The importance of Pastor Jones’s intent and then retreat from burning copies of the Koran has been ignored most by most of the media. This little-known pastor, at long last, forced Democratic, Republican, and mainstream media leaders to admit the truth: We are being attacked by Muslims for what we do and not for how we live or what we think. If used as a basis for discussion, this clear admission — which all of them surely hope American voters will miss — gives the United States its first post-9/11 chance to accurately gauge the enemy we face, understand his motivation, and begin to take steps to decisively defeat him.
The Florida pastor’s intended actions were perceived across the Muslim world as an attack on Islam and its believers; indeed, there was anti-U.S. rioting in Afghanistan on the mere announcement of the pastor’s intent. And we have seen this kind of reaction previously, as when the Danish artist drew and published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. There seems, then, to be a direct link between what Muslim’s perceive as U.S. and Western attacks on Islam and their violent response.
But even as President Obama and leading Republicans urged Pastor Jones not to burn Korans, they also used the occasion of this 9/11 to rehearse yet again some variation of that old mantra: “The Muslims who attack us having nothing to do with Islam, they are criminals who pervert their religion and hate how Americans live and think.” So let me ask:
–Can anyone recall Muslims or a Muslim government anywhere on earth protesting or rioting or attacking U.S. interests because there are early presidential primaries in Iowa every four years?
–How many Islamist suicide bombers do you recall who have have executed their missions in America or Europe because women are in the work force and attending university?
–How many Islamist insurgencies around the world do you know of that have been ignited because the U.S. Constitution contains a Bill of Rights?
–How many murderous attacks can you count that have been carried out by Islamists inflamed by shopping malls, Budweiser, and pole dancing?
The answer to all these questions is: not a one, and that answer is the result of the fact that none of the cultural/societal/political issues that U.S. leaders claim motivate Islamist attacks are remotely motivating to the attackers. The Islamists, without question, view all those things as morally repugnant and unIslamic; would not have them in a society they governed; and will fight to prevent their imposition in Muslim societies, as they are now in Iraq and Afghanistan. But nine years after 9/11 we have yet to hear any captured Islamist claim he was motivated by popular elections or R-rated movies. Neither have we found this sort of motivation in the papers or electronic media taken from such men.
As evident in Muslim reaction to both Pastor Jones’s intent to burn Korans and the earlier cartoons of the Prophet, not only Islamists but tens of millions of other Muslims are motivated to anti-U.S. and anti-Western attitudes and potentially violence when they believe those entities are attacking their God, their faith, and their brethren. And if Koran-burning and cartoons are deemed affronts justifying violence, just imagine how Muslims perceive such dead-Muslim-producing policies as unqualified U.S. support for Israel’s war-making and territorial aggrandizement; a half-century of U.S. and Western support and protection for Muslim police states; and the U.S.-led occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
When President Obama warned that an anti-Islamic act like burning Korans would help al-Qaeda recruit young Muslims he was absolutely correct. Indeed, if President Obama was a candid man he would have gone on to explain to Americans the burnings would have added to the already enormous recruiting help al-Qaeda receives from the U.S. government’s policies and interventionism in the Islamic world. And had Obama a yen to be honest, he would have told Americans that they are being attacked for what their government does and not for what they think and how they live.
Thus while Pastor Jones’ plans were thankfully abandoned, they did force Obama, McCain, and even the transcendentally important U.S. leader Angilena Jolie to publicly admit that U.S. actions perceived by Muslims as anti-Islamic cause a violent Muslim response. They have at long last been forced to state the truth. This does not, of course, mean that U.S. policies are evil, designed by madmen, or should be changed. If the policies Washington is now pursuing in the Islamic world are in the best interests of the United States, then we must continue pursuing them. Genuine U.S. national interests must always come first.
But having now accepted that U.S. actions cause Muslim reactions — and vice versa — Americans can begin to understand what this war is about and what factors motivate our Islamist enemies to continue it. With this knowledge, they can begin to use their votes to elect men and women who will either change the policies that motivate the enemy, or, if current policies are America’s only option, begin to build a military capable of defeating the Islamists in war that will be lengthy, enormously bloody and costly, and fought in Americans towns and cities as well as overseas.