My thoughts on Bush’s anti-terror speech from last Thursday — the first time he discussed the goals of the jihadists. From FrontPage:
Last Thursday, October 6, was a momentous day in the war against Islamic terrorism: President Bush went farther than he ever had before in naming the enemy. While on most occasions previously he had generally limited himself to calling them “terrorists” and “evildoers” “” names so general that they can apply to multitudes besides those who are actually warring against the United States today “” this time he pointed out that the terrorists” attacks “serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane. Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism.”
Daniel Pipes has praised this speech for moving “from the superficial and inadequate notion of “˜terrorism” to the far deeper concept of “˜Islamic radicalism.– Pipes sees hope in this speech that the senseless avoidance of the Islamic element of modern terrorism, and the unwillingness to appear to be “targeting Muslims,” may now come to an end: “immigration authorities and law enforcement can take Islam into account when deciding whom to let enter the country or whom to investigate for terrorism offences. Focusing on Muslims as the exclusive source of Islamists permits them finally to do their job adequately.”
If Bush’s new forthrightness does indeed enable law enforcement officials to pursue jihadists in America more openly than they have up to now, it is all to the good. But in practically the same breath Bush assured his audience that “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.”
It is good to see the President speaking openly about the totalitarian supremacist ideology of the jihadists. But in fact they hope to establish not only, as Bush put it, a “radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia,” but one that spans the entire globe. And while it is true that jihad in traditional Islam does not call for terrorist murder of Christians, Jews, and Hindus, it does call for their conversion to Islam or subjugation as inferiors under the rule of Islamic law. The third alternative is war, as delineated by the Muslim Prophet Muhammad himself (Sahih Muslim 4294). Indeed, as Pipes points out, “his comment about extremists distorting “the idea of jihad” unfortunately implies that jihad is a good thing.”
What’s more, Bush’s reference to “Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity,” indicates that he hasn’t considered the implications of the fact that jihadists contend that no Americans or Israelis are innocent, and thus the verse doesn’t apply to their actions. Nor did the President apparently read on to Qur’an 5:33, which stipulates that “the punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter” — a mandate for mayhem that jihadists have skillfully deployed the world over, and an indication that Bush’s reading of 5:32 may be a trifle superficial. Bush has not confronted the deep roots that the jihad ideology has within both Islamic tradition and the contemporary Islamic world. This could lead and has led to policy misjudgments.
But why quibble with the President when his new willingness to speak of the Islamic element of global terrorism is so positive? After all, many insist that by maintaining his pretense that the jihadists are not working from a broad tradition within Islam, Bush is preventing what the terrorists want so badly: an American war against the entire Islamic world. And they may be right. However, it remains an open question whether he would be even more effective in preventing that general war by declining to say anything about the nature of Islam at all; there is, after all, no real need for him to do so. He could simply call the terrorists what they call themselves — mujahedin or jihadists, warriors of jihad — and announce that we are at war with their supremacist, expansionist ideology, which arises from Islam. Then he could call the purported American allies in the Muslim world on their self-professed moderation by announcing that American aid will end to all countries — such as Egypt and Pakistan — where the ideology of violent jihad is taught in schools or mosques, and where non-Muslims are subjected to officially sanctioned or tolerated persecution and harassment, and do not enjoy full equality of rights with Muslims.
Domestically he could call on groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council to renounce all intention to bring Sharia to the United States even by peaceful means, and to demonstrate their loyalty to American pluralism by cooperating actively with anti-terror efforts, instead of trying to obstruct them at every turn. Their response to this would demonstrate whether or not these groups share the jihadists” goals, if not their methods — a question that has so far been obscured by the dogma that Islam is a religion of peace and the official unwillingness to discuss those goals at all.
The force of events has brought the President far. Before he is done, he is likely to have gone farther still.