Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email:

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Defining The Enemy

How are we going to win this war unless we can identify our enemies? Some of us have been referring to them as Islamofascists or Radical Muslims and both labels fit, but imperfectly. As I learn more about them I become more confused, and it’s not supposed to be that way. The situation should become clearer after gaining more knowledge. In two columns - last year and again last month - I described a conversation I had with a former advisor to our Joint Chiefs of Staff. He told me that our top military and political leaders were being advised by agents of the very people we’re fighting against. He came out of the closet at CPAC in Washington a couple of weeks ago and I was in the audience.Stephen Coughlin at CPAC 2010

His name is Stephen Coughlin, and he gave an overview of the thesis he delivered to the Joint Chiefs that got him fired. To sum up, he laid out a convincing case that radical Muslims, or “Islamists,” are following the dictates of the Quran more closely than our moderate Muslim allies do. Al Qaeda means “the foundation, the base,” for a reason. He said the older, more peaceful verses in the Quran were abrogated by the later, more aggressive verses our enemies follow. Our moderate Muslim allies are akin to what some in the Catholic Church call “cafeteria Catholics.” That is, Catholics who pick what aspects of the religion they like and reject the rest. Many Catholics support abortion and homosexual “marriage,” though the Church explicitly rejects both. Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry, for example, are prominent pro-choice Catholics, but Catholic leaders are starting to get tough. Recently, a Rhode Island bishop refused the Eucharist to Congressman Patrick Kennedy because of his public endorsement of abortion. According to Coughlin, Muslims who follow the Quran and Islamic Law (Sharia) closely are the ones with whom we’re at war. Our moderate allies are, if you will, “cafeteria Muslims,” and more of them have been killed by the radicals than have Christians and Jews.

This is very troubling, because it negates what Presidents Bush and Obama claim: that “Islam is a religion of peace.” While most Muslims are peaceful, thank God, the fundamentalists are gaining. They’re perceived as “the strong horse” by an increasing percentage of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, especially the expatriates and their offspring living in the UK, France, Holland, Sweden and other European countries. They’re in the United States too, as we learned last November when native-born jihadist Major Nidal Hassan killed thirteen “infidel” soldiers at Fort Hood and wounded dozens of others.

Holland, the most liberal country in Europe, is wrestling very publicly with exactly this issue: Who or what is our enemy? Is it a religion? A set of teachings? A book? Writing in The Wall Street Journal, novelist Leon De Winter says:
What started as a trial against Geert Wilders for alleged Islamophobia has nearly turned into its opposite: a historical case about the message of the Quran. The Amsterdam court trying the controversial Dutch politician is now preoccupied with the question of whether this book, sacred to more than a billion believers, can be compared to one of the most vile publications in the history of Western civilization—Hitler's "Mein Kampf."
Geert Wilders and me at CPAC 2009

Wilders, a member of the Dutch Parliament and leader of the Freedom Party, insists that the Quran is political as well as religious because it encourages it’s followers to subjugate or kill Jews, Christians and anyone else who doesn’t believe in Islam. The Dutch government charged Wilders with “hate speech” for pointing this out. However, as De Winters says: “On trial is not so much Geert Wilders, but the Holy Book of Islam.” Holland’s hate crime laws, then, are in direct conflict with freedom of speech, and with truth itself because Wilders quoted both books quite accurately. The country’s ruling multiculturalists will lose if they convict Wilders, and they will lose if they exonerate him. They’re wishing now that they never brought him to trial at all because whatever they do, they cannot refute Wilders’ claim that Holland is being forced by multiculturalists to tolerate the intolerable.

Wilders’ positions resonate in European cities with sizable Muslim populations in which homosexuals, women and Jews are afraid to walk in Muslim neighborhoods for fear of being beaten or raped. By trying to silence Wilders, the hollow rhetoric of the tolerant, multicultural, diversity-celebrating, ruling elite of the European Union is being exposed. No matter which way the Wilders trial is decided, the world will be forced to acknowledge that fundamentalist Islam, or “Islamism” is incompatible with the democratic ideals of western civilization.

This is exactly what European and American leaders are afraid to admit. As Stephen Coughlin put it: “You cannot defeat an enemy you are not allowed to define.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Koran ought to be required reading for all US citizens. I spells out what we are facing in this country and around the world.

Harvey in North Baldwin

3/3/10, 6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying the difference between Muslims who are my neighbors and are living quiet, peaceful lives and those who are following the dictates of Islam and are bent on destroying us. Would that our Leaders were aware of the difference and acted accordingly.

3/3/10, 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which leaders do you refer to that don't know there are both good and bad Muslims?

3/3/10, 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just what we need, another Great Inquisition. One man's heresy is another man's faith. Perhaps we should abolish religion. All the so called believers seem to believe in and worship the same God. If this Being actually exists, He, She or It, is probably wondering 'what have I done'.

We have found the enemy and he is us.

3/3/10, 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Tom, in our war against muslim terrorists, why does it matter so much to you if they are called "Islamofascists", "Radical Muslims", or "crazed kooks"?

Yes, of course everybody picks and chooses what to take from both the Koran and the bible. If they didn't then we wold have a whole lot of christians running around killing their family, friends, and others as the bible asks them to:

"If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

What exactly is your reason for bringing up hate crimes by Muslims? To show that they are similar to "good ol-boys" in Texas (and other places)? To explain that because of this they should not tolerate any Muslims in the Netherlands?

I'm a little confused as to what the point of your whole column is. That you haven't found a good label to "define" the terrorists? What is your solution? Do you have a definition?

3/3/10, 1:34 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

The point is that our leaders are contorting themselves to dissociate Islam from terrorism in spite of overwhelming evidence that Islamism is the cause.

At the same time, we're escalating the conventional military theater of conflict while refusing to engage in the propaganda war, which we're losing bigtime.

As Islamists take over large portions of big European cities, they're refusing to assimilate. Their influence is spreading in Europe. Muslims burn 1200 cars in France over the course of one weekend and authorities won't identify them as Muslims.

The Archbishop of Canterbury suggests that Sharia be incorporated into British law.

Muslims are responsible for the huge increase in rapes and assaults, but authorities refuse to acknowledge who the perpetrators are. Meanwhile, imams at radical mosques excuse the behavior.

I could go on, but time doesn't permit.

3/3/10, 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Car burning as been all hte rage in France since the rioting in 2005. It is said that over 100 cars were burned daily at the peak of this madness. I have seen some footage of the burnings that seemed to show muslims and other footage that showed lots of French hooligans.

It would be interesting to see statistics on rapes and assaults in Europe. Are the numbers higher for Muslims?

I know it is nice to have a boogieman...some people even seem to NEED them. Commies, blacks, corporations, whatever.

What kind of "propaganda" do you want used to "fight back"? Can you please give an explicit example of what propaganda you would like to see in the US?

3/3/10, 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"everybody picks and chooses what to take from both the Koran and the bible. If they didn't then we wold have a whole lot of christians running around killing their family, friends, and others as the bible asks them to"

that's not true. In order to make your point you, (as you have shown), have to do exactly what you are accusing others. You go to the OT Covenant and laws which are Jewish history ignoring the teachings of Christ. His teachings show quite clearly that the weapons we use are not carnal but spiritual.

He has called us to go out and NOT kill the enemy but to die for the enemy that they might be won.

3/3/10, 4:29 PM  
Anonymous DAWN said...

"What exactly is your reason for bringing up hate crimes by Muslims?"

@ Stephen

I've got a test for you just for giggles and shakes. Dress up as a Jew, take a Jewish name and walk down any Muslim street in any Muslim country. See how long you live. Then, dress as a Muslim, take on a Muslim name and walk down an Israeli street to see the difference.

Hmmmm, on second thought, you should do that backwards. You might want to portray yourself as a Muslim first because I have a hunch you'd never get to it otherwise.

In any case you will notice a difference.

3/3/10, 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Old Testament, New Testament, what does it matter? Both books are the supposed "word of god". So god DID say to go out and kill the non-believers. Yes, his more loving son did come along and acted less like a pyschotic killer than did his dad, but that does not in any way erase the words of his father:

"If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

3/3/10, 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dawn, there are many places right here in the US where you would not want to walk after dark if you are a Muslim or a jew or black or gay....

3/3/10, 6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anthony Tiani said...

"Propaganda war" Tom?

Frightening that you would want to stoop to that level.

3/3/10, 7:40 PM  
Anonymous DAWN said...

"Old Testament, New Testament, what does it matter?"

It does matter. If you knew the scriptures you'd also know that it has nothing to do with believers/unbelievers. God even used the Pagan (unbelievers) nations (Babylon, Assyria) to punish his own people (believers) by sending them all into exile. He also saved and protected individual Pagans as part of his plan..(Ruth, Rahab etc).

The God of the OT is still God of the NT. He hasn't changed. He still has the same attributes in the Old as He does in the New.

"there are many places right here in the US where you would not want to walk after dark if you are a Muslim or a jew or black or gay...."

true, but that's not the point. The point is a Jew cannot, without fear, walk down a Muslim street EVEN IN THE DAY without feeling anxiety. But a Muslim can safely walk down a street in Israel without fear.

I'm not Jewish or Muslim but I would feel much safer in Israel than Iran. Wouldn't you? Why is that?

3/3/10, 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anthony Tiani said...

Islam hasn't gone through a reformation like Christianity has. So looking at radical Islam now is kind of like looking at the history of Christianity.

I like Voltaire's view on the Judeo-Christian-Islam madness:

"No superstitions, no absurd legends, none of those dogmas which insult reason and nature."

3/3/10, 8:04 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

As an American Christian in Israel, I was instructed by my Palestinian tour guides that I should not leave the hotel in Palestinian Muslim-dominated East Jerusalem because it wasn't safe for me. Never, however, was it unsafe for a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew to walk anywhere else in Israel and I walked around all over that country.

It was in East Jerusalem that Muslims danced in the streets when they heard of what happened to us on September 11th.

3/3/10, 8:40 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Anthony and Stephen,
It doesn't matter that you neither believe nor approve of people acting on their religious beliefs. What matters is that our enemies act on theirs. They want to kill us - Christians, Jews, atheists, agnostics - it doesn't matter to them. All they care about is that we're not Islamists. To them, we're all infidels - kuffar - and Allah orders them to subjugate us or kill us.

We are all part of what they perceive as "The Great Satan." You can try to persuade them that you have no ill will toward them, that you're all tolerant multiculturalists who want to just live and let live, but it won't dissuade them from killing you.

Your choice is to convert or die. That's the choice the Prophet Muhammed offered 14 centuries ago to Christians and Jews on the Arabian peninsula. He was following the same rules the radicals follow today. This is just another chapter in a very long war. Unless you understand it in that context, you don't understand it at all.

They are fighting a propaganda battle with exactly that message and they're winning followers - and we're not engaged in that battle at all. We've left the field to them. Our job is to persuade whomever will listen that the values of Enlightenment-inspired western civilization are superior to the values of 7th century Islam. That's the propaganda battle I'm advocating - the very antithesis of multicultural BS which purports that all cultures are equal. They're not. Ours is superior, and unless we believe that, and are willing to fight, kill, and die for it, we will lose, and we will deserve to.

Unless we start fighting that propaganda battle and win it, it won't matter what we do in Iraq or Afghanistan. We'll lose the war, and with it, our liberty.

Any other questions?

3/3/10, 9:03 PM  
Anonymous Andrew said...


I agree for once with your thesis that a finite but growing group of Muslims [the Muslim equivalent of the lunatic fringe of the right wing and left wing] are the enemy, but disagree with the premise that the current or previous Administrations haven't recognized that fact. What specifically are you suggesting we do that we aren't doing?

If your notion is that we shouldn't be making conciliatory overtures to Iran, for example, what should we do instead? Nuke them? How would that do anything but worsen the problem?

3/3/10, 9:30 PM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

I also agree that there are many angry muslims that wish us dead. And I agree that I personally find our culture MUCH more appealing than that of the radical islamic culture. Now, what do we do about it? The reason for the rise in the amount of radical muslims is very debatable. Is it coincidence that the sharp rise coincides with the start of the war in Iraq?

Propaganda will always be seen for what it is. In the world today countries can no longer hide the truth about our country, even China cannot hide the truth from their people any longer - our way of life is vastly superior to the dictators and tyrants who run these other countries.

What specifically do you want done?

3/3/10, 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dawn, your god said that we should kill our own son or daughter if they were a non-believer - who cares which book he said it in, or why he said it. If god says something then god means it.

Or does he bullshit with us some time?

3/3/10, 10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anthony Tiani said...

Tom, I'm with you on radical Islam. In fact, I did a presentation on the horrors of Islam for one of my classes last semester. The multicultural brigade doesn't mind ridicule at the expense of white Christians, but their butt-holes seal up tighter than Fort Knox whenever someone dares insult Muhammad, the last prophet of Allah blessings be upon him). It's hypocritical and cowardly.

However, the odds of dying in a terror attack in this country are incredibly small. So running around constantly panicking about it is useless. Not to mention that the very purpose of terror attacks is to CAUSE TERROR. I, for one, refuse to live in fear of these medieval morons.

3/3/10, 10:15 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Stephen asks: "Is it coincidence that the sharp rise coincides with the start of the war in Iraq?

I would argue that there's a reverse correllation. When Bush was implementing his doctrine in the early part of the decade, the radicals were in decline. Qaddafi backed off his nuclear program. Syria lost ground in Lebanon. Dissidents gained strength in Iran, etc. The USA was perceived as the strong horse.

After Bush lost his nerve in Fallujah, there was a rise in radicals.

The radicals got bolder in the face of President Carter's dithering in the 444-day hostage crisis, with President Reagan's pull-out from Lebanon after 250 Marines were bombed out, and with President Clinton's withdrawal from Somalia after "Blackhawk Down."

Appeasement is the absolute wrong policy with Islamists no matter where they are. Only strict policy resolutions backed up by military force will have any effect on Iran or any other radical Muslim group.

President Obama's actions resemble those of Prime Minister Chamberlain in 1939. If continued, expect the same result.

3/4/10, 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

From Mother Jones (2007)

The administration’s own National Intelligence Estimate on "Trends in Global Terrorism: implications for the United States," circulated within the government in April 2006 and partially declassified in October, states that "the Iraq War has become the ‘cause celebre’ for jihadists...and is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives."

Our study shows that the Iraq War has generated a stunning sevenfold increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist attacks, amounting to literally hundreds of additional terrorist attacks and thousands of civilian lives lost; even when terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan is excluded, fatal attacks in the rest of the world have increased by more than one-third.

We are not making the argument that without the Iraq War, jihadist terrorism would not exist, but our study shows that the Iraq conflict has greatly increased the spread of the Al Qaeda ideological virus, as shown by a rising number of terrorist attacks in the past three years from London to Kabul, and from Madrid to the Red Sea.

Our study shows just how counterproductive the Iraq War has been to the war on terrorism. The most recent State Department report on global terrorism states that the goal of the United States is to identify, target, and prevent the spread of "jihadist groups focused on attacking the United States or its allies [and those groups that] view governments and leaders in the Muslim world as their primary targets." Yet, since the invasion of Iraq, attacks by such groups have risen more than sevenfold around the world. And though few Americans have been killed by jihadist terrorists in the past three years it is wishful thinking to believe that this will continue to be the case, given the continued determination of militant jihadists to target the country they see as their main enemy. We will be living with the consequences of the Iraq debacle for more than a decade.

Much more in the full article:

3/4/10, 11:09 AM  
Anonymous DAWN said...

"your god said that we should kill our own son or daughter if they were a non-believer - who cares which book he said it in, or why he said it"

First of all, that's not true. You're twisting scripture for your own agenda. Read it again. It had nothing to do with being a believer but enticing others to worship other gods. It would be the death of the nation. Sin spreads very quickly and is compared to leaven for a reason.

Why did he say this? Because there are good, clear reasons behind his commands.

When we tell our children not to touch a hot stove, or run in a busy street are we saying this to spoil their fun? Is there a purpose behind our instruction? Maybe protection? Longevity?

Same with God.

Here you're quoting a command to the Jews before they were to enter the Promised Land. Moses gave the Jews directions on how to deal with insurrectionists.

This was their form of capital punishment back then. It was expected to produce good results. This was a serious crime violating the very first commandment. They were not to tolerate seduction in their new country by the pagan countries around them even if it involved their own close relatives.

If they had, and this extreme punishment was NOT given, there would be no Jews today. There would be NO Israel today. It was for the protection of the nation that this was given..just like my own instructions aimed at my own children were for their own protection and longevity.

All those countries listed are no longer...but guess what? The Jews are still here.

3/4/10, 1:09 PM  
Anonymous DAWN said...

"As an American Christian in Israel, I was instructed by my Palestinian tour guides that I should not leave the hotel in Palestinian Muslim-dominated East Jerusalem"

Yes, it's very dangerous to walk in Muslim territory, even if it is in otherwise safe Israel, for any non-Muslim. So much more so in places like Iraq and Iran. At least the Muslim Iraqis and Iranians can walk freely anywhere without fear of having their bodies brutally beaten, raped or decapitated.

3/4/10, 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Stepehen said...

ok. sorry, let me correcrt myself. Your god told people to kill their own sons and daughters if they were to worship another god.

You say this is comperable to telling your children not to play with a hot stove?!!?

"Billy, I warned you about playing with that stove and you did it I have to kill you! Since I'm a good parent though, I'll let you choose...will it be stoning or a throat slitting?"

You claim these directives are to be used against insurrectionists. That implies an armed rebellion. What I see god saying though is that you should kill your kids for serving another god, not for taking up arms against the powers that be.

Face it, your god has a "believe in me or be killed / believe in me or go to hell" attitude.

Perhaps you can imagine killing your children if you were in the shoes of those jews, but to me the mere thought is so revoling that I want to vomit. How can you even Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Imagine how much more peaceful our world would have been if religion of any sort never existed, and people were good for goodness sake!

3/4/10, 1:32 PM  
Anonymous DAWN said...

"sorry, let me correcrt myself. Your god told people to kill their own sons and daughters if they were to worship another god."

What are you..10? Read it again. No, that's not correct either. Obviously you either did NOT read this or your reading comprehension is very poor.

"Imagine how much more peaceful our world would have been if religion of any sort never existed, and people were good for goodness sake!"

There ya go! The mask has come off. This is your true agenda.

It's easy for those who hate religion to pick holes in our conduct, to make objections to our doctrines to find fault with our practices. What you say isn't new. It's same old, same old. I hope you didn't think you were the original author of such thinking.

The sneering unbeliever who defends his unbelief by pointing his fingers at the backsliders in the Christian Church (those who caused wars previously or did not act Christianly) must find some better argument than their example. He forgets that there will always be counterfeit coin where is is true money.

3/4/10, 2:01 PM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Sure, Dawn, insult me, call me 10, whatever. The fact remains. Your god called for children to be killed on more than one occasion. Can you answer a question, Dawn? If you were alive at that time would you have killed your kid if directed so by god...that is if your child was one of the people god thought should be killed?

Yes or no.

3/4/10, 2:38 PM  
Blogger 心好男孩 said...


3/5/10, 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dawn? You are not avoiding the question, are you?

3/5/10, 10:39 AM  
Anonymous DAWN said...

It's hard to answer hypothetical questions like that. I would hope that I would obey God if I were living 6,000 years ago like I do today. But have to admit I'm not always doing what I should do and there are times I don't do what I should.

In order to worship God and have no other gods before us, He is to come first. The order of things is God, Family, Work. When we get out of order things don't work as well.

oh, and btw..there is no record of any of the Israelites killing their kids. I guess the threat of punishment must have been enough.

3/5/10, 3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I would hope that I would obey God..."

In other words, You would hope to kill your children if asked by god.

Say no more.

3/5/10, 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anthony Tiani said...

Tom, something has been bothering me. Why is it you and your conservative purists aren't at all bothered by the recent attacks by anti-government domestic terrorists?

If Mr. Stack (who flew his plane into a government building recently) had a Muslim name, I have a sneaking suspicion that you and Rush would screaming and fear-mongering louder than usual.

Why the silence?

3/9/10, 11:04 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...


"you and Rush would screaming [sic] and fear-mongering louder than usual."

I don't like your tone. KMA.

3/9/10, 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anthony Tiani said...

"I don't like your tone. KMA."

Perhaps you could better judge my "tone" if I said it to you in person, as opposed to text devoid of emotion.

If you would like me to kiss your ass, then please have the decency to spell it out.

Who is the adult here, Tom?

Anyway, I'll forgive your little flash of apparent anger if you just answer my reasonable question.

3/9/10, 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Ralph said...

Nice of Tom to put a picture of his ass with his post telling you to kiss it.

3/9/10, 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Good point, Anthony. Tom and the like were all over the shootings by Nidal Hasan, ranting, raving, frothing at the mouth...but strangely mum about this terrorist attack. Hmmmm.

Face it, with the state of our mainstream right-wing media, this type of incident will never get as much attention as a Muslim related act.

3/9/10, 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anthony Tiani said...

Tom, your tacit silence and shortness says to me that you hate being bested by a "young punk".

3/9/10, 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has got to be driving Tom insane that week after week, almost without fail, he is being by "young punks" and by anybody else with a shred of a brain.

I'm thinking he is a masochist.

3/10/10, 1:04 PM  

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