Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Terrorism: Things to Do and Not Do

Most of the commentaries to date on the National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism, portions of which have been released by the President ( have focussed on questions such as whether we are "winning" or "losing" the war on terrorism, and whether the war in Iraq is creating more terrorists than it is killing, but there is a more important point made by the NIE that seems to have escaped notice.

The NIE concludes that the "jihadist movement" is spreading among muslims, and will continue to spread "for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate" for the following reasons:

Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement: (1) Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness; (2) the Iraq “jihad;” (3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and (4) pervasive anti-US sentiment among most Muslims—all of which jihadists exploit.

The current policies of the Bush administration actually add to those factors:

1. The U.S. currently supports some of the most corrupt and unjust muslim governments, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and continues to try to exert more and more military power in the mid-east, leading to greater fears of Western domination.

2. The U.S. allows the Iraq jihad to continue by maintaining troops and military operations there.

3. See #1. The U.S. does nothing to help reforms in Muslim nations, and actually hinders reforms through its support of oppressive governments and its attacks on progressive countries. For example, there is real economic and social progress in Iran, which the U.S. is threatening with military action over its nuclear program, and there was real progress in Lebanon until the U.S. allowed (if not supported) the Israeli bombing of southern Lebanon.

4. And why is there anti-U.S. sentiment among Muslims? See #s 1, 2, and 3 above.

The NIE then goes one to present the "vulnerabilites" of the jihadist movement that the U.S. could exploit:

Concomitant vulnerabilities in the jihadist movement have emerged that, if fully exposed and exploited, could begin to slow the spread of the movement. They include dependence on the continuation of Muslim-related conflicts, the limited appeal of the jihadists’ radical ideology, the emergence of respected voices of moderation, and criticism of the violent tactics employed against mostly Muslim citizens.

• The jihadists’ greatest vulnerability is that their ultimate political solution—--an ultra-conservative interpretation of shari’a-based governance spanning the Muslim world--—is unpopular with the vast majority of Muslims. Exposing the religious and political straitjacket that is implied by the jihadists’ propaganda would help to divide them from the audiences they seek to persuade.

• Recent condemnations of violence and extremist religious interpretations by a few notable Muslim clerics signal a trend that could facilitate the growth of a constructive alternative to jihadist ideology: peaceful political activism. This also could lead to the consistent and dynamic participation of broader Muslim communities in rejecting violence, reducing the ability of radicals to capitalize on passive community support. In this way, the Muslim mainstream emerges as the most powerful weapon in the war on terror.

Countering the spread of the jihadist movement will require coordinated multilateral efforts that go well beyond operations to capture or kill terrorist leaders.

(Emphasis added.)

All of the above "vulnerabilies" are political, not military, but the Bush administration's solution to every problem is more military force. And the reason that military action is the only solution is because its the only solution that they believe in, understand, and can unilaterally control.

And when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Which means that the chances of the Bush administration being able to exploit these vulnerabilities range between slim and none, while the chances of the Bush administration continuing the war in Iraq and the other policies in the mid-east that fuel the growth of the jihadist movement are a near certainty.

As noted above, the NIE concludes that the "jihadist movement" is spreading among muslims, and will continue to spread "for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate." Cynic that I am, I immediately wondered if the authors of the NIE were making the subtle (and snide) suggestion that the jihadist movement would continue as long as Bush is President.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

George Bush and the Republicans have convinced some, that America is facing "a new kind of enemy." His believers either don’t, can’t or won’t see yesterday’s Timothy McVeigh and his militia buddies are today’s "Jihadists." And if they can convince people, that all heinous criminals are not equal, they can get away with creating this un-American, unconstitutional, two-tier justice system they jammed through the Congress and they can convince them that everyone that comes under America’s jurisdiction does not deserve the same basic legal protections.

Some Americans I believe are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. According to Wikipedia, Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in an abducted hostage, in which the hostage exhibits loyalty to the hostage-taker, in spite of the danger (or at least risk) in which the hostage has been placed. Stockholm syndrome is also sometimes discussed in reference to other situations with similar tensions, such as battered person syndrome, child abuse cases, and bride kidnapping.

Like battered wives and abused children, some cannot tell that Bush is doing violence to the US Constitution. They rationalize his irrational behavior. They see his hostility toward the Constitution as a show of love for America. They see his destruction of a foreigner’s human rights as an expansion of their human rights. They believe Bush when he tells them that the greatest threat to America are the “Jihadists.” They want to make excuses for him, to look the other way for him, to defend him from those who want to stop his abusive behavior.

Bush should be impeached.