So, where are we ten years after 9/11? It is comforting that we have been blessed with a near-unbroken decade without further mass-casualty attacks since those that killed nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001. Unfortunately, our government is pursuing policies that can only encourage those who aspire to do us harm to redouble their efforts.
Such an assessment was implicit in a critique of President Obama's new counter-terrorism"strategy" delivered last week by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman. The Democrat-turned-Independent from Connecticut described the President's so-called "Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States" white paper as "ultimately a big disappointment":
The administration's plan... suffers from several significant weaknesses. The first is that the administration still refuses to call our enemy in this war by its proper name, violent Islamist extremism. We can find names that are comparable to that, but not the one that the administration continues to use which [is] ‘violent extremism.' It is not just violent extremism. There are many forms of violent extremism. There's white racist extremism, there's been some eco-extremism, there's been animal rights extremism. You can go on and on and on. There's skinhead extremism, but we're not in a global war with those.
Sen. Lieberman observed, "We're in a global war that affects our homeland security with Islamist extremists. To call our enemy violent extremism is so general and vague that it ultimately has no meaning. The other term used sometimes is ‘Al-Qaida and its allies.' Now, that's better, but it still is too narrow."
The Homeland Security Committee chairman concluded:
It is vital to understand that we're not just fighting an organization Al-Qaida, but we are up against a broader ideology, a politicized theology, quite separate from the religion of Islam that has fueled this war. Success in the war will come consequently not when a single terrorist group or its affiliates are eliminated, but when broader set of ideas associated with it are rejected and discarded. The reluctance to identify our enemy as violent Islamist extremism makes it harder to mobilize effectively to fight this war of ideas.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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