President Obama said that the “War on Terror” must end in a major speech at the National Defense University.
“This war, like all wars, must end,” Obama said. “That's what history advises. That's what our democracy demands … A perpetual war – through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments – will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways,” warned Obama.
A careful reading of his speech shows what he means: We are only at war with Al-Qaeda and, in this war, we have almost won. Moreover, the strategy for our future security depends on the U.S. aiding other Islamists and reconciling with them by addressing their “underlying grievances.”
The basis of Obama’s newly stated (but long-enacted) strategy is based on the understanding that Al-Qaeda is the irreconcilable wing of Islamism, and that supporting “transitions to democracies in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya” is a “sensible, long-term strategy to battle extremism.”
“[The] scale of [today’s] threat closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11,” declared Obama. “The core of al Qaeda … is on a path to defeat… Osama bin Laden is dead, and so are most of his top lieutenants. They have not carried out a successful attack on our homeland since 9/11 … Furthermore, we should not expect any more attacks of such a scale.”
Instead, the president said that, “The threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11 … [to] threats to diplomatic facilities and businesses abroad. Homegrown extremists. This is the future of terrorism.”
According to the president, the strategy to fight today’s terrorism threat, “involves addressing the underlying grievances and conflicts that feed extremism, from North Africa to South Asia.”
We were given a glimpse of this strategy in a 2008 interview where Obama said the U.S. must convince Hamas and Hezbollah that “they’re going down a blind alley with violence that weakens their legitimate claims." No reporter ever asked him what these terrorist groups’ “legitimate claims” are.
When the president said that the U.S. must support the “democratic transitions” in Egypt and Tunisia to “rebuke … violent extremists.” He left out the fact that these newly founded “democracies” are led by the Muslim Brotherhood in the case of Egypt and its ideological allies in Tunisia. Rather, Obama euphemistically called the ascent of these Islamist parties “the peaceful realization of individual aspirations.”
This is a more careful way of repeating the 2011 message of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. After earlier embarrassing himself by saying that the Muslim Brotherhood is "secular," he suggested using the Muslim Brotherhood to counter al-Qaeda.
“Al Qaeda probably will find it difficult to compete for local support with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that participate in the political process, provide social services and advocate religious values,“ Clapper said. “Nonviolent, pro-democracy demonstrations challenge al-Qaeda’s violent jihadist ideology and might yield increased political power for secular or moderate Islamist parties,” he added.
Clapper’s analysis shows exactly why the Muslim Brotherhood follows a strategy it calls “gradualism.” The West mistakes this phased approach towards implementation of Sharia-based governance for moderation. Yet, the Muslim Brotherhood openly states its desire to resurrect the Caliphate and ultimately dominate the world. Meaning, the Brotherhood pursues the same agenda as Al-Qaeda — yet with patience and through what they believe are more intelligent and productive means.
As Middle East expert Dr. Barry Rubin eloquently put it:
“If one wanted to come up with a slogan for the Obama Administration, it would be that to win the War on Terrorism, one must lose the war on revolutionary Islamism because only by showing that America is the Islamists’ friend will it take away the incentive to join al-Qaida and attack the United States.”
In the Clarion Project’s last webinar, "Boston Bombing: Moderate Muslims Take on the Islamists," Salim Mansur, vice president of Muslims Facing Tomorrow and C. Holland Taylor of LibForAll repeatedly and correctly stated the need to confront the Islamist ideology, rather than focusing on just its most violent fruitions.
While their means may be different, the goals of Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood are the same because they are fueled by the same ideology. Listen to the destructive themes the Islamists preach. Take a look at their horrific violations of human rights, their victims around the world, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
The elimination of the Islamists should be an objective that is second to none—especially since they have already spread to our shores. The debate should be about the most efficient ways to roll back the Islamists, not whether we should.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.