July 12, 2002
How to Win

Ted Rall: How to win the war on terror

Addressing Islamist demands--not caving in outright--would eliminate most of the broad-based Muslim support for jihadi groups. Moreover, they'd do us more good than harm. Withdrawing our support for the corrupt Saudi dictatorship might lead to a less pro-American regime, for example, but it would begin to inoculate us from the mostly-justified criticism that we pro-democracy Americans promote oppression wherever it suits our business interests. Stopping or reducing our $3 billion per annum flow of arms to Israel would allow us to truly act as an impartial negotiator in the Middle East, not to mention put a dent in the deficit. We could still offer to defend Israel in the event of an invasion, and while that stance wouldn't sate Osama et al., it wouldn't spark much anger among the great Arab mainstream.

It's a simple equation, really: Parse Islamist demands into the acceptable and unreasonable, ignore the ridiculous and respond constructively to the mainstream. Take away the cause's raison d'Ítre and the cause goes away. To be sure, there may always be a few lunatics willing to blow themselves up for Allah. But their bank accounts will be small and so will their bombs.

I said the same thing in Rushdie's Rhetoric and Righteous Response last year, but Rall gives more examples.

posted by dru in good_articles