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.
I always enjoy your commentary, even when i do not totally agree with you (normally do).
o Raised in a US military family. My father’s career as an Air Force officer & fighter pilot started in WW2. He flew combat missions over Germany & North Vietnam. He is proud of his service in WW2, but per Vietnam he does not share much.
o My home life was good. i never understood aspects of nuclear deterrence vs the Soviet Union until much later. Practice alerts for attacks were regular on military bases. For some reason, it never struck me as a real threat until the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Later, information showed nuclear war was close. Where i lived, there was much resupply transport, even El Al airliners landing for resupply.
o My dad was also part of a US military delegation that traveled to Israel after the ’67 War, to learn more from Israel. He was also part of a team that set the specs for the F-15, F-16 & A-10. Israel’s experience using 30 mm cannon on tanks was a big part of the A-10 specs.
o My father has repeated what the Israeli military stated in 1967 (paraphrase): “If you are surrounded by enemies on 3 sides and your back to the sea, you cannot screw around. He viewed the Israeli military with respect per standing for their goals.
o I am a retired chemical engineer. Part of my recent feeble outlook is Natural Selection occurs within a gene pool. Macro Evolution (distinct species can transform their genetic structure outside of the gene pool). That requires much more than natural selection, including chemical genetic pathways to the next more evolve species. Virtually no one has a good explanation for how life just happened even within the most favorable “chemical soup” in billions or even trillions of years.
1. I am 100% behind Israel’s right to exist and thrive as a Nation!
2. Your comparisons between WW2 Germany/Japan, imho, and today per radical Islam are not the best. WW2 era Germany and Japan were bombed & fought into submission and were literally at the point of starvation. My guess is that many likely died in Germany/Japan waiting for the establishment of ports and supply chains.
3. Precision bombing in Afghanistan & Iraq never produced that level of overall suffering for the populace to even question their beliefs. The only foreign World power that temporarily ruled the general Afghan region and subdued it, were the Mongols. The Mongols in specific instance slaughtered more than 50% of the people and effectively controlled them for awhile.
4. Both of our Nations (USA & Israel) founding should remind us of the limits of governmental control over anyone that does not want to submit.
5. My concern has also been about Iran for awhile, where their own Government believes & supports a Muslim end times view. Again, they believe that they can force a Supreme God’s hand for the future. Their faith supports a belief that even if 10’s of millions die in their own Nation, this war will force the “Mahdi” & deliver all of them into a “Muslim paradise”. Iran’s government are true believers into their own end times viewpoint, regardless of the cost.
Per part of the title of your commentary includes the term “Eschatological” with emphasis under totalitarian regimes.
o I am a Jesus follower (frequently fail), but i also have Eschatological beliefs. I see pictures of what is to come per the OT & NT, and the Jews (God’s chosen people) are still on center stage as part of what I perceive to be an Almighty God’s frequently undecipherable plan for humanity. I doubt that i have even a smidgen of Jewish blood in me. That is not why i am posting this. There has been a concerted persecution effort over the thousands of years, and the Jews still survive and thrive today.
o Just because i believe that our God has a future plan (eschatology) does Not mean that I can nor should attempt to force our God’s prophecy. Believing that i can force our God’s hand per my effort per my eschatological viewpoint is pure human arrogance!
Thank you for your very thoughtful commentary. Eschatology in and of itself, as you say, is not problematic. It can inspire us to be better human beings so we merit the coming (for us) or the second coming (for you) of the Messiah. However, actions that are public rather than personal in that regard are forbidden in Judaism. Forcing God’s hand is never a good idea. Interestingly, this is the reason that many religious Jews have never accepted Zionism.