Why Do They Hate Us? They Just Do

In the 1970s my mother, a brilliant, highly self-educated student of world history and geopolitics, said, “Susan, mark my words, the next world war will be fought in the Middle East.” I was still in my 20s at the time, and gave her that blank look you give when you’re out your depth.

I think about her words today (yes, marked them) as barbaric terrorist acts play out across the globe with radical jihadist groups increasingly better coordinated, financed and tech-smart. With the most prominent terror groups, Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaida, hell-bent on claiming the White House, can another 9-11 type attack be imminent?

The terrorist executions at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and the deadly hostage siege in a Jewish kosher grocery store demonstrated an escalation of attacks in nations previously “unbaptized” by actualized terrorist plots. On Dec. 15, an Islamic extremist took siege on a popular downtown Sydney café, holding Australians hostage for 16 hours and ending in the deaths of two hostages and the terrorist. Before that, it was a lone wolf attack in Canada. But, for us in Hawaii, the 2005 deadly bombing at a Bali resort and the 2011 series of bombings in Mumbai, India, starkly remind us of our vulnerabilities: extensive shorelines, crowded hotels and an iconic symbol: Waikiki Beach.

A useless yet oft-asked question — “Why do they hate us?” — has a simple answer that my mother, who would’ve been 100 this year, knew, having studied Islamic history. Islam means submission (to the will of God), but this precept in the world of radical Islamic extremism translates as death to non-Muslims. They “hate” us simply because we have not submitted to Islam. According to Islamic scholars, the world is divided into two groups: the House of Islam (dar al-Islam), nations submitted to Islamic rule, and the House of War (dar al-harb), nations that have not submitted to Islam. It is incumbent on dar al-Islam to make war upon dar al-harb until all nations submit to the will of Allah and accept Sharia law.

It’s such vacuous and naïve thinking that presumes we have done something to them. This thinking is in part why it’s taken western nations forever to wake up and smell the bomb smoke.

For more than 40 years, many radical Islamic groups have declared war against the West, a truth driven home Sept. 11, 2001. Their ultimate goal to create a caliphate (form of Islamic government led by a caliph or spiritual leader) in the U.S. isn’t an ambivalent threat. Yet our government leaders appear ambivalent, even disinterested, as evidenced by the humiliating blunder of not attending last week’s unity rally in France, a real blow to our world standing. Also, releasing prisoners from Guantanamo as we’re doing at a rapid pace is seen as appeasement, a vain hope of gaining favor.

Because of ideology, appeasement can never work. France proved that. For years France has granted immunity from French law dozens of Sharia law-governed Muslim enclaves (autonomous Muslim states within France) called “No Go” zones, ideal breeding grounds for terror cells. Some foreign-policy experts directly predict it’s too late for France, despite a fiery speech by French Prime Minister Valls: “The country is at war against radical Islam. We are at war — not a war against a religion, not a war against a civilization, but to defend our values, which are universal. It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity… Our indignation must be clear, total and last longer than three days. It must be permanent.”

Can we learn the lessons of France, forget appeasing those already in the U.S. who support radical Islam and stop letting them grow so strong that we too must eventually fight an enemy within?

We well may be on the periphery of World War III. Aren’t mothers always right?