Hey, not a bad idea!
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (11/20/2007) – Understanding the Jihadist challenge to the West is crucial for National Guard members who defend the homeland and wage the warfight abroad.
So says Dr. John Finney, the international security affairs advisor to LTG H Steven Blum, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.
Finney encouraged Citizen-Soldiers and –Airmen to study Islamic history, cultures, societies and languages.
Guardmembers must clearly distinguish between radical, violent Jihadists and the vast majority of Muslims, Finney said, citing an observation by Bernard Lewis, eminent Princeton University historian of the Islamic world:
“Most Muslims are not fundamentalists,” Lewis wrote in his 2004 book “The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror,” and “most fundamentalists are not terrorists but most present-day terrorists are Muslims and proudly identify themselves as such.”
According to Finney:
Jihadists are a very small, fanatical Muslim minority who seek to violently overthrow the international system and replace it with an Islamic state.
In their view, the word “jihad” means fighting as in warfare; other Muslims define the term as an internal struggle to please God. Jihadists believe they must fight not only non-Muslims but also the Muslim majority, which they view as apostate, to impose their extremist vision on the world.
Among Jihadist beliefs:
* Islam is the one, true faith and will dominate the world; Muslims are in conflict with unbelievers.
* Only God can make laws, not man. Government must be by strict interpretation of Islamic law called Shari”a.
* The Quran and traditions about Mohammed’s life called the hadith contain the whole truth for determining a proper life for individuals and society at large.
And how do those propositions differ from traditional Muslim beliefs?
Jihadist ideologues from Sayyid Qutb to Osama Bin Laden have framed the West as Islam’s mortal enemy, call democracy a false religion and advocate expelling U.S. influence from the Arabian Peninsula and Mid East, removing secular governments, eliminating Israel, purging Jewish and Christian influence and establishing a new Caliphate or Muslim empire.
The key to countering the Jihadists lies is directly confronting and defeating their ideology, Finney said. This means understanding the basis of the Jihadist worldview and developing an effective response that demonstrates the falseness of the Jihadist message of exclusivity, hatred and violence.
A democratic form of government, culturally Islamic and built from within Islamic societies, is the most effective antidote to the Jihadist argument, he stated. Thus, Guardmembers should have at least a basic familiarity with Jihadism and a good grasp of how democratic institutions and values, adjusted to incorporate Islamic practices and beliefs, are the most effective counterpoint to Jihadist ideology, Finney indicated.
While militant Islamism isn’t new — clashes with the modernizing West date back at least to the 18th century. Jihadism is a particularly serious challenge because of its cult of suicide bombers, extensive financing, skilled manipulation of the media and the Internet and potential access to weapons of mass destruction.
In fact, “militant Islamism” dates back to much earlier than the 18th century. Finney might be surprised to discover that “militant Islamists” believing in exactly those same three point above swept out of Arabia beginning in the seventh century and conquered large swatches of Asia, Africa and Europe. Even then the distinction between them and “traditional Muslims” was hard to pinpoint.
Among essential short-term and long-term Western strategies in confronting the Jihadist challenge that Finney outlined:
* Using the military and law enforcement to prevent a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
* Challenge extremist preaching and recruitment. Address Jihadist claims with specific counterpoints.
I’d like to see how Finney proposes to do that in detail. With a Qur’anic argument? With an argument from the Sunnah and Islamic jurisprudence, trying to claim that warfare against unbelievers is Islamically illegitimate? If he has bought into the jihad/hirabah nonsense, he may be in for a rude surprise when jihadists don’t find his Islamic arguments as compelling as he thought they would.
* Seek resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Since it is the intransigence of the jihad ideology that has all along prevented a resolution to this conflict, and no one is addressing the Palestinian adherence to that ideology, this point probably means “push for more Israeli concessions.”
* Reduce the corruption, economic backwardness and tyranny that Jihadists exploit.
* Encourage democratic governance while understanding that a Muslim form of democracy might not look exactly like Western models; Islamic practices and beliefs can coexist with democracy.
Yes, it might not look exactly like a Western republic. Women and non-Muslims may not have exactly the same rights that Muslim males enjoy. Amputations and stonings may be part of the penal code, with capital punishment for anyone perceived as “insulting Islam.” But otherwise it will be very democratic!
I’ve got a counter-proposal for Dr. Finney. How about combating jihadism with this simple five-point plan:
1. Exhort Muslims in the West to focus their indignation on Muslims committing violent acts in the name of Islam, not on non-Muslims reporting on those acts.
2. Call upon Muslims in the West to renounce definitively not just “terrorism,” but any manifestation of Islamic supremacism, including any intention to replace the U.S. Constitution (or the constitutions of any non-Muslim state) with Sharia even by peaceful means.
3. Teach Muslims the imperative of coexisting peacefully as equals with non-Muslims on an indefinite basis.
4. Call upon Muslims to begin comprehensive international programs in mosques all over the world to teach against the ideas of violent jihad and Islamic supremacism.
5. Call upon them to work actively with Western law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend jihadists within Western Muslim communities.