- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 23, 2011

THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES: KNOWING THE ENEMY, SPEAKING THE TRUTH
AND CHOOSING TO WIN THE WAR AGAINST RADICAL ISLAM
By William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn
Thomas Nelson, $19.99, 186 pages

At a time when mixed mes- sages come from the administration about foreign affairs in general and the war declared on us 13 years ago by Osama bin Laden and his confederates in particular, this book supplies a bracing dose of clarity.

William J. Bennett, Ronald Reagan’s second secretary of education, has teamed with his fellow Claremont Institute fellow Seth Leibsohn, to bring us this short but logic- and fact-filled volume. Right off they make it clear the United States is not “on the proper cultural war-footing to win.”

They say we must first know the enemy and clearly define our mission. The Obama administration uses euphemisms such as “overseas contingency operations” to describe the war in Iraq and “man-made disasters” (by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano) to characterize such acts as the “underwear bomber’s” attempt to blow an airliner out of the sky.

The authors take readers through a primer on Islam and the nature of the conflict in which we find ourselves. They remind us that “Islam” means “submission” and a “Muslim” is “one who submits.” Islam is a received religion delivered whole to the Prophet Muhammad. One who believes it literally accepts a complete outline for living.

The radicals contend that if everyone lived by the tenets of the Koran, there would be no need for secular governments and nearly every aspect of human behavior would be prescribed (if not in the Koran itself, then in the hadith, the writings of Muhammad). Those who yearn for this perfect world also use Koranic passages to rationalize the coldblooded killing of “unbelievers,” including even those Muslims who are willing to live under secular governments.

This is the world that violent radical Islamists seek, and terror is the weapon they use to try to achieve it. The authors say we should face this squarely in both our words and action. Instead, the Obama administration seems paralyzed by political correctness, so unwilling to differentiate between the violent radicals and all other Muslims that it is afraid to speak clearly lest “moderate” Muslims be “offended.” The pressure to continue with political correctness is kept up by Muslim propaganda organizations such the Council on American Islamic Relations.

The authors quote Middle East expert Bernard Lewis: “Most Muslims are not fundamentalists, and most fundamentalists are not terrorists, but most present-day terrorists are Muslims and proudly identify themselves as such.”

In the Middle East, strength is respected, even admired, and weakness is exploited. Thus, anything we do that shows appeasement or lack of action brings on more terrorism. In the Reagan years, the pullout after the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut let radical Muslims believe they could attack again - and they did.

Several instances and weak responses by the Clinton White House led to the same conclusion. The embassy bombings in Africa and the USS Cole bombing in Yemen gave bin Laden the idea that we would not respond to a much bigger attack. As it turned out, we did, with full force, and he and the Taliban retreated.

The national unity of purpose that followed Sept. 11 has been dispersed. The sense of national doubt conveyed by the present administration, coupled with the Department of Justice’s clear desire to treat enemy combatants such as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as if they were ordinary criminals makes us seem weak.

The authors walk us through several failures and shortcomings, such as the handling of the case of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who was charged with killing 14 people at Fort Hood in November 2009. The Army’s failure to notice years of peculiar behavior on his part, coupled with much political correctness in dealing with the case, shows that the Army, at least, needs a large dose of reality training from the top down.

The writers cite a comment by Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. on “Meet the Press” the Sunday after the Fort Hood attack. He said, “Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And, as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” Really?

Maj. Hasan had for several years been obsessed with radical Islam and traded emails with Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who spread jihadism from Yemen. When the Army released its report on the massacre in January 2010, it did not contain Maj. Hasan’s name or the words “jihad,” “Muslim” or even “Middle East.” It contained academic argle-bargle, but no recommendations for preventing such occurrences from happening in the future.

Mr. Bennett and Mr. Leibsohn conclude with this: “Let us call good and evil by their proper names. … Let the doublespeak and nonspeak end and the great relearning and rededication begin.”

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