Sam Harris: Yes, it is a war with Islam

Prerna flagged an alarming poll on Tuesday showing that publics in four Muslim countries overwhelmingly believe that the United States aims to weaken Islam.

Yesterday I discovered that atheist author Sam Harris, never one to shy away from controversial arguments, had weighed in several years ago to say, "yes indeedy."

It is time we admitted that we are not at war with "terrorism." We are at war with Islam. This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims, but we are absolutely at war with the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran. The only reason Muslim fundamentalism is a threat to us is because the fundamentals of Islam are a threat to us. Every American should read the Koran and discover the relentlessness with which non-Muslims are vilified in its pages. The idea that Islam is a "peaceful religion hijacked by extremists" is a dangerous fantasy — and it is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for Muslims to indulge.
I agree that one can find plenty of problematic material in the Koran, and yet, only recently has this religion that is over a thousand years old become such a problem. What's changed? Saudi money has tipped the scales in favor of a more intolerant strain of Islam, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has festered, and rapid urbanization in Arab countries has brought rural migrants into contact with aspects of Western culture that they reject. What do you think? 

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Morning Brief, Thursday, April 26

Europe

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U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Russian fears about a U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe are "purely ludicrous." Her remarks followed after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension of a European treaty on conventional arms during a pugnacious state of the union address, which he said would be his last.

So much for losing gracefully: Centrist also-ran François Bayrou evidently considers Nicolas Sarkozy a budding dictator and Ségolène Royal an economic moron, so he's not endorsing either candidate for the French presidency.

Tony Blair has yet to collect his Congressional Medal of Honor from the United States. Why? Because he doesn't want to look like "some sort of poodle," says Britain's ambassador to Washington.

Middle East

By a vote of 218-210, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure ordering the president to begin withdrawing from Iraq by October 1. In Iraq, there's been little progress on key political benchmarks. 

The ex-commander of a U.S. detention facility in Iraq faces charges for "aiding the enemy," among other things. 

This just in: Saudi Arabia isn't making progress on political reform.

Asia

Japan's largest trading partner is now China, not the United States. China says it's not going to be number one in greenhouse gas emissions, however.

They deserve each other: North Korea and Myanmar are making nice

Osama bin Laden is alive, says a top Taliban commander. 

Elsewhere

Carbon credits are often no good, the Financial Times reports after a thorough investigation.

Famous last words? Somalia's prime minister is ready to declare victory over Islamist insurgents. Nearly 340,000 people have fled the Somali capital since the fighting began.

Paul Wolfowitz and his new lawyer are fighting back aggressively against efforts to oust the World Bank president.

Oil prices are down, but corn prices are up due to weather concerns. 

Yesterday on Passport