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Defeating Jihadism Requires More Than Killing Terrorists

Sept. 1 2017

On August 21, the president outlinined a new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and announced a plan to send more troops there. Henceforth, he said, the objective of the war will be “killing terrorists” rather than “nation-building.” Yet moments later he added that victory will entail “obliterating Islamic State, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.” And all that, writes Elliott Abrams, can’t be accomplished solely by killing bad guys:

What’s entirely missing in the new policy is an understanding that Islamist extremist groups have not just guns but ideas—what the president called an “evil ideology.” To defeat their guns, our own military efforts in support of local police and military operations are necessary—and here the president was quite right to continue and to expand those efforts. But policemen and soldiers cannot provide the ideas that are needed to defeat Islamist extremism. Put another way, the president’s emphasis on “killing terrorists” is right, but he has overlooked the other half of the necessary formula: preventing those who are killed from being replaced by new armies of extremism. He did at one point say we will “dry up their recruitment,” but he did not say how we plan to do this throughout the Muslim world. . . .

The president said that “we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live, or how to govern their own complex society,” and added: “We are not asking others to change their way of life, but to pursue common goals that allow our children to live better and safer lives.” The straw man here is obvious: we must stop trying to make Afghanistan look like, say, Connecticut! . . .[But] our goal has been far more pragmatic: to promote domestic political arrangements that will be stable and will be successful in controlling territory and preventing the rise of violent groups that can threaten the United States and our allies.

Anyone, including the president and his advisers, who thinks all of that can be achieved without the slightest concern for the domestic political arrangements—vicious tyranny or benign rule, brutal repression or a decent respect for human rights, regimes that rule only by force or governments that are legitimate in the eyes of their population—is repeating a formula that failed us repeatedly in the Middle East, helped lead to the current crisis, and will eventually produce more terrorism.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Afghanistan, Donald Trump, Jihadism, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror

 

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC