Bush: ‘If it’s About Christianity vs. Islam, We’ll Lose’

President Bush told a group of radio talk show hosts that the war on terror must be framed in terms of values, not religion.

Coulter found herself in the uncharacteristic position of being upstaged by her introducer, Mike Gallagher. He told the audience he was fresh back from an hour-and-45-minute session which President Bush held in the Oval Office Friday afternoon with him and four other conservative talk show hosts: Atlanta’s Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and Michael Medved. Rush Limbaugh couldn’t make it, he said.

Though he said this session was supposed to be off the record, Gallagher described it at some length, including Bush’s observation to the right-wing radio jocks that the War on Terror has to be about right versus wrong, “because if it’s about Christianity versus Islam, we’ll lose.”

“Remind me never to invite you to an off-the-record session,” Coulter said after his introduction.

Indeed.

Still, if Bush said what Gallagher said he did, he’s right. Islam is, of course, a big piece of the puzzle. But the battle over ideas has to be fought by finding common moral ground, not bashing Islam in general.

It’s no small irony that this was revealed while introducing, Ann “invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity” Coulter.

via IM tip from Jeff Quinton

FILED UNDER: General, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. cian says:

    James,

    Here’s right:

    Successive British Governments fought the IRA for 30 years without one member of parliament ever suggesting that torture was needed. The IRA bombed, assassinated and even targeted 10 Downing Street itself. They were every bit as deadly and despicable as today’s terrorists. I have always admired Britain’s politicians and people for never allowing themselves to become what they fought, to hold fast to their ideals and remain fearless in the face of an enemy that longed for them to abandon their laws and beliefs.

    They were right. The IRA is gone.

    Here’s wrong:

    Abandon your most cherished beliefs; act like the worst in the hopes that the worst will be too frightened to harm you; do not read history, do not listen to those who are actually fighting the war, their message would disturb you: the more atrocities you commit, the stronger the enemy will become.

    Bush is wrong, and everywhere the terrorists are winning.

  2. leon says:

    Interesting, Clinton meets the bloggers, Bush meets the talk show hosts…old politics meets new media, new politics meets old media…

  3. Joannes Jacobsen says:

    As long as the “common moral ground” includes ‘waterboarding’, keeping evidence from people accused of crimes etc. – but only if the person in question is not a US citizen, of course – Bush can keep it to himself. I would rather live without his version of the “common moral ground”.

  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    So, do you [Portion of comment in violation of site policies deleted.] think you are going to nice the information this nation needs to protect inself out of these animals. Remember these are people who use electric drills to put holes in those they intend to kill. There is no moral high ground in a war, there is only winners and losers. We should have this discussion after our enemies are vanquished, not during the process.

  5. Bandit says:

    If the terrorists are winning it’s not because some terrorist murderer has to sit in a room with the AC on high. It’s because the terror appeasers and cheerleaders don’t have the guts to confront them.

  6. […] Other blogging: Malkin OTB […]

  7. Michael says:

    Zeldorf:

    There is no moral high ground in a war

    So what you’re saying is that the Nazi’s were justified in their actions?

  8. Pete says:

    What a load of crap. The “moderate Muslims” who really are peace loving simply do not exist. They are a figment of the left’s imagination, and nobody has actually seen one protesting the use of their religion by terrorist thugs….why? Because they agree with the terrorists.

    Islam is on the march and the longer we pretend it isn’t happening, the harder it’s going to be to defeat them when we finally wake up to the nightmare of Muslims murdering anyone who dares to call them to the carpet.

    Oh wait…we’re already there.

  9. Michael says:

    Pete:

    The “moderate Muslims” who really are peace loving simply do not exist. They are a figment of the left’s imagination, and nobody has actually seen one protesting the use of their religion by terrorist thugs

    That’s like saying there were no moderate Germans between 1939 and 1945, just because you didn’t see any of them fighting the Nazis. If you and so many others here in America are so damned afraid of these extremists, how much more so do you think those in their own backyard would feel?

  10. legion says:

    Michael, you’re trying to use logic against frightened little children. Whenever you see people loudly asserting that torture is “justified” or that we should win first and examine our moral center later, what you’re looking at are people who don’t care how long or successful the “war on terrah” is – they just want to inflict pain, suffering, and humiliation on someone else, and they really don’t care who. They’re just scared, cowardly bullies.

  11. Pete says:

    Legion,
    I never justified torture. I said that cow-towing to the “radical Muslims” in the hopes that “moderate Muslims” will win out within Islam is a pipe dream, because for the most part the two groups as synonymous.

    Michael,
    No offense, but if they don’t stand up against their own religious zealots, then they are complicit in their violence. I have no sympathy for those who won’t fix their own problems. Especially when it ends up costing me and mine to do it for them.

  12. Pete says:

    Michael,
    And yes, if you’re “too scared” to stand up against what is wrong (Hitler or bin Laden, etc) then what really is the different between “moderates” and the people helping the bad guys? None. Neither group is fixing the problem….they’re just both playing chickenshit and deflecting the violence onto others via appeasement.

  13. Anderson says:

    So, do you [Portion of comment in violation of site policies deleted.] think you are going to nice the information this nation needs to protect inself out of these animals.

    Dehumanization is always an important step towards torture. It becomes harder to torture somebody if you remember he’s a human being like yourself.

    For that matter, the deleted portion of Z’s comment suggests that he’s pretty well along to considering those of us who oppose torture to be somewhere below fully human.

    Moving on to Pete: No offense, but if they don’t stand up against their own religious zealots, then they are complicit in their violence. I have no sympathy for those who won’t fix their own problems. Especially when it ends up costing me and mine to do it for them.

    Hm. I actually agree with Pete on part of this. I don’t mind *helping* factions within tyrannies resist and revolt, but I don’t think you can impose democracy or human rights from above in a foreign culture, and I don’t much care to see our blood & treasure expended on this futile effort in Iraq.

    The “complicity” argument is harder. Given the risks to average people if they stand up against the radical clergy, do we really expect that from them? How far along that road do we go until 9/11 was justified by our “complicity” with our pro-Israel government? I am leery of collective-guilt-style arguments.

  14. Triumph says:

    the War on Terror has to be about right versus wrong, “because if it’s about Christianity versus Islam, we’ll lose.”

    It is pretty scary that Bush is still “thinking” about geopolitics in these terms without any comprehension about history and the internal political dynamics of the region.

    He seems to mimic Bin Laden’s nonsensical tirades.

  15. Michael says:

    Pete,
    I can certainly understand your feelings to those who are “complicit” in your view. However, it is a far greater stretch to include them in the same punishment that is justified to those who actually commit the crimes. There will always be those who sacrifice their own beliefs and morality in exchange for safety. That is a moral issue not a criminal one in my opinion.

    There is also the issue of moderate Muslims who don’t consider terrorists “their own”. Should a Shiite rebuke a Sunni doctrine? No more than a Protestant should rebuke a Catholic doctrine. Now maybe you think Protestants are responsible for the actions of Catholics, but many do not.

  16. Pete says:

    Michael,
    Agreed, however the Protestant would still be able to recognize such a thing in Christianity as a “Christian problem” persay. And I think it would be dishonest not to say that were such a thing to happen in the Christian ranks that Protestants/Catholics would most certainly stand up and make it known that this was not an acceptable inerpretation/form of their religion.

    I have seen no such thing from ANY major group with Islam. That speaks for itself.

  17. phuknjrk says:

    The “moderate Muslims” who really are peace loving simply do not exist.

    That’s like saying there were no moderate Germans between 1939 and 1945, just because you didn’t see any of them fighting the Nazis.

    Wouldn’t saying ‘moderate arabs’ be more akin to ‘moderate germans’? Where ‘moderate muslims’ would be more like ‘moderate Nazis’?

    Just to be technical and all..

  18. G A Phillips says:

    Once again, THERE ARE NO MODERATE MUSLIMS JUST NON-BELIEVERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Bush: War Can’t Be Islam Vs. Christianity…

    If you ever talk to radio yapper Mike Gallagher you shouldn’t bother to say it’s off the record. That won’t……

  20. Tano says:

    Pete,

    The term is “kowtow”, not cow-tow. It comes from the bastardization of a Cantonese phrase (knock head), not from anything bovine.

  21. Pete says:

    Tano, congrats on being able to use wikipedia. My apologies, next time I will fact check the spelling and origen of all words in use prior to posting on such a critically important medium.

  22. just me says:

    There are some moderate muslims, I am not so sure how many of them their are, because they don’t seem to have a real voice.

    Also, some of what appears to be a moderate muslim comes across as a “yes, but . . .” type person. I just don’t think you are all that moderate, if you are too busy pulling the “but” out in order to excuse horrible behavior. I would like to see a lot more condemnation without all the “buts” included.

  23. Anderson says:

    There are some moderate muslims, I am not so sure how many of them their are, because they don’t seem to have a real voice.

    Also, some of what appears to be a moderate muslim comes across as a “yes, but . . .” type person. I just don’t think you are all that moderate, if you are too busy pulling the “but” out in order to excuse horrible behavior. I would like to see a lot more condemnation without all the “buts” included.

    Those grafs work very well with “American” substituted for “Muslim.” I leave the same substitution in the rest of this thread’s uses of “moderate Muslim” as an exercise for the reader.

  24. legion says:

    Pete,
    To address your comments in reverse order,

    No offense, but if they don’t stand up against their own religious zealots, then they are complicit in their violence. I have no sympathy for those who won’t fix their own problems.

    You’re welcome to your opinion, of course, but there are a lot of Germans, Japanese, black South Africans, and American Liberals (to name just a few groups & countries) that would disagree vehemently with you. As Michael notes, it may look easy from the armchair of US freedoms, but standing up to a violent dictatorship takes a little more in the way of cojones than I think you believe.

    I never justified torture. I said that cow-towing to the “radical Muslims” in the hopes that “moderate Muslims” will win out within Islam is a pipe dream, because for the most part the two groups as synonymous.

    And that’s the sort of easy generalization & dehumanization (already mentioned earlier in the thread) that frankly scares me more than terrorism.

    Although, to be fair, you’re not the sort of unthinking zealot I meant to insult in my original comment 🙂

  25. Ahmad says:

    Hi,

    Hmm, I read these comments with interest. Having some across several websites all ranting on about ‘Moderate Muslims’, I believe YOUR definition of one is:

    “A ‘Westernised’ Muslim who turns a blind eye to atrocities committed by Western Governments because he is too obsessed with ‘living it up’ (ie enjoying Western Lifestyles)”

    Presumably Christians in Europe who turned a blind eye to Nazi atrocities against civilians during WWII (ie The Holocaust) were ‘Moderate Christians’

  26. Ray says:

    It seems to me that some people keep referring to people using labels like ‘moderate’ and ‘extreme’ to describe religious followers in an attempt to label terrorists, as if the cause of terrorism is religious in nature and not human in nature. I don’t know if this has been pointed out before, but Islam seems to be going through the same type of militancy period that Christianity went through hundreds of years ago.

    From what I have come to understand about any religion is that all religions seem to go through this militancy period before the followers of that religion discover that this militancy is actually regressive in it’s nature and that militancy eventually disappears from any given religion. That brings up the question: Why this period of militancy?

    I believe that militancy of this type is not based on religion per say, it’s based on the very human need to control. That need always seems to include using fear and intimidation to force that control on an unwilling population, especially early in it’s history. Look at the early forms of governments in history, most of them used force and intimidation to achieve and maintain control. The Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, kings, emperors, etc., all have used terror early in their history to achieve and maintain control. Even democracy had it’s militant period as shown in the idea of manifest destiny. This seems to be a part of human development, the need to use terror to control.

    Although I’m not stating that terror is unavoidable in any human system, we need to recognize that terror tactics follow a definite pattern and that eventually that tactic will not be effective and will stop being used. That will only occur if we show that these tactics will not work to force us to change our system of government, our religious believes, and our human relations. The more we fight against these tactics, the less effective these tactics become. Eventually these tactics will show themselves to be useless, but only if we do not allow these tactics to undermine our resolve. Fighting back against terrorism is a valid tactic and does work, why else do you think the terrorist attacks in this country has not lead to chaos and upheaval? By fighting back, using both military and civilian resources, we show that terrorist tactics have no effect on our will and our resolve.

    That idea is slowly becoming apparent in places like Iraq, where the insurgents have turn their tactics from fighting the US troops to attacking the Iraqi population. After all, Saddam and his tyrannical government ‘proved’ to the insurgents that terror is an effective means of control in Iraq. What the terrorists do not realise is that the Iraqi people are no longer intimidated by these tactics, as is show in the fact that Iraq has not, as yet, fallen into civil war and chaos. It looks to me that the Iraqi people are tired of these attacks and are actively rebuilding their government despite continued attacks.

    The Iraqi people are fighting back against terrorism. That’s a very good sign for it shows that terrorist tactics no longer have the desired effect of using fear and intimidation as a means of control. In other words, terrorism is no longer working in Iraq. The terrorists are loosing, they have no control over the population. Despite all the bombings, despite all the be-headings, despite all the attacks on civilian targets, the Iraqi people have not given in to the terrorists and I don’t think that they will give up in their desire to rebuild their government and their country. As long as other countries are willing to help them, the Iraqi people will be victorious in their fight against terrorism.

    Other countries are beginning to realise this as well. Several countries that have ignored, or worse yet, actively assisted terrorist tactics are beginning to observe the lack of effectiveness in terrorism in Iraq and are beginning to realise that terrorist tactics are losing their effect. Several countries now actively suppress terrorists, and terrorism is losing it’s appeal, so to speak. I see this as a positive trend and, with the help of the rest of the civilised world, terrorism will cease being used as a means of control for the majority of countries in the world.

    Although terrorism will never completely disappear, it will no longer be used as a means of control over large populations. It will take decades to remove terrorism as a tactic of warfare, but that end will occur. Will it be easy? No, but the alternative, that terrorism is a valid form of warfare, is too terrible to be allowed.

  27. Bithead says:

    Successive British Governments fought the IRA for 30 years without one member of parliament ever suggesting that torture was needed

    The time is come and gone to ask yourself two things ; first you really believe that story, and secondly assuming it’s true how many mean less people would have died if the interrogation methods that you oppose so violently had been used?

  28. Michael says:

    Bithead,
    Since you believe so strongly that abusive interrogations produce useful information, obviously you have at least one example to validate that belief. Won’t you please enlighten us as to when such abusive measures have produced actual results, other than in the latest episode of “24”?

  29. Bandit says:

    ‘induced hypothermia; forcing suspects to stand for prolonged periods; sleep deprivation; a technique called “the attention grab” where a suspect’s shirt is forcefully seized; the “attention slap” or open hand slapping that hurts but does not lead to physical damage; the “belly slap”; and sound and light manipulation.’

    A lot like being run thru an industrial shredder or being beheaded. No ouchies for terrorists.

  30. Anderson says:

    Sigh. Forced standing is torture–it causes the feet & ankles to swell to double-size, can cause the heart to race, & eventually causes kidney failure. The CIA learned this from researchers it paid in the 1950s, in developing its own copy-the-Soviets torture manual.

    Hypothermia is torture, we’ve killed someone using it. And if you don’t think being doused with cold water repeatedly, while being kept at 50 degrees F, is torture, well, try it on your kids sometime.

    Sleep deprivation is torture, and a particularly unreliable version. Keep someone awake for 48 or 72 hours, and they’ll confess to whatever you want, so long as you’ll let them sleep. (Starving people & denying them water is obviously torture; why people think denying another basic human need, sleep, is okay, I dunno.)

    As for hitting people within carefully defined limits … well, how long do you think those limits will last, if the guy still won’t talk?

  31. Michael says:

    Bandit,
    Honestly now, do you really think that shirt grabbing and slapping is going to make an evil terrorist spill his guts about all of his godly plans?

    Either terrorists are determined, hardened, evil people who will not talk unless pushed to extremes just short of serious organ failure, or we’re not really torturing them and they’re just weaklings who will crack as soon as they are made uncomfortable. You can’t play both lines at the same time, it just doesn’t add up.

  32. Ahmad says:

    Hi,

    Michael – if the tortured victims were hard-nosed Soviets with decades of experience in coping with torture techniques, then I would agree with your assessment.

    However the people being tortured are ‘Ordinary Joes’ just like you, but with a different slightly different belief-system, who are suddenly being accused of ‘terrorism against USA’. A lot of these people have been so TOTALLY frightened at the mere threat of torture that they’ve willingly accepted all the accusations thrown at them.

    This is why questions are being asked about the effectiveness of torture to extract vital information to prevent acts of terrorism

  33. Michael says:

    Ahmad,
    You agree with my assessment either way, actually. You claim that these detainees are not “hard-nosed”, therefore we don’t need to use soviet-era torture to get them to talk, therefore there should be no objection to banning the use of such techniques.

    Again, on the other side of the debate, they are “hard-nosed” people, therefore we do need torture to get the truth out of them, therefore doing things like slapping them or pushing them around are useless, therefore there should be no strawman arguments about banning the use of such techniques.

    Either way the arguments I see here supporting what is going on in Gitmo and other CIA “secret prisons” are wrong based on their own assumptions. That is the point I was making.

  34. Ahmad says:

    Hi,

    Sorry Michael you’re right, I had to read your post a few times to understand its implications. However, if people are [inadvertantly] playing both lines, this shows how effective the Neo-Con propaganda has been in deceiving ‘Ordinary Joes’into believing they’re acting in the best interests of USA.

  35. carla says:

    The problem really is the rule of law. Some break the law and some others (government, lawful, etc.) have to enforce the law. Those who personally do not govern themselves internally by law, have to be governed externally by law. Nationally, or rather worldwide in this case, is largely determined by the players involved. Anyone can obey reasonable law (a freedom perspective), at least outwardly. The world at large is mostly concerned with the outward compliance and the rule of law is something that will continue to be needed. A “maintenance” attitude (LadyBird Johnson’s attitude about life)is necessary as men break laws. That is what began the war in the first place (remember Mr. Clinton and flyover enforcement). It has been going on for a very long, long time. Time passed does not make something okay or not okay. Enforcing the law is the responsible thing to do… If no laws are broken, what’s the problem?
    Pre-emptive attitudes–something I am generally not for because of the Salem attitudes of early years in America but–are like a parent finding their child about to do harm in some way and needing to interrupt their plans. You can talk about what is the right procedure (how much evidence, etc.) to tackle that kind of thing, but the need to enforce the law is still real.
    Well, my 2 cents worth,

  36. Ahmad says:

    Hi,

    Carla – what happens if the Government itself is breaking [every] law [in the American Constitution] in a desperate bid to cling onto power, because these people believe they have some divine right to rule?

    What if there is NO ‘War on Terror’, and all this ‘Islamic Fundamentalism’ stuff and ‘Patriot Act’ etc are all components of a complex strategy employed by The Republicans to hoodwink the US public and scare them into thinking ‘there are baddies out there and ONLY the Republicans can stop them’?

    If tomorrow the US public discovers The Republicans have been employing massive fraud and mass-murder on a global scale just to remain in power, how would YOU react?

  37. Ahmad says:

    Hi,

    And Carla, I was in the process of proving these Republicans ARE massive fraudsters when I was suddenly DOSed (Denial of Service) – just as the Egyptian Pharoah used every possible trick to remain in power, so [apparently] are these people, since they believe they are ‘superior’ to all the rest of us ‘subhumans’.

  38. Ahmad says:

    Hi,

    In short, US Democracy has been hijacked by a group of extremely ruthless b*stards called Neo-Cons – short for Neo-CONFEDERATES.

    The Southern States never accepted defeat in the American Civil War, and now they’ve taken revenge by consuming the very Republican Party that declared war on the [Southern] White Supremacist based Master-Slave Economy, and through them they grabbed the White House. After that they viciously abused and manipulated the global respect for USA by having the entire world dancing to their ‘Islamic Fundamentalist’ tune.

    How ruthless are these people? Well, their ‘Shock and Awe’ strategy of clinging onto power started with the destruction of the WTC. I was slowly gathering my evidence for all of this when I was suddenly whacked with a DOS.

  39. Ahmad says:

    Hi,

    And you can substitute ‘subhuman’ for ‘slave’ (from Master-Slave).

  40. carla says:

    you wrote:
    >Carla – what happens if the Government itself is breaking [every] law [in the American Constitution] in a desperate bid to cling onto power, because these people believe they have some divine right to rule?What if there is NO ‘War on Terror’, and all this ‘Islamic Fundamentalism’ stuff and ‘Patriot Act’ etc are all components of a complex strategy employed by The Republicans to hoodwink the US public and scare them into thinking ‘there are baddies out there and ONLY the Republicans can stop them’?If tomorrow the US public discovers The Republicans have been employing massive fraud and mass-murder on a global scale just to remain in power, how would YOU react?

  41. Ahmad says:

    Hi,

    What’s the matter Mr President? You’re not singing anymore!

    How long did you think you could hide your White-Supremacist ‘Neo-Confederate’ roots?

    How long did you think you could hide your affiliation to the White-Supremacist ‘Skull and Cross-Bones’ Club?

    How long did you think the White-Supremacist hijacking of the Republican Party (which occurred soon after the Nixon-Watergate debacle) could remain hidden?

    We BOTH know I’ve been a thorn in your neck since the ’04 Elections, and you’ve been receiving EVERY post I’ve sent (including this one), and all my relevant hard disk data.

    There’s ONLY one thing remaining – to see you AND your Neo-Confederate Co-Conspirators shackled in the Hague awaiting execution for crimes against humanity.

    As Nixon was the first President to resign, you (insha-Allah) will be the first to be executed

  42. Ahmad says:

    Hi,

    And Finally Mr President, killing us ‘SubHumans’ is NOT a cool way of rebuilding the Texas economy. Unlike the Jews of Nazi-Germany, we will NOT stay quiet and ‘accept our fate’.

    There are 1+ billion Muslims in the world. You would do well to interpret that as ‘1+ billion warriors ready for action’. Know your enemy – its taken us 5 years to identify ours.

  43. Ahmad says:

    Hi,

    What’s the matter Mr President? Still trying to work out a way of DoSing me?

    Are you shocked by the way I’m breaking all your ‘War on Terror’ intellectual weapons?

    Didn’t I say the ONLY way to win this war was through ‘Intellectual Jihad’?

    I have to admit your strategy of throwing all these red herrings onto the chessboard (you know, like Ruth Kelly & ‘Opus Dei’, Tony Blair etc) just to confuse us, this strategy was quite BRILLIANT. And I apologise profusely for humiliating them but this was necessary in order to remove them from the ‘gameboard’ so I could identify the REAL enemy. Once you admitted defeat in the ‘Christianity vs Islam’ red herring, it was only a matter of time before I uncovered the ‘Confederate’ link. And after that, it was ‘Game Over’ for you.

    Let this be a lesson for you President [Neo-Confederate White-Supermacist Kafir] Bush, that the Kafir plans and Allah Plans, and Allah is ALWAYS the Best of Planners

    I noticed a previous post had been removed. That’s a pity, because its VERY tame compared with another I have in mind (just in case you start spewing out ‘Islamic Fundamentalism Fascism’ and ‘War On Terror’ garbage again).

    You’ve been warned!