Are we heading for defeat in the war against Islamism?
The Ancient Chinese Philosopher of Conflict, Sun Tzu, was the author of a famous treatise called the “Art of War”. One of his sayings is:- “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”.
This saying repays thought in all situations of conflict but is certainly very true of the “war” against ISIS.
At the moment “Western” Governments have no strategy at all for dealing with ISIS and, indeed, haven’t even got round to understanding the basics about the enemy!
Here is one of the more sensible articles that I have read recently about this official wilful ignorance:-
Paris attacks: Is 'radicalisation’ really the problem?
Big Question: Associating such atrocities as those committed in Paris with radicalisation reinforces the idea of ‘jihadi cool’. Isil are ultra-traditionalists, not radicals
Much of the condemnation following the attacks in Paris reflects the shock and disbelief that Western governments have in understanding the cultic appeal of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
President Barack Obama spoke of the ‘outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians’, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her solidarity with the French people, proclaiming that ‘we will fight against those who have carried out such an unfathomable act against you’.
But there is a problem here. Understandable though such declarations are, the acts perpetrated by Isil are not, in themselves, unfathomable. It is the manner of official rhetoric, media analysis, and much academic commentary that often obscures an understanding of the threat. And the most misleading word in public commentary is the term radicalisation.
The stream of young Muslims who reject their host nations and travel to Syria in order to throw in their lot with the Islamic State in all its manifest brutality exercises western nations. Much of the concern about what is happening within certain Muslim communities is expressed as a problem of ‘radicalisation’.
In the wake of the atrocities in Paris, radicalisation is again cast as the central issue. A Guardian report following the attacks highlighted France’s ‘struggles to tackle radicalisation among its Muslim community’. The report noted that nearly half of the estimated 3000 Muslims from Europe to have travelled to the Middle East to participate in jihad are French.
Meanwhile, it was reported in Britain that counter-terrorism sources fear some 450 ‘radicalised’ Britons have returned from Syria and could perpetrate similar attacks to those witnessed in France. The Director of the Office for Security and Counter-terrorism, Charles Farr, states in this respect that Isil’s radical dogma is ‘a form of ideological grooming’.
Yet, what does this term radicalisation mean? Is this term an accurate description of the process that leads a young western Muslim to jihad? Words matter. An adequate response needs accurate diagnosis.
George Orwell observed that ‘the slovenliness of our language makes it easier to have foolish thoughts’. If the threat is to be countered effectively then at the very least one has to be sure that the political terminology one uses truthfully describes the actual nature of the problem. Orwell noted that ‘political chaos’ results from the ‘decay of language’ and ends up in prevailing orthodoxies that ‘conceal and prevent thought’.
This is precisely what has happened with the misuse of the term radicalisation. Radicalism, in fact, has precise origins, entering modern usage in the nineteenth century in the context of political and economic reform and social progress. It
was those secular, liberal, utilitarian reformers associated with Jeremy Bentham and James Mill (John Stuart’s father) who devised the modern understanding of radical. It stood for a programme of rational, constitutional, social and economic reform.
Radicalism as an ideology dismissed religion as irrational superstition and sought political reform along secular, capitalist and progressive democratic lines.
The one thing we can easily discern about Islamic State and its message is that it is does not do democracy or secular modernity. Therefore, it is not radical and it does not engage in radicalisation. Thus, fulfilling Orwell’s prophecy, distorted meaning ends up obscuring and preventing thought.
Rather than being radicalised, young western Muslims are attracted to what a more religious age than our own recognised as enthusiasm, zealotry or fanaticism. Any analysis of jihadism’s self-confirming zealotry suggests that those who are labelled as radicalised are not radicals at all. Ideological radicalism, properly understood, requires a clear break from traditional religion of whatever form in order to achieve a pluralist secular modernity.
Modern day jihadists are, then, the antithesis of radical. Their worldview is fashioned by a scriptural literalism based on the message of the Prophet Mohammed and the hadith of his rightly guided successors from the Seventh Century. It is this that inspires the thought and practice of Islamic State and its followers who look to the past to build tomorrow’s religious utopia purified by ultra-violence. They are ultra-traditionalists, not radicals.
This ultra-traditionalism guides every action in the present. Today’s jihadi is an enthusiast (not a radical) as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as one who is ‘possessed by a god’, or in ‘receipt of divine communication’. No matter how deluded their actions seem to modern attitudes, through their enthusiasm they engage directly in a divine mission to re-create the caliphate. This renders them immune to community sensitive ‘de-radicalisation’ programmes promoted by western governments because there is nothing radical in jihadist self-understanding.
The distorted rhetoric of radicalisation is, though, far more damaging than merely offending semantic sensibilities because associating such atrocities as those committed in Paris with radicalisation reinforces the idea of ‘jihadi cool’.
For to be radical means in some sense to be ‘street smart’. Contemporary Islamists are adept social entrepreneurs who understand this only too well.
Islamic State and its media outlets release over 90,000 social media posts a day. That’s nearly 33 million a year. The appeal of social media is clear. There are no gatekeepers. Messages posted from one remote or hidden location are
immediately transmitted to the hip pocket of anyone with a smart phone. An audience counted in millions.
Social media is the command and control network of fanatical Islamism. It is used to brand the Isil product, literally, to promulgate the message and recruit online. Segueing off the L’Oreal advert, for instance, a recent Islamist recruitment message targeting young western women runs ‘Cover Girl, No. Covered Girl, Yes. Because, you’re worth it.’
Western radicalisation rhetoric further distorts the threat because it implies that those Muslim youngsters inclined to join the jihad are merely deluded naïfs who don't really mean what they say and do, when of course they only too clearly do as their willingness to kill and be killed for the cause demonstrates.
In effect, much public commentary about ‘radicalisation’ removes human agency from those who seek participation in the jihad because they have ‘unfathomably’ been pumped full of ideological steroids and brainwashed by unscrupulous preachers of hate who groom their prey. The simpler but harsher truth is that they have been attracted by a message of jihadi cool in which western governments have been indirectly responsible for fostering.
While Isil offers jihadi cool messaging, governments merely respond with insipid pieties about cohesion achieved through culturally sensitive and misdirected ‘de-radicalisation’ initiatives that have proved expensive and ineffective.
In this context, it is worth asking, before engaging any more academics and bureaucratic agencies in taxpayer funded programmes, what precisely does the counter-terrorism community understand by ‘radicalism’ and ‘radicalisation’?
An answer to this question may reveal that we in the west have been only too successful in brainwashing ourselves.
Here is the link to the original of this article>>>
Paris attacks: Is 'radicalisation’ really the problem? - Telegraph
What do you think?