‘We will hold sacred the beliefs held sacred by others.”
That’s the concluding rally cry of the U.S. Department of Defense’s newly issued guidance on the “Proper Handling and Disposal of Islamic Religious Materials — Service Members/Civilian Training.” Here’s how it works: Mainstream Muslims throughout the Middle East believe, based on the Koran and other “Islamic Religious Materials,” that if an infidel force invades a Muslim territory, its members must be killed until the force has been driven out. They further believe that if non-Muslims commit some act — even an inadvertent one — that Muslims perceive as insulting to Islam, a campaign of murder and mayhem is justified.
Our response? We will hold sacred the beliefs held sacred by others.
So as Afghans kill Americans, as our “allied” Afghan trainees turn their guns on their American mentors, Americans policymakers debase themselves by ordering “training to increase awareness of cultural and religious sensitivities regarding Islamic Religious Materials.” As Afghans kill Americans, as the Afghan president demands that Americans be tried and punished for accidentally burning Korans that jihadists had already defiled, our president apologizes for our purported insensitivity. As Afghans kill Americans and explain that the Koran commands them to do so, U.S. policy is to give each captured jihadist a Koran. As Afghans kill Americans and derive support from the Koran’s injunction that Muslims “make ready [against non-Muslims] your strength . . . to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah and your enemies” (Sura 8:60), U.S. military commanders instruct our troops that the Koran, which non-Muslims are unfit to touch, “is regarded as the verbatim Word of God; the primary source of Islamic guidance.” And, of course, we will hold sacred the beliefs held sacred by others.
Just as this DoD “mandatory guidance” was made public, we began debating whether the United States ought to jump into yet another Muslim civil war — this time in Syria, where the murderous Assad regime is embroiled in a fight to the death with its Islamist opponents, thousands of whom it has killed.
I’ve argued that we’ve had our fill of a region teeming with hatred of the United States and the West, that we have no vital interest in the outcome of internecine savagery between an anti-American Muslim dictator and anti-American Muslim supremacists, and that if they insist on slaughtering each other, we should just buy some popcorn (which is all our tapped-out nation can afford, anyway) and watch the show, accepting the grim silver lining that as they weaken themselves they become less threatening to us. This has prompted a characteristically thorough response from Michael Ledeen. Besides being one of my best friends in the world, Michael is one of the world’s smartest guys — and the one who, for over a decade, has been more right than any other commentator about Iran and its paramount role in jihadist terror.
It is worth remembering why Michael was right when so many were wrong. American policymakers, he has long contended, lack a strategic vision regarding the threat. The terror masters in Tehran are the catalyst: spawning Hezbollah in the early Eighties; training, harboring, and abetting al-Qaeda since the early Nineties; collaborating with Syria, North Korea, China, and Russia; similarly backing Sunnis (not only al-Qaeda but Pakistani warlords, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Hamas branch, and even Iran’s former bitter enemy, the Taliban) as long as they worked against American interests. That being the case, Michael persuasively contends, the war cannot be won without a strategy for defeating the mullahs.