How would you assess the American response to terror?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Dutch-American feminist filmmaker and political writer. She is author of several books, the latest of which is Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now. She is also founder of the AHA Foundation, a former fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a former member of the Dutch parliament.
Ali is a vocal critic of Islam whose writings often focus on the religion's subjugation of women. Her work is controversial and has resulted in numerous death threats. In 2004 Ayaan gained international attention following the murder of Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh had directed her short film Submission, a film about the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin left a death threat for her pinned to Van Gogh's chest. This tragic event, and Ayaan’s life leading up to it, are all chronicled in her best-selling book, Infidel.
There’s no consensus in the United States on who the enemy is, or whether to freely say it’s Islam, or it’s a perversion of a form of Islam. Is it Wahhabism? Is it Salafism? Or is it basic Islam? Who should we ally with strategically? In other words, the approach has been very much strategic. There are people in the United States, including this administration, who are waking up to the fact that there is a battle of ideas going on, but they’re too shy to voice what the ideas are. Another point of criticism – and that’s not only towards this administration – but I’ve seen and heard it all over the place is just this desire to avoid Saudi Arabia as a culprit; the state that’s not only financing terrorism, but also financing the ideology behind the terror acts. I think it was a mistake to declare it a “war on terror”. Terror is just a tactic, and it shows how much . . . how strategic the whole approach is towards what’s going on. Another mistake on both sides of the Atlantic is that if we just appease them – if we just understand what they want from us and we give it to them, they might not be so bad to us. Or they might forgive, or they might . . . I think those are mistakes that were made. But again I’ll come back to the distinction between Europe and America. And it seems as if America is learning much faster than Europe. And by learning, I mean waking up to the fact that it is Islam . . . not necessarily all Muslims, but Islam as a set of ideas; and that that can mean military . . . I mean very disastrous military action. Which for every politician, it is a terrible decision to take to say, “We are going to war.” Or, “We are going to do something destructive.” Or, “We’re going to take an unpopular action.” And Americans seem to be much more courageous in making that decision. They did ________ in the Second World War and later than the Europeans who have . . . I think the Europeans leadership at this point s really self-restrained, and I say this because of the approach to Iran. Recorded on: 8/15/07
The U.S. has failed to identify its enemies clearly.
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