Is America’s “war on terror” in reality a war on Islam itself?

Most Muslim radicals insist that it is – as do many patriotic conservatives in this country who believe that any attempts to woo Islamic moderates, or to whitewash the violent and menacing essence of the Koran, distort the true nature of the current conflict.

Some of those who see Islam in all of its manifestations as our ultimate, implacable foe took me to task (in e-mail and phone calls to my radio show) for my recent support for U.S. recognition of the newly independent Muslim-majority state of Kosovo.

To these zealots, it hardly matters that the leading European powers (Britain, France, Germany) strongly support Kosovo’s separation from Serbia, or that the most outspoken opposition to Kosovar independence comes from the increasingly anti-American Putin regime in Russia. To some observers, it’s also irrelevant that ethnic Albanians (mostly non-religious, secularized Muslims) comprise more than 90% of Kosovo’s population and this overwhelming majority ardently desires its own democratic nation state. Though Orthodox Christian Serbs make up only 5% of the populace in Kosovo, critics of Bush administration Balkan policy insist that this embattled minority deserves U.S. protection and support. They discount fervent Kosovar promises that the new nation will guarantee the rights and security of its Christian residents; skeptics believe that such assurances mean nothing when provided by Muslim leaders, no matter how secular or pro-American.

“You of all people should recognize that there is no such thing as a ‘moderate Muslim,’” one correspondent scolded me. “Moderation and Islam contradict one another. Anyone who denies that contradiction is either a fool or a dupe. The tragedy in Kosovo represents just the latest example of state department mistakes based on the consistent denial that Islam, wherever it exists, is the eternal enemy of democratic values and Western Civilization.”

This increasingly popular absolutist position – whatever its historical, theological or anthropological basis – represents a threat to our short-term security and our long-term success in the very real battle against Islamism. If we accept, let alone embrace, the proposition that Islam itself is our enemy, then all of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims become enemies of the United States, and doom us to unending and un-winnable conflict.


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