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As the SecDef would say ...

Reader comment on item: How Terrorism Obstructs Radical Islam

Submitted by J. Keen Holland (United States), Aug 23, 2005 at 16:09

Dr. Pipes' argument certainly makes sense to me, but I am afraid that we lack "appropriate metrics" to judge the relative size of the positive and negative impacts of terrorism on the Islamic radicalization project.

Terrorism does rouse the sleeping West from time to time, but we seem to be quite adept at forgetting each such lesson in short order. So, does the terrorist do more to create adherents to radical Islam or does the balance tip toward undoing that effect by interfering with the lawful and political wing of the movement?

Perhaps I have been misunderstanding Dr. Pipes' popular writing on this subject over the past year or so that I have been reading his email updates, but it seems to me that organizations like CAIR (which he classifies here as part of the lawful and political wing of the movement) walk a very fine line between acceptable political advocacy and making excuses for the overtly violent elements.

I am somewhat reminded of the complex interplay between legal and illegal communist operations in the bad old days of the Cold War. A pull here, a push there, but always one end in view. I don't mean to say that radical Islam has anything like the sort of central control one found in the communist movement, but there are similarities: intellectuals, theoretical writings, tactics chosen for their local applicability, the legal side carrying along a lot of folks who would never have joined the illegal operation.

I fear the tension Dr. Pipes describes here may be more apparent than real.
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