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by Sam Holliday

This essay analyzes the nature of the threat to Western culture from Islamic extremism, the “Third Jihad,” and proposes a strategy to counter it by promoting stability, energy independence, containment, and improved communications, while encouraging Muslims who oppose Islamic extremists, improving irregular warfare capabilities, and strengthening Western will. – Ed.

In his 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington predicts a clash between the West and the Islamic world as some Muslims continue their attempt to establish the Great Caliphate – in which everyone is governed by “the ways of the Prophet.” In 1921 Hendrick Van Loon, in The Story of Mankind, described the struggle between the cross and the crescent. He explains how peaceful Arab shepherds listened to Muhammad, mounted their horses, drew their swords, and in less than a century pushed to the heart of Europe and proclaimed the glories of Allah, “the only God,” and Muhammad, “the prophet of the only God.”

Today we face the third episode in the Great Jihad (Holy War). The current so-called War on Terror could be a precursor for a final Clash of Civilizations, or it might be only a skirmish, which if handled correctly can prevent death and destruction of a magnitude the world has never seen. This essay is an attempt to determine the nature of the current threat to Western culture and to suggest what should be done.

Possible Outcomes
If ever there is conflict to the point that either Western culture or Islamic culture is utterly vanquished the world will be fundamentally altered. There will be more death and destruction than in World War I, II, and the Cold War combined. Terror will be an everyday occurrence, and weapons of mass destruction will kill millions. Our challenge is not to accept the inevitability of this final Clash of Civilizations, but to do whatever is possible to prevent it. True excellence is not killing all of your enemies, but defeating your enemies without killing.

Reasonable people must have the conviction, knowledge, and courage to challenge the extremists on both sides – evildoers (Hirabahists) and postmodernists. However, from what we see on TV reasonable people might be in short supply.

Reasonable Muslims around the world need to step forward and challenge those advocating the Third Jihad, for they are subverting Islam to advance their own agenda. The extremists call themselves jihadists (holy warriors), but they are hateful unholy warriors (Hirabahists) defaming the Prophet Muhammad.

Reasonable Westerners, and their allies around the world, need to prevent postmodern thinking from weakening Western culture to the point it is unwilling to defend itself and becomes an easy target for conquest by the Third Jihad. Postmodern thought attempts to eliminate or modify many of the roles, rules, standards, and character that were accepted as proper, good, and right in Western culture prior to the 1960s. Postmodernism visualizes “progress” toward an ideal “Postmodern Culture” that is nonjudgmental and nondiscriminatory, in which disagreements are resolved by universal law, debate, and compromise – but never by the use of force.

The Role of Islam
It is true that there are many violent apostates (Hirabahists) in mainstream Shi’a and Sunni Islam who claim they are faithful to the teachings of Muhammad. They often claim that the only basis in the Qur’an for Muslims to address non-Muslims is to struggle until the non-believers are converted, expelled, or destroyed. If most Muslims accept this view, the final Clash of Civilizations is inevitable.

But the teachings of Muhammad are not so simple – they combine opposites: struggle and tolerance. They present several kinds of jihad. It all depends on what Muslims are led to read into Muhammad’s words and actions. Hopefully there are Muslims who want to avoid the death and destruction of the final Clash of Civilizations. If so, they must find ways to be faithful to the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an while they stress inner jihad for themselves and practice compassion, mercy, and tolerance toward non-Muslims. However, this is certainly a long shot. Yet we must convince any such Muslims that they are our allies – that all Muslims are not our enemies.

Initially Muhammad spoke to the pagans who worshipped the meteorite now enclosed by the Kabba at Mecca. Islam was then expanded into a reform movement – in part to replace Judaism and Christianity that had, according to the Prophet Muhammad, gone astray and were no longer the proper legacy of Abraham, Moses, David, and Solomon. The Qur’an clearly states that the Bible is false, and rejects Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. Islam from the very start was a religion of struggle, both inner and against non-believers. It sought to eliminate temptations that the devil might use to erode commitment to Allah. It sought to get all people to submit to Allah. Islam does not give a high priority to economic wealth, prosperity, freedom, self worth, or comfort. Islam seeks purity. Thus in many ways Muslim true believers (Hirabahists) are not concerned about non-Islamic religions or Western armed forces. It has more to do with the threat they see from non-Islamic ways, i.e. movies, pop culture, dress, and behavior. The challenge we all face is to show that Islamic purity is compatible with Western Culture – a very difficult challenge.

Islam is hostile to pluralistic, representative, secular government, since true believers consider Qur’an law and its sharia derivatives the only basis for governance. It is true that Christianity, Shinto, and other religions also do not have stellar records in this regard. However, dhimmi status (subordinate, disfranchised residents subject to discriminatory taxation and limits on freedom) is unique to Islam. Only when Islam controls a country and all non-Muslims have accepted dhimmi status can evildoers (Hirabahists) accept diversity.

Neither Islamic fundamentalism nor Western postmodernism can tolerate the coexistence of religion and reason. Neither will accept the suggestions in the lecture of Pope Benedict XVI at Regensburg on 12 September 2006. The Pope called for the rejection of dogmatic faith, cultural relativism, and forced conversion. But these seeds of hope fell on the unwelcoming ground of Islamic fundamentalism and Western postmodernism. Even some fundamentalist Christians did not welcome the Pope’s comments.

Islamic extremists see nonbelievers as too weak, too easily tempted, too confused to govern themselves; therefore, they must be shown the way, and protected, by scholar-jurists that know the way of Allah. With the same reasoning, postmodernists think people must be shown the way, and protected, by secular authority. The evildoers (Hirabahists) see the Third Jihad as a way to seek their utopian vision of restoring Islamic rule to all lands ever ruled by Muslims but now governed by Christians, Jews, and apostate Muslims. The secular transnational postmodernists of the West are equality rigid in their convictions as they seek their utopian vision of a worldwide postmodern culture that is nonjudgmental, nondiscriminatory, and in which disagreements are resolved by law, debate and compromise – but never by the use of force.

It is true that Islamic extremists want to expel Western influences from all territory formerly under Muslim control. They want their politico-economic and philosophical views to be dominant. While most insurgents in the past were motivated by a utopian view of a better world with economic equality and social fraternity, Islamic extremists seek spiritual purity in the eyes of Allah. They seek to protect people from worldly temptations; therefore they attempt to remove anything that will prevent people from submitting to Allah. Postmodernists solve the same problem by giving in to all temptations, thereby making the very idea of “temptations” moot.

Strategy of the Third Jihad
It is a mistake to focus only on terror. The strategy of the Third Jihad is far more complex. It is to be expected that the media, politicians, and those trained for conventional War will focus on the violence of Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Taliban. After all, this is why the current conflict is called a War on Terror – although terror is only a tactic.

However, the most significant threat to Western culture comes from non-violent means: infiltration into Western countries; the conversion of people to Islam; subversion of Western institutions – particularly academic; manipulation of the media; demonstrations and other forms of confrontation; penetration of Western political parties through funding; and manipulation of Western legal systems. The objective is to undermine confidence in traditional values as well as legal and political systems. This is not to suggest that terror, and the direct action units of Al-Queda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Taliban, are not important tools used by the Third Jihad, but to suggest that they are not necessarily the most important. Neutralizing those using terror tactics is a necessary condition, but it is not a sufficient condition.

The Third Jihad is a continuation of a religiously inspired movement based on an ideology teaching that it is every Muslim’s duty to use any means necessary to compel everyone’s submission to “the way of the Prophet.” After Muhammad’s death, in the seventh century, the First Jihad spread under the caliphs (vice regents) west from Medina across North Africa and then into Spain, France, and Italy, and east across the Middle East deep into Southwest Asia. Then Islam consolidated its control of the lands conquered. The First Jihad ended in 1492 when Islam was driven out of Spain. The Second Jihad started with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The Ottoman Turks then implanted Islam in the Balkans and established hegemony over lands from North Africa to India. The Second Jihad was stopped in 1682 with an unsuccessful attempt to capture Vienna; it was held in check during the modern era (eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) by European power, and ended in 1924. In 1979 the Third Jihad started with the Shah of Iran being overthrown by Shiite followers of Ayatollah Khomeini. It was given focus in February 1998 with a Sunni fatwa, which declared war on America and its allies. The Third Jihad is just another effort to spread Islam – and to take down the Great Satan.

The goal of the Third Jihad is to replace all secular governments from Morocco to Indonesia with a single Great Caliphate that would then be able to convert the rest of the world to Islam. This is why it is an illusion to think that the threat will end just as soon as Western armed forces are withdrawn from the Middle East.

Among the tactics and techniques used by the Third Jihad are:

  • Infiltrating and taking over existing political, social, campus, and cultural organizations to realign them towards the goals of the Third Jihad;
  • Using deception to mask the intended goals;
  • Cultivating the intellectual community into “understanding Islam,” including the establishment of think-tanks and advocacy groups and publishing “academic” studies, to legitimize positions of the Third Jihad and to chronicle the peaceful history of Islam;
  • Using destructive criticism to weaken those in authority by suggesting they are an elite mistreating the “disadvantaged” for their own personal interests;
  • Maintaining the appearance of “moderation” by avoiding public alliances with known terrorist organizations and individuals;
  • Involving ideologically committed Muslims in democratic institutions on all levels in Europe and America, including government, NGOs, private organizations and labor unions;
  • Using existing Western institutions until they can be converted and put into the service of the Third Jihad;
  • Monitoring Western media in order to quickly respond to “smears against Muslims;”
  • Forming alliances with Western “progressive” organizations that can provide aid and support to Islamic action groups;
  • Keeping Muslims living in the West “in a jihad frame of mind;”
  • Establishing a right to Sharia law within their communities;
  • Making the Palestinian cause a global wedge issue for all Muslims;
  • Collecting funds to indefinitely support the Third Jihad globally; and
  • Establishing financial networks to fund actions in target countries.

These tactics and techniques are used differently within each target country to weaken or overthrow those in authority. However, the Third Jihad does have a general strategy of five stages in which conflict moves from peace, through irregular warfare, to war. This is the same strategy used by insurgents for centuries. The tactics and techniques listed above are the activities by the insurgents – who can be either home grown or from other countries – during the first, second, and third stages. Terror is not used in the first stage (Creation), and it has an insignificant role in the second stage (Organization). Terror plays an important role in the third stage (Control of the People) and is expanded in the fourth stage (Territorial Control), as the conflict becomes hybrid war. In the final stage (Overthrow) violence goes beyond terror to become conflict between the insurgents/embryonic state and the authorities of a state/failed state. In fact often the final stage can accurately be called a civil war.

Creation. A few individuals organize clandestinely. They increase the size of the underground and attempt to cause or accentuate insecurity among the people and weaken the government’s influence.

Organization. The leaders continue to build their organization, camouflaging it behind legitimate political, social, humanitarian, campus, religious, and labor organizations. Action to cause insecurity and dissatisfaction grows bolder with strikes, riots, selective terrorism, and intimidation. The insurgents’ aim at this stage is to cause the officials to react awkwardly and to take politically unwise steps.

Control of the People. Direct action units are organized, but terrorism is restricted. The aim is to weaken loyalty to the government. Warfare is everywhere and nowhere. The insurgents control certain areas, which the police avoid. The goal is to transfer the loyalty of the people from the government to the insurgent organization.

Territorial Control. The insurgents create a base of operations and establish a “liberation government” to rival the legal authorities. Direct action units start to operate from the base areas, and the use of terror increases. Psychological operations, to gain approval for the insurgents and contempt for the government, are intensified both internally and externally.

Overthrow. Operations are conducted to cause the fall of the government and to establish the insurgents as the legal government. During this stage the conflict might remain irregular warfare or it might be transformed into civil war.

Strategy to Defeat the Third Jihad
More effective ways to neutralize the tactics, techniques and strategies of the Third Jihad must be used in the future if it is to be defeated. We must defeat, deter, or neutralize our enemy. In irregular warfare there is never the final victory of conventional war – success is defined by stability. First, we must recognize that destroying a few leaders will not end the Third Jihad. The leaders represent an important segment of our enemy, but not its totality. Second, we do not want to make Islam or an entire culture our enemy. Third, we must recognize that the demise of Israel will not mean an end of the Third Jihad, even though Israel will always be used to rally support for the Third Jihad. Fourth, we must recognize that withdrawal from the Middle East will only embolden the evildoers (Hirabahists) and make the final clash of civilizations more likely.

The best strategy for those that want to defend Western culture would be to:

  1. Assure that Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East, is stabilized and that worldwide no state is willing to support insurgents attempting to overthrow those in authority.
  2. Work toward energy independence through: (a) developing alternative sources of oil so that our economy is not dependent on energy sources that our enemies can disrupt; (b) using less oil, and less energy overall, while maintaining our standard of living; (c) developing new sources of energy – primarily nuclear.
  3. Adopt a policy of containment until the faults within the Third Jihad cause its ideological certitude to collapse, and pursue policies, both overt and covert, to hasten this collapse.
  4. Face the fact that communication superiority is a prerequisite for success in irregular warfare, just as air superiority is a prerequisite for victory in conventional war. To date we have been ineffective in the strategic communication campaign to strengthen the will of our own people, to weaken the will of our enemies, and gain the support of people around the world. In the current battle of wills, strategic communication is the center of gravity. This conflict is not to be won through economic, diplomatic, and military means.
  5. Develop a message as effective as Muhammad’s in winning hearts and minds and a sociopolitical structure based on that message which is more powerful than that of the global revivalist movement known as the Third Jihad.  Recognize that the true believers of the Third Jihad are willing to suffer, sacrifice, deceive, kill, conquer, and die for their cause. Recognize that we need true believers in our cause.
  6. 6. Encourage the respected leaders and scholars of the Islamic world to condemn those using violence in the name of Islam in religious terms, rather than in Western secular terms, and condemn those in the West who give aid, comfort, and support to the evildoers (Hirabahists).
  7. Make a distinction between war, irregular warfare, and peace and develop stability forces, distinctive from war fighting forces, specifically for operations in irregular warfare. Integrate members of all government agencies (specifically Defense, State, CIA, USIA, USAID, and Commerce) into the stability forces. Deploy war fighting forces as a deterrent in peace and irregular warfare but only engage them in combat for extended periods of time with a declaration of war by Congress. Use stability forces in overt and covert operations during peace and irregular warfare. Revise the JCS Unified Command Plan into a National Security Operations Plan so that the stability forces have adequate supervision and support during peace and irregular warfare.
  8. Take actions to counter the effects of postmodern thought on Western culture. The weakening of the will in Europe and America, and ability to protect Western culture as it developed in the modern era (until the 1960s), has many causes. Partly it is the result of actions by those disillusioned by World War I and World War II, and partly it is the result of the cycle of rise and fall common to all groups. The ability to counter the Third Jihad depends on strengthening the will of all of those who value Western culture.

We need to become more skillful in getting others to build their own nations at little or no cost to us. Those identifying with the nation being built must accomplish nationbuilding. Others can assist, but the leadership, dedication, vision, and energy must come from within – from those who are part of the nation being built. At the heart of nationbuilding is the creation and maintenance of a common sense of identity from which behavior is self regulated without coercion. Neocolonialists (those of the Wilsonian School) often assumed that the United States can build nations – this is foolhardy.

Nationbuilding requires continual attention to four interrelated tasks:

  1. Achieve stability within a specific territory.
  2. Provide effective local authority.
  3. Organize and motivate the people.
  4. Satisfy aspirations of the people.

Achieving stability is a prerequisite for the other three tasks. However, stability cannot be seen as an end in itself. It is merely a means to the end of nationbuilding. However, when the focus is on the creation of a state, actions to control the territory of that state can be carried to the extreme – such actions actually hinder nationbuilding since they do not produce a self-regulating equilibrium. This has been a major reason the neo-colonialists have failed to achieve long-term benefits.

Stability is achieved when the government of a state has a monopoly on force within the territory of that state, and no other group within that territory is willing, or thinks it is able, to use force to achieve political ends. Police forces of the provinces must be integrated into an alliance coordinated by the central government. In addition the central government would have armed forces stronger than any of the provinces. Any group committed to the use of force to weaken or overthrow the established government, i.e. insurgents, must be neutralized. It makes no difference where the insurgents come from.

  • First of all, this requires an effective intelligence system that will allow rapid response to any attempt at intimidation by the insurgent group, or payment to it.
  • When terrorism becomes a tool, policing appropriate for ordinary crime must be supplemented with counterinsurgency units, tactics and techniques. This will usually require some temporary limitations on civil rights and the legal system. This will require agreement on a social contract, which establishes limits on police activity, and the appropriate checks and balances. Finally, if the insurgent group gains control of any territory, control must be regained, with armed force if necessary, and the leaders must be neutralized.

A second task of nationbuilding is to provide effective local authority. Each individual lives in a concrete, human, face-to-face world of clear and specific events and situations. Aspirations and an unseen environment may shape his spiritual and material life, but he knows through what he sees, hears, smells, and feels. This nationbuilding task provides local leadership – leadership which is: alert for signs of problems, inequalities, and injustices; able to use initiative and flexibility to win loyalty and produce results; capable of countering acts of intimidation, violence, and destruction; able to see that everyone can earn a decent living; loyal to the established institutions; creates a climate to encourage civilian investment; and is capable of educating each individual with values that blend freedom, ambition, duty, and responsibility in accordance with the customs and traditions of his nation. These judgments must be as seen through the eyes of the people and culture involved; they should not be as perceived through postmodern views in a wealthy, western, secular state.

The third nationbuilding task is to organize and motivate the people. A nation is no more than people welded together by a common destiny, which binds together tomorrow, today, and yesterday into an active whole. This nationbuilding task creates and maintains shared values, attitudes, habits, and goals which shape the institutions through which a nation lives and grows: the patterns of cooperation and conflict; the fabric of sanctioned relationships; the unseen lines of magnetic strength which link, join, and confine; the elusive cultural environment. This task creates kinship.

The fourth nationbuilding task is to satisfy aspirations of the people. The fuel of progress is the never-ending attempt to satisfy aspirations. Aspirations can unite people in a common effort; yet, aspirations can set one against another, preventing progress. Satisfying aspirations is an elusive, two-faced task of nationbuilding. Sole concern with satisfying aspirations can only result in turmoil, frustration, and bitterness; as past aspirations are approached new and more demanding ones are invented. This task means that each nation has its own, unique, ideology. For all Arab-Muslim countries this means a replacement of the pseudo-religious radicalism taught in the mosques with the progressive, compassionate teaching of Islam. This task, just like achieving stability, will actually hinder nationbuilding when it is carried to an extreme.

If this conceptual framework is to be useful, actions to accomplish these four tasks must be interrelated, and the building and maintenance of a nation must be seen as a never-ending process.

Muslim extremists (Hirabahists) are indeed a serious threat to modern Western culture, but so is postmodernism.

We should attempt to weaken the evildoers (Hirabahists) through separating them from those Muslims who accept pluralism, and through encouraging secular Muslim states to neutralize them. While our strategy must attempt to eliminate the evildoers (Hirabahists), it must also seek alliance with those Muslims who want spiritual purity in the eyes of Allah together with better lives – freedom, equality, self-determination, representative government, and the pursuit of happiness.

Western culture must be freed from the decline and decay caused by postmodern thought. The balance between secular authority (the control of behavior through the rule of law) and sacred authority (the control of behavior through shared moral, ethical, and religious convictions that provide an inner compass for individuals) must be reestablished. Traditional patriotism needs to be respected, and national identity must be valued more than multiculturalism and diversity.

The U.S. government needs to reorganize so as to reflect the reality of irregular warfare, rather than the War and Peace dichotomy of the past 300 years.

Copyright © 2008
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Sam C. Holliday is a graduate of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, a former director of Stability Studies at the Army War College, and a retired army colonel. He earned a master’s in public affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in international relations from the University of South Carolina.

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