President Barack Obama is taking the old expression, “You can get more flies with honey than with vinegar,” and making it the theme of his domestic diplomatic plans.
On Wednesday, Obama and the White House unveiled a strategy to battle home-grown extremism by, well, being pleasant and reaching out to local Muslim communities in an effort to build stronger relationships.
The hope is that through continuous engagement with local leaders, the establishment of knowledgeable police who are in-touch with the needs and wants of the Muslim community, and a general desire to make everyone feel as though they belong, America can counter the negative messages being perpetuated by terrorist groups.
"Protecting American communities from al Qaeda's hateful ideology is not the work of government alone," said an introduction to the strategy signed by President Barack Obama.
"Communities - especially Muslim American communities whose children, families, and neighbors are being targeted for recruitment by al Qaeda - are often best positioned to take the lead."
The main point of this plan appears to be protecting the rights of every American -- regardless of religious or cultural beliefs -- and preventing the discrimination or stigmatization of any one group. This, in turn, will hopefully provide less incentive for Muslims who have been mistreated or wronged by what they perceive is a biased American government to react in potentially catastrophic fashion.
Despite the positive tones in this new strategy, a very obvious enemy was focused on in the text. In the published plan, Obama and his team described a Qaeda as the “preeminent terrorist threat” to America, and cited the global Islamic militant network as a concern for future terrorist attacks.
Worries about increased al Qaeda recruitment of U.S. Muslims are nothing new. Back in 2009 a shooting spree involving a Muslim American military psychiatrist gripped headlines. He was accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 others at Fort Hood, Texas. In another incident just last week, a U.S. Muslim solider was charged with possession of a firearm. He later admitted to planning on blowing up a local restaurant and attacking Fort Hood, as per an FBI affidavit.
"The number of individuals remains limited, but the fact that al Qaeda and its affiliates and adherents are openly and specifically inciting Americans to support or commit acts of violence - through videos, magazines, and online forums - poses an ongoing and real threat," the strategy said.
"Rather than blame particular communities, it is essential that we find ways to help them protect themselves."