Continuing a series I started here with a discussion of Hillary’s Clinton’s statements on terrorism. As I have said before, I will not endorse a candidate. However, I’ll evaluate their statements on jihad terrorism in light of the reality of the situation.
I have praised Romney in the past for using the word “jihad,” and called for other candidates to do so — and some now have started speaking in similar terms, although I certainly do not mean to take credit for that. Anyway, Romney’s website contains a statement, “Confronting Radical Jihad.”
CHALLENGE: Jihadism — violent, radical, fundamental Islam — is this century’s nightmare.
Some people have dismissed Romney for using so many qualifiers — “violent,” “radical,” “fundamental.” On the other hand, I think it is refreshing to see him speak of jihad and Islam at all, and after all, it is undeniable that most Muslims are not fighting today’s jihad, or aiding it in any way. It is not illegitimate to make a distinction between them and the jihadists, as long as one understands that such a distinction is not readily or easily identifiable or quantifiable in the Islamic world.
I used to use “radical” to denote those who were fighting it, until it began to be misunderstood by some as suggesting that there was a traditional, mainstream, orthodox version of Islam that didn’t teach violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers. In any case, whether or not Romney grasps just how deeply rooted the jihadist impulse is within Islam, he at least recognizes that it’s there, and is determined to resist it. That’s a vast improvement over the present occupant of the White House.
It follows the same dark path as last century”s nightmares: fascism and Soviet communism. Many still fail to comprehend the extent of the threat posed by radical Islam, specifically by those extremists who promote violent Jihad against the United States and the universal values Americans espouse. Yet the Jihad has been with us for some time.
Radical Islam has one goal: to replace all modern Islamic states with a worldwide caliphate while destroying the United States and converting all nonbelievers, forcibly if necessary, to a fundamentalist form of Islam.
Or subjugating them under the rule of Islamic law.
Merely closing our eyes and hoping that Jihadism will go away is not an acceptable solution. U.S. military action alone cannot change the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of Muslims. In the end, only Muslims themselves can defeat the violent radicals. But we must work with them. The consequences of ignoring this threat — such as a radicalized Islamic actor possessing nuclear weapons — are simply unacceptable.
Fine. But how are we going to work with them? What are we going to do to help them fight the jihadists? Here’s “The Romney Plan”:
To meet today’s challenges, we must mobilize and integrate all elements of national power in unstable areas where traditional civilian agencies cannot operate effectively and traditional military power alone cannot succeed.
Create A Special Partnership Force (SPF). The SPF will integrate all elements of national power under a new force with leadership drawn from a core group of our Army Special Forces trained to work with civilian governments and intelligence personnel to form a new capability that is:
* Focused on locally-targeted efforts to win support in the community while identifying, isolating and eliminating terrorist elements.
* Highly integrated and able to mobilize all elements of national power, including humanitarian and development assistance and rule of law capacity building.
* Closely coordinated in partnership with local governments.
* Intelligence driven.
* Agile and flexible in its operations.
* A sustainable effort in contested areas and sanctuaries of Jihadist groups.
All right. This point seems focused on what to do in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it’s all fine, although the idea of focusing on “locally-targeted efforts to win support in the community while identifying, isolating and eliminating terrorist elements” carries a whiff of the common assumption that hearts-and-minds initiatives will win over a populace in which jihadists live and work. This actually seems quite unlikely, unless the jihad ideology itself is combatted — for otherwise, the kindness of American soldiers will only in a small number of cases dislodge deeply ingrained assumptions about the uncleanness and dishonesty of the kuffar.
Launch A New Type Of Marshall Plan Unifying Nonmilitary Sources Of Power To Support Moderate Muslims. As President, Governor Romney will call together our Middle East allies and the major nations of the developed world to establish a “Partnership for Progress and Prosperity.”
This Partnership will assemble the resources of all developed nations to assure that threatened Islamic states have public schools, micro-credit and banking, the rule of law, human rights, basic health care, and competitive economic policies. Resources would be drawn from public and private institutions, and from volunteers and NGOs.
Which Islamic states? What kind of schools? What will be taught in them? Romney says, “this Partnership would assemble the resources of all the nations of the world to work to assure that Islamic states that are threatened with violent Jihad have public schools that are not Wahhabi madrasas.” But Wahhabism is just one facet of the problem. A non-Wahhabi madrasa could still be jihadist.
And human rights according to which standard — that of Sharia, or that of the West? Here again, while we are pouring out all this wealth on these Islamic states, what assurance will we have that the jihad ideology is not still being propagated? To stop that propagation, it has to be confronted as such. But it’s not clear from this document that Romney will do that.
Strengthen Global Alliances. The failure of efforts such as the United Nations Human Rights Council has given multilateralism a bad name. America’s strength is amplified when it is combined with the strength of other nations.
We need to expand alliances such as NATO and efforts among the world’s leading nations to face the new threat of radical Jihad and increase our homeland security. We need to build global and regional capacities and networks of law enforcement and intelligence officials to confront Jihadists and other transnational threats.
GOVERNOR ROMNEY: “This [Special Partnership] Force would work hand-in-glove with local host governments. Together, they would seek to target and separate terrorists from the local population, and to disrupt and defeat them. They would have the authority to call in all elements of civil assistance and humanitarian aid. Where they felt it was necessary, they could call in Delta and SEAL military resources. Their goal would be to build national institutions of stability and freedom, and to promote the rule of law and human rights.” (Governor Mitt Romney, Remarks At AEI World Forum, 6/21/07)
Here again: this will never be done effectively unless the Sharia’s discrimination against women and non-Muslims is confronted and explicitly rejected.
Perhaps vagueness is to be expected in such a statement, but since George W. Bush has never shown any inclination to confront the jihad ideology at all, and that is the gravest and most multifaceted omission of anti-terror policy since 9/11, and since Romney appears at the outset to understand that this is an ideological struggle, it’s strange that his prescriptions are all financial and conventional, and not ideological at all.