Last week, John Brennan, the assistant to President Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism approvingly recalled a key point in the speech Mr. Obama delivered in Cairo in June: "America is not and never will be at war with Islam." Unfortunately, that statement ignores the fact that the decision as to whether the United States is at war with anybody is not entirely up to our leadership or people. The real question: Is Islam at war with us?
Certainly, hundreds of millions of Muslims the world over are not seeking to wage war against the United States, or other non-Muslim states. America has, as Mr. Brennan noted in his remarks before the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Thursday, a powerful interest in not making all those who practice Islam into our enemies.
Yet it would be a grave mistake to construe the problem we face as Mr. Brennan proceeded to do in his speech at CSIS: "We are at war with al Qaeda which attacked us on 9/11 and killed 3,000 people. We are at war with its violent extremist allies who seek to carry on al Qaeda's murderous agenda." He described that agenda as seeking "to replace sovereign nations with a global caliphate."
Unfortunately, that is the stated goal of all those who adhere to what authoritative Islam calls Shariah -- a number that includes many millions of people the world over. Mr. Brennan's speech made no reference to this wellspring of jihadism.