Clifford May beautifully explains the fact that Jihadis, who use violence, and Islamists, who use more subtle means, are both threats to the West — and he manages to mention, too, why reform isn’t happening:
Terrorism is not the core of the problem. It is merely the weapon of choice for some of the regimes, movements, and ideologies that are waging a war against the U.S. and other democratic societies.
The terrorists regard themselves as “jihadis” — heroic Islamic warriors and conquerors. They see their enemies as “infidels” — enemies of Allah who deserve death and would be better off dead.
Yes, the jihadis and those who support them have grievances against America, Europe, India, and, of course, Israel. But resolving policy differences is not their goal. Their goal is to humiliate, defeat, and subdue the West, and to restore to Muslims the power and glory they enjoyed in the distant past and which, they are confident, they are destined to enjoy again in the not-too-distant future.
Not all those who seek this restoration engage in acts of terrorism or even support them. There are those — call them “Islamists” — who are not militants. They believe non-violent strategies can more effectively hasten the transition from the rule of law as constructed by men to the rule of law as ordained by Allah, along with the transfer of global dominance from Judeo-Christian and secular societies to “the Muslim world.”
It should go without saying but probably does not: Most of the world’s Muslims are not participating in this struggle, are not eager for bloodshed, and do not want to live under clerical dictatorships. But if, as has been conservatively estimated, only 7 percent of the world’s Muslims support Jihadism and/or Islamism, that’s more than 80 million people — a formidable force backed by enormous Middle Eastern oil wealth. By contrast, Islamic reformers and peacemakers are isolated, targeted, and without substantial resources.
I urge you to read the whole thing.
I’ll just throw in here a conversation I had with one of my friends. I’ve never discussed politics with her because it hasn’t come up. I’ve assumed that she is a liberal, simply because most people in Marin are liberals.
Our conversation swung around to the military, and it turns out that she admires the military greatly for its ability to cultivate leadership skills in people. She’s a professional consultant whose job is to teach leadership skills, and she thinks the military has that down pat.
I mentioned that my son has always wanted to join the military, because he’s fascinated by it but, as he piped up (since he was present for this conversation), “I don’t want to get killed.” My friend and I both agreed that, during times of war, your chances of sudden death in the military are increased over that same chance in peace time.
Then my friend said something along the lines of, “I think we’re going to have active wars for a long time, because of the forces against us.” Wow! Did a Marinite just say something that sounded very much as if she believed America is fighting a defensive war, rather than an offensive, imperialist war? I think so.
I added, “Yup, and these wars matter, because they’re existentialist. It’s us versus them.” She said, “You’re right.”
The conversation moved on then, but I was left with the very strong impression that, Democratic or Republican, conservative or liberal, this is one person in Marin who gets it.