“The War Against Jihadism” By George Weigel

“Why can’t we call the enemy by its name? We’re going to have to in order to win.”

What kind of campaign is this? Six-plus years after 9/11; while the Taliban attempts an Afghanistan comeback; as Islamist terrorists cause mayhem in Algeria and occupy huge swaths of tribal Pakistan; despite “United 93” and “The Kite Runner,” a library-full of books, presidential commissions, congressional hearings, and four election cycles—despite all of that, a strange, Victorian reticence about naming the enemy in the contest for the human future in which we are engaged befogs this political season.

Such reticence is an obstacle to victory in a war we cannot avoid and in which we must prevail. For if there is one thing certain in this season of great uncertainties, it is that the war against jihadism will be staring the next president of the United States in the face at high noon on Inauguration Day, 2009.

That is what we are fighting: jihadism, the religiously inspired ideology which teaches that it is every Muslim’s duty to use any means necessary to compel the world’s submission to Islam. That most of the world’s Muslims do not accept this definition of the demands of their faith is true—and beside the point. The jihadists believe this. That is why they are the enemy of their fellow Muslims and the rest of the world. For decades, an internal Islamic civil war, born of Islam’s difficult encounter with modernity, has been fought over such key modern political ideas as religious toleration and the separation of religious and political authority in a just state. That intra-Islamic struggle now engages the rest of humanity. To ignore this, to imagine it’s all George W. Bush’s fault, or to misrepresent it because of a prudish reluctance to discuss religion in public, is to repeat the mistakes the advocates of appeasement made in the 1930s.

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