Saturday, March 29, 2008

Towards a hopeful containment

The young man above is going to pick up a weekly donation of food for his family from an Islamic soup kitchen. This is a photo I took while I last visited Jerusalem with an eye to understand an ancient institution of charity while researching for the project site of my masters thesis in architecture (the Nabi Daud Zawiyya...which is also venerated by Jews and Christians as the site of King David's tomb, among other things). My lessons of this institution gave me a powerful lesson about the Muslim world, which our country would do well to learn more about, considering the "long slog" of containment we are facing in the Middle East. Notice I call it "containment" and not the "global war on terror", for to call our embroilment in the Middle East a "war" is to grossly mischaracterize the nature of the enemy we face there.
We must think of radical Islamic terrorist groups as operations run like NGO's, whose front line represents the heart and mind of the boy above, and not the conventional enemies we prefer (states-which we are quite capable of overcoming). We cannot overcome the islamist radical with the same means at our disposal as we overcame Saddam...The next president will have to craft a policy - nay dogma - of intelligent containment, regardless of what party he or she will belong to. I hate to say it folks, but, McCain is QUITE correct in claiming this is going to be a 100 year struggle...but he is wrong to say that the struggle will look like an occupation or that it is even a "war". We need to call it what it is: "a 100+ year containment". We can't be naive that the terrorist will be appeased by resolutions of statecraft. (Say we lived in an ideal world and Israel gave Hamas every concession Hamas demanded, and even restored their energy and infrastructure needs to better than Israeli standards even - if only to allow Israelis to remain where they are...Do you think Hamas is going to be appeased? If you think so, you have failed to understand the apocalyptic, suicidal mindset of an Islamic radical my friend! Yes...this is a 100-year + engagement - get used to it so we can deal effectively with it, bud!)
We will lose the "war" on terror...but we can definitely win the "containment" battle. And we can win it with unconventional, smart weapons. We need a hopeful containment. The boy above represents our front line too...What can we be doing to make his world better? There is so, so, so much we can be doing.
The first cadidate who begins shaping a hopeful vision for this young man's life...will definitely win my heart and mind as well.

No comments: