Mr. Obama is dead wrong, we are fighting Islamists

Last week on Bill O’Reilly’s program on FOX, he asked if it is important for the adjective “Islamic” or “Islamist” to be placed before the word terrorist, militant, insurgent, or extremist when we are attacked by a Muslim individual or group. The conservative guest tried to answer, but did so ineffectively. The liberal guest supported President Obama’s decision to de-name America’s mortal foes, using the tired old irrelevancy that Irish extremists were not called “Catholic terrorists.” There is such deep and enduring stupidity in this statement that I was surprised Mr. O’Reilly did not pound a figurative 20-penny nail into his guest’s forehead. All that ever needs to be said in response to this inanity is the IRA never claimed to attack anything in Catholicism’s name. It attacked in the name of hating Britain and reuniting Ireland as a secular or — for some — a socialist state.

Anyway, after giving Mr. O’Reilly’s question some thought, I believe there are at least five legitimate reasons why we ought to always use the adjective “Islamist” or “Islamic” whenever America is attacked by a Muslim individual or group. Language is mean to educate and when “Islamic” or “Islamist” are used Americans will be instructed about or prompted to remember that:

  1. Islam is one of the world’s two great religions and claims a membership of more than 1.3 billion people. Bottom line: Our Islamist enemies draw from an enormous and devoutly religious manpower pool.
  2. Virtually all our Muslim enemies describe themselves as “Islamic” or “Islamist” and claim to be waging a defensive jihad against the United States in response to Washington’s intervention in the Muslim world. Bottom line: We are, by definition, fighting a religious war if our growing number of Muslim enemies claim to be defending their faith — which they do. History has shown religious warriors of all faiths are among the most intense, violent, dedicated, and enduring of warriors. Our Islamist enemies, for example, have yet to approach the level of violence and indiscriminate killing practiced by Protestants and Catholics performing as the Reformation’s holy warriors.
  3. Our Islamist enemies are not outside of Islam. Those who argue the Islamists have hijacked Islam, distorted it, or reinvented it are liars, dupes for Arab tyrants, ignorant, fools, or politicians trolling for votes. Bottom line: Most of our Islamist enemies fall into the Salafist or Wahhabi traditions of Sunni Islam. These are among the smaller sects of Sunnism, although some analysts claim Salafism is the fastest growing Sunni sect. These people are deeply conservative, draw almost exclusively on the Koran and the Prophet’s saying and traditions for guidance, and are martial in orientation when it comes to defending the faith. All this said, they are accepted by the great bulk of Muslims as “good Muslims” and to refuse to describe them as “Islamic” or “Islamist” as do President Obama and his team is to blind America to the nature of its enemy and to underestimate that enemy’s durability, patience, and potential for growth.
  4. Opposition to and hatred for U.S. interventionism in the Muslim world is not resident solely in the Muslims who have picked up arms to fight us. Bottom line: This hatred is shared by 80 percent of the world’s Muslims, according to the results of polling Gallup conducted in every Muslim company over the course of several years. This hatred is shared equally by young and old, men and women, extremists and moderates, Arabs and non-Arab Muslims. The U.S. government’s policies — not the lifestyle of Americans — are thus a casus belli for Islamic civilization as a whole, and while only a tiny fraction of that civilization has so far resorted to war the number of fighters is growing in all areas of the Muslim world, including Europe and North America.
  5. The concept of a defensive jihad in Islam — which our Islamist enemies claim to waging against us — is absolutely part, and an honored part of Islamic theology and history, and, by invading Iraq, Mr. Bush provided the irrefutable predicate for waging such a jihad. Indeed, many Muslims believe a defensive jihad against Islam’s infidel attackers is a form of worship, a belief which was shared completely by the leaders and soldiers of the Catholic armies that set out repeatedly in the 11th and 12th centuries to invade the Levant and evict Muslims from Holy Land. Bottom line: We are fighting an Islamist enemy whose jihad is justified by both his theology and his history. We certainly feel better describing the Islamists’ jihad as a terrorist campaign, but it brings us no understanding whatsoever of our Islamist enemies. And over the long run, it blinds us to the Islamist threat to America and will lead to our defeat.

Much more can be said on this topic, and there are many analysts far more qualified to elaborate on these points. This said, President Obama’s edict that his administration will not use the terms “Islamic” or “Islamist” or “jihad” when speaking of the Muslims who are attacking us can only please those men. This self-defeating ban — so like that imposed by the effete Europeans Obama and his party admire — signals Washington’s refusal to face reality. It also shows Obama — like Bush before him — has no intention of adequately or even minimally educating Americans about the growing threat they face from an Islamic civilization that universally hates and means to defeat the U.S. foreign policies it believes are meant to undermine and destroy Islam.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.