One of the problems with fighting the war on terror has been that we refuse to name the enemy, are we fighting some vague battle against, of all things, ‘the religion of peace?’ President Bush finally used the term Islamo-fascists. Was this the right way to describe the enemy?
National Review has a fascinating symposium on this question. Read the whole thing. But here are a few samples:
Jonah Goldberg applauds the president’s use of the term, but:
“So President Bush finally said the words ‘Islamic fascists.’ And it’s about time; the phrase identifies a group of people, with a specific ideology, in a way that the ‘war on terror’ never did. Terrorism is a tactic. If Syria launched a missile at us, we wouldn’t declare a ‘new war on users of ballistic armaments.'”
“But is the term accurate? Are these jihadists in fact fascists? Well, I’ve spent the last few years working on a book about fascism, and I can authoritatively say: It depends.”
Alykhan Velshi, a lawyer at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, thinks it’s the right term:
“Is President Bush conjuring a bogeyman, or does the language of 20th-century totalitarianism accurately describe the threat posed by militant Islamism? On a superficial level, fascism and militant Islamism are similar: both reject individual rights and liberal democracy, whilst offering a profound challenge to them. Still, the pedant will no doubt find numerous historical differences between militant Islamists and 20th-century fascists.
“This however should not obscure the central truth: Militant Islamism is a successor to fascism.”
Most sobering is Bat Yeor, an expert on jihad, who thinks the term doesn’t go far enough:
“However, unlike Fascism, Islamism is deeply imbedded in a jihadic ideology, with its legal framework of permanent war derived from religious scriptures, consolidated by a history of 13 centuries of warfare, conquests, and subjugation of infidels. Unlike fascism, all its references are religious, and its hatred targets equally Jews and non-Jews. Codified in 8th-century Islamic jurisprudence, Islamist warfare tactics conform exactly to a sharia-jihadic worldview, set in an enduring, theological pattern. “