The strategy outlined in this report issued by the White House made a number of good points and should function as a tool for clarification about our official policy and aim. That having been said, I saw recurring and troubling omissions of what I believe to be very important information.
The main issue is the continuing effort to either deny or ignore the fact that the strongest and most powerful factor driving most terrorists and insurgents is the idea that it is a holy war and that Bin Laden and al-Zarqawi (among the others utilizing terrorism) are "defending Islam." I can only assume the White House is opting to term this very vaguely as propaganda instead of taking on that viewpoint head-on (no pun intended).
I would think that addressing the Islamic world's concerns more prominently would be advantageous but there could be other unknown factors that justify the current stance. Especially taking into account how these suicide bombers and religious extremists are being recruited and developed, it makes sense to focus on the skewed perspective equally if not more than taking on the force directly with military action.
Everyone wants purpose. In a region that is tough in climate, economic environment, and religion, it is no wonder there is a deep pool of recruits. With strong political viewpoints that are hammered in by religious and political leaders in the area, they feel morally vindicated and a common bond in the oppotunity to fulfill what they see as a very worthy cause. They believe we are evil. They believe our country is trying to invade them for our own benefit and attack Islam to assert Christianity. I don't believe this to be true but they most certainly do. When you view someone or something as attacking your core beliefs and way of life by what you understand to be an evil empire... well, it doesn't take a genius. Violence isn't the answer, but it is a proven human reaction to hightened emotion and reaction to threat. [sarcasm] ...Not that a country that fought for its own independence and even itself (in civil war and cultural and familial wars) would be able to relate to those feelings. [/sarcasm]
They seem to have limited sources of information and when they do get an outside source from the west it is greeted with paranoia and great skepticism. This means we have an incredible obstacle to overcome that was built over hundreds of years. While it is very important to not encourage people using terror, we have a responsibility (and it is a necessity) to be careful and respectful of the people and nations we interact with. They need to be certain we aren't there to attack their way of life and their religion and we need to make sure we aren't making their perceptions reality. We need to make it clear in word and in action that our first objective is to make sure the people are safe and taken care of, our second to ideally give them the freedom to practice whatever faith they decide to. Instilling the capacity for tolerance and pointing away from violence is an unfortunately difficult task. Insituting the freedom of religion is something that they very warily look at because it is an effort coming from what they see as a Christian nation and therefore "must be" a method for undermining Islam. That is the crux of the whole situation it seems. If it were just about freedom there would be no problem. The problem comes because many in the Arab world don't and refuse to see our efforts in that light. We as a nation carry a fair share of responsibility as we take for granted our freedoms to criticize and ridicule at will things we don't fully understand. As a whole we've failed to realise the differences between how we think and things we're used to as compared to other's nations. Awareness about the daily lives of people in groups both within and abroad and their governments and rights is important to international relations and we forget that our media is broadcast almost everywhere.
For all these reasons the outline is both interesting, informative, and somewhat worrying. I can only hope that those in power realise what I've pointed out and are simply working on those issues out of the spotlight. There are so many factors it is nearly impossible for anyone to say with authority what is the best method for dealing with the the situation in Iraq let alone the world political and social theater.
Because there are those that are lawless and oppressive, war is sometimes necessary. However, it is in everyone's best interest to strive for peace. No one wants to be maimed or killed, no person wants to starve or be unduly restricted in living their life. There will be polarizations and for that reason everyone should be willing to both listen to gain perspective and open to forgiveness and understanding. To look through history is to see the cycle of things and human emotional triggers in major world events that impact empires and civilizations. We need to be able to view our world and ourselves objectively and critically or as the time-tested cliche goes, history will simply repeat itself and it will continue to until we stop refusing to see the parallels in our own and other countries and civilizations.