Sunday, July 31, 2005

A New Front In The War On Terror?

From the Financial Times, via Belgravia Dispatch:

The US is working with Britain and France to undermine the appeal of Muslim extremism by reaching out to moderate groups, in a sign that its counter-terrorism strategy is moving beyond the “war on terror”.

US and European officials say the Bush administration's review--expected to lead to a formal declaration of a new national strategy--represents not just a shift to a more multilateralist approach towards foreign policy but also an important development in thinking away from the emphasis on the military.

Already a shift in language has emerged that reflects the new approach. GWOT “the global war on terror” is being replaced in pronouncements by senior US officials by SAVE: the “struggle [or some say “strategy”] against violent extremism”.

Philip Zelikow, special adviser to Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, is leading the effort at the head of a 10-member US committee. Talks began in London and Paris in June with the blessing of the White House.

Mr Zelikow's goal, according to a US official who asked not to be named, was to “develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to discredit and demystify extremists' ideology and promote moderate Islamic voices”.

We've known from the beginning that the War on Terror has poltical, ideological and diplomatic fronts, as well as military fronts. So, this is not a surprise. However, it seems some are surprised by the new moves being made by the Bush Administration.

The truth is, we've been using behind-the-scenes diplomacy with countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, France, Italy, England, etc. since the beginning of the war. We've shared intelligence, helped with extraditions, and consulted on security tactics. Are those military in nature? No.

The only thing that is new about this is that Europe is finally beginning to get serious about Islamofascism, so when we come to them with an initiative, it seems important all of the sudden.

The other thing is, had we moved to begin to forge ties with Islamic "moderates" any sooner, we would not have had nearly the success we will probably have at this stage. It is becoming clear, now, that Muslims are starting to worry that they will become ostracized, if they don't begin to help out.