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Old 05-19-2003, 08:48 PM   #1
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Let's Really Fight Terrorism. Funding Schools in Saudi Arabia

America's Next Move in the Middle East

By Max Boot

The Times (London), May 18, 2003


The war on terror will be won not only on the battlefield but in schools, says Max Boot

There is some irony, though not of the pleasant sort, in the fact that last week's suicide bombing in Riyadh occurred shortly after it was announced that the remaining American troops would be withdrawn from Saudi Arabia. This move was designed to remove one of the grievances held by Al-Qaeda and its ilk. But Washington seemed to overlook the fact that no matter what happens with the troops, 40,000 American civilians remain in the country.

Perhaps these, too, can be evacuated (though only at the cost of crippling the Saudi monarchy). But what about the Americans in Kuwait? Or Indonesia? Or, for that matter, Britain? Pretty much all of the estimated 3.8m Americans living abroad are inviting targets for terrorism. So are the 291m at home.

There is nothing that the US and its allies can do to mollify Islamist terrorists.

Their fundamental objection is not to this or that policy; it is to the very existence of a modern, secular West, whose leading champion is the United States.

Since appeasement won't work, the West must seek victory. But how? The obvious, if ambitious, answer lies in transforming the Middle East, the breeding ground of this particular brand of savagery. And that is precisely what the Bush administration has set out to do.

In the administration's view, we are in a war, and, while a few battles (Afghanistan, Iraq) have been won, the conflict is far from finished. This is not a war like the second world war that will be won entirely on the battlefield. It is more like the cold war, which must be won by a combination of measures, only some of them military.

The first and most pressing priority is to develop an alternative to the dictatorships that paralyse development in the Arab world. Iraq presents the best opportunity to achieve that goal - but only if the occupation proves as effective as the war that preceded it.

So far, the outlook is far from positive. The Bush administration did astoundingly little planning for the post-war environment. The result is violence and chaos. To its credit, the administration fairly quickly recognised that things were off course and brought in the tough-talking former diplomat Paul Bremer to replace the soft- spoken former general Jay Garner as viceroy.

But tangled lines of authority remain a problem: Bremer promised last Tuesday that US troops would start shooting looters, only to be contradicted the next day by US generals. This is symptomatic of a larger problem: the American military's deep reluctance to undertake peacekeeping, which it views as sissy's work.

American generals complain that they don't have enough troops to police Iraq even though they have more than 160,000 allied soldiers, including 45,000 in Baghdad.

Contrast this with the heyday of empire, when there were never more than 79,000 British soldiers to guard all of India, which is 10 times bigger than Iraq.

Yet even as the coalition struggles to transform Iraq, it cannot lose sight of its neighbours. Iran and Syria are two of the leading sponsors of terrorism in the world and both are said to be acquiring weapons of mass destruction - chemicals and germs in the case of Syria; nukes, chemicals and germs in the case of Iran.

The Bush administration's post-war sabre-rattling may already have had an impact on them. Damascus appears to have reduced its attempts to hinder US forces in Iraq. Tehran is still trying to exert its influence over the Iraqi Shi'ites, but it is doing so peacefully; it has not started a terrorist campaign against coalition troops.

But it's not enough simply to deter Iran and Syria from overt acts of aggression.

The West can never breathe easy as long as such criminal regimes remain in control of such vast resources. And it's not just our enemies that represent a problem. So do our ostensible friends, like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, whose citizens seem to make up the bulk of Al-Qaeda's recruits.

There is only one solution to this problem, and it is called liberal democracy.

Spreading freedom in the Arab world is no easy task, of course, but if democracy could take root in eastern Europe, east Asia and Latin America, there is no theoretical reason why it shouldn't work in the Middle East.

This will ultimately be up to the local people, but America can give them a helping hand, as it has helped other democrats from Poland to the Philippines. The West should heed the eloquent plea issued last week by the Egyptian dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim to "assist the democratic transformation of the region".

Many people, including apparently Ibrahim himself, seem to think this means emphasising the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process", but that would be a big mistake. The vaunted "road map" leads nowhere. Or rather it leads precisely where the Oslo process did: to mutual recriminations.

Those who think that Israeli concessions can buy peace from Islamic Jihad and Hamas (or even from Yasser Arafat's own al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades) make the same mistake as those who think that US or British concessions can buy peace from Al-Qaeda.

The fundamental problem in the Palestinian Authority is the same as in the rest of the Middle East: lack of liberalism. Developing democratic institutions isn't as sexy as pushing a "peace process", but it must be the West's primary emphasis in the region. Sometimes this will involve forcible regime change, as in Iraq. More often, subtler measures are called for.

Here's one example. Saudi Arabia is notorious for spreading Wahhabism, the most intolerant, hateful breed of Islam, around the world. It spends an estimated $ 3billion to $ 4billion a year on activities that give rise to terrorism. Many poor parents in the Islamic world send their children to Saudi-funded madrasah schools, which preach Wahhabism, simply because they have no alternative education system.

Riyadh can afford to do this because it's rich (GDP: $ 241billion). But America is much, much richer (GDP: $ 10trillion). Why doesn't the US use a few odd billion dollars to pay for secular schools in the Islamic world that teach the skills needed to succeed in the modern world?

This is the kind of unconventional strategy that America must pursue if it is to win this long war against Islamist terror. Military success is important, but it's not enough.
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Old 05-20-2003, 12:17 AM   #2
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I've also read about funding schools for women in Afghanistan, where girls and young women can learn to do everything from reading and writing to trades like nursing. This would be a much better way to spend our defense budget, rather than on more weapons that either don't work or work all too well.
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Old 05-20-2003, 01:54 AM   #3
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paxetaurora,

"This would be a much better way to spend our defense budget, rather than on more weapons that either don't work or work all too well."

So specifically which weapon systems that US soldiers used in Iraq, did not work? What weapon systems would you like to take away from are men and women in the military?
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Old 05-20-2003, 01:57 AM   #4
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cluster bombs
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Old 05-20-2003, 02:03 AM   #5
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IN BRIEF / WASHINGTON, D.C.
a d v e r t i s e m e n t




Three U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq Incidents
From Times Wire Reports

May 19, 2003

Three U.S. troops were killed and four were injured in three separate accidents in Iraq, U.S. Central Command said.

One soldier was killed and three others were injured in the detonation of a piece of unexploded ordnance in Baghdad. Another soldier died from a "non-hostile" gunshot wound, the command said in Kuwait. Also, a U.S. Marine was killed and another was injured after their transport truck rolled over about 19 miles southeast of Samawah in southern Iraq.

Names of the casualties had not been released.
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Old 05-20-2003, 06:35 AM   #6
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If you want to debate weapons systems and what should be eliminated, please, start another thread.

I really thought there would be more of a response about the concept of building "Secular Schools" in Saudi Arabia.


Specifically this part of the article"

Quote:
Here's one example. Saudi Arabia is notorious for spreading Wahhabism, the most intolerant, hateful breed of Islam, around the world. It spends an estimated $ 3billion to $ 4billion a year on activities that give rise to terrorism. Many poor parents in the Islamic world send their children to Saudi-funded madrasah schools, which preach Wahhabism, simply because they have no alternative education system.

Riyadh can afford to do this because it's rich (GDP: $ 241billion). But America is much, much richer (GDP: $ 10trillion). Why doesn't the US use a few odd billion dollars to pay for secular schools in the Islamic world that teach the skills needed to succeed in the modern world?

This is the kind of unconventional strategy that America must pursue if it is to win this long war against Islamist terror. Military success is important, but it's not enough.
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Old 05-20-2003, 10:06 AM   #7
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Well, a Star Wars-esque missile defense system, for one. Cluster bombs are another good example.

Do you not agree that it would be a a good idea to invest in the future of these nations in a constructive, positive manner rather than just rolling through and letting the poor, illiterate, starving masses put things back together themselves?
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Old 05-20-2003, 11:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by paxetaurora
Do you not agree that it would be a a good idea to invest in the future of these nations in a constructive, positive manner rather than just rolling through and letting the poor, illiterate, starving masses put things back together themselves?
I think some of these countries think they are investing in their own future in a constructive, positive manner with the schools teaching Wahhabism.
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Old 05-20-2003, 11:40 AM   #9
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Yeah this is great in theory. But this administration would much rather spend money in other places. Hell we can't even get them to fund our own schools.
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Old 05-20-2003, 11:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


I think some of these countries think they are investing in their own future in a constructive, positive manner with the schools teaching Wahhabism.

I'm sure they do. But I wish they'd do what the Turks did back in the '20's and that was to shut down their madrassas and start a secular school system. It's not going to happen; Saudi Arabia will never "secularize" the way Turkey did. It's depressing because that was very good for the Turkish people.
*currently plotting a trip to Turkey to check out their amazing artifacts*
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Old 05-20-2003, 01:41 PM   #11
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Trying to curb the spread of Wahhabism is exactly what this kind of plan would be trying to accomplish. There's a great commentary by Fareed Zakaria in the new Newsweek about how Saudi Arabia can no longer afford to harbor terrorists, now that Saudi Arabian civilians have been killed. If we can stop the terrorist madrassas by providing secular alternatives, then by all means, we should do it--as Zakaria says, fighting the causes of terrorism rather than simply terrorism itself.
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Old 05-20-2003, 01:55 PM   #12
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Pax, Zakaria is right on the money (as he often is). If someone has the flu, you just don't treat the cough or the sniffles--if you can beat the bug with antibiotics or whatever, that's what's going to get rid of the flu. Ditto with terrorism. We've got to fight the causes of terrorism, not just terrorism. The Saudis are going to have to change if they don't want to lose any more of their citizens. I don't want anyone to lose citizens, I don't care if it's Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, the Palestinians, Morocco, etc, etc.
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Old 05-20-2003, 02:45 PM   #13
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Deep and Pax,

Cluster Bombs when used properly are an effective weapon systems that overall saves more lives than it kills by helping to defeat the enemy in a smaller amount of time. For example, the use of a cluster bomb units whether it be anti-personal or anti-tank on semi-massed enemy units out in the open away from urban area's allows the military to destroy rather quickly, a large concentration of enemy forces before they can dispurse and hide in urban area's.

The largest number of civilian casaulties comes from house to house fighting done by infantry squads. Civilians get caught in the middle of the night between the two sides in close combat and are either killed accidentally or are mistaken for being the enemy. Cluster bombs and other area destruction weapons are not used on urban area's. In addition, Cluster Bombs get a bad rap because it is true that some of them fail to detonate. No one here seems to notice all the other munitions that have the same problem. If your concerned about unexploded ordanance, I understand. But that is a problem with every type of explosive, not just cluster bombs.

I understands liberals opposition to the Star Wars National Missile Defense System, but that was not used in Operation Iraqi Freedom unless you put the Patriot Missile in that catagory. I'm sure you would not be opposed to the Patriot Missile if you had been in Kuwait during the war.
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Old 05-20-2003, 03:02 PM   #14
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Yes, but Sting, what do you think of the school idea?
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Old 05-20-2003, 05:55 PM   #15
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People could perhaps offer to fund secular schools in Saudi Arabia. There's no chance in hell of Saudi Arabia "secularizing" a la Turkey. Critics claimed that Turkey had trashed an opportunity to lead the Islamic world, but that's not the way the Turks looked at it. The Saudis want to lead the Islamic world, and Mecca is in Saudi Arabia. Screw secularizing the state, it's not going to happen. Parents who are currently sending their kids to maddrassas (there are various Latin-alphabet spellings of that word, the Turkish is medresse) could be given the choice of sending their kids to a "career-oriented" school. It would take some changes in Saudi society, however. If they let women go to school and work as nurses, etc, etc. they'd have to let them take off their veils. It took secularization in Turkey to take the veils off of the women. The whole "Islamic state" thing is potentially a problem. I hate to say that but how do you keep the veils off of the women without adopting a secular state? Is this impossible? Am I perchance overemphasizing the "problem" with Islamic states and limiting education for women by keeping them "behind the veil"? After all, the women who blew up bombs in Israel and Turkey couldn't have been wearing veils. Why did these women join the groups they did?
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