The battlefields in Iraq and at home

Posted: Aug 19, 2003 12:00 AM

Maybe now that a New York Times headline says a "Rising Tide" of Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic militants has come to view Iraq as the "Ultimate Battlefield" against the United States, it will be harder for the Bush-haters, the history-challenged and, of course, the politically correct to ignore the centrality of the Iraqi battlefield in the wider war on Islamic terrorism.

Riding The New York Times' rising tide is Mullah Mustapha Kreikar, a man the newspaper somewhat mildly calls the "founding spiritual leader" of Ansar al-Islam. This northern Iraq organization -- the murderous "affiliate" of Al Qaeda, as Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy has described it -- was founded in late 2001 with Al Qaeda and Saudi seed money. Designed as a home away from the cave for the then-Afghan-based brethren, the Ansar al-Islamics now appear to be coordinating the infiltration of foreign Islamic militants into Iraq, where, as the Times reports, they are joining Hussein loyalists to attack American and Iraqi targets.

Speaking on Lebanese television from Norway (where he has political asylum -- thanks, Norway), Kreikar gave his take on the Islamic nature of the war on liberated Iraq. "The resistance is not only a reaction to the American invasion," he explained. "It is part of the continuous Islamic struggle since the collapse of the caliphate." By "caliphate," he was referring to the centuries'-long Islamic rule that dissolved at the end of World War I with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. "All Islamic struggles since then are part of one organized effort to bring back the caliphate."

This, if I read the good mullah correctly, means that "all Islamic struggles" -- from Kashmir to Sudan to Malaysia to Palestine to France to Chechnya to wherever -- have little, directly, to do with George W. Bush, Richard the Lionheart, Israeli settlers, SUVs, Coca Cola, MTV, or some vast conspiracy thereof. At the same time, it doesn't take a secret decoder ring in the hand (or a mullah in the fjord) to figure this out. After all, they don't call it Islamic Jihad -- or Hizbollah (Party of God) or Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) or Salafist Group for Conversion and Combat -- for nothing.

Or do they? Somehow, the big-picture perspective on global jihad escapes the blinkered gaze of many people, particularly critics and opponents of the war in Iraq. And they miss the point of the war, which is a big point. Barham Saleh, prime minister of the Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq, nicely encapsulated it this way for the Times: "Iraq is the nexus where many issues are coming together -- Islam versus democracy, the West versus the axis of evil, Arab nationalism versus some different types of political culture. If the Americans succeed here, this will be a monumental blow to everything the terrorists stand for."

Seems to me you have to try awfully hard not to see at least the outlines of the big pictures Kreikar and Saleh have sketched out. However, such evasive action perfectly embodies the politically correct mindset that organizes history, facts, populations, endeavors and achievements according to a cramping calculus of sex, race and other identity markers. In order for the Bush-haters, the history-challenged and, of course, the political correct, to deny the Islamic nature of the terrorism we are at war with, they must first avert their eyes.

Why do they do it? Maybe it's because the PC-think driving the racial bean-counters stems from an ideology out to remake the West. In a radically different way, of course, so is militant Islam. This isn't common cause, exactly, but maybe it helps explain the tendency to look the other way.