Radical Islam is a mass movement sustained by an ideology embodied in unlimited human resources around the globe. It is not a state and cannot be defeated militarily, nor can diplomatic solutions be found. Therefore, the war on terror is not just a military confrontation; it is also an ideological and a political affair.
It would require a fierce liberal skeptic to deny that radical Islam poses both internal and external threats to Western civilization on the scale of Nazism and Imperial Japan in terms of the potential mass death and destruction. Islam is conducting a war against the Western democracies with religious zeal and fanatical determination, using all resources available—from engaging in open warfare to spreading terrorism across the globe; from sponsoring radical ideology within Muslim communities to indoctrinating schoolchildren to hate Western values. In this war America and the Western world are facing a type of peril they have never faced before. The West fails to recognize as an immutable fact that radical Islam is not just a religion; it is also a political totalitarian movement, just like communism and fascism. The movement embraces a fanatical agenda that includes religious supremacy and a Marxist-type utopian/egalitarian standard of virtue. However, unlike communism and fascism, which were adopted by countries that could be defeated militarily, radical Islam is not a country. It is a mass movement sustained by an ideology embodied in unlimited human resources around the globe. Moreover, many Muslims residing in the West evince a favorable attitude toward radicalism. They form a silent but effective network of support that allows terrorists to avoid security forces, survive, plan, recruit new members, and provide training.
Hence, diplomatic solutions cannot be found, nor is it possible to defeat it in strictly military terms. Therefore, the war on terror is not just a military confrontation; it is also an ideological and a political affair.
First and foremost, this monster has to be defeated ideologically by superior principles advanced by Islam itself. Indeed, across the Atlantic in Egypt, a new and different version of Islam is emerging. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is assertively leading his country out of the Arab Spring. He has denounced Islamic terrorism and challenged religious clerics and scholars to “revolutionize the religion” and bring it in line with Western morality.
The president of Egypt is a leader who exhibits moral clarity, courage, and charisma. With the enhanced stature of the restorer of stability, he is in a position to use his authority to isolate radicals ideologically.
Second, we must learn from past experience. Vladimir Lenin, the father of modern terrorism, who was also on the receiving end of it, summarized his experience with Bolshevik brevity: “Terror can be conquered ONLY with greater terror.”
Whether this nation is prepared to conquer terrorists with greater terror is an open question. In the past, civilized society had little hesitation to use all its might to protect and defend its ideals. Bombing Dresden in 1945 was, in contemporary terms, a clear act of terrorism aimed at German civilians in order to break the Germans’ resolve. Dropping two nuclear bombs on Japan was hardly a humanitarian act either. What is not in question is the imperative for survival of our civilization. This imperative shall be reconciled vis-à-vis Western thinking, which embraces the humanitarian principles that separate us from the barbarians, and the necessity of survival. Henry Kissinger addressed this dilemma when he wrote,
“While we should never give up our principles, we must also realize that we cannot maintain our principles unless we survive.”
Assuming that the United States possesses the psychological stamina to do what needs to be done to survive, we shall stop shaping our foreign policy by personal animosities and professed moral superiority, and start forming alliances based on National Interests. We should embrace President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and form a new alliance founded on common interests between the United States, Russia, Egypt and Jordan to eradicate radical Islam. El-Sisi’s led ideological offensive augmented by the well-equipped and well trained Egypt and Jordan military supported by the infinite firepower of the United States and Russia will deliver the ultimate wish to those who claim to love death more than life quickly and decisively.
Political posturing will not instill the fear of God in the Islamists, but el-Sisi will—if he lives long enough. Courageous leaders in this part of the world before him did not, so time is of the essence.