One of my first posts on this blog when I started it about a year ago quoted the Washington Independent on the issue of pre-emptive detention:
“We appreciate that the United States has security concerns about Yemen, but continuing to hold these men without charge is morally wrong, is in violation of court orders, and it’s handing al-Qaeda a recruiting tool,” said Letta Taylor, a researcher for Human Rights Watch…”
Later I wrote about Anwar al-Awlaki and how President Obama authorized his assassination, even if he’s found to be outside of any battlefield in which the US military is engaged. Here’s one of the problems I had with that policy:
And what’s more is that the perceived positive effects of such an assassination are pretty unlikely to actually happen. It’s not going to destabilize al Qaeda. If anything it’d give them a martyr and a recruiting mantra.
And later I wrote about a NY Times piece by Nicholas Krystoff on the cost and allocation of resources in the Afghanistan war:
Some other comparisons of costs really bring home the waste of the military occupation of Afghanistan. The money spent on deploying a single soldier there could be used to build 20 schools. A single cruise missile’s price tag is equivalent to 11 schools. And really, which is more corrosive to fundamentalist Islam: Cruise missiles that kill families and give recruiting slogans to al Qaeda, or education?
So there’s this recurring theme here. The policies which are based on this idea of a culture war between the Muslim world and the West are in the interests of the fringe elements of Islam which want to escalate this global conflict. Radical Muslim terrorist networks actually like it when US foreign policy fits with their demonization of all Americans. It gives their propaganda an element of truth which the average potential suicide bomber on the street can relate to. It bridges the gap between those with legitimate grievances regarding American foreign policy and our support for autocratic regimes in the Middle East and the committed religious fanatics who would hate the evil secular Americans no matter what. And now this same phenomenon of appeasing the terrorists by adopting short-sighted, emotionally-fueled, reactionary policies is applying to our domestic policies, specifically in the case of the Park 51 Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. From Newsweek:
“By preventing this mosque from being built, America is doing us a big favor,” Taliban operative Zabihullah tells NEWSWEEK. (Like many Afghans, he uses a single name.) “It’s providing us with more recruits, donations, and popular support.”
Zabihullah speculates about an increase in potential future attacks, but you don’t even need to depend on those kinds of predictions to see the effect this “controversy” is having on the Afghan public. Apparently the effect is already apparent:
Zabihullah also claims that the issue is such a propaganda windfall—so tailor-made to show how “anti-Islamic” America is—that it now heads the list of talking points in Taliban meetings with fighters, villagers, and potential recruits. “We talk about how America tortures with waterboarding, about the cruel confinement of Muslims in wire cages in Guantánamo, about the killing of innocent women and children in air attacks—and now America gives us another gift with its street protests to prevent a mosque from being built in New York,” Zabihullah says. “Showing reality always makes the best propaganda.”
Zabihullah’s coldness in how he reacts with joy to such atrocities definitely fits with the popular perception of how radical Muslims don’t care about human life. So it’s difficult to see why this connection is so rarely made, especially amongst US policymakers. Our enemies won’t be deterred by idiotic protesters trying to stop the community center of death. That just encourages them. They care more about the great mosque in the sky than they do about the average NYC Muslims looking for a place to go on Fridays, whom the radical Muslims view as too liberal, assimilated, and Americanized for their tastes anyways.