- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Ted Turner may be baffled when it comes to foreign affairs, but CNN's Lou Dobbs of "Moneyline" has been conducting a worthy seminar on a topic of urgent, if neglected, interest the identity of our enemy.
As Mr. Dobbs has pointed out, the "war on terror" is not a war on "terror" at all. "Terror" isn't an enemy, it's a feeling. As Mr. Dobbs said, terror is "what the enemy wants to achieve." Describing our efforts in terms of an emotional abstraction not only obscures the face of our adversary, but also the nature of our mission.
"The enemy in this war are radical Islamists who argue that all non-believers in their faith must be killed," Mr. Dobbs explained in early June. "It is not a war against Muslims, Islam or Islamics. It is a war against Islamists and all who support them, and if ever there was a time for clarity, it is now." Announcing his decision to substitute the phrase "war against Islamists" for "war on terror," Mr. Dobbs has used successive broadcasts to subject the terminology to an urgently needed debate, one that is unique in the culture at large.
Meanwhile, Professor Fawaz Gerges, a student of Islamist-Western relations, has advocated defining the adversary as "radical" Islamists. Mr. Dobbs agreed. So did American University Professor Mary Jane Deeb, who explained that while the goal of "radical Islamists" and "Islamists" is the same to establish a theocracy based on sharia, or Islamic law "radical Islamists believe that they can achieve this by violence, and other Islamists believe they can achieve this through other means."
The Middle East Forum's Daniel Pipes didn't much quibble with describing the enemy as "radical" Islamists, but he didn't take much comfort in the distinction his co-panelists were making, either. Defining Islamism, "radical" or not, as a totalitarian movement to transform "personal faith into a radical utopian ideology," Mr. Pipes made the case that all Islamism is extremist. Distinguishing between "mainstream Islamists and fringe ones," he added, is like "making a distinction between mainstream Nazis and fringe Nazis." As he put it, "They're all gunning for the same totalitarian goals, and which methods they're using at this moment I don't consider very important at all."
The "war on terror" sounds more inadequately vague than ever next to the fight against Islamism. Mr. Dobbs has initiated a crucial discussion about meaning and purpose, and for doing his bit to take the "terror" out of our struggle.


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