IN the hit movie Zero Dark Thirty and in the popular TV series Homeland the point is dramatically made that there is a war on and that it will last "for a hundred years".
That war is not like any we've seen before. It is not a 'War on Terror'. Neither is it a 'War on Islam'. For too long and too often it has been misleadingly described as such.
It is a war against a religious tyranny that has claimed many lives. Among the victims were Irish people over the skies of Manhattan on 9/11, on the London Underground on 7/7 and also in the killing fields of Iraq.
Despite these casualties, it is a war we in Ireland don't pay that much attention to.
But with the Government's decision to commit Irish soldiers to the mission to Mali is a war that may come to our shores in some shape or form.
The move, announced last week, marks an end to Irish neutrality as we have known it – and about time too. Since the 1930s, we have sat on the sidelines in the epic global struggles waged against Hitler's Nazis and later the threat posed to democratic freedoms by Stalin and his communist successors.
Now we face another totalitarian challenge. Our foe is every bit as ruthless as the Gestapo and every bit as devious as the KGB. Like Stalin and Hitler, the thugs who kill in the name of Islam seek to rule the world.
In Mali we have made our first tentative steps in declaring that we will play our small part in standing up for the freedoms we too often take for granted.
By assisting the Malian Army in opposing these zealots, we may see the liberties we enjoy take hold and spread.
Certainly the reaction on the dusty ancient streets of Timbuktu to the French Army's liberation of the city was one of joy. The citizens of Timbuktu are Muslims but for nearly a year they were subject to a harsh sharia law regime that banned their music and beat their women. Our soldiers are going there to strengthen the locals to ward off the return of their tormentors.
Geography spared us from the horrors of the cataclysms of the 20th century. But there is no safe place in the world today.
In 1979 the dictatorship of the Shah of Iran was overthrown. His successor, the Ayatollah Khomeini, hated the notion of democracy and the culture of the West and launched a revolution that destabilised the Muslim world. The Ayatollah unleashed fanatical forces that were set on a collision course with the Great Satan – America.
The success of the Mullahs in setting up a radical Islamic Republic was a turning point every bit as profound as the French Revolution. It inspired others to plot and plan and fight for an Islamic caliphate across the globe. The most violently persistent agent of that fantastic quest is al-Qa'ida.
Together, the rogue state of Iran and the worldwide revolutionary vanguard of Islamist terrorists of al-Qa'ida pose a clear and present danger to every democratic society – including Ireland. Mali is a long way from Mallow but it is in our Republic's interests to do what little we can to weaken the enemies of the people who want to play music, hang out with their boyfriends and let their girls go to school.
Despite the predictable calls from the Irish ultra left to stay away and stay safe, sending eight soldiers to stand shoulder to shoulder with troops from other countries including Britain, is doing the right thing by the ordinary people of Mali.
Today the frontline is the desert of Northern Mali. Tomorrow it could be a lot closer to home. From Afghanistan to London, Algeria to Madrid, Nigeria to New York, there is a concerted offensive with the aim of turning the world upside down. The goal is to conquer not only the Muslim world but to install a terrifying new world order based on a puritanical interpretation of the Koran.
A kidnapping in Cameroon, a bomb plot in Birmingham, a bomb blast in India – they were just some of the headlines that made the news this week. The common thread is the campaign to establish supremacy over what they contemptuously call "the lovers of life".
A day hardly goes by without some incident somewhere demonstrating the resolve, capacity, and willingness of this worldwide franchise to engage in spectacular murderous operations. These atrocities seek to frighten fellow Muslims into submission. They are also aimed at Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jews and atheists to force them all to succumb to the reactionary rule of the jihadis.
For those who thought events like the liquidation of al-Qa'ida's supreme leader Osama bin Laden, the temporary suppression of the Taliban, and the overthrow of Saddam and Gadaffi had made the world safer – it's time to think again.
This week President Higgins told a UNESCO gathering in Paris that "better dialogue between western intellectuals and moderate Islam" was one of the most urgent issues of our time. The speech went down well. The delegate from Saudi Arabia is reported to have warmly responded to the President's remarks. He had some neck. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the major funders of division between the Muslim world and us.
In April, in Mali, Irish soldiers will make a stand against that murderous hate. That stand will say more than all the speeches ever made by their Commander in the Aras.