Monday, February 11, 2008

RAND Report: US Strategy In Muslim World Counterproductive

The RAND Corporation, a highly respected non-profit policy research institute in the United States, says in its latest report on the ongoing War on Terror: "Large-scale U.S. military intervention and occupation in the Muslim world is at best inadequate, at worst counter-productive, and, on the whole, infeasible."

“Violent extremism in the Muslim world is the gravest national security threat the United States faces,” said David C. Gompert, the report's lead author and a senior fellow at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Because this threat is likely to persist and could grow, it is important to understand the United States is currently not capable of adequately addressing the challenge.”

The study finds that when infected by religious extremism, local insurgencies become more violent, resistant to settlement, difficult to defeat and likely to spread. The jihadist appeal to local insurgents is the message that their faith and homelands are under attack by the West and they should join the larger cause of defending Islam. This makes U.S. military intervention not only costly, but risky.

While the recent military surge has improved security in much of Iraq, “it would be a profound mistake to conclude from it that all the United States needs is more military force to defeat Islamist insurgencies,” Gompert said. “One need only contemplate the precarious condition of Pakistan to realize the limitations of U.S. military power and the peril of relying upon it.”

The report recommends that the United States should shift its priorities and funding to improve civil governance, build local security forces, and exploit information — capabilities that have been lacking in Iraq and Afghanistan."

It is good to see that the US policy think tanks and researchers are finally beginning to recognize the follies of US policies. Let us hope that the current and incoming US administrations pay heed to what these researchers are finding and make dramatic policy changes before it is too late. I am hopeful that the world leaders can still pull us back from the brink and avoid catastrophic consequences of the Bush-Cheney policies of the last seven years.


Anonymous said...

Rand conclusion "Along with building "effective and legitimate local governments," the report says the United States must do a better job of organizing, training and equipping local security forces, and gathering and sharing information." I want to say something like "no s*** dick tracy!" Rand Corp. Think tank? More like 20-20 hindsite!!
There are so many interpretations of the Koran that the Muslem's don't even know what they believe! They are in desperate need of an entire new testament. As long as the tyrants of all the Muslem countrys keep their people un-educated and locked in ideology there will be NO Rational answer to this 7th century problem.

Riaz Haq said...

Greater use of soft power, as advocated by Joe Nye, will be far more effective and longer lasting to bring positive change in the Muslim world. Use of hard power simply reinforces support for the extremists and helps them recruit "soldiers" for their misguided attacks on anyone who disagrees with their philosophy and methods. It's about we put greater emphasis on diplomacy and soft power to build support for the moderates among Muslims.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece by Jack Hunter titled "Peter King's Radical Ignorance" in The American Conservative magazine:

This is not unlike when we are told that terrorists simply “hate our freedom,” as President Bush and his Republican supporters like Rep. King have always considered a satisfactory explanation for our problems with radical Islam. Yet using two of the very examples cited at King’s hearings—Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan and the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad—what can we deduce about what actually causes domestic Islamic terrorism? If virtually every would-be domestic Islamic terrorist cites the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as their primary motivation—which virtually all of them do including Hasan and Shahzad—and yet we are still fighting wars in both countries allegedly in the name of fighting terrorists… might it be time to reexamine and perhaps reassess our foreign policy? Are we attacking the problem of radical Islam or helping to create it? Has the War on Terror actually become a war for it?

Yet few dare raise these most pertinent questions. When longtime DC-based tax activist Grover Norquist suggested in January that conservatives should begin to have a conversation about the wisdom of our war in Afghanistan, he was swiftly denounced by many on the Right for even daring to discuss the matter. Norquist defended his suggestion: “I’m confident about where that conversation would go. And I think the people who are against that conversation know where it would go, too.” Addressing some of his harsher critics, Norquist shot back: “Shut up is not an argument… Many of the people who want us to stay in Afghanistan are smart people. There are good arguments for their position. So let’s hear them.”

But hearing any serious cost/benefit analysis about our current foreign policy is about as likely to happen as Washington leaders addressing and correcting our reckless domestic policy of trillion dollar deficits and debt. It is simply assumed that the status quo, whatever it may be, is somehow beneficial and necessary by its own volition. Or perhaps worse, politicians fear that the many special interests involved could potentially be jeopardized by any substantive examination of the way Washington conducts its business.

This characteristic intellectual laziness among the political class is particularly troubling when it comes to the threat of terrorism, domestic or otherwise. We continue to fret over the Islamic terror effect while steadfastly refusing to even consider the cause of Islamic terrorism, making King’s hearings last week little more than another example of Washington’s typical grandstanding buffoonery. Yes, King and his allies on this issue are indeed right that the problem of domestic Islamic terrorism is a concern—but their ongoing blindness toward the primary cause of their concern prevents them from even attempting to examine this issue comprehensively. Peter King might as well have called for congressional hearings on the problem of teenage sex while leaving raging hormones completely out of the equation. And let us hear no more from Washington leaders who want to “keep us safe” until they are first willing to look at the policies of their own making that continue to endanger us the most.