From my Ebook, Thoroughly Biased Opinions, an edited collection of my columns published in the Franklin County Citizen. I wrote this column when POTUS George W. Bush was still in office. (Photo courtesy of Folkert Gorter.)
Know the Enemy
Many, if not most, Americans probably do not understand how the current battles in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East fit into the historical context of the centuries-old conflict between two great civilizations, one predominantly Christian and the other predominantly Islamic. Statements that we do not wage war against the Islamic religion lacks specificity.
A Little History
From its beginnings, Islam has been a militaristic religion. Mohammed began preaching his visions in 610 A.D. at Mecca, located in modern Saudi Arabia. By the early Eighth Century, Moslems used military conquest to dominate a wide area from the fringes of China to France. A Christian army led by the Frankish King, Charles Martel, halted Islamic expansion into Western Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732. Military conquests over a prolonged period brought Islam into the Balkans in Eastern Europe.
Fundamental features of Christianity and Islam thrust these two world religions into a centuries-old contest for human hearts, minds, and souls. The theological basis for this struggle arises out of two opposing imperatives: (1) Christians believe the Great Commission commands us to bring the entire world to God through Christ versus (2) Moslems believe in Allah’s call to convert the entire world to Islam. If we Christians take the Great Commission as seriously as many Moslems believe in Allah’s call, then these two opposing missions inevitably thrust the two civilizations into a contest or even war for human souls.
Islam, like Christianity, encompasses a broad spectrum of internal beliefs ranging from liberal through conservative to fundamentalist. Each religion has dirty hands from past acts of extreme violence, one against the other. Nevertheless, leaving some religious idiots aside, the main thrust of modern Christianity does not preach conversion by military conquest. In contrast, the Islamofascist movement, e.g., ISIS, within Islam teaches that all non-Moslems should first be expelled from Islamic lands and then the rest of the world must be converted to Islam. Violence, including militarism and terrorism, constitutes an important mechanism for this forced expulsion and conversion.
Islamofascists fervently adhere to this violent approach, and Christians again find themselves caught up in a full-blown religious war that began in 610 A.D. Christians and Islamofascists see reality through diametrically opposed definitions of rationality concerning the mechanism for conversion of the world to Christ or to Allah. As a result of this contrasting reality and differing religious precepts, our enemies cannot be persuaded to change their approach through reasonable discourse.
Only the most dedicated Christian pacifists deem surrender to Islamofascists acceptable without employing countermeasures that include military force. In this context, failure to act resolutely by combating Islamofascist violence with appropriate counter violence will result in defeat for the Christian West. Accordingly, for most Christians, the choice lies not between absolute good and absolute evil but between lesser and greater evils.
While we may argue the theological and philosophical merits of defense against Islamofascists through pacifism or nonviolence as opposed to justifiable counter violence, we should be profoundly clear about the nature of this religious war. No amount of diplomacy, appeasement, touchy-feely personal interactions, UN resolutions, and invocations for nonviolence from our pulpits and the political arena will deter Islamofascists from their ultimate goal: A one-world government or caliphate based upon a medieval interpretation of Islamic law. Religious, economic, and political freedom will not exist under this government. A new dark age will descend upon us.
Comments after 9/11/01 reveal widespread ignorance about the Islamofascist enemy we face. Many public figures and private citizens labeled the perpetrators of these events as cowards. We may believe these Islamofascists acted out of a perverted misunderstanding and application of Islamic teachings and basic principles of humanity. This belief notwithstanding, crashing hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon took courage and dedication, even if of a type we don’t countenance.
We simply cannot afford to underestimate our enemies and believe that the threat, rather than the application of, our overwhelming military force will keep Islamofascists from their goal of worldwide domination. We must gird our loins and show an even greater dedication to the struggle than do our opponents. Failure for us will come from within.
A Roman Empire Precedent
The Roman and Carthaginian Empires struggled for supremacy around the Mediterranean Sea. These bitter enemies fought three great conflicts, called the Punic Wars, during the period, 263-146 B.C. Rome ultimately prevailed through armed might, destroyed the city of Carthage, and sold the survivors into slavery. Legend states that Roman soldiers plowed salt into the soil upon which Carthage had been built.
I often use what the Romans did to Carthage to answer people who say violence and war never resolve any conflict. Has Carthage been a threat to anyone since Rome wiped the city off the map? Crucially, do we have the intestinal fortitude the Romans exhibited in their war against Carthage? If not, dark days lie ahead of us.
Avoiding the Abyss
Claims that we fight Islamofascists in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan to keep the conflict away from the American homeland also lack specificity. We were not in Iraq or Afghanistan when Islamofascists attacked America on 9/11. Whether we stay in or withdraw from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East, Islamofascists will remain obligated under their interpretation of the Qu’ran to wage war against the Christian West: The perverted Islamofascist theology demands that the entire world be converted to Islam by any means.
We may jeopardize our souls by adopting the Roman Empire’s approach of first victory through military force, then peace — rather than following Christianity’s foundational premise of first peace, then victory. Accordingly, we must prayerfully and carefully define our objective, strategy, and tactics in the war with Islamofascists to avoid being seduced by the false love of violence.