A moment of clarity from the DoD

The Department of Defense released this report by independent experts on Wednesday, presumably so that it would be lost in Thanksgiving traffic.

It's really amazing to see the difference between what they say publicly and the information they use to make their plans. Of course, the recommendations in this report have more to do with convincing the world they're wrong about us than with changing our policies, but the candor is refreshing nonetheless.

[ • Muslims do not "hate our freedom," but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.

• Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that "freedom is the future of the Middle East" is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World — but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved.

• Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-determination.

• Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack — to broad public support. ] -page 40

[ If there is one overarching goal they share, it is the overthrow of what Islamists call the "apostate" regimes: the tyrannies of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, and the Gulf states. They are the main target of the broader Islamist movement, as well as the actual fighter groups. The United States finds itself in the strategically awkward — and potentially dangerous — situation of being the longstanding prop and alliance partner of these authoritarian regimes. Without the U.S. these regimes could not survive. Thus the U.S. has strongly taken sides in a desperate struggle that is both broadly cast for all Muslims and country-specific. ( . . . ) Not only is every American initiative and commitment in the Muslim World enmeshed in the larger dynamic of intra-Islamic hostilities — but Americans have inserted themselves into this intra-Islamic struggle in ways that have made us an enemy to most Muslims. ] -pages 35-36

[ ( . . . ) Americans believe that while the U.S. necessarily shapes foreign policies to support our national interests, those same interests are not necessarily in opposition to the interests of other nations and cultures. To the contrary, Americans are convinced that the U.S. is a benevolent "superpower" that elevates values emphasizing freedom and prosperity as at the core of its own national interest. Thus, for Americans, "U.S. values" are in reality "world values" — exemplified by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the 1975 Helsinki Accords — so deep down we assume that everyone should naturally support our policies. Yet the world of Islam — by overwhelming majorities at this time — sees things differently. Muslims see American policies as inimical to their values, American rhetoric about freedom and democracy as hypocritical, and American actions as deeply threatening. ] -pages 44-45

[ ( . . . ) it seems that in two years the Jihadi message — that strongly attacks American values — is being accepted by more moderate and non-violent Muslims. This in turn implies that negative opinion of the U.S. has not yet bottomed-out, but is in fact continuing to move dynamically. But the movement is now qualitative rather and quantitative, meaning that regular Muslims are moving from "soft opposition" toward "hard opposition." In Saudi Arabia, a large majority believes that the U.S. seeks to "weaken" and "dominate" Islam itself — in other words, Americans have become the enemy. It is noteworthy that opinion is hardest over against America in precisely those places ruled by what Muslims call "apostates" and tyrants — the tyrants we support. This should give us pause. ] -page 46

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