One of the greatest difficulties in the West’s confrontation with Islam in the past decade has been our failure to recognize the true nature of Islam. This is a direct consequence of our failure to recognize the true nature of our own civilization, and the great good that is inherent in it.

The modern West has been loath to view itself even as a civilization worthy of respect, much less the best that mankind has had to offer, which it surely is despite its many imperfections.

That has made it difficult or impossible for those the West who adhere to this philosophy to criticize other cultures and civilizations, a notion that has come to be called multiculturalism but is in fact simply demoralization.

The open confrontation with Islam, however, does appear to have brought some people to the realization, however reluctant, that the West has its virtues and other cultures have their faults.

That is a very good development indeed.

Today Carol  Iannone (not one of the demoralized ones) superbly expresses this point of view in a post on National Review Online‘s Phi Beta Cons blog, in a summary of the ideas in Stephen Coughlin’s master’s thesis, "’To Our Great Detriment’: Ignoring What Extremists Say about Jihad," submitted to the National Defense Intelligence College:

I can see why it got him into trouble. He frankly declares that this administration has been wrong on the relation of Islam to jihadism and terrorism. . . . Coughlin points out that on the basis of very little, Bush, Rice, and other Administration people blithely declare Islam a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a few violent extremists for their own agenda, an agenda which they insist has nothing to do with Islam.  They ignore all the evidence from Islamic sources that support violence in the name of spreading or defending the faith and bypass the professed and frequently stated aims of the jihadists. 

Iannone summarizes what appears to be Coughlin’s view:

[This] view says that there is indeed a problem with Islam itself, that even if only a minority of Muslims will ever take up jihad, most Muslims know that that is mandated by their religion and they do support it in belief and sometimes financially.  The term Islamo-Fascism is really a euphemism for those who wish to deny or ignore the violence inherent in Islam. This view sees that jihad has been a feature of Islam from its beginnings and that martyrdom is honored and rewarded in Islam.  This view also finds that Islam may well be in conflict with liberal democracy.  Muslims are told that they are meant to Islamicize the countries they live in, through "peaceful" means if they can, and violent means when necessary, and we already see signs of this in Europe and America.

The Bush administration, then, has been grossly mistaken in thinking that radical Islam is an aberration and not central to Islam:

[H]e says that we are hampered in dealing with the enemy and in producing good intelligence for our strategic plans because instead of listening to what the enemy is saying, we impose our own hopeful, optimistic kind of view on the Islamic world, that everyone is really like us at heart and that we will see this in the end.

I think that this is a very good analysis, and I am very glad that Carol has brought it to our attention.

Jihad, in fact, is the mirror image of Western demoralization. On the one hand, a civilization compelled to press its fundamental beliefs on the entire world, and on the other a civilization that has in great part lost the will even to defend itself.

The need to retain the delusion among Western elites is powerful, however, and for his efforts to remove the scales from their eyes, Coughlin was fired from his position on the U.S. military’s Joint Staff. As Bill Gertz noted in the Washington Times:

The action followed a report in this space last week revealing opposition to his work for the military by pro-Muslim officials within the office of Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.

The essay is available online here, and I recommend that you read it.