Who or what are we fighting?

“It is not that Islam has been hijacked, rather different forces are fighting over control of the steering wheel.” — Barry Rubin

For the first time — as far as I can tell — in recorded history, a war is raging in which one side does not know the identity of its enemy.

This war has been underway since at least the 1990’s and pits the US and other Western democracies against various groups whose ideology is Radical Islamism.  It is not a ‘war on terror’ — which is a tactic, not an opponent — and certainly not ‘overseas contingency operations’, an expression that Orwell would have been proud to invent. But on the other hand neither is it a ‘clash of civilizations’ and the enemy is not Islam.

What exactly is Radical Islamism, how is it related to Islam, why do Islamists employ the tactic of terrorism, why are we fighting, and what can be done to defeat it?

Important questions, and it appears that the previous and present US administrations lacked and continue to lack answers.

The following is a short but incisive discussion of these questions. It should be required reading in Washington. — ed.


Radical Islamism: An Introductory Primer
By Barry Rubin

A young American named Ramy Zamzam, arrested in Pakistan for trying to fight alongside the Taliban, responded in an interview with the Associated Press: “We are not terrorists. We are jihadists, and jihad is not terrorism.”

What he says is well worth bearing in mind in order to understand the great conflict of our era. First and foremost, Jihadism or radical Islamism is far more than mere terrorism. It is a revolutionary movement in every sense of the word. It seeks to overthrow existing regimes and replace them with governments that will transform society into a nightmarishly repressive system.

And so one might put it this way: Revolutionary Islamism is the main strategic problem in the world today. Terrorism is the main tactical problem.

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