From the last post & its ensuing conversation, I have drafted a practical policy on dealing with Islamic terrorism. Here it is in the clean crisp form.
Islamic terrorism is caused primarily by organizations such as AQ and is impossible to deal with on that level unless we were to sacrifice the freedom that we are trying to defend. It is caused ultimately by the situation in the Muslim world, where oil-states maintain the media and cultural backbone neccessary to supply AQ and others with human and financial support.
What we need to do is create an environment where the radical Islamic ideas are on an even playing field with moderate, modern Islamic ideas. In this environment the moderate Muslims will win because their ideas are better. To use an antecdote, the Soviet Union collapsed when free media allowed Russians to compare ideologies, and our ideology won. To create this fair playing field, we need to bring about major economic and political reforms in the Muslim world. This can be accomplished ultimately by forcing the governments to create real economies, which is best done by denying them oil revenues, and secondarily through constant political pressure on regimes to bring about political reforms. In extreme cases this presure can include war, ie Iraq. Finally, while these ultimate goals are pursued, it is important to put many resources in combatting terrorism through hunting down the individuals and protecting our society as much as is possible without curtailing our rights.
Once again, some real examples of economic and political reform following lack of oil revenues. Jordan passed most of its economic reforms when Saudi Arabia could no longer afford to subsidize it (late 80's). Dubai, one of the most dynamic economies (and tolearant societies) in the Middle East, got that way because their leaders had very little oil revenue to live on. Even Iran brought in a parliament (albeit symbolic) after the oil plunge in the late eighties.
Although bringing the Muslim world into the modern era is and will be an extremely expensive process for our nation, it is a neccessity both because this spawns terrorists, threatening our political security, and it creates huge instability on top of the worlds primary energy source, threatening our economic security.
More thoughts on the even playing field by Friedman, and on the media/cultural oil-state backbone by strategy page.
Thus stands the practical policy on Islamic Extremism.