On the anniversary of the Battle of Heliopolis, Barack Hussein Obama stopped by the Pentagon to tell everyone there that their big guns couldn’t beat ISIS because "Ideologies are not defeated with guns”.
This would be news to the American GIs that beat Nazism, not with hashtags, but with bullets. WW2 propaganda, much of it of a crude nature that would make a modern sophisticated progressive turn up his nose, helped boost morale, but it was the firepower that took down Adolf’s armies.
On a July 6th, long ago, the Muslim hordes that were the ISIS of the day defeated Byzantium in the Battle of Heliopolis. Since this was the 7th century, it is safe to say that there were no hashtags involved. The outcome of that battle however is the reason why Obama’s middle name is Hussein instead of Harry.
The Battle of Heliopolis gave the Caliphate control of Egypt and opened the gates to Africa. Islam was the last man standing among the ruins of empires and it proceeded to enslave, oppress and convert by force to expand its ranks in a manner quite similar to its modern ISIS successor.
Obama isn’t wrong when he suggests that ideas need to be defeated with ideas. But they’re not the ideas that he has in mind. ISIS’ idea is that its enemies are subhuman cretins and that its victories are inevitable. Obama’s idea is that we are a deeply flawed and racist nation, but still sorta better than ISIS.
The only people inspired by that idea are the Americans converting to Islam and joining ISIS.
The uncertainty of the Byzantine Empire doomed it to defeat at the Battle of Heliopolis. The Muslim invaders benefited once again from a united front while their enemies were divided and quarreling among themselves. Without these divisions among Christians, between Christians and Jews, and the various pagan tribes, Islam would never have become anything other than an obscure silly cult.
At the Pentagon, Obama stated, "Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas. We will never be at war with Islam." He isn’t talking about uniting us behind a better idea. Instead he would like Muslims to unite behind some sort of better idea. It’s not clear what that idea is, but he can tell us that it doesn’t involve accepting the reality that we are being attacked in the name of Islam.
Obama wants to fight ISIS in a battle of ideas without having any ideas. It’s like being unarmed in a battle of wits, except it’s more like the witless trying to fight a battle of ideas while being shot at.
Like the Byzantine Empire, we’re a divided people wearied by war and burdened with poor leaders. The 7thcentury ISIS that beat them wasn’t so much tactically brilliant as it used daring and deception to exploit opportunities created by the incompetence and demoralization of a falling empire.
Obama is speaking in terms of an ideological thirty years war, saying, “This larger battle for hearts and minds is going to be a generational struggle.” But like the armies of the Caliph pouring through the porous borders of a retreating empire, ISIS is moving far too quickly to wait around that long.
Liberal foreign policy experts give a great deal of credit to its social media presence while misunderstanding its significance. The Islamic State’s use of social media to message, recruit and gloat is part of its larger tactical strength as a mobile and adaptable organization. ISIS isn’t winning the war on Twitter. It’s using Twitter the way that it adapts and uses everything else that it comes across.
ISIS is not winning because it has the better hashtags. It’s winning because it’s utterly ruthless. Arguing about its ideology on social media not only misses the point about ISIS, it misses the point about Islam.
Islam did not build a worldwide empire by winning theological arguments. It won by winning. Islam is not an empire of faith. It is an empire of war that divides the world up into the Dar-al-Islam and the Dar-al-Harb; the House of Islam and the House of War. Harb originally meant sword. When ISIS beheads prisoners, it is meting out the same treatment that Mohammed did to those in the House of War.
Indeed Mohammed’s sword, one of them at any rate as he had quite a few, was named Dhu al-Faqar or "Cleaver of Vertebrae". This is the same sword that appeared on the war flags of the Ottoman Caliphate which, like Obama’s middle name, would never have existed if the Byzantine Empire hadn’t lost the war.
The Cleaver of Vertebrae, like the House of War, is one of those dividing elements of Islamic ideology. It divides the world between Islam and everyone else and divides heads from bodies. It is the central idea of Islam that we need a better idea to fight if we intend to keep our own heads.
Islamic ideas are simple, rather than sophisticated. They depend on tribalism and terror to mobilize force. They rely on honor and shame to mark defeats and victories. The only way to argue with them is on those same terms. Islam’s only big idea is that power is religion and victory is proof of its rightness.
The theological counterargument to the Islamic State is crushing it on the battlefield.
Obama’s Hearts and Minds strategy tries to win the war by losing it, putting us at a strategic disadvantage with restrictive rules of engagement on the battlefield to win over Muslims while potential ISIS recruits are shipped into the United States by the hundreds of thousands as Muslim immigrants.
If this “generational struggle” for “hearts and minds” fails, as it must, then we will be in the same position as the old Byzantine Empire, exhausted, weary of war, fighting among ourselves and ready for defeat after having filled our countries with enemies while turning our soldiers into social workers.
Not even the worst leaders of the Byzantine Empire were as foolish as that.
Even now the war is on again for Egypt as ISIS fights in the Sinai. The Islamic Caliphate forces that defeated Byzantium passed through the Sinai. Their armies were invigorated by Sinai Bedouins joining them. Today the Islamic State once again wages war in the Sinai using the Bedouin.
Obama speaks of offering “a more attractive, more compelling vision”, but what does he have to offer that can compete with the reunification of the lands of Islam and the dominance of a Caliph? He has already tried offering his ideas in Cairo. Today Egyptians hate both him and his ideas.
The Battle of Heliopolis on a July 6th long ago shows us that the best way to defeat an enemy is not by appeasing it, but by fighting it with a united front. It was the Democrats who shattered the nation’s unity after September 11 by standing up for terrorists. Obama continues that tradition today as he tells us that we can’t win because our enemies are our friends and that we disgusting intolerant bigots.
America does not need to win the hearts and minds of Muslims. It needs to win the hearts and minds of its own people. We do not need the goodwill of those who believe that we are less than human. What we need is confidence in our nation, our values and ourselves. The best antidote to July 6th is July 4th.
A strong and united nation can see off any number of barbarian raiders. A divided civilization struggling over bitter grudges can easily be divided and conquered even by bands of worthless murderous savages.
The ideas for defeating ISIS are those which unite us, which make us stronger and which resist foreign invasion. The ideas that make it easier for ISIS to defeat us can be found in any Obama speech.