Daniel Pipes, the controversial Middle East expert who has advised several United States presidents and is a frequent columnist for The National Post, gave a lecture entitled "The Threat of Militant Islam" on campus yesterday.
"Daniel Pipes has frequently discussed current issues on television, appearing on such shows as CNN, while earning his PhD from Harvard University in history," said Donald Abelson, a Western political science professor. "He is [also] the son of the foremost historian on the Soviet Union and the Cold War."
Pipes is the creator of Campus Watch, a controversial Web site that monitors perceived anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments on college campuses across the United States. He made headlines across Canada when York University debated the merits of allowing Pipes to speak on campus on Jan. 28, after a number of students raised fears concerning a repeat of the protests that occurred at Concordia University last September.
Certain political leaders have approached the war on terrorism with ambiguity, Pipes said. "You can't win a war unless you can name your enemy," he said. "It took the tragic events of 9/11 to focus the world's attention on militant Islam."
Pipes attributed the root of Islamic anger to the slow but gradual loss of its religious and intellectual status over the centuries.
"Modernity has posed a tremendous challenge to world religions, including Islam," he said. Pipes called for moderate Muslims – which he described as fractured, intimidated and ineffectual – to find peaceful means to the questions posed by modernity and not to succumb to violence. "It is not a clash of civilizations, but rather a debate, ultimately between Muslims."
"Militant Islam is an offensive ideology, since it seeks to expand much like communism and fascism," Pipes stated, adding there is currently a threat facing the global community, such as the spread of militant Islamic insurrections in Algeria and the Sudan. "[Militant Islam's] leaders are as much influenced by Lenin as they are by the prophet," he added.
Abdelrahman Lawendy, a fourth-year medicine student, was critical of Pipes's presentation. "He completely ignored the counter argument, while completely sidestepping the role the West has played in providing fertile ground for militants."
"It is no surprise the region that poses the greatest security risk to the West is also the place where there is the greatest parity between western values and actions on the ground," Lawendy said, citing U.S. support for Israel as an example.