Fareed Zakaria: We Can't Fight Radical Islam by Fighting Radical Islam
Fareed Zakaria wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled "U.S. intervention is not the answer" regarding our fight against radical Islam. At least, I think he wrote the article; given all the times he's been accused of plagiarism, it's hard to be sure.
CNN reports that in a 2007 court deposition, Cherif Kouachi, one of the Paris terrorists, revealed the source of his radicalization: “I was ready to go and die in battle. . . . I got this idea when I saw the injustices shown by television on what was going on over there [in Iraq]. I am speaking about the torture that the Americans have inflicted on the Iraqis.” So U.S. intervention in the Middle East caused him to become a jihadi.
What torture was that? Was this terrorist perhaps referring to Abu Ghraib, where prisoners were photographed standing naked on boxes with paper bags over their heads? That's humiliation, not torture. Torture is sawing off people's arms, legs, and heads, which is what radical Islam cheerfully does. Terrorists offended by naked people with bags on their heads is like Adolf Hitler saying he is offended by jaywalkers.
Scholars Robert Pape and James Feldman analyzed all of the more than 2,100 documented cases of suicide bombings from 1980 to 2009 and concluded that most of the perpetrators were acting in response to U.S. intervention in the Middle East rather than out of a religious or ideological motivation.
Of course! Just because 100% of those perpetrators were radical Muslims, just because 100% said they were acting in the name of radical Islam, doesn't mean that religion had anything to do with it. Rather than calling themselves "scholars," Robert Pape and James Feldman should call themselves "propagandists," or apologists for radical Islam.
In a well-documented report for the Brookings Institution on the threat of terrorism from foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, Daniel Byman and Jeremy Shapiro examine all the known reasons for these jihadis to become engaged. The reasons vary from a sense of adventure to religious radicalism, but battling a foreign (Western) intervention is often high on the list.
Really? What Western intervention were al-Qaeda battling when they slaughtered 3,000 Americans on 9/11? We were not at war anywhere in the Middle East.
Let’s review the record. The United States’ non-intervention in Bosnia in the early 1990s is said to have spawned Islamic radicalism ...
Let's review the record with someone other than Fareed Zakaria. Wherever he copied this from, it is untrue. We conducted many bombing runs on Serbia to get them to quit Bosnia.
... as did the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s, as did the partnership with Pakistan’s military, as did drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, as did the surge in Afghanistan, as did the withdrawal of troops from that country.
Well! Look at all the evil things we've done! Responding to those who attacked us on 9/11 only made the radical Muslims madder! Perhaps we should have turned the other cheek. And not only did the surge in Afghanistan make them angry, but so did our withdrawal. How can sending troops in and pulling them out both make the radical Muslims angry?
Let's get to the truth: it's our very existence, and our culture of freedom, that makes radical Muslims angry. When they see women wearing skirts, or even driving a car, they get angry. When they see people practicing a religion they don't approve of, they get angry. When they see free speech in the media, they get angry.
To argue that the only way to stop terrorism at home is for the United States to intervene militarily and stabilize the many parts of the Middle East that are in conflict is to commit Washington to a fool’s errand for decades. Scholar Andrew Bacevich has pointed out that before Syria, Washington had already launched interventions in 13 countries in the Islamic world since 1980. Would one more really do the trick?
Yes, more fighting would do the trick if we clearly identified the enemy. We need a president who will come out and say the enemy is radical Islam. Obama won't do that; even George Bush wouldn't. I'll never forget the image of George W. Bush and his two female foreign policy advisors wearing Muslim scarves on their heads at a prayer service to avoid offending radical Muslims. Appeasement is not the way to fight radical Islam.
We should come out and say to the Muslim world, "There is a substantial minority in your culture that embraces radical Islam, a culture of death that seeks to eliminate everyone who doesn't agree with their fundamentalist views. Join us against them, or you declare yourself our enemy." Then name names. Reveal the names of all the rich Saudis who fund radical madrassas. Don't merely continue pinpoint drone attacks, but perform massive bombing campaigns of the areas of Pakistan where the rebels reside. Send our special forces in for lightning strikes if necessary, and cut off aid to the Pakistani government if they continue to support the radical Islamists. Define our enemy in name, and then define who they are as individuals, and fight them.
That's the way to win, Fareed. And in the unlikely event that you ever write this in one of your columns, please be sure to give me proper attribution.
Pedro Gonzales is editor of NewsMachete.com, the conservative news site.