In the spirit of the post below, but closer to my own foreign policy bailiwick, it’s nice to read this rather than liberal hawkery from the DLC:
A third principle of counterinsurgency theory is to rigorously support political and economic reforms that undermine insurgencies. In the short term, we should begin a diplomatic campaign aimed at defusing the various Muslim insurgencies that al-Qaeda has successfully co-opted. Working toward political solutions to conflicts in Indonesia, Thailand, Pakistan, the Caucasus, and the Philippines would help divide the global jihadist movement that Osama bin Laden has unified.
Let me note by way of criticism that a conflict involving a certain country on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea seems to have gone missing from this list. Nevertheless, the principle is sound and this is therefore progress. Indeed, it seems to me that one thing crippling post-9/11 center-left national security has been an unwillingness to articulate this principle precisely out of fear of drawing the obvious conclusions for America’s Israel policy.
I recall that as of the panel discussion on “The Grievance Challenge” at the America’s Purpose conference in September 2005 merely raising the grievance issue was a bold and radical move even in circles self-consciously opposed to the “liberal hawk” line of thought. And, indeed, at the New American Strategies for Peace and Security conference organized by many of the same people two years before that this stuff wasn’t on the table at all. So to have the DLC moving in this direction is definitely a sign of progress, that the devastation in Iraq is leading people to develop some sounder views.
The alternative to confronting grievances is, of course, the underlying strategic error that brought us Iraq. Not operational military failures in that country, or even a mistake about Iraq as such. Rather, the fundamental error was simply to believe that attempting the wholesale externally-coerced transformation of Arab politics and society was the best way to combat the rise of al-Qaeda.