America is fighting a war against radical Islam, not against terrorism, and in order for the enemy to start to retreat, a U.S. victory in Iraq is critical, a Middle East expert argued Monday.
“The War on Terror is a misnomer,” Jonathon Schanzer, director of policy at the conservative Jewish Policy Center, said at a conference organized by the Young America’s Foundation in Washington, D.C., on Monday. “Terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy. You’ll never win a war if you don’t know who the enemy is.”
Schanzer said the enemy facing the United States is radical Islam.
“It is incredibly difficult to separate Islam and the enemy we’re fighting,” he said. “Ten to 20 percent of adherents of Islam view it in a backward or violent way — that is the enemy.
“We’re looking at a population that is already larger in [size] than the entire population of the United States,” Schanzer said. “We appear to be losing this battle with radical Islam.
“We’ve been battling this current enemy since 1979,” he added, referring to the Iranian students’ hostage-taking of American diplomats in Tehran. “They can look back over these last 28 years and see the exact same pattern of weakness over and over again, and that is why I would say that this has to stop right here — that there needs to be a victory.
“In Iraq right now, we need to turn things around no matter what it takes — more boots, more money, more of whatever it takes because there needs to be a victory,” Schanzer said. “I believe that once a victory happens, we’re going to start to see the forces of radical Islam retreat.”
Schanzer also argued that while “radical Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution.”
The problem, however, is that “radical Islam has the podium,” he added.
“There are extremists in all religions,” countered Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). “But the way you don’t go about dealing with that is making sweeping generalizations about such large groups of people.”
Hooper told Cybercast News Service that Schanzer’s definition of “moderate” — like that used by other conservatives — is skewed.
“They label those few who are outside the mainstream ‘moderates’ and then ask why the mainstream doesn’t listen to moderates,” he said.
CAIR, a “civil rights group” for American Muslims, is itself frequently accused of pursuing a radical agenda.