Friday, January 23, 2015

The West’s four-part strategy to deal with radical Islam

DAVOS, Switzerland

The conversation at Davos is often dominated by economics, and this year it’s no different. But the shock of the Paris terror attacks lingers, and discussions at the World Economic Forum here often turn to radical Islam. I posited in my previous column that the solution does not lie in more American military interventions in the Middle East. What, then, is the answer?

The problem is deep and structural (as I wrote a few weeks after 9/11 in Newsweek, in an essay titled “Why They Hate Us”). The Arab world has been ruled for decades by repressive (mostly secular) dictatorships that, in turn, spawned extreme (mostly religious) opposition movements. The more repressive the regime, the more extreme the opposition. Islam became the language of opposition because it was a language that could not be shut down or censored. Now, the old Arab order is crumbling, but it has led to instability and opportunities for jihadi groups to thrive in new badlands.

Over the past few decades, this radical Islamist ideology has been globalized. Initially fueled by Saudi money and Arab dissenters, imams and intellectuals, it has taken on a life of its own. Today it is the default ideology of anger, discontent and violent opposition for a small number of alienated young Muslim men around the world. Only Muslims, and particularly Arabs, can cure this cancer.

That does not leave the United States and the West helpless. Washington and its allies can support Muslim moderates, help their societies modernize and integrate those that do. But that’s for the long haul. Meanwhile, Washington and its allies must adopt a strategy that has four elements: intelligence, counterterrorism, integration and resilience (ICIR).

(More here.)

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