President Barack Obama's advisers will remove religious terms such as "Islamic extremism" from the central document outlining the U.S. national security strategy and will use the rewritten document to emphasize that the United States does not view Muslim nations through the lens of terror, counterterrorism officials said.
The change is a significant shift in the National Security Strategy, a document that previously outlined the Bush Doctrine of preventative war and currently states: The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century.
The officials described the changes on condition of anonymity because the document still was being written, and the White House would not discuss it.
But rewriting the strategy document will be the latest example of Obama putting his stamp on U.S. foreign policy, like his promises to dismantle nuclear weapons and limit the situations in which they can be used.
The revisions are part of a larger effort about which the White House talks openly, one that seeks to change not just how the United States talks to Muslim nations, but also what it talks to them about, from health care and science to business startups and education.
That shift away from terrorism has been building for a year, since Obama went to Cairo, Egypt, and promised a new beginning in the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world.
"You take a country where the overwhelming majority are not going to become terrorists, and you go in and say, 'We're building you a hospital so you don't become terrorists.' That doesn't make much sense, said National Security Council staffer Pradeep Ramamurthy.
Ramamurthy runs the administration's Global Engagement Directorate, a four-person National Security Council team that Obama launched last May with little fanfare and a vague mission to use diplomacy and outreach in pursuit of a host of national security objectives. Since then, the division has not only helped change the vocabulary of fighting terror but also has shaped the way the country invests in Muslim businesses, studies global warming, supports scientific research and combats polio.
"Do you want to think about the U.S. as the nation that fights terrorism or the nation you want to do business with?" Ramamurthy said.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now