View Full Version : Slaying the Hydra of Jihadi Terrorism

01-04-2008, 08:24 PM
In response to some issues that surfaced in Steve Metz's thread "Finished!", I wrote a paper addressing two principal failures in the White House National Strategy to Combat Terrorism. One is the flawed policy of exporting Democracy to the Middle East, otherwise known as "nation-building". The other is the failure of the Administration to listen and respond to the issues of moderate Muslims and adapt U.S. plans accordingly so as to deny the Jihadists their recruiting base.

Unfortunately, my paper is too long to reproduce in this forum in its entirety, so what follows is a portion of it, and a link to the full paper. Feel free to comment as you see fit.

"Slaying the Hydra of Jihadi Terrorism" (http://idolator.typepad.com/intelfusion/2008/01/how-to-defeat-1.html)
By Jeff Carr

In April of 2006, the unclassified version of the National Intelligence Estimate “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” painted a dismal picture of U.S-led counterterrorism efforts. While acknowledging the military successes that have occurred against Al-Qa’ida leadership and operations, the NIE states:
“We also assess that the global jihadist movement – which includes al-Qa’ida, affiliated and independent terrorist groups, and emerging networks and cells – is spreading and adapting to counterterrorism efforts”.

According to this Estimate, the nature of the terrorist threat has morphed into a growing network of cells, decentralized and without a coherent global strategy, but fueled by a growing Muslim resentment over 4 key issues:

“Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness;
“The Iraq “jihad;”
“The slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations;
“Pervasive anti-US sentiment among most Muslims”

The authors recommend taking advantage of certain vulnerabilities inherent in the jihadist message:

“The jihadist 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 construct 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. (emphasis mine)
“Countering the spread of the jihadist movement will require coordinated multilateral efforts that go well beyond operations to capture or kill terrorist leaders.”

Since this report was issued almost two years ago, it’s clear that the advice of its authors has gone unheeded. Washington has succeeded in alienating moderate Islam, thus contributing to the radicalization of its adherents. Professor Amin Saikal of Australian National University, wrote:

“While there is enormous need for Ijtihadi (reformist) as opposed to Jihadi (traditionalist combative) Islam to prevail in the Muslim world, this cannot be achieved if the US and its allies continue on their present path of policy behavior…. If anything, Western actions have continued to play into the hands of extremists, thus tightening the political and social arenas for Ijtihadis. Yet it is the help of the Ijtihadis that the US and its allies need if they want to marginalize Muslim extremists and rebuild bridges of understanding and co-operation with the Muslim world.”

Shibley Telhami, Senior Fellow at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institution, wrote an essay on this subject for Dissent magazine’s Spring 2007 issue . His conclusion –

“In the end, most Arabs, like others, want freedom and a system in which their voices count. But even more, they want security for their families, and they reject foreign occupation and anarchy. The very American policy that was said to be aimed at spreading democracy increased the conditions that terrify the public and reduced the attraction of democracy itself. If Iraq is an example of the democratic change they can expect, who, anywhere, would want it?”

In the same issue, Ofra Bengio, senior research fellow at the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and Africa Studies and senior lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University, wrote:

“The most severe conceptual flaw was the belief that democracy can be imposed by force by an outside power. The successful German and Japanese cases after the Second World War were completely irrelevant models for Iraq, where a combination of historical, political, social, and cultural factors doomed the American project from the start. It was Great Britain that attempted first to establish Western-style democracy in Iraq, beginning in the 1920s. This experiment, which was identified with Christian imperialism, failed and left severe scars in the Iraqi collective memory. Iraqis remained suspicious of any similar projects emanating from the West. Even with all the best intentions, the new American project could only have aroused, at least among some significant parts of the population, deep-seated fears of a new imperialism disguised by slogans of democracy.”

An examination of the President’s updated National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, released in September, 2006, reveals no tenets committing the U.S. to emphasizing cooperation and support for moderate Islam and the Muslim mainstream. Instead, the White House stubbornly chose to continue its drive to export Democracy and pursue a military solution outside of the advice of its best intelligence analysts, and which has proven to be ineffective in reducing the overall number of terrorist incidents and in preventing the growth of terrorist cells around the world. This is documented in the non-partisan CRS report for Congress “Trends in Terrorism: 2006” .


Read the full paper, with links to all references, here (http://idolator.typepad.com/intelfusion/2008/01/how-to-defeat-1.html).

01-05-2008, 08:14 PM
I'm happy to say that the Pentagon is moving in the direction that the 2006 NIE recommended, and that I have addressed in the "Slaying ..." post, as evidenced in two recent news stories:

1. From The Washington Times (http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20080104/NATION04/410150204/1008): "Stephen Coughlin, the Pentagon specialist on Islamic law and Islamist extremism, has been fired from his position on the military's Joint Staff."

2. From Inside the Pentagon (http://defensenewsstand.com/cs_newsletters.asp?NLN=PENTAGON), : "Slowly, quietly, some in the Pentagon are pushing for a Middle Eastern version of the Marshall Plan, to change the economic realities that fuel Islamic extremism. Without such an initiative “the radicalization will continue, because there’s always going to be people that are unhappy,” U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark Schissler tells Inside the Pentagon. “You just can’t ignore things like jobs,” particularly given the high birth rate of the region’s Muslim population, he added."