Seeking to Comprehend the Roots of Militancy


If the title of this discussion seems hyperbolic, it shouldn’t. Many of the shortcomings of the war on terrorism can be viewed as stemming from the failure to understand the motives and belief systems of jihadist Muslims. Compounding the challenge are organizations like Campus Watch who have used the terms Islam and militant Islam interchangeably in the media. Fortunately, there are academics like Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East analyst and professor at Sarah Lawrence derided by the National Review and others for his daring to identify America’s role in Saddam Hussein’s legacy. Gerges’s writings and predictions regarding Islamism and jihad have been accurate so far, and of late are guardedly optimistic in assessing a Muslim world tiring of autocratic rulers and amenable to respect for human rights. But “the promotion of liberalism and democratization,” he cautions, “must be accompanied by a genuine and systematic struggle to confront the root causes and manifestations of the rising Islamophobia in the Christian West and deepening anti-American sentiments in the Muslim world.” Join Gerges and Chris Isham of ABC News in a conversation whose intent is not to justify militancy, but to comprehend it.