Friday, January 22, 2010
Everyone knows that in the Middle East, it's survival of the fittest. Just ask the Saddams and Salehs, for whom assassination paved their way to power. Just ask the Netanyahus and Ahmadinejads who waved the bloody flag of foreign threats to gain power. The Middle East is a land where differences matter. “Terrorism” is violence one opposes; “self-defense” is violence one supports. “Democracy” is voting for me; all else is inconceivable. The distinctions are crystal-clear. If you don’t believe me, just ask Santa Anna! Uh, sorry, he was in the Middle South.
The point’s the same, though. He got into a mess because a militarily advanced neighbor wanted his land (West Coast, West Bank). He also lost for the same reason – because he represented the conservative, rich elite who put their privileges ahead of their countries and gave their birthright away rather than countenance a popular movement for national liberation (which would have meant sharing the national wealth with those, you know, “lower” classes). Mubarak is reaching that age, you know. I wonder if Santa Anna is still alive! He would fit right in…over in Cairo.
There’s more similarities between the Middle East and Middle S…ah…Mexico. In both, the dominant military power spent a huge amount of effort marginalizing and slaughtering minorities, clearing the way for the advance of “democracy” (see definition, above). In both, military adventure was conducted with a self-defeating brutality that alienated civilians, equated banditry (terrorism) with freedom fighting, and transformed productive farmers into desperate fighters, who promptly attacked the invading troops of the dominant military power despite overwhelming odds (that’s what “desperate” means).
Anyway, I hope we’ve got the geography straightened out now. As for the politics, that’s easy, isn’t it? After all, it never changes.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Mideast BOP scenario would envision the U.S. “providing advise and consent” from afar in order to help the various regional parties manage their affairs as peacefully as possible, from which it logically follows that some accommodation is made to all, no state and no major dissident movement (Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthi, Kurd) is marginalized, and the Mideast power alignment is bimodal – with Israel at one end and Iran at the other.
The Mideast Israeli hegemony scenario would continue the traditional “might makes right” path, with all its inherent violence and instability. The main lubricant would be the “threat” of what a nuclear Iran might do with the handful of primitive devices that it manages someday to assemble in the face of what one must assume would be hundreds of very deliverable Israeli weapons in the hands of an elite more than willing to start wars. The point for
- Which scenario would be likely to be more stable?
- Is there a third option?
Monday, January 18, 2010
Rather than continuing the long-standing provocation of tensions between Iran and the West, it may be possible to design an effective policy of quiet engagement, provided that it is thought through carefully. The post introducing this idea posed several questions that the U.S. needs to start considering very carefully, of which the first focuses on security:
What moves could
reasonably make to reassure Washington that complete nuclear transparency would leave it more, rather than less secure? Iran
Offer a series of increasingly significant moves to address
- Establish a regional organization to monitor air force movements designed to provide everyone with early warning of an attack.
- Support the acquisition of ground-to-air (i.e., defensive) missiles by
, Iran . Lebanon
- Explicitly recognize Iranian right to clear set of technologies.
- Provide all NPT members with some preferential treatment denied to states that refuse to sign.
- Set up a regional diplomatic forum for exchanging information on significant military moves, such as the opening of new
military bases or nuclear submarine maneuvers, and for seeking feedback from participating states. U.S.
More important than the specific details of the substantive steps would be that this would constitute a new policy based on a new foundation – that of late-Cold War-style confidence-building rather than the current
The hint of discord between Gonul’s and Erdogan’s attitudes toward Israel reveal discord in Ankara or is Israel being offered its last chance to avoid alienating Turkey by learning to live as a good neighbor?
Turkish Defense Minister Gonul calls
That’s a pretty glaring contradiction. In what sense can
In what sense can
If Gonul’s wording does not reflect factional discord in
Gonul’s record of support historical ethnic cleansing in
The disconnect between a Turkish policy of good neighborliness with regional states and its treatment of its own Kurdish minority is a blatant flaw in Turkey’s position, one that Ankara is visibly wrestling with and one that is highlighted by Turkey’s continuing military ties to Israel.
The suggestion of factionalism in
Sunday, January 17, 2010
A war of aggression, containment, and a "Nixon-to-China" gamble have all been proposed as strategies for dealing with Iran; all fall short. The best hope is "quiet engagement," a slow, incremental process out of the headlines that will require the U.S. to think through what it is willing to offer and what it wants in return.
A headline trip to Iran is likely to backfire because, unlike China (deeply worried about a perceived Soviet threat), Iran remains unpersuaded that it should risk trying to work with the historically untrustworthy American superpower. "Containment” is also inappropriate for
Israeli Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam recently exposed the hypocricy of the Israeli right wing hysteria on Iran:
Eilam, who is thought to be updated by former colleagues on developments in Iran, calls his country’s official view hysterical. “The intelligence community are spreading frightening voices about Iran,” he said.
He suggested that the “defence establishment is sending out false alarms in order to grab a bigger budget” while some politicians have used Iran to divert attention away from problems at home.
“Those who say that Iran will obtain a bomb within a year’s time, on what basis did they say so?” he asked. “Where is the evidence?”
The proper analogy for
Then again, a sincere policy of engagement might work. We won’t know if we don’t try.
But “engagement” does not mean condescending to talk and expecting Iranians to rush hither on bended knee bearing gifts. “Engagement” means accepting the concept of a positive-sum outcome and coordinating with
Today, there are several options on the diplomatic table for redesigning the
Indeed, "redesign" of the Mideast is already occurring, though it is not clear that anyone is in charge. Reacting to the Israeli addiction to military solutions and the lack of creativity from Washington, Turkey is moving to offer a regional alternative based on cooperation, with the global natural gas market as the temptation for all prospective partners. This vision is attracting Syria and the new "national reconciliation-light" regime of Lebanon. Iran remains officially uncommitted, but none-too-subtle Iranian media criticism of Ahmadinejad's economic record suggests that economics may, for some factions, speak louder than diplomatic bombast. The logic of appealling to the highly acquisitive side of the IRGC, which dominates Iranian foreign trade, further suggests that, all else being equal, Iran might be persuaded to moderate its hardline foreign policy stance in return for participating in regional economic integration.
All else is currently not equal, of course. Iran is under the threat of nuclear attack, which is a powerful incentive for it to play the highly provocative "nuclear ambiguity card." No one knows who in Tehran may want the bomb, but in a situation where Iran is being threatened and pressured by nuclear powers, Tehran's price for total transparency will surely be high.
Washington should prepare itself for substantive concessions:
- What moves could Washington reasonably make to reassure Iran that complete nuclear transparency would leave it more, rather than less secure?
- What moves could Washington reasonably make to reassure Iran that it would be allowed to participate as an equal in regional policy-making?
- What moves could Washington reasonably make to address the concerns of Palestinian, Yemeni, and Lebanese dissidents marginalized by the current political system so as to minimize the temptation for Iran to counsel and facilitate their violent resistance?
Washington should also define a reasonable list of requests:
- The neo-con war policy has ensured profound Iranian involvement in Iraq for the foreseeable future. How might Iranian involvement in Iraq be channeled in ways that would be easy for Washington to live with?
- How might Iran assist in negotiating an accommodation among all parties in Afghanistan?
- What would be required for the U.S., Iran, Baluchi dissidents, and Pakistan to achieve a consensus on a policy that would pacify the province and improve the lives of the Baluchis?
- In an international political context of addressing the grievances of Palestinians, how might Iran participate in a way acceptable to all parties?
“Engagement” will require a
Friday, January 15, 2010
Defense Intelligence Agency: Iran not in violation as far as we can tell. So keep your eye peeled by all means, but the case for war on Iran is closed.
Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, head of DIA, has, if you read his words with an open mind, completely exonerated Iran on the nuclear dispute:
The bottom line assessments of the [National Intelligence Estimate] still hold true," Burgess said. "We have not seen indication that the government has made the decision to move ahead with the program. But the fact still remains that we don't know what we don't know.
Hostile intent may exist…in
That is not to say that you have to leave all your cash on the street, expecting him to guard it for you.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
A group of 150 Yemeni clerics has issued the following blunt call to defend Yemen from foreign interference:
In the event of any foreign party insisting on hostilities against, an assault on, or military or security intervention in
, then Islam requires all its followers to pursue jihad. Yemen
This appears to be an example occurring before our eyes of how
It does not take many Predator attacks to stimulate a response.
Keep an eye on how
Has Obama defeated the ominous war party of
So it would seem, judging from a persuasive analysis by Gary Sick. In his review of relations with Iran before the Knesset on Dec. 23 chief warmonger Netanyahu focused on sanctions, saying calmly that “time will tell if these sanctions will be enough to halt the Iranian nuclear program,” and gave no real sense of emergency. Time will also tell whether or not Netanyahu has decided that beating the war drums is no longer a productive way of making friends and influencing people in
Sick wrote of an Obama “victory over
Now Clinton, who threatened to annihilate
No hint yet exists of a fundamental restructuring of
Let’s pretend that a “new decade” is in fact a genuine starting point, put behind us all the sorry history of mutual insults from the mouths of Iranian, Israeli, and American politicians, and look forward. Watch for:
- Israeli rhetoric about the Iranian threat;
- Iranian willingness to actually cut a deal, any deal on the nuclear issue, rather than just have more talks;
- Neo-con efforts to undercut progress in U.S.-Iranian ties;
- Any mixing of the incomprehensible mess in Yemen with U.S.-Iranian nuclear ties.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The Washington debate over the relative merits of brute force vs. state building is, in practice, vacuous. The real choice is between brute force and society building, an endeavor in which the members of the society must be central...and free to talk back to their foreign friends. The building of a centralized and powerful state structure divorced from society is the birthing of a monster.
The debate in the U.S. about how to resolve social instability in Muslim lands that may lead to terrorist attacks against the West frequently centers on the presumed choice between “state building” and military attacks on those identified as enemies. This raises a host of issues, not the least of which is figuring out whether or not Western victims actually are enemies, but that is another story. Here, I want to focus on the concept of “state building.” Bluntly stated, the above debate is so simplistic that it hardly has any value at all (even though on the surface the existence of a debate between war and state building appears to represent a huge step forward from the utterly brainless idea of blowing up everyone who expresses the slightest desire for independence or equality).
The only way “state building” will in fact represent a meaningful advance in
The missed point in most U.S. commentary on state building is the dangerously erroneous assumption that having a state is better than not having one (an assumption particularly unexamined in Washington and one that leads directly to assuming that anyone who has managed to seize power—say, via assassination—is a better person to work with than someone, e.g., Sam Adams, who “just” represents a patriotic movement demanding justice). It may in a given case make sense for Washington to deal with a local leader, but to assume that a Saddam or a Saleh deserves automatic respect while a dissident leader merits nothing more than dismissal would be a potentially costly (though hardly unusual) example of unprofessional behavior on the part of a foreign policy decision maker.
The assumption that a state is automatically better than the absence of a state would have been rejected instantly by a large number, probably a large majority, of the august men who created the
A discussion of “state building,” if not clearly defined, is dangerous because it is all too easy for Westerners to assume that means “a Western-style state” or at least “a centralized state.” There is no consensus in many non-Western societies that such a political system is desirable, not to mention any ability to create or manage it for the good of the population (a point sometimes realized all too clearly in a
Without both a social consensus that a centralized state is the goal and the ability to manage it for the good of the people, the infusion of aid may amount to empowering whatever predatory mafia may happen to agree to sell itself to the patron.
The republics of
Dagestanand Ingushetia are flashpoints, and , newly pacified after years of war, is again experiencing a spate of terrorist attacks. Chechnya ’s strategy of buying off corrupt local elites in the region has not purchased stability. Islamist radicals thrive on official corruption, interclan warfare, and the heavy-handedness of the police and security services. [Dmitri Trenin, “ Moscow Reborn,” Foreign Affairs Nov-Dec 2009, 69.] Russia
A better phrase would be “civil society building.” What pre-modern societies often do need is a hand in improving civil societies that, under the stress of interaction with the modern world, have ceased working. Somali civil society, for example, began to fail in the 1980’s after years of superpower interference succeeded only in substituting a nasty dictatorship for old decentralized, clan-based decision-making processes. Similarly, Afghan society was derailed by decades of superpower interference seeking to design modern centralized state structures from the top down. In neither case were the new state structures, when they existed at all, (e.g., tax collection agencies, health care provision agencies, police) effectively connected to the underlying social building blocks of clans, tribes, ethnicity, and religion.
Even after accepting that the focus should be on civil society rather than central government, a danger still remains. Civil society cannot be “built” from the top down or from the outside in. Yes, a supportive global community can help protect a
Example of how everything can go wrong include when a strong central state imports modern weapons and then gasses the Kurds or uses helicopters to attack villagers in punishment for participating in traditional religious ceremonies that have been banned by a repressive centralized state (as Yemen’s President Saleh is accused of having done). This video of the aftermath of a U.S./Yemeni regime military attack on a dissident Yemeni movement in December 2009 is not an example of "building civil society." Since the military structure of state government is easier to build than, say, a health care system, and easier to misuse for private purposes, it moves almost inevitably to center stage when a modern, centralized regime is imposed on a premodern, decentralized society. Creating a powerful state before a powerful national civil society has arisen to prevent centralized state abuses of power is exactly the wrong way to go about creating stable, peaceful societies.
So if the creation of potentially oppressive state structures is a key mistake to be avoided, what might be some ways to do things right?
Sponsor civil society dialogue. Demand that any central government desiring Western support first accept the idea of a national dialogue to be followed up by real steps to address dissident demands. One could imagine, for example, conferences to which all dissident groups would be invited. Of course, a predatory regime will use this occasion to identify dissident spokespeople. Therefore, the West needs to be proactive in making its own contacts with those individuals, raising their international visibility, and warning the regime that their disappearance will be taken very seriously.
Use international peacekeepers to protect civil society, not the regime. In contrast to the Somali model, where an African peacekeeping force supports the government, station international peacekeeping forces in all regions of the country but with direct links in each region to the regional political structure. The goal of the peacekeepers would be to prevent the military suppression of dissident groups in return for agreement by the dissident groups to refrain from violence, thus both offering incentives to behave peacefully and marginalizing those who refuse. In the Somali case, even the most extreme of the groups, al-Shabab, is composed of various sub-groups. In
The regime, enamored of its own power and privilege, will of course argue that this would “promote disunity.” Precisely so. In a pre-modern society, disunity is the goal. No consensus exists on the form that unity should take. That is the whole point. Until civil society has achieved consensus, confederacy is wiser than centralization. Moreover, the artificial imposition of unity from the outside will almost always go wrong: from Polk’s misunderstandings of Mexican politics through the Vietnam War escapade to the abysmal ignorance of the neo-cons about the complexities of global Islam, history has shown that
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Americans need to take the blinders off and look squarely at the political world we are creating before we lock ourselves into a future that we may find extremely distasteful. Fortunately, we have a surprisingly wide array of choices.
The neo-con mythology about political Islam depicts a homogeneous mass of crazy, violence-prone, evil aggressors motivated by religion and willing to use any method to achieve their goals. In truth, political Islam is a highly differentiated, disunified social universe motivated by as wide a range of goals as Americans and overwhelmingly non-violent.
There are several curious aspects of this neo-con mythology. Not the least interesting is the degree to which the neo-con portrayal of Islam reflects the reality about the neo-cons themselves. The utility of the neo-con myth for various neo-con projects—above all, the transformation of the
Regardless of the true condition of the Islamic political world, to the degree that the world’s only remaining superpower portrays it as a monolithic, frightening, evil, and implacably hostile entity and treats it accordingly, then political Islam will evolve into that which it is accused of being. The greater the tendency of
The Muslim-Western contest has existed for far too long for a “chicken vs. egg” debate to have any value. Whether one dates it from the Arab attack on
The constant flow of the new generation into society offers endless opportunities for changing the course of events. A new Western generation may grow up imagining that war of civilizations is normal. A new Muslim generation may grow up without the frustrations that persuaded their mothers and fathers to view terrorist gangs as their only hope for justice. Support for and rates of recruitment into this or that political movement consequently change, leaving political leaders wondering why they can no longer accomplish what they were accustomed to accomplishing in the past. Physics may concern immutable laws of nature; politics concerns the possible.
In a political world of ever-evolving possibilities, yesterday’s assumptions will be today’s blinders. The neo-con myth about political Islam, born from a combination of rage over 9/11 and short-sighted desire to exploit 9/11 to fulfill private agendas, has, a decade later, become a set of blinders Americans can no longer afford to wear. We need to take the blinders off and look squarely at the political world we are creating before we lock ourselves into a future that we may find extremely distasteful.
Whatever your political views, you owe it to yourself to consider two questions:
- What sort of world are we creating?
- What can we do about it?
The Islamic world was on a role from the 7th to the 15th centuries, whether viewed militarily, culturally, politically, scientifically, or morally. Illustrating only the last point, a comparison of religious freedom in 13th century Muslim Spain with 13th century
Today, the Muslim world is in ferment. Popular interest in politics is intense, even as Westerners are becoming dangerously jaded about their governments.
The West, with its military superiority, has the option of resisting tooth and nail, risking everything to retain its top-dog status. The West also has the option of looking for a mutually beneficial and historically innovating restructuring of our political world that would leave the West secure while accommodating Muslim aspirations. We in the West today face few challenges more urgent than the challenge of figuring out which goal is best and how to bring it to fruition.
A look at the details of the political landscape in various Muslim societies and the nature of
Friday, January 8, 2010
Grading Washington's Yemen Policy.
I recently posed the following question about Washington's reaction to the Yemeni situation:
Should one be impressed that a global empire can turn on a dime and alter global policy in response to a single “underpants bomber” or should one view such a reaction as ludicrously amateurish?
Failing - Missing Big Economic Picture.
Here is an economic argument about the just opened Dauletabad-Sarakhs-Khangiran pipeline making Iran and Turkmenistan partners in the global gas business that Washington is missing the big picture in its obsession with chasing terrorist gangs:
We are witnessing a new pattern of energy cooperation at the regional level that dispenses with Big Oil. Russia traditionally takes the lead. China and Iran follow the example. Russia, Iran and Turkmenistan hold respectively the world's largest, second-largest and fourth-largest gas reserves. And China will be consumer par excellence in this century. The matter is of profound consequence to the US global strategy.Undoubtedly, Washington is trying to play both games simultaneously, always attacking Muslim "terrorists" in places that either have petroleum or sit on potential petroleum shipping routes. But is America's global domination being undermined by Washington's (take your choice) 1) obsession with Muslim extremist groups that oppose U.S. hegemony or 2) exploitation of the "war on terror" to facilitate its preference for using force to retain global leadership?
Passing - Seizing the Geo-Strategic Initiative.
In contrast, here is a geo-strategic argument viewing U.S. intervention in Yemen as a move to ensure continued U.S. domination over the Indian Ocean (with an eye on both Iran and China):
history has no instances of a declining world power meekly accepting its destiny and walking into the sunset. The US cannot give up on its global dominance without putting up a real fight. And the reality of all such momentous struggles is that they cannot be fought piece-meal. You cannot fight China without occupying Yemen.
Both arguments have merit. Washington's incessant war-making while Russia, China, Iran, and friends from Turkey to Turkmenistan quietly sign petroleum contracts looks more than a bit irrational and self-defeating. On the other hand, Yemen would certainly be a grand spot to occupy for a good old nineteenth century empire.
Saleh's past support for Saddam and current repression of dissent suggest he might be more than happy to allow Washington to transform him into a new Saddam to rule Yemen on American behalf. But recall that in the end Washington became disenchanted with Saddam and launched a war against him in 1991 that continues today, in the process doing much to stimulate bin Laden's career. Even assuming that Washington could create a Yemeni regime in the style of the cosy Saddam-Reagan relationship of, say, 1985, would this really offer Washington a solid foundation for designing a secure future?
The question is whether the U.S. should be trying to ensure its national security in the 21st century with a bet that in the end nothing has changed in the last 200 years. Might the better part of valor instead lie along the lines of asserting leadership of a new world based on recognition of Muslim demands for a new deal and the renunciation of a foreign policy grounded in the use of force just because force is what Washington possesses in excess?
Thursday, January 7, 2010
As the Empire mobilizes its irresistable forces in outraged response to the latest pinpricks of a single fairly incompetent group of Muslim extremists, it is hard to keep the scene in perspective. The Empire looks impressive, with its endless array of weapons and dollars. Exactly how is one to assess the balance of forces?
- Should one be impressed that a global empire can turn on a dime and alter global policy in response to a single “underpants bomber” or should one view such a reaction as ludicrously amateurish?
- Is what appears to be the focusing onto little Yemen of something in the neighborhood of $100 million in response to the tiny Yemeni extremist challenge a move to strengthen the empire’s foundations and extend its reach or an appalling waste that cedes the initiative to the opponent at a ratio of dollars to pennies invested that even a global force cannot afford for long?
A decade of lurching from one battlefield to another has enabled the Empire to win many fights, construct an enormous array of new military bases, and make deals with all sorts of new folks. However, it is not clear that the string of day-to-day military victories adds up to anything beyond the ability to fight again on the morrow. It is not clear that any actual enemy can be defeated by using all the new military bases. And then there are those new folks
About the only thing that is actually clear in a decade-long battle is that despite all the power and expenditure and “victories,”
It is now being said in the media that
So the question arises, “Does
Of course, I do not know the answer to any of these questions. I doubt that anyone does. The real question is, “Is anyone even asking these questions?”
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
the real strength of al-Qaeda is that a quite small incident, that a botched attempt by a Nigerian student briefly in Yemen to blow up a plane, can then precipitate a whole change in international relations and US—greater US support for the Yemeni government, a greater involvement in a really difficult country. This seems to me walking straight into a sort of al-Qaeda trap. You know, at the time of 9/11, al-Qaeda quite openly—leaders quite openly said that their hope was to entrap the US into ground wars in Muslim countries. And that seems to be exactly what’s happening.Cockburn is referring to exactly the mistake that is discussed in yesterday's post on Yemeni Radicalization Dynamics.
Monday, January 4, 2010
The biggest political story of the post-9/11 era may be the degree to which
To make a very complex and poorly understood story as concise as possible, the worsening situation in
military tactics inflame hostility; U.S. or proxy military campaigns in one country exacerbate violence later in another country; U.S. or proxy military campaigns in one country cause refugee flows that destabilize the society of other countries; U.S.
- Quick to judgment,
supports the very repressive regimes that were the source of the problem; Washington
- Addressing the symptom of militant protest rather than the cause of popular dissatisfaction,
undermines its own interests; Washington
- Using its military hammer to address the radicals’ talking points;
- Trusting local leaders who speak English and sport official titles,
fails to perceive the interests they share with local militants; Washington
- Viewing the world through
eyes, U.S. fails to appreciate local regime priorities. Washington
Again, the point here is not to claim to have “discovered” something new but to point out that, with
Building on the abstract discussion of Muslim radicalization presented earlier, below are a few details about the Yemeni case.
War Crime Chickens Come Home to Roost. Following military attacks in December, which the Yemeni press is condemning as “massacres,” “dozens of Qaeda family members and local residents were killed, increasing anti-government sentiment.”
Military Campaigns Spread Chaos. Yemenis who fought in Iraq after the US invasion are now back in Yemen supporting radicalism there, duplicating a similar flow out of Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal. Militant leaders in
Supporting Repression. With people angry at misgovernment and radicals quick to exploit it, supporting a corrupt and repressive regime plays right into radical hands; in
Symptoms, not Causes. With poverty, civil war that has left 100,000 homeless, and a growing water shortage far more characteristic of
Failing to Address the Radical Critique of the West. In “44 Ways to Support Jihad,” Yemeni-American imam Anwar al Aklaki made several points that
The danger of the Western media stems from the fact that it puts on the cloak of truth and objectivity when in reality it is no more than the mouthpiece of the devil. Can’t you see that the Western media is constantly trying to underplay the atrocities committed by the West…
Trusting Local Leaders.
Misunderstanding Regime Priorities.
These dynamics interact in complex ways that should be carefully studied before any decision to intervene is even considered. It is hard to imagine an al Qua’ida recruiting technique that could be more effective than having the
intervention in the region on false pretexts.
In essence, two conflict are occurring. One is a domestic struggle between a regime desiring power and people desiring better governance. The secon d is a global struggle between jihadis and the West. For the West to win, it must prevent the two struggles from becoming mixed. For violent jihadis to win, they must convince the populace that the struggle for liberty and justice means combating the West. To the degree that the West can use judicial means to combat jihadis while either remaining aloof from the domestic struggle for liberty or—better—in some way becoming identified as a supporter, it gains. To the degree that the West becomes associated in popular perceptions with a repressive regime, the jihadis become the symbol of liberty, and they gain. To a great extent, the story of the post-9/11 world is the story of
One pitfall for the U.S. is for the reform movement and general population to perceive the U.S. as their enemy. The U.S. will almost inevitably fall into this pit if it attempts a military solution to the problem of eliminating terrorism because military means, especially those employed by the U.S., are unsuited to attacking militants hidden in a civilian population. The true believers will gladly sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians in order to win the war against the U.S. Emphasizing judicial methods not only reaffirms American principles but protects U.S. interests by minimizing the number of enemies it will make.
Another pitfall for the U.S. is allowing a regime the U.S. is cooperating with against jihadis to exploit that cooperation in its domestic struggle to defeat reformers and retain control. If the regime succeeds in doing so by playing on U.S. confusion between jihadis claiming the patriotic mantle and genuine reformers, the jihadis may seize control of the opposition movement.