Excepts from The Telegraph: How the West is losing the cognitive war with Islamism and its death cults
The results have made clear how poorly we Westerners conduct ourselves on the global stage, and how the news media self-inflicts some of those wounds. At the heart of the drama stands a President of the US, who plays win-win checkers against enemies who play I-win-you-lose three-dimensional chess; and at the same time a Western news media which rushes to publish as news, the poisoned meat of lethal narratives.
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The major problem concerns how we interpret Arab Muslim political culture. Our view of the “Arab Spring,” was shot through with a kind of messianic hope that our fondest beliefs – people are the same everywhere – were now proven by these “brave facebook protesters” who would bring “democracy” to the good people of Egypt. Now that Egyptians had “lost their fear of the government,” – what CNN and BBC commentators emphasized repeatedly during the dramatic street demonstrations – they would choose democracy. We anticipated a huge victory for progressive forces on the planet.
And because we present ourselves as a gentle giant, which has renounced power for positive-sum relations – we just want to be your friends, we tell the Muslim world – we renounce the kinds of everyday violence necessary for “maintaining order” in pre-modern, alpha-male-dominated, political cultures. So our embassy guards are given unloaded guns, to ceremoniously maintain a façade of modern civility amidst people we refuse to believe are hostile. The guards’ “rules of engagement,” and now, since “Arab Spring,” Arab governments’ rules of engagement, systematically restrain the use of force. We cannot defend ourselves on the ground in a hostile political culture, nor can we retaliate for losses.
Of course, it is all dreadfully mistaken, and the worst scenarios of the Cassandras are now coming to fruition across North Africa and beyond, even as we are radically unprepared to deal with these developments. And yet, in order to maintain our pleasant progressive fantasy, we ignored all the evidence – of misogyny, of anti-Semitism, of anti-Americanism, of brutal religious zealotry in the “revolutionary” Arab street. And now, on the basis of a ludicrous film, they riot and threaten violence for the sake of their honor – all behavior no self-respecting progressive would tolerate for his own people.
We were and are in part able to carry off this astonishing act of denial, to self-inflict this debilitating wound, by adopting as a firm principle: there are no significant cultural differences. All cultures are equal, and one cannot “judge” another culture, or its religion. As Saïd insisted, the most terrible sin a (Western) progressive can make is to invidiously “other” another culture. If they behave like “enfant terribles,” then we’ll apologize for upsetting them in the hopes of calming them down.
While this may be a fine way to proceed with “others” of good will, its dogmatic assertion in 21st- century international relations, has forced us to ignore major hostile cultural forces which have come to the fore in the 15th century AH (1979-2076). Driven by both religious and honor-shame dynamics, Islam has produced a deeply toxic brew of tribal warrior psychosis and millennial cult of death and murder. And yet we, as our President and his top officials insists, should not discuss “radical Islam” lest we insult Muslims. Then we get slapped in the face on the global stage by the very Islamists we don’t talk about.
What should we expect? Our POTUS, in order to “live up” to our democratic principles and oppose dictatorship, threw America’s most reliable Muslim friend in the Middle East, the anchor of our decades-long policy in a volatile region, to the mobs bent on his public humiliation. And rather than pay attention to the fascist theocratic forces at work here, we either ignored the Muslim Brotherhood, or, when they scored huge electoral victories, we redefined them – astoundingly – as basically secular and moderate. We not only played “sour grapes” with our hopes of democracy, we ate the bitter grapes of our enemy’s victory, and claimed they tasted okay.
In the world of honor and shame where most people live, we Americans, Westerners, progressives, come off as fools. We, on the other hand, consider those juvenile games beneath us, deny they have importance. Yes, it’s true that the embassies were attacked, that the attacks continue to spread and intensify, but let’s not exaggerate the damage to our position and let’s not make things worse by retaliating. “Mursi may not be our ally, but we don’t consider him our enemy,” Obama gaudgingly admits in a brief semi-nod to reality. (What firm evidence supports the second assertion?) Obama’s concern for “saving face” apparently lies with his standing among the American people, not in the world in which his “face” is ours. Indeed, the only people he has not apologized to so far, are the American people, his people. Phaeton in his father’s chariot, insisting he has not lost control.
And the most terrible thing is, Obama lost face not only in the eyes of foes so deadly even he will admit they’re “the enemy,” but also to bystanders.
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If this were merely a war of words, it might not be so bad, but the purpose of their war or words is to better position to strike on the battlefield. This is not a war we who treasure freedom can afford to lose.
Labels: Asymmetric Warfare, Freedom, News Media, President Obama, Western Intellectual Tradition