By any measure, we are losing the war against ISIS and radical Islam. A bigger problem is we do not yet realize we are losing or why. Their legions are growing, their ambitions are apocalyptic, and our resolve is as strong as silly putty.
Without question, our military is superior to any other on earth and we could inflict devastating damage to ISIS if we unleashed our military forces against them. But we are not going to do that—not today, not next month and not after the next atrocity strikes Cleveland, Phoenix or Richmond.
- We have a President and his designated replacement-in-waiting who think “climate change” is a greater threat than Islamists with nuclear weapons, and that the way to defeat squads of suicide bombers is to welcome their brothers, sisters and cousins as our neighbors and give them the right to vote.
- But we have a deeper problem than our commander-in-chief being AWOL. If you ask yourself how he can get away with never uttering the words “radical Islam,” then you might begin uncovering the deeper problem: Obama is not alone in willfully avoiding the truth about an enemy sworn to our destruction. He has many accomplices and co-conspirators.
If we are honest we must face a very dark and sobering fact: The outcome of this war is far from certain. We are proud of being a nation of can-do optimists, but we are also a nation in denial about a culture in a tailspin.
- The real enemy is not “over there” in Syria and Iraq, or in Paris or London. The enemy is already here in our homeland, and I am not speaking of terrorist cells, Syrian refugees, or radical imams. I am speaking of the accelerating rot in our own culture.
Our secular culture is adrift in a sea of relativism, escapism, and self-indulgent inanities, with our media and entertainment elites leading the parade.
- “Where were you, Daddy, when we were waging the war on terror?” Oh, well, I was watching reality TV. On TV, the good guys always defeat the bad guys. And I can always change the channel.
In this besotted condition, we are ill-equipped to fight an enemy full of passion, idealism and self-confidence. Islamist suicide bombers believe they are dying for a higher purpose, the greater glory of Allah. What, exactly, are our ideals? The freedom to enjoy pornography and polygamy and 24-hour pizza delivery?
- The war with ISIS and its Islamist allies is what historian Samuel P. Huntington called a “clash of civilizations” in a book by that title in 1996.
- Tocqueville warned us 200 years ago that we would never be defeated by an invader, but we could abandon liberty by adopting a “soft tyranny” of democratic corruption.
- The early 20th century economist Joseph Schumpeter gave a similar warning about the inevitable corruption of morals that comes with capitalism’s triumph. If everything is permitted in an open marketplace, higher values will be replaced by cheaper ones— and there is no principle within pure capitalism to halt that cultural degeneration.
Then in our generation, along comes “multiculturalism” to teach that there are no superior cultures, only different ones. Witchcraft is as much a legitimate personal religion as Christianity or Buddhism if that is what turns you on, and polygamy is just another “lifestyle” with its own cable TV channel.
The great Russian novelist Alexandr Solzhenitsyn saw this deepening hollowness in the West as a global development spanning five centuries, with Soviet Communism only a symptom of lost souls. In his Templeton Lecture in 1983, long before the rise of radical Islam, he warned:
“It has become embarrassing to state that evil makes its home in the individual human heart before it enters a political system. Yet it is not considered shameful to make dally concessions to an integral evil. Judging by the continuing landslide of concessions made before the eyes of our very own generation, the West is ineluctably slipping toward the abyss.”
ISIS and radical Islam have declared war on us not because of anything we have done—not because we are a friend to Israel and not because we have not yet toppled the bloody Syrian dictator Assad. ISIS and radical Islamists hate us for who we are. The irony is, we ourselves do not know who we are.
The Chinese philosopher Sun Tsu said it best in The Art of War:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
ISIS hates the West as an abominable nest of infidels, infidels who reject the Quran and Shariah Law, and so must be annihilated. We are the obstacle to the new Caliphate. OKAY— got it: We stand against the Caliphate. But what do we stand for? What is our alternative ideal to the Islamist ideal? Those happy optimists who think this is a largely academic question should consider the generational dimension to cultural identities and dissatisfactions.
- While radical Islam may indeed hold little attraction for the large majority of Muslim immigrants and refugees now relocating in Europe and America, it will be different matter for thousands of their children. The mastermind behind the Paris terror attack was the son of successful, fully assimilated Moroccan immigrants.
- A growing number of reliable public opinion polls of Muslim populations (Pew, Gallup, Rasmussen, among others) reveal that 13% to 32% of Muslims have a positive view of ISIS — as do 17% of Syrian refugees.
So, it is both reasonable and prudent to ask ourselves — what percentage of the children of several million Muslim migrants will choose the values of our ascendant secular hedonism over the allure of “true Islam”? One percent of two million is 20,000 potential jihadists.
Radical Islam’s principles are out there for all to see if they open their eyes. But what are our principles? In truth, they are up for grabs.
Tom Tancredo is the founder of the Rocky Mountain Foundation and founder and co-chairman of Team America PAC.
Tom represented Colorado’s sixth congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009, and he is a former presidential candidate.
He is the author of In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America’s Border and Security.