Smearing Trump’s national-security braintrust

Donald Trump and Sebastian Gorka. Reuters; Getty Images

New York Post, by Paul Sperry, March 21, 2017:

No, Sebastian Gorka is not a goose-stepping Nazi.

This was a revelation to the writers and editors of The Forward, who all but accused him of being one last week, and to the publications that picked up and spread this juicy story before it was debunked by Liel Liebovitz at Tablet magazine. (At issue was whether Gorka is a secret member of a Hungarian group that collaborated with Nazis during World War II. He categorically denies it.)

The personal attacks aimed at Gorka and Michael Anton, both key national-security aides to President Trump, aren’t the only false stories in the left’s smear campaign against these two.

They have been painted in outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Politico and The Atlantic as Islamophobic hardliners hellbent on dragging us into more Mideast wars. But that bears little resemblance to their writing, which the Trump haters haven’t bothered to explore in any depth.

A closer reading of their voluminous writings reveals a cold-eyed realism about global affairs vs. the wild-eyed “extremism” portrayed by the media.

Gorka has cautioned against using “inflammatory” religious terms to describe even terrorism done in the name of Islam, arguing in his largely overlooked Ph.D. dissertation that it offends “law-abiding Muslims everywhere.” Also in his 240-page dissertation, Gorka calls a policy of exporting democracy “totally wrong-headed,” especially in the Middle East. “Any notion that concepts of democracy are universal must be discarded.”

“There is much evidence beyond the core tenets of the Quran and the Muslim world that suggests that our culture has been consciously rejected by other parts of the globe,” he explained, adding that promoting our brand of democracy in those regions often leads to “instability.”

Gorka, whose father was tortured by the Communists as a Hungarian freedom fighter, calls the harsh US interrogation techniques used against Iraqi prisoners a “scandal.” Abu Ghraib, he wrote in 2007, “has provided grist to the mills of the propaganda machine of Salafists.”

Anton, meanwhile, has argued for a middle path between “paleo-isolationism and neocon overreach.”

“Among the many reasons to be hopeful about President Trump’s foreign policy is that he seems to understand that correcting the errors of the neo-interventionists does not require adopting those of the paleo-isolationists,” Anton argues in the current issue of American Affairs Journal.

Both he and Gorka part ways with isolationists like Pat Buchanan when it comes to dealing with Iran. They agree it’s in America’s interest to intervene to deny Tehran nukes. But toppling dictators simply for the sake of promoting democracy is a fool’s errand, the two realists argue.

“In some regions, democracy also correlates highly with instability, which breeds war and chaos that are antithetical to American interests,” Anton writes, adding that opening elections often installs tyrannies worse than what preceded the “democracy” (as with Hamas in the West Bank and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt).

When it comes to battling global terrorism, Gorka knows that “we cannot realistically hope for a perfect victory” against jihadists. At the same time, he asserts that we have to do more than the “whack-a-mole” strategy of the past eight years. The ISIS “caliphate” proves the folly of such a reactionary approach.

Victory demands a more comprehensive strategy, starting with recognizing the connection between Islam and terrorism. While “we are not at war with Islam,” says Gorka, who studied theology at the University of London, our jihadist enemy is using Islamic doctrine to justify its actions. Key to defeating it is understanding that threat doctrine.

A cohesive strategy also means preventing ISIS and other terrorist groups from using our immigration policy as a Trojan Horse to sneak jihadists inside our borders.

Anton, who holds two masters degrees and worked previously (2001-05) at the National Security Council, calls “terrorism and mass illegal immigration” the “two biggest threats of our time.” He’s right, and adjusting foreign policy to respond to them is hardly “xenophobic.” As he notes, “The first priority of every state is to protect its own safety and the safety of its citizens.”

For nearly a decade, Islamofascists have been on the ascendancy around the world. Acts of jihadist terror, aided by liberal immigration policies, have multiplied in Europe. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the most vocal critics of the Trump Doctrine and its architects are the architects or cheerleaders of the failed doctrine it seeks to replace.

Paul Sperry, a former Hoover Institution fellow, is author of several books on national security.

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