Counter Religion is Counter Terrorism.

Having spent a decent run of my adult life involved in counter terrorism, I’d like to think that I have a grasp of the fundamentals. Yet one thing always struck me as highly annoying about counter terrorism efforts. Specifically, we never targeted the fundamental religious ideas that supported Islamic terrorism.

You see, terrorism or guerrilla warfare differ significantly from conventional warfare. The job of the terrorists isn’t to come out in open force-on-force battles and take key terrain. Instead, the job of the terrorist is to harass the enemy and gain popular support. They may transition to a standing force when the conditions are right, but in the meantime they lay low, and spread dissent for the enemy.

On the other side of the battle, the idea is not to seize key terrain, but to “seize” key metrics of the population. Populations that are well fed, safe, and have access to utilities and medical services are not likely to revolt. The “battle” then, is to suppress terrorist actions (kill or capture) while ensuring a robust civil affairs program.

That’s the very, very short version of counter-terrorism. But remember how the terrorist’s job is not to openly confront the enemy? Part of this strategy includes long, long waits. Months, years, or decades are part of the plan for terrorists. And I humbly submit, when it comes to the war against fundamental Islamic terrorism, we do not attack the very idea that motivates them- their religion.

In our recent War on Terror, the idea that supported the enemy was radical Islamic idealism. As Sam Harris has said, “Mainstream Islam itself represents an extremist rejection of intellectual honesty, gender equality, secular politics and genuine pluralism. The truth about Islam is as politically incorrect as it is terrifying: Islam is all fringe and no center.”

Although we’ve “ended” the war, radical Islamic fundamentalism is still very alive and well in that region. As long as these fundamentalists continue to spread their message, their war is not over. They are just biding their time. Once the pressure is let off, they will again emerge and try to assume control. ISIS wasn’t created when Obama withdrew forces from Iraq, it simply was able to stand up and fight. And they are still there in Iran, Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere just waiting for the time to present itself.

It is the IDEA that is the key terrain in a terrorist war, not physical locations. It does no good to take and hold the high ground, or the center of government. The IDEA is where the momentum for the terrorism resides, and only by destroying and replacing the idea can we legitimately win the war.

Yes, I firmly believe we should be attacking the very idea of Islam. Naturally, there is no political will to do so. Attacking someone else’s religion is so taboo that even the most ardent supporters of human rights refuse to decry the horrific actions by extremists acting in the name of their religion. The political left in the U.S., willing to vilify anyone that speaks out against LGBTQ rights for example, will bend over backward to defend the actions of genocidal homophobia from within Islam. This is madness.

With their own stupid religions already hanging on an unsustainable precipice, the adherents of Christianity and other religions FEAR the very idea of attacking religious belief. As believers, usually of the same genocidal and petty god, they have no intellectual opposition to those that beat women for their own beliefs. They have no logical argument against the belief of Islam that doesn’t equally crumble the theology of Christianity. They occupy the same cesspool of paranoia.

EVERY. SINGLE. ARGUMENT. in defense of Islam can also be used to defend Christianity. EVERY. SINGLE. ARGUMENT. against Islam can also be used to defeat Christianity. The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but the stupidity remains.

So, instead of a military campaign designed to control the key terrain, we have waged a war to control associated areas. Instead of targeting the stupid ideas of the terrorists, our forces are required to bat around the edges of the objective, without attacking it directly. We went to Afghanistan and spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives to instill democracy. We went to Iraq and spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives to instill democracy. But the IDEA that drives terrorism still lingers, which will only threaten the democracy again one day.

If we wish to defeat Islamic fundamental terrorism, we have to target the idea. THAT is the key terrain. As noted above, Christians are ill prepared to wage this war. Their stupid ideas are just different versions of the stupid ideas of the terrorist.

On the other hand, atheism is the perfect weapon against religious fundamental terrorism. No, that doesn’t mean everyone should be an atheist, or that there is some “atheist world view.” Only religious people say stupid shit like that. What I mean is merely the IDEA of thinking for yourself in respect to the question of religion should be respected. Free speech is the opposite of blasphemy, and should be promoted as a supreme virtue. Real free speech, not this “free as long as you believe what I believe” crap.

The very IDEA that we are encouraged to challenge and investigate is the opposite of faith. Along with free speech, people should be encouraged to explore and discuss religious ideas. Real discussion, not authority figure lead indoctrination.

The very IDEA that we should be open-minded is the opposite of divine proclamation. People that haven’t had at least one core belief challenged and even destroyed in their lifetime are forever shackled with limited intellectual visibility. ALL ideas should be able to be destroyed, if they don’t uphold to scrutiny.

If you’re not familiar with military psychological operations or information operations (similar but separate operations), just think about the Russian’s effect on the US elections. Less ominous, think about our country’s attitude about children in car seats in the last 30 years. That which we used to accept as normal is now considered morally corrupt. So it is possible to noticeably sway the opinions of a population.

Similarly, our military information operation efforts in defeating radical Islamic terrorism should include ardent support of free speech, individual investigation of the world, and challenging beliefs. Fundamental adherence to any doctrine should be looked down upon, even reviled. This should additionally be reinforced in our support of new constitutions, training of lawyers and judges, and school curriculum. This is more than a civil-military strategy, this is a full-scale government operation.

Now, if you have been following politics in the US for the last two years, I can understand your skepticism toward the effect of legitimate courts and education on the advance of religious stupidity. But then again, I’m not in jail or dead for doubting religion. Mutilating your daughter’s genitalia has legal consequences here. All children are required to go to school, even if creatards are trying to erase evolution from the curriculum. So the system may not be perfect, but then again, war is a messy affair.

If we legitimately attack the key terrain of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, we could reverse the movement within a generation. If we continue this stupid policy of pretending the issue is utilities, we will miss the mark. If we can universally agree that free speech does not end at the line of religion, we can destroy the foundation of their movement. If we collectively choose to protect our own sacred cows, we will never defeat their sacred war.

The Spartan Atheist


14 thoughts on “Counter Religion is Counter Terrorism.

  1. I agree with your overall point here. Islam is extremely dangerous on a number of levels, and we should be doing whatever we can effectively do to undermine it. However, it’s best that the US government take no role in doing so, or at least no visible role. The US track record in the Middle East over the last century is such that any perceived involvement of the US government in an anti-Islam effort would discredit that effort by association. Think how the changes in US public attitudes which you cite would have been resisted if they had been openly backed by a foreign government most Americans hate. Russia’s meddling with the 2016 election would have fallen flat if it had openly presented itself as the work of the Putin regime.

    Also, taking too open a stance against Islam itself, as opposed to Islamic extremism, risks making it politically difficult for government of Muslim countries to cooperate with us. This is why, right after 9/11, Bush started talking about Islam as a “religion of peace” and saying that al-Qâ’idah didn’t represent real Islam. He certainly knew better, but it was prudent to say these things since the cooperation of some governments in Muslim countries would be useful in going after the terrorists.

    One of our most effective weapons against religion within the West is also already at work in the Middle East — mass culture. This has worked best when it doesn’t contain overt attacks on religious taboos, but contains more subtle messages like gay characters in TV shows and movies, depiction of secular world-views as normal, depictions of overtly religious characters as repulsive fanatics or ignorant buffoons, etc. Over time these things shift the perception of what is normal, and they work precisely because the audience doesn’t feel like it’s being preached to.

    More forcefully anti-religion messages will work best where they can be absorbed by individuals in private, so those individuals don’t feel they have to react in ways designed to keep up appearances. For example, the free PDF Arabic translation of Dawkins’s The God Delusion has been downloaded thirteen million times, though the book is banned throughout the Arab world. The interest is there, when people can read such ideas privately.

    ardent support of free speech, individual investigation of the world, and challenging beliefs. Fundamental adherence to any doctrine should be looked down upon, even reviled.

    These are values we should be supporting everywhere, but again, I think it’s best if that support is not perceived as coming from the US government, or the effect will immediately be undermined by justified accusations of hypocrisy. Support for free speech and challenging religious belief loses all credibility if it comes from the government that supports the most repressive theocracy on Earth, the Saudi regime, to say nothing of the long track record of backing dictators and opposing democratic reforms in the Middle East (the overthrow of Mosaddegh in 1953 is still a vivid memory among Iranians, for example).

    As for the terrorists, they’ve done a good job of destroying their own mass support, which has plummeted in the last few years. Most of the people they’ve killed have been Middle Easterners who weren’t Muslim or weren’t Muslim enough. Like most American Christians, most Middle Eastern Muslims are uncomfortable facing the revolting implications of their own religion. They’re as disgusted by the brutality of Dâ’ish (ISIL) as most Americans would be by a real enforcement of Old Testament laws.

    Respect for free speech and unfettered inquiry will erode Islam just as they’ve eroded Christianity. It’s already starting to happen. We just need to resist the temptation to push too hard too fast, and let change happen organically at the rate the society can absorb. That’s how it worked here.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Infidel. I agree with all you have said. There is no way, on one blog article, I would be able to establish a comprehensive military, political, and international strategy for combating Islamic terrorism. At best, I tried to identify the problem and offer a couple of talking points. And since you talked, and offered valid ideas, it worked!
      I agree we can’t look like we’re trying to ridicule Islam. But it should subtly be part of the program, as you noted.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oops, I had no idea how long that comment was getting. Sorry for the length.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve often thought it is a case of being afraid of pointing out the fact the Muslim ”Emperor” has no clothes, just in case they turn around and say the same about the Christian Emperor.

    Maybe, if and when the Jews admit they do not even have an Emperor, this might give the other two pause for thought?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Interesting analogy! Who knows, half of the jews are atheists already, so maybe there is hope.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When one considers the violence is merely over a piece of dirt – dirt that the archaeologists and a fair number of Israelis already know there is no good reason to fight over – they all come from the same ”stock ” after all – it is a wonder they don’t put their hands up and say let’s stop this nonsense already and sort it out like rational people.

        If the Jews could be so scrupulously honest over their ”god belief” I wonder how many generations it would take before Christians were forced to recognize the shortcomings of their own faith?

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Considering some of them, I doubt it will happen in our lifetimes.

        Besides, the evangelists need to hang onto their congregations long enough to buy their planes.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. I’ve had similar discussions with John Z, especially after all his research over the Exodus.
        The position of those who know is currently to take a back seat. or so it would seem.
        I simply cannot understand this view, especially as so many are as atheist as I am.

        So your view regarding Christians and Christianity is probably bang to rights, Nan.

        Liked by 4 people

      4. Lol! What a douche that guy is. But I disagree. Peoples opinions can change in a generation if there is a will to do so.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. John Z is John Zande … Maybe you’re thinking of John Branyan?


  5. Spartan, in this connection, have you read Why I Am Not a Muslim by Ibn Warraq? (I reviewed it here.) The book has a lot of encouraging insights into the prospects for widespread de-Islamization in the Middle East.


    1. I have not, and would do so gladly!


    2. Excellent review, Infidel. I’ll have to get a copy of the book.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. If the insanity of the monotheistic faiths is to be opposed, a new strategy must be devised. This frontal attack on religion is not working. We know it is a scam, a self-serving magical dream. Gods we will never see, but we can see life and we see death. There is no reason to believe that mortal death is not final. I think that this is the delusion that must be exposed. GROG

    Liked by 1 person

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