Who is the enemy? It’s been over 15 years since Sept. 11, 2001, and this fundamental question still rattles around. Prominent answers have included evildoers, violent extremists, terrorists, Muslims, and Islamists.
As an example of how not to answer this question, the Obama administration convened a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Working Group in 2010 and included participants who turned up such gems as: “Jihad as holy war is a European invention,” the caliphate’s return is “inevitable,” Shariah (Islamic law) is “misunderstood,” and “Islamic terrorism is a contradiction in terms because terrorism is not Islamic by definition.” The result? The group produced propaganda helpful to the (unnamed) enemy.
In contrast, then-candidate Donald Trump gave a robust speech in August 2016 on how he, as president, would “Make America Safe Again.” In it, he pledged that “one of my first acts as president will be to establish a commission on radical Islam.” Note: he said radical Islam, not some euphemism like violent extremism.