We Must Define the Enemy

Commentary by Allen B. West

Source: U.S. News and World Report

Recently we’ve heard the retort from senior members of the Obama administration that defining the enemy is silly. One official ridiculed a major news network for even raising the issue. As a career military officer, I find rather disconcerting this abject dismissal of moral clarity and reticence to define our enemy. As a young officer in 1983, one of the books on our mandatory reading list was “The Art of War,” the seminal work by Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu.  In that book, which I still keep in my office today, he writes a very applicable and famed quote that pertains to this situation.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

For those who seek to define this enemy in terms that make them comfortable – "violent extremism" – they should heed this quote. We are engaged in another conflagration against militant Islamic terrorism, which has existed since A.D. 622 when the Prophet Muhammad departed Mecca for Medina. It represents a theocratic-political totalitarian ideology that has the objective of establishing global dominance by way of a massive caliphate – the last being the Ottoman Empire. This ideology is fascist in nature and is rooted in the verses of the Quran and the traditions of Muhammad found in the hadiths. This violent nature is what has confronted Western civilization for nearly 1,400 years and to try and divorce the actions of militant Islamic jihadis from Islam is foolish. It reflects not only a lack of knowledge of the enemy, but also an embrace of a worldview that fits some inane intellectual vision.

Furthermore, this is not the first time that America, in its 238-year existence, has been engaged with militant Islamic jihad. It first occurred in the early infant years of our republic during the Barbary Wars. Yes, the Barbary (Muslim) pirates who operated from a main base in North Africa – namely, present-day Libya. Jefferson sought to know the enemy. And when he came to a full knowledge and recognition, Jefferson deployed the U.S. Marines.

Therefore, as the saying goes, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

The attempt to create moral equivalency and religious relativism only exacerbates the greater problem which Sun Tzu articulated. Now we not only seek to dismiss the enemy, we seek to dismiss ourselves and relegate Western civilization to an equal standing with modern 21st-century savage barbarianism.

We must define the enemy and ourselves, or succumb in every battle.