“War!”; gathering intelligence intelligently
The man who blew himself up and took 7 CIA men with him should help teach us in the US, the same lesson…yet again! But if the lesson learnt is that we should not trust Arabs and Muslims, then all seven CIA lives, all American lives before them and all lives that will be taken in the future, will have been totally wasted.
What should the US have learnt, this time, as they should have, a long time ago? There is no substitute for good intelligence-gathering and good intelligence-gathering does not come through the eye of a satellite, the cross-hairs of a drone or, from a rented stranger, it comes from good friends. But first, let us see how the US deliberately alienates Muslims across the world.
We have become arrogant in our belief that we, the US, have to sole claim to virtue and righteousness and therefore, anyone who does not support us, is by definition, evil. Like Rome of old, we demand loyalty of those we conquer, those we threaten and those we pay our money to…or, they shall be destroyed.
Before the tragic event of 9-11, there were few Muslims of rank in our elite security apparatus…FBI, CIA, Military…but after that day, we got rid of even those few; we had decided that since we were at “War!” with people in Muslim-majority countries, we could (of course!) not trust our own Muslims. We persecuted them until the only recourse left to them, was to resign or be re-assigned to a nondescript post. We imprisoned (“detained”) tens of thousands of Muslims whose only fault was some minor infraction for which no non-Muslim would even be checked, let alone be imprisoned for days, months or years, as Muslims have been and still are, in the US.
Today, this country is so steeped in the culture of antagonism towards Islam and Muslims, that is is not considered out of place to view them as dangerous outsiders. Our politicians and security apparatus go through the motions of “encouraging diversity” and asking Muslims to join their ranks, but Muslims are looked upon with ever-increasing hostility and suspicion. Millions of dollars a year are spent by our Administration, in training Police departments and FBI to look at Muslims and Arabs as potential threats to the nation, using “security” as a cover.
US Air Force Academy’s commandant, General Born (well-known evangelical Christian) hosts “experts” who teach cadets that Islam cannot be trusted; the climate in the academy, as reported by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is hostile to Muslims AND to a lesser degree, to Jews.
US Naval War College Prof. Jeffrey Norwitz uses the hate-Islam film “Obsession” as part of his curriculum (In 2008, he was awarded the Defense Department’s Counterintelligence and Law Enforcement Award for Teaching Excellence).
Police forces across the nation are being given training in which the default “terrorist” is the Muslim. One such program is provided by a firm called Security Solutions International (SSI); a two-day long program by SSI, in which about 40% of the time is used in learning about Islam, the five pillars of Islam and how Muslims name their children etc., Police forums unabashedly target Islam and Muslims in their postings and chillingly, have comments from members who say they would like to kill Muslim suspects under discussion in some articles. Instead of actively opposing such forums and comments, senior members of local Police departments that I have spoken with, back away saying the forums are private sites.
The Department of Fatherland (Homeland) Security actively pursues Muslims and Arabs as suspects and persecutes them until their target is utterly destroyed, guilty or not. The list of victims of the FBI are far too long to enumerate here, but one case that I am personally aware of, involved the persecution of a local Seattle Muslim businessman by FBI Special Agent Conte whose single goal was to turn his hapless victim into an informant within his Mosque. For almost a week, Agent Conte would visit this Muslim or call him on the phone. Using a combination of profanities and threats, he demanded that the man produce names of terrorists and sympathizers in the Mosque, refusing to accept that this man did not know of any. The persecution finally stopped after the man contacted me and I had a meeting with the then-US Attorney John McKay.
Somehow, our leaders actually believe that Muslims will run to help in spite of the contemptuous treatment they receive from all sides. When and only when, Muslims feel they are looked upon as equal members of society and it agencies, will Muslims feel there is any use in working to help put a stop to any extremist activity they suspect, may be fomenting. At present, Muslims and Arabs are regarded merely as useful tools, to be utilized as needed and to be discarded when not. Muslims ARE part of America and we CAN be helpful if we are regarded as bridges and translators; the current attitudes of expecting every Muslim to be able to finger at least some “terrorists” or “sympathizers” is foolish, unrealistic and can only result in further feelings of disenfranchisement among Muslims and Arabs.
What should the US do?
This is a large topic, but in brief…
The road to victory is neither easy, nor short and “victory” is not a march over the bodies of our “enemies”. We must first disavow any attempt to single Muslims or Islam, as our enemy and then we must actively and sincerely, invite Muslims to join us, as fellow citizens, at every level of decision-making and in every force, be it the military, or Fatherland Security and the practice of “studying” Islam for the sole purpose of creating the “enemy” must also stop immediately.
Ideally, we need a second-term President who does not feel s-he has to help the incoming party people and can then make some brave statements even if follow-through is (and likely, will be) obstructed by Congress. It should be clearly stated that the “War!”s on Iraq and Afghanistan were wrong and built on false premises; these wars should stop and apologies made as well as good-faith efforts to help re-build. Efforts to fight “terrorism” or, to build peace, should be realistic, i.e., in the Middle-East, make sure Israel is included as well as PA, Hamas, Lebanon (including Hizballah) and Syria. In South Asia, make sure the included parties are Afghanistan, Pakistan AND India, or there will never be any peace in South Asia. Support the people of a country, not the iron-fisted tyrant who does our bidding.
Start with that and watch as US popularity grows exponentially in the world and watch the real fanatics start to fade because their power-bases will begin to disappear.
I know…FAR too idealistic…
Extremism in the pursuit of virtue is no evil …Barry Goldwater
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