A Religion of Peace? Not for the Jihadist Movements

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeffrey Kuhner, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

President Obama seeks to realign relations between the West and the Muslim world, calling for a broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

In particular, while on his visit to Turkey, he tacitly criticized the Iraq war. Mr. Obama blamed it for triggering tensions with Ankara and for fanning the flames of anti-Americanism on the Arab street. I know that the trust that binds the United States and Turkey has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced.

There is something not only grotesque, but also pathetic about an American president pandering to Islamic sentiment - most clearly exemplified by his bow to an Arab potentate like the king of Saudi Arabia.

In the last century, no other country has done more to liberate Muslim nations than the United States. President Eisenhower forced Britain, France and Israel to abandon control of the Suez Canal, consolidating Egypt's independence. An American-led international coalition repelled Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and prevented Saudi Arabia from being annexed as well. U.S. air strikes stopped the Serbs' campaign of ethnic cleansing against Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Washington toppled fascist dictatorships in Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing democracy to more than 50 million Muslims. Precious American blood and treasure has been spilled to extend liberty to the heart of the Middle East.

Like many liberals, Mr. Obama is ignorant of history - especially regarding the nature and aims of radical Islam. Mr. Obama vowed that the United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam. That's undoubtedly true. But the real question is whether Islamic extremism is at war with us.

The great historian Bernard Lewis has pointed out that, from its inception, Islamic civilization has been plagued by aggressive expansionism and religious intolerance. Let there not be two religions in Arabia, said the Prophet Muhammad on his deathbed. Following his injunction, Christians and Jews during the seventh century were forcibly expelled from the Arabian Peninsula.

Arab forces then swept across the Middle East and North Africa, conquering the then-Christian provinces of Syria, Palestine and Egypt. Muslim armies toppled the ancient Persian Empire and began to push into Central Asia and India. They eventually invaded Spain, Portugal, southern Italy and parts of France.

Later, converts to Islam, such as the Turks and Tatars, smashed the Byzantine Empire and conquered large swaths of Russia and the Balkans. At one point, Ottoman armies were at the gates of Vienna and Rome. Islam was spread not just by peaceful conversion, but also by the sword.

Islamic militants such as Osama bin Laden seek to impose a global caliphate. They desire not only to kick America - and the West - out of the Middle East. Their goals are more ambitious and totalitarian: to restore Muslim dominance over all former territories, including those in Europe, as well as erect a world Muslim empire based on Shariah law. …