[Even the King of Al-Qaeda understands what Obama is denying to be true, even though he can never acknowledge the Wahhabi roots of all Sunni terror (SEE: Saudi King: terrorists besmirching all Muslims).]
“A global summit on countering violent extremism” is the description of a three-day meeting of more than 60 nations in Washington ending Thursday. No one expects much out of this gathering. It’s worth noting that it was being watched mainly to see if anyone from the Obama administration uttered the phrase “Islamist terrorism” or “Islamic terrorism.” You don’t know whether to laugh or weep.
In his speech to the meeting, President Barack Obama continued to reject the religious foundation of Islamist terrorism by raising the false alternative of the West being portrayed as being at war against Islam. Al-Qaida and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria do not represent the majority of Muslims, but they do stand for a powerful, dangerous, religious-based movement that is driving history in the Islamic world and, to our misery, beyond. To his credit, Obama did acknowledge the anti-Western sentiment that often exists in mainstream Muslim societies and its role in aiding the fanatics in recruiting the discontented to their ranks.
But notice that the goal of the summit was “countering,” not defeating, violent extremism, a k a terrorism. As a State Department spokeswoman put it the other day, “We cannot kill our way out of this war.” We can’t talk our way out of the terrorist threat with summits either.
In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Obama wrote, “We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem. Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians.” Maybe not, but it must be a top priority. Our armed forces must keep killing as many of the enemy as possible. That’s a prime goal of war.
The talking point of the day was that “violent extremism” is about poverty and the lack of jobs. What’s the answer? For Congress to pass a humongous stimulus bill to fund shovel-ready projects someplace in the Muslim world? Where? In oil-rich Saudi Arabia where 15 of the 9/11 hijackers hailed from (and mostly from middle-class or well-to-do families)?
Poor people populate many parts of the world and in huge numbers, yet most of them — like most Muslims — do not commit terrorist atrocities. Religious fanaticism and the justification provided by religious text and clerics, not the absence of economic opportunity, inspire the discontented to behead Christians, burn alive Kurds and a Jordanian pilot, murder Jews wherever they can find them, enslave women and children, and slaughter fellow Muslims deemed not sufficiently Islamic.
The administration clearly is irritated by concerns over its denial of the Islamist roots of terrorism. In a speech the other day, Attorney General Eric Holder tried to defend the administration’s obscurantism and practically became a parody of it. He referred to the “very serious problems that our allies face and that we face, particularly in a particular part of the world.” What problems? And what particular part of the world would that be? Patagonia?
Islamist terrorism is reduced to violent extremism. The heartland of Islamist fanaticism, the Middle East, becomes “a particular part of the world.”
The administration is not alone in these rhetorical gymnastics. A headline in the New York Times described the second-generation immigrant responsible for killing a film director and Jew in last week’s terrorist attack in Denmark as a “native son.” Turns out the killer wasn’t named Hans Christian Anderson Jr., but Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein.
To defeat an enemy, you have to know it. In an Atlantic magazine article, contributing editor Graeme Wood demonstrates considerable research and writes, “Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millennarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.”
Jobs, economic opportunity, improved governance in Muslim countries, and better social media and other efforts against recruitment may be part of the answer. But I suspect few Islamic State fighters will be lured away from their fanatical, ideological, religious jihad by the prospect of a good job. Unless, that is, the Islamic State is soundly defeated on the battlefield.