Taheri: The Muslim World's Civil War

... is not about winning an argument. In an especially fine piece, Amir Taheri explains that the West's infatuation with the notion of a 'clash of civilizations' ignores some important realities of today's world: it is the Muslim world itself that is the chief battleground of the conflict, and many of the islamist movement's leaders have been educated in the West; so we cannot assume that the problem is a lack of information about the West. The 9/11 Commission's emphasis on a 'hearts and minds' campaign is misguided, Taheri says, and is symptomatic of such assumptions.

In plain English: It isn't all about us.

Taheri enumerates several important nations in the Muslim world that have been battlegrounds in the struggle for the soul of Islam: Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Malaysia. Although the article does not mention Sudan, it might well be added to the list as a prime example of intra-Muslim conflict. Continuing atrocities show us what can happen when Islam's Klansmen, the Janjaweed, are allowed to operate unopposed.

The article names two of the chief architects of islamist ideology, Abu al-Ala Maudoodi and Sayyed Qutb, who had extensive contact with Western values and education in their own lives. Qutb is extensively profiled in the excellent book 'Terror and Liberalism' by Paul Berman.

To Taheri's article I would only add that while the war in Islam is not only about the West, it cannot be separated from the West either. It isn't all about us but it is, partly, about us. To put it another way: both islamists and non-islamists often speak of moderate, progressive forms of Islam as reflecting "Western" values. But it is also possible to say that many of the values embraced by the West (and, to be plain, America more so than Europe) are the values of liberal Islam as this piece at "Armies of Liberation" demonstrates.

Taheri concludes that 'As for Osama bin Laden, even his fellow Wahhabis have put him beyond the pale. But that has not prevented the Bin Ladenists from pursuing their campaign of terror wherever they can. This war is about finding and neutralizing the killers, not educating them or winning an argument against them.' As more and more Muslims experience islamofascism first-hand, ordinary people in the Muslim world will understand that the enemy is their enemy, and the choice is their choice: surrender to slavery, or fight for freedom.