Over the past several weeks the Dowbrigade has seen
a sea change in his feelings about what is happening, and what will
happen next, in the Middle East. We no longer see an intractable long-term struggle and
the continuing deterioration of security due to factional warfare and
an anti-Western insurgency.
We are now convinced in the inevitability of the establishment
of an Islamic Superstate, stretching from the Himalayas to the Sahara.
It will have over a billion people (With over 1.1 billion adherents,
Islam is the world’s most popular single religion.). It will be fantastically
wealthy, and will control the flow of oil on which the West and Asia
depend. And it will have nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver
Despite the fact that this sounds like any American’s
worst nightmare, we believe it might be a manageable state of affairs,
analogous to the Cold War in that two implacable and opposing systems
will be confronting each other on a number of fronts around the world,
without necessarily degrading into open warfare.
At any rate, get ready to live with the New Islamic
Empire, because it’s gonna happen and it’s coming soon to a Mosque
near you. Let us review the main reasons we feel this is an inevitable
First, there is plenty of historical precedent for
the emergence of a Pan-Islamic Nation. Although all eventually fell
to internal divisions, the Islamic world has been periodically united
under inspirational leadership or in opposition to outside invasion. Currently,
both conditions may be present.
Within a hundred years of the death of the Prophet,
an Islamic state stretched from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to Central
Asia in the east. During the intervening 1300 years the empires of the
Abbasid caliphs, the Mughals, and the Seljuk Turk, Safavid Persia and
Ottomans were among the largest and most powerful in the world.
Second, our current situation in the theater is untenable.
Roman generals established over two thousand years ago that a powerful
empire has only two choices after toppling a hostile foe. Either
blast the earth bare, leave no stone standing upon stone, and kill
all males in the land, or they will grow strong and cunning and come back to kill
you, or put in a puppet regime to play the heavy, keep people in line,
and insuring the Empire’s prerogatives in the area.
In the case of Iraq, our modern civilized self-image
will not allow us to do the former, and we are failing miserably at
the latter. We are failing at every one of our responsibilities and
promises – eliminating the terrorists, stopping the sectarian violence,
providing peace and security to the civilian population, restoring
basic infrastructure like electricity and water, establishing a model
for other nascent Middle Eastern democracies to emulate, and pumping
Iraqi oil so the whole exercise can pay for itself.
The reason the Romans rejected the third alternative,
occupying the conquered land, is that while armies are great for destroying
and conquering, they are lousy at occupying and policing. They turn
into constant, walking targets. They are forced to constantly watch
out for attack, which can come from any direction at any time. They
must constantly differentiate between friend and foe, civilian and
terrorist. No wonder a lot of them are getting screwy. This isn’t what
they signed up for. This isn’t what they trained for.
We are failing because we can afford to fail, and
our opposition cannot. We can leave and go home, but they are already
home and have nowhere else to go. Because of this simple and unalterable
fact, we are the outsiders, and our enemies are seen as representatives
of the local population, and have their support, shelter and succor.
Even our ace in the hole, Democracy, has been turned
against us. It seems we have become so unpopular that the easiest
way to win elections in dysfunctional societies is to declare yourself
the implacable enemy of the United States.
After 10 or 20 or 80 years of neglect, despotic control
and terror, the populations of the Middle Eastern nations are so traumatized and
terrorized that they will embrace any seemingly coherent philosophy which promises
to provide stability and security, like a drowning man grabs a flotation
device. Right now, our opponents are able to do a better job of offering this
the population cheered fundamentalist Islamic courts and militias which
forced out the venal and cannibalistic Warlords who were our chosen
proxies in the area.
We will lose for the simple fact that you cannot help
people who do not want your help even if you are doing so for purely
altruistic motives, which we are not.
Has it not become masochistic to continue this national
flagellation, tossing our fortune and our children into the flames
of an unquenchable fire? All we are accomplishing is making the civilian
population hate us more, and eroding our core values and geopolitical
So we will have to leave, eventually, and when we
do the betting here is that we will soon thereafter see the emergence
of a billion-man Muslim bloc. It will include the entire Arabian Peninsula,
the North of Africa, and some of the Islamic ex-Soviet republics.
Exactly which of these, as well as the possible inclusion
of Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Indonesia and other peripheral states depends
on exactly how the deal breaks, and when. It is possible that
some of these countries will become buffer states, and limited warfare
battleground for surrogates of the Islamic Superstate on one side,
and the Western and Asian powers on the other.
Given that such a Superstate would have practically
unlimited financial resources, a stranglehold on the planet’s energy
reserves, and nukes, some will declare the Dowbrigade clinically
insane for even contemplating such an occurrence. A super-rich
Islamic empire with nukes and missiles? Goodbye Israel. A recipe for
World War II.
But we are convinced that it is not only inevitable,
but survivable. Even
feud between Shi’ites and Sunni is not as intractable as it may seem. Why,
just a few years ago Catholics and Protestants were killing each other
in the British Isles. Give them a few decades to grow into governance,
and they may evolve into sort of Islamic Democrats and Republicans,
each holding sway in certain states of the Greater Islamic Republic.
In our teaching we use a very short story called "On
Hope" by Spencer Holst, which takes place on the island of Gibraltar.
A luxury ocean liner, with British Navy escort, is in port. Aboard
is an unnamed British princess and some of the Crown Jewels, including
the famous, cursed, Hope Diamond, set in a necklace.
Also on the island is a Gypsy animal trainer, whose
pet monkey for some time had been climbing through hotel windows and
stealing jewelry from sleeping tourists. Inevitably, the monkey steals
the Hope diamond. The Gypsy realizes he could never sell a gem so famous,
and returns it by mail. The monkey steals it again. Eventually, the
monkey is shot and killed in a third theft, but not before delivery
the cursed gem to the gypsy.
Heartsick over the death of his buddy the monkey,
the Gypsy decides to get rid of the necklace once and for all, by swimming
out into the Atlantic and dropping it into a deep ocean trench. But
instead of falling to the bottom, the necklace ends up on the dorsal
fin or a sleeping shark (we know, sharks never sleep, but it’s just
which swims up to investigate.
The story ends with the Gypsy swimming to shore, and spotting the necklace, glinting in the moonlight, seeming to float above the water. He starts to swim towards it. He doesn’t see the shark.
The title of the story is an allusion to the fact
that what might seem inevitable – that the shark will eat the man -
is not, for three separate reasons. First, the man IS a Gypsy animal
trainer. Second, the shark is confused because the man is not
behaving normally – he shows no fear, and is swimming AT the shark. Third,
the shark is now in possession of the diamond, and its curse.
In a similar vein, we do not hold it as inevitable
that a nuclear Islamic superstate would attack or attempt to annihilate
Israel for the following reasons.
First, there is the MAD effect. Israel, of course,
is a nuclear state, and would meet any serious threat to its existence
with a nuclear spasm. Knowing this, we can only hope the Islamic state
would not risk turning the entire Middle East into a nuclear wasteland.
Second, there is the Guantanamo effect. Just as the
virulently anti-American Castro regime has tolerated a US Naval base
un their exposed underbelly, so the Islamic state may be willing to
tolerate an outpost of the Western World at its back door. Such an
outpost could have uses; as a conduit for intelligence, covert contacts,
and black market transfer of goods and technology.
Third, since it will have been the galvanizing presence
of Israel which enabled the Islamic fundamentalists to unite the Muslim
world and create the Superstate in the first place, it is probably
that they will see the utility of keeping it around, as a rallying
point and emotional tool.
As it is, we are playing out a losing hand in the
Middle East. The nation-states of the modern Middle East are doomed
to fail because they were artificial creations of the Western world
from the get-go. They are fated to fade into the dustbin of history
after we are forced to leave, and the betting here is that the Islamists will win the civil
war that follows.
It is going to be a nasty shock, in many ways, but
we had better get used to it. It would probably be prudent to get it
over with as soon as possible, before we lose any more kids or international
influence. The West vs. Islam is bound to be the next great confrontation
cold war, and not a shooting one.