Sunday, July 06, 2008

Back to September 10th

The StarTrib today features Daniel Yankelovich trying to persuade us to stop fighting the War on Terror. Showing an absolute naivete about the cause of Islamic extremism, he tells us that we can't win the war by fighting, only by talking with our enemies and finding out why they are angry can we appease them.
If that were it, I could stand it. But he goes to make assumptions about routine killings of civilians by the US military, sympathizes with terrorists, and repeats the liberal mantra that by defending itself against terrorism, the US has pissed off the world.

Over the past 18 months, I have been working with a group of leaders to develop new strategies for dealing with Muslim extremism, looking into the core causes of tension with Muslims around the world, and finding ways to improve our own security by reducing those tensions.
We've seen that U.S. military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan have played into the hands of these extremists, who have successfully made us scapegoats for the failure of so many Muslim nations to build just and prosperous societies.

First off, the US military is not occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. Liberals love to gloss over the inconvenient point that after invading each country, we promptly found locals in each to turn the country back over to. The US military presence in Iraq is actually the result of a continuing UN mandate in which the government of Iraq asks for our military help.

Second off, the US doesn't get to take the credit for the 'failure of so many Muslim nations to build just and prosperous societies'. Mostly because there aren't many of those around. There are lots of 'prosperous' Muslim nations, such as Saudi Arabia, but they are far from just. The extremists were making the US a scapegoat for pretty much everything since long before the US invasion of Afghanistan. If we are going to take the heat for being the 'great satan', we might as well get something done while they are still busy hating us.

Without broader support, the extremists are not in and of themselves a serious threat, as they represent a tiny minority among the world's 1.4 billion Muslims. Gallup public opinion data show clearly that the great majority of Muslims disapprove of attacks on civilians and venerate their Abrahamic faith as a guide to righteousness and morality.

Apparently this guy has forgotten the empty whole in lower Manhattan, the one in the Pentagon, and the one in Shanksville, PA. Not a serious threat? Even looking in the broader sense, in that the number of civilians killed on 9/11 was a fraction of the US population as a whole, you only need to look at the DC sniper attacks to know what small scale terrorism can do our morale and our economy. 19 men, with couple dozen more for logistics, killed almost 3000. What could 1% of 1.4 billion do? How about 10%? Later in the piece he contradicts himself by saying that Muslim extremism is indeed a serious threat.

Mr Yankelovich then cites Gallup polling data that says most Muslims disapprove of attacks on civilians to prove that most Muslims are no threat to the US. This dangerously ignores reality. In Iraq, the majority of Iraqis disapproved of the tactics of AQI and the Mahdi army. But when the terrorists hold a gun to your child's head, you tend to get compliant. To assume that most Muslims don't condone terrorism and therefore wont harm the US, is to place our safety in the assumption that other people will do the right thing.

Our use of military force in two Muslim countries and our threats against a third (Iran), only give credibility to the extremists' claim that the United States is at war with Islam, has no respect for Muslim values and beliefs, and is trying to impose our alien culture on the Muslim world. These claims inflame Muslim public opinion and undermine the efforts of moderate clerics and political leaders to rein in extremism.

We used military force in one Muslim country that gave aid and comfort to those who attacked us, only after giving them a chance to cooperate. We used military force in another Muslim country that has shirked it's agreement to get rid of WMD for nearly 12 years after the Gulf War. We (along with the rest of the world) have now spent several years negotiating with a third Muslim country to avoid having to use military force. The fact that all three countries are Muslim is incidental to our actions. The fact that all three countries were (or are) sponsors of terrorism is the reason for our actions.

The notion that we have no respect for Muslim values and that we are trying to impose our alien values on them is absurd. The amount of training that US soldiers go through on cultural sensitivity and the rules of engagement that restrict us from firing at or even setting foot in a mosque gives lie to that notion. The only value that we can reasonably be accused of trying to impose is freedom and democracy, but the number of Iraqis in 2005 with stained purple fingers tells me that the concept of voting was not all that new to them. Only the concept of voting with an honest chance to affect the outcome was new.

A successful strategy for isolating extremists cannot rely mainly on military force. A recent Rand study for the Department of Defense drives this point home. It would be a profound mistake, writes the report's main author, David C. Gompert, to conclude ... that all the United States needs is more military force to defeat Islamist insurgencies. When the same U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who help to build wells and schools then bomb the insurgents, accidentally killing civilians, our intentions are certain to be mistrusted.

I think Mr Yankelovich has been living under a rock for the last 18 months. The premise of the surge was to stabilize the security of Iraq to facilitate the diplomatic and legislative goals that needed to be achieved. The surge, in my opinion, was never so much of a military operation as it was a diplomatic one. Since the Department of State doesn't have many volunteers who believe in the mission in Iraq, the US Army turned 30,000 soldiers into heavily armed ambassadors of the Iraqi Army. The surge succeeded because we showed the local Iraqis that we were there to protect them, and we were willing to risk our lives in doing so.

'then bomb the insurgents, accidentally killing civilians' This is the oft repeated liberal mantra, and they would have you believe that every day and in every city, US troops kill innocent civilians. In fact, civilian killings are fairly rare, and when they do happen it is usually an intentional manipulation by the terrorists. By staging attacks where there are civilians nearby, AQI fighters have a win-win scenario. Either US and Iraqi forces will refrain from returning fire for fear of hitting innocents, or they will kill the AQI fighters and civilians as well, giving them a posthumous PR victory.

The West managed to win the Cold War by patiently practicing containment and setting an example of the benefits of free society that eventually overcame ideological fanaticism.

Here Mr Yankelovich glosses over the fact that the Cold War had plenty of hot battles. Korea, the Cuban missile crisis, Central America, Vietnam, and Afghanistan were all battles or wars fought by surrogates of the US and the USSR, if not by the countries themselves. The very concept of containment relies on the threat of military force, yet liberals seem to think that we can project power around the world without a serious threat of force.

All in all, this op-ed represents a desire to return to a pre- 9/11 way of thinking. That is bad enough, but to lay the blame of Islamic extremism at the feet of the US because we are trying to defend ourselves is downright stupid. Trying to get others to believe in this delusion is downright dangerous.

1 comment:

maxxdog said...

What's scary is there are people, lots of them, who think this fool is correct.
If they are looking for the root cause they need look no further than the Koran.