In his first three months in office, President Barack Obama has focused on creating a relationship of "mutual interest and mutual respect" with what he has described as the "Muslim world."
His inaugural address, his interview on Al-Arabiya and his most recent visit to Turkey were all long on platitudes and apologetics toward the religion of Islam and Muslims, and short on specifics. Most recently, the new administration was even discussing making overtures with the "moderate" version of the Taliban in order to achieve a quick solution to the violence in Afghanistan, at the expense of long-term violations of human rights and Western ideals.
While the president's public relations initiative may yield some immediate benefit globally as measured in the public opinion polls of Muslims abroad, this is hardly the kind of real needed "change" that will last generations. Our security is not threatened by the tactic of terrorism, but rather by those individuals who are driven by the political ideology that feeds the mind-set of radical Islamism.
Islamists seek to put into place Islamic states and the associated system of laws best described as governmental sharia. Islamism is to this global conflict of the 21st century what communism was to the Cold War and Nazism was to World War II.
It seems the Obama administration is choosing the same old path of the cold war of appeasing the power brokers, which got us into the mess we are in. Siding with the lesser of two evils is not an option that will ever allow liberty-minded Muslims an opportunity to win a war of ideas against any of the autocrats already in power.
Whether it be the so-called "peaceful Taliban" or the deceptive Muslim Brotherhood, or even the Iranian Islamists who have chosen thus far to keep their fists clenched, they will tell Obama whatever he wants to hear in order to gain legitimacy and ascend to power. Once in power, Islamists will turn around and put into place their signature draconian systems. Obama squandered a rare opportunity in Ankara to reboot the contest of ideas between political Islam and the West.
Militant Islamists are simply more extreme, violent and intolerant than the nonmilitant Islamists. All have the same goal of eventually establishing a theocratic Islamic state. Simply describing their world as the Muslim world feeds into their false collectivization and division of the world by faiths.
Moderation among Muslims today is not gauged by their willingness to denounce wanton violence and the targeting of noncombatants, but rather by a Muslim's willingness to take on the ideology of political Islam in all of its forms from within the Muslim community. We should only empower those Muslims who are willing and able to take on this battle within the House of Islam.
While we are all distracted by valid immediate concerns over the economy, just one terror incident could quickly plunge us even further into defense against a spreading ideology with many metastases. The real threat of Islamist terror did not go away with 9/11. We have seen more than 30 attacks against Americans thwarted since 9/11.
The only ones who can marginalize and defeat the ideas of political Islam are pious Muslims who believe in their spiritual faith, but insist on separating religion and government. It is time to find ways to support an intellectual offensive promoting liberalism, freedom, equality and secularism over Islamism. This should be fueled by a public-private partnership of all faiths and led by Muslims from within the faith.
Government personnel oddly have been asked to strike from their lexicon terms like Islamism, jihad or Wahhabism. This is surrender in the war of ideas. If the language of our enemies is ignored, the needed civil war within Islam will never occur.
As long as this administration ignores ideology and focuses only on superficial public relations, the Islamists will continue to advance the ideas of political Islam while we sleep. It is time for a comprehensive, public domestic and foreign strategy against Islamism. It is time for Muslims to lead this effort with real American support and not just lip service.