So–despite possible dissidents–the Bush administration says we are no longer waging the Global War on Terror (GWOT). Instead, we are told that it has become the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism (GSAVE). If we are not careful, the changes in focus implied by this new nomenclature could give rise to conditions described by a new acronym: GODSAVEUS (Global Order Defined by Sharia Afflicted by Virulent Enemies on the United States).
Such an evocative handle could become appropriate if the administration’s rhetorical shift compounds an already acute problem: the perception the American people have been given that, whatever this conflict is called, it is somebody else’s problem–that of the military, the government, our allies overseas, etc. They may continue to perceive that their contribution to the war effort (er, struggle) is confined to going shopping.
Let’s get a few things straight. This may be a war unlike any other we have ever fought, but it is a war. Nothing less than our survival as a free, democratic and secular nation is at stake.
We confront in this war ideologically driven enemies, not simply the instrument of their aggression, terrorism. They are bent on our destruction just as surely as were their predecessors–the Nazis, the fascists, and the Communists. Their stated goal is to establish a global “caliphate” subject to a repressive, Taliban-like interpretation of sharia.
Such ambitions may sound as absurd as did Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. But, consider the definition of jihad officially issued by the Islamic Affairs Department of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington, D.C.: “Muslims are required to raise the banner of Jihad in order to make the Word of Allah supreme in this world, to remove all forms of injustice and oppression, and to defend the Muslims. If Muslims do not take up the sword, the evil tyrants of this earth will be able to continue oppressing the weak and [the] helpless.”
Today’s totalitarian ideology has no agreed-upon name, although its political qualities can be properly described as Islamofascism. The absence of a descriptor embraced by its adherents is no accident. It is a natural byproduct of their desire to portray themselves not as a leading vanguard, discreet cadre, or elite but rather as the representatives of all Muslims. By so doing, they seek simultaneously to dominate the Islamic faith and to benefit from the tolerance the United States and other Western democracies have traditionally shown toward minorities in the name of religious freedom.
Matters are made worse by Western governments’ continuing inability to differentiate between truly non-Islamist Muslims and the Islamofascists, their sympathizers, support cells, front organizations, and apologists. The past few weeks have seen a number of the latter issue highly publicized fatwas professing their opposition to acts of terror that many of them have supported, or at least condoned, for years.
Some of these organizations and individuals have even been publicly embraced in the aftermath of the London attacks by leaders like Britain’s Tony Blair and Canada’s Paul Martin. Past, well-intentioned but strategically insane efforts by law enforcement and intelligence organizations to reach out to indigenous Muslim communities through such usually Saudi-funded and pro-Islamist organizations are, as a result, now being redoubled.
The dangers associated with partnering with the enemies’ organizational Trojan horses can only be compounded if the American people perceive re-labeling the “war” a “struggle” as meaning that it is a condition, not a conflict–something we have to get used to living with, not something we have to defeat, lest it destroy us.
In fact, we have no choice but to fight the Islamofascists with every means at our disposal. This will require, among other things, engaging the American people far more fully in the war effort than they have been to date. In fact, it is time to put the country on a war footing.
Elements of such an approach should include the following:
Support the troops. An ideology like Islamofascism is surely something that must be fought with means other than armed forces. But, to the extent that this ideology is enabled by state sponsors, military instruments are likely to be critical to our victory. If we are to maintain the ability to wage conventional war with an all-volunteer force, the public is going to have to encourage young people to enlist and to stay in the military.
Help secure the homeland. The danger posed by attacks on soft targets such as the transportation sector clearly require that the authorities’ surveillance and intelligence capabilities be augmented by the eyes and ears of millions of Americans whose own survival may depend upon their vigilance and assistance. This should be viewed as a civic duty, not a threat to civil liberties.
In addition to increased public vigilance and involvement in monitoring domestic threats in the tradition of neighborhood watches, the nation needs to involve the American people much more fully in planning for and preparing against attacks on the homeland. Organizing and harnessing the potential of communities to assist authorities at all levels of government is a time-consuming and costly undertaking. But the spirit of volunteerism in response to presidential leadership can diminish both, and provide capabilities that may prove to be of great value in future emergencies.
Enhance energy security. The public can also be enlisted to help reduce our reliance on foreign oil, much of which is purchased from the same nations that are supporting Islamofascism and its allies. While there are various ways this can be accomplished, the most promising were not much advanced in the recently enacted energy bill. The least painful and most sensible would be to expand dramatically the availability and use of alcohol-based fuels and electricity as means of powering the transportation sector, where most of our oil is currently consumed. A blueprint for accomplishing this is detailed here.
Stop underwriting terror. Unbeknownst to most American investors, significant portions of their public pension, mutual fund, life insurance and private portfolios are comprised of stocks of privately held companies that partner with state-sponsors of terror. For example, a study issued last year by the Center for Security Policy () determined that about $188 billion is invested in such companies by the nation’s 100 leading public pension funds alone. Were that money to be divested or these companies otherwise obliged to choose between doing business with us or doing business with our enemies, it could have a profound effect on the ability of terror-sponsoring states to underwrite Islamofascist attacks against us.
This is but a partial list of measures the American people can–and must–be encouraged to help with as part of our struggle with Islamofascism. If we fail, however, to speak truthfully to the public about the threat both the Muslim world and the West face from our common foe, and to enlist citizens in waging this war fully and effectively, then our only hope may shortly be to ask that God save us.
–Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is an NRO contributor and president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington.