The Corner

Summit on Violent Extremism—Laugh or Cry?

It was just announced that the White House, in the wake of the mass murders in France, plans to reactivate an old idea of convening a “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.”

Is this an accurate news account or some sort of cruel satire?

Is there something about the recent attacks in Boston, Canada, Australia, and France, in the larger landscape of what the Islamic State is doing in the Middle East, that the Obama administration does not understand? 

Such a summit that mentions neither terrorism nor Islam in its title would be like fighting Nazi Germany as if it were a crusade against “extremism” — perhaps true but utterly trite. What global threat could be included under the rubric “violent extremism” in addition to Islamic terrorism? Are Hindu nationalists threatening the Boston Marathon, Puerto Rican independence thugs storming U.S. army bases to shoot soldiers, anti-abortionists filming ritual beheadings, or Buddhist reactionaries blowing up European media offices? Have skinheads hijacked German airliners and rammed them into the Brandenburg Gate? Is the  Tea Party attacking New York policemen with hatchets?

And what possibly could the Obama administration offer to such a global effort? Can one imagine the administration’s 15-point conference agenda?

I. The power of euphemisms — how “workplace violence” and “man-caused disaster” lessened violent extremism.

II. Understanding your enemy — why the Muslim Brotherhood is largely “secular” and jihad is really a “holy struggle”.

III. Mythology at work — the Cairo Speech as a means to win hearts and minds

IV. The art of swapping hostages — the Bowe Bergdahl paradigm for ending hostage-taking

V. Miranda rights and civil trials — why foreign terrorists are not really enemy combatants

VI. Closing Guantanamo — how releasing Islamic terrorists makes us safer

VII. Calming the waters — the Iraq model of how to stabilize postwar societies by withdrawing all U.S. peacekeepers.

VIII. The Benghazi video maker — how demonizing our own and attacking free expression win respect

IX. The Value of silence — why ignoring the Iranian Green Revolution and Egyptian president Sisi’s recent speech makes sense

X. Clapper, Brennan, and Holder — why the right experts matter and how they mitigate extremism

XI. Drones are the answer — how blowing up suspected terrorists is better than interrogating live confessed ones

XII. The art of the redline — why issuing but not enforcing deadlines, redlines, and step-over-lines are game-changers

XIII. Courting Iran — how concessions, weakening sanctions, and allying with Iran in Iraq thwart extremism

XIV. Isolating Israel — when Netanyahu is called a “chickens***” and a “coward” the West wins allies

XV. Russia to the rescue — utilizing the resource of Vladimir Putin as a way to lessen Middle East tensions


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