Thursday, January 20, 2005

Freedom or Justice?

From "Liberals against terrorism" an intriguing column discussing a subscriber's only column by James Fallows in The Atlantic. Summarizing, Fallows claims that Freedom is an powerful American theme. The correspondingly powerful Muslim theme is Justice. If we can learn to present the freedoms in representative government, capitalism, and the rule of law in terms of the justice they bring, then our message can resonate with Muslims.

Fallows wrote:
This past fall in Washington, Brian Jenkins and his colleagues from RAND unveiled a project that attempted to model recent events through the eyes of al-Qaeda—where it had been successful, what it feared. Fighting terrorism and understanding Islam is as fertile a field as Soviet studies were during the Cold War.

Through these studies runs the idea that the United States could make an authentic and appealing case to the Muslim world&em;if it took the time to understand which parts of its argument are most likely to register with the person in the street. For instance, in much of today's Muslim world "justice" is a more compelling ideal than individual "liberty." "This really is a war of narratives in a battlefield of interpretation," Marc Sageman says. "We need to promote a positive vision to substitute for the vision of violence. And that vision has to be justice. It is no accident that these groups are always calling themselves 'The Party of Justice' and so on. In the time of the Suez Canal the United States stood for 'justice' against the Brits and French, and we were the toast of the Middle East. We need to be pushing a vision of a fair and just world, with us in harmony with the rest of the world, as opposed to at war with the rest of the world."
More later.

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