Diana West

"Exactly what do you wish to achieve with your articles?" a reader asked. "Do you want a war against Islam?"

Such questions are particularly piquant this week, as I write near a massive deployment of military force that includes anti-aircraft missile batteries on the ground and round-the-clock combat jet patrols in the sky. Also aloft are E-3 warning and control aircraft, in place to guide interceptor jets to a target. No, I'm not in Fallujah. This is Washington, D.C.

Which makes me think we are already in a war against something. Terror? I'm not afraid; I'm mad; livid that our alabaster capital bristles with armaments so we might solemnize the outcome of our peaceful election. So the president might give an inaugural address and make his way safely from the steps of the Capitol (unchained for the occasion) to the reviewing stand in front of the White House. So we might begin Bush II without a deadly, explosive, bloody hitch.

We are at war in Iraq, not on Iraq, which we have liberated. We fight on to endow Iraqi Muslims, some Iraqi Christians and even a couple of Iraqi Jews with a little liberty and running water. Are we fighting terror? There's no war on "terror" any more than there's a war on car bombs. Neither moniker describes what animates the terrorists -- drivers of car bombs, wearers of explosive vests or wielders of butcher-blades. Invariably, it is Islam and the murderous, expansionist ideology of jihad that drives that extreme fringe you read about to the point of unspeakable violence. And by the way, that's some fringe; according to the famous estimate of Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes, it includes 10 percent of the Muslim world -- 100 million-plus people.

Which takes me back to the original idea of what there is to achieve by writing about those central, retrograde aspects of Islam that clash with Western society -- namely, the precepts of jihad and dhimmitude, and the dictates of sharia law.

My goal is providing clarity. We are unlikely to witness a security-lite inauguration four, eight or 12 years hence if we remain confused about the ideology that animates our foes. And we are unlikely to ward off the spread of jihad, dhimmitude and sharia law the world over -- including the United States -- if we know nothing about it, or, worse, know only apologetics about it. Infinitely more pleasant, they are also misleading.

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).