We are not fighting a war on terrorism. Terrorism is the means by which our enemy chooses to wage war against us, but we should not confuse its tactics with the nature of the enemy itself. The enemy has an ideology. It has a command structure. It has troops. And it is clear in its aim -- nothing short of the destruction of our civilization.
The enemy is militant Islamic fundamentalism. The command structure is made up of hundreds of mullahs around the world, including some living in this country, who preach death to the infidels. Its troops include not just the thousands of trained terrorists but the millions of others who support the mullahs and finance the terrorists through their donations to radical Islamic groups. To pretend otherwise risks not only our own defeat, but that of the moderate Moslem world as well.
In his 1996 book "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order," Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington presciently described "a quasi war develop(ing) between Islam and the West," Even before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Huntington noted, "many more Westerners have been killed in this quasi war than were killed in the 'real' war in the Gulf." The direction of Islam as a religion has become increasingly threatening to non-believers, not just in the West but throughout the world. Its threat extends beyond the Middle East to Asia and Africa, even to the United States where some fundamentalist imams spread their hateful doctrines protected by our First Amendment.
Not all, or even most, Moslems are our enemies, certainly. Indeed, the moderate Islamic nations are on the front lines of this war and have been among its first casualties, starting with the Iranian revolution in 1979. Some of the most brutal tactics of the fundamentalists have been used against fellow Muslims in Egypt, Morocco, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Nonetheless, the response of virtually every moderate Moslem leader to the threat posed by fundamentalists has been to accede to the fundamentalists' interpretation of Islam, and to further the Islamization of all social, cultural, and political institutions in their countries. Even Turkey, which since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's policies of secularization in the 1920s and 1930s has been the most pro-Western Moslem nation, has become more Islamist in the last few years. As Huntington observed, every Moslem country in the world is more Islamist today than it was two decades ago, with the exception of Iran -- but only because Iran was the vanguard of the Islamic Revolution.
Despite what our leaders keeping telling us, Islam is not inherently a peaceful religion. Unlike Christianity, in whose name wars have been fought but without any Scriptural basis to support those wars to be found in the teachings of Jesus Christ, Islam can find explicit justification for its jihad or "holy war" within its sacred text.
The Koran instructs believers to "slay the idolaters ... make war on the leaders of unbelief -- for no oaths are binding with them -- so that they may desist. Will you not fight against those who have broken their oaths and conspired to banish the Apostle? They were the first to attack you. Do you fear them? Surely God is more deserving of your fear, if you are true believers. Make war on them: God will chastise them at your hands and humble them." The Koran is filled with elaborate instructions on the conduct of war, the methods of executing the infidels, the rewards that will accrue to those martyred in a holy war.
The very nature of fundamentalism is to take these instructions literally. And there is plenty of historical precedent. For nearly one thousand years, Europe was under nearly constant siege from Islamic invaders, from the first Moors who conquered Spain in 710 to the last Ottoman attack on Vienna in 1683. So long as the trend within the Moslem world today is toward a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, the West will continue to face a new threat to its survival.
Linda Chavez is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a TownHall.com member organization. Contact Linda Chavez