The Two Abus

Foreign policy pundits have opinions on the 9/11 mosque again. Abu Aardvark says jihadists aren’t talking about it in online forums, but that’s no reason to relax because we should be caring about what mainstream Arab Muslims are thinking, not the extremists. He says the mainstream is seriously worried that the debate illustrates the rise of Islamophobia in America, and the whole fuss is contributing to the “ongoing deterioration of hope” in President Obama in the Arab world. Former CIA specialist Reuel Marc Gerecht says he’s not so sure that “our actions,” which some have argued should help cultivate moderate forms of Islam, are “so pivotal.” Promoting moderate Muslims is all well and good, Gerecht writes, but it won’t have much effect on the fight against extremism.

On Iraq, David Rothkopf is hopeful that the State Department’s role in “winning the peace” will reverse a long-term decline of the department’s influence relative to the Pentagon in foreign-policy making. Meanwhile, Abu Muqawama gives a heavily qualified picture of what he believes constitutes achievable success in Iraq, and says that America has been mostly successful post-2006. (It’s almost as if Andrew Bacevich or Gian Gentile were standing right over his shoulder.)

Max Boot scoffs at reports that the CIA believes extremists in Yemen now constitute a greater threat than those in Pakistan. He thinks that such talk is meant “as an excuse” to drum up support for cutting back in Afghanistan. Writing on the Daily Beast, TNI author Bruce Riedel predicts that as long as Islamabad believes NATO will eventually give up in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s military and intelligence services will continue to maintain their ties to the Taliban (for more on Pakistan’s “deep state” see Ahmed Rashid’s piece in the latest issue of The National Interest.)