Inside the Ring: Ideological war on terror needed

Washington Times, By Bill Gertz

The U.S. military made impressive gains on  the battlefield and covertly in countering Islamist terrorists since the Sept.  11, 2001, attacks. But the military and  government at large so far have failed to strike the religiously motivated  ideology behind al Qaeda and other Islamic  extremists.

That’s the conclusion of a new book, “Fighting the Ideological War: Winning  Strategies From Communism to Islamism, by a group of specialists urging the U.S. government to apply the lessons of the  Cold War defeat of the Soviet Union to  Islamist terrorism.

One of the authors, irregular warfare specialist Sebastian  L. Gorka, stated that the United States in the past 10 years successfully  degraded al Qaeda’s ability to inflict harm on  the United States. However, he writes,”al Qaeda  has become even more powerful in the domain of ideological warfare and other  indirect forms of attack.”

The problem for the U.S. government is “political correctness” toward Islam that has the prevented accurate  identification of the enemy’s threat doctrine. For example, the Obama  administration’s insistence on calling the Fort  Hood, Texas, terrorist attack by Army Maj.  Nidal M. Hasan “workplace violence” is crippling efforts to strike at the  ideology Mr. Gorka calls “global  jihadism” – defined as both the violent and nonviolent theory and practice of  imposing Islamic supremacy globally.

“Although we have proven our capacity in the last 10 years kinetically to  engage our enemy at the operational and tactical level with unsurpassed  effectiveness, we have not even begun to take the war to al  Qaeda at the strategic level of counter-ideology, to attack it at its heart – the ideology of global jihad,” he states.

Mr. Gorka notes that during the Cold  War, it took several decades to fully understand the Soviet threat before U.S.  diplomat George F. Kennan in 1946 wrote  his “Long Telegram” from Moscow, where he was serving as deputy chief of  mission. The missive became the strategy of containment and led to the eventual  downfall of the communist empire in 1991.

Similarly, Islamic jihadism presents a similar totalitarian threat and must  be countered ideologically. First, the nature of the terrorist threat must be  clearly understood and then defeated with Cold War-style information and  ideological warfare.

The administration has added to the  confusion by refusing to identify the Islamic nature of the current war on  terrorism.

Patrick Sookhdeo, another author and co-editor of the book, stated, “The truth, unpalatable though it may be, is that Islamists and Islamist terrorists are authentically Islamic, emphasizing specific texts and offering literalist interpretations of their sources.”

Some Western governments and analysts have sought to delegitimize terrorists  by incorrectly denying their Islamic roots, he said.

John Lenczowski, a White  House National Security Council specialist on Russia during the Reagan  administration, outlined in detail how Ronald Reagan approved and implemented a  program of “political-ideological warfare” that identified the illegitimacy of  the Soviet system as a strategic vulnerability that was successfully exploited  to defeat the Soviet regime. It included a combination of covert and overt  support for pro-freedom and pro-democracy movements and people.

The final Soviet collapse, Mr.  Lenczowski writes, came from “a confluence of internal crises that were  aggravated by the many ‘straws’ placed on the Soviet ‘camel’s back’ by the Reagan administration.”

Similarly, the authors argue that Islamist supremacy can be defeated  ideologically through programs that reveal the ideology of jihadist groups like al Qaeda and the Muslim  Brotherhood to be copies of earlier totalitarian and fascist ideologies.

The book was published by the McLean-based Westminster Institute and is  available at


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