On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Joseph Lieberman announced that he has written President Obama’s homeland-security adviser, John Brennan, expressing strong objections to the administration’s systematic dumbing-down of its characterization of the enemy we face. This has been manifested most recently in the leak last week that the National Security Strategy now being drafted by the White House will not use the term “Islamic terrorism” and similar formulations in describing the contemporary threat. The senator noted that this practice flies in the face of “thousands of years” of sound military and intelligence practice, which makes accurate characterization of the enemy a prerequisite for developing and executing strategies for his defeat.
Senator Lieberman expressed frustration that he had failed in previous, evidently private, efforts to persuade the president and his senior subordinates to recognize the reality that “Islamist extremism” is the ideology that animates our enemies. The Senator was particularly and properly contemptuous of the after-action report issued on the Fort Hood massacre, which failed even to mention the fact that the shooter, Dr. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was a Muslim — let alone that his business card called him a “Soldier of Allah,” that his thesis at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences explained why he was obliged to kill “infidels” who were going to kill Muslims, and that he shouted “Allahu Akhbar” (the Islamic martyr’s cry, meaning “God is great”) as he murdered his comrades.
Senator Lieberman is, of course, absolutely right that we have no chance of defeating the enemy unless we can properly identify him. The senator deserves our heartfelt thanks for calling out the Obama administration for adamantly and repeatedly refusing to do that — and, thereby, for increasing dramatically the danger we face from such foes.
That said, it would be desirable if the distinguished senator from Connecticut, who chairs the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, would refrain from characterizing the enemy as “Islamic extremists,” as a way of disassociating them from the many millions of Muslims, at home and abroad, who are not determined to destroy us. Our foes are most accurately depicted as adherents to Shariah — the virulently intolerant, supremacist, and totalitarian ideology of authoritative Islam — not as “extremists” who are somehow, in the preferred formulation of Mr. Brennan, “hijacking” the religion of peace.
The political ideology known as Shariah is the fault line between Muslims who are enemies and those who are not. Joe Lieberman is absolutely right in trying to move the Obama administration toward honesty, transparency, and accuracy in understanding and depicting the threat we face today. If Senator Lieberman will, himself, be more accurate about its wellsprings and character, he will make an even more vital contribution to our national security and public safety.
– Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and host of the nationally syndicated program Secure Freedom Radio.