- Since 9/11, the principal success of the War on Terrorism
has been the fabrication of a global enemy. That enemy is so-called "islamofascism",
and the media manipulation involved in creating it is a propaganda effort
that is unequalled in our time.
- True believers in islamofascism assert and amplify simple
precepts. (1) By various estimates, the Muslim population of the world
is 1.5 billion people or more. Present world population is about 6.7 billion;
that means at least one person out of every five is a Muslim (Keep in mind
that one person in three is a Christian). (2) Not only do all Muslims think
alike, their thinking has not changed since Mohammed wrote down the Koran.
(3) Islam is a religion that espouses general use of violence to settle
disputes. (4) The achievement of governance by any Islamic group is likely
to lead to a throwback to primitive and violent Islamic behavior. (5) All
Islamic societies sponsor terrorism. (6) All terrorists in Islamic countries
are an international threat. (7) Those terrorists generally target their
anger against the United States, Israel, and- loosely-the West. (8) The
clincher is that these "islamofascists" intend to take over the
- The info-fascistic nature of this scheme resides in its
lockstep logic. The information strategy is to piece together a string
of plausible sounding propositions that depict a society that is dangerous
to the west. Proposition one is that all Muslims dislike non-Muslims and,
in planetary terms, if you are not a Muslim, one out of five people in
any crowd is likely to dislike you. That plants a basic fear mechanism.
Proposition two is that Muslims predictably are hostile to non-Muslims,
and proposition three is that hostility is intrinsic to their religion.
Proposition four asserts that any government that espouses Islam is dangerous
to others, and five is that such governments inevitably use terrorism as
a weapon. Propositions six and seven are that Muslim terrorists go after
outsiders and we, or the Israelis, are specifically targeted. The summary
judgment of this set of propositions is that, of course, all such Islamic
actions are unprovoked; we are the innocent victims.
- Islamofascism is the propaganda brainchild mainly of
the American and the Israeli right. It acts as the central rationale for
the United States-led War on Terrorism. It justifies continued US maintenance
of arms, bases and weaponry that challenge the powers of all other nations
combined. It provides the key talking points for counter-terror alliances
with as many countries as are willing to join the global war to control
their own national dissidents. It provides arguments for US invasion and
continuous occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. It fuels the search for
a plausible excuse to attack Iran. It is a convenient excuse for virtual
American abandonment of its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty. It silences public and Congressional objections to running the
United States as the world's principal debtor nation while the Pentagon
spends most of the annual increase in the national debt on the instruments
- Few facts support the islamofascism campaign of its hard
right supporters, but that is hardly an obstacle. In October, avid Israel
supporters declared an Islamofascism Awareness Week on US university campuses
in essence to tout two complaints.
- First, they assert that islamofascists will brutishly
enforce the traditional subservient status of women under Islamic law.
However, that tradition is widely understood and women in many countries
oppose it. That includes growing numbers in purist Islamic states such
as Saudi Arabia. Opponents see themselves dealing with an ancient tradition
rather than fascism. Perversely, with its invasion and destruction of Iraq,
the United States has destroyed the most advanced example of escape from
Islamic suppression of women. However, the people who avidly promoted and
pursued Iraq's destruction are the ones now decrying islamofascism.
- Islamofascism promoters' larger argument is that Muslims
conspire to take over the world. This conspiracy is apparently all in the
heads of the promoters, because there is not a shred of objective evidence
for it. Osama bin Laden appears to have triggered this theory with his
talk of forming an Islamic caliphate, in effect a return to centralized
rule of Islam that lasted for short periods in history. His approach, however,
focused at most on Sunni Islam, not non-Muslim countries.
- The face of islamofascism, of course, is al Qaida. That
group was founded by Osama bin Laden-son of one of the leading Saudi Arabian
oligarchs. It developed a membership recruitment pitch that plays naturally
to the paranoia of western politicians; it destabilizes the governments
of their oligarchic allies. His target audience was, and still is, the
dissident groups in many Islamic societies, specifically Sunnis. It is
no coincidence that those dissident groups are the principle sources of
Muslim terrorists. Osama has had trouble with Muslim governments generally
because he stirs up dissident groups in their countries. However, aside
from al Qaida membership itself, he has not created any new groups in Muslim
countries (al Qaida Iraq is an import). Groups are likely to affiliate
with him because he helps them do their own thing-agitate against host
governments for human rights and opportunities to participate in economic
and political affairs. In Muslim countries generally, with such ideas Osama
rattles the status quo.
- Just what are the facts about al Qaida and terrorist
groups in Muslim countries? First, there are more than 80 known terrorist
groups worldwide, and less than a quarter of them are in Muslim countries.
At its peak, al Qaida may have had as many as 15,000 followers. By most
accounts, it has far fewer than that today. The appearance of al Qaida
in Iraq was a predictable development, given the post invasion situation
of Iraq's Sunni minority, but US official terrorism data show that al Qaida
has been only a small part of the violence in that country. Virtually all
terrorist groups presently on the global scene existed before al Qaida
emerged in the late 1990s.
- At least 10% of the world's terrorist groups cluster
around the Palestine problem. Fifteen named Palestinian groups have conducted
attacks, mostly in the near vicinity of Palestine. There were more attacks
by Palestinian or Palestine sympathetic groups abroad in earlier years
than have recently occurred.
- In the last full year of record, 2006, more than half
of all terrorist attacks, whether domestic or international, occurred in
Iraq and Afghanistan. Those data greatly confuse the global terrorism picture,
because the Iraq incidents are more likely insurgent attacks resulting
from the US-led invasion and occupation of that counry. Outside of Iraq
and Afghanistan, most Middle East attacks have occurred in and around Israel
- A straightforward reality emerges from the numbers. More
than half of the world's presently reported terrorism results from three
situations: (1) US invasion and occupation of Iraq; (2) US invasion and
occupation of Afghanistan; (3) Israel's six-decade long expulsion and imprisonment
of the Palestinian people. The great majority of attacks in those three
situations have nothing to do with al Qaida, but that picture is Osama
bin Laden's most persuasive recruitment tool. If one puts aside India's
enduring leftist problems--which account for the largest block of attacks
in Asia, or Colombia's running fight with the revolutionary armed forces-accounting
for the largest number of attacks in Latin America, the world scene remains
reasonably calm. There is no notable trend in terrorism activity outside
the three trouble spots.
- What then is the fabricated islamofascist threat really
about? As suggested by the Boston Globe, its purpose may well be to define
"a single, terrifying threat" to America and its allies. It has
two obvious goals. One is to continue justifying the War on Terrorism.
At present, since we do not have any other apparent enemy worth a $400
billion defense budget, this threat is the principal weapon in the American
military budget promotion kit. The other is to maintain the basic western,
especially American, appreciation of Israel as a country besieged by Arab
enemies. That status appears to divert the attention of most western societies
from the raw facts of Israel's progressive disassembly of Palestinian society.
If they have any impact at all, the results of the just concluded Annapolis
conference will keep all eyes diverted from that destructive process until
George W. Bush leaves office.
- There are, however, other actual and potential beneficiaries.
America's allies, members of the US Congress, political candidates, and
defense contractors come to mind.
- America's allies in general reap a bonanza from such
a global threat. At present, the United States has bases/facilities in
over 700 locations in more than 100 countries. Every one of those represents
not only a place where US forces and force planners can put a foot down
in comfort, but also a steady flow of cash into the coffers of host governments.
However, from an ally's point of view, the larger benefit of an alliance
in the War on Terrorism may be the gift of international cover for local
wars against dissidents. As in the Philippine case, those governments can
get technical and on the ground advisory support for shutting down their
dissidents ("terrorists") without responding to the causes that
generate them. The down side of this strategy is that it postpones political
engagement with dissidents while probably generating more grievances that
will include the United States as an enemy. In this manner, the War on
Terrorism looks virtually self-perpetuating.
- Members of the US Congress are hoisted on their own petards
by islamofascism. As long as such an enemy is widely touted to exist, Congress
cannot move against the President on the bogus War on Terrorism or the
equally fraudulent demands for military spending. Rather, predictably they
will shadow box their way through the coming election without ever taking
a position on America's truly corrosive posture on the world stage. With
his personal ratings at or near the nadir, Bush can thank islamofascism
for enabling him to hold members of the Congress in a vice grip of inaction.
- Political candidates could not be happier with islamofascism
as an issue. It enables them to make macho statements about protecting
the United States from a global enemy, politically correct statements about
supporting our troops, and suggestive remarks about the weak nerves or
knees of their opponents. In this atmosphere, most of the campaign can
go by without frustrated and angry voters ever hearing anything about the
domestic issues that really bother them.
- Defense contractors are major beneficiaries of the concern
about a global enemy such as islamofascism. They benefit whether or not
the enemy is real. So long as such a threat remains plausible, national
leadership will continue to seek budgets and spend money on military support
and weapons systems. It can hardly be a concern of such contractors that
borrowed money sustains their enterprises. They have done remarkable work
for our country, and they are not responsible for the government's misreading
or actual abuse of a global threat model.
- The underlying beneficiary is full employment. We so
far do not have an economic model that can sustain full employment without
the military input. Estimates vary as to how big a role military spending
plays in the US economy, but at the very least it is as important as the
whipped cream on a pumpkin pie, and in many regional economies its withdrawal
would be sorely missed.
- One of the victims of the islamofascism preoccupation
may well be the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. The son of a white
woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, Obama's grandfather was an
African Muslim, and Obama spent some of his pre-teen years in Indonesia.
His father was an atheist, while Barack Obama himself became a Christian.
These antecedents actually make him a generic American, but his political
foes are likely to use his Islamic connections to cast doubts on his appropriateness
as the future president. Unless his political opponents back off and the
islamofascist propaganda machine loses momentum, he is likely to be the
first American political casualty of islamofascism.
- The larger victim of this fraud, however, may be the
American people. On October 23, HR 1955 passed the House by a vote of 404-6,
with 23 members not voting. That bill, called The Violent Radicalization
Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, would establish a commission
to collect information and hold hearings on people and/or groups who might
espouse/have radical ideas. "Radicalism" is not defined, nor
is the legislation in any way specific about whatever might possibly lead
to domestic terrorism. As described by Matt Renner in an online Truthout
report, like the one time McCarthy Commission of the 1950s, this new Commission
could spy on anyone at anytime, if it decides such individuals or groups
may harbor views that could lead to domestic terrorism. Because the goal
of this bill is to stop such thoughts from proceeding to action, it would
be America's first thought crime bill. As critics suggest, it would be
a clear-cut abridgement of the First Amendment to the Constitution.
- If George W. Bush were thinking about protecting long-term
American interests, he would veto The Violent Radicalization Homegrown
Terrorism Prevention Act on sight. However, with his neocon, hard right
Christian and Zionist supporters at his side, he may think such an attack
on the First Amendment is a good idea. Muslims and Muslim communities in
the United States would be inevitable targets of this commission.
- Islamofascism emerges as the core of a fear mongering
game that the Bush administration and its neocon and Israeli supporters
have played from the beginning. It is Infofascism because part of the propaganda
approach is to belittle people who refuse to accept the fraud. In this
warped frame of mind, refusal to accept the charge that a fifth of the
world's people pose an active threat to America is un-American.
- Ultimately, this game is arrogant and introverted. A
strong case in point is Iran, the alleged showcase of islamofascism. The
US and Israel are free-by their own definitions-to make any unsubstantiated
charge or threaten the Iranian people with everything up to and including
nuclear annihilation. However, if Iran were to take any overt action to
defend itself, that would be an act of war. The Zionists invented and refined
this game to take Palestine. There the long-term Israeli rule-regularly
supported or not publicly objected to by the United States--is that the
Zionists can do anything they want to take Palestine from its people, but
it is against the rules for the Palestinians to fight back.
- We the people owe ourselves a careful scrutiny of this
game. This propaganda keeps us afraid and therefore compliant with expensive
and destructive military approaches. It nudges otherwise peaceable people
toward active measures to protect themselves from our next intrusion. It
should trouble us that the Bush team has now worked- over the heads of
the Iraqi people--with the US captive government of Iraq to reach an agreement
that amounts to perpetual occupation of that country. Most Iraqis would
never agree to that, and people, others, and ours will pay the price for
that continuing insurgency. In the meantime, however, US actions in Iraq
will feed the suspicions and the resistance of the Islamic world.
- What we have ignited is not islamofascism but a serious
disturbance of the peace i/n /Islam. That disturbance and our use of it
as an excuse to rearm is provoking rearmament in many countries. We ourselves
are the promoters of mayhem in the fields of the sword. We ourselves will
most likely reap the whirlwind.
- The writer is the author of the recently published work,
A World Less Safe, now available on Amazon, and he is a regular columnist
on rense.com. He is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the US
Department of State whose immediate pre-retirement positions were as Chairman
of the Department of International Studies of the National War College
and as Deputy Director of the State Office of Counter Terrorism and Emergency
Planning. He will welcome comment at <mailto:email@example.com>firstname.lastname@example.org