Iannone Sono Buoni, on Coughlin’s Thesis

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Original Ronzoni pasta factory, Astoria Queens

Carol Ianonne at Phi Beta Cons (1/23/08) has a clear and concise assessment of Steven Coughlin’s indispensable and irrefragable thesis “To Our Great Detriment’: Ignoring What Extremists Say about Jihad”.

For further elaboration on some of the data which support Coughlin’s “hard to refute” arguments, please see my earlier postings here, here, and here, particularly with regard to data on the desire for the application of strict Sharia, and the re-creation of a transnational Caliphate I summarized here: 

Coughlin then places “Al Qaeda-ism” in a larger, more general context I have discussed elsewhere (while providing historical background on the Caliphate), by citing ominous polling data tabulated December/January, 2006, and published this past April, 2007.  These data, as Coughlin notes, reveal  that substantial pluralities (at minimum), to significant majorities of both Arab (i.e., Moroccan, Egyptian) and non-Arab (i.e., Indonesian, Pakistani) Muslims know and concur with Al-Qaeda’s stated goals to (re-) impose “strict” (explicitly identified) Islamic Law (Shari’a), and re-establish a transnational Islamic Caliphate. Specifically, 79% of Pakistanis, 76% of Moroccans, 74% of Egyptians, and 53% of Indonesians wished, “To require strict application of  Shari’a law in every Islamic country.”; 74% of Pakistanis, 71% of Moroccans, 67% of Egyptians, and (the lone “plurality”) 49% of Indonesians desired, “To unify all Islamic countries in a single Islamic state, or Caliphate.”   

But please read all of Carol’s keen insights, below:   

I’ve been reading Stephen Coughlin’s master’s thesis, “‘To Our Great Detriment’: Ignoring What Extremists Say about Jihad,” submitted to the National Defense Intelligence College, and I can see why it got him into trouble.  He frankly declares that this administration has been wrong on the relation of Islam to jihadism and terrorism.  

While members of the administration sternly warn of the dire threats we face and how we must know our enemy, they themselves are lost in illusions about that enemy.  The enemy is not Islamo-Fascism, but the jihadist elements of Islam itself.  

Coughlin points out that on the basis of very little, Bush, Rice, and other Administration people blithely declare Islam a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a few violent extremists for their own agenda, an agenda which they insist has nothing to do with Islam.  They ignore all the evidence from Islamic sources that support violence in the name of spreading or defending the faith and bypass the professed and frequently stated aims of the jihadists.  Coughlin’s thesis suggests that there are not two schools of thought on Islamic terror, those who think it is simply a criminal problem and those who think it is a war we will be fighting for a long time, but three.  First, there is the view that largely comes from the liberal-left, that thinks there really is no Islamic threat, that it’s really America and its actions that have called forth violence from Muslims, that if there is violence, it is from a tiny few and can be managed by the world community like an international criminal problem.  Then there is the conservative-right view, that there is indeed a terrible threat, a virtual World War Four, and the threat is from Islamo-Fascism, not from Islam itself, but from the aberrations of radicals who are creating some distorted blending of Islamic beliefs with 20th century fascist concepts.  This is only a recent development, according to this view, not centuries old, and therefore we can be very hopeful about stomping it out.  About ten percent of the world’s Muslims do believe in Islamo-Fascist jihad, and that is a serious number, but ninety percent of Muslims don’t believe in it and want what we all want, material security and prosperity.  In fact, the underlying causes of terrorism arise from the material deprivation and lack of freedom and opportunity in the Muslim world.  There is thus no conflict between Islam and liberal democracy and modernity in general, and certainly no clash of civilizations.  The Islamic world will not be able to resist the march of liberal democracy and the irresistible call of freedom.  This view is largely that of President Bush.The third view says that there is indeed a problem with Islam itself, that even if only a minority of Muslims will ever take up jihad, most Muslims know that that is mandated by their religion and they do support it in belief and sometimes financially.  The term Islamo-Fascism is really a euphemism for those who wish to deny or ignore the violence inherent in Islam. This view sees that jihad has been a feature of Islam from its beginnings and that martyrdom is honored and rewarded in Islam.  This view also finds that Islam may well be in conflict with liberal democracy.  Muslims are told that they are meant to Islamicize the countries they live in, through “peaceful” means if they can, and violent means when necessary, and we already see signs of this in Europe and America.  So, to return more strictly to Coughlin’s thesis, he says that we are hampered in dealing with the enemy and in producing good intelligence for our strategic plans because instead of listening to what the enemy is saying, we impose our own hopeful, optimistic kind of view on the Islamic world, that everyone is really like us at heart and that we will see this in the end 

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

One response to “Iannone Sono Buoni, on Coughlin’s Thesis

  1. If you read the Qur’an, the Hadiths and the Sira and delve into the few contemporary books that truthfully spell out in great detail the history of Muslim-Infidel relations–Dr. Bostom’s extraordinarily informative and useful compilation, “The Legacy of Jihad,” among them–you will find that Coughlin speaks the truth. This truth is a fatal brew for those committed to multiculturalism, moral equivalency and the belief, in an increasingly Post-Christian world, that religion no longer really matters. Poisoned too would be those who repeat over and over the mantra that “Islam is a religion of Peace,” the better to drown out the sounds of exploding IEDs, suicide belts, ambulance sirens and the cries of the maimed and also those who intone that “violence never settles anything”; it seems to me that Islamic violence has settled quite a few “things” these last almost 1,400 years.

    Fresh off 50 years or so of Cold War, very few want to be told that a new and even more deadly enemy is at the gates when relaxation, the trials and tribulations of Britney, Grand Theft Auto and 60 inch flat screen TVs are so much more intriguing and can, moreover, drown out the sound of the axes cutting down the gate.

    As many other posters on many other blogs have said, over and over again, it looks like we are going to need a lot stronger wake-up call than 9/11 to really get our attention and break our great fin de siecle trance and that is a great and bloody price we all will have to pay for our blindness.

    Meanwhile, as we see with Major Couglin’s case, agents of influence are already in place in the West and are doing their best to turn the street signs and to make sure that anyone or anything that might alert us to our peril is quickly “disappeared.”