Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cannonball Read #1: Future Jihad, by Walid Phares

This is somewhat of a copout, since I have only technically finished this today and read all but the last 25 or so pages previously, but I think the book is so important that I wanted - needed - to include it.

Also, I wanted to start the experiment off on a nice, light note.

"When the second jet slammed into the North World Trade Center Tower in Manhattan, I immediately told students standing next to me, 'It's a jihad Ghazwa...they have chosen the Yarmuk option.'...What I had known, researched, and watched building year after year was finally here, ravaging my new homeland."
The speaker is author Walid Phares, and the exerpt is from the Introduction to his book, Future Jihad. I don't know about you, but that passage alone, taken from page one of 305, is enough to scare the everloving shit out of me. The idea of something so grand in scale as September 11th being predicatable and simply missed is horrifying to me. Even more worrisome are the other 304 pages, over the course of which Phares details a long, essential historical narrative almost alien to the Western mind, brings the same to bear on the contemporary state of the war against the West, and then, after illuminating the true depth of the Jihadist inclination to rid the Earth of their enemies, offers up some prescriptive advice on how to win.

I spoke in the introduction to the Cannonball Read project of my desire to know things. In pursuit of this kind of nebulous, disparate knowledge, I've become intimately acquainted with the Point of Iceberg Ahead. The Point of Iceberg Ahead is the moment when you realize the true enormity of what you don't know. For example, I've always been into hockey, but football is relatively new for me. Since Rich is a YOOGE football fan, it was pretty much either learn to appreciate football, or find another way to amuse myself on Sundays, so I started asking questions. After a while, I figured out how the downs worked (though not why seemingly reasonable people would name two different things a First Down, but whatever, football), and what most of the positions did, and figured out some key plays. Then, I realized that to really know the sport, I had years of games and annoying Rich with questions ahead of me. With Future Jihad, I hit the Point of Iceberg Ahead about two pages into the first chapter, with a side of wanting to hide under my bed.

There are countless differences between these Jihadists and Western society. The Jihadists have deftly used this to their advantage over time. (The best example may be the allowance in the name of religious freedom of Sharia law in the Netherlands. Yes, that's the same Sharia Law that demands whipping, caning, cutting off of hands, stoning, crucifixion, mutilation and other such charming punishments for moral transgressions.) I don't know that this was the most surprising information for me...I've long since tired of the obsessive political correctness that prevents us from having any kind of realistic, reasonable conversation about the pressing (and even the insignificant) issues of our time, and credit this mealy-mouthed pandering for most of the idiot behavior that's been going on, like the banning of holiday events simply because someone might be offended. (Side note: When are we going to sack up and stop being so afraid of ourselves?) The most startling information in the book was really the historical content.

We are the West. We're all pretty high on ourselves, and in many regards, it's well deserved. Unfortunately, particularly in capitalist, government-congested world powers that have a weird mixture of ambivalence, scorn and fear directed at intelligence and education (...ahem), this has manifested in an excessive focus on Western history, without consideration for the rest of the world. Until this gets fixed, we will remain in immediate danger from those who want to cause us harm. Not only does the Islamic view of history focus much more closely on non-Western achievements (because really...duh), but even more striking is the way they think about their history - as though it happened mere moments ago. In one passage, Phares relates seeing a chat room discussion about why the Ottoman empire had stopped at Constantinople. For those keeping score, that was around the mid-1200s. And it was being discussed in a chat room like it was still running on the CNN ticker. These Jihadists are thinking in an entirely different way - we do not know our enemy.

Everyone should read this. Were I an eccentric millionaire, I'd send a free copy to everyone in the country. These are things that need to be known, and no one's talking about them.

305 pages (incl. Notes section)

1 comment:

  1. I've wanted to read this ever since you brandished it in the Greek bistro.