There’s a very interesting debate going on over at Frontpage between Dinesh D’Souza and Jamie Glazov over the western left’s role in fomenting and then possibly losing the war on radical Islam. Both leave us much to think about and chew on, but I want to highlight one section of D’Souza’s thinking on the possibility of alliance with traditional Muslims:
D’Souza: Our current strategy is based on trying to find secular liberals in the Muslim world, people who believe in women’s rights and separation of church and state. News flash: there are hardly any such people. Yes, there is Salman Rushdie and a lesbian radio host in Canada who have gotten a lot of attention. I like some of the things these Muslim liberals are saying. But they have no constituency in the Muslim world. That world is divided between the Islamic radicals and traditional Muslims. The left is allied with the Islamic radicals, so common sense says the right should build ties with traditional Muslims. Besides, there is no way to win the war on terror without driving a wedge between radicals and traditionalists. The traditional Muslims are the recruiting pool for radical Islam. Even if we kill 100 radicals, it’s no use if 500 traditional Muslims join the next day. So we have to find a way of drying up radical Islam’s recruitment. Whenever we attack Islam or say that Muhammad was the founder of terrorism, we are pursuing a self-defeating strategy because we are driving traditional Muslims into the hands of the radicals.
From our limited stay in Baghdad, I think D’Souza is quite right that there are very few Salman Rushdie types in the Islamic world, and he’s also right that they have almost no constituency of support. It probably is self-defeating to go looking for them when there are so many more traditional and radical Muslims around who are so much more influential than true Muslim liberals.
The good news, though, is that the US policy at least in Baghdad didn’t appear to me to be based on finding Salman Rushdies and promoting them. The press and blogs talk about that because we like the oddballs and because we hope that in the end it’s people like Rushdie who carry the day. But that’s a fantasy, and it’s not how the military is operating on the ground.
From what we saw, the US is working with traditional Muslims in their own neighborhoods, block by block, to restore order and services and thereby dry up the radicals’ recruiting pool. It’s basic counterinsurgency thinking, and it’s governing how the military is attempting to win the war, and over time it can work. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch this video we produced from interviews we conducted in Iraq. Note how “liberal” everyone in the video appears, and pay attention to what they say–about democracy, about America, and about the war.
They’re all traditional Muslims. None of them are radicals. They want the same basic things we all want–available food, safe streets, good schools, jobs, etc. And our troops are working with them to defeat the various radical terrorists, insurgents and militias in Iraq by helping them get the basics up and running. And by killing off the bad guys when the opportunity arises.
Part Two of the debate between D’Souza and Glazov is here.