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    04 September 2006

    Something to think about

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    One of the OxBloggers looks at this recent article about where we stand againts al Qaeda in the WoT. Patrick Porter writes:
    In sum, there is a symbiotic nature in the relationship between us and the terrorists: if we de-escalate the rhetoric, it will help to lower the value and power of their attacks, whereas if we give them war rhetoric, it will feed their own representation of themselves as jihadists.

    But the difficulty here is that, whatever our rhetoric, the USA and Britain and other countries objectively are at war. In Afghanistan, Britain is fighting some of its most intense battles since World War Two. Iraq may not be hosting formal, classic, set-piece confrontations between large-scale and opposing uniformed armies, and the violence there is tribal and criminal as much as it is anti-American and Islamist, but to describe it only as a 'police action' is to trivialise the intensity of the fighting, even if most of the fighting is being done in small pockets and small groups.

    So what to do? We are at war, and declaring it over flies in the face of the intense combat that is still happening in Afghanistan.

    Maybe instead of changing the rhetoric, its a case of reducing the amount of rhetoric. The Bush administration has suffered with its inattention to logistics, detail and execution of policy, and has been preoccupied with narrating the war and indeed life in general purely as a matter of faith and principle.

    Maybe its time to assume that the general public is actually capable of participating in a debate not just about the moral case for war, but a debate about the general strategic approach. The jihadist rhetoric itself is preoccupied with absolutist, apocalyptic claims and calls to arms: maybe ours should be about remaining calm, solving problems and engaging the public.

    In other words, less preaching, more policy. How should resources be allocated? How can we help to promote the distinction between radical and moderate Islam? What should we be teaching at schools - are there ways in primary education not only of raising awareness not only about extremism, but about the many conflicts and layers within the Islamic world?

    Posted by Geoff

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