I and other contributors to The Objective Standard have written extensively about what Americans and the United States must do to end the jihad against America.1 But, as is increasingly clear, the target of this metastasizing jihad is broader than America. The target is the West as such. So I’d like here to consider some actions that Westerners and Western nations in general must take if we want to end this murderous assault on the civilized world.
“Western,” in this context, refers not to a geographic location but to a philosophic and cultural disposition. Western people and nations are those that substantially (if imperfectly) embrace and uphold certain Enlightenment values, including: the principle that reason (i.e., observation and logic) is man’s means of knowledge; the principle that individuals have moral rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and the principle that political freedom—including freedom of conscience and expression—is essential to civilized society. These are the basic ideas denoted by the concept of “Western,” and the West’s implementation of these ideas is the basic reason that jihadists are attacking us.
What must we do to put an end to this jihad? Although each Western nation has its own specific political context, governmental structure, and legal requirements for going to war, there are a number of general actions that all Westerners and/or Western nations can and should take if we want to end this barbarous assault. Here are ten essential steps.
1. Acknowledge that we are at war.
Westerners must acknowledge that we are at war with Islamic states and jihadist groups that have attacked our countries and killed our countrymen. We are at war regardless of whether our political leaders have declared war, regardless of whether Western intellectuals admit we are at war, regardless of whether anyone acknowledges the fact. Our alternatives do not include whether to go to war. Our alternatives are whether to win the war that is being waged against us, or not to do so. Our alternatives are: victory or submission.
2. Name the enemy.
We cannot target the enemy that is attacking us—much less defeat it—if we are unable or unwilling to specify who and what it is. We must name the enemy. We must name it accurately. And we must demand that our governments and politicians name it accurately.
Our enemy in this war is: Islamic regimes that have in any way sponsored or supported attacks against the West, and jihadist groups that have planned or executed such attacks. The enemy regimes are primarily those in Iran and Saudi Arabia; and the jihadist groups include Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, and Islamic State (aka Daesh).2
Importantly, although Islam is a philosophic and cultural enemy of the West—in that it opposes every principle of Western civilization and calls for the murder of those who refuse to submit to “Allah”—Islam is not our military enemy.
Islam is a religion—a body of ideas—and, militarily speaking, one cannot be at war with ideas. What would one bomb?
The relationship between Islam and our current military enemy is essentially of the same kind as the relationship between Nazism and Nazi Germany or Shinto and Imperialist Japan in World War II. Nazism is an ideology, a body of ideas; Nazi Germany was a state ruled by a regime that was motivated by its leaders’ and supporters’ acceptance of those ideas. Shinto is a religion; Imperialist Japan was a state ruled by a regime that was motivated by its leaders’ and supporters’ acceptance of that religion. Likewise, Islam is a religion; various states, regimes, and groups today are motivated by their leaders’ and supporters’ and members’ acceptance of that religion.
Islam motivates our military enemy. And this is an important fact. But Islam has not attacked the West; Islamic regimes and jihadist groups have. Islam cannot be eliminated; Islamic regimes and jihadist groups can. Our military enemy today is not Islam but the regimes and groups that embrace that religion, take it seriously, and thus seek to kill us in the name of their alleged God.
Grasping this distinction is vital, because naming our enemy accurately is crucial to winning the war. If we misname the enemy, calling it “Islam” or “Radical Islam”—or, worse, “terrorism” or “extremism” or the like—then we won’t know specifically where to deploy our forces, whom or what to bomb, or what winning this war means (more on this below).
Additionally, if we accept the notion that our military enemy is “Islam,” we might come to think that in order to win the war we must kill every self-described Muslim on the planet, which would be a moral atrocity (to put it mildly).
Although all jihadists are Muslim, not all self-described Muslims take Islam seriously enough to engage in, materially support, or encourage jihad. And unless a Muslim does so, he cannot properly be regarded as our military enemy.
Like the vast majority of today’s Jews and Christians, many of today’s Muslims refrain from acting in accordance with the murderous or otherwise rights-violating tenets of their religion. This does not absolve unserious, non-rights-violating Muslims of any and all responsibility for jihad, but it does limit their responsibility to a sub-legal, sub-political level.
Just as we do not and should not hold all Jews and Christians legally or politically responsible for assaults or murders committed in accordance with their religious scriptures, so we should not hold all Muslims legally or politically responsible for assaults or murders committed in accordance with theirs.
Merely believing in a religion that calls for rights violations does not, in and of itself, violate rights. To violate rights, one must initiate physical force against people, either directly—by, for instance, hitting, stabbing, or shooting them—or indirectly—by, for instance, materially supporting those who commit such acts, or encouraging or inciting others to commit such acts.
If a Muslim in any way materially supports, encourages, or incites jihad—if he provides jihadists with weapons, shelter, information, or the like; or if he calls for aggression against Westerners—he is, by that fact, an agent of the enemy and should be treated accordingly. But if he merely “believes in” the tenets of Islam and does not practice the rights-violating tenets of the religion, he cannot properly be held legally or politically responsible for practicing them. We recognize this fact in regard to other religionists and religions, and we morally must recognize it in regard to Muslims and Islam as well.3
Our military enemy in this war is Muslims who engage in jihad, or materially support jihad, or encourage or incite jihad. These are the Muslims of which the Islamic regimes and jihadist groups are comprised. And these are the Muslims, regimes, and groups we must eliminate.
3. Acknowledge and assert our absolute right to self-defense—and recognize that individuals, groups, and regimes that engage in or call for jihad against the West thereby forfeit their rights entirely.
Westerners must acknowledge that we have an absolute right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—and that this includes the right to self-defense: the right to do whatever is necessary to eliminate threats posed by regimes, groups, or individuals who seek to kill us or otherwise violate our rights.
Although Muslims have a right to believe whatever they want to believe—including the nonsense that “Allah” exists and is the source of truth and moral law—they do not have a right to act on their beliefs if doing so involves committing murder or otherwise violating rights. There is no such thing as a right to practice religious tenets that call for rights violations. The notion of a right to violate rights is a patent contradiction in terms.
We must also recognize that although rights are inalienable (meaning they cannot be taken away), they are not unrelinquishable. One can relinquish or forfeit one’s rights by violating the rights of others. If a person, group, or regime engages in murder or terrorism, or aids in such activities, or incites others to engage in such activities, he or it thereby forfeits his or its rights entirely.
Jihadists and their supporters have no rights. They are, by their own chosen actions, right-less animals. Thus, when we kill them in retaliation, we do not violate their rights. We cannot violate that which does not exist.4
4. Define victory.
We cannot win this war if we do not know exactly what winning it means. If we want to win, we must define victory—and we must do so in a way that specifies what is necessary for us to return to normal, jihad-free living.
Victory against this enemy means: (a) the elimination of all Islamic regimes that have in any way sponsored or supported attacks against the West, and (b) the elimination of all known jihadist groups (and individuals) that have attacked, aided in attacks, or encouraged attacks against Westerners or Western nations.
Only when this two-part goal is accomplished can we return to normal, jihad-free living. Only then will we have won this war.5
5. Use the full force of our militaries to eliminate all Islamic regimes and jihadist groups that have supported or executed attacks against our countries or our countrymen.
Which military strategies and weapons will best serve the purpose of eliminating the Islamic regimes and jihadist groups that have attacked the West is a matter for military experts and generals to decide. But all thinking and decision making pertaining to this matter should be guided by the principle that our respective governments and militaries have a moral obligation to eliminate the regimes and jihadists who have attacked us—and to do so as quickly as possible and with minimal risk to the lives of our civilians and soldiers.
Western nations in general—and the United States in particular—have extremely powerful militaries. America’s military alone could eliminate any Islamic regime or jihadist group on the planet in a matter of days (if not hours)—if the U.S. government unleashed its forces. And America’s military combined with those of other Western nations could eliminate the entire field of enemy regimes and groups in short order—if the West chose to do so.6
The jihad against the West persists only because the West has not chosen to end it. This is a moral atrocity. Westerners have a selfish, moral obligation to end this assault on our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Permitting this enemy to remain in existence is like permitting known serial killers to roam our neighborhoods. It is sheer insanity.
It is time to end the insanity. It is time to end the jihad.
Importantly, by eliminating these murderous groups and regimes, we would not only solve the immediate problem of their existence; we would also strike a significant blow to the root of the longer-term problem. By summarily eliminating the existing Islamic regimes and jihadist groups that have attacked the West, we would significantly discredit the religion that motivates jihad and that will continue spawning more jihadists until it is discredited.
Although, as noted above, we cannot eliminate Islam (a body of ideas), we can discredit it—and doing so is an essential aspect of winning this war. By demonstrating to jihadists and would-be jihadists that their fantasy God is powerless against the West’s very real militaries—by showing them that Westerners can easily destroy the entire Muslim world if we so choose—we would show them that jihad is a thoroughly hopeless cause (more on this below).
Of course, no matter what the West does now, some preexisting jihadist cells will erupt and murder or attempt to murder more Westerners. At this point, nothing can stop that. We live in a causal environment, and Western governments and leaders have permitted these Islamic regimes and jihadist groups to remain in existence and to plan, plot, recruit, and develop cells for so long that future attacks by existing cells are a certainty. The question is: Will we tackle the broader problem now and thus reduce the number and intensity of future attacks—or not?
If we fail to eliminate the jihad-sponsoring regimes and jihadist groups, not only will existing jihadist cells attack the West; new jihadist cells will continue to form and attack as well. If, on the other hand, we end these regimes and groups now, we will cut our losses dramatically and take a giant step toward normal, jihad-free living. The correct choice couldn’t be clearer.
6. Airdrop leaflets explaining the West’s new policy and encouraging the establishment of rights-respecting governments.
After obliterating jihad-sponsoring regimes and jihadist groups, Western nations should airdrop leaflets throughout the Muslim world explaining that henceforth this is how the West will respond to any and all jihadist threats against Westerners, and encouraging the people of the Muslim world to make the choices and take the actions necessary to join the civilized world.
These leaflets should read roughly as follows:
Dear Arabs, Persians, and Muslims,
This letter is from the coalition of Western nations that recently destroyed the Islamic regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as various jihadist groups that have attacked Westerners or Western nations.
We are writing to inform you of our new policy regarding jihad against the West and to encourage you to join the civilized world.
Our new policy regarding jihad against the West is that it is forbidden. Henceforth, any and all people or groups that engage in or advocate jihad against Westerners or Western nations will be summarily eliminated. Please do not test us on this. We will not issue additional warnings.
We do not want to be at war with you. And we no longer are. War implies that both sides in a conflict have some degree of military power and the will to use it. We have sufficient power to eliminate the entire Muslim world in a matter of days (actually seconds). And we have demonstrated our will to use it. Relatively speaking, you have no military power at all.
What you do have is the power of choice. And your alternatives are: Cease jihad against the West or die.
We want to establish friendly, mutually beneficial relations with you. We want to be able to engage in trade with you; we want to be able to hire you to work for our companies, and to be hired by you to work for yours; we want to be able to visit your countries and have you visit ours; we want to be able to benefit from each other’s rational ideas, innovations, creativity, prosperity. In short, we want to live in peace and harmony with you.
But in order for us to do so, you must meet two conditions:
- You must repudiate all forms and degrees of rule by Islamic or sharia law. If you want to believe in “Allah,” that is your prerogative. But if you attempt to govern or in any way rule others by means of Islamic law, you are by that fact unfit for peaceful interaction with the civilized world.
- You must establish substantially rights-respecting governments—governments that recognize and protect each individual’s right to think and speak and act as he sees fit. Such governments entail complete separation of Islam and state. (See condition number one.)
If you choose to meet these conditions, you will be able to engage with the West in all manner of mutually beneficial, life-serving ways. If you choose not to meet these conditions, you will suffer the consequences of that wrong choice.
Our militaries are watching you, and they have orders to similarly eliminate any and all individuals or groups that make any effort to engage in jihad against the West. Please do not require them to take further action.
Please, instead, choose to repudiate sharia law and to establish rights-respecting governments. Your reward for making this choice will be lives of prosperity and happiness for you and your loved ones.
The people of the West
7. Acknowledge that jihadists and their sponsoring regimes bear full responsibility for all death and destruction resulting from retaliation necessitated by their aggression.
If a gang of thugs opens fire on a group of concertgoers, and if a concertgoer draws a gun and fires back at the gang members—thereby killing an innocent bystander—who is morally responsible for the bystander’s death? The gang of thugs is, and every thinking adult knows this.
This is a matter of the law of causality: He who initiates physical force against people is morally responsible for any and all death and destruction caused by the retaliatory force he thereby necessitates.
The same principle applies to jihadists’ attacks against the West. When the West’s use of retaliatory force against Islamic regimes and jihadist groups leads to the deaths of innocents, their deaths are fully the responsibility of the regimes and groups that initiated aggression and thus necessitated retaliation.
Of course, leftists and other apologists for jihad will deny this. But their words have no bearing on the laws of nature. Unlike “Allah,” the law of causality is real. People can deny it, but their denials have no bearing on the fact. Just as people can deny the law of gravity but cannot alter the fact that it exists, so too they can deny causal connections regarding human choices and actions, but they cannot alter the fact that these connections exist.
Causal connections are not matters of opinion; they are matters of fact. When a person, group, or regime necessitates retaliatory force, he or it is responsible for the consequences of that retaliatory force.
8. Answer objections to the effect that “This approach will fuel more jihad!” with observations as to why that makes no sense.
Claims to the effect that “killing jihadists will cause more jihad” are absurd; and, when such objections arise, we should point out why this is so. Here are a few facts to have at the ready:
First, jihadists cannot attack or plan or plot or recruit if they are dead. And Islamic regimes cannot spawn or sponsor jihad if they do not exist. These truths are self-evident.
Second, in the wake of a campaign of total destruction of Islamic regimes and jihadist groups that have attacked us in the name of an allegedly all-powerful “Allah,” even the dimmest mullahs and jihadists who escaped destruction would have to wonder whether Allah is as great and powerful as they had assumed. They might even begin to doubt his existence. “If Allah is not willing or able to save us or our regimes from the retaliatory wrath of the West,” they might wonder, “then maybe he’s not all he’s cracked up to be . . .” The more intelligent survivors might make substantially deeper and broader connections: “Maybe, instead of serving Allah, we should serve ourselves. Maybe we should do what those triumphant, wealthy, happy Westerners do, and go by reason rather than faith; be productive rather than destructive; pursue life and happiness rather than death and martyrdom; establish rights-respecting republics rather than rights-violating theocracies . . .”
Of course, not all surviving jihadists would pause and think. Some would doggedly persist in their efforts to murder Westerners. But such mathematically challenged jihadists would be relatively few in number, and Western forces could hunt them down and eliminate them in short order.
Third, any Muslims who attack Westerners because we killed jihadists who murdered our countrymen were already with the enemy and are now just making it known. This information is beneficial to us because it enables us to identify and kill these newly exposed jihadists as well—and to do so sooner rather than later, affording them less time to plan, plot, recruit, murder.
Additional facts can be cited in response to claims that “killing jihadists causes jihad,” but the foregoing indicates why such objections don’t make sense.
9. Call Islam what it is. Call dishonesty what it is. And call apologists for Islam what they are.
Westerners must not let leftists or other apologists for Islam get away with misrepresenting or excusing this exceedingly evil religion.
Islam is a religion of war, conquest, enslavement, rape, pedophilia, bloodlust, and death worship—it is a religion of unspeakable evil—and everyone paying attention knows this, including those who claim otherwise. As I wrote in the opening of “The Evil of Whitewashing Islam”:
One religion today regularly motivates large numbers of its followers to murder, behead, rape, and enslave people across the globe. That religion is Islam. Not Christianity. Not Judaism. Not Buddhism. Islam. Only Islam. You know this. I know this. Everyone paying attention knows this.
The Koran explicitly and repeatedly commands Muslims to engage in jihad or “holy war” whether they like it or not. “Jihad (holy fighting in Allah’s Cause) is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know” (e.g., 2:216, 9:38). The Koran explicitly and repeatedly commands Muslims to “kill the unbelievers wherever you find them” (e.g., 2:191, 9:5), “strike off their heads” (e.g., 8:12, 47:4), make sex slaves of their wives and daughters (e.g., 4:24, 33:50), and continue this jihad “until all opposition ends and all submit to ‘Allah’” (e.g., 8:39, 9:29). You know this. I know this. Everyone paying attention knows this.
According to Islam, the “Prophet” Muhammad is the ideal role model for all boys and men; he sets the perfect example for how to live and wage jihad. Muhammad regularly killed and beheaded unbelievers (e.g., the massacre of Banu Qurayza), made slaves of those he conquered but didn’t kill (he had many slaves), “married” (i.e., repeatedly raped) slave girls (e.g., Safiyah and Rayhana), raped children as young as nine years old (e.g., Aisha), and founded a religion in which all such behavior is regarded as morally great because the “Prophet” did it. You know this. I know this. Everyone paying attention knows this.7
Of course, the moment anyone mentions the murderous and evil tenets of Islam or practices of Muhammad, leftists and other apologists for Islam begin harping about the murderous and evil tenets of Judaism and Christianity. What are we to make of this?
Although Jewish and Christian scriptures call for murder and other rights violations, almost all Jews and Christians today disavow or ignore those parts of their religions. Their adherence to their scriptures has been tempered by the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and by the obvious need to reject patently barbaric religious tenets in order to live as civilized human beings. Given the clear and rationally unarguable fact that virtually no Jews or Christians today are motivated by their religions to murder or enslave or rape or the like—and given the equally clear and equally unarguable fact that many millions of Muslims today are motivated by Islam to do so—choosing to focus on the evils of Judaism and Christianity rather than on the evils of Islam is obscenely evasive.
When educated adults deny that Islam is a religion of war and unspeakable evil—or when they imply that Judaism or Christianity somehow pose threats similar to those posed by Islam today—or when they imply that the tenets of other religions somehow mitigate the clear and present danger of Islam—they are not merely mistaken. They are lying. They are pretending that facts are other than they know them to be. And, in so doing, they are aiding the jihadists.
This kind of aid to the enemy is not illegal, but it is evil, and those who engage in it should be labeled accordingly, as “apologists for jihadists.” And they should be treated accordingly. They should be morally condemned, publicly shamed, and thoroughly ostracized.
Islamic regimes and jihadist groups have repeatedly attacked and continue attacking the West because we embrace secular, Enlightenment values and thus refuse to submit to their alleged God. They have already murdered many thousands of Westerners, and they aim to murder all of us. Some Westerners want to identify the relevant facts so that we can solve the problem. Others want to obfuscate the facts and thus enable the jihad to continue. Some Westerners are moral. Others—who don’t deserve to be called Westerners—are evil.
This is no time to mince words or to hedge the truth. It is a time to call everything exactly what it is.
10. Acknowledge the difference between being “politically correct” and being morally correct—and proudly embrace the latter.
The approach advocated here is not “politically correct.” Rather, it is morally correct. And this difference makes all the difference necessary to justify it fully.
“Political correctness” requires that we pretend that facts are other than they are. Moral correctness requires that we call things exactly what they are. “Political correctness” denies that Islam is a religion of war and opposes the elimination of Islamic regimes and jihadist groups that attack and murder Westerners. Moral correctness acknowledges that Islam is a religion of war and demands the elimination of regimes and groups that attack Westerners. “Political correctness” is morally wrong. Moral correctness is morally right.
Of course, in being morally correct, we will “trigger” the ire of leftists, who will call us names, such as “Racist!”—as if Islam were a race; “Islamophobe!”—as if fear of those who embrace a religion that requires them to murder us is somehow irrational; “Warmonger!”—as if defending ourselves and our loved ones against faith-driven animals who seek to murder us is somehow wrong. But being on the receiving end of such inanities is a small price to pay for protecting our rights and the rights of our loved ones.
If a sufficient number of Westerners were to embrace these ten principles of action, the jihad against the West would soon be a thing of the past. We can end this god-awful nightmare and return to normal, jihad-free living. We know what we need to do. We just need to do it.
1. See, for example, my article “The Jihad Against America and How to End It” (TOS Winter 2014); Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein, “‘Just War Theory’ vs. American Self-Defense” (TOS Spring 2006); and John David Lewis, “‘No Substitute for Victory’: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism” (TOS Winter 2006).
2. The purpose of this article is not to recount the ways in which jihadists have attacked the West, but rather to indicate what the West must do to end the attacks. For an indication of the ways in which the regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia have spawned and sponsored jihad against the West, see “The Jihad Against America and How to End It”; “‘Just War Theory’ vs. American Self-Defense”; and “‘No Substitute for Victory’: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism.”
3. It is worth noting that anyone who treats faith as a means of knowledge thereby aids jihadists in a significant way. Such aid is not properly illegal or militarily actionable, but it is aid—aid of the most fundamental kind. As I wrote in “Islamic Jihad and Western Faith” (TOS, Spring 2015): “To lend credence to the notion that faith is a means of knowledge is to support and encourage Islamic regimes and jihadist groups at the most fundamental level possible: the epistemological level. It is to say to them, in effect: ‘Whatever our disagreements, your method of arriving at truth and knowledge is correct.’ Well, if their method is correct, how can the content they ‘know’ by means of it be incorrect? It can’t be. Westerners desperately need to grasp this fact along with its logical, psychological, and political implications.” For an extended discussion and demonstration of this point, see the article.
4. For a discussion of the secular source and nature of rights, including elaboration on why rights are inalienable and how they can be relinquished, see my article “Ayn Rand’s Theory of Rights: The Moral Foundation of a Free Society” (TOS Fall 2011).
5. For elaboration on the nature and requirements of victory, see John David Lewis’s three articles, “‘No Substitute for Victory’: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism” (TOS Winter 2006); “William Tecumseh Sherman and the Moral Impetus for Victory” (TOS Summer 2006); and “‘Gifts from Heaven’: The Meaning of the American Victory over Japan, 1945” (TOS Winter 2007).
6. For an indication of the power of the U.S. military and other Western militaries, see Global Firepower, http://www.globalfirepower.com.
7 .“The Evil of Whitewashing Islam,” TOS Blog, October 26, 2014, https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2014/10/evil-whitewashing-islam/.