Is a Muslim vs non-Muslim WWIII on the horizon?

I’ve contemplated posing this question for discussion for some time now. This article ended my procrastination. An excerpt:

My question is—and let’s make believe that both Bush and Clinton were never in the White House (I’m trying to take domestic politics out of this)—is it inevitable that the future will see a large-scale World War that pits Muslims against non-Muslims?

Obviously,the article I cited does not make the case for this by itself, but it is indicative of a problem we are seeing more and more of: certain Muslim sects being intolerant of non-Muslims and thinking that they are religiously mandated to kill them. Whether it’s Indonesia or Sudan or many other countries, it is becomingly frighteningly clear that given the growing number of Muslims, the growing population in general, and the horrific extremes some sects of Muslims feel obligated to venture into, that the world will not be able, or willing, to tolerate this forever.

So, is it coming? If so, when? And please try not to make this a partisan issue. I think it is much larger than anyone who has held office in the past four, twelve or twenty years.

No. The sects you’re talking about are also intolerant of most other Muslims and many have the tendency to attack them. I think that makes it impossible that they’ll ever control enough governments for that kind of thing to happen. If they’re dealt with properly, their intolerance and their suicidal nature will force them to the fringes and then off the the fringes. When suicide bombers blow up cars in Iraqi marketplaces, the people who have friends and family members hurt or killed or businesses destroyed are not pursuaded that jihad is the way to go.

Consider how fractious the Muslim world is on its own. If Muslim Country X started lobbing crowd-pleasers at the West [or even Israel] I don’t think it would win the support of nations like Turkey or Egypt, which rely on relatively warm ties [aid] from us. Additionally, no force on Earth, even Russia, could make a preemptive strike with the capacity to eradicate our second-strike capability, which of course, is why deterrence has held for more than half a century.

Also there is the matter of force projection in a conventional war. America and its Coalition of the Somewhat Willing can cut straight in and seize the capital of any Muslim country where needed in a handful of days or hours [not considering the aftermath here, of course, because we never do].

Consider this handy Lincoln quote which I think still applies today [even with most of our army abroad]

When you see Muslim violence and separatism in a variety of places, do not make the mistake of identifying a single ideological evil. That’s what we’ve got in the news now because of all the Cold Warriors running the show.

Hopefully with some fresh blood [on the walls, floor &c], we’ll turn a page in our dealings with that world.

First, it’s WWIV. WWIII was the Capitalist-Communist war, hot & cold, from 1945 to 1989. (Captain John Birch was the first fatality :smiley: )

To the exact Q- yep, except I hope that it will be Jihadists vs Everyone Else including Decent Muslims, and that the latter will kick the formers tails & inter their rotting hell-bound carcasses with the flesh of the more noble swine.

It would be a really fast war then. What are the total resources controlled by Jyhadists? Iran (maybe), some lawless parts of Afganistan/Iraq, the monatary resources of a couple Middle Eastern millionaires? I suppose in a perfect strom they could take a few countries (say Indonesia and Saudi Arabia) through coups and the like. Still nothing that would pose any sort of challenge to the military resources of the West. The US military probably spends more on boots then the Jyhadists could afford to spend total on their war effort.

In short, to have any sort of World War, you need at least two semi-equal sides. Otherwise it’s just guriella fighting and the like, as is taking place in Iraq, Afganistan, the Caucusus, etc.


  1. The jihadis do not speak for most Muslims; even many of those who do not love the west are not necessarily going to line up to throw themselves at an American tank.

  2. The jihadis are nowhere near organized or numerous enough to stage a sustained, coordinated assault on the entire non-Muslim world.
    We will see continued low-to-medium level conflicts all over the world, though. That could be considered a “World War” in the sense that **FriarTed **uses it, though I don’t think that’s what the OP is asking, and I think it expands the term “war” beyond usefulness.

What chance would any group of Islamic countries have against the US or European powers? We’d squish 'em like bugs if they tried. The only war Muslim nations could wage would be between themselves. It couldn’t become a “world” war. In theory I can imagine if the Middle East went to war with themselves the US and Europe would intervene to secure oil supplies. But if THAT happened, they’d quickly just become colonies of the world’s great powers.

And if they could stage a sustained, coordinated assault on the entire non-Muslim world, they’d quickly be bombed into submission. They are militarily so backwards nukes wouldn’t even be needed to do it.

That was my thought. Muslim fanatics are not just intolerant of non-muslims anymore than the KKK is only intolerant of non-whites. The KKK dislikes non-protestant whites, jewish whites, gay whites, whites who support race relations, etc. Its no different with muslim bigots.

There isn’t enough unity among fanatics for an all out war to ever break out. There may be alot of moral support for Bin Ladin but by and large muslims do not want to live in a society of intolerant radical islam. I don’t know if I can dig up the study right now but I have read that even though huge numbers (40-80%) of mid east muslims support bin ladin only about 10% want to live in an Islamic republic controlled by Sharia.

I agree that we’re dealing with several disjointed fringe movements which may or may not find common cause depending on the given circumstances. But we also have several examples from history where a fringe movement rapidly gains enough power to wreak serious havoc (e.g - the Nazis). We have to be extremely vigilant in combating these movements - either directly or by marginilizing them through the entire Muslim world, and that is going to be an ongoing battle.

So, yes, I do think there’s a World War against radicalized islamic movements. It’s similar to the Cold War. We have to use very tool we have, whether its direct confrontation, covert tactics, triangulation, economic tools, etc. to make sure these movements stay marginalized and do not gain any ground.

Thank you all for your input. It gives me hope.

But what about if the killing increases and/or spreads. Incidents like the one I cited in th OP regarding those girls being beheaded in Indonesia (which just floors me), the slaughter in Sudan, and bombings and killing throughout much of the world can’t be ignored forever. Is there a point when a coalition, including moderate Muslims join forces with the West and Asia to take an offensive stance againt the extremist minority globally? Should they? How far off is such a realization and call to action?


It’s not like the world is just sitting back and letting the extremist kill away. NATO invaded an entire country just a few years ago over this sort of thing. Indonesia has fought several wars with it’s extremists, Russia has practacally wiped Chechnya off the map and various Middle Eastern countries have squashed/oppressed thier religious fanatics to varying degrees. I’m not clear how what your proposing would be different then whats already taking place.

I guess it seems that the atrocities are increasing, not decreasiing, in spite of the actions you mention. Do you think that is not correct? I’d love to believe that to be the case.

I tend to think that ethnic and sectarian violence (of ALL types, in all countries, between all kinds of people) will likely increase for a while. We just went through a long period of worldwide nationalism, but with the final lapse of Europe’s colonial powers in Africa and Asia and the dissolution of the integrated-by-force nation states of the former USSR, we’re starting to see the original ethnic/national/sectarian groups try to reassemble themselves and take sole control of what they see as “their” homelands (some of which, naturally, have been in dispute for thousands of years, long before all that colonialism).

BUT … this has very little to do with religion per se (more about notions of ancestral land ownership), and everyone’s aims are different; every local group is concerned with its own local oppressors, not the state of global Islam. Iran and other Muslim states may express solidarity with the Palestinians or the Chechens, but you aren’t going to see them joining forces to shove the Russians out of Chechnya any more than you would have seen millions of Irish-Americans flying to Ulster in the 1980s to join the IRA and kick the English out of Ireland. Sympathy, yes. Financial support, possibly. Joining in armed conflict? Nah.

Is a Muslim vs. non-Muslim war impossible? No. But I think the OP is in fact approaching its cause (as in cause and effect) from the wrong side. Such a conflict could happen if western states continued to invade Muslm nations–i.e. if the US/Israel/Allies invades Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, you might see a unified Muslim backlash at such a perceived Crusade. But I think that’s highly unlikely to happen, in part because countries like Iran and Syria have strong ties to non-Muslim powers like Russia, India, and China. Any conflict is unlikely to break into neat Muslim/non-Muslim sides. Another reason is that, even though countries like Indonesia are Muslim, they still differ a great deal from the Arab states, which are themselves different from Persian Iran and from Pakistan, not to mention the countless other tribal, parochial “-stans” throughout central Asia. Yes, their people are mostly Muslims, but I think the commonalities drop off rapidly after that, and their goals and alliances are far from homogeneous.

Actually, I believe they are decreasing. But they are simultaneously becoming more open and more obvious, and this is a good thing: people will not tolerate that kind of thing forever. And in the long run, it makes for very poor press. Increasingly, they are attacking ordinary people, even random people, often for no strategic gain.

But make no mistake, WW4 is here; it is upon us; it is being fought. Afganistan was merely a campaign. The war itself will continue for some time. It is being fought from Britain to the Phillipines.

Well at least in the isolated case of Indonesia, the article mentions that there was a recent upswing in this sort of violence, but that it wasn’t as bad as during the war.

Globally it could be argued either way, but I’d at least say it hasn’t gotten obviously worse.

I think that these things are probably kinda cyclic. They catch on for a while, especially during hardtimes at thier countries of origin, and then fade away as the adherents grow disillusioned or are killed off. I imagine that in 40yrs we’ll look at islamic terrorism in the same way we look at “new left” terrorism of a few decades ago or the Anarcists of the turn of the century.

I have a simple rule for determining if there’s a World War going on. If there’s any sort of arguement about wheather somethings a world war, then it isn’t. During World Wars, millions die, countries switch to wartime economies, cities are leveled, etc… WWI and WWII were not subtle things, you couldn’t not notice them. Can you imagine folks in Stalingraad or Dresden arguing over wether or not they were engaged in a World War. To change the deffinition of a world war to any sort of global conflict is silly and weakens the term. Was the War on Drugs WWIII (or WWIV, Or WWV). I’d argue that it was probably more destructive in terms of loss of life then the WOT and it was certainly a global struggle.

I am curious whether the rise in anti-immigranmt (almost completely Muslim) and anti-Muslim violence in Europe is a sign that the Christian powers are gearing up to wage war against Muslim nations? (Or are such events more like examples of certain factions within a society simply being violent and stupid?)

Are the constant massacres of Muslims by Christians in Nigeria and a couiple of other nations a sign that the Christians are preparing for a world-wide crusade against Islam? Or are they various conflicts motivated by local economic and power problems that simply happen to have clear cultural markers identified by religious associations?

First of all, worldwide terrorism is unquestionably increasing. In 2004 we had 650 terrorist attacks; that was three times the number in 2003, which was much higher than any previous year in the past two decades.

However, that’s hardly evidence that “certain Muslim sects being intolerant of non-Muslims and thinking that they are religiously mandated to kill them”, and certainly not evidence that the number of such sects are increasing. Wacko Islamic sects want what every wacko religious group wants: complete control over some region, and the ability to tyrannically enforce their religious views on people in that region. They care little about what happens outside their region, as long as they’re allowed to exist in isolation.

Conflict with fanatical Muslim sects (or fanatical sects of any religion) will come when outsiders try to break the isolation and invade the controlled region. Islamic terror groups have only attacked western nations under one circumstance, namely when those western nations are either waging war on an Islamic nation or undermining the government of an Islamic nation. Leave them alone, and they’ll leave us alone. Kill them in large numbers, and they’ll eventually try to do the smae to us.

I think it incorrect to label the European powers as Christian. Certainly they have a Christian heritage, but you’ll be hard pressed to find present laws there that reflect past prohibitions based on the bible. My understanding is that in present Europe, Christianity has very little political influence like it does in the States.

Secondly, I really haven’t heard much about anti-Muslin violence in Europe, certainly not on the scale that has occured in Nigeria.

Thirdly, to project an anti-muslim immigration movement in Europe as a prelude to waging war on muslim nations is a really far reach. Europeans (mostly) have clearly demonstrated in the past several decades having little stomach for war

Constant massacres by Christians? Why ignore the Muslim massacres. Certainly there has been violence betwen muslims and christians/animists since several states have introduced criminal sharia law, but have you any evidence that the conflict is spilling the borders of Nigeria?

Worldwide crusade? Who would lead it? The pope?

The problem started with the introduction of criminal Sharia law in Nigeria. While ethnic/cultural divisions are apparent along religous lines, it is the violation of Nigeria’s “separation of church and state” by the majority muslims which sparked the conflict.

My WAG is that the Islamic-non Islamic conflict which seems to crop up everywhere there is a significant Islamic population opposed by a significant non Islamic population will continue for a thousand years. But I don’t see a full scale war/crusade breaking out. There just isn’t a large enough comprehensive entity to oppose Islam militarily in general. Just look at the big powerful United States today in its opposition to Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. The muslim world is a whole lot larger than that.

The OP selected a couple of incidents in which Muslims attacked Christians and wondered about a great conflict to come.

I think it is entirely fair to note similar attacks by Christians on Muslims and wonder whether the OP sees that as the same sort of thing.

To date, in Nigeria and a couple of other places, the violence from Christians toward Muslims has been greater than the violence from Muslims toward Christians. Certainly, in Sudan the opposite is true.

I was merely pointing out that the phenomenon described in the OP is not a one-way street.
Similarly, while Europe could probably be described as post-Christian, the culture is clearly Christian and since I doubt that most of the violence in any of the cases is motivated by religious teachings (as opposed to being motivated by cultural differences with religions as cultural identification markers), then noting (culturally) Christian Europe is within the scope of the discussion.