A New NATO Double-Track Decision on Terrorism and Dialogue with Islam Is Needed
Amazing strategic successes have been achieved by the West in only 15 years: the military threat of the Warsaw Pact has been neutralized; NATO and the EU have been extended throughout the whole of Central Europe. Freedom and human rights are on the rise in Europe; Germany has been reunited and communism is almost dead.
These victories were all based on long term NATO strategies which, for more than 30 years, consisted of a judicious mixture of containment and military strength as well as a willingness for dialogue. They were built on the foundation of the prescient strategies of the Harmel Report of 1967 and the framework NATO’s Double-Track decision of 1979.
Currently, there is unfortunately no comparable long-term NATO strategy of this sort to combat the threat of global terrorism cloaked in the veil of Islamic extremism.
Military action to restore stability has pushed into the background the truth that a war can only be won when the hearts of the enemy have also been conquered.
We must also delve as rapidly and as intensely as possible to the roots of the problem, not the fruits of the tree upon which the active terrorists grow.
At the same time, these trained terrorists—less than 30,000 out of a global population of 6.5 billion—and their ideological friends and supporters have been encouraged by “provocative weakness.” They have also been aided by a lack of precise actions internally in most of our NATO countries, including an all too liberal freedom to operate in our open societies and to promote hate.
There is an urgent need for a new long-term transatlantic NATO Double-Track decision “A Challenge to Terrorism and a Partnership with the Islamic States.” The need is crucial with respect to the background news of the latest terrorist attacks in Great Britain.
It should consist of two equally important elements:
The first is assured stability and containment of the radicals and their networks with equality and justice, based on the entire gamut of our anti-terrorist activities. These include our legal systems, police, intelligence and armed forces.
The second is a very active and open dialogue with the more than 1.5 billion moderate Islamic people on all levels of contacts.
This theme should embrace a basic principle:
The strengthening of cooperation through international contacts among NATO, the United States, the European Union, and the Islamic world with the goal of achieving mutual respect and tolerance for the moderates along with an intolerance of terror.
The fellow citizens of the Moslem faith in Europe and America will be treated with respect. We in turn, expect nothing less from our Islamic partners than the renunciation and elimination of terrorism and respect for our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights.
The Islamic world needs a renaissance of its true values: tolerance, a better education system, more freedom of the press, anti-totalitarian politics and women’s rights.
Stereotypes and ignorance must be overcome on both sides.
These international contacts should take place in three arenas.
The first priority should be the youth organizations. Young academics of Islamic countries should be assisted in developing new concepts of advancing mutual understanding and tolerance. Joint schoolbook commissions should write texts which teach these new concepts.
The second arena of international contacts should be journalistic groups with an aim to revise media policies. Extending the policies of youth organizations, these media commissions should draft concepts for the containment of hate propaganda and for the promotion of mutual understanding. In particular, television networks must avoid serving as a megaphone for terrorists and hate propaganda.
The third arena of international contacts should be organizations promoting a dialog among our respective religions. Christian and Jewish leaders should greatly increase their exchanges with Muslim clerics. This will not be easy on either side. Pope Benedict XVI recently promoted just that during the World Youth Congress in Cologne. On the Islamic side, mullahs are even more independent and refrain from openly denouncing Islamic extremists. It will take vigorous action for the leaders of the three groups to agree that the Torah, the New Testament, and the Koran are based on the same fundamentals of love and tolerance and that Islamic extremists only serve to undermine the Moslem faith. Only in this way can the Islamic world arrive at its true self and at the heart of the message of the Koran.
The leaders of NATO should agree to a new Double-Track decision as soon as possible, similar to the Harmel Report of 1967 and the framework of the NATO Double-Track decision of 1979. This should be put into action on a worldwide basis.
The implementation of the Double-Track decision should commence with first steps in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Moslem country, and in the more progressive Gulf States. Turkey could carry this dialog into the Moslem countries of central Asia.
Only such a new Double-Track effort by NATO, the EU, and Moslem countries will advance liberty and freedom and ultimately defeat world terrorism.
Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann is Founder and President of the World Security Network Foundation in New York