Saturday, July 14, 2007

Opinion (Christopher Dickey): Through a glass darkly

“Ideology” is a word that President George W. Bush likes to use almost as much as “terrorist.” In presenting the lack-of-progress report about Iraq yesterday, he justified the negligible and negative results of the surge in troops by arguing “we are at the beginning of a great ideological conflict.” In fact, he used variations on that word and that theme a dozen times in an hour. But if you listen to the president, it’s hard to tell just what he means.

As Bush puts it, the struggle is “between those who yearn for peace and those who want their children to grow up in a normal, decent society, and radicals and extremists who want to impose their dark vision on people throughout the world.” But the sad irony is that this is precisely the argument, in reverse, that Al Qaeda and its many spinoffs use to justify their fight. And Al Qaeda’s people, as leading counterinsurgency strategists admit, make their case much more effectively.

An idea, of course, is only the beginning of an ideology, but if you don’t have a firm grip on it, you’re going to have trouble with all the rest. And the basic idea used by Osama bin Laden’s fellow travelers to justify their actions is that they’re under attack and on the defensive everywhere just because they’re Muslims. They could raise their families in peace and with dignity if it were not for the “dark vision” of the Bush administration and the forces of godless globalization that it represents.

Read the rest at Newsweek