General Abizaid: We Could Live With a Nuclear-Armed Iran
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This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report
For a variety of conservatives, most notably Rudy Giuliani and Joe Lieberman, supporting aggressive counter-terrorism measures isn't enough. Credibility on national security is based largely on whether someone is willing to use the words "Islamic" and "terrorism" next to each other.
It's worth noting, of course, that the president, who enjoys the enthusiastic support of Giuliani, Lieberman, and others who share their ideology, doesn't use the preferred rhetoric. He used to, and the White House would make occasional references to "Islamofascism," but to the Bush gang's credit, they've moved away from that kind of rhetoric.
According to former CENTCOM Commander Gen. John Abizaid, Giuliani & Co. should follow suit. Indeed, during a discussion yesterday on the role of the military in counterterrorism, the general told at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that Giuliani's preferred rhetoric makes diplomacy in the Middle East " very, very difficult."
"[E]ven adding the word 'Islamic extremism,' or qualifying it to 'Sunni Islamic extremism,' or qualifying it further to 'Sunni Islamic extremism' as exemplified by government such as Bin Laden, all make it very, very difficult because the battle of words is meaningful, especially in the Middle East to people. And so, I do think, and I had a chance to get to know many of the regional leaders out there. They clearly understand that we, collectively, are fighting a problem that they don't want to win, that we don't want to win. The problem that we have to face is how do we work together to keep this problem from becoming mainstream. [...]
"The key is to figure out how we don't turn this into Samuel Huntington's Battle of Civilization's and we work toward an area where we respect mainstream Islam. There's nothing Islamic about Bin Laden's philosophy, there's nothing Islamic about suicide bombing. I believe that these are huge difficulties that we need to overcome, this notion of Christianity versus Islam. It's not that, it doesn't need to be that.
To hear Giuliani tell it, those who don't connect Islam with terrorism are "politically incorrect" and unwilling to acknowledge the seriousness of the terrorist threat.
Go ahead, Rudy, tell us Gen. Abizaid doesn't know what he's talking about. I dare you.
Steve Benen is a freelance writer/researcher and creator of The Carpetbagger Report. In addition, he is the lead editor of Salon.com's Blog Report, and has been a contributor to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Crooks & Liars, The American Prospect, and the Guardian.