December 7, 2015
Where were you?
That question has been asked – for 14 years – concerning the terrorist attacks on 9/11. With the most casualties on American soil since 9/11, last Wednesday’s installment in The War on Terror may leave the same kind of timestamp on the current generation of Americans. Our peace has – again – been disrupted by an act of asymmetric warfare: a conflict defined by disparity; not a formal army-against-army contest marked by a national declaration, but – rather – a David vs. Goliath struggle where the outmatched entity uses atypical strategies, and rejects any “rules” designed to make the struggle “fair.”
Over 11 years – from 1933 to 1944 – President Roosevelt used the radio to spend the evening with Americans, reassuring them about his handling of the Great Depression and, then, World War II. On 30 occasions, those discussions had a calming effect on a country that was at the brink of emotional despair over circumstances that were beyond their control but affecting their daily lives. It is said that his tone and demeanor communicated self-assurance during times of despair and uncertainty.
Confusion is widespread today. The Global War on Terror was given a name by the president weeks after 9/11, and countries gathered their activities against the terrorist initiators under that banner. Twelve years later, a new American president declared the end of that terminology, deferring to tactical responses to individual acts rather than a concerted strategy to eliminate an organized initiative.
For centuries, mortal combat has involved country vs. country enmity; today, we are experiencing something far different. Some say it’s a collision of ideologies that pits the Muslim world against “the West.” The term approaches reality, but misses the mark of clarity (ideology: a worldview of concepts about human life and culture). The definition holds when it addresses politics or culture, but the real issue is far deeper: the radicals acting-out against the West – for whom America is the champion – are driven by religious fervor, rooted in a clash of theologies that are mutually exclusive.
Islam is a religious system that projects itself into Eternity, with Allah as its supreme being. Its doctrine offers the possibility – though not the promise – of eternal Paradise through prescribed, rigid practices. Muslims see the immoral excesses of the West – the culture they deem “Christian” – as evidence of their religious superiority over the decadence of western culture. But, still: there is no assurance of salvation in Islam… unless you die as a martyr, in pursuit of jihad, against the Infidels.
Muhammed (570-632) is regarded as the inspired spokesman for Allah; he founded and expanded Islam. Early on, conversion was through persuasion… and the growth was minimal. In Muhammed’s later life, his strategy moved from persuasion to conquest, and the “repent or die” methodology resulted in explosive growth. Islam’s missionaries were warriors with swords.
At the center of modern Islamic terrorism is a historic belief system that offers no certainty of salvation to the peaceful Muslim; their measure against divine expectation will not be clear until their end of life, when it’s too late to make a difference. Terrorists who choose martyrdom for jihad become the radical frontline in an asymmetrical clash; that is missing in the national and international dialog.
Superior armies defeat inferior ones, through war. Superior ideas defeat inferior ones, through debate. Superior belief systems defeat inferior ones, through evangelism. No Jihadis who convert to become followers of Jesus buy assault weapons and invade Christmas parties. Jesus is the ultimate solution.
How do you defeat the enemy? “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Infiltrate their world with grace and truth…