Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The War on Islamism

As I said yesterday, we are not fighting a "war on terror". We are fighting Islamists who declared war on us. Michael Totten elaborates:
“War against terrorism” is pathetic and always has been. It’s a cliché now to point out that terrorism is a tactic not an enemy. World War II was not a “war against U-boats” or a “war against kamikazes.” World War II was a war against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Empire of Japan.
Clearly this war is different. It’s asymmetrical. It functions like a global civil war, rather than a state-on-state fight, which is perhaps fitting in the age of globalization. But I can’t understand why so many people have such a hard time figuring out who the enemy is just because this war is different. Paul Berman figured it out easily and wrote the following in The American Prospect shortly after September 11, 2001.

"Some people have emphasized that, so far as we know, not one of the national states in the Middle East or anywhere else seems to have been directly responsible for the attacks. Thus it is said that without the involvement of a national state, we cannot properly speak of something as capacious as war (as if wars can take place only between national states--when the great majority of wars in recent years have been, in fact, civil wars, meaning, conflicts in which only one side possesses a state). This is another way of making the same minimizing point: that we are not facing any kind of substantial or well-organized enemy, even if we have suffered a disastrous blow. But we are facing a substantial and well-organized enemy. Our enemy is the combat wing of radical and Islamist movements that are genuinely enormous." [Emphasis added.]

Exactly. Shouldn’t that be obvious by now? It was obvious to some people then. While the conservative administration sputtered incoherently, a liberal essayist put it right. If more of Berman’s fellow liberals were as perceptive as he is, we wouldn’t be having this argument over basics right now. We wouldn’t be arguing about the Bush Administration either because the Bush Administration would no longer exist.