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    Sunday, February 24, 2008


    Don't credit Al-Qaeda by assuming it offers Muslims hope
    By Aysha Chowdhry and Andrew Masloski
    Commentary by ( gERALD )
    Monday, February 25, 2008

    Notably absent from the presidential primary campaign in the United States is serious discussion on how to implement an effective long-term strategy for protecting the US from future terrorist acts. Many political leaders in the past have embraced winning "the battle of ideas" against Muslim extremists as the most important component of any strategy, yet this ubiquitous catchphrase stems from an erroneous, counterproductive framework for understanding extremists like Osama bin Laden.

    The framework assumes that groups like Al-Qaeda possess a coherent and compelling interpretation of Islam that the US must counter to prevent Muslims from adopting it. This flawed understanding should be replaced by a more nuanced approach based on the true nature of the terrorist threat.

    ( That is the fundamental understanding in USA, G )

    The "battle of ideas" approach is counterproductive for two important reasons: first, it encourages the concept of a Manichean struggle raging between two equally powerful and opposing world views, in effect legitimizing the extremists' understanding of the struggle; and second, it overstates the extent to which Bin Laden's worldview constitutes a viable theological alternative for the world's 1.3 billion Muslims. His zealous religious views are not only alien to most Muslims living today, but have also earned a place on the fringes of Islamic intellectual thought.

    For an effective strategy, the United States needs to take three important steps.

    The first is de-coupling Islam and terrorism. The 9/11 Commission report states that "the enemy is not just 'terrorism' ... it is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism." While it is true that America faces a significant threat from people who identify themselves as Muslims and dress their grievances in religious terms, this does not mean that such people are perpetrators of "Islamist terrorism." The phrase implies that Islam sanctions terrorism and that Muslims are more likely to commit terrorist acts. ( This stems from the fact that almost all terrorists are Moslem's, the error in that paradigm is apparent in this restatement"
    "While all rapists are men , not all men are rapists." G. )

    "Terrorism in the name of Islam" is more accurate.

    2nd )
    The second step requires recognition that most grievances expressed by extremists like Bin Laden are secular and political in nature. They are angry about what they perceive as the exploitation of Muslims at the hands of the US. They enjoy sympathy from Muslims who perceive the US - and the West in general - as perpetuators of an unjust global political-economic system. As many have already noted, the attacks of 9/11 targeted American financial and military complexes and not Western religious symbols. Though Washington should not accept at face value the legitimacy of Al-Qaeda grievances, we cannot effectively prevent terrorist acts from taking place without a better understanding of their ultimately profane roots.

    ( Here the fault lies with Islamic education, USA is accused or taking advantage of Moslems,
    which maybe TRUE, but no more advantage than USA has taken with Europe, it is a capitalist system, one makes the best bargain one can, in an antique store one wouldn't offer a higher price just because the owner is a Moslem. Neither does that happen in the real world. If ANYBODY strikes a bad bargin, who's fault is it? I suspect any bad deals that were struck was because of a poor education, in the Madrases. G )

    3rd )
    The third step involves ensuring the US actively works for the promotion of human dignity. American policy makers should make a concerted effort to understand the circumstances of the countries of the Muslim world that cause a sense of deprivation and humiliation among their populations, as these factors contribute to sympathy for Al-Qaeda's political aims. US conventional wisdom states that Muslims need to believe in an alternative vision for their economic and political future, though the vast majority of Muslims need no convincing that economic prosperity and political freedom are good things.

    Muslims share the same vision held by humanity everywhere - a secure future for their children and a life defined by dignity and liberty. Thus, policymakers should approach Muslims as partners on the path toward bettering livelihoods in Muslim societies. If the US continues to be implicated in the social, political and economic underdevelopment of much of the Muslim world, Al-Qaeda will continue to gain followers who are blind to everything but the perceived destructive effects of American hegemony.

    In the end, focusing on winning the "battle of ideas" obscures our view of what must be done to prevent future terrorist attacks. The US should recognize the true nature of the terrorist threat, identify its root causes, and partner with Muslims to eliminate them.

    ( Fixing the educational system, is one approach, jahidies I've talked to at length have a twisted view of history. G )

    Aysha Chowdhry and Andrew Masloski work for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Chowdhry is a research assistant with the Project on US Relations with the Islamic World, and Masloski is a senior research assistant with the Middle East Democracy and Development Project. THE DAILY STAR publishes this commentary in collaboration with Common Ground News Service.


    This is subtle but accurate, and the target can eaisly be missed.



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