Ten years after 9/11, who’s winning? 144

Conservatives are saying, with a touch of restrained triumphalism, that the (badly named) “War on Terror”  is over, and America has won it.  (See for instance here and here.) The idea is that because of the security measures and military actions President Bush initiated and President Obama (however much against his will) has had to continue, there have been no repeat assaults on America on the scale of 9/11. That is true, and it is an important achievement. But it doesn’t mean that the war is over, and certainly not that the war is won. Plots have been laid by would-be terrorists that have been found out and foiled. Individual Muslims have carried out, or almost carried out, mass murder. And in the world at large, there have been to date over 17,700 murderous attacks by Islamic terrorists since September 2001. Some yesterday. Some today. And there will be more tomorrow.

And there are conservative thinkers who understand this. Frank Gaffney writes at Townhall:

So, where are we ten years after 9/11? It is comforting that we have been blessed with a near-unbroken decade without further mass-casualty attacks since those that killed nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001. Unfortunately, our government is pursuing policies that can only encourage those who aspire to do us harm to redouble their efforts.

Such an assessment was implicit in a critique of President Obama’s new counter-terrorism”strategy” delivered last week by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman. The Democrat-turned-Independent from Connecticut described the President’s so-called “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” white paper as “ultimately a big disappointment”:

“The administration’s plan… suffers from several significant weaknesses. The first is that the administration still refuses to call our enemy in this war by its proper name, violent Islamist extremism. We can find names that are comparable to that, but not the one that the administration continues to use which [is] ‘violent extremism.’ It is not just violent extremism. There are many forms of violent extremism. There’s white racist extremism, there’s been some eco-extremism, there’s been animal rights extremism. You can go on and on and on. There’s skinhead extremism, but we’re not in a global war with those. … We’re in a global war that affects our homeland security with Islamist extremists. To call our enemy violent extremism [or “terror” – JB] is so general and vague that it ultimately has no meaning. The other term used sometimes is ‘Al-Qaeda and its allies.’ Now, that’s better, but it still is too narrow. … It is vital to understand that we’re not just fighting an organization Al-Qaida, but we are up against a broader ideology, a politicized theology, quite separate from the religion of Islam that has fueled this war. Success in the war will come consequently not when a single terrorist group or its affiliates are eliminated, but when broader set of ideas associated with it are rejected and discarded. The reluctance to identify our enemy as violent Islamist extremism makes it harder to mobilize effectively to fight this war of ideas.

As it happens, Sen. Lieberman is … right up to a point. If we are properly to recognize the enemy we face, however, we must appreciate two facts the Senator misses, as well: 1) The threat from adherents to the “politicized ideology that has fueled this war” are also using non-violent … techniques to wage it against us. And 2) that ideology is actually not “separate from the religion of Islam.” Rather, this politico-military-legal doctrine known as shariah is derived from the sacred texts, interpretations, rulings and scholarly consensuses of Islam. The reality that many Muslims around the world practice their faith without following the dictates of shariah simply means that some believe this code is separable from Islam. But, it is surely not “separate” from it.

One the most important dimensions of their cognitive war is to get infidels, even without being conquered, to behave according to the restrictions of Islam. Among the most important impositions we have seen of this phenomenon…is the absolute prohibition on criticizing Allah or his prophet [known as “shariah blasphemy” laws]. …

What the Muslim Brotherhood calls “civilization jihad,” is about creating the conditions under which so-called “non-violent” Islamists can achieve their ultimate objective – which is precisely the same as the one pursued by their violent co-religionists: imposing shariah worldwide and a Caliph to rule according to it.

So where are we ten years after shariah-adherent Islamists sought to destroy the centers of American economic, military and government power? We remain dangerously exposed to similar sorts of violence from an enemy the President declines to name. Worse yet, to the extent we fail to perceive the cognitive war being waged against us against by al-Qaeda’s partners in the Muslim Brotherhood and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – to say nothing of persisting in the Obama administration’s willingness to give ground in that war, notably by submitting our freedom of speech to shariah blasphemy laws – our Islamist foes will only be emboldened.

The war will be won when the ideology of Islam – or if you will, of sharia – is as universally discredited as is Nazism and Communism. Sure there are still Nazis lurking about, but there’s no significant movement that openly calls itself by that name. And there are still all too many Communists in the West, mainly in the Universities and the Obama administration, but they don’t like being called Communists.

The ideology that commands death for homosexuals and apostates, the stoning of adulterers, the subjugation and beating of women, the amputation of hands and feet as a punishment for petty crime (to give just a few examples), and commands its followers to be at war with the rest of the world until it brings the entire human race into its house, can only ultimately be defeated by words. It must be so shamed by accusation that it cannot hold its head up. And it can be. The Organization of Islamic Co-Operation knows and fears this, which of course is why it is trying to criminalize criticism of Islam.

Let’s assume that this ideology goes the way of Nazism and Communism and is brought to being ashamed of itself. Will it mean that the billion-plus-millions of Muslims in the world or most of them therefore give up their belief in and practice of their religion? Probably not. Terrorism and aggressive proselytizing may be suspended, but as  long as the teachings of Muhammad are believed and followed by many, the danger remains that the war will be resumed.

It must not be forgotten that 9/11 was a profoundly religious act. 

The best hope for the human race to be freed from the threat of Islam lies with the hope of its being freed from religion. It is not a vain hope. With every generation religious belief among the literate and well-informed is fading. As it becomes easier and cheaper for individuals to communicate personally across and within the borders of countries and continents, as ideas and knowledge spread further and faster, institutionalized superstition will come to be despised and the psychological darkness which preserves it dissipated.

See how far the religious have already had to retreat. The philosophers of religion are clinging to a last spar: “Intelligent Design”. They are claiming that the Big Bang proves the universe came into being just the way the Book of Genesis says it did. They have some frail arguments for those positions. But you don’t hear them going on much about a personal god who answers prayers, or insisting that a Jewish virgin gave birth to baby God in the reign of the Emperor Augustus. They know what’s indefensible, or at least beyond their best powers of debate.

We atheists are winning. Quite soon – in say two or three generations from now – we ourselves may have cause to express some restrained triumphalism.