Friday, January 12, 2007

Diplomacy for the War at Home

If we are to fight a War at Home - waged by the NSA, the FBI, the Pentagon, the DIA - against terrorist threats to our Homeland, are we to do so in such a manner as to deliberately rule out any possible diplomatic solution?

If we are to trust our Government's assertion that a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would increase the risk of terror attacks on our Homeland, and if it is the goal of our Government to remove our troops expediently and expidiciously, then it follows that a non-military approach to solving our National Quagmire is essential. Distasteful though it may seem, the search for a diplomatic victory may require the formal recognition of Al Qaeda, and a diplomatic relationship with this formal body.

I think it can be taken as obvious by now that Al Qaeda is not some loose band of thugs and theives hiding out in mountain caves, but is a group of individuals who are organized and resourceful, who confess a group identity, and who associate with various similar groups of individuals.

In terms of the phenomenology of the movement, it may be worthwhile to consider nationalism as a mechanism to account for Al Qaeda. If it seems odd to think of Al Qaeda in nationalistic terms - we are, after all, told Al Qaeda is a "network" - it is worth noting that we speak of "the Palestinians" as we speak of nationalities. We hear the President speak of "Palestine," although no such State has yet been established.

Any number of causes can be used to account for the motivations of individual members of Al Qaeda. Some individuals, certainly, are motivated by ideology; some, certainly, are so lost as human beings they hate our Country enough to die just to prove it. Others, likely, are motivated by what they've seen America do in Iraq, Panama, Angola, or the disputed Israeli territories - these latter persons motivated by desperation and the fear they will be assimilated next.

Were America to publicly recognize Al Qaeda as we recognize Nations, and open formal diplomatic negotiations, we could meaningfully ask the question, "How can we help make the Middle East more stable, prosperous, and egalitarian?" The asking of the question in such a context - backed by the demonstrable Will and ability to help carry out positive initiatives - means violence would no longer be a necessary first and last resort.

We must eliminate the need for terror as a political approach by separating terror as a tactic from the ideologies terrorists represent. In the absence of desperation, a radical approach is not necessary. Diplomacy as an outstretched hand gives reason to doubt the need for desperate measures.

Our Government must acknowledge the problematic nature of its present Middle East policy in order to demonstrate our leadership is not so rigid as to be unmoved even in the face of its own citizenry. We must demonstrate that our military presence in the Middle East does not represent a Colonial occupying force. We must demonstrate that our relationship with regional leaders is sufficiently developed as to facilitate regional cooperation.

Because cultural familiarity will be vital to successful diplomacy, we must build enduring ties with regional institutions, such as universities, art and natural history museums, humanitarian and civil liberties organizations, and entreprenurial or trade associations. We must help motivate Europe and China to engage in similar iniatives. We should help facilitate trade between the Middle East, South America, and Africa, possibly by subsidizing transportation or by providing training in management strategies. Al Qaeda must be granted the status of Nation; identified as such, these people will most likely seek to establish a State, and the interest of this people will require legitimate advocacy.

We must bring a truly global body of allies (and the whole array of their interlocked interests) to the negotiation table to produce a consensus regarding the appropriate steps for US troop withdrawal from the Middle East. As the United States Government contemplates new fronts in the War on Terror - from the Middle East to Asia to Africa - truly global negotiations with a formal body representing Al Qaeda are becoming increasingly necessary if we are to avert a global economic and humanitarian disaster.

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