Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she dislikes the use of the phrase “war on terror,” arguing that it makes terrorists look like warriors.
“For me, I’ve had a very hard time with the vocabulary of all of this and I have not liked the words ‘war on terror’ because it makes those that are fighting us warriors when they are actually just murderers and they get a greater kind of reverence in their societies if we make warriors out of them. They are murderers, plain and simple,” Albright said during a discussion about religion, peace and world affairs at Georgetown University.
While she did not mention any presidential candidates by name, Albright criticized Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. as a way to combat Islamic extremism.
“The challenge for us is to harness the unifying potential of faith while containing its capacity to divide. Now this is not easy to do, particularly in a political season where candidates are vilifying Muslims and exploiting the fear factor. The irony with all of this is that Daesh [ISIS] is the one that wants to divide the world along religious lines,” she said.
“We should not play into their game by provoking a clash of civilizations or leading Muslims to believe they are under attack by the West, but that is what happens when we suggest that our country should shut our borders to Muslims or patrol the streets of Muslim-American neighborhoods,” she added.
Albright said Americans must remember that the first rule in public life is to “frame the choice.”
“We will win if people believe the great divide in the world is between those who believe it is OK to murder innocent people and those who think it is wrong – between terrorists and those who are not terrorists,” Albright said.
“We will be in for a very long struggle if people believe the choice is between the supporters and defenders of Islam. This is precisely the fight that Daesh wants to have, but the truth is when Muslims commit terrorist attacks they are not practicing their faith – they are betraying it,” she added.
Albright repeated a message she conveyed in the past at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on engaging Muslims.
“In the end, both the Bible and the Quran include enough rhetorical ammunition to start a war and enough moral uplift to engender permanent peace,” she said.