To understand the emergence of Islamic Nazism in the form of Islamic State, one must briefly examine the history and context of the rise of such radicalism. Islamic Nazism has arisen out of the clash between two different globalisations occurring over the last millennium, the first primarily driven by the Christian west. After the separation of ‘church from state’, secular Western states, free of the shackles of mediaeval Christianity, achieved major technological advances and imposed the state structure, underpinned by Roman Law and military power, throughout the world via imperialism and European colonialism. Islam was left in its wake, despite its own spread via military action and global trade. European (Western) colonialism shattered and divided Third World ethnic (tribal) communities and nations arbitrarily creating ‘new states’ wherever the European empires could reach. In the 21 century, such western driven globalisation continues based on military power, state proxies and the power of western communications spreading western values and culture globally through the internet and other communication technology.
The second globalisation riding on the back of the spread of modern information and technology is driven by the mindset of radical Islam, mainly Sunni. Within this fundamentalist mindset IS has emerged, an extremely militant movement driven by the Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam. It aims to destroy the international community of European derived ‘states’ and impose the total rule of Allah. Never having separated ‘church from state’ radical Islam seeks to construct a Caliphate, a global empire of the mind – not demarcated by territory. Driven by Islam’s central belief in the concept of Jihad, its radical elements seek the destruction of all unbelievers, infidels, apostates, including all moderate pro-western Muslims, and all civilisations and belief systems (including their ancient relics) that oppose the creation of a global Muslim community ruled by Allah and ‘his’ representatives on earth. In this sense, Islamic fundamentalist radicals fundamentally oppose the secularism of states but in doing do have morphed into a stunningly powerful movement best described as ‘Islamic Nazism’.
While in the West, nationalist driven, racist socialists headed by Hitler and others produced Nazism with devastating consequences for the entire global community , fundamentalist radical Islam has now produced its own form of ‘Nazism’ stunningly similar to that of Hitler’s Germany and other European clones in the 1930s and 1940s.
Socialist in its economics, and absolutely totalitarian, it displays crude egalitarianism for those members of its ‘party’ (IS). While Islamic Nazism does not champion the superiority of the state above all else (The Third Reich), it demands allegiance to the global Caliphate instead. It is also headed by a ruthless ‘party’ ruling elite of Islamic theologians, deadly Daesh operatives and others, and a network of allied covert global Islamic business elites who maintain its economic base. It is also similarly anti- Semitic and murderously intolerant of all who reject its doctrines. Moreover it has no respect for Western imposed notions of individual human rights, seeing atrocities, mass murders and ethnic cleansing as sanctioned by Jihad and thereby condoned and encouraged by Allah.
The Nature of the Conflict
So in the 21st century, we now have a much heralded ‘Clash of Civilisations’ with moderate pro-Western Islam in the middle being polarised and slowly squeezed out of existence. The result of the clash of both globalisations sees one ‘Empire of the Mind’ seeking to re-take lost territory, defend the international system of statehood, notions of ‘free thought’ , human rights and secularism in government, and eliminate those who oppose it. While the goal of Islamic Nazism is to capture the head space of its opponents, or eliminate them, and establish a global caliphate of believers within which Western notions of the state will cease to exist.
The consequences of this clash globally are now these. In military terms we have an alliance of primarily Western forces attempting to destroy militant Islamic Nazism relying mainly on conventional power, underpinned by international rule of law, to eliminate the caliphate’s territorial challenge in Iraq and Syria. However, unlike other former global conflicts, particularly the Second World War, the response of Islamic Nazism while involving some military action is very different. It wages a global Islamic insurgency. And this difference in nature sees the West doomed to eventual compromise or defeat unless it changes its ‘conflict profile’ to suit the ‘asymmetrical nature’ of the warfare environment it is now embroiled.
Military action is simply not enough to defeat Islamic Nazism. Simply stated: ‘You cannot crush a shadow with a sledge hammer.’ The West cannot win until it learns to understand the true nature of the ‘conflict profile’ IS wages and adopts the appropriate strategy accordingly. In response to the US defeat in Vietnam, the Reagan Administration did exactly this in its formulation of the strategy labelled ‘Low Intensity Conflict’ (LIC). A part covert/part overt multidimensional strategy, LIC was used to great effect in the 1980s against revolutionary movements and governments deemed threatening to US interests globally. However, LIC was eventually discredited not for its outcomes, but for the morality of its tactics which clearly violated international human rights law, and peculiarly quaint Western notions of democracy and morality in warfare. But now in the face of such unprecedented barbarity by Islamic Nazism, LIC should, and must, be resurrected to fight ‘fire with fire’. Morality does not exist anywhere in any warfare, particularly the type of ‘people’s war’ waged by Islamic Nazism the West now faces.
To resurrect LIC, the US-led West needs to re-learn the lessons of the US-Vietnam conflict, and as a coalition develop a form of LIC congruent with the true nature of the conflict which it is now embroiled in this new 21st century Islamic crusade. The West cannot defeat this global Islamic insurgency primarily with conventional military means. It must adapt to the true nature of the strategy its opponent uses and its primary objective. At the time of writing the conflict is clearly incongruent or asymmetrical with both sides fighting for different objectives, different notions of victory and concomitantly using different types of warfare.
What Is Asymmetrical Warfare (AW)?
‘Asymmetrical warfare’ is a warfare environment wherein a power (usually a state) wages primarily a one dimensional form of, in this case military, warfare against an opponent (often a non-state actor) instead waging a multidimensional strategy. The former generally places its emphasis on militarily capturing or regaining territory while the latter uses strongly political/psychological (Psyops) action with supporting economic, cultural and then finally a lesser military dimension to achieve its goal. The major ‘territorial’ target of the latter is to retain the ‘mind space’ of its supporters while psychologically recruiting or destroying the will of its opponents support base. Historically this strategy has often been used by the military weak, with its most fundamental and primary target the support base (population) of its much more military powerful opponent. Generally strongly ideologically driven, these actors tend to be revolutionary movements or guerrilla groups waging what is often regarded as ‘people’s war‘. Such warfare is many facetted heavily relying heavily on a civilian support base and using Psyops generally in the form of terrorism to attack the will of the conventional opponent’s support base using tactics of attrition to achieve victory in the long term.
However, while terrorism is associated with people’s war, these actions often being the chosen weapon of ‘freedom fighters’, revolutionaries, etc., terrorism is also widely used by states themselves against opposing support bases. However, the difference between the moralities of who uses such means is always defined by the user. For example mass conventional terrorism used by states can be in the form of mass bombings, napalm, raising cities, etc., and is usually regarded as the normal costs of warfare, or collateral damage etc. While on the other side, military weak movements like IS can use hostages, beheadings, blowing up cafes, car bombs , etc. to spread fear amongst its opponents civilian support base. Primarily terrorism is a deadly form of Psyops and used by all sides.
Nevertheless, the basic difference remains. In asymmetrical war the conventional state attempts to take territory and use military power as the primary weapon. Whereas, military weaker proponents of peoples war in history, such as resistance fighters in World War Two, the Viet Minh, the Viet Cong, the Sandinistas, and the New Peoples, Army in the Philippines primarily attempted to win over only the ‘territory’ between the ears of the support base of their opponents, to either gain its support or force its submission through fear. In other words the ideological/psychological struggle is the most important for people’s war, if not in all warfare.
Hence, in pursuit of its global caliphate, Islamic Nazism wages its version of people’s war primarily targeting the political will of the West’s support base. It seeks to terrorise Christians and others into submission, and to radicalise ‘Westernised’ Muslims into abandoning moderate Islam which rejects radical militant Islam and the central role Jihad plays within it.
While superficially IS wages war for territory, its primary strategy is achieving victory through ‘Psyops’, with its military dimension relatively minor. It targets the support base of the West, particularly the alienated youth using religion and terrorism into fighting in what has now developed as a global insurgency seeking to reach every urban centre on the planet.
In response, the West however still relies primarily on conventional military warfare, and is doomed to fail just as the US did in Vietnam. To avoid this the West must adapt very quickly to the complex nature of asymmetrical warfare, just as the Reagan Administration eventually did in the 1980s to defeat revolutionary nationalism wherever opposing US interests.
The Solution - Adoption of Global LIC
Understanding the asymmetrical nature of the conflict is the first step. The second step is the adoption of the strategy of LIC globally to render the conflict ‘symmetrical’ hence winnable.
Low Intensity Conflict is a strategy with a largely Psyops conflict profile designed to combat People’s War. With a dominant Pysops/’hearts and minds’ dimension, LIC heavily relies on the political/psychological to confront and turn the political dimension of the revolution or opposing regime against itself. In other words it seeks to wage revolution against the revolution. LIC’s primary goal is to achieve a political, social and ideological victory not just to ensure it retains its own support base but to win over or subjugate the hearts and minds of the opponent’s support base. As such, military victory while important is actually LIC’s last priority as once a support base is won over, or defeated, military victory is assured. In other words the support base of the opponent is the primary target.
In the case of combating Islamic Nazism the most important target is the global Islamic community, particularly the Sunni community. In this dimension, the West needs to go all out to discredit and delegitimise the belief system of radical militant Sunni Islam (the Islamic world of IS), in the mindset of the younger Islamic generation. The conflict also must be entirely located and/or seen to be located and confined within the Muslim community, and seen to be fought by moderate ‘modern’ Muslims against ‘divergent, corrupted, irrationally barbaric’ Islamic Nazism. In this respect, the West appears to be one step removed. In short, a global campaign must be seen to be waged by Muslims (with overt and covert support) to alienate and destroy the support base of Islamic Nazism. In guerrilla terms, this is necessary to ‘remove the sea from the fish.’
Hence within this Psyops dimension, a very public campaign must be waged by pro-Western, anti- Nazi Muslims, with Western support arguing the case that in the 21st century, ‘modern’ Islam has no place for a radical strand of Islam that has morphed into Nazism and practices the immoral, brutal concept of ‘Jihad’ in which Allah is believed to condone the genocide of all unbelievers, apostates and others.
The West must engage itself in a massive propaganda war that associates IS with the emergence of Neo-Nazism and the atrocities of Hitler’s Third Reich. Moderate modern Islam must dispute the mediaeval genocidal teachings that one can only be a true Muslim if living in ‘Dar Al Islam’ (‘The House of Islam’), where ones world is only ruled by Sharia law and fanatical theologians who interpret Allah’s will to mean the complete supremacy of the ‘master religion’, read ‘master ethnic group’ (with ethnicity defined by belief system).
As part of the West’s Psyops campaign modern Islamic theologians must be encouraged to teach that ordinary Muslims in the West, have signed a proverbial contract to live in a community or state where the rule and protection of secular government is accepted along with the notion of upholding both global covenants of human rights. Therefore it is the duty of all Muslims to oppose all barbaric Islamic Nazis who would destroy not just them but the international state structure itself. What must be done is to demand from the modern Islamic world a global proclamation – or edict that all Muslims must consider the notion of Jihad barbaric, un-Islamic, and akin to genocidal Nazism, and it is their duty to destroy it. By so doing the rift between Islam Nazism and modern Islam that respects human rights and freedom of religion can be intensified.
To implement this Psyops strategy, the pro-Western popular media within the modern Muslim community must be harnessed. To achieve this goal and win over the loyalty of alienated Western Muslim youth, popular media characters and heroes (ie. the Muhammad Alis of this world), fictional or otherwise, must be created amongst the modern global Islamic community to urge the necessity of creating and defending modern Islam from Islamic Nazism. In other words, global modern Muslim superheroes must be manufactured, fictional or otherwise to lead the popular fight against Islamic Nazis. Movies, U Tube and other information outputs and social media must be utilised to capture the hearts and minds of the global modern Islamic youth, particularly the alienated and vulnerable. In other words a community of modern Muslim youth must be established to fight ‘Islamic Nazi barbarians who would enslave the world’.
With much of the ‘sea of support’ so removed, it is then time ‘to go fishing’. Western backed, modern Islamic ‘freedom fighters’ (including covert death squads) must be unleashed globally against Islamic Nazism to capture and/or eliminate all known prominent IS leaders globally, wherever they may be. Paramilitary Islamic vigilante groups need to be organised to give the appearance that IS has no popular support and international justice is seen to be done.
To protect the home state environment, banning Islamic immigration is not the answer. Instead it must be enshrined in the doctrine of modern Islam, that anti-modern Islamic Nazi jihad must be eliminated, and all immigrant and other modern Muslims must denounce this barbaric practice. It is ok to try and win converts to a religion but not through terrorism, the threat of death and the barrel of a gun. That sort of religion does not and should not exist in the human 21st century.
On another Psyops level, Western Governments must ramp up all healthcare and economic assistance to in Muslims in need, and increase access to higher education. Modern Islam must see that secular states can supply benefits and harmony far above what Allah seems to offer on earth. Moreover, Islamic Nazism thrives on ignorance. Only free access to all levels of education and meaningful careers can combat this.
Finally, all forms of military action must continue to be pursued but seen to be overwhelmingly by modern pro-Western Islamic forces further isolating IS from the global Islamic community and its collective mindset.
The West continues to forget the lessons learnt from Vietnam. However, Islamic Nazism has not. To remedy this, LIC must be adopted globally by the West and moderate, modern Islam. Psyops must be the dominant dimension of this fight with military action more secondary. The US and the West cannot win attempting to take territory alone with conventional military might. The true nature of the conflict is we face a global Islamic Nazi insurgency which cannot be won alone by conventional war over territory and re-education of prisoners. It is primarily a conflict of an extreme brutal ideology seeking the destruction of Western norms and values and the international system of states. As an ideological/Psyops conflict, it must be primarily combated at that level. Finally, the West must adopt a part overt/part covert form of political/military warfare that ignores normal human rights and moral responses, but not seen to be so. Secular democracies cannot win conflicts according to Western notions of ‘legal warfare’ against forces that respect no rights and no moral norms. The West must fight dirty war with dirty war.
Dr Ivan Molloy
Former Director ,
Masters of International Studies Program,
University of Sydney
& Author: ‘Rolling Back Revolution: The Emergence of Low Intensity Conflict’, Pluto Press, London, 2001, among others.