OBAMA’S TAKE ON TERROR….On Sunday Barack Obama spoke to a small Jewish group in Cleveland, and most of the Q&A revolved around issues related to Israel and a Palestinian state. But at the very end he switched gears a bit and did a nice job summing up his attitude toward the war on terror:
I am not naïve. There is a hard core of jihadist fundamentalists who we can’t negotiate with. We have to hunt them down and knock them out. Incapacitate them….And that is where military action and intelligence has to be directed. So all the things I’ve talked about in the past — improving our intelligence capacity, improving our alliances, rolling up financial support, improving our homeland security, making sure that we have strike forces that are effective — that’s all the military, intelligence, police work that’s required.
The question then is what do we do with the 1.3 billion Muslims, who are along a spectrum of belief. Some extraordinarily moderate, some very pious but not violent. How do we reach out to them? And it is my strong belief that that is the battlefield that we have to worry about, and that is where we have been losing badly over the last 7 years. That is where Iraq has been a disaster. That is where the lack of effective public diplomacy has been a disaster. That is where our failure to challenge seriously human rights violations by countries like Saudi Arabia that are our allies has been a disaster.
And so what we have to do is to speak to that broader Muslim world in a way that says we will consistently support human rights, women’s rights. We will consistently invest in the kinds of educational opportunities for children in these communities, so that madrasas are not their only source of learning. We will consistently operate in ways that lead by example, so that we have no tolerance for a Guantanamo or renditions or torture. Those all contribute to people at least being open to our values and our ideas and a recognition that we are not the enemy and that the Clash of Civilizations is not inevitable.