In the process of defeating terrorism, as in reforming criminals, ideas matter, as this article at Catholic Culture shows.

An excerpt.

Newt Gingrich, of all people, should be familiar with the lesson that I was taught as the First Law of Politics: You can’t beat somebody with nobody. So I’m surprised that in  a column appearing in today’s Wall Street Journal, on why we’re losing the battle against radical Islam, the former Speaker of the House doesn’t acknowledge the corollary: You can’t beat ideas without ideas.

Gingrich begins with the observation that we—that is, the West—are at war with radical Islam. However, he notes, the West “doesn’t have a strategy for victory in this war.” Correct. He adds an important insight here: “It is extraordinary that the political correctness of Western elites has discouraged the study of what inspires those who dream of slaughtering us.”

So far, so good. Gingrich goes on to say that Congress should hold hearings to explore the plans, the history, and the motivations that have given rise to the jihadist menace. Then, once we understand our enemies, we gather the smartest policy experts we can find, and “charge them with designing a national strategy for winning the global war against radical Islamists.”

Although he sees the problem, then, Gingrich does not offer a solution. He recognizes that we need a strategy, but he is not ready to offer one. Since he suggests forming a blue-ribbon commission for the task, it would appear that he doesn’t think anyone else has a plausible strategic plan ready to put into place.

Well, I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a plan for defeating the Islamic militants, either. But I do think that I know what crucial ingredient is missing from our plans. The jihadists believe in something. The West believes in nothing. And that’s where the First Law of Politics comes into play: You can’t beat something with nothing.

Retrieved January 16, 2015 from http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=1071