Regarding my article "No Substitute for Victory": The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism in The Objective Standard, readers have brought up several questions that I'd like to answer. Among them are two of great importance: (1) Isn't the enemy stateless, i.e., without the kind of centralized political state that controlled Japan? and (2) Can religion and state be separated in Islam, which is a social-political-legal system as much as it is a religion?
I will address these issues, and others, at length in a reply to readers' comments in the forthcoming issue of The Objective Standard. But I wish to give a brief answer here in advance.
The power of a policy that states the goal of the war as eliminating State Islam is that it identifies the enemy precisely: those who use force to impose Islam politically. It states exactly what we want from the enemy: an end to his use of force. It has a successful historical precedent. It is also fully consistent with the requirements of individual rights and freedom; it does not ask us to win at the price of losing our liberty. It leads directly to a clear strategy to achieve the policy.
This policy would imply several things. First, with the stated goal as the elimination of the threat—and not a better way of life for foreign populations—we could install a ruler over Iraq, akin to the Shah in Iran, and tell him to do what is needed to control the violence—but never, ever, to attack America or threaten American interests. We are in a mess in Iraq because we took on the task of bringing freedom and prosperity to Iraqis—which never should have been our goal. Altruism led us into such a sacrifice. If we remove an enemy and the country falls into civil war, that is better than their building nuclear bombs.
Second, since political Islam—meaning, wherever Islam has achieved actual political power—would be the target, Iran would be first on the list, the goal being the elimination of the theocratic government and the installation of an America-friendly ruler. (The Saudis, given their support for Islamic law across the world, would be second on the list—and would fall into line after the example of Iran, or could be replaced.) On this policy, we would never have ended Iran's strongest regional opponent (Saddam Hussein) and tried to free his country without dealing first with the main threat next door. . . .