Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The new al Qaeda?

This analysis suggests that al Qaeda is less an organization than a brand, mindset, or ideology. Thomas Friedman is singing from the same hymnbook, drawing this conclusion:

The double-decker buses of London and the subways of Paris, as well as the covered markets of Riyadh, Bali and Cairo, will never be secure as long as the Muslim village and elders do not take on, delegitimize, condemn and isolate the extremists in their midst.

Since I’m not a Hobbesian, I’m attracted to his "cultural" solution (which of course must be coupled with the most effective security measures possible, and continued vigorous prosecution of the GWOT). The question he doesn’t answer is how we "persuade" the Muslim leadership to condemn the jihadists.
Here is an account of the response offered by leaders of the British Muslim community, which is described in
this portrait.

Update: I was reminded of this smart piece, written last year.

Update #2: Powerline (naturally) has lots more, including this article about Islamist networks in the U.K., this one on radical Islamic preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri, who formerly led the Finsbury Park mosque that is widely regarded as the center of Islamicist radicalism in Great Britain, and these two columns by Christopher Hitchens, both of which are so full of choice nuggets that I dare not provide excerpts. But this quote from another article is worth highlighting:

We assume that Tony Blair has been with us on Iraq, and Britain has a robust counterterrorism strategy. But the British have a notoriously liberal perspective in interpreting laws on monitoring their radical Islamist elements," a terrorism expert, Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council, said yesterday.

Tom Cerber reminds me that the analyses published today have been around for awhile. Osama bin Laden is the Colonel Sanders of Islamic terrorism: even if he were killed or captured, his franchisees would continue doing their bloody business. Cerber notes the risk in a strategy aimed at eliminating the franchisees:

The danger to this newer strategy is that it would likely entail widening the net of operations, jeopardizing the other dimension of the fight against al-Qaeda: the propaganda war that it’s a war against extremism, not against Islam. Going after mid-level operatives is still a matter of going after extremists. However, by going after a larger group - and one further embedded in Muslim societies - one necessarily makes it more difficult to signal to the Islamic world that one is simply going after extremists.

Permit me this analogy: attacking bin Laden is like hunting sharks with harpoon guns. Hunting mid-level operatives is more like hunting smaller fish with nets. The danger with nets is that you also catch “innocent” fish like dolphin.

Update #3: Ken Masugi has more, including this from Daniel Pipes.

Last Update: Here’s a piece on the silence of the Imams since the London attacks. And another, asking "where is the Gandhi of Islam?" The best bit from the latter:

It is only when you start thinking about what we are not getting from leaders of British Muslims, and indeed Muslim religious leadership throughout the world, that you start to see how much needs doing. The moderates are not pressed hard for anything more than a general condemnation of the extremists.

When did you last hear criticisms of named extremist groups and organisations by Muslim leaders, or support for their expulsion, imprisonment or extradition? How often do you see fatwas issued against suicide bombers and other terrorists, or statements by learned men declaring that people who commit such deeds will go to hell?

When do Muslim leaders and congregations insist that a particular imam leave his mosque because of the poison that he disseminates every Friday? When did a British Muslim last go after a Muslim who advocates or practises violence with anything like the zeal with which so many went after Salman Rushdie?

Why is not more stigma attached to the Muslims who are murdering other Muslims every day in Iraq and the Middle East?

What communal protection is offered to those Muslims who really are brave and confront Islamist violence, or the poor treatment of women, or call for democracy in the Middle East? How much do mainstream political parties with Muslim councillors and candidates really insist on their religious moderation and co-opt them to extrude the bad people lurking within their communities?

I understand and accept that there are many moderates among British Muslims, but I want to know why Britain gets so pitifully little to show for their moderation.

Read the whole thing.

Discussions - 7 Comments

I disagree with most of these assessments. For a more insightful analysis, go outside the MSM to Victor Davis Hanson’s piece, here:

"Finally, Tom Cerber reminds me that the analyses published today have been around for awhile. Osama bin Laden is the Colonel Sanders of Islamic terrorism: even if he were killed or captured, his franchisees would continue doing their bloody business."

That’s cute. Hedge your bets. Bush hasn’t captured bin Laden, and it doesn’t look very promising that he will. Time to lower the importance and significance of that mission! You guys are always good for a laugh.

Mr. or Ms. Montgomery,

No one in his or her right mind thinks that the war on terror ends with the capture or death of Osama bin Laden. I will of course be pleased when he’s accounted for, but I’m not foolish enough to think that we will then be able to heave a sigh of relief and let our guard down.

Of course, if you think you have a better idea of what to do about Islamist terrorism, by all means favor me with it. I would like to be impressed by the seriousness and thoughtfulness of a liberal or leftist critic of the Bush Administration’s approach to combating terrorism, but have found mostly sloganeering, name-calling, and wishful thinking.

I’m down with that, Joe! These people and their sniping...not a new idea or a productive strategy since...damn, maybe never. Come on, Montgomery, how about it. How would YOU win against the terrorists?

I am down with what Joe has to say too... but mostly because it’s * ironic *.... this board does anything differently????????

Again, I notice sniping but no solutions, JC.

Islamic Reform and the Defeat of Islamic Fascism

If you believe that Islamic fascism is not the greatest threat that Western civilization faces today, then this essay will have very little meaning for you. If, on the other hand, you believe that the objective of Islamic fascism is to destroy Western civilization and this is indeed the greatest threat we face today, then the ideas presented below should interest you. Please read on and take heart because I believe we are winning the war on terrorism. Here’s why…

Is it possible for Islamic fascism to be defeated without a reformation within Islam that unequivocally denounces the murder of innocents in any name and, particularly, in the name of "jihad"? I do not believe that a mortal being can answer this question. How could we? But with or without an Islamic reformation, the war on terrorism must continue. There is little doubt however that a reformation within Islam redefining the limits of "jihad" and murder (i.e. when does jihad end and murder begin?) that is consistent with the values of moral and sane people would greatly benefit the war against Islamic fascism. How might this reformation come about? First we shall examine why such a reform has not already happened and then turn to how the reform might occur.

It is well known that there are many forms of Islam (for example, Shia, Sunni, Wahabi, etc…). Nevertheless, for our purposes here it is convenient to consider (a gross simplification) three major classifications of Moslems defined in terms of the degree of threat to Western civilization: (1) Reformists, (2) Moderates, and (3) Fanatics. The fanatics are the killers or, at least, directly support the killers. The reformists want to reform and are therefore not an immediate problem; they may become a problem later, but now they are not a problem. The moderates are a problem because they are complacent with the killing as long, anyways, as it is the infidels that are being killed (more on this shortly). The moderates comprise a vast majority of Moslems and that is why their complacency is indeed such a great problem or, alternatively, the greatest opportunity for us to possibly gain as an ally in the war. Yes I said ally!! How can we possibly expect the vast population of moderate Moslems to stand and fight with us in this war? I will try to outline how this may arise. First, however, we should examine why the moderates are so complacent toward the fanatical elements within the their religion.

Though many moderate Moslems may denounce some forms of violence perpetrated against innocents, these moderates are nevertheless implicit in the acts of violence through their complacency because their "lip service" is just that, simply useless. An explanation for moderate complacency can be found by examining what it means to be a "good" Moslem. A "good" Moslem submits to the will of God. The will of God, however, is known only in hindsight or ex-post. This is a very important fact. One cannot beforehand know the will of God. The will of God can only be revealed. Moreover, believing that you do in fact know the will of God would be committing a pretentious sin. Now, consider the fanatic on a self-proclaimed jihad. If the fanatic is victorious (however vaguely defined), then that victory by definition must be the will of God because, simply, all things are the will of God. If God grants the fanatics their jihad victory, then these jihadis must be the ex-post "true defenders of the faith" and, just as importantly, the "true believers". Now, how can a "good" Moslem defy the jihadis when their jihad could be victorious? Such defiance would be against the will of God if the jihadis were ultimately victorious. Of course, again, the will of God is known only ex-post. Thus, a "good" Moslem can only defy the jihadis that are ex-post unsuccessful since only then can a "good" Moslem be absolutely certain that they are not defying a potential "true believer". Otherwise the Moslem that is trying to be "good" may turn out to be "bad". This line of reasoning may explain why Islamic fighters appear to change their alliances so freely during battles without any apparent "loss of honor"; in order to not defy the will of God, one must fight on the "winning" side.

What events might change the complacency of moderate Moslems toward Islamic fanatics advancing fascism? What if the fanatics began killing moderate Moslems? In this case, the jihadis are imposing their pretentious "version" of God’s will on the moderates and, in the extreme, executing any Moslem moderates that may disagree. Either the moderates accept the demands of the fanatics or the moderates reject their demands. With rejection, the general complacency of the moderates toward the fanatics’ jihad must end and the limits of jihad are consequently redefined (by the moderates). Consider what is happening now in Iraq; the fanatics are killing other Moslems with direct attacks or indirectly as collateral damage with attacks against our coalition. Note that several months ago the fanatics were very careful not to harm other Moslems; remember the U.S. soldier that was captured several months ago and then released because he was a Moslem; if that were to happen today, would it be "off with their heads’ American-Moslem non-true believers? The fact that the fanatics are now killing everyone (including fellow Moslems) is a show of desperation on their part. We can be optimistic about the war because the moderate-Moslems’ complacency is beginning to end. As the moderate-Moslems’ complacency ends, so a reform within Islam begins.

One final thought: Could it be possible that the Pentagon planners thought the possibility of Islamic reform was a major rationale for going to war in Iraq? Certainly the spread of democracy and freedom are worthy goals befitting America and, as our President has said, will eliminate the base from which Islamic fanaticism arises. Democracy and freedom represent reform within the political economies of the Middle East and just might be synonymous with meaningful reform within Islam. With the possibility of real Islamic reform, the endeavor to spread democracy and freedom becomes much more attractive.

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