Saturday, September 02, 2006

We're winning the wrong war

To say that much has been written about the Global War on Terror would be to make something of an understatement. A lot of what has been written -- that we're losing the war, that our prosecution of it is what causes it to continue, and that Iraq is not part of it -- has been balderdash driven by political agendai.

But we miss the mark also in thinking that we are winning, that our prosecution of it vectors us directly toward victory, and that our best place to be is Iraq. It's true that we are slowly winning the Global War on Terror. It's true that winning in Iraq will aid us in winning the GWOT. And it's true that we need to finish the job in Iraq. But none of those things matter.

We shouldn't be fighting terror. We should be fighting against jihad.

John F. Lehman piece in WaPo Friday (h/t Eric at Classical Values) starts:

Are we winning the war? The first question to ask is, what war? The Bush administration continues to muddle a national understanding of the conflict we are in by calling it the "war on terror." This political correctness presumably seeks to avoid hurting the feelings of the Saudis and other Muslims, but it comes at high cost. This not a war against terror any more than World War II was a war against kamikazes.

We are at war with jihadists motivated by a violent ideology based on an extremist interpretation of the Islamic faith. This enemy is decentralized and geographically dispersed around the world. Its organizations range from a fully functioning state such as Iran to small groups of individuals in American cities.

We have been so conditioned to react negatively to singling out any religion that when a religion has as its goal the assimilation and dessication of our civilization, we cannot accept that reality. We think we must be reacting out of some kind of racist or parochial mindset that we haven't yet rooted out of our thinking. It must be our thinking that is wrong. People are like us; they just want the things we want.

But reality has a way of intruding on our desires. On 9/11/2001 we learned that the "isolated" attacks by Muslim groups against US and non-Muslim targets were part of a pattern, a worldwide struggle of one religion against all the others and for political, religious, cultural, and social control of the entire world. Terrorism is merely their current weapon of choice.

We fight terrorism because terrorism happened on 9/11, but what caused the terrorism? Jihad.

Will we defeat our foes by fighting terrorism? No. Terrorism is their weapon of choice because they lack a military machine large enough to defeat us on our terms. Denied terrorism somehow, they would find other methods, such as the use of conventional military, oil-funded propaganda, or state-supported nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction to achieve their goal of worldwide domination. Even if we convince them somehow that terrorism is not going to work, they will find other weapons to continue their "struggle". It's in their book.

Terrorism will always be with us. As long as there are people who hate other people, which is to say, as long as there are people, there will be those who will use violence against civilians to achieve political ends. We can't defeat terrorism even by conquering the whole world, a strategy from which we would recoil.

In order to defeat even Islamic terrorism, we have to defeat the very idea of jihad. I don't know how to do that without wiping out every Muslim, a tactic from which we recoil with even greater horror.

But I do know that pretending jihad isn't a problem won't make it go away.

(Cross-posted at

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