A Simple Plan for Killing al Qaeda
Alex Kingsbury Interviews Howard Clark
Howard Clark discusses How You Can Kill al Qaeda
The slim size (fewer than 60 pages) of
Why should people read this book?
Since 2001, the country has spent half a trillion dollars to defeat al Qaeda, and it has been a largely unsuccessful effort. The only way to defeat them in a permanent way is to sever their public support. We have to drive a wedge between the Islamic terrorists and the majority of non-violent Muslims in countries around the world. Then, al Qaeda will wither and die. Right now, al Qaeda is winning the war of ideas in many parts of the world. This is a populist and permanent solution.
Let's hear it.
We need to identify, translate, and disseminate on the Internet a moderate message that runs counter to the messages of al Qaeda. That's the only way we are going to win the war of ideas in the primary place where al Qaeda markets its message. That message will spread from the Internet, which not all potential adherents can access, to the market and the mosque. It is something that anyone can do, and it doesn't even need the permission of those countervoices.
Who are these countervoices?
Some of the most effective voices countering al Qaeda's message focus on the heresy and horror of terrorist violence. Sometimes those voices are former extremists; other times they are clerics that issue religious edicts against violence. Counter-al Qaeda writers, to be effective, will normally be anti-
Aren't we already fighting the war of ideas?
Not really. Even this long after the 9/11 attacks, there is no coordinated and organized public effort to fight the messages coming from al Qaeda. The government is much more focused on stopping individual attacks, rather than looking at the strategic picture. If you look at the images of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, they show the U.S. humiliating Muslims, which plays into the al Qaeda narrative of the Islamic world under attack. They are winning the war of ideas, and yet a majority of those people killed by al Qaeda are Muslims. Al Qaeda is very good at distributing their message around the world, online, and through word of mouth at mosques in many languages. Meanwhile, the countervoices that are out there are not translated and distributed nearly as widely.
How can we counter those negative perceptions of
Amplifying moderate voices in the Muslim world is the most important thing we can do. Showing what al Qaeda's true desires are, what they actually say and do when they control an area like in
Can't our government do this?
This is something that anyone can do, but not the government. In many ways, the government getting involved only undermines the message. The Muslim world distrusts the U.S. government.
Yet you do work for the U.S. government and were once a marine.
First, I need to be clear that this book was written without any direction or comment from the government or the military. They played no part in it. Second, I am not making any money on this book.
All the profits will be donated to
So how do we beat al Qaeda?
We need to plant seeds of doubt among their supporters and affiliated groups and strengthen the beliefs for those already opposed to them. We need to stop people already on the fence from taking their side. And we need to waste al Qaeda's time by forcing them to fight an ideological war on the defensive. Make them respond to a constant stream of criticism from other Islamic leaders, theorists, and moderates who can shrink their base of support.
What does victory look like?
Websites with counter-al Qaeda messages should litter the Internet with speeches, powerful quotations, pictures, videos, and promotion of sources' credentials and independence. Arguments that killing innocents is core to al Qaeda's mission will sway Muslims worldwide. Sites can use anonymous host servers (there are plenty) and be designed to optimize results so that they pop up when someone in
An Agenda for NATO: Toward a Global Security Web
NATO now confronts historically unprecedented risks to global security. The paradox of our time is that the world, increasingly connected and economically interdependent for the first time in its entire history, is experiencing intensifying popular unrest. Yet there is no effective global security mechanism for coping with the growing threat of violent political chaos stemming from humanity's recent political awakening.
The Default Power and American Declinism
Every ten years, it is decline time in the United States. Declinism took a break in the 1990s, but by the end of the Bush administration, it had returned with a vengeance. The history of declinism shows that doom arrives in cycles, and what comes and goes, logically, does not a trend make. Today, as after past prophecies of imminent debility, the United States remains first on any scale of power that matters--economic, military, diplomatic, or cultural--despite being embroiled in two wars and beset by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Available at Amazon.com:
Unanimous gloom regarding Afghanistan seems clear confirmation that Barack Obama and his chosen advisers have wasted no time in placing themselves and the country -- in a mere five months -- into the same desperate situation that it took the combined Johnson and Nixon administrations 15 years to arrive at in the case of Vietnam. This view would seem widely shared today -- without influencing policy.
It would be a great service to the American nation if Barack Obama would tell us what he himself thinks the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are about. Gen. Stanley McChyrstal says the Taliban are winning.
Thus far in the CIA torture controversy, as in the torture debate that has gone on in the United States since 2001, I can think of only one high American government figure, holding current office, taking a stand on torture in terms of justice, honor and national integrity.
The Latest Tale From the 'War on Terror' Dark Side
Little mainstream comment seems to have appeared on the latest revelations of incompetence and sadistic fantasy that have been published this week about the ways in which the American nation lost its honor and international reputation because of the Bush administration's infatuation with torture.
A Simple Plan for Killing al Qaeda
Copyright 2009 Council on Foreign Relations, publisher of Foreign Affairs. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services.