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« Knee-Jerk Liberalism | Main | Optimism and Pessimism at The Space Review »

What We Are At War With

I'm on long record as being opposed to the "War on Terrorism." Not that I don't think that we should be fighting these thugs, but that the war was misnamed from the beginning. Jonathan Rauch explains:

"I think defining who the enemy is is a real problem in this war," says Mary Habeck, a military historian at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. "If you can't define who's a real threat and who's just exercising free speech, it's a problem." As it happens, Habeck is the author of one of three new books that, taken together, suggest the time is right to name the battle. It is a war on jihadism.

Jihadism is not a tactic, like terrorism, or a temperament, like radicalism or extremism. It is not a political pathology like Stalinism, a mental pathology like paranoia, or a social pathology like poverty. Rather, it is a religious ideology, and the religion it is associated with is Islam.

But it is by no means synonymous with Islam, which is much larger and contains many competing elements. Islam can be, and usually is, moderate; Jihadism, with a capital J, is inherently radical. If the Western and secular world's nearer-term war aim is to stymie the jihadists, its long-term aim must be to discredit Jihadism in the Muslim world.

No single definition prevails, but here is a good one: Jihadism engages in or supports the use of force to expand the rule of Islamic law. In other words, it is violent Islamic imperialism. It stands, as one scholar put it 90 years ago, for "the extension by force of arms of the authority of the Muslim state."

..."This is a struggle over Islam and who's going to control Islam," Habeck says. "If you can't talk about that, you can't talk about most of the story." Specifying that the war is against Jihadism -- as distinct from terrorism or Islam (or Islamism, which sounds like "Islam") -- would allow the United States to confront the religious element of the problem without seeming to condemn a whole religion. It would clarify for millions of moderate Muslims that the West's war aims are anti-jihadist, not militantly secular.

In any case, says Habeck, "people are not buying the administration's claim that this has nothing to do with Islam." A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that the proportion of Americans saying that Islam helps stoke violence against non-Muslims has more than doubled (to 33 percent) since January 2002, when 9/11 memories were still vivid. If anything, the tendency of Bush, Blair, and other Western leaders to sweep Jihadism under the rug is counterproductive and fuels public suspicion of those leaders and of Islam itself.

What's interesting (particularly in light of this post) is that the left is supposedly against imperialism, but they never seemed to mind the imperialism of the Soviets. And now they are either sanguine, or in denial (or even supportive, because it opposes that evil western Amerikkkan imperialism) about Islamic imperialism.

[Via La Dynamist]

[Update a couple minutes later]

I think this is an opportunity for the administration. Since so many whine that the president will never admit to error, he could take some wind out of their sails, while clarifying the nation's war policy, by admitting that calling it a "War on Terrorism" after 911 was a mistake. This would undercut a lot of the arguments about why we don't go after the IRA, or other groups, while showing that he can recognize mistakes and rectify them. Renaming it a war on Jihadism would also increase pressure against Iran, which is clearly of a jihadist mindset, and increase justification for preventing them from getting nukes (assuming that any is really needed).

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 17, 2006 06:44 AM
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Islamic Terrorism Grows In World, What Can Be Done?
Excerpt: The worlds terrorism problems were thought to be only Americas but as we now see in parts of India, and Israel, the war on terror is alive and kicking in many countries and it is best to join up and enlist against this form of tyranny than do nothing, ...
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Comments

Do you think there are wealthy oil funded puppetmasters behind the jihadis? Maybe some polygamous patriarchs who are threatened by uppity secular minded females?

It seems to me there are some very powerful people within Islam who will "hate us" so long as our culture threatens to liberate their women from the veil and submission to men. Remember that female USAF captain who got in trouble for leaving her Saudi base without a veil? Threaten a man's supremacy in these domestic arenas and his response will be irrational.

Until we clean out that locus of hate, everything else may end up being beside the point and irrelevant to ultimate victory.

If we are going to go to the trouble of removing regimes (Afghanistan and Iraq) then we should abolish the veil and enfore genuine equal rights for women and then much of this patriarchy nonsense will go away.

= = =

Study this picture. Then imagine what the "How's the family" chit chat must be like.

George asks, "How's the family?"

"Well, my 67th wife, she's 19 you know. Wow is she hot!"

Would you want that gig threatened, if you had it?

Posted by Bill White at April 17, 2006 07:41 AM

I think this is an opportunity for the administration. Since so many whine that the president will never admit to error, he could take some wind out of their sails, while clarifying the nation's war policy, by admitting that calling it a "War on Terrorism" after 911 was a mistake.

Somebody within the administration (but not the White House, IIRC) did suggest a different name -- one even more inappropriate of course. Bush quashed it rather promptly, re-ratifying GWOT.

So no, I don't think he's going to turn around now and come up with a different name. So long as he remains devoted to the "religion of peace" meme, he's going to avoid naming the enemy any more accurately than "terror."

Posted by McGehee at April 17, 2006 07:49 AM

War On Nut Job Islam

Posted by Do the WONJI at April 17, 2006 07:54 AM

"Jihadism"?

Cretins.....

Your war is with SHARIA LAW.

Posted by Mike Schneider at April 17, 2006 11:46 AM

I knew a Sherrie Law once.

Posted by at April 17, 2006 12:43 PM

It's still an ephemeral definition of an enemy that can only be identified by personal ideology, or by smoking gun evidence.

Posted by wickedpinto at April 17, 2006 04:16 PM

I'm not sure if I agree with calling it a "War on" whatever, whether it be terrorism, or jihadism. A title like that seems to imply that the war is purely one-sided, and that one can simply end the war by stopping your own aggression, as many on the left assert. It seems it would be better to call it something like the "Jihadi War," which helps emphasize that the burden of war lies upon us whether we like it or not, and that we are not the ones who started this conflict.

Posted by Neil at April 18, 2006 12:53 AM

World War Four.

Posted by McGehee at April 18, 2006 08:19 AM

Letter to George Bush

Perhaps Iím getting bigheaded, but I want to write to George Bush.

ď Open letter to George Bush.

Iím just a comic and you are a great president at the head of a great and powerful nation. Furthermore, you are also a great friend of our former President of the Council with whom you have many points in common: the Atlantic vision in place of the pacific one, great riches, the exportation of democracy with or without weapons, the personalisation of politics.
Allow me, very humbly, to ask you for an account of your behaviour in relation to Italy and the Italians.
Prodi has won the elections. Heads of State of many nations and the President of the European Community have sent their congratulations to him.
You are almost the only one who hasnít done this.
And, in this situation, our former President of the Council does not recognise the election result thanks to your support.
You continue to not recognise Prodi as the legitimate winner, elected in free elections.
They were elections managed by the Minister of the Interior as a member of the Government in power.
They were elections in which voting went on according to a liberticida (liberty killing) election law guided through Parliament by your friend and in this case, your voice as a defender of democracy has not been heard.
You are not showing yourself to be a friend of our country and you are probably not even acting in the interests of your country.
If you donít recognise Prodi, why should Italians recognise you? I believe and hope that your behaviour is simply a temporary institutional distraction. If this is not the case, Italians should ask themselves a few questions.

Why should we allow American Military Bases to be in our country?
Why should we tolerate the presence of American atomic weapons at Ghedi Torre, Brescia and at Aviano, Pordenone?
Why should we allow CIA agents to move around our country as though they were visiting your great ranch in Texas?
Why should we provide finance to a country that at this moment is hostile to us by buying American products, eating in American chains, supporting American companies in Italy?
Iím sure the Italians will know how to find the answers.Ē grillobeppe

Vik (guerrilla radio)
italian blogger from Milan

Posted by guerrilla radio at April 18, 2006 02:32 PM


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