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The Soft Power Summit

Our international betters--and Madeleine Albright--tell America how to fight the war on terror (and what's wrong with us).

11:00 PM, Mar 22, 2005 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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According to Amre Mossa, secretary general of the League of Arab States, neoconservatives are one of these western illnesses. Drawing moral equivalence between Islamist terrorists and Western neoconservatives, Mossa explained, "This clash [of civilizations] does exist between extremists on all sides and in all civilizations to the point of using violence, terrorism and extreme ideas. When I talk about that, I'm not only talking about those extremists in the Muslim world, but also the neoconservatives in the Western world, who have ideas about how to control the world and how to use violence in order to change the world." [emphasis added]

THE SUMMIT was the brainchild of wealthy Argentinean entrepreneur and philanthropist Martin Varsavsky. (Besides being the founder of several successful telecom and internet content companies, among Varsavsky's "plethora of non-business activities," he is a member of the Board of Trustees of the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation.)

Varsavsky's foundations also organized the post-summit Atocha Workshop on Global Terrorism, which began on the last day of the summit. Its stated purpose was to serve as "a forum to promote creative thinking in the fight against terrorism."

To spur on the attending experts' creative thinking, the Varsavsky foundation published 36 "proposed topics for debate and policy promotion," which the experts whittled down to roughly a dozen issues. Not surprisingly, many of them evinced strong anti-American sentiments based on crude caricatures of American society.

The most boorish discussion topics concern America's religiosity. For example, the first suggested discussion topic explains,

. . . the most lethal terrorist acts seem to be carried out by terrorists who blend both, nationalism and religion. The same appears to be true of the responses to terrorism as the 100,000 estimated dead in Iraq show. Nations that combine a heavy dosage of nationalism and religion, as the United States seem to have a tendency to be more ready to accept the use of force. What is it about this combination of nationalism and religion that makes actors feel more entitled to violence?

Another discussion topic, titled "The Unholy Alliance Between Red States and the Muslim world," asks, "do we have an unholy alliance between people from the Red States and the Muslim world as these individuals are driven more by religion than other values? Are the people in the Blue States and Europe their hostages?"

In addition to promoting a specious casualty count for the Iraq war, these questions also draw moral equivalence between contemporary American religious life and the murderous Islamist ideology that spawned September 11.

Attacks on American society were not limited to its religious aspects; they also focused on the war on terror. For example, another discussion topic is called "Freedom Fighters or Terrorists? How to Shape the Debate." Here the Varsavsky Foundation asked the puerile Michael Moore-style question, "is violence by Iraqis against US Troops terrorism or a war of national liberation?"

Still other discussion topics asked loaded questions such as: "Why is bombing acceptable while placing bombs is not?"; "Can democracies continue to justify bombing civilians from the air and ground as a valid terrorist fighting tactic?"; "How can Western democracies validly criticize the responses of Putin to Islamic terrorism while at the same time invade Iraq?"; "Traditionally American Foreign Policy has been what was good for business. Is this the case in the Iraq invasion and the New World Order?"

When the Madrid Agenda is delivered to the U.S. Congress later this year, its recipients should remember the proceedings that forged the document.

Thomas Joscelyn is an economist who works on antitrust and security issues.