Monday, March 21, 2011

Bin Laden is Winning

Osama Bin Laden's 1996 fatwa against America was the first domino in a chain of events that was meant to accomplish three goals.

1) Unify Muslims in a war against Western civilization

2) Topple the governments of the Muslim world, and replace them with fully Islamist regimes.

3) Build a regional and then global Muslim Caliphate

Phase 2 is now well under way. And America and European warplanes are bombing Libya to help clear the way for it. Just as we already did in Yugoslavia and Iraq. It is unknown whether Bin Laden is still alive or not, but his goals are being met. Muslims now see the defeat of Western civilization as an important and an achievable goal. Our democracy and nation building efforts have toppled much of the old order, and those best positioned to benefit from it are the Islamists.

The East underestimated the sheer amount of firepower that the West had at its disposal, but the West once again underestimated how well the East could use its strength against it, corrupt its purposes and make it serve its goals instead.

As the physically weaker civilization, the East adapts better than the West does. The byzantine cleverness of its plotting often dead ends in self-delusion, it has a weakness for conspiracy theories and its organizations and structures are rotted through at every level-- but it also adjusts itself to a situation. While the West dusts off its old set of tactics and principles, striving to apply them to every situation.

When Al Qaeda first attacked us, we treated it as a criminal problem. But when their attacks escalated and killed thousands of Americans, we treated it as a war. The flexibility problem was obvious. We could only categorize the threat either as a police problem or as a war, nothing in between.

The United States had only a limited tradition of domestic political terrorism. And has no idea how to deal with external political terrorism aimed at taking over the country. Communism was badly fumbled for the same reason, it was not conventional crime or warfare. And even though it was a real menace, the authorities could not address it, because they could not categorize it. Islam represents the same problem.

After centuries of intermittent conflict, and two decades of rising terror, we are still unable to meaningfully classify the enemy, define who he is and what his numbers are. Our tradition of protecting political dissent and religious freedom causes us to divide those who directly commit the violence, from those who indirectly commit the violence. But that is an artificial distinction that the enemy does not make. Terrorist organizations have political and military arms only as an operational distinction. Both are part of the same cause and committed to the same goal.

For all its hostility to progress, Muslims have quickly found forms and structures that can function in the West. And move toward conquering it. Structures that are ideologically camouflaged within the protected zones of Western beliefs so that they cannot be touched. The West has been able to do nothing of the kind. Even when it has brought its armies into Muslim lands, they have been swiftly leveraged by the locals to support existing factions. Rather than imposing our standards and our values on them, we have become unpaid mercenaries in their wars.

We tried to export our political systems with the force of arms, except we assumed that our political system was the natural baseline of all societies once the tyrants are removed from the equation. We still assume that right now. And so rather than imposing our systems, we instead strive to identify the Tojos, Hitlers and Mussolinis, sweeping them away and expecting a better world to form in their absence. We assume that the laws we live by are universal, but while they might be ideal, they are not culturally universal.

Western structure is strengthening but inflexible. It makes for better institutions, but limited freedom of action. Eastern lack of structure makes for immediate flexibility. A shape that can be poured into any container while retaining its essential nature. Exporting Western structures to the East is meaningless unless they change the nature of the region. And it is easy to pour Muslim immigrants into Western containers without actually changing their basic attitudes.

In the East, action, rhetoric and principle are all completely disconnected from one another. They may meet when convenient, but that is all. What a ruler says has no connection to what he does and only a passing acquaintance with his principles. There is a liquid flexibility in that which even the most corrupt Western politicians cannot match. Whereas a Western politician suborns a system of laws, for the Eastern politician laws are cards in a deck. The structures of government are unreal, cardboard sets for a play. When Western politicians think they are outmaneuvering their Eastern counterparts, they are not even in the same game. They are putting chess pieces on a dominoes board and claiming victory, when they don't even understand the rules of the game. Let alone how to win it.

What did we do wrong? For one we have never stopped refighting World War 2. Treating Korea and Vietnam as if they were parts of Europe was bad enough, but throwing the Marshall Plan at the Muslim world is completely unforgivable. After WW2 we could at least rely on being able to roll back Germany, Italy and Japan to their pre-Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo states. But what in the world did we think we were rolling Iraq or Afghanistan back to? The stone age. The Abbasid Caliphate?

Had we set out to smash the armed forces and industrial bases of the Axis of Evil, we would have been done long ago with a fraction of the casualties. Not only would we have dealt terrorist supporting regimes a major setback, but we would have limited our exposure to their culture and denied them the time necessary to form a working insurgency. Instead we assumed that reforming and rebuilding Iraq would turn it into a model of democracy for the region. And unsurprisingly, the surviving members of the Axis of Evil, made sure to amp up the terrorism, turning the nation building project into an occupation and finally a long series of compromises leading to a withdrawal.

But the falling dominoes didn't end there. We took Saddam out of play, but left Iran in the game. And Iran used its new freedom of action to gain regional influence and power. Then in a final topper, a new administration championed democracy in the Muslim world, which isolated Western allied regimes, and allowed the Islamists in an alliance with Iran to topple even Cairo. And that's how we reached Phase 2.

This is what Bin Laden wanted back in 1996. He may never replace the Saudi royals, but if he's alive, then he's closer to it than ever. And it's our work that got him there.

We applied Western standards to non-Western states without realizing that the outcomes would be completely different than what we expected. Countless analysts are still applying the 1848 model to Arab regimes right now. The realization has still not dawned on them that the Middle East is not Europe and that their values are not universal, so instead of experiencing events, they are romanticizing them by marrying them with their own historical myths.

By pushing us, Bin Laden set a chain of events in motion. No one could have predicted the exact trajectory of them, but in the general sense, he sought to move the Muslim world toward an armed Jihad against the West with the aim of overthrowing Middle East governments and building a caliphate over their bones. He could not have foreseen how much of his work we would do for him, though after we bombed Yugoslavia to create a KLA terrorist state, perhaps he did. It makes no difference.

Bin Laden's overall goal was to shift the conflict from the soft demographic and cultural invasions, to a violent campaign. A conflict that would bring the West into direct collision with Muslims and their governments. This conflict has accelerated Western resistance and subjugation, as it has accelerated Muslim violence and conquest. Today there is much wider Western and Muslim awareness of the Clash of Civilizations. Muslims are no longer content with a long term demographic and cultural victory-- they want short term conquest as well. And Westerners who have previously been voiceless in the face of the Islamization of Europe and America, have found their voice in response to 9/11 and 7/7.

Now as the conflict heads into the second phase, a new dimension will be added to it. The rise of a Caliphate will swamp any nonsense about a tiny minority of extremists. Westerners and Muslims both will be forced to confront the reality of Islam. And forced to make a choice.


JLee said...

And I wholeheartedly believe this apocalyptic event will happens sooner than we expect, just looks at the muslim worlds. how ready the they are to accept the coming of the anti-Christ messiah of theirs!

Charmaine said...

If Osama is still alive, do you suspect he will want to rule as Caliph? Or what kind of qualities will the Muslim world be looking for in a Caliph? I find it disconcerting that many non-Muslims around the world know what time it is so to speak, but our governments don't seem to have a clue unless the desire for the continual availiability of Middle Eastern oil has caused them to be willfully blind.

HermitLion said...

It is immensely frustrating to see how the west is being led by the nose for so long. We're not talking about a single, isolated deception, but a scam that's been going on for years upon years.
easterners are rightfully laughing on the mental simplicity of western diplomats, generals, bureaucrats, and politicians.

Perhaps, then, we need leaders that understand the eastern mentality correctly, without all the romanticized fairy tales; or for the very least leaders who listen to advisors that understand it.

dee said...

Well put as usual, Daniel.

As to the choice you close with, it is easy: continue on the path of least resistance whilst pretending we're in control, and to hell with the consequences.

As I've said many times, future generations will scratch their heads in disbelief that the most advanced civilisation of all time was no match for a backward, dustbowl ideology.


This is an extraordinary article that gets at the heart of our problem.

If I'm not mistaken, we imposed our values more on Japan after WWII than we did in Iraq after our war there. We insisted that Shinto be separated from the state and we would only allow institutions that adhered to this principle. We didn't do that in Iraq and so we did not establish the principle that is at the base of all our Muslim problems, namely that Islam is a system of governance (Sharia law) in competition with the principles of liberty. In Japan, people were free to have their religion, they just weren't free to have the state impose it and incriminate people based on its values. The laws had to follow from the principles necessary for people to thrive, not Shinto to thrive.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

charmaine, I'm sure he would want to, whether there would be any room for him is a whole matter. I don't think an actual caliphate would work, because Muslims fight among each other as much as they fight us.

hermitlion, there's rather few of those, most diplomats who have experience in the middle east either romanticize the place or have become tools of the saudis

dee, they would except it's happened before

flamekeeper, ah but since then we've rejected any notion of stigmatizing religion, particularly islam

Edward Cline said...

Another five-star analysis of West vs. East and the new “Great Game.” I do not think that, with few exceptions, the current crop of American politicians wishes to make a choice, compelled to or not. They’re all so vested in the multiculturalist line that making a choice between acknowledging Islam as a peril that must be gutted, and giving its adherents a free pass in the name of “religious freedom” (as though any of our elective oligarchical class even know what that term means, with or without the qualifier “religious”) would precipitate brain-freeze. That is, here we have an Alinsky-ite president who campaigned and presumably won the White House posing as the premier alternative to George Bush, behaving like George Bush. I don’t know of another president who willy-nilly declared war on another country and then went on vacation in Brazil. Is this an instance of Obama’s gaucheness, or was it premeditated? Does he know something about the Libyan “rebels” we don’t? That they’re aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood? With Iran? His overtures towards the Brotherhood indicate that he favors a regime worse than Gaddafi’s, and ignores the dissent within Iran. And, as you point out, we’re helping to establish another regime utterly hostile to the West and in particular to the U.S. And Obama’s supporters and defenders remain relatively mum. The liberal-left stained-glass window is beginning to splinter for all to see. And what are our dumbed-down Republicans doing? Scratching their heads, waiting for someone else to say what needs to be said.

One reservation I have is the use of the term “democracy.” Democracy is mob rule. You could see it in action in Wisconsin, where, fortunately, it failed (although a liberal judge put Walker’s victory on hold). Democracy in no way guarantees individual rights, justice, and the like. Imposing democracy on millions of people still crippled by a medievalist mentality will not automatically turn them into champions of freedom. If they’re Muslim, they will simply vote the party line, just as UAW members will vote the party line if they know what’s good for them. Democracy is not a good thing. Limited government that protects individual rights, is. And since when do Muslims here or abroad know anything about individual rights – except that it’s a political philosophy they’re opposed to, because it stresses the sovereignty of the individual, and not of the tribe or the hive?

Steve said...

As usual very insightful article. Your main points are so simple and obvious, yet will go over the heads of our leaders, who will continue to take us on this path of self inflicted destruction.

John K said...

I just don't know where you get your inspiration. I've been an on-and-off military historian and analyst for quite some time, but the insights you have brought up in this article have never occurred to me.

I also just saw this important short video over at Atlas Shrugs that really sums up the entire situation very nicely in harmony with your article:


The Muslim Brotherhood exposed by secret cables leaked to Wikileaks. Remember, Obama supports these Iran-backed extremist agitators in countries across the Middle East and Africa. Their goal is world domination.

Edward Cline said...

Echoing John K above, I know where the inspiration comes from, but as for the time to compose so many well-written and spot-on commentaries, Daniel must enter some sort of time warp to write them and then reemerges into real time to post them. I hope he's contemplating collecting his best in a book.

Keli Ata said...

It probably sounds paranoid but I do believe World War III has already begun. Muslims tell us outright that this is a religious war and somehow we fail to believe them. World War III formerly known as the war on terrorism.

Eric-Odessit said...

You are of course correct in your analysis, in my opinion. However, what do you as a solution? Should we ban immigration of Muslims to the West? Should we ban Islam as a destructive ideology? Should we look for people like Dr. Jasser and encourage them to create their own version of Islam that is stripped of politics in it, and hope that it might get widely accepted? As much as I agree with your analysis, I find it very depressing. I am trying to come up with my own ideas for answers (not that anybody would listen), and I can't. As an engineer, I always look for solutions, but I can't even guess one here. And that is what's depressing.
P.S. There seems to be a problem with OpenID: for some reason my Wordpress does not work. I'll use my Google account.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

it's essentially a problem in crisis management

first you identify the problem,

then limit its growth as much as possible, in this case ending immigration is a major priority

then crack down on symptoms by pushing back against anything associated with violent and non-violent forms of islamic imperialism

something like alternative modernized versions of Islam can't hurt, though the impact will be limited-- when combined with larger social penalties though may begin to add up

Anonymous said...

An excellent commentary! As Edward and John wrote, I too am constantly amazed how you maintain a high level of work on such a consistent basis.

We appreciate the ideas you bring to us. Thanks for all your effort.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

and I appreciate that people read it and share it, that's what makes it worthwhile

Debbie said...

You are probably right, it's scary and sad at the same time. The more I learn about the Middle East, Islam, and the true motives of our enemies, the more confused I get about hos the United States is acting.

Right Truth

Dedicated_Dad said...

"flamekeeper, ah but since then we've rejected any notion of stigmatizing religion [EXCEPT "WESTERN-CHRISTIANITY, while] islam [IS] particularly [OFF-LIMITS.]


Anonymous said...

here is my answer to Islam for the US anyway, posted way back in Feb 2007 -

"Article III

Immediately upon passage of this Amendment all Mosques, schools and Muslim places of worship and religious training are to be closed, converted to other uses, or destroyed. Proceeds from sales of such properties may be distributed to congregations of said places but full disclosure of all proceeds shall be made to an appropriate agency as determined by Congress. No compensation is to be offered by Federal or State agencies for losses on such properties however Federal funding is to be available for the demolishing of said structures if other disposition cannot be made."

read the whole thing at

Scott in Phx, AZ

Xanthippa said...

It seems that what we are seeing globally is not entirely unlike what we see within nation states when their Muslim populations reach approximately the 20% mark...which is where we are globally.

Is this congruent with your observations?

If so, how do we deal with this global demographic pressure?

Would scientific education - which teaches students to question everything - be the best tool?

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