The Myth of Modern Jihad

JUNE 29, 2010, 9:00 PM


It would be an understatement to say that Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, pleaded guilty last week. “I’m going to plead guilty a hundred times over,” Shahzad told the judge. Why so emphatic? Because Shahzad is proud of himself. “I consider myself a Mujahid, a Muslim soldier,” he said.

This got some fist pumps in right-wing circles, because it seemed to confirm that America faces all-out jihad, and must marshal an accordingly fierce response. On National Review Online, Daniel Pipes wrote that Shahzad’s “bald declaration” should make Americans “accept the painful fact that Islamist anger and aspirations” are the problem; we must name “Islamism as the enemy.” And, as Pipes has explained in the past, once you realize that your enemy is a bunch of Muslim holy warriors, the path forward is clear: “Violent jihad will probably continue until it is crushed by a superior military force.”

At the risk of raining on Pipes’s parade: If you look at what Shahzad actually said, the upshot is way less grim. In fact, at a time when just about everyone admits that our strategy in Afghanistan isn’t working, Shahzad brings refreshing news: maybe America can win the war on terrorism without winning the war in Afghanistan.

As a bonus, it turns out there’s a hopeful message not just in Shahzad’s testimony, but in Pipes’s incomprehension of it. Pipes exhibits a cognitive distortion that may be afflicting Americans broadly — not just on the right, but on the center and left as well. And seeing the distortion is the first step toward escaping it. Continue reading


Afghanistan: US in ‘secret’ talks with Taliban

Afghanistan: US in ‘secret’ talks with Taliban

Kabul, 19 June (AKI) – The United States is alleged to have stepped up secret talks with the Taliban in a bid to resolve the escalating conflict in Afghanistan, an Italian magazine claimed on Friday. The latest edition of Panorama said that the Obama administration had given “new life” to a strategy begun by the previous Bush administration last September to negotiate with “moderate” Taliban leaders.

Despite the imminent arrival of 21,000 new US troops in Afghanistan, the US state department and the monarchy of Saudi Arabia are reported to be working together to improve dialogue with the Afghan Taliban.

Panorama said since late last year it was an open secret that western officials and representatives of Taliban leader Mullah Omar had met.

“You should not think of these as peace talks like the Paris peace talks between (former US secretary of state) Henry Kissinger and North Vietnam,” said Ettore Sequi, European Union special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“There are channels of communication that exist with the fragmented Taliban groups. The main question is: can we fight for years excluding that portion of these groups who are part of the fabric of the country?” Continue reading

U.S.: Plan to Split Taliban Lures Obama Deeper into War

Analysis by Gareth Porter* WASHINGTON, Mar 16 (IPS) – Advanced reports on the Barack Obama administration’s strategy to “peel off” a majority of insurgent commanders from the “hard core” of Taliban suggest that it will be presented as a political route to victory in Afghanistan that would not require U.S. and NATO troops to win militarily.

But experts warn that the strategy is unlikely to work. And by appearing to provide a political route to victory, the strategy is luring the administration into a renewed commitment to war in Afghanistan and diverting it away from a deal with the Taliban leadership aimed at keeping al Qaeda from having a presence there.
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Former warlord tipped to unseat Karzai Afghan elections

Gul Agha Sherzai

Gul Agha Sherzai

Monday, 9 March 2009

A former warlord tipped to unseat Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan’s coming elections has backed President Barack Obama’s plans to negotiate with the Taliban.

Gul Agha Sherzai was the first Afghan leader Mr Obama met when he visited the country last year and, speaking exclusively to The Independent, he confirmed his plans to run for the presidency on a promise to empower the country’s tribes and negotiate with the insurgents.

“I will approach all the tribal elders to negotiate with the Taliban who have been brainwashed by other people,” the governor of Nangahar province said. “I won’t rely on fighting and destruction and air strikes. There are a lot of other ways to approach this other than fighting.” Continue reading

Pakistan’s “American Dream”

Posted by: Simon Cameron Moore

Pakistan cropped up with uncomfortable regularity during the U.S. presidential campaign, but listening to Barack Obama and John McCain it was difficult to discern how different their approach would be in dealing with one of America’s most complicated and conflicted allies.

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari met leaders of both the Democrat and Republican camps just weeks after his own election in September, but unfortunately the controversy stirred by his unguarded compliment for Sarah Palin earned more comment than the substance of those meetings.

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