Are they at least beginning to ask the right questions in the Pentagon? From Rowan Scarborough in the Washington Times, :
The Pentagon is discussing war-strategy changes for defeating Islamic terrorists that would place more emphasis on killing, capturing or discouraging midlevel operators who enable top al Qaeda leadership to function.
Interviews the past week with Bush administration officials show that policy-makers are thinking the only way to ultimately win the war is to take down the lower-level operators who form the networks that support Osama bin Laden and scores of other al Qaeda lieutenants around the world....
Another change being discussed in an ongoing interagency review by the Pentagon, State Department, CIA and White House National Security Council is a strategy that emphasizes this is a war that targets Islamic extremism, not Islam itself.
This is a change? They have bent over backwards from the beginning to emphasize that this is not a war against Islam itself. And of course it isn't: it is a defense against the global jihad. Is that a distinction with a difference? That's for Muslims to decide, and so far they have been generally disinclined to make the distinction -- as witness the weak turnout at the Free Muslims March.
But in any case, even for the feds to start to emphasize that this is a war against Islamic extremism would be an improvement. Perhaps then we wouldn't have state governors playing up to groups with clear ties to those "extremists."
The article continues:
"We have to convince Muslims that al Qaeda is their mutual enemy," said the administration official.
Good. In order to do that effectively, they will have to give up their Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace mantra and delve into Islamic theology and realize that the jihad ideology is not the invention of a twisted and tiny minority of extremist religion hijackers, but a core element of mainstream Islam. Only then will they be able to formulate a strategy that has any realistic hope of convincing Muslims that al-Qaeda is their enemy. For how can they convince Muslims that al-Qaeda is their enemy without refuting al-Qaeda's assertion that they are waging legitimate jihad in accordance with the Qur'an and Islamic law and tradition?
How this can be done, or whether it can be done at all, is another question, but there is no doubt that they won't be able to make any headway with Muslims without addressing this.
There is a belief by some officials that the phrase "war on terror" is not specific enough, said a second official.
And a third topic is finding new ways to discourage Muslim clerics from preaching hate and encouraging violence.
Once again, they will only be able to do this, if at all, by going to the roots of why the clerics preach this way in the first place. And it ain't because of poverty and racism.