Certainly, we didn't put up all those ballot boxes across the Middle East to mandate a rollback of freedom. But in failing to assess the ideology central to Islam that makes Western notions of liberty fatally heretical, this is increasingly what is happening. Which gives a head-hurting circularity to our policy. Maybe such dizzying confusion should make us welcome the advent of the Iraq Study Group, a presidential advisory council created, as The New York Times put it, "to generate new ideas on Iraq."
But new ideas on "Iraq" are the last thing we need, particularly as generated by a bipartisan snooze of a group that includes James Baker, Vernon Jordan, Charles Robb, Sandra Day O'Connor, Alan K. Simpson, Lee Hamilton -- I can hardly tap out the other names because they're so solidly and venerably uninspiring (with the notable exception of Rudy Giuliani).
Framing their study around "Iraq" reveals how blinkered government thinking is. Iraq is only a small piece of our troubles in this period of resurgent Islamic jihad, from Osama bin Laden's cave to downtown Tehran, from worldwide Danish cartoon protests to Tel Aviv falafel stands, from Paris banlieus to Zacarias Moussaui's courtroom hot seat. Squeezing big brains for "new ideas" about winning Iraq is sort of like planning the Normandy invasion to win France. We need something bigger. We need new ideas about Islam.
My list of idea men and women would include Hirsi Ali, Bat Ye'or, Bruce Bawer, Andrew G. Bostom, Walid Phares, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Wafa Sultan, Ibn Warraq, and other experts and observers unbowed by the strictures of political correctness that strangle debate on Islam -- its teachings, its demands, its history. Iraq would figure into such a curriculum, but from a broader perspective that would allow us to size up the global battlefield in terms of the two great threats to the Western way of life: the spread of sharia through active jihad (war, terrorism), and the spread of sharia through Islamization (demographics, multicultural correctness). Of the two, the second -- quiet jihad -- is the more serious threat, as the continuing Islamization of Europe shows.
We need an Islam Study Group.