Pentagon Report: We’re Losing Because we Support Tyrannies

DoD - Defense Science BoardThe Sunday Herald is reporting that according to a “strategic communications” report from the Defense Science Board of the Pentagon, we have lost the war for the hearts and minds in Iraq:

On “the war of ideas or the struggle for hearts and minds”, the report says, “American efforts have not only failed, they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended”.

However, the report (PDF) is detailed in why we are losing this battle, and it’s the same reasons libertarians have been adamant in rebuking from the beginning: we’re supporting bad governments and the result is coming home to roost. Again and again the report specifically notes that it’s not our freedom the majority of Muslims hate, it’s because we’re supporting dictatorships and tyrannical regimes in the Middle East:

If there is one overarching goal they share, it is the overthrow of what Islamists call the ?Äúapostate?Äù 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.

Dissemination of information to ?Äúhuddled masses yearning to be free.?Äù Today we reflexively compare Muslim ?Äúmasses?Äù to those oppressed under Soviet rule. This is a strategic mistake. There is no yearning-to-be-liberated-by-the-U.S. groundswell among Muslim societies – except to be liberated perhaps from what they see as apostate tyrannies that the U.S. so determinedly promotes and defends.

Today, however, the perception of intimate U.S. support of tyrannies in the Muslim World is perhaps the critical vulnerability in American strategy. It strongly undercuts our message, while strongly promoting that of the enemy.

The U.S. has always operated from the proposition that in the ?Äúwar of ideas?Äù and the competition of ideologies, one form of governance and society functions best when the bright light of free-flowing information is pulsing – among free and democratic societies – while another – the tyrannical and fascistic – functions with difficulty, if at all, under those circumstances. Yet the paradox today is that our enemy is thriving in an environment of free and open information flows.

Muslims do not ?Äúhate our freedom,?Äù 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.

In Saudi Arabia, a large majority believes that the U.S. seeks to ?Äúweaken?Äù and ?Äúdominate?Äù 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 ?Äúapostates?Äù and tyrants – the tyrants we support. This should give us pause.

In this context, it’s very simple to see why many Muslims see Osama bin Laden as the good guy. We’re arming this bastard and shooting ourselves in the foot at the same time by continuing our support for repressive regimes, when instead we should either commit to a hands off, defensive stance in regards to the Middle East, or quit being hypocritical in how we determine good and bad allies there. The status quo is going to cause more Muslims to rally behind radical Islam and terrorist tactics as the only answer to our foreign policy.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.