Defeating Islamic radicals does not require a "war against Islam," but it does require long-term commitment, and a demonstration to the rest of the Islamic world that al Qaeda's primary weapon -- its ability to kill -- cannot weaken our resolve. We may never destroy radical Islam entirely, but we can contain the virus, weaken it, and relegate it to a tiny, relentlessly hunted minority.

As radical Islam faces defeat on the battlefield, it is discredited in the wider Islamic world. No movement that fails to provide promised victories can maintain credibility over the long term, and this is especially true for jihadists whose entire reason for being is waging victorious holy war. Military targets are much more difficult than civilian, and western civilian targets more difficult than Arab civilian, so we've seen radical Muslims aim the vast majority of their suicide bombs at fellow Muslims. It is one thing for the "Arab street" to admire a bomb in a U.S. Embassy or an Israeli café. It is another thing entirely to live in a city where your own market, your own hospital, and your own restaurants become scenes of frightful carnage. 

We've made much progress. Osama bin Laden is less popular than he was after 9/11. The people of Iraq have rejected al Qaeda and the Shiite militias and are working through a new (albeit struggling) democracy. Afghanistan is war-torn, but the Taliban do not rule, and they are suffering severe losses. Now is not the time to doubt our commitment. Now is not the time to lose our will. 

Odes to the glory of Islam and silly dismissals of Islamic radicalism as the work of "a few extremists" minimizes the extent of the problem and drains us of our own will to fight. After all, who wants to deploy for years, to fund vast sums, and to risk their lives to chase after "a few extremists"? Isn't that what cops do? Can't they protect us? Can't we just present a better image to stop the hate?

No, we cannot. Fighting radical Islam requires Predator drones, Hellfire missiles, and raids in the night. It also requires resolve, courage, and a clear-eyed view of the enemy. In short, it requires that we stay the course.

The French Revolution column is featured at Patheos' Evangelical Portal every Monday.