Losing the war of ideas - Caroline Glick
Speaking last month at the memorial service for the five US marines massacred at a recruiting office in Chattanooga, Tennessee, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said, “The meaning of their killing is yet unclear, and what combination of disturbed mind, violent extremism, and hateful ideology was at work, we don’t know.”
US Vice President Joe Biden claimed, the “perverse ideologues...may be able to inspire a single lone wolf, but they can never, never threaten who we are.”
Both men were wrong, and dangerously so.
The meaning of the killings was no mystery. Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez shot his victims down in cold blood because he was a jihadist.
The notion of jihad is fairly simple. It asserts that Islam is the only true religion. All other faiths are wrong and evil. It is the destiny of the one true faith to reign supreme. The duty of all Muslims is to facilitate Islam’s global rise and dominion.
How this duty is borne varies. Some take up arms. Some engage in indoctrination. Some engage in subversion. And some cheer from the sidelines, providing a fan base to encourage those more directly engaged. What is most important is the shared idea, the creed of jihad.
The jihadist creed is a creed of war. Consequently, its adherents cannot live peacefully with non-jihadists. By definition, those who subscribe to a jihadist world view constitute a threat to those who do not share their belief system.
Rather than contend with the idea of jihad, the West, led by the US, insists on limiting its focus to the outward manifestations of jihadist beliefs.
Physical bases of jihadists in places like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen are targeted to kill specific people – like Awlaki. But the ideas that inspire them to action are ignored or dismissed as irrelevant and interchangeable with other ideologies, like Zionism and fiscal conservatism.
Unlike the Americans, the jihadists understand the power of their idea. And they invest hundreds of millions of dollars to propagate it. MEMRI recently reported that Islamic State (IS) runs at least three production companies. They disseminate professional- quality videos daily. The videographers, composers and singers who produce these films are IS members, no different from its beheaders, sex traders and chemical weapons purveyors.
From Nigeria to Egypt to the Palestinian Authority to Pakistan, in Europe, the US and South America, jihadist armies and individual Muslims are embracing the idea of the caliphate – the ultimate aim of jihad – and pledging or weighing the option of pledging loyalty to IS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Last week the Pentagon’s Inspector General announced it is investigating reports that the Obama administration has required US intelligence agencies to minimize their reporting on the threat IS poses. Intelligence officers have allegedly been ordered to exaggerate the success of the US’s anemic campaign against its bases in Iraq and Syria while understating the threat IS constitutes.
Over the past year, jihadists published the home addresses of American soldiers and officers. On numerous occasions, what an FBI alert referred to as “Middle Eastern men” accosted the wives of US soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan outside of their homes.
Speaking to concerned soldiers last week, Carter again pretended away the problem. While insisting that protecting soldiers is “job one for all of us,” Carter insisted that the threat was limited to “a few troubled losers who are on the Internet too much.”
Australian Foreign Minister Julia Bishop warned in June that IS may already have sufficient nuclear material to produce a dirty bomb. As we have seen with IS’s wide-scale use of chemical weapons in Iraq, we must assume that its fighters will use all weapons at their disposal.
Had the West – led by the US – been willing to abandon the intellectual straitjacket of political correctness with which it has willingly shackled itself, IS may very well have been a marginal movement able to attract no more than “a few troubled losers who are on the Internet too much.”
Biden’s pledge that while “perverse ideologues may be able to inspire a single lone wolf they can never, never threaten who we are” might have been credible.
But because of our voluntary intellectual enslavement, we now face a real danger that IS and its demonic notions will take over Egypt. Because we seek to ignore the creed of jihad, Pakistan’s fast growing nuclear arsenal could very well become the property of the caliphate.
Ideas are the force that drives history. If we aren’t willing to fight for what we believe, then we will lose to those who are. And make no mistake, we are not winning this war.