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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 23-Jun-07
1946 Intelligence Report: Islam - A Threat to World Stability

Web Log - June, 2007

1946 Intelligence Report: Islam - A Threat to World Stability

This report clarifies a lot of today's world.

The 1946 Intelligence Report, which is posted on Daniel Pipes' web site, is a thorough examination of the world at that time, just after the end of World War II. It was confidential at the time of its publication by Military Intelligence Service of the U.S. War Department, and was declassified in 1979.

I strongly urge everyone to read the entire report, as it contains amazing information about many countries of the world as viewed by hardnosed intelligence officers of 1946. In this article, we're going to focus on just the fourth chapter, "Islam: A threat to world stability."

The right frame of mind

As you read the excerpts from this report, try to put yourself in the frame of mind of the people living at that time. The world was still traumatized from the horror of World War II, and only a few short months had passed since America had dropped nuclear weapons on Japanese cities.

Much of the world was still on the verge of starvation because of the war:

"The world is facing an acute food shortage in 1946. Supplies are currently short in every important item, including grains, meats, sugar, and fats and oils. Unless foods are carefully allocated and equitably distributed, the people of many areas will be forced to subsist on supplies inadequate to insure against disease and unrest. ...

The 1945 wheat crops failed to meet the expectations of most of the European governments. The disappointing harvest was caused, in part, by inadequate plantings, insufficient fertilizer, and unfavorable weather. Some agricultural areas had been battlefields. Farmer hoarding, inadequate transport, and black market operations, accompanied by a breakdown in collection and distribution procedures and other governmental weakness in a number of countries, further contributed to low grain collections." (p. 44)

Even worse, many people felt that after two world wars, a third world war with Communism was not far behind. As Hannah Arendt wrote in the introduction to her 1950 book, The Origins of Totalitarianism:

"Two world wars in one generation, separated by an uninterrupted chain of local wars and revolutions, followed by no peace treaty for the vanquished and no respite for the victor, have ended in the anticipation of a third World War between the two remaining world powers. This moment of anticipation is like the calm that settles after all hopes have died. ...

Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest -- forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries. ...

We can no longer afford to take that which was good in the past and simply call it our heritage, to discard the bad and simply think of it as a dead load which by itself time will bury in oblivion. The subterranean stream of Western history has finally come to the surface and usurped the dignity of our tradition. This is the reality in which we live. And this is why all efforts to escape from the grimness of the present into nostalgia for a still intact past, or into the anticipated oblivion of a better future, are vain."

The 1946 Intelligence Report on Islam

So, having set the mood for you, let's now take a look at what the 1946 Intelligence Report had to say about Islam:

Islam: A Threat to World Stability

"The Moslem world sprawls around half the earth, from the Pacific across Asia and Africa to the Atlantic, along one of the greatest of trade routes; in its center is an area extremely rich in oil; over it will run some of the most strategically important air routes.

With few exceptions, the states which it includes are marked by poverty, ignorance, and stagnation. It is full of discontent and frustration, yet alive with consciousness of its inferiority and with determination to achieve some kind of general betterment.

By today's standards, this was an extremely insensitive view of Muslims, but it's actually just the opposite of what it first seems. America has always been an extremely idealistic nation, believing that people who try to better themselves can do so. The report emphasizes the poverty and lack of education of many Muslims, but also says that they can better themselves, as Americans did.

More important, the analysis now becomes much more specific:

"Two basic urges meet head-on in this area, and conflict is inherent in this collision of interests. These urges reveal themselves in daily news accounts of killings and terrorism, of pressure groups in opposition, and of raw nationalism and naked expansionism masquerading as diplomatic maneuvers. The urges tie together the tangled threads of power politics which — snarled in the lap of the United Nations Assembly — lead back to the centers of Islamic pressure and to the capitals of the world’s biggest nations.

The first of these urges originates within the Moslems’ own sphere. The Moslems remember the power with which once they not only ruled their own domains but also overpowered half of Europe, yet they are painfully aware of their present economic, cultural, and military impoverishment. Thus a terrific internal pressure is building up in their collective thinking. The Moslems intend, by any means possible, to regain political independence and to reap the profits of their own resources, which in recent times and up to the present have been surrendered to the exploitation of foreigners who could provide capital investments. The area, in short, has an inferiority complex, and its activities are thus as unpredictable as those of any individual so motivated."

Fast growth of Muslim populations

This brings us the major conundrum about Muslims of the world: Why have Muslim populations -- Sunni Muslim populations in particular -- been growing twice as fast as Christian and other populations?

Here are the figures, from the The CIA Factbook, 2005:

         Population Growth Rate

***** Western countries: United States 0.92% United Kingdom 0.28% France 0.37% Germany 0.00% Israel 1.20%

***** Other non-Muslim countries: Russia -0.37% Burma 0.42% China 0.58% Thailand 0.87% India 1.40% Mongolia 1.45%

***** Muslim countries: Iran 0.86% (Shia Muslim) Indonesia 1.45% (Below all Sunni Muslim) Uzbekistan 1.67% Turkmenistan 1.81% Syria 2.45% Saudi Arabia 3.27% West Bank 3.3% Gaza Strip 3.89% Pakistan 2.01% Qatar 2.61% Kuwait 3.44% Yemen 3.45%

According to the 1946 Intelligence Report, Muslims comprised 14% of a world population 2.2 billion. Today, the world population is 6.5 billion, and Muslims comprise over 20%.

Why have Muslim populations been growing so much more quickly?

I've asked many Muslims this question, and have never gotten an answer. But the last paragraph from the report, quoted above, provides support for my personal favorite theory.

You may recall that in mid-April I posted an article about the coming election in Turkey, and I summarized the history of Turkey since the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

The fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks is (arguably) the most important worldwide event of the last millennium. It catapulted the Ottoman Empire into a series of successful wars that spread Islam across much of the world.

So the destruction of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I was a cataclysmic disaster for Sunni Muslims. Turkey turned into a secular state, rejecting even symbols of Islam, and ended the worldwide Sunni Muslim Caliphate, centered in Istanbul.

So now we see the meaning of these sentences from the report: "The Moslems remember the power with which once they not only ruled their own domains but also overpowered half of Europe, yet they are painfully aware of their present economic, cultural, and military impoverishment. Thus a terrific internal pressure is building up in their collective thinking."

This, then, is my theory for why the Sunni Muslim population has been growing twice as fast as the rest of the world: The "internal pressure" turned into a pressure on men and women to have as many children as possible.

For some reason, some people recoil in horror when I provide this explanation, and yet it's really quite reasonable and makes a lot of sense. Everyone agrees that social pressure, especially on women, plays a big part in any family and in any society -- in the ways in which families live, even in the names they give their children. So it's quite reasonable that societal pressure influence men and women as to how big their families should be.

So when the report says that Muslims intend, "by any means possible, to regain political independence," it seems to me that having many children to fight in the next war is exactly what would be done.

You may notice from the list of population growth rates above that the population growth rate in Gaza is 3.89% - almost the highest in the world, in a small strip of land that's almost the most densely populated in the world. It's hard to get past the feeling that the people of Gaza have been purposely having as many children as possible, in preparation for a war with Israel. That appears to be how the world works.

Over the decades I've heard and read many theories about birth rates -- that poor people have fewer children, that poor people have more children, that Catholics have more children than Protestants (referring to the use of contraceptives), and others. Having lots of children gives a country or society a great deal of power.

The report has thus described the first of the "urges [that] reveal themselves in daily news accounts of killings and terrorism, of pressure groups in opposition, and of raw nationalism and naked expansionism masquerading as diplomatic maneuvers."

This is not a kind appraisal by today's standards, but go back to the beginning of this article and see again how differently people in 1946 looked at the world.

Map of the Muslim world, from the 1946 Intelligence Report.
Map of the Muslim world, from the 1946 Intelligence Report.

Islam - Strengths and weaknesses

The Intelligence report continues with the reasons for "killings and terrorism ... and ... raw nationalism and naked expansionism masquerading as diplomatic maneuvers":

"The other fundamental urge originates exteranlly. The world's great and near-great Powers covet the economic riches of the Moslem area and are also mindful of te strategic locations of some of the domains. Their actions are also difficult to predict, because each of these Powers sees itself in the position of the customer who wants to do his shopping in a hurry because he happens to know that the store is going to be robbed."

So the authors of this report are just as hard on the non-Muslim nations, painting them as a gang of robbers and thieves ready to take advantage of and plunder the Muslim countries.

You just know that this has to end badly. The report continues:

"In an atmosphere so sated with the inflammable gases of distrust and ambition, the slightest spark could lead to an explosion which might implicate every country committed to the maintenance of world eace through the United Nations Organization. An understanding of the Moslem world and of the stressas and forces operative within it is thus an essential part of the basic intelligence framework."

The report goes on to give a brief history of the Muslims, and then a list of strengths and weaknesses. The weaknesses include the following:

Next, the report turns to the strengths of the Muslim community:

Today we can see that both of these "forces" were justified. The hatred of British and American involvement in the Mideast was a major motivating factor for al-Qaeda and Hizbollah, and remains so today.

And it was two years after the report -- on May 15, 1948 -- that the state of Israel was created. Palestinians today still commemorate May 15 every year as "Al Naqba - Catastrophe Day."

However, it would be a mistake to believe, as some do, that if there hadn't been a state of Israel, or if there had been no Jews, then there would be no problems today in the Mideast.

As the report said a few paragraphs earlier: "The Iranian has always looked upon the Arab as a wild man and upon the Turk as a 'son of a dog'; the Turk in turn considers the Iranian a degenerate but agrees with his views of the Arab; and so goes the cycle of animosity. These mutual dislikes have existed for centuries, but they have a deeper meaning in the present era of nationalism."

What this paragraph indicates is that, without Israel, and even without Jews, the Mideast would still be building to a new war. In fact, we can see that already in the Palestinian civil war, as well as the increasing hostility between Iran and Syria on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan on the other.

The chapter concludes with a final estimate:

"If the Moslem states were strong and stable, their behavior would be more predictable. They are, however, weak and torn by internal stresses; furthermore, their peoples are insufficiently educated to appraise propaganda or to understand the motives of those who promise a new Heaven and a new Earth.

Because of the strategic position of the Moslem world and the relentlessness of its peoples, the Moslem states constitute a potential threat to world peace. There cannot be permanent world stability, when one-seventh of the earth’s population exists under the economic and political conditions that are imposed upon the Moslems."

What's remarkable about this report is how prescient it was.

This 1946 assessment of Islam was just a 10-page chapter in a larger Intelligence Report, but those 10 pages foresaw every major problem the world faces today in the Mideast. In fact, it could even be said that they predicted the Clash of Civilizations world war, long before Samuel Huntington did.

The irrelevance of politics

Many people blame today's problems on President Bush or the Iraq war or the Afghan war or President Clinton's policies. I heard several pundits this week blame the Hamas takeover of Gaza on President Bush's not "being engaged" in the Mideast process, whatever the Mideast process is supposed to be.

Well, President Harry Truman got "engaged" in the Mideast process in 1948, when he supported the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. And so, "being engaged" doesn't necessarily lead to peace.

It's clear from the 1946 Intelligence Report that everything happening today was known then. The only thing that's changed is that new generations of kids have come along. These kids have absorbed the resentment and fury of their parents, and are willing to do something about it, where their parents and grandparents were not. But the resentment and fury has been there all along -- at least since the destruction of the Ottoman Empire in 1921, and arguably at least as far back as 1689, when the Ottomans disastrously lost the War with the Holy League.

If you don't think that anyone cares about a war that happened centuries ago, then remember that Americans are constantly referring back to our own Revolutionary War and the principles on which it was fought. Great concepts and ideas can last for many centuries. And the French speak constantly of the French Revolution.

This is something that even many people who have some familiarity with generational theory don't understand, even those who have read works by William Strauss and Neil Howe, the founding fathers of generational theory. A basic principle of their work, as well as of Generational Dynamics, is that politicians have no predictable effect on the major events that are coming. It's completely a waste of time to argue about politics, since nothing that any politician does or doesn't do, says or doesn't say, can have any predictable effect on what's coming.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, every major event happening today has been in the cards for decades, and maybe even centuries.

You can't stop what's going to happen, but you can prepare for it. That's why I keep saying: Treasure the time you have left, and use the time to prepare yourself, your family, your community and your nation. (23-Jun-07) Permanent Link
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