July 24, 2004

DAVID BROOKS NOTES that the 9/11 Commission is echoing the blogosphere:

We are facing, the report notes, a loose confederation of people who believe in a perverted stream of Islam that stretches from Ibn Taimaya to Sayyid Qutb. Terrorism is just the means they use to win converts to their cause.

It seems like a small distinction – emphasizing ideology instead of terror – but it makes all the difference, because if you don’t define your problem correctly, you can’t contemplate a strategy for victory. . . .

We’ve had an investigation into our intelligence failures; we now need a commission to analyze our intellectual failures. Simply put, the unapologetic defenders of America often lack the expertise they need. And scholars who really know the Islamic world are often blind to its pathologies. They are so obsessed with the sins of the West, they are incapable of grappling with threats to the West.

We also need to mount our own ideological counteroffensive.

He’s right.

UPDATE: Reader M. Simon emails:

It actually started a long time ago. It was recently articulated by an Iraqi. “Democracy, whiskey, sexy.”

Brooks is too smart by half.

OTOH you can’t fool me because I’m too stupid. i.e. The Emperor has no clothes.

Our very being is our best advertisement, offensive, and counter offensive all rolled into one.

Have you forgotten why they hate us?

No. It’s occurred to many other readers that if Saudi oil weren’t in Saudi hands, it would make a big difference, too.

This post by N.Z. Bear from 2002 anticipates Brooks’ point — which doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth making again.

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