On Sept. 11, the United States was attacked by suicidal/homicidal terrorists engaged in what they call a jihad, a religious war against ''the hated infidels.'' Almost daily, suicidal/homicidal terrorists attack Israel as part of what they call a jihad, a religious war against ''the hated infidels.''
These terrorists, as well as those who slaughter moderate Muslims in Turkey and Algeria, Christians in Nigeria and the Philippines and Hindus in India, all subscribe to the same twisted ideology. As Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said earlier this week, ''Murderers are not martyrs; targeting civilians is immoral, whatever the excuse.'' The war the terrorists have declared, he added, is a ''war on civilization.''
It is the United States' difficult duty to defend civilization, to fight back against terrorism and the ''jihadist'' ideology that drives so much of it. Fortunately, we have comrades in arms. In the Middle East, Israel is the most reliable -- and valuable.
Consider the region's other nations. Iran and Iraq are terrorist-sponsoring regimes attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction. Is there anyone who still believes that if Saddam Hussein gets his hands on nuclear or biological weapons, he won't give them to terrorists to use against us?
Syria is the cordial host to any number of terrorist organizations. And it occupies and controls the formerly independent nation of Lebanon, where the Bekka Valley is to terrorism what Nashville is to country music.
Saudi Arabia is an important trading partner, but the distressing truth is that the Saudis have used their fantastic oil wealth to pay protection money to terrorists and to spread hatred and intolerance around the world.
Then there's Yasser Arafat, who has spent money donated to him by the U.S. and Europe to buy explosives for suicide bombers, even as he was earnestly telling us he was doing his best to extirpate terrorism from the territories, territories Israel turned over to him in 1994 in a land-for-peace deal.
There is no easy way to win the war against terrorism. But there is an easy way to lose it: Reward terrorism, appease the terrorists, demonstrate that sometimes, at least, terrorism can and does succeed.
As President Bush eloquently stated recently, ''There can be no peace in a world where differences and grievances become an excuse to target the innocent for murder.''