How the West Could Lose

After defeating fascists and communists, can the West now defeat the Islamists?

On the face of it, its military preponderance makes victory seem inevitable. Even if Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon, Islamists have nothing like the military machine the Axis deployed in World War II, nor the Soviet Union during the cold war. What do the Islamists have to compare with the Wehrmacht or the Red Army? The SS or Spetznaz? The Gestapo or the KGB? Or, for that matter, to Auschwitz or the gulag?

Yet, more than a few analysts, including myself, worry that it’s not so simple. Islamists (defined as persons who demand to live by *he sacred law of Islam, the Sharia) might in fact do better than the earlier totalitarians. They could even win. That’s because, however strong the Western hardware, its software contains some potentially fatal bugs. Three of them – pacifism, self-hatred, complacency – deserve attention.

Pacifism: Among the educated, the conviction has widely taken hold that “there is no military solution” to current problems, a mantra applied in every Middle East problem – Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, the Kurds, terrorism, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. But this pragmatic pacifism overlooks the fact that modern history abounds with military solutions. What were the defeats of the Axis, the United States in Vietnam, or the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, if not military solutions?

Self-hatred: Significant elements in several Western countries – especially the United States, Great Britain, and Israel – believe their own governments to be repositories of evil, and see terrorism as just punishment for past sins. This “we have met the enemy and he is us” attitude replaces an effective response with appeasement, including a readiness to give up traditions and achievements. Osama bin Laden celebrates by name such leftists as Robert Fisk and William Blum. Self-hating Westerners have an out-sized importance due to their prominent role as shapers of opinion in universities, the media, religious institutions, and the arts. They serve as the Islamists’ auxiliary mujahideen.

Complacency: The absence of an impressive Islamist military machine imbues many Westerners, especially on the left, with a feeling of disdain. Whereas conventional war – with its men in uniform, its ships, tanks, and planes, and its bloody battles for land and resources – is simple to comprehend, the asymmetric war with radical Islam is elusive. Box cutters and suicide belts make it difficult to perceive this enemy as a worthy opponent. With John Kerry, too many dismiss terrorism as a mere “nuisance.”

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Islamists deploy formidable capabilities, however, that go far beyond small-scale terrorism:

* A potential access to weapons of mass destruction that could devastate Western life.
* A religious appeal that provides deeper resonance and greater staying power than the artificial ideologies of fascism or communism.
* An impressively conceptualized, funded, and organized institutional machinery that successfully builds credibility, goodwill, and electoral success.
* An ideology capable of appealing to Muslims of every size and shape, from Lumpenproletariat to privileged, from illiterates to Ph.D.s, from the well-adjusted to psychopaths, from Yemenis to Canadians. The movement almost defies sociological definition.
* A non-violent approach – what I call “lawful Islamism” – that pursues Islamification through educational, political, and religious means, without recourse to illegality or terrorism. Lawful Islamism is proving successful in Muslim-majority countries like Algeria and Muslim-minority ones like the United Kingdom.
* A huge number of committed cadres. If Islamists constitute 10% to 15% of the Muslim population worldwide, they number some 125 to 200 million persons, or a far greater total than all the fascists and communists, combined, who ever lived.

Pacifism, self-hatred and complacency are lengthening the war against radical Islam and causing undue casualties. Only after absorbing catastrophic human and property losses will left-leaning Westerners likely overcome this triple affliction and confront the true scope of the threat. The civilized world will likely then prevail, but belatedly and at a higher cost than need have been.

Should Islamists get smart and avoid mass destruction, but instead stick to the lawful, political, non-violent route, and should their movement remain vital, it is difficult to see what will stop them.

Mr. Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers). This column will be on hiatus for the next 15 weeks, until mid-April, while Mr. Pipes teaches at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.

All materials written by Daniel Pipes on this site ©1980-2006 Daniel Pipes.

TAIWAN: US writer questions legality of China’s claim to Taiwan

A commentary on the Foreign Policy in Focus Web site by US-based journalist Ian Williams says that “China’s arguments against Taiwanese self-determination are not particularly legal or ethical.”

Questioning Beijing’s arguments of China having a billion people and a huge economy, Williams said that the fact that China has more than 900 missiles pointing at Taiwan was indicative of the weakness of Beijing’s arguments.

“In the modern world, few governments can pledge with a straight face to `liberate’ an island full of people it pretends are compatriots by blowing them off the map,” he added.

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The Kremlin’s oil grab

Big oil has a long history of having assets appropriated by hostile governments. Yet no one has been quite prepared for the land grab by Gazprom of a 50% stake in the Sakhalin-2 project.

This will come as a nasty blow to all overseas investors in President Putin’s Russia and emphasises the vulnerability of European energy supplies to the whims of the Kremlin.

The way in which the Russian authorities slowly tightened the noose on Shell can be seen as carefully orchestrated blackmail.

It will send shivers down the spine of BP investors who are heavily exposed to Russia through the TNKBP joint venture.

Hamas threatens attacks on U.S.

TEL AVIV – Members of Hamas are debating whether to carry out attacks against the United States and may hit American targets if the U.S. continues to support Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ call for new elections, Hamas leaders told WND in a series of interviews.

“There is no doubt that Abu Mazen (Abbas) was encouraged to decide early elections after receiving American promises to support him politically and military,” Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas’ Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, the group’s declared “resistance” department, told WND.

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South Korean President Sparks Controversy as Nuclear Talks Near an End

While negotiators from China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States were struggling to produce progress in North Korean nuclear talks, South Korean President Roh was assigning blame for the talks’ delays.

In a speech to advisors Thursday, Mr. Roh suggested that the U.S. State Department and Treasury Department could be seen as having “played a game” with North Korea in September of 2005.

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Motherless Russia – Muslims and Chinese Vie For Huge Assets of Dying Nation

Some think that France will be the first European country in modern times to be taken over by Muslims due to her very large, violent immigrant population and effeminate native populace. Others point to the Netherlands, from which native Dutch people are beginning to flee in the face of hostile Islamism among the immigrants in that densely-populated nation. But Russia–a huge nation with vast natural resources, thousands of nuclear warheads, and until recently a global superpower—-may be the first to go under. This seems possible even though Russia suffers little from the suicidal tolerance and multiculturalism that afflicts Western Europeans.

All the would-be conquerors, tyrannical tsars, and sinister Communists could not destroy Russia. Yet there is a force more powerful than all these, a force which can overcome comparatively minor factors such as wealth, size, and military power, and that is demographics. And it is demographics that will deliver Russia into the hands of chaos, Islam, China, or most likely a combination of all three.

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Ahmadinejad: Iran now nuclear power

Iranian president: Our scienists have reached zenith, accessed nuclear fuel cycle.

Iran is now a “nuclear power,” its President, Mahmoud Ahamdinejad, delcared Wednesday, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

During a speech delivered in the Western Iranian province of Javanroud, Ahmadinejad said: ” The Islamic Republic of Iran is now a nuclear power, thanks to the hard work of the Iranian people and authorities.”

The announcement of Iran as a “nuclear power” is bound to significantly escalate tensions between the West and Iran, and marks a dramatic stage in the Islamic Republic’s nuclear campaign.

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