T Nation

Listening To The Terrorists

As in, paying attention to what they are saying. I’ve seen quite a few gratuitous and incorrect “Nazi” charges around here lately, but this post by an anonymous Republican in the State Dept. does an admirable job of incorporating some actual lessons from WWII and applying them to our current situation with the Islamists:


Thursday, January 27, 2005

The New Mein Kampf: Zarqawi Speaks
One of the most common observations about World War II was that if only Western leaders had heeded what the National Socialist Worker’s Party and its leader Adolf Hitler were saying, they would have known of the grave danger facing the world. After all, it’s not as if the Nazi Party or its frenzied Fuhrer tried to hide what they were about.

On the contrary, in speech after speech, newspaper after newspaper and book after book, Hitler and other senior Nazis laid out in some detail their plans for European domination, the destruction of parliamentary democracy and the elimination of the Jewish people.

Visit any museum of tolerance or Holocaust memorial and you’ll find amble prose lamenting the fact that Western leaders failed to heed the clear warnings, failed to understand that these apparently crazy people meant exactly what they said and said exactly what they meant. Exactly because they were reasonable, honorable men, people like Prime Minister Chamberlain were unable to comprehend that buffoons with dangerous ideas could actually be serious about what they intended.

The result was a wholly preventable war that took the lives of tens of millions of people. Today, a similar bunch of madmen are stating clearly what they intend. And, sadly, except for the President of the United States, most Western leaders are again pretending that barbarism does not exist.

Now, as then, their lack of imagination, empathy and understanding will end up costing us a price in blood we could well avoid.

The Source of Islamic Terrorism

Experts on Islamic Terrorism–from former high USG officials like Richard “Bush is Personally Responsible for 9/11” Clarke to pundits like Thomas Friedman of the NY Times–are roughly divided in half between two schools of thought on Islamic Terrorism. The first group, the “Muslim Rage School,” believes that the source of Islamic Terrorism is the wide-spread anger in the Muslim world directed at the West and at Israel. For partisans of this school, US policy towards Israel and the Palestinians, US support for despotic Middle Eastern regimes, Western economic outperformance of the Muslim world and anger towards US responses to the 9/11 Attacks, all add up to one thing: a seething mass of justifiable rage that presents itself, though a minority of those affected, as radical Islamic Terrorism.

The Muslim Rage School has attracted theorists as ideologically opposed as Edward Said and Bernard Lewis, and is by far and away the dominant school of thought among experts on the topic. (This school is well on display in this month’s issue of The Atlantic, a fact which we will delve into in much greater depth this weekend, circumstances and consular emergencies permitting). As a rule, this school’s policy preference for defeating Islamic Terrorism is to reduce the generators of the anger. Thus, the US must bring and end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, atone for past actions against the Muslim world, and generally radically change its long-standing foreign policy towards the Middle East. Only then will there be peace.

The second school of thought, the Clash of Civilizations School, argues that the source of Islamic Terrorism is the Muslim world’s seething hatred of the fundamental values of the West, and, since the U.S. is the standard-bearer for the West at the moment, especially those of the United States. Adherents of this school, like Victor Hanson and most neo-conservative thinkers, argue that the value system of modern Islam produces a culture that is violently at odds with Western values and, because of this, it wages asymmetric war against the West when and where it can.

We don’t have to tell you which side of this debate we are on. Since the first, early, little-noticed reports of Islamic radicals slitting the throats of Algiers girls who dared to wear blue jeans appeared in our local paper in the mid-1980’s, and certainly since the Islamic Republic of Iran’s call for the death of British author Salman Rushdie, it has been crystal clear to us that we are facing an onslaught from a culture violently opposed to our most cherished values.

This, however, remains a decidely minority view. Most people either cannot or will not believe that they have enemies. (To quote Rich Lowry’s famous quip about President Clinton, we don’t have enemies, just people we haven’t properly apologized to). It’s much, much easier to point to the failure of the Oslo/Madrid/Quartet III Subsequent Agreement as a cause of terrorism than to believe that there is a culture of billions out there that wants your blood and the blood of your children.

Because, damn, what reasonable person wants to believe that?

The Zarqawi Audiotape

On January 23, Jordanian terrorist leader Al-Zarqawi released an audiotape regarding the upcoming elections in Iraq. Zarqawi is, of course, a very important terrorist leader and the undeniable head of the jihadi insurgency against the Allawi Government and its American allies. Which is why the audiotape is of vital significance.

Here is a major Islamic terrorist leader, telling us in his own words, directly, what he believes, what motivates his fight, and why he wishes us dead. And what does he say?

"The speaker said democracy was based on un-Islamic beliefs and behaviors such as freedom of religion, rule of the people, freedom of expression, separation of religion and state, forming political parties and majority rule.

He said that freedom of expression is allowed “even cursing God. This means that there is nothing sacred in democracy.” He said Islam requires the rule of God and not the rule of “the majority or the people.”

Let’s break that down:

  1. Freedom of Religion: The most basic, most cherished of our freedoms is a gigantic affront to the jihadis since there is only one God and only one religion: that which they say exists. Because we are free to worship as we choose, they wish us dead.

  2. Rule of the People/Majority Rule: The basic tenent of Democracy, that the will of the majority carries sovereignty, is inherently offensive to the jihadis. Only the “Rule of God” (meaning the rule of people like Khomeni, Zarqawi and Bin Ladin) will be allowed. All other states must perish.

  3. Freedom of Expression: The very freedom of our minds arouses murderous hatred in the mind of the jihadi. Our ability to express ourselves, to debate, to argue, to agree, to disagree, is an affront to God in their eyes. Under their rule, no one will be allowed to express anything but Islamic thought.

  4. Separation of Religion and State: There can be no secular state, since we are ordered by God to live under his laws. Thus, all secular states are inherently God-less and must be destroyed.

  5. Formation of Political Parties: Our right to associate with like-minded individuals is nothing more than a sign of our decadence, our distance from God. Anyone who takes place in the democratic political process, even good liberals, are evil and deserve to be decapitated.

This is the word directly from an Al-Queda leader. Notice the complete lack of the usual grievances about Israel, about Western colonialism, about the inequity of our bargaining position in the oil market. No, instead we are told directly that we are to be killed because of who and what we are, because of who and what we believe.

What Is To Be Done?

Dear readers, the Zarqawi tape should (but won’t) end the debate between the Muslim Rage School and the Clash of Civilization School. Like the Nazis before them, the Islamists are telling us without mincing words exactly what they think of us and what they have planned.

We hope we will not strike you as illiberal when we admit that we felt it was a grave, near-fatal error for the West not to declare war against Iran when it, as a state, threatened to kill a Western author. Because until they know that our most cherished values, like freedom of speech, are as important and meaningful to us as their Koran is to them, and that we are just as willing to kill and to die to protect them, we will be on the defensive.

In the long run, we have hope. Because, like the Nazis before them, the Islamic leaders keep ruining the efforts of Western appeasers and cowards by continuing to bluntly state the bloody obvious: that they want to kill us and destroy our way of life.

We can fight them now, or we can fight them later, but, eventually, fight them we will. And I wouldn’t bet against us.

Is the struggle for freedoms, or control?

This is reactionary:
“We hope we will not strike you as illiberal when we admit that we felt it was a grave, near-fatal error for the West not to declare war against Iran when it, as a state, threatened to kill a Western author. Because until they know that our most cherished values, like freedom of speech, are as important and meaningful to us as their Koran is to them, and that we are just as willing to kill and to die to protect them, we will be on the defensive.”

The Islamic radicals ARE oppossed to freedom, democracy, etc. However, the 13 year old kid whose house gets bulldozed in Gaza or smart bombed in Fallujah is the next generation of potential terrorist. And his path to terror will start with “muslim rage.” Right now, he doesn’t give a shit about the “values of the west.” But that rage is the best recruiting tool that al-queda has. Hamas didn’t win the elections in Gaza because little old ladies in the camps have an ideological beef with America. Hamas (which didn’t exist until relatively recently in the Israel/Palestine conflict) won because of rage. And now, they can and will harness that rage to their ideology of oppression. As usual, things are more complicated than dogmas allow.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)

Great article.

Unfortunately the hatred for the president that many have will cause them to ignore this.

One wonders if Bush had apologized to the terrorists after 9/11 and pulled out of the Middle East what the West would have to say about him now.

I think PC has dulled the senses of so many in the West that they will continue to ignore the warnings that are right in front of us in an effort to postpone the inevitable clash.

Limbic –

I think that was an overstatement. However, I agree that our reaction was an understatement. There should have been more reaction to a sovereign government putting a hit out on an author from another country.


The Arabs ask themselves “Could Israel survive without U.S. aid?”, and they answer no.
Their next question is “Why does not the West fund the relocation of the Palestinians?”. There’s part of the rage.

Iran is a major financier of international terrorism. They are virulently opposed to the U.S. as well as Israel.
Why was this not foreseen during the Shah’s reign? What precipitated such response?

Iran’s present-day Revolutionary Guards are said to be worse than the Shah’s SAVAK.
It appears to be about control.


I believe Rushdie did and does live in Britain, probably London.

There are people in the U.S. intelligence community who understand Iran quite well. People in the military community who’ve known Iran is liable to commit some rash acts in the future, some provocation beyond financing suicide bombers in Israel. These are the one’s who are active now now that Iran is close to having nuclear weapons. So it is now small-time brinksmanship games, because they know for the Iranians to use a nuke on anybody would be truly suicidal.
The international community knows that Israel would retaliate in full, with no hesitation.

So that’s the present situation: the Iranians taunt the aggressors, the West tests the desperation of Iran.

And the question for Sisyphus is if Iraq can be democratized, why can’t Egypt? the second largest recipient of U.S. funding?


I disagree with your assesment of the survivability of Israel without US aid.

The Israelis have a stroing military history and have best the Arabs in every confrontation.

I would propose this. Without the US restraining Israel they may have already dealt with the problem of radical Islam on their own.

They both have a right to survive. Israel too! In the end the strong will defeat the weak. I wouldn’t pick on them too much if I was an Arab neighbor.

Hedo, I believe your account is more accurate. Palestine may have been wholly annexed into Israel by now if not for the restraint imposed on them by the U.S.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe Israel creates a lot of its own problems. Mowing down Palestinian neighborhoods is going to do nothing but brew hatred and more terrorism.

[quote]battlelust wrote:
The Islamic radicals ARE oppossed to freedom, democracy, etc. However, the 13 year old kid whose house gets bulldozed in Gaza or smart bombed in Fallujah is the next generation of potential terrorist. And his path to terror will start with “muslim rage.” Right now, he doesn’t give a shit about the “values of the west.” But that rage is the best recruiting tool that al-queda has.[/quote]

And this is my biggest fundamental problem with the assault on Iraq and our current “strategy” (if you can call the sequence of half-planned reactions strategy) in general.


Having lived for 3 years in a country where over 10% of the population is Muslim, many of which quite fundamentalist, I’ll be the first one to say that there is completely impossible to integrate their views with the ones of the “Western World”, and that they pose a very serious problem.

I really think only the feeble minded would completely ignore the threats of Fundamentalist Muslims.

Does that mean I agree with the way Bush is approaching the problem is the right one? No.

The fundamental difference between Nazi Germany and the Muslim Fundamentalists is that Nazi Germany was smack-dab in the middle of Europe, they had a highly organized and technologically advanced army, and they had intentions on invading the rest of the World.

On the other hand, the Fundamentalist Muslims have no organized armed forces, no real technology of their own and have no intention of invading countries other than Israel (of course, if you can find a quote of a fundamentalist muslim saying they want to invade the world I’ll be happy to retreat that statement). They attack other countries not to invade them, but to terrorize them.

Now, do not get me wrong: I too believe that does not make them any less dangerous, ON THE CONTRARY

However, it does beg a different strategy from the one used with the Nazis, and makes the comparison - and hence, the lessons learned - much less direct.

I believe that both theories in the article (as to what caused muslim fundamentalists to rise against the West) to be true; it’s like a forest fire: there’s the wood (fuel) - a basic, fundamental clash in values - and then wind - the fact that they have Western troops at their door.

Now, I won’t pretend to think that just removing the wind is enough. But Bush’s strategy is, essentially, removing the fuel, which would be like wanting to cut down the whole forest. That’s simply insane - there will ALWAYS be a muslim fundamentalist group somewhere in the world. You cannot outlaw islamism like Germany outlawed nazism.

What I belive to be the right solution is to do exactly firemen do with uncontrolable forest fires: first of all, circumscribe it and prevent it from spreading. If circumscribed, fires will end up burning themselves to extinction.

In the same way, if left isolated, with no support from countries outside their already existing sphere of influence, muslim fundamentalists will eventually turn against each other and kill themselves - they don’t need our help.

Maintaing that isolation is a challenge - it requires strong diplomacy, very intense marketing of the concept of Parliamentary Democracy and a strong leader that sets an example that anyone - Christian or not - will want to follow.

But please, do not try to teach a pig to sing. It won’t work and annoys the pig!

So, don’t try to convert Muslims to concepts they not only do not understand - they do not want to understand.

And before you remind me that this strategy didn’t work before, with countries like North Korea, for example, well, North Korea is not really isolated - China has always been helping them. Much as they are helping the muslim fundamentalists right now.

So, instead of really dealing with China, what did we do? We helped China become a more powerful economy and let them grow 6% year after year. Heck, we buy their products in the millions.

Is that smart? I don’t think so. We are just creating a much bigger enemy to fight. So, even assuming we’d be able to destroy the whole forest with our all-powerful army, we have let a much bigger problem grow someplace else.

And if you’re think I’m naive by proposing a no-guns approach to getting us rid of Muslim Terrorists, well, if you believe making China a Capitalist country will make them our friends, you’re much more naive than me…

I have to say I think both sides are wrong. It all depends on definition though. If you go by the Koran alone, believe it or not it gels pretty well with Western values. However if you add onto the Koran 1) frustration at living in shitty countries under dictators 2) the fact that these dictators, some of whom claim to be our allies, activly redirect this frustration at the west 3) manipulation of Koranic interpertation to suit their opressive regimes. Then what you get are yahoos like Zarqawi, who use the same exact tactics to manipulate a poor, opressed, uneducated population.

This is what I mean when I say both sides are wrong.
The Left needs to stop thinking that US policy has created some kind of evil around the world.

And the Right needs to stop thinking everyone but them is evil.


Israel’s survivability militarily is sure, but I was referring to economic aid. Israel is the number one recipient of U.S. foreign aid. And it’s a lot.
Israel’s air force is said to be equally skilled as our own, and their tank is reputed best in the world. As far as nukes, they were given the technology after WWII but don’t admit having such.
Let’s look at their Arab neighbors: Saudi’s military is said to be a joke, almost existing on paper only. Egypt has been no match and probably still isn’t. Syria folded easily, Jordan is puny, Iraq’s out of the picture.

The remaining problems are Iran and Saudi Arabia purchasing nukes on the black market. There are factions in both countries that are fanatic enough to use nukes on Israel regardless of the consequences. Pakistan is an Islamic country, but is not Arab. But as Khan nuke network showed, the technology is available for a price.
The fall of the Soviet Union left a lot of technical expertise out of work.

Israel is the number one recipient of U.S. foreign aid. And it’s a lot. The Arabs can not forget this.
The number two recipient of U.S. aid is Egypt. It is being paid to oppress its people. Also hard to forget.

I’d like to add that I think it’s important that we distinguish between Muslim fundamentalists and Muslims. There is no getting along with the fundamentalists period. However moderate Muslims (the silent majority) tends have no inherent problems with the west. Further it’s interesting to note that the fundamentalists have killed more Muslims than they have any other group. Egyptian and Jordanian dictators won their war against domestic terrorists by showing the people that not only do they have nothing to gain from supporting these groups, but that these groups would just as easily slit their throats as they would any Westerner. If there’s any lesson to be learned from these regimes before they’re hopefully one day toppled, it’s this.


Accurate assesment and I will not argue with the economic aid. However, if we didn’t support Israel who should we of supported in the Middle East? As a side note it is reported that Israel has at leas t 80 moderm nukes deliverable by air. The middle east is small. 80 will do the job a few times over. That’s a big deterrent.


That’s an interesting perspective but I think maybe a western one. I don’t believe the Qu’ran gels with western values. I think it mostly endorses the dominance of Islam over the infidel and if we are allowed to live then we should be taxed and subjugated. I’m not saying it can’t be changed and modernized. I’m just saying it is what it is at this point in time.

I disagree, the Koran talks about 2 groups of people, 1) the so called “People of the book” these include Jews, Christians, and Muslims and 2) the “non-believers” aka non-people of the book (those who worship mutiple gods). Regarding group 1 it instructs Muslims to live side by side with them,allow them to live within their Islamic countrys, and treat them with tolerance. Regarding group 2, it basically has a zero-tolerance attitude towards them. As in let them be, but be ready to strike if they step out of line. It’s been a while since I’ve read up on this but I believe what I’ve written to be correct.

Regarding the whole “infidel” and seeing the west as “infidels”. This is largly a fundamentalist view-point and not a Koranic one.


What you are quoting from the Qu’ran is what is broadcast by the media and studied in Western Universities.

The Qu’ran instructs believers to subjugate the infidel. Read the Hadith’s which were written to explain the verses from the life of Mohammed.

As to the Jews…the Qu’ran does not treat them kindly. Sorry to disagree but it just does not.

The part about peoples of the book are correct.

As to fundamentalists. The Qu’ran does not address them. It adresses good Muslims and bad. Good Muslims are not the moderates we hope take over. The description of a good Muslim, in the book, describes a fundamentalist.


I was referring to sections of the Koran which I have read directly with my own eyes, not what the media tells me.

Secondly, the Hadith books are not part of the Islam but are books written by Muslims that attempt to interpret the Koran. The Koran asserts itself as the only book of reference regarding the religion of Islam. And so to say that to be a Muslim is to be a follower of Hadith is incorrect. Although, many Muslims do follow Hadith (some even more so than they follow the Koran). Regarding the fundamentalists, they are not at all supported by the Koran, they can however find support for their arguements in Hadith.

The point I’m trying to make is that Hadith is not part of Islam, which is precisly why I used the word “Koran”.

And so it should be understood that our beef is not with those who follow the Koran, but with those who follow Hadith.
It should also be noted that many Arab royals and dictators throughout the ages have used Hadith as a source of opression.

I believe that if the middle-east is liberated and freedom and education are allowed to spread, they will go back to disecting the Koran, realize that Hadith is an invalid text and come to embrace the same values which we here in the US embrace (speficially the bill of rights.)

I’d be interested in seeing any verses in the Koran that stress domination of the “infidels”.