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One World Under Allah 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 4:00 pm

Page 6 of 6

In Global Jihadism, you suggest that the jihadis will be their undoing, and you quote Napoleon: “If your enemy is busy shooting himself in the foot, don’t get in the way.”

At the end of the day, al Qaeda is its own worst enemy. Nothing they do presents a positive image of where they can take the world. Everything they stand for is negative and revolves around killing. That message doesn’t resonate with most Muslims. The problem is, we have put the Islamic world in a position where they have to decide, are they with al Qaeda or with the US, rather than are they with al Qaeda or against al Qaeda. The latter is a much easier decision for people to make. On top of that, al Qaeda has been backing off considerably, trying to piggyback on existing grievances and social issues, trying to make themselves look less extreme and more mainstream. “We’re the only people willing to fight on behalf of the common Muslim man” is the new mantra for al Qaeda. The key is to show just how extreme and awful they are, which involves simply reflecting the mirror back on them and getting most of the Islamic world to understand what a minority group al Qaeda really is. We just keep getting in the way, in part by invading two Muslim countries.

I agree that invading Afghanistan was necessary, but we had to get it right. And now we’ve put ourselves in a position where Muslims look at us and Afghanistan and say, “Well, there are the Americans mucking it up again.” Even al Qaeda has historically said, “The Soviets had a stomach for bloodshed and massive casualties. We can respect that. When they got a hold of us, they would torture the hell out of us. They were a worthy adversary.” About the Americans they say, “These guys are sissies. It’s just a matter of time before they pull out. Let’s just bide our time, inflict as much pain as possible, and wait for them to leave and then we’ll have our fun.” The key is we need aggressive military action to stop this spread of Taliban and al Qaeda, and push them back up into the hills where they won’t have any control over major population centers. At the same time, we need to use all instruments of national power to help delegitimize their message, engage, rebuild, present the positive vision of where we want to take the world, which is what the US has historically been known for doing, because it is inherently appealing to people. And get out of our enemies’ way. Let them destroy themselves because they are experts at that.

The current administration has not spent enough time talking about al Qaeda’s ideology and body of propaganda, and is not responding in any meaningful way. Most of what they have talked about has been kinetic responses to groups. There is this body of believers who may never do anything, in terms of blowing something up, but are deeply committed to this ideology and promoting it in other ways. Unless we take a comprehensive approach, this ideology will continue to grow. We can play whack-a-mole with terrorists as long as we want, but the fact is the body of thought and the guys who promulgate it will keep this alive. When addressing global jihadists, the devil is in the details.

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