Monday, June 14, 2010

The Obama Administration Is Unable to Define the Enemy

The Obama Administration has been unable to define the enemy in the War on Terrorism or even what to call the struggle to resist terrorism or attacks on the United States military by militants. Indeed, it is unable to accept that the U.S. is at war with its enemy or even that the enemy is at war with the U.S. Instead, the Administration refers to “overseas contingencies” instead of “war” and calls terrorist attacks “man-made disasters,” as if it were afraid to accuse anyone of terrorism or any form of militancy.

The Obama Administration’s attitude reflects its ideology and sets the tone for its actions. The Administration is still treating terrorism as a law enforcement matter instead of as a war. For example, it read Miranda warnings, including the right to remain silent, to the Christmas Day and Times Square Bombers shortly after arresting them, instead of allowing their interrogation to continue.

Moreover, the Administration’s statements suggest that it does not understand the religious motivation of Muslims engaged in militant jihad (Islamic holy war). A senior Obama Administration counterterrorism official, John Brennan, recently explained why the Administration avoids using certain terms. He stated that the term “War on Terror” is not apt because terror is a state of mind, but incorrectly stated that it is wrong to use the term “War on Terrorism” because terrorism is “a tactic.” Terrorism is a strategy, not a tactic. Hijacking airplanes and crashing them into buildings is an example of a tactic. Targeting innocent civilians instead of engaging a military in battle is a strategy. Regardless, it is possible to describe a conflict as a war against a particular misbehavior, such as piracy, as long as it is understood that a state cannot literally be at war with misbehavior, but with those perpetrating it.

The Obama Administration also eschews the use of the words “Islamic” or “Islamist” in describing the self-described jihadists who attack the U.S. military or innocent civilians because it maintains the view that these Islamic holy warriors are not true Muslims, but are incorrectly interpreting the Koran, the Islamic scripture. The Obama Administration is thus defining Islam as if the President is a caliph, the Muslim version of a pope. Although President Barak Obama was taught in a Muslim school as a youth in Indonesia, most liberals who lack all but the barest knowledge of Islam confidently hold the same view. Even some conservatives subscribe to this belief, referring to the terrorists as “hijacking” a religion of peace, for example. Many people refer to militant Muslims as “radicals,” which means that they believe that militant Muslims want to tear up Islam at its roots instead of to get back to its roots, as the jihadists insist they are trying to do. In fact, militant Muslims cite certain verses of the Koran in order to justify their violent actions carried out in the name of jihad as reflective of true Islam and some Islamic scholars agree with them, even to the point of accepting terrorism as a legitimate strategy and suicide attacks as a legitimate tactic. Therefore, regardless of whether their interpretation of Islamic scripture is the correct one, the point is that militant Muslims believe that they are acting out of religious conviction. To acknowledge that they are is not necessarily to accept that their interpretation is correct, but simply to acknowledge the religious source of their political ideology.

Brennan also explained why the Obama Administration avoids even the word “jihad,” besides its religious connotation. He noted that jihad can be “legitimate.” Jihad can be interpreted as spiritual warfare against the Devil, but it is not necessarily limited to spiritual struggle. The point is not whether it is legitimate, which is not for non-Muslims to judge, but whether or not it can be militant, as I noted it can be.

Apparently, there is no comprehensive definition from the Obama Administration either of the enemy or the resistance to it. Thus, the Administration fails to recognize the enemy’s ideology, which is religious in motivation, regardless of whether the enemy’s religious interpretation of its scripture is correct. It is difficult to identify – let alone to resist – an enemy that cannot even be defined.

I submit that “militant Muslims” is the best description of the enemy and, although the “War on Terrorism” is adequate, the “War Against Militant Islam” would be better, at least from the American perspective, and something like the “War of Militant Islam Against the World,” from a historical or global perspective, the optimum choice, as explained in my last post and in the posts referred to within it. Terms like “militant Islam” adequately identify the enemy and suggest the religious source of his ideology without making a judgment about whether or not the enemy truly represents Islam. They are also inclusive enough to include secular militant Muslims. As I have noted in my earlier posts, it is critical to understand that militant Islam of all kinds is encouraged by the religious belief that Allah favors Muslims in their military conquests and that once a territory is gained for Allah, it cannot be relinquished to non-believers. Therefore, it is necessary to defeat Muslims militarily, in addition to using other necessary methods, in order to prove that Allah is not blessing the efforts of jihadists engaged in terrorism or other forms of militancy against non-Muslims and that these militants are not the divinely-chosen leaders other Muslims ought to follow.

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