Since 9/11, there is a growing inclination on the part of non-Muslim politicians, journalists, and others to assert that Islamism – or at least a vague hostile ideology – not "terrorism," is the enemy, and to acknowledge that this includes a war of ideas as well as one of violence. This recognition is vital; just as a physician must identify and name a disease before he can treat it, so a strategist must identify and name an enemy before defeating it. Here are some notable examples, in reverse chronological order, of individuals and institutions being willing to call a spade a spade, or at least take a step in that direction (with thanks to Willy Gjosund for several references).
In addition, I have collected and commented on statements by George W. Bush at "Naming the Enemy." For notable statements refusing to recognize this problem, see "Not Calling Islamism the Enemy."
Newt Gingrich gave another major talk on Islamism. Video available here. (Dan Riehl, "Newt Gingrich Focuses on Radical Islam at Iowa Freedom Summit" Breitbart, January 24, 2015)
Manuel Valls, prime minister of France:
Nous faisons une guerre, pas une guerre contre une religion, pas une guerre de civilisation, mais pour défendre nos valeurs, qui sont universelles. C'est une guerre contre le terrorisme et l'islamisme radical, contre tout ce qui vise à briser la solidarité, la liberté, la fraternité.
We make war not against a religion, not against a civilization, but to defend our values, which are universal. It is a war against terrorism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking solidarity, liberty, fraternity.
(Quoted in "Manuel Valls: 'venez nombreux' à la marche de dimanche," France Soir, January 10, 2015)
Barack Obama, U.S. president: There exists a
counternarrative in the Middle East in which a sizable portion of Islamic extremists have been able to penetrate the imaginations of young people there. You have governments that oftentimes are creaky, don't serve their people, are repressive; you don't have a civic tradition there. And so you have to almost start from scratch in many of these countries [to build democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and good governance].
What we can do is to be opportunistic and find places where somebody's ready and willing to move forward and do everything we can to help, and Tunisia's a great example of that. Not perfect — still dangerous, still troublesome; but you've seen a civil society develop, elections take place, a constitution get drafted, Islamists being willing to be involved in the political process without trying to take it over completely, and accommodations to the fact that economic and social reforms are required for that country to succeed.
("Transcript: President Obama's Full NPR Interview," December 29, 2014)
Miloš Zeman, president of the Czech Republic: "He is convinced the emergence of the Islamic State is at least as dangerous as Russia's imperial ambitions. He said he is trying to persuade Czech Foreign Affairs Minister Lubomír Zaorálek (ČSSD) of the threat of Islamic expansionism." (September 5, 2014)
David Cameron, British prime minister, explaining the increase in the UK threat level from "substantial" to "severe":
The root cause of this threat to our security is quite clear. It is a poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism that is condemned by all faiths and by all faith leaders. It believes in using the most brutal forms of terrorism to force people to accept a warped world view and to live in an almost medieval state. A state in which its own citizens would suffer unimaginable brutality, including barbaric beheadings of those who refuse to convert to their warped version of Islam; the enslavement and raping of women; and the widespread slaughter of Muslims by fellow Muslims. And, of course, the exporting of terrorism abroad.
So this is about a battle between Islam on the one hand and extremists who want to abuse Islam on the other. It is absolutely vital that we make this distinction between religion and political ideology. Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over 1 billion people. It is a source of spiritual guidance which daily inspires millions to countless acts of kindness.
Islamist extremism is a poisonous political ideology supported by a minority. These extremists often funded by fanatics living comfortably far away from the battlefields pervert the Islamic faith as a way of justifying their warped and barbaric ideology.
("Threat level from international terrorism raised: PM press statement," August 29, 2014)
Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state:
One of the reasons why I worry about what's happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of jihadist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the United States. Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand. Their raison d'être is to be against the West, against the Crusaders, against the fill-in-the-blank—and we all fit into one of these categories.
How do we try to contain that? I'm thinking a lot about containment, deterrence, and defeat. You know, we did a good job in containing the Soviet Union, but we made a lot of mistakes, we supported really nasty guys, we did some things that we are not particularly proud of, from Latin America to Southeast Asia, but we did have a kind of overarching framework about what we were trying to do that did lead to the defeat of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Communism. That was our objective. We achieved it.
Now the big mistake was thinking that, okay, the end of history has come upon us, after the fall of the Soviet Union. That was never true, history never stops and nationalisms were going to assert themselves, and then other variations on ideologies were going to claim their space. Obviously, jihadi Islam is the prime example, but not the only example—the effort by Putin to restore his vision of Russian greatness is another. In the world in which we are living right now, vacuums get filled by some pretty unsavory players.
(Interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, August 10, 2014)
Barack Obama, U.S. president, in the aftermath of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's conquest of Mosul: "We do have a stake in making sure these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria." Comment: This appears to be the first time Obama used the term jihadist. (Quoted in Dave Boyer, "Obama considers more aid to Iraq after stunning militant attacks," The Washington Times, June 12, 2014)
Miloš Zeman, president of the Czech Republic: Unlike nearly every other Western leader, he pointed to Islamism as the cause of the murder of four people outside the Jewish museum in Brussels on May 24. JTA reports:
"I will not be reassured by claims that these are the actions of small fringe groups," Zeman said at the Prague Hilton on May 26 about the shootings, which he called "abominable acts of murder."
Miloš Zeman, president of the Czech Republic.
He added: "I believe, by contrast, that this xenophobia, racism or anti-Semitism are at the very nature of this ideology, on which these fanatical groups rely." …
He offered his listeners "proof of this assertion" in a quote from Kitab Al-Fitan wa Ashrat As-Sa'ah, the 41st book of Sahih Muslim, which is one of the major texts of Sunni Islam. "The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him," the verse reads.
"There is a term called political correctness, and this term may be a euphemism for political cowardice, so let me not be cowardly," Zeman said. "We should clearly name the enemy of human civilization, and this enemy is international terrorism coupled with religious fundamentalism and religious intolerance. This fanaticism does not focus on a single state, as we saw after 9/11. Muslim fanatics in Nigeria recently captured 200 young Christian girls."
"I know of no movement that calls for massive slaughter of Arabs, but I do know of an anti-civilization movement that calls for massive extermination of the Jews."
("Czech president: Radical Islam behind Brussels museum shooting," June 1, 2014)
Tony Blair, former British prime minister:
What is presently happening [in the Middle East] still represents the biggest threat to global security of the early 21st C. The region, including the wider area outside its conventional boundary – Pakistan, Afghanistan to the east and North Africa to the west – is in turmoil with no end in sight to the upheaval and any number of potential outcomes from the mildly optimistic to catastrophe.
At the root of the crisis lies a radicalised and politicised view of Islam, an ideology that distorts and warps Islam's true message. The threat of this radical Islam is not abating. It is growing. It is spreading across the world. It is de-stabilising communities and even nations. It is undermining the possibility of peaceful co-existence in an era of globalisation. And in the face of this threat we seem curiously reluctant to acknowledge it and powerless to counter it effectively.
In this speech I will set out how we should do this, including the recognition that on this issue, whatever our other differences, we should be prepared to reach out and cooperate with the East, and in particular, Russia and China. …
It is in the Middle East that the future of Islam will be decided. By this I mean the future of its relationship with politics. … underneath the turmoil and revolution of the past years is one very clear and unambiguous struggle: between those with a modern view of the Middle East, one of pluralistic societies and open economies, where the attitudes and patterns of globalisation are embraced; and, on the other side, those who want to impose an ideology born out of a belief that there is one proper religion and one proper view of it, and that this view should, exclusively, determine the nature of society and the political economy. We might call this latter perspective an 'Islamist' view. …
wherever you look – from Iraq to Libya to Egypt to Yemen to Lebanon to Syria and then further afield to Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan – this is the essential battle. … there is something frankly odd about the reluctance to accept what is so utterly plain: that they have in common a struggle around the issue of the rightful place of religion, and in particular Islam, in politics. …
The reason this matters so much is that this ideology is exported around the world. The Middle East is still the epicentre of thought and theology in Islam. Those people, fortunately not a majority, in countries like, for example, Indonesia or Malaysia who espouse a strict Islamist perspective, didn't originate these ideas. They imported them.
For the last 40/50 years, there has been a steady stream of funding, proselytising, organising and promulgating coming out of the Middle East, pushing views of religion that are narrow minded and dangerous. Unfortunately we seem blind to the enormous global impact such teaching has had and is having.
Take a step back and analyse the world today: with the possible exception of Latin America … there is not a region of the world not adversely affected by Islamism and the ideology is growing. …
It may well be the case that in particular situations, those who follow a strictly Islamist political agenda neither advocate nor approve of political violence. There are of course a variety of different views within such a broadly described position. But their overall ideology is one which inevitably creates the soil in which such extremism can take root. In many cases, it is clear that they regard themselves as part of a spectrum, with a difference of view as to how to achieve the goals of Islamism, not a difference as to what those goals are; and in certain cases, they will support the use of violence. "
Because the West is so completely unfamiliar with such an ideology –though actually the experience of revolutionary communism or fascism should resonate with older generations – we can't really see the danger properly. We feel almost that if we identify it in these terms, we're being anti-Muslim, a sentiment on which the Islamists cleverly play. …
there is a Titanic struggle going on within the region between those who want the region to embrace the modern world – politically, socially and economically – and those who instead want to create a politics of religious difference and exclusivity. This is the battle. This is the distorting feature. This is what makes intervention so fraught but non- intervention equally so. This is what complicates the process of political evolution. This is what makes it so hard for democracy to take root. This is what, irrespective of the problems on the Israeli side, divides Palestinian politics and constrains their leadership. …
we have to elevate the issue of religious extremism to the top of the agenda. All over the world the challenge of defeating this ideology requires active and sustained engagement. Consider this absurdity: that we spend billions of $ on security arrangements and on defence to protect ourselves against the consequences of an ideology that is being advocated in the formal and informal school systems and in civic institutions of the very countries with whom we have intimate security and defence relationships. Some of those countries of course wish to escape from the grip of this ideology. But often it is hard for them to do so within their own political constraints. They need to have this issue out in the open where it then becomes harder for the promotion of this ideology to happen underneath the radar. In other words they need us to make this a core part of the international dialogue in order to force the necessary change within their own societies. This struggle between what we may call the open-minded and the closed-minded is at the heart of whether the 21st C turns in the direction of peaceful co-existence or conflict between people of different cultures.
If we do not act, then we will start to see reactions against radical Islam which will then foster extremism within other faiths. Indeed we see some evidence of this already directed against Muslims in Asia particularly.
When we consider the defining challenges of our time, surely this one should be up there along with the challenge of the environment or economic instability. Add up the deaths around the world now – and even leave out the theatre of the Middle East – and the toll on human life is deplorable. In Nigeria recently and Pakistan alone thousands are now dying in religiously inspired conflict. And quite apart from the actual loss of life, there is the loss of life opportunities for parts of the population mired in backward thinking and reactionary attitudes especially towards girls.
On this issue also, there is a complete identity of interest between East and West. China and Russia have exactly the same desire to defeat this ideology as do the USA and Europe. Here is a subject upon which all the principal nations of the G20 could come together, could agree to act, and could find common ground to common benefit. An international programme to eradicate religious intolerance and prejudice from school systems and informal education systems and from organisations in civic society would have a huge galvanising effect in making unacceptable what is currently ignored or tolerated. …
This is not a conventional war. It isn't a struggle between super powers or over territory. But it is real. It is fearsome in its impact. It is growing in its reach. It is a battle about belief and about modernity. It is important because the world through technology and globalisation is pushing us together across boundaries of faith and culture. Unaddressed, the likelihood of conflict increases. Engagement does not always mean military involvement. Commitment does not mean going it alone. But it does mean stirring ourselves. It does mean seeing the struggle for what it is. It does mean taking a side and sticking with it.
("Why the Middle East Matters," April 23, 2014)
Al-Ahram editorial: "the Muslim Brotherhood's brand of Islam … places divine texts and their interpretation in the service of a totalitarian movement that aims to grab power — in its most mundane sense — and keep it forever." ("Revolution unprecedented," July 10, 2013)
Tony Blair, former U.K. prime minister, responding the murder of Lee Rigby on a London-area street:
There is only one view of the murder of Lee Rigby: horrific. But there are two views of its significance. One is that it is the act of crazy people, motivated in this case by a perverted idea about Islam, but of no broader significance. Crazy people do crazy things. So don't overreact. The other view is that this act was indeed horrible; and that the ideology which inspired it is profound and dangerous. I am of this latter view. …
I understand the desire to look at this world and explain it by reference to local grievances, economic alienation and of course 'crazy people'. But are we really going to examine it and find no common thread, nothing that joins these dots, no sense of an ideology driving or at least exacerbating it all?
There is not a problem with Islam. For those of us who have studied it, there is no doubt about its true and peaceful nature. There is not a problem with Muslims in general. Most in Britain will be horrified at Lee Rigby's murder. But there is a problem within Islam – from the adherents of an ideology that is a strain within Islam. And we have to put it on the table and be honest about it.
Of course there are Christian extremists and Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu ones. But I am afraid this strain is not the province of a few extremists. It has at its heart a view about religion and about the interaction between religion and politics that is not compatible with pluralistic, liberal, open-minded societies.
At the extreme end of the spectrum are terrorists, but the world view goes deeper and wider than it is comfortable for us to admit. So by and large we don't admit it. This has two effects. First, those with that view think we are weak and that gives them strength. Second, those within Islam – and the good news is there are many – who actually know this problem exists and want to do something about it, lose heart. All over the Middle East and beyond there is a struggle being played out.
On the one side, there are Islamists who have this exclusivist and reactionary world view. They are a significant minority, loud and well organised. On the other are the modern-minded, those who hated the old oppression by corrupt dictators and who hate the new oppression by religious fanatics. They are potentially the majority, but unfortunately they are badly organised.
("The ideology behind Lee Rigby's murder is profound and dangerous. Why don't we admit it?" Daily Mail, June 2, 2013)
Rand Paul, U.S. senator from Kentucky:
the West is in for a long, irregular confrontation not with terrorism, which is simply a tactic, but with Radical Islam. As many are quick to note, the war is not with Islam but with a radical element of Islam — the problem is that this element is no small minority but a vibrant, often mainstream, vocal and numerous minority. Whole countries, such as Saudi Arabia, adhere to at least certain radical concepts such as the death penalty for blasphemy, conversion, or apostasy. A survey in Britain after the subway bombings showed 20% of the Muslim population in Britain approved of the violence.
Sen. Rand Paul (Republican of Kentucky) at the Heritage Foundation.
Some libertarians argue that western occupation fans the flames of radical Islam – I agree. But I don't agree that absent western occupation that radical Islam "goes quietly into that good night." I don't agree with FDR's VP Henry Wallace that the Soviets (or Radical Islam in today's case) can be discouraged by "the glad hand and the winning smile." Americans need to understand that Islam has a long and perseverant memory. …
Radical Islam is no fleeting fad but a relentless force. Though at times stateless, Radical Islam is also supported by radicalized nations such as Iran. Though often militarily weak, Radical Islam makes up for its lack of conventional armies with unlimited zeal. For Americans to grasp the mindset of Radical Islam we need to understand that they are still hopping mad about the massacre at Karbala several hundred years ago. …
Radical Islam, like communism, is an ideology with far reach and will require a firm and patient opposition. … Like communism, radical Islam is an ideology with worldwide reach. Containing radical Islam requires a worldwide strategy like containment. It requires counterforce at a series of constantly shifting worldwide points. But counterforce does not necessarily mean large-scale land wars with hundreds of thousands of troops nor does it always mean a military action at all. … Radical Islam's only real strength is … an endless patience. They know we eventually will leave. They simply wait for us to leave and leave we eventually must. We cannot afford endless occupation but this does not mean that by leaving we cannot and will not still contain Radical Islam.
("Rand Paul's Foreign Policy Speech," February 6, 2013)
Ed Koch, mayor of New York City, 1978-89, had inscribed on his tombstone: "'My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.' Daniel Pearl, 2002, just before he was beheaded by a Muslim terrorist."
Judea Pearl, Daniel Pearl's father, commented on this gesture:
using these words was very purposeful on his part: a way of reminding us that our enemy is not 19 misguided lunatics, but a whole ideology that fosters anti-Western fanaticism and elevates itself above the norms of civilized society. In a time where political correctness was at its peak, perhaps it was productive for Ed Koch to remind New Yorkers that our real enemy is not Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but the ideology on which he grew and that is being passed on to his children, emboldened and intensified by the hour. That is our real enemy."
("How Ed Koch Honored My Son," Tablet, February 4, 2013)
Hillary Clinton, U.S. secretary of state:
We now face a spreading jihadist threat. We have driven a lot of the operatives out of Afghanistan, Pakistan, killed a lot of them, including Bin Laden. But this is a global movement. We can kill leaders, but until we help establish strong democratic institutions, until we do a better job with values and relationships, we will be faced with this level of instability.
(Congressional testimony on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, January 23, 2013)
Peter King, U.S. representative from New York:
The enemy is not an amorphous group called "terrorists" or "extremists" or "violent extremists." The enemy is Islamic terrorism. Islamic terrorism which is dedicated to destroying our way of life and our civilization. If we don't identify the enemy, if we don't know who the enemy is, that enemy is going to end up defeating us. You cannot defeat an enemy unless you know who the enemy is and the enemy is Islamic terrorism.
(On receiving an award from the Center for Security Policy, September 20, 2012)
Gert-Jan Segers, candidate for House member of the Christian Union in the Netherlands:
Some streams within Dutch Islam present "a risk to the society." So says Gert-Jan Segers, this afternoon in the NRC Handelsblad. He fears that the debate over Islam in Holland is waning because PVV leader Geert Wilders hardly talks about Islam any more and mostly hammers on the dangers of the European Union. According to Segers, fourth on the candidates list of the Christen Union, the debate about Islam must go forward. He says that Wilders has "put an important theme on the agenda."
"I will not be silent out of fear to be put in the same category as Wilders. He put an important theme on the agenda, just like Bolkestein and Paul Scheffer before him, but then focuses on a Koran ban or a headscarf ban which everyone thinks is nonsense. It is tragic that his opponents have gone to hang over the other side of the boat. They say: Islam is an enrichment, its just fine. Then they cite a nice Koran verse and its done. It is not a serious problem."
According to him that is wrong: "There are vital streams within the Dutch Islam which are totally opposite to the fundamental freedoms of a constitutional state, such as freedom of religion." He cites the example of the Islamic youth from the Free University in Amsterdam: They recently brought a British Imam to Holland who advocates for the murder of apostates under certain circumstances.
Segers: "One sees that the religious consciousness increases by the younger generation. The students wanted to be educated by this man. Salafism is a vital movement, not one that slowly disappears on the fringe. And the Dutch Islamic community remains in contact with the 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide who see the same development."
("ChristenUnie wil islamdebat – 'Wilders agendeert belangrijk thema'," NRC Handelsblad, August 7, 2012)
Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota:
While we remain dangerously asleep here at home about domestic threats from radical Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamist groups are abundantly clear about their desire to destroy America and her allies. … It is my duty as a member of Congress to ask why the Obama administration has repeatedly undermined America's national security and bows to political correctness on issues related to radical Islam. The safety and security of every person in my district, as well as all Americans, is of preeminent importance and concern to me. The Washington establishment has two choices: It can either remain asleep about the threat of radical Islam, or it can do everything possible to rally the country to a defense and preservation of American values and our way of life. We owe that to the American people.
("Beware of radical Islam," Star Tribune, August. 1, 2012)
Alain Winants, the administrator-general of Belgium's State Security, in an interview, as translated by Google, edited for clarity:
Alain Winants, the administrator-general of Belgian State Security.
Salafists are Muslims who believe the only true Islam in the first three generations after the Prophet Muhammad was polite. They try to live like in that era and are hostile to modern values. According to the State Security, it is a trend that wins more and more followers. "They have a parallel society created and reject modern society. In this parallel society have their own values, their own banks, their justice, their own medicine and their own education. … This is a disturbing trend."
(Ayfer Erkul, "Salafisme is de grootste bedreiging voor België," July 27, 2012)
Tony Blair, former British prime minister: has been quoted already six times in this blog for his excellent statements on Islamism (too bad he did not follow up with actions when p.m.). Here is a seventh, an interview:
After September 11, 2001, he now thinks, he underestimated the power of the bad "narrative" of Islamist extremists. That narrative – that "The West oppresses Islam" – "is still there. If anything, it has grown." It seeks "supremacy not coexistence". He fears that "The West is asleep on this issue", and yet it is the biggest challenge. In Africa, all the good things he sees through his Africa Governance Initiative face "this threat above all others". In "Sudan, Mali, Nigeria, outbursts in Tanzania and Kenya", sectarian Islamist extremism is the great and growing problem. By implication, Mr Blair seems to doubt President Obama's outreach to Islam, because it tends to deal with the wrong people. Since Obama's Cairo speech in 2009, "the whole context has changed". The Muslim Brotherhood is taking over large parts of the Arab world, and "the people without the loudest voices are desperate for our leadership".
(Charles Moore, "The West is asleep on the issue of Islamist extremism," Daily Telegraph (London) July 23, 2012)
Donald Rumsfeld, former U.S. secretary of defense:
In wartime, strategy and statesmanship require a clear-eyed understanding of the enemy and its ideology and a clear articulation of both by the nation's leaders. After 9/11, though, our government never came to such an understanding. With the benefit of nearly a decade of hindsight, we ought to have more precisely labeled our enemies as violent Islamists. President Bush and others were properly careful not to foster or be seen as fostering the idea that Islam—a faith observed by more than one billion people across the world—was our enemy. To succeed we would require the assistance of millions of Muslims—the only ones who could forcefully reject, marginalize, and ultimately defeat the extremist elements within their faith who are our enemies. We did not want to unintentionally antagonize the overwhelming majority who shared our views. But we were wrong not to forcefully communicate that we are fighting an extremist ideology rooted in Islam.
Cover of "Known and Unknown: A Memoir" by Donald Rumsfeld.
Islamists who preach and lay the foundations for jihadist violence pose a serious challenge to liberal democracy. Paradoxically, America's finest traits—our respect for religion and individual liberty—make our country particularly vulnerable to an enemy whose ideology is based in religion. But reluctance to face up to Islamism, to confront it directly and work actively to counter it, has been and remains even at this writing a serious and costly hesitation in our body politic since 9/11"
According to their own utterances, writings, and propaganda, Islamists seek to reestablish the caliphate, an empire that stretched from Spain to India in the tenth century, and expand it around the globe. … Islamist ideology rejects democracy, civil liberties, and laws madeby men. Those of us who embrace such practices are despised and detested as an insult to Allah. Though his statement was mocked and ridiculed by some, President Bush was correct—profoundly so—when he said that the terrorists who struck on 9/11 'hate our freedoms—our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
Still we never successfully translated that basic vision into a message that explained to Americans and the world who we were fighting and why they had attacked us. In fact, we often seemed to do the opposite, out of fear of being labeled anti-Muslim—a pattern that the Obama administration has taken to a dangerous extreme in initially denying the ideological links among the terrorist plots in Times Square, Fort Hood, and Detroit.
(Known and Unknown: A Memoir, New York: Penguin, February 8, 2011)
David Cameron, British prime minister:
we need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of where these terrorist attacks lie. That is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism. We should be equally clear what we mean by this term, and we must distinguish it from Islam. Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. Islamist extremism is a political ideology supported by a minority. At the furthest end are those who back terrorism to promote their ultimate goal: an entire Islamist realm, governed by an interpretation of Sharia. Move along the spectrum, and you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist worldview, including real hostility towards Western democracy and liberal values.
It is vital that we make this distinction between religion on the one hand, and political ideology on the other. Time and again, people equate the two. They think whether someone is an extremist is dependent on how much they observe their religion. So, they talk about moderate Muslims as if all devout Muslims must be extremist. This is profoundly wrong. Someone can be a devout Muslim and not be an extremist. We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing. This highlights, I think, a significant problem when discussing the terrorist threat that we face. There is so much muddled thinking about this whole issue.
On the one hand, those on the hard right ignore this distinction between Islam and Islamist extremism, and just say that Islam and the West are irreconcilable – that there is a clash of civilizations. So, it follows: we should cut ourselves off from this religion, whether that is through forced repatriation, favoured by some fascists, or the banning of new mosques, as is suggested in some parts of Europe . These people fuel Islamophobia, and I completely reject their argument. If they want an example of how Western values and Islam can be entirely compatible, they should look at what's happened in the past few weeks on the streets of Tunis and Cairo: hundreds of thousands of people demanding the universal right to free elections and democracy. The point is this: the ideology of extremism is the problem; Islam emphatically is not. Picking a fight with the latter will do nothing to help us to confront the former.
On the other hand, there are those on the soft left who also ignore this distinction. They lump all Muslims together, compiling a list of grievances, and argue that if only governments addressed these grievances, the terrorism would stop. So, they point to the poverty that so many Muslims live in and say, 'Get rid of this injustice and the terrorism will end.' But this ignores the fact that many of those found guilty of terrorist offences in the UK and elsewhere have been graduates and often middle class. They point to grievances about Western foreign policy and say, 'Stop riding roughshod over Muslim countries and the terrorism will end.' But there are many people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who are angry about Western foreign policy, but who don't resort to acts of terrorism. They also point to the profusion of unelected leaders across the Middle East and say, 'Stop propping these people up and you will stop creating the conditions for extremism to flourish.' But this raises the question: if it's the lack of democracy that is the problem, why are there so many extremists in free and open societies? …
Even if we sorted out all of the problems that I have mentioned, there would still be this terrorism. I believe the root lies in the existence of this extremist ideology. I would argue an important reason so many young Muslims are drawn to it comes down to a question of identity. What I am about to say is drawn from the British experience, but I believe there are general lessons for us all. In the UK , some young men find it hard to identify with the traditional Islam practiced at home by their parents, whose customs can seem staid when transplanted to modern Western countries. But these young men also find it hard to identify with Britain too, because we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity. Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We've failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We've even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values. …
As evidence emerges about the backgrounds of those convicted of terrorist offences, it is clear that many of them were initially influenced by what some have called 'non-violent extremists', and they then took those radical beliefs to the next level by embracing violence. And I say this is an indictment of our approach to these issues in the past. And if we are to defeat this threat, I believe it is time to turn the page on the failed policies of the past. So first, instead of ignoring this extremist ideology, we – as governments and as societies – have got to confront it, in all its forms. And second, instead of encouraging people to live apart, we need a clear sense of shared national identity that is open to everyone.
Let me briefly take each in turn. First, confronting and undermining this ideology. Whether they are violent in their means or not, we must make it impossible for the extremists to succeed. Now, for governments, there are some obvious ways we can do this. We must ban preachers of hate from coming to our countries. We must also proscribe organisations that incite terrorism against people at home and abroad. Governments must also be shrewder in dealing with those that, while not violent, are in some cases part of the problem. We need to think much harder about who it's in the public interest to work with. Some organisations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism.
As others have observed, this is like turning to a right-wing fascist party to fight a violent white supremacist movement. So we should properly judge these organisations: do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separation? These are the sorts of questions we need to ask. Fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organisations – so, no public money, no sharing of platforms with ministers at home.
At the same time, we must stop these groups from reaching people in publicly-funded institutions like universities or even, in the British case, prisons. Now, some say, this is not compatible with free speech and intellectual inquiry. Well, I say, would you take the same view if these were right-wing extremists recruiting on our campuses? Would you advocate inaction if Christian fundamentalists who believed that Muslims are the enemy were leading prayer groups in our prisons? And to those who say these non-violent extremists are actually helping to keep young, vulnerable men away from violence, I say nonsense. Would you allow the far right groups a share of public funds if they promise to help you lure young white men away from fascist terrorism? Of course not. But, at root, challenging this ideology means exposing its ideas for what they are, and that is completely unjustifiable. We need to argue that terrorism is wrong in all circumstances. We need to argue that prophecies of a global war of religion pitting Muslims against the rest of the world are nonsense.
Now, governments cannot do this alone. The extremism we face is a distortion of Islam, so these arguments, in part, must be made by those within Islam. So let us give voice to those followers of Islam in our own countries – the vast, often unheard majority – who despise the extremists and their worldview. Let us engage groups that share our aspirations. …
This terrorism is completely indiscriminate and has been thrust upon us. It cannot be ignored or contained; we have to confront it with confidence – confront the ideology that drives it by defeating the ideas that warp so many young minds at their root, and confront the issues of identity that sustain it by standing for a much broader and generous vision of citizenship in our countries. Now, none of this will be easy. We will need stamina, patience and endurance, and it won't happen at all if we act alone. This ideology crosses not just our continent but all continents, and we are all in this together. At stake are not just lives, it is our way of life. That is why this is a challenge we cannot avoid; it is one we must rise to and overcome.
("PM's speech at Munich Security Conference," February 5, 2011)
Congressional Research Service: In a 131-page study titled American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat, Jerome P. Bjelopera and Mark A. Randol mince no words in discussing the Islamic nature of jihadi terrorism, using the word Islam in some form 118 times, Muslim 214 times, and jihad 332 times. (December 7, 2010)
Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives:
Let us be clear. This is not a war on terrorism. Terrorism is an activity. This is a struggle with radical Islamists in both their militant and their stealth form. The militant form believes in using military power in one form or another. The stealth form believes in using cultural, intellectual and political but their end goal is exactly the same.
The fight against Sharia and the madrassas in mosques which teach hatred and fanaticism is the heart of the enemy movement from which the terrorists spring forth. It's time we had a national debate on this. One of the things I'm going to suggest today is a federal law which says no court anywhere in the United States under any circumstance is allowed to consider Sharia as a replacement for American law. …
Stealth jihadis use political, cultural, societal, religious, intellectual tools; violent jihadis use violence. But in fact they're both engaged in jihad and they're both seeking to impose the same end state which is to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Sharia. …
Sharia in its natural form has principles and punishments totally abhorrent to the Western world, and the underlying basic belief which is that law comes directly from God and is therefore imposed upon humans and no human can change the law without it being an act of apostasy is a fundamental violation of a tradition in the Western system which goes back to Rome, Athens and Jerusalem and which has evolved in giving us freedom across the planet on a scale we can hardly imagine and which is now directly threatened by those who would impose it.
So let me also be quite clear that the rules are radical and horrific. …
I believe that it is very important to draw a distinction between radical jihadis, which I define simply those people who seek to impose Sharia, and those Muslims who seek to practice their religion within a framework of the modern world. I would allow each Muslim to define themselves in that sense, but I would be unequivocal about the fact that radical Islamists are not compatible with the modern world and not compatible with civilization as we know it and therefore we are engaged in a long struggle. …
[Barack Obama] talked at one point about Afghanistan being the central front in the fight against tyranny. I think that's wrong, and I want to propose a very bold difference. I think that there are three fronts in the current conflict that are decisive. The central front is the United States. If we do not secure this country, we will in fact lose. The second front is Europe, precisely the model of the Cold War. If we do not help reassert civilization in Europe and insist on the defeat of radical Islamists in Europe, we will in the long run lose. The third front is the Middle East. …
we have to win in the United States, we have to win in Europe and then there's the Middle East. I would propose if we think of the Middle East as a theater that there are actually seven fronts to be worried about.
- The most important is Iran. Iran is a huge country. It is the most active funder of violent terrorism on the planet. If the Saudis are the most active funder of stealth jihad, the Iranians are the most active funder of violent jihad and is trying to get nuclear weapons.
- The second most important country in the region is Saudi Arabia which is the largest funder of wahhabism and of the spread of militant mosques and madrasahs.
- The third is Pakistan. It's a huge country. It's a country with nuclear weapons. It's a country that we have to take much more seriously than we have.
- The fourth is Afghanistan. … We cannot afford defeat in Afghanistan. The moral effects around the planet, the increase in morale of the radical jihadis and the damage to Western civilization will be incalculable. … this is a serious long-term problem with enormous worldwide implications.
- The fifth, I think, center is Iraq where we have to continue the process of trying to move the country towards the modern world.
- The sixth is Egypt where, frankly, if a post-Mubarak regime collapses, we have an enormous problem. Egypt is a very, very important country in the Arab world.
- The seventh is the Israeli borderlands which I lump together because whether the problems are in Gaza or the West Bank or in South Lebanon.
("America at Risk: Camus, National Security, and Afghanistan," July 29, 2010; these are excerpts from a much longer speech with many details about the Shari'a.)
Barack Obama, U.S. president:
Islam is a great religion. It is one that has prospered side by side with other religions within Africa. And one of the great strengths of Africa is its diversity not only of faith, but of races and ethnicities. But what you have seen in terms of radical Islam is an approach that says that any efforts to modernize, any efforts to provide basic human rights, any efforts to democratize are somehow anti-Islam. And I think that is absolutely wrong. I think the vast majority of people of the Islamic faith reject that.
("Interview of the President by South African Broadcasting Corporation," July 13, 2010)
Joseph Lieberman, U.S. Senator:
In the new National Security Strategy released by the White House last month, the Obama administration rightly reaffirms that America remains a nation at war. Unfortunately, it refuses to identify our enemy in this war as what it is: violent Islamist extremism. …
We must recognize the nature of the fight we are in, not paper it over. The United States is definitely not at war with Islam. But a group of self-identified, extremist Muslims has definitely declared war on us, a war which they explicitly justify by reference to their religion. Muslims across the world see the ideological nature of this struggle. I believe it is disrespectful to suggest they cannot understand these distinctions and act on them.
("Who's the Enemy in the War on Terror?" The Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2010)
Robert Gibbs, White House spokesman: In what seems like an aberration, an Obama administration official spoke of Al-Qaeda as "a global transnational jihadist movement." Don't hold your breathe awaiting use of the word jihad anytime soon again. ("Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs," October 8, 2009)
Siv Jensen, leader of Norway's Framstigsflokkurin (FrP), or Progress Party.
Siv Jensen, leader of Norway's Fremskrittspartiet (FrP), or Progress Party:
Throughout history we managed to fight totalitarian ideas like Nazism and later Communism. As a liberal I will always fight against such ideas and movements. Radical Islam is a dark and scary ideology and fighting it is our era's most important struggle.
("Jensen: Kampen mot radikal islam er vår tids viktigste," Aftenposten, March 2, 2009, translated at Islam in Europe.)
Washington Institute for Near East Policy study: A presidential study group report, "Rewriting the Narrative: An Integrated Strategy for Counterradicalization," gets the basics right, even if it tip-toes around the topic of Islam. Here is a key recommendation:
Expand focus from violent to nonviolent extremism. The Obama administration needs to view the spread of an ideology of radical extremism with urgency and seriousness comparable to its view of the spread of violent groups animated by that ideology. Obviously, the first priority for the government is to prevent and deter radical extremist groups from using violence to achieve their goals. But in addition, the government needs to elevate in bureaucratic priority and public consciousness the need to prevent and deter the spread of radical extremist ideology.
(March 1, 2009)
British counterterrorism report, "Contest 2": A secret counterterrorism strategy report, dubbed "Contest 2," would identify Muslims as "extremist" if they hold views that clash with what the government defines as "shared British values," reports Vikram Dodd in the Guardian, Muslims who fit the definition of extremist would be sidelined and denied public funds. Specifically, this would include Muslims who advocate
And Muslims who:
This approach jibes with the views of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who in December called for challenging nonviolent extremist groups that "skirt the fringes of the law ... to promote hate-filled ideologies." Ed Husain, of the Quilliam Foundation endorses this new approach: "Violent extremism is produced by Islamist extremism and it's only right to get into the root causes." Inayat Bunglawala, formerly of the Muslim Council of Britain and now of "Engage," dislikes the new approach, saying it "would alienate the majority of the British Muslim public. It would be counterproductive and class most Muslims as extremists." (February 17, 2009) Feb. 27, 2007 update: Lorenzo Vidino puts this new policy into context:
A few days ago the BBC aired a very interesting short documentary titled Muslims First, British Second. While covering issues of radicalization among segments of the British Muslim community, the documentary also suggests a major shift taking place within the British government's counterterrorism strategy (known as Contest). A key part of Contest is Prevent, which has traditionally been defined as "stop[ing] people from becoming or supporting terrorists or violent extremists." Since the focus has always been on "violent extremism," British authorities have tolerated and, in many cases, supported organizations that, while considered "extremist" by many officials and policymakers, oppose violence inside the UK. …
This strategy has been criticized by many over the last few years. Now it seems that the Home Office itself is changing direction. Going against what it had consistently stated over the last few years, last week it released a statement saying: "Our strategy to prevent people becoming terrorists is not simply about tackling violent extremism. It is also about tackling those who espouse extremist views that are inconsistent with our shared values. Decisions on which organisations to fund are taken very carefully and are subject to robust scrutiny. We are clear that we will not continue to fund groups where we have evidence of them encouraging discrimination, undermining democracy and being ambiguous towards terrorism."
Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union's counter-terrorism co-ordinator: Concern about stigmatising Muslim populations is hampering policy-making and impeding counterterrorism efforts. "One of the problems ... is that some member states are extremely reluctant to be explicit about the link with religion." (Jason Burke, "Don't be soft on Islam, says EU terror chief," The Observer, September 28, 2008)
United States Central Command Red Team: CENTCOMM has issued an unclassified paper, "Freedom of Speech in Jihad Analysis: Debunking the Myth of Offensive Words" (searchable version here) that replies to recent efforts within the U.S. government (see "Not Calling Islamism the Enemy" for details) to strike Islam and jihad form the official vocabulary. From the executive summary:
There are a growing number of USG documents that suggest that we stand in danger of (if we have not already) demonizing Islam and/or associating all Muslims with violence simply by invoking the Islamic identity, or Islamist goals, of a particular extremist group. While there is concern that we not label all Muslims as Islamist terrorists, it is proper to address certain aspects of violence as uniquely Islamic. This does not imply that all violence is Islamic, or even that all violence perpetrated by Muslims is uniquely Islamic. The fact is our enemies cite the sources of Islam as the foundation of their global jihad. We are left with the responsibility of portraying our enemies in an honest and accurate fashion.
(August 21, 2008)
Antonin Scalia, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, in a dissent concerning the trial of accused terrorists in Guantánamo:
America is at war with radical Islamists. The enemy began by killing Americans and American allies abroad: 241 at the Marine barracks in Lebanon, 19 at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, 224 at our embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, and 17 on the USS Cole in Yemen. On September 11, 2001, the enemy brought the battle to American soil, killing 2,749 at the Twin Towers in New York City, 184 at the Pentagon in Washington, D. C., and 40 in Pennsylvania. It has threatened further attacks against our homeland; one need only walk about buttressed and barricaded Washington, or board a plane anywhere in the country, to know that the threat is a serious one. Our Armed Forces are now in the field against the enemy, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last week, 13 of our countrymen in arms were killed.
("Lakhdar Boumediene, et al., v. George W. Bush, et al.," June 12, 2008)
Michael Chertoff, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security: with the collapse of the Soviet system.
some people, in a flush of optimism, declared it to be the end of history; the ultimate triumph of the idea of the modern enlightenment state that would triumph with concepts like democracy, freedom, and the rule of the law over totalitarian regimes and totalitarian ideologies. But it turned out that it was too soon to declare victory, and that in fact another ideological driver of conflict was, even as the wall fell, beginning to emerge in other parts of the world. And this is the ideology of extreme Islamic radicalism. Now, let me be very clear: Extreme Islamic radicalism is not the same as Islam. It is not the Muslim religion. It is a cult, or a sect, that seeks to use the language and the rhetoric of Islam to justify an extreme, violent world view that believes it will culminate in the domination of significant parts of the world—certainly, parts of the Middle East and South Asia, if not in other areas.
("Remarks … to the Heyman Fellows at Yale University on 'Confronting the Threats to Our Homeland'," April 7, 2008)
Barack Obama, U.S. senator and Democratic Party candidate for president, discussing remarks by his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.:
they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam."
(Speech on race, Philadelphia, March 18, 2008)
John McCain, U.S. senator and Republican Party candidate for president: "We are facing the transcendent challenge of the twenty-first century, and that is radical Islamic extremism.." ("The Republican Debate in New Hampshire," January 5, 2008)
George W. Bush, U.S. president:
the evil and hatred that inspired the death of tens of millions of people in the 20th century is still at work in the world. We saw its face on September the 11th, 2001. Like the Communists, the terrorists and radicals who attacked our nation are followers of a murderous ideology that despises freedom, crushes all dissent, has expansionist ambitions and pursues totalitarian aims. Like the Communists, our new enemies believe the innocent can be murdered to serve a radical vision. Like the Communists, our new enemies are dismissive of free peoples, claiming that those of us who live in liberty are weak and lack the resolve to defend our free way of life. And like the Communists, the followers of violent Islamic radicalism are doomed to fail. By remaining steadfast in freedom's cause, we will ensure that a future American president does not have to stand in a place like this and dedicate a memorial to the millions killed by the radicals and extremists of the 21st century.
("President Bush Attends Dedication of Victims of Communism Memorial," June 12, 2007)
Jon Voight, actor:
When we look around and see the evidence of what is being done and the preparations that are being made to disrupt our country and to destroy it. This growing cancer of fanaticism, it's like 1938—it's very, very similar.
[Question: To the Third Reich?] Yeah.
[Question Islamic fundamentalism?] Whatever you call it, the things that are being said are very similar. It's a matter of whether we recognize that or go into a cocoon and make our own little drama. Do you know what I'm saying? We're debating things instead of recognizing that the real fundamental aspect is that we're at war with a very vicious, very clever enemy. … we have [a] problem facing us now with the Islamic fanatics calling for the destruction of America and all of democracy. It seems there's always a face of evil putting on a mask of God-like beliefs to destroy true believers of innocence and good.
(Adam Laukhuf, "Jon Voight understands that America is under attack. Why don't you?" RadarOnline, April 13, 2007)
Canadian Security Intelligence Service: "Canada's intelligence service has changed the way it describes such terrorists as Osama bin Laden, dropping the word 'Islamic' in favour of 'Islamist.' The had been calling al-Qaeda types Sunni Islamic extremists, but they are now to be labelled Islamist extremists. 'The service believes that the term Islamist is more appropriate given that it has ideological rather than religious connotations,' CSIS spokeswoman Barbara Campion said." (Stewart Bell, "CSIS alters slightly description of terrorists," National Post, March 26, 2007)
Telegram of Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, transmitting the radio remarks of John Carter Vincent, head of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs, to the supreme commander of the Allied Powers in Japan. From W. P. Woodard, The Allied Occupation of Japan 1945–1952 and Japanese Religions (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1972
John David Lewis, a visiting scholar at Bowling Green State: refers to "Islamic Totalitarianism—State Islam—rule by Islamic Law" and calls clearly for its defeat. He also unearthed an October 1945 a telegram from U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes to General Douglas MacArthur, the American commander in Japan, establishing the basic U.S. policy goals towards Shintoism, which had been transformed into a state religion under the Tojo regime.
Shintoism, insofar as it is a religion of individual Japanese, is not to be interfered with. Shintoism, however, insofar as it is directed by the Japanese government, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with. People would not be taxed to support National Shinto and there will be no place for Shintoism in the schools. Shintoism as a state religion—National Shinto, that is—will go . . . Our policy on this goes beyond Shinto . . . The dissemination of Japanese militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed. And the Japanese Government will be required to cease financial and other support of Shinto establishments.
As Lewis points out, substituting "Shintoism" with "Islam" offers a useful guide on how to handle today's strategic problem. ("'No Substitute for Victory': The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism," The Objective Standard, Winter 2006-07)
Paul Goodman, British member of parliament from Wycombe, gave what I called "perhaps the strongest-ever speech by a politician concerning Islamism" and I devote a separate weblog entry to it here. (November 15, 2006)
Jacques Chirac, president of France: "il faut éviter tout ce qui anime les tensions entre peuples et religions et éviter tout amalgame entre l'islam, qui est une religion respectée et respectable naturellement, et l'islamisme radical qui est une action tout à fait différente et qui est une action de nature politique."
In English: "We must avoid anything that increases tensions between peoples and religions, and avoid any connection between Islam, which is – of course – a respected and respectable religion, and radical Islamism, which is a totally different activity and is of a political nature." (Interviewed on "Europe 1" radio, September 18, 2006)
George W. Bush, president of the United States:
Since the horror of 9/11, we've learned a great deal about the enemy. We have learned that they are evil and kill without mercy -- but not without purpose. We have learned that they form a global network of extremists who are driven by a perverted vision of Islam -- a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent. And we have learned that their goal is to build a radical Islamic empire where women are prisoners in their homes, men are beaten for missing prayer meetings, and terrorists have a safe haven to plan and launch attacks on America and other civilized nations. The war against this enemy is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation.
("President's Address to the Nation," September 11, 2006)
Barack Obama, U.S. senator from Illinois: a critical reference to Islamic-inspired aggression in the context of discussion the U.S. Constitution:
It's not just absolute power that the Founders sought to prevent. Implicit in [the Constitution's] structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth, the infallibility of any idea or ideology or theology or "ism," any tyrannical consistency that might … drive both majorities and minorities into the cruelties of the Inquisition, the pogrom, the gulag, or the jihad.
(The Audacity of Hope, 2006)
Martin Amis, British writer:
Until recently it was being said that what we are confronted with, here, is 'a civil war' within Islam. That's what all this was supposed to be: not a clash of civilisations or anything like that, but a civil war within Islam. Well, the civil war appears to be over. And Islamism won it. The loser, moderate Islam, is always deceptively well-represented on the level of the op-ed page and the public debate; elsewhere, it is supine and inaudible. We are not hearing from moderate Islam. Whereas Islamism, as a mover and shaper of world events, is pretty well all there is.
("The age of horrorism," The Observer, September 10, 2006)
George W. Bush, president of the United States:
The terrorists who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001, are men without conscience—but they're not madmen. They kill in the name of a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs that are evil, but not insane. These al Qaeda terrorists and those who share their ideology are violent Sunni extremists. They're driven by a radical and perverted vision of Islam that rejects tolerance, crushes all dissent, and justifies the murder of innocent men, women and children in the pursuit of political power. They hope to establish a violent political utopia across the Middle East, which they call a 'Caliphate'—where all would be ruled according to their hateful ideology. Osama bin Laden has called the 9/11 attacks—in his words—'a great step towards the unity of Muslims and establishing the Righteous [Caliphate].' This caliphate would be a totalitarian Islamic empire encompassing all current and former Muslim lands, stretching from Europe to North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. We know this because al Qaeda has told us. … We know what this radical empire would look like in practice, because we saw how the radicals imposed their ideology on the people of Afghanistan. …
The goal of these Sunni extremists is to remake the entire Muslim world in their radical image. In pursuit of their imperial aims, these extremists say there can be no compromise or dialogue with those they call 'infidels'—a category that includes America, the world's free nations, Jews, and all Muslims who reject their extreme vision of Islam.
("President Discusses Global War on Terror," September 5, 2006)
George W. Bush, president of the United States, referring to a foiled terrorist plot in London:
George W. Bush speaking in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.
("Bush's Remarks on Foiled Plot," August 10, 2006)
Tony Blair, British prime minister:
This is war, but of a completely unconventional kind. 9/11 in the US, 7/7 in the UK, 11/3 in Madrid, the countless terrorist attacks in countries as disparate as Indonesia or Algeria, what is now happening in Afghanistan and in Indonesia, the continuing conflict in Lebanon and Palestine, it is all part of the same thing. What are the values that govern the future of the world? Are they those of tolerance, freedom, respect for difference and diversity or those of reaction, division and hatred? …
It is in part a struggle between what I will call Reactionary Islam and Moderate, Mainstream Islam. But its implications go far wider. We are fighting a war, but not just against terrorism but about how the world should govern itself in the early 21st century, about global values. …
Of course the fanatics, attached to a completely wrong and reactionary view of Islam, had been engaging in terrorism for years before September 11th. In Chechnya, in India and Pakistan, in Algeria, in many other Muslim countries, atrocities were occurring. But we did not feel the impact directly. So we were not bending our eye or our will to it as we should have. We had barely heard of the Taleban. We rather inclined to the view that where there was terrorism, perhaps it was partly the fault of the governments of the countries concerned.
We were in error. In fact, these acts of terrorism were not isolated incidents. They were part of a growing movement. A movement that believed Muslims had departed from their proper faith, were being taken over by Western culture, were being governed treacherously by Muslims complicit in this take-over, whereas the true way to recover not just the true faith, but Muslim confidence and self esteem, was to take on the West and all its works.
Sometimes political strategy comes deliberatively, sometimes by instinct. For this movement, it was probably by instinct. It has an ideology, a world-view, it has deep convictions and the determination of the fanatic. It resembles in many ways early revolutionary Communism. It doesn't always need structures and command centres or even explicit communication. It knows what it thinks.
Its strategy in the late 1990s became clear. If they were merely fighting with Islam, they ran the risk that fellow Muslims - being as decent and fair-minded as anyone else - would choose to reject their fanaticism. A battle about Islam was just Muslim versus Muslim. They realised they had to create a completely different battle in Muslim minds: Muslim versus Western. This is what September 11th did. …
The moment we decided not to change regime but to change the value system, we made both Iraq and Afghanistan into existential battles for Reactionary Islam. We posed a threat not to their activities simply: but to their values, to the roots of their existence. We committed ourselves to supporting Moderate, Mainstream Islam. In almost pristine form, the battles in Iraq or Afghanistan became battles between the majority of Muslims in either country who wanted democracy and the minority who realise that this rings the death-knell of their ideology.
What is more, in doing this, we widened the definition of Reactionary Islam. It is not just Al-Qaeda who felt threatened by the prospect of two brutal dictatorships - one secular, one religious - becoming tolerant democracies. Any other country who could see that change in those countries might result in change in theirs, immediately also felt under threat. Syria and Iran, for example. No matter that previously, in what was effectively another political age, many of those under threat hated each other. Suddenly new alliances became formed under the impulsion of the common threat. …
it is almost incredible to me that so much of Western opinion appears to buy the idea that the emergence of this global terrorism is somehow our fault. For a start, it is indeed global. No-one who ever half bothers to look at the spread and range of activity related to this terrorism can fail to see its presence in virtually every major nation in the world. It is directed at the United States and its allies, of course. But it is also directed at nations who could not conceivably be said to be allies of the West. It is also rubbish to suggest that it is the product of poverty. It is true it will use the cause of poverty. But its fanatics are hardly the champions of economic development. It is based on religious extremism. That is the fact. And not any religious extremism; but a specifically Muslim version. …
it is a global fight about global values; it is about modernisation, within Islam and outside of it; it is about whether our value system can be shown to be sufficiently robust, true, principled and appealing that it beats theirs. Islamist extremism's whole strategy is based on a presumed sense of grievance that can motivate people to divide against each other. Our answer has to be a set of values strong enough to unite people with each other. This is not just about security or military tactics. It is about hearts and minds about inspiring people, persuading them, showing them what our values at their best stand for.
Just to state it in these terms, is to underline how much we have to do. Convincing our own opinion of the nature of the battle is hard enough. But we then have to empower Moderate, Mainstream Islam to defeat Reactionary Islam. … The question is: how do we empower the moderates to defeat the extremists? First, naturally, we should support, nurture, build strong alliances with all those in the Middle East who are on the modernising path. Secondly, we need, as President Bush said on Friday, to re-energise the MEPP [Middle East peace process] between Israel and Palestine; and we need to do it in a dramatic and profound manner. … Third, we need to see Iraq through its crisis and out to the place its people want: a non-sectarian, democratic state. The Iraqi and Afghan fight for democracy is our fight. Same values. Same enemy. Victory for them is victory for us all. Fourth, we need to make clear to Syria and Iran that there is a choice: come in to the international community and play by the same rules as the rest of us; or be confronted. Their support of terrorism, their deliberate export of instability, their desire to see wrecked the democratic prospect in Iraq, is utterly unjustifiable, dangerous and wrong. If they keep raising the stakes, they will find they have miscalculated.
From the above it is clear that from now on, we need a whole strategy for the Middle East. If we are faced with an arc of extremism, we need a corresponding arc of moderation and reconciliation. Each part is linked. Progress between Israel and Palestine affects Iraq. Progress in Iraq affects democracy in the region. Progress for Moderate, Mainstream Islam anywhere puts Reactionary Islam on the defensive everywhere. But none of it happens unless in each individual part the necessary energy and commitment is displayed not fitfully, but continuously.
I said at the outset that the result of this struggle had effects wider than the region itself. Plainly that applies to our own security. This Global Islamist terrorism began in the Middle East. Sort the Middle East and it will inexorably decline. The read-across, for example, from the region to the Muslim communities in Europe is almost instant. But there is a less obvious sense in which the outcome determines the success of our wider world-view. For me, a victory for the moderates means an Islam that is open: open to globalisation, open to working with others of different faiths, open to alliances with other nations."
("Future Foreign Policy," August 1, 2006)
Tony Snow, White House spokesman, discussing a new tape from Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri:
I think it is worth reminding people that a global war on terror involves disparate terrorist organizations using mass communications to achieve the same end, which is to destabilize hopes of democracy and to foment violent action against sovereign governments so that they can spread their own totalitarian brand of Islamic fascism. …
as the war on terror proceeds, you've got to keep in mind it's not merely a war against an abstraction, it's a war against something very concrete, which are Islamo-fascists, Islamic fascists, whatever you want to brand them—people who have a totalitarian view of things which they claim to be representation of a religion, using that to destabilize sovereign states.
("Press Briefing by Tony Snow," July 27, 2006)
Rick Santorum, U.S. senator:
Some say we are fighting a War on Terror. That is like saying World War II was a war on blitzkrieg. Terror like blitzkrieg is a tactic used by our enemy, not the enemy itself. In World War II we fought Naziism and Japanese imperialism. Today, we are fighting against Islamic fascists. They attacked us on September 11th because we are the greatest obstacle to their openly declared mission of subjecting the entire world to their fanatical rule. I believe that the threat of Islamic fascism is just as menacing as the threat from Nazism and Soviet Communism. Now, as then, we face fanatics who will stop at nothing to dominate us. Now, as then, there is no way out; we will either win or lose. …
Islamic fascists have been waging this war against us for a very long time. It did not suddenly erupt on a sunny September day in 2001. Al Qaeda and other such groups had been attacking American targets for decades. A group of Islamic fascists attacked the United States directly, at the World Trade Center, a month into Bill Clinton's first term.
So why is it so hard for so many Americans to see the nature of this war? It's not because the enemy is keeping the hostile objectives a secret. Every major Islamic fascist leader, from heads of states to heads of al Qaeda and Hizbollah, has openly identified the United States as their prime target, and repeatedly promises the creation of a new, global, 'caliphate' where Islamic fascism will rule mankind. This language comes from both Sunni and Shi'ite fanatics, whether Arab, Persian, Indonesian, American, or British.
And yet we are foolishly reluctant to come to terms with this terrible reality. … If we really believed that the Islamic fascists were a real threat to the future of our country, we would not be screaming and hollering about how our government is tracking terrorists' money, and monitoring their telephone conversations. Instead we'd be screaming and hollering that these programs are being compromised.
So why do we choose not to recognize and respect the threat our enemy poses? I think in part because it makes us feel vulnerable. This is not just happening someplace thousands of miles away. The enemy is doing his utmost to kill us, because of who we are, wherever we are, at home or overseas. …
There is a bigger problem: our fear of speaking clearly, publicly, and consistently about the enemy. It is unfashionable in some quarters to speak about the Islamo fascists, because of the misguided cultural reflex that condemns anyone who speaks critically about others' practices or beliefs. Therefore, we can't say or do anything that might offend Muslims. But that's backwards. The real offense to Muslims is to remain silent about an ideology that produces the systemic murder of innocents. Mostly, Muslim innocents. They are the first victims of Islamic fascism, and the enemy directly targets them, as we have heard once again in the most recent audiotape from Osama bin Laden. Those who refuse to criticize Islamic fascism undermine the cause of freedom of religion because if the Islamic fascists win this war, no other religion will be permitted to flourish. …
Islamic fascism is the great test of this generation. When we fail to fully grasp the nature of our enemy and the urgency of our victory, our own people become confused and divided, and the fascists are encouraged to believe that we're afraid of them. … We had no problem branding communism an evil empire – it was. We had no problem understanding that Nazism and fascism were evil racist empires – they were. We must now bring the same clarity to the war against Islamic fascism. … Islamic fascism is truly evil.
("Senator Santorum Delivers Speech at the National Press Club," July 20, 2006)
Alain Chouet, a former senior officer of France's DGSE foreign intelligence service:
It was a doomed enterprise from the very start: a "war on terro"'—it's as ridiculous as a "war on anger." You do not wage a war on terror, you wage a war against people. The Americans have been stuck inside this idea of a "war on terro"' since September 11, they are not asking the right questions. You can always slaughter terrorists—there are endless reserves of them. We should not be attacking the effects of terrorism but its causes: Wahhabite ideology, Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood. But no one will touch any of those.
(Quoted in Michel Moutot, "Washington is losing 'war on terror': experts," Agence France-Presse, July 4, 2006)
George W. Bush, president of the United States:
Iraq is a part of the global war on terror. It's not "the" global war on terror, it's a theater in the global war on terror. And if we fail in Iraq, it's going to embolden al Qaeda types. It will weaken the resolve of moderate nations to stand up to the Islamic fascists.
("Press Conference of the President," June 14, 2006)
Tony Snow, White House press secretary, previewing a presidential speech to West Point graduates: "He's going to discuss the long war with Islamic radicalism ... suggesting that this may be the focus of a lot of their military careers." (Quoted in "Bush to address West Point graduates," Associated Press, May 26, 2006)
Youssef Ibrahim, journalist: "Radical Islam - bred by religious institutions out of our control and under theirs - is the new evil empire. In addition to debasing Western values, it is trapping 300 million Arab minds. … Today, America is waging an epic fight against radical Islam. ("How Not To Debunk Muslim Fundamentalism," The New York Sun, April 21, 2006)
Charles Colson, Prison Fellowship: "The situation today with radical Islam—Islamo-fascism as I call it—is more dangerous than the Cold War." ("The Clash of Worldviews," April 4, 2006)
Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, United Kingdom: "The Report refers in the main to 'Islamist terrorism.' This is the term used by the Security Service and the police to describe the current threat from individuals who claim a religious justification for terrorism, a claim which is rejected by most British Muslims, whose leaders point out that Islam is not a violent religion." ("Report into the London Terrorist Attacks on 7 July 2005," March 30, 2006, p. 4)
Edmund P. Giambastiani, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, as reported on by Gerry J. Gilmore:
"This is not a clash between civilizations, but within one civilization - the Muslim world. This, in many senses, is an ideological civil war between one hard-line view of what Islam means and what such a meaning demands. … this war of ideas targets the real center of gravity for what we call the 'Long War'." The struggle between moderate and radical Muslims puts the interpretation of the religion at stake, "and that acceptance or rejection is at the heart of this war of ideas that we are in fact engaged in today."
Proponents of radical Islam want to chase the United States from the Middle East, Giambastiani said, and then overthrow the current governments, replacing them with functionaries that mirror radical ideology. The radicals also want to create safe havens across the world, he said, to be used to conduct ideological and terrorism training of new members. The ultimate goal of al Qaeda and other radical Islamic organizations is to "bankrupt and exhaust" the United States and other enemies and achieve world domination. "These enemies in this global war on terrorism seek to abolish our - your—way of life."
Governments that don't reflect the radicals' world view will be replaced "with the rules of an extremist, Islamic, empire. … to my mind, we still haven't come up with a good enough strategy or even enough good ideas for competing in the war of ideas in this Islamic civil war in a way which strengthens the hand of the Islamic moderates against their hard-line, extremist co-believers."
("Anti-Terror War Is Struggle of Ideas, Vice Chairman Says," American Forces Press Service, March 29, 2006)
Tony Blair, prime minister of the United Kingdom, took the argument forward in an important speech::
There is an interesting debate going on inside government today about how to counter extremism in British communities. Ministers have been advised never to use the term "Islamist extremist". It will give offence. It is true. It will. There are those - perfectly decent-minded people - who say the extremists who commit these acts of terrorism are not true Muslims. And, of course, they are right. They are no more proper Muslims than the Protestant bigot who murders a Catholic in Northern Ireland is a proper Christian. But, unfortunately, he is still a "Protestant" bigot. To say his religion is irrelevant is both completely to misunderstand his motive and to refuse to face up to the strain of extremism within his religion that has given rise to it.
Yet, in respect of radical Islam, the paradigm insists that to say what is true, is to provoke, to show insensitivity, to demonstrate the same qualities of purblind ignorance that leads us to suppose that Muslims view democracy or liberty in the same way we do. …
This terrorism will not be defeated until its ideas, the poison that warps the minds of its adherents, are confronted, head-on, in their essence, at their core. By this I don't mean telling them terrorism is wrong. I mean telling them their attitude to America is absurd; their concept of governance pre-feudal; their positions on women and other faiths, reactionary and regressive; and then since only by Muslims can this be done: standing up for and supporting those within Islam who will tell them all of this but more, namely that the extremist view of Islam is not just theologically backward but completely contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Koran.
But in order to do this, we must reject the thought that somehow we are the authors of our own distress; that if only we altered this decision or that, the extremism would fade away. The only way to win is: to recognise this phenomenon is a global ideology; to see all areas, in which it operates, as linked; and to defeat it by values and ideas set in opposition to those of the terrorists. …
by the early 20th century, after renaissance, reformation and enlightenment had swept over the Western world, the Muslim and Arab world was uncertain, insecure and on the defensive. Some countries like Turkey went for a muscular move to secularism. Others found themselves caught between colonisation, nascent nationalism, political oppression and religious radicalism. Muslims began to see the sorry state of Muslim countries as symptomatic of the sorry state of Islam. Political radicals became religious radicals and vice versa. Those in power tried to accommodate the resurgent Islamic radicalism by incorporating some of its leaders and some of its ideology. The result was nearly always disastrous. The religious radicalism was made respectable; the political radicalism suppressed and so in the minds of many, the cause of the two came together to symbolise the need for change. So many came to believe that the way of restoring the confidence and stability of Islam was the combination of religious extremism and populist politics.
The true enemies became "the West" and those Islamic leaders who co-operated with them.
The extremism may have started through religious doctrine and thought. But soon, in offshoots of the Muslim brotherhood, supported by Wahabi extremists and taught in some of the Madrassas of the Middle East and Asia, an ideology was born and exported around the world.
The worst terrorist act was 9/11 in New York and Washington DC in 2001, where three thousand people were murdered. But the reality is that many more had already died not just in acts of terrorism against Western interests, but in political insurrection and turmoil round the world. Over 100,000 died in Algeria. In Chechnya and Kashmir political causes that could have been resolved became brutally incapable of resolution under the pressure of terrorism. Today, in well over 30 or 40 countries terrorists are plotting action loosely linked with this ideology. Its roots are not superficial, therefore, they are deep, embedded now in the culture of many nations and capable of an eruption at any time.
The different aspects of this terrorism are linked. The struggle against terrorism in Madrid or London or Paris is the same as the struggle against the terrorist acts of Hezbollah in Lebanon or the PIJ in Palestine or rejectionist groups in Iraq. The murder of the innocent in Beslan is part of the same ideology that takes innocent lives in Saudi Arabia, the Yemen or Libya. And when Iran gives support to such terrorism, it becomes part of the same battle with the same ideology at its heart.
True the conventional view is that, for example, Iran is hostile to Al Qaida and therefore would never support its activities. But as we know from our own history of conflict, under the pressure of battle, alliances shift and change. Fundamentally, for this ideology, we are the enemy.
Which brings me to the fundamental point. "We" is not the West. "We" are as much Muslim as Christian or Jew or Hindu. "We" are those who believe in religious tolerance, openness to others, to democracy, liberty and human rights administered by secular courts. …
This is, ultimately, a battle about modernity. Some of it can only be conducted and won within Islam itself. But don't let us in our desire not to speak of what we can only imperfectly understand; or our wish not to trespass on sensitive feelings, end up accepting the premise of the very people fighting us.
The extremism is not the true voice of Islam. Neither is that voice necessarily to be found in those who are from one part only of Islamic thought, however assertively that voice makes itself heard. It is, as ever, to be found in the calm, but too often unheard beliefs of the many Muslims, millions of them the world over, including in Europe, who want what we all want: to be ourselves free and for others to be free also; who regard tolerance as a virtue and respect for the faith of others as part of our own faith. That is what this battle is about, within Islam and outside of it; it is a battle of values and progress; and therefore it is one we must win.
("Terrorism must be tackled 'head on'," March 21, 2006)
Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore: "Islam has not been a problem. however, contemporary radical Islam, or Islamism, is a problem. … Islamists believe the time is ripe to reassert Islam's supremacy." ("Oil and Islamism: Top World Agenda," Forbes, March 13, 2006)
George W. Bush, before leaving India for Pakistan: "I will meet with [Pakistani] President [Pervez] Musharraf to discuss Pakistan's vital cooperation in the war on terror and our efforts to foster economic and political development so that we can reduce the appeal of radical Islam." ("Bush to focus on 'radical Islam'," BBC, March 3, 2006)
George W. Bush, U.S.president, spoke of radical Islam twice in his State of the Union Address.
First, as the main enemy of freedom: "No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam—the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death."
Second, as the main enemy of the United States: "In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. … By allowing radical Islam to work its will—by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself—we would signal to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals, or even in our own courage. " ("State of the Union Address," January 31, 2006)
(1) In his landmark October 6, 2005, speech (excerpted at length below) the president used radical Islam as a descriptive term ("a radical Islamic empire") and also a list of synonyms: "Islamic radicalism," "militant Jihadism," and "Islamo-fascism." But, to my knowledge, this is the first time that he has referred to "radical Islam" as such. It is a significant step as it moves the U.S. government closer accurately to naming the enemy.
(2) The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a press release yesterday demanding that the president not use "loaded" terms in his address, such as Islamo-fascism, militant jihadism, Islamic radicalism, or totalitarian Islamic empire. In one sense, CAIR got its way, as none of those words featured in this show-piece annual address. But I doubt there is much satisfaction over the above sentences on New Jersey Avenue. [Feb. 1, 2006 update: The Florida representative of CAIR, Ahmed Bedier, went on WFLA today and described himself as "disappointed that he would link Islam to radicalism."]
(3) But I do take personal satisfaction from this major new use of radical Islam, as I have been using and promoting it since late 2004.
Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore, answering the question, how serious is the threat of radical Islam:
This battle is going to be won and lost in the Middle East. The problem in Iraq is very grave. If the jihadists win there, I'm in trouble here. [Their attitude will be]: We've beaten the Russians in Afghanistan, we've beaten the Americans and the coalition in Iraq. There's nothing we cannot do. We can fix Southeast Asia too. There will be such a surge of confidence for all jihadists. The U.S. must be seen—if not to have prevailed or to have created a democratic Iraq—to at least to have denied the jihadists a victory. Because otherwise the consequences for America and for the world are horrendous.
("Lee Kuan Yew Reflects," Time, December 5, 2005)
S Jayakumar, deputy prime minister of Singapore:
increasingly, we are seeing religion, in particular Islam, wrongfully invoked as the justification for terrorist acts. The reasons for this are many and complex, I shall not dwell on them here. However, this is a challenge that must be taken up by religious and community leaders as much as by security and intelligence people.
("Strengthening the Asia - Middle East Partnership against Terrorism," December 3, 2005)
Stephen Hadley, national security adviser to President Bush:
Although we have sometimes struggled to find the proper label for the enemy we face in the War on Terror – be it Islamic extremists, militant Jihadists, or Islamo-fascists – we have a clear understanding of the nature of the enemy and the ideology that motivates them.
("Remarks by Stephen Hadley to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee National Summit 2005," October 26, 2005)
Roger Cohen, columnist:
Bush may be naïve in arguing that the West's only fight is with a "perversion" of Islam, a latter-day Fascist ideology. Rather, it is with a deep-rooted movement of Islamization for which the West bears significant responsibility. The Muslim sea is deep and wide and not about to yield its sharp-toothed fish.
("10 reasons terror meets silence from Muslims," International Herald Tribune, October 26, 2005)
Stephen Hadley, national security adviser to President Bush:
we must encourage Islamic moderates to dispute the distorted vision of Islam advanced by the terrorists. A struggle is under way for the soul of Islam – an ideological struggle for the support and loyalty of the Muslim world. Winning this struggle will require a direct challenge to the extremist voices within Islam. This is obviously not something the American government can do. It is Muslim voices from around the world that must take up this challenge.
("Remarks by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley to the Council on Foreign Relations," October 18, 2005)
Thomas L. Friedman, columnist: "Western leaders keep saying after every terrorist attack, 'This is not about Islam.' Sorry, but this is all about Islam. It is about a war within Islam between a jihadist-fascist minority engaged in crimes against humanity in the name of Islam, and a passive Sunni silent majority." ("Silence and Suicide," The New York Times, October 12, 2005)
George W. Bush, U.S. president:
The images and experience of September the 11th are unique for Americans. Yet the evil of that morning has reappeared on other days, in other places—in Mombasa, and Casablanca, and Riyadh, and Jakarta, and Istanbul, and Madrid, and Beslan, and Taba, and Netanya, and Baghdad, and elsewhere. …
Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus—and also against Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.…
Islamic radicalism is more like a loose network with many branches than an army under a single command. Yet these operatives, fighting on scattered battlefields, share a similar ideology and vision for our world.
We know the vision of the radicals because they've openly stated it—in videos, and audiotapes, and letters, and declarations, and websites. First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions. Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, quote, their "resources, sons and money to driving the infidels out of their lands." Their tactic to meet this goal has been consistent for a quarter-century: They hit us, and expect us to run. They want us to repeat the sad history of Beirut in 1983, and Mogadishu in 1993 -- only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.
Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. Now they've set their sights on Iraq. Bin Laden has stated: "The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries. It's either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation." The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.
Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.
Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. Well, they are fanatical and extreme—and they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed, "We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life." And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously—and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply. …
The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that his—that this is the road to paradise—though he never offers to go along for the ride.
Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life. We've seen it in the murders of Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, and Margaret Hassan, and many others. In a courtroom in the Netherlands, the killer of Theo Van Gogh turned to the victim's grieving mother and said, "I do not feel your pain—because I believe you are an infidel." And in spite of this veneer of religious rhetoric, most of the victims claimed by the militants are fellow Muslims.
When 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing, or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, or hospital workers are killed caring for the wounded, this is murder, pure and simple—the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion. These militants are not just the enemies of America, or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and the enemies of humanity. (Applause.) We have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before, in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, and the Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields.
Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth they have endless ambitions of imperial domination, and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves. Under their rule, they have banned books, and desecrated historical monuments, and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, and to control every aspect of life, and to rule the soul, itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing for a future of oppression and misery.
Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent. Zarqawi has said that Americans are, quote, "the most cowardly of God's creatures." But let's be clear: It is cowardice that seeks to kill children and the elderly with car bombs, and cuts the throat of a bound captive, and targets worshipers leaving a mosque. It is courage that liberated more than 50 million people. It is courage that keeps an untiring vigil against the enemies of a rising democracy. And it is courage in the cause of freedom that once again will destroy the enemies of freedom.
And Islamic radicalism, like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure. By fearing freedom—by distrusting human creativity, and punishing change, and limiting the contributions of half the population—this ideology undermines the very qualities that make human progress possible, and human societies successful. The only thing modern about the militants' vision is the weapons they want to use against us. The rest of their grim vision is defined by a warped image of the past—a declaration of war on the idea of progress, itself. And whatever lies ahead in the war against this ideology, the outcome is not in doubt: Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation, decline, and collapse. Because free peoples believe in the future, free peoples will own the future. …
As we do our part to confront radicalism, we know that the most vital work will be done within the Islamic world, itself. And this work has begun. … Many people of the Muslim faith are proving their commitment at great personal risk. Everywhere we have engaged the fight against extremism, Muslim allies have stood up and joined the fight, becoming partners in a vital cause. Afghan troops are in combat against Taliban remnants. Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat al Qaeda in their own country. These brave citizens know the stakes—the survival of their own liberty, the future of their own region, the justice and humanity of their own tradition—and that United States of America is proud to stand beside them.
("President Discusses War on Terror at National Endowment for Democracy," October 6, 2005)
U.S. Government Accountability Office: The title alone of its 25-page study, Information on U.S. Agencies' Efforts to Address Islamic Extremism, evidences a willingness to finger Islamism as the enemy. As the summary puts it, "U.S. government and other experts have reported that Islamic extremism is on the rise and that the spread of Islamic extremism is the pre-eminent threat facing the United States." (September 2005)
Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of the Washington Times: "Up until now, we have never accurately named the enemy or the danger. If the government can't speak the real name and nature of the enemy, it becomes impossible to explain, or even design, a policy for victory. … What we need is a clear congressional declaration of war, as prescribed by the Constitution. Congress should declare war on the Islamist jihadists. Naming the formal enemy limits the focus of our war effort to the militant Islamists who have declared jihad against the West. There are many terrorist groups in the world. Many are no threat to the United States. The current danger is the Islamist one. Naming the threat also expands the scope of our war effort to all the networks of radical Islam, including mosques, schools and radical sites on the Internet. It is not only terrorist acts that we are confronting, but the propaganda and organizations that make them possible. ("At war with an enemy of an unspoken name," The Washington Times, Sep. 14, 2005)
David Cameron, British Conservative frontbencher: "The driving force behind today's terrorist threat is Islamist fundamentalism. The struggle we are engaged in is, at root, ideological. During the last century a strain of Islamist thinking has developed which, like other totalitarianisms, such as Nazi-ism and Communism, offers its followers a form of redemption through violence." Cameron goes on to draw out these parallels in some detail. ("Speech to the Foreign Policy Centre," August 24, 2005)
The Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) released its Annual Report 2004 and in it referred 27 times to "Islamist terrorism." The first lines of the foreward set the tone for what follows: "In 2004 the Netherlands was hit by a terrorist attack: the murder of film-director Theo van Gogh. The possibility of an attack had been anticipated for some time, in view of the threat emanating from radical Islamist terrorism. The fact that an attack indeed took place has underlined the vulnerability of our society. In order to reduce this vulnerability it is necessary to prevent radicalisation among Muslim communities and to identify and frustrate violent activities at an early stage. This is a task for each body responsible for security in this country." (August 21, 2005)
George W. Bush: America's enemies "are ideologues. These people have an ideology. It's really different from ours. We believe in human rights and human dignity and minority rights and rights for women and rights to worship freely. That's what we believe. We believe in a lot of rights for people. These killers don't. They have a narrow view of life. They have taken a great religion and converted it to their own vision. They have goals; they want to drive us out of parts of the world. They want the free world to retreat so they can topple governments. They want to be able to do in parts of the world that which they did in Afghanistan—take over a government; impose their negative, dark vision on people. … This is—this is their vision, and they would like—they would like to see that vision spread. Make no mistake about it, this is a war against people who profess an ideology, and they use terror as a means to achieve their objectives." August 3, 2005)
Jack Straw, British foreign secretary: "One of the things we've got to do is give [Muslim] leaders the confidence to face down terrorism justified by Islam." Moderate Muslims need to realise they are not alone in this struggle. "Yes, suicide bombing is pretty much isolated to people who follow one religion today," but Muslim and Arab states need to know that the United Kingdom and other societies have faced a similar struggle. Straw specifically mentions to Muslims Guy Fawkes's gunpowder plot to blow up parliament in 1605 and the nineteenth century effort of non-Anglicans to win their civic rights. (James Blitz, "Straw's history lesson aims to bring Muslims on side," Financial Times, August 2 2005)
U.S. Department of Defense: "On March 3, with little fanfare, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, signed a comprehensive new plan for the war on terrorism. … Officially titled the National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism, the document is the culmination of 18 months of work and is a significant evolution from the approach adopted after the 9/11 attacks, which was to focus on capturing or killing the top al Qaeda leaders. For the first time since then, Pentagon officials say, they have a strategy that examines the nature of the antiterror war in depth, lays out a detailed road map for prosecuting it, and establishes a score card to determine where and whether progress is being made. …
"The terrorist threat against the United States is now defined as 'Islamist extremism'—not just al Qaeda. The Pentagon document identifies the 'primary enemy' as 'extremist Sunni and Shia movements that exploit Islam for political ends' and that form part of a 'global web of enemy networks.' Recognizing that al Qaeda's influence has spread, the United States is now targeting some two dozen groups—a significant change from the early focus on just al Qaeda and its leadership." (Linda Robinson, "Plan Of Attack: The Pentagon has a secret new strategy for taking on terrorists—and taking them down," U.S. News & World Report, August 1, 2005)
The Dallas Morning News, in an editorial: "For the best guidance on what to call this war, the Bush administration should look to The 9/11 Commission Report, Page 362, to be exact: 'The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific [than terrorism]. It is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism – especially the al-Qaeda network, its affiliates and its ideology.' 'Islamist terrorism' is a far more precise term than what the administration has embraced so far. Finding the right words is difficult and important, so the administration should keep trying. 'Islamist terrorism' is a term that explains clearly that this struggle is against a small group of extremists who pervert religious tenets to cloak their evil deeds under the label of religion. If we cannot describe our enemy with such precision, how can we guard ourselves against him? Indeed, how can we defeat him?" ("Know Thy Enemy: Not 'violent extremism,' but Islamist terrorism," July 29, 2005)
Ahmed H. Al-Rahim, former instructor of Arabic and Islamic studies at Harvard University: "the battle against Islamism—and also for the heart of Islam—has become a battle for the West to fight." ("Why Not a 'Million Muslim March'?" July 26, 2005)
Kim R. Holmes, Heritage Foundation: "The Administration still appears to be squeamish about naming radical Islam by name. While it is true that America opposes any ideological group that employs terrorism, it also is true that we are, correctly, fixated on radical Islamic groups. We have hesitated emphasizing this fact in some of our official public statements for fear of offending innocent Muslims or alienating potential allies in Muslim countries. Might something be wrong still with our stated policy if we cannot articulate an obvious fact about our strategic aims? It's one thing to be tactically clever and not alienate innocent people or potential allies. But it is another if that reluctance blurs the reality of our objectives and confuses people—particularly Americans—about who our enemy really is and what really is at stake." ("What's in a Name? 'War on Terror' Out, 'Struggle Against Extremism' In," July 26, 2005)
U.S. Department of Defense: "In recent speeches and news conferences, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the nation's senior military officer have spoken of 'a global struggle against violent extremism' rather than 'the global war on terror,' which had been the catchphrase of choice. Administration officials say that phrase may have outlived its usefulness, because it focused attention solely, and incorrectly, on the military campaign. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the National Press Club on Monday that he had 'objected to the use of the term "war on terrorism" before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution.' He said the threat instead should be defined as violent extremists, with the recognition that 'terror is the method they use.' Although the military is heavily engaged in the mission now, he said, future efforts require 'all instruments of our national power, all instruments of the international communities' national power.' The solution is 'more diplomatic, more economic, more political than it is military,' he concluded.
"Mr. Rumsfeld spoke in the new terms on Friday when he … described America's efforts as it 'wages the global struggle against the enemies of freedom, the enemies of civilization.' … "'It is more than just a military war on terror,' Steven J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said in a telephone interview. 'It's broader than that. It's a global struggle against extremism. We need to dispute both the gloomy vision and offer a positive alternative.' … "Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy, said in an interview that if the nation's efforts were limited to 'protecting the homeland and attacking and disrupting terrorist networks, you're on a treadmill that is likely to get faster and faster with time.' The key to 'ultimately winning the war,' he said, 'is addressing the ideological part of the war that deals with how the terrorists recruit and indoctrinate new terrorists.'" (Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, "U.S. Officials Retool Slogan for Terror War, The New York Times, July 26, 2005)
Rochelle Wilner, senior vice president, Canadian Coalition for Democracies: "When Canadians are burying their love ones following a terrorist attack, we can predict today with near certainty that the killers will not be Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Rastafarian. They will be Muslim and they will have been radicalized in a mosque or Islamic community centre. That is where investigative and security resources must be focused." ("Martin dithers on protecting Canadians from terrorist threat" press release, July 26, 2005)
Tony Blair, prime minister of the United Kingdom, said he is determined that the "evil, bankrupt ideology based on the perversion of Islam" espoused by the terrorists would be defeated. (Tom Baldwin, Phillip Webster and Stewart Tendler, "Police hope for vital clues left behind by failed suicide squad," The Times, July 22, 2005)
Tony Blair, prime minister of the United Kingdom: "The greatest danger is that we fail to face up to the nature of the threat we are dealing with. … What we are confronting here is an evil ideology. It is not a clash of civilisations; all civilised people, Muslim or other, feel revulsion at it. But it is a global struggle and it is a battle of ideas, hearts and minds, both within Islam and outside it. This is the battle that must be won, a battle not just about the terrorist methods but their views. Not just their barbaric acts, but their barbaric ideas. Not only what they do but what they think and the thinking they would impose on others. …
"Neither is it true that they have no demands. They do. It is just that no sane person would negotiate on them. They demand the elimination of Israel; the withdrawal of all westerners from Muslim countries, irrespective of the wishes of people and Government; the establishment of effectively Taleban states and Sharia law in the Arab world en route to one Caliphate of all Muslim nations. We don't have to wonder what type of country those states would be. Afghanistan was such a state. Girls put out of school. Women denied even rudimentary rights. People living in abject poverty and oppression. All of it justified by reference to religious faith.
"The 20th century showed how powerful political ideologies could be. This is a religious ideology, a strain within the world-wide religion of Islam, as far removed from its essential decency and truth as Protestant gunmen who kill Catholics or vice versa, are from Christianity. But do not let us underestimate it or dismiss it. Those who kill in its name believe genuinely that in doing it, they do God's work; they go to paradise.
"From the mid 1990s onwards, statements from Al Qaeda, gave very clear expression to this ideology.
"Every Muslim, the minute he can start differentiating, carries hatred towards the Americans, Jews and Christians. This is part of our ideology.
"The creation of Israel is a crime and it has to be erased. You should know that targeting Americans and Jews and killing them anywhere you find them on the earth is one of the greatest duties and one of the best acts of piety you can offer to God Almighty.
"Just as great is their hatred for so-called apostate Governments in Muslim countries. This is why mainstream Muslims are also regarded as legitimate targets.
"At last year's Party Conference I talked about this ideology in these terms:
"Its roots are not superficial but deep, in the madrassehs of Pakistan, in the extreme forms of Wahabi doctrine in Saudi Arabia, in the former training camps of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan; in the cauldron of Chechnya; in parts of the politics of most countries of the Middle East and many in Asia; in the extremist minority that now in every European city preach hatred of the West and our way of life. This is what we are up against. It cannot be beaten except by confronting it, symptoms and causes, head-on. Without compromise and without delusion. …
"Their cause is not founded on an injustice. It is founded on a belief, one whose fanaticism is such it can't be moderated. It can't be remedied. It has to be stood up to. …
"If it is the plight of the Palestinians that drives them, why, every time it looks as if Israel and Palestine are making progress, does the same ideology perpetrate an outrage that turns hope back into despair? If it is Afghanistan that motivates them, why blow up innocent Afghans on their way to their first ever election? If it is Iraq that motivates them, why is the same ideology killing Iraqis by terror in defiance of an elected Iraqi Government? What was September 11, 2001, the reprisal for? Why, even after the first Madrid bomb and the election of a new Spanish Government, were they planning another atrocity when caught? Why, if it is the cause of Muslims that concerns them, do they kill so many with such callous indifference?
"We must pull this up by its roots. Within Britain, we must join up with our Muslim community to take on the extremists. Worldwide we should confront it everywhere it exists. … I want also to work with other nations to promote the true face of Islam world-wide. Round the world, there are conferences already being held, numerous inter-faith dialogues in place, but we need to bring all of these activities together and give them focus.
"We must be clear about how we win this struggle. We should take what security measures we can. But let us not kid ourselves. In the end, it is by the power of argument, debate, true religious faith and true legitimate politics that we will defeat this threat. That means not just arguing against their terrorism but their politics and their perversion of religious faith. It means exposing, as the rubbish it is, the propaganda about America and its allies wanting to punish Muslims or eradicate Islam. It means championing our values of freedom, tolerance and respect for others. It means explaining why the suppression of women and the disdain for democracy are wrong. …
"Moderates are not moderate through weakness but through strength. Now is the time to show it in defence of our common values." (talk to a Labour Party policy forum, July 16, 2005)
Tom Tancredo, Republican congressman from Colorado, arguing against the idea that the United States is at war with "terrorism": "We are at war with militant Islam. That's it. That's the bottom-line basic truth. We'd better understand it, and we'd better react to it. That's how far this has gone, this politically correct attitude, that you can't even say that. You can't even utter those words. … None of the people who drove those planes into buildings were Presbyterians." ("Tancredo pushes GOP to tackle immigration," The Washington Times, July 14, 2005)
Tony Blair, prime minister of the United Kingdom: "security measures alone will not tackle the problem [of terrorism]. We are dealing not with an isolated criminal act but with an extreme and evil ideology, the roots of which lie in a perverted and poisonous misinterpretation of the religion of Islam. … we will seek to debate the right way forward in combating that evil in the Muslim community with Muslim leaders. We intend to begin that process immediately. In the end, only the community itself can take on and defeat it, but we can all help and facilitate. … we are talking to other nations, Muslim and non-Muslim, about how to mobilise internationally the moderate and true voice of Islam." ("Prime Minister's Question Time," Hansard, July 13, 2005)
Charles Clarke, British home secretary: "we have to defend the values of that kind of society against those who would seek to destroy it. That means standing out against - in a very strong way - anybody who preaches the kind of fundamentalism which can lead four young men to blow themselves and others up on the Tube on a Thursday morning." (Simon Freeman, "EU agrees to speed up anti-terror measures," The Times (London), July 13, 2005)
The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial: "neither poverty nor ignorance nor disease drove Mohammed Atta into the North Tower of the World Trade Center; hatred did, as did belief. Those who are serious about fighting terrorism at "the source" should ask themselves where those beliefs come from. As the British government is finding out, the problem isn't about economics but about ideology. And the answer lies in fighting evil ideas, such as jihad, with good ones, such as democracy." ("The Educated Terrorist," July 12, 2005)
George W. Bush, as interpreted by David E. Sanger: "President Bush on Monday [July 11] added the deadly bombings in London to his list of reasons that the United States should aggressively continue pursuing terrorists around the world. … It was the second time in the last week that he has begun to describe the terror groups as having an ideology; in the past the White House has said, in the context of Iraq, that they have nothing to offer the people of Iraq, and no governing philosophy other than attacking the United States and its allies. But now that tone appears to have changed, in what a senior White House official said last week was an effort 'to define the stakes more clearly.' … 'In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism, and freedom prevailed,' [Bush] said. He added later that 'in the cold war, freedom defeated the ideology of Communism and led to a Europe whole, free and at peace.' … Yet the president has not, in his two speeches, defined the 'murderous ideology' in any detail. On Monday, he simply quoted Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain saying, 'There is no hope in terrorism, nor any future in it worth living'." ("Bush Vows to Fight Until Terrorists' Defeat," The New York Times, July 12, 2005)
Tony Blair, prime minister of the United Kingdom: "It seems probable that the attack [in London on July 7] was carried out by Islamist extremist terrorists, of the kind who over recent years have been responsible for so many innocent deaths in Madrid, Bali, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kenya, Tanzania, Pakistan, Yemen, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco, of course in New York on September 11th, but in many other countries too." ("Statement to Parliament on the London bombings," July 11, 2005) Comment: Good statement, but what happened to the innocent deaths in Israel, Iraq, and India?
David E. Kaplan: "Nearly four years after 9/11, officials have finally figured out who the enemy is. The White House's new counterterrorism strategy, now being revamped at the National Security Council, will focus more sharply on Islamic extremism, not terrorism. One important sign of the change: Policymakers are ready to abandon their shorthand for the conflict—GWOT, or the global war on terrorism. The likely new name is simply WOE—the war on extremism. The reason, explains a senior national security official: 'Terrorism is the method rather than the enemy'." ("Sometimes, It's Just All in the Name," U.S. News & World Report, June 6, 2005) In this context, the term "global war on extremism (GWOE)" appears first to have been mentioned in print on March 18, 2005, by Henry C. K. Liu in Asia Times, with reference to the Pentagon's 2005 Third Quadrennial Review. In a column, "A Shifting Focus on Terrorism," Jim Hoagland used the term on April 22, 2005. June 7, 2005 update: "War on extremism" has become part of the daily vocabulary, as can be seen in a DoD press release about closing U.S. military bases. Existing bases, says Philip W. Grone, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, ""are not positioned as effectively as they could be to meet the demands of the war on extremism and future challenges the nation may face." (American Forces Information Services, "BRAC Positive for Affected Communities, Senior Official Says.")
Dennis Richardson, director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the country's intelligence agency: "The biggest security challenge we face at the moment [is] in respect of people who hide within Islam and who seek to justify what they do in the name of Islam. That being the case, it is inevitable that most of our targets today will be people who claim to be Muslims, and therefore might reside in Australian Muslim communities." Asked about the perception that anti-terrorism laws single out Muslims, he agreed: "I think that would be probably an accurate statement. Indeed, I think, that there should be such a perception is understandable." (Ian McPhedran, "Muslims in ASIO sights," Melbourne Herald Sun. May 20, 2005)
George W. Bush, asked about a photograph published today showing Saddam Hussein in his underwear: "I don't think a photo inspires murderers. I think they're inspired by an ideology that is so barbaric and backwards that it's hard for many in the Western world to comprehend how they think. But I would just remind people, if you want to know how ideologically grim their vision of the world is, just remember the Taliban. They said, if you don't agree with our religious views you'll be prosecuted; if you're a woman who seeks freedom, you'll be beaten." ("President Bush Meets with Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen," White House website, May 20, 2005)
Muammar al-Qaddafi, dictator of Libya: "Terror is identified with Islam." ("PA demands apology from Gadhafi for 'idiot' comments," Ha'aretz, March 24, 2005)
Condoleezza Rice: "we're going to build a different kind of Middle East, a different kind of broader Middle East that's going to be stable and democratic and where our children will one day not have to worry about the kind of ideologies of hatred that led those people to fly those airplanes into those buildings on September 11th." ("Remarks to Troops at the Kabul Compound,"March 17, 2005)
Michael Medved, film critic: "our enemies do, after al, have a name and address. They are Islamic and fascist and they aim at our annihilation." ("War Films, Hollywood and Popular Culture," Imprimis, March 9, 2005)
Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police: Britain faces a potential terrorist threat from "very many" Muslim men who returned to Britain after spending time in training camps in Afghanistan. Sir Ian supported the comments by Hazel Blears (below): "I think that Hazel is right to say it and I have said something similar in the past. … while I am very concerned about the Muslim community's sense of belonging, we do have to accept that the events around the Gloucester shoe bomber [Sajit Badat] do show us that there are people within that community who misguidedly, and entirely in conflict with the values of Islam, are prepared to use violence against the United Kingdom. Therefore we have to do something with this and I think there would be a much greater outcry if we did absolutely nothing and part of London disappeared in smoke." (John Steele, "Terror threat from 'very many' Muslim men, says Met chief," The Daily Telegraph, March 4, 2005)
Hazel Blears, U.K. Minister for Counter-Terrorism: Britain's 1.5 million Muslims should accept as a reality that people of Islamic appearance are more likely to be stopped and searched. "At the moment the threat is more likely to come from those associated with a most extreme form of Islam or who are falsely hiding behind Islam," she told MPs. "It means that some of our counter-terrorism powers will be disproportionately experienced by people in the Muslim community. There is no getting away from the fact." Because the current threat comes from people masquerading as Islamists, police would have that in mind when using stop-and-search powers. "That is the reality. I do not think it should go unsaid." (Richard Ford and Stewart Tendler, "Muslims can expect the police to target them, minister says," The Times (London), March 2, 2005) Comment: It makes good sense except for the part about "masquerading as Islamists."
Ivan Rioufol, French columnist: "What France does not want to see is clear from the evidence: the real threat to the world is, since September 11, 2001, Islamist totalitarianism, which deploys terror, notably against Iraqis and Israelis." ("Ce que la France ne voulait voir apparaît d'évidence : la vraie menace pour le monde est bien, depuis le 11 septembre 2001, le totalitarisme islamiste, décidé à poursuivre sa terreur, notamment contre les Irakiens et les Israéliens." "Social: la gauche égarée," Le Figaro, Feb. 11, 2005)
George W. Bush: "In the long term, the peace we seek will only be achieved by eliminating the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder." (State of the Union speech, Feb. 2, 2005)
Édouard Balladur, former prime minister of France, asked if the country is at war: "The great majority of Muslims want only one thing: peace. But the Islamists are stronger. What point in pretending otherwise. Nothing is worse that denying reality. There comes a point when you have to say what you think." («La grande majorité des musulmans ne demande qu'une chose : la paix. Mais les intégristes sont les plus forts. A quoi bon se le dissimuler ? Rien n'est pire que de nier la réalité. Il y a un moment où il faut dire ce que l'on pense.» "Balladur sur plusieurs fronts," Le Figaro, Jan. 15, 2005)
George W. Bush: "I believe that we are in a global war against an ism that can be defeated, and must be defeated." ("Bush to remain 'committed' to war on terror," The Washington Times, Jan. 12, 2005)
Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, in a new book: "We have two immediate opponents, the irreconcilable wing of Islam and the rogue dictatorships that empower the radical Islamists. … This war is not primarily about terrorism, it is about an Islamist insurgency against the modern world." (Winning the Future, Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2005. Excerpts available at "With Islamists in mind, Gingrich mulls 2008 presidential run," Agence France-Presse, Jan. 10, 2005)
Endgame, by Thomas McInerney and Paul Vallely: "Today, America is at war with an enemy every bit as dangerous as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union: we know it as radical Islam." (p. 35)
CDU/CSU, the main German opposition party, title of a politicy paper: "Politischen Islamismus bekämpfen – Verfassungstreue Muslime unterstützen" ("Fight political Islam, support Constitution-loyal Muslims," Nov. 30, 2004)
The Economist: Mohammed Bouyeri, the man who murdered Theo Van Gogh on Nov. 2, "was not a marginalised or oppressed figure. He spoke excellent Dutch and was studying for a diploma. It looks increasingly apparent that [in Europe]—as with the 9/11 hijackers—the problem is not lack of integration or opportunity, but a vicious ideology." ("A civil war on terrorism," The Economist, Nov. 25, 2004)
The Century Foundation's Homeland Security Project: "The Global War on Terrorism, as the Bush administration has labeled it, is actually a struggle by governments around the world to deal with a revivified radical and violent minority Islamist movement that has taken on greater international dimensions in the twenty-first century than it has previously in history." (Richard Clarke, et al., Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action, Washington, D.C.: Century Foundation, 2004, p. 9, released on Nov. 16, 2004)
The Wall Street Journal editorial page: "Europe needs to stop rationalizing the irrational hatred that possesses Islamic terrorists. Islamic terror is not the result of some "failed integration policy" or of some real or imagined Muslim grievance supposedly caused by U.S. Middle East policy. It is fueled by a totalitarian ideology that seeks world domination and the subjugation of infidels and the West. The sooner Europe comes to terms with this truth the sooner it will begin to combat the fanaticism that claimed the life of Mr. van Gogh." ("The Van Gogh Murder," Nov. 10, 2004)
Nolan Finley, columnist: "[George W.] Bush has been unable to connect the dots between the terrorists and the rogue nations who grow them because he is reluctant to acknowledge that the war on terrorism is actually a war on radical Islamic fundamentalism, or to name the states that spawn fanatics. From the beginning, the enemy has worn the generic 'terrorists' label. Just a random bunch of bad guys who hate us because we're free, have open markets and treat others with respect and equality. What nonsense. Who hates people because they're free, like commerce and love their neighbors? They hate us because they're just plain crazy, poisoned by religious fanaticism and conditioned to hate everyone who doesn't fall on their knees before their insane doctrine. The president won't say that because it would hurt the feelings of our questionable allies in the Middle East, and violate the codes of political correctness in this country. But if did, it might focus America's attention on exactly how frightening a fight we face." ("Two views on terror war: One too small, the other too scary," The Detroit News, Oct. 24, 2004)
Jim Hoagland, columnist: "The struggle that most Americans call the war on terrorism will be won by Muslims and lost by Muslims at its now-distant end. The U.S. role must progressively shrink to shaping the battlefield for that contest rather than waging the war as an American-run enterprise. … The next administration will need to pursue a revised strategy that puts Muslim governments and institutions on the front line of a civil war within Islam that the United States was drawn into on Sept. 11, 2001. The mobilizing utility of the "war on terrorism" label has run its course. To continue to use it for rhetorical or organizational purposes would obscure the moral, political and social responsibilities that Muslim societies must now assume to cleanse themselves of fanatical fringe groups and ideologies." ("From Terrorism to Tolerance," The Washington Post, Oct. 6, 2004)
Kurt Eckhardt, Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.): "I acknowledge that the vast majority of the Islamic population in the world is peace-loving. I'm talking about global ambitions of fundamentalist Islam. I'm very suspicious." ("Muslims protest candidate OK with spies in mosques," Chicago Sun-Times, Oct. 2, 2004)
John F. Lehman, a member of the 9-11 Commission: "We commissioners and our staff of some 80 seasoned professionals worked exhaustively and exhaustingly for 20 months to establish the facts, study the lessons and derive from them concrete reforms to fix a broken system. The most important of these were on policy and strategy; what we must do as a nation to defeat Islamist terrorism." ("No Time to Lose," The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 1, 2004) In a radio interview on Apr. 10, 2004, Lehman stated that "our enemy is the violent Islamic extremism." (Quoted in Michael A. Smerconish, Flying Blind: How Political Correctness Continues to Compromise Airline Safety Post 9/11, Philadelphia: Running Press, 2004, p. 28)
John F. Kerry, Democratic candidate for president: "I have a better plan for homeland security. I have a better plan to be able to fight the war on terror: by strengthening our military, strengthening our intelligence; by going after the financing more authoritatively; by doing what we need to do to rebuild the alliances; by reaching out to the Muslim world, which the President has almost not done; and beginning to isolate the radical Islamic Muslims, not have them isolate the United States of America." (First 2004 Presidential Debate, Sept. 30, 2004)
A few days earlier, Kerry made the same point at greater length in a speech: "The war on terror is as monumental a struggle as the Cold War. Its outcome will determine whether we and our children live in freedom or in fear. It is not, as some people think, a clash of civilizations. Radical Islamic fundamentalism is not the true face of Islam. This is a clash between civilization and the enemies of civilization; between humanity's best hopes and most primitive fears. … To destroy our enemy, we have to know our enemy. We have to understand that we are facing a radical fundamentalist movement with global reach and a very specific plan. They are not just out to kill us for the sake of killing us. They want to provoke a conflict that will radicalize the people of the Muslim world, turning them against the United States and the West. And they hope to transform that anger into a force that will topple the region's governments and pave the way for a new empire, an oppressive, fundamentalist superstate stretching across a vast area from Europe to Africa, from the Middle East to Central Asia." ("Remarks of Senator John Kerry at Temple University in Philadelphia," Sept. 24, 2004)
George Packer, staff writer, The New Yorker: Senator Kerry "has allowed the public to think that the President, against all the evidence of his record, will fight the war in Iraq and the larger war against radical Islam with more success." ("The Political War," The New Yorker, Sept. 27, 2004)
Andrew C. McCarthy: "'War on terror,' as previously argued here, is an ill-conceived and vaporous term. 'Terrorism' surely is not our enemy. It cannot be an enemy because it is not an entity, it is a method. … No, we are fighting a very particular enemy: militant Islam. It is a global network of identifiable militias, as well as their state and non-state sponsors, who espouse and support an interpretation of Islam that calls for violent jihad against the United States and our allies. In the short term, that enemy seeks to alter American policy; in the long term, it would supplant our constitutional order with a caliphate that accords with Wahhabist principles. That is the enemy." ("Listening to Kerry," National Review Online, Sept. 23, 2004)
Frank Gaffney: "The threat of terror is the most direct challenge to the stability of America as a functioning country. The term used by politicians and the media to describe America's response to this threat – the "War on Terror" – is a misnomer, however. The war is actually a war against those who foment and support terror. In this respect, it is really a "War on Islamism," known also as fundamentalist Islam." ("The Islamist Challenge to American Security," Middle East Forum, Sept. 22, 2004)
Time magazine: "The war that began three years ago in lower Manhattan has never been a conventional one, waged solely against enemy armies in distant lands. It is a fight for the hearts and minds and souls of millions of Muslims." ("Struggle for the Soul of Islam," Sept. 13, 2004)
Patrick Sabatier, editor of Libération, a leftist French daily: "The war against Islamo-terrorism, like those fought by the democracies against the other totalitarians, fascism and communism, is as much ideological and political as military. It will last long and it won't be won until, in the Muslim world as elsewhere, the murderous cocktail of anti-Western hatred, the cult of death, and the turn to unlimited brutality as preached by bin Laden is isolated, condemned, and defeated." ("La guerre contre l'islamo-terrorisme, comme celle que les démocraties ont livrée contre d'autres totalitarismes fascisme et communisme , est aussi idéologique et politique que militaire. Elle sera longue, et ne sera gagnée que lorsque, dans le monde musulman comme partout ailleurs, le cocktail meurtrier de haine de l'Occident, de culte de la mort et de recours à la brutalité sans limite prêché par Ben Laden aura été isolé, condamné et combattu," "Leçons," Libération, Sept. 11, 2004)
Mark Helprin, columnist: "Three years after September 11, where do we stand? Out of fear and confusion we have hesitated to name the enemy. We proceed as if we are fighting disparate criminals united by coincidence, rather than the vanguard of militant Islam, united by ideology, sentiment, doctrine, and practice, its partisans drawn from Morocco to the Philippines, Chechnya to the Sudan, a vast swath of the earth that, in regard to the elemental beliefs that fuel jihad, is as homogeneous as Denmark." ("Three Years On: We still haven't learned the lessons of 9/11," The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 10, 2004)
Cal Thomas, columnist and television anchor: "It's long past time to ditch political correctness and identify the enemy, which is not disembodied 'terrorism' but radical Islamists who commit terror in the perverted name of their god." ("Speaking truth about terror," TownHall.com, Sept. 8, 2004)
George W. Bush, U.S. president: Asked "Is the war on terrorism something our generation and the next generation are just going to have to get used to?" Bush replied "Yes, I think it is a long-lasting ideological struggle. Frankly, the war on terror is somewhat misnamed, though. It ought to be called the struggle of a totalitarian point of view that uses terror as a tool to intimidate the free." ("I've Gained Strength," Time, Aug. 29, 2004)
James V. Schall, S. J., professor of government at Georgetown University: "Above all, this is not a war against 'terrorists.' This definition of the enemy has been most unfortunate. It has obscured us from seeing the face of an enemy that must be dealt with. … The war is caused, planned, and carried out by specific religious groups within Islam. They claim, and probably justly according to their own lights, to be implementing the demands of their religion. They have a pious long-range purpose, to destroy the opponents of Allah, to make everyone else a believer. Generally speaking, we are so indoctrinated with ecumenism or liberalism that we cannot comprehend how this thinking could be credible, even though, in the long history of Islam, its own expansion and consolidation were largely due to such successful military forces." ("A Brief War Primer," August 20, 2004)
Condoleezza Rice, U.S. national security advisor: "Directors and distinguished guests, I'm delighted to have a chance to come to this fine institution to talk about policies that will help us to deal with the long-term challenge of confronting Islamic extremism. … the 9/11 Commission called for the United States to develop a long-range strategy to engage in a struggle of ideas to defeat Islamic terrorism. The report says that we must have a 'strategy that is political, as much as it is military,' and that 'long-term success demands the use of all elements of national power: diplomacy, intelligence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public policy, and homeland defense'. President Bush and the members of his administration could not agree more. Since the beginning of the war on terror, the President has recognized that the war on terror is as much as conflict of visions as a conflict of arms." ("Remarks by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice Followed by Question and Answer to the U.S. Institute of Peace," August 19, 2004)
Peter Beinart, editor of The New Republic: "Terrorism, as commentators have pointed out, is a tactic. Sri Lankan suicide bombers who blow themselves up in the name of Tamil independence are terrorists--but we are not at war with them. If militants in Iraq shoot only at American soldiers and not at civilians, they are not technically terrorists--but they are our enemies nonetheless. Radical Islam is an ideology, and calling it the enemy implies that America is fighting a war not just of national interest, but of ideas." ("Ask Not," The New Republic, Aug. 16, 2004)
Dominique de Villepin, French interior minister: "Today, one can no longer separate terrorist acts from the words that feed them." (Quoted in John Carreyrou, "Fighting Words: France Moves Fast to Expel Muslims Preaching Hatred," The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 9, 2004)
George W. Bush, U.S. president:"We actually misnamed the war on terror. It ought to be [called] the struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free societies and who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shake the conscience of the free world." (addressing the Unity Journalists of Color Convention, Aug. 6, 2004)
Jonathan Ariel, editor-in-chief of Maariv International: "Terrorism is not an enemy, but a strategy. There is no such thing as a war against a strategy, and any attempt to conceive one is an exercise in futility. … The raison d'etre for the name 'War against terror' was to downplay the inherent link between al Qaeda and Islam. It was easier to declare war against terror, which could be viewed as a malignant aberration of Islam, than against an organization that is an inherent part of the Islamic world, and has a specifically Islamic agenda." ("A war without an enemy," Ma'ariv, Aug. 5, 2004)
Carl I. Hagen, leader of Norway's third-largest party, the FRP: "The growth of fundamentalistic Islamism is worrying, and it is a challenge we have to take seriously." ("Fremveksten av fundamentalistisk islamisme er bekymrende, og det er en utfordring vi må ta på alvor," "Kampen mot islamsk fundamentalisme," Aug, 2, 2004)
Barbara Ehrenreich, prominent leftist: "let's stop calling the enemy 'terrorism,' which is like saying we're fighting 'bombings.' Terrorism is only a method; the enemy is an extremist Islamic insurgency. ("The New Macho: Feminism," The New York Times, July 29, 2004)
Joseph Biden, Democratic senator from Delaware: "The overwhelming obligation of our next President is clear. Make America stronger. Make America safer. And win the death-struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism. … just as American values brought down the Berlin Wall—so will radical fundamentalism fall to the terrible, swift power of our ideas as well as our swords." (Speech to the Democratic National Convention, July 29, 2004)
Joseph Lieberman, Democratic senator from Connecticut: "To make America safe again, we need strong leaders who know when to use American power to destroy these Islamist terrorists. But we also need wise leaders who also know when and how to build bridges with Islamic people throughout the world." (Speech to the Democratic National Convention, July 29, 2004)
Lieberman has been making this argument for some time. For example, in the National Interest of Fall 2003, he wrote: "The war against terrorism will not be won by military means alone, however. The September 11 attacks epitomized the larger, more amorphous threat we face from fanatics who find justification for evil behavior in Islam. These militants are not only targeting the United States and our allies, but are also engaged in a great civil war with the vast majority of their fellow Muslims who do not share their beliefs or behaviors. It is a war of ideas as much as it is a war of arms."
David Brooks, columnist: the 9/11 commissioners "step back in their report and redefine the nature of our predicament. … We are facing, the report notes, a loose confederation of people who believe in a perverted stream of Islam that stretches from Ibn Taimaya to Sayyid Qutb. Terrorism is just the means they use to win converts to their cause. It seems like a small distinction - emphasizing ideology instead of terror - but it makes all the difference, because if you don't define your problem correctly, you can't contemplate a strategy for victory." ("War of Ideology," The New York Times, July 24, 2004)
The 9/11 Commission: the enemy is "Islamist terrorism…not just 'terrorism" some generic evil." (The 9/11 Commission Report, July 22, 2004) I discuss this recognition at length in "The Triumph Of the 9/11 Commission."
Kim Beazley, on the eve of his being appointed Australia's shadow defence minister: "We've got a struggle globally with what is fundamentalist Islamic terrorism, a struggle not only on our own behalf but also with Muslim friends who are the principle targets of that." ("Keeping The Peace," Australian Broadcast Corporation, July 18, 2004)
Daniel Yankelovich, pollster: "The public is coming to understand that, like our long struggle with communism, the war on terrorism is a political struggle even more than it is a military war." ("Cutting the Lifeline of Terror: What's Next After Iraq?" July 14, 2004, p. 19)
Government of Australia: "As with most previously known forms of terrorism, extremist ideology is the driver. The threat we face today is driven by an extremist interpretation of Islam." (Transnational Terrorism: The Threat to Australia, p. 8, July 2004)
Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. secretary of defense: "It's quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this [war on terrorism]… terrorism is simply a technique being used by extremists. It is not the problem in and of itself, it's a weapon that's being used." ("Remarks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies," Singapore, June 5 2004)
Otto Schily, German interior minister: "More than ever, Islamist terrorism is the greatest danger for the domestic security of Germany" ("Der islamistische Terror ist nach wie vor die größte Gefahr für die innere Sicherheit Deutschlands," quoted in "Schily nennt Islamismus größtes Sicherheitsproblem," Financial Times Deutschland, May 17, 2004).
Vegard Martinsen, head of Norway's Liberale Folkepartiet: "From our point of view the war against Islamist terrorism has to be done as powerfully as possible. ... All Islamist activities must be strictly monitored and everyone that expresses actual threats should be arrested" ("Vårt syn er at krigen mot islamistisk terrorisme bør føres så kraftig som overhode mulig. … Alle islamistiske miljøer bør overvåkes nøye, og alle som fremsetter reelle trusler må arresteres," "Chamberlains ektefødte barn," March 23, 2004)
Colin L. Powell, U.S. secretary of state: replying to a question at the 9/11 Commission hearing from commission member Jamie S. Gorelick, "And would you agree that our principal adversary right now is Islamic extremists and jihadists?" Powell said: "I would say that they are the source of most of the terrorist threats that we are facing." ("Eighth Public Hearing of the National Commission on Terrorist Atttacks upon the United States, Re: Formulation and Conduct of U.S. Counterterrorism Policy," March 23, 2004) This seemingly bland statement was a major change for Powell, who on Sept. 12, 2001, insisted that the previous day's events "should not be seen as something done by Arabs or Islamics; it is something that was done by terrorists."
John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command: "It's a battle of ideas as much as it is a military battle." (Associated Press, Jan. 29, 2004.)
Lou Dobbs, CNN anchor: "we believe that the 'war on terror' expression does little to define the enemy of this country in this battle, And we have asserted the language the 'war against radical Islamists' instead. We believe it is clear. We believe it defines our enemies." ("War against Radical Islamists," June 13, 2002)
Karl Zinsmeister, editor of The American Enterprise: "let's recognize that we're in a full-blown war; that (contrary to mealy-mouthed platitudes) it is indeed a war against a considerable part of Islam." ("Test of a Lifetime," The American Enterprise, December 2001)
Sultan Qaboos of Oman, speaking in October 2001 to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: "He spoke of a great contest within the Muslim world – between fanatical Islamists, who inspired the terrorists with visions of a restored caliphate, and their opponents. … Qaboos warned us against focusing our attention too narrowly on military objectives, for he thought that the outcome of the war might ultimately be decided in the world of ideas." (Douglas J. Feith, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism, New York: Harper, 2008, p. 94)
Related Topics: Freethinking & Muslim apostasy, History, Radical Islam, War on terror
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