During World War I, Germany Tried to Weaponize Radical Islam against Its Enemies

As the 19th century entered its last decades, Germany—in contrast to France and Britain—had no colonies in the Arab world, and unlike either these powers or Russia, had no designs on the Ottoman empire’s territory. It therefore sought an alliance with the sultan, which, Wolfgang Schwanitz argues, would have long-lasting consequences.

Kaiser Wilhelm II . . . feared that Germany’s neighbors would import soldiers from abroad and use them in Europe against Germany. The Kaiser developed a new policy: align with the Ottomans, and, in case of an all-out war in Europe, turn Muslims against their colonial masters.

After the Kaiser’s trip to the Ottoman empire in 1898, [this evolved into an] “official Islam policy.” The Kaiser’s [challenge] was to avoid Islamist revolts in his own colonial areas while inciting them in his neighbors’ colonial territories. Germany did not have colonies in the Middle East, so his rivals would need to send colonial soldiers from Europe to put down any revolts overseas.

These ideas came to fruition when World War I broke out in 1914, and Germany found itself fighting Russia, France, and Britain simultaneously:

Oppenheim penned a plan for the Kaiser in early November 1914: The Revolutionizing of Islamic Areas of Our Foes. According to the text, the sultan would call for jihad against the Allies. Berlin would deliver money, experts, and guns. The Germans would seek to galvanize Muslims in British India, French North Africa, and Russian Asia, in addition to all Muslims in the enemies’ armies. The call to jihad would go out in their languages. Berlin would create an Oriental News Organization with up to 75 “reading halls” in the Ottoman empire. . . . Expeditions would be sent out to incite local jihad by fatwas that prepare for revolts from Kabul to India.

Now, 100 years later, the legacy of the German-Ottoman alliance and call for Islamist revolts endures.

Read more at Foreign Policy Research Institute

More about: Germany, Jihad, Ottoman Empire, World War I

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus