06 September 2008


Some people make logical-factual errors, I believe, when they say that the ideology of jihadist terrorists rules (unnamed) countries. Which countries? This is as logical as saying that because the U.S. military-CIA-private contractors establishment has practiced torture (e.g., in Abu Ghraib prison) the whole U.S. is ruled by an ideology of torture.

Jihadist-terrorists there are; whole religions that practice an ideology of terrorism there are not. To falsely contend that Islam promotes the belief that a jihadist martyr goes to Heaven should not condemn Islam as a whole. This is terrorist ideology, not Islam.

And, I would say, there are presently no countries (see how Muammar Khadafy and Libya recently capitulated), including Syria and Iran, who are ruled by an ideology of international terrorism. Whether a country such as North Korea practices an ideology of domestic terrorism is another matter. And, yes, there are always acts and even systematic ideologies of terrorism within some countries. How else to label Jim Crow in the American South and racism throughout the U.S?

But the distinction of whether there are terroristic religions and countries is important in how the U.S. sees its role in the fight against international terrorism. It should more properly be seen as police action against individual terrorist cells located in specific locations, but with significant trans-state connections.

The next administration must make clear that the U.S. sees its fight against international terrorism not as a fight against Islam itself, but as a struggle with which most Muslims would agree: a fight against jihadist terrorism. Since many Muslims around the world see the U.S. (and perhaps Islam) locked in a Huntington-like "clash of civilizations," the next U.S. administration must be supremely skillful in its words and how it conducts itself. A fight against forces of terrorism, yes; but not one where the U.S. sets the context in which the other side cloaks itself in an entire world religion and thus recruits moderate anti-jihadist people who make up by far the largest segment of Islam worldaround.

The Bush Administration deserves praise in its recent completion of rapprochement with Khadafy and Libya. But tremendous damage has been done to the true interests of America when it went to war in Iraq. In a war where tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed, and even when the reasons it went to war have changed so often, it looks to many Muslims that the war is part of a larger war against Islam.

The next American administration must set its goal as avoidance of a global clash of civilizations. No one wins that; the globe loses.

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