web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Why the CIA Director is Wrong: Islamism Scarier than Al Qaeda

What the Obama Administration has done is like trying to reduce crime by turning over the cities to the Mafia and letting it make the laws and also run the police and court systems.
CIA Acting Director Michael Morell (with a friend).

CIA Acting Director Michael Morell (with a friend).

Share Button

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

It’s time, a dozen years after September 11 and following Islamist coups in the Gaza Strip; Islamist electoral revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Turkey; and a probable Islamist victory during the next year in Syria–to rethink completely our view of Al Qaeda.

First, Al Qaeda wasn’t involved in any of these events or in several more big developments we could list. Second, Al Qaeda hasn’t disappeared, contrary to the Obama Administration’s claims. And third, the American homeland is now demonstrably well-protected from terrorist attacks so consequently while success on this front remains important it need not be the top U.S. strategic priority.

So let me propose a new way of looking at things:

Aside from being a problem of counter-terrorism—that is, of law enforcement—Al Qaeda is no longer important. It certainly isn’t strategically important nor is it important for the biggest and most essential U.S. national interests. That doesn’t mean Al Qaeda should be ignored. Yet combating it is relatively manageable.

This alternative view is especially significant at a moment when the new CIA director is the father—and the president, secretary of state, and secretary of defense the avid fans—of a theory that places Al Qaeda at the center of the world stage. Basically their theory goes like this:

Al Qaeda is terribly evil and a threat to America. It must be fought. But all Islamism—except for Al Qaeda—can be moderated and won over by a sympathetic U.S. policy. The Islamists are the best people to handle and defeat Al Qaeda and by giving the people what they want–Islam running the society–their desire to commit terrorism or attack America will subside. After all, if the United States shows itself to be Islamism’s best friend, why should Islamists be angry at it? This strategy began with Obama’s Cairo speech which was a profoundly pro-Islamist statement, and that’s why he invited Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders to sit in the front row.

In other words, put your enemies in power and they are no longer your enemies. Moreover, once Islamists get into power they will get entangled in party politics, paving roads, running schools, and doing all the other things that governments do. They will lose their radicalism and certainly stop using violence.

Now there’s a lot to say against this theory. It either hasn’t worked historically on other radical ideologies—Nazism, fascism, Communism—or at least only after a very long time in power (including millions of victims) often mixed in with military debacles. It can be said to have worked with radical Arab nationalism but only after 50 years and multiple military defeats. This was also the precise theory that underpinned the 1990s’ Oslo peace process and assumptions about Yasir Arafat settling down to become a great and practical statesman. And that didn’t work either.

Moreover, it ignores the fundamental extremism, anti-Americanism, antisemitism, anti-Christian, and anti-women tenets of Islamist philosophy, which are rooted in reasonable (but not the only possible) interpretations of Islam. And it also leaves out the power gained once radicals take over institutions. Sure they’ll be running the schools but that doesn’t mean they will become entangled in planning curricula so much as to persuade people they should grow up to be radical Islamists and jihad warriors.

Finally, all Islamists want Islamist rule and the application of Sharia as the law. Some will talk and do nothing; others will talk and organize; others will use violence, and among those who organize there are those who can seize state power—in Muslim majority countries—and those that will fail. The Muslim Brotherhood is brilliant tactically; Al Qaeda has only one note in its orchestra, endless struggle and terrorism rather than political maneuvering and building a mass base.

Usually, as you can see, when I talk about this issue I stress the non-Al Qaeda side of the equation. But it’s time to reanalyze Al Qaeda also.

The importance of Al Qaeda in the history of Islamism is actually more marginal than it might seem from the massive study and headlines it generated. Al Qaeda had three innovations of importance:

First, that the movement be international, fighting simultaneously on all fronts. While the Muslim Brotherhood had been an international group it had a limited number of branches, only four of real significance. However, this only succeeded because Al Qaeda’s organization—especially after the U.S. destruction of the center in Afghanistan and long before Osama bin Ladin’s assassination—was so loose. Basically, local groups could simply affiliate with Al Qaeda without being its actual creation. Being active everywhere and not concentrating one’s forces is a formula for survival but also a recipe for ultimate defeat.

Second, that it would make the West and particularly the United States the main target of attack, most notably in the September 11, 2001, assault. This point, however, became less salient once September 11 happened. What are you going to do for an encore? Tighter Western security made repeating the feat more difficult. Moreover it became possible for Al Qaeda to operate in Muslim-majority countries. As a factor in Western psychology and policy, then, Al Qaeda’s focus on the West remained hugely important but as a political strategy it was largely abandoned except for scattered “reminder” attack attempts. Today, Al Qaeda is mainly attacking rivals in Yemen, Somalia, and Syria. Even in Iraq the main target wasn’t the United States itself.

Third, that the movement would focus on one activity, terrorist attacks, and try to carry out a “permanent revolution.” In other words, it was always the right time to wage armed struggle and that battle wouldn’t stop until the movement was wiped out. Other, smaller groups had taken that road in Egypt but had not lasted very long before being destroyed by the government. Understandably, this approach was not a great revolutionary strategy, especially as compared with more sophisticated groups that built mass bases and knew how to change gears, especially the Muslim Brotherhood and even other Salafist groups.

So while Egypt had an Islamist revolution it was quite different from the one envisioned by the 1990s’ Salafists or by the Al Qaeda supporters. Indeed, it was a revolution that, contrary to the 1990s’ revolutionaries, was made with the backing of the army and, contrary to the Al Qaeda revolutionaries, was made with the backing of the United States!

The same point applies to Syria and Tunisia as well as, in a different way, to Turkey, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip.

Of course, once the regime is overthrown and elections are held terrorism is no longer needed. You don’t have to raid police stations for guns if you control the military; don’t have to kill oppositionists with bombs when you can set the police force on them; don’t need to rob banks to raise funds when you have the keys to the national treasury.

And you don’t need to use terrorism to overthrow the regime if you have already overthrown the regime. Indeed, you don’t need to use terrorism against the regime if you are the regime. Terror, Brennan says, is merely a tactic. He’s right. It is a way of reaching a goal and that goal is seizing state power, fundamentally transforming the society, and using that power to battle U.S. influence, subvert the remaining non-Islamist regimes, and try to wipe out Israel.

Consider this historical analogy. Once Hitler took power he dismantled the storm troopers, even killing their leaders, because he didn’t need them any more. The Bolsheviks wiped out the anarchists and Social Revolutionary Party which had committed so much terrorism in earlier years. Lenin’s own brother was a terrorist who was executed by the Czarist regime. When Lenin took power, terrorism of the old type disappeared. There was only, as in Nazi Germany, state repression. Now that’s, according to the way the Obama Administration sees things, real progress!

The Muslim Brotherhood goes nowhere near that far. The Salafist groups are still quite useful for indoctrinating citizens and intimidating opponents. When you want Christians taught a lesson, women put down, and an embassy stormed, or an Islamist constitution passed, the Salafists provide wonderful and when necessary deniable service.

Here is an important principle in studying the politics of this contemporary era: Violence (including terrorism) is not the main measure of radicalism. Instead, the way to judge the extremism of a group is the organization’s ideology, goals, and seriousness in seeking total victory. Strategic and tactical flexibility should be taken into account but do not mitigate the threat posed by the objective toward which any political force is striving.

Finally, the bottom line is different from what both sides of the debate have claimed:

Ironically, the United States has a counterterrorist policy but it does not have a national security strategy. It has a way of reducing anti-American terrorism—let or even help Islamists seize power—but does not realize that anti-American regimes are far more dangerous than a bunch of guys in caves.

If terrorism was ever merely a law enforcement issue that is certainly true today in terms of Al Qaeda.

Instead, what the Obama Administration has done is like trying to reduce crime by turning over the cities to the Mafia and letting it make the laws and also run the police and court systems.

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Share Button

About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

2 Responses to “Why the CIA Director is Wrong: Islamism Scarier than Al Qaeda”

  1. Samuel Ramos says:

    I don’t care about people’s religion! Just obey the Secular laws of these United States of America! Otherwise, off to jail with ‘em!

  2. The whole world moves from trouble to trouble. Iran continues unwavering on it’s march in the development of nuclear weapons and Assad the dictator of Syria is still in power. Current intelligence seems uncertain of when Iran will get the bomb and Israel cannot afford to gamble with this. Assad of Syria looks like he may be preparing to use weapons of mass destruction against his own people and against near by nations as well and Gaza seems more like an opportunity for Hamas to reload than it does a cease fire. If this situation does not drastically change soon for the better, I believe the war in Isaiah Chapter 17 will likely take place. Damascus Syria would be destroyed. The worlds economy would likely collapse as a result and usher in a one world government movement. I wrote a small 6 page book that outlines what I believe the Bible states will take place soon. I don’t accept donations and it’s free. It’s a short read. I encourage you to have a look: http://www.booksie.com/religion_and_spirituality/book/richard_b_barnes/after-the-rapture-whats-next.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Ukraine Shul Firebombed
Ukrainian Synagogue Firebombed (Video)
Latest Indepth Stories
Imam Suhail Webb who boasted his Muslim community persuaded Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to withdraw an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

At Brandeis, much of what counts as Western civilization got cold feet and won’t stand with Hirsi Ali.

Text of anti-Semitic flyer distributed to Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on Passover 2014.

But the lesson from this meditation is that hidden behind the anti-semitic act is the greatest light.

Yossi Klein HaLevi

As support of their messianic dream, Halevi and Antepli approve dishonoring Hirsi Ali as a ‘renegade.’

matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

More Articles from Barry Rubin
Youssef Ziedan

The interviewer responds, “There was also Balfour.”

peace_clowns

If the Obama/Kerry peace deal does go through, what would the risks be?

Let me make it plain. There will be mass murder, even genocide in Syria.

A large number of pro-Obama and radical or even anti-Israel cadre are Jews.

Does anyone think the Palestinian Authority will resist daily attacks from Hamas and Fatah radicals?

Secret Service security arrangements were overruled.

The Obama Administration plan is very simple, assuming that everything goes smoothly–which of course it will not.

The less you know about Islam, the better. Ignorance is strength.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/why-the-cia-director-is-wrong-islamism-scarier-than-al-qaeda/2013/03/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: