Politicians of all political stripes have for years been dancing around the issue. They say we are at war with "terrorism" or "radical" Islam. But do today's events not show that the term "radical Islam" is redundant, and that if not a majority than a huge minority of Muslims in the Arab world do consider themselves to be at war with the US and the West?
Few American politicians will have the courage to say that what we are witnessing is nothing more than the centuries-old battle between Islam and western civilization, between freedom and tyranny, between darkness and light.
But the images from across the Middle East and North Africa say what the politicians won't.
All that remains is to hear how Barack Obama tries to spin the massive outbreak of anti-western violence into something that we in the civilized world bear responsibility for. And perhaps to hear if Mitt Romney can finally put together a cogent and compelling foreign policy position which resonates with American voters.
Here's one suggestion for Mitt: "There is no excuse for responding to a YouTube video with murder, and no excuse for those who would suggest that the responsibility lies with anyone but the violent mobs on the streets of Cairo, Benghazi, Sana'a, and Tunis. There is no excuse for political leaders in those countries who do not bring every law enforcement asset they have to protect foreign diplomats and foreign service personnel. Unlike Barack Obama, I understand that the murderous radicals who have yet again shown their true intentions and their increasing strength must be opposed, not appeased."
Politically, although this is of a far lower concern than the safety of all of those under threat, the events in the Middle East could be very damaging to Barack Obama, but only if the Romney-Ryan team can put together a message that essentially turns Barack Obama into Jimmy Carter. It is a perfectly legitimate comparison, but one which has not been effectively made by the campaign. Furthermore, the Republican ticket must fire back Gingrich-like against reporters who try to make the story about Romney and Ryan when the real story is about the blood on the streets and the weak, feckless president who emboldens our enemies.
Let me put it to you directly: We are at war with Islam itself, not just "radical Islam" even if not at war with every Muslim. (I'm reading the Koran right now and understanding better with each page -- as if reading Geert Wilders' book hadn't explained this well enough -- that any Muslim who isn't "radical" is simply not closely adhering to his religion.)
This is not just a matter of words. It is a matter of understanding the fundamental situation in which we find ourselves so that the nation (and our allies) can adopt policies which match that situation. Pretending that any Muslim government is an ally of the West is not just foolish, it is dangerous. Some are better than others, but every one would push a button to eliminate the United States if such a button existed.
If we escape the current violence with no more deaths, it could be a relatively inexpensive lesson (though still too expensive for those lost and for their families) to open the West's eyes, though I do not hold out much hope that the current government of the United States or of most European countries will actually learn the lesson.
In the meantime, my thoughts are with those Americans living in mortal fear across the Muslim world.