The RAND Corporation, a think tank that was influential in anti-communist strategy, has issued a report on the lessons to be applied to the struggles against radical Islam.
"The struggle in much of the Muslim world today is a war of ideas," said Angel Rabasa, a RAND senior policy analyst and the lead author of the report. "This is not a war of civilizations; it's not Islam versus the West. It's a struggle within Islam to define the character of Islam."
"We cannot come in as outsiders, as a non-Muslim country, and discredit the radicals' ideology," Rabasa said. "Muslims have to do that themselves. What we can do is level the playing field by empowering the moderates."
Rather than an afterthought, the building of moderate Muslim networks needs to become an explicit goal of U.S. government policy, with an international database of partners, a well-designed plan and "feedback loops" to keep it on track, according to the study.
But there are problems with such support, as RAND acknowledges. Overt American support can taint the efforts of moderates, so the support must be kept general and somewhat distant.
As America learned during the Cold War, moderate groups can lose credibility - and therefore, effectiveness - if U.S. support is too obvious. Effective tactics that worked during the Cold War include having the groups led by credible individuals and having the United States maintain some distance from the organizations it supports.
"This was done by not micro-managing the groups, but by giving them enough autonomy," Rabasa said. "As long as certain guidelines were met, they were free to pursue their own activities."
To help start this initiative, the report recommends working toward an international conference modeled in the Cold War-era Congress of Cultural Freedom, and then developing a standing organization to combat radical Islamism.
One example of a Muslim moderate is self-identified peace activist S.A. Rehman. Here is an example of his call to his fellow Muslims, in an email to me today:
You know that to eliminate all kinds of vices from the world and to promote good is the responsibility of every Muslim. Allah, the Lord of the universe,
says: "You are the best Ummah who have been created to show the right path to the people. You command for doing good and forbid from doing evil, and you have faith in Allah"
The Holy Prophet (SAW) has also said that everyone amongst you is a caretaker and is responsible for his subordinates on the Day of Judgement. Rulers will be answerable for the citizens of their state, every family head will be accountable for the members of his family and will be asked as to what he did for their reformation, education and better life. He will be asked as to whether he forbid them from adopting the bad ways, and helped them in leading a pious life or not. The Holy Quran has called this task as "Enjoining (People) To Do Good and Forbidding (Them) From Doing Evil."
Respected Muslims! The world history reveals that until Muslims performed the task of commanding the people to do good and barring them from doing evil, the pious people remained dominant in those societies and there was peace and tranquility and satanic forces were subdued. But, when this collective responsibility was designated only to clerics, and the common Muslims ignored this task, in spite of the efforts of the clerics, waywardness spread quickly.
A wave of offenses, terrorism, tyranny, evils, sins, ignorance and anarchy engulfed almost every segment of life. Disorder, commotion and chaos were on the rise in the world society, wrecking the peace of all mankind.
The Holy Prophet (SAW) has warned of this danger in these words:
"I swear to the Lord Who is the Master of my soul (it is your duty that) you must enjoin (the people) to do good and forbid (them) from doing evil, otherwise, the day is not far when Allah Almighty will unleash His wrath on you, and then you will pray (for help) to Allah, but your prayers will not be answered." (Trimdi)
The world is facing disaster upon disaster every day and people are expecting a major catastrophe. The deeds that have been forbidden by God are being committed openly. The evils are increasing, while the virtues are fading out gradually. Tyranny, oppression and carnage are going on, liars and cheats are overcoming. Terrorism, bribery, corruption, evil, nudity, vulgarity and wickedness have assaulted the world. It seems we have reached inferno before the Last Day. History tells us that such a situation arises when people are being cursed by God.
It is feared that members of the previous generations will be accountable for their individual deeds on the Day of Judgment, but present generation will be thrown as a whole into hell after a collective prosecution, because the nobles of this generation remained as silent spectators instead of restraining the wrongdoers from committing, cruelty, sins and misdeeds.
The Divine punishment to an ancient civilization seconds this fear. There were three groups during that period. One was of knaves, the second was of the people who did good deeds but did not halt the disobedients from transgression. The third group was of the people who followed the Divine doctrines as well as restrained others from disobeying them. When God cursed the nation, the people exempted from this torment were those who had been observing the limits fixed by their Master and were stopping others from wrongdoing as well.
There is another but similar happening. The residents of a town had been engulfed by an ocean of sins.
However, there was a noble man who was always busy in worshipping God, but he did not bother about persuading others to give up their bad ways. When God ordered the angels to destroy the town, He said:
" Overturn the town on the person who was anxious to save himself from the Divine Punishment, but was not endeavoring to save others from it".
I request the virtuous people of the world that they should not only depend upon their prayers to save themselves from the Divine Punishment; rather they should lead the Evil Doers and followers of Satan who have gone astray, to the right path. They should undertake this task against Evil Doers with full determination. Only then will their virtues and prayers save them from the Divine Punishment.
Hat tip: Joe Crowley