How to Combat Radical Islamists





Mr. Mozaffari is Professor of Political Science at University of Aarhus, Denmark.

Note: This article is intended to follow another by Mr. Mozaffari, which we published two weeks ago: "Is It Possible to Combat Radical Islamism Without Combating Islam?"

We need a cognitive approach to Islamism by conceiving it as a totalitarian ideology.

A clear and full internalization of the fact that Islamism is an ideology and not a religion will purify the whole question from a variety of difficulties. In many ways, Islamism is like an octopus. We have to aim directly at the head in stead of wasting our time and energy to deal with the complicated body. By evacuating religious contents from Islamism, we change our direction from theology to ideology, from religion to politics. In this way, we put forward the real face and real nature of Islamism. The Muslims, especially among the young people, who are potentially ready to give their lives for the sake of Islamist ideals, will find out that their struggle is not a part of a religious duty but purely an ideological and political one emanating from a dangerous utopia.

We also need an international tactical or ethical consensus. This is especially needed in the Western hemisphere. The reason for such a consensus is motivated by the fact that often some western political parties and leaders use anti-Islamic rhetoric for political purposes. This policy is not productive, and it can be dangerous.

Attacking Islam is precisely what Islamists are waiting for. They are insatiably trying to convince Muslims of two things: 1) Islamism is the true face of Islam, and 2) the West is an enemy of Islam. Therefore, politicians must choose their vocabulary more carefully by avoiding attacks on Islam as a religion and by avoiding hostile remarks about Muslims in general. Americans became aware of this necessity and consequently transformed their language in this field. They talk about "terrorists who hijacked a religion" and rarely comment on Islam or Muslims in a negative way. We have to remember that Islamists are still today using President Bush's famous "crusade" pronounced in September 2001 as an evidence for American hostility against Islam. It seems that to avoid attacking Islam and Muslims, indiscriminately, has become general U.S. policy. In this respect, the most recent evidence are the apologies which a top Pentagon intelligence official, Lt. General William Boykin, offers (October 17, 2003) to Muslims because of his negative comments on Islam. The Americans' prudence is re-affirmed in President Bush's speech in Indonesia (October 22, 2003). In an elaborated and well-balanced speech, the president repeated that "Americans hold a deep respect for the Islamic faith. We know that Islam is fully compatible with liberty and tolerance and progress because we see the proof in your country [Inodonesia]." Then, he states "Terrorists who claim Islam as their inspiration defile one of the great faiths. Murder has no place in any religious tradition". In this way, President Bush tried to reach two important goals: To make a clear distinction between "Islam" and "Islamism" and to demonstrate that Islamists have hijacked Islam itself.

During the past decades, repetitive experiences have showed that dialogue with Islamists leads nowhere. While in a democratic culture, dialogue is a MUST and a natural process, Islamists consider dialogue a clear sign of weakness; their own weakness if they accept a dialogue, and especially weakness in their opponents. Dialogue is an unknown word for Islamists. Nothing positive has come out of different dialogues of diplomacy with totalitarian regimes and groups in general, and nothing positive with Islamists either. The Chamberlain and Hitler agreement, the Roosevelt and Stalin dialogue, the European Union's "critical dialogue," the "constructive dialogue," the "Iran gate," the "dialogue" with Taliban and so on and so forth. None of these attempts at dialogue have been successful for the Western diplomacy.

If dialogue or compromise is impossible and ineffective, what to do then? The answer is short and brutal: pressure! Pressure can be gradual or accumulated; but it must be real and sufficiently strong and consistent for Islamists to feel it as such. If the pressure has no positive effect-- as it was the case with Taliban -- war should not be excluded as a last resort.

Therefore, we must constantly remember and learn from previous, related experiences to deal with other totalitarian regimes, groups and ideologies. They were defeated either by war or by heavy pressure. This goes for Nazism and Fascism. It also goes for the breakdown of the USSR. Based on criteria of success, it will be wise to forget any possible arrangement with Islamists and start using systematical force and pressure.

Finally, it is necessary and urgent to acknowledge what is predominately important is democratization of the world. If there is a clash, the clash is not between civilizations or between religions. The real clash occurs between democracy and despotism.

Democratization of the Muslim world stands as the key word to combat Islamism and with it to combat current global terrorism. It represents a huge and vast task. Let me emphasize only one aspect of this, which I think is the most important. The Islamic world is producing three main things: Oil, Terrorism and Emigration. Thus, we have an Islamic Bermuda Triangle which is threatening peace and security in the world. The best way to break down this Bermuda Triangle is of course to do it within the Muslim world and by Muslims themselves. Unfortunately, democratic forces inside the Muslim world have not been able to break this Triangle. Therefore, external support is essential. To support democratic forces inside the Muslim world is an inherent and necessary part of the anti-terrorism war. External support can take different forms: conditioning economic aids to improving human rights and democracy is the first step. Awarding the Nobel Peace Price to a Muslim and Iranian woman (Shirin Ebadi) is an elegant and hopefully efficient stimulus. In extreme case, military intervention cannot be avoided. The ongoing war in Iraq - despite its doubtful legal foundations - represents a method to break down the Islamic Bermuda Triangle. In this sense, the war in Iraq is a 'strategic war' against the roots of terrorism, while the war in Afghanistan stands mostly as an "operational war" or simply a "theâtre d'opérations."

When combating Islamism, one of the main problems and difficulties is how to deal with millions of Muslims who are living in Western countries. Starting from the facts, it is apparent that Muslims in western countries are far too dispersed to constitute a compact bloc. In terms of social, cultural, political and religious orientations, the division among them is deep and real. Roughly, Muslims are divided into two large categories: Muslim Believers and Cultural Muslims. Islamists are predominantly issued from the first category. Cultural Muslims represent an agglomerate of peoples embracing agnostics, liberals, socialists and so on. In general, Cultural Muslims do not represent any tangible threat. The attention therefore must be oriented to the Muslim Believers who roughly are divided into Moderates and Radicals. Both are potential sources for Islamism; the former lesser than the latter.

Now, how to identify a Radical Muslim today in the Western countries? In this regard, there are a number of helpful indices. First, a Radical Muslim is of course a believer, who practices the rituals of Islam. But, this alone is not enough. A Radical Muslim is a man (rarely a woman--perhaps because Prophet Muhammad expressed his skepticism over women's capacity to hold a secret!). A Radical Muslim is constantly in communication with others. He can be a lonely man in the city and locality where he lives, but is with permanent communication with the outside world. Communication goes through mail, e-mail, fax, telephone (mobile and public) and so on. He is also a man who reads much and is generally a quiet person carefully avoiding clashes with the police and other public authorities. He is also traveler, a globetrotter! He is a young man with an average age of 25-27 years. In Southern Europe, Radical Muslims are issued from North Africa (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia). In the U.K. essentially from Pakistan. In Scandinavia, from Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and Pakistan. Iranian Islamists are working under the auspices of Iranian authorities, generally as diplomatic personnel or as business persons.

Conclusion

Today, the world is facing a single global terrorism, which is Islamist. In my analysis, I did not approach the force of the global terrorism. I took it as a given fact. Islamist terrorism is perhaps not as powerful as some people would imagine. However, according to Institute for Strategic Studies (in London), Islamist terrorism has been reinforced following the war on Iraq (October Report 2003). We may say that global terrorism at least appears as a huge troublemaker. In this study, I tried to demonstrate that the real danger lies somewhere else. Islamist terrorism is the expression of a totalitarian ideology. Therefore, the world is facing a new totalitarianism, which has been neglected for decades. Consequently, combating Islamist terrorism cannot be reduced to a simple classic counter-terrorism. Classic Counter-terrorism's highly necessary efforts and investigations must be accompanied by coherent political, cultural and economic actions.

In short, my propositions to combating Islamist terrorism without combating Islam are resumed in the three following points:

¢ Continuous pressure on Islamists and, if necessary, conduct of war;
¢ Dialogue and cooperation with moderate Muslims, and
¢ Effective support to democratic forces inside the Muslim world.

© Mehdi Mozaffari

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More Comments:


Cram - 12/6/2003

You will get no disagreement from me, my friend.

:)


NYGuy - 12/6/2003

Cram

In any event, I think we can all agree that Arafat is a terrorist that can neber again be trusted.

NYGuy

Glad we do agree on something. Our disagreement is if making Araf a world leader inflamed world terrorism or resulted in peace.

As I said you have your opinion and I have mine, but this a nice way to communicate with each.

Cheers


Cram - 12/6/2003

NYGuy,
I think we will simply have to let this one be. I blame Arafat for turning down an amazing offer, you blame Clinton for making the offer possible. I do not see Arafat as the mastermind that could pull Clinton along, nor do I see what he possibly had to gain. He turned the deal down because he is against peace, period, not out of some grant stratigic plan to embarrass the President of the United States.

In any event, I think we can all agree that Arafat is a terrorist that can neber again be trusted.


NYGuy - 12/6/2003


NYGuy

I am saying that Clinton unnecessarily put himself in the middle of the peace negotiations with Palestine/Israel (P/I) without understanding history and knowing the damage he would bring forward. Because of his role he gave the two leaders of (P/I) a new status in the world that they did not deserve. As you probably know this dispute involved only 7 million people out of a world population in the billions. By putting these leaders on the world stage, it gave them high visibility, which was communicated throughout the world. After awhile it began to dominate the news particularly with the meetings at the WH, Camp David and other photo-ops.

This high visibility was communicated to Arabs and Muslins all over the world and intensified the hatred between Muslin and Jews. It is my belief that Arafat recognized what was happening and merely strung Clinton along knowing that he was interested in a Noble Prize to cement his legacy. For Arafat it meant greater prestige and funding for his cause. Meanwhile, Clinton was so focused on the (P/I) issue that he ignored the increase terrorism that the US was facing.

Watching these photo-ops and the coverage of the (P/I) situation resulted in the ability to recruit more members into terrorists units. Meanwhile the immigration of Arabs into Europe was growing rapidly and putting new strains on the political situation in the various countries, and with the high visibility of the (P/I) situation furthered an anti-semetic bias against the Jews. This was reflected in the following excerpts from the new EU report:

"The reports and our own investigations show that in spring 2002 many EU Member States experienced a wave of anti-Semitic incidents. They were tied to public discussion on the dividing line between legitimate criticism of Israeli government policy and anti-Semitic argumentation. This wave of anti-Semitism started with the “Al-Aqsa-Intifada” in October 2000 and was fuelled by the conflict in the Middle East and the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11September 2001 , which triggered off a fierce debate on the causes of radical Islamic terrorism."

"During the first half of 2002 the rise of anti-Semitism reached a climax in the period between the end of March and mid-May, running parallel to the escalation of the Middle East conflict, whereas factors which usually determine the frequency of anti-Semitic incidents in the respective countries, such as the strength and the degree of mobilisation extremist far-right parties and groups can generate, have not played the decisive role."

"In the public domain in Spain, France, Italy and Sweden, sections of the political left and Arab-Muslim groups unified to stage pro-Palestinian demonstrations."

Cram

Your statement implies that before Clinton, the Mid East conflict was somehow more minor an issue. I strongly dispute that and would remind you that terrorism struck the US long before Clinton's peace effort. I would further remind you that the Munich Olympics did far more to advertise the conflict than Clinton, not that it needed any advertising at all. It has been a hot topic for much of the world before Bill Clinton ever became President.

NYGuy

You prove my point. During the 1990’s we saw a rapid increase in technology and communications through the increase of new communication links. Computers and the internet also provided new outlets and as a result communications were increasing to all parts of the world, particularly the Arab and Muslin worlds. As shown in the EU report there was a growing reaction among Muslins against Israel, and by extension the US, because of the visibility of all three parties.

As you admit, the Israeli conflict visibility has been high over the past 3 years and terrorist’s attacks were all over the news. But, the contest is now quieting down and the chances of a settlement are now higher than at any time in the past.

I think you missed my point which was that Bush lowered the temperature on world terrorism by reducing the visibility of the two (P/I) participants as well as removing the US as a target in North Korea, Iran, Africa, Philippines etc. Meanwhile he has gotten greater support from world leaders on the fight on terrorism and this has resulted in less tension in the world and brought in other positive forces to help resolve the above terrorists threats.


I think the rest of your comments are a matter of opinion and you have your opinions and I have mine. I would only repeat that I did not say Clinton did nothing. I say he made Israel and the US a target of terrorism by physically injecting himself and the US prestige into the (P/I) dispute and giving all three leader high photo-op opportunities rather then letting the issues be resolved by others. I am saying that for a dispute this small he never should have been physically involved and have personally put so much of his time and effort into this issue and ignoring other real terrorist threats to the US.






C.R.W. - 12/6/2003


Photo op, no photo op, I don't think it's illogical to assume that the guy believed he was doing the right thing, despite forgetting that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Regardless, I still believe that he was an egomaniac whose convictions are less principled than Bush. Faisal Husseini's comments about Oslo being a "trojan horse" back up the theory that it needn't have been necessary to ever negotiate with Arafat, a megalomaniac who will never finalize any rational agreement, and whose political capital is immutably tied to his people's suffering.

I was always skeptical of Arafat-style "Oslo," but should we have practiced benign neglect throughout the Clinton administration? It's hard to say, but Bush is right on for withdrawing and refusing to supply the teflon terrorist with any more diplomatic melarchy. Even giving Arafat the time of day amounts to little more than terrorism welfare.

And there sure as hell is a bigger world out there. Many of them already blame us for all their own failures. Might as well give them one less problem to blame us for.


Cram - 12/6/2003

1) "The point is that Clinton wasted his Presidency by elevating both sides to the world stage so he could get his reelection photo ops."

Perhaps, but who is to say that he did not do so in order to bring about peace in the Middle East? Had Afarat not foolishly chosen to embrace violence instead of peace, there would be peace in the Middle East for the fist time in 50 years and it would have been because of Bill Clinton. I do not blame Clinton for Arafat's mistake. Clearly, few would argue that Carter wasted his time at Camp David.

2) "Clinton was a pathetic leader and the street smart world leaders praised him so they could get their rewards and use him for their own advantage."

All I can is that I tend to believe the same about Bush.

3) "If Clinton were a leader, and interested in the best interests of the American people he would not have increased the world wide recognition of the Israel and Palestine to a level that they generated intense hatred and determination to destroy America."

Your statement implies that before Clinton, the Mid East conflict was somehow more minor an issue. I strongly dispute that and would remind you that terrorism struck the US long before Clinton's peace effort. I would further remind you that the Munich Olympics did far more to advertise the conflict than Clinton, not that it needed any advertising at all. It has been a hot topic for much of the world before Bill Clinton ever became President.

4) "That is my point. Bush lowered the temperature by reducing the visibility of the two participants in a dispute as well as removing the US as a target."

Do you honestly believe that the Israeli conflict visibility has been low over the past 3 years? When terrorist attacks were all over the news? Where the Jenin refugee camp made front line news?

5) "Bush built his world coalition against terrorism and got other countries to exert moral suasion on the above countries... This is why we are safer today and the US is more respected by World Leaders."

I believe that the US is LESS respected by world leaders than we were immidiately following 9/11, and that this coalition did nothing but prompt Iran to accelarate their nuclear program to prevent an invasion by the US.

6) "Arafat realized that Clinton’s naiveté and insecurity enabled him to stroke our leader and advance the image of the Palestine cause in the world."

I don't really see how turning down an offer of peace and instigating his own outster in Americans and Israeli discussions constitutes Arafat taking advantage of Clinton, a third party mediator?!?

7) "That is what happened. Young muslins rallied around Palestine and were the cause of the increase anti-Semitism in Europe and finally lead to 9/11. Since this happened before Bush the entire blame falls on Clinton."

I believe your chronology is mistaken in some pretty important ways. Please follow this link to a timeline of what happened and you will see that much of the evidence ocurred immidiately before 9/11 (when Bush was in office) and that there is clearly no correlation between Camp David and a rise in activity, or between Camp David and a rise in anti-Semitism (which makes sense since I see no rational connection).

http://www.cnn.com/2002/US/05/22/9.11.warnings.facts/index.html
(please click on the link "Who knew what and when")

8) "You have to remember that Clinton focused all his personal efforts on this Mid East conflict."

Again, I believe you are quite mistaken. Clinton spent most of time on domestic issues, taking time out to go to war in Samalia and Kosovo, only directing heavy attention on the conflict towards the end of his second term.

9) "Can’t say he was as brilliant as some claim."

"During his administration, the U.S. enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history. He was the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term. He could point to the lowest unemployment rate in modern times, the lowest inflation in 30 years, the highest home ownership in the country's history, dropping crime rates in many places, and reduced welfare roles. He proposed the first balanced budget in decades and achieved a budget surplus. As part of a plan to celebrate the millennium in 2000, Clinton called for a great national initiative to end racial discrimination."
http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/bc42.html

Sounds pretty intelligent to me. Would it be inappropriate to assume that you credit other people for each and ever one of these impressive accomplishments?


NYGuy - 12/6/2003



Cram

1) "My complaint with Clinton is that he inflamed the Arab world by personally being in the center of the Israeli/Palestine dispute and raising the issue to center stage in the world, which resulted in focusing hatred on the US."

Frankly, everything I have ever read suggests the exact opposite. The world appriciated Clinton's active engagement in the Israel/Palestinian conflict. While some blame Arafat and some blame Israel, I have never heard of widespread blaming of Clinton. Quite the contrary, Clinton was liked and admired in much of the world, perhaps even more then here in the US.

NYGuy

The point is that Clinton wasted his Presidency by elevating both sides to the world stage so he could get his reelection photo ops. His insertion into this dispute did nothing for either country but his real interest was in getting a Nobel Prize to define his Presidency.

Inserting himself into this dispute was certainly a waste of time and a betrayal to the American people. Clinton was a pathetic leader and the street smart world leaders praised him so they could get their rewards and use him for their own advantage. I think Arafat got the most since he realized these op-ed solutions stirred up muslin hatred against the Jews and showed him to be a shrewd leader in the Muslin world

Cram.

2) "It is likely that the rise in Jewish anti-Semitism is due to Clinton’s foolish actions and the hatred of large numbers of energized Arabs now citizens of European countries. And I believe that rise in anti-Americanism arises out of this large Arab position in Europe."

I have to say that I disagree with people who think that Bush brought on 9/11 and is the cause of all the problems. Simialrly, I have to dispute this claim that somehow, Clinton caused both 9/11 as well as European anti-Semitism. As I said, every indication is Clinton enjoyed immense international popularity. Furthermore, Bush is being pressed by the international community to ENGAGE in the crisis, not to stay out.

NYGuy

As usual we have to start from my global view of the changing times in the world to understand what happened. As I said above:

This is a great point (Arab immigration into Europe) and the trends you cite have been going on for over 30 years. In my opinion Clinton should have been well aware of this destabilizing force in the world. The Oxford University reference book on Muslins, which was published in the 1990’s, raises this point of Arab immigration into Europe, and while it made no projections recognized that it could be a destabilizing situation that would change the world and raise many issues between the two cultures. And it has. In a world of increased global communication Clinton forced muslins and Jews to take sides when he had his WH photo-ops. The terrorists, to heighten the hatred of Israel and the Jews, used this foolishness to advance their course. If Clinton were a leader, and interested in the best interests of the American people he would not have increased the world wide recognition of the Israel and Palestine to a level that they generated intense hatred and determination to destroy America.

Cram

3) "I believe Bush is right in the way he is handling Palestine/Israel, North Korea, Iran and other world issues by not making the US a lightning rod for extremists."

I think that Bush was wrong to ignore the conflict for as long as he did, to the detriment of the US. Early on, Ari Fliecher said that Clinton was wrong to get involved at all. a few years later, however, Bush did involve himself in the issue, sending Colin Powell to the region and trying to work out a cease-fire. This was the right move and should have come sooner.

NYGuy

That is my point. Bush lowered the temperature by reducing the visibility of the two participants in a dispute as well as removing the US as a target. The same strategy worked in North Korea and Iran. You will note that there is less focus on the US because of Bush's policies.

Bush built his world coalition against terrorism and got other countries to exert moral suasion on the above countries. And it is working perfectly. Now there is no one target the muslins can level his or her anger at and then transfer that anger to the US. This is why we are safer today and the US is more respected by World Leaders.

Cram
4) "And his rallying the world leaders to join the fight has diminished the terrorist’s threat. We are lucky he put the American people first and is not selfishly seeking to win a “Nobel Prize.”"

I am not sure what you are trying to imply, perhaps that Clinton was only after a prize. For someone who challenges any attempt to turn Bush into a politician, I am surprised at your utter contempt for all things Clinton and dispute your contention that all the bad things happening in the world is somehoe related to Clinton, even though Bush was in office for several months before 9/11 and did far less then Clinton at the time.

NYGuy

As Clinton used to say, “Let me be perfectly clear.” Yes I am saying that Clinton was self-centered and put his own interests before those of the American people. Again I enjoy your comments until you begin go into your defensive mode. I am making an analysis of how our country got to where it is and never suggested that all the bad things in the world was due to Clinton. Let us get back to our topic. I said that Clinton was selfish and in my opinion wanted the Nobel Prize to create his legacy. Unfortunately he was dealing with a street-smart leader such as Arafat. Arafat realized that Clinton’s naiveté and insecurity enabled him to stroke our leader and advance the image of the Palestine cause in the world. That is what happened. Young muslins rallied around Palestine and were the cause of the increase anti-Semitism in Europe and finally lead to 9/11. Since this happened before Bush the entire blame falls on Clinton.

In summary Clinton’s naiveté produced the growing muslin terrorism movement in the world and the anti-Semitism that has developed in Europe today. You have to remember that Clinton focused all his personal efforts on this Mid East conflict.

If Clinton had let the Mid East situation follow a normal course we would not have an inflamed muslin terrorist movement in the world today. And just as important, if he were not such a “photo-op” president we would not have the negative attitude toward Jews that we see in Europe. And, since Clinton had his head in the picture, the Muslins and European not only are antagonistic toward the Jews, but the American people also become victims of his failed policies. Remember there are only 7 million people that Clinton focused his attention on out of a world of perhaps billions of people. Can’t say he was as brilliant as some claim.


C.R.W. - 12/5/2003

You're certainly knowledgable about a number of the dynamics and historical correlates.

I guess where I'm coming from is that I don't ever see the Israeli electorate approving of a diplomatic track in the presence of wide-scale terror. Yes, they have the cards now (from a military standpoint), but that's only because they were taken away from Arafat, after he misused them. Whether or not withdrawal or sovereignty is a big enough carrot for the Palestinians at large is what I question. It certainly isn't to Arafat personally, who only seems to benefit politically when it comes at the expense of the Palestinians. The only merit I see to giving in to either of those at this point is that the diplomatic stakes could be argued as being higher if terrorism (or worse) were launched from a full-fledged sovereign Palestinian state.

Although I agree that the current deadlock is not fun, and I wish we could be proactive, I remain skeptical of whether or not a more productive track could be produced by the Israelis at this time (even if it looks "bilateral" on paper). I've got a pretty smart and incredibly pragmatic friend who has access to diplomatic circles, however, and last we spoke she was about to give me her newest take on what should be done, but unfortunately we got cut off. I need to remember to ask next time.

As far as credibility in the region goes, that's an excellent point, and Bush gave a great speech at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies a few weeks back. As far as what policy pieces would be implemented in order to achieve it, who knows, we'll see. But he certainly said all the right things and the philosophy is right on target. He didn't even seem to mind ruffling Mubarak's feathers! - even if only verbally. I don't have any illusions that the pressure will be applied with a much more fluffy diplomatic brush in cases like S. Arabia, where the economic interests to the administration are too deep to upset - not unlike China. But I think they clearly realize the perils that result from ignoring political reform and the imperative of changing course. The Saudis say they agree. It will probably be necessarily more gradual than some observers would like.


Cram - 12/5/2003

NYGuy,
1) "My complaint with Clinton is that he inflamed the Arab world by personally being in the center of the Israeli/Palestine dispute and raising the issue to center stage in the world, which resulted in focusing hatred on the US."

Frankly, everything I have ever read suggests the exact opposite. The world appriciated Clinton's active engagement in the Israel/Palestinian conflict. While some blame Arafat and some blame Israel, I have never heard of widespread blaming of Clinton. Quite the contrary, Clinton was liked and admired in much of the world, perhaps even more then here in the US.

2) "It is likely that the rise in Jewish anti-Semitism is due to Clinton’s foolish actions and the hatred of large numbers of energized Arabs now citizens of European countries. And I believe that rise in anti-Americanism arises out of this large Arab position in Europe."

I have to say that I disagree with people who think that Bush brought on 9/11 and is the cause of all the problems. Simialrly, I have to dispute this claim that somehow, Clinton caused both 9/11 as well as European anti-Semitism. As I said, every indication is Clinton enjoyed immense international popularity. Furthermore, Bush is being pressed by the international community to ENGAGE in the crisis, not to stay out.

3) "I believe Bush is right in the way he is handling Palestine/Israel, North Korea, Iran and other world issues by not making the US a lightning rod for extremists."

I think that Bush was wrong to ignore the conflict for as long as he did, to the detriment of the US. Early on, Ari Fliecher said that Clinton was wrong to get involved at all... a few years later, however, Bush did involve himself in the issue, sending Colin Powell to the region and trying to work out a cease-fire. This was the right move and should have come sooner.

4) "And his rallying the world leaders to join the fight has diminished the terrorist’s threat. We are lucky he put the American people first and is not selfishly seeking to win a “Nobel Prize.”"

I am not sure what you are trying to imply, perhaps that Clinton was only after a prize. For someone who challenges any attempt to turn Bush into a politician, I am surprised at your utter contempt for all things Clinton and dispute your contention that all the bad things happening in the world is somehoe related to Clinton, even though Bush was in office for several months before 9/11 and did far less then Clinton at the time.


C.R.W. - 12/5/2003

Taking note of the fact that the changing demography of Europe (and of course, America) may affect the dynamic of fighting terrorism is a good point, Jesse, but I think the existence of legal and political norms in the continent is developed to an extent that allows for a stronger fight against it than in the Middle East.

Even if Europe's Muslims are becoming a political force to be reckoned with, I doubt such an occurence is taking place at the expense of a weakening of existing security apparati and the legal structure under which they operate. In this regard, France (booh... hiss...) actually has a leg up on us, with judges who are granted broad powers to actually pursue/prosecute potentially dangerous criminals or terrorists. The British system, ironically, due to its similarities to American jurisprudence and rights of the accused, may be weaker in this regard. I'm not sure about Germany, but my suspicion is that it's somewhere between the two.

As an analogy I guess I would point out that as powerful as the Mafia was, they couldn't ultimately *change* the laws whose persistent enforcement ultimately led to breaking them.

However, lobbying for legislative changes wasn't their strategy, as unlikely to succeed as that would have been. Same goes for Europe. ;-)


NYGuy - 12/5/2003

Jesse

What I can say is this: the fact that Arab immigrants are the most dynamic social and religious group in Europe is going to make this war (if it is such a thing) a great deal more difficult to fight. As time goes on we may see more and more Islamicist terrorists with European citizenship. It's already happening to a degree-

NYGuy

This is a great point and the trends you cite have been going on for over 30 years. In my opinion Clinton should have been well aware of this destabilizing force in the world. The Oxford University reference book on Muslins, which was published in the 1990’s, raises this point of Arab immigration into Europe, and while it made no projections recognized that it could be a destabilizing situation that would change the world and raise many issues between the two cultures. And it has. European leaders are now beholding to the Arab world if they want to get elected. Like Joan d’Arc, Brigitte Bardot is raising her voice to save France.

Prominent animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot was recently fined 30,000 francs by a French court for comments she made in a recent book, "Pluto's Square." In the book, Bardot complains about the large number of Muslim immigrants in France and especially the ritual slaughter of sheep during a Muslim religious festival.

http://www.animalrights.net/articles/2000/000036.html

My complaint with Clinton is that he inflamed the Arab world by personally being in the center of the Israeli/Palestine dispute and raising the issue to center stage in the world, which resulted in focusing hatred on the US. Because of TV, satellite and other news media the controversy got more attention than it deserved and in the process permitted muslin radicals to energize other muslins in a war against both Israel and the United States.

Because of Clinton’s naivety I believe we had 9/11 since it enabled the muslins to further escalate a minor world problem, involving only 7 million people, into a major rallying point for the extremists. Remember Clinton stuck his nose into this dispute during a time we had the UN whose mission was to bring peace. And, as today, the Democratic Party wanted the UN and allies cooperation in these matters. Instead of the UN doing their job, the US foolishly stepped forward and in the process has paid the price with the deaths of over 3,000 people on our soil.

It is likely that the rise in Jewish anti-Semitism is due to Clinton’s foolish actions and the hatred of large numbers of energized Arabs now citizens of European countries. And I believe that rise in anti-Americanism arises out of this large Arab position in Europe.

I believe Bush is right in the way he is handling Palestine/Israel, North Korea, Iran and other world issues by not making the US a lightning rod for extremists. Meanwhile Bush’s leadership in raising the world’s conciseness of the threat of terrorist situation to our safety and prosperity. And his rallying the world leaders to join the fight has diminished the terrorist’s threat. We are lucky he put the American people first and is not selfishly seeking to win a “Nobel Prize.”

I don’t know if Mr Mozaffar’s article mimics Professor Pipes thoughts. My comments are not meant to make this an election year issue. What I believe we need is a reasoned, and low visibility position in dealing with the brush fires that emerge in the world, and that supposedly should be resolved by the UN. Thus I was happy we did not lead the way in Africa, otherwise we would only enrage another group against the US. I support the democratic position we need an international force like the UN to handle such matters.

Using photo-ops at the WH for a political purpose is what got us 9/11 as it focused the hatred of the Arab world on the US.

Never again. Never again.


Jesse Lamovsky - 12/5/2003

No argument on Arafat, and his lack of commitment to peace and co-existence in Israel/Palestine. My point is this (and it’s one I’ve repeatedly made on this site): the State of Israel is more or less in control of the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. Not the PA, not any other Palestinian group, but the State of Israel. Really, they’re the only actor we can deal with, because they’re the only one with real legitimacy, they’re the only one with something to lose, and they’re the only one the United States has any sway over. The Palestinian Authority is not a sovereign entity, and it, along with the small pieces of territory it “controls”, exists at the whim of Israel. Dealing with the PA is as pointless as dealing with the rulers of Transkei, or Bophuthatswana, or any of the other sham “homelands” set up by South Africa in the ‘70s (I am not comparing the State of Israel to apartheid South Africa; merely pointing out that in our present international system, legitimate state sovereignty is the coin of the realm). Can we call for reforms from the Palestinians? Sure. Can we condemn acts of terrorism by rejectionist groups? Absolutely. Do we have anything to offer the Palestinians? No. Only the Israelis do, which means we can only focus our diplomatic efforts on Jerusalem. Whether for good or for ill, the key to a solution in Israel/Palestine lies in the Knesset, and in the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem- not in Ramallah.

Agreed, we should lend moral support to reform elements in Arab societies. But let’s face it- that’s going to be tough to pull off as long as our government is bankrolling the oil sheikhs and authoritarians like Mubarak. As long as we continue to prop up corrupt governments in the region, these reformers (as well as the Islamists) are going to see us for the hypocrites we are. In the meantime, I certainly agree with you that we can “deal” with whoever is in charge over there. I’d wager that even if Osama himself were in charge in Riyadh, he’d be more than happy to sell us oil and buy our consumer goods, as well as our dollars.

I’m not sure if I addressed your post adequately. But you asked some tough questions, my friend!


Jesse Lamovsky - 12/5/2003

C.R.W.,

Well, yes, culture is subjective. I'll save the musings on the merits of Christian European vs. Islamic culture for another time. What I can say is this: the fact that Arab immigrants are the most dynamic social and religious group in Europe is going to make this war (if it is such a thing) a great deal more difficult to fight. As time goes on we may see more and more Islamicist terrorists with European citizenship. It's already happening to a degree- Richard Reid (Britain), and Zacharias Massauoui (France, and to be fair, this man hasn't been convicted of anything) are examples. We can screen potential terrorists based on Middle Eastern nationality, but if the offenders are carrying German, or French, or British citizenship papers, it's going to make things a lot more problematic.

Of course, the changing demographic situation in Western Europe will also make it tougher for the West as a whole to achieve the kind of consensus on the fight against Islamicism that the author speaks of.



Cram - 12/5/2003

Jesse,
I thought your post was intelligent but I do have one minor disagreement, if I may:

"Hamas does not target Americans or Europeans, but Israelis. I know I'm going to catch some heat for this, but Hamas isn't our problem- they're the Israelis' problem. The U.S. hasn't done itself any favors by taking on the burdens of the Israelis."

In the book, "Why Terrorism Works," Alan Dershowitz demonstrates how Palestinian and Hezbulla terrorism is directly related to most others. The success of their tactics (especially getting Israel to withdraw from Lebenon) is the central rallying point for world terror by Islamisists.

The root cause of terrorism is its success and the Palestinians are a perfect example of how a people who have never agreed tp peace still managed to unite the world against its enemies. Stop Hamas, and stop rewarding terrorism, and it can be defeated. While I certainly do not propose this as a model, authoritarian states do not see terrorism by its oppressed people. Why? Because it is not rewarded, but punished and everyone who even thinks about resorting to terrorism knows this. That is the connection between Hamas and the USA.


David - 12/4/2003


Professor Mozaffari's thesis is almost identical to what Daniel Pipes has been saying over the last few years. Yet, thankfully Mozaffari is insulated from Leftist hate by his last name.


C.R.W. - 12/4/2003


I notice how the "anti-Likud/anti-Zionists" are reluctant to chime in and denounce the anti-terrorism "bias" of a contributor with a Middle Eastern name.

Maybe I should qualify my anti-terrorism postings by statedly being simply "anti-Fatah."

It shows you how obsessed they are with identity as opposed to the ideas one expresses. But who, again, are the racists?

As they used to chant on the college campuses, "No free speech for fascists!" -lol


NYGuy - 12/4/2003

NYGuy,

Two things impressed me with this article. First a professor wrote it from Denmark and the second was that he talked of “Global Terrorism”, not a localized Middle East problem. He also said that while many have misconstrued Bush’s comments, his most important comments were his call for the “War on world terrorism.” And, he acknowledges Bush’s world leadership by reminding us of the important speech he made to world leaders on his trip to Asia.

Mr. Mozaffari’s

The Americans' prudence is re-affirmed in President Bush's speech in Indonesia (October 22, 2003). In an elaborated and well-balanced speech, the president repeated that "Americans hold a deep respect for the Islamic faith. We know that Islam is fully compatible with liberty and tolerance and progress because we see the proof in your country [Inodonesia]." Then, he states "Terrorists who claim Islam as their inspiration defile one of the great faiths. Murder has no place in any religious tradition". In this way, President Bush tried to reach two important goals: To make a clear distinction between "Islam" and "Islamism" and to demonstrate that Islamists have hijacked Islam itself.

NYGuy

He further questions trying to deal with terrorist using dialogue as President Clinton tried. Actually I believe Clinton further increased the terrorist threat by giving high visibility and world status to the leaders of Palestine/Israel conflict with his famous photo-ops thereby giving terrorism a rallying point under Arafat. .

Mr. Mozaffari

If dialogue or compromise is impossible and ineffective, what to do then? The answer is short and brutal: pressure! Pressure can be gradual or accumulated; but it must be real and sufficiently strong and consistent for Islamists to feel it as such. If the pressure has no positive effect-- as it was the case with Taliban -- war should not be excluded as a last resort.

NYGuy

Mr. Mozaffari also acknowledges that external support against terrorism is essential and can take different forms. Thus in extreme cases military intervention cannot be avoided and our efforts in Iraq have to be viewed as a strategic offense against the roots of terrorism.

Mr. Mozaffari

The ongoing war in Iraq - despite its doubtful legal foundations - represents a method to break down the Islamic Bermuda Triangle. In this sense, the war in Iraq is a 'strategic war' against the roots of terrorism, while the war in Afghanistan stands mostly as an "operational war" or simply a "theâtre d'opérations."

NYGuy,

What I liked about this article is that the author says:

“ Today, the world is facing a single global terrorism, which is Islamist. In my analysis, I did not approach the force of the global terrorism. I took it as a given fact.”

Finally we have an article that deals with the real world on a global basis.

In addition the author shows that Bush’s vision is the correct one and his leadership in bringing the world leaders together to carry on this fight is a necessary condition in seeing that global terrorism will be defeated.

This was one of the best articles published on HNN and one that truly deals with current real world conditions.


C.R.W. - 12/3/2003

I'll start with the last point. I actually think culture should be realized and appreciated as, ultimately, a subjective medium. I have respect for the historical legacy of European culture in its various forms: artistic, literary, architecturally, musically, etc. But my ability to enjoy all those things today doesn't mean that I ignore the reality of their time-dependent contexts. My sentiment for a certain, flexible degree of things culturally conservative allows for acceptance of the fact that nobody is capable of reviving what was if only for the purpose of actively fitting it on a present day mold. Ultimately the culture has to adaptably fit the society or else it constrains the society. The only things that are still relevant are attributes that I would consider necessarily immutable: a cultural philosophy that emphasizes the same post-enlightenment notions of freedom, which I believe are at least as important in this day and age. Everything else is for the sake of appreciation, not necessity. Just because the other attributes remain historical doesn't erase our ability to enjoy them. But I don't want to offend you by stating that to suggest otherwise likely appeals to the overriding nature of a sense of sentimentality.

We obviously live in a global culture of raves, techno music, capitalism and all the rest. As long as Europe's Muslims don't go knocking down castles and art museums, I have no problem with recognizing the degree to which they respect their own cultural legacy.

I totally agree with you that political/social reform must come from within. But that process must take place and is only hindered by the larger political strictures and barriers whose removal we can insist on by siding with the humanitarian arguments employed by outlawed reformers and intellectuals.

I also disagree that global culture and a local legacy are mutually exclusive.

You have a good point that intervention not be reduced to the idea of military engagement alone, but I'm a bit lost on whether or not you're raising an objection based on the idea that other forms of engagement wear away at provincial sentiments. There's no turning back global capitalism and trade, and I think the economic origins of discontent or loss of face in that region are grossly overstated. The Arabs of the Gulf States are more than happy to trade with us, and even if that takes place primarily in the form of oil exports, I don't see the inhabitants burning down American fast-food franchises a la the French Socialist Jose Bove. I think they lack a sufficient number of expensive, recognizably Arab finished products to export to play a role in boosting any Arabian economic "pride," similar in nature to what you see vis a vis American cars, French wines, etc. In the meantime, I'm sure they're not unhappy at all to engage in trade with us.

Completely disagree on the terrorism thing. To modify a paraphrase someone famous, I believe that a lack of freedom anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere. Make no mistake, we do the Palestinians no favor by engaging Arafat, just as we do no one any favors by not doing our part to dry up Hamas. So aside from supporting the prinicple and means of Israeli self-defense, and the principle of true self-determination on the part of the Palestinians (which is, of course, impossible barring political reform), I don't see a need to become overly engaged either.

But we can always stand up for what's right on principle.

Have a good one.


Jesse Lamovsky - 12/3/2003

C.R.W.,

Why is the absence of direct military intervention in Middle Eastern affairs conflated with "isolationism"? A non-interventionist policy doesn't preclude social, cultural, or diplomatic contacts any more than it did in the old Warsaw Pact nations. Middle Easterners who desire freedom and democracy would be more inclined to see the United States as a role model if they weren't staring at the business end of American guns, either wielded by Americans themselves (as in Iraq) or their indigenous proxies. And given our standing in the so-called "Arab street", it's hard to imagine success for political reforms imposed from Washington.

Quite frankly, I wouldn't wish our corporatist, multiculturalist, secular, mass democracy on the Arabs anyway. Let political reform in the Middle East come from within, organically. It may just happen in Iran, if we don't meddle with them.

I already touched on Palestinian groups like Hamas in my first post. I simply don't believe that Palestinian terrorism should be seen as part of the overall Western campaign against Islamism. Hamas does not target Americans or Europeans, but Israelis. I know I'm going to catch some heat for this, but Hamas isn't our problem- they're the Israelis' problem. The U.S. hasn't done itself any favors by taking on the burdens of the Israelis.

I do agree with you on your last point. You don't think the cultural suicide going on in Europe is a good thing, do you?


C.R.W. - 12/3/2003


What we're missing is a legal and social form of infrastructure.

Civil society will have to take shape in Muslim countries in order for the population to favor moderating or obliterating the more destructive ideologies among it. I think a U.S. foreign policy that somehow has isolated itself from the Middle East is not only unlikely but impossibly naive. Their leaders don't want to not be engaged with us for purposes of aid, trade, personal approval/status and who knows what else. They are also pragmatic about military involvement and procuring military aid or support (or opposition) from us is preferable to a scenario where it comes from China or N. Korea. When the price for soldiers on the ground is too high, such as the case became in Saudi Arabia, we weren't averse to withdrawing them.

I think Bush is dead on. Once again, their leaders are largely too pragmatic to isolate themselves from us; this is our carrot. But we can begin to more adamantly insist that our sponsorship of the success of the region (and especially its leaders) comes at a price: The advancement of political and civil reforms.

And Jesse, I'd check out what percentage of Hamas' funds come from the Saudi Kingdom and Royal family.

And Europe prefers a Muslim population to a white Christian society with negative population growth.


Jesse Lamovsky - 12/3/2003

What the piece does is expose some of the problems that are not addressed by military action- that may be, in fact, impossible to be addressed by military action.

We really aren't in a position where we can put responsibility for nurturing this ideology squarely on a Middle Eastern government. Iran? Islamists are predominantly Sunni. Syria? Damascas has traditionally provided harbors to Palestinian terrorists who usually take pains to avoid spilling American and European blood. The favored scapegoat is Saudi Arabia, but the ruling regime doesn't support Islamists as much as they compromise with them- Islamists are the enemies of the House of Saud, and there might be a showdown in Saudi Arabia at some point.

I can't help but think that the best way to combat this ideology would be a combination of military de-engagement from the Middle East and immigration reform in the West- particularly in Europe. If this ideology can be confined to the Middle East as much as possible, without really, stimulating it by plunking our soldiers down right in the midst of the general population, it might just wither on the vine, like Soviet Communism and to a large extent its Chinese counterpart. If it is truly a utopian creed that can be separated from religious Islam, than that's exactly what it will do, in due time.

Armed Westerners on the ground in Middle Eastern countries and lax present European immigration policies don't strike me as the right way to combat this ideology.



David - 12/2/2003


This essay is spot on. I think it's safe to assume it is resting on solid ground, especially because nobody has felt the need to criticize it.