Intelligence Review, c1946

The Kings of Saudi Arabia and Egypt flanked by the Crown Prince of Iraq, the Presidents of Lebanon, Syria, and the heir of the King of Yemen. Cairo, c1946.

The Islamic world, in the judgment of the Military Intelligence Division of the U.S. War Department, circa 1946.  Simultaneously fascinating and depressing that the estimate of intelligence professionals sixty-four years ago is just as relevant today.

ISLAM: A THREAT TO WORLD STABILITY

With few exceptions, the states in it [the Muslim world] are marked by poverty, ignorance, and stagnation. It is full of discontent and frustration, yet alive with consciousness of its inferiority and with determination to achieve some kind of betterment.

Two basic urges meet head-on in this area, and conflict is inherent in this collision of interests. These urges reveal themselves in the daily news accounts of killings and terrorism, of pressure groups in opposition, and of raw nationalism and naked expansionism masquerading as diplomatic maneuvers.

The first of these urges originates within the Moslems’ own sphere. The Moslems remember the power with which once they not only ruled their own domains but also overpowered half of Europe, yet they are painfully aware of their present economic, cultural and military impoverishment. Thus a terrific internal pressure is building up in their collective thinking. The Moslems intend, by any means possible, to regain political independence and to reap the profits of their own resources. The Moslems intend, by any means possible, to regain political independence and to reap the profits of their own resources, which in recent times and up to the present have been surrendered to the exploitation of foreigners who could provide capital investment. The area, in short, has an inferiority complex, and its activities are thus as unpredictable as those of any individual so motivated.

The other fundamental urge originates externally. The world’s great and near-great Powers cover the economic riches of the Moslem area and are also mindful of the strategic locations of some of the domains. Their actions are also difficult to predict, because each of these powers sees itself in the position of the customer who wants to do his shopping in a hurry because he happens to know the store is going to be robbed.

In an atmosphere so sated with the inflammable gases of distrust and ambition, the slightest spark could lead to an explosion which might implicate every country committed to the maintenance of world peace…

The Present Estimate

If the Moslem states were strong and stable, their behavior would be more predictable. They are, however, weak and torn by internal stresses; furthermore, their peoples are insufficiently educated to appraise propaganda or to understand the motives of those who promise a new Heaven and a new Earth.

Because of the strategic position of the Moslem world and the relentlessness of its peoples, the Moslem states constitute a potential threat to world peace. There cannot be permanent world stability, when one-seventh of the earth’s population exists under the economic and political conditions that are imposed upon the Moslems.

— United States.  Department of War.  “Islam: A threat to world stability.” Intelligence Review No. 1, 14 February 1946. [Emphasis mine]

There are ten pages of analysis in all, you can download and read the entire document from the Federation of American Scientists, or download an excerpt of only the ten page Islam report from The Company.

Category: Historica  Tags: ,
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