After Twelve Years, We Still Don’t Understand Our Enemy

In late May 2008, when I was home on mid-tour leave from Iraq, I distinctly remember a conversation with dear friends about the things I had seen in the first half of my deployment. After describing just a portion of the horrors that al-Qaeda had inflicted on civilians in Diyala province, one of my friends shook her head, sighed, and said, “It’s horrible, but we’ve got terrible problems here at home also. We’ve got drugs and gangs and murderers, too.”

I was momentarily speechless.

Thinking about the conversation years later, after the memories and emotions of the deployment were not quite as sharp and fresh, I understood why she said that. After all, the bipartisan American reaction to 9/11 has been characterized by denial, even in the opening days, when we were reeling in shock and horror from the initial attacks. Our president assured us that Islam was a “religion of peace,” and apologists worked overtime to assure us that terrorists represented the tiny “few extremists.”

Within moments the most horrific images of 9/11 were scrubbed from our televisions, and within hours the academic-thought police began its vigilant lookout for Islamophobia.

The result? Twelve years later our national and even military policies are shot-through with heartbreaking and inexcusable naïveté (the stories of our misguided rules of engagement in Afghanistan, for example, are infuriating), and the result is more suicide bombings, burning churches, public beheadings, and — just last year — a savage attack on a diplomatic outpost left vulnerable in part because of that same naïveté. In some quarters — mainly in the academy and mainstream media — truth is treated as virtual hate speech, and we can’t bring ourselves to acknowledge evil.

Less than one percent of Americans have served overseas during our twelve-year war, and I daresay that far fewer than one percent of our pundits, writers, actors, or other architects of popular opinion or popular culture have ever put boots on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan, and certainly not “outside the wire” in either place. The practical result is that Americans are walled-off from the truth and will likely go their entire lives without hearing a single vet give a candid summary of their experience in Mosul or Kandahar.

And so, on this day, all too many Americans will rightly remember the fallen, rightly honor our heroes, and tragically deny the scale of the hate and evil we still face.

This post first appeared on National Review.

  • http://www.rozyhomemaker.blogspot.com/ Rozy

    Thanks for the reminder. I am on American who recognizes the Evil of our enemies and wonder when the truth will prevail. Thank you for your service and your continued “voice in the wilderness.”

    • Nemo

      You recognize evil. Fine then. What do you want to DO about it?

    • ToTripoli

      I am an American, too. I have lived alongside Muslims who hate terrorists, who are proud of their American citizenship & who actively serve in the US military – most of them served in Afghanistan.
      To people like you, these people don’t exist. (But neither do Christian terrorists, despite having more numbers worldwide than Muslim ones.)

      • David French

        There are not more Christian terrorists than Muslim terrorists. That’s a fantasy.

  • Sven2547

    One of Al-Qaeda’s primary goals, since the beginning, has been to unite the “Islamic World” in war against the “West”.

    By making Islam (as a whole) out to be the enemy, many on the Evangelical Christian Right are playing right into Al-Qaeda’s hands.

    • Dorfl

      Agreed. Treating the al-Qaeda as representative of Islam becomes even more absurd when you remember that they’ve put more effort into killing other Muslims than they ever did into fighting the ‘West’.

      • kenhowes

        When Islam first emerged, it began by fighting other Arabs–first the pagans on the Arabian peninsula, then the Hellenized Christian Arabs of Syria, Palestine and Egypt. The reunification of the Caliphate must begin the way the unification of Arabs first began–by war against other Arabs and against all Muslims who do not support the Caliphate’s restoration. Only after that can they begin working on undoing the battles of Tours, Lepanto and Vienna. If you do not understand what happened from the 7th through the 17th centuries, you cannot understand what is happening now. Always on the forward edge of the Caliphate are the terrorists, whether you call them pirates, raiders, or whatever. There was a 16th-century pirate named Barbarossa, not to be confused with the German emperor of the same name. He did all the stuff the terrorists do now, and did it in the name of Islam. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Barbary pirates did the same things. That’s why, when Jefferson was president, the Marines had to go “to the shores of Tripoli.” These characters are just higher-tech now; as always, they are the advance guard when Islam expands, and the rear guard when it retreats.

    • Mo86

      Congratulations for one of the most ignorant comments I have ever read on the internet. (And that’s saying a lot!)

      Do you not know that it is Islam itself that divides the world into Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb?

      • Sven2547

        What, specifically, about my comment is ignorant? Do you DENY that Al-Qaeda wants war between a united Islam and the “West”?

        Speaking as a non-religious person, I find it hilariously hypocritical when Christians insist on a 100% literal reading of the Koran, while refusing to hold the Bible to the same standard. The vast, vast majority of the world’s Muslims don’t abide by every jot and tittle of the Koran any more than the world’s Christians abide the Bible.

        • Mo86

          Not a word about what I said. You have no clue what that even means, do you?

          • Sven2547

            Not a word about what I said.

            They’re old terms for the “kingdom (house) of Islam” and the “kingdom (house) of war”. Note that this is not actually a tenet of the religion itself, but a classification used by some early Islamic scholars during a period of violence in the 8th Century AD.

          • Mo86

            Googled it, huh?

            And yet it’s Muslims who use these divisions because they are the ones who are at war with us, all over the world. They’ve demonstrated it over and over and OVER again – in NYC, in Madrid, in London, in Boston – over and over and over again they prove it.

            It doesn’t matter how many bodies are piled up by those correctly following the teachings of Islam, does it? You are still going to deny it and even claim it’s the fault of evangelical Christians. Remarkable.

            Tell me, 1) what was your impression of the Koran’s view of unbelievers when you read it and 2) what was your impression of the Koran as you compared it with your reading of the Bible?

            You can’t answer that because you’ve not done either, have you?

            Goodbye.

          • Sven2547

            they are the ones who are at war with us

            There you go again. “They”. Who are “they”? Certainly not all of Islam, or even a significant fraction of Islam. There are roughly a million Muslims in America. Is every one of them waging a violent war with America? No. Only an idiot would think that.

            It doesn’t matter how many bodies are piled up by those correctly following the teachings of Islam, does it?

            Oh look, another Christian who is a self-appointed authority on what “correctly following Islam” means.

            You are still going to deny it and even claim it’s the fault of evangelical Christians.

            Where did I say that? Nowhere. Why so dishonest?

            what was your impression of the Koran’s view of unbelievers when you read it

            Pretty harsh. A lot like the Bible.

            what was your impression of the Koran as you compared it with your reading of the Bible?

            Borderline-identical. The only difference is that the Koran starts with peaceful stuff and ends with angry stuff, whereas the Bible starts with angry stuff and ends with peaceful stuff (except for Revelations, which reverts to angry stuff).

            You can’t answer that because you’ve not done either, have you?

            You and I both know your entire knowledge of the Koran is a pile of cherry-picked quotes on Christian-supremacist websites.

          • Mo86

            Islam teaches unbelievers must convert, submit or die. That is Islamic teaching. Look it up.

            “Where did I say that? Nowhere. Why so dishonest?”

            I’m dishonest, eh? Here are your own words:

            “By making Islam (as a whole) out to be the enemy, many on the Evangelical Christian Right are playing right into Al-Qaeda’s hands.”

            I’m done wasting my time with you. You have zero knowledge about what Islam teaches. You have zero knowledge about what the Bible teaches. The fact that you bring up the Bible when we are talking about ISLAM – as though they teach REMOTELY the same things – is evidence of that.

            Worse yet, you have no desire to learn.

          • Sven2547

            I said evangelicals were playing into Al-Qaeda’s hands, not that evangelicals were at fault for terrorism. Your lack of reading comprehension is seems to be the core of your position, particularly when you cannot see obvious similarities between the Koran and the Bible. Should I start quoting Bible verses that call for war against, and the slaying of, nonbelievers? Or will you just concede the point before I humiliate you?

          • fiona64

            Islam teaches unbelievers must convert, submit or die. That is Islamic teaching. Look it up.

            You made the assertion of fact; provide your source. It’s not up to other people to do your homework for you.

          • Mo86

            Normally I would agree. But I’ve been through this enough times to know that I will spend time and energy doing research, get you correct information, and then you will:

            - Ignore it entirely

            - Dismiss it with some excuse like it says something else in Arabic and/or
            - Switch the topic to the supposed evils of Christianity.

            The fact that you even ask such a thing shows me you either are Muslim and wish to deny the facts of your own religion, or you know NOTHING about Islam, nor do you wish to learn.

            I’m not playing those games anymore.

          • fiona64

            The fact that you even ask such a thing shows me you either are Muslim and wish to deny the facts of your own religion, or you know NOTHING about Islam, nor do you wish to learn.

            Don’t quit your day job to become one of Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Friends, okay? Because you’re wrong all the way around.

            I am not Muslim, although I have Muslim friends and family members. I do know a great deal about Islam, but not everything. You made a particular assertion, and I am asking for your source to verify.

            That you refuse tells me that you have no such source … or, alternately, that your source is some sort of right-wing nonsense like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh. If you have a verifiable source (preferably primary), I want to see it. If you don’t, I would like you to at least admit as much.

          • Sven2547

            My question to you is: what do you propose? Making Muslims second-class citizens? Blanket violence against all Muslims? What conclusion should be drawn from your argument, other than “be afraid”?

          • Mo86

            How about starting with speaking the facts about Islam? How about everyone actually READING the Koran so that they know what they are talking about? But they refuse.

            You can’t address a problem until you admit there is one. And we’re not even at that first stage yet.

            How much bloodshed by Muslims will it take before we wake up?

          • Sven2547

            The Bible embraces violence and hatred every bit as much as the Koran, yet almost Christian I know is a nice person. It’s hypocritical to make the opposite assumption about Muslims.

            Again I ask: what do you propose? What does “waking up” entail for you? What’s your plan? What’s your optimal outcome?

            Repeating over and over “Islam is evil! Muslims are bad people!” isn’t a substitute for civil discourse or sane public policy.

          • Mo86

            “The Bible embraces violence and hatred every bit as much as the Koran”

            And that’s as far as I read of your comment, and the last I will be engaging in conversation with you.

            This is a flat out lie. There are no open-ended commands in the OT or the NT for Jews or Christians to commit violence against unbelievers or against anyone. You cannot produce any because they do not exist.

            Therefore, there are no Jews or Christians committing such acts, on a regular basis, all over the world, in obedience to any such commands.

            Period.

          • fiona64

            This is a flat out lie. There are no open-ended commands in the OT or the NT for Jews or Christians to commit violence against unbelievers or against anyone. You cannot produce any because they do not exist.

            I’m afraid you’re incorrect. You may wish to revisit Luke 19:27, Exodus 22:20, Deuteronomy 13:6-10, 2 Chronicles 15:12-13, Deuteronomy 13:13-19, Deuteronomy 13:7-12, Deuteronomy 17:2-5, Numbers 25:1-9 … just for starters.

            You see, I know a good bit about the Bible as well.

            Therefore, there are no Jews or Christians committing such acts, on a regular basis, all over the world, in obedience to any such commands.

            Citation needed. Because, you see, there are a whole slew of terrorists using Christianity and Judaism as the basis for their acts. Ever heard of people like Scott Roeder and Eric Rudolph, just to name a couple?

          • Sven2547

            There are no open-ended commands in the OT or the NT for Jews or Christians to commit violence against unbelievers or against anyone. You cannot produce any because they do not exist.

            Romans 1:32, Leviticus 20:9-10, Deuteronomy 21:20-21, Deuteronomy 22:22, and Exodus 21:15 are just a few Biblical death sentences for a variety of sinners.

            Therefore, there are no Jews or Christians committing such acts, on a regular basis, all over the world, in obedience to any such commands.

            The assassinations of abortion doctors, the crusades, the inquisitions, everything in Northern Ireland, the brutal murders of homosexuals, the killing of Jews throughout Europe over a number of centuries, culminating in the Holocaust, and on and on and on. You’re kidding yourself if you think Christians and Jews never engage in religious violence.

            But unlike you, I do not condemn all Christians and Jews for the actions of a few lunatics.

          • Butterfly

            You have got to be one of the most poorly informed christians I have ever happened upon. Please don’t tell me you actually believe that the bible does not contain commands from god to commit atrocious acts of violence against others…
            The christian god not only commands it multiple times, he promises his followers women and young girls as spoils of war in return for committing genocide.
            So they not only were told to murder, they were promised the right to rape others as a reward. I’m not going to bother posting the actual scriptures because some of the other folks here have already done that. I will, however, encourage you to Google the Amelekites and do a general search on the topics of war, murder and genocide in the bible and see what you find. Then come back and see if you still (rather stupidly) believe that the biblical god does not ask his people to commit horrible acts of violence against others. Oh, and if you decide to come back here all ruffled and insist upon attacking me instead of addressing what was said in regard to the bible, you’ll be ignored. Also, you’d better come prepared, because I was christian for a long time and I used to teach it.

            Bring it on, baby.

          • Mo86

            “I’m not going to bother posting the actual scriptures because some of the other folks here have already done that.”

            You won’t bother, because you know they don’t exist. Others haven’t, because they don’t exist.

            ***

            There are no open-ended commands in the OT or
            the NT for Jews or Christians to commit violence against unbelievers or against anyone. None. Zero. You cannot produce any because they do not exist.

            That is why we do not see Jews or Christians committing such acts, on a
            regular basis, all over the world, in obedience to any such commands.

            Now, how about addressing ISLAM, the focus of this article?

          • ToTripoli

            “You won’t bother, because you know they don’t exist. Others haven’t, because they don’t exist.”

            So you are blatantly ignoring the verses in the comments above the one you quoted. Isn’t that tantamount to bearing false witness? Or are you actually convinced that the following passages do not exist in the Bible?:
            Romans 1:32, Leviticus 20:9-10, Deuteronomy 21:20-21, Deuteronomy 22:22, Exodus 21:15, Luke 19:27, Exodus 22:20, Deuteronomy 13:6-10, 2 Chronicles 15:12-13,
            Deuteronomy 13:13-19, Deuteronomy 13:7-12, Deuteronomy 17:2-5, and Numbers
            25:1-9.

            I am increasingly convinced that you have never read the Torah or the Bible, beyond a handful of verses.

            Oh, and as for Christians & Jews committing acts of terrorism? Look up “Christian Identity,” “Lord’s Resistance Army,” “Anders Breivik,” and “Bat Ayin Underground.”

            (It should be noted that Jewish terrorism is far, far less common than terrorism committed in the name of Christianity.)

          • Mo86

            There are ZERO open ended commands for Jews or Christians to commit violence against unbelievers. That’s why we’re not seeing Jews or Christians AROUND THE WORLD ON A REGULAR BASIS committing any such acts IN OBEDIENCE TO ANY SUCH TEXTS.

            I hate to shout,but that may be the only way to get through to people like you.

            Such commands don’t exist. You can’t provide any. PERIOD.

            Now, instead of babbling about Christianity or Judaism, how about ISLAM, which is the purpose of this article, since MUSLIMS are the ones slaughtering people around the world in obedience to not only their texts, but their warlord prophet?

            How about that? Anything to say on Islam? Of course not. Just nonsense about Christianity and Judaism.

          • Bass

            Bearing false witness even after being shown your error makes you an unrepentant liar.

            You had better hope that christianity is wrong because if not you are going to hell.

          • Mo86

            You are so right! All those people bearing false witness that the Bible teaches Jews/Christians to commit violence against unbelievers better watch out!

          • Bass

            Now you are going to double down by lying about what I said(which anyone with eyes can see)?

            Pathetic.

          • Mo86

            No clue what you’re talking about.

            Are you one of the people I was waiting to here provide evidence for a claim that there are open ended commands in the Bible for Jews or Christians to kill unbelievers? (There are so many, and they never answer, so I lose track.)

    • kenhowes

      Islam as it existed from the time of the Prophet until the Abbasids’ ouster of the Omayyads in the late 8th century is indeed the enemy. The Abbasids brought in a period of relative peace, as emperors like Haroun al-Rashid were more interested in culture than in conquest. Every so often, however, the primitive Islam shows its face again. Everything al-Qaida asserts is right there in the Koran. The “Evangelical Right” is not playing into al-Qaida’s hands. Rather, the effete and pusillanimous Left does so by beginning always from the presumption that western imperialism is at fault for everything wrong in the world. The Left insists on applying Marxian historical theory to a world situation that has nothing to do with Marxism. The old homeland of Marxism recognizes this. When I was young, I never dreamed I would see the day when Pravda denounced the president of the United States for being too Communistic.

      • Sven2547

        Islam as it existed from the time of the Prophet until the Abbasids’ ouster of the Omayyads in the late 8th century is indeed the enemy.

        Fortunately, extremely few Muslims are that ultra-orthodox. Many (like Mo86) take the intellectually-lazy route of lumping them all together.

        Everything al-Qaida asserts is right there in the Koran.

        Religious texts such as the Koran and the Bible can be used to justify pretty much anything. It does not follow that Al-Qaeda “correctly” follow Islam any more than the KKK “correctly” follows Christianity.

        The “Evangelical Right” is not playing into al-Qaida’s hands.

        Did you miss the part where Al Qaeda WANTS the kind of conflict the evangelical right is promoting?

        Rather, the effete and pusillanimous Left does so by beginning always from the presumption that western imperialism is at fault for everything wrong in the world.

        It’s hard to take you seriously when you straw-man the left so badly.

        The Left insists on applying Marxian historical theory to a world situation that has nothing to do with Marxism.

        Who is applying “Marxian historical theory” to Islamist terrorism? I’ve not heard one pundit or politician do such a thing.

        When I was young, I never dreamed I would see the day when Pravda denounced the president of the United States for being too Communistic.

        You have no idea what “communism” means if you think this President is one.

  • z-man

    It’s because, as a society, we’ve allowed ourselves to be de-balled by political correctness. Ever see those old Bugs Bunny cartoons that were made during WWII? Hysterical. Can you imagine if our main enemy back then had been muslims?? ……I think we’d have seen Bugs utilizing a lot of pigs, dogs, and bacon.

    • Sven2547

      ‘Old-timey racism was funny, therefore we should bring back more of that’

      How about no?

      • Mo86

        Islam is not a race.

        Next?

  • Mo86

    We don’t need to go overseas or serve in the military to know our enemy.

    All we need to do is read the Koran. It’s all there. But few people have done it or will ever do it.

    • fiona64

      Yeah, the teachings of Islam are pretty dreadful … like this one, Hadith 13:

      On the authority of Abu Hamzah Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased
      with him) – the servant of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings
      of Allah be upon him) – that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah
      be upon him) said :

      “None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”

      We surely wouldn’t want anyone doing unto others as we would have done unto ourselves …

    • Nemo

      Fine. The Koran is evil. Now what do you want to actually DO about it? We didn’t “talk” to the Nazis. We captured their leaders and killed their footsoldiers. Should we not do the same with Islam, then? Or are you a PC coward? Stand up for your nation and faith, or stop talking big.

      • Mo86

        How sick I am of people here thinking I support Islam in ANY way, despite my tons of posting. Learn how to read already. My user name is there and you can see all my comments, and on multiple sites.

        Sheesh.

        • Nemo

          I’ve read your comments, but you don’t suggest a course of ACTION. Many people say Islam is bad, Islam is bad. Fine. But what do you want to DO about it? If I had an enemy who I knew was planning to kill me and everyone I love. I would do what it took to stop them first, by ANY means necessary. Every wise leader in history, from Washington, Jesus, Scipio, and Churchill has supported this principle. Now, is Islam a threat in this manner or not?

          • Mo86

            Where did I say Islam wasn’t such a threat? Where did I say I don’t support military action when appropriate?

            Go yell at someone else. I don’t even know what you’re talking about at this point.

          • Nemo

            See my below post on the subject. Sven2547 responded to it, and he and I had a back and forth.

    • Raymond McIntyre

      That would be rot of the first water.

  • kenhowes

    We’ve been fighting this war on and off since George Washington was president. Why do you suppose that the Marine Hymn mentions “the shores of Tripoli”? The Barbary Pirates were Muslim terrorists. The only proper reaction is that of Thomas Jefferson–to go in and shut them down.

    • ToTripoli

      Maybe you should read up on something called “the Treaty of Tripoli.”
      And from what I understand, the Barbary Pirates did what they did in the name of greed, not in the name of Islam. They were Muslims who happened to be terrorists of the time. That does not mean that all Muslims are terrorists, unless you’re willing to apply the same standard to Christians.

  • Peter

    No, islam is not our enemy. Our enemy are those that would use their religion as a justification for hate and murder. Such charlatans have populated human history before Jesus came into the world. al Qaeda and their ilk are only the latest incarnation of that particular evil.

  • Nemo

    If Islam in its purest form is indeed the enemy, then what do you propose doing? If Islam does indeed pose an existential threat to Western civilization, don’t talk about it. Do something. If they want a war, give them a war. If they burn a church, burn a mosque. If they kill a pastor in Oman, shoot a mullah in San Diego. It’s that simple. Respond to the aggressors with greater force, and only then can you hope to survive. Sun Tzu understood it, Jesus of Nazareth understood it, George Patton understood it, and Winston Churchill understood it, but even those who would defy Islam today can only talk about how Islam is evil.
    Or, maybe you don’t think Islam is the enemy of freedom, peace and equality. Maybe you do think coexistence is possible. Maybe you are only somewhat less naïve than the multiculturalists you deride. Enough telling us what you think the problem is. Let’s hear some proposed solutions.

    • Nemo

      By the way, I don’t have any hatred for anyone based on their ethnic background or religious beliefs. I just feel that if people are right and Islam is our enemy just like the Nazis, then we should treat them the same. Do you think Islam is the enemy in that way, or not?

    • Sven2547

      Respond to the aggressors with greater force, and only then can you hope to survive… Jesus of Nazareth understood it

      Is that what Matthew 5:39 says? If anyone slaps you on the cheek, break his f**king nose?

      • Guest

        That may not fit the spirit of Sunday School Christianity, but for at least 2/3 of human history (more if you DON’T think the Bible is literal), Jesus wanted you do far worse to someone than break their nose. The Old Testament is filled with exhortations to exterminate your enemies as you would a rodent infestation. With the introduction of the New Testament, this was all retconned: now you just have to bide your time for the person to either realize you were right and they were wrong, or for Jesus to inflict far, far worse on them. The use of greater force crushing an enemy. Is that not what happens in Revelation? If Christians were to embrace the full character of Yahweh, as they did for most of their history, all of these lawyers, atheists, and Muslims wouldn’t dream of messing with Christianity.

        • ToTripoli

          …Because at that point, the Christians who “embraced the full character of Yahweh” would be psychopathic, xenophobic murderers?

      • Nemo

        Remind me what Yahweh tells people to do their enemies in the first half of the Bible, which is supposed to represent 2/3 of human history? More than 2/3 if you aren’t a fundamentalist, by the way. Remind me what Jesus will do to people who don’t devote themselves to him, exactly? How is the idea of brutal retaliation for a “slap” out of line with the character of Yahweh, exactly?

        • Sven2547

          I didn’t say it was out of character for Yahweh, I implied it was out of character for Jesus. The God of the Bible is a petty, vengeful, childish persona (not unlike the Allah that the Christian Right vilifies). The character of Jesus… not so much.

          • Nemo

            John 10:30 – The Father and I are one.
            Jesus also spoke of eternal torment more than anyone else, and he spoke of it more than Heaven, in fact. (This information comes from a Christian source). And don’t get me started on the Book of Revelations.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Okay, so every good interpretation of the Koran will inevitably lead to terrorism, right?

    What about the Biblical texts where God ordered soldiers to kill babies and pregnant women alike?

    What about the text where Moses told the Isrealites that they should keep for themselves all virgin girls of a defeated people but mercilessly kill all those who were previously married?

    What about first looking at the speck in our eyes?

    And what about following the Golden Rule and ask ourselves how we react when atheists criticize Christianity in the same way conservative Christians criticize Islam?

    Lovely greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X