Confused over the Lt. Gen. William Boykin furor? There may come a time when the future's historians explain the controversy this way:
"The 'war on terror,' later rechristened -- sorry, renamed -- the 'war for Muslim outreach,' began on Sept. 16, 2001, the day President George W. Bush carelessly spoke of a 'crusade.' His remark was heard neither as an echo of Dwight D. Eisenhower's World War II book 'Crusade in Europe,' nor as a sober pledge to avenge thousands of American dead still smoldering at Ground Zero -- victims, as Muslims on the outer reaches would reveal, of a joint CIA-Mossad plot. Instead, the word 'crusade' was perceived as a calculated insult to all of Islam still stewing over Holy Land incursions by Really Old Europe a millennium earlier.
"Early victories in the war for Muslim outreach were small but significant, such as forcing a new name onto 'Operation Infinite Justice,' the distinctly dis-lamic moniker for the war in Afghanistan. This was necessary, of course, since it is Allah who dispenses infinite justice, not the United States military. It wasn't long before 'Islam is love' was the word from the president, and post-Sept. 16 outreach included annual Ramadan suppers at the White House.
"But there were setbacks, too, including the rapid disintegration of the democratic Baathist republic of Iraq, the elevation of Daniel Pipes to the U.S. Peace Council, and the stubborn refusal of the United States to 'seek a new paradigm,' as Syafii Maarif, head of the second-largest Muslim group in Indonesia, advised President Bush during a presidential visit in Oct. 2003.
"'We told him U.S. foreign policy should seek a new paradigm if the U.S. wants to be respected by the world community and be safe,' Maarif explained at the time, exuding only the faintest whiff of blackmail. 'New paradigm,' of course, was a fancy phrase for ditching Israel and bailing on Iraq. Which would come later.
Muslim outreach was still a work in progress in the fall of 2003, when The Washington Post reported, 'The administration's close ties to Israel are a perennial complaint of these (Muslim) critics, and the invasion of Iraq inflamed opposition overseas.'