There has for the past two decades in effect been a cold war in place with Jihadism and Islamism worldwide. Yet, the US government myopically decided in 2001 to limit its efforts to a so-called “war on terror”, a euphemism for global war on armed Qutbism. Aside from the counter-terrorism effort has the US government consistently neglected all other aspects of the ongoing cold war with Jihadism and Islamism in declining to get involved despite the considerable challenge to US strategic interests worldwide.
The consequence is that not only has the US failed to prevail in the war on terror due to neglecting the soft power aspects of the ongoing global conflict but Jihadist Iran has been allowed to advance considerably during those twenty years partly due to the US government neglecting the geostrategic aspects of this global conflict. These are twenty years of heroic efforts by American servicepersons worldwide coupled with systematic neglect by all US administrations during this period of all other aspects than counter-terrorism and the entirely misguided efforts in nation-building.
How can you win if you refuse to fight? This is a pertinent and entirely relevant question question indeed. Terrorism is merely a manifestation of the underlying problem which is the global proliferation of the oil-funded Jihadist/Islamist ideologies to the point where Islamism enjoys majority support among Muslims in many countries.
The Saudi government years ago used to sponsor the Muslim Brotherhood movement worldwide but now considers the global Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, including Hamas (the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) and the Saudi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood – which are both outlawed in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government should take a new initiative to sponsor non-Islamist Islam worldwide, including non-Islamist Sufis, with tens of billions of dollars each year. The initiative should fund the building of mosques and Islamic cultural centers to rival those of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist movements worldwide.
US government agencies should be instructed by the US government to bring about the emergence of a new global movement of Liberal Islam as funded by the US government worldwide. Liberal Islam would be gender-integrated, LGBTQI-friently and anti-Islamist; in short, progressive Islam as comparable to the already existing progressive Judaism. There are Liberal Muslim thinkers but no organized movement as of yet, but this could change with substantial funding if made available by the US government. This is not merely an internal Muslim issue but at stake is the very future of the nature of the world religion of Islam and by extension the geopolitical future of the entire region of Islamdom. Vital US long-term strategic interests are at stake and if the US government does not get involved to promote liberalization in Islam, then who will?
The vision of the Islamists is essentially to create an Islamist version of the Soviet Union encompassing the entire Islamdom to rival the free world and America in particular. The Sunni Islamists seek a Caliphate spanning the entire Islamdom. Twelver Shia Islamist Iran on its part seeks an extended Khomeinist empire eventually extending to the entire Islamdom. Either way do these ambitions pose a major challenge to US hegemony as the only superpower. In effect would this be a second Soviet Union, a totalitarian state committed to global reach and global control. While it could be argued these are still only ambitions that have not yet come to fruition, then why wait to wage the Second Cold War until this second Soviet Union comes into existence? If the US had waged the Cold War on Communism already in the first half of the 20th century would it not have been a substantially easier and less costly task? Imagine if the US had fought Fascism/Nascism with extensive soft-power efforts already in the 1920s? It is quite conceivable that the Second World War and the Holocaust could had been avoided.
The threat of modern totalitarianism is persistent in its challenge to societies around the world. The Communist Soviet Union was the first totalitarian regime which came about a century ago and since then have we also tragically experienced Afwerkism (in Eritrea), Ba’athism, Fascism, Gaddafism, Islamism, Juche, Nazism and Slorcism (in Myanmar). The fascination with the modern ideologies of totalitarianism remains and its vacuous promise of celestial order on earth.
Communism as a global movement largely fell apart when the Soviet funding disappeared at the end of the Cold War and the same will no doubt happen to Islamism and Jihadism when global oil consumption completely ends in probably some 20 years. The United States tragically still relates to Jihadism and Islamism as it related to Communism during the first half of the 20th century. It appears that the US still does not take the severity of the Iranian geostrategic threat seriously. The Iran containment policy of the Trump administration although surely better than the pro-Islamist approach of the Obama administration was wholly insufficient since it did not halt the advancement and entrenchment of the Khomeinist empire. President Obama’s vision of the United States aligning with Khomeinist Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood was based on dangerous appeasement which essentially envisioned handing over Islamdom to Islamist totalitarian control which he strangely imagined would be a force for “democratization” by “moderates”.
The United States government needs to internalize the magnitude of the Islamist/Jihadist totalitarian challenge to US global hegemony. This is a global modern totalitarian movement which aspires to establish a new Islamist superpower that will dominate the entire world. Why wait with strategically counteracting that worldwide movement until that very rival superpower is established? While Islamist geopolitical ambitions may seem farfetched, the same may be said about early Nazi and Communist geopolitical ambitions which apparently were not taken seriously enough. Iran is not that far away from becoming a superpower, all it needs to do is to take over Saudi Arabia with its oil wells, something which it no doubt is planning to do, probably sooner rather than later. Also, Iran is already a great power and would be even more so if it had nuclear weapons, something Israel will not allow to happen. Yet, Russia and China are apparently reluctant to see Iran develop into a superpower since they apparently have declined to sell Iran modern tanks and modern fighter aircrafts. At the same time are Moscow and Beijing – like the rest of the international community – fearful of Iran and its international mass terrorist capabilities (potentially with chemical, biological and radiological weapons of mass destruction) as liable to cause strategic mass economic disruption.
The approach of the international community towards Iran remains appeasement, this remains the policy of all the permanent members of the UN security council who apparently have still not given up hope about Iran somehow returning to the JCPOA despite Iran rushing to develop nuclear weapons. This despite Iran as of writing being only weeks away from nuclear threshold status.
While the Sunni Islamist/Jihadist totalitarian vision of a restored Caliphate is seemingly more distant from actual realization is the Khomeinist totalitarian project of an Iranian Islamist/Jihadist superpower a more immediate threat that have evolved and matured over the decades since the Islamist revolution of 1979.
The US government needs to prepare a new Iran strategy for implementation after it finally declares the JCPOA dead. But perhaps does the US government actually intend to continue to insist on the implementation of the JCPOA even after Israel strategically degrades the Iranian nuclear weapons program? Either way is the US refusal since 2001 to engage in multi-dimensional worldwide struggle (including crucially with strategic soft-power capabilities to win the hearts and minds of Muslims and discredit Islamism/Jihadism among Muslims) to counter the Islamist-Jihadist totalitarian menace literally a gargantuan policy distaster with incalculable consequences for the future of Islamdom and the world.