The ideology of radical jihadist Islam must be defeated just like the ideologies of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan
The Prussian general von Clausewitz famously quipped that war was the continuation of diplomacy by other means and in most cases he was right. But not all. When the enemy is driven not solely by lust for power, territorial possessions, or riches, but by an expansionist, eschatological, and totalitarian ideology, the war against him is different. This is not a war that happens when diplomacy fails, it is not a war the outcome of which is the redistributing of the regional or global resources, it is a war of self-defense against an adversary who is not interested in your possessions or your lands; he is interested only in your conversion, enslavement, or death. Such a war has different rules of engagement because through its outcome one side suffers annihilation rather than setback, because in it there is no “living to fight another day”.
One of the most common and most demonstrably erroneous “truisms” of the newly decadent and defeatist West is the one that states that ideologies cannot be defeated. Tellingly, it is most often repeated by NATO and American military brass; feckless generals who grew fat on unlimited budgets and decades behind desks, never more than fifteen-minute chauffeur-driven ride from a five-star restaurant in a major city. This bit of nonsense whose only purpose is to excuse inaction in the face of radical Islam and justify the defeatist advice they give to politicians would never have occurred to their illustrious predecessors the likes of Patton and Eisenhower and MacArthur, mostly because they have indeed defeated not one but two such ideologies.
Expansionist totalitarianism is identified by an ideology that seeks to enforce itself not only on its homeland, but also on its entire region and even the entire globe. These ideologies justify such an expansionist approach by religious or ethnic superiority, by manifest destiny, and by the entitlement to payback for past wrongs, real or perceived. In the 1930s this attitude was manifested by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, both countries that perceived their ethnic groups to be vastly superior to any others found in their regions and thus entitled by natural law to become the regional hegemons. Both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan made up from whole cloth fictitious and historically unsupported narratives of divine origins and myth-shrouded ancestors who were destined to rule, but were cheated out of their lawful patrimony by nefarious outsiders. Both countries then used these myths to generate mass propaganda that whipped up in their own populace the fervor for total war against their perceived oppressors, namely the Anglo-Saxon West.
In the name of these expansionist and eschatological ideologies regular Germans and Japanese, people who until recently were decent enough farmers and factory workers and school teachers, committed unspeakable atrocities and war crimes, making it necessary for America to defeat them utterly. To vanquish them not only militarily, but ideologically; to reboot their entire operating system. And America did just that. It did it through enormous sacrifice, through perseverance, and without making excuses for inaction. In doing so it created a true and proven recipe for defeating ideologies, for doing precisely what American military now claims can never be done.
The recipe is not an easy one. It requires an old-fashioned occupation of enemy territory; not for months, not for years, but for decades and sometimes even “indefinitely”. The occupation, at least for the first few years must be total. The occupying power must have complete hegemony over every facet of the enemy’s life, from license plate renewal to the administration of civil law. The occupation, though, is only a means to an end, the end of once and for all destroying, discrediting, and uprooting the ideology that gave rise to the conflict in the first place. In Germany and in Japan the US did just that. It forced its defeated and occupied enemies to publicly and literally denounce the symbols that only a few months earlier they were willing to die for. All symbols of the Nazi movement were and still are outlawed in Germany. In Japan, for the first time in a millennium, the emperor had to denounce his own divinity in his own voice on the radio and through a series of public appearances, utterly unprecedented, that he had made during a railway tour of Japan organized by the occupation high command. In both countries, a new political system was imposed from above by the victors, with little consideration given to the desires or concerns of the vanquished. It worked. Today, both Germany and Japan are American allies, fully integrated into the community of nations.
Alas, the world is once again faced with an expansionist, eschatological, totalitarian ideology hell-bent on world conquest. This 21st century ideology has all the classic hallmarks of its 20th century predecessors, from past grievances to the desire to relive its glory days through violent means. Like in the 1930s, the West is refusing to properly identify this ideology, to take it seriously, to believe its spokesmen when they set out, in great detail, their goal of world domination. Going much further on the path of appeasement than it had ever done before, the West is not only refusing to fight this ideology and its adherents, it invites them with open arms to settle in its own territories and take up positions in its military and civilian institutions and in the highest echelons of its elected governments. Like the serpent sent by the gods to shut down the truth-telling by Laocoon and his sons about the recklessness of bringing the wooden horse in through the gates of Troy, Western governments sanction, deplatform, and even imprison those who dare speak the truth about the bane of our times – radical, jihadist Islam.
The truth is that there are always excuses and there always will be. There is never enough money and every soldier is someone’s son. There are always better things to do than fight to the death those who wish to enslave us. A new war is hard to contemplate when the last one has barely faded in the rear view mirror. And yet this is the one thing that separates leaders from followers, global powers from client states; the former make sacrifices, the latter make excuses.