25 January 2009

The War on Whatchamacallit

Right-wing radio and its blogosphere has been all a-twitter about members of the Obama Administration not using the phrase, "War on Terror." Well good for Obama!

Terrorism isn't an enemy. Terrorism is a technique. You can't win a war if you can't even name your enemy. But what do you call it when everything you can think of is Politically Incorrect.

It is certainly not a war against Islam. There are too many Muslims on our side to call it that. Like the ones I saw inside the Pentagon.

Academics get more specific. They call the enemy the "Global Salafist Jihad" or the "Jihadists" for short. But Muslims have positive associations with the Salafs (may Allah be pleased with them) and with jihad. It would be like someone calling the US Military the Freedom Fighters in the names of the Founding Fathers of the Republic.

If we need a short name for the enemy (and we do need one) I nominate the term introduced by Francis Fukuyama: Islamofascism. It connotes the toxic combination of a malignant narcissistic fantasy retrojected onto the founders of Islam, combined with modern Western fascist techniques of agitation, propaganda, and thuggishness. And of course, Western weapons. The worst of the Middle East in unholy matrimony with the worst of the West. It is a bad name for a bad thing.

Nobody should like it as a name for the enemy. That's the point.


Anonymous said...

The preferred term among the Muslims I know for the subset of Muslims we're talking about is "neo-Kharijite." It's a reference to the Kharijite movement of early Islam (Dr. Hassaballa describes them better than I could). It doesn't, as of yet, have any particular meaning among non-Muslims as of yet, but maybe it can become useful in the vacuum of a term of what it is we're at war against.


Scooper said...

Good point, Blain! However, the Islamofascists tend to want to establish an Islamic State, thinking that will be the panacea for their narcissistic injury (lack of real pride). The idea that the State perfects the individual is a modern, fascist concept. Therefore, I think that the term "Islamofascist" captures the introjection of bad Western ideas into pseudo-Islamic thinking that "neo-Kharijite" does not.