I was reminded of this post on reading Feith’s War and Decision. The problem for him was:
“Pres Bush … the United States was in no way at war with the religion of Islam. The extremist ideology we were fighting was that of an international network – in the nature of a political movement – that selectively uses Islamic ideas and vocabulary to put itself at war, not only with all non-Muslims but with virtually all Muslims too.”
What a distortion of the truth!
Even so he realized as did Rumsfield that “ideas – information, influence ideology – could contribute decisively to our ultimate success, even more than military, intelligence or police actions could.” He asks “what could we do to encourage Muslims to speak openly against the extremists’ views and to make extremist ideology less attractive?” “Who were (or might become) the most influential voices to oppose Jihadist violence?”
They were on the right track about what was needed to be done, assuming such people could be found. But this was the responsibility of State and neither Powell nor Armitage had any interest in pursuing it. They said “nothing could be done to push back against Jihadist extremism until we resolved terrorism’s “root causes” defined as economic despair and the Arab-Israel conflict.” Is it possible to be so stupid in high places?
Nevertheless Feith created the Office of Strategic Influence to take up the slack but a turf war with State ensued and it died an early death.
By Ted Belman (written in June 11/11)
Four years ago I wrote America’s Limited Options. In it, I duscussed what I thought the US should do regarding moderate Muslims.
Bush has taken the first step by dropping the use of the phrase “war on terror” and now refers to the battle “as a global war of ideology against a network of terrorists”. He remains unwilling to finger the Saudi support for the Wahhabist ideology which leads to terrorism. To talk about root causes of terror, that has to rank way up there.
The Rand Corporation issued a major report, Building Moderate Muslim Networks in which they advocated that
“the United States must do more to develop and support networks of moderate Muslims who are too often silenced by violent radical Islamists.”“Instead of focusing on the Middle East, where most of the radical Islamic thought originates and is firmly entrenched, the report recommends reaching out to activists, leaders and intellectuals in Turkey, Southeast Asia, Europe and other open societies. The goal of this outreach would be to reverse the flow of ideas and have more democratic ideas flow back to the less fertile ground for moderate network-building of the Middle East.
“Partners in this network-building effort should be those who share key dimensions of democratic culture, the study says. The report recommends targeting five groups as potential building blocks for networks: liberal and secular Muslim academics and intellectuals; young moderate religious scholars; community activists; women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns; and moderate journalists and scholars”.Daniel Pipes has long insisted that “radical Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution”. In support of this report he wrote Bolstering Moderate Muslims and A Million Moderate Muslims on the March and he is joined by others in this opinion, including The Hudson Institute.
Having said that, there are many, including Andrew Bostom and Hirsi Ali, who discount the potential of this effort succeeding either because of intimidation or because the “moderates “ are so few in number. (See also Alyssa Lappen’s Moderate and Radical Muslims: the Confused PBS View )
Perhaps the last word goes to Fjordman who in his column, Do we want an Islamic Reformation? wrote
“The only way you could, even theoretically, create a peaceful, tolerant Islam would be to permanently ignore all teachings, contained in the Koran, the hadith and the sira, originating from the violent Medina period. I doubt whether this is practically possible, and even if it was, it would mean that Muslims quite literally have to get rid of half of the Koran, which again means that Mr. Wilder is correct.”Nevertheless, I submit that such an effort as laid out by Rand Institute must be encouraged and supported with billions of dollars. But nothing short of a reformation of Islam will do. Islam must excise the odious (to the western mind at least) elements.
Secondly, it stands to reason that if the US is going to work actively to support the reformation of Islam, it must at the same time work to undermine contrary forces and influences. Laws must be passed which outlaws Islamists and the preaching of political Islam as subversive. Anyone or group advocating for political Islam must be imprisoned or deported . Political correctness shouldn’t prevent honest criticism of the objectionable aspects of Islam. The exercise of free speech shouldn’t be restricted if it is offensive.
Given the threat Islam poses for Europe, Europe will no doubt be a positive force for this agenda. European officials have already backed a plan to profile mosques, It will now “map out mosques on the continent to identify imams who preach radical Islam that raises the threat of homegrown terrorism.”.. “The project, to be finished by the fall, will focus on the roles of imams, their training, their ability to speak in the local language and their source of funding”
The US must also stop playing footsie with Islamists in Kosovo, Chechnya, Gaza and elsewhere, where it uses them as proxies. The double game must stop.
Thirdly, the US must adopt a policy of containment of Iran. Iran must be prevented from developing nuclear bombs and expanding its influence. Furthermore the US must abandon the idea of getting the regime to change and instead, getting Iranians to change the regime.
Fourthly, Israel should be strengthened not weakened. Peace will only come by changing the paradigm. (See my article in Israpundit, The ‘peace process’ is in need of a paradigm shift ) Instead of clamouring for political rights, i.e., a two state solution, the US should pursue an humanitarian solution as described by the Jerusalem Summit. Such a solution would involve disbanding UNRWA and dealing with Arab refugees under UNHCR as all other refugees are dealt with. The former serves to perpetuate the problem whereas the latter solves the problem.
Fifthly, assuming a unified Iraq cannot be stabilized, the US should support a federated Iraq where oil revenues are shared but with considerable autonomy to each group. If not it should support independence for Kurdistan, including Kirkup. The US forces in Iraq should then be redeployed to Kurdistan. The US should work to achieve an accommodation between Turkey and the Kurds and make certain that Kurdistan is an ally of the US and not Iran. Furthermore the US should support the secularists in Turkey rather than Erdogan.
The debate currently in the US is about when to bring the boys home. It should be about how to win. The course of action I have laid out has a reasonable chance for success. It should be pursued with resolve.