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The 9/11 War Plus 5: Looking Back and Looking Forward at U.S.-Islamic World Relations

The 9/11 War Plus 5: Looking Back and Looking Forward at U.S.-Islamic World Relations

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Published by: Saban Center at Brookings on Mar 20, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/10/2014

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T
HE
B
ROOKINGS
P
ROJECT
 
ON
U.S. R
ELATIONS
 
WITH
 
THE
I
SLAMIC
W
ORLD
   A   N   A   L   Y   S   I   S    P   A   P   E   R
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T
HE
9-11 W
AR
P
LUS
5
L
OOKING
B
ACK
 
AND
L
OOKING
F
ORWARD
 
AT
 U.S.-I
SLAMIC
W
ORLD
R
ELATIONS
P. W. S
INGER
 
T
HE
9-11 W
AR
P
LUS
5
L
OOKING
B
ACK
 
AND
L
OOKING
F
ORWARD
 
AT
 U.S.-I
SLAMIC
W
ORLD
R
ELATIONS
P. W. S
INGER
   A   N   A   L   Y   S   I   S    P   A   P   E   R
   N   u   m   b   e   r   1   0 ,    S   e   p   t   e   m   b   e   r   2   0   0   6
T
HE
B
ROOKINGS
P
ROJECT
 
ON
U.S. R
ELATIONS
 
WITH
 
THE
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SLAMIC
W
ORLD
 
T
HE
S
ABAN
C
ENTER
 
AT
T
HE
B
ROOKINGS
I
NSTITUTION
III
E
XECUTIVE
S
UMMARY
I
t is hard to imagine that it has been five years since the9-11 attacks. The scope of developments and actionsthat followed is breathtaking, from two ground wars andover 20,000 American casualties, to a complete jettisonof 60 years of American strategic doctrine aimed atpreserving stability in the Middle East.The distance of time now allows us to step back andweigh the consequences. The echoes of the attackswere felt in everything from the invasion of Iraq andthe massive political changes that swept Palestine,Egypt, Lebanon, etc. to the Danish cartoon controversy.History, though, will judge these to be but theaters withina much larger problematique that will shape Americangrand strategy over the next decades. Five years in, it isnow clear that the 9-11 attacks created a new dynamicfor global politics, and thus American foreign policy,centering around the changed relationship between astate and a religion. The most dominant superpower inworld history and the world’s fastest growing religiouscommunity of 1.4 billion Muslim believers now standlocked in a dynamic of mutual suspicion, distrust, andanger. It continues to spiral worse. We have entered theera of the 9-11 War, a contestation in the realm of ideasand security that is quintessentially 21st century in itsmodes and processes. This melding of hot and coldwar is not a battle between, but a battle within. Mostworrisome, five years in, it is not going well so far foreither the U.S. or the Muslim world.The ensuing analysis traces how the 9-11 attacks openedup a swirl of debate and controversy on everythingfrom the sources of terrorism to how best to defeatradicalism. It finds that for all the partisan rancorthat seems to touch everything from Iraq to theDubai Ports controversy, an underlying consensus hasemerged on the key problems the U.S. faces in the 9-11War. A new doctrine of constructive destabilizationand multifaceted implementation now underlies ourgrand strategy. This underscores everything from thebuzzword of “reform” to the raised attention on thesocio-economic processes that support radicalism.However, the burgeoning consensus is simply notenough. Key hurdles of implementation must beovercome, with a critical need to define just how theU.S. will match lofty words to actual deeds and boldintentions to real policy capabilities. These challengesare tough enough, but, even more important is therecognition and resolution of three crucial questionsof strategy that will hover over all policies in thelong-term. If it is ever to meet with any success, theU.S. must soon resolve how it will 1) support changewhile recognizing its incapacity to control which localforces will benefit from it, 2) react to the reform debatewithin the Muslim world without undermining it, and3) respond to the massive demographic change thatwill reorder politics and societies in the generationahead. Much as the doctrine set in the late 1940s laidthe groundwork for ultimate Cold War success in the1980s, the framework that we now give to our policieswill determine our ultimate 9-11 War victory or failuredecades from now.

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