Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Juan Cole is Not at War

More than a year ago, Andrew McCarthy argued that the "war on terror" was improperly named:
Terrorism is not an enemy. It is a method. It is the most sinister, brutal, inhumane method of our age. But it is nonetheless just that: a method. You cannot, and you do not, make war on a method. War is made on an identified and identifiable enemy. In the here and now, that enemy is militant Islam a very particular practice and interpretation of a very particular set of religious, political and social principles.

The Administration has recently stopped referring to the conflict as a "war on terror", but the new name -- the "global struggle against violent extremism" -- pleased neither McCarthy nor the Dallas Morning News. Both argue that the Administration should call a spade a spade and identify the real enemy: militant extreme Islam.

This may seem like a tempest in a teapot. Moreover, a case could be made that calling out Islam would do more harm than good. Nonetheless, those who deny that we are even at war in the first place are already drawing the wrong conclusions from the Administration's change in terminology. Exhibit A: Juan Cole:
I take it [the change in terminology] is because they have finally realized that if they are fighting a war on terror, the enemy is four guys in a gym in Leeds. It isn't going to take very long for people to realize that a) you don't actually need to pay the Pentagon $400 billion a year if that is the problem and b) whoever is in charge of such a war isn't actually doing a very good job at stopping the bombs from going off.

There is no approach that will guarantee success in the current war against militant Islam. But, one approach sure to guarantee failure is to deny that the war exists.

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