A version of this article is scheduled for publication Monday, May 6, 2013, http://worldtribune.com
The cost of refusing to call a terrorist a terrorist
The President of the United States is jeopardizing national security with his public and his executive team’s cutting the umbilical cord of jihadist terrorism to Islam. By refusing to identify the terrorists as a part, however pernicious, of the overall Muslim community, he makes it difficult if not impossible for the kind of counterintelligence necessary to avoid such catastrophes as the Boston Marathon Bombing.
Contrary to his characterization, the Boston episode was not a “tragedy” – that is an event inevitably driven toward its awful conclusion. It was a plot by a group of psychopaths [we are increasingly learning it stretched beyond the two individuals directly involved] which could have been prevented. But those lunatics follow a particular set of leaders and teachings which, however twisted and misconstrued, arise out of the tenets of only one great modern and universal religion, Islam.
The terrorists’ machinations would have been foiled had U.S. authorities followed a number of clues about their activities and investigated their backgrounds as likely radical Islamic suspects here and abroad. Existing immigration laws were ignored, in part, because of a “politically correct” attitude, prevalent in the highest echelons of the Obama Administration, which refuses to acknowledge that terrorism in our day for the most part is peculiar to Islam and Muslims.
The irony is that the U.S.sacrificed repeatedly in recent wars to defend Muslim minorities against oppression in Bosnia, Kosovo, through aid to the Palestinians, and, of course, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, the Obama Administration continually feels it incumbent in order to avoid the accusation of being anti-Muslim – or “Islamaphobic” — to deny the implicit connections between the jihadists and the Muslim community as a whole.
There is no better example than the Boston Marathon Bombings. The Tsarnaev family, whose sons perpetrated the outrage, as Chechens, given U.S. asylum, because of Washington’s sympathies for the Chechnya cause against Moscow’s several centuries of colonialist depredation in the North Caucuses. Apologists for the Administration’s continued attempts to isolate the Boston events from the continuing worldwide jihadist war against the U.S. are putting the accent on the Chechen nationalist aspects of the killers rather than their radical Islamic liaisons. The illogic of this argument is apparent: why would Chechen radical nationalists turn on Americans who have been sympathetic to their cause, despite their horrendous terrorist attacks on Russian civilian targets? Obviously, they are adherents to a smaller but growing radical Islamist current among Chechens in Chechnya and in the extensive Chechen diaspora of which this family was a part.
These Boston Marathon bombers have inaugurated what is obviously a new era of the continuing war on terrorism [and despite, again, the Obama Administration’s refusal to adopt the Bush Administrations nomenclature, it is a full-fledged conflict between the U.S. and its non-state and state-supported enemies.] They have successfully demonstrated how a small group of individuals, operating on low budgets with amateurish tradecraft, can create a dramatic and painful terrorist strike. In this new era, the only adequate defense of the American population will be counterintelligence, that is a massive, intensive and extensive search for people who are plotting such attacks before they can initiate them. The reason is clear: America’s open society is extremely vulnerable to such attacks. Our tens of thousands of open sports events and traditional public celebrations offer unlimited opportunities for such murderous assaults.
Only by a continued investigation of possible sources of such attacks and anticipating such plots can the U.S. public be defended and normal American life continue, the destruction of which is the ultimate goal of the terrorists.. Increased on the spot surveillance replete with additional [and increasingly expensive] uniformed security personnel, undercover agents and policedogs at vast public events would never be sufficient to prevent such attacks as the situation at the Boston Marathon proved.
Seeking to uncover hidden jihadists among the general Muslim population, unfortunately, it is a slippery slope that does, indeed, threaten traditional American civil liberties [not “privacy” which is a newly conceived constitutional concept]. But the New York Police Department with its penetration of Muslim organizations at home and abroad – and thus warding off more than three dozen potential attacks since 9/11 – indicates what must be done. Those techniques are now under attack by well-meaning civil libertarians who refuse to recognize the necessity for examining potential threats masquerading under legitimate auspices in mosques, Islamic associations, even so-called anti-terrorist Muslim organizations which have in some cases wormed their way into advising U.S. government agencies. The pattern of infiltration is familiar. We learned about such techniques during the Cold War when the U.S. was under attack from secret Communist agents working for the Soviet Union. Then as now, we may find them even embedded in our own bureaucracies.
Not only is the process made difficult by the problem of protecting the rights of the great majority of the U.S. and foreign Muslim populations who are not involved in terrorist activities, but it faces particular and peculiar characteristics of Islamic society. No other modern interpretation of a major religion contains widespread advocacy of taqiyya – religious sanction for lying to infidels, non-believers in Islam – and kitman – religious sanction not to reveal the whole truth in a given situation, pre-modern restrictions against women’s rights, and advocating drastic retailiation including death for aspotastes. These give a religiously based sanction for some Muslims, often fearful of their own safety, for obfuscating the terrorists’ activities.
In the name of tolerance and to prevent any backlash against Muslims from terrorist acts by their coreligionists, the President and his cabinet – especially Director of CIA John O. Brennan whose public statements have confused the issue but who would head up the necessary counterintelligence program – have gone out of their way to define Islamic religious practices in ways that are acceptable to secularists and other religious. But they give cover and add to the deceptive practices of those who would use their radical definitions of Islam to cover their murderous activities.
The most glaring example is that Pres. Obama’s incompetent Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano continues to label the November 5, 2009 Fort Hood shooting where a single gunman killed 13 people and over 30 people were injured, the worst shooting ever to take place on an American military base, as “workplace violence”. By doing so, she obscures the search for a history and the mistakes in refusing to recognize the sole suspect in that event, Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old U.S. Army major serving as a psychiatrist, during his extended career as potential jihadist murderer. That was despite all the evidence reported by his colleagues during his six years at Walter Reed Hospital. Hasan has still to be brought to justice with a military trial scheduled to begin at the end of this month where he, presumably, will continue not t be labeled a terrorist. Surely this travesty must be examined in its own light to prevent future similar murders.
One can only assume the best intentions on the part of the President and his team: that is, that they hope by refusing to identify Muslim terrorists as members of a particular religion – however atypical they may be of the majority of their coreligionists – we will avoid a worldwide conflict between the West and the world’s 1.3 million Muslims. That avoidance of “a clash of civilizations” is a worthy pursuit. But to continue to pursue it under the present rules of the game is to risk an undetected wave of such episodes as the Boston disaster.
A version of this column is scheduled for publication at http://www.worldtribune.com , Monday, April 22, 2013
Countering totalitarian Islam
Untangling all the strands of the Boston Marathon Terrorist Attack will take enormous effort and time, long past the patience of the American public to follow the full-fledged autopsy.
But one important element needs the attention of U.S. intellectuals who have largely abdicated their role. It is a discussion of the failure to meet the new totalitarianism of the 21st century after the long and often bloody struggle against the twin despotisms of the 20th century, Communism and Fascism. Those successful outcomes required a theoretical skeleton and the struggle against a new onset of totalitarian violence will not be met successfully without a similar effort in the world of ideas.
Just as Americans on the left were often seduced by Soviet Communist protestations that it was dedicated to a glorious future of equality and rationality – V.I. Lenin called them “useful idiots” – a similar flirtation goes on today. Just as other Americans, often in high places, were initially infatuated with Fascism’s “efficiency” – Italy’s Benito Mussolini, after all it was said made the trains run on time and Germany’s Adolph Hitler built autobahns – a similar inability to cope with rising worldwide Islamicist terrorist irrational rationale exists today.
The Abrahamic legendary origins of the three largest monotheistic religions often are used to blind Western and Muslim intellectuals to the strain of totalitarianism that exists and often dominates Muslim religious society. Attempts to come to terms with this intellectual problem after the onset of terrorism on American soil on 9/11 have been blocked. Often the refusal to examine these very real intellectual issues is the result of political correctness – the belief that criticism of some of the basic tenets of traditional Islam are in themselves simply prejudice and a source of anti-Muslim persecution. So-called “Islamophobia” has become a slogan to be thrown in the face of anyone expressing concern and alarm at the refusal of many if not most Muslim organizations in the U.S. and worldwide to confront the problem of the religious origins of Islamic radicalism. That includes Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, perhaps the world’s oldest existing university and long considered the center of Islamic and particular Sunni culture, which often spews out hatred and intolerance, along with the hundreds of preachers of hatred and violence in Muslim mosques and on Arab TV and radio.
While it can be argued, probably accurately, that American security organs have been remarkably successful in countering new terrorist threats since 9/11, the Boston Marathon Attack apparently opens a new era for such disasters. [One of the intellectual confusions is to call it “tragedy”; it was not a scenario in the traditional sense of an uncontrollable event with a dreadful ending.]
To maintain a vibrant and open American society – whose demise is the ultimate objective of the terrorists – has always presented a dichotomy, the relative defenselessness of such an open society against dedicated violence. The threat has now taken on new dimensions. For now that there is the suggestion of lower intensity attacks against the almost limitless targets of large gatherings in the U.S., everything from sports events to gatherings for commerce. Whether the attackers be extensions of qwhat looks to be the still metastasizing original al Qaida organization or the product of “lone wolves” is only marginally important..
When after 9/11, Amb. Jeane Kirpatrick and a group of her old friends of the Congress of Cultural Freedom and such anti-Communist intellectual organizations tried to organize a similar effort to combat Muslim extremism at The Pentagon, they were blocked. Bureaucratic scuffling had as much to do with the demise of the effort as did the failure by most observers to recognize the deep politico-psychological currents that underpinned the violence. Counterintuitively, it had been among the American military in postwar Germany where the first organized efforts at redemocratizing the former Nazi society were to begin. Now as then, the State Dept. and political leadership is slow to recognize the problem and even slower to know how to deal with the world of ideas.
When Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 tried to reopen an old fundamental dialogue between Byzantium Christians and Muslims, he was denounced in the West as well as among Islamic critics. And, in fact, the Vatican made an object apology for what could only have been interpreted in more rational circles as an attempt to open the needed debate. He quoted from exchanges written in 1391, views of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, one of the last Christian rulers before the fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Ottoman Empire. It referred to such issues as forced conversion, holy war, and the relationship between faith and reason. Surely those are concerns that must be addressed in a period when, again, as in the past, in the name of Islam murderers have taken up the sword against peaceful societies in the West and, indeed, against fellow Muslims who seek accomodation with modernism and tolerance.
Even worse, Pres. Obama and his coterie of friends and advisers on Islam and the Middle East are among the worst offenders in their failure to recognize the shading off of many common Muslim concepts into totalitarian dedication and terrorism. The President’s 2009 speeches at Istanbul and Cairo, while ostensibly meant as outreach to the Arab and Muslim world, were varnished with false historical analogy and improvident appeals. The growing upheavals in the Arab world which have followed, to some extent as a result of the Obama Administration’s strategies of retreat and appeasement, are proof of the inadequacy of this approach.
“The Arab Spring” is rapidly turning into the rout of the modernist forces in the face of the new totalitarianism. The abandonment, after horrendous sacrifice, of U.S. influence in Iraq, and the threat of a similar precipitous withdrawal in Afghanistan is undermining any effort to address the real issues between modern society and these antediluvians. The failure, for example, to work out a status of forces agreement for a continued modest American military presence in Iraq absent direct White House engagement was inexcusable and has sabotaged American efforts to influence events in Persian Gulf.
The now totally failed strategy loaded with corruption and bankruptcy to stampede the traditionally low-cost energy American economy into so-called high-cost alternative fuels before their marketable time has weakened our constant bargaining against the stranglehold of Mideast producers on fossil fuels. Ironically, and despite the worst efforts of the Administration, the shale gas revolution is breaking that hold – with unforeseen consequences we may yet find difficult to accommodate. The U.S., again despite the Administration’s efforts to boost fuel prices to force the transition to still largely untested alternate energy sources, is moving into self-sufficiency in lower cost, less polluting gas consumption through technological developments. Luckily, it was beyond the control of the White House and such mad “scientific” high-cost energy advocates as former Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu. Eventually, that will dry up some of the vast surpluses in both the Arab countries and Iran which have helped fund terrorism, although as the Boston Marathon Attack proved, low-cost terrorism is now likely to become the fashion of the day.
A frank and open discussion, hopefully with the participation of a growing number of well-meaning Muslim believers, is as necessary to face the new era of low-cost, low-level terrorism as the security apparatus of government needed to avoid actual incidents. And the effort cannot be postponed.