Are Americans Reaching Their Limits of Nihilism?

The atrocities committed by the jihadist terror group known as the Islamic State have dominated Western media headlines over the past year and half, as did the atrocities of its predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq, for the previous decade. Academics, politicians and pundits regularly debate how such violent and barbaric groups espousing jihadi ideology can be stopped.

Graham Fuller, former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), weighed in on what will be necessary to stop the Islamic State in his essay entitled, “Are Jihadis Reaching Their Limits of Nihilism?”

Fuller notes that although “we are going witness many more horrors from these murderous jihadi groups,” in the end they are moving toward “the point of self-collapse. The clock would seem to be running out on them . . . The backlash from fellow Muslims—the only one that really counts in the long run— is underway. The West should ‘lead from behind’ to the extent possible on rolling this stuff back” because “in the end it will only be Muslims who are able to rein in such fanatical excesses within their own communities and mosques.”

President Obama has also come to the conclusion that Muslims are the ones who need to take action to stop the barbaric ideology of the Islamic State. In a recent interview he said:

“There is a violent, radical, fanatical, nihilistic interpretation of Islam by a faction—a tiny faction—within the Muslim community that is our enemy and that has to be defeated. … There is also the need for Islam as a whole to challenge that interpretation of Islam, to isolate it, and to undergo a vigorous discussion within their community about how Islam works as part of a peaceful, modern society.”

Certainly, Muslim majority countries in the Middle East are in need of reform. Many are plagued by authoritarianism, poverty, sectarianism, and the oppression of women.

What is odd, however, is that US political and intelligence elites like Fuller and President Obama do not also suggest that reform is needed even more desperately in the United States, reform that they would actually have some ability to effect.

In the same essay referenced above, Fuller somewhat casually notes that, “We know about US wars that have killed over a million Muslims over the past decade.”

Read more