A Second Dark Age

Dr. Gordon Hahn’s analysis of the Caucuses Jihad in the Moscow Times (27 Apr 09) is a timely addition to the literature on a growing world-wide movement. Unfortunately, he is preaching to the choir. The Russian government and the Russian people seem to have a realistic contemporary and historical appreciation of the threat. The current American administration and American Press do not share that view. Hahn’s thoughts would probably not see the light of day in the United States; such assessments are not politically correct in the West.

The Obama administration and like-minded domestic newsrooms have officially proscribed such terms as Jihad, Jihad movement, Islamist movement and terrorist. Our overseas combat fronts are now to be known as “overseas contingencies” and the enemy is not to be associated with Islam, the religion of “peace”. As everyone knows, the theology and culture that most terrorists share has nothing to do with what they have in common. These Orwellian contortions suggest that the US crisis management team thinks they can jawbone their way out of the gathering storm. Surely this is a great comfort to Islamic clerics, jihad strategists, and their many “fringe” followers.

Russia and America may cooperate on the reduction of nuclear weapons stocks, but this will be driven by mutual strategic and economic self-interest. Indeed, we both have enough weapons for overkill. We do not need to make the “rubble bounce”.

The Islam bomb is another kettle of fish.  Sunnis already have nuclear weapons and Pakistan is one bullet away from theocracy. The Shia already have theocracy – and Iran is a few tests away from a bomb. Both factions have targets in common; the first ground zero for either would be Israel. There is no evidence of a strategy of “mutual assured deterrence” in Arabic or Islamic literature. The prospects for any meaningful cooperation between Russia and America on theocratic or emerging nuclear threats are dim as long as America believes the hazard comes from insignificant “fringe groups”.

Our current dilemma is a quandary like Pascal’s gambit; a risk assessment method that could be applied to national security.  If we overestimate the threat and it does notmaterialize; we lose nothing. If we underestimate the threat; we could lose everything. Underestimates are always dangerous and frequently fatal.

Bernard Lewis at Princeton, arguably America’s most prominent Islamic scholar, has said that a “dark future” awaits the world if it fails to deal with the spreading threat of militant Islamic theocracy. Dark indeed! That future of which Dr. Lewis speaks is a return to a medieval world, a second Dark Age.

(Originally published in the Moscow Times)

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