You Still Don’t Understand Islamism, Do You?

Around 2007, I gave a lecture at the Defense Department. One of the attendees presented a scenario suggesting that the “problem of Islam” was not political but a problem of verbiage.

There was a secret debate happening in the Defense Department and the CIA in which some people thought that all Muslims were a problem, some believed that only al-Qaeida was a problem, and still others thought the Muslim Brotherhood was a problem.

The main problem, however, was that all Islamism was a political threat, but it was the second position that eventually won over the Obama administration. Take note of this; since 2009, if you wanted to build your career and win policy debates, only al-Qaeda was a problem. The Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat; after all, it did not participate in September 11. This view was well-known in policy circles, but it was easy to mistake this growing hegemony as temporary.

Actually, it only got worse.