On Mideast Policy, the Swamp Drains Trump

FILE — In this Tuesday, March 14, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump stands with Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before lunch in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. With an eye toward Washington, leaders of a fractured and conflict-ridden Arab world hold their annual summit Wednesday, March 29, 2017, seeking common ground as President Donald Trump weighs his approach toward the region. The stalled Palestinian quest for statehood, is an issue that host Jordan says will take center stage. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

PJ Media, by Robert Spencer, May 18, 2017:

Speaking Friday about President Trump’s trip to the Middle East, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster said that Trump would:

… develop a strong, respectful message that the United States and the entire civilized world expects our Muslim allies to take a strong stance against radical Islamist ideology.

Those who are aware of how badly U.S. foreign policy has run off the rails over the last fifteen years should be deeply disturbed.

The world has been waiting in vain for that decade-and-a-half for “our Muslim allies to take a strong stance against radical Islamist ideology.” McMaster’s words were a disquieting indication that the foreign policy swamp, one in the most dire need of draining, has instead turned the tables on the president.

Trump now appears set to repeat all the mistakes his last two predecessors made in dealing with the global jihad threat.

McMaster added that jihad terrorists were operating according to “an ideology that uses a perverted interpretation of religion to justify crimes against all humanity.” But Trump, on the other hand, “will call for Muslim leaders to promote a peaceful vision of Islam.”

Here we go again.

How many times since 9/11 has one American spokesman or another declared that “the United States and the entire civilized world expects our Muslim allies to take a strong stance against radical Islamist ideology”? And what do we have to show for this expectation? How many years must we expect this before we realize that our “Muslim allies” have vastly different priorities than what mainstream counterterror analysts would wish to believe?

Pakistan’s government sheltered first bin Laden and now Zawahiri, was involved in the Mumbai jihad massacre and other jihad attacks, and has funneled much of the money the U.S. gave it to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban to … al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Turkey has repeatedly refused to strike strongly against the Islamic State (ISIS). President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is much more concerned with hitting Assad and the Kurds.

How long do we keep waiting on these “Muslim allies” to do the right thing, and weakly and pusillanimously calling upon them to do so?

And Trump “will call for Muslim leaders to promote a peaceful vision of Islam”? Well, there’s something we’ve never seen tried before!

Where has McMaster been for the last decade-and-a-half? Buried deep in the foreign policy establishment swamp that has been serving up this nonsense all these years. And now he has apparently sold President “Drain The Swamp” on it.

Both Bush and Obama called for Muslim leaders to promote a peaceful vision of Islam; they also both claimed that the jihadis’ version of Islam “uses a perverted interpretation of religion.” Where did it get them? The same place comforting falsehoods always take you: into a maze of blind alleys and failed policies based on incorrect analysis.

Even worse, McMaster said:

[W]ith President Abbas, Trump will express his desire for dignity and self-determination for the Palestinians.

Does no one around Trump understand that a Palestinian state would immediately become a strengthened base for new and more virulent jihad attacks against a weakened Israel? When they met in Washington recently, Abbas lied brazenly to President Trump: he claimed that his government “educates for peace,” and that the Palestinian Authority is “raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.” Meanwhile, on the same day, Abbas’ government honored 12 jihad mass murderers who are responsible for the deaths of 95 people.

The foreign policy establishment’s house organ, Foreign Policy, is worried that “in the White House ‘Game of Thrones for morons,’ Steve Bannon is trying to turn the president against his national security advisor.” We can only hope that Bannon succeeds. It’s ironic that Foreign Policy would dub the Trump team “morons” when it is the foremost exponent of the analyses and policies that have failed multiple times, and that McMaster is once again pushing.

Once again, because he has done this before. In February, according to CNN:

[A]t an all-hands meeting of the National Security Council, [McMaster] said jihadist terrorists aren’t true to their professed religion and that the use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” doesn’t help the US in working with allies to defeat terrorist groups.

A source who has asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals has informed me that he was present in August 2014 when McMaster was the featured speaker for the President’s Lecture Series at National Defense University in Washington. In his address, McMaster said flatly:

The Islamic State is not Islamic.

Now, this was during the Obama regime, when that was the official policy of the U.S. government, but President Trump has repeatedly criticized his predecessor (and his 2016 election opponent) for not being willing to call the problem of jihad terror by its right name. When he first became president, Trump repeatedlystated his determination to eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism.”

But what McMaster has announced represents a giant step backward in the effort to do that.

This represents a huge victory for the McCain/Graham Republican establishment, which subscribes no less than McMaster does to the “Islam is a religion of peace” line, and is also trying to neutralize Trump and keep the swamp from being drained.

Don’t break this promise, Mr. President.

Trump to Give ‘Inspiring’ Speech on Islam, ‘Agenda of Tolerance’ in Saudi Arabia

President Trump shakes hands with Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on March 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, May 16, 2017:

WASHINGTON — President Trump will give a speech on his trip to Saudi Arabia this weekend to convey his “hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam,” National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said today.

Trump flies Friday to the Gulf kingdom as the first stop on his first overseas trip since inauguration. He’ll stay through Sunday before flying to Israel for a day, then will visit Pope Francis on Rome the next day before continuing on to a NATO summit in Brussels and then the G7 summit in Sicily.

Briefing reporters about Trump’s agenda today at the White House, McMaster lauded it as a “historic trip.”

The president will have coffee with King Salman after touching down in Riyadh followed by a royal banquet and bilateral meetings.

The day after he arrives, Trump “will meet and have lunch with leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries where he will deliver an inspiring, yet direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and his hopes, the president’s hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world,” McMaster said.

“The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners,” he added.

Trump will “participate in the inauguration of a new center intended to fight radicalism and promote moderation.”

“By establishing and operating this center, our Muslim friends, including Saudi Arabia, are taking a firm stand against extremism and those who use a perverted interpretation of religion to advance their criminal and political agendas,” McMaster continued. “The president also looks forward to participating in a Twitter forum with young people who will be able to live tweet his remarks to people all over the world.”

In Jerusalem, Trump will lay a wreath at Yad Vashem and deliver remarks at the Israeli Museum before having a private dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The next morning the president heads to Bethlehem to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom he recently welcomed to the White House, to “convey his administration’s eagerness to facilitate an agreement that ends the conflict.”

Trump plans to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and say a prayer at the Western Wall, unaccompanied by any Israeli leaders.

“He’s going to the Western Wall mainly in connection with the theme to connect with three of the world’s great religions and to advance — to pay homage to each of these religious sites that he’s visiting, but also to highlight the theme that we all have to be united against what are really the enemies of all civilized people, and that we have to be joined together in — in a — with an agenda of tolerance and moderation,” McMaster explained.

Israeli Channel 2 reported that a U.S. diplomat planning the trip with Israeli officials said the Western Wall was in Palestinian territory, not Israel. Pressed twice during today’s briefing on whether the Western Wall is part of Israel, McMaster  said, “That sounds like a policy decision.”

“The president’s intention is to visit these religious sites, to highlight the need for unity among three of the world’s great religions: unity in confronting a very grave threat to all civilization, and unity in embracing an agenda of tolerance,” he added.

Also see:

Radical Iran-led Axis Confronted with U.S. Deterrence for First Time

by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
April 11, 2017

The conflict in Syria has long ceased being a civil war, becoming instead a clash between coalitions and blocs that divide the entire Middle East.

The Iranian-led axis is the most dangerous and highly armed bloc fighting in Syria. Bashar al-Assad’s regime is not an independent actor, but rather, a component of this wider axis. In many respects, Assad is a junior member of the Iranian coalition set up to fight for him.

Russia joined the Iranian axis in 2015, acting for its own reasons as the pro-Assad coalition’s air force, helping to preserve the Syrian regime.

This coalition enabled the Assad regime to conduct mass murder and ethnic cleansing of Sunnis from Syria, while also using unconventional weapons against civilians in an effort to terrorize rebel organizations into submission.

Feeling confident by its growing control of Syria, Iran also uses its regional coalition to arm, finance, and deploy Shi’ite jihadist agents all over the Middle East, and to attack those who stand in the way of Iranian domination.

The Iranian-led axis has been able to spread violence, terrorism, and Islamic militancy without facing repercussions.

Until recently, the United States focused its attention exclusively on Sunni jihadist threats – ISIS and al-Qaida-affiliated groups. While these terrorists certainly need to be attacked, turning a blind eye to the activities of the more powerful radical Shi’ite coalition did nothing to stop the region’s destabilization. In this context, Assad’s numerous crimes against humanity went unanswered.

This helped embolden Assad to use chemical weapons. It also gave the Iranians confidence to magnify their meddling in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, and to target many other states. The end result is Iran’s enhanced ability to export its Khomeiniest Islamic fundamentalist doctrine.

That sent a troubling message to America’s regional allies, who, in the face of these threats, formed a de facto coalition of pragmatic Sunni states – a coalition that includes Israel.

On April 6, the U.S. sent a signal that something may have changed. A cruise missile attack on an Assad regime air base, in response to a savage chemical weapons massacre in Idlib, Syria, was, first and foremost, a moral response to an intolerable act of evil.

But the strike also carries a wider prospective message about Washington’s new willingness to enforce red lines against Assad and his Shi’ite allies.

Potentially, it is an indication that the U.S. is willing to use its military prowess beyond the objective of targeting ISIS, and that it recognizes that Sunni jihadists are not the only global security threat that warrants the use of military force.

Statements by senior Trump administration officials indicate that a shift has occurred. “What you have in Syria is a very destructive cycle of violence perpetuated by ISIS, obviously, but also by this regime and their Iranian and Russian sponsors,” National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster told Fox News Sunday.

Russia must choose between its alignment with Assad, Iran, and Hizballah, and working with the United States, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday. The firm comment was made hours before he touched down in Moscow for talks.

According to U.S. officials, the April 6 missile attack destroyed 20 percent of Assad’s fighter jets. It represents the first time that Washington has taken military action against a member of the Iranian-led coalition.

The strike could evolve into a ‘dialogue of deterrence’ that the U.S. initiates against dangerous actors. These radical actors all have ‘return addresses,’ and are likely to prove responsive to cost-benefit considerations, despite their extreme ideology. They may think twice before considering further development and usage of unconventional weapons.

Washington is now able to exercise muscular diplomacy – the only kind that is effective in the Middle East – and inform all members of the Iran’s pro-Assad coalition that the deployment of unconventional weapons will not be tolerated. It can also begin to rally and strengthen the pro-American coalition of states in the Middle East, who seek to keep a lid on both ISIS and Iran.

With American officials indicating that they are “ready to do more” in Syria if necessary, signs suggest that the strike represents the start of a policy of deterrence, and leaving open future options for drawing additional red lines.

In theory, should Washington decide that Iran’s transfer of weapons and extremist Shi’ite military forces to other lands has reached unacceptable levels, or that Iran’s missile development program has gone far enough, it could call on Tehran to cease these activities. This call would carry substantially more weight following last week’s missile attack on the Syrian airbase.

The U.S. is in a better position to inform Assad and his allies that there is a limit to how far they can go in pursuing their murderous ambitions.

While the objective of creating a renewed American deterrent posture is vital, it should not be confused with plans for wider military intervention in the seemingly endless Syrian conflict.

There is little reason to believe that conventional weapons use against Syrian civilians is going to stop any time soon, or that the enormous tragedy suffered by the Syrian people is about to end.

And there is certainly no indication that the U.S. is planning to initiate large-scale military involvement in this failed state.

Hence, the missile strike should be seen for what it is: an attempt to boost American deterrence, which can then be leveraged to restrain radical actors that have, until now, been operating completely unchecked.

That is a message that will likely be heard loud and clear not only in Damascus, but also in Tehran, which has not given up its long-term ambition of building nuclear weapons.

North Korea, which helped build Syria’s plutonium nuclear plant (destroyed in 2007 in a reported Israeli air strike), and which maintains close links with Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, can be expected to take note as well.

If a policy of strategic deterrence follows the strike, it could have an impact on a coalition that is not just keeping Assad’s regime alive, but spreading its radical influence in many other areas.

In Syria, the Iranian Republican Guards Corps (IRGC) oversees ground operations across many battlefields to prop up Bashar al-Assad. Iran has gathered and armed tens of thousands of Shi’ite militia members from across the region into Syria, and manages a local force composed of 100,000 members. They fight alongside the Syrian Arab Army against Sunni rebel organizations, thereby increasing and entrenching Iranian influence.

The IRGC and its elite Quds Force are also helping to fill Hizballah’s weapons depots in Lebanon, with a vast array of surface-to-surface projectiles that are all pointed at Israel, often using Syria as an arms trafficking transit zone. Syria acts as a bridge that grants Iran access to Lebanon, and allows it to threaten both Israel and Jordan.

Jordan, an important U.S. ally, is deeply concerned by Iran’s actions in Syria, as evidenced by recent comments made by King Abdullah, who told the Washington Post that “there is an attempt to forge a geographic link between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah/Lebanon.” IRGC forces are stationed within a mere 45 miles from Jordan’s border, he warned, adding that any hostile forces approaching the Hashemite Kingdom “are not going to be tolerated.”

Hizballah, a Lebanese-based Iranian Shi’ite proxy, evolved into a powerful army by sending 7,000 to 9,000 of its own highly trained members into Syria’s ground war. It helped rescue the Assad regime from collapse, and took part in battles stretching from Aleppo to the Qalamoun Mountains northeast of Damascus.

Last year, the Arab League and the Sunni countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council all declared Hizballah to be a terrorist entity.

Just as Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias have poured into Syria, the same has happened in Iraq, where 100,000 fighters supported by Tehran fight alongside the Iraqi government forces against ISIS. The IRGC’s network extends to Yemen’s Houthi Ansar Allah forces, who receive Iranian assistance. Ansar Allah, a heavily armed Shi’ite military force, fires ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia on a regular basis.

The IRGC and Hizballah have been linked to a recent large-scale terrorist plot in Bahrain.

If the message addressed in the cruise missile strike is followed up with a strategy of deterrence, addressed to Ayatollah Khamenei as much as it was addressed to Assad, the U.S. could begin projecting to the world that it recognizes the threat posed by Shi’ite jihadists as much as it takes seriously the threat from their fundamentalist Sunni equivalents.

Washington’s campaign to pressure Russia to distance itself from its Middle Eastern allies could play an important part of this message.

Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.

McMaster staffing NSC with traditional GOP foreign policy hands

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster looks on as President Trump announces him as his national security adviser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 20. (NICHOLAS KAMM/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

McMaster chose GOP foreign policy expert Nadia Schadlow to be senior director for strategy and charged her with drafting the administration’s new national security strategy.

Washington Post, by Josh Rogin, April 4, 2017:

National security adviser H.R. McMaster is continuing to fill out his national security staff with conservative foreign policy experts from the establishment think-tank world, preferring them to the military intelligence types favored by his predecessor, retired Gen. Michael T. Flynn.

Two White House officials confirmed that McMaster has offered the post of senior director for South and Central Asia to Lisa Curtis, a well-known conservative expert and senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Curtis has accepted the offer and is going through the entry process now. Curtis has been a leading voice on the GOP side of the South Asia expert community for decades, having worked at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as an adviser to the State Department during the George W. Bush administration and as an analyst with the CIA.

What’s illuminating about the pick is that McMaster decided to scuttle Flynn’s choice for the post, Brig. Gen. Robin Fontes, who is currently the defense attaché at the U.S. embassy in New Delhi. The Pentagon had already announced that Fontes was going to the NSC to take the senior director job, as she was offered the post by Flynn before his firing.

“General McMaster is doing the hiring and it reflects his priorities but it’s not a reaction against [Flynn],” one White House official told me. “This is going to give us significant person-power in an area where we need it.”

The Curtis appointment is only the latest McMaster choice that steers the NSC staff away from Flynn’s penchant for military intelligence officers he happened to know well. Last month, McMaster chose GOP foreign policy expert Nadia Schadlow to be senior director for strategy and charged her with drafting the administration’s new national security strategy.

Officials also confirmed that Fiona Hill, a Brookings Institution scholar and traditional GOP Russia hawk, will be senior director for Russia and Europe, a newly combined directorate that brings both regions under one chain of command. Originally, Flynn had selected Tim Shea, the defense intelligence officer for Eurasia at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Shea actually decided to go back to the DIA before Flynn was fired, a DIA spokesperson said.

Several other Flynn hires have also left since his departure, for a variety of reasons. Senior director for strategy Dave Horan left the same day as Flynn. Senior director for the Western Hemisphere Craig Deare, a former Marine intelligence officer, was shown the door after it was revealed he criticized Trump in a private think-tank meeting. Robin Townley, another former Marine intelligence officer, was forced to leave his post as senior director for Africa after the CIA denied him his security clearance.

Replacements for both of those regional senior director roles are in the works, officials said. The officials also confirmed reports that K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser who arrived before McMaster, has been offered other roles outside the NSC, including a possible foreign ambassadorship. No transfer has been decided and McFarland might end up staying at the NSC, officials said.

McMaster wanted to get rid of Flynn’s senior director for intelligence programs, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, but top White House officials reportedly intervened on his behalf. Now that Cohen-Watnick is part of the controversy over the alleged unmasking of Trump transition officials who were caught up in incidental collection by American spy agencies, the White House is even more determined to keep him in place, officials said.

As for Curtis, she will soon be the only senior official appointed in the Trump administration who deals with the South Asia region, which includes the strategically important countries of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, among others. There’s no permanent assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, no Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the State Department and no assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Pentagon.

“It’s rather disheartening I’m sure for the people in the region,” said Shuja Nawaz, distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council. “They are still fumbling for some direction as to how the Trump administration will deal with this region.”

No world leader from the region has visited the White House and the Trump administration has said very little about its plans for the region. It’s been particularly quiet about Afghanistan, where thousands of U.S. troops are stationed.

Also up in the air is whether the NSC staff will play a major role in foreign policymaking. In the recent visit of the Saudi crown prince and the upcoming visitof Chinese President Xi Jinping, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has taken the lead. Also, several senior GOP foreign policy hands interviewed for top administration jobs have been rejected by the White House because they expressed some anti-Trump views during the campaign, shrinking the pool from which candidates can be chosen.

McMaster’s filling out of the NSC staff with experts and professionals rather than Flynn’s battle buddies is a positive step toward normalizing the foreign policymaking process in the Trump administration. But that effort still has a very long way to go.

***

GOP Senator Praises Dina Powell’s Promotion to Deputy National Security Adviser

Dina Powell / Getty Images

Washington Free Beacon, by Natalie Johnson, March 16, 2017:

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) on Thursday lauded the promotion of President Donald Trump’s senior counselor for economic initiatives, Dina Habib Powell, to deputy national security adviser for strategy.

Cotton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Powell is an “outstanding choice” for the post, noting her 15-year service in government that included a role in the second Bush White House.

“She has years of experience working both in the business world and at many different levels of government, including Congress, the White House, and the State Department,” Cotton told the Washington Free Beacon in an emailed statement. “In that time, she has earned the deep respect of her colleagues for her unique ability to not only take the long view but also to coordinate the many moving parts of an administration.”

Powell was appointed to the position by Trump’s newly minted national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster. She will assist McMaster in devising the administration’s national security strategy and will help lead an interagency policy process involving Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Her appointment to the National Security Council expanded the senior team. K.T. McFarland will continue to serve as another deputy national security adviser, a senior administration official told the Washington Post.

Before joining the White House in January, Powell was president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, where she worked closely with former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, who is now Trump’s senior economic policy adviser. She is expected to continue her role advising Ivanka Trump on economic policies that benefit women. She also will work with Ivanka’s husband and senior adviser to the president, Jared Kushner, on the U.S.-Saudi Arabia relationship.

Powell, who was born in Egypt, speaks fluent Arabic and served as an assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs during the Bush administration under former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Her ability to work across government agencies has been widely lauded by her former colleagues in Washington.

Powell has taken a more prominent role in foreign affairs in recent weeks. She has been working alongside Tillerson, and participated Tuesday in a meeting between Trump and Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s defense minister and deputy crown prince.

Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Politico late Wednesday that he believed Powell could forge consensus across national security agencies.

Also see:

More Evidence That McMaster Shares Obama’s Views on Islam and Terror

President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, left, at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, where he announced that McMaster will be the new national security adviser. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

PJ Media, by Raymond Ibrahim, March 14, 2017:

Donald Trump’s new national security advisor, Lt. General H.R. McMaster, has made troubling remarks — such as “the Islamic State is not Islamic” — that one expects from the D.C. establishment. However a hearty endorsement that he gave to a 2010 book points to the totality of McMaster’s views on security issues as being worse than simply his parroting politically correct memes on Islam.

The book in question is Militant Islamist IdeologyUnderstanding the Global Threat. Written by CDR Youssef Aboul-Enein, it was published by the Naval Institute Press in 2010. I read and reviewed it back in 2012 and found its claims — many of which the Obama administration followed to disastrous results — to be incorrect and problematic.

For starters, Aboul-Enein asserts that only “militant Islamists” — ISIS types who behead, crucify, massacre, and burn people alive — are the enemy. “Non-militant Islamists,” however, are not:

It is the Militant Islamists who are our adversary. They represent an immediate threat to the national security of the United States. They must not be confused with Islamists.

This theme, which the author expresses in convoluted language — at one point he urges the reader to appreciate the “the divisions between Militant Islamists and between Militant Islamists and Islamists” (p.176) — permeates the book. In reality, all Islamists share the same ultimate goal of global Islamic hegemony. They differ in methodology — but not in their view of us as the enemy to be crushed.

“Non-militant Islamists,” chief among them the Muslim Brotherhood, see incremental infiltration and subtle subversion of infidel Western states as more effective than outright terrorism, as one notorious Brotherhood memo clearly states.[1]

We’ve already seen the outcome of cooperating with “Non-militant Islamists” during the Arab Spring. The Obama administration cast aside decades of U.S. policy and support for secular Arab autocrats and made cozy with the Muslim Brotherhood. What followed is well-known: the Arab Spring quickly turned into the “Islamic Winter.” This culminated with the rise of the Islamic State, in large part due to Obama’s policies, both active (aiding Islamic terrorists by portraying them as “freedom fighters,” in Libya and Syria) and inactive (pulling all U.S. forces out of Iraq despite the warnings, and disposing of a 30-year ally of the U.S., the secularist Mubarak, for the Brotherhood in Egypt).

Aboul-Enein further recommends American forces adopt a Sharia-compliant respect for Islam and Muslims.

For example, he suggests that if an American soldier ever desecrates a Koran, U.S. leadership must not merely relieve him of duty, but offer “unconditional apologies,” and emulate the words of Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond, which Aboul-Enein quotes as exemplary: “I come before you [Muslims] seeking your forgiveness, in the most humble manner I look in your eyes today, and say please forgive me and my soldiers,” followed by kissing a new Koran and “ceremoniously” presenting it to Muslims.

Not only is such a double-standard un-American — would a serviceman be punished for the “desecration” of any other religious book? — but the very idea that supremacist Muslims can be won over through servile and fawning appeasement is antithetical to reality, if not human nature. Abject behavior breeds contempt and encourages more Muslim aggression and demands.

Here are a few more examples of Aboul-Enein’s false claims, distortions, and general oddities, though one could go on and on:

  • He writes (p.142) that “when Muslims are a persecuted minority Jihad becomes a fard kifaya (an optional obligation), in which the imam authorizes annual expeditions into Dar el Harb (the Abode of War), lands considered not under Muslim dominance.” This is wrong on several levels.
    • fard kifaya is not an “optional obligation” — an oxymoron if ever there was one — but rather a “communal obligation.” Moreover, he is clearly describing Offensive Jihad, which is designed to subjugate non-Muslims and is obligatory to wage whenever Muslims are capable, not “when Muslims are a persecuted minority,” which in Islamic jurisprudence is a Defensive Jihad and fard ‘ain (i.e., individual obligation).
  • He says (p.75) that the Arabic word for “terrorist” (irhabi) is nowhere to be found in the Koran or Hadith. He does not mention that the verb form of that word (tirhibun), “terrorize,” abounds in Islamic scriptures (e.g., Allah himself calls on Muslims to “terrorize”  Islam’s opponents in Koran 8:60).
  • He asserts (p.65) that “militant Islamists dismiss ijmaa [consensus] and qiyas [analogical reasoning].” This is simply false. Groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS regularly invoke ijmaa (for instance, the consensus that jihad becomes a personal duty — fard ‘ain — when infidels invade the Islamic world) and justify suicide attacks precisely through qiyas (see The Al Qaeda Reader, p.138).
  • After rightfully admonishing readers not to rely on skewed or biased accounts of Islam, he repeatedly recommends (e.g., pgs. 20, 213, 216) the writings of Muslim apologist extraordinaire Karen Armstrong, whose whitewashing of all things Islamic is notorious.

Such are the claims, distortions, and recommendations of a book that McMaster wholeheartedly endorsed in 2010 as “excellent” and “deserv[ing] a wide readership,” a book that claims “[t]errorist organizations use a narrow and irreligious ideology to recruit undereducated and disenfranchised people to their cause.” This is yet another tired apologia that has been repeatedly debunked. [2]

Over a year ago I closed an article for Hoover Institution’s Strategika with the following sentence:

Time will tell whether the next [American presidential] administration will remain willfully ignorant of the nature of its jihadi enemy — which is fatal in war according to Sun Tzu’s ancient dictum, ‘know your enemy’ — or whether reality will trump political correctness.

The pun remains truer than ever: If the recommendations of Militant Islamist Ideology reflect McMaster’s views on U.S. security and Islam — especially this notion of cooperating with “Nonmilitant Islamists” — then it seems we are going right back to being “willfully ignorant” of reality.

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[1] Excerpt followsUnderstanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America

“The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan [meaning Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

“Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack.”

[2] Here is McMaster’s entire endorsement, as it appears on the back of the book’s jacket cover:

“Terrorist organizations use a narrow and irreligious ideology to recruit undereducated and disenfranchised people to their cause. Understanding terrorist ideology is the first and may also be the most important step in ensuring national and international security against the threat that these organizations pose.

Youssef Aboul-Enein’s book is an excellent starting point in that connection. Militant Islamist Ideology deserves a wide readership among all those concerned with the problem of transnational terrorism, their ideology, and our efforts to combat those organizations that pose a serious threat to current and future generations of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”

John Guandolo outlines his disagreement with Trump advisors on CT policy – plus my take

CJR: There is a fierce debate going on among counter-jihad activists right now over what the Trump administration’s official counterterrorism policy towards Islamic jihad should be. One positive development is the likely end of the disastrous Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) policy that de-linked Islam from terrorism and led to both domestic and foreign policy which placed Muslims “feelings” above the safety of our own people. Now the debate is focused on whether ISIS is Islamic. I have no doubt that both Lt General H. R. McMaster and Dr. Sebastian Gorka know that it is. I believe that they are using disinformation strategy to de-legitimize the enemy and gain Muslim allies. However, I believe that now is the time to make clear that Islamic doctrine is the enemy threat doctrine and Muslims who are not following that doctrine to the letter are technically apostates. Muslim reformers must acknowledge this. The Muslims we wish to ally with understand this very well and will not be “driven to radicalize” by an official U. S. policy that states the truth.

I would not impune the character and motives of Lt General H. R. McMaster or Dr. Sebastian Gorka as John Guandolo does in the following article but I do agree with his position that there is only one Islamic doctrine. I would just point out that Muslim belief and practice of that doctrine varies. I see no problem allying with Muslim reformers as long as we are all clear on what Islamic doctrine actually says. There needs to be a complete overhaul of CT training as well as public education on the matter so that we can begin to “orient on the enemy”.

I will continue to post opposing views on this important debate and encourage respectful comments. Perhaps Dr. Gorka should invite John Guandolo to the White House for a friendly chat over coffee like he did with that self-important, weasel attack dog Michael S. Smith II. That would probably be a much more productive meeting!

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mcmaster-and-gorka

“Unfit for Duty” by John Guandolo at Understanding the Threat, Feb. 26, 2017:

The New York Times, Guardian, and CNN all report Lt General McMaster told members of the National Security Council Thursday he felt “radical Islamic terrorism” was an unhelpful way to describe terrorism because becoming a terrorist is actually “un-Islamic” in the first place.

In a talk he gave at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in May 2016, LtGen McMaster said, “There is a cycle going on where groups like ISIL, who use this irreligious ideology, you know, this perverted interpretation of religion to justify violence, they depend on ignorance and the ability to recruit vulnerable segments of populations to foment hatred, then use that hatred to justify violence against innocents.”

This is incoherent and factually wrong.  LtGen McMaster wrote a book entitled “Dereliction of Duty.”  He may want to look in the mirror to see if he is doing the same thing in this war he accused President Johnson of doing in Vietnam.

100% of all Islamic doctrine, from elementary, junior high, and high school Islamic text books as well as the highest authorities in Islamic jurisprudence, to include Al Azhar University in Egypt, all clearly and doctrinally state Islam is a “complete way of life (social, cultural, political, military, religious)” governed by sharia (Islamic Law).  100% of all sharia mandates jihad until the world is under Islamic rule, and 100% of sharia only defines “jihad” as warfare against non-Muslims.

“The duty of the Muslim citizen is to be loyal to the Islamic state.”

What Islam is All About  (most widely used junior high text book in U.S. Islamic schools)

The violence Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Boston bombers, the attackers in Paris, the Fort Lauderdale shooter, and all the jihadis we have faced over the past 20 years quote authoritative Islamic doctrine in support of what they do.  Al Qaeda and ISIS have never misquoted sharia in furtherance of their actions.

In the last 15 years it has been made clear – the more muslims study Islam and sharia, the more likely they are to support and participate in jihad.

So the questions remains…what the hell is Lieutenant General McMaster talking about because he is not talking truthfully about a real and present danger to these United States?  He is doing exactly what our enemy wants him to do – creating an imaginary target for us to chase while our real enemy prepares to defeat us.

Nearly 16 years after 9/11, the Global Islamic Movement has taken down nations, expanded its power, and defeated the United States in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq because leaders like McMaster decided they were too busy to stop and learn the enemy threat doctrine – Sharia – and instead have been given a counterfactual understanding of our enemy by Islamic advisors who are all batting for the other team.

The President’s Counterterrorism advisor, Sebastian Gorka, is “over the moon” LtGen McMaster is the new National Security Advisor.  However, Gorka’s lack of honesty about the Islamic threat raises much more serious questions.

Some have been lulled into believing he is on the right track because he uttered the word “jihad” but defeating this enemy takes more than pretending to know what you are talking about.

Speaking at CPAC this past weekend, Gorka stated:  “Zuhdi (Jasser) knows it better than anybody because he understands that this isn’t about poverty or lack of education. It’s about people who are fighting for the soul of Islam – not a war with Islam, but a war inside Islam; as King Abdullah, as General Sisi has said, for which version is going to win.”

Utter nonsense.  There is one version of Islam and one Sharia.  To say otherwise is to be factually wrong, but also dangerous when national strategies are being built off that utter nonsense.

When one’s duties include national security responsibilities, one has a professional duty to know the enemy or do due diligence to know the enemy.  To fail to do so makes one professionally negligent in one’s duties.  When people die (Ft Lauderdale, Boston, Orlando, Ft Hood…) because a person is unprofessional in his/her duties it is called “criminal negligence” and doctors and lawyers go to jail for such behavior.

Several years ago at a town hall presentation hosted by Washington, D.C. radio station WMAL, Sebastian Gorka stated “99.9% of muslims do not support terrorism (jihad)” despite a mountain of evidence and polling data proving this comment untrue, and the fact the entire purpose of Islam is to wage jihad until the world is dominated by Islamic rule (sharia).

Dr. Gorka also writes in his book, Defeating Jihad, we are not at war with Islam (p.129) but our enemy is “the ideology of takfiri jihad” (p.123).

No muslim jihadi who fought on the battlefields of Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else, nor any of the jihadis who have died in Europe in the United States attacking us nor the jihadis we have arrested have said they are “takfiri jihadis.”  They have said they are “Muslims” waging “Jihad in the cause of Allah” to “establish a caliphate under sharia.”

This is what Islamic doctrine commands them to do.

erdogan-moderate-islam-capture

On page 144 of his book, Gorka ends with the call for the United States to spend billions of dollars supporting “Muslim reformers” in their “ideological war to delegitimize the message of holy war against the infidel and bolster modern interpretations of Islam.”  This demonstrates Sebastian Gorka is either completely free of any clue of Islamic doctrine or is intentionally lying about what Islam actually teaches.
Since these ideas and strategies to use “moderate Muslims” to ensure the “other version” of Islam wins are based in fantasy not reality, these policies will necessarily fail – and have failed the United States for 15 years.
Is that Dr. Gorka’s intention?  Does he not know that strategies to win a war must be based in the reality of who the enemy is?  Why would Sebastian Gorka put forth such and idea when he knows what he is saying is untrue?
Is it possible Dr. Gorka has remained strategically incoherent for 15 years during this global war?  Is he working on behalf of some outside entity to intentionally mislead the President of the United States, or is he is simply putting his paycheck ahead of the American people and his duty.
The United States will lose this war against the Global Islamic Movement if we do not clearly define the enemy and target the enemy.  We cannot hit a target we do not identify and cannot defeat an enemy we do not target.
Our warfighting doctrine calls for an analysis of our enemy based on how the enemy defines itself.  We begin our analysis there.  Something we have not done since 9/11/01.  If we did, our entire national security apparatus, including our military, would have been studying and teaching authoritative sharia and more of our soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen would be alive today because of it.
Keeping LtGen McMaster and Sebastian Gorka in their current positions will ensure America remains strategically incoherent and will guarantee our defeat in this war against the Global Islamic Movement.
As always, this war will be won or lost at the local level because our federal government is still failing us.