The War on Terrorism Goes On
By Sol W. Sanders
Monday, September 23rd, 2013 @ 2:22AM
If the Boston Marathon Massacre and the growing Syrian Civil War jihadist outrages were not self-evident, the bloody attack on innocents at the Nairobi, Kenya, mall provide new evidence that the international terrorist conspiracy continues virtually unabated. The perpetrators were Islamic jihadists, apparently members of the al-Shabbab thugs in neighboring Somalia who call themselves adherents of al Qaeda. So, despite all the obfuscation of the Obama Administration and its adherents, the War On Terrorism goes on and Washington will be forced to fight it under whatever name and probably with growing resources.
Just as in the more than four decades of the Cold War, the outcome is not assured, no more than its length. The fanatics who wage a campaign to gain world dominance in the name of Islam are if anything even more single-minded of purpose and willing to sacrifice themselves than the utopians-turned-state-terrorists of earlier 20th century totalitarianism. That they tend to fall into internecine feuds and mutual self-destruction will not spare the world from their violence even if, luckily, it is likely to rule out any new and coordinated central command such as Osama bin Laden once attempted.
But the continued upsurge of this violence means, that despite the other myriad overwhelming problems which bedevil policymakers in Washington and the other capitals of the civilized world, carrying on a complex and difficult program to meet the terrorists’ challenge will not go away.
The significance of the Nairobi episode, which is still not resolved and analyzed at this writing, is that it does show that the terrorist infection is not only alive but that it is continuing to spread. Like the Muslim extremist threat in Mali and Nigeria, the terrorists have now shown their tentacles reach beyond the Middle East and Central and South Asia into Black Africa. And almost simultaneously with the Nairobi explosion, there was an attempted jihadist takeover of Zamboanga in the southern Philippines and a bloody attack on a Pakistani Christian church, both virtually blacked out in the mainstream media.
These episodes show that the network of Islamic extremists stretches from one end of the umma (the worldwide Moslem community) to the other, and even when not directly linked, draw their intellectual vigor and sometimes material resources from one another.
The Syrian crisis has complicated the already confused strategies to effectively combat the jihadists. Unfortunately, a relatively spontaneous uprising against decades of unrestrained brutality of the al Assad family dictatorship has fallen under the shadow of international jihadist volunteers who are flooding in from all directions to fight it–not excluding second and third generation Muslims from all over the democratic West including the U.S and Australia. Their growing presence among the opponents of the regime and the Obama administration’s fumbling of the issue of the use of chemical weapons of mass destruction by Bashar Assad have further muddied the waters.
But whatever the outcome of the Syrian struggle, these new volunteer jihadists will provide a new reservoir of terrorists, as did a similar liberation war against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, a new cadre of bloodied fanatics to return to their own countries or to the next terrorist front for new violence. Willy-nilly, Assad’s support by Iran’s state terrorists in their effort to dominate the region and President Vladimir Putin’s desperate ploy to reassert Soviet grandeur by supporting Damascus is further aggravating the terrorist picture. Both Moscow and Tehran believe they have a stake in exploiting the bitter centuries-old feud between the two principal wings of Islam, the Sunni and Shia. In addition to attacks on non-Muslims and Islamic innocents, the result is likely to be a welter of explosive intra-Muslim conflicts, vitiating the possibility of one central command, but contributing to the general bloodshed of noncombatants.
There will not be any easy answers to the problem of combating this growing international menace to peace and stability, which could reach across continents as it did on 9/11 to the American homeland. But an effective campaign relies on three general categories of government activity:
Somehow the open societies of the West, inherently vulnerable to terrorism, will have to learn to take more protective measures, short of limiting the freedom that is their essence. The bumbling bureaucracy of air travel security, for example, needs a surgical overhaul. Too much effort and money is being expended on unnecessary gateway inspection procedures.
New technologies will provide more inspection efficiency. But the introduction of common sense at the highest administrative levels appears a necessity. The airlines, themselves, should assume an increasing role in filtering out possible saboteurs. Without such programs, the terrorists are going to continue to be a jump ahead of security measures.
There are economic measures the American government needs to take to enhance any effort at defeating the terrorists. The sanctions against Iran, much too long coming in their current growing intensity, point to the enormous impact U.S. Treasury controls can have directly and indirectly on an adversary. The shale revolution with the enormous increases in domestic gas and oil production have now made it possible for the U.S. to do more than try to persuade those in the Persian Gulf states, including individual Saudis as well as officials in Riyadh, and the outrageous troublemakers in Qatar, to end their direct and indirect financial support to the terrorist networks. What is required simultaneously, of course, but hardly likely, is an about face in the Obama administration’s war on fossil fuels, which nevertheless has ironically not haled new record production and possible exports.
Any attempt at taking security measures, of course, must ultimately rely on enhanced intelligence. Repeated efforts to reform the American intelligence community have only added additional layers of bureaucracy without, it seems, increasing actual benefits. If “stove-piping”–excluding necessary interchange among the various intelligence bodies–has been somewhat eliminated, the Snowden treason episode and the Washington Navy Yard Massacre are evidence that the whole system of “need to know” security precautions which once dominated government operations has fallen afoul of the digital revolution. Furthermore, it is clear that many of those who are entrusted with intelligence on Islamism have an inadequate knowledge of the history of the religion and its adherents. Unlike the British who in their imperial heyday could depend heavily on their academy for such resources, the U.S. faces a generally unrealistic, antagonistic and disloyal professoriat with its hangers-on from the parlor Marxist politics of the 1960s.
This leads to the general failure reaching to the highest echelons of the Obama administration, which in its effort to reduce international tension has taken an idealistic and unrealistic attitude toward the problem of Islam and its radical appendages. Islam is not and never has been “a religion of peace,” from its earliest conquests in the Arabian desert to the subjugation of former Christian, Zoroastrian, Hindu and pagan societies of the Middle East, North Africa and India.
There are hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims, of course. But the idealization of an officially tolerant Islam, for example, in Berber-ruled kingdoms in Spain in the 14th and 15th centuries, is pure fiction. Islamic regimes have always condemned non-believing citizens, at best, to an inferior status with onerous tax burdens. Islam has never had its Reformation or Counter-reformation, nor its haskalah, having largely rejected Greek learning in monumental debates almost a thousand years ago.
Unless and until the majority of Muslim intellectuals and spokesmen for Islam parse the indivisibility of their religion with the implanting of a sharia state, the seeds of jihadism and accompanying terrorism are planted wherever the religion prevails.
Therefore, an important element–perhaps the most important–in an effective and continuing defense against Islamic terrorism is a more realistic understanding of this relationship of the Muslim faithful and the jihadists. It is incumbent on American Muslims, for example, to halt their wailing about a nonexistent victimization. Since 9/11–contrary to what might have been expected in another society less tolerant than the U.S.–they have seen little “Islamphobia”.
Rather, such highly placed individuals as Ms. Huma Abedin, principal assistant to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have an obligation publicly to explain and renounce their family relationships with the Muslim Brotherhood, an original source of inspiration for much of the current jihadist leadership.
It is in the nature of the American system of government, unfortunately, that none of this is to be accomplished rapidly, even given the growing urgency for an effective reform of the efforts for dealing with terrorism.
The wake-up call of 9/11 has been hushed, ironically, in the enormous vitality of U.S. society and pursuit of happiness which is the ultimate American goal. But unfortunately the problem of terrorism, even in the homeland, is not going to go away.
A version of this column is scheduled for publication Monday, September 23, 2013, at worldtribune.com