The presumption of radical Islam, wrote Bernard Lewis (the world’s leading scholar of the Middle East before that field of study became extensively politicized and compromised), is that “the duty of jihad will continue, interrupted only by truces, until all the world either adopts the Muslim faith or submits to Muslim rule.”
Western politicians have been reluctant to acknowledge this reality and act on it by developing a strategy aimed at defeating revolutionary Islam in both its Sunni and its Shiite variants. The best President Bush could do was to declare a global War on Terrorism — as if we objected only to the jihadis’ weapon of choice. President Obama insists we’re fighting “violent extremism,” a term so nebulous as to be meaningless.
Senator Paul has yet to improve on these flawed conceptual frameworks. “The ultimate answer must come from Islam itself,” he told his audience. “They will never accept us through force of arms. Somehow, though, they must come to understand that they must police themselves, that they must root out and destroy the sadists and killers who distort and contort religion to justify killing civilians and children.”
“Somehow, though, they must come to understand” is neither a policy nor a strategy. Senator Paul is to be commended for speaking out about the plight of Christians in Muslim-dominated lands at a time when so many other voices are silent. But if he would step back from the trees he’d see a deep and dark forest: Attacks on Christians are battles in a “War against the West” being waged by the 21st century’s most lethal imperialists. If Paul seriously aspires to be a world leader, he would be well-advised to begin developing a response not based on retreat, passivity, and drift.
— Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security.