The West at War, edited by Bradley C.S. Watson.
Bradley C.S. Watson, a political science professor at St. Vincent's College, has skillfully assembled eleven essays that examine the current struggle with Islamic jihad from a philosophical perspective too often lacking in other studies. Correctly viewing jihad as an attack on the West and all it stands for, these essays approach the struggle by trying to define the nature of the enemy and the nature of the West, and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of both. Paul Marshall's "Understanding Radical Islam" rightly locates the motives of the jihadists in the history and ideology of Islam, rather than in local grievances such as Palestine or Iraq. Turning to the West, James Kurth and Leon Craig decry the decadence and secularization that have left the West, and especially Europe, vulnerable to the spiritual fervor of Muslim immigrants. But are individualism, democracy, tolerance, and free-market capitalism the true culprits as Kurth and Craig suggest? Other notable essays include David Corey's study of the Christian "just war" tradition, which offers a powerful rebuttal of pacifism; Professor Watson's own "Ethics and Terror," which likewise makes a case for the current war's ethical and moral justification; and Robert Alt's "Media Bias in Iraq," a damning indictment of the way the media's skewed reporting furthers the jihadists' aims.
—Bruce S. Thornton
California State University, Fresno
* * *
This article appeared in the Spring 2007 issue of the Claremont Review of Books