- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2001

At the beginning of a war, just about the first task is to identify the enemy. That usually is not too difficult. In World War I and World War II, the Germans wore gray; we wore khaki. The first war we lost Vietnam was our first war in which the enemy did not oblige us by wearing a distinctive uniform (peasant garb doesn't count.) Now, in this most dangerous of all our wars, our ability to identify the enemy may be the first hard test of a winning strategy.

So who are the enemies? President Bush characterized them in his speech to Congress as terrorists who committed the Sept. 11 attacks, such other terrorists as have global reach and the nations that give them shelter. Even assuming that the last category is to be judged prospectively, defining the enemy remains the biggest initial national debate.

It would take an unnaturally constricted interpretation of the president's standard not to include in the proscribed group: Islamic Jihad, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, the PLO, the Front Islamique du Salut, the Chechen rebels and, of course, Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda league. There are probably another two dozen organizations that may also fit the category. And it would take a reversal of national policies in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, the Palestinian Authority, North Korea and the Sudan to exclude any of them from the category of nations that support terrorism. Other nations might reasonably be included.

The formidable nature of these lists is driving many outside commentators (and, from what one can tell, some senior advisers to the president) to propose modifying the president's objectives or defining enemies off the list. This is understandable because, as the lists lengthen, this project begins to take on the dimensions of the dreaded war against Islam.

But the danger of identifying too few enemies is that our strategic objective largely suppressing or extinguishing the striking capabilities of world terrorism might not even be attempted. We might struggle valiantly, win the limited objective of getting the guys that got us and still be the ready victim of further terrorist onslaughts.

In fact, the major terrorist organizations are known, and the countries that support them are known. The heart of the debate is really how many of the billion Muslims worldwide do we move over to the enemy column when we target the known terrorists and their supporting countries? And, if that number is too big, are we taking on an impossible task?

Might we be able to reduce the danger to the United States of terrorism by curtailing our involvement in the Middle East? Or, is it too late and does our mere existence guarantee the continued genocidal enmity of the terrorists? If so, then we have no choice fight or die. Maybe fight and die. If our will to fight weakens, we are likely to rationalize it by concocting a false factual analysis that supports our weakened will. We owe it to ourselves to be ruthlessly truthful about the facts.

But many commentators are claiming that only a handful of fanatics share the vision of a triumphant Islam violently marginalizing the secular, materialistic West. That is not true. The recrudescence of activist Islam over the last 80 years has been consistently presaged by Muslim intellectual thought. And the trend line is not good.

The catastrophe of World War I punctured the myth of a politically and socially superior West. Muslim intellectuals no longer felt inferior. That was the beginning of modern Muslim activist thought. Initially, activist Islam reflected itself in the forming of more or less secular Muslim nation-states in Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Iran, among others.

But the crushing defeat by Israel of the Arabs in the Six Day War discredited secular Muslim activist ideologies. Thereafter, the activist instinct turned to the earlier violent fundamentalist teachings of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the Pakistani theorist Al-Mawdudi and the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb. Qutb had been to America and, repulsed by the culture he encountered, wrote the famous work, "The America I Saw." His experience in America was similar to Hitler's early experience in Vienna, which gave rise to Hitler's genocidal anti-Semitism.

These and other Muslim intellectuals not only hated the West, but turned their enmity against secular Muslim states that borrowed from the West. Indeed, they rejected the concept of a nation-state, substituting a Muslim community where religious legal teachers, rather than national leaders were the final word. For them, terrorism was fully justified to attain these ends.

It is these teachings that have been on the rise, and which today threaten all the secular Muslim states. (The Egyptian government eventually tortured and executed Sayyid Qutb). It was these teachings which animated Ayatollah Khomeini's Iranian Revolution. While they contradict much of Islam's magnificent intellectual heritage, they are no longer on the margin. Today, these violent, anti-Western ideas are inflaming the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world. These ideas and their believers are our implacable enemy. They are on the rise. And they must be defeated.

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