click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

How the West Could Lose

How the West Could Lose

Pacifism, self-hatred and complacency are lengthening the war against radical Islam and causing undue casualties.


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 the 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."

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.

This article originally appeared in the New York Sun.

December 30, 2006

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 7

(7) KALLA Aldino, January 3, 2007 9:00 AM

silencer invasion


I'm french and I constat that the islamic population in france is more than 6 millions of people.

All the politics formation can realise that their integration is impossible, because islam absorb the other religion and culture and is opposite to a coexistence with "others".

For us I think that for save our culture, our religion, our identity and our kadosh land, we only can by our strong faith (since 4000 years) and the mitsvoth.

If european and america accept the fact that islam will assimile, them, we, we have to continue to preserv our particularity against this danger.

So never never in our heart and in our souls we'll forget hachem and his Berakhot, without him we are nothing, with him nothing will arrive us.

Rabotaï; hachem emakhem.

Mr KALLA Aldino

(6) Miriam Null, January 1, 2007 7:46 AM

Pipes on Muslims

Interestng article that one could disagree with--

(5) Anonymous, January 1, 2007 12:33 AM

Worried about extremists, too!

I read this article with a frisson of both pride (that my deepest fears were NOT paranoia) and dread, that I might be right! The day I heard about yet ANOTHER Islamic "holy war" in Somalia, against Ethiopia, suddenly, the warnings I'd heard about fundamentalist Muslims overtaking the world, seemed quite real!

I was one of those people who urged restraint, dialogue and above all, NOT using massive military strikes on Muslim nations, since it just seems to give them more "reasons" (though that word has little to do with their motives!) to hate the West.

Now, it seems to me that, no matter WHAT the West does or says, the Muslim extremists want us DEAD! Above all, they want Israel gone; they make no bones about that! Look at their response to the withdrawal from the Sinai: more attacks!

And though I regard Ann Coulter as insane shil of the right-wing Neo-cons and "Christians", I DO agree with her that Islamic fundamentalism is beyond reason and can ONLY Be stopped by A) calling it what it is (blind hatred) and B) stopping it by whatever means necessary.
Unlike Coulter, I don't care a fig whether Muslims convert or not. I just want them to stop killing in the name of their so-called religion.

(4) Kristen Durboraw, December 31, 2006 4:18 PM

sometimes it takes blood

It's an unfortunate reality, but nevertheless a reality: If you have a tumor, it needs to be cut out, and blood will be shed, lest the tumor grow and take over and ultimately kill the host. This is what we're dealing with here. As a well-known spokesman for Israel has said, "Bring them to the Lord, or they'll bring you to the sword." That's one way, but if the enemy is at our gates with a sword, we need to send out our warriors with their weapons and our prayers.
"For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he disgraces the batallions of the Living God?" "HaShem who rescued me from the hand of the lion and from the hand of the bear, He will rescue me from this Philistine!" Gotta love David. May we all have the courage of David, and the commitment of the Macabbees, and the prayerfulness of Ester. Abba's blessing, and may He give us strength.

(3) Doug R, December 31, 2006 10:24 AM

Not as much about religion as one might think

Many times in history there have been those who seek power through religion. It seems to be the most effective way to convince the masses to follow your every command without question. This is the primary reason for brain washing arabs from age 5 up instead of providing them with an education. So-called "educated" folks falling for this rhetoric is nothing new. Self proclaimed intellects (lacking any form of common sense) have always fallen for communism, socialism, etc. As Daniel Pipe's self-hatred point proves, these times just promulgate the latest versions of their ignorance. I will never understand the fervent desire to fabricate reasons to bite the hand that feeds you.

The best way to see the difference between an effort to gain power and genuine belief in a cause is the willingness of the leadership to sacrifice or face danger along with the rank and file. This is completely absent among the leadership of radical islam. It's always some one else or their children making the ultimate sacrifice, never themselves or their own. Only when they're cornered do they fight and the sheer brain washing of their minions allows this to occur without question.

I am not convinced "moderate" islam is as pacifist as they would like us to believe. Their religion does not allow allegiance to a country. They have tremendous apathy towards a lack of freedom or civil rights as well as the actions of their radical counterparts. The few who speak out live under constant threat of death. Many live in fear of retaliation if they protest radical islam but this doesn't account for the vast majority going along with the status quo.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment