STRATEGIC COLLAPSE OF THE WEST IN PRESENT GLOBAL WAR
Date: 05 May 2008
Imagine in 1941 our political and military leaders choosing to fight a war against Nazism but failing to correctly name the ideology and threat doctrine out of concern that doing so would somehow “legitimize” the name “Nazism.” Or that doing so would offend Germans who were not Nazis (and many Germans were not).
As foolish and self-defeating as that would have been in 1941, we’re now seeing government officials recommend just such an approach to dealing with the ideology and threat doctrine of militant Islam. Amazing.
May 04, 2008
Strategic Collapse in the War on Terror
By Joseph Myers
Words matter, and in the global war on terror we are losing the battle of words, in a self-inflicted defeat. The consequences could not be more profound.
Recent government policy memoranda, circulating through the national counter-terrorism and diplomatic community, establishes a new "speech code" for the lexicon in the war on terror, as reported by the Associated Press and now available in the public domain.
These new "speech codes" recommended that analysts and policy makers avoid the terms jihad or jihadist or mujhadid or "al-Qaida movement" and replace them with "extremists" and by extension other non-specific terms.
The use of these "new words" and rejection of the "old words" is ostensibly designed to avoid legitimating al-Qaida and its followers while mollifying the sensitivities of the larger Muslim community.
This culmination of previous trends does not surprise me at all.
This is more than simply dancing on the pinhead of cultural sensitivity-words have meaning, ideas have consequences.
This policy is a strategic collapse.
It does nothing to improve our strategic comprehension of the threat or improve our foreign strategic communications; in fact it reinforces existing conceptual problems and risks confusing our messaging with our own actual knowledge of the jihadist threat.
It is a failure of commission, a collapse of competency and reason. It is a collapse of precision and possibly the most profound setback in the war on terror since 9-11, when the global jihad brought itself to our attention.
Clausewitz noted that in war the moral factors are perhaps the most important, and we have just demonstrated we neither have the moral clarity or moral fortitude to comprehend the nature of the war we are in. Dr. Antulio Echevarria of the Army's Strategic Studies Institute stated once that the "US military does not have a doctrine for war as much as it has a doctrine for operations and battles" and we have just demonstrated we don't have the comprehension of this war as much as we can comprehend its operations and battles.
The AP report highlights a level of ignorance and hubris by the functionaries speaking to this topic so grave that is raises my concern about the actual extent that our government is in fact co-opted by our enemies.
War is a complex endeavor, there are no silver-bullet weapons, theories, words or phrases that will disarm our enemies or shape the cultural attitudes of the jihadists or other fellow Muslims. Only how the Islamic world doctrinally perceives and receives the claims of legitimacy of al-Qaida and the rest of the global Islamic movement will determine that outcome -- not any mincing of words by the West.
But it is important that we use the right words so that the West and the American people can understand the nature of our global challenge in this war as much as anyone else.
No Global Threat Model
Over the last several years, there have been numerous examples of incredible malfeasance and lack of due diligence in homeland security, prediction and investigations evidenced by the reporting of, for example, Patrick Poole in his Hometown Jihad series.
Also the schizophrenic activities of our government in dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood in America that has declared itself engaged in "civilizational jihadist process" to destroy our way of life and replace it with an Islamic model, and repeated examples of one arm of the government attempting to prosecute elements of the Brotherhood while the other half vets their actions and cultural sensitivity programs against the same organizations. Or recall the DHS booth placed next to the Islamic revolutionary organization of Hizb ut-Tahrir at another Islamic conference.
National security strategy is policy and policy implies a theory -- a theory for action. To date we have no concrete theory of action because we have no fully articulated global threat model. We are seven years into a global war with armed combat and many dead and wounded, and yet still lack a common analytic paradigm to describe and model the enemy. It is a stunning failure to propel the country to war without a fully elaborated threat model that clarifies and specifies the enemy and makes clear our true objectives.
The lack of a threat model and a theory for action explains our schizophrenia, our failures and homeland security shortcomings.
Understanding the enemy -- "the threat," his threat doctrine and the authoritative statements, sources and philosophy undergirding that doctrine is a primary duty. That is the first step in developing a threat model. It is the vital step in the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield process, to template enemy doctrine by laying it over the terrain: the physical, human and cultural terrain to understand its manifestations in reality. These are the first relevant questions to be answered for US national security analysis.
Our enemy says he is fighting jihad warfare to extend the Islamic faith; the basis of that claim rests on his exegesis of Quranic and Islamic Law injunctions. Irrespective of whether we or other Muslims accept or deny the legitimacy of his claim, if that is his stated doctrine, then that is the doctrine we must study and comprehend. That is the doctrine that will provide the indicators and warnings of future threats, that is the basis of our threat model.
That fact that other Muslims do not engage in violent jihad bears no relevance to our problem set or the analysis of those who do; it is a distraction and ancillary information that does not contribute to the threat model or understanding the enemy.
The fact is we have already so nuanced this war that we have failed to complete those required analyses. Our national security strategies and plans are so nuanced now as to be useless in terms of understanding the threat, defining it, clarifying it, modeling it. Read them, see if you can distill the enemy and orient on a clear objective. Even in our own strategic planning documents we admit to ourselves that we don't agree on the threat.
This completely contrasts with our well-developed threat model in the Cold War, beginning with NSC-68 and the containment policy, national security courses that taught Soviet ideology and world-view, the Soviet threat doctrine series published by DIA, and then wargaming against it at our military schools. We understood them intellectually, philosophically, doctrinally from the very top down to the tactical bottom.
Seven years into this war we cannot say the same for the global jihad and have failed the same analytic and policy rigor. That is a serious error of omission.
Submission to Multiculturalism
Dr. Bernard Lewis, speaking recently at a luncheon and conference in Washington DC, noted that the two greatest shortcomings to understanding the Middle East are the "orthodoxy" of "political correctness and multiculturalism" and the reality that in the face of those driving ideologies, too many sworn to defend have proven themselves wilting lilies.
This new "no jihad policy" is the greatest of example.
Let's dissect the government message to show not only its folly, but factual errors that point to a lack of strategic comprehension and due diligence amounting to the level of an ethical failing.
ACT for America
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