Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Understanding the Caliphate Curve

A report by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation found that the Syrian rebels were mostly Islamic Jihadists and that even if ISIS were defeated there were 15 other groups sharing its worldview that were ready to take its place.

And that’s just in Syria.

The official ISIS story, the one that we read in the newspapers, watch on television and hear on the radio, is that it’s a unique group whose brand of extremism is so extreme that there is no comparing it to anything else. ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. Or with anything else. It’s a complete aberration.

Except for the 15 other Jihadist groups ready to step into its shoes in just one country.

Islamic Supremacist organizations like ISIS can be graded on the “Caliphate curve”. The Caliphate curve is based on how quickly an Islamic organization wants to achieve the Caliphate. What we describe as “extreme” or “moderate” is really the speed at which an Islamic group seeks to recreate the Caliphate.

ISIS is at the extreme end of the scale, not because it tortures, kills and rapes, but because it implemented the Caliphate immediately. The atrocities for which ISIS has become known are typical of a functioning Caliphate. The execution of Muslims who do not submit to the Caliph, the ethnic cleansing and sexual slavery of non-Muslims are not aberrations. They are normal behavior for a Caliphate.

The last Caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, was selling non-Muslim girls as sex slaves after the invention of the telephone. A New York Times report from 1886 documented the sale of girls as young as twelve, one of them with “light hazel eyes, black eyebrows and long yellow hair”. An earlier report from the London Post described Turks, “sending their blacks to market, in order to make room for a newly-purchased white girl”. This behavior is not a temporary aberration, but dates back to Mohammed’s men raping and enslaving non-Muslim women and young girls as a reward for fighting to spread Islam.

The ISIS behaviors that we find so shocking were widely practiced in even the most civilized parts of the Muslim world around the time that the Statue of Liberty was being dedicated in New York City.

To Muslims, the end of slavery is one of the humiliations that they had to endure because of the loss of the Caliphate. Europeans forced an end to the slave trade. The British made the Turks give up their slaves. The United States made the Saudis give up their slaves in the 1960s. (Unofficially they still exist.) When the Muslim Brotherhood took over Egypt, its Islamist constitution dropped a ban on slavery.

The Muslim Brotherhood is on the moderate side of the Caliphate curve not because it doesn’t want to bring back the Caliphate, it does, or because it doesn’t want to subjugate non-Muslims, it does, but because it wants to do so gradually over an extended period of time using modern political methods.

But whether you take the long road along the Caliphate curve or the short one it still ends up in the same place. Everyone on the Caliphate curve agrees that the world, including the United States, must be ruled by Muslims under Islamic law and that freedom and equal rights for all must come to an end.

ISIS is just doing right now what the Muslim Brotherhood would take a hundred years to accomplish.

We are not at war with ISIS. We are at war with everyone on the Caliphate curve. Not because we choose to be, but because like Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich or Communism’s vision of one world under the red flag, the Caliphate is a plan for imposing a totalitarian system on us to deprive us of our rights.

The Nazis and the Communists had a vision for the world. So do the Islamic Supremacists who advocate the restoration of the Caliphate. All three groups occasionally played the victim of our foreign policy, but they were not responding to us, they were trying to bring about their positive vision of an ideal society.

Nazi, Communist and Islamist societies just happen to be living nightmares for the rest of us.

No one on the Caliphate curve is moderate. Some on the Caliphate curve are just more patient. They put up billboards, create hashtags and try to ban any criticism of their ideology as Islamophobic. But that’s just Caliphatism with a human face. And that makes them a much more dangerous enemy.

ISIS is in some ways our least dangerous enemy. We haven’t defeated ISIS, because we haven’t even tried. Instead Obama fights a war in which 75 percent of strikes on ISIS are blocked and leaflets are dropped 45 minutes before a strike on oil tankers warning ISIS to flee. If we were to fight ISIS by the same rules as our wars in the last century, the Islamic State would have been crushed long ago.

A insta-Caliphate like ISIS isn’t hard to beat. The global networks of Al Qaeda employing more conventional terror tactics are a trickier force because they are embedded within the stream of Muslim migration. And the Muslim Brotherhood is the trickiest of them all because it is so deeply embedded within Muslim populations in the West that it represents and controls those populations.

What ISIS accomplishes by brute force, the Muslim Brotherhood does by setting up networks of front groups. Both ISIS and the Brotherhood control large Muslim populations. ISIS conquers populations in failed states. The Muslim Brotherhood however exercises control over populations in the cities of the West. We could bomb Raqqa, but can we bomb Dearborn, Jersey City or Irvine?

This is where the Caliphate curve truly reaches its most terrifying potential.

The original Islamic expansionism was so devastating not because it managed to seize control over the hinterlands of Arabia, but because it conquered and subjugated civilized cities such as Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Athens and Delhi. ISIS envisions repeating these conquests and more, but if it succeeds it will not be because of its military strategy, but because it targets have been colonized.

We can destroy ISIS tomorrow, but we will still be in an extended war with a hundred other groups who all have a vision for restoring the Caliphate. This war will never end until we crush their supremacist agenda by demonstrating that we will never again allow such a horror to exist on this earth. As long as Muslim groups hold out hope for a restoration of the Caliphate this war, in its various forms, will go on.

We are not at war with an organization, but with the idea that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims and are endowed by Allah with the right to rule over them, to rob them, to rape them and enslave them. ISIS is the most naked expression of this idea. But it’s an idea that everyone on the Caliphate curve accepts.

Until we defeat this racist idea, new Islamic groups will constantly keep arising animated by this vision. Wars fueled by supremacist beliefs have historically only ended when the illusion of superiority was destroyed by utterly defeating and humiliating the attackers. It worked with Japan and Nazi Germany.

Our war now will not end until we destroy the supremacist faith in the Caliphate curve.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, very enlightening!

Rob McVey said...

Excellent, Daniel, thank you.
— Rob McVey, T4B

Anonymous said...

In the early 1940's, General George S. Patton documented islamic slavery being practiced openly in Morocco by its Sultans and Viziers -- he also mentioned how a functionary of the Sultan discussed Jewish "race antipathies" with him -- this while the Holocaust was ongoing in Europe. Islamic slavery is still practiced openly, if not legally in muslim Mauritania -- where 20% of the population is thought to be enslaved. The Sudan is also an islamic slave state.

Empress Trudy said...

Totalitarianism is no longer enough to corral Islamoinsanity in the Mideast. Afraid it's time for unconventional weapons in this sphere.

Anonymous said...

Hajj Amin al-Husseini (1920s-40s Palestinian Arab leader) apparently also dreamed of a caliphate over which he would rule, the Ottoman caliphate having been dismantled. This seems to put the "Zionist-conquistador" saga in different perspective:,1121062&hl=en

As to Muslim slave practice: how ironic that they are nevertheless the darlings of the downtrodden.

Stacey Gordon said...

I'm not very sophisticated, but I have sensed this intuitively. Giving names to all the different factions of those on the caliphate curve gives the false impression that they are separate entities with different goals, and more importantly to the left... different grievances with the West. Their grievances are all one and the same... We are not them. We are all infidels.

Anonymous said...

Truth, truth, truth. And when the most powerful man on earth is an enabler for the Caliphate, it is no wonder that new groups pop up like mushrooms.

Anonymous said...

This article nicely addresses two of the major fronts of the war by Muslims against the west---ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood. However, there is a third---demographics. Muslims, both in Muslim majority countries as well as in non-Muslim countries, tend to have fertility rates far in excess of those of non-Muslims in western countries. We non-Muslims in the west have stopped having babies. This is a form of national suicide. Western countries will eventually become predominantly Muslim unless this trend is soon reversed. Johnathan V. Last has a nice article in the Wall Street Journal (2/12/13) on this issue.

Mark Matis said...

This is enabled by the "Law Enforcement" in each nation that has been invaded by the Muslim hordes. Those fine "Law Enforcement" officers caution Mere Citizens against going near the terrorist enclaves, but should any Mere Citizen dare take a stand against the Muslim evil, those same "Law Enforcement" officers will rapidly make said Mere Citizen regret his actions. The Elite stand behind their Blue Wall and laugh. And the Only Ones do WHATEVER they are told, as long as that paycheck keeps comin' in.

Nothing more than a Praetorian Guard, in the very worst sense of the term. Nothing will change for the better until Mere Citizens admit this fact and convince the Only Ones that they made the wrong career choice.

Ns P said...

"Until we defeat this racist idea, new Islamic groups will constantly keep arising animated by this vision."

Unfortunately the Progressives will be remiss to ever admit that this Muslim idea is actually a racist idea at it's core.

Anonymous said...

Same as it was in 7th Century North Africa. The real Caliphate was a thousand miles behind the leading edge of raiders and infiltrators.

Anonymous said...

So much for the "vetted moderates" so beloved of both parties in the US, whose dreams of "regime change" have made hell of the previously stable countries of Iraq, Syria and Libya and allowed jihadis to thrive.

Ben Jacobs said...

Thanks for this excellent global view of the Muslim world. How does the Sunni - Shiite split fit into your picture? Will each try to stop the other from forming the caliphate?
Keep up the good work.

Daniel Greenfield said...

Shiites and Sunnis are in a bloody rivalry, but there are also plenty of rivalries within the Sunni sphere

Anonymous said...

Interesting, and true as regards those who dream of Caliphates. Needs to be much more nuanced when considering Islam as a world religion. How about Sufi? Do you think they dream of Caliphates? Or Uighurs? How about the "allies" in Saudi?

Anonymous said...

Quran Quran Quran teaches destruction of the infidel....

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this concise, accurate and alarming analysis of the great danger we in the West find ourselves. dire warnings have been given for at least two decades, but always dismissed by the blind fools who govern, preferring to refer to the warnings as ramblings from 'islamophobes' or racists. The sudden spread of muslims from Iceland to Chile and New Zealand (and everywhere in between)has been deliberately planned, and they are instructed to breed large families to hasten the establishment of strong control - then eventually a Caliphate. I can see no salvation for Western culture and democracy unless the muslim populations are forced out. Dire, but necessary, I'm afraid.

Juli G said...

So, as a religious studies scholar and someone who has worked closely with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, let's get some numbers straight.

"Mostly Islamic jihadists" is a very misleading phrase, and typical of how media tends to cover this issue. TBFF says 65% of the rebels in Syria belong to groups which 'share key ideologies with ISIS' ( International organizations put the total numbers of ISIS around 100,000 members (let's also note that there are approximately 40,000 Taliban, and 10,000 al-Qaeda out there as well). All those numbers added up therefore makes up .000134 of the 1,600,000,000 Muslim population. So let's just keep that in mind.

Syria is complicated because its Arab Spring/2011 Revolution (much like Bahrain, Egypt, etc) was a call for democratic and secular reform--many people don't realize that there are Arab countries who very much want that (and many have it already). Their protests were non-violent, even in the face of brutal massacres of innocent protesters during the initial uprising. Bahrain has managed to remain non-violent, and the US hasn't done a thing for them. Syria, on the other hand, after a particularly horrific massacre by Assad's regime, split into two groups. The smaller group, unfortunately, remains non-violent. The larger group of anti-Assad rebels, took up arms.

When you can maintain a non-violent resistance, you can keep control of the conflict. But as soon as you turn to violent means, you have to rely on outside sources (for weapons, for arms). This is a lesson hard learned, and hence the introduction of ISIS and other radical forces into Syria. This is also a big reason why we aren't simply bombing the crap out of them. There is Assad (who we have a mixed relationship with), there are genuine rebels fighting for democracy, and there is ISIS. It's a hot mess.

As for jihadist groups lined up to take the place of ISIS...sure. Nature abhors a vacuum, as the saying goes. al-Qaeda wasn't even present in Iraq until we removed Saddam Hussein. Everything that happens has a consequence--some of these devils we have ourselves created, others have generated out of longstanding political issues of the region.

ISIS's agenda, from what I've read in their self-published magazine Dabiq and religious studies scholars concur, is that they are by all definitions an 'apocalyptic cult'...that is, they may use the rhetoric of extreme Islam, but their goal is not a caliphate, but to bring about the end of days. Hence the destruction of so many relics and historical sites--including Muslim sites.

I, nor Obama, nor any other liberal intellectual dispute that there are religious nutjob fanatics who are hell bent on murder and chaos in the name of Islam, and that one can indeed read the Qu'ran as a jihadist text (I can also read the Bible that way, or the Bhagavad Gita, or the Torah...). We all have the difficult task of assessing these threats in their geo-political and historical contexts as well as religious and social contexts.

Daniel Greenfield said...

Comparing the number of active fighters to the general pop is a meaningless statistic. You could equally well compare the number of active soldiers in most countries to the general population.

It's unfortunate that you're repeating the Arab Spring myth long after it had been discredited. The so-called non-violent, or at least political opposition, led to Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist takeovers across the region, leading to further popular protests and more violence.

The Syrian conflict is dominated by Jihadists in no small part because of the Sunni Islamist role in the opposition to begin with. While ISIS showed up for different reasons, the protests always had their secterian aspect and, with the Brotherhood, their Islamist and Salafist aspect.

And really, trotting out the "apocalyptic cult" nonsense? Islam does have an apocalyptic endgame. As do most of the other major religions. That doesn't make them apocalyptic cults. If ISIS is a cult, then so is Islam.

If you're going to argue that ISIS is a cult, you'll have to justify why its Islamic beliefs are cultlike and differ from those of some more mainstream Islam.

ISIS' goal is the Caliphate because it built one. That is its whole claim to legitimacy.

The destruction of Muslim sites is typical Salafist behavior. The Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia got their start doing just that. Would you consider Saudi Arabia an apocalyptic cult?

Juli G said...

Gandhi's political movements were non-violent, and led to one of the most violent eras ever in India's history (to equate non-violent protesters with violent results, as you do with Arab Spring). So I think that is a moot point. Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is a unique situation, so I try to keep each 2011 uprising in separate contexts. Bahrain and Syria have very different dynamics than Egypt, for instance. But I think we are sort of talking past each other here :)

As for the Caliphate vs 'apocalyptic cult', this is an opinion we just may have to agree to differ on. But here is an piece on this discussion you may find interesting, with the current ISIL experts in the field weighing in:

I don't usually respond to public forums, and your blog is well thought and written--I take issue more with the commenters here, to whom much of my critique is aimed. I think the blanket stigmatization of Islam is a persistent problem in media; statements like "I can see no salvation for Western culture and democracy unless the muslim populations are forced out" shows that people just don't understand that much of the conflict in Arab states right now is for democracy and human rights. Those struggles have become subsumed by the extremist violence which fills our news feeds, but the movements are still there.

Daniel Greenfield said...

I appreciate your praise of my writing, but I do have to say that there was a similar pattern in Egypt and Tunisia, Islamist takeovers followed by escalations of violence, followed by mass popular protests and Islamist governments being forced out of power.

Accusations of complicity by the ruling Islamists in Islamist street violence makes the claim that the MB was the victim of violence quite debatable.

It's also hard to address Al Jazeera material without noting its ownership and its extensive involvement in regime change in alliance with Islamist groups. It's an extremely partisan source whose owners are directly involved in sponsoring Islamist militias in the conflict.

In regard to the stigmatization of Islam. The insistence that Islamic terrorism is unrelated to Islam has created an inevitable counternarrative that runs directly counter to it. The way to change that is for there to be more honesty in discussing the Islamic links of Islamic terrorism.

I would also point out that terms like democracy or human rights in a tribal context do not carry the same universal meaning of equality that they do here.

The Arab Spring tragically showed us that.

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