BBC can't see the Islam wood for the trees, as usual
My father always used to say “Fight fire with fire,” which is probably why he was thrown out of the fire brigade! ─ Harry Hill
Okay, so fighting fire with fire is not a universally applicable maxim. But in the fight against radical Islam and its latest form Islamic State (IS) it’s the only way to go.
Until 9/11 the West’s relations with the Islamic world could be summed up by the FDR quote about the Nicaraguan dictator that “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch”. We ignored the human rights abuses going on across the Islamic world and in return the dictators in power kept the oil flowing and the looney tunes on a short leash. In fact the only time an American president deviated from this pragmatic course was when Jimmy Carter disastrously failed to back the Shah of Iran. The consequences of which we’re still living with. In short the mullahs have been the world’s primary sponsor of terrorism ever since.
No policy works for ever though. Times change and new strategies are called for. The spectacular failure of the “son of a bitch” policy came on 9/11 when nineteen nationals of America’s closest Arab allies, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, murdered 3,000 civilians on US soil. It turned out that our pet dictators had kept their people’s resentment in check by directing frustrations outwards at Israel, America and the West in general. Now we were getting the blame for the sufferings of Muslims in repressive, stagnant societies with anything but stagnant demographics. The growth of Saudi Arabia’s population from less than 4 to 20 million between 1950 and 2000 was representative of the entire Muslim world. How much worse would the situation get as the population of the Muslim world doubled and doubled again?
This gave rise to the interventionist policy of the so called “neoconservatives”. America would bring hope and change to the Muslim world in the form democracy. Democracy would kick start economic growth and give those vast numbers of angry young men something else to think about than Allah. In short democracy would be used as the primary weapon to destroy America’s enemies.
Iraq seemed the perfect choice as the test bed for the idea. First and most conveniently it was already a visceral enemy which would simplify the task of persuading the American people of the need to invade it. Then after victory Iraq’s massive oil wealth would fund its own transition and very helpfully it already had a partly secular population thanks ironically to the efforts of Ba’ath party socialist, Saddam Hussein. And last but not least its central location meant it would quickly infect the entire region if it the experiment was a success.
It has to be said that the “Democratize them” policy has not quite achieved the results claimed for it. After the sacrifice of many thousands of coalition troops and a trillion plus dollar investment the Muslim world is more chaotic than ever. Democracy of a sort came to the Arab world in the form of the Iraqi elections and then the “Arab Spring” but sadly it turns out that when Muslims get the vote they seem inclined to go for the swivel-eyed koran-basher rather than the shifty-looking democrat in a suit. The last gasp of the policy was the British and French led effort in Libya to overthrow Gaddafi by allying themselves with the head-hackers. Curiously enough the resulting Islamist anarchy seemed to take British PM David Cameron by surprise. But what can you expect from a man who sees no connection whatsoever between Islamic State (IS) and Islam. Here’s a clue, Cameron: their name.
So what now?
Fight Islam (or Islamism if you prefer) with Islam.
We are living in interesting times. Islam is currently undergoing an historic transformation. Just like the Christian Reformation the devotees of Islam disgusted by the corruption of their faith are returning to the original sources, the koran and hadith (vast collections of tales about Mohammad). The difference is that whereas reforming Christians rediscovered Jesus’ message of self-denial, sacrifice and love, Muslims are rediscovering the Mohammad who ordered the murder of dozens of his critics and personally oversaw the beheading of around 600 Jews. Over the centuries Muslim countries had become relatively benign. They had learned to coexist with their infidel neighbours, mainly because of the economic and intellectual stagnation that always comes in the wake of Islam made them too weak to do anything else. Now the decline of the West has got the old jihadi juices flowing again. Al-Qaeda and IS are the result.
Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Oman and Syria have shown that western intervention just doesn’t work. As soon as we show up even the baseball cap wearing, hamburger munching, MTV watching fans of Britney start taking pot shots at us. So unless you are intent on the annihilation of whole Muslim populations intervention will never work. Incidentally, the Soviets came pretty close to taking the genocidal strategy in Afghanistan where they killed around 7% of the population in the 80s, but their defeat was even more disastrous than Nato’s has been.
That’s why we’ve got to let Muslims sort out their own problems. And if you take a look at those countries in the Muslim world that have had the closest recent acquaintance with Mohammad’s vision of the perfect society, you’ll see an interesting thing. They are the most western in real objective measures of development.
The best example is the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is the only country in the region to have a true mass democracy movement and the demonstrating crowds that took to the streets in 2009 comprised both men and women. It was one of the most disgusting betrayals of the ideals of American, when Obama sided with the mullahs against the young people who had begged him for support and their protests were subsequently crushed by mass torture, rape, and murder.
Also get this about the Islamic Republic. We hear so much about booming Muslim demographics that you may be surprised to learn that Iran now has a lower fertility rate than decadent Britain (1.85 children per woman against 1.9). There is no better indication of young Iranians’ rejection of their Islamic rulers than that. The reason that Iran alone in the Muslim world has a true democracy movement is that they’ve seen Islam in power and up close and personal for more than three decades. Thirty five years of endless sermons, repression, corruption and incompetence and they’ve had enough.
The best antidote to Islam is the imposition of Islam.
Because of its sheer murderous depravity IS should prove the truth of this even faster than the slightly less maniacal Iranian regime has. After the novelty of the beheadings, stonings and other mass murders wear off, the more peaceful variants of Islam will take on a whole new appeal and Muslims will fight back against the reformation. We can’t do it as has been abundantly demonstrated. They can. They have the wealth, the numbers, and the credibility to wipe IS off the face of the earth. The only thing they lack is the will to do their own dirty work. That’s where IS itself comes in. Let them run amok, the worse the better. And sooner or later their own co-religionists will have their fill of Islam in action and sort them out.
At the same time we have to make it abundantly clear to the Muslim world that IS and Al Qaeda are their problem. And also make it clear that it is their charitable duty to take in their Muslim brothers and sisters who are fleeing Islamist violence and not ours. We should only accept the many Christian victims of the genocides and pogroms under way across the Muslim world. We also have to run up the drawbridge as much as we can to minimize the murders of our own citizens. All immigration from the Muslim world must cease, all western Muslims who join terrorist groups must have their citizenship revoked. But lastly and most importantly we have to deploy the only weapon we usefully can against the Islamists: freedom of speech. We have to subject Islam to the same sort of rational criticism and mockery which has all but killed off the Christian faith in the West.
Fight Islam with Islam.