Earlier this summer I co-authored an op-ed piece in the Boston Sunday Globe entitled: "How To Contain Radical Islam." To read the full article, click here. Here's an excerpt:
THE EVENTS OF Sept. 11, 2001, brutally announced the presence of an
enemy seemingly distinct from any our country had faced before. Unlike
previous adversaries, such as Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, or the
Spanish monarchy, this new enemy was difficult to define, let alone
understand. It was not motivated by causes that an avowedly secular
government could easily comprehend, and it took an amorphous yet
terrifying form with little historical precedent.
Our leaders responded
to this new threat with dramatic changes. In the largest government
reorganization of the past 50 years, the Department of Homeland
Security lumbered into existence. A new director of national
intelligence was named to oversee America's vast intelligence
apparatus, and the defense of the homeland was made the military's top
priority. Most dramatically, the United States announced - and then
implemented - an aggressive new policy of preemptive war.
with the seventh anniversary of 9/11 approaching, it seems clear that
policy makers have not responded particularly well. Islamic extremists
are gaining strength, while America finds itself increasingly isolated
in the world. The coalition of the willing, never overly robust, is now
on life support. In the Middle East, the Islamist parties Hezbollah and
Hamas have enough popular support to prosper in free and fair
elections, and Al Qaeda is adding franchise chapters in North Africa,
the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and elsewhere. Our most prominent
post- 9/11 action remains the Iraq war, which has arguably failed to
improve America's national security even as it has strengthened the
position of our sworn enemies in the government of Iran.
these global setbacks is a core problem: The United States has yet to
formulate a holistic strategy to guide the prosecution of our new war.
We have not articulated a clear set of mutually reinforcing goals, and
we have not undertaken a consistent set of actions designed to achieve
our aims even as they demonstrate our national values. Indeed, we have
not even managed to properly identify our enemies; despite the rhetoric
of the past seven years, America is not at war with terror, because
terror is not a foe but a tactic.
Blundering forward, we have
squandered the swell of global good will after 9/11, punished our
friends, and rewarded our enemies with shortsighted, even
Yet what we face today is not wholly
novel: It is a war of ideas, mirroring the Cold War. Like the
Communists, violent Islamic extremists are trying to spread a worldview
that denigrates personal liberty and demands submission to a narrow
ideology. And, as with the Cold War, it must be our goal to stop them.
The United States should therefore adopt a new version of the policy
that served us so well during that last long war: containment.
To read the full article, click here.
Thu, February 12, 2009
by Donovan Campbell