Muslims, the Soviet Union and the United States

An Afghan carpet depicting the war with Soviet Union

The 2005, updated version of Michael Scheuer's Imperial Hubris is the most important book that has been written to date about the war between the United States and the Islamists led by Osama bin Laden. It provides perspectives on the conflict that are completely missing in almost any other analysis of this war. It is an absolute "must read" for anyone concerned about the future of their world, that of their children and the future world of their children's children.

For example, Scheuer puts the question of "Why do they hate us?" into its proper historical context. The people of the Soviet Union could have asked the same question about "the mujahideen" who fought them so tenaciously and successfully in Afghanistan two decades ago.

And perhaps the people of the Soviet Union heard from their leaders at that time the same false explanations that Americans are being told today by our leaders: "They hate us for who we are and what we stand for." But the Europeanism, communism and even the atheism of the Soviet people were never of any concern to the ethnically and linguistically diverse Muslim insurgent groups that defeated the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

The mujahideen hated the Soviet people because they had attacked the three things Muslims love most - their faith, their brethren and their land. These Muslims fought to keep the Soviet Union from usurping Islam in Afghanistan, from killing fellow Muslims and from physically destroying a Muslim country.

In other words, the mujahideen hated the Soviet people not for who they were but for what they had done. Its current war against the United States, Scheuer maintains, is the Afghan war of twenty years ago "writ large."

Scheuer next asks the question "Is it possible that Muslims perceive the U.S. actions in the Islamic world in a manner like that with which they perceived the Soviet actions in Afghanistan?" He then responds to his own question by saying that, "the objective answer must be yes."

In the eyes of most Muslims, America invaded, now occupies and effectively rules the Muslim states of Afghanistan and Iraq. The United States has also continuously and invariably backed Israel's occupation of Muslim Palestine.

America helped the United Nations create a new Christian state, East Timor, in Muslim Indonesia. Yet such independence is taboo for Muslim Kashmir, Muslim Chechnya and Muslim Bosnia. Furthermore, U.S. policy supports "oppression and aggression by Hindu India in Kashmir, Catholic Filipinos in Mindanao, Orthodox Christian Russians in Chechnya and Chinese communists in Xinjiang Province." America also supports "apostate" Islamic governments in Kuwait, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

The United States has imposed economic and military sanctions on Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Iran and Indonesia. These actions have led to the deaths of thousands of Muslims, many if not most of whom were children.

In the case of Pakistan, the sanctions were imposed after that country developed a nuclear weapon. Yet in two countries where Muslims are in the minority - India and Israel - sanctions were never led or even suggested by the United States when those nations developed similar nuclear weapons.

Osama bin Laden is seen by most Muslims as leading a defensive jihad to rid the Islamic world of the United States and its allies, just as he helped lead the same kind of insurgency against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Although the United States is the focal point of this jihad, bin Laden and his followers have never expressed a desire to occupy and rule countries other than Islamic ones. In other words, they are over here because we are over there.

When put into this context, Islamic attacks on America can no longer be seen as acts of terrorism. They are acts of war and parts of the long battle Muslim extremists intend to wage against the United States until they achieve their military and political objectives.

How long can such a battle be waged? Again, if the Afghan War against the Soviet Union is a precursor, this war will be waged until one side or the other is utterly defeated. The Soviets conduct in Afghanistan was incredibly brutal. The number of Afghans killed, wounded or exiled was enormous. Scheuer claims that, in proportionate terms, the Soviets inflicted more damage in Afghanistan than the Germans caused in the Soviet Union during World War II.

Yet the Soviet Union lost their war in Afghanistan. Muslim extremists were willing to do whatever it took and use any weapons made available to them in order to defeat the outsiders who they saw attacking their religion, brethren and land.

Why should Americans expect those who continue to be led by Osama bin Laden - as well as his tens of thousands of new followers - to be any less committed to defeating the United States? We should be prepared for Muslim extremists to do whatever it takes and use any weapons made available to them (including nuclear weapons and other instruments of mass destruction) to defeat America as they did the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

What, if anything, can be done about this horrendous situation? Scheuer suggests two alternatives: America can change its failed and counterproductive foreign policies or it must wage total war on Osama bin Laden and his Muslim followers in Islamic countries occupied by over a billion people. Since there is never any shortage of Americans ready and willing to instigate and support the second alternative, some of the rest of us might consider working to actualize Scheuer's first choice.

Kirk W. Tofte is the manager of the BWIA Private Investment Fund and the author of Be Principled and Grow Rich: Your Guide to Investing Successfully in Both Bull and Bear Markets. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

Related Suggestions

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Older Comments:
ME FROM UK said:
Wow! This article is great and I am sure most of us would agree with. Yes Sireee, Bob! Merica, better change it's policy otherwise we're in this for a long time. Oh and the Mericans seem to be enjoying it. How Strange?

Kirk, you have a good point and are probably right at the outset of your article, but then make the same mistake made my many a Muslim apologist. You start to ramble into incoherent, angry contradictions.

You call governments in Kuwait, Saudi, Jordan..."apostates" but then talk about the sanction on Muslims in Sudan and Syria. Don't forget the Sudanese Arabs are supporting the documented, proven genocide being carried out by the jinnjaweed. Any Syria, please! Syria is no more an Islamic government than France is Christian.

Until the Muslim apologists start to gain control of the (perhaps justifiable) anger and associated ranting, and deliver a consistent, intellectually sound argument designed for non-Muslim ears, we will continue to foster the divisiveness that drives away what we all should want - PEACE.


bravo ! at least somebody who got the point !
we do not want your "freedom" and/or your ways of live, we only regonize God Almighty as our ruler, we follow stict His Rules, for Him we fight, for Him we die, Inshallah (God Willing).

I think the article is amazing,the book has sparked a massive intrest withinn me also.
i agree with Scheuer's views regarding the muslim america hostility. the problem is many civalians will get caught in the cross fire, if things are not done properly, the american people have to realise, that muslims have no issues with them, it is their government we have issues with, america is supposed to be a democratic state, i think its time the american people excersised their democratic rights, by kicking bush out of office. so long as that man is their president, i anticipate grief and war for all america's simply because they will be caught in the cross fire.

We muslims are live and let live people, when our lands are occupied, our sisters raped, our men imprisoned because bush felt the urge to do so, when our children are killed, and the whole world turns a blind eye, people like osama bin laden and his supporters will do something about it, "by any means neccessary" as malcom X said.

muslims have been asleep far to long, during this slumber, their faith has been attacked, the kaliphate turned corrupt, but the amazing part is, muslims world wide are waking up en masse.

We may not have the military power, or a leader or a concrete government, but we have faith,

when material things fail to uplift the morale of men, faith uplifts the morale in the heart.

and this is the true weapon of war,muslims are enthuisiastic for different reasons.

To conclude

One mans terrorist, is another mans freedom fighter.

Zahra (Umm ihsan)


Iam just wondering did they wage war Against Terrorists or Freedom fighters?

I have come to my own conclusion on who is a terrorist and who is not.

Muslims never attacked America and never will. But America attacked Muslims and their Faith Islam, and plundered their wealth. One might argue that Muslims can be defeated in certain circumstances,But Islam can never be defeated.

I just happen to call the Terrorists Freedom fighters. We all know this I will just be the first to admit it.

This was a well-written and persuasive piece. Most Americans see our reasons for going into Afghanistan as much different than the reasons the Soviet Union entered. We need to realize is that what we think is not nearly as important as the perceptions in the Muslim world. It doesn't matter whether we think a given action is justified if we have to fight a local populace supporting committed fighters who feel otherwise.

Just as we entered Iraq without a clear understanding regarding the motivations of the Muslim world, Osama attacked the US without a clear understanding of what motivates us. Our economic and thus our physical security depend on having reliable business contacts with the oil in the ME. This has led us to support some regimes that, in spite of being less than democratic, were not openly hostile, or not aligned with the Soviet Block. I assume that at least some of the support for the Jewish State came as a response to the atrocities of the holocaust. These actions, among others were not without their political cost. The most obvious and the most erroneous is the notion that the US is out to exterminate Islam. The other notion is that by attacking the US, Osama can get us out of the ME. If we are involving ourselves out of our insecurity, attacking is going to drive us to intensify our involvement.

So here are two erroneous assumptions that have resulted in exactly the opposite reaction from that which was intended. The US is more involved in the ME than ever and the US is hated in the ME more than ever and its supply of oil is even more threatened.



The coonclusion of the author is a good advice to the Americans especially the non-muslims.

Wisen up buddies, there aint much time remaining!

I suppose the United States could put more of an effort into trusting its allies to defend their own way of life. In this way 'the enfranchised' if you like would basically be left to bear the responsibility for the decisions made by those who end up leading them. Honestly said they already are (as are we all). Plus, seemingly, in a prolonged and widespread campaign - against whomever - there would come to be more of 'the enfranchised' than fewer. At least on average among the winners.