TERRORISM SALON: Yosri Fouda on Challenges for the Next President


(Yosri Fouda is the Chief Investigative Correspondent and Former London Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera).
Apologies to all for the late dive in, but I’d like to pick it up from this deceptively simple and much underestimated fact pointed out by Alistair Millar:

No matter how much the US spends militarily or otherwise, America cannot be everywhere at once.

Thus, one priority for the new president, as far as I can see from the other side, will be to acknowledge the major mistakes of the Bush administration’s approach to the “war on terror”, starting perhaps with this very title.
Two major issues will have to be examined without delay: First, how to retrieve some of the moral high-ground that America has lost miserably and UNNECESSARILY, and second, how to devise a smarter strategy through which we can (seriously this time) isolate terrorists from the rest of a given society and contain “wannabes”.
That will be very difficult to accomplish before the new President says sorry for all the dirt of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and the extraordinary rendition program. It won’t be easy before he shows sympathy with Palestinians unnecessarily humiliated at check points. It won’t be easy before he seriously criticizes corrupt Arab regimes. It won’t be easy before he says he can’t understand how an Egyptian family of five can live on $50 a month, not because poverty is a disgrace but because they haven’t been given an equal opportunity in a global economic system dominated by America.
It won’t be easy before he categorically demonstrates that the West has no quarrel with Islam but with some Muslims who will be judged NOT on their intentions but on their deeds. Irrespective of their background, those who kill civilians are criminals and should be treated as such. Declaring that we are “at war” with a terrorist gives him far more privilege than he deserves.
But war or otherwise, moral high-ground is what needs to be restored before we begin to discuss troops. Even if you did not believe in it, restore moral high-ground and you will begin to stand a chance of charming a predominantly oral culture and turn its men into a neutral position if not into troops for you. Not only is it cheaper, it also happens to be the right thing to do.
— Yosri Fouda
This week long terrorism salon will continue to be hosted by The Washington Note and UN Dispatch.


3 comments on “TERRORISM SALON: Yosri Fouda on Challenges for the Next President

  1. JohnH says:

    Yosri Fouda adds some desperately needed perspective that sees a reality beyond the imaginations of beltway wonks.
    He might have added that the next President needs to stop trying to kill everyone he thinks might be a terrorist. The “collateral damage” only creates more terrorists. And many will stop attacking the US if it would only remove its foot from on top of them…


  2. jonst says:

    Yosri Fouda writes:
    “….in a global economic system dominated by America”. Is that really true anymore? If so, I can assure the domination is not working for most Americans.
    Perhaps it is time to recognize that the idiotic policy choices implemented by the Bush Admin–some of which are noted by Yosri Fouda–have gone a long way to ensure that America does not, in fact, dominate the global economic system. Essentially, bankrupting the nation, and destroying the dollar, and conducting a fire sale of US assets, while gleefully destroying the manufacturing base in America, have done much to weaken the US. Not increase its domination.


  3. David says:

    Very well said, Yosri. And it seems to me that is exactly what Obama has been trying to set the stage for, most recently in his Berlin speech. How far he can go I don’t know, but you are correct – without moral authority, which comes from taking the moral high ground in both word and deed, all of our military might will come to naught in this century. The eras of military empire are gone. So are the eras of any sort of unilateralism or narrow alliances. We really are all in this together at this point. There is no alternate way worth pursuing.


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