[In case anyone has missed the parallels, one has the sense these days of deja vu so far as the Bush administration’s approach to the Muslim world is concerned — the recommendations emerging from the right wing think tanks — the surge to brutal abuses of human rights in the name of “liberty and freedom,” the Joe McCarthy type smear tactics that are directed towards competing candidates (Who actually DID fight in the View Nam war and who dodged it?). Needless to say this strategy has been tried before and not worked — in fact has bred more trouble down the line. In particular we should learn from the CIA overthrow of the democratic Iranian government of Mossadeq which we demolished back in 1953 to bring in the brutal Shah — our anti communist guy — who was replaced in turn by the revolution against him in 1979. And most recently we have launched an illegal war to remove Hussein — he was Rumsfeld’s pal in under Reagan:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/
Will they never learn? Ed Kent]

P.S. Websites are readily available to substantiate all of the above — leave it to others to do their own Google searches.

………………………………..

http://www.aljazeerah.info/Opinion%20editorials/2007%20Opinion%20Editorials/April/2%20o/Rand%20Corporation’s%20new%20recipe%20to%20handle%20the%20Muslim%20World%20By%20Abdus%20Sattar%20Ghazali.htm

Rand Corporation’s New Recipe to Handle the Muslim World
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Al-Jazeerah
April 2, 2007

The semi-official U.S. think tank, Rand Corporation, suggests creation
of networks of the so-called moderate Muslims to promote US policy
objectives in the Muslim World.

In its latest report, titled “Building Moderate Muslim Networks” the
Rand Corp advocates that the building of moderate Muslim networks
needs to become an explicit goal of the U.S. government policy, with
an international database of partners and a well-designed plan.

Just as it fought the spread of Communism during the Cold War, the
United States must do more to develop and support networks of moderate
Muslims who are too often silenced by violent radical Islamists,
according to the Rand Corporation report issued on March 26, 2007.
Lead writer of the report Angel Rabasa says that the United States has
a critical role to play in aiding moderate Muslims, and can learn much
from the way it addressed the spread of Communism during the Cold War.

“The efforts of the United States and its allies to build free and
democratic networks and institutions provided an organizational and
ideological counter force to Communist groups seeking to come to power
through political groups, labor unions, youth and student
organizations and other groups.”

The report defines a moderate as a Muslim who supports democracy,
gender equality, freedom of worship and opposition to terrorism. This
looks an amplification on its two previous reports – “Civil Democratic
Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies” (March 2004) and “US
strategy in the Muslim World after 9/11” (December 2004) – which also
suggested supporting moderate Muslims and exploitation of inter-Muslim
religious differences. Interestingly, a novelist turned research
scholar, Cheryl Benard is the author of “Civil Democratic Islam” and
co-author of Dec. 2004 and March 2007 reports.

In the December 2004 study Rabasa had suggested to exploit Sunni,
Shiite and Arab, non-Arab divides to promote the US policy objectives
in the Muslim world. Echoing this theme, the latest report recommends
reaching out to Muslim activists, leaders and intellectuals in
non-Arab countries such as Turkey as well as in Southeast Asia and Europe.

The report recommends targeting five groups as potential building
blocks for networks: liberal and secular Muslim academics and
intellectuals; young moderate religious scholars; community activists;
women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns; and moderate
journalists and scholars.

The report warned that moderate groups can lose credibility – and
therefore, effectiveness – if U.S. support is too obvious. Effective
tactics that worked during the Cold War include having the groups led
by credible individuals and having the United States maintain some
distance from the organizations it supports. “This was done by not
micro-managing the groups, but by giving them enough autonomy,” Rabasa
said. “As long as certain guidelines were met, they were free to
pursue their own activities.”

To help start this initiative, the report recommends working toward an
international conference modeled in the Cold War-era Congress of
Cultural Freedom, and then developing a standing organization to
combat what it called radical Islamism.

The recent summit of “Secular Islam Conference” in St. Petersburg,
Florida, almost coincided with the release of the latest Rand Report.
A small group of self-proclaimed secular Muslims from North America
and elsewhere gathered in St. Petersburg for what they billed as a new
global movement to correct the assumed wrongs of Islam and call for an
“Islamic Reformation.”

The St. Petersburg conference, held on the sideline of the
Intelligence Summit, was carried live on (Islamophobe) Glenn Beck’s
CNN show. Some of the organizers and speakers at the convention were
well known thanks to the media spotlight: Irshad Manji, author of “The
Trouble With Islam,” and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch
parliamentarian and author of “Infidel,” were but a few there claiming
to have suffered personally at the hands of “radical” Islam. One
participant, Wafa Sultan, declared on Glenn Beck’s show that she
doesn’t “see any difference between radical Islam and regular Islam.”
Other participants were the now public ex-Muslim Ibn Warraq and
self-proclaimed ex-terrorist Tawfiq Hamid.

Surely, the “moderate” Muslim agenda is promoted because these ideas
reflect a Western vision for the future of Islam. Since the Sept. 11
attacks, everyone from high-ranking officials in the Bush
administration to anti-Islam authors have prescribed a preferred
remedy for Islam: Reform the faith.

The Rand Reports about Islam appear to be part of a grand strategy to
“change the face of Islam” as revealed by the US News and World Report
on April 15, 2005. The report entitled – Hearts, Minds, and Dollars:
In an Unseen Front in the War on Terrorism, America is Spending
Millions…To Change the Very Face of Islam – reads: “From military
psychological-operations teams and CIA covert operatives to openly
funded media and think tanks, Washington is plowing tens of millions
of dollars into a campaign to influence not only Muslim societies but
Islam itself.”

According to the well planned leaks to the US News and World Report,
this strategy for the first time stated that the United States has a
national security interest in influencing what happens within Islam.
The report also confirmed that it is, in fact, the US which has been
funding an American version of Islam, called “Moderate Islam.”

The Rand reports try to create a fictitious vision of Muslims and of
Islam, where it is antihuman, uncreative, authoritarian, and
intrinsically against Western societies. It is an ethnocentric view of
Islam that dominates current representations of Islam that are
reductive, predominantly negative, and encouraging a culture of
Islamophobia.

The complexities of the so-called fundamentalism and extremism in the
past 100 years or so, whether it be Christian, Hindu, Jewish or
Muslim, need to be understood in the context of modernization, the
process of secularization, the changing nature of religious
institutions, the post-colonial experience in developing countries,
globalization, the divide between wealthy and poor, contesting
political power, and the impact of totalitarian regimes on civil society.

What is not mentioned in the RAND reports is that the reason for the
alienation of Muslims from the West, is the issue of “double
standards” the West so brazenly practices when dealing with Muslim
nations. America already has a very tarnished image in the Islamic
world. It has already alienated a great majority of Muslims throughout
the world through its misguided foreign policy. Who in the right mind
will believe that this asinine assault on Islam and Muslims will win
America friends in the Islamic world?

Now a word about the Washington-based semi-official think tank – the
RAND Corporation. Among other government departments, the Rand Corp
conducts studies for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint
Staff, the Unified Commands, the defense agencies, the Department of
the Navy and the U.S. intelligence community. Obviously, writers of
the three under discussion reports on Islam may be considered as
neo-Orientalists with clear intention to belittle Islam.

When the European nations began their long campaign to colonize and
conquer the rest of the world for their own benefit, they brought
their academic and missionary resources to help them with their task.
Orientalists and missionaries, whose ranks often overlapped, were the
servants of an imperialist government who was using their services as
a way to subdue or weaken an enemy. The academic study of the Oriental
East by the Occidental West was often motivated and often co-operated
hand-in-hand with the imperialistic aims of the European colonial
powers. The foundations of Orientalism were in the maxim “Know thy
enemy”. This equally applies to the modern day Orientalists of such
semi-official think tanks as the Rand Corporation.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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