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What is Missing From Chertoff's War Assessment
It was heartening to see Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff clear-eyed view of al Qaeda's objectives.. The administration has often not articulated such a vision with such clarity.

But there is a disturbing absence in his analysis, one that has been largely absent since David Aufhauser left the Treasury Department three years ago. That is the support role that the Islamists, _wahhabists_ and _salafists_, along with the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups, play in this conflict.

Chertoff is correct is saying that "Today's extreme Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda do not merely seek political revolution in their own countries. They aspire to dominate all countries. Their goal is a totalitarian, theocratic empire to be achieved by waging perpetual war on soldiers and civilians alike."

All of that statement is true of the Saudi leadership, the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR, the Muslim Student Association and the Qaradawi-led groups across Europe that share the _Ikhwan_ theology.

The _jihadists_ that Chertoff notes are also bent on getting weapons of mass destruction, the ultimate goal of these groups is no different from the "moderate" groups that seek political legitimacy here and in Europe. There is a clear strategic difference, of course. But one does not negate the other.

It is the failure to recognize the supporting role the Saudi theological structure-financed, sheltered and protected by the senior levels of the Saudi royal family,-the Muslim Brotherhood's international outreach structure, and other structures, that makes it difficult to take the talk of war too seriously.

One cannot come up with a successful strategy for dealing with radical Islamist structures without taking on the support structures, any more than one can successfully combat lung cancer while continuing to maintain a two pack a day habit. One can remove some tumors for a brief reprieve, but cannot eliminate the cancer that way.

That, in effect, is the current strategy-deal with the easily visible symptoms, declare war, and ignore the broader causes.

The rivers of money, hate speech, recruitment aimed at, as Chertoff rightly notes, a world totalitarian, theocratic empire, will continue to spread violence, regardless of the individual successes and failures of al Qaeda and its current allies.

Until this far broader problem is understood, the war suffers from a lopsided emphasis on military action against a mobile and adaptable military enemy. But it offers nothing on the political front, on examining options on developing a more coherent, broader strategy to deal with a broader, more nuanced enemy.

The war in Iraq has largely made other actions, even military actions, impossible. One can see the consequence in Afghanistan. The public diplomacy initiatives seem more designed to show we can be nice to those who want our destruction than in clearly defining what our vision of the future is and asking the vast majority of Muslims to join us in a coherent effort to roll back the intellectual, financial and military gains of those who carry out their campaign in the name of Islam.

Until then, we are fighting symptoms, not the disease.

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