Check out Mitchell Plitnick and “Those We Can Talk To and Those We Cannot.” Exploring some new thinking in the American military and the important distinctions between Hezbollah, Hamas and al-Qaeda.
A senior officer in the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said that “Putting Hizballah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda in the same sentence, as if they are all the same, is just stupid.” He was referring to a statement made by that prince of idiocy, Danny Ayalon, Israel’s perpetual embarrassment of a Deputy Foreign Minister.
As shameful as it is that a man as crude, boorish and ignorant as Ayalon holds such a position in Israel, the source of that statement is just one element in what appears to be evolving thinking in the US military.
An article at Foreign Affairs on the so-called “Red Team” report regarding policy toward Hamas and Hezbollah should not be given more weight than it is due. The purpose of the Red Team deliberation is specifically to challenge existing policy. Still, the thinking that the article reports is quite promising.
There is a real understanding reflected in their recommendations that Hezbollah and Hamas are not transitory political forces, but are here to stay, and they need to be dealt with in a serious fashion. Merely writing them off as terrorists and refusing to engage them has already proven counter-productive. Eventually, both groups will, in fact, be dealt with in an open fashion. That day is likely a long way off, which is unfortunate; a lot of bloodshed could be avoided by hastening, rather than delaying, that day.
Different kinds of Islamist groups
It’s easy to lump all of those groups together. It’s a useful propaganda tool for the inane “war on terror.” And it produces a backlash among leftists, who often overlook the abhorrent acts Hamas or Hezbollah have committed, identifying them primarily as freedom fighters. Given that all of these groups have used the tactic of terrorism, they make it easy for people to lump them together.
The reality is that al-Qaeda and similar groups, on the one hand, and national-religious groups like Hamas and Hezbollah are real forces in the world, and if we don’t do a better job of both distinguishing between them and understanding them, the conflicts we are in today are going to go on for a long time. Continue reading