The West hasn’t begun to fight Islamism


The West hasn’t begun to fight Islamism

We are failing to make progress in the struggle against Islamism, argues Simon Gordon. The Islamist ascendancy in majority Muslim countries is at the root of its appeal in Muslim communities beyond them.

I know that, for many who work in Parliament, yesterday’s attack was shocking. The realisation that the complex is not the impregnable fortress it might seem is disconcerting.

But, for me, the experience felt familiar. I used to work for London’s Israeli Embassy, where bomb scares and terror threats were not uncommon. On a short trip to Jerusalem nine years ago, I was a mile away when a terrorist drove a bulldozer into a bus, killing three. The last day of my Junior Sixth year, twelve years ago, was spent evacuating the school, in the heart of the City, in the hours following the July 7th bombings. Four years earlier, we had been evacuated as a precaution as the September 11th attacks unfolded.

The constant risk of Islamist terrorism is something many in my generation have grown up with. It feels almost routine.

Even those who have come to accept the normality of terror attacks, however, invariably stop short of recognising the prevalence of the ideology behind them. We’re told instead the threat comes from an extremist fringe.

These unhappy few, we often hear, have been radicalised by Western policy. In the UK and the US, terrorism is blamed on the Iraq War. In France and Belgium, the blame falls on state-sponsored ghettoisation of poor immigrants in forgotten banlieues.

In either case, the contention is that Islamism is a reactive phenomenon.

That argument betrays a profound cognitive dissonance. It ignores the fact that in majority Muslim countries throughout the Middle East, what we call Islamism is not just common, but dominant.

In the Sunni world, Wahabbist Islam has filled the vacuum left by the collapse of Nasserist pan-Arabism. In the Shia world, its counterpart is the political Islam of the ayatollahs under which Iran has been ruled since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Islamism underpins the governing philosophy of both the revolutionary groups that drove the Arab Spring, like the Muslim Brotherhood, and establishment regimes, like the House of Saud.

It is indicative of Islamism’s pre-eminence that its most prominent opponent in the Middle East – President Sisi of Egypt – is a strongman general who preserves his power primarily through force.

The Islamist ascendancy in majority Muslim countries is at the root of its appeal in Muslim communities beyond them. When IS, Al Qaeda et al can inspire attacks in countries as diverse as China, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, the US, and the UK, the idea that Islamism is a response to individual government policies or socioeconomic conditions falls flat. Rather, its appeal in the West reflects the lack of a compelling alternative. It is the key ideological export from the heart of the Muslim world. It is broadcasting on every channel.

The standard post-attack response rings hollow considering Islamism’s success. The tepid defences of “our values”, which are never really defined. The vapid expressions of solidarity on social media – because they can take our lives, but they can never take our Facebook profiles. Least convincingly of all, the disingenuous protests of defiance that life goes on as normal – even though I’m writing this surrounded by double the normal number of police, and a low-level surveillance state has been constructed – freedom notwithstanding – solely to prevent terror attacks.

The platitudes rankle because the West is deliberately not fighting the ideology – especially at its source. Winning hearts and minds in Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t work, so the West gave up, as David Cameron put it, “dropping democracy from 10,000 feet”. Indeed, what unites the Obamacrat left, the Cameroon centre, and the Trumpist right is the view that Western mores can’t – and shouldn’t – be imposed on the Middle East. History suggests that view is correct.

The problem is that no alternative strategy has emerged instead. Trump’s response is to curb immigration from the Middle East, but that doesn’t address home-grown Islamists. Cameron’s was to argue that Islamism is an inauthentic form of Islam – as if aspiring Muslim fundamentalists look to Anglicans for their hermeneutics. As for Obama, his “we’re sorry” tour of the Middle East – followed by a full-scale American retreat from the region – proved to be less antidote than catalyst.

Terrorism can be contained, if not eliminated. Arguably, terrorists in Western countries are resorting to low-tech methods and lone-wolf attacks because intelligence services have successfully penetrated the larger terror cells necessary for complicated plans. Western bombing campaigns in the Middle East have helped defeat terrorist enclaves, at least until the next one emerges. Still, whack-a-mole is better than nothing.

But we’re not making progress. The Islamists remain proactive. The West is always reacting to their agenda. We don’t have a strategy to defeat the ideology at its source; it may not be possible to do so.

We may not be losing. But let’s not pretend that we’re winning.

4.78 avg. rating (95% score) - 27 votes
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  • Simon Gordon
    Simon Gordon
    Simon Gordon has worked as a speechwriter for Douglas Carswell MP and the Ambassador of Israel to the Court of St. James’s, and as assistant editor of Mosaic Magazine in New York. He writes in a personal capacity.
    • Jacques Hughes

      How about a couple of immediate practical steps: child benefit for maximum two kids & stop providing free translation services across the NHS and other government departments – learn the language or leave.

    • Ozfan

      Two high level strategies – I don’t have the details though!

      Without oil money sent to the ME (Saudi, Iran, Qatar, etc.,) these countries will revert to being backwaters and Islam fade and die back away, as it was until the oil boom. Also without oil money, these countries couldn’t bribe our politicos with our own money. So we need to go green, nuclear, whatever, but don’t be dependent on ME oil and gas for energy.

      Islam cannot support and develop the people who generate wealth in a modern nation. Which is why large Muslim populations in Western countries are an increasing dead weight burden and a disaffected burden. We need to ween them away from Islam somehow. Start with the women I think. Can’t really be much fun walking around in a bin liner.

    • RationalEnvironmentalist

      The problem is oil. End saudi control of oil and you end saudi promotion of isis and radical immams and mosques.You in effect end muslim blackmail.

    • Dynamo11

      We need to give Islam a moderate answer, legislate against it across the left and make it clear “Either you adapt or you leave”. As of right now the Islamic standard bearer is being driven by countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, unfortunately their success is pushing countries like Turkey towards becoming an Islamic state at every level. Ban the hijab, ban the madrasses and make it clear Sharia will never be tolerated either officially or clandestinely. If the Saudis have a problem with this then maybe knocking them on their arse can take them down a notch

      • PAD

        Islamic standard bearers are thick one the ground here too.
        Mehdi Hasan is one to watch…CLOSELY!

    • ratcatcher11

      The people of Britain know how to defeat the terrorists and it’s not appeasement as conducted by Corbyn and co. Contain the contagion and then eliminate it. The use of drones has been fabulously successful in destroying ISIS and other terrorist groups, but mopping up operations by special forces will also be needed. Any politician who panders to these terrorists should be expelled from parliament and if they continue with their support, they should be gaoled. The kid gloves treatment has never worked with fanatics and will not work in the future. Lastly, the Christian church should extend the hand of conversion and stop being mealy mouthed about our enemies.

    • Odo Saunders

      How about freezing diplomatic relations and the bank accounts of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran until they are forced to stop sponsoring state terrorism? Do we have to financially prostitute ourselves with these countries in order to win a few commercial contracts? Let us not follow the example of countries such as France, who have no problem standing on commercial street corners selling themselves to any punter with a bit of cash.

    • Raj2016

      No politician, no media outlet, nobody with any influence is saying the blinding obvious – Islam needs a reformation. We are seeing a return to the violent 7th century teachings in the Quran. Islam came about through terror and bloodshed, We are now witnessing a return to it. Until Islam reforms, we will never see an end to the terror on our streets.

    • Sir Harry Plunket-Greene

      Perhaps forced deportations of those who espouse islamism. No problem with law abiding muslims, who respect the rest of the population, but once they start preaching hate and turning away from the rest of society, then we should just get rid. Either shape up or get out.

    • jaundicedi

      How about starting with the vigorous defence of the principles underlying liberal democracy?
      Freedom of speech: taking offence should be mocked not rewarded and blasphemy of whatever flavour relegated to the history of ideas. The removal of funding from publicly supported foundations especially universities where noplatforming is practiced. The promotion of Draw Mohammed events, satire of Islamic sensitivities as a direct challenge to Muslims: to be assimilable they must accept these affronts as an essential part of the market place of ideas which has created our extraordinary prosperous and creative Western civilisation.
      Freedom of conscience: no more silencing of those with unfashionable views whether Brexit, populist or whatever the political/media elite condemn; support for apostates from Islam; political sanction against those countries where minorities or independent thinkers are persecuted.
      Equality before the law for the individual, not favouring fashionable “victim” groups, not ignoring misogyny, homophobia, intimidation, voter fraud within the unassimilated ghettoes permitted to proliferate. Citizens should be participants within society so no seclusion of women, no translators at public expense, no toleration of animal cruelty just because it is a religious requirement for slaughter.
      No residence for those unwilling to support these principles, no support for mosques preaching shariah which is counter to them, no charitable status for those organisations supporting Islam because it is a totalitarian political ideology.

    • Wally-Jumblatt

      I think you let the American Empire off the hook, too much.

      The US’ way of controlling the World for at least three quarters of the last Century has been the catalyst for all ‘foreign’ dissent. Imposing US values through banking, investment, corruption from South Americay right around the globe. In most countries the workers were the opposition, but in the Islamic countries, the Imams and Mullahs saw the opportunity. Decadent Western values made a convenient target. Without the US manipulation, there would have been no Ayatolla Khomeni in Iran, no post-Saddam vacuum in Iraq, fewer ugly dictators in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Central America, maybe even Israel.
      With the fall of the old USSR, Pax Americana was just let loose, and we reap the whirlwind now. The nadir was probably the Iraq occupation which had no plan whatsoever to bring employment to Arab youth. There were a thousand infrastructure projects they could have busied themselves with, instead they let them sit around and foment hatred against each other in the first instance, and the outside world later.
      Then the investment banks speculating on basic staple commodities provoked the Arab Spring and ultimately the mass exodus to Europe.

      Trump has to obviously look after his personal safety before anything else, but you would hope that he has a plan to disentangle the US from the worst of their international adventures. That would make a huge difference.

      Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

      Pity, I like the idea of the USA.

    • Little Black Censored

      One of the very few good articles I have read on the subject.
      I doubt whether there is such a thing as Islamophobia; fear of Islam is entirely rational and should determine Government policy.

      • PAD

        The most observant and authentic description of the problem.
        Well thought through by UKIP writer.

    • Derek

      The “Religion Of Peace” has always been very keen on conquest
      See ‘1,400 Years of Christian/Islamic Struggle: An Analysis’ .
      …The Muslim wars of imperialist conquest have been launched for almost 1,500 years against hundreds of nations, over millions of square miles (significantly larger than the British Empire at its peak)….

      We are no saints but at least don’t pretend we are peaceful when we go about trying to take over the rest of the world.

      Human rights are poor in Muslim countries because human rights are incompatible with Islam and Islam comes an easy first and human rights an easy last .

    • Carvetii

      H/T Rick from Going Postal

      “I disapprove of Trafalgar Square being used for bogus propaganda purposes. Muslims are killing kaffirs and kaffirs are being taxed so that the government can pay muslims to breed. In what f***ing way are muslims not winning?”

    • Speedy

      The answer is simple, but no western politician has the balls to admit it.

      Wherever muslims go, violence and barbarism follows. The only solution is to stop all muslim immigration to the west, and start ejecting those already here that cause trouble.

      Secondly, Saudi Arabia needs to be given a clear message that the days of sponsoring terrorism and Islamic takeover of Europe are over. In fact the entire Islamic world should be quarantined by the civilised world until they collectively grow up.

      • Alan

        Not enough. I suggest testing a nuclear missile on Riyadh. Then testing another on Mecca.

        • Speedy

          I agree, turning that barbaric hellhole into the worlds largest pane of glass would be in the interest of the whole of humanity.

      • Pete Austin

        No need, it’s already happening without the West lifting a finger. US fracking means the oil price will stay low, so Saudi has less money for everything.

      • ethanedwards2002

        It amazes me that the very people escaping fear and persecution in their previous barbaric vile countries. Once they get established here seek to make our country just like the one they were too scared to live in.
        Odd that.

    • EnglandLaments

      Perhaps a start could be made, if we ended the fiction of the asylum system and stopped ferrying illegal migrants across the Mediterranean.
      Why invite our enemies in?

    • Debs

      An honest article at last…….What many know but feel increasingly frustrated by our hand wringing politicians and BBC. A block on mosque funding from Saudi Arabia , Iran and the rest should be a high priority. Some one ,probably a politician also needs to be courageous and articulate that Islamaphobia is an invented word that stops any legitimate discussion of the way forward to tackle extremists. If you can’t speak about it you cannot solve it. There are many laws to deal with genuine hate crime and hate speech.

    • f1_karen

      “But let’s not pretend that we’re winning.”

      If only those words resonated through the corridors of power, because I honestly believe that they think we are, we absolutely are not.

    • CheshireRed

      It would help if politicians weren’t afraid of calling out Islam for the social and cultural problem that it is. No other religion on earth causes so much trouble for everyone else yet our ‘leaders’ dance around the issue and pretend it doesn’t exist. It does. See Mrs May’s craven Commons speech yesterday for evidence. If ANY other organisation, religion or activist group behaved like followers of Islam do it would be banned in an instant, and all that is before we address the threat from the demographic bomb. Instead of apologies and concern about ‘Islamophobia’ (see Guardian, Met Police and numerous liberal-minded politico’s) we need robust action, and at present we’re not getting it.

    • Ian Walker

      Good analysis. Assuming we avoid the temptation to turn the middle east into a radioactive wasteland, then it seems to me that the best approach is to cut off their money – e.g. invest in non-oil sources of energy. Unfortunately that will have a short term effect of increasing the levels of violence, but we’re in ‘ripping off the plaster’ territory now.

      • captainslugwash

        We don’t need to control what goes on abroad, that is our biggest, and most repeated mistake.
        We should however make it very difficult for Islam to operate, never mind flourish in the UK, particularly if funded from abroad.
        As Bill says, it’s not going to happen until we get the Left-PC brigade under control.

        • PAD

          Under control and OUT OF POLITICS!

      • Bill

        The cancer of political correctness is another factor. Listen again to the pathetic words of the assistant deputy Met commissioner on the evening of the latest atrocity. Until sane, sensible people can express themselves freely and without criticism we have no chance against the Islamist threat. Third-rate politicians like Harriet Harman worry more about what words we use than they do about any sort of discussion on tackling the underlying threat. In parts of the UK it’s already too late. Luton, anyone?

        • Paul Williams

          Harman would find it preferable if people were blown to pieces rather than offend Islam.

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