Al-Qaeda Winning Hearts and Minds: How America Can Learn From Terrorists

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20110718 Mali arrests alleged al-Qaeda informants | مالي: اعتقال مُخبرين للقاعدة | Le Mali arrête des informateurs d'al-Qaida

West African forces are fighting Al Qaeda in West Africa, they face stiff resistance

Chocolate bars can do more to win wars than machine guns.

As their Middle East strongholds are besieged al-Qaeda branches have taken root in Mali.  Despite being vilified in the modern world as heinous terrorists the herdsman in Mali know them as neighborly philanthropists.  Armed patrols from al-Qaeda training camps regularly pass wells throughout the area and consistently make a sincere effort to ingratiate themselves with the locals.  The men make charitable donations to local herdsmen; children are given chocolate bars,the ill are given medicine free of charge, the injured are given food for free, and newborn babies get a fresh set of clothes.  All they take is water from the pumps, but it seems to the nomads that the Al-Qaida soldiers were not looking for water in the first place.

They were looking for trust.  They have found it in many of the increasingly loyal villagers.

Since the foundations of  the African arm of  Al-Qaeda, whom call themselves AQIM meaning Al-Qaeda Islamic Maghred, has expanded operations from Algeria into Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Senegal, and Nigeria.  The nomads in Mali are friendly with the terrorist group just as the Mali government is; Al-Qaeda and the ruling party have adapted a live and let live policy.  This has brought peace to Mali while paramilitary operations and abductions of Western nationals have challenged the surrounding nations.  Many new recruits to AQIM are from Mali, due to the successful hearts and minds campaign.  Since 2006 the number of jihadists has grown from an estimated one hundred to estimates around three hundred.  They are no longer alien foreigners to the region; AQIM is just part of the culture.

With only funds ransomed through kidnappings, Al-Qaeda has secured a foothold for the future on the loyalties of a region on a budget.  Meanwhile the $1.283 trillion dollar wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have brought about an unstable peace, punctuated with corrupt governments and suicide bombings.  Chocolate bars have bought a more stability than the world’s armies.

Hearts and minds campaigns are far more important to the future of warfare than any other method of influence.  The best wars are the ones that you never have to fight.  Al-Qaeda has learned to win over a populace using sincere intentions and token gifts.  Osama Bin Laden did it in Afghanistan and now AQIM is doing it in Africa.  They know how to win hearts and minds.  America does not.

My point is simple; rather than expanding our military budget the American government should be expanding its international aid budget.  A B-2 bomber costs 2.4 billion dollars to build.  It costs a mere twenty-five cents to feed a child in Africa for a day.  Rather than building one plane to drop bombs and kill people we could get 9.6 billion meals for the impoverished.

The costs  for one plane could feed the continent of Africa three meals a day for three days; I believe full stomachs of potential allies would do more damage to Al Qaeda than the most precise of bombs.  America must adapt to wars of the twenty-first century and must make a determined effort to win the hearts and minds of the international population in order to prevent outbreaks of terrorism abroad and here at home.

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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Change: Gay’s Still (Legally) Banned in US Military

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President Obama hailed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 as a civil liberties step forward;  three months later there have been no progress towards friendly integration of gay soldiers into the military.  The unconstitutional policy has still not been officially terminated; the Obama Administration is still in the process of constructing a new system to replace the biased system under which gays are discharged for being gay.  In the original bill did not overturn the policy, actually it said the policy would “remain in effect” until a replacement policy was devised.

How Will The Obama Administration Integrate Gays into the Military?

Since the passing of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 key members of the administration have been constructing a new system, under which hopefully gays will not be persecuted against.  In the terms of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 it was specifically outlined the current policy would first be analysed and then a new policy would be drawn up.

This would mitigate concerns of military personal and their families by creating a steady organized process.  The drawback to this planned system is progress comes slowly;  more than two months after the signing of the bill the Obama Administration is only suspected of releasing new policy this week.  It will still be another sixty days after that until the unbiased policy is fully enacted.

Is There Resentment for the Sluggishness of the Administration?

Currently, whenever a military soldier from any of the corps is convicted of being gay they are swiftly removed and quietly discharged.  Openly gay men and women are not permitted to join the  military under even the most dire of circumstances.  There is still bitter grievances from the gay community; they will not be content until the new policy is fully enacted and operational.

Will Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Be Terminated?

It is certain that a new policy will be enacted, it is only a matter of time.  The Obama Administration has followed through on other popular acts, such as The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 whose policy started being put into effect days after being enacted.  President Obama has openly supported the controversial bill, proclaiming “I will end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!”  The Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates, is the other critical policymaker who will create a new unbiased policy.  Gates supports Obama.  Change is coming, the government is simply being careful as they implement this controversial policy so that it sticks and all those who wish to patriotically serve can fight

Why Were Gays Not Permitted To Serve?

The logic of this policy was that gay soldiers would be easily distracted by their fellow soldiers and would be ineffective.  A counterexample to this fallacious logic is the The Sacred Band of Thebes, who were one of the most fierce and successful military units in history; they were completely made up of gay combatants. There has also never been conviction of a United States personal becoming combat ineffective because of whom they have loved.  The opposers of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 were nothing short of paranoid fools.

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