Jeff drew my attention to this article on the Political Islam blog which points out how little our senior leaders, whether it is Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Sara Palin, or the minister of the local church, know about political Islam.
The article argues that repeated avoidance of any clear thinking on ideological or religious issues leaves our leadership essentially disarmed for the fundamental clash, which is the war of ideas between Islamists and the West.
And, indeed, how can anyone (Gen. McChrystal in this case) argue that our opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan are 'insurgents'? 'Insurgents' are people who live in the country. Yet, as Michael Noonan points out in an FPRI e-note (not yet posted on the FPRI website), in Iraq foreign fighters accounted for less than 5 percent of opposition forces but were likely responsible for over 90 percent of high lethality attacks.
These fighters are not 'insurgents'. They are 'jihadists', and not calling them by their proper name in no way diminishes their lethality. Nor does refusing to probe and understand their motivation make it easier to combat them.