has more in common with Russia and China these days than we do with any number of traditional European Quislings. Indeed, it seems that Europe and America can’t take yes for an answer.

The Cold War ideological or philosophical argument has been won. Moscow and Beijing have succumbed to market capitalism. Islamism, in stark contrast, is now a menace to Russian, Chinese, and American secular polities alike. The logic of a cooperative or unified approach to a common enemy seems self-evident. America, China, and Russia, at least on issues like toxic Islam, is a match made in Mecca.

The late great contest with Marxist Russia and China was indeed a revolution without guns. Now the parties to that epic Cold War struggle may have to join forces to suppress a theofascist movement that, like its Nazi predecessor, will not be defeated without guns. The West is at war again, albeit in slow motion. Withal, questions of war are not rhetorical. Saying that you are not at war does not make it so. Once declared, by one party or the other, the only relevant question about war is who wins and who loses. Losers do not make the future.

Trump Footnote

Presidential candidate Donald Trump made several policy suggestions on the Islamism issue, one on immigration, the other on Mideast oil. On the former, he suggests a hiatus on Muslim immigration until America develops a plan or reliable programs to vet migrants. On Arab oil, he suggests, given the lives and treasure spent liberating Kuwait and Iraqi oil fields, America should have held those resources in trust and used oil revenues to finance the war against jihad, however long that takes. The problem with both Trump ideas is that they come perilously close to common sense, an American instinct in short supply these days. 


G. Murphy Donovan usually writes about the politics of national security. This essay appeared in the February issue of the Small Wars Journal.

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