America Strikes Back
CNN Greenfield at Large
JEFF GREENFIELD, HOST: Americans have been grappling with new anthrax threats-some real, some not-in the Senate, another TV network, an airplane, Planned Parenthood, and others.
But a new front has also opened in the propaganda war overseas. Secretary of State Powell today flew into Pakistan, where part of his mission is to make America's case to the Muslim world. We'll be looking at what the U.S. can do in that propaganda war and whether it should even care that much.
If there's one idea that seems to have united policy-makers, past and present, it's that the United States has to make its case clearly and forceful to the Muslim world, and that moderate Muslims must be persuaded to join us. Just listen to Condoleezza Rice today on al-Jazeera television.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I'm delighted to be here on al-Jazeera. I know that you're going to have many of my colleagues on in the future and I look forward to being back with you.
GREENFIELD: Listen to former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE, FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR: The greatest weakness right now and what we face is the fact that leading Muslim leaders, religious leaders, not the political leaders, all over the world are either being silent or failing to adequately state that the people who did this are not following Islam.
GREENFIELD: And here's the current secretary of defense.
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We need to do everything we can to make sure the truth gets out.
GREENFIELD: It's hardly a new concern. When protesters stoned Vice President Nixon during a Latin American tour in the late 1950s, Americans asked why we were resented. About that same time, a best- selling book and movie turned the phrase "The Ugly American" into a catch phrase. It symbolized isolation and arrogance in U.S. dealings with Third World nations.
And today, the U.S. drops not only bombs and food into Afghanistan, but pamphlets, some half a million, showing an Afghan man shaking hands with a Western soldier, saying, "The partnership of nations is here to help."
(END VIDEOTAPE) GREENFIELD: So do we know how to win Muslim hearts and minds? And is that really a significant necessity if the goal is to lessen terrorism aimed at the West? Joining us now from Washington, Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland. In New York, Daniel Pipes. He is director of the Middle East forum.
OK, Professor Telhami, let's say I'm the president. And I invite you into the Oval Office. And I say OK, I really mean it. We want to win the hearts and minds of these people. What do I say? Tell me, I'm going to take your advice.
SHIBLEY TELHAMI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: First of all, there's nothing we can do in the short term to change the historic legacies that the U.S. has in the Middle East. It's very difficult. There is an uphill battle. We shouldn't try too hard.
However, there are many things that we can do. First, on the humanitarian issue in relieving the suffering of the Afghani people, we should do it, because it's right morally, because that's what we stand for, and because, even though it's not going to persuade everyone, it's going to persuade a few.
Second, I don't think you're going to have people to trust the message that you're now going to give in the middle of a crisis. when they don't trust the messenger. Therefore, in order to win the hearts, what we should do is not look at it as a direct conflict between only the U.S. and the militants, but rather to look at it as a conflict for the soul of the Middle East, between moderates and militants.
And in a way, to empower and help and give the ammunition to the moderates, to help win the conflict with the militants, themselves. And in that sense, what we can do is help them have a vision to fight against the militants. They're on the defensive right now.
One reason why on the defensive is that we-they don't have anything to offer for the grievances that the militants focus on. In the 1990's, the moderates had a sort of a vision, which was a new world order that came out of the Gulf War, that came out of the Madrid conference, that would be based on a negotiated Arab-Israeli settlement and prosperity.
At the end of that decade, we find no peace and no prosperity. So the moderates have nothing to put forth. They need to put a vision. And we need to help them put that vision forth.
GREENFIELD: All right now, as I listened-as the President listened to you, and I've also invited him to the Oval Office, Daniel Pipes, because I want him to give me a blunt assessment. You just heard Professor Telhami suggest this is how we go about winning the hearts and minds. Your reaction?
DANIEL PIPES, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST FORUM: My reaction is that we don't have a role in the intra-Muslim debate between the moderates and extremists. We cannot propose arguments. We are not a religious government. We are not a Muslim government.
All we can do is try and tilt the balance in favor of the moderates. And the only way we can do that effectively is to weaken the extremists. And that's what our campaign against Afghanistan is about.
So actions here. I would count not some kind of new formulation of Islam coming out of Washington, D.C.
GREENFIELD: Let's get very blunt, though, because it's time to act, if the president were talking to you, I think. Do you mean to suggest that what-if we are forceful enough and tough enough in Afghanistan and I assume elsewhere that raising the price to the terrorists will do the job?
PIPES: Yes, the extremists have done well, notably on 11 September. They had a great victory and they humiliated us. We now have to reverse that equation and humiliate them and have a victory over them. That is what's going to help the moderates.
TELHAMI: Well, you know, at some level, I agree that it's not rhetoric that's going to work. It has to be action. And I think clearly part of that action has to be confronting those who perpetrated the attacks and doing so militarily.
But you have to have, in order to really win this long-term conflict, not just this short-term conflict, but long-term conflict, you have to have the moderates strengthen. They're on the defensive every day because their message is weak.
They have to do something on their own, but we have to give them something to work with. And clearly, we have a role to play. We have a role to play in addressing some of the issues that are important to them, both on foreign policy and domestic politics.
And in that sense, our message should be also to listen to them, to have a little bit of empathy for the public anger. There is a lot of public anger aimed at the U.S. that's separate from what the terrorists do. That's one reason why we're finding it harder to fight the war that we're fighting.
GREENFIELD: All right, I want to stop here and then give Mr. Pipes a chance to come back and broaden this discussion further. We'll do that when we come back in just a moment.
GREENFIELD: And we're back. We're talking about how and if and whether the United States should win over the Muslim world, with Shibley Telhami and Daniel Pipes.
Mr. Pipes, I want to get very specific. All right? What do you want the United States to do to strike fear into the hearts of those who would wage war on us? Who do you want to hit? How do you want to hit them?
PIPES: I want to hit those who might attack us.
GREENFIELD: Are you talking about Iraq? Are you talking about Syria? I want to know who you're talk about.
PIPES: I would like-I think this is a grand opportunity to take care of business. And one of-the first item are the militant Islamic groups and governments and individuals who have ideas about attacking us.
GREENFIELD: Give me a name of one of those governments, beside Afghanistan.
PIPES: Well, the Sudanese government has been implicated in attacks on America. The Iranian government has been implicated.
GREENFIELD: So what do you want to do?
PIPES: I would like to take a variety of steps-some violent, some nonviolent-that would make it very clear to them that any use of force against Americans will either be ineffectual or counterproductive.
GREENFIELD: I'm trying to get-is that-some violent? Does this mean, for instance, do we militarily attack Saddam Hussein's places where we think he's storing chemicals?
PIPES: That's the second topic. I was first talking about militant Islam. Secondly, there's Saddam Hussein. There's an open account there.
We're in the very fortunate position that he does not yet have nuclear weapons. He might have biological, but he does not have nuclear. We have an opportunity now to finish what we didn't finish in 1991.
GREENFIELD: All right, and if we do that, the militant Islamics will decide that they can't fight us anymore, that we mean business, that we'll retreat?
PIPES: We need to scare them. We need to defeat them.
Professor Telhami referred to the need for winning over the hearts. But my point would be to, for example, look at this like 1945. The way to have a new Germany was not to start discussions with moderates during the war. It is to defeat the totalitarian regime, and then after the war, then you help build up in Germany.
GREENFIELD: And drop bombs and kill and occupy the country?
GREENFIELD: Occupy the country. All right, Professor Telhami, my suspicion is that you're not buying this, but go ahead.
TELHAMI: Well, certainly I see the problem very differently. First of all, in terms of this war on terrorism, we have two separate missions. One mission is to respond to the attack on the United States. That's a right of self-defense.
There is a group or several groups that attacked the U.S. The U.S. has a right to counter. The international community understands that.
The second mission is really to fight terrorism more broadly. And that, we have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the support of international community over it. The U.N. passed a resolution on that.
The problem is, in order to fight terrorism effectively-and there are thousands of terrorist groups out there-you need the cooperation of so many different nations. And you cannot simply pick and choose the ones that suit your own interests. You have to have an agreement in the international community of what constitutes terrorism.
PIPES: I'd like to jump in here and say, no, we don't need anybody's help. We can do this ourselves.
TELHAMI: Well, I think that if I look at the problem of terrorism globally, in terms of what it needs, in terms of freezing economic assets, in terms of intelligence-sharing, in terms of accessing bases, it seems to me amazing that one would say that we can do this unilaterally without the cooperation, unless we're going to war with a dozen countries around the world, which we would have no support.
Second, I also see terrorism differently. There is a supply side. There are evil people out there who need to be countered and they need to be countered militarily.
GREENFIELD: But there's another part...
TELHAMI: But there's also a demand side. And the demand side is there's lot a despair that terrorists exploit. They recruit people. They get financial support. They win the battle of public opinion.
So you need to fight both fronts. You need to address the demand side, and you need to confront very firmly the supply side. And if you don't do both, you're going to be having a tough time winning.
GREENFIELD: Let me just put one thing in the table, though. We've heard about the madrassas, these schools in Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of people going at age six, because the public school system in Pakistan has collapsed. They get room. They get board.
And the one thing they learn, the only thing they learn is to memorize the Koran, day and night, hours a day, from the time they're 6 years old on. They know nothing about the outside world. How could any plan for economic development or agrarian reform or democracy reach that group? That seems to me...
GREENFIELD: Go ahead. I'm sorry.
TELHAMI: I have to tell you there is a fundamentalist problem, in that sense, not just there. I mean, you have a lot of people who are Christian fundamentalists who focus mostly on the Bible, and in Jewish areas, very religious people who mostly focus on religion. There's nothing wrong with fundamentalism or religion. It's not the way I would live my life. And I don't think it's conducive to economic development.
GREENFIELD: No, but excuse me...
TELHAMI: But there's a different...
GREENFIELD: Professor, they're also taught that the highest goal in life is to die, waging jihad against the United States.
TELHAMI: Well, if that's the case, you have to look no further than CNN to see the hundreds of thousands of people who are running away from bombs, who certainly don't want to die, including those children.
So, you know, this idea that somehow a madrassa is going to teach somebody to die for the faith certainly it flies in face of facts. Even bin Laden himself, in his recruitment tapes, he uses fear of death to motivate people to join him: the fear of death-to show dead Muslims in Palestine, in Iraq, in Chechnya, in order to show them the rest of the world doesn't care about their lives. It's the value of life that motivates people to join.
So I don't buy that particular argument. I think the idea that you have a madrassa is OK as long as it us not a recruitment place for terrorists.
GREENFIELD: All right, let me get Professor-I'm sorry. Let me get Mr. Pipes in here. Go ahead. You were making a point.
PIPES: I was making a point that bin Laden's recruitment tapes are not showing fear of death. They're showing death in order to motivate people, in order to anger Muslims, so that they will attack us.
TELHAMI: That's the point, anger them about the loss of life.
GREENFIELD: Let Mr. Pipes finish. Go ahead.
PIPES: We have an enemy. We must defeat this enemy.
I have nothing against the use of psychological warfare or political propaganda in the pursuit of this war. I have certainly nothing against finding coalition partners and allies.
But I think the fundamental fact is that we were attacked grievously and we must respond. And I believe we can respond.
GREENFIELD: But let me-can I just turn the question I asked, Professor Telhami, on its head to you? You want to strike back, you want to make them afraid of us. If you've got a whole bunch of people who's greatest goal is to die in jihad and you don't change their minds about this, how do you ever defeat them?
PIPES: One of the first things you do is to close down the madrassas. We can't stand these madrassas going on like this. We have to have...
GREENFIELD: Just a second. The United States goes into Pakistan and closes down...
PIPES: We tell the Pakistani authorities, no, no, you can't allow this anymore. And either you close them down or we close them down. Simple, no?
GREENFIELD: Well, it may be simple, but it suggests at some point, if the Pakistani government says, no, you're going to go in and militarily take over...
PIPES: It sure does. Didn't we just declare war?
GREENFIELD: Not on Pakistan.
PIPES: Didn't we declare war on militant Islam, in effect, the so-called "war on terror"? Isn't that in effect war on militants? I mean, that means if we're going to be serious about it, we've got to close down these madrassas.
GREENFIELD: Just to be clear, you're talking about actually going into countries that do not do what we ask to do and do it ourselves?
PIPES: Well, if we don't do it, then we might as well not fight this war in the first place.
GREENFIELD: All right. The gap here, Professor Telhami, between Mr. Pipes and yourself I think is widening by the minute. Do you put any stock in the notion, though, that at some point, the use of the kind of force we possess may at least temporarily get us to a safer place from terrorism? Is there anything to this argument you would say?
TELHAMI: Well, I think that the United States can defeat al Qaeda, but it cannot defeat terrorism without international cooperation and a visionary policy that also offers an alternative vision and helps the moderates win on their own.
But I want to say that, you know, we use the term militant Islam: Certainly, those groups are militant Islamic. But I think we should use the term terrorism more broadly, lest we misunderstand the link between religion and terrorism.
There is nothing wrong with fundamentalism. People have a right to be religious fundamentalists, whether they're Muslim or Jewish or Christian. We should respect the right to be fundamentalist.
Fundamentalism has been there for ages, in the Middle East and everywhere, in the United States and the Middle East and other parts of the world.
What we are against is terrorism. And terrorism sometimes exploits religious institutions. In the 1950s and '60s, it didn't. It used mostly secular institutions.
So you close the madrassas, if there is demand, the terrorists will find another vehicle to carry out their operations.
GREENFIELD: That's going to have to be the last word. Thanks very much to Shibley Telhami from the University of Maryland-sorry-and the Middle East Forum's Daniel Pipes. Thank you both for joining us.
When we come back, could the news of the last month have possibly been worse? The fact is it almost was.
GREENFIELD: Finally, there is no denying how unsettling the news has been for the last month. So if you are looking for something to feel good about, relatively good about, think about how much worse the news might have been, if not for those extraordinary, ordinary Americans aboard United Flight 93.
They had called their loved-ones off the plane, learned of the other hijackings, knew they were going to die. With their last earthly acts, they fought back.
Imagine they had not done this. Imagine the hijackers had crashed the plane into the Capitol in Washington. Now imagine trying to shape the legislation of recovery and retaliation with, say, half the House and Senate members killed. Imagine the president trying to rally the country with the symbol of the national government a smoking ruin.
For all the national uneasiness now abroad in the land, imagine it with the backdrop of a shattered government, literally, in every American mind. If you doubt that it is ever right to say of the dead that they did not die in vain, think of the passengers aboard United Flight 93.
I'm Jeff Greenfield. Thank you for watching. We throw it back now to Aaron Brown, who's got the latest developments.
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