Monday, August 4, 2008

A New and More Dangerous Era Part I

 

By Anthony J. Dennis

1st part of 3

In the 1990s, fundamentalist Islam began to emerge as the only coherent ideology to pose a credible threat to the West. Islamic fundamentalism is clearly a global phenomenon. Its adherents can be found in an almost unbroken line from the Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines to the Armed Islamic Group in North Africa. This article will discuss the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in the post-Cold War era and will explain why this ideology represents a threat to the safety and security of the West in particular, and all non-Muslims generally, as demonstrated by the words and deeds of the fundamentalists themselves. Recent attempts by President Khatami of Iran to establish a more moderate and less confrontational brand of Islamic rule will also be addressed. This article will conclude with several recommendations for Western governments faced with the challenge of dealing with the Muslim fundamentalists in the international political arena today.

To understand the extent of the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism to the non-Muslim world, it is important to understand the impact the end of the Cold War has had on the political landscape, and to carefully consider the political agenda and salient characteristics of the transnational fundamentalist movement itself.

 

THE POST-COLD WAR: A MIXED LEGACY

The end of the Cold War left the world with a more mixed legacy than is generally admitted. While the defeat of communism and the peaceful annihilation of the Soviet Empire represented a tremendous moral as well as political victory for the West, the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellite empire also meant the extinction of a tremendous restraining influence on scores of ethnic and religious rivalries. One of the stabilizing facts of the Cold War competition was that both East and West kept their client states in check. While some rivalries were fueled during the Cold War, others clearly were suppressed by it. With communism’s collapse, many nations forged in the crucible of communism died with it. The people of the former Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia, for example, have found that there is no longer anything that commonly defines and therefore unites them. As a result, nations have fragmented or have disappeared entirely with astonishing swiftness. Cut loose by the failed ideology of communism, many have fallen back on their long suppressed religious identity as a principle of political organization and as a means of understanding themselves and their world. We should not be overly surprised to see new countries and even new empires arise from the ashes of the old.1

One can say that the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union have had at least three major effects. These watershed events created 1) an ideological vacuum, 2) a power vacuum, and 3) the largest weapons bazaar and black market in world history. Islamic fundamentalism as a political movement and as an ideology has benefited from each of these effects.

Ideological Vacuum

The collapse of the Soviet empire discredited communism as a viable ideology, especially in the eyes of developing nations. As a consequence, communism is no longer viewed as worthy of emulation. Yet, while communism was defeated, democratic ideals have not necessarily triumphed. Democracy, like communism before it, is essentially a non-indigenous ideology imported into Muslim territories only in the last one hundred years or so. By contrast, the notion of governance according to traditional Islamic principles is a familiar and appealing concept in these regions. Islam clearly has what one might call the “home-field advantage”.

The post-Cold War ideological vacuum has been filled by Islam as many leaders in the Muslim Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia have fallen back on their “Muslim roots” for models of governance and as a way to remain politically relevant in the eyes of their largely Muslim populace. By the early 1990s, the language of socialism, with all its references to the liberation of the masses, the exploitation of capitalists, and the misdeeds of various imperialist powers, had become outdated. The language of fundamentalist Islam, with its disturbingly violent references to jihad, its moral and religious endorsement of terrorism against civilians, and its glorification of martyrdom, had taken its place.

Power Vacuum

The political universe, like the natural one, abhors a vacuum. At its height, the Cold War generally worked to suppress other political ideologies and movements as both the Americans and the Soviets (and their respective allies) committed tremendous resources to either democratic or communist parties and leaders in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Anyone not aligned with one or the other political camp was, at best, unfunded and ignored and, at worst, ruthlessly suppressed. Now that the superpowers have largely withdrawn from many of these areas, Islamic fundamentalism has had a chance to “break out” and evolve from being a relatively marginal political movement to a mainstream movement.

The increased popularity of Islamic rule in the post-Cold War era was eloquently demonstrated in Turkey, an economically advanced and Westernized nation and a longtime member of NATO. In 1996, for the first time in modern Turkish history, the Islamic party’s candidate for prime minister won in a stunning electoral upset, beating out candidates from the two mainstream parties, True Path and Motherland. The elevation of Necmettin Erbakan to the office of prime minister that year demonstrates that parties calling for a rejection of the West (including termination of military and diplomatic alliances with Western nations) and a return to traditional Islamic rule have substantial electoral clout, even in relatively wealthy and developed nations like Turkey. These parties are serious contenders for political power and should not be dismissed out of hand. Nor should their popularity be ascribed solely to poor economic conditions. Those who assert that Islamic parties are popular solely or principally because of poor economic conditions are able to make such declarations only by studiously ignoring the facts.

Elsewhere in the world, the absence of Soviet authority in places like Central Asia has given native leaders and local religious heads in these areas a golden opportunity to politically organize. As predicted, we have seen parties calling for Islamic forms of government rise to some prominence throughout the former Soviet Central Asian Republics in the last ten years. The Islamic Renaissance Party, for example, was active in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Soviet rule. In 1991, four of the former Soviet Asian Republics banned all activities of this party out of concern over its growing strength.2 Where were the budding democratic parties at this time? They were, comparatively speaking, non-existent.

Black Market Weaponry

On the military front, the disintegration of the Soviet Empire and the concomitant loss of centralized control over its vast military arsenal have given the fundamentalist Muslims unprecedented access to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capable of making relatively small terrorist groups or nations into world military powers literally overnight. In fact, there have been a number of detailed reports concerning the ease with which Soviet-made nuclear weaponry or other sophisticated military technology can be smuggled out of the country and purchased in the black market.3 This is the world into which Osama bin Laden and others have stepped, with ready cash in hand, and it is the reason why the fundamentalist movement represents such a grave threat to world peace in the present age.

 

DEFINITION AND OVERVIEW OF POLITICAL AGENDA

Before proceeding any further, let me state here as I have stated previously in other contexts that my remarks are limited to one politically active and politically radical segment of the vast Muslim world, and that I do not mean to suggest or imply that all 850 million to 1 billion of the world’s Muslims are terrorists or necessarily supportive of terrorism of any kind. In fact I consistently use the modifier “fundamentalist” in connection with the term “Muslim” in order to make evident that I am referring specifically to this radical segment. If Islam is an issue in the current political debate, it is not because of anything I or others have written or said but because fundamentalist governments (e.g., Iran, Sudan), political parties (e.g., Islamic Salvation Front), terrorist groups (e.g., Hizbullah, al-Qa`idah, Vanguards of Conquest) and guerrilla organizations (e.g., Armed Islamic Group, Taliban) have themselves made Islam a central issue by pointing to that ancient monotheistic faith as the justification and inspiration for their violent words and deeds. Unfortunately, these groups have essentially hijacked and appropriated the language of Islam in explaining and justifying their actions and by purporting to act for expressly religious reasons.

The term “Islamic fundamentalist” is not a theological term but a politically descriptive one which describes persons or parties that have a very specific and defined domestic and foreign policy agenda. I tend to favor the foregoing term over the terms “Islamist” or “political Islam”. “Islamist” is a colorless term that does not convey the return to the early days of the Prophet’s rule and the fundamentals of the early faith to which the modern day fundamentalists aspire. The term “political Islam” strikes me as similarly unedifying and even redundant since Islam is, by definition, a faith that has been intimately and inextricably involved in politics from the very beginning.

Domestic Policy

The Muslim fundamentalists seek on the domestic front the establishment of an Islamic theocracy or religious dictatorship (including, if necessary, the violent overthrow of the existing government), the adoption and strict application of the shari`ah, Islam’s traditional legal code, and the eradication and expulsion of all non-Muslim influences on their society and way of life.

Foreign Policy

In terms of foreign policy, these groups adopt an implacably hostile and adversarial posture toward the West, with talk of military and terrorist strikes against it, the desirability of killing Western citizens, and the necessity (indeed the religious duty) of undertaking a jihad against America and other nations, including Israel. As incredible and unrealistic as it sounds, the ultimate foreign policy objective of these groups is the conversion or extermination of all non-Muslim peoples including those living in Europe and North America. Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the Egyptian cleric who was later convicted of involvement in the World Trade Center bombing in New York City, was quoted on the front page of The Wall Street Journal one month before that bombing as saying that his goal was to “show all Americans that they’ll never be happy if they don’t follow Islam.”4 The Islamic Republic of Iran, in fact, has a clause in its constitution calling for spreading the Islamic revolution to other lands.5

Both Iran and Sudan have found that preaching jihad against America is a useful centerpiece around which to organize their foreign policy, and in Sudan’s case – even their military and local militia.6 Iranian government officials have been quite honest about their rhetorical and literal war against America. In 1991, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi openly admitted that “[i]t is necessary to target all US objectives throughout the world,” and stated that “Iranians are ready for sacrifice and Holy War.”7 Needless to say, normal diplomatic relations with such governments or groups in the face of these homicidal intentions are highly problematic at best.

Fundamentalist groups can be Shi`ites like the Islamic Republic of Iran or Sunnis like the regime in Sudan or the Taliban in Afghanistan. It should be noted that religious differences have not prevented Shi`a and Sunni groups or regimes, including Iran and Sudan, from working together against a common perceived enemy and do not present an insurmountable hurdle to transnational cooperation.8

Anthony J. Dennis

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

A New and More Dangerous Era Part II

 

By Anthony J. Dennis

2nd part of 3

PROGRAM OF CULTURAL DESTRUCTION

In addition to instituting strict Islamic rule inside their own countries, fundamentalists from several different areas of the Muslim world also have advocated a program of cultural destruction which ought to be roundly condemned by Muslim and non-Muslim alike. In Turkey, the Islamic party, known formerly as the Refah (Welfare) Party and more recently as the Islamic Virtue Party, advocated banning ballet as a degenerate art form and the closing of women’s shelters. The party has also advocated the destruction of those historical monuments and archeological sites within Turkey that do not glorify the nation’s Muslim past. At one point, the fundamentalist mayor of Istanbul even called for the destruction of the magnificent and historic Byzantine-era walls around the city. It was only after the threat of an international outcry and expected pressure from Turkey’s secular national government that this program of cultural destruction was at least temporarily abandoned. Nothing in the Qur`an would appear to authorize, let alone compel, this kind of cultural vandalism yet these disturbing initiatives appear to be part and parcel of the fundamentalists’ domestic program.

Farther east in Afghanistan, the Taliban engaged in the most infamous act of cultural vandalism in recent times when, in March, 2001, it ordered and swiftly carried out the destruction of thousands of irreplaceable, ancient Buddhist statues that resided in the Kabul Museum and the dynamiting of the two largest, stone-carved Buddhas in the world at Bamiyan. The Taliban claim they were compelled in the name of Islam to engage in this morally bankrupt action. Having destroyed an irreplaceable part of our world heritage, the Taliban has now proceeded to require Afghan citizens who happen to be Hindu to wear a special identifying yellow badge on the outside of their clothing reminiscent of the yellow Star of David which Jewish citizens were required to wear in Nazi Germany. With each passing year, it seems the political agenda of the Muslim fundamentalist movement becomes more morally and ethically disturbing.

 

SALIENT CHARACTERISTICS: HATRED OF THE WEST

Although I find the human rights abuses and the persecution of religious minorities (both of which lie outside the scope of this essay) extremely troubling from a moral as well as an international human rights law perspective, it is the fundamentalists’ implacably hostile foreign policy and highly emotional rhetoric demonizing America and other Western nations which is of most concern to me because of the implications for future acts of terrorism against the West and because of the national security implications generally. We all know and have heard the slogans uttered by the highest levels of successive Iranian governments over the last twenty-two years which characterize America as “the Great Satan”. This has been followed by chants of “Death to America!” in officially organized street demonstrations in Teheran. Sadly, this kind of rhetoric is common in fundamentalist circles and represents yet another barrier to productive communication between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.

A few more examples, out of many that could be recited, should suffice: In 1993 Sheikh al-Tamimi, then the leader of Islamic Jihad, was publicly quoted as saying, “I pray that Allah may tear apart America just as the Soviet Union was torn apart.”9 For his part, Sheikh Abdel-Rahman made many tapes for his followers in which he called the US a “den of evil and fornication”.10 More recently Osama bin Laden called the US “the head of the snake”. Besides the bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya on August 7, 1998 which left 257 dead, Osama bin Laden is perhaps best known in the West for his February 23, 1998 fatwa or religious decree calling for Muslims worldwide to kill Americans and their allies – civilians and military – wherever and whenever they can find them. “This is an individual duty for every Muslim” and “is in accordance with the words of Almighty God,” stated bin Laden as part of his decree.

Even the Palestinian Authority has gotten into the act. On July 22, 1997 The Wall Street Journal carried an excerpt of a July 11th sermon of Palestinian Authority Mufti Ikrama Sabri (an Arafat appointee, noted the Journal) at the al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Sabri publicly prayed in part: “Oh Allah, destroy America, for she is ruled by Zionist Jews…Allah will paint the White House black!”11 At the time Arafat’s appointee was publicly praying for the literal destruction of the United States and its historic symbol, the White House, American taxpayers were providing Arafat’s organization with millions of dollars in aid as part of the Clinton Administration’s efforts to buy peace in the Middle East.

 

REASONS FOR FUNDAMENTALIST FURY

There are several reasons for the Muslim fundamentalist world’s hatred of the West. First of all, as a puritanical movement aspiring to return Islamic society to the early days of the faith, Islamic fundamentalism by definition is hostile to any outside influence that makes the achievement of that objective harder to attain. The world has become smaller with the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, the globalization of trade and the ease with which non-Western populations are able to access Western music, movies, theater, literature, television shows and so forth. These developments are taken as a serious cultural threat by fundamentalist leaders who have called the Western cultural onslaught “Westoxification”. Hence, we see vigorous efforts in many traditional Islamic countries to confiscate and destroy satellite dishes and radios as a way to prevent ordinary Muslim citizens from being exposed to Western culture and the free expression of ideas.

Hatred of the West also springs from feelings of jealousy, resentment and insecurity, and an inclination at times to blame others for one’s own problems.12 If the fundamentalists are living and governing according to God’s law as they believe, then why, might they ask, is their civilization less advanced, their military less powerful, their people less healthy and less wealthy than the infidels living in the West? This is a source of great consternation and embarrassment to the fundamentalists. The fundamentalists view themselves as the heirs of the ancient Arabic Empire founded by the Prophet, and they are acutely conscious of their failure to live up to that grand inheritance. They are also painfully aware of the fact that the material, scientific, political, military and technological achievements of Western civilization dwarf the achievements of their own Islamic civilization in the modern age. Instead of blaming themselves, at some level they blame America and the West for reminding them of their own failings. The unqualified triumph of the West in defeating the Soviet Union in a virtually bloodless fight only adds to the pressure the fundamentalists feel either to define an alternative Islamic world order or be forced to fall in line with Western values and political and economic ideals.

Fundamentalists, of course, take their hatreds and insecurities to extreme and unprecedented levels. They want to do more than simply expunge Western influences from their own societies and define their own alternative Islamic political order. These groups and governments have declared a rhetorical as well as a literal war on America and its allies. As L. Paul Bremer, former head of the United States State Department’s Office of Counterterrorism, has stated:

The agenda of these people [Muslim fundamentalists] is to attack us for what we are... They don’t like American culture, our movies, pornography, women, etc. It’s something very hard for Americans who live in a multi-cultured and secular society to understand.13

Unlike the IRA or the Basque separatists, the Muslim fundamentalists aren’t seeking merely the transfer of territory or the release of political prisoners. Nor is it America’s longstanding record of friendly relations with Israel which alone make it a prime fundamentalist target. The stark and simple fact is the fundamentalists hate Americans (and other Westerners) for who we are and therefore, there is nothing we can do, no cognizable demands we could ever satisfy, short of stepping into a cultural gas chamber that would ever satisfy the essential demands of the Muslim fundamentalists.

 

THE KHATAMI PHENOMENON

President Mohammad Khatami of Iran deserves mention for the novelty of his ideas and the courageousness with which he has expressed them. He is that rare and endangered creature – a moderate politician in a fundamentalist Muslim state. Khatami is important because if the “Khatami revolution” sweeps away the unreconstructed aspects of the Iranian revolution leaving Iran with a less confrontational, more moderate and participatory form of Islamic-based government, then such an event will have removed one of the biggest stars in the fundamentalist constellation.

In his writings and public pronouncements, Mohammad Khatami has attempted to replace conflict between Islamic civilization and the Judeo-Christian West with dialogue.14 Khatami uttered his now famous call for a “dialogue among civilizations” in an hour-long interview on the Cable News Network (CNN) which was broadcast worldwide on January 7, 1998. His statements stand in stark contrast both to the statements of the transnational fundamentalist movement and to the remarks of many of his colleagues in the Iranian government, including Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who continues to adhere to a harsh, anti-American and anti-Western line. The appearance of individuals like Mohammad Khatami is a hopeful development because it provides an individual with whom it is potentially possible to have a peaceful and productive dialogue and because it breaks the monopoly the fundamentalists have held on much of the political speech emanating from the Islamic world of late. If Khatami survives and succeeds in his political quest, his presence will give powerful encouragement to other moderate, democratic forces working from within the Muslim world to combat the fundamentalists.

Anthony J. Dennis

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

A New and More Dangerous Era Part III

 

By Anthony J. Dennis

3rd part of 3

 

INSTITUTIONAL AND IDEOLOGICAL HURDLES TO REFORM

President Khatami faces both institutional and ideological hurdles to the realization of his vision of a more moderate, less confrontational Islam. He is like a man on a raft in the middle of a powerful and turbulent fundamentalist sea. On the political front, the power of the presidency in the Islamic Republic of Iran is overshadowed and circumscribed by the office of the Supreme Leader and the Council of Guardians. The President is not the most senior executive branch official in the Iranian government. As a result, President Khatami does not control Iran's foreign policy or its military and intelligence branches. He has also been powerless to prevent his own government's zealous prosecution and imprisonment of many of his allies and supporters. Scores of Khatami's allies from the press, the universities and from Iranian political circles have been sent off to prison for disagreeing publicly with the fundamentalist line. Khatami's lack of executive authority in Iran has proven to be a great source of frustration for the President himself and for his supporters.

These institutional limitations constitute significant stumbling blocks on Iran's path to reform. They may also discourage other governments from initiating a dialogue or having relations with Iran out of concern that the cordial words of Khatami by no means reflect the actual attitudes and intentions of the Iranian government, which is controlled by hardliners under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

President Khatami's political vision, a vision which acknowledges and incorporates important aspects of Western political thought, also faces significant ideological hurdles within the Muslim world. These ideological hurdles represent additional friction points between the Islamic and Western worlds. Islamic and Western conceptions of the state, the individual and society, are often totally at odds. According to Western political thought, governmental power arises from the governed. In contrast, in a theocracy such as exists in Iran, governmental power is presumed to originate directly from God. An Islamic ruler represents Allah's agent on earth. In such a setting, liberal democratic institutions – including a robust multi-party system, free and fair elections and freedom of intellectual expression including political expression – simply cannot work since all political disagreements are ultimately religious disagreements, the penalties for which can be severe.

For a Shi`a cleric living in the theocracy that is Iran, Khatami has made some daring and highly unconventional statements:

The legitimacy of the government stems from the people's vote. And a powerful government, elected by the people, is representative, participatory, and accountable. The Islamic government is the servant of the people and not their master, and it is accountable to the nation under all circumstances.15

Khatami's views on government are plainly at odds with those of his political opponents.

The profound gulf between Islamic and Western conceptions of the state extends to the individual and society. To the fundamentalists, there is "no doctrine of human rights, the very notion of which might seem an impiety. Only God has rights – human beings have duties."16 The whole Lockean concept of natural rights – or the more modern concept of universal human rights – that predate and are superior to the rights of any government to take them away, finds no place in fundamentalist thought. In fact, the fundamentalists view the West's insistence on certain basic and universal human rights as an arrogant attempt to place the rights and privileges of human beings above God, and above God's agents on earth (i.e. the government run by the fundamentalists).

Islamic rule as practiced in fundamentalist countries completely dominates both the individual and society. Islam in its classic formulation recognizes no separation between the religious and secular spheres. It represents a complete way of life for its followers regulating virtually every aspect of individual and group behavior. This leaves very little room to maneuver for reformers like Khatami.

Khatami's attempts to institute civil society and a fully functional democracy in the Islamic Republic of Iran encounter other troubles as well. Democracy and the whole concept of "human rights" are viewed by many as Western imports and as another legacy of colonialist rule. If the Muslim world which Khatami inhabits has any hope of reconciling democracy with religion, free speech with the authority of the religious establishment, and human rights (including especially women's rights) with the Qur`an, then ideally he and his supporters must find indigenous sources for such ideals in order to legitimize them in the eyes of the public and religious authorities alike. Otherwise, his program may be attacked and contemptuously dismissed by his fundamentalist opponents as "Western imports" whose adoption by the nation would represent a capitulation to the West and a betrayal of the Islamic revolution. In summary, Khatami treads a difficult path both practically and intellectually. President Khatami and his supporters will have to work energetically to point out how aspects of their progressive political program in fact have their origins in the Qur`an and the Hadith (the Tradition).

We can wish Khatami well and do what we can, at arm's length and from across the waters, to encourage the growth and development of politically moderate voices within the Islamic world. Western governments cannot do much more than that since a close embrace of Khatami and his program may give his hardline opponents an opportunity to criticize him as a puppet of the West. In the meantime, we must still deal with the hostile intentions of the fundamentalist government of Iran and the deadly threats uttered by fundamentalist groups around the world against the US and other Western countries.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

Very briefly, several policy recommendations flow from the above state of affairs.

·         Condemn Words and Deeds not Religious Status: We should condemn words and deeds, not religious status. No one should be condemned as a terrorist or supporter of terrorism merely because they happen to be followers of Islam. The West must avoid falling into the trap of condemning a particular religion. Rather, Western governments should condemn those individuals and groups who interpret Islam in such a way as to justify their violent actions.
 

·         Support Civil Society, Not Elections: Western governments should not rigidly support calls for immediate elections in certain Islamic countries today which would only serve to betray democratic principles tomorrow. The West must not be beguiled by the fundamentalists in places like Algeria into betraying its allies by blindly joining calls for immediate elections. We should instead support and rally around the concept of "civil society" which consists of those governmental and nongovernmental institutions that are the prerequisite of a mature and fully functional democracy. I am referring here to the ground rules of a democratic system such as recognizing the rights of opposition parties, allowing political opposition and dissent to exist without the threat of torture, imprisonment or death, allowing a free press, free speech, the right to demonstrate peacefully, the right of minority religions to co-exist with Islam without persecution or harassment, the establishment of an independent judiciary and so on. The institution of civil society ensures that a political culture will be in place that guarantees the orderly transition of power between elected governments and that future elections will in fact take place.
 

·         Deterrence is Dead: We must recognize that the military doctrine of deterrence is dead. The cornerstone of America's and NATO's Cold War defense strategy – the deterrence doctrine – is not going to be sufficient in dealing with the transnational fundamentalist movement. How does one deter a fundamentalist soldier, terrorist group or military detachment that believes the surest and swiftest way to heaven is to commit a terrorist act against a Western target and die in the course of that attack? You cannot "deter" that person or party in the conventional sense. You can only neutralize the threat.

Emphasis must be on thwarting such attacks, whether through the use of counter-terrorism measures or the deployment of missile defense systems to prevent a successful attack against America and its allies. The positive aspect of missile defense systems is that they are not offensive systems but defensive ones. They do not threaten particular adversaries or single out any one particular threat. They protect against all-comers, and there is very little danger that the Muslim fundamentalist countries or others will feel "threatened" or "discriminated against" as a result of the deployment of such defensive systems.
 

·         Money Does Not Always Talk: Money does not solve all political or foreign policy problems. It would be condescending and naïve to assume that the fundamentalists would give up their dearly held, core beliefs in return for more economic aid. Such a clumsy attempt to "buy them off" would likely be met with derision and contempt even as it was being cynically accepted and exploited. Fundamentalists have had many chances over the years to take the easier and more peaceful path. The luscious fruits of global trade and world economic prosperity sit like a table filled with bounties before them. Nonetheless, the fundamentalists have refused to holster their weapons, remove their gas masks and sit down at the feast. Quite the contrary. They view Western economic prosperity and the promise of easy living as the temptations of the Devil. Theirs is a different mental sensibility entirely.

 

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

The Western democracies won the Cold War but they have not yet won the peace. While democracy and its economic corollary, capitalism, triumphed over communism in the twentieth century, these ideals have not yet won a definitive victory over Islamic fundamentalism which many around the globe have seized upon as a rival ideology. A sizeable portion of the world's populace – stretching from Indonesia and the southern Philippines in the Pacific through Central Asia to the Middle East and Africa – has shown a willingness to embrace Islamic fundamentalism as a governing ideology. Given the fundamentalist movement's openly jihadist foreign policy toward the West, the world has now embarked upon a new and more dangerous period in human history.

Anthony J. Dennis

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Endnotes

1. Anthony J. Dennis, The Rise of the Islamic Empire and the Threat to the West, Wyndham

Hall Press, 1996.

 

2. Ibid., p. 68.

3. "Russian Aide Says Gangsters Try to Steal Atom Material", The New York Times, May 26, 1994, p. A5; "The Plutonium Racket", The Economist, August 26, 1994, p. 39; Seymour M. Hirsch, "The Wild East", The Atlantic Monthly, June 1994, p. 61.

4. "Egyptian Jihad Leader Preaches Holy War to Brooklyn Muslims", The Wall Street Journal, January 6, 1993, pp. A1, A5.

5. "Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran", Middle East Journal, 1980, p. 185

6. "Jihad", The Economist, 42-43, August 7-13, 1993.

7. Reuters, October 28, 1991.

8. Op. cit., Dennis, pp. 61, 76; James A. Phillips, "The Saddamization of Iran", Policy Review, Vol. 69, Summer 1994, p. 7.

9. Reuters, March 11, 1993.

10. "A World Terrorist Link?", The Hartford Courant, June 20, 1993, p. C1.

11. See "Notable and Quotable", The Wall Street Journal, July 22, 1997, p. A14.

12. Daniel Pipes, The Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy, Palgrave, 1996.

13. Wright, "New Breed of Terrorist Worries US", Los Angeles Times, June 28, 1993, p. A7.

14. Mohammad Khatami, "Covenant with the Nation", First Presidential Inaugural Speech, in Islam, Liberty and Development, Institute of Global Studies, Binghamton University, 1998, p. 150. "The government must emphasize that in our world, dialogue among civilizations is an absolute imperative. We shall avoid any course of action that may foster tension. We shall have relations with any state which respects our independence."; Mohammad Khatami, "Religious Belief in Today's World", Islam, Liberty and Development, p. 96 "[W]e must shun the extremes of hating the West or being completely enchanted by it, so that on the one hand we can guard against the dangers posed by the West, and on the other hand utilize its human achievements." Khatami's most dearly held political beliefs mark him as someone outside the fundamentalist camp. He treads a very thin and dangerous line as the president of a staunchly fundamentalist government.

15. Op. cit., Khatami, "Covenant with the Nation", p. 150.

16. Bernard Lewis, "Islam and Liberal Democracy", The Atlantic Monthly, February 1993, p. 98.

 

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