Can we defeat an enemy without naming it?....
A French journalist says we cannot, that we must name the enemy to win:
In French, we have an expression: “Call a cat a cat.” Appeler un chat un chat. That is exactly what French Prime Minister Manuel Valls did after the horrific terrorist attacks that hit my country on Jan. 7, when he identified “radical Islam” as our enemy. In France, most rallied to this clear acknowledgment of the threat we are dealing with, because it is simply impossible to deny.
That is why it has sounded almost surreal when the Obama administration and many observers in the U.S., despite their heartening support for the French, go to great lengths to insist that the terrorist attack had nothing to do with Islam.
The intention is good: President Obama doesn’t want to mix Islamist terrorists and the wider community of Muslims around the world. He is trying to appeal to Muslims, to prevent them from feeling ostracized. More than ever, the world needs Muslims who wish to live in harmony with non-Muslims.
In denying the enemy we risk, she writes, undermining Muslim moderates & free speech as well:
By denying that this is about Islam, “President Obama does us a disservice, because doing so deprives the Muslim community of its responsibility to fight this radical monster,” says Muslim democrat Naser Khader, a former member of the Danish Parliament, now at the Hudson Institute in Washington. “By doing that, the West fails to understand that the Muslims will be the most crucial soldiers to fight this Islamic terrorism.” Mr. Khader calls for a revolution in Islam that would reinterpret the sacred texts in a way that is “compatible with modernity.”
The same self-deceiving approach seems to be affecting the debate about the limits of free speech. Anxious not to offend Muslims, many in America and in France distanced themselves from Charlie Hebdo after its post-attack publication of an issue showing Muhammad in tears, wearing an “I am Charlie” T-shirt and saying, “All is forgiven.” The drawing seems hardly disparaging, but it alarmed those who think silence is preferable to the risk of offending. A fellow French journalist confided to me: “We should establish some kind of self-censorship, because we don’t want that a cartoon published in France leads to the burning of churches in Niger.”
WaPo columnist Anne Applebaum cautions against over-reaction to Islamist terror.
Europe has survived other kinds of terrorism before, too. The Irish Republican Army killed more than 2,000 people during its 30-year campaign. In the 1960s and 1970s, the far-left Red Brigades carried out thousands of attacks, killings and kidnappings in Italy. In the autumn of 1977, the Red Army Faction created political havoc with a terror campaign in Germany. Obviously these groups were motivated by a different sort of ideology, but they had more in common with modern jihadists than you might think. Like the current generation of terrorists, almost all received foreign aid and training, not from Syria but from Cuba, Libya and the Soviet Union. The IRA got plastic explosives from communist Czechoslovakia. The Red Army Faction collaborated with Palestinians....
Occasionally, inevitably, officials will miss one. This isn’t surprising, as the actions of extremists are, by definition, difficult to predict: The people who carry out these attacks are not only ideologues, they are also suicidal sociopaths. Nevertheless, the chances of being killed by a terrorist bomb remain less than the chances of being hit by a car while crossing the street.
In the end, terrorism works only if it creates terror. An overreaction is precisely what the jihadists want. We should deny that to them by resuming ordinary life as soon as possible.
Gen Robert Scales (USA ret.) argues that defeating radical Islamists requires depriving young males of hope in victory:
Our political masters need to distinguish between ideology and the enemy’s true vulnerable center of gravity: hope. The differences are subtle. Hope is the belief that ideology will prevail. Hope drives motivation or, in the psychologist’s jargon, a “response initiation.” To the extent that hope is present, a terrorist will translate belief into action. As hope is removed, even the most ideologically attuned enemy will become passive. As Clausewitz advises: Strike the center of gravity and the enemy loses the will to act.
The history of war suggests hope is a fuel that induces young, post-adolescent men to turn ideology into action. And hope rises with the perception of military success.
Meanwhile, Eli Lake explains why Obama can't bring himself to say "radical Islam"--equally true, Lake notes of George W. Bush: because of our alliance with Saudi Arabia, seat of Sunni radicalism:
All of this gets to a paradox of the war on terror. It has never been a war on the tactic of terrorism, and it has always been a war against networks of radical Islamists. But in order to wage that war, the U.S. has had to ally with Muslim countries and people, many of whom believe the state should punish apostates, adulterers and blasphemers.
Sadly, large pluralities of Muslims in countries allied with the U.S. in the war on terror disavow the tactics of terrorism but endorse the aims of radical Islam. For example, 74 percent of Muslims in Egypt feel that sharia should be the "country's official legal code," and an equal majority say it should apply to non-Muslims as well as Muslims, according to a 2013 Pew Survey. Three-quarters of Pakistani Muslims support laws banning blasphemy. A majority of Muslim Iraqis said they supported "honor killings" of women who engage in premarital sex or adultery.
Given these popular attitudes, even the governments in the Muslim world most actively aiding in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have to tread a fine line over fundamentalist religion, and Washington doesn't want to make that task harder.
Radical Islamists, for their part, are increasingly recruiting female terrorists.
Bottom Line. it is hard to defeat an enemy one does not identify. Moderate Muslims will not take offense if we single out their radical brethren. If they do, then they are not truly mdoerate.
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