How to explain the rise of Islamofascism? One word: Success

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By Sol Sanders

Sol W. Sanders

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It’s no secret the strength of the Islamofascists throughout the whole umma — the Islamic world — is growing.

Whether you look to the U.K. where authorities admit they have more suspects among Britain-born Moslems than agents to cover them, or to growing neo-Taliban on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border — whom the Vice President has just taken a look at — numbers are increasing.


If you were to believe President Bush’s Democratic Party critics, it is because the U.S. President took his eye off the ball and went after the Saddam dictatorship. That, they say, diverted emphasis from Osama Bin Laden and his acolytes, who perpetrated 9/11.

Another explanation — from older critics — is Washington has not attacked “fundamental causes”. That is PC for the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio: were Washington to solve the Palestine issue, things would cool off throughout Arabia and the Moslem world.

Still another stream of criticism takes the line Islamofascists flourish because of America’s image. Never the multilateristas say has U.S. prestige and influence been less because of a militant unilateral foreign policy. Proved, they say, according to public opinion polls throughout the Moslem world.

It is possible to deal with this last argument quickly. Any media consumer over the last decade knows how many times opinion polls have been dead wrong — in election after election, for example. Those of us who have lived in these countries can only be appalled that such polls are taken seriously.

In most cases, the pollsters have a choice: they can poll the generally tiny, apartheid, elites or try to sample a largely functionally illiterate mass. To sample the first is to examine the heart of the anomaly in the Arab/Moslem world. One has only to dine, as I have, with bright, young, Baluch women in New York City, flaunting their décolleté, spouting the latest PC talk, taking up the most anti-American sloganeering while they lap up life in the West. They can because at home in Pakistan where I met their relatives, they would live in a totally feudal environment, with only their servants on whom to vent their spleen, lucky were they not sealed up in purdah [veiled]. Their sisters and brothers who have not escaped — and most would were they able — respond to the pollsters from their convoluted feelings. Remember that most of the 9/11 suicide activists came from just such schizophrenic backgrounds.

There is no doubt the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a rallying point for the Islamofascists. But some three dozen wars have taken place in the Mideast since World War II. Almost all had nothing to do with the effort of the Arabs to push the Jews into the sea. Whether it was Yemeni tribals fighting the Saudis [who asked and got Pakistan support] or Saddam’s eight-year bloodbath with the Iranians, Israel was not an issue. Would anyone seriously claim bloody Sunni-Shia conflict in Iraq today has anything to do with Israel? Nor do the Pakistani Sunni-Shia outbreaks — remotely controlled by Saudi Arabian and Iranian clerics — revolved around how either would handle the Israeli-Palestine dispute. The current butchery of Buddhists in southern Thailand by Moslem separatists is not spurred by Washington’s failure to take “a more evenhanded” approach in The Holy Land.

The truth all the bumpersticker sloganeering by well intentioned Western leadership about Islam being a peaceful religion ignores its long history of intolerance and violence against its own dissidents as well as “infidels”. Yes, Christianity and Judaism as well as Hinduism, have their own history of violence. But in the 21st century it is not condoned by leaders nor preached in its houses of worship. That it continues to be for Moslems is the problem at hand.

That the U.S. invasion of Iraq is a recruiter for the Islamofascists may well be the case. The victim ethos dominating Moslems feeds on any excuse. But the very fact Sunni extremists, Baathists revanchists, Shia militia, and ordinary criminals released from Saddam’s jails on the eve of the war, join forces in Iraq, to kill each other refutes the argument for any but the most depraved fanatic elsewhere.

Rather, it is clear the main element in growing Islamofascist strength arises from its successes. First of all, it was the triumph of Moslems in 9/11 who bloodied the nose of the Americans in New York City and at the heart of the American military, the Pentagon. For psychotic personalities in a frozen culture — from endogamy to a recent episode of stoning to death of an alleged adulterous Punjabi couple — these were victories. That they took place against innocents, many of them countrymen, is of little concern. That an Indonesian court could free the self-confessed “spiritual leader” of bombers who killed almost 200, mostly young, Australian tourists in Bali in 2002, is symptomatic of a frame of reference having little to do with purported Iraqi nationalism and opposition to perceived occupation.

What is clear, however, is victory or defeat for the U.S. — and for a reform Iraqi regime — will be a clear signal for the Islamofascists. Victory in the Battle of Baghdad is alas! only one important fight in what Bush and others have rightly said will be a long war to defeat those who would turn the clock back in the Islamic world. But defeat in the Battle of Baghdad just now beginning will postpone, perhaps for another generation, any effort toward modernization in that Moslem world and peace for those of us who would ignore it if only we could.

Sol W. Sanders, (, is an Asian specialist with more than 25 years in the region, and a former correspondent for Business Week, U.S. News & World Report and United Press International. He writes weekly for World and

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

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