During his visit to New York this week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacked every basic assumption upon which Western civilization is predicated. Ahmadinejad offered up his attacks while extolling his vision of Islamic global domination.
Refusing to note his existential challenge to the Free World, the Western media concentrated their coverage of his trip on his statements regarding specific Western policy goals. His rejection of the UN Security Council's authority to take action against Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program; his championing of the Palestinian cause and Israel's destruction; his denials of Iranian support for terrorism, and his attacks against the US were widely reported. So too, his insistence that Iranian women enjoy full rights and that there are no homosexuals in Iran received banner headlines.
Ahmadinejad gave two major addresses this week – at Columbia University and at the UN General Assembly. He devoted both to putting forward his vision for global Islamic domination. And while the Western media sought hidden meanings and signals for peaceful intentions in his words, the fact is that on both occasions, Ahmadinejad made absolutely clear that his vision of Islamic domination cannot coexist in any manner with Western civilization. Consequently, Ahmadinejad's statements were not negotiating stances. They were the direct consequence of the world view he propounds. As such, they are non-negotiable.
At Columbia University, Ahmadinejad devoted the majority of his speech to a discussion of the role of science in human affairs. While most coverage surrounded his refusal to renounce his call to annihilate Israel, his central message, that he rejects the right of people to be free to choose their paths in life, was ignored. His remarks on the issue were dismissed as "weird" or "unintelligible." Yet they were neither.
Speaking as "an academic," Ahmadinejad said that from his perspective, the role of science is to serve Islam and that any science that does not serve Islamic goals is corrupt. As he put it, "Science is the light, and scientists must be pure and pious. If humanity achieves the highest level of physical and spiritual knowledge but its scholars and scientists are not pure, then this knowledge cannot serve the interests of humanity." Elaborating on this notion, he argued that Western scientists serve corrupt governments who reject the pure and pious path of Islam and therefore are used as agents for corruption.
Tellingly, Ahmadinejad moved directly from his assault on non-Islamic scientists and regimes to a defense of Iran's nuclear program. The message was clear: Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is done in the name of Islam and therefore it is inherently legitimate. As far as he is concerned, refusing to allow Iran to pursue nuclear weapons is tantamount to an assault on God.
IN HIS address at the UN, Ahmadinejad laid out his case for Islamic supremacy. He claimed that all of the world's problems are the consequence of two things. First, by his reading of history, after the Second World War, "The victors of the war drew the road map for global domination and formulated their policies not on the basis of justice but for ensuring the interests of the victors over the vanquished nations."
The second cause for the world's woes is the world powers' rejection of Islam. As he put it, "The second and more important factor is some big powers' disregard of morals, divine values, the teachings of prophets and instructions by the Almighty God… Unfortunately, they have put themselves in the position of God!"
Thankfully for Ahmadinejad, this "corrupted" world order will soon be swept away. Either the "corrupted" powers will "return from the path of arrogance and obedience to Satan to the path of faith in God," or "the same calamities that befell the people of the distant past will befall them as well."
Concluding his UN remarks Ahmadinejad pledged, "Without any doubt, the Promised One who is the ultimate Savior… will come. In the company of all believers, justice-seekers and benefactors, he will establish a bright future and fill the world with justice and beauty. This is the promise of God; therefore it will be fulfilled."
IT COULD be argued that since Ahmadinejad's central message failed to register on his Western audiences that his visit to America was a failure. The fact that no media organs felt it necessary to analyze what he was talking about could be seen as a clear sign that no one is interested in buying what he is selling. But this is a dangerous argument, for it misses a basic truth.
Ahmadinejad is not interested in convincing the US government or even the majority of Americans to convert to Islam. He is interested in convincing adherents of totalitarian Islam and potential converts to the cause that they are on the winning side. He is interested in demoralizing foes of totalitarian Islam within the Islamic world and so causing them to give up any thoughts of struggle.
In this goal he is no different from any of his Sunni counterparts in Saudi Arabia, al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas or their sister organizations throughout the Islamic world and indeed throughout the West.
Throughout the world, Islamic ideologues are aggressively spreading their message of global domination. In mosques, on the Internet, on television, in schools, hospitals and prisons, Islamic preachers can be found propagating the cause of Islamic domination. And aside from Iran, no regime, including the Saudi regime, is immune from the pressures of the message.
Perhaps the central reason that Ahmadinejad's message, and the hundreds of thousands of voices echoing his call throughout the world, are so dangerous is because the Free World is making precious little effort to assert its own message. Indeed, rather than contend forthrightly with the challenge that men like Ahmadinejad and Osama bin Laden pose to the West, the West searches for ways to either co-opt their message by seeking out points of agreement or to show that really, the Islamic imperialists have nothing to fear from the West.
THE MAIN issue on which the West seeks to co-opt Islamic totalitarians is the Palestinian issue. The obvious hope is that by supporting the Palestinians, the West (including Israel) will be able to defuse what its elites consider to be the central grudge that Islamic imperialists hold against them. In so doing, they willfully ignore the basic incompatibility of the Islamic world view with human freedom; the jihadist character of Palestinian society; and the instrumental use that Islamic totalitarians make of the Palestinian issue.
Since it was established in 1994, the Palestinian Authority has been a central clearing house for jihadist, anti-Semitic and anti-Western propaganda. Even after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June, Fatah has continued to compete with Hamas for the mantle of jihadist purity. Moreover, while its leaders dazzle Western and Israeli leaders with the talk of peace, Fatah's media organs and terror masters maintain the movement's support for terrorism and adherence to political goals that are incompatible with the continued existence of the State of Israel.
Every day, Fatah media mouthpieces extol PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's adherence to the so-called "right of return" which, if implemented, would destroy Israel as a Jewish state by overwhelming it with millions of hostile Arab immigrants. As Palestinian Media Watch documented, while Abbas was meeting with US President George W. Bush in New York, Fatah's daily newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jedida, published articles denying all Jewish connection to Jerusalem, and referring to Israeli cities like Sderot, Beit She'an and Safed as "settlements." So too,
the newspaper reported that this past summer Fatah sent teenage boys from Judea and Samaria to a "summer camp" in Syria called "Camp Return."
Rather than contend with Fatah's embrace of jihad, as has been its practice with so-called "moderate" regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan, the Bush administration ignores it in the hopes that by supporting Palestinian terrorists not overtly identified with jihad it will somehow weaken the attraction of jihad. So it was that in his remarks before the UN General Assembly, Bush extolled Fatah's "moderate leaders, mainstream leaders that are working to build free institutions that fight terror, and enforce the law, and respond to the needs of their people."
Not only are Bush's sentiments not supported by the Palestinians, who overwhelmingly voted Hamas into office last January, they are not even supported by US allies like Britain, which are pushing for a Western engagement of Hamas. And since Hamas is ideologically indistinguishable from other jihadist groups, it should come as no surprise that the West's willingness to support Palestinian jihadists necessarily leads to their willingness to accept jihadists in general.
Britain's Defense Minister Des Browne made this point explicit Monday when he argued for diplomatically engaging the Taliban in Afghanistan. Using the Palestinian issue as a point of departure, Browne said, "In Afghanistan, at some stage, the Taliban will need to be involved in the peace process because they are not going away any more than I suspect Hamas are going away from Palestine."
The Islamic imperialists' response to the new Western willingness to engage the Taliban was given last week by Osama bin Laden. In a new videotape released in Arabic, Urdu and English, bin Laden called for Pakistanis to wage jihad to overthrow the pro-Western, nuclear-armed government of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
THE POINT in all of this couldn't be clearer. And Ahmadinejad made it at every opportunity. The Free World today finds itself embroiled in an ideological war for its very survival. Our enemies – whether Shi'ite or Sunni – are followers of a totalitarian ideology based on Islam which tells them that Allah wishes to rule the world through them. Israel is a central front in this war. Given the weakness of Western support for the Jews, jihadists see attacking Israel as a strategic tool for eroding the West's ideological defenses and shoring up their supporters throughout the world.
The thing of it is that aside from blind narcissism, there is a reason that the West ignores the dangers facing it. The Western media ignored Ahmadinejad's message, just as it has insistently ignored the messages of bin Laden and Fatah throughout the years, because Westerners have a hard time believing that anyone would want to abide by the Islamic world view which denies mankind's desire for freedom.
But no matter how ugly an ideology is, in the absence of real competition it gains adherents and power. The only way to ensure that jihadists' demonic views are defeated is by stridently defending and upholding the fundamental principles on which the Free World is based. And the West hasn't even begun to take up this challenge.
As a result, it has handed its enemies two victories already. It has demoralized its potential allies in the Islamic world, and it has failed to rally its own people to defend themselves.
In spite of what the West would like to believe, Ahmadinejad and his allies from Ramallah to Waziristan, from Gaza to Kandahar to Baghdad, are not negotiating. They are fighting. Rather than ignore them or seek to find nonexistent common ground, we must defeat them – first and foremost on the battleground of ideas.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.