What Does It Mean to Be at War With “Radical Islam”?

What Does It Mean to Be at War With “Radical Islam”?

Who is the enemy in American counterterrorism? Is it the Islamic State, the broader jihadist movement, or a set of ideas about the role of religious and politics, often labeled “radical Islam?”

The President-elect and some of his senior advisors have stressed the need to focus on radical Islam and criticized President Obama for avoiding that specific label. “I think Islam hates us,” warned Trump on the campaign trail. When pressed about who, specifically, was the enemy, he contended that a narrow label risked missing part of the danger: "it's very hard to define. It's very hard to separate. Because you don't know who's who."

Michael Flynn, Trump's incoming National Security Advisor, similarly warned, “We're in a world war against a messianic mass movement of evil people, most of them inspired by a totalitarian ideology: Radical Islam." Steve Bannon, one of the President-elect's principle advisors, compared the situation today to when Christendom held the forces of Islam at bay in the battles of Vienna and Tours. Perhaps even worse than the threat of terrorism, some Trump advisors warn that Muslims are secretly planning to implement Islamic religious law in the United States and the West in general.

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