The entire world stopped before the Hiroshima disaster and history recalls every day the number of victims and images of devastation. But nobody stopped to acknowledge the victims of a greater catastrophe whose numbers surpass those of Hiroshima by a factor of 14. The former was a disaster that struck humanity with horror and after which treaties and campaigns were launched, initiatives and organisations were established. The latter was a disaster on a whole other scale, but ceased to become first page news.
With established scientific responsibility, I dare say that ideological weapons are the most dangerous of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the 21st century. They are the equivalent of biological weapons without noise or clamour. Bacteria and viruses that constitute the backbone of biological weapons were substituted with intellectual bacteria and ideological viruses to form the cornerstone of ideological weapons. The West speaks of the dangers of biological weapons, while the Islamic world confronts daily the uses of ideological weapons.
Wars knew biological weapons centuries ago where rivers and water wells were poisoned. In World War I, poisonous bacteria was used in order to spread illnesses and diseases and annihilate the largest numbers possible among enemy troops. In World War II, Nazi Germany used more advanced biological weapons and the armies of other Axis countries used biological bombs, killing thousands of people.
Biological weapons are terrifying weapons. According to historians, smallpox victims surpassed the victims of World War I and World War II put together. In spite of eradicating the smallpox virus in the world now, the virus is still preserved in the laboratories of the big powers.
About half-a-century after the ratification of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development of Bacteriological Weapons, Moscow and Washington began accusing each other of violating the convention and developing horrific biological weapons.
What I would like to draw attention to is that ideological weapons are also developed and there are laboratories in several intelligence services that are working on this field in order to make ideas weapons for annihilation, not for dialogue.
The ideological weapons, as I see it, use extremist ideas to annihilate vast numbers of enemies under the pretext of breaking the rules of the creed. It is a weapon which was put into use during European colonisation, then developed further by the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, after which the victorious Western powers from WWII adopted it. The policy of “Divide and conquer,” which is built on sowing religious sectarian divisions and creating a mutually exclusive formula among society’s forces and segments, is the foundation of the imperial ideological weapon. This policy has succeeded many a time in helping small colonial countries in colonising other big countries.
Strife was the first kind of ideological weapon put into practice and was behind the weakness of colonised peoples and elites towards forces of invasion and occupation. Then religious extremism gained full attention as the weapon of utmost importance in destroying the Islamic Ummah (Nation) without a fight. A victory without war.
The author of A Mosque in Munichpointed out the Nazis’ role in developing the application of this weapon. It was done through using Islamist extremists as a fifth column, working with forces abroad for the sake of ruining the state and terminating the regime and also using extremists within Muslim minorities in enemy states for the same purpose.
Hitler was defeated but the idea wasn’t crushed. It moved from Berlin to other capitals. The ideological weapon was developed to be the most lethal of weapons. The ideological weapon, that is using the extremist Muslims as a weapon in defeating Islam and Muslims, succeeded in harming almost all the Islamic countries. There is not a single Islamic country that has escaped from the clutches of terrorism and the tragedy of excessiveness and extremism.
The American war on Iraq and Afghanistan led to a historic leap in the power of terrorism and an exponential increase in the numbers of victims. According to a study made by the Watson Institute for International Affairs at Brown University in the US, more than half a million people died in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan during 10 years: a quarter of a million in Iraq and another quarter of a million in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
As for The Lancetmedical journal, it published an authoritative study in which it estimated the Iraqi death toll from the year of invasion 2003 until 2006 to be more than 650,000, including 50,000 due directly to the invasion and 600,000 killed as a result of violence erupting following the invasion. The British Opinion Research Business agency, which conducted a detailed field study, estimated the numbers of Iraqi victims from 2003 to 2007 to be about one million and 33,000!
Study centers hold the view that the real numbers are far greater than already mentioned. According to the introduction of the Brown University research paper, “Indeed, we may never know the total direct death toll in these wars.” Tens of thousands were killed in the operations of regaining Mosul and other cities from the hands of the Islamic State (IS) group, but the bodies of those casualties weren’t regained.
Statistics don’t also include those killed indirectly. If we put that into consideration, the
Iraqi death toll since the invasion could well surpass two million. Newspapers published in 2019 that IS seeks to obtain biological weapons in different parts of the Islamic world. This time the tragedy would be unlimited, combining both biological and ideological weapons. The matter is shocking and terrifying to the extent that it is better not to think about it. In this case, Muslim societies will disintegrate into groups and factions, with each group considering the other its enemy and everyone condemning the other.
The Islamic world doesn’t need more than this to witness the autumn of its life. A defeat without war. At this time, the numbers of victims of ideological weapons can’t be estimated. We will repeat what General Tommy Franks, who led the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said when asked by reporters about the number of casualties: “We don’t do body counts.”
The ideological weapons need a counter weapon to dispel the illusions ignorant extremists propagate, and resume the building of the soft power of civilisation. Culture is the foundation of the counter weapon and knowledge is the base for resuming hope.
Science is the solution.