Mark Danner: Blaming America for the Global Jihad
By: Robert Spencer
Monday, October 10, 2005

A longtime Leftist counsels appeasement on the fourth anniversary of 9/11.

The New York Times marked the fourth anniversary of 9/11 by publishing in the New York Times Magazine a long and lavish cover story by Mark Danner, a journalism professor at the University of California at Berkeley, author of  Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror, and a longtime opponent of America wars against totalitarian enemies. Danner didn’t write anything for the anniversary that would cancel dinner invitations for him in Berkeley. Instead, he repeated the radical line he has adopted for years: that America is responsible for global terrorism, that Al-Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups are really just reacting to American foreign policy, and so on. But regurgitation of such dogmas, however slickly , doesn’t make them true ­ no matter how ardently Danner and the Times may wish otherwise. 

In 2003, Danner unsurprisingly termed “rubbish” the idea that the U.S. might face a genuine threat from Saddam Hussein’s regime. Indeed, like so many leftists and Islamic apologists, he sees the war on terror as a continuation of the Cold War with a new pseudo-enemy. He has criticized Bush for characterizing the terror war in black and white terms: “That is, there is ‘us,’ and there is ‘them.’ There is ‘good,’ and there is ‘evil.’…Terrorism has become the new communism. Terrorism is being used as an ideological justification for use of U.S. power in the world.” Yet what of jihadist expansionism and violence in areas where U.S. power is nowhere in evidence, or historically in centuries before the U.S. was even founded? These realities are simply not in Danner’s frame of reference, which is the anti-Americanism of the American left.

In his Times article, Danner did pause at the brink of an idea, however, when he criticized the Bush Administration for declaring “war on terror,” instead of war against “Islamic terrorism or Middle Eastern terrorism or even terrorism directed against the United States.” He quotes an unnamed military strategist: “Declaring war on ‘terror’ is like declaring war on air power.” Or, as I put it in my new book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), like declaring war on bombs. However, Danner quickly proves himself incapable of taking the plunge into independent thought, and demonstrates that he is just as unwilling or unable to face our real foe, the Islamic jihad ideology, as the most blinkered and prejudiced Foggy Bottom careerist.

Danner approvingly quotes the Defense Science Board report, which states that the terrorists share “one overarching goal,” which is “the overthrow of what Islamists call the ‘apostate’ regimes: the tyrannies of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan and the gulf states....The United States finds itself in the strategically awkward ­ and potentially dangerous ­ situation of being the longstanding prop and alliance partner of these authoritarian  regimes. Without the U.S., these regimes could not survive.”


This is true: the jihadists are indeed struggling against Mubarak, the House of Saud, Musharraf, and the rest of these putative U.S. allies, whom they do not deem sufficiently Islamic or zealous for the Sharia. It is refreshing to see any mainstream media analyst betray any awareness at all of the supremacist ideology that motivates the jihadists, and their desire to bring the Islamic world back to full adherence to the Sharia; however, Danner then adds this astounding caveat: “Fundamentalist Islamic thought took aim at America's policies, not at its existence.”


Apparently Danner is unacquainted with the speeches and writings of such pillars of “fundamentalist Islam” as Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, who made no secret of his conviction that his supremacist ideology should subjugate not just America, but the entire world: “Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world....But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world.”[1]


Nor are such sentiments limited only to Khomeinist Shi’ites. The Egyptian Qur’an commentator and Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) emphasized this clearly: “It is not the function of Islam to compromise with the concepts of Jahiliyya [the society of unbelievers] which are current in the world or to co-exist in the same land together with a jahili system….Islam cannot accept any mixing with Jahiliyyah. Either Islam will remain, or Jahiliyyah; no half-half situation is possible. Command belongs to Allah, or otherwise to Jahiliyyah; Allah’s Shari’ah [law] will prevail, or else people’s desires: “And if they do not respond to you, then know that they only follow their own lusts. And who is more astray than one who follows his own lusts, without guidance from Allah? Verily! Allah guides not the people who are disobedient.”[Qur’an 28:50]…The foremost duty of Islam is to depose Jahiliyyah from the leadership of man, with the intention of raising human beings to that high position which Allah has chosen for him.”[2] (Emphasis added.)


Likewise, Syed Abul Ala Maududi (1903-1979), founder of the Pakistani political party Jamaat-e-Islami, which is still the largest exponent of political Islam in Pakistan, declared that non-Muslims have “absolutely no right to seize the reins of power in any part of God’s earth nor to direct the collective affairs of human beings according to their own misconceived doctrines.” If they do, “the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge them from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life.”[3]


What may be most disturbing, albeit unsurprising, about Danner’s 9/11 fantasia is the prominent positioning it received from the New York Times. For if Danner and the Times editors really believe that the adoption of a strategy of appeasement and accommodation toward the jihadists will really ensure peace in our time, they are as self-deceived as Neville Chamberlain was when he returned from his meeting with Herr Hitler in Munich in 1938. But this time, there is as yet no Churchill waiting in the wings.

[1] Quoted in Amir Taheri, Holy Terror: Inside the World of Islamic Terrorism, Adler & Adler, 1987, pp. 241-3.

[2] Sayyid Qutb, “The Right to Judge,” http://www.islamworld.net/justice.html.

[3] Sayyid Abul A‘la Maududi [here, Mawdudi], Towards Understanding the Qur’an, Zafar Ishaq Ansari, translator, The Islamic Foundation, revised edition 1999. Vol. 3, p. 202.

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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of eight books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is available now from Regnery Publishing.