WASHINGTON – Two months into America’s war on terror, some conservative strategists are starting to disavow President Bush’s dictum that the conflict is not against Islam, insisting that to fight terror means to fight the fundamentalist streak wound through much of the world’s third largest religion.
Islam, these hardliners say, is at its core a faith hell bent on destroying the west and the civilization of the non-believer, or infidel.
“It is a religious war — it is a war of Islam against us,” charged Morgan Norvel, a U.S. Marine and the author of Triumph of Disorder: Islamic Fundamentalism, the New Face of War. “Islam is hostile to all non-Islamic countries. Conflict was, and still is, part of the faith.”
“The problem is Islam itself — there is no such thing as peaceful Islam,” said William Lind, author and military historian for the Free Congress Foundation. “There were never a case where Islam was spread throughout the world by missionaries, but rather by the sword.”
Such words are provocative these days, especially as Bush goes out of his way to demonstrate that the war is against terrorists and not their faith. The president, though he decided not to halt the bombing in Afghanistan for the holy month of Ramadan, will host Muslim leaders at the White House next week for a fasting ritual.
Bush is backed by moderate Muslims in America and elsewhere who say the Taliban and similar fundamentalist groups preach a perversity of Islam that is not the true word of the prophet Muhammad, the father of the faith.
John Voll, a Georgetown University professor of Islamic history, says all of the world’s greatest religions — including Christianity — have historically seen their faiths perverted and people murder in the name of God.
“Bin Laden and the Taliban … is a particular movement that is rationalized by one of the world's largest religions,” he said. “But it is not accepted by the mainstream believers of that religion.”
But hardliners like Lind and Norvel said that to treat Sept. 11 as an isolated terrorist attack and not part of a global fundamentalist movement against America, Christianity and Judaism may cost us the war.
“We cannot continue to whistle past the graveyard,” said Lind. “If we think of this as only a war on terrorism we will fail. Terrorism is a technique. What is going on here is much more than a technique.”
People like Lind also are concerned about taking a multi-lateral approach to the conflict. Cliff Kincaid, head of the Washington D.C-based America’s Survival, Inc., says the U.S. should be wary of United Nations involvement. The U.N stood by complacently as terrorists became the scourge of world in the last 30 years, Kincaid said, and failed to stop the Taliban and its cohorts with its treaties and sanctions.
In fact, Kincaid says that judging from the lukewarm response to Bush's recent speech to the U.N., the world body seems downright unsympathetic.
“When our president appealed to them for support to find the killers, he got only polite applause,” he said. “The UN is an anti-American body, though they want our hospitality and our money.”
Fred Gedrich of the Freedom Alliance, a conservative Washington-based think-tank, chides the U.N. for giving equal standing to countries routinely accused of being linked to state-sponsored terror, among them Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, the Sudan, North Korea and Cuba.
“That devastating terrorist attack (Sept. 11) proves we can’t rely on the U.N. or these U.N. treaties to protect our national security. It (U.N.) obstructs and delays justice,” charged Kincaid.
Tom Neumann, executive director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, says that’s why he does not trust the tentative coalition that Bush has built with the Middle Eastern nations post Sept. 11.
“We cannot conclude a war on terrorism without concluding a war against all of these agents, all of these entities,” he said, pointing to the different terrorist organizations, most of which support the Palestinians' violent war against Israel.
He added, “it is politically incorrect to suggest that this is a war against Islam.”
“Maybe it isn’t a war against Islam but a war of Islam against Christianity. But yes, it is a clash of civilizations,” he said.
More moderate voices disagree. “This is a clash on a number of levels and it is first a clash with the Taliban and bin Laden. This is why we can get the support of Egypt and Turkey,” says Georgetown’s Voll. “It is a war where Christians and Muslims can get together against a particular mode of fanaticism.”