The Barking of Islam Doesn’t Always Mean Ability to Harm

When on October 6, 1973 the Egyptian forces crossed the Suez Canal to attack the small Israeli contingent in the Sinai Peninsula on their holiest day, Yom Kippur, the Arab world had the latest technology the world could produce at the time. The Soviet Union, the main supplier of military equipment, was at the height of its military technology development, and in many respects it was ahead of the United States. The T-62s were the most modern tank in the war, and the Arab nations had a significant number of them; its superior armament and the night combat capabilities made it deadly effective against the American Patton tanks at the time. The Israeli forces, never slow to adopt a superior weapon, after capturing several hundred of those tanks, put them into service for the needs of the Israeli defense force. The MIG-21 fighters were superior technologically to the Israeli aircraft when operated by Russian pilots. Syria and Egypt had the latest technologies in radars, SAM batteries, and armored personnel vehicles. Adding the overwhelming superiority in numbers – three-to-one – and the element of surprise, Israel as a nation should have ceased to exist within a week after the first attack.

What the leaders of Syria and Egypt discovered within a week after the start of the war was that the latest technologies didn’t help their troops. Not that the technologies were defective; to the contrary: when Soviet pilots flew the Soviet planes, or Soviet tank commanders commanded the tanks, technology worked. It was when their own Muslims tried to work with the technology, that they messed up completely and became easy targets for their Israeli adversaries. Twenty Arab warships were sunk in different engagements without inflicting any significant damage in return. Scores of Egyptian and Syrian planes were shot down. Syrian tanks on the Golan heights, even with the new technology of night vision installed, took heavy losses to penetrate the thin line of the Israeli border patrols. All in all, the newest technology in the hands of Muslims proved to be no better than the old technologies. Within a couple of weeks, with all the technological and numerical superiority of the Muslim world, Egypt and Syria lost the war.

Contrary to the claims of modern liberal and Muslim scholars, Islam has never been friends with technology. While in its first centuries after the conquest it adopted the technologies of the conquered nations, by the 16th century Europe, as small as it was in resources and population compared to the Muslim world, emerged as the technological leader of the world, winning its battles through superior technology. The Muslim world never advanced, and by the 19th century most of its technology was at the levels of the 13th century. The British Empire didn’t need to use too many troops to keep its vast Muslim colonies in subjection; and other European powers were able to defeat the Ottoman Empire, no matter how big its population or resource base was.

This same technological inferiority of the Muslim world continues today. There are no significant Muslim universities or scientific think-tanks in the world, and there are no significant technological centers in the Muslim world. After decades of making trillions of dollars from oil, Saudi Arabia can’t organize even one university to train its own oil engineers, and has to import both engineers and personnel for its oil rigs from the US and the Philippines. The situation is not different in other other Muslim oil-producing nations.

In the same vein, with all the talk about nuclear weapons that the Ayatolahs in Iran use in their threats against the world, Iran’s nuclear technologies are still at the levels of the 1980s. Not only that, apparently Iranian engineers are unable to run their own nuclear plants: Just a few days ago, the uranium conversion plant in Isfahan reportedly suffered a serious explosion. This is two weeks after high-level commanders of the Revolutionary Guard died in a blast at a military base while transporting munitions. The Iranian government may try to suppress the leaks of information about the explosion but it reminds us of the Soviet technological achievements and Chernobyl. At the end of the day, with all the propaganda of the Soviet technological superiority, the Soviets lacked enough trained engineers to man their plants. Iran, apparently, is in the same situation today; even worse, it has to produce technologists and engineers out of a Muslim population, historically known as stagnant and averse to progress when it comes to technologies.

It all brings us to the issue that the Muslim war-rhetoric is often stronger than the ability of the Muslims to inflict damage. In fact, given the stagnant nature of Islam and its backwardness, we must understand that most of Iran’s propaganda is no more than the loud barking of a small dog – a reaction of fear rather than a threat. When American political leaders build our foreign policy, they must understand that threats do not constitute danger unless they are combined with ability; and there is very little ability in the Muslim world to inflict damage on their enemies, no matter how strong the rhetoric is. Just like in the Yom Kippur War, even when a Muslim is armed with the best technologies, it doesn’t make him dangerous.

And knowing that, we must turn to the real danger to our freedom: Our own politicians in Washington DC. They are much more dangerous than all the armies of all the Muslim world. There is no Muslim invasion that can threaten us as much as the legislative process of our own Federal government. Unless we realize that, we would keep losing our liberties while fretting about illusory threats.