“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
As I along with many concerned Americans await President Donald J. Trump’s first address to a joint session of congress this evening, I am astonished by comments by his recently appointed National Security Advisor (at least as reported by the February 24, 2017 New York Times) and will be listening for clarification from the President himself as to whether he has modified his oft-stated views on “radical Islam.”
Click here for the article by Mark Landler and Eric Schimtt, “H.R. McMaster Breaks With Administration on Views of Islam,” which among other things states that, according to people who were in the meeting, the Lt. General “told the staff of the National Security Council on Thursday, in his first ‘all hands’ staff meeting, that the label ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ was not helpful because terrorists are ‘un-Islamic.’”
I will be listening intently not only because of the importance of this possible breach between the President and his closest day-to-day national security advisor (and his Deputy National Security Advisor shown above), but because President has now surrounded himself in the national security/homeland security arena with highly respected military leaders who may not be on the same wavelength with him, or each other. In addition to Army Generals McMaster and Kellogg, there are Defense Secretary/Retired Marine General James Mantis; Homeland Security Secretary/Retired Marine General John Kelly; and Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine General Joseph Dunford.
It is urgently important that they get this “radical Islamic terrorism” issue sorted out among themselves — and that they present a unified front to the American people. I trust that the Marines will remember the origin of “the Shores of Tripoli” in the Marine Hymn and those challenges of confronting Islam after centuries of its existence and understand that there will likely be challenges for many years to come.
These three Marine and two Army generals are well known and respected for well-deserved reasons, including their service in the Middle East. But I am deeply troubled by this New York Times article and other reports that most definitely suggest that the General with essentially continuous access to the President and Vice President from his nearby White House office is out of step with President Trump on this critically important matter of identifying what motivates our enemy in this global war confronting America — indeed all of Western Civilization.
Moreover, I believe the President is right — at least in what has motivated his shorthand focus on “radical Islam” to illustrate his well addressed admonishment that previous administrations have refused to identify the enemy, while they — as President George W. Bush famously claimed in the wake of 9/11 — have viewed Islam as a “religion of peace.”
But Islam’s classic definition of “peace” is when everyone else “submits” to the tenants of Islam and its god, Allah. Click here for the definition of the Arabic word itself: Islam means “Submission to the will of Allah.”
Islam teaches that there is only one God, that Muhammed is his Prophet, and that, as I have written previously, outsiders who live in nations strictly governed by Islam’s law, Sharia, have three options: They can convert to Islam; they can pay the Jizya (a tax); or they can die.
Actually, click here for a lengthy September 5, 2016 Spectator article, “Islamic State’s ‘Jizya Tax’ for Christians is pure propaganda,” which reports that Christians are regularly “slaughtered” by ISIS even when the Jizya has been paid (including by the United Nations) — so for Christians there is no third option, at least re. ISIS. So much for tolerance.
Click here for a February 27, 2017 Pew Research Center study, including numerous linked references, on the views of Muslims worldwide. Muslims reportedly compose only about one percent (0.9 percent) of the adult U.S. population today (about 3-million Muslims) — expected by Pew demographic calculations to grow to about 2 percent by 2050. They noted that immigrants compose about two-thirds of the current U.S. Muslim population — but I missed projections (if they were reported) for how future growth depends on how the current refugee crisis is managed.
Note that if only 0.1 of one-percent of the Muslims present pursue jihadi terrorism, that would amount to about 3000 jihadi terrorists in America today, projected to grow to 6000 by 2050.
Pew reported that Muslim views that Sharia law should prevail as the law of the land varied considerably from a high of 99-percent in Afghanistan, 91-percent in Iraq and 84-percent in Pakistan to low levels in Turkey (12%), Kazakhstan (10%) and Azerbaijan (8%).
The United States was not listed, and this statistic should be carefully considered in vetting immigrants and refugees, because Sharia law is inconsistent with the Constitution from which all U.S. law is referenced.
In that regard, Click here for a very pertinent June 23, 2015 Center for Security Policy report indicating that, while the overwhelming majority of Muslims in America held that Sharia should not displace the U.S. Constitution (86% to 2%), a majority (51%) believed they should have the choice of either being governed according the choice of American or Sharia courts, or that they should have their own tribunals to apply Sharia. Only 39-percent of those polled said that U.S. Muslims should be subject to American courts — which are intended to rule consistently with the Constitution.
These notions were powerfully rejected by the broader U.S. population by a prior Center for Security Policy survey finding that, by a margin of 92%-to-2%, Muslims should be subject to the same courts as other citizens, rather than have their own courts and tribunals here in the U.S. Hence, the movement, “American Laws for American Courts!”
Obviously, such considerations should be included in the vetting process for emigres and refugees. Are they???
Now, I have been uneasy with the “radical Islam” label since it entered the debate — because Islamic “true believers” are not being radical, as they apply the teachings of the Koran and Allah’s Prophet Muhammed. But I do understand the interest not to cast all Muslims under the shadow of the acts of terrorism that are being perpetuated by the “true believers” whether they be al Qaeda, its legacy successor ISIS and any number of other past, current or future Sunni true believers — as well as the Shia true believers of the world’s largest exporter of Islamic terror, Iran.
These matters are at the core of historical Islam, its Jihad and achieving in the long-term its objective, a global caliphate. Groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood have for decades been fostering these more public groups that support the terrorism of concern. And they are alive, well and growing in the United States as well as overseas.
There are Muslim leaders who appear to be seeking an Islamic “reformation.” The two most prominent are graduates of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah.
Click here for my most recent (November 1, 2016) discussion of President al Sisi’s explicit challenge to elite Sunni clerics that they must lead such a reformation from within the ranks of Islam. Click here for my June 2, 2015 message “Sunni, Shia and More Tangled Web!” that included a detailed reference to his January 1, 2015 address to the clerics at the thousand-year old Al-Azhar University, considered by many to be the epicenter of scholarly Islam. Also, click here for Jonah Goldberg’s related USA Today article, and click here for links to translated key excerpts of this important speech, perhaps the most important of which follows. President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi courageously stated:
“I am referring here to the religious clerics. … It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!
“That thinking — I am not saying ‘religion’ but ‘thinking’ — that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world! … All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.
“I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move … because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost — and it is being lost by our own hands.”
This “speaking truth to power” is very encouraging. Al-Sisi then on January 6, 2015 attended a Coptic Christian Christmas Mass — the first time anything like that has been done by an Egyptian president. He spoke of his love of Christian Egyptians and the need to see “all Egyptians” as part of “one hand.”
These initiatives are examples of what Westerners aware of the jihadi threat have long wanted to see. We should all pay attention to see if President al-Sisi actually follows through on these fine initiatives — and how they fit as extensions and or modifications of the strategy he described in his 2006 thesis at the U.S. Army War College. Click here for my August 23, 2013 summary of this important thesis and links to it.
Perhaps most pertinent was his comment that: “[T]o codify the major themes of the Islamic faith, they should be represented in the constitution or similar document. This does not mean a theocracy will be established, rather it means a democracy will be established built upon Islamic beliefs.”
But Sharia law, the basis for “Islamic beliefs,” is in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution as noted above. It is of interest to see how al-Sisi’s views have evolved since his days in Carlisle, and his courageous step at Al-Azhar University promises an advance that, if realized, would be worth a substantial reward from U.S. leaders.
Finally, click here for a link to King Abdullah’s talk at the National Prayer Breakfast just a couple of weeks ago. He speaks of the three monotheistic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — that he said share common goals and suggested that we can and should partner together in our aspirations for peace.
Indeed, that is a worthy goal. But I find myself still reluctant to go along with an expectation that it will easily or soon be achieved.
Click here for a White House press release on President Trump’s meeting with King Abdullah. The President emphasized the U.S. commitment to Jordan’s stability, security, and prosperity; thanked the King for his leadership in promoting peace and stability in the region while joining in efforts to help defeat ISIS; noted the possibility of establishing safe zones in Syria; emphasized Jordan’s essential role as a model of tolerance and moderation; and discussed a future official visit to Washington by King Abdullah.
These are hopeful developments for allies in the Middle East — but we must remember that “Hope is not a strategy.”
As President Ronald Reagan memorably said when addressing our negotiations with the Soviet Union, we should “trust but verify” and, like the Reagan precursor for those negotiations, we should restore and maintain our position of strength from which to advance our pursuit of liberty — for ourselves and our allies.
With these thoughts in mind, I will be listening this evening to President Trump’s first address to the Joint Session of Congress, hoping against hope that Lt. General McMaster’s reported suggestions to his National Security Council staff are not reflected in the President’s words. Hopefully, whatever his personal views of “radical Islam” General McMaster will remind his current boss of Sun Tsu’s famous admonishment:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
In the words of Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet—whatever their meaning there: Mr. President, “To thine own self be true!”
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