What I find disturbing about Bush's latest classification of this “war” following 9/11 are the implicit statements underlying its evolution. As we all know following 9/11 the Bush administration announced a “Global War on Terror.” Very recently, the war on terror changed to the “ global struggle against violent extremism.”
In Bush’s latest speech justifying the war on Iraq and the war post-9/11 he used a different brand name. One more poignant to nomenclature used by his supporters. He said we are now in a war against “.”
While Bush did note that “Islamo-fascism” is different then Islam itself, I think the very act of narrowing down terrorism to one religion or faith serves as a basis of declaring that religion or faith as a cause for terrorism. Thus, as has always been with this president, his implicit rationale trumps his explicit statements.
The first two brand names for the war are classified in generally neutral terms in the sense that it doesn't point to any particular religion, or faith. By using neutral terms terrorism and extremism is not considered the product of any one particular faith, but a global issue that can emerge from a person of any spiritual or religious background.
Note, however, that conservative circles and pundits, as well as many self-proclaimed liberals, collapse the notion of “terror” and “extremism” with “Islam” while completely disregarding the prevalence of terrorism and extremism committed by non-Muslims, particularly prior to the Iraqi war. In fact, to signify the combinative effect of these elements the term “Islamo-fascism” has become the preferred nomenclature.
The consequences of these distortions have already rooted themselves out in many conservative circles. Robert Spencer, the right wing director of “Jihad Watch” has already noted that by collapsing these notions Bush will enable “officials to pursue jihadists in America more openly than they have up to now” and to “call on groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council to renounce all intention to bring Sha’ria to the United States even by peaceful means.”
Essentially Spencer is saying that by fighting a war against “Islamo-fascism,” America can further suppress the rights of free speech and association of Muslims, regardless of whether there is intent to foster extremism.
Daniel Pipes broadens the notion of “Islamo-fascism” by including Muslims who wish to politicize their faith. Under Pipes understanding of “Islamo-fascism”, we should go to war Iraq's current government given the insistence of its leaders and people to use the Qu'ran as a source of law and legislation.
By identifying any war with any faith Bush makes the misguided and dangerous move of association. Bush’s new classification does not make the enemy any more clearer, it confuses and conflates the notions of Islam and fascism together. It makes the superficial claim that terrorism is rooted in one religion, rather then looking at social and political issue that transcend across all acts of terrorism.
About Nema Milaninia is a law student at UC Hastings College of Law, executive editor of the International Studies Journal, and editor of the group blog IranianTruth.com