Saturday, November 10, 2007

Will We Win the War of Ideas? Can We?

Robert Satloff has an op-ed today in the Washington Post. It's important but I doubt many people will read it because the topic is just not on our radar. It's about how to Win the War of Ideas.

Satloff points out that there is a bigger war going on that is really being ignored.
...we are, more accurately, engaged in what can be considered a fourth war, against the spread of the ideology of radical Islamism. In this war, the battlefields are the many cities, towns and villages where extremists seek to impose their absolutist view of sharia-based rule.
What is being done to win this "war". The answer, not much. We seem to be winning the "war on terror" militarily but there is no end in sight as long as we continue to breed more terrorists with our war "strategy". Satloff suggest trying to win friends in the muslim world is the wrong strategy.
Rather than expend effort on winning Muslim friendship for America, our engagement with Muslim publics -- what we call "public diplomacy" -- should focus on identifying, nurturing and supporting anti-Islamist Muslims, from secular liberals to pious believers, who fear the encroachment of radical Islamists and are willing to make a stand.

Naturally, this strategy calls for us to "meddle" in the politics of other nations. Something American citizens really hate when it is suggested that other countries might be meddling in our political affairs.

This strategy would involve overt and covert ways to assist anti-Islamist political parties, nongovernmental organizations, trade unions, media outlets, women's groups, educational institutions and youth movements as they compete with the radicals. It calls for marshaling government resources -- our embassies, aid bureaucracies, international broadcasting units and intelligence agencies, as well as our commercial, educational and civic relationships -- to give anti-Islamists the moral, political, financial, technological and material support they need.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be many other options. It's a fight between secularists and religious, some call them radical religious islamists. It's difficult enough to try to change the minds of the religious right in the USA and it will be no different trying to do the same in muslim nations.

No comments: