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Panel: U.S. Needs to Rethink Strategy to Defeat Radical Islam

ISIS fighters in Iraq. Reuters Photo

ISIS fighters in Iraq. Reuters Photo

Fourteen years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center the U.S. still has “no comprehensive strategy to defeat radical Islam” in Yemen, Iraq, Syria or any other place,” one of the key figures in the development of the 2007 surge strategy in Iraq said Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute during a roll out of a new report from the think tank.
“Your strategy cannot just be kinetic,” even in the limited form of counterterrorism drone strikes, said Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane developing a new model to defeat al Qaeda in Yemen,
“It is not a strategy; it is a military tactic,” he said.

“Unless you address the grievances [people have against oppressive governments] you cannot succeed,” he said citing the Arab Spring demonstrations that toppled regimes in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

The people demonstrating in the streets in those countries and across the Middle East saw it “as a chance for a better opportunity for themselves and their kids.” Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists “saw it as opportunity.”

Now the U.S. needs to do more to develop a plan to take on the radical Islam, Keane said.

“We need new thought leaders” in developing this strategy in academia as it was during the Cold War and among the community of Muslim clerics and scholars in turning back “what is now a global problem, a global jihad.”

Katherine Zimmerman, who wrote the report, said what is clear in Yemen is the situation on the ground in the fighting between Saudi-backed coalition of Persian Gulf States and the Houthis, originally a political movement of a sect that grew out of Shi’ia, has stalled. While the Sunni al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula has gained ground, it is now in a truce with the Islamic State. The al Qaeda affiliate and the Islamic State are Sunni.

The conflict “is not one where one side will conquer the other.” To reach a political solution and cobble together” some type of central a governmentthe al Houthis must be at the table.”

Frederick Kagan, the moderator, said the Houthis “are not an organization like Hezbollah,” Iranian proxies — even though they are supported by Teheran.

Zimmerman said the United States needs to play a leading role in working toward the political solution but also in aiding tribal that are fighting or willing to take on al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula. The United States pulled its diplomats and special forces conducting the counterterrorism drone campaign from Yemen earlier this year when the government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi collapsed. Hadi took refuge in Saudi Arabia.

After a long history of conflict, 20 million Yemenis are facing a humanitarian crisis.

“Water is hard to find; food is scarce,” Zimmerman said. Because of the Saudi air campaign and the Houthis mine-laying tactics, roads and bridges are destroyed making it almost impossible to deliver even medical supplies to hard-hit regions.
Kagan added, “We keep coming back to the humanitarian crisis” that is larger than Yemen. “These people are fleeing a holocaust.”

The air campaign also targeted military sites that the Houthis took over from fleeing Yemeni forces. The military sites included those once used by the Americans. The Houthis withdrew to industrial sites that have not been targeted.

Mohammed Albashi, a Yemeni now working for the Navanti Group, said, “We need to start talking about post-conflict.” He estimated damage to infrastructure at more than $30 billion with only $1.7 billion in the national treasury.

Albashi said, “Yemen is a wounded society” where people live in fear for their lives. “We need to figure out a social contract” to restore a sense of security.

  • sragsd0416

    Despite the desired degree of Political Correctness the reason why Radical Islam exists today, is specifically due to those in each country, not radicalized but well aware of it and refusing to do or say anything about it. The United States and Allied powers are so hated to a degree that the citizenry in the west simply can’t comprehend it. Further they are also fairly well financed and motivated. It takes more than a desire to die for Allah. These fighters are encouraged by those countrymen who quietly support them. So it is as much a cultural issue as anything else. A number of parallels can be drawn with how the Japanese viewed the west, themselves and what motivated them to do the things that they did. While some may chafe at this I believe in some part the 2 bombs dropped at the end of WWII convinced the Japanese as a people and to the core never to repeat the mistakes previously made. Ultimately our strategy may well need a significantly bigger stick to make an attack on the west too costly a thing to comprehend.

    • FedUpWithWelfareStates

      Hear, Hear! The ONLY thing Islam understands is violence, total submission,& brute force. Until the U.S. is ready to first, recognize publicly & officially that ISLAM is the enemy, we will never defeat an enemy that HAS declared war upon us & has stated openly that their goal is to impose Sharia Law worldwide.

      Our official strategy, to be presented to Congress for approval, must be simple (KISS) & directly define what our goals are, which primarily is to eradicate ISIS from the face of the earth, & then using a well-developed template honed to perfection after exterminating the ISIS infestation, we turn our attention to any other terrorist or Narco-terrorist throughout the world with the same goal of complete eradication.

      It is time to take decisive action & eradicate ALL terrorist organizations out to destroy America!

      1. Unleash SOF!

      2. Utilize the USMC SP-MAGTF as SOF’s QRF.

      3. Utilize any conventional force involvement to secure the territory of the Kurds ONLY (CAUTION: Do Not get conventional forces involved with the everyday fighting of ISIS. This is exactly what has gone wrong in both Iraq & Afghanistan already.)

      4. Politically/economically contain ISIS.

      5. Provide DIRECT aid to the Kurds & recognize them separately from Iraq.

      6. Go after ISIS & any other terrorists/Narco-terrorist wherever they may be with only one goal & that is to eradicate them completely.

      7. STOP trying to train the Syrian Rebels, as we are only succeeding in training/arming future ISIS members. STOP trying to train the Iraqis as they are less than useless in a fight.

      8. Include the securing of OUR borders in this AUMF, implementation of “No. 6,” inside of the U.S. against suspected & known ISIS terrorist cells & the immediate deportation of ANY ISIS supporters.

      9. Establish parameters of when this action will end…NOT a date.

      10. Establish Military Tribunals for ANY ISIS terrorists who are not killed on
      the battlefield, along with their supporters.

      Enough playing games & definitely enough with Obama’s half-steps/measures, all designed to prolong decisive action, enabling ISIS to establish their caliphate…

      • John King

        Your targeting of narco-terrorist states implies we should pull back our military forces in the Middle East, especially SOF, and attack Mexico! You just didn’t say that.

      • redgriffin

        You know the last corporal who tried this came a cropper as a British friend might say. You want to go to war with the world.

        • Secundius

          @ redgriffin.

          Just to let you know DDG-1002, USS. LBJ got CANCELLED as of 15 September 2015…

          • redgriffin

            Pity why should I be concerned on that after the racist rant I responded to?

      • bass_man86

        Wow! Where did you locate such a broad brush? So your simple approach is to just assume that every Muslim is a terrorist. You should see if you can work on the Trump campaign, you would fit right in.

  • Mr. Speaker

    Radical Islam cannot be defeated through raising the quality of life of would be recruits, appeasing political grievances or by coalition troops giving out lollipops to street urchins. Just look at the leaders of the different radical organizations. Many of them are from wealthy families and are well educated. The Islamic community passively condones the actions of its radical brethren. What politicians are afraid to publically acknowledge is that this conflict is all about religion. Poverty and lack of representation are historical Western motives for conflict but this conflict is not brought to you by a slighted band of factory workers. If you have ever watched a debate between an atheist and member of clergy or a Muslim debate a Christian or a Jew debate a Catholic it’s an exercise in futility if the intent is to convert the other. Religion is a deeply engrained personal identity. Compromise is blasphemy. Generations of Muslims *believe* the West is the enemy. Couple that with a philosophy that anything but the worship of Mohammed equals no right to have a pulse and you face a culture that overtly and through passive assimilation aims to impose itself globally.

  • TRS

    So called radicalism in Islam is well funded by local tribe leaders who are afraid of losing control. While they are ridding western cars, using western technology for their daily life style, and you don’t see them shouting hatred remarks about Russia or other countries!!??? You don’t see them wanting to attack other countries except us. ??!
    Jeffersonian democracy can not and will not work in that region, because the culture is different. May be the use of carrot and sticks would work.

  • Ruckweiler

    Arc Light IS the answer.

  • Bull Jones

    We have, as Americans, allowed ourselves to be beaten down by fifty years of liberals telling us that everything that made America strong is outdated or just plain wrong.
    No, I am not saying that we don’t have issues. We have remained blinded to other groups who have lived peacefully as loyal, productive, honorable citizens for over 100 years. Just recently a Sikh citizen was beaten brutally by a person that has no clue of the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim.
    Yet there can be no doubt that when dealing with an implacable enemy we must set aside this modern, and off misguided, idea of “clean” or “precision” warfare. War is something to be avoided. Today, though, we expect to take out the enemy without damaging the rug he stands on. That must end.

    • CitizenCharlesFosterKane

      We’ve been beaten down by an idiot Republican who wasted international goodwill to fight a useless war. You’ve got a lot of nerve blaming liberals, @sshole.

      • Bull Jones

        But it is so easy when they keep handing you more ammo.

  • Jim Valle

    It seems to me that we can’t make any headway against terrorism at large because we are using the wrong template. We keep calling our efforts “wars”. There was the Iraq War, the Afghan War, the Libyan War and other “wars” await us down the road in Yemen and perhaps Syria. Really, folks, they are not wars! They are pacification campaigns, something like what the European powers conducted during their imperial phase. They begin when the “natives” act up and end when you defeat them and then occupy and garrison the territory indefinitely, sort of like what we’ve done in Korea. The French use a special force, the Foreign Legion, to do this kind of work. By calling them “wars” we are using a terminology that our public can comprehend but it’s not accurate and leads to disappointment and disillusionment when the “war” can’t be brought to a successful conclusion. Pacification campaigns have no successful conclusions. This means that we have to pick our fights very shrewdly, make sure there is a comprehensible reason for undertaking them, and be prepared for an indefinite commitment. If we aspire to be the World’s policeman, we’d better get used to doing this all over the place and find a way to describe it accurately to ourselves so we know what we’re about.

  • old guy

    C’MON, DON’T YOU LISSEN TO THE PREZ. THEEZ GIES ARE JUSS AMACHOORZ.
    They are JV, he sez. (don’t no zackly wot that is), but he sez its not a worry. Don’cha beleev him?

  • John B. Morgen

    The only way to defeat ISIS is to deploy troops on the ground because this fight is strictly a ground action; both sea power and air power will to continue act as adjunct supporting roles.

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