In the wake of the Paris attacks, it is vital to acknowledge that 14 years after 9/11, even the lexicon we use in connection with the slow-motion global jihad continues to be fatally flawed.
Lack of clarity and precision in terminology and definitions indicates a lack of cogency in our own minds; as it pertains to our understanding of the Islamic supremacist enemy — never referred to by our “leaders” as such — incoherence portends failure with respect to defending America against all enemies foreign and domestic.
Take our use of the word “terrorist” for example. I would submit that this term in and of itself misclassifies the enemy, and in effect serves its efforts by witting or unwitting obfuscation.
Terrorism is a tactic; the enemy properly defined consists of adherents to an Islamic supremacist, theopolitical ideology — that is, self-described jihadists. As others have noted, in World War II we did not refer to our enemy as “the blitzkrieg.”
Further, “terrorist” is just a marginally less politically correct term than “violent extremists,” but it similarly lumps animal rights nuts with sophisticated jihadi operatives. By painting with such a broad brush, we in turn dilute the perceived dangerousness of our mortal foe.
As such, the very name “War on Terror” is inapt.
This means of course that our foreign policy Establishment has failed the American people on a bipartisan basis.
How we counterjihadists make this clear to the public after 14 years of mendacious messaging is a monumental challenge as we think about how to turn the tide.