The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


In his speech announcing that US special forces operatives killed Osama bin Laden, President Obama, like his predecessor, was careful to emphasize that the United States was at war with al Qaida, not Islam. Although this statement is appropriate, voices on the Left, such as Matt Yglesias, are already claiming victory—theiur (il)logic works sonething like this: if Osama is dead, al Qaida is defeated, and if al Qaida is defeated, then the war on terror can be deemphasized.

The problem, of course, is that the “war” we’re fighting isn’t against al Qaida, but rather against Islamism—an ideology that encompasses myriad extremist Muslim groups in almost every country with Muslims and millions upon millions of sympathizers around the world.

Ironically, where al Qaida planned and executed isolated terrorist attacks, Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Hezballah take over entire governments. They, not al Qaida, are who we must fight.

Barry Rubin comments:
  • An Islamist regime rules Turkey and has seized control of most institutions and is gradually crushing democracy. This regime has aligned itself with Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, and Syria.

  • An Islamist regime rules the Gaza Strip and has already set off one war and will no doubt do so again. Its patrons are Iran, Syria, and now Egypt. This government now exercises veto power over any Israel-Palestinian peace which means there won’t be an Israel-Palestinian peace.

  • An Islamist-oriented regime rules Lebanon, backed by Iran and Syria. It has already set off one war and will no doubt do so again.

  • The Iranian regime has weathered a major internal upheaval and is heading full-speed ahead toward nuclear weapons.

  • With Western help the regime in Egypt — one of the main bulwarks against revolutionary Islamism — has fallen, and whether or not Islamists there take over they will be a lot stronger, able to act freely, and direct a movement of millions seeking to Islamize and eventually make Islamist the largest Arab country of all.

  • Revolutionary Islamism is also a serious threat, though so far has been kept at bay, in countries like Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan while in other parts of the world it has spread to places like Chechnya, the northern Caucasus, the Balkans, Nigeria, Somalia, southern Thailand and the southern Philippines, and Indonesia. The resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan seems far from impossible, as does a revolutionary Islamist upheaval in Pakistan.

  • Serious Islamist movements have gained political hegemony over growing Muslim communities all over the West. While many Muslims are indifferent to the movement and a few courageous dissidents combat it, Western governments and elites often blindly favor the Islamists.

Parenthetically, these same Islamist groups—The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezballah— all expressed "outrage" when bin Laden was killed.

The death of bin Laden is something to celebrate—long delayed justice delivered unequivocally and without mercy. But the war is hardly “over,” and any implication to the contrary is either naive or dishonest.