Thursday, August 19, 2010

The War on Terror Should Be a War on Islamism

Andrew McCarthy has an important article, "It's About Sharia" in National Review Online, in which he discusses a speech that Newt Gringrich recently gave at the American Enterprise Institute on the jihad against the West that is currently underway.

McCarthy's recent book, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, is a fascinating look at the campaign for world domination that political Islam is waging and the complicity of Western leftists because of their anti-Christian bias. Perhaps Gingrich has been reading McCarthy's book or perhaps he has been dipping into the work of Melanie Philips or Jamie Glazov or Christopher Caldwell.

But whoever he has been reading, Gingrich seems to be the one re-focusing the debate in such a way as to face up to the reality of the threat we face to freedom.

The former speaker of the House gets the war on terror. For one thing, he refuses to call it the “war on terror,” which should be the entry-level requirement for any politician who wants to influence how we wage it. Gingrich grasps that there is an enemy here and that it is a mortal threat to freedom. He knows that if we are to remain a free people, it is an enemy we must defeat. That enemy is Islamism, and its operatives — whether they come as terrorists or stealth saboteurs — are the purveyors of sharia, Islam’s authoritarian legal and political system.

This being the Era of the Reset Button, Gingrich is going about the long-overdue business of resetting our understanding of the civilizational jihad that has been waged against the United States for some 31 years. It is the jihad begun when Islamists overran the American embassy in Tehran, heralding a revolutionary regime that remains the No. 1 U.S. security challenge in the Middle East, as Gingrich argued Thursday in a provocative speech at the American Enterprise Institute.

Liberals like to disguise the nature of the threat by various strategies. They peddle a Marxist interpretation of the reasons why people fly planes into buildings or blow up subways when they try to link such actions to the poverty of the third world and supposed rage over the neglect of the poor. Yet, the perpetrators do not sound like Marxists with their Islamic Supremicist rhetoric. Sometimes liberals, particularly the Obama administration, talk as if Islamic terrorist were just random acts of senseless violence committed by people who are insane or on drugs. There is no evidence to support this hypothesis whatsoever.

This is why it cannot be a war on "terror." Terror is a political tool and the Islamists have a political goal: the imposition of Sharia law on us.

The single purpose of this jihad is the imposition of sharia. On that score, Gingrich made two points of surpassing importance. First, some Islamists employ mass-murder attacks while others prefer a gradual march through our institutions — our legal, political, academic, and financial systems, as well as our broader culture; the goal of both, though, is the same. The stealth Islamists occasionally feign outrage at the terrorists, but their quarrel is over methodology and pace. Both camps covet the same outcome. Second, that outcome is the death of freedom. In Islamist ideology, sharia is deemed to be the necessary precondition for Islamicizing a society — for Islam is not merely a religious doctrine, but a comprehensive socio-economic and political system.
It is not responsible to call Islam a "religion of peace," as both Bush and Obama have done, when Muslims and Westerners mean two completely different things by that phrase. For Muslims, peace is what you get when all have submitted to the will of Allah as defined by the clerics in charge of the theocracy. For Westerners it means that Muslims live side by side with others in a pluralistic liberal democracy.

When people talk about "moderate Muslims" it is left unclear what is meant by the description. Those Muslims who want to impose Sharia on us and turn the West into an Islamic theocracy, but who think terrorism is counter-productive, are not the true moderates. They are fellow-travelers of the terrorists. True moderates are those Muslims who are willing to live in Western societies under Western law and reject the goal of imposing Sharia. They can be good Muslims and good citizens of Western countries as long as they agree to the separation of Mosque and State. Gingrich gets this:
The war is about the survival of Western civilization, and we should make no apologies for the fact that the West’s freedom culture is a Judeo-Christian culture — a fact that was unabashedly acknowledged, Gingrich reminded his audience, by FDR and Churchill. To ensure victory in the United States we must, once again, save Europe, where the enemy has advanced markedly. There is no separating our national security and our economic prosperity — they are interdependent. And while the Middle East poses challenges of immense complexity, Gingrich contended that addressing two of them — Iran, the chief backer of violent jihad, and Saudi Arabia, the chief backer of stealth jihad — would go a long way toward improving our prospects on the rest.

Most significant, there is sharia. By pressing the issue, Newt Gingrich accomplishes two things. First, he gives us a metric for determining whether those who would presume to lead us will fight or surrender. Second, at long last, someone is empowering truly moderate Muslims — assuming they exist in the numbers we’re constantly assured of. Our allies are the Muslims who embrace our freedom culture — those for whom sharia is a matter of private belief, not public mission. Our enemies are those who want sharia to supplant American law and Western culture. When we call out the latter, and marginalize them, we may finally energize the former.

Newt Gingrich, as McCarthy cogently argues, has set the agenda for the debate that will, in my opinion, go a long way toward toward determining the 2012 Presidential election.

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