Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Unacknowledged War Against Islamic-Fascism

While the United States continues to spearhead the global fight against Islamic extremism in Iraq, it is becoming increasingly apparent that we have a poor understanding of our adversary. The popular misnomer of “the war against terrorism” is most indicative of this. Fighting terrorism fails to encompass much beyond thwarting suicide bombers, terrorist cells, and other operational elements. The shortcoming of this approach is that its focus is upon eradicating symptoms of the conflict and not its root causes. We are actually fighting more than terrorism. We are fighting for the continued prominence of western culture and its way of life. Accordingly, this is a war against Islamic-fascism.

Distinction should first be made between Islamic-fascism and Islam, a faith with motifs not necessarily incompatible with western ideals. But it is the fascist component of Islam that seeks to kill innocent people, bankrupt our institutions, and decimate our economies. Seething resentment of western affluence, cultural influence, and perceived nihilism have boiled over in the underdeveloped Middle East, and Islam has been the successful means through which violence against the west gained moral legitimacy.

So why have we failed to acknowledge our enemy as Islamic-fascism? Central to the reason is that Americans are traditionally loath to criticize concepts that cloak themselves under the fabric of religion. Freedom from religious persecution was one of the tenets upon which America was founded, and we take great pride in exhibiting religious tolerance even in the most difficult of circumstances. Most Americans would recoil at the thought of being accused of religious bigotry. Islamic-fascism exploits this sensibility to our detriment.

Despite all of our battle weariness, there is some cause for optimism. Several leadership figures of Al-Qaeda have been apprehended, a burgeoning democracy has taken shape in Iraq, and several major terrorist acts against the west have been thwarted. No less significant was Libya’s new spirit of cooperation. But in recent months, we seem to have come to a plateau of successes, due in part to the painstaking democratization processes taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan. While these two new democracies have shown signs of promise, their governments must prove to be quick studies or face futures of lingering instability.

A more prudent strategy might be for us to allow the natural power of exposure to western markets and freedoms to take hold. History tells us that democracy is not necessarily a “one size fits all” proposition as Africa and Latin America can attest, but its best chance for success is where it is permitted to develop in tandem with cultural westernization. It was not too long ago in the Soviet Union, China and elsewhere that anti-western vitriol was undermined by concepts like Coca-Cola, Levi’s, and MTV. While the Middle East faces perhaps the steepest of paths to westernization, the same formula should be given the opportunity to succeed there.

Some have maintained that our failure to win wholesale European support for the intervention in Iraq bodes ill for a successful resolution to this war. That pessimism is unfounded. While our European partners, some active and some inactive, are indeed integral to the prospects for this war’s success, this effort will be long enough in duration that there will be future opportunities for broader-based European involvement. Most of Europe is already engaged in containing the fomenting enclaves of Islamic-fascists within their own borders. The Madrid and London bombings were preludes a chess game of terrorist attacks. As time progresses, the threats posed by domestic threats will likely compel our inactive European partners to active partnership by contributing troops, intelligence, and nation-building support. Simply appealing to historical relationships in Europe is insufficient given the abstract nature of this enemy, but the more we can convince “Old Europe” how active participation is in their collective interest, the better.

This war against Islamic-fascism is likely to be our burden for some time, but if we are to succeed without, we need to muster the courage to clearly define our enemy, westernize their former sanctuaries, and better illustrate to recalcitrant allies the benefits of their tangible support. War invariably brings forth ebbs and flows of developments, but through a steadfast resolve akin to that which won us the cold war, we can succeed. We have no acceptable alternative.

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