David Semple September 4, 2018
We all remember where we were when the airplanes hit the World Trade Center 17 years ago this month. 9/11 changed everything in our world. The West today is now under constant attack by jihadi terrorists; terrorists often born in the West but in no way members of our Western society. 9/11 set off a terror storm which has attacked our way of life ever since.
For Americans, Canadians and Australians, this terror storm is worse than Hitler’s teutonic terrorism. Hitler never bombed the New World. He couldn’t reach us. Bin Laden and his fellow jihadists refuse to leave us alone. We are now learning what it is like to live in Israel, where terror attacks happen every day.
This article is not about the events of Tuesday September 11, 2001. Instead, I look at what led to and resulted from 9/11.
Al Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 changed the geo-political balance of world power for the first time since the rise of the Great Powers at the end of the Middle Ages. Prior to 9/11, the American people, successfully faced off and defeated the totalitarian threats to American freedom which came from Old World medievalist ideologies such as Nazism and Communism during the 20th century. The United States, along with the British Empire, saved Western Europe and Asia from the darkness of Hitler’s New Order and the rising fanatical military power of Japan during the Second World War. Apart from Pearl Harbor, American soil had escaped any direct attacks from foreign powers since the War of 1812, when the British burnt down the White House.
During the Cold War, the world struggle between American freedom and Russian communism was fought on foreign soil, in the jungles of Vietnam and those far-away Monroe Doctrine nations of South America, but never in the English-speaking New World. The Cold War, which many historians call the Third World War, was ended without a direct shot being fired between America and Russia.
For Americans, decades of building nuclear shelters fed the paranoia of the Cold War mind, but the American homeland itself remained aloof and isolated from the troubled warzones of Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The war song “Over There” referred to over there in Europe and the Pacific, where wars are fought to protect American freedom. The worst war on American soil was a civil war, not a foreign attack on American land, which finished one hundred and thirty-six years before 9/11.
9/11 shook the complacency of the American people like no other event. Worse than Pearl Harbor, which was not an attack on the North American continent, 9/11 was the first attack on the last bastion of republican democracy in the world. For almost two hundred years the North American continent, and indeed South America too, had been safe havens from attacks by foreign powers, protected by the Royal Navy during the 19th century, and later by the American nuclear umbrella.
The New World was the home of modern freedom and democracy, before England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688, a place of refuge from European and Asian wars for those generations of immigrants who fled the political persecution and internecine warfare of the Old World. The United States of America was a haven for all those who embraced democracy and personal liberty and wanted to escape religious and ethnic persecution for the freedom of the Americas. In that sense, the American Dream, to combine English law and order with the original mission of the American pioneers, to pursue the creation of a New World with Puritanism and profit, was the logical conclusion to Moses’ journey to enjoy freedom in a godly society. The American people saw their nation as the new Promised Land. Remember, during the Holocaust, when Europe was going through a New Dark Age, Americans, both Jewish and non-Jewish, lived in safe sanctuary from tyranny and warfare which few other nations were lucky enough to experience.
Islam was something most Americans and few Europeans ever talked about or to which they even gave a second thought.
Until 9/11. For Europeans, the advance of Islam had stopped at the Gates of Vienna on September 11, 1683. Then the Muslim world faded into decline whilst European powers expanded their colonial empires throughout the world. The Ottoman Empire, the last Caliphate, once a dangerous enemy of Western civilization, turned into “the Sick Man of Europe” during the 19th century. And European powers, in particular Great Britain, did there best to keep the Ottoman Empire alive. Then came the Young Turks and there declaration of “Jihad” against Britain and France in 1914. Within four years, the Ottomans were defeated by the British Empire. Thus began a very short period of European dominance in the Middle East.
The end of the last Muslim caliphate after the creation of modern Turkey brought the Muslim world to its nadir. Islam is a religion, in fact a political ideology, in which there is no recognition of the Western concept of the nation state. Britain and France created modern nation states in the Muslim world for the first time since the rise of Mohammed in Arabia during the 7th century. They did this with the help and the co-operation of local Muslim rulers, the Hashemite Sherifians in Iraq and Trans-Jordan, the Saud family in Arabia and political leaders such as Jinnah in Pakistan.
Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, the creator of modern Turkey, went so far as to create a secular state with a non-Arabic alphabet in the lands of the Ottoman Caliphate. Persia – a Shia Muslim state since the days of the Safavids in the 16th century – was never an integral part of the Muslim ummah. Its leader, Reza Shah, sought to create a modern secular state, going so far as to change its name to Iran, meaning “Aryan.”
In fact, both Iran and Turkey created a fascist model of government driven by a belief in master race theory. Turkish nationalism became the model for Hitler’s Nazi ideology, driven by antisemitism.
The creation of modern European-style nation states, however, did not fit well with the Muslim psyche. The founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Palestinianism, a form of Islamic supremacy build on hatred for the West and in particular for the new State of Israel, awakened a new revolution in the world of Islam. For Hassan al-Banna of the Muslim Brotherhood and Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Adolf Hitler’s genocidal Nazism became a role model for the new Islam. Hitler’s loathing of Judeo-Christian civilization had a great appeal to the post-Ottoman Muslim extremists. They saw Islam as a life and death struggle against Israel and the West. Islam is not a pacifist religion. Indeed, the call to jihad against all infidels lies at the core of the ideology created by Mohammed and the early caliphates. Their drive to spread jihad led to the Muslim conquest of the Persian and Byzantine empires and brought Islam into parts of Europe. The defeat of the Ottomans on September 11, 1683 was the turning point in Islam’s fortunes. After this first 9/11, the Muslim world went into decline and the Western nation states and empires achieved control of global power.
That’s why Osama Bin Laden chose September 11 as the date for launching his war against the United States. Revenge for the defeat of the Caliphate’s campaign to conquer Europe.
During the postwar era, Arab nationalism and the Arab pursuit of governing the modern European-style nation state, started to fail miserably. Gamal Nasser’s Pan-Arabism, to build a strong Arab Empire united to defy what he called the “imperialism” of the Western powers, died on the deserts of Yemen and the shores of the Suez Canal. Arab unity was not possible during the 1960s. Tribal conflict between traditional Arab families, much encouraged by the Ottomans, became conflict between Arab nation states. The United Arab Republic, a union of Syria and Egypt, failed. Nasser found the Soviet Union, his imperialist ally of choice, almost as irritating as the Americans. For Nasser and other Arab leaders of his time, the emotional bond of Islam was always more powerful. Underlying Nasser’s hatred of Israel and the West was always his strong Islamic faith. The Sinai-Suez War of 1956, for Nasser, was not just a nationalist struggle against Western imperialism, it was a call to jihad against the infidel.
Nasser, like Saddam Hussein, was not just trying to become leader of the Arab world. He wanted to be the leader of Islam against the infidel powers. Saddam, like Nasser, was no secular leader. He was a proper Muslim, going so far as to finance the building of thousands of mosques throughout the world and claiming to be a descendant of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. That’s hardly secularism.
By the time of the 1990-1991 Gulf War, the Arab nation states were failing badly, unable to compete with the modern world. Saddam’s defeat by the West in Kuwait drove him towards Islamism. In Egypt, President Sadat was assassinated for making peace with Israel. The Muslim world was poor and backward. The nation state had failed the Arabs.
Two things changed the Muslim world. One was Saudi Arabia. The second was the Iranian Revolution. The Kingdom of the Hijaz, home to the Holy cities of Mecca and Medina, came into the new Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the 1920s. Ibn Saudi, the King of Saudi Arabia, was a sponsor of Wahhabism, the most extreme and violent form of Islam. The Ottoman caliphate, although it followed traditional Islamic sharia law, did not accept the Wahhabi brand of Islam. Thus, the Sultans were able to control the power of the Saud family, which had originally embraced it three hundred years ago. After the end of the Caliphate, the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia changed the balance of power in the Muslim world. For the last one hundred years, Saudi Arabia has used its oil money to build mosques and madrassas throughout the Muslim world. This has lead to a rise in Islamic extremism. The Wahhabis, unlike the Ottomans and Muslim leaders like Ataturk and the Shah of Iran, did not seek to become influenced by the more successful Western powers in order to reverse their decline. Instead, Wahhabis advocate returning the “true faith” of Islam in the 7th century. Their form of Islam is both violent and intolerant. Using their oil money to build mosques in the Muslim countries and throughout Europe and America, the Saudis have created several generations of Islamic extremists whose only goal is to spread Islam throughout the whole world and destroy the infidel powers through jihad.
The Iranian Revolution destroyed secularism in Iran and lead to the formation of an Islamic Republic which today seeks to unite the Muslim world in a jihad against the West. This Islamist revolution was supported by Muslims throughout the world, Sunni as well as Shia. It awakened Muslims throughout the world, from Indonesia and Pakistan to Munich and London, to build up walls against non-Muslim influences and return to the true faith. Saudi-funded mosques used Wahhabism to create radical jihadists out of third-generation Muslims in the West, who no longer sought to integrate with their infidel neighbors. The call to jihad, for Western Muslims, was first heard from Afghanistan, where Islamist rebels were fighting an insurrection against the powerful armed forces of the Soviet Union.
With the collapse of the European colonial order, Muslims throughout the world began to see signs of vulnerability in the “infidels.”
All that now remained in the way of Islam’s revival were the two superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States. In Afghanistan, Osama bin-Laden, a rich Saudi Arabian whose family was in the oil business, became one of the most important leaders of the jihad against Russia. With American aid, the Taliban and other Islamist groups drove the Russians out of the country. For Osama bin Laden, victory in Afghanistan gave him the confidence to start an uprising against the global influence of the United States. In his mind, the more dangerous of the “Great Satans”, ruthless and totalitarian Russia, had been destroyed and defeated by Islam.
He now turned his attention to the other “Great Satan”, the United States. For bin Laden, defeating the Americans, who were much softer and more compromising than the Soviets, would be much easier.
For Muslim extremists, for Wahhabis like Osama bin Laden and members of al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, the end of the last Muslim Caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, was the final humiliation for Islam after centuries of decline. His revenge was 9/11. For bin Laden, the attack on the World Trade Center was meant to act as a call to arms for Muslims around the world to rise in jihad against the Western infidel powers.
9/11 was bin Laden’s “declaration of war” against the United States and the European powers. The American public saw it as the most serious attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor. And they were right.
President George W Bush, barely eight months into his first term of office, rose to the challenge. Although he continued to call Islam “a religion of peace,” President Bush declared a War on Terror’ and he told the American public that this war would be fought over the next few decades. All of his predecessors, from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, had failed miserably to respond to Muslim terror attacks, in Lebanon and Europe, in Africa and Asia. Bush was different.
Inspired by his political idol Winston Churchill, President Bush took decisive action against al-Qaeda and other Islamists, such as Saddam Hussein in Iraq. He took the War on Terror to the Middle East in order to defeat the Iraqi dictator’s sponsorship of Islamist Arab supremacism.
He succeeded in Iraq. It took five long years, but after the troop surge of 2007/2008, the United States and their British allies defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq. The rise of Isis came during the Obama era, largely down to President Obama’s appeasement policy towards Islamic terrorists.
President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair introduced freedom of the press and democratic rule into post-Saddam Iraq. Many of President Bush’s critics say that this was the wrong thing to do; that freedom and democracy were not suited to Muslim people. But he was right to do so.
The struggle to achieve freedom is a universal struggle which goes back to the time of Moses. Many people in the Arab world are secularists who want freedom and liberty just as we do in the West.
President Bush was right to introduce democracy in Iraq. His critics were wrong. For only by supporting moderates in the Muslim world can we in the West win the War on Terror. The democratic legacy in Iraq has now stood the test of time, lasting now more than one decade. Even one decade of successful democratic government in the Arab-ruled countries is a tiny miracle.
During the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama the United States made many serious mistakes. Obama withdrew the last American troops from Iraq and left the young democracy vulnerable to the rise of Isis, which was backed by former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime. Obama upgraded the war in Afghanistan and proceeded to undermine its new democracy by negotiating with the Taliban. Isis is now in retreat, but President Obama’s legacy led to death and destruction all over the Middle East after the political storm of the Arab Spring. His Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq.
George W Bush can look at Iraq today with some satisfaction that Arabs and other ethnic minorities are embracing some workable form of democracy. Barack Obama should hold his head down in shame for the destruction he left in Syria, where the alternative to Assad’s dictatorship on offer from the American president was jihad and death from terrorist militias supported by Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi regime and Hitler’s former ally, the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Islamic War of Terror is the Fourth World War, a war declared by Islamist organizations around the world against Western civilization. It is a war against Judaism and Christianity. It is a war against freedom and democracy. It is indeed a “holy war” against the freedoms and rights of the individual man and woman. The West had strong leadership whilst President Bush was in the White House. During the years of the Obama presidency that leadership went missing. Donald Trump thinks he has already won the war against the jihadis, but I am not so sure.
Africa, Asia and Europe are continents that are breeding grounds for jihadism. As Islamic terror attacks spread throughout Europe, Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States, we may actually be losing our War on Terror. If indeed we are still fighting it. One thing is certain. The jihadists are going to carry on fighting against us until we defeat them in the same way we defeated Nazi Germany in 1945.
Since 9/11, the growing Islamization of the West has lead to the rise of homeland terrorism in practically every major Western country. Political correctness and leftist policies have undermined the West’s ability to stop the Islamist rot. Europe and the United States now suffer from the same Muslim extremism and internal terrorism which we have witnessed for seventy years in Israel. Yet, the Europeans and other Western countries are funding the PLO and Hamas in Israel. Until we learn from Israel’s experience, we cannot win the War on Terror. This war is a life and death struggle between the West and political Islam. Sadly, the United States has fallen asleep, as have the countries of Europe.
Even Donald Trump still doesn’t understand the clash of civilizations. He is right, however, to face up to the threat posed to the countries of the Middle East by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Mullahs want to wipe Israel off the map. The Europeans, on the other hand, continue to support the Mullahs.
Appeasement will not win the War on Terror. We must unite with our allies, especially Israel and some moderate Muslim nations, and work together to defeat the Islamists in their home countries.
remember 9/11 Copyright 2018 david robert semple