Information Warfare: The Master Race Is Misunderstood


September 26, 2014: The Arab world has decided that an Islamic radical organization, ISIL ((Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) is a major threat. Saudi Arabia in particular is extremely hostile to ISIL. The problem here is that most Westerners misunderstand why the Saudis oppose ISIL. It’s not about violence or power but religious authority. In July ISIL declared a caliphate. This is a religious dictatorship that is the supreme religious and civil authority for all Moslems. This was the earliest form of government in Islam but the last real caliphate disappeared over a thousand years ago and numerous efforts to revive it since then have failed. The closest thing to a caliphate is whoever controls the most holy Islamic shrines in the cities of Mecca and Media. These are in Saudi Arabia and the Saud family justifies its rule because it is the custodian (and a pretty competent one) of those shrines. But that rule does not extend outside of Saudi Arabia. For that the Saudis use the prestige from being custodian to exercise some influence over all Moslems. ISIL wants to take that away and kill all members of the Saud family it can get to.

In the last few years Iran has suggested that it would make a better guardian of the shrines and that dispute was temporarily put aside when ISIL appeared on the scene. While both the Saudis and Iran support a violent (the Saudis use beheading for capital punishment) and intolerant form of Islam they feel ISIL overdoes both the violence and intolerance and makes all Moslems look bad. Also ISIL is seen by most Moslems as unsuitable as the leader of a new caliphate. Actually most Moslems have doubts about the Saudis or Iranians ruling all of Islam, with or without declaring a caliphate. For most Moslems restoring the caliphate is a sort of fairytale and not a realistic goal.

This dispute over the caliphate is another example of the major problem with Islam, which is the quality of the leadership. It's all about credibility and Moslem, especially Arab, leaders don't have a whole lot. That fact that most of them are despotic tyrants doesn't help much. Guys like this are accustomed to saying whatever they want, and killing anyone who objects. Free speech issues aside, the result is the tendency of Arab leaders to support fantasies and deceptions, and do so for decades. They support each other’s illusions as a form of professional courtesy.

Since Islam doesn’t have a central religious authority, a powerful leader can “influence” (bribe or threaten) lots of Islamic scholars and clerics to support him. Those who become a problem either disappear or flee into exile and, usually, become irrelevant. This approach works, after a fashion, for domestic affairs but is a bust when it comes to uncooperative foreigners. For example Arabs have always had a hard time dealing with the reality of Israel. Thus Arab leaders calling for Israel to renounce its identity as a "Jewish State," blithely ignore the fact that virtually all Arab states enshrine Islam in their constitutions in some fashion, thereby essentially making them "Moslem States." The basic problem is that Islam believes it not only has the right to be intolerant but that no one else can do that, especially if it means treating Moslems as anything less than the master race.

This preference for illusion over reality leads to things like Arab support for the slaughter of Moslems in Darfur, and wide scale Arab belief that the September 11, 2001 attacks were a CIA/MOSSAD plot, and that the Nazis didn't kill six million Jews during World War II. The most current absurdity is the increasingly popular (in Iran and Arabia) that ISIL is actually the creation of the West or Israel. Note that most Arabs (at least the majority who are Sunni) had no problem when ISIL was killing non-Sunnis and non-Moslems. But once ISIL declared that no Moslem was a real Moslem unless they recognized ISIL as their ruler in all matters that support evaporated.

How do non-Moslems deal with situations like this? Very carefully.





Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close