The warrior passions that Al Qaeda generated in America-ns by its violent invasion of our sovereignty has not diminished 20 years since. Like no other modern event, we collectively recognized a real existential threat to our civilization.
After 9/11, Russia and China wholly committed themselves to the Global War on Terror (GWOT). But US neoconservatives twisted GWOT into an unappealing democracy crusade which alienated critical partners in this clash of civilizations. Our hubris and lack of reliability has generated broad distrust. The recent end of our failed crusades has fueled the return of the radical Islamic threat to US national security. We need to regain the confidence of our partners.
Humility will permit us to recognize that China has been fighting a war against radical Islamist terrorists for centuries, the exact sa-me foe that attacked us on 9/11, but with casualties e-clipsing those we experie-nced. In his book On China, Dr. Henry Kissinger chronicled China’s war with radical Uygur Islamis-ts in Xi-njiang Uygur Autonomous Region under the 1800s Qing Dynasty that cost millions of Chinese their lives.
During the 1980s, Muslim extremists rededicated themselves to creating an independent Islamic caliphate out of the Xinj-iang Uygur Autonomous Region. Sheltered by their sympathizers in the Central Asian region, members of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) conducted a campaign of terror throughout China. Bomb-ings, mass knife attacks, kidnappings and assassinations resulted in countless deaths and maiming.
China had a high vested interest as a partner in GW-OT in 2001 as Uygur terrorists had pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda. The barbaric violence perpetrated by the Uygur terrorists well into the 2000s was no less barbaric than that perpetrated by Al Qaeda, or later by ISIS when it atte-mpted to establish a caliph-ate in Iraq and Syria. The UN Security Council Al-Q-aida Sanctions Committee has listed ETIM as a terrorist organization since 2002.
However, the US, plagued by residual animus toward China, remained to-ne-deaf and blind to Ch-ina’s internal Islamist thr-eat. Once GWOT morphed into an Americanization initiative, China realized we were not at all serious. China decided to solve its internal problem alone, employing traditional and characteristically Chinese techniques that recognize the redeemable value of even misguided lives. By combining reeducation and work, China has succeeded in turning murderous malcontents into disciplined and productive citizens that reject extremism. For radicalized Uygurs in Xinjiang, this reprogramming is a humane blessing, as in other nations, at different times, they would have been summarily liquidated.
Recognizing the success of China’s Uygur militant transformation policies, the most rabid China hawks in the US Cabinet sought to undermine the program’s success. As a first step, they urged the president to sign the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act into law.
Curiously, the US military employs very similar means to salvage the psyches of countless American youth that might otherwise take criminal paths. In particular, the Marine Corps has for over almost 250 years mastered the art of deprogramming antisocial recruits. Once broken down they are positively reprogr-ammed as patriotic US Ma-rines. Consistently, in addition to winning in battle, m-any go on to become leading citizens in our USs.
Unfortunately, China-averse hyperbole deliberately conflates China’s deprogramming of dangerous Muslim extremists with Uygur genocide and religious suppression. Meanwhile, Secretaries of State in both parties’ tout fictional US human rights records. They ignore that US blunt force instruments of less-than-precise drone strikes and direct actions have left tens of thousands of Muslims dead and maimed in democracy crusades we then abandoned.
Because of bad policy, America is well on its way to incurring blood debts to Islam generally; debts that may well be avenged for centuries. Yet, in denial, we continue business as usual. In addition to objecting to Chinese policies in Xin-jiang, we insist on meddli-ng in other sensitive internal affairs of nuclear superpower competitors. Issues related to Crimea, Ukraine, Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea are, in reality, none of our business. All the while Al Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist threats grow globally and, in our homeland, not to me-ntion left- and right-wing extremism growing within our increasingly pol-arized and unpoliced society. Now more than ever, our nation needs powerful alli-es in GWOT to take on a m-ore sophisticated but even more vengeful generation of terrorists that will, conceivably, soon be armed w-ith nuclear, biological, and other weapons of mass des-truction. But if we continue with our self-impressed foreign policy, when the next 9/11-comparable existential event occurs, we’ll find ou-rselves in dire straits with no empathetic partners.