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A War By Another Name
The Geography of Horror

We are in effect at war with Islamist radicalism. It is very unhelpful if this reality is denied, as the Obama administration has tried to do.

Published on: August 6, 2014
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  • qet

    Two comments:

    (1) Confusion over the meaning of “Islam,” the meaning of its etymological root, DOES matter, and greatly. If the mass of 40-watt electors in this country believe, even if only vaguely, that Islam means “peace,” then that vague belief will simply further stimulate their reflex hostility to anyone, especially anyone running as an R, who dares suggest that the radical Islamists must be actually fought, you know, with guns and stuff; whereas even a dim bulb or two might internalize a different feeling toward a creed whose highest good is “submission” of the individual to a religious authority;

    (2) to modify Balzac’s famous comment, behind every great civilization is a great crime. While our pretend-elites are busy telling themselves and everyone else that (a) Islamic societies represented the pinnacle of human leaning and achievement at the same time that Western Europe was mired in gothic darkness, and (b) everything great about Western civilization is so only because of the West’s colonial savagery toward non-white indigenous peoples, they ought to be reminded that those Islamic societies achieved greatness in exactly the same way using exactly the same methods.

    • Duperray

      #2: You seem to totally ignore the many centuries of savagery with which islam exploited Africa black population…
      If you are so prone to loud islam, why didn’t you convert to it and go settle yourself into a muslim land? Times of bla-bla without act are finished. From now on, engagement is key.

      • qet

        In fact, my #2 tries to say just what you say it ignores.

      • Dr. Todd Collier

        Duperray, you totally missed his point. Far from loving Islam, Qet points out that the forces of Islam rose by the same methods that modern liberals say make the West evil. By force, fire and sword.

  • RAS743

    Let’s see now, Islam came into existence when? 600 CE, give or take? And was spread throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Andalusia and Eastern Europe and, by 1300, as far east as Java and Sumatra how? Mostly “by the sword,” wasn’t it? Fast forward 800 years or so and, for the cause of living life under the “purer” form of Islam (oh, those troublesome passages in the Qur’an!) a significant minority of Muslims is chopping off heads, summarily executing coreligionists and infidels alike for disagreeing with them. And the status of women in Muslim states (functioning or otherwise) is what, exactly? And in these same states, the status of non-Muslims is what, exactly? And we’re supposed to take it — forgive the expression — on faith that “the great silent majority” of Muslims disapprove of these atrocities and don’t view non-Muslims in the same way as these radicals?

    Mr. Berger, we can only hope your reading of the Muslim mind — quite a leap, that — is correct, because the West, even if it continues to exist as a way of looking at the world, appears to be completely lacking in the martial fiber to act in its own defense in the event your interpretation is incorrect.

    American soldiers in World War II, we’re told, liked Germans above all other foreigners with whom they came in contact. The Germans — Kristallnacht … the Wansee Conference … Auschwitz.

    And you’re making generalizations about Muslims.

    Finally — you knew this was coming — Churchill’s thoughts on the matter: “Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step, and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it (Islam) has vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”

    Last April, Paul Weston, a British politician, was arrested in the United Kingdom for expressing such thoughts in a campaign speech.

  • Thirdsyphon

    “To suggest that Islamist terror has nothing to do with Islam is rather absurd. There is a great shortage of Presbyterian suicide bombers[.]”

    Is it likewise absurd to suggest that the IRA terror bombings had nothing to do with Catholicism? Just because people who belong to a religion commit terrible acts that are vaguely linked to their notion of that religion’s political status doesn’t mean that the religion itself necessitates or sanctions such actions.

    • qet

      it is not required in a discussion of Islamic terrorism that equal time always be given in the discussion to historical atrocities committed by Christians motivated by their religious beliefs. Emphasizing the Islamic terrorism of today is not an implicit denial that Christian sects ever committed atrocities. The history of Christianity is full of them. So what? That does not make the reality of today’s Islamic terrorism less real.

  • Tim Fairbank

    >Let me conclude: Islam is not the enemy. Radical Islamism is.

    Peter, I’m afraid you may be guilty of the same wishful thinking you accuse Obama of practicing.

    Let’s try a reformulation: [Not all] Muslims are the enemy, but Islam itself is. Violent imperialism has been part of the DNA of those religious ideas from the very beginning.

    • Duperray

      Fully wrong thesis: From their beginning 13 centuries ago, Islam was deemed to the conquest of the world and which expansion has been only halted by wars.
      Imperialism as you refer to, does exist for no more than 5 centuries ONLy.

      • sh

        And yet at various times in history, Islam has coexisted
        peacefully with other cultures. Witness the original Indian independence movements
        support for the Islamic Raj as the legitimate form of Indian nationalism. There
        are other historical examples, including long periods of Ottoman occupation of
        Southeastern Europe. Islam itself is NOT the enemy. Radical Islam is. However,
        Radical Islam is a much larger part of Islam than the West is willing to
        acknowledge. It is most likely greater than 25% of Moslem believers. And many
        others waiver between beliefs and are susceptible to Islamism at any given
        time. Until the truth is acknowledged, we will continue to stumble in that part of the world.

        • sh

          For information on the Indian Moslem Moghul Empire, see Wikipedia – an excerpt below:

          The Mughal dynasty ruled most of the Indian subcontinent by 1600; it went into a slow decline after 1707. The Mughals suffered several blows due to invasions from Marathas and Afghans, causing the Mughal dynasty to be reduced to puppet rulers by 1757. The remnants of the Mughal dynasty were finally defeated during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, also called the 1857 War of Independence. This period marked vast social change in the subcontinent as the Hindu majority were ruled over by the Mughal emperors, most of whom showed religious tolerance, liberally patronising Hindu culture. The famous emperor Akbar, who was the grandson of Babar, tried to establish a good relationship with the Hindus.


        • qet

          Notice that each instance you give is of Muslim “rule.” Do you have examples of Muslim non-ruling minorities or majorities peacefully co-existing with a non-Muslim ruling majority or minority?

          I grant that it is a minority who are making all the trouble, because it is always only a minority who make trouble, in anything, but there are no procedures by which to identify and surgically excise only those who are the troublemakers. And a great many of the non-radical majority, when finally put to a no-longer-avoidable choice of throwing in with their radical co-religionists or opposing them along with non-Muslims, almost invariably choose the former.

          • What about the USA? Here a nonruling minority of Muslims peacefully coexists with a non-Muslim ruling majority.
            It seems to me that we ought not lose sight of the fact that this wave of violence is religious fundamentalism. It is a backlash to the perceived threats of modern culture. That’s how the Wahabbi sect came to exist and they (using the oil wealth the West supplied them) became the funders of the missionary spread of fundamentalist Islam. But it is because they are losing that these extremists come into existence and go to extremes. Just look at typical young Muslims in the U.S. (and in Iran for that matter). They’re westernized. That drives the extremists’ fury, but that is the future–not some Caliphate pipe dream.

          • qet

            If you call this peaceful, then I don’t know what. True, we’re not at Paris levels. Yet. And I think calling this an instance of “religious fundamentalism” ignores the fact that Islam is far more than a “religion” as we in the US are used to. it is an entire culture, history, way of life and, with Arabs, bound up with their very Arab-ness.




        • James Foard

          Your kidding, right?
          “The Islamic conquest of India
          is probably the bloodiest story in history. ” Will Durant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMY2YV9WucY
          In 1000 AD Mahmud defeated Raja Jaipal, a scion of the Hindu Shahiya dynasty of Kabul.
          This dynasty had been for long the oorkeeper of India in the Northwest.
          Mahmud collected 250,000 dinars as indemnity. That perhaps was normal
          business of an empire builder. But in 1004 AD he stormed Bhatiya and plundered the place. He stayed there for some time to convert the Hindus to Islam with the help of mullahs he had brought with him.
          In 1008 AD he captured Nagarkot (Kangra). The loot amounted to 70,000,000
          dirhams in coins and 700,400 mans of gold and silver, besides plenty of precious stones and embroidered cloths. In 1011 AD he plundered Thanesar which was undefended, destroyed many temples, and broke a large number of idols. The chief idol, that of Chakraswamin, was taken to Ghazni and
          thrown into the public square for defilement under the feet of the faithful. According to Tarikh-i-Yamini of Utbi, Mahmud’s secretary,
          “The blood of the infidels flowed so copiously [at Thanesar] that the stream
          was discolored, notwithstanding its purity, and people were unable to
          drink it. The Sultan returned with plunder which is impossible to count.
          Praise he to Allah for the honor he bestows on Islam and Muslims.”
          The Magnitude of Muslim Atrocities in India,
          An excellent online book, THE STORY OF ISLAMIC IMPERIALISM IN INDIA is
          available @ http://voiceofdharma.org/books/siii/, detailing the muslim atrocities against the nation of India.
          You can read about four centuries of muslim tyranny over Bosnia @ http://www.srpska-mreza.com/History/pre-wwOne/Bosnia-tyrannized.html
          The enemy is not radical Islam. The enemy IS ISLAM. Where ever Islam has gone, it has conquered and enslaved and killed people.
          It is a brutal, evil religion.
          Short history lesson. The Copts (Ethnic Egyptian Christians) were the original Egyptians. Egypt had become a Christian country by the time of the Arab Muslim invasion of 639. After the invasion, the Copts were given three choices by their conquerers: Convert to Islam; become second class citizens obligated to pay a heavy tax called jizya; or die by the sword. Many chose death, others converted to save their wealth, and the remainder became dhimmis – second class citizens. The dhimmis are the surving Copts of today, the original Egyptian Christians who decided to keep their faith.
          In Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, at the time of Mohammed’s death, “The dying injunction of Mohammed was to drive every religion but Islam out of Arabia; and this seems to have been accomplished almost at once. All the Christian communities were swamped and extinguished and all the art and culture and the learning which flourished among them perished.” The Arab Conquest of Egypt, By Alfred J. Butler, 1902, Oxford Clarendon Press, pg 147. Available online @ The Arab Conquest of Egypt.
          By 632 all Christians had either been killed, forced to convert, or driven out of Arabia. (Op. cit., pgs 148-149) “The Christian religion and the Christian religious monuments were levelled by the first waves of that Muslim fanaticism which was originally directed against Jews and idolaters”.
          During his lifetime Muhammed wiped out an entire Jewish community that refused his message. This has been the true history of Islam, and this type of genocide and barbarism is still going on in Africa and the middle east fourteen centuries after the death of the murderous founder of this bloody religion. For George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Barack Obama and other western world leaders of their ilk to proclaim Islam a religion of peace and to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Ramadan during a time of war against Islamic terrorism is disgraceful and nothing less than high treason against our heritage, our culture, and our civilization.
          Have you ever heard of The Battle of Tours? In 732, just 100 years after Muhammad’s death, after conquering and enslaving the entire middle east, wiping out every vestige of Christianity in Arabia, occupying large parts of Spain, Islam was set to conquer the rest of Europe. In an epic battle, Charles Martel, “Charles the Hammer” defeated the muslim horde at Tours and saved Europe and western civilization.
          The location of the battle was close to the border between the Frankish realm and then-independent Aquitaine. The battle pitted Frankish and Burgundian[31][32] forces under Austrasian Mayor of the Palace Charles Martel, against an army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, Governor-General of al-Andalus. The Franks were victorious. ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi was killed, and Charles subsequently extended his authority in the south.
          Ever heard of The Siege of Vienna in 1529? Once again muslim turks had their eyes set on conquering Europe. “The inability of the Ottomans to capture Vienna in 1529 turned the tide against almost a century of conquest throughout eastern and central Europe. The Ottoman Empire had previously annexed Central Hungary and established a vassal state in Transylvania in the wake of the Battle of Mohács. According to Toynbee, ‘The failure of the first [siege of Vienna] brought to a standstill the tide of Ottoman conquest which had been flooding up the Danube Valley for a century past.'”[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Vienna

    • Loader2000

      Augustine interpreted a certain passage of the Bible to mean that it was good to coerce (even using violence if necessary) people to convert to Christianity. I believe he was dead wrong, but a whole lot of violence and coercion (connected to Christianity though certainly not Christian) was justified as a result.

      • Tom

        It’s not, I think, a coincidence that a study of the campaigns of Islamic armies for their first century will take you to where the religion spread to. As for Christianity–while the circumstances were different, the fact that one cannot do this for its first hundred years is…instructive.
        And besides, Augustine was talking about the Donatists, a group of Christians who held beliefs deemed to be heretical when he cited “go and compel them to come in.”

    • Eliyahu100

      Tim, the economist Joseph Schumpeter wrote a little book on Imperialism. One of the varieties of imperialism discussed in his book was Arab imperialism. See link:


  • FedUpWithWelfareStates

    “Islam is not the enemy. Radical Islamism is.” Oh really…what do you call a movement inspired by a holy book (Koran) to eventually take over the entire world, implement Sharia Law, execute/enslave/tax all infidels, & mandate such holy book (Koran) driven polices as using Rape, Female Genitalia Mutilation, Beheadings of Christians, etc. as a weapon? Islam!

  • Pete

    “There are two ways of looking at the record of these atrocities. One is to see them as intrinsic to Islam, the other as an aberration of genuine Islam. The first view is rarely proposed publically in the United States, though it may be quietly held by some Americans less affected by the prevailing culture of tolerance.”

    No, the view that Islam itself is a cancer in the human body is held by those who can rise above political correctness and see the reality of the situation for what it really is.

  • Boritz

    When alcoholism began to be considered a disease some medical practitioners did not really believe this model but thought it was useful because it got society on board with the idea of treatment for the condition. &nbspIn that same light perhaps a movement to equate ‘radical Islam’ with ‘Tea Party Christianity’ could get hold-outs on board with the idea of directly resisting the movement.

    • Fred

      That’s incredibly dumb. There is no such thing as “Tea Party Christianity.” And if there were, to compare either the Tea Party or Christianity to radical Islam shows an astounding ignorance of history, religion, and politics. I think your partisanship has eaten into your brain.

  • Duperray

    Not all germans were nazi. Nevertheless western soldiers had to shoot at anything alike a german soldier. In all wars, very few are guilty but many suffer. It is same thing now. And the false idea according which there are good muslim (the cool ones) and bad muslims (terrorists) was torn in pieces on 9/11 when looking at a video taken somewhere showing the immediate popular burst of joy when first news of attack were available….Heart breaking.
    But now the situation is far different than 75 years ago: There is no visible muslim army to shoot at. They are within us, helped by many many westerners, someones already converted into muslim, some others still believeing that beeing good with them will cool down… Was Hiter cooled down after his 1938 political victory?
    Pretty soon or later, funded by Arabianpeninsula Oil money, the many “terrorists” will act and kill: Civilian War, the worst of it.
    As usual, western politicians will first deny this insurrection, then will try to cool it down thanks to many more concessions up to make muslims in West as “privilege citizens” above the laws (as it is almost achieved in some european states), finally these politicians will bow definitively and let political power to ex-terrosists.
    The only way to prevent this – and it is not a beautiful way – is to expel all muslim populations from civilized world, direct them to their sacred lands, rise unbreakable borders and just continue trade and money via Internet.
    Looks a massive deportation scheme, of course unacceptable, but will anyway eventually be accepted after the death of millions westerners…..

  • Anthony

    “The resurgence of Islam in our time is not coterminous with Islamist terrorism, but grounded in the fact that millions of people have found meaning and moral direction in this faith.” That said, Radical Islamist must be met with “hard power” – not even a credible threat.

  • johngbarker

    The response to radical Islam requires, ” political leadership in sparse supply on either side of the aisle.”
    I do not think we have much time to create an effective policy since I imagine another 9/11 is somewhere between probable and imminent. In most Islamic countries radical Islam or Islamism is an opposition party; we must protect American lives and property but we do not need to make enemies of over a billion people, many of whom are loyal Americans. We have produced great leaders before and they are needed now more than ever.

  • jeburke

    Of course there is a distinction between Islam and radical salafism, but it seems increasingly likely that we will one day — perhaps soon — see it as a distinction that matters little. In place after place, the radicals are terrorizing Muslim populations, cowing ineffective governments and taking control of territory. A few effective governments in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan are really all that stands in the way of easy radical conquest — for now — and the extent to which many of these have sought to accommodate the radicals and radicalism speaks volumes about their relative weakness. I fear that this war will be fought on many fronts for decades.

  • Funny ideas come and go, but they do it very slowly. Christianity was lucky to leave behind forced conversions and inquisitions before the modern era. (If you’d like to argue that the modern era resulted from it leaving those things behind, I won’t put up much of a fight.) Islam, for a lot of reasons, hasn’t–at least not yet.

    It’s pointless to try to convince people that their religion has problems, and we shouldn’t try. If the Middle East wants to embrace Islamism, we can’t do much about it, nor should we try. But if they try to force it on us or our allies, that’s another story. So, with that, two very simple policy rules–which apply universally, working just as well for Islamic terrorists, revanchist Russian dictators, or expansionist Chinese looking to dominate our Asian allies:

    1) If you oppose us or our interests, we’ll oppose you.

    2) If you conduct military operations against us or our interests, we’ll conduct military operations against you.

    Tit-for-tat has a long and successful history in geopolitics, because it’s simple and relatively value-free. We don’t need to go to war against Islam, or Islamists, or even Islamic terrorists. We simply need to respond to those that wish to harm us, swiftly and proportionately.

    • Fred

      Swiftly, I agree with. Proportionately, not so much. The Duke of Marlborough in the 18th century and William Tecumseh Sherman in the 19th had the right idea. Brutally destroy your enemy and anything or anyone who supports him until you completely destroy his ability, and break his will, to fight. Ultimately that is much more humane than a tit-for-tat that could last centuries.

  • Breif2

    Whether Jihadism (or Islamism or what have you) is intrinsic to Islam is an interesting academic question, but of limited relevance. All longstanding religions have been interpreted in radically different ways throughout their history, and outsiders don’t get much of a vote. If Muslims come to the conclusion that Islam is all about rainbows and unicorns, terrific!, no matter what the Original PBUH really meant. If a significant element of the Ummah decide to continue on their current path, it doesn’t matter if the entire faculty of Harvard Divinity School prove that they are perverting Islam, we will have no choice but to opppose them with hard power. As to the large number of easy-going Muslims: sorry, but the Jihadists are forcing the matter to a head, and you’ll have to decide who to accommodate.

  • Breif2

    So far, I notice two commenters who are attacking other commenters due to a lack of basic reading comprehension. Given how easier most people find reading compared to writing, I am impressed by their industry and eagerness to make fools of themselves.

  • thrasymachus02

    This is a distinction the good people of mainstream conservatism having been trying to make since 9/11, but honestly mostly failing. All the people we can deal with, good or bad, are secular- the Egyptian military, the Jordanian monarchy, even Gaddafi. The Saudis are not our allies, nor the Qataris, they are as evil as they come. The will of the people is for radical Islam, or as it is called in those countries, “Islam”.

    It took Europe hundreds of years to get ready for the Crusades, and American years to face up the Barbary pirates. In the end I still hope we will say “no”. When we are ready we will be far stronger than this rabble of devils, and we will repay them with the good sword, as the right is.

    “Hijo de trueno, caballero en carcel blanco, hijo de trueno, guianos y haznos vencer.”

    • kctaz

      Not to pick nits, but we only formed a strong central government in 1789 and we were marching into Tripoli in 1805. We didn’t even have a Navy. We were rather busy working this Government stuff out. Considering that, I don’t know that it was an unreasonable length of time. Do you think it was?
      We wasted time trying to get the Europeans to go along and to form a coalition to combat the Muslims, but failed as Europe preferred to pay the bribes. History certain does repeat.

  • sapermktg

    Right now the conflict is localized, so Europeans are not paying much attention. This may change when Western European countries reap the whirlwind of Radical Islamists who have fought in Syria and Iraq and will return to their “home countries” trained in terror and supported by a restive Muslim population. I believe the vast majority of US Muslims have reaped the benefit of this country and are loyal, good citizens. So we will see where the spillover of this global phenomenon will next threaten our collective civilization. Israel is on the bleeding edge and will not be immune to the great difficulties ahead.

  • WeMustResist

    The difference between Islam and radical Islam is just that when Many Muslims are gathered together they radicalize each other. When they are spread out they revert to more peaceful ways.

  • Isaac G

    What’s wrong with Israel’s settlement policy on the West Bank?? Does it undermines peace?? Even in a relatively correct article, Israel has to be maligned by prejudice. The Arabs want the area Jew free because they are anti-Semites. Full stop. There is otherwise no problem with Jews moving into the neighborhood. Peter Berger doesn’t realize it, but in this case he becomes guilty of antisemitism by supporting the calumnies of anti-Semites.

  • MaleMatters

    Do radical Islamists want to wipe the Earth clean of humans — except for a handful or two of themselves — so that the next civilization is appropriately Islamic?

    If so, it may be only a matter of time that the radicals, who care nothing about their own lives, succeed in a scheme that tricks several powerful nations into a nuclear war that serves their purpose.

    • Makaden

      Does reality not provide enough troubles of its own that we feel we have to spend our energy on wild speculation?

      • MaleMatters

        Though I did not relish making the comment, my “wild speculation” is a worst-case scenario that nations have to consider and prepare for. To do otherwise is to be naive and foolish. You can bet such scenarios are routinely discussed by the CIA and the NSA. Can you verify that ISIS also is not discussing it?

        • Makaden

          No, and neither can I verify that ISIS is not cloning Woolly Mammoths to invade North America. But I don’t waste my time trying to prove a negative.

          • MaleMatters

            True, one can’t prove a negative. But again, if we don’t consider worst-case scenarios — which we do in our personal lives as well as collectively as a nation — we are, I believe, putting ourselves at great risk potentially.

            I asked the question “Can you prove it” for a reason: you seem to feel we have nothing much to worry about from a terrorist group that has already announced, “We’re coming for you, America.”

          • Makaden

            I take the threat quite seriously, I can assure you. But unless you are privy to actual conversations among ISIS members about the scenario you posit, I’ll choose to continue to channel my energies into what I know to be a) among their actual, made threats, and b) closer to their known capabilities, and c) congruent with their ethos.

            As for c), I don’t believe getting superpowers to blow themselves up is what ISIS wants. I think it wants to do the blowing up itself. That’s how you claim victory in that mindset, as I have understood it.

          • MaleMatters

            Can’t disagree!!

  • Dracovert

    ” … particular direction for US foreign policy.”
    There is exactly one “direction” that has been demonstrated to work, but it is against American foreign policy. Before 1945, there were four contending psychopathic powers: militant Islam, Marxism, Fascism, and Japanese militarists. A psychopathic power is a state that has been captured by a psychopath and his enablers: the several contending militant Islam dictators, Stalin, Hitler, and the Japanese high command.
    About one percent of all people are thought to be psychopathic. A psychopath who comes to power within a family usually destroys the family or worse. A psychopath who comes to power in a corporation destroys the corporation or worse. Jeff Skilling was CEO of Enron and had a brilliant background including a Harvard MBA and McKinsey, the premier business consultancy. Enron was bankrupted, billions of dollars of corporate value were destroyed, and thousands of careers were damaged when Enron collapsed. Skilling was formally identified as a psychopath by Dr. Robert Hare, the world’s leading authority on psychopathy, and Skilling is now in prison.
    All authoritarian dictators demonstrate the characteristics of psychopaths. Germany and Japan were cured of psychopathic tendencies when they were emphatically defeated in 1945 and they then rejoined the community of nations. The various Marxist states and the various militant Islamic states were not defeated, but the Soviet Union died of psychopathic dishonesty, inefficiency, incompetence, and corruption. The militant Islamic states periodically die of psychopathy. When a psychopathic state dies undefeated, a new psychopath emerges and more lives are destroyed. This cycle has been a constant fixture of militant Islam for 1500 years and of Marxist states for a century.
    Psychopathy basically involves brain damage, and is not now curable. Psychopaths must be destroyed or radically neutralized, but it is against American policy to kill heads of state. Consequently, Marxism and militant Islam may continue for centuries, with continued death and destruction.
    Dr. Hare has the tools to identify psychopathic behaviors at an early age, and we can now neutralize psychopaths before they gain positions of power. We do not allow blind people of drive, so why do we allow psychopaths with the world’s worst mental disorder to become Dictator of Russia, Fuehrer of Germany, or President of the USA? Obama is systematically destroying the unity of the American people, the laws with which we govern ourselves, and our economy.

  • DMH

    “Islam is not the enemy, radical islam is”. Let’s carry that particular analogy a step further. For example, does “fascism is not the problem, radical fascism is” make any sense? How about “communism is not the problem, radical communism is”. It is only one of the silly distinctions that abound in this debate. The Obama administration likes to distinguish “core al qaeda” from “al qaeda”, as if there is a meaningful difference. It is a particularly ignorant distinction since “al qaeda” could very well be a strategy, not an organization. Much the same with Islam versus radical Islam. Islam is what it is and unless there is a reformation, it will remain remain the force behind many more “unspeakable horrors”.

    • Makaden

      “does “fascism is not the problem, radical fascism is” make any sense?”

      No, it doesn’t, but I’d be remiss to point out that the analysis is a non-sequitir that presumes Islam is radical in-and-of itself, making “radical” redundant. Islam is not radical in-and-of itself.

  • stefanstackhouse

    People hurting and killing other people is wrong, period. Just because the people doing the hurting and killing might think that they are justifying their actions by some type of religious belief makes no difference at all. A crime is a crime and a criminal is a criminal, regardless of their beliefs.

    We institute governments with police and military forces in very large part to protect innocent people from the criminals who would harm and kill them. A government that is not able and willing to use whatever force is necessary and appropriate to stop criminals from hurting and killing its own innocent citizens is worthless and needs to be replaced. A government that does not hesitate to do what needs to be done to protect its people has absolutely nothing to apologize for, regardless of what religious excuses the criminals from which it is protecting its people might claim.

    As to criminals harming and killing other nation’s people: yes, there is a duty to protect that applies to the rest of the world – the whole world, not just the US. It is certainly appropriate for us to join in multi-lateral efforts to protect innocent people from these criminals; it is not appropriate for us to take it upon ourselves to right all wrongs, and to go in with guns blazing, solo.

    We’ve got a very good basis for a policy right there. There should not and must not be any confusion about this.

  • Eliyahu100

    what is The One That We Have Waiting For in the white house going to do about the massacres of Christians and Yazidis in northern Iraq? The massacres (and enslavement of Xian and Yazidi women) are going on right now.

    • EllenO


      • Makaden


  • Archie1954

    Radical Islam is first and foremost at war with moderate Islam! The West foolishly has set up moderate Islam to be destroyed by the so called Caliphate. Constant attacks on Middle Eastern nations which kills Moslem civilians has lain the groundwork and foundation for the Caliphate to prevail. The US and Britain have a lot to answer for!

  • wigwag

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been repeating most of the points that Professor Berger made in this essay for close to a decade now. What makes the alarm that she’s been sounding particularly piercing is that she speaks from personal experience.

    As a result, Hirsi Ali has been on the receiving end of vitriolic attacks not only by Jihadi Muslims but also Jihadi leftists. Bard professor Ian Buruma for example, excoriates Hirsi Ali in his book “Murder in Amsterdam” (about the assassination of Theo Van Gogh) for making many of the same point that Professor Berger makes here. He goes so far to say that he is “embarrassed” by her critique of the Koran. Timothy Garton Ash goes even further; he describes Hirsi Ali as an “enlightenment fundamentalist” and actually had the temerity to suggest that if Hirsi Ali hadn’t been so good looking, no one would have taken her critique seriously. Specifically he said that if Hirsi Ali “had been short, squat and squinting, her story and her views might not have been so closely attended to.” Presumably Garton Ash would also consider Professor Berger to be an enlightenment fundamentalist but there’s no telling what he might think of Professor Berger’s looks.

    Although she’s a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Hirsi Ali recently had an offer of an honorary degree at Brandeis rescinded after a number of clueless faculty members and a number of even more clueless students became apoplectic at the prospect. Whether this essay will disqualify Professor Berger from ever receiving a degree honaris causa at Brandeis remains to be seen.

  • hocestquisumus

    Does that photo on the top change when you scroll down or is this an optical illusion? I have been playing with it for minutes now and I just can’t tell.

    Ad. the article: yes. I’m also afraid that genie won’t go back into the bottle since every dead islamist creates two new ones. Education and perspectives are needed. People with iPhones and a reliable salary tend to care about their lives and loved ones. Dying for Allah (or better, for the interests of their worldly leaders) is only a viable option when you don’t have anyting to lose.

    • Makaden

      No. Deprivation theory, which is the backbone of much of your analysis of the article, is vacuous when it comes to explaining Islamism. Could we please, PLEASE stop saying that if the populations in question were making a decent wage the terror would stop? Such a claim doesn’t hold up to even a cursory review of the evidence, which I am not going to recount here except to say this: the richest country in the world, on a per-capita share of GDP, is Qatar at almost $100,000 per citizen per annum. Qatar is a Wahhabist/Salafist state (along with Saudi Arabia).

      • hocestquisumus

        And how many of those super rich Qataris blow themselves up in Israeli cafés? None, that’s right. They pay others to do it, however. Also, it’s a stupid example since an oil sheikh with an annual income of 10 billion kinda warps the statistic.

        It’s not money alone. I wrote ‘perspective’ for a reason. Just dropping money won’t help, that’s right. Perspective doesn’t mean free money, it means goals one can achieve.

        • Makaden

          I don’t know what statistics you are talking about, since the one I mentioned is a measure of GDP per capita, and not median income, which is apparently what you are referring to. And no one blows themselves up in Israeli cafes anymore, since the wall was built. If by “perspective” you mean they need to become “Westernized,” and by the examples (iphones) you provide you do seem to be referring to this, then I would say this: many, many terrorists are educated IN THE WEST. They have all the perspective they need. And they don’t like it. And let me remind you that most so-called “road-side bombs” are set off with cell phones.

          You want to curb terrorism? Curb the mullahs.

          • hocestquisumus

            Perspective as in ‘something worth living for’.

          • Makaden

            I hear you. But until the perspective that dying as a martyr is no longer the highest goal, nothing on this earth will compare.

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    America is tired of war and also tired of the legitimizations for war. President Obama’s denial of the atrocities of Islamicism only confirms the original reasons for the war, which were never clearly understood by Americans.

    WMD’s, deposing Saddam Hussein, or building democracy in Iraq were never the strategic objectives of the Iraq War, no matter what former Pres. Bush had to say otherwise to the American public. Like the Vietnam War, the Iraq War was always a war of containment of the Iranian Fundamentalist Islamist Revolution. Iraq was also a threat for its own form of Baathist expansionism in Kuwait and elsewhere. But Iraq was also a domino that could have fallen to Islamicism of either the Iranian or Baathist types.

    In Vietnam, the U.S. lost the wars of occupation and democratization, but won the geostrategic war of containing Mao and Communism. As Patrick J. Heardon wrote in his 1972 book The Tragedy of Vietnam, the Vietnam War was fought to protect JAPAN! The U.S. didn’t want a row of dominos to fall and lose its hard fought war against Japan, which embraced modernization and turned into a Capitalist trading partner.

    By containing Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, the Asian Tiger nations of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea embraced Capitalism even though they didn’t all become full democracies (see Peter Berger, In Search of an East Asian Development Model). That would have never happened without winning the geostrategic war of containment against Communism. Now even China has embraced a form of Capitalism, albeit not democracy.

    The Iraq War was also a preemptive and indirect war of containment. As the Italian war strategist Niccolo Machiavelli once wrote, indirect warfare is fought against neighboring nations when the stakes are too high to attack the enemy nation (Discourses: Book 2, Chapter 9). But it is difficult to legitimize preemptive and indirect wars of containment to parents who send their adult children to fight what is often perceived as a mercenary war or a war in which the U.S. has no perceived interests.

    The secondary justifications for the Iraq War of WMD’s, Saddam, and democratization were weak and thus perceived as lies, stupidity, or an oil grab (that never happened). The primary objective of the Iraq War of geostrategic containment would never have provided a perceived legitimate reason for war no matter how much it was in our national interest. Moreover, Iraq was the low hanging fruit and the American public wanted action after 9/11.

    The Saudis and the Pakistanis were complicit in 9/11 and wanted to provoke the U.S. into a war with Iraq and Iran to protect them. Berger accurately points out that the war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is being played out on the battleground of Iraq.

    The U.S. has lost its secondary reasons for war of pacification and democratization of Iraq. But for over 10 years it has contained the expansion of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Baathist expansionism and repelled further homeland terrorist attacks. The Vietnam and Iraq Wars will continue to be misunderstood if the American public can only gauge winning such wars of containment on the basis of occupation or Americanization out of some Hollywood movie.

    However, unlike Southeast Asia where its religions embraced Capitalism, there is no pacification because Islam is mostly antagonistic to Capitalism, with the exception of a few small nations in the Mid East (Kuwait, Quatar, etc.). For the most part, Capitalism forces nations and religious ethnic groups to trade which deters war, and doesn’t destroy indigenous religions or institutions as we see ISIS doing.

    There was a similar insurgence in the Vietnam War called the Tet Offensive. The U.S. repelled the Tet Offensive against Saigon in the Vietnam War when the “Tropic Lighting” 25th Infantry Division surprised the Viet Cong and pinned them down at the Ton Son Nhut Airport in Saigon, a unit to which this writer was assigned, but did not participate in Tet. The U.S. won the war of containment in Viet Nam and provisionally won the war of confining the Islamic Revolution and Baathist expansionism from 2003 to 2014.

    Americans, however, don’t want the Realpolitik of containment and the Domino Theory as Berger points out. Now that they see the predictable atrocities that emanate from a policy of denial that still isn’t enough to assuage those who denied that the U.S. had legitimate geostrategic interests in the Iraq War.

    We have a President who believes denial is the best course of action as this resonates with populous sentiments in his political base and libertarians. But as the saying goes “you may not be interested in war but war has a way of being interested in you.” And it will be very interested in the U.S. when Iran is able to deploy nuclear weapons.

    Pres. Obama has found that he now has to call in airstrikes to protect innocent Christians and non-Islamic ethnic groups who have fled to Kurdish-controlled territory to escape genocide. Like the South Vietnamese “boat people,” the next wave of immigrants to the U.S. will be Iraqi Christians. But the President has been preoccupied with his manufactured immigration crisis at home.

    We have in Iraq what Berger might call a “protocol of a damnation” now that we see the “Killing Fields” and beheadings emerge.

  • boborden

    The definition of “genuine” Islam is a matter of perspective. There aren’t any practising Muslims (Jihadist or otherwise) who think theirs is merely a version of Islam. The debate about what is real Islam and what is an aberration is only useful in encouraging a version of Islam that the rest of the world prefers (i.e. de-politicized and non-violent). The problem with the people who keep railing about how violence and savagery is intrinsic to Islam is that they can’t provide a real solution. You cannot bomb over a billion people into submission. It’ll backfire. You’ll simply have more of that one billion condoning and abetting the Jihadism that everyone wants to be rid of. We also need to understand that regardless of the history of Islamic imperialism, the immediate past historical experience is that of western imperialism that included domination of Muslim lands. What we are in part (I emphasize in part) seeing is the blowback from that experience. Another part that Berger missed and that should be part of any analysis of who we are fighting against is that we are also witnessing a civil war within Islam. The civil war is between jihadists and less fanatical Muslims as well as between Shi’a and Sunni. things will get worse before they become better, primarily in the Islamic heartland. Keeping things contained and away from the rest of the world will be the main challenge in the next decade or so.

    • Makaden

      This is spot-on, as far as it goes.

  • john kerry

    Peter, at heart I have little doubt that you are a good and learned man. I’m aware of you since before 9/11 and you received much air-time post – “9/11”. You, in a sea of liberal reporters, scrambling to understand the threat of islam had a justifiable head-start. BUT and its a LARGE BUT; there was always your willingness to turn the blind eye to the inherent evil of islam. You always looked for the inherent ‘moral goodness’ of islam. NEWS FLASH – IT DOESEN’T EXIST.

    ‘Let me say what I think about this matter: Islam is one of the GREAT world religions, and it has created one of the world’s GREAT civilizations. The resurgence of Islam in our time is not coterminous with Islamist terrorism, but is grounded in the fact that millions of people have found meaning and MORAL DIRECTION in this faith.’

    Iv’e capitalized certain words in the above excerpt from your missive. Your usage of these greatly disturbs me. We westerners associate positivity and inherent goodness to the word ‘GREAT’ as you use it. And we associate inherent decency, goodness, kindness, honesty and not least protection of our women and children with ‘MORAL DIRECTION’. In islam the EXACT opposite meaning applies.

    You had me going until I got to that part. Then I realized that nothing has changed in your basic understanding of the most evil ideology and belief system mankind has had to deal with. islam is pure unadulterated evil, underpinned by the most disgusting and dangerous book ever put to paper – the koran – and perpetrated by the most evil and depraved lineage of men beginning with the lunatic MAD MO HAM.

    • jburack

      This could stand in for much that is sheer bigotry and nonsense here. And I say this as someone who considers much of the Muslim world today to be either involved directly in or tacitly complicit with evil. Islam, like every other religion, is entirely a matter of the interpretations imposed on its written records by human beings and human societies. The current insane and truly evil Islamist ideology consists of parts of Islamic tradition selectively enhanced to support hideous ideas that in fact are also, and heavily so, Christian and Nazi in origin. Ideas such as the one about Jews controlling a vast world conspiracy, the media, governments, both capitalism and socialism, to say nothing of ideas such as the nuttiness about drinking the blood of children or mixing it with their unleavened bread. You think Islam is evil? Try out what Christian communities in the enlightened West did to Jews during the Black Plague. These were NOT Koranic in inspiration. They are what led directly to Hitler, who only refined what he got from the Protocols and a mindset going back to the Crusaders, who by the way slaughtered the Jews of Jerusalem with every bit as much glee and fury as they slew Muslims, or as ISIS slays its demons today. “The most evil ideology and belief system” is every ideology and belief system in the hands of human beings with evil in their hearts.

  • Writt Woodson

    So, the US is going to solve the problem of the Islamic State in Iraq the way it solved Libya’s problems in 2011? No, you can’t bomb a path toward peace. It isn’t that easy. The Iraqi Shiites do not want US assistance. They have said so. No one wants the US in the Middle East except the State of Israel and the dictator el- Sisi

  • Bruno_Behrend

    Why does a magazine of this stature use the insipidly stupid “CE” to note the obvious “AD.”

    The invention of CE is among the silliest of thelong list of silly PCisms of Secularist religious bigotry.

  • montana83

    “Islamic Radicalism”

    No, no no. These ISIS/ISIL fighters are true Muslims. They are spreading Islam exactly the way Mohammed did. Ask yourself if there are Christianists? Hinduists? Jewists? No there are not. You defeated yourself right at the beginning of the title. Begin by understanding what Islam is and what Muslims following their faith are commanded to do. That is to convert every non Muslim on the planet by the sword.
    The rest of your article is PC nonsense. Islam is at war with us and has been for 1400 years. Islam is the greatest organized crime syndicate ever. You kill them or they will kill us. End of story.

  • James Foard

    “Let me conclude: Islam is not the enemy. Radical Islamism is.”
    Wrong. Islam is the enemy.

  • Kepha Hor

    Before anyone uses the word “fundamentalist”, it’s worth noting that the Christian Bible (4/5 of which is the Jewish Bible) includes the Babylonian captivity and the appearance of a Messiah who never wielded earthly power (see His conversation with Pontius Pilate as recorded in John). It was not until more than a century after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ that Christianity converted a lking, Abgar of Hauran. In short, the “fundamental” text of Christianity understands that the People of God may be powerless at times.

    Muhammad, however, was his own Constantine; and his religion dismisses the books it supposedly recognizes as prior revelation as “falsified”, and excuses itself from reading them. Add to this Islam’s insistence that a prophet and his followers can’t lose (hence the denial of Jesus’ crucifixion). No wonder Islam is bewildered and upset to the point of rage in a world where those civilizations it has informed have been clearly inferior to others–a situation first hinted at when the Turks were turned away from Vienna, clarified in Napoleon’s invasion of Syria and ‘Eretz Yisroel, and then stamped clearly and indelibly in 1918, with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. Further, de-colonization has solved none of the Islamic world’s problems. No wonder Islam today is deranged.

  • Randy Thompson

    How does one determine the theological and sociological border between “Radical Islam” and “Islam”? To do so would be comparable to trying to determine the same border in American Christianity between Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. I get the sense that there is a huge overlap between these two versions of Islam, just as there is between Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism.

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