New Frontiers in Conflict Management: Part
A "Grand Strategy" to Wage Jihad
Against Terrorist Muslims who would Hijack Islam
( This paper was presented on September 26, 2004, at the Center for Global
Studies, George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia, as part of the 33rd
Annual Conference of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS). This
presentation introduced Panel 8, entitled "Dialogue, Peacemaking, and Justice,"
in support of the conference theme: Revisioning Modernity: Challenges and
Possibilities for Islam.
Dr. Crane co-founded Washington's first foreign policy think-tank, the
Center for Strategic and International Studies in 1962. Since then he has
specialized on long-range global forecasting, including analysis of entire
civilizations and their interacting paradigms of thought. He earned a Doctor of Laws
(J.D.) from Harvard Law School in 1959 in international investment and comparative legal systems. President Nixon appointed him Deputy Director of the
National Security Council in January 1969, and President Reagan appointed him in
1981 as U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates responsible for two-track
diplomacy with the Islamist movements of the Middle East and North Africa. He
may be contacted at email@example.com )
( PART 1 )
On September 3rd, 2004, nationalist extremists from the Caucasus region of Russia demonstrated their demonic hatred of everything sacred by
taking a thousand teachers, parents, and children hostage in a school and
then shot children in the back when they tried to escape. This has been called
Russia's 9/11, but this act of terrorism was perhaps worse than 9/11 in its
sheer evilness because the terrorists did not first dehumanize their targets by
lumping them all as unknown ciphers in a group condemned by collective guilt.
Instead, they knew many of the victims as individual persons. They had taken
these innocent people hostage with the precise purpose to kill them as an act
The moral issue here is not merely whether suicide bombing can be justified, because only those who have lost even the rudiments of civilized values
can possibly think that it is. A larger issue is whether the terrorists'
actions can be categorized as war. If so, what limits does the "just war doctrine"
impose as recognized universally by the classical scholars in all the world's
The larger challenge to global civilization in the twenty-first century is how does one manage conflict with hate-filled extremists who are immune to
all tactics of conflict resolution? Can such extremists be marginalized by
marshaling spiritual and intellectual powers against which they have no defenses?
If so, is there a "grand strategy" to do so?
II. Arguing Cause and Effect.....
All terrorists justify their actions based on cause and effect. All terrorists are alienated in one way or another and they pursue a cycle of escalating
violence by claiming that the other guy started it all. This begs the question
whether their response to their perceived grievance meets the standards of
The terrorists who committed the atrocity in Beslan justified their crime as
an act of self-defense against the Russian military, who four years earlier at
the turn of the century had flattened an entire city of a half a million
inhabitants, Grozny, because it was the capital of Chechnya and had become a
symbol of resistance throughout the Caucasus at a time when the disintegration of
the old Soviet Empire into sixteen independent countries still threatened to
spread into Russia proper.
Over the previous five years, since the Russian invasion of 1994, Chechnya
was collapsing toward the status of a "failed state." The last freely elected
president of Chechnya, Aslan Maskhadov, was losing control to a radical coalition of foreign Arab fighters, led by the Saudi Emir Ibn al
Khattab, an Omar
bin Laden protégé, and the followers of the Chechen war hero, Shamil
Basayev. When these two radicals invaded neighboring Dagestan on August 7th, 1999, in
order to launch a general uprising throughout the entire Caucasus and install a
Caliphate "from sea [Black] to sea [Caspian]," the fate of Chechnya was sealed.
Two days later, Vladimir Putin, the head of the Russian secret police, succeeded Boris Yeltsin as Prime Minister and immediately declared that Russia must
annihilate the Chechens or the resulting domino effect would cause Russia, as
he put it, "to cease to exist as a state." He summarized his general formula
for conflict management as preemptive intervention: "You have to hit first and
hit so hard that your opponent will not get to his feet."
On New Year's Eve, Year Two Thousand (YK2), Yeltsin appointed Putin acting
President pending his election three months later as a war hero. His first act
was to launch a preemptive war against Chechnya by effectively wiping out its
capital. American officials, who advocated a political solution under the
anti-war Chechen president, Aslam Maskhadov, and still do, nevertheless felt
bound to give limited support to Putin by lamenting only "the excess use of
force." American officials described Putin as a pragmatic, can-do leader, a "man
with whom we can do business." President Clinton, based on his advisers'
political calculations, characterized the conquest of Grozny as "liberation." On
January 6th, 2000, William Safire declared in the New York Times that Clinton's
characterization was an abomination.
This history, which is well-known throughout both the Caucasus and the entire
Muslim world, linked America with almost three centuries of imperialistic
repression. Russia first invaded Chechnya in 1722 and by 1864, when the uprising
had finally been temporarily surprised, Russia had killed seventy-five
percent of the Chechen population. The last resistance hero, the martyred Imam
Shamyl, has been a sacred icon throughout the entire Caucasus ever since and is
an inspiration for tens of millions of Muslims everywhere in the world today.
The second liquidation came in February, 1944, when Stalin ordered the deportation of all Chechens to Siberia and in a bloodbath killed the half of the
population that resisted. Khrushchev finally permitted what was left to return
After the Soviet Union collapsed, and a year and a half before the Russian
Federation was established on March 31, 1992, the Chechens exercised their felt
right to national independence, along with all the other nations of the Caucasus, the
Dagestanis, Ingush, Abkhazians, and Azeris, and led the way in
reviving the North Caucasus Federation of May 11, 1918, working toward a larger
regional identity. The Chechens held national elections, but the new Russia
opposed this as insurrection and initiated the third major liquidation from 1994 to
The past four years since Putin's occupation from 2000 to 2004 may be considered a failed effort at a fourth liquidation. The specific Great Russian
objective toward the Chechens today is not merely to counter an aggressive
offensive by Al Qa'ida professionals, but to Russify the Chechens, whose myths date
back 26,000 years, in a counter-offensive in order to destroy them as a nation
with a common sense of the past, common values for the present, and common
hopes for the future.
The terrorist attack in Beslan a week before the third anniversary of 9/11 is
now debated both in Russia and America as a possible lesson on the limits of
force in countering terrorism without addressing its causes.
III. When Muslims Are No Longer Islamic .....
More important even than the causes of terrorism is its legitimacy. Do ends
justify means without limits? A sign of civilization rise is when limits
are not only recognized but applied, and the sure sign of civilization collapse is when they are not. This would apply both to terrorism and to terroristic
It can be a fatal mistake to over-emphasize the causes of terrorism of whatever kind at the expense of appreciating the extent of the evil inherent in the
terrorist mentality itself.
There is perhaps merit in the argument that, after Communism imploded, Muslims provided a convenient target for Cold Warriors who needed a new enemy. But,
the spread of religious exclusivism and extremism, which had been funded for
two decades by the Saudi government for its own political purposes, clearly
stoked the terrorist paradigm of thought and the nihilism of suicide bombing.
This led inevitably to what amounted to a new Fourth World War against the
traditions of all world religions and against the civilizations built upon them.The clash of which Samuel Huntington has spoken has taken place primarily
within civilizations rather than between them.
This clash within the Muslim world is clearly shown by President Aslam Makhadov of Chechnya, who stated on September 7th that, "There cannot be any
justification for people who raise their hand against what is most sacred to us - the
life of defenseless children! And there are no words able to express the
full depth of our indignation at what happened." For a decade he has been a
voice of traditionalist Islam in Chechnya, as well as in much of the rest of the
Muslim world. I had the honor to introduce him at the Plenary Session of the
Second International Unity Conference sponsored on August 8th to 10th, 1998, by
the Islamic Supreme Council of America in Washington, D.C., when he was battling to overcome the extremists who were committing crimes against their own
religion under the guise of defending it.
Maskhadov is widely recognized as one of the greatest leaders of the twentieth century for his work in resolving disputes between emerging nations and
declining empires. He is a Sufi, like most of the people in the Caucasus, and a
follower of Mahatma Gandhi's doctrine of passive resistance. Although no
Muslim is a doctrainaire or absolute pacifist, Maskhadov has led the way in
opposing violence as a means to secure human rights.
Maskhadov has been supported by authoritative Muslims throughout the world,
who have become increasingly appalled by those who are trying to hijack Islam,
as well as every other religion, in a global war of hatred. They were incensed at the vicious sadism of the kidnappers in Beslan who denied the children
food and water and forbid them even to go to the bathroom. Egypt's top cleric,
Grand Mufti Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, declared at the Friday Prayer on September
3rd that, "Those who carried out the kidnappings are criminals, not Muslims."
The General Manager of the popular TV station, Al Arabiya, Abdel Rahman
al-Rashed, commented after the Beslan massacre, "It is a certain fact that not all
Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful,
that most terrorists are Muslims." He called them "Neo-Muslims," perhaps in
reference to the Neo-Conservatives in America. The traditionalist Muslim leaders are asking who these Arabs and Muslims are
who pray, fast, grow beards, demand that women wear veils, call for the defense of Islamic causes, and then slash the throats of hostages, behead them, and
indiscriminately blow up innocent people.
The committed Muslims have been forced to distinguish sharply between the
religion of Islam and those Muslims who violate all its principles and then call
their actions Islamic. There is no Islamic world, because no country observes
the human responsibilities and human rights laid out over the course of
centuries in classical Islamic jurisprudence. But, there is a Muslim world, where
individual persons and governments claim to be Muslim, regardless of whether
they are Islamic or not. And there are Islamists who have tried to turn the
religion of Islam into a political ideology and thereby cut it off from its
classical traditions. Like the suicide bombers, these are Muslims but not Islamic.
Clearly there is a "culture war" developing within the Muslim communities
around the world in response to the extremists who once were tolerated but after
the 9/11 experiences of America and Russia can be tolerated no more. The
Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is the leading Muslim civil
liberties group in the United States and an influential part of the global
Muslim Brotherhood, is collecting signatures on a petition entitled "Not in the
Name of Islam." This reads: "We, the undersigned Muslims, wish to state clearly
that those who commit acts of terror, murder, and cruelty in the name of Islam
are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of
the faith they claim to represent. No injustice done to Muslims can ever
justify the massacre of innocent people, and no act of terror will ever serve the
cause of Islam. We repudiate and disassociate ourselves from any Muslim group
or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. We refuse to
allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority
acting outside the teachings of both the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be
Easier said than done. The question is, what are the teachings of these two
sources of the Islamic faith? This question forms the core of the clash
within the Muslim world. The problem is largely one of vincible ignorance. The
success of re-education efforts by Islamic scholars in marginalizing the
extremists within the Muslim communities during the coming century will determine the
future of civilizational clash and perhaps even the continued existence of
IV. Two Paradigms of Thought that Produce Terrorism.....
The key premise or paradigm of thought that almost inevitably must lead to war and terrorism in the modern world is Syed Qutb's teaching that, "There
is only one place on earth which can be called the House of Islam (Dar al
Islam), and it is that place where an Islamic state is established and the Shari'ah
is the authority and God's laws are observed. … The rest of the world is the
House of War (Dar al Harb)." Modern extremists may use different words, like
Dar al Zulm, the land of evil, or Dar al Kufr, the land of those who are going
to hell because they deliberately reject the truth, but the substance of
their war to exterminate entire civilizations is the same.
This confrontational view of reality and the destructiveness that derives from it have been around ever since some hadith scholars collected and
interpreted the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad to justify war against the Byzantine
Empire in the second and third Islamic centuries more than a thousand years
ago. The concept of a war of extinction between the East and the Beast as a
mirror image of the alleged war between the West and the Rest is older than the
All except a few Muslims except in that early period and during the past century, however, have rejected such malignant concepts as grossly un-Islamic. They may use dichotomies, but they are benign, such as dar al taqwa, the
land of those who stand in loving awe of God, contrasted with dar al da'wa, the
land of those who still need enlightenment, or dar al ijaba, the land of those
who have accepted Islam, contrasted with dar al ahd, the land of those with
whom one has treaties of friendship and cooperation.
Radical puritanical reformism, whether anti-establishment like the Salafis in Saudi Arabia, or pro-establishment like the fascist Wahhabis, represents
a complete break with traditional Islamic teachings. The same is equally true
of those Islamists who would reduce Islam de facto to a political movement,
modeled perhaps unconsciously after the Bolsheviks of Lenin, Trotsky, and
Stalin, designed oxymoronically to establish an "Islamic state." Traditional Islam
has always derived from reliance on a transcendent reality as the source of
truth and justice, rather than from reliance on oneself as the ultimate power.
Desperate resort to war or terrorism in the pursuit of justice is nothing
other than worship of oneself as a false god.
Traditional Islam values thought before action, principles more than slogans, and addresses the root of all ignorance, namely, what the Qur'an calls
diseases of the heart, which infect Muslims as well as Christians and Jews.
Puritanical religious reductionism, as well as the covertly secular movement of
ideological Muslims, are caused by pressures on the ignorant to become
secularized by denying the spiritual sovereignty of person and community. Once one
denies one's higher identity and purpose and therefore fails to recognize the
same identity and purpose in every other person, the entire world is
de-humanized. The basis of right versus wrong becomes the relativistic reduction of
justice to one's own narrow self-interest in a clash with everyone else. Aborting
fetuses or blowing up Jewish babies can be easily justified.
This is why Joseph E. B. Lumbard, the editor of perhaps the best book ever published on the distinction between Islam and Muslims, entitled Islam,
Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition: Essays by Western Muslim Scholars,
World Wisdom Books, 2004, states that Muslims must set their own house in
order, because no-one else can do it. He writes, "Though others may blame Islam
for the spread of wanton violence, such violence is a defining, if not the,
defining feature of the twentieth century."
The second paradigm or premise of thought, other than dichotomizing the
world, that necessarily leads to war and terrorism is the restriction of the
concept of jihad to defeating the enemy. Muslim bashers like to restrict the
term jihad to the totally un-Islamic concept of "holy war," perhaps because
there are so many Muslims who stereotypically do the same. No war can be "holy,"
but every distortion of terms has its Muslim supporters.
The Arabic term jihad has three classical meanings. The first two are
found only in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (s). These are: 1) jihad al
akbar or "greatest jihad," which is the effort or struggle to understand the
true word of God and to control one's human impulses in order to achieve real
peace by submitting to the will of God; 2) and jihad al saghrir or the lesser
jihad, which is the community approved joint struggle using armed force to
defend the seven universal principles of human rights, established over the course
of centuries in classical Islamic law, against attack by armed aggressors.
The third form of jihad, which is mentioned by name only in the Qur'an (Surah
al Furqan 25:52), is the jihad al kabir or simply the "great jihad." This is
the intellectual jihad, which requires respect for knowledge (haqq al 'ilm),
including freedom of thought, publication, and assembly. It calls for
concerned citizens and those in leadership positions to bring the wisdom of divine
revelation to bear on all issues of conscience. This third form of jihad
recognizes the legitimacy of "just war" doctrines, but calls for "just peace."
(to be continued)