Faith, Reason, and the War against Jihadism
A Call to Action
by George Weigel
New York: Doubleday, 2007. 208 pp. $19.
Reviewed by Robert Spencer
Middle East Quarterly
Weigel, a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, ably skewers numerous widely held assumptions about the conflict between the Islamic world and the West. Chief among these is the common illusion that—despite the ostentatious religiosity of Osama bin Laden and jihadists in general—what the West faces is a threat of "terrorism" that has no significant religious component, such that Western governments need only focus on poverty and political disenfranchisement in the Islamic world, and that Western strategists need not familiarize themselves with Islamic theology and law. In contrast, Weigel argues convincingly that the conflict is inherently and fundamentally theological and that it ultimately involves two radically different conceptions of the nature of the human person and the ideal way to order human society. But this eludes all too many Western analysts as they are irreligious themselves and have no idea of the importance and impact of religion on individuals and societies—rendering them hopelessly unable to understand the enemy and the civilizational challenge he presents to the West.
This understanding has also been impeded, of course, by politically-correct fears of offending Muslims or of appearing "Islamophobic"—a contemporary manipulative coinage intended to silence criticism of the jihadist imperative. Weigel decries Western media acquiescence to these charges of Islamophobia and argues for a more realistic and honest discourse than has hitherto prevailed. He notes how Western responses to the jihadist challenge have demonstrated a lack of realism again and again as analysts trained during the Cold War try to apply antiquated approaches to a problem they only dimly understand: For example, Weigel points out that the concept of deterrence is meaningless in the context of Islamic jihadist aggression, but this has not stopped Western authorities from continuing to pursue it.
Weigel concludes with a strong call for the recovery of Western cultural self-confidence and the discarding of false notions of tolerance, combined with full-scale efforts to free ourselves from energy dependence upon states that would ultimately like to see the United States conquered and Islamized.
Related Topics: Radical Islam, Terrorism | Robert Spencer | Spring 2009 MEQ
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