Juan Cole on ‘Combatting Muslim Extremism’

Juan Cole on ‘Combatting Muslim Extremism’ January 18, 2008

While I’m at it, a month earlier Juan Cole had wrote an astute assessment of “Combating Muslim Extremism” and  how abysmally Washington is failing in this area for all the tough talk, also The Nation.
Some notable excerpts:

The Republicans are playing Russian roulette with America’s future with their bigoted anti-Muslim rhetoric. Muslims may constitute as much as a third of humankind by 2050, forming a vast market and a crucial labor pool. They will be sitting on the lion’s share of the world’s energy resources. The United States will increasingly have to compete with emerging rivals such as China and India for access to those Muslim resources and markets, and if its elites go on denigrating Muslims, America will be at a profound disadvantage during the next century.

Since resources are scarce, it is important that the magnitude of the threat not be exaggerated. Al Qaeda has at most a few thousand members. It holds no territory and its constituent organizations have been roundly defeated in Egypt, Algeria and other Muslim nations. Its command and control networks have been effectively disrupted. Most threats now come from amateur copycats. Al Qaeda has no prospect whatsoever of taking over any state in the Muslim world. It probably would be dead altogether if Bush had not poured gasoline on the flames with his large-scale invasions and occupations. For John McCain to proclaim that Al Qaeda is a bigger threat to US security than was the Soviet Union, which had thousands of nuclear warheads aimed at this country, is to enter Alice’s Wonderland.

American politicians should cease implying that Muslim nations and individuals are different from, or somehow more dangerous than, any other group of human beings, a racist idea promoted by the Christian and Zionist right. They should acknowledge that most Muslim nations are US friends and allies. A wise American policy toward the small networks of Muslim extremists would reduce their recruitment pool by the quick establishment of a Palestinian state and by a large-scale military drawdown from Iraq, thus removing widespread and major grievances. An increase in visible humanitarian and development aid to Muslim countries has a demonstrable effect on improving the US image.

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