Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Power of Naming

Jackie Gingrich Cushman,

image from
Terrorism is a tactic used by people and groups to achieve their political, social or religious goals. It is not in itself a belief system. Christian Whiton, former diplomat and author of "Smart Power: Between Diplomacy and War," notes that there is "a critical error" in that "two distinct but overlapping elements" have not been clearly identified or articulated to the American public. He identifies them as Islam and Islamism. The belief system that fueled the terroristic act — radical Islam or Islamism — is described as follows: "The former is a religion of nearly a quarter of the world's population; the latter is a political ideology whose central tenet is unifying government, and Islam and is advocated by a small subset of Muslims," according to Whiton. If we are not aware of the situation, we cannot create a strategy to win. ...
According to Whiton, we should do what is "most necessary to turn the tide on radical Islam: political warfare."
What does this mean? Using all avenues to win. "In statecraft, political warfare is the reverse of espionage. Whereas spying involves the pull of information our enemies don't want us to have, political warfare is the push of ideas, information, people and events with which our enemies would rather not contend."
It is neither improved "public diplomacy" (Bush administration) nor an apology tour (i.e. Obama's 2009 speech in Cairo).
According to Whiton, "Successful political warfare against this ideology could involve three broad steps: First, we should tell the truth about radical Islam and adopt a policy of opposing Islamism globally. ... Being honest about this threat is not anti-Muslim. In fact, political warfare ideally would involve getting Muslims to turn decisively against the Islamists.
"Second, we need to focus on nonviolently undermining Islamist governments like Iran's. While ISIS may earn headlines, Iran's theocracy has tentacles throughout the Middle East and may soon be armed with nuclear weapons.
"Third, we should work with allies to suppress radical Islam culturally. ...We should support institutions that give power to modern Muslims who believe in separating mosque and state." ...

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