and having the courage to act
I commend the book to you. Available here.
Do read this excerpt. I had to type it out myself for you and I didn't enjoy that, but I think he covers some critical issues. I really do. We could win all this - if we dare to. Do me a favour and please read it. Thank you.
Even if the U.S. did invade and destroy the Islamic State, American troops can't remain in Iraq forever. As soon as they left, the vacuum could well be filled by an entity very like the Islamic State. The problem that the Islamic State poses will persist as long as the United States and the West are unwilling to confront the ideology that gave ISIS its impetus in the first place.
After American troops toppled Saddam Hussein, we installed a constitution that enshrined Sharia as the highest law of the land. This was in stark contrast to what should have been done: the explicit and enforced limiting of political Islam.
There are precedents: in October 1945, U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes wrote to General Douglas MacArthur, directing him to restrict the influence of Shintoism, the ideology that had fuelled Japanese militarism, in postwar Japan:
Shintoism, insofar as it is a religion of individual Japanese, is not to be interfered with. Shintoism, however, insofar as it is directed by the Japanese government, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with. People would not be taxed to support national Shinto and there will be no place for Shintoism in the schools. Shintoism as a state religion - National Shinto, that is - will go ... Our policy on this goes beyond Shinto ... The dissemination of Japanese militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed. And the Japanese government will be required to cease financial and other support of Shinto establishments.
Allowing Islamic Sharia law into the constitution of the U.S.-created Islamic (!) Republic of Afghanistan and Republic of Iraq in 2004 and 2005 was as foolhardy as it would have been to write emperor-worship and Shinto militarism into Japan's 1946 constitution.
Also providing an example for the modern day is the nineteenth-century British General Sir Charles Napier, who when he was governor of Sindh in the British Raj was confronted by Hindu leaders angered by his prohibition of the practice of sati, the casting of widows upon their husband's funeral pyres. Napier replied,
Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation also has a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.
Of course it would be considered the height of ethnocentric impropriety to follow such examples today - either to confront ISIS on its own turf or to challenge mosques and Islamic schools in the U.S. and elsewhere to institute programs teaching against the Islamic State's core beliefs and actively discouraging young Muslims from joining it. Yet if this were done, many Muslims who don't want to live under Sharia any more than anyone else does would cast their lot with the free world; our ideas are better, our way of life is better, our civilisation is better. But no one dares say that, or act upon it.
Even if the Islamic State were defeated and eradicated, there are Muslims around the world, including [here], who share its worldview, motives, and goals. If the caliphate disappears, they will not. And if no one effectively challenges their beliefs, they will continue to wage jihad for decades to come.