The United States’ war on terror should instead be a war
on militant Islam, and the government must do a better job of articulating
its goals—according to Daniel Pipes, who spoke to a crowd
of about 200 in the law school’s Tull Auditorium, Monday night,
Director of the Middle East Forum, an author and commentator, Pipes
lecture was sponsored by the Georgia Chapter of the National Association
of Scholars. Pipes, a frequent contributor to the New York Post,
has written columns for dozens of newspapers and magazines worldwide.
He also is the author of 11 books including Militant Islam Reaches
America, published in 2002. The Middle East Forum is a conservative
think tank that, according to its website (www.meforum.org),
works to define and promote American interests in the Middle East.
Defining militant Islam as an ideology that has a vision of a utopian
society achieved by taking over governments and applying the aspects
of Islam—he used the example of the Taliban in Afghanistan—Pipes
compared militant Islam to Nazism and Marxist-Leninism, saying it
was “one of the three great totalitarian movements of the
Pipes said terrorism is merely a tool used by militant Islamists
to achieve their goals; therefore, a “war on terror”
is misguided. “A form of warfare is the enemy,” said
Pipes during his 50-minute lecture. “It would be like if,
in 1941, Frankin Delano Roosevelt declared war on surprise attacks.
One cannot win a war if one doesn’t have the courage to name
the enemy. The Sept. 11 strategic enemy is militant Islam, and we’re
not talking about faith—we’re talking about ideology.”
Pipes also said that the purpose of the war should be better defined.
He said militant Islam must be defeated and moderate Islam strengthened.
“Militant Islam must no longer be an attractive ideology,”
“We must show it to be a losing proposition, just like fascism
in 1945 and Marxist-Leninism in 1991,” he said.
Pipes said proponents of moderate Islam are quiet and fractured,
but they are key to the defeat of the militants. “This is
the most extreme moment in the history of Islam,” he said.
“The United States must promote and enfranchise moderate Islam.
Militant Islam thrives on its own success. To the extent it is defeated,
Muslims will move away from it.”
Pipes spoke only briefly about impending conflict in Iraq. He called
it “a very simple problem”: Saddam Hussein is a totalitarian
dictator but he does not have an Islamist ideology, making him less
dangerous than militant Islamists.
Pipes’ appearance was not without a bit of controversy. Flyers
were distributed outside the auditorium debunking some of his opinions,
and some snickers were heard during the question-and-answer session
(as well as significant applause following an answer in which Pipes
defended Israel’s right to exist). By and large, though, the
Tull atmosphere was civil.
Also mentioned was the Middle East Forum’s project, Campus
which monitors and critiques Middle Eastern studies programs in
the United States and Canada. Pipes said it is his right to criticize
scholars for their views, just as he accepts criticism of himself.
As an example, he mentioned the flyers that were handed out.