Counter-terrorism after “The End” of the War on Terror

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Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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33 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    An additional part of the problem is this:

    If there is another attack within spitting distance of the damage done by 9/11 (a plane, say, going down in a major metropolitan area and taking out a decently-sized building and at least 200 dead), then the people who argued that we need more rendition, more waterboarding, more executive power will start winning elections.

    Just like “WE NEED MORE FUNDING!!!” is the only answer when a school is failing, “WE NEED STRONGER AUTOCRATS!!!” is the only answer when security is breached.Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      for sure. Fred Ikle argued that the US should a law passed about succession in case of a catastrophic attack (say on the House and Senate). His worry was in that case, the government would respond (emotionally) to such an attack by instituting measures that would be hard (if not impossible) ever to reverse and that would degrade civil liberties.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris Dierkes
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        says:

        I tend to agree. I think that Congress has been more or less extraneous since they started directly electing senators… requiring “judicial activism” on the part of the Supreme Court and stronger and stronger and stronger executives.Report

  2. Avatar Scott
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    says:

    Chirs:

    Why should the defendants get any more due process than what the Genva Conventions call for assuming they should even get that much? That is all Nazi POWs got, so I fail to see why we should give these guys any more protections.Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to Scott
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      says:

      well, war is different for one. (Most of ) these guys aren’t uniformed soldiers in a state-based military. Bush was at least right about that. Wrong I think in what he decided to do about that fact.

      I wouldn’t say they deserve more protections than the Geneva Conventions (though certainly not less). Those are recognized, our gov’t has signed them and upheld them in the past, so I think that’s good. But military tribunals is more an issue of policy too—for example, when you have military tribunals, presumably you send people to military prisons.

      That makes sense when you fight a state that has an army and the state loses (i.e. Nazi-controlled Germany). I’m not sure it works in this state-less age.

      This is a field too far, but if say a bin Laden were caught, I think the Int’l Criminal Court would be a better (though pretty imperfect) solution.

      Maybe someone out there knows of some good proposals that would call for a new kind of court relative to the new kind of criminal? I’m open to the idea.

      So my general fallback (again imperfect to be sure) is that civilian courts are probably (though this is fallible judgment and guess) than military ones. There are legitimate risks involved in radicalization of already radicalized US prison populations. [The talk about a threat to the US homeland by having terrorists I find rather stupid.] My hunch is those risks are worth it compared to the known negative quantity of a place like Gitmo.

      But either way, I think that should be Congress’ decision not The Executive’s.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris Dierkes
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        says:

        Never bet the rent money.

        If OBL goes to the ICC and happens through some weird circumstance to get off (a mistrial, maybe… a weird jury… incompetent prosecution), what do you think will happen as he walks out that courthouse door?

        If you aren’t willing to see what the US is likely to do in that (granted, unlikely) circumstance, you shouldn’t want the ICC to be in charge of it.

        I shudder to think what the response might be.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Chris Dierkes
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        says:

        Chris:

        This conflict isn’t that different, as the Taliban were the gov’t of Afghanistan different. However, wearing a uniform and carrying arms openly are two of the criteria that get combatants status as protected person under the Geneva Conventions. The German spies that landed in the US during WW2 got military tribunals so I fail to see why enemy POWs shouldn’t get them as well. You still haven’t articled any reason as to why civilian trials are preferable or even applicable.Report

        • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Scott
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          says:

          Civilian trials are applicable because these are civilians until proven guilty. Perhaps you could perform some kind of hybrid trial where the suspect is first convicted of terrorism and then tried for further crimes through the military system; but then, why bother – civilian trials for terrorists have served us fine in the past, just as they have for mass murderers of other flavors.Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to trizzlor
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            says:

            I see, so when American forces capture a guy who was shooting at them he should get a trial to determine if he is a civilian? What fantasy land does that occur in?Report

            • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Scott
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              says:

              As opposed to one where our laws are based entirely on cut-and-dry anecdotes? If our soldiers capture an un-uniformed individual attacking civilians (as is the typical definition of terrorism), then yes, he certainly should be treated as a civilian until proven otherwise. In reality though, many of the “enemy non-combatants” are not even engaged in any illegal activity at all when they’re captured, but are simply rounded up as part of sweeps. Of course, anyone’s guilty of potentially harboring a ticking time-bomb, so we can’t be too careful.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Scott
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              says:

              What if it’s a situation where soldiers are told that the guy down the street had shot at them the other day by an informant?

              What then?Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Well, you can stop applying the law piece-meal and then you don’t have to wrack your brain with high-school civics thought experiments anymore. Or is presumption of innocence a bridge too far?Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to trizzlor
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                says:

                On a battlefield where our opponents dress as civilians and conceal their weapons, a presumption of innocence is a bit too much, however, the US still issues rules of engagement that sometimes leave our troops at a disadvantage.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to trizzlor
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                says:

                Trizzlor, this is one of the wacky assumptions that I have:

                It’s not illegal to shoot at an American soldier in a warzone. As such, the guy who does it does not *NEED* a trial. Guilty of what? He’s not committed a crime!

                Now, here’s where it gets sketchy. I also have the assumption that shooting back is not a crime (in a warzone, of course).

                Which brings us to the problems of asymmetrical warfare. What happens when one’s opponents do not follow “rules” of war? Like, let’s say that they fake an ambush and kill some soldiers. What happens the next time we see a group of soldiers surrender? (note: not a thought experiment)

                Let’s say that we’re dealing with someone who snipes at soldiers without wearing a uniform then runs off and hides in a sea of faces in the local marketplace/coffeeshop. (note: not a thought experiment)

                For the record, I support stuff like the “rules” of war because they save civilian lives.

                Here’s a thought experiment for you:
                Let’s say that there is another attack on American soil around as spectacular as 9/11 and it turns out that the masterminds behind it hid in a sea of faces in Afghanistan. What do you think the public opinion regarding “civilian” casualties will look like?Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                My glib response aside, I certainly don’t disagree that asymmetric warfare presents all sorts of moral quandaries. Particularly because the most natural immediate reaction (no-holds-barred revenge) is generally exactly what the perpetrator wants to achieve. Certainly it’s not *fair* to grant human rights for enemies that flaunt them, but while locking up an torturing anyone with an evil-looking mustache might reduce direct casualties it doesn’t actually address our primary goal: to stabilize the government, draw-down the potency of terrorist groups to a minimum, and establish an ally with common national interests. From everything I’ve read on COIN (primarily from Kilcullen’s The Accidental Guerrilla) the way to achieve this broader goal is a slow and painful process of gaining the public trust by demonstrating that we value their lives more than our soldiers’ and eliminating the barrier between “us” as the occupying aggressor and “them” as a religious/psychopathic monolith. Practically, this means a soldier can kill a perceived immediate threat weather it’s uniform is that of the SS or Starbucks (and would obviously have to justify this action post-op), but it also means that anyone who is not an immediate threat (suspected of terrorism or caught in the act) is treated with the rights of a civilian suspect. Not to get on a high horse, but I believe in this stuff because I think it benefits our mission, not because of any pity for the victim.

                Practically speaking, and since we’ve gotten quite off-course, what do you think our government should have done differently with the underwear bomber? If possible, setting aside torture (the effectiveness of which is debatable) and political optics.

                To your last point, I’m not really fond of arguments appealing to my emotions after a spectacular terrorist attack (or the even more common “what if your child was taken by terrorists”) because I think history has shown us to make extremely self-destructive decisions when we’re still stinging from an attack. There’s a reason we have a representative democracy, and a presidential oath to defend the constitution rather than the country. I would hope that the president follows the oath and not the hot-flashes of public opinion. Though realistically, I wouldn’t be much surprised if we go back to gladiatorial games or The Running Man.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to trizzlor
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                says:

                My take is that we have no call to be there to to stabilize the government and that we do not have the ability, barring genocide, to draw-down the potency of terrorist groups to a minimum and that we do not have the competence to establish an ally with common national interests… and as such, we need to get the hell out of there.

                Given that that is an extremist viewpoint, I’m stuck with “well, assume we’re there, then what?”

                What will happen to soldiers when they start seeing a white flag as a 50/50 shot at an ambush?

                What will happen to them when they are absolutely certain that one of the seven faces staring blankly at them is the guy who sniped someone yesterday?

                And what will happen wrt attitudes toward how much leeway soldiers ought be given in the US if there is a second attack?

                This isn’t a “what about the children??????” question.

                It’s a “we’re on a dangerous road and I see genocide as an increasingly likely logical outcome and I do not see these policies as reducing the odds of that one iota.”Report

  3. Avatar Michael Drew
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    says:

    If there’s one thing that the last ten days have shown, it si that Obama will be politically vulnerable to the country’s response to terrorist attacks in a way that Bush never was. I don’t know how much that will change Obama’s (admittedly only mildly different from Bush’s but different nonetheless — and i agree that emphasis matters) approach to terrorism from what it has thus far been. My suspicion is that the approach has largely been set down, the neuropathways pretty well established, and the Obama approach is pretty much the Obama approach. Politicaly, however, I think that we can expect Democrats to do even more what they always do — to run away from national security and place all their eggs in the economic basket. Look for a year now where the White House quite literally spends every single day that it can talking about jobs, jobs, jobs. I think the president has been stung on national security now, and given that he does not have (I don’t believe — but would it ever be remarkable if I was wrong!) the ginning-up of a new foreign war to reinforce his position in that arena, he is largely at the mercy of events with regard to that. If it turns out that there is another shoe to drop economically, an eventuality much on the lips of the gliteratti of the economic academy in Atlanta this weekend — something of a perfect political storm might very well come together to bring a replay of 1994 later this year. Tumultuous times.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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      says:

      If you’re wondering why I think politically the 253 fallout could be very substantial for the administration, the room to run given to a person like Jennifer Rubin (who clearly did not fail to caffeinate before going on air) in this Warren Olney program [http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/tp/tp100104security_in_the_skie]. I personally think that kind of mile-a-minute hackery would have been laughed out of most rooms everywhere just three weeks ago after Obama’s show of strength in guiding a lengthy Afghan review process and delivering a thoughtful Nobel lecture. Amazing the difference a failed nonspectacular terrorism attempt can make in causing those who run even such left-leaning forums as NPR talk shows to reconsider and lend NRO/Commentary-types half an ear. Just sayin’..Report

  4. Avatar Roque Nuevo
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    says:

    On the other hand, I don’t think (contra US movement conservatism) that Obama’s rhetorical changes are completely without value. They make a difference, one I think the current administration might be excessively inflating in terms of real influence, but significant nonetheless.

    In other words, maybe and maybe not. But if rhetoric is significant and may be inflated and maybe not completely without value, then why on Earth doesn’t Obama use his magical rhetorical talents to call a jihadist what he is, a jihadist. Since we’re facing a fanatical enemy in a war on multiple fronts, don’t you think that, maybe it could be not completely without value for the public to get some clarity on that enemy? Why does your Obamamama insist on calling them “extremists” and so forth when there are much more accurate labels for them, ones that highlight the fact that they are products of a certain religious tradition?Report

    • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Roque Nuevo
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      Because to much of the target audience, “Jihadist” means freedom fighter. As a side note, at my alma mater we had a bible study group called Christian Crusade for Christ, you can imagine the kind of stares my friend got when he proposed a similar group called Muslim Jihad for Allah. Imagine you’re a fanatical Christian militant, would you rather be eulogized as a crusader, an extremist, or a common criminal?

      To me, it seems like your point is essentially “We have to glorify the enemy to defeat it”. Do you really think the public is unclear on the enemy we are fighting? What possible gain is there in unifying them all under a banner of a single ideology when they are really disparate sects with much infighting united only by a common target?

      Besides, anyone whose actually done some research on this will see that the common underlying ideology to modern-day terrorism is actually engineering.Report

      • Avatar Roque Nuevo in reply to trizzlor
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        says:

        If “much of the target audience” were Muslims, then you’re correct: the word connotes “freedom fighter” since it’s the obligation of all Muslims to engage in jihad until the world has submitted to Islam, which will make us all free. “Jihad” means waging war on unbelievers until they either convert to Islam or submit to its rule. This is expressed most clearly in the Muslim dichotomy of the world into the “realm of submission [to Islam]” and the “realm of war,” or the rest of the world. If the President’s target audience is the American public, though, how can calling the enemy “jihadist” possibly glorify them?

        “Crusade,” in contrast, does not generally mean “waging war on unbelievers.” Even though the word originated as an act of defensive war by Christendom against the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land and other Christian territory, by now the word has lost just about all of its original meaning. Now, of course, it just means some kind of struggle for some valued result, as in a “crusade” against smoking or whatever. Therefore, any Christian crusade for Christ, or any Christian crusader is generally not violent. But to answer your question, if some abortion bomber were called a “crusader” instead of an “extremist,” I’m sure he would be satisfied. But who cares what satisfies him and who cares what satisfies a jihadist?

        Since “jihadist” means “one who engages in war until the world submits to Islam,” this will never glorify them to the American public. The gain for the nation’s war effort will be clarity in whom and what we are fighting.

        Yes I do think that the public is unclear. For evidence of this, nothing is better that what’s right at hand. If the following is any part of the public’s conception of the enemy, then the confusion is self-evident:

        the common underlying ideology to modern-day terrorism is actually engineering.

        Engineering is not an ideology. The article you cite does not even suggest that it is. It’s a profession. The article suggests that engineers will have a certain mind-set that makes them more conservative:

        According to the original paper, engineers described themselves as “strongly conservative” and “deeply religious”

        That hardly refers to an ideology. One has to ask, “Conservative about what values?” or “What religion is the engineer ‘deeply religious’ about?” to get into the realm of ideology. Just saying that they’re “conservative” and “deeply religious” does not get us there.

        More importantly, to understand the lack of clarity on this point, is the fact that the term “jihadist” does not unify the enemy under a single banner. They do that themselves even if we do not use the term. There are many sects in Islam, many of which are mortal enemies, of course. But they are all unified by the doctrine of jihad, as anyone who did a bit of research would know. Therefore, the gain in calling the enemy “jihadist” would be that it highlights the very core of the ideology that motivates him. This would then work to eliminate the confusion sown by people who think that engineers are the enemy. The public would know that engineers may be pains in the ass, but only Muslim engineers have any chance of wreaking havoc on our society on any scale at all. And so forth.Report

        • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Roque Nuevo
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          says:

          There’s a few points of contention here. First of all, the president doesn’t just speak to a single audience, and he needs to weight his statements with regards to how they will effect all of them. While you’re correct that his tone and word-choice won’t change the mind of the perpetrator or his compatriots, it certainly can effect the entire spectrum of Muslims and non-Muslims that spans from anti-American terrorist on one end to pro-American supporter on the other. Moderate Muslims world-wide will either see Abdulmutallab glorified/justified as a freedom fighter or denigrated as a psychotic extremist; this will certainly effect their perspective on the legitimacy of these terrorist organizations. Moderate Muslim-Americans will either see their peaceful ideology conflated with a minority of extremists or respected; this will effect their likelihood to cooperate with US authorities or become isolated in their communities.

          The same can be said of your claim that the enemy is already self-unifying under jihad: certainly this is true, but our rhetoric can change that perspective in the minds of their fellow country-men. If there is anything we’ve learned from Iraq, it’s that the monolith of “Islamofascism” has many internal fractures that we can leverage to our benefit. For example, a Jihad against the US can justify the killing of innocent Muslims, while internal struggle for political power does not; once our rhetoric changed to re-frame such killings as being tribally motivated rather than anti-Western, popular opinion and support of terrorist groups wore down.

          No one is fighting for the hearts and minds of terrorists or patriots, it’s the people in-between that are important.

          As for the study, ideology is certainly a slippery term, and the paper only looked at Islamic terrorism (there’s no shortage of Christian terrorism in the world), but the fact that a Muslim majoring in engineering is much more likely to become a terrorist than one majoring in Islamic Studies should certainly factor into Obama’s rhetoric, no? Islamo-fascisteers, perhaps.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco in reply to trizzlor
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            says:

            there’s no shortage of Christian terrorism in the world

            Where?Report

            • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to Art Deco
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              says:

              There’s Christian(ist?) inspired terrorism in the US against abortion doctors. There’s (crazily) Mexican gangs that have merged narco-terrorism with aberrant forms of Christianity. The Lord’s Army in Uganda I suppose would count.

              Also there’s the case in the Philippines where a Catholic-majority is seen to be backing a better hardcore military counterinsurgency against a Muslim insurgency.

              Going back a little further, the Phalangists in Lebanon, Franco in Spain, the questionable relation of some in the Croatian Catholic church to Fascism,

              And lastly (though I’m not promoting this point of view), the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are seen by many in that part of the world as Christian-led wars against Islam.Report

              • Avatar Roque Nuevo in reply to Chris Dierkes
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                says:

                US Christians attacking abortion clinics; the Familia Michoacana; the Lord’s Army in Uganda; Franco; Phanalgists in Lebanon; Croatian fascists … all this does not equal “no shortage of Christian terrorists in the world.” It equals a shortage. To show “no shortage,” you’re going to have to come up with a lot better than that!

                More importantly, Christian anti-abortion terrorists in the US are repudiated by US Christians and their leaders. Ditto la Familia Michoacana in Mexico. This situation is not mirrored in the Islamic world, where there is truly no shortage of terrorists.

                Also, “a better hardcore military counterinsurgency” is not the same as terrorism.

                So, “the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are seen by many as Christian-led wars against Islam.” Dare we mention here that the “many in that part of the world” are Muslim and that they practice Islam? Or would that be unfair? Why didn’t it help matters at all that Bush consistently, and from the very beginning, called Islam a “religion of peace” and assured Muslims that our war was not against Islam?Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Roque Nuevo
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                says:

                Here’s a paper analyzing RAND statistics from 1970-2006. Of the top 10 most active terrorist groups, one is Christian (IRA) and one is Muslim (Hamas).

                As for casualties, the most recent analysis I’ve found is by the NCTC in 2007, which doesn’t break down the religious origins very well but does show “Islamic extremism” to account for less than a quarter of terrorist related deaths that year. Christian terrorist groups from Asia (such as the National Liberation Front of Tripura) routinely make it into the MIPT list of world’s most active terrorist groups, though apparently not into US headlines.Report

              • Avatar Roque Nuevo in reply to trizzlor
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                says:

                You failed to mention Shining Path, ETA, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front to round out the top ten. The “religious origin” of these groups is Catholic. So, they’re Catholic terrorists, right? They’re fighting a crusade to get the world to swear allegiance to the Pope. I guess. It’s an outdated list, to say the least. Shining Path is no more. The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front is now running the government of El Salvador. The Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front has long since joined the government. None of these groups ever posed a threat to the US. We’re talking about threats to the US, not threats to El Salvador or to Chile. You have cited a useless academic exercise, nothing more. Al Qaeda didn’t even make the list, nor did the Muslim Brothers, Islamic Jihad, etc etc.

                I can’t imagine why you’re interested in the “religious origins” of terrorist groups. By your logic, and disregarding any relevancy to the problem at hand (as you do by citing Shining Path et al), Russia was taken over in 1917 by the Jews, since the “religious origin” of so many top Bolsheviks was Judaism or the French Monarchy was overthrown by Catholics since leaders of the French Revo had Catholic “origins.” A lot of them were even priests! Are you going to put Catholic priests on your watch-list as revolutionaries now?

                If you want to show that Islam itself has no relation to the use of terrorism, you’re going to have to do a lot better than that.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Roque Nuevo
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                says:

                I can’t imagine why you’re interested in the “religious origins” of terrorist groups … If you want to show that Islam itself has no relation to the use of terrorism, you’re going to have to do a lot better than that.

                Am I being Punk’ed? You claim that there is a shortage of Christian terrorism compared to Islamic terrorism. As I see it, the facts are not on your side: historically, Christian and Muslim cells are represented equally in statistics on frequency (I explicitly left out the Shining Path and other anarcho-communists because they are not primarily motivated by religion); anecdotally, Christian cells have repeatedly made it into the list in the past decade.

                You hop on a straw man that “religious motivation” == “religious origin”, a claim I never made, and then reduce it to absurdity. Cheers!Report

              • Avatar Roque Nuevo in reply to trizzlor
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                says:

                You brought up “religious origins,” I didn’t. Remember? You did that to show that Christian terrorism is every bit as dangerous as Islamic terrorism, since, according to you, it’s equally “frequent.” To show me that Christian terror groups (cells) are equally “frequent” as Islamic ones, at least give me an example of a Christian terror group. You mention the IRA as an example of a “Christian” group but they are only a group of Christians and not a group characterized by an ideology based on Christianity. Their ideology is of course nationalistic. Their terrorism does not aim at anyone’s submitting to Christianity. Even if it did, the relative impact of the IRA (its “frequency?”) is minuscule compared with Islamic groups.

                I haven’t found any”statistics on frequency” in any of the stuff you’ve cited, much less any that compare “Christian” and “Islamic” terrorism. In fact, and in spite of all the atrocities committed by Christians in the name of their religion, the most important leaders and the vast majority of believers utterly repudiate terrorism as well as any forced conversions whatsoever.

                The opposite is true for Islamic terrorists: they are groups characterized by their belief in Islam; their terrorism has the goal of coercing everyone into submitting to Islam; Islam’s most important leaders along with the vast majority of believers fail to utterly repudiate the terror violence done in the name of their religion. This is because the use of violence in order to coerce submission of the unbeliever, i.e., jihad, is part of their religion itself. They cannot repudiate it without jeopardizing their own status as believers and that can lead to the death sentence under Islamic law.

                That’s why I think that Obama should use his rhetorical skills to eliminate this kind of confusion from the public debate. One step he should take is to give up his vague and confusing use of words like “extremist” and use more direct and accurate expressions like “jihadist.” This pinpoints the religious nature of the enemy, which, according to the enemy himself, is primordial. This is important because the “art of war” mandates that we “know our enemy.”Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to trizzlor
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                says:

                The Irish Republican Army is a nationalist organzation whose members are nominal Catholics, not a ‘christian’ group. The Tripura organzation to which you make reference has 1,500 members and is seen and heard from only in the immediate vicinity of a small province of India.

                http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=3644Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Art Deco
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              says:

              Not to mention the Troubles in Ireland which could certainly have been seen as Christian terror in both Protestant and Catholic directions though they also had a more secular/nationalist motivation as well.Report

          • Avatar Roque Nuevo in reply to trizzlor
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            says:

            Well, thanks for sharing your ideas. I wonder what Chris thinks about all this. He was the one who mentioned the power of rhetoric in the first place.

            OK, the President’s words are important world-wide. But I’m talking here about their effect on the American public. I see a lack of clarity there that should be addressed by him. Evidence of this is found in your insistence that engineering is an ideology.

            I really don’t think there’s much chance of our President’s rhetoric affecting Muslim conceptions of their own religion. You say yourself that it’s certainly true that all Muslims believe in jihad. They believe it because it’s in their religious texts and in their religious law. How on Earth can the US President possibly affect that? Bush consistently assured them that we are not at war against Islam but against some psychotic extremists, etc etc. That, and a dollar-five-eighty will get us a cup of coffee in Pakistan. In fact, that, plus mobilizing the resources of the government to attack the jihadists, did result in declining support for them in the Muslim world. But it was the mobilizing that worked, not the rhetoric. Muslims still believe that we’re attacking Islam. They will always believe this until the violent jihadists are defeated. For example, thirty-two years ago the Muslim shrine of Mecca was attacked and occupied for days, causing untold death and destruction. As a result, the US embassy in Pakistan was attacked and many people died there because they were told to believe that the US had perpetrated the attack. Would re-framing the debate have worked to save those lives?

            Muslims will glorify Abdulmutallab, or not, according to their own religious beliefs. Whatever the President says has very little bearing on this. The Abdulmutallab case you mention is evidence enough for now: The President did call him an “isolated extremist,” but this didn’t make Muslims too ashamed to glorify him right off the bat. I don’t see that this affected them at all, much less “certainly” affect their “perspective” on the legitimacy of waging violent jihad against us. [Note: the word you want is “affect” not “effect.”]

            Muslims have already seen their so-called peaceful ideology conflated with the jihadists and they have done nothing about it except to protest so-called islamophobia. Contrast this with the treatment all your supposed Christian terrorists get from other Christians, which is out-and-out repudiation and not protests against “christanophobia.” The same goes for Jewish terrorists: they are utterly repudiated, even by their own families, and by their Rabbis, who refuse them a Jewish burial. This doesn’t look so good for the legions of peace-loving moderate Muslims who celebrate terror attacks against us, etc etc.

            Popular opinion and support for terrorist groups did not wear down because we “reframed the debate.” Most people, i.e., popular opinion, is not even aware of the debate in the first place and even if they were they wouldn’t care at all about it. What did wear it down was… well…wearing it down by military, political, financial, diplomatic means. “Reframing the debate,” however, would be effective in getting American support for a war that their own nation is waging against a fanatical and religiously-inspired enemy.Report

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