In the Middle East, The More Things Change…
September 21, 2012
The events in the Middle East last week prompted me to look back at a chapter on radical Islamism in a book I wrote seven years ago, Winning the Future. It’s amazing how relevant the material is today. We still have no strategy for dealing with this enormous long term threat. In many ways, the willful blindness of our elites has actually gotten worse. This remains as valid an essay today as it was the day I wrote it:
“We have two immediate opponents, the irreconcilable wing of Islam and the rogue dictatorships that empower the radical Islamists. The irreconcilable wing of Islam considers America the great Satan. The Islamists cannot reconcile with a secular system of laws. They cannot tolerate a West that maintains a presence in the Arabian Gulf or that would defend Israel’s right to survive as a country. They cannot tolerate freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or freedom for women. In short, their demands are irreconcilable with the modern world.
“Politically correct secularists cannot understand that we are participants in a global civil war between the modernizing and irreconcilable wings of Islam. While the irreconcilable wing must be fought militarily, this is also a cultural, political, and economic war (as was the Cold War). This war is not primarily about terrorism, it is about an Islamist insurgency against the modern world.
“A reasonable estimate would be that this war will last until 2070 (the Soviet Union lasted from 1917 to 1991, or seventy-four years). An optimist could make a case for winning by 2025 or 2030. Alternatively this conflict could be a fact of life for several centuries (as the Catholic-Protestant wars were during the Reformation and Counter Reformation).
“Because secular post-modern analysts refuse to take religion seriously, we describe “suicide bombers” while our opponents describe “martyrs.” We see them as psychologically deranged where they see themselves as dedicated to God. We focus on body counts while our opponents see their dead as symbols for recruitment. We focus on weeks and months while our opponents patiently focus on decades and generations. We think of trouble spots while they think of global jihad. We are in a total mismatch of planning and understanding.
“We are hunting down al Qaeda (a loose grouping of 3,000 to 5,000 people) while our opponents are vastly larger. As one counter-terrorism analyst suggested to me “about the time we wipe out al Qaeda there will be five to ten new organizations of equal or greater size.” We can reasonably guess that about 3 to 4 percent of the 1.3 billion Muslims on the planet are potential terrorist recruits-a pool of 39 to 52 million young men. There might be more than 10,000 potential recruits for every current member of al Qaeda.
“Virtually every expert believes the number of militants available to the Irreconcilables is growing much faster than we are killing them. We have no effective communication counter-strategy to the television stations like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya that serve as multimillion (maybe multibillion) dollar force multipliers for the insurgency. Consider the tiny cost bin Laden pays for an audio tape that these stations broadcast to more than a third of the Arab world at no cost to al Qaeda.”
There is one obvious response to the turmoil:
North American Energy Independence now.
In the last several years, technology and engineering advances have enabled access to vast domestic oil and gas resources we never thought reachable before.
I sat down with Scott Noble – who runs the largest privately held mineral royalties company in the United States – and Exploration & Production magazine to discuss the impact of these enormous changes, and the opportunity to move beyond dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
And if you want to know all the facts on this new reality, you can watch our full session on energy at Newt University, which contains some truly amazing information on American energy potential I can guarantee you’ve never heard.