On November 2, 1981, General Leopoldo Galtieri of Argentina addressed leading Republican party members at a luncheon in Washington D.C. In his address, Galtieri said: "The First World War was a confrontation of armies. The second was a confrontation of nations. The third is a confrontation of ideologies."
In today's world, four years after Galtieri's death, those words have developed a wider resonance, as significant as Samuel P. Huntingdon's now-famous phrase and thesis from 1993, "the Clash of CIvilizations".
Huntingdon stated that the civilization clash will not be ideological, but cultural. Yet in the threat currently posed to the Free World, a cultural clash is being driven by extremist ideology. For most Muslims, Islam is cultural and rarely political, yet for Islamists, a ruthless political ideology is seeking to create conflict. The ideologues of Islamism draw from the cultural history of Islam, selectively interpreting religious texts to justify Holy War. By proclaiming a strict adherence to these religious texts, they aim to drive the cultures of Western freedom and the cultures of Muslim peoples into an irreversible conflict, certain that Islam will prevail. The methodology of Islamists may differ - from the political insinuations of the Muslim Brotherhood to the violent actions of Al Qaeda - but the ultimate aim is still the same: subjugation of non-Muslim cultures through conflict.
Last November, general John Abizaid, head of US CentCom, spoke at Harvard. He said: "We must defeat the extremism of bin Laden and his associated movement. It's murderous. It's ruthless. It's very capable. It's got strength as a network unlike any nonstate actor [the world] has ever seen before. We've got to defeat it... Think of it as an opportunity to confront fascism in 1920 if only we'd had the guts to do it then. I believe that if we don't have guts enough to confront this ideology today, we will move toward World War III tomorrow."
General Abizaid was discussing the need to prepare for a long war in Iraq. He said: "We can walk away from this enemy, but they will not walk away from us." He listed the three major challenges to the world - the conflict between Arabs and Israel, the rise of extremist groups and what he called "Shia revolutionary thought".
Last week, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran and a firm believer in "Shia revolutionary thought", was in New York. His speech at Columbia University was not as well-received as he had hoped. Ahmadinejad may not be the most powerful individual in Iran, as that role is reserved for the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Despite this Ahmadinejad has, since his election as sixth president on June 28, 2005, been involved in implementing programs which have added to the instability of the Middle East.
Within Iran, he has used the vigilante "Bassij" group to enforce his policies at street level, and to mount fake "demonstrations" for media consumption. Since October 25, 2005, onwards Ahmadinejad has ranted about "wiping Israel off the map", and he has denied the Holocaust (ideas he repeated at Columbia). His Revolutionary Guards, in which he formerly served as a commander, have set up a regiment of volunteer suicide bombers, called the Setad Pasdasht Shohadaye Nehzat Jahani Islam or Committee for the C