World must not ignore terrorism’s religious aspect

The global war against terrorists is not just a fight involving guns, bombs and classified intelligence. It is also a war of words. President Barack Obama and his security team plan to expel certain religiously charged words, such as “Islamic extremism,” from a portion of their arsenal.

We think that’s a mistake that only adds ambiguity to the fight against global terrorists. After all, it is not Buddhist radicals, Christian extremists, Wiccans, Sikhs or atheists who have been responsible for murderous attacks worldwide over the past decade. The culprits in terrorist attacks from Moscow to Madrid, New York to Bali are all associated with Islamic groups.

According to the Associated Press, Obama and his security advisers plan to remove religious terms such as “Islamic extremism” from the National Security Strategy, the document that outlines U.S. security policy.

The idea is to reduce tension between the United States and Muslim countries and expand economic ties with those countries.

There’s no question that maintaining diplomatic and economic relations with Muslim nations, including long-time allies, has become more difficult in the age of terrorism. Even President George W. Bush’s advisers urged him to tone down some of the rhetoric regarding Islam and terrorists. He eventually did so, but he did not expunge all mention of the religious component of terrorism.

Moreover, Obama’s soft language on terrorism has done little so far to improve peace prospects between Israel and Palestinians, or to reduce the Iranian nuclear threat.

It’s worth noting that Islamic terrorists have killed more fellow Muslims than any other group. We’re not sure that softening language will — or could — deter what is, in essence, a religious-based movement that sees any concession as weakness.


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