Fareed Zakaria is a journalist with amazing insight into world politics and economics. His views are logical and pull from both left and right. His book, The Future of Freedom, is one of the best things I have ever read.
“My boy Fareed” as I refer to him by – is the editor for Newsweek International, and this excerpt from an article he wrote last week in Newsweek fit well with yesterday’s post about a George Bush’s views on terrorists.
Read for yourself:
In the past two weeks President Bush has, for the first time, started describing America’s adversaries as part of “a single movement,” “a worldwide network,” with a common ideology. He notes that these groups come from different traditions but concludes that what unites them?their hatred of free societies?is more important. This kind of rhetoric does have the benefit of making the adversary seem larger and more sinister, thereby drumming up domestic support for the administration’s policies, but it comes at great cost.
To speak, for example, of Sunni and Shiite fundamentalists as part of the same movement is simply absurd. They have hated each other for almost 14 centuries. Right now in Iraq, most of the violence is the work of Shiite militias, which are murdering people they claim are Sunni extremists. How can these two adversaries be part of a unified network?
A look at Bush’s remarks on Iran will show how such a monochromatic view distorts America’s strategic thinking. Last week he spoke of Iran in the context of a worldwide movement of Shiite extremists. This movement, Bush argued, has managed to take control of a major power, Iran, and use it as a launching pad to spread its terrorist agenda.
I’m not sure the president actually believes in the transnational threat of a “Shiite crescent.” If he does, why would he have invaded Iraq and handed it over to another group of Shiite extremists? (The parties that rule Iraq?and whose militias are killing people?are conservative, religious Shiites, often with ties to Iran.) In fact, Iraqi Shiites are different from Iranian Shiites. They have separate national agendas and interests. To conflate them into one group, and then to toss in Sunni Arab extremists as comrades in arms, is bad policy. The world of Islam is extremely diverse. We should recognize and act on this diversity?between Shiites and Sunnis, Persians and Arabs, Asians and Middle Easterners?and most especially between moderates and radicals. But instead the White House is lumping Chechen separatists in Russia, Pakistani-backed militants in India, Shiite politicians in Iraq and Sunni jihadists in Egypt all together as one worldwide movement. This is, of course, exactly what Osama bin Laden has argued all along. But why is Bush making bin Laden’s case?