- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2001

The Bush alliance is still on the drawing board. But initial reports from the diplomatic front reveal a misguided effort to found an international coalition on a dangerous lie: that the global terror network now threatening Western civilization has no identity. The White House identifies the enemy as generic "terrorists" and generic "terrorism." It has opened the doors of alliance to an array of Arab nations whose embrace of such "terrorists" and "terrorism" ranges from tight, to secret to at best arm's length. In so doing, the Bush administration is creating a gray political landscape, from Sudan to Lebanon, from Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority to Syria.
Judging by bulletins from the Middle East, this vacuum has already been filled by an Arab effort to base any cooperation with the United States on two points: a strategic isolation of Israel and an impossible philosophical distinction between the terrorism inflicted last week on Americans and the terrorism that is inflicted on a daily basis on Israelis. Aside from its moral debasement, this concept defies all logic. There is no separating Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, nor is there any meaningful distinction to be made among their various fronts against the West, democracy and the modern age whether in New York City or Tel Aviv. (One possible difference between them might be that Osama bin Laden appears to consider Israel small potatoes next to the Great Satan.)
Thus, as American envoys such as Vincent Battle, U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, speak to Arab officials about "the need for a strong coalition of friendly countries," declarations come from Yemen, Syria and Lebanon rejecting links between bombing the World Trade Center and bombing the Israeli pizza parlor. Or disco. Or school bus. "Lebanon is all for a war to crush terrorism," Reuters reports, "so long as the battle starts with Washington's Mideast ally Israel and excludes groups who fight it." As Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, says, "If Israel takes part in the alliance, say good-bye to this alliance."
And what of Arab moderates? Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II say they support the fight against terrorist organizations (preferably to take place at the U.N.), but not the countries that harbor them. They also take exception to talk connecting an Islamic or Arabic identity to terrorism, because, as they put it, "terrorism has no religion or homeland."
This is false. All the evidence points to the fact that the terrorism that hit the United States last week has a religion. It is militant Islam. And its homeland is any nation that doesn't seek to eradicate it.

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