Struggling with a culture called Islam 3

On September 1, George Will wrote that it was time to stop the war in Afghanistan. Broadly speaking, we agree with him – we have said that the war is pointless. (See A pointless war, August 20, 2009.) To us the most interesting part of the article was this:

The Economist describes Hamid Karzai’s government – – his vice-presidential running mate is a drug trafficker – – as “so inept, corrupt and predatory” that people sometimes yearn for restoration of the warlords, “who were less venal and less brutal than Mr Karzai’s government”.

We don’t trust the Economist, and the statement that people (who exactly? How does the reporter know?) yearn for the restoration of the warlords (did they ever go?) is prima facie unlikely. But that the Karzai government is corrupt, venal and brutal we fully believe. Also that his running-mate is a drug-trafficker. How many rich and influential Afghans are not well-connected to the opium industry, we wonder. And isn’t it like wondering how many rich and influential Saudis are not well-connected to the oil industry?

George Will’s article has been much discussed in the blogosphere. By far the best discussion of it, and of the Afghan war in general – the one with which we are in closest agreement – is by Diana West in Townhall:

Finally, some debate over U.S. war policy in Afghanistan. Or at least debate over George F. Will’s call to pull the plug on U.S. war policy in Afghanistan, headlined “Time to Get Out of Afghanistan.”

The negative response from conservatives was revealing. It showed that after eight years of America’s post-9/11 war efforts, which started out as President Bush’s vaguely named “war on terror” and never crystallized into a cogent strategy against the jihad driving the “terror,” ambiguity and confusion still cloud the prevailing thinking, from the conventional wisdom to war strategy.

Most conservative rebuttals ignored Will’s reckoning of just how grossly ill-suited Afghanistan is to the hallucinogenic U.S. policy of constructing a modern society out of dust as our military worms affection from a hostile population. Instead, they focused on the concept of leaving Afghanistan — a move I, too, have advocated since April in my column and at my blog as a necessary precondition to better repulsing global jihad. Such an effort is, or should be, a multi-level campaign to reverse jihad’s ultimate goal, which is to extend Islamic law by both violent and other means. In this larger context, Afghanistan is not only just one front, it is also a front too far.

Most of my conservative colleagues, however, see withdrawal from Afghanistan as surrender.

This assumption, based in the fallacy that U.S. forces are simply fighting an army called “the Taliban,” rather than struggling with a culture called Islam shared by enemy and civilian alike, makes sense only if withdrawing from Afghanistan means ending our efforts against global jihad. The point of withdrawal is not to stop destroying America’s active enemies in Afghanistan or elsewhere … The point of withdrawal is to stop trying to create an American ally out of Sharia-supreme Afghanistan, something we attempted at great expense in Sharia-supreme Iraq, and failed.

Of course, what animates and drives most conservatives today is their vision of Iraq as a “success,” and their desire to repeat that “success” in Afghanistan. What has become increasingly clear to me, however, is that an infidel nation cannot fight for the soul of an Islamic nation. This, in effect, is what our “nation-building” troops have been ordered to do both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let me rephrase: An infidel nation can indeed fight for the soul of an Islamic nation. It just can’t win it.

It also turns out there is nothing there for infidels to win. After six U.S.-intensive years, Iraq remains just another OPEC-participating, Israel-boycotting, Hezbollah-sympathetic, Sharia-supreme, anti-U.S. entity with new and improved ties to Iran. Why? Our belief systems, Islam’s and the West’s, are so diametrically opposed that our interests cannot intersect. Left and Right in this country, however, scrub this truth and its centuries of confirming history from all policy — an antiseptic way to view conflict in the world that will always miss the cure by ignoring the germs.

On this count, Will’s column is no different, never once contemplating Islam. Which is why his conclusion may be a little fuzzy. Describing his “offshore” alternatives to basing a massive army inside Afghanistan, Will identifies the key mission as “concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters.”

I’m not sure what Will means by calling Pakistan “a nation that actually matters.” Certainly, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal “matters” because it could hurt us, and thus our national security demands an execution-ready plan to neutralize it. But Pakistan, a jihad-based culture, doesn’t “matter” in terms of fitting into an anti-jihad alliance — the ultimate goal, whether admitted or not, of efforts to work together. It can’t. Quick facts: Pakistan’s army’s motto is “Faith, piety and holy war in the path of Allah.” Seventy-eight percent of its people, the latest Pew Poll tells us, support the death penalty for leaving Islam. Not exactly our ideal match.

But we keep such politically incorrect facts out of focus. Then we struggle to see why things go wrong. More clarity is required. More debate is essential. Eight years after 9/11, this means finally reckoning with Islam — discussing jihad, analyzing Sharia, understanding dhimmitude — as a strategic factor in U.S. policy.

One thing we can be sure of: such a ‘reckoning with Islam’ will not happen on President Obama’s watch. He likes Islam.

  • i think the war of terrorism has spoil the Afghanistan economy and recent government is not proper.

  • This assumption, based in the fallacy that U.S. forces are simply fighting an army called “the Taliban,” rather than struggling with a culture called Islam shared by enemy and civilian alike and it quite true in many sense.

  • rogerinflorida

    There are many of us who have been frustrated for many years (since way before 9/11), by the inability of any western leader to address this fundamental issue; that islam is incompatible with traditional western values. This has resulted in huge numbers of islamists emigrating to the west and bringing their garbage religion and customs with them. Never being asked to conform to western norms and in fact being encouraged to practice the very habits that made their own countries such awful places. This is the legacy of “multiculturalism” where moral equivalency is drawn between good and evil.
    It is this “lack of moral fiber” that will lead to our demise and a new dark age.
    Both Iraq and Afghanistan are failed states if judged by any objective criteria drawn from western values. The reason for this failure is the grip that islamism holds. It is islam that has to be confronted if the struggle for personal liberty and economic freedom is to be won.
    You are right about Obama, he likes islam because like any religion it will support entrenched power. The same can be said of an intellectual cripple like Prince Charles, who is also a fan.