Original Ronzoni pasta factory, Astoria Queens
Carol Ianonne at Phi Beta Cons (1/23/08) has a clear and concise assessment of Steven Coughlin’s indispensable and irrefragable thesis “To Our Great Detriment’: Ignoring What Extremists Say about Jihad”.
For further elaboration on some of the data which support Coughlin’s “hard to refute” arguments, please see my earlier postings here, here, and here, particularly with regard to data on the desire for the application of strict Sharia, and the re-creation of a transnational Caliphate I summarized here:
Coughlin then places “Al Qaeda-ism” in a larger, more general context I have discussed elsewhere (while providing historical background on the Caliphate), by citing ominous polling data tabulated December/January, 2006, and published this past April, 2007. These data, as Coughlin notes, reveal that substantial pluralities (at minimum), to significant majorities of both Arab (i.e., Moroccan, Egyptian) and non-Arab (i.e., Indonesian, Pakistani) Muslims know and concur with Al-Qaeda’s stated goals to (re-) impose “strict” (explicitly identified) Islamic Law (Shari’a), and re-establish a transnational Islamic Caliphate. Specifically, 79% of Pakistanis, 76% of Moroccans, 74% of Egyptians, and 53% of Indonesians wished, “To require strict application of Shari’a law in every Islamic country.”; 74% of Pakistanis, 71% of Moroccans, 67% of Egyptians, and (the lone “plurality”) 49% of Indonesians desired, “To unify all Islamic countries in a single Islamic state, or Caliphate.”
I’ve been reading Stephen Coughlin’s master’s thesis, “‘To Our Great Detriment’: Ignoring What Extremists Say about Jihad,” submitted to the National Defense Intelligence College, and 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.
While members of the administration sternly warn of the dire threats we face and how we must know our enemy, they themselves are lost in illusions about that enemy. The enemy is not Islamo-Fascism, but the jihadist elements of Islam itself.
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. Coughlin’s thesis suggests that there are not two schools of thought on Islamic terror, those who think it is simply a criminal problem and those who think it is a war we will be fighting for a long time, but three. First, there is the view that largely comes from the liberal-left, that thinks there really is no Islamic threat, that it’s really