A top jihadist explains how to win the Long War

Summary: As Trump decides what to do with the Long War, now in its 18th expensive and pointless year, we can turn to one of the leaders of modern jihad for stunning insights that can help us understand the roots of this conflict – and win. Trigger warning: this post contains crimethink.

Islamic sky

The foundation of the War on Terror is our knowledge that we are better than them. We are certain that our morals are better than those of fundamentalist Islamic radicals. Although proof cannot be found in this world, science provides an answer. Karl Popper said that successful predictions are the gold standard of science. One of the key philosophers of the Muslim Brother visited 1949 Colorado and saw a people on the road to degeneracy. How does his assessment look seventy years later?

Sayyid Qutb

Sayyid Qutb in America

By John Calvert in the ISIM Review.
A publication of the International Institute for the Study of Islam.

“The impact of western culture on Islam was clearly foreseen by Sayyid Qutb, Egyptian intellectual and Islamist (1906 – 1966), when studying in 1949 at the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley, Colorado. Established as a utopian community in 1870 {the Union Colony}, the city proudly maintained in the 1940’s the moral rigour, temperance, and civil-mindedness that were the hallmarks of its founding fathers. Greeley’s highly touted civic virtue, however, made very little impression on Qutb. In his mind, the inhabitants of Greeley, far from representing a kinder and gentler population of Americans, carried within themselves the same moral flaws of materialism and degeneracy that were characteristic of Occidental civilization in general.

“He recounted how he once attended a church dance and was scandalized by the occasion’s ‘seductive atmosphere’. …Qutb’s American writings are laced with such anecdotes, which reveal a strong concern with moral issues, especially concerning matters of sexuality. …”

From Qutb’s The America I Have Seen (1951)

“The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs – and she shows all this and does not hide it.  She knows it lies in clothes: in bright colors that awaken primal sensations, and in designs that reveal the temptations of the body – and in American girls these are sometimes live, screaming temptations! Then she adds to all this the fetching laugh, the naked looks, and the bold moves, and she does not ignore this for one moment or forget it! …

“One night I was in a church in Greeley, Colorado, I was a member in its club as I was a member in a number of church clubs in every area that I had lived in, for this is an important facet of American society, deserving close study from the inside. After the religious service in the church ended, boys and girls from among the members began taking part in chants, while others prayed, and we proceeded through a side door onto the dance floor that was connected to the  prayer hall by a door, and the Father jumped to his desk and every boy took the hand of a giri, including those who were chanting.

The dance floor was lit with red and yellow and blue lights, and with a few white lamps. And they danced to the tunes of the gramophone, and the dance floor was replete with tapping feet, enticing legs, arms wrapped around waists, lips pressed to lips, and chests pressed to chests. The atmosphere was full of desire …

“America has a principal role in this world, in the realm of practical matters and scientific research, and in the field of organization, improvement, production, and management. All that requires mind power and muscle are where American genius shines, and all that requires spirit and emotion are where American naivete and primitiveness become apparent.

“For humanity to be able to benefit from American genius they must add great strength to the American strength. But humanity makes the gravest of errors and risks losing its account of morals, if it makes America its example in feelings and manners. All this does not mean that Americans are a nation devoid of virtue, or else, what would have enabled them to live? Rather, it means that America’s virtues are the virtues of production and organization, and not those of human and social.” {Emphasis added.}

Sayyid Qutb went home and became an enormously influential Islamic fundamentalist, and a senior officers in the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1966, he was found guilty and hung for involvement in the assassination of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Was he wrong about the West’s morality? Flash forward 70 years. Our news overflows with stories like those in the recent massive expose by the Australian Broadcasting Company. Like the “16-year-old girl {who} was so badly injured attempting group anal sex she now needs a colostomy bag.” Plus the amazing number of stories about female teachers (mostly hot young ones) having sex with students (often 14-15 years old). Such as these recent ones: herehere, and here. Plus this long list from recent years. Everyone has their own favorite stories about our degeneracy, because there are so many. This is a key aspect of Weimerica.

We sliding down the slippery slope. The Left always has a new project for social change. Gay marriage then encouragement of transgenders and now – cuckoldry. With more projects to come after that becomes normalized. What will America and the West look like a generation from now?

Perhaps this is what Qutb saw as our future when looking at that church dance in 1949. He worked to protect Islamic societies from contamination by the West. If he looks down upon us from Paradise, what would he say?

The Moral High Ground

A broader vision of the West seen through Islamic eyes

More from “Sayyid Qutb in America”. See how he saw America and the West – and how he used these insights after returning to Egypt.

“It would be easy to dismiss Qutb’s characterizations of American society as simplistic and even cartoonish. Yet for all of its caricatures and gross generalizations, his discourse on the United States bore a degree of logic, for beneath the exaggerations and historical reductionisms lay a number of truths that discomfited Qutb and other Egyptians. …

“As the British philosopher Terry Eagleton has said …‘However retrograde and objectionable [these might be] they are not pure illusion. They encapsulate, in however reductive, hyperbolic a form, some substantial facts.’ {From Ideology: An Introduction.}

“Following Eagleton, we may regard Qutb’s discourse on America as providing opposition-minded Egyptians with a motivating mythology for their struggle against {Western} political and cultural forces. …For, Eagleton continues, ‘men and women engaged in such conflicts do not live by theory alone …it is not in defense of the doctrine of base and superstructure that men and women are prepared to embrace hardship and persecution in the course of political struggle.’ They require collective symbols that encapsulate and define their social being.

“Qutb appears to have recognized this fact, if only intuitively, in fashioning portrayals of America that facilitated the setting of community boundaries. In so doing, he laid the groundwork for his later, radical Islamist equation …”

For more detail see Brynjar Lia’s Architect of Global Jihad: The Life of Al-Qaeda Strategist Abu Mus’ab Al-Suri (2008) — or the review: “Laptop Jihadi” by Adam Shatz in the London Review of Books. For a more analytical perspective on America vs. Islam, see Samuel P. Huntington’s seminal article “The clash of civilizations?“ in the Summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs, later expanded into The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.

Why do we care?

First, insights of outsiders can help us better understand our society. As we polarize into bickering tribes, loyal more to tribal truths than a complex and often disappointing reality, outsiders’ insights can shock us into a clearer vision of ourselves. Great things might come of that.

Second, the clash of civilizations is the real post-9/11 conflict. Following the thinking of Sayyid Qutb, some jihadists see jihad asghar (a lesser jihad, jihad of the sword) and jihad akbar (a greater jihad, jihad of the spirit). Western military history shows something similar, where the moral high ground has often been decisive – as it was in both the American Revolution and the Civil War. Understanding and empathy, not bombs and drones, are the keys to victory in our Long War.

Winds of Change

Other posts in this series

  1. How America can survive – even prosper – in the 21st century: a defensive strategy.
  2. Why we lose wars so often. How we can win in the future.
  3. Handicapping the clash of civilizations: bet on the West to win big.
  4. Why the West loses so many wars, and how we can learn to win.

Also see William Lind’s “Strategic Defense Initiative”! For an explanation of what we’re doing now, see What is America’s geopolitical strategy? Spoiler: it’s quite mad.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Islam, and especially these about the long war …

  1. The Fight for Islamic Hearts and Minds.
  2. A look at al Qaeda, the long war — and us.
  3. How I learned to stop worrying and love Fourth Generation War. We can win at this game.
  4. We are the attackers in the Clash of Civilizations. We’re winning.

Let’s avoid repeating these mad wars …

Crusade

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28 thoughts on “A top jihadist explains how to win the Long War

  1. You know what? The great majority of Egyptians, and other muslims too, are much like us – they want to lead peaceful lives, bringing up their families, go to work in the morning, have some stability in their lives.
    They couldn’t care less about what is going on in American bedrooms.
    The Zealots are the five percent. The five percent that can grab power, lure the masses with grand speeches and promises of something better, pointing to an enemy that can unite them all and that they can focus their anger on.
    The five percent can only succeed when life is miserable enough that people start listening to them.
    Otherwise, people will think more about their new smartphone and what to make for dinner.
    Very few people are Zealots at heart.

    1. priffe,

      “They couldn’t care less about what is going on in American bedrooms.”

      While true today, it was not true in the past. That’s a kind of recentism, believing that people of the past were just like us today. “The personal is the political” is a new expression for an ancient idea.

      “The Zealots are the five percent.”

      Interesting. What is the basis for that statement?

      “The five percent can only succeed when life is miserable enough that people start listening to them.”

      That’s historically not true. Societies are radicalized irrespective of level of prosperity. Revolutions tend to come as regimes liberalize, not when they’re too brutal (Alexis de Tocqueville describes this in The Old Regime and the Revolution).

      “Very few people are Zealots at heart.”

      What does that mean?

      1. “… when life is miserable enough…” does not necessarily mean “lack of material prosperity.”
        It may just represent a different view, as in:
        “Understanding and empathy, not bombs and drones, are the keys to victory in our Long War.”
        Where “thirst for understanding and empathy” could allow the zealots (of any denomination) serving a drink of their “remedy;” a poison perhaps or a hypothetical / surprising solution.

      2. Only a minority can be extreme – or they wouldn’t be extreme.

        My experience with islam comes not from think tanks or book clubs or academia. It comes from living in muslim countries with muslim friends over a long period of time. It comes from observation. In the past also, Egyptians didn’t give a shit what happened in American bedrooms. They had other concerns. Today they are tired of corruption, and can be attracted to islamists since they are (perceived as) less corrupt. Their primary motivation is not outrage at western decadence – that is for the five percent to worry about.

        The five percent? It is a recurring figure in any society – that five percent deviate from the norm. Five percent are drug addicts. Five percent of US teenagers use steroids. Five percent have (serious) mental problems. Five percent consume 33% of medical care (in the US).Etc.

        It was a realization of Clarence13X that five percent know the truth and should teach the 85 who don’t (10 percent know the truth but don’t care). Thus the Five Percent Nation.

        Recommended reading https://www.jstor.org/stable/41421360
        Catholicism was once a violent religion.

      3. Replying to the below.

        The ‘operational relevance’ today is that islam is 500 years behind christianity in development.
        So the problem will be with us for a while.
        The thinking that we could easily convert them to modernity, separation of church and state etc, was flawed. Invading the heartland was not helpful.
        Also, the realization that islam is not by itself a violent religion. Indeed there are passages in the Old Testament that are just as violent and promoting violence as anything in the Quran.
        The main difference between the Abrahamitic religions is, as I see it, the importance of one individual, Jesus, interpreting and commenting the Old Testament.
        In Judaism and Islam you have the Talmud and the Hadiths, and they sorely lack someone like Jesus.
        I could expand on this when I have time.

  2. If you haven’t already read Trofimov’s the Siege of Mecca, I think you would like it.

    If it hadn’t been for the depression and WWII, we would have had a sexual revolution much earlier. The 1920’s were a time of decadence and social experiment. I’ve no doubt the America he visited in 1949 was louche.

    1. Mandy,

      “If it hadn’t been for the depression and WWII, we would have had a sexual revolution much earlier.”

      Now that’s something to ponder!

      “I’ve no doubt the America he visited in 1949 was louche.”

      “America” back then was even less of a unitary entity than it is today. Avant garde San Francisco or Manhattan was on another world than a church social in Colorado. Speaking more broadly about now and then, I doubt that many Americans today would say that 1949 America was decadent.

  3. Interestingly enough, another blog tackled this very same subject a decade earlier: “Modern Romance” at Whiskey’s Place, Sept 2008.

    Whiskey uses it as the launching pad for a parenthetical discussion on the importance of mediating entities (family and community-oriented ones) to establish boundaries and stigmas in the associative mating game. He gets awfully repetitious on the sexual marketplace later on in the blog’s history, arguably to the detriment of intellectual rigor and precision, but this is probably the most perspicacious and lucid post he’s written on the subject.

    1. The NEET,

      Thank you for pointing to that article. It inspired me to expand the quotation of Quob’s words, to give a broader look at his assessment of America.

      Whiskey’s analysis is interesting. Ahead of its time! With another decade’s experience, we can see what he got right – and wrong. Has he written about this in the last few years?

      “He gets awfully repetitious on the sexual marketplace”

      Much analysis by sociologists uses that as the window into our gender relations. Such as Prof Mark Regnerus in his book Cheap Sex. See my posts about it:

      1. Later on many of his posts on the subject devolve into “Women love Alphas and despise Betas” as the principal explanation for a phenomenon. While this is nominally true it is hardly enlightening. Other commentators in the manosphere like Rollo and Heartiste have elaborated on the same topics with greater aplomb and insight.

        Most of his posts on the SMP and the potential consequences are contained on this blog. He moved to another site (https://whiskeysplace.wordpress.com/) but his focus shifted to the entertainment industry, globalization and sustainability of urban hubs like NYC and Washington D.C.. Unlike your writings, Whiskey’s rhetoric borders on nihilistic at times; he largely believes in apocalyptic endpoints for his subjects.

        http://whiskeys-place.blogspot.com/2010/10/duke-f-list-and-dog-in-night-time.html
        https://whiskeys-place.blogspot.com/2011/02/nba-groupies-and-death-of-possible.html
        https://whiskeys-place.blogspot.com/2011/07/arrow-of-desire-sexy-not-dependable-men.html
        https://whiskeys-place.blogspot.com/2011/11/sexual-competition-in-britain-case.html

  4. Many of Qtub’s observations here concern women.

    Consider Alan Bloom’s claim in the closing of the American mind: men are moved by women’s moral clarity: they are free subjects. Perhaps the leftist cultural victories are from this source. But women cannot force men to care.

    How can the degenerated western men retake the moral high ground? Perhaps we wait until feminism finally goes too far? Or maybe that will never come.

    1. Cato,

      (1) “Consider Alan Bloom’s claim in the closing of the American mind: men are moved by women’s moral clarity”

      I am quite familiar with Bloom’s book. I don’t recall him saying anything like that.

      (2) “How can the degenerated western men retake the moral high ground?”

      Turn to Nietzsche, which Bloom nicely describes. The moral high ground is asserted, then claimed by action. God does not intervene. There is no outside, eternal, or ratifying authority.

      1. Editor, I am referring to this passage:

        “In family questions, inasmuch as men were understood to be so strongly motivated by property, an older wisdom tried to attach concern for the family to that motive: the man was allowed and encouraged to regard his family as his property, so he would care for the former as he would instinctively care for the latter. This was effective, although it obviously had disadvantages from the point of view of justice.”

        “When wives and children come to the husband and father and say, “We are not your property; we are ends in ourselves and demand to be treated as such,” the anonymous observer cannot help being impressed.”

      2. Cato,

        “When wives and children come to the husband and father and say, ‘We are not your property; we are ends in ourselves and demand to be treated as such,’ the anonymous observer cannot help being impressed.”

        That is a about one specific issue, not a general statement that “men are moved by women’s moral clarity”. Also, imo that is sarcasm – a setup for the text that follows:

        “But the difficulty comes when wives and children further demand that the man continue to care for them as before, just when they are giving an example of caring for themselves. They object to the father’s flawed motive and ask that it be miraculously replaced by a pure one, of which they wish to make use for their own ends. The father will almost inevitably constrict his quest for property, cease being a father and become a mere man again, rather than turning into a providential God, as others ask him to be.”

  5. I hate when those sickos on the Left make me think and fantasize about cuckoldry! Sickos, stop making me report on this!!! It makes me sick to HAVE to do this!!!

    1. Bomba,

      The point here is the advocacy of cuckoldry.

      People fantasize about many socially undesirable or damaging behaviors. That does not mean they should be normalized.

  6. Priffle

    In Judaism and Islam you have the Talmud and the Hadiths, and they sorely lack someone like Jesus.
    I could expand on this when I have time.

    I look forward to your explanation.

    1. Dota and Piffle,

      Please, no discussions here of that kind about religion. The subject here is geopolitics.

      1. I see a lot of discussion tangential to or even rather far from geopolitics, but you the boss.

      2. priffe,

        True. But discussions about religion are a bridge too far – and quickly boil over.

  7. Do I have this right?

    Understanding (presumably of the jihadist’s motivations/POV) and empathy (with what they feel to be justified complaints/opposition) is the key to turning jihadist “swords into plowshares”…?

    If that is the case, then the author either speaks out of the profoundest ignorance or an appaling moral cowardice or malicious animosity toward western civilization.

    7th century Islam absolutely and correctly views the inadvertant cultural intrusion of the modern world as a mortal threat.

    Which changes it’s totalitarian nature not in the least.

    ‘Moderate’ Muslims, who do indeed compose the vast majority of Islam’s adherents are in willful denial of Islam’s inherent nature. Islam is a violently expansionist, totalitarian ideology that has wrapped itself in a facade of religious pretense.

    Understand this; Islam offers the infidel but three choices: conversion, enslavement or death.

    ‘Emphasize’ with this; Islam’s foundational tenets are not just incompatible with but antithetical to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Islam regards that key phrase from our Declaration of Independence… as an ANATHEMA.

    1. Geoffrey,

      I suggest taking off those thick thick thick ideological lens and re-reading the post. Perhaps more slowly. The words appear to have flown over you like rain off a roof.

      As a test of reading comprehension, attempt to summarize Sayyid Qutb’s observations and insights about America. Then explain if any appear correct 70 years later, and what we can learn from them.

  8. The moral high ground was not a key to the North’s victory in ACW. The greater wealth, population, and industy of the North were its keys to victory. Your analysis is consistently absurd.

    1. Sam,

      The moral high ground was essential to the North’s victory, for two reasons. First, it allowed Lincoln to mobilize the North’s resources – despite initially low interest in war with the South (as in the giant draft riots, and his need to declare martial law in some northern cities). The South’s appeal to States as sovereign, the source of self-determination, was seen as legitimate and definitive in much of the North.

      Second, the moral high ground was the key to keeping France and esp Britain out of the war. The British aristocracy had closer ties to the South. The British business class saw the North as rivals and the South as consumers and providers of raw materials. But banning slavery was considered a moral triumph in Britain, and selling the Confederacy’s slavery as in its economic interest (look, we got 30 pieces of silver for our support!) wasn’t a crowd pleaser.

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