By Janet Levy and Nidra Poller
American Thinker, June 4, 2010
At a recent briefing on cyber-terrorism in Washington, D.C., a former Navy SEAL repeatedly apologized for any statements in his lecture that could be misconstrued as anti-Muslim. He carefully qualified every negative reference to Muslims or Islam as excluding the vast majority of “peaceful[,] law-abiding” Muslims. The level of caution displayed by a military officer who had recently returned from a tour in Iraq and had served at a high level of military intelligence was disconcerting. The former SEAL wholeheartedly — perhaps unwittingly — accepted the role of “dhimmi,” an inferior who, under the provisions of Islamic law, does not have the right to self-defense.
How could a member of an elite division of the U.S. Navy who had withstood arduous military preparation be fearful of merely offending Muslims? How does this mentality influence his effectiveness as a soldier and officer? His action in combat?
During World War II, the U.S. government and military relentlessly combated threats from Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperialist Japan abroad and acted forcefully against domestic threats. Any resident of the U.S. who might engage in subversive activities was a legitimate target. Our mission was clearly defined as a devastating defeat to the enemy to protect the nation and preserve liberty throughout the free world. Once war had been declared, it would have been unthinkable to waste precious resources fine-tuning definitions of the enemy, reaching out to “moderate Nazis” or “peaceful Fascists,” putting our troops through sensitivity training, or striving to accommodate enemy demands. We could not afford the luxury of undue concern about inflicting civilian casualties in enemy territory. The primary, unassailable objective was getting the job done — fighting ruthless tyranny and protecting American allies and interests.
American citizens, well-informed of the threats faced by our nation, fully supported our valiant troops and participated in the war effort to the point of personal sacrifice. No apologies were offered for Japanese internment camps, which were viewed as a legitimate security precaution. Though most Japanese-Americans were loyal citizens, there was evidence of espionage and treasonous activity by some. Today, on the contrary, jihadist infiltration is deliberately underestimated and overlooked.
During World War II, experts in Nazism and Japanese imperialism were viewed as vital assets to inform and assist government officials and military brass. But they were carefully scrutinized to weed out disloyal elements. Acts of perfidy were dealt with swiftly and harshly. Placing a Nazi in a high-level Pentagon position with access to top-secret war data and giving him the ability to control military strategists and censor vital information would have been punishable by death for treason.
What has happened in the interval? Today we send our military personnel into battle while on the home front, the enemy fights experts who could advise the government and military brass. In one such instance, Hesham Islam — who has ties to a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate (ISNA Islamic Society of North America) — served as top advisor to the U.S. deputy defense secretary and was the third person in the Pentagon chain of command. In 2008, Hesham Islam clashed with Army Major Stephen Coughlin, one of the foremost experts on the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic jihad doctrine. When Major Coughlin presented well-documented evidence that classic Islamic doctrine — and not a radical fringe — does in fact support global jihad with the aim of establishing a worldwide caliphate under shari’ah law, Hesham Islam admonished him to tone down his “anti-Muslim rhetoric.”
In his military briefings, Major Coughlin warned of plans by Muslim Brotherhood subsidiaries to infiltrate U.S. government and military institutions and destroy Western civilization from within. An irate Hesham Islam saw to it that Major Coughlin’s Pentagon contract was terminated. And, confirming Major Coughlin’s warning, Hesham Islam did in fact invite leaders from ISNA — an un-indicted co-conspirator in the Hamas terrorist funding trial — into the Pentagon.
This is just one example of how the highest levels of the U.S. government dictate a military culture based on refusal to identify the looming threat of Islamic jihad. And the situation has worsened since the Obama administration came to power. All-out destruction of the enemy is eschewed in favor of diplomacy and appeasement. The intelligence community is hobbled by an increasingly dominant Department of Justice that treats terrorists like common domestic criminals and grants them full constitutional rights. The focus has been diverted from life-saving intelligence-gathering to the distracting and time-consuming building of court cases for prosecution. Meanwhile, critical intelligence-sharing with congressional oversight committees has been curtailed.
Now the Obama administration is searching out “moderate” elements in Hezb’allah, a designated Islamic terrorist group. Homeland security and counterterrorism czar John Brennan recently described the jihadist group as “a very interesting organization” that has evolved from “purely a terrorist organization” to a political movement whose members serve in the Lebanese parliament and cabinet. In fact, Hezb’allah, which is an Iranian proxy, has gained virtual control of the Lebanese government as a result of U.N. Resolution 1701, imposed as a “peaceful” resolution of the 2006 “Lebanon war.” The promised “beefed-up” UNIFIL force that was supposed to help the legitimate Lebanese government disarm Hezb’allah has had the opposite result. Already in 2008, then Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, stated “in terms of capabilities, in terms of range of weapons they have, in terms of internal discipline,” Hezbollah makes al-Qaeda look like “a minor league team.” Today we learn that Iran has transferred scuds to Hezb’allah via Syria. But John Brennan explains that the administration will not use the terms “‘Islamist’ and ‘jihadist’ because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community.”
Our citizens at home and our troops on the battlefield are disarmed by a narrative that imposes respect for a political-religious system that seeks their subjugation and death. As we saw with the former SEAL, our troops are taught that they must not openly expose the ideology of Islam, its goals and strategy. They risk their lives not to defeat the enemy and liberate local population, but to facilitate the consolidation of Islamic states governed by shari’ah law. Instead of combating jihad, they empower it!
The war effort has been repackaged as a combination of Peace Corps, social work, and outreach to the Muslim community. Military personnel, held to strict one-way standards of religious sensitivity, are told that their mission is to build trust in the local population. This self-defeating strategy has gutted the rules of engagement, shackling our soldiers on the battlefield. Instead of fighting to kill, soldiers worry about facing charges and imprisonment for offending, harming, or frightening the enemy. Misplaced vigilance jeopardizes their own safety. Soldiers are punished not for cowardice or fraternizing with the enemy, but for lack of kid-gloves respect. Petty Officer Julio Huertas faced charges for allegedly punching and kicking Iraqi jihadist detainee Ahmed Hashim Abed, accused of the grisly murder of four American contractors whose mutilated corpses were hacked to pieces, burned, and strung up in Fallujah. In normal times, Huertas would have been hailed as a hero for capturing an archenemy. Colonel Alan West (currently running for Congress) was accused of “aggravated assault” for firing a pistol in the air to scare an Iraqi detainee into giving information on planned ambushes of his troops in Tikrit. Instead of being commended for protecting his men, Colonel West was forced into early retirement to avoid court-martial.
Captured enemy combatants benefit from legal protections guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. Duly Mirandized on the battlefield and innocent until proven guilty, they are entitled to the full benefits of criminal litigation — due process, jury trial, the right to counsel and the privilege to bar involuntary admissions…
Our troops are in double jeopardy: facing the enemy on the battlefield and the eventual jihadist in their ranks. Federal guarantees of religious freedom and non-discrimination prevent the rejection of Muslim recruits and, as we saw with the Fort Hood jihadi Major Hassan, can protect a Muslim soldier from being discharged for obvious, repeated misconduct. No precautions are taken, despite calls by the likes of U.S.-born Anwar Al-Awlaki pushing Muslim soldiers to kill their comrades. Rather than risk being seen as “Islamophobic,” officers risk the lives of their servicemen and women.
Soldiers who fought in World War II would be horrified by current rules of engagement that give enemy fighters the rights of American citizens and place the avoidance of civilian casualties over the safety of troops. Our soldiers, pitted against an enemy that fights dirty, operate under onerous prohibitions. They are not allowed to return fire unless the source — a suspected enemy combatant — is actually sighted. They must not shoot at unarmed individuals, even if they just set up and detonated an IED (improvised explosive device). They must issue verbal warnings and fire warning shots before shooting to kill. The exact level and danger of enemy fire must be evaluated prior to initiation of return fire. The use of heavy weapons and air strikes is strictly proscribed by complex regulations.
It has just been announced that NATO commanders, flying in the face of common sense, are awarding “courageous restraint” medals recognizing soldiers who avoid the use of force. Turning our soldiers into combatant-peacekeeper hybrids feeds into the jihad narrative that accuses us of wanton murder of civilians. In fact, it is the jihadists who maim and kill civilians by the tens of thousands in mosques, markets, hospitals, and villages and then use the casualties as a weapon against us. When G.W. Bush was president, the media and academia kept dramatic tallies of civilian and military losses in Iraq. Since the anti-Bush Obama has been in office, casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq are quietly mentioned and never dramatized.
President Obama reinforced the peacekeeping narrative in his speech at this year’s West Point graduation. Addressing young men and women who will risk their lives to defend our country, the president defended the international institutions that he deems worthy of our allegiance: “We have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice — so nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities, and face consequences when they don’t.” Iran, for example?
In that West Point speech, the president boasted that there will be no clear-cut victory in Afghanistan, no surrender ceremony, no banner headlines — as if, by the force of his higher morality, he has turned G.W. Bush’s dirty war into a clean operation that will turn the country over to local troops and restore peace and goodwill for all. This is a smokescreen to hide the nature of jihad — a different kind of war demanding a different kind of victory and a different but equally unconditional surrender. The refusal to identify the enemy disarms our military. And the rhetorical transformation of retreat into a quiet kind of success notifies them that they will risk their lives in vain.
General Petraeus, Robert Gates, President Obama, the infamous Professor Walt, and their minions of dutiful pundits deviously explained, during a recent spate of Israel-bashing, how the unresolved conflict with the Palestinians jeopardizes our military personal in the field. Not the failure to identify the enemy, not the misguided rules of engagement, not the refusal to fight for victory, and not the Muslim jihadists that concretely kill our men and women…but the all-purpose gripe against Israel is the thorn in our side! It’s the Sabra-Chatila syndrome: Christian militia kill Palestinians in Lebanon, and it’s Israel’s fault. Jihadis kill Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Americans are blamed. The jihadis kill our soldiers, and it’s because Israel won’t surrender to Palestinian demands.
Military personnel don’t revolt; they follow orders. How long can we expect them to follow orders from a commander in chief who does not honor his obligation to send them into battle under the best conditions? If they were civilians, would they obey orders from such an irresponsible leader? Would policemen risk their lives to maintain law and order if they were hobbled with such rules of engagement? In fact, that is the situation in France, where well-armed thugs fire at policemen who are either unarmed or reluctant to return fire for fear of wounding or killing a punk jihadi and triggering a generalized uprising.
The dangers faced by military personnel today stand in sharp contrast to the safe, comfortable living conditions of the general population, cushioned from distant battlefield realities, living in material abundance, and exempt from the draft. Our troops cannot prevail without material and moral support from our nation. But this support is stifled by a lethal narrative that criminalizes war, glorifies underhanded jihad fighting, and embraces subversion on the home front.