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Just after the United States invaded Afghanistan, a series of amusing cartoon panels made the rounds of the internet. Under the heading "What if the Taliban Wins?" were drawings depicting the Statue of Liberty, her face covered with a veil; a giant mosque rising where the World Trade Center stood; and an out-of-work President Bush selling fruit on the street.

While the panels were funny—after all, we knew we would easily rout the Taliban—the question of which culture will ultimately prevail is a deadly serious one. Six years ago, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington, in The Clash of Civilizations, argued that the world is divided not so much by geographic boundaries as by religious differences. Huntington predicted that in the 21st century, the great clash would occur between Islam and the West—and that Islam will ultimately prevail.

Of course he's wrong about Islam winning. Or is he?

For the answer, we must examine two things: the motivations of those waging a terror war on the West and the lessons of history. As Charles Krauthammer writes in Townhall the obvious reasons Islam is fighting "the great jihad" against the United States are religion, ideology, political power, and territory. But "this is also about—deeply about—sex." The jihadists claim that wherever freedom travels—"especially in America and Europe—it brings sexual license and corruption, decadence and depravity."

CT managing editor Mark Galli made the same point in these pages soon after 9/11. Islamic militants are angry at the West, he said, for exporting "hedonism and materialism into their very homes through television, enticing Muslims to become religiously lazy and morally corrupt." Galli quoted a 1985 communiqué from the terrorist group Hezbollah: "Our way ...

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October 2004

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