The American Interest

Confronting Jihad

Paris (twice in ten months), San Bernardino, Brussels, Orlando, Nice, Ansbach, Munich, Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray: Hundreds of people blown up, pulverized, shot, knifed.  Who is next?

That such attacks will continue is certain.  That the political class has no strategic blueprint for dealing with the scourge of jihad terrorism is obvious.  That all Western security services have no operational tools and procedures to anticipate and prevent such attacks is extremely alarming for hundreds of millions of people on both sides of the Atlantic.

The key problem is the absence of a coherent Western strategy in what is clearly a war.  As in any other war, three timeless Clausewitzian principles apply: the need to identify the enemy; the necessity to apply violent force to make that enemy succumb to one’s will; and the moral determination to mobilize one’s own resources to prevail decisively and permanently.


The enemy is Islam, a supremacist ideology of permanent conflict and conquest, which is and has always been structurally unamenable to compromise with non-Islam.  It has a highly developed legal, political, and moral doctrine, rooted in its core texts, which denies the legitimacy of any other belief system and form of social organization.  Its exponents are state actors (most notably Saudi Arabia), groups with some state attributes (ISIS), decentralized...

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