Diana West

Discussing the "war on terror" has been endlessly awkward. Terror -- like a blitzkrieg, sneak-attack or disinformation -- is a tactic, not an enemy. But in our politically-correct era, we dwell on the tactic, never defining the enemy. Drop 500-pound bombs on his head if we must -- and we must -- but don't describe him as an Islamic jihadist in the age-old tradition of Islamic jihadis going back to Muhammad. Such historical precision might be hurtful and insensitive, and we wouldn't want that.

Indeed, as a matter of American foreign policy, we don't want that. Better to keep things vague and indirect, much as the Victorians are reputed to have done to avoid giving offense in the drawing room. Once upon a time, We the People were crass enough to have repelled a German blitzkrieg, defied Japanese sneak attack, and even, some of us, combated Soviet disinformation. Now, We the Peoples are "enlightened" to the point where we send armies out for years to fight generic "terror" -- no matter how specifically Islamic that it is.

There are many reasons why this matters, not least of which is that, without understanding the religious nature of jihad (holy war), along with its sister institution of dhimmitude (inferior status of non-Muslims under Islam), there can be no triumph over jihad and no avoiding dhimmitude. There can also be no understanding of the religiously rooted attitudes toward jihad movements among even non-violent Muslims, generally ranging from a tacit ambivalence to wild adulation.

Even as we fight our war against "terror," we simultaneously fight against any such understanding. Maybe the reason goes beyond reflexive PC manners. Maybe the West simply doesn't want an "enemy" at all; maybe we simply want to safeguard ourselves against "terror." Maybe our elites believe that, in targeting only terror, the enemy will learn to like us, and terror will go away.

This mindset may explain why the United States exhausts itself trying to disclaim a connection between Islam and jihad, opening Islamic centers on U.S. military bases (most recently at Quantico at the behest of a Wahhabi-educated cleric). Thus, as Paul Sperry writes at frontpagemag.com, "facilitating the study of the holy texts the enemy uses, heretically or not, as their manual of war"; treating those same holy texts reverentially by military order at Guantanamo Bay; and even sending in the Marines to donate prayer rugs to an Iraqi mosque.


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).