One overlooked nugget of pure gold from the Afghanistan assessment by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal (what, is he still here?) appears in an article by Walter Pincus in today's Washington Post. Having determined that the failure to win Afghan "hearts and minds" is, for various reasons, all our fault, McChrystal gets around to his thoughts on the "battle of perception," which is the subject of the Post article. The Post writes:
As an initial step, McChrystal wants to change the goal of public relations efforts in Afghanistan from a "struggle for the 'hearts and minds' of the Afghan population to one of giving them 'trust and confidence' " in themselves and their government.
Send in, not the Marines but the ... life coaches? Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen has been talking about winning the Afghan people's trust for a long time (a variant on "hearts and minds"). Now, we're asking our military to win the Afghan people's trust ... in themselves. Is there a shrink in the house (Pentagon)?
At the same time, he said, more effort should be made to "discredit and diminish insurgents and their extremist allies' capability to influence attitudes and behavior in Afghanistan."
This should be interesting -- and it is:
One way to accomplish that, McChrystal wrote, is to target insurgent networks "to disrupt and degrade" their effectiveness. Another is to expose what he calls the insurgents' "flagrant contravention of the principles of the Koran," including indiscriminate use of violence and terrorism, and attacks on schools and development projects.
Or, in the full context of McChrystal's assessment:
A more forceful and offensive StratCom approach must be devised whereby INS [insurgents] are exposed continually for their cultural and religious violations, anti-Islamic and indiscriminate use of violence and terror, and by concentrating on their vulnerabilities. These include their causing ofthe majority of civilian casualties, attacks on education, development projects, and government institutions, and flagrant contravention of the principles of the Koran. These vulnerabilities must be expressed in a manner that exploits the cultural and ideological separation of the INS from the vast majority of the Afghan population.
As many readers will realize, a line like that can only mean one thing. It's that time again -- time to trot out our favorite despicable jihadist, Abu Qatada, whose words of wisdom have time and again helped restore a little sanity to a mad world.
And I'm not kidding. Back in 2003, the man sometimes described as OBL's "spritual guide" castigated then President Bush, and rightly so, for expounding on the religion of jihad as the religion of peace:
"I am astonished by President Bush when he claims there is nothing in the Koran that justifies jihad or violence in the name of Islam. Is he some kind of Islamic scholar? Has he ever actually read the Koran?"
Substitute "Gen McChrystal" for "President Bush" in the quotation and maybe we can start getting somewhere.