The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Iceberg

One of the core narratives of those who are opposed to our aggressive strategy in the WoT is that any belligerence on our part only leads to the radicalization of more and more Islamic youth who then proceed to make the transition from Islamist to Jihadi to suicide bombers. If only we in the west would act more sympathetically and less belligerently, goes the meme, there would be no catalyst for such behavior on the part of Jihadis. The narrative suggests that the fault, naturally, is ours.

I have argued on many occasions that this narrative is both factually and logically flawed. Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post reports on a recent West Point study that supports my argument.The study does a detailed sociological analysis of "606 foreign fighters who entered Iraq between August 2006 and August 2007."

Based on the study, Jihadis who originate from Islamic countries (e.g., Libya or Saudi Arabia) in which radical Islamic teaching is the norm are far more likely make the transition to become Jihadist fighters. Wretchard of the Belmont Club comments on this phenomenon:
And it turns out that most combat Jihadis didn't spring up spontaneously, radicalized and outraged by the "idea" of Israel or some television broadcast about Iraq. They came from ground long tilled and fertilized by extremism. "The West Point center's analysis notes that the home towns and regions listed by many fighters correlate with areas of high insurgent activity in the Arab world. More than half the Libyans came from in or around the coastal cities of Darnah and Benghazi. Both are long associated with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which in November officially affiliated itself with the global al-Qaeda network headed by Osama bin Laden." This suggests a vital synergy between the effects of Jihadi propaganda and the efforts of extremist agitators. The suicide bomber, it's not surprising to learn, is the end product of long preparation and cultivation.

Perhaps one reason why the West has proved so helpless in the face of threats like al-Qaeda is that it is culturally unable to resist, or even to condemn, extremist Islamic agitation in its pre-militant phase. By fighting only those who have crossed the sharp legal border between religious hate-mongering (which is tolerated as a multicultural right) and actual belligerency it is permanently restricted to chipping away at the tip of the iceberg, while nine-tenths of it is allowed to grow unchecked beneath the surface.

The “iceberg” will not melt until we feel free to address the 90 percent that lies below the surface. Yet we cannot. Organizations like CAIR in the US immediately condemn any criticism of radical teaching in mosques throughout the Western world as “islamophobic.” Supporting them in this ridiculous contention are the very same people who suggest that we are already to blame for Islamofascist actions. These very same people support organizations like the Canadian Human Rights Commission in its persecution of “mind crimes” among legitimate writers who condemn the part of the iceberg below the surface.

So … it appears that the entire iceberg is off-limits, and the frightening thing is that someday it just might sink us.