Sunday, August 21, 2016

Winning the War with Islamic Fanaticism

Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker

  Counterterrorism Blog, July 23, 2008                                                                                                      
 “Winning the War”, Arutz  Sheva', September 16, 2008  
American-Israeli analyst and news commentator Micah D. Halpern wrote an interesting column recently for his blog, The Micah Report, entitled "The Qualitative Edge"*, in which he suggested that Israeli deterrence of enemies has been accomplished through maintaining superior military power: better equipment, better training, better intelligence and greater motivation than its enemies. Halpern states that this doctrine has worked for the past 60 years against Israel's adversaries, but notes that now Israel is confronted by enemies who are motivated by a fervent religious ideology that includes a willingness to die for the cause, putting Israel's superior military power at bay.                                                                                 .
In effect, Halpern is asking: How does a military power confront the true-believing enemy that is not only willing to die, but actively seeks death as a way of psychologically defeating the superior power it faces? Halpern suggests that Israel and the West need to find a new model to confront this "new" type of enemy.

With due respect to Dr. Halpern, whose article essentially is correct otherwise, a new model is not needed. However, what is needed is the resolve to fight relentlessly against those who use terrorism, especially against innocent non-combatants, as a method of gaining an advantage in the psychological aspect of war. 

Although the missile and rocket attacks from Gaza have been terrorizing Sderot and its environs, as well as Ashkelon with the Grad missile attacks, Israel's retaliatory attacks on the Hamas leadership were having a pronounced effect on that terrorist organization. The same can be said about Hizbullah. Whereas the rank and file may be willing to become shahadin (self-sacrificing homicidal murderers), Hassan Nasrallah and his fellow leaders of Hizbullah have been very careful to seek protection when the bullets fly and the bombs fall. In a similar manner, much of the Iranian leadership has displayed no desire to become martyrs for a greater Shiite caliphate - their life is too sweet to be sacrificed. Besides, they always send proxies in their stead.

The answer to terrorism - whether it is perpetuated by Palestinian Sunni Islamic fundamentalists, Lebanese Iranian-inspired Shiite fundamentalists, or the fanatic Iranian ayatollahs themselves - is to fight it vigorously, just like we fought the Japanese Kamikaze pilots at the end of World War II. The allies didn't flinch when attacked by the Kamikazes; we didn't call for, or agree to, a truce at that point. We fought with one goal in mind: total defeat of the enemy. 

While we don't wish to harm the civilian populations of our adversaries, we should be seeking an overwhelming defeat of those who not only wish, but also actively seek, our destruction. We are in a war and we need to remember that fact at all times. Truces called by the other side are meant for their advantage; we should not give in to the temptation for a cease-fire when we have our enemies on the ropes. The time for magnanimity is when the enemy has been utterly crushed, not before. 

We need to understand the mentality of our fanatic fundamentalist enemies. Life is totally black or white for them, there are no shades of grey. Surviving a battle with the superior forces of their enemy is seen as a victory by them, as proof that we in the West are too soft to defeat them ultimately. Hizbullah thus views the 2006 Lebanon War as a victory, since the superior military might of Israel was incapable of crushing the Iranians' Lebanese proxy. So, too, Hamas looks at the current cease-fire as a proof that Israel cannot destroy the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood.  
For that matter, every time that we agree to talk to the Iranians on Iraq, they see it as proof that they are capable of eventually driving us out of the region. And it goes without saying that every time the West offers the Islamic Republic of Iran a bigger incentive to stop its nuclear program, the more adamant Ali Khamenei and his spokesman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad become in their insistence that Iran will never back down from its "national rights."

If Israel and the West are to succeed in defeating Islamic fundamentalism - which seeks to return the world to an era long before the Enlightenment, to an era of misogyny and wars of religion - then we must realize that our fundamentalist enemies mean to defeat us and subjugate us, or put us to the sword. They are fighting as if the future status of Heaven and Earth are hanging in the balance; it is high time that we learn to take this battle seriously. The fate of Western civilization, indeed of this planet, will be determined by our response to the threats we face today emanating from the Middle East. If we fail to deal with the threat today, by tomorrow the battle will be at our doorstep.
* (July 15, 2008)

Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker is founder and Chairman of the Board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching government officials and the public of the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism and the need to establish genuine democratic institutions in the Middle-East as an antidote to the venom of such fundamentalism.

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