Think for Yourself. Dissolve your Allegiances. 

In early October excerpts from the long anticipated 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” were leaked to the public.  In brief, the NIE is widely perceived as “the most authoritative written judgment” of our national security and is overseen by the Director of the CIA. For once, the US intelligence community sounded quite honest and rational, and ironically, as a result most of the report was classified and deemed unfit for public eyes.

I will attempt to take what little was declassified from this assessment and apply it to our current world situation, for to coincide with the purpose of the NIE, it is crucial that we employ harsh self-criticisms to correct the faults in policy that may have led our country down a possibly unforgiving and historically redundant path.

From the NIE: “We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere…The Iraq conflict has become the ‘cause celebre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”

Essentially, the previous critique suggests that the invasion of Iraq has done far more harm than good for the world, an intrinsically supported appraisal that many in this country are not willing to accept.  And the sooner they are able to drop their political affiliations and lower their pride to come to terms with this reality, the sooner we can move forward as a country to better our current situation.

Unfortunately for the young men and women in our military, as suggested above, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq may greatly boost terrorist recruitment as a result of their perceived success.  Thus, the unilateral actions of our current administration have locked us into a deadly catch-22; withdrawing from Iraq may transform the country into a haven for al-Qaeda and other splinter cells (ironically, a scenario non-existent before the invasion), though remaining in Iraq continues to strengthen the warnings of extremists in the Muslim world of a western imperialist doctrine set to destroy Islam.

The NIE addresses our progress stating that we have “disrupted” the capacity of al- Qaeda to operate, though it warns of the emergence of new terrorist cells that will be less far-reaching.

Furthermore, the following two NIE assessments are critical: “Anti-US and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies…The radicalization process is occurring more quickly, more widely, and more anonymously… raising the likelihood of surprise attacks by unknown groups whose members and supporters may be difficult to pinpoint” and  “Countering the spread of the jihadist movement will require coordinated multilateral efforts that go well beyond operations to capture or kill terrorist leaders.” These assessments more than any, support the claim that military means will not be the most effective way to combat terrorism.  This spread of “Anti-US sentiment” in conjunction with attacks by “unknown groups” will not be tamed through military invasions or forcefully imposing western style beliefs, but by isolating these radical fundamentalists and exposing their hateful and unpopular ideals for what they truly represent.

It is ridiculous to think that our military can unilaterally take to the streets and win over the hearts of the world, and more relevantly Muslims, at the barrel of a gun.  Most of my patriotic critics may cringe at the idea of winning anyone’s heart over, though the previous suggestion from our own intelligence agencies clearly stresses that to protect US interests a need for alternatives to military solutions is obligatory.

The NIE proposes further solutions: “If democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations progress over the next five years, political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives. Nonetheless, attendant reforms and potentially destabilizing transitions will create new opportunities for jihadists to exploit.”

Needless to say, financially and militarily supporting the bombing of key democratic ally Lebanon was probably a setback in this war on terror.  If ever there was a time for jihadists to “exploit” a new opportunity, it is in the ruins of present day Lebanon.  What Israel in all likelihood has proliferated is a new generation of furious youth who may never truly reconcile the fact that their home and family were necessary targets in Israel’s search for security via a blanket of cluster bombs.

Finally, to support non-military solutions, the NIE proposed that “Recent condemnations of violence and extremist religious interpretations by a few notable Muslim clerics signal a trend that could facilitate the growth of a constructive alternative to jihadist ideology: peaceful political activism…In this way, the Muslim mainstream emerges as the most powerful weapon in the war on terror.”

It is long overdue that we turn our attention to the “Muslim mainstream.” This is an urgent call to all Muslims that now is the time to act, for the spotlight of the world has irrevocably been placed directly on you, your beliefs, and your ideals.  It is imperative that you refuse to allow government, media, public opinion, or extremists to misrepresent the embodiment of these ideals.  But to do so you must speak up; write letters to the newspaper, engage in conversation, educate your community, for all too loud is the voice of the minority that has turned to violence to solve political and social struggles.  These few are drowning out the voices of the moderates who strive for peaceful activism, and subsequently give credence to more radical methods of suppression used by our allies such as invasions, torture, and confiscation of habeas corpus.

Though this responsibility may have been unfairly placed, you have an opportunity to be the voice of your generation. Speak out against radical fundamentalism and urge the need for all parties to solve these problems through innovative, intelligent and productive means.  We are in dire, divisive times and in many cases it is the nation of Islam that is being directly challenged.  You should be worried.  After all, this isn’t entirely my responsibility.  I’m a secular Irishman from Boston; it’s not me in the crosshairs.

Published by the Collegiate Times on 10/31/2006

By Brian T. Murphy

In recently leaked National Intelligence Estimate documents, the US intelligence community sounded quite honest and rational as its suggestions to improve world relations and fight terrorism ran counter to the Bush Administration’s current foreign policies.  Not surprisingly, most of the report was classified and deemed unfit for public eyes. 

Honest and Rational: Is this Our Intelligence Report?