Knowing and Naming the Enemy

The Obama administration understands we’re in a war, but is strangely unwilling to name the enemy. Instead they’re using the vague and general term “violent extremism.”

President Obama wants to be kind and gentle to Muslims, at least 90 percent of whom are peaceful and are not at war with the United States. I can appreciate that. But talking about “violent extremism” without indentifying the violent extremists it isn’t doing anyone—including peaceful Muslims—any favors. It only takes our focus off the real threat.

That real threat reared its head a few weeks ago when the radical, American-born Muslim cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki announced that he wants terrorists to target American civilians. Al-Awlaki, you see, is a disciple of Sayyid Qutb and Qutb’s worldview is the root of the problem.

Qutb, an Egyptian, visited the United States in 1949. Here he saw what he considered unspeakable moral decay, which led him to conclude that Christianity had failed completely. When he returned to the Middle East, he was seething with hatred for Christians and the West. In Egypt he was arrested and while in prison he studied not only radical Islamists, but Nazis as well.  And out of these he created a toxic worldview to challenge the West.

Before he was executed, his book, In The Shade of the Quran was published, and is now the handbook for the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, there are always going to be nuts who use religion as a pretext for violence, but what we are up against is more than that. Qutb and his followers—including Anwar al-Awlaki and Osama bin Laden—are ideological fascists. In fact, almost everything that’s being stirred up in Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East can be traced back to the fascist worldview of Sayyid Qutb.

And at least somebody in Washington gets it: Senator Joseph Lieberman. And I’d like to nominate Lieberman for profiles in courage for bravely breaking with his own president and party. He is an honest man who thoroughly understands the nature of the threat.

“There is no question,” Lieberman wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “that violent Islamist extremists seek to provoke a ‘clash of civilizations,’ and we must discredit this hateful lie….We must recognize the nature of the fight we are in, not paper it over.” Exactly. Then he went on to note, “Muslims across the world see the ideological nature of the struggle.” Why, he asks, doesn’t the Obama administration?

Near the end of the article, Lieberman cites Dean Acheson. As President Truman’s secretary of state, Acheson announced a zone of influence which excluded South Korea. In 1950, the Communist North Koreans seized that opportunity to attack the South, and Acheson learned a valuable, costly lesson the hard way.

He later said, “No people in history have ever survived who thought they could protect their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies.”

Our enemies hold a worldview that is an ugly synthesis of Nazism and the most extreme reading of the Quran. Trying not to offend such enemies by refusing to name them is the height of foreign policy foolishness and a flat refusal to think seriously about the power of worldviews.

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  • Joe DeVet

    We can hardly avoid the duty of defending ourselves and our allies by using military force. And of course one must be able to know and name the enemy–I agree in this regard, Obama is whistling through the graveyard. The naivete and foolishness of his kid-glove approach to toxic jihadism, and the twin policy of striking at Israel like a rattlesnake, are breathtakingly off kilter.

    Having said that, one can sympathize with Muslims who look at our culture and are appalled. One way that we might find common ground with these enemies is to see the Culture of Death for what it is, and fight against it hammer and tongs–with political action as needed, to be sure, but also with prayer, fasting and reform of our own households. Of course, to try to reason with our jihadist enemies will probably do no good. But we can at least sympathize with their horror at the moral climate of our culture.