It is a strange alliance between radical secular leftists and violent Islamists. According to Michael Ledeen in his CRB essay “The New War Against America,” this alliance is based on a common objective: the destruction of the United States and the ushering in of a new revolutionary age.
That the parties to this alliance understand the end of this revolution differently provides a fissure to crack – but we must first see this enemy alliance for what it is. Ledeen, the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, reviews the alliance – its members, methods, goals – and calls on us to meet the threat with a grand strategy. Ledeen concludes his essay with the following thought:
As we grope toward understanding and then toward a winning strategy, one lesson from the Cold War should shape our thinking. We long debated the nature of our enemy. Were we fighting a Communist mass movement, or a traditional empire, commanded from Moscow? Should we concentrate our efforts on “the war of ideas” or on militarily containing the empire? I am not sure we ever answered those important questions, but when the Soviet Empire fell, Communism’s mass appeal was dealt a severe blow.
Messianic movements, whether explicitly religious or seemingly secular and “scientific,” read history’s tea leaves for proof that their efforts are blessed. No matter if the blessings come from the god of the dialectic or Allah, victory today confirms belief in the glory of tomorrow. Defeat thus opens fissures within the ranks, for they ask themselves, and their leaders, whether and why the cause has been abandoned by the Prime Mover. Jihadis recruit well when bin Laden strikes America, but there are fewer candidates for cannon fodder when al-Qaeda is smashed in Iraq, or the Taliban routed from its seats of power in Afghanistan. We have many opportunities, and these will expand if we are able to demonstrate that we can defeat the global alliance. The central element is clearly Iran: the Islamic Republic’s downfall would change the world.
To Ledeen’s essay I would add a footnote referring interested readers to David Horowitz’s 2004 look at the phenomenon on the home front: Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left.