You cannot win a war if you do not fight, and you cannot win a peace through inattention. In peace and war, the American response to the violent extremism that so damages the Islamic world has been as halting and reactive as it has been reluctant. We simply do not want to get involved more deeply than “necessary.” But Muslim extremists are determined to remain involved with us.
We are not at war with Islam. But the most radical elements within the Muslim world are convinced that they are at war with us. Our fight is with the few, but our struggle must be with the many. For decades we have downplayed—or simply ignored—the hate-filled speech directed toward us, the monstrous lessons taught by extremists to children, and the duplicity of so many states we insisted were our friends. But nations do not have friends—at best, they have allies with a confluence of interests. We imagine a will to support our endeavors where there is only a pursuit of advantage. And we deal with cynical, corrupt old men who know which words to say to soothe our diplomats, while the future lies with the discontented young, to whom the poison of blame is always delicious. Read More