President Bush spent a large chunk of his 60 Minutes interview talking about how he plans to talk about the Iraq war (and the broader war against Islamic radicalism) in the coming weeks and months. He talked about serving as an “educator-in-chief”–that is, explaining to the American people how and why Iraq is part of a larger struggle against Islamic radicalism and how it is therefore worthy of continued American blood and treasure. To date, such talk from the president has met with little success. My hope is that this is the failure of the messenger (and the current conditions he finds himself in), and not the message.
When it comes to the words we use when we talk about Islamic radicalism, we need more than repetitious moral clarity (as valuable as that is, at times). Rather, we need moral clarity plus rhetorical precision–the ability to explain the unifying ideology of the enemy we face, and persuade Americans to take that threat seriously. Such words should sound like this:
The radical, extreme jihadists have as their objective the unification of all of Islam under a single religious leader—a caliphate. In turn, for that to happen they have to cause the collapse of the U.S. military, the U.S. government—our way of life. They’re not satisfied with anything less than that.
And like this:
Negotiating with al Qaeda—and the like—is not a realistic option.
That’s Governor Romney speaking about the ends of Islamic radicalism on Bill Bennett’s radio show. Listen to the interview here. As you’re doing so, consider the benefits of having such a man as our next “educator-in-chief.”