Hitch goes there. His task is made harder by some nuttiness of the Horowitz brigades. But his points are still valid, I'd say:
The most obvious points of comparison would be these: Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind. ("Death to the intellect! Long live death!" as Gen. Francisco Franco's sidekick Gonzalo Queipo de Llano so pithily phrased it.) Both are hostile to modernity (except when it comes to the pursuit of weapons), and both are bitterly nostalgic for past empires and lost glories. Both are obsessed with real and imagined "humiliations" and thirsty for revenge. Both are chronically infected with the toxin of anti-Jewish paranoia (interestingly, also, with its milder cousin, anti-Freemason paranoia). Both are inclined to leader worship and to the exclusive stress on the power of one great book. Both have a strong commitment to sexual repressionespecially to the repression of any sexual "deviance"and to its counterparts the subordination of the female and contempt for the feminine. Both despise art and literature as symptoms of degeneracy and decadence; both burn books and destroy museums and treasures.
The bigger analytic problem is the nation-state, which Hitch acknowledges. He's also sharp on the desire for "purity" of various kinds. Then this:
Both these totalitarian systems of thought evidently suffer from a death wish. It is surely not an accident that both of them stress suicidal tactics and sacrificial ends, just as both of them would obviously rather see the destruction of their own societies than any compromise with infidels or any dilution of the joys of absolute doctrinal orthodoxy. Thus, while we have a duty to oppose and destroy these and any similar totalitarian movements, we can also be fairly sure that they will play an unconscious part in arranging for their own destruction, as well.
Yes! Which is why our strategy to defeat them cannot solely rely on our force. Their weakness is their fanaticism. They wear out their welcome in places like Jordan and Anbar. They're losing the p.r. battle among Muslims. Our job - and it is not an easy one - is to attack them where they are weakest, facilitate divisions between them and other Muslims and refuse to be baited in self-defeating ways. I.e., I'm afraid, Iraq.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.