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Integrated Deterrence: Consider Ending the War on Terror and UNITING for Shared Values

In Fall of 2022, the Biden Administration released its long-awaited defense strategy called Integrated Deterrence. Since the 1990’s the Department of Defense has issued its National Defense Strategy (NDS) roughly every 4 years.

If you weren’t aware of this, Think Tanks influence much of what goes on in the US government, and supply recommendations for each administration with names of key people. Integrated Deterrence – The Center for a New American Security (CNAS), is the Think Tank that Biden drew many senior members of his administration, including Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence. She is the first woman to head the CIA, FBI, and the Intelligence service of the US. Haines released comments on Integrated Deterrence and said that it was unclear what the DOD meant by Integrated Defense and what exactly it would look like when put into action. 

Deterrence is therefore psychological as much as anything else. It requires clearly signaling political will and intent to act decisively if an adversary crosses a red line.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) also commented on the new NDS, which is not surprising because the CSIS is the Think Tank that produced Blinken, as well as many other significant government figures (Henry Kissinger is a board member). A commentator on the CSIS website, Kathleen McInnis, stated, “Deterring an adversary from taking a particular course of action is not just a matter of stationing forces on a front line or maintaining nuclear weapons. Rather, deterrence is a form of high-stakes political communication. Deterrence is therefore psychological as much as anything else. It requires clearly signaling political will and intent to act decisively if an adversary crosses a red line.”

If you are interested in finding out more behind-the-scenes information about the inner workings of the US strategies for promoting and defending our values, both the CNAS and CSIS have newsletters, podcasts, and a variety of other means to access their ideas. In a way, this is one of the great reasons we can love the US, as I am not sure that many governments allow their senior Think Tanks to share thoughts as freely as the US. 

Which leads me back to the point: What do we think about Integrated Deterrence? 

I invite you here to reflect on the last twenty years of the War on Terror, and think about the fact that it is indeed winding down. In part, you can see this in the fact that Domestic Terrorism and White Nationalism have been identified as a primary security threat to the US. Another reason, back to CSIS and CNAS, is that we have become more closely allied with the Middle East.  CSIS has close ties to the Saudi government as well as the UAE. Many major figures in the Biden Administration have economic ties to the Middle East. 

Generally, the idea of Integrated Deterrence relies on the ability of the US to communicate to its enemies that crossing lines of national boundaries is a very poor choice. Case in point: Russia invaded Ukraine. The US and Europe were unable to deter this invasion. Now we are trying to deter further invasions of European countries by Putin by supporting the Ukrainians. But also, NATO has expanded, the EU has united against the invasion, and other critical allyships have strengthened as resistance. 

What Does It All Look Like?

A critical front in this idea of deterrence is without a doubt the situation in South East Asia where China is threatening Taiwan. What do we do to deter this invasion? And, with the likelihood that we can’t, what do we do to push back on the increasing global power that China represents?

Some questions that immediately come to mind are, “Why do we care? Why not let the Chinese run things?” Well, for one, their human rights record is abysmal. They invaded Tibet and are committing genocide against the Uighur. Arguably, there is a free world that represents values that most people share which include freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, rights for women, and other values that characterize free societies. Many of these values are core Islamic values.

End the War on Islam and Unite with the global Muslim community for our common values.

So here is what I think Integrated Deterrence could look like, and I think it should work for many people in the US government: End the War on Islam and Unite with the global Muslim community for our common values.

We are already allies with many of the gulf states. We could cultivate a better relationship with Turkey. We also could do more to support Malaysia, Indonesia, and Muslims in Southeast Asia, and these ties and alliances could significantly help both them and us to defend values that we all care about and share. 

You may be saying to yourself, “Turkey and Saudi are too autocratic.” I would say that they allow a great deal of freedom in their countries, much more than the Chinese Communist Party and that they pose no threat to the US as they share our values more closely than many other countries.

If Integrated Deterrence was intentionally linked to the cultivation of a strong commitment to the global Muslim community, creating a clear change in policy about social sanctions regarding Islam, and a commitment to truly end the hostility towards Muslims, the US would be better aligned to deter China, Russia, and Iran from crossing any more lines would greatly increase.

The Solution

So here is the idea: End the War on Terror and start a new policy of US cooperation with Muslims as a top priority. 

It is significant that one of the main areas that the US is not paying sufficient attention to is the African continent, and that China is rapidly engaging in a neocolonial frenzy with the Belt and Road program. Again, just as being more closely aligned with Malaysia and Indonesia would defend the South China Sea, working to create stronger alliances with African Muslims would defend our ability to access key resources. It would also provide support for all these countries to continue to defend the values that Muslims share with the US.

If we look at Ukraine, one of the lessons we’ve learned is that Europe and the US could have done more to warn Putin that this was not going to work for him. That is something that the US could effectively message to China with a strong move to unite with the Muslims around values that are democratic, Islamic, and not in line with the CCP.

I know what you are saying… Muslim Girl is not the central Think Tank to US foreign policy that it should be. You’re probably wondering how we could possibly get anyone to listen to this idea. I have faith in the Muslim Girl Army, the power of dua with our collective influence. Just keep reminding yourself that Integrated Deterrence should have a key focus that includes Ending the War on Terror, and Uniting with the Global Muslim Community. Spread the word.

Sarah is a social worker in the San Francisco Bay Area with at-risk and homeless youth. She likes to paint, drum, sing, and spend quality time with her family and God.