Belmont Club

We Will Not Be Assimilated

Two weeks ago Elon Musk told a journalist that humanity had to establish itself on another planet before man-made terrestrial conflicts trapped it.  He told GQ:

You know, in 1912 they were proclaiming a new age of peace and prosperity, saying that it was a golden age, war was over. And then you had World War I followed by World War II followed by the Cold War. So I think we need to acknowledge that there’s certainly a possibility of a third World War, and if that does occur it could be far worse than anything that’s happened before. Let’s say nuclear weapons are used. I mean, there could be a very powerful social movement that’s anti-technology. There’s also growth in religious extremism. Like, I mean, does ISIS grow…?”

Musk’s warning though seemingly outlandish, is nevertheless possible.   Religious extremism is growing;  ISIS is not shrinking, in fact it is only the tip of a far larger iceberg. Tony Blair’s think tank, the Institute for Religion and Geopolitics, described it as but one manifestation of a wider movement it calls “Salafi jihadism” — “a transnational religious-political ideology based on a belief in violent jihad to enforce a return to a perceived Islam of the Prophet Mohammad’s first followers.”

Kill ISIS and a dozen other organizations will fill its place. Far from being an aberration, Salafi jihadism a growing and potentially major form of Islam.

Our study of 48 rebel factions in Syria revealed that 33 percent of the groups – nearly 100,000 fighters – follow the same ideology as ISIS. If you also take into account Islamist groups (those who want a state governed by their interpretation of Islamic law), this figure jumps to 60 per cent. …

This shows that any attempt by international powers to distinguish between acceptable ‘moderates’ and unacceptable
‘extremists’ is flawed. …

While military efforts against ISIS are necessary, policy makers must recognise that its defeat will not end the threat of Salafi-jihadism unless it is accompanied by an intellectual and theological defeat of the pernicious ideology that drives it.

One day this movement may have nuclear weapons.  That was underscored by news that Pakistan,  a country which sheltered Osama Bin Laden and is widely believed to back the Taliban, was building a new generation of “tactical nukes” touted as “the world’s smallest nuclear weapons”.

Fears that such weapons could arm “Salafi jihadism” prompted the Obama administration to try to buy off the Pakistanis with a “deal”. In October of 2015 Reuters reported president Obama failed to talk Pakistan out of building these miniaturized weapons.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will tell U.S. President Barack Obama this week that Islamabad will not accept limits on its use of small tactical nuclear weapons, Pakistani officials said on Wednesday. … The Obama administration is preparing to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan in an attempt to bolster the two countries’ relationship despite Washington’s concerns about Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal, according to a U.S. source familiar with the matter. …

Nonproliferation experts worry that Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons increase the risk of nuclear conflict.

“The smaller they are, the more tempting it becomes to use them against a conventional force,” said nuclear physics professor Pervez Hoodbhoy.

“The development and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons is a complete change of strategy. Earlier, nuclear weapons were instruments for deterring war, but now they’re seen as weapons for actually fighting a war.”

Obama is trying again however. In November the New York Times said the president was attempting to craft an offer that might succeed against all odds. “What’s new about the administration’s approach,” the NYT wrote, “is that instead of treating the situation as essentially hopeless, it is now casting about for the elements of a possible deal in which each side would get something it wants. … As a first step, one American official said, Pakistan would have to stop pursuing tactical nuclear weapons, which are more likely to be used in a conflict with India and could more easily fall into the hands of terrorists, and halt development of long-range missiles.”

In exchange for not building these tailor-made terror weapons Pakistan would get technology and other goodies. However ordinary bribery may not be enough.  The message of Blair’s Institute for Religion and Geopolitics is that the West needed to inflict an intellectual and theological defeat” on this pernicious ideology, not just offer it money, in order to stop it. The closest that self-consciously secular Western world can come to waging an old fashioned war of religion — the kind that wins converts and discredits rival creeds –is the international “community organizing” effort the Russians are accusing the Administration of pushing.

Russian military theorists were the first to openly discuss this shift in the art of war—and to accuse America of pioneering techniques of fomenting viral protests abroad. … The occasion was the third annual Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS), an event hosted by the Russian Ministry of Defense. …

Pointing to the social protests that rocked the world from 2011 to 2014, beginning with the Arab Spring and continuing through Ukraine’s Euromaidan Revolution and Hong Kong’s Occupy Central, Shoygu argued that Western powers are deploying social movements as a technique devised “according to the rules of the art of war” for overthrowing unfriendly governments. …

Similar accusations of engineering protests have been made in the past against, and variously denied by, non-governmental organizations such as George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, Gene Sharp’s Albert Einstein Institute and the Serbia-based Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS). What is different today is the implication that state militaries could shift toward creating, training and deploying civilian activists in a bid to create disruptive movements.

So far missionaries of the OSF, Canvas and Occupy Wall Street have proved less persuasive than those of radical Islam, as shown by Syria. Soro’s billions have failed to buy the kind of militant determination which ISIS has routinely generated.  Andrew McCarthy, who prosecuted the Blind Sheik for the first attempt to topple the World Trade Center, argues that Obama’s ideological dishonesty has basically ceded the field to Salafi jihadism.  He’s matched intellectual poodles against tigers because he won’t see tigers.

Obama’s national security strategy is suicidal because it mulishly denies two unavoidable facts: (a) terrorism is rooted in Islamic supremacism’s literalist construction of scripture, and (b) even if Islamic supremacism is not the only way of interpreting Islam, it is a mainstream interpretation of Islam.

Islamic supremacism is not merely the creed of outlier “violent extremists,” but of hundreds of millions of Muslims, the ocean in which jihadists comfortably swim. A commander-in-chief who does not or will not come to terms with those facts is unfit for his most basic responsibilities. His stubbornness renders him incapable of protecting the nation.

That’s Obama. Understand: the president is not refusing to associate terror with Islam out of political correctness. His delusion is ideological. It informs his every decision. It is why the terrorist threat has so intensified, and why we are in more peril today than at any time since before the 9/11 attacks.

Obama continues to rely on the mainstream media to fight Islam and is losing badly.  One man who understood the power of  “Salafi jihadism” was Saddam Hussein, who according to Kyle Orton, writing in the New York Times, understood long before Obama that secular socialism was no match for a full-bore jihadism which had endured the test of centuries.  “The Arab nationalist Baath Party, which seized power in 1968 in a coup in which Mr. Hussein played a key role, had a firmly secular outlook. This held through the 1970s, even as religiosity rose among the Iraqi people. But soon after Mr. Hussein invaded Iran in 1980, it began to change.”

To compensate for his shortcomings in governance, Saddam covered himself with the Koran.  He also tried what Obama later attempted, an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, with disastrous results.  Rather than beating Islam, the Baath began to be absorbed by it. “In 1986, however, the Pan-Arab Command, the Baath Party’s top ideological institution, formally reoriented Iraq’s foreign policy toward an alliance with Islamists. This was the first clear deviation from secular Baathism.”

The campaign of Islamization intensified further after Iraq’s devastating defeat in Kuwait in 1991 and the subsequent Shiite revolt, culminating in 1993 with Mr. Hussein’s abandonment of the last vestiges of Baath secularism when he initiated the Faith Campaign. In some respects, Mr. Hussein’s government was following rather than leading public opinion, as Iraqis fell back on their faith for solace under the harsh international sanctions. But what began as a cynical attempt to shore up support, as the regime retreated to its Sunni tribal base, took on a life of its own, transforming Iraq into an Islamist state and imposing lasting changes on Iraqi society. …

There was never any “Baathist coup” of former regime elements inside the Islamic State, as some analysts assume, because these men had long since abandoned Baathism. They joined Al Qaeda in Iraq early after the invasion as an act of ideological conviction, and when Al Qaeda in Iraq’s leadership was nearly destroyed in 2008-10, these officers were the last men standing precisely because of their superior counterintelligence and security skills.

It was these Salafized former military intelligence officers — led by Samir al-Khlifawi, also known as Haji Bakr, who had joined the group in 2003 and rose to be the so-called caliph’s deputy, until he was killed in 2014 — who planned the Islamic State’s dramatic expansion into Syria.

If Saddam could not prevail, then Western political correctness, especially under the leadership of president Obama, may similarly fail. In fact, Musk’s argument for settling Mars is implicitly premised on a failure by West to win the narrative, forcing humanity to try their chances on another world.

Why humanity should thrive on Mars while billions of humans were being dragged back to the 8th century on Terra is the unasked question in GQ’s Elon Musk interview.  What possible advantage could a comparative handful of settlers possess on a pioneer planet that technologically advanced humans on earth could lack?  Why should Mars succeed where earth would fail?

One possible answer was that on Mars people could escape not only ISIS but also the dead hand of establishment politicians.  They would rely for survival as much on freedom as quarantine from “Salafi jihadism”.  The GQ interview with Musk contains this fascinating exchange:  he is asked who gave him permission to colonize Mars?

NASA Mars missions are currently forbidden to even land near potential areas of liquid water, in case small bio-organisms from Earth contaminate Mars. Musk is a little dismissive of these concerns. “As far as we can see now, there’s no evidence of life on the surface of Mars at all—the best case is really that there’s subterranean microbial life. That’s what we’re talking about as, like, the most amount of life that would exist.”

But whether life exists on the planet or not, there seems to be a moral issue worth raising: Is Mars ours to mess with?

To Musk, this is missing the point. “There’s certainly no moral issue if there’s no life,” he insists. “I mean, in fact, it would be, I think, sort of immoral not to do it, if it meant preservation of life on Earth as we know it.”

Either way, when it comes to these big decisions about terraforming, he’s also clear about how they should be made, and by whom: “This would be up to the Martians.”

The Martians. By which he means—and Musk can talk in a way that makes a thought like this sound not only sane, but sensible—those of us who choose to become interplanetary pioneers.

Is Mars ours to mess with? You can almost hear HIllary asking this question: what about Climate Change? But for Musk freedom from this suffocation is as vital as anything else. Like CS Lewis in his Space Trilogy series he seems to regard the planetary frontier as providing moral opportunities as well as conferring technological or resource advantages.  The case for Mars matters hinges on the possibility we can tell the truth there, long after we have been obliged to lie on earth.  Space exploration matters because it advances the cause of freedom and not just expands the scope of real estate.

It is odd how Lewis anticipated problem. His protagonist, Dr. Elwin Ransom, does not see the Solar System as consisting of rocks.  It consists of expanded choices.  His hero muses on  “the black, cold vacuity, the utter deadness, which was supposed to separate the worlds. … he now saw that it was the womb of worlds, whose blazing and innumerable offspring looked down nightly even upon the earth with so many eyes-and here, with how many more! No: Space was the wrong name.”

This is precisely the opportunity which the faithless PC Western world cannot grasp.  The world is facing a moral and spiritual threat that it cannot even recognize because they have no notation for that dimension.  “Salafi jihadism” is the ultimate stealth weapon against the Western elite because they cannot see it lest they see themselves.

Like the Christmas Star, a light hangs in the firmament unnoticed except by the Wise; the rest see darkness.  But for them as can see it shines out. As Lewis put it: “be confident small immortals. You are not the only voice that all things utter, nor is there eternal silence in the places where you cannot come.

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