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Not Just Afghanistan, Not Just Al Qaeda….

January 11, 2010

Guest: Professor Jordan Tama of American University


Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Etc.
Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Radical Shia, Radical Shiite, Etc.


Radicalized Islam is growing. The struggle in the Arab world between rich despots (largely supported by the United States) and poor anarchic, murderous theocratic terrorists has left few peaceful moderates having any say at all.


Much like Latin Americans in the 1980’s, most Arabs just want to live their lives, but they’re stuck in the middle of an international civil war where they distrust all sides. They hate both their corrupt, torturing governments AND the brutal fundamentalist Islamist terrorists who want to massacre innocent people (Muslim and non-Muslim) worldwide. And most hate the USA as well (not to mention Israel).


In fact, about the only thing the corrupt governments and the fanatical terrorists agree on (and do quite well) is putting the blame for their brutal wars on us: on the West, on the USA, on Israel, on Christians, on Jews, and on anyone but themselves.  (Not that we don’t deserve some significant blame, because we do.  Which makes everything even more complicated!)


Still, demagoguery works. And we are losing the battle for hearts and minds. And isn’t this battle — the battle for public opinion — the only way to win the “war on terror”?


We are in a Catch-22. How do we defeat a worldwide assymetrical enemy? How do we preserve our values while fighting an enemy that seeks anarchy and destruction? If we fight back hard, we are seen as bullies killing civilians (however accidentally we do so). If we fight back soft, we are seen as defeatable.


The real question is: will Islamic Arabs ever stand up and say: “There’s a third way”? A way of responsive democratic, non-corrupt, non-brutal governing. A way practiced by the few Muslim-majority democracies on earth: Turkey (though radicalism in Turkey is unfortunately growing) and, recently, in Indonesia and even Pakistan.


Where are the moderates?
Who are the moderates?
Do they even exist?
If so, how do we help them succeed?

The War on Terror

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