Recently Fitzgerald at Jihad Watch criticized the short comings of the term “Clash of Civilizations” to describe the “Global War on Terror”, offering the alternative view that “truthful description of the conflict as one motivated by a belief-system, the belief-system of Islam”. (link)
My Response (with minor corrections):
The term “Clash of Civilizations” and the “Global War on Terror” are short-sighted and misleading. I think Fitzgerald and I agree on that.
But, Fitzgerald and I differ when he states that the “truthful description of the conflict as one motivated by a belief-system, the belief-system of Islam”.
Au contraire, I think its far more complicated than that…
Islam is being exploited as a vehicle for fighting what many see as their continuing oppression of Muslims by non-Muslims and/or oppressive governments. Look at Thailand, Philippines, Bosnia, Chechnya, Palestine, Kosovo, Muslims in Eurrope and so on. Conflicts there can be easily seen (true or not) as a conflict between oppressed Muslims and non-Muslims or the government. Additionally, in Uzbekistan and elsewhere, Islam is seen as the alternative and solution to an otherwise corrupt and inept government system.
Unlike Christianity, Islam never built a wall between Church and State – so Islam is intimately seen as involved in all dimensions of human activity. This is why Islam can easily act as a political solution into itself and why an attack on a single Muslim can be see as an attack on entire socio-political and religious body – perhaps we can say “the Ummah”?
Additionally Islam does not “turn the other cheek” – but will risk using violence when being attacked. (Revised: Of course juding when somoene is being attacked unprovoked is somewhat subjective)
So we see local movements in Kosovo, Chechnya etc under the Green banner uniting and linking up together with other movements – brought together as a united front. As Bush finally admitted we are at war with Islamofacist – but more than that, we are at war with a global and religiously-motivated utopian movement.
This is the nature of the threat.
And by the way Islam does not have the monopoly on being easily turned into vehicle of violence and terror. Judaism as an ethno-religion can be easily used as a substitute. Strict laws, “The Chosen People”, “milchemet mitzvah” (obligatory war) and add to that wide spread anti-semitism are all the ingredients that can be twisted to the same ends.