Somalia the Model
On December 24 last year I posted on the Ethiopian offensive against shariah-ruled Somalia, and have kept a keen eye on developments there since. Now that the events seem to have reached their conclusion, with Ethiopian prime minister Zenawi having declared the mission completed and the troops ready to withdraw (Jihad Watch, January 2, 2007), I write my summary on the affair.
I can think of no better summing up of my thoughts on it than the commentary on Genesis 6:9. On the words, “Noah was in his generations a man righteous and whole-hearted”, Rashi says, “There are among our rabbis who commend him[, saying]: then obviously if he had been in a generous of righteous men he would have been more righteous; and there are those who fault him[, saying]: according to his generation he was righteous, but if he had been in Abraham’s generation he would not have counted for anything”. Both views that Rashi brings up represent the two minds that I, and I suspect many other observers, are at regarding this affair. The first view is the relative view of Noah’s status, with expressed optimism, while the second view is the absolute view, with the thought that that generation could have done better.
I had posted that post with the relative view in my mind, the view of it against the sad backdrop of near-total dhimmitude everywhere: the USA’s entanglement in Iraq, and consequently the report of Baker’s Iraq Surrender Group; the ongoing appeasement of Islam in Europe; India’s reluctance to take matters into hand within its own borders and in its Muslim-occupied territories (Kashmir, Pakistan and Bangladesh); Thailand’s coup installing a Muslim prime minister in order to negotiate “peace” with the Muslim invaders in the south; and last but not least, the constant bungling of Ehud Olmert, the dhimmi prime minister of Israel, both in Lebanon last summer and now with his silence in the face of having one of Israel’s towns bombarded by rockets daily. Against such a backdrop, how can Ethiopia’s initiative fail to arouse cheers of optimism on our side?
Yet it is so easy to get carried away by one’s emotions. When I try to look at it now soberly, I realize Ethiopia’s victory is of the same sort as the USA’s in Iraq in 2003. There is nothing here but the confirmation that the jihadists are big talkers and cowards who melt away in front of modern armies. They excel only at terrorism, guerrilla warfare and insurgency, where they can hide among the citizenry to deter any non-Muslim power that has some moral compunctions (which they certainly do not), and aided and abetted by the dhimmi media of the West, ready to seize upon every “show of imperialism”.
It seems to me Robert Spencer thinks that way too, and therefore has seen it fit to congratulate Ethiopia on not following America’s course in Iraq (quoting from the linked JW thread):
Their mission—to destroy the jihadist forces in Somalia—has largely been accomplished. Soon it will be time to go home. Here is an example we would have done well to follow several years ago, rather than pursue Wilsonian fantasies.
And there’s exactly the problem, in my opinion: President Bush’s failed “Iraq the Model” has given us a distorted view of this whole war. Because Bush’s experiment failed, and because people are all too willing to view this as a categorical failure of non-Muslim defensive interventionism, we can hope for toppling shariah-ruled states at most, but not for that final and crucial stage in the war, the stage without which there can be no permanent peace, only truces, however long they may endure.
In the case of Iraq, I think the progress toward failure has been made all too clear after about three years of Bush’s experiment. There have been many speculations as to what led Bush to decide to invade Iraq in the first place, from both Left and Right, such as weapons of mass destruction, terrorist ties with Al-Qaedah, Iraq’s oil, AIPAC’s lobbying, restoring the honor of his old man, and so on. That’s not germane to this discussion. Some time after the successful occupation of Iraq, Bush decided to use it as a model for the Middle East, winning the hearts and minds of the people of the region by democratizing Iraq. Iraq would reap the fruits of democracy, and other countries would follow suit, willingly. Or so the naïve policymakers at the White House thought.
We know what has really happened, of course: just as the “Palestinians” used democratic elections to vote an Islamic, jihadist, genocidal party—Hamas—so did the Iraqis democratically restore former Islamic institutions that Saddam had shut down. Even if the people truly desired a secular, democratic state, they could not cast their ballot freely, for the specter of jihadi retaliation, now no longer stayed by a strongman’s hand, would hang over their minds. But the Muslim world—and that is a fact that so many Western policymakers ignore—is more religion-minded than even the most religious parts of the West, so that many Iraqis, both Sunni and Shi’a, voted gladly for a more Islamic state with the shariah as its constitution.
The USA would have done well to regard Saudi king Fahd’s words from long ago, that Islam and democracy are incompatible. Instead, those three years passed with the dhimmi media channels and a blinkered government thinking that the insurgency and the votes for Islam were the fault of US occupation. It all culminated in the US midterm elections of November 2006, which were a vote for abandoning Bush’s Iraqi Experiment. The whole world has thus gotten the message, the wrong message, loud and clear: non-Muslims have no business staying inside Muslim countries and trying to impose their structures on them. Very likely this is the message that Zenawi had, as Spencer comments, internalized before making his decision to pull out and send the troops home once the Islamic government of Somalia had been done away with. It is better than to suffer the three bloody and hopeless years that the US troops did in Iraq, but it is, in my opinion, a long-term mistake.
Do you not realize how much our standards have been lowered? We settle for truces, for temporary armistices, instead of permanent peace; we even adorn armistices with the Muslims with the name, “Peace”. Where would we be today if, after Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin had destroyed the Axis states and infrastructures, they had decided to send the troops home? This current World War III would now be waged against a resurgent Nazism instead of, or in addition to, Islam. There is a real, long-term price to be paid for not uprooting the ideology behind the physical threat. To quote Fjordman, in his essay Political Correctness – The Revenge of Marxism, from June 14, 2006:
The simple fact is that we never won the Cold War as decisively as we should have. Yes, the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union collapsed. This removed the military threat to the West, and the most hardcore, economic Marxism suffered a blow as a credible alternative. However, one of the really big mistakes we made after the Cold War ended was to declare that Socialism was now dead, and thus no longer anything to worry about. […]
One of the readers of Fjordman blog once pointed out that we never had a thorough de-Marxification process after the Cold War, similar to the de-Nazification after WW2. […]
We are now paying the price for this. Not only has Marxism survived, it is thriving and has in some ways grown stronger. […]
This splendid essay is hosted, as are all others by Fjordman, on the great blog Gates of Vienna. But we need not go into an essay, for the very tagline of Gates of Vienna demonstrates the problem clearly:
At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are in a new phase of a very old war.
What does that mean? It means that, from 1683 onward, with the defeat of the Ottoman Turks, and until the Islamic resurgence beginning (to give a specific year, though of course this is only a milestone) in 1979, with Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution in Iran, the West has had not peace with the Islamic world but a truce—an armistice, a hudna, a very long one but a temporary one nevertheless. 300 years of freedom from an existential threat are no mean achievement, yet here we are with the threat back to haunt us, with a vengeance, and even worse than before, because now the invaders are inside the gates of the non-Muslim world.
I reject both the Chamberlainians who say there is only a political solution and the ultra-hawks calling for “nuking the Islamic world back to the stone age”. On the former, it is already clear (except to those who don’t want to see) that appeasement reflects our weakness in Muslim eyes. On the latter, there is absolutely no certainty that “nuking Mecca” would end the Islamic threat once and for all. Many of the WWII enthusiasts speak of how the Allies broke the will of the enemy to fight, yet, as I said above, a will can only stay broken for so long.
People on our side speak of darura—Arabic for “necessity” or “compulsion”, according to Spencer and Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch. Fitzgerald says that the breaking of the Muslims’ will to fight will bring them to adopt a peaceful stance as a matter of necessity. Now, far be it from me to think myself as being equal to Spencer and Fitzgerald, but it seems to me, from common sense, that necessity is a shaky basis for permanent peace. They may repudiate jihad because of necessity now, but what if, a few decades or even centuries later, they decided the circumstances have changed, the necessity no longer standing? It would be the end of a hudna just as the 300-year hudna of 1683 has now come to an end.
My reservations about the US entanglement in Iraq were for two reasons: the reason stated above, that the attempt to install the trappings of democracy (free elections etc.) without instilling the soul of democracy (free minds) was futile, and secondly, that it is foolish to expend resources abroad when the Islamic threat needs to be countered at home first. The line, “We’re fighting them over there so you don’t fight them over here” becomes much less convincing once Bush has agreed to let thousands of Saudi Arabian students into the USA. And the plight of Europe has been covered all too well by Mark Steyn. The invasion and occupation of Muslim countries is only a middle stage, following the removal of the threat at home first, and preceding the uprooting of the fascist ideology lastly.
All those neglected stages require an approach to which the current political climate is hostile. At home, attempts to put the Muslim colonialist invaders in their place are shut down by the charges of “racism”. Abroad, any attempt to de-Islamify the countries (whether through secularization, Christianization, proselytization to Buddhism, to Baha’ism, and so on) would be screamed at as being “cultural imperialism”. Yet these are necessary for the survival of, and then the permant removal of the existential threat from, the non-Muslim world. Negotiations embolden the enemy, while military action, though certainly better than negotiations, is insufficient by itself, leading at best to a long truce.
The so-called “reality-based community” preaches caution against “turning this into a religious war”, against “soaking the world in blood”. But it is they, through their “realist” proposals, that are doing the most to bring the ghastliest scenarios to pass. Political correctness is enabling the Muslims to gain more states of their own, new bases for the jihad, and is ensuring that this threat, now almost 14 centuries old, will never cease. As I said on the Jihad Watch post on Ethiopia, in response to a commenter who told me to take heart at the victory: I enjoy and savor this victory; I will not, however, be surprised to hear of a renewal of this conflict in the news a few years from now.
If this world war is destined, G-d forbid, to be so desperate that only divine miracles could save us, it will be, in the greatest of ironies, the fault of the same “reality-based” voices who urged to take steps so as not to make it so. I believe it is not yet too late to prevent the worst from taking place.