Identify the enemy
I came across an interview in the Bulletin recently (20
August 2002) with Daniel Pipes, a Harvard trained Historian in Islamic history.
I agree with much of what he has to say "The United States has yet to
correctly identify the enemy. When it does so, it will call it by its proper
name -– not terrorism, but militant Islamic terrorism". His country, he says
has ignored the problem for 20 years. "The signs were all there in 1979 when
Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini declared 'death to America'".
Mr Pipes could be described as one-eyed when it comes to
identifying the good guys and the bad guys -– he verbalises the attitude of
some senior US Officials with regard to the UN, and makes it clear that there's
only one Superpower on earth. At this moment in history, he may well be right!
But students of bible prophecy are watching for a shift in the power base, a
shift so dramatic that it will make Sept 11 2001 look like child's play.
"Militant Islam has to be defeated. In the same way fascism
and communism were defeated. This will require military and non-military forms.
It means paying attention to the media, to the schools, and to what particular
Governments say. We need to make it clear that it represents a body of ideas
which we find inimical to our interests. We find them aggressive and hostile and
we will not stand for it. Either the Muslim world adapts to our wishes and
closes down the broadcasts and does something about the [anti American] speeches
or we will do it for them."
Without a skerrick of irony he tells us "Its only when I
leave the US that I find people bothering to refer to the United Nations. It
simply doesn't arise in any other context."
As for European hostility to the notion of a Bush march on
Baghdad, Pipes is dismissive. "We have a saying in Washington. We cook the
dishes and the Europeans do the dishes."
To listen to this is to be reminded that in this moment of
American triumphalism, the opinions of bit players in the South Pacific are of
absolutely no consequence whatsoever. We don't like this, but it's a fact.
We kid ourselves that we can deal ourselves into the game but at best we are
indulged. So desperate are we, though, for the approval of the big kid on the
block, that we will pretend to be pathetically grateful when a marble or two is
rolled in our direction. You want to join in the war, Australia? Terrific
what ya gonna send? A frigate?
"Let me put it this way. The strategic long-term complex
enemy of the West is militant Islam, which is not to say there are not others,
of which Iraq is one. And Iraq has to be addressed urgently. If Saddam gets
nuclear weapons, that transforms many things."
Pipes concedes that, yes, things could get messy. "Particularly
with the Iranians and Syrians. Both could be inclined to create all sorts of
trouble for the American forces there." But basically he insists "everyone
else will be delighted. I can't think of a single state that wouldn't rather
see an alternative to Saddam. They're not willing to participate in his
removal, but they don't have to. They know the US will do that.
He says that if in a stroke you could remove all the regional
points of tension, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the US forces in Saudi Arabia,
nonetheless "you would still have a militant Islamic ideology which is
attractive because it addresses the sense of identity and frustration that
Muslims feel. It's what I call a civilisational frustration. A millennium ago
the Muslim world was at its peak. Now its doing badly and there is rage and
anger and envy at the West for its prosperity."
The answer for Muslims, he says, "must be a fully-fledged
wholehearted acceptance of the West. In the same way we saw during the Meiji
period in Japan in the 19th century. The Japanese have more authentic
institutions and they've retained more of their culture precisely because they
didn't skimp on becoming modern."
Saddam must be stopped because he has engineers who are
clever enough to develop some of the century's more destructive technology.
Militant Islam on the other hand, must be stopped because it refuses to part
company with medievalism".