August 01, 2005

Strategic Adjustments

Guy Dinmore, the FT's intrepid man about Washington:

The US is working with Britain and France to undermine the appeal of Muslim extremism by reaching out to moderate groups, in a sign that its counter-terrorism strategy is moving beyond the “war on terror”. US and European officials say the Bush administration's review--expected to lead to a formal declaration of a new national strategy--represents not just a shift to a more multilateralist approach towards foreign policy but also an important development in thinking away from the emphasis on the military.

Already a shift in language has emerged that reflects the new approach. GWOT “the global war on terror” is being replaced in pronouncements by senior US officials by SAVE: the “struggle [or some say “strategy”] against violent extremism”.

Philip Zelikow, special adviser to Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, is leading the effort at the head of a 10-member US committee. Talks began in London and Paris in June with the blessing of the White House.

Mr Zelikow's goal, according to a US official who asked not to be named, was to “develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to discredit and demystify extremists' ideology and promote moderate Islamic voices”.

Zelikow is tight with Condi so this effort is definitively blessed from the very top. This strikes me as smart policy. Not all Islamists are created equal, after all, despite what you read in certain boorish quarters of the blogosphere. To conflate all Islamists as akin to the worst al-Qaeda fanatics is, of course, the height of idiocy (more on this here). I'm not saying anyone in the administration necessarily thought this (though Frumites and such doubtless dimly do), but it's nice to see that words like "sophisticated" and "nuanced" (the horror! the meekness!) appear to matter more in Bush's second term than in the first.

Posted by Gregory at August 1, 2005 01:43 AM | TrackBack (24)
Comments

took em long enough...

Posted by: just me at August 1, 2005 03:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I would prefer "War against Islamic Fascism", but no one listens to me except my creditors. "Struggle against Extremism" sounds like something they focus-grouped.

Posted by: Section9 at August 1, 2005 04:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think the Bush administration has a dilemma. In treating 9-11 and subsequent terrorist attacks as justifications for its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq it violated international and domestic laws, it committed capital crimes. Now, when it seems more likely that their efforts to control the middle east and central asia will not be easy or affordable, they beg to get allies.

The principled thing for anyone to do, if there would be a God in heaven, is for no one to endorse the crimes committed, and let the United States slowly bankrupt itself.

I have the image of Hitler completeing his conquest of Poland France, and parts of eastern Europe, and waking up one day, saying, "Oops.... I guess we'll need some allies to keep our ill gotten gains." The reasonable thing for everyone then to have done would have been to quietly request his government give itself up to international courts for due prosecution.

There will be no likely surrender of Bush officials to any international court. But, we can imagine it so.

What will happen, I suspect, will be a number of governments will decide that they want to get in on the spoils, so they will support the new efforts by Bush to end extremism.

Posted by: steven andresen at August 1, 2005 09:07 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think the Bush administration has a dilemma. In treating 9-11 and subsequent terrorist attacks as justifications for its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq it violated international and domestic laws, it committed capital crimes. Now, when it seems more likely that their efforts to control the middle east and central asia will not be easy or affordable, they beg to get allies.

The principled thing for anyone to do, if there would be a God in heaven, is for no one to endorse the crimes committed, and let the United States slowly bankrupt itself.

I have the image of Hitler completeing his conquest of Poland France, and parts of eastern Europe, and waking up one day, saying, "Oops.... I guess we'll need some allies to keep our ill gotten gains." The reasonable thing for everyone then to have done would have been to quietly request his government give itself up to international courts for due prosecution.

There will be no likely surrender of Bush officials to any international court. But, we can imagine it so.

What will happen, I suspect, will be a number of governments will decide that they want to get in on the spoils, so they will support the new efforts by Bush to end extremism.

Posted by: steven andresen at August 1, 2005 09:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Will we see any apology toward the "leftists" like myself who have been advocating this approach for the last five years in the wake of 9-11, and been slammed as "anti-American", and "pro-terrorist" by the right-wingers who frequent this blog?

Will you finally be looking to the left for ideas and WISDOM and understanding about what is really going on here --- or will you continue to pursue your knee-jerk support for all things right-wing until you are once again drowning in a river of blood and failure?

I'm not holding my breath....

Posted by: p.lukasiak at August 1, 2005 12:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


This is good news and reflects the more realist/multilateralist instincts of Condi and Hadley. Still time for Rummy or Cheney to screw it up.

P.S. for Luka: the idea that there is a liberal-conservative division of foreign policy (or CT strategy) is naive. There are multiple axis across the parties including unilateralist-multilateralist, idealist-realist, soft power-hard power. Your credibility on this board is near nil because you are more interested in scoring points for your bias than offering insight.

Posted by: POTUS B at August 1, 2005 04:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I look at this more as an issue of priorities rather than whether the problem existed or not.

When you purchase an old house, you can either start painting and wallpapering to make it feel more like yours or live with the hideous wallpaper knowing you’ll have to jack up the house to fix the foundation, invariably causing cracks in the walls which must be repaired later.

No rational person believed we wouldn’t have to address the economic, political and social issues that create the conditions for terrorism. The question was whether military action needed to be part of the solution and at what time in the process should military action be taken.

It’s not an either/or effort; no dramatic change has occurred and no apologies are necessary. However, I’m happy to see the next phase of the effort beginning, as it aligns with the new opportunities for European cooperation created by the London bombings and the upcoming European elections.

Posted by: kevin at August 1, 2005 05:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

P.S. for Luka: the idea that there is a liberal-conservative division of foreign policy (or CT strategy) is naive. There are multiple axis across the parties including unilateralist-multilateralist, idealist-realist, soft power-hard power.

Bullshit. Just about the only people speaking out against the militarist approach to Bush's "war on terror" from the start were those of us on the far left. The rest of you were too freaked out by 9-11 to do anything but follow the Bush approach like lemmings --- right off the cliff and into the Iraq bloodbath.

How many Republicans voted against the Iraq War resolution?

Its not about scoring points, its about pointing out that you people didn't know what the hell was going on, and WE did, and maybe you should listen to what we have to say about what is going on NOW --- rather than "scoring points" by questioning people's credibility.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at August 1, 2005 07:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Luka –

POTUS B is correct. For example Pat Buchanan argued against OIF, so he's in your camp as well.

To answer your question, one Republican Senator voted against the resolution:

Chafee (R-RI), Nay

And many Democratic Senators – a virtual who’s who of the Democratic Party – voted for it:

Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Biden (D-DE), Yea
Breaux (D-LA), Yea
Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Carnahan (D-MO), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Cleland (D-GA), Yea
Clinton (D-NY), Yea
Daschle (D-SD), Yea
Dodd (D-CT), Yea
Dorgan (D-ND), Yea
Edwards (D-NC), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Harkin (D-IA), Yea
Hollings (D-SC), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kerry (D-MA), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lieberman (D-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Miller (D-GA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Torricelli (D-NJ), Yea

And of course one famous Senator who voted for the war and later against it…

Posted by: kevin at August 1, 2005 11:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

kevin... Chafee is the the most liberal Republican in the Senate (ever since Jeffords got fed up with Bushco) And my point (which you obviously missed) was not that DEMOCRATS opposed the war, but that the left/far left opposed it --- and were pilloried for being right while you (and everyone from the "moderate wing" of the Democratic Party to all but a miniscule number of Republicans) were cheering on this bloodbath. We were right --- and maybe you should start taking what we had to say more seriously, rather than trying to score "points"

and Pat Buchanan? puhleez.... I'm sure lyndon larouche was also opposed to the Operation Iraqi Liberation.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at August 2, 2005 03:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Luka –

And my point (which you obviously missed) was not that DEMOCRATS opposed the war, but that the left/far left opposed it…

No, actually I did address your point. I’ll do it again.

Based on the votes in the Senate, the Left didn’t really oppose the war.

The Far Left opposes any armed conflict, so they can hardly be thought of insightful with regard to opposing any specific conflict. A stopped clock is correct twice a day.

So LaRouche opposing OIF isn’t news, it’s every bit a “dog bites man” story.

POTUS B is still correct, however. It’s not a Left/Right split. It’s a Pacifist/Realist/idealist thing and there are plenty of Pacifists and Realists on the right and the left.

Buchanan is in your camp on this one. I know your fierce opposition to the war means you welcome him into your tent. Otherwise, your ranting is purely partisan politics and the war is just a vehicle to express your displeasure at the current Administration.

I’m sure you’re more principled than that.

Posted by: kevin at August 2, 2005 05:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yes, considering he's a member of the far left, I'm sure Larouche was opposed to Iraq. (But hey, if Hitler, a National Socialist, is a "right-winger", then of course, Larouche must be one too. Never mind that his politics are in no way right-wing)

But anyway, this seems to me nothing more than a change in marketing strategy, not an actual change, in fact, the basic Bush plan seems to be going ahead full steam. Despite the fantasies of those on the left, the US was never planning in invade the entire muslim world*. Just Afghanistan for haboring Osama; and Iraq, for the myriad of reasons stated by GWB.

The plan has always been to try to get Iraq up and running as a model of an Arab democracy, then try to convince the other countries in the region to follow that course, not militarily, but through other means.

Iraq hasn't quite reached the planned result yet, but apaprently close enough for the administration to start selling the Iraqi style democracy as the thing for people to embrace instead of Al-Qaeda-style Extremism


* In fact, I don't think GWB has even invaded or bombed as many countries as Clinton. 2 For GWB, while Clinton had Serbia, Bosnia, Iraq, Haiti, Rwanda. I'm probably missing a couple...(not to mention Waco)

Posted by: Jeremy at August 2, 2005 05:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What this is, frankly, is more PC pandering by Bush. It will go away with the next big terror attack in the US, or a series of suicide bombings here in the US (probably by native born Muslims). I'm surprised, honestly, we have not had a wave of suicide bombings up to now. Good luck and the FBI can only go so far; the Lackawanna 6 terror cell, the Northern Virginia terror cell, the Lodi California terror cell, and the others were a confluence of good luck, solid police work, and that can't run on forever.

What is the enemy? Frankly, Islam is. Italy outlawed the burqua, France is deporting 12 terror imams and is stripping of citizenship naturalized citizens so it can dump them back into their native lands. Netherlands is sick of folks like Bouyeri. Denmark tightened up immigration and stopped arranged marriages.

Islam can only tolerate other cultures and religions when it is the master, and the others the slave. Look at China, Thailand, East Timor, Bali, Nigeria, Spain, or any place else where Islam butts up against other cultures. This is because Muslims want the goodies that Modernism brings, but not the secular rationalism and scientific materialism that Modernism requires. Not all terrorists are Muslims, but nearly all terrorists (and the worst of them without question) are Muslims acting for Muslim causes of which there is the inevitable and irreconciliable laundry list.

Here's what Hasan Butt, British Jihadi had to say on the subject in the UK Prospect.

Taseer: How would you describe yourself as a Muslim, given that there are so many labels bring thrown about—“moderate,” “extremist” and so on?

Butt: I would agree to being called a radical and one day I may even be called a terrorist, if Allah permits me. That is something it would be an honour to be called.

Taseer: Surely, even in an Islamic context, that can't be a positive label?

Butt: There is a speech by the Prophet in which he says: Allah gave me five things. One of them was the power to strike fear, to strike terror into the heart of the enemy from a mile's distance, and this was a reference to a battle he had commenced. The way the warriors had prepared themselves was so terrifying that the enemy didn’t even turn up to the battle. Besides that, in the Koran the word irhab is the root word for terror in Islam, and irhabiyun is the word for terrorist. Allah mentions the word in the Koran many times—the one who strikes terror into their hearts is an irhabiyun. If I could have that title Islamically then I would be more than happy to take it and be proud of it. But unfortunately, I haven't reached that level yet.

Taseer: Do many Muslims in Britain feel like you do?

Butt: I would say the majority of Muslims in this country care about neither moderate nor radical Islam; they care about living their day-to-day life. They're happy with that. But of those people who are practising, the majority of them hold my views. The difference is that some people come out publicly and others keep quiet.

Butt: Official figures say there are 3m Muslims here. [There are in fact 1.6m.] Out of that, I would say there are 750,000 who have an interest in Islam and about 80 per cent of those were over the moon about 9/11.

Taseer: Given that the Koran is incontestable to the letter, and that it is unique because there is no another religion in which there is a text so pure, handed down from God to man, can there be a moderate Muslim?

Butt: No. You've hit the nail on the head. If someone believes that it's the incontestable word of Allah, how can he take a moderate view? We must fight if it is the will of Allah. I don’t want to say that Muslims don’t believe in Allah, but what I will say is that their faith in Allah is weak. They fear man the same way that the Jews feared the pharaoh, who they feared more than Allah and that's why they were afraid to do anything against him, until Moses came and liberated them. The lack of leadership in the Muslim community is simply because they are too afraid to stand up against this so-called undefeatable giant of the United States.

This is what we are fighting against. Islam itself is a society in amber, it's very strengths (universal brotherhood, complete submission to the divine) make it just too resistant to change, culturally, so it's no surprise it is completely anti-Modern and therefore wishing to make war on: the US, India, Israel, China, Thailand, Russia, Japan. No, seriously this jihadi, a serious guy who organized jihadis to fight in Afghanistan to bring back the Taliban, calls all those nations his enemy.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at August 2, 2005 06:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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