Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sebastian Gorka: We Will Lose a “Winnable” War Against Jihad If We Refuse to “Talk About the Enemy as They Are.”

Dr. Sebastian Gorka: We Will Lose a “Winnable” War Against Jihad If We Refuse to “Talk About the Enemy as They Are.” By John Hayward. Breitbart, April 11, 2016.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka. Interviewed by Stephen K. Bannon. Audio. Breitbart News Sunday, April 10, 2016. Soundcloud.


Breitbart News National Security Editor Dr. Sebastian Gorka, author of Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War, appeared on Breitbart News Sunday to answer host Stephen K. Bannon’s challenge that, contrary to the title, his book doesn’t make the war against jihad sound very “winnable” at all.

Gorka said he was motivated to write the book because he has seen “sixteen years of right-wing Administrations and left-wing Administrations punt the ball, or completely drop the ball, on this war.”

“But we can win it, if we have the leadership,” he contended, saying his book contains “the recipe to win this war rapidly.”

Gorka argued that the “history of modern jihad” began in 1979.  “If you want to understand September the 11th, if you want to understand the Boston bombing, the Ft. Hood massacre, the recent massacre in San Bernardino, the recent attack in Brussels, it all begins in 1979,” he said.

“It begins with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that triggers the first organization that predates al-Qaeda, which was the Arab Services Bureau, the mujahadeen.  That’s where al-Qaeda begins in 1979.  Then we have the Iranian revolution, hugely important because we have one nation-state that says Islam can be re-integrated into politics.  It’s the Shia, yes, but this is a model for all Muslims: we can create theocracies, and be successful, and reject the Western model of politics,” Gorka continued.

He added a third highly significant event from that era, which most Americans haven’t heard of: “Three hundred jihadis, in 1979, armed with automatic weapons, sieged and captured the most important site in all of Islam, the Grand Mosque at Mecca.  And it is the consequences of that siege, in which the Saudi regime signed a pact with the devil, if you will, with the extremist fundamentalist clerics in Saudi Arabia — that’s where it all begins.”

The understanding between the Saudi regime and jihadis had the effect of turning both violent terrorism and Islamist ideology outward, buying peace for the Saudis at the rest of the world’s expense.  As Bannon noted, the siege was also a huge media event across the Muslim world, giving the radicals who captured the Grand Mosque a platform to express their beliefs and win converts.

Gorka proposed two reasons why the Western media has never assigned the proper historical significance to the siege of Mecca: it’s too complicated to explain for a mainstream press interested primarily in quick sound bites, and it reflects poorly on America’s nominal ally, Saudi Arabia.

“We made a strategic decision after World War II that Saudi Arabia would be our partner, would be our so-called ally, so we don’t want to talk about the fact that Saudi Arabia is, in part, responsible for the export of the most totalitarian ideology active today, which is global jihadism,” he said.

“During the siege, the King managed to identify the fact that these aren’t just a bunch of Koran-beating yahoos.  These 300 jihadis had the blessing, had the support, of key members of the Saudi clerical class, the ulamaa, the wise theologians – who said, ‘yep, Islam’s lost its way, we’re surrounded by apostates, the King is a puppet of the West, and we need a holy war to cleanse Islam,’” Gorka explained.  “When the King found that out, he invited these clerics to the palace for a little chat, and he said to them, ‘Gentlemen, I know who you are, and I know your connection to these jihadis.  Let me offer you a deal.  If you guarantee for me that my nation — my country, Saudi Arabia, and my family — will never, ever be threatened again by this kind of extremist violence, this jihadism, you will become the court ulamaa.  You will become the clerics to the House of Saud. You, your sons, and your grandsons will have jobs for life.’”

Crucially, the Saudi monarchy also offered the help finance the export of jihad ideology around the world, “and for the last 25 years, we have been paying the price for that deal,” Gorka said, counting among those toxic imports Salafism, Wahabbi Islam, and the Deobandi sect, which is far more influential in European and American mosques than most outsiders realize.

Gorka said it was crucial for Western leaders to “jettison this fantasy that you hear all the time, after 9/11, that Islam needs a ‘Reformation.’”  As he explained, the Christian Reformation was driven by the urge to “get back to basics,” such as studying the Bible and developing a fundamental understanding of the faith.  That is precisely the message of the Islamic “extremists” and jihadis of today. In their eyes, they are the Reformation.

The “dirty little secret that nobody wants to tell you,” as Gorka put it, is that the Islamist ideology of al-Qaeda or ISIS “is not fundamentally un-Islamic because it is the Seventh Century interpretation of Islam that comes straight from the Koran.” 

“The second half of the Koran is uber-violent.  It’s about killing infidels,” he explained.  “As a result, we don’t need more reformation to get back to basics because then we will empower the jihadis.”

In order to cut through political correctness and Washington static, Gorka had a provocative request for listeners: “Every American citizen who cares about the republic, after 9/11, you don’t have an excuse.  Buy a Koran.  Don’t listen to the conventional wisdoms that are being spewed out by the mainstream media.  Go to the primary source, and make a judgment for yourself about this religion.”

He also stressed the importance of understanding that, unlike the Bible and most other religious texts, the Koran is meant to be the unchallengeable word of God, dictated to Mohammed by the archangel Gabriel, rather than a series of stories and prophetic revelations that might be subject to reinterpretation by later authorities.  Gorka suggested it might be helpful to think of the entire Koran as if it were the Ten Commandments — except, of course, that the Koran is much more comprehensive, detailed, and particular than the rather terse Commandments.

In a similar vein, he challenged the common talking point that “jihad” refers to constructive, non-violent internal struggles against temptation by noting that on “twelve times as many occasions in the Koran, when the word ‘jihad’ is used, it’s not about peaceful inner striving,” but instead describes “martial war, kinetic war, defeating and suppressing the enemy until they convert to the One True Faith, or until you have successfully destroyed them.”

He noted that jihad is certainly understood that way by terrorists and Islamist leaders, such as ISIS, which waged an aggressive war of conquest to re-establish the Islamic “caliphate” abolished by Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk a century ago.

“The Islamic State now holds territory in multiple countries of the Middle East and Africa,” Gorka observed.  “This is stunning.  They hold territory in Iraq, in Libya, in Syria, and now Boko Haram has become part of the caliphate, which means anything that belongs to Boko Haram in Nigeria is part of the new caliphate.  That means we have more than six million people living on the territory of the new Islamic empire.”  He further noted that empire boasts some 76,000 fighters, many of them foreign recruits, and is making between $2 million and $4 million per day, with income streams ranging from banditry to legal taxation.

In Gorka’s estimation, the refusal of Western political leaders to understand the unique nature of Islam, and the significance of such historic events as the Grand Mosque siege, lies at the heart of the leadership vacuum that might cause us to lose the war against jihad, despite our enormous military, technological, and economic advantages.

For example, Western leaders have deliberately blinded themselves to the penetration of Western mosques by radical imams, refusing to ask critical questions about where immigrant clerics were educated.  Gorka said the Obama Administration is also politically aligned against one of the few successful examples of de-radicalization in the Middle East, the “coup” conducted against the Muslim Brotherhood by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt.

“We have to support those regimes, whether it’s Egypt or whether it’s King Abdullah in Jordan, who have a different understanding of Islam and modernity,” Gorka urged.  “We need more people like Ataturk — people who say, ‘Look, I’m the democratically elected head of this country, and I don’t care what the Koran says about killing infidels right now.  We don’t do that because we like America, we like the West, and I’m going to tell you what Islam is.’  The State Department doesn’t like to hear that because they want to have freedom of religion, but if you’re dealing with Islam that has a Seventh Century original version that is violent, we cannot do that.”

The Department of Homeland Security doesn’t like to hear that, either.  Gorka related an astonishing story of being approached by a DHS official, after he delivered an eight-hour presentation on jihad to law-enforcement officials, who told him the real threat facing America was not Islamist terror but “right-wing extremists” and offered the 21-year-old Oklahoma City bombing as evidence of this imminent threat.

“I doubt the average law-enforcement officer, or American taxpayer, would agree with the government line in Washington,” he observed.

Gorka compared that government line on Islamism to the authorities informing American troops to avoid potentially offensive terms like “Nazi” as they were preparing to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, or the authorities in the Fifties telling law enforcement to avoid terms like “white supremacist” when dealing with the Ku Klux Klan because they were really just “misguided Democrats.”

“Today we can’t use the world ‘jihad.’  We can’t talk about religion.  It is banned.  And if you can’t talk about the enemy, you will not win,” he warned.

It’s no laughing matter that the enemy shares no such reticence when it comes to discussing us.  Gorka discusses Islamist godfather Sayyid Qutb and his landmark book Milestones, which can be downloaded in its entirety from The Gorka Briefing.  He remarked on how Qutb offered a savage critique of America as a land of decadence that had to be destroyed by the jihad –and he was writing in the 1950s, after visiting idyllic, wholesome small towns in the West.  Qutb’s work is almost universally read by jihadis, who, he noted, tend to be far better educated and deliberate in their ideology than the U.S. State Department gives them credit for.

“It is a totalitarian ideology that defines itself against us,” Gorka said of jihad.  “We are the antithesis.  Everything America stands for — individual liberty, based on the dignity of the human being made in the image of God — that is what must be destroyed or enslaved.  This is not random acts of violence.  It has a plan.  It has a strategy.”

In other words, and in summation, jihadis believe they are in a war, and they believe they have a workable strategy to win it.  Those are the two elements most sorely missing from the West’s political leadership, which, Gorka noted, does not like to speak in terms of defeating a jihadist enemy and is often profoundly uncomfortable with using terms like “enemy,” “victory,” or “war.”

“Think about one thing.  This is provocative, but I believe it.  Why do we have 22 vets commit suicide every 24 hours in America?” Gorka asked.  “Why do we have unprecedented levels of PTSD in this nation?  Our grandfathers saw some bad stuff in World War II, especially in the Pacific, especially when they liberated the death camps. But when they came home in the 1950s, they didn’t eat the barrel of a 1911.  Why?  Because they knew they were on the side of the angels.  Their President, their commander, told them, ‘This is a war against evil, and what you are going to see may be nasty, but it’s okay, guys, you’re on the side of Right.’  We don’t say that anymore.”

“If we don’t have a sense of victory, if we don’t talk about the enemy as they are, we could lose this war,” Gorka warned before sadly concluding that Europe, from whence he hails, has already lost it.  “America is ten years behind Europe, if you look at the threat internally, and not just from terrorism… We’ve got, tops, five years.  If the next Administration doesn’t go to war — with our Muslim allies — against the jihadists, we could lose this, either kinetically, or from the inside through subversion.  Five years, maximum.”

Breitbart News Sunday airs each week from 7 to 10 P.M. Sunday night on the Patriot Channel, channel 125 on the SiriusXM network.

You can listen to the full interview with Dr. Sebastian Gorka below:

Islam and the Radical West. By Bret Stephens.

Islam and the Radical West. By Bret Stephens. Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2016.


Years ago I had a chat with three young Muslim men as we waited in a Heathrow airport lounge to board a flight to Islamabad. I was going to Pakistan to report on the fallout from a devastating earthquake in Kashmir. They were going there to do what they vaguely described as “charitable work.” They dressed in white shalwar kameez, wore their beards in salafist style and spoke in south London accents.

I tried to steer the conversation to the earthquake. They wanted to talk about politics. Had I seen Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11”? I avoided furnishing an opinion about a film they plainly revered. The unvarnished truth about Amerika—from an American. Authority and authenticity rolled into one.

I think of that exchange whenever the subject of Islamist radicalization comes up. There’s a great deal of literature about how young Muslim men—often born in the West to middle-class and not particularly religious households—get turned on to jihad. Think of Mohammed Emwazi, the University of Westminster graduate later known as Jihadi John. Or Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, of Fort Hood infamy. Or Najim Laachraoui, who studied electrical engineering at the prestigious Catholic University of Louvain before blowing himself up last month in Brussels. Or Boston’s Tsarnaev brothers and San Bernardino’s Syed Farook.

It’s a long list. And in many cases investigators are able to identify an agent of radicalization. Maj. Hasan corresponded with extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Laachraoui seems to have come under the spell of a Molenbeek preacher named Khalid Zerkani. The Tsarnaevs took their bomb-building tips from “Inspire,” an online English-language magazine published by al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen.

But the influence of the Awlakis of the world can’t fully account for the mind-set of these jihadists. They are also sons of the West—educated in the schools of multiculturalism, reared on the works of Noam Chomsky and perhaps Frantz Fanon, consumers of a news diet heavy with reports of perfidy by American or British or Israeli soldiers. If Islamism is their ideological drug of choice, the political orthodoxies of the modern left are their gateway to it.

Take the most recent issue of Inspire. Mixed in with step-by-step photos on how to build a timed hand grenade and an analysis of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, there’s a long article on the oppression of blacks in America, starting with the killing of Ferguson’s Michael Brown. The Spring 2013 issue contains a “message to the American nation” from al Qaeda Commander Qassim Ar-Reimy in which he asks whether “meddling in our affairs and installing whomever tyrant agents and lackeys you want who kill and oppress [is] forgivable?”

“Leave us with our religion, land and nations and mind your own internal affairs,” the commander—now Emir—writes. “Save your economy, look after your concerns, for it is better than what you currently are.”

This isn’t the language of Islam, with its impressive tradition of conquest. It’s the language of the progressive left, of what Jeane Kirkpatrick at the 1984 Republican convention called the “Blame America First” crowd. It fits the left’s view of the West as the perennial sinner and the rest of the world as its perpetual victim. It is the language of turning the page on a decade of war, of focusing on nation building at home.

It strikes us as radical only because it comes from the pen of a terrorist. If it had appeared as an op-ed in the Guardian, it would elicit nodding approval from many readers, a dismissive shrug from others, but no big whoop either way.

In the early 1990s my former columnist colleague Thomas Frank came up with the clever phrase “commodification of dissent” to explain how capitalism turned all kinds of countercultural beliefs and radical ideas into just another product in a box, to be sold and distributed through the usual channels. “Fahrenheit 9/11” might have been a political revelation or even a call to arms for some impressionable young Muslims from Tower Hamlets, but to Hollywood it was $222.5 million of box office gold. That made it a winner in the marketplace of ideas, and who can quarrel with that?

The commodification of dissent may have the effect of blunting the impact of all kinds of extreme notions. But it can dull us to their extremism, leaving us astonished when someone turns notion into action. The catharsis of violence seems like an interesting idea in the pages of “The Wretched of the Earth.” In practice, it’s scores of young men and women gunned down in a Paris concert hall.

We’ve become lazy in our thinking about Islam and the West. Whether the Islam practiced by al Qaeda or ISIS is “radical” or merely traditional isn’t the question. It’s whether the West can recognize that the moral nihilism of today’s Jihadi Johns is the logical outgrowth of the moral relativism that is the default religion of today’s West.

The Islamic State of Molenbeek. By Roger Cohen.

The Islamic State of Molenbeek. By Roger Cohen. New York Times, April 11, 2016.


BRUSSELS — There are military trucks parked in Molenbeek, and soldiers with submachine guns patrol the jittery streets of the Brussels district that has been the epicenter of European terrorism in recent months. On the Place Communale idle youths loiter, shooting glances at the police. This is where the Paris and Brussels attacks, with their 162 dead, overlap.

Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving direct participant in the Paris attacks, hid in Molenbeek before his arrest on March 18. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected chief planner of the Paris attacks, lived in Molenbeek. In all, at least 14 people tied to both attacks were either Belgian or lived in Brussels.

One of them is Mohamed Abrini, a Belgian of Moroccan origin who grew up in Molenbeek and was arrested in Brussels on Friday. He has told the police he is “the man in the hat” caught on surveillance cameras leaving Brussels airport after two accomplices blew themselves up on March 22. Cameras also placed him in Paris last November with the Paris attackers.

Sleepy Brussels: goodbye to that image. Yet even today there’s something soporific about this French-speaking city marooned within Flemish-speaking Flanders, beset by administrative and linguistic divisions and the lethargy that stems from them, home to a poorly integrated immigrant population of mainly Moroccan and Turkish descent (41 percent of the population of Molenbeek is Muslim), and housing the major institutions of a fraying European Union.

It is hard to resist the symbolism of the Islamic State establishing a base for its murderous designs in the so-called capital of Europe at a time when the European idea is weaker than at any time since the 1950s. A jihadi loves a vacuum, as Syria demonstrates. Belgium as a state, and Belgium as the heart of the European Union are as close to a vacuum as Europe offers these days.

Belgium — a hodgepodge of three regions (Flanders, French-speaking Wallonia and Brussels), three linguistic communities (Flemish, French and German) and a weak federal government — is dysfunctional. That dysfunction finds its most powerful expression in the capital, where Flemish geography and French culture do not align. The administrative breakdown assumes critical proportions in Molenbeek, the second-poorest commune in the country, with 36 percent of people younger than 25 unemployed.

As Julia Lynch noted recently in The Washington Post, Molenbeek’s radicalism is not new. It was “home to one of the attackers in the 2004 commuter train bombings in Madrid and to the Frenchman who shot four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in August 2014. The Moroccan shooter on the Brussels-Paris Thalys train in August 2015 stayed with his sister there.”

This is an outrage. Splintered Belgium had lost control of Molenbeek. A heavily Muslim district of Brussels had in effect seceded. If this were the extent of the problem, it would be grave. But Molenbeek is just the most acute manifestation of a European failure.

The large-scale immigration from Turkey and North Africa that began a half-century ago at a time of economic boom has — at a time of economic stagnation — led to near-ghettos in or around many European cities where the jobless descendants of those migrants are sometimes radicalized by Wahhabi clerics. As the French prime minister, Manuel Valls, warned recently, an extremist minority is “winning the ideological and cultural battle” within French Islam.

The fact that the jihadis, often Syrian-trained, are a minority, and that many Muslims who immigrate to Europe are leading successful and integrated lives, is little consolation. After the carnage in Paris and Brussels, the laissez-faire approach that had allowed those clerics to proselytize, private Muslim schools to multiply in France, prisons to serve as incubators of jihadism, youths to drift to ISIS land in Syria and back, and districts like Molenbeek or Schaerbeek to drift into a void of negligence, has to cease. Improved intelligence is not enough. There is an ideological battle going on; it has to be waged on that level, where it has been lost up to now. The moderate Muslim communities of Europe need to do much more.

Europe, of which Brussels is a symbol, presents an alarming picture today. The Dutch, susceptible to propaganda from Russia, have just voted in a referendum against a trade agreement with Ukraine for which more than 100 Ukrainians died in an uprising in 2014. The British are set to vote in June on whether to leave the Union. The euro has sapped economies insufficiently integrated for a common currency. A huge refugee flow has raised questions about a borderless Europe. President Putin plots daily to do his worst for the European Union.

There is a vacuum. Vacuums are dangerous. The answer is a reformed, reinvigorated and stronger Europe, not the kind of division that produced Molenbeek — a microcosm of what fragmentation can bring.

My two older children were born in Schaerbeek. My daughter, now a doctor in New Mexico, took some of her first steps at Brussels airport. This is not the Europe I imagined for them.

The GOP Has Two Fevers That Need to Break. By Michael Gerson.

The GOP Has Two Fevers That Need to Break. By Michael Gerson. Real Clear Politics, April 12, 2016. Also at the Washington Post.


Some Trump-obsessed, hysterical nitwits have overstated the case that the Republican Party may be on the verge of self-annihilation. “If Trump were the nominee,” said one, “the GOP would cease to be.”

That quote would be mine. The mood of the moment (not to mention the rhythm of the sentence) was irresistible. But the Republican Party would probably not disintegrate if either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz were its nominee. The reality is both less dramatic and (for those who wish the GOP well) more tragic.

On the whole, the Obama era has been the best time to be a Republican since Herbert Hoover left office. The 2014 election yielded the highest number of GOP House members since 1928, and the second highest number of GOP senators. There are currently 31 Republican governors. The GOP controls 70 percent of state legislatures and enjoys single-party rule in 25 states.

RealClearPolitics election analysts Sean Trende and David Byler put together an index of party strength, based on performance at federal, state and local levels. By their measure, Republicans are doing their best overall since 1928. “The Republican Party,” they conclude, “is stronger than it has been in most of our readers’ lifetimes.”

The overwhelming volume of presidential election coverage creates an illusion that only presidential elections matter. But Democratic decline at the state and local levels has radiating effects — influencing the shape of redistricting, emptying the bench of future electoral talent, and helping to undermine the implementation of Democratic initiatives such as Obamacare.

Consider: If Republicans had fielded a strong presidential nominee this year, who managed to win a winnable election, the party’s success would have been more comprehensive than any since 1980. The tragedy is not that Republicans are on the verge of self-destruction; it is that they were on the verge of victory, and threw it away.

This singular failure is not a small thing for the GOP. The patient is brimming with health and vigor in every way, except for the missing head. Either of this year’s likely Republican failures would complicate the job of candidates down the ticket and alienate demographic groups that are essential to future national victories.

At the presidential level, the GOP has two arguments in desperate need of defeat — two ideological fevers that need to break. The first is the tea party claim that ideological purity is the key to presidential success. Republicans, in this view, have lost recent presidential elections because their quisling candidates, John McCain and Mitt Romney, could not turn out 4 million “missing” conservative voters.

That number, it actually turns out, is a myth, rooted in the slow reporting of vote totals after the 2012 election. “There’s no magic formula,” said Dan McLaughlin of RedState, “no cavalry of millions of conservatives waiting just over the hill to save the day.” A Custer-like loss by Cruz — who has shown little ability to expand beyond his narrow ideological appeal — would demonstrate this point.

The second fever is less common in the United States than in Europe, but it is a particularly vicious strain. This is the claim by right-wing populists that Republicans need to completely reorient their ideology in favor of nativism, protectionism and isolationism in order to appeal to working-class whites. This was the message of Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaigns starting in the 1990s. With Trump, it is back in full force.

The problem? Aside from the fact that protectionism is self-destructive economic policy, and isolationism is disastrous foreign policy, an attempt to pump up the white vote with nativist rhetoric alienates just about everyone else. Trump has secured his stagnant plurality in GOP primaries by earning record-level disapproval from the rest of the country. If Trump were the Republican nominee, winning states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan would require an increase in the white working-class vote so vast that the math is essentially impossible.

This is now the subject of many conversations among Republicans: Is it better to lose with Cruz or Trump? The arguments for tea party purity and for “white lives matter” nativism each need discrediting defeat. Unfortunately, they seem to be the two available choices.

Eventually, Republicans will require another option: a reform-oriented conservatism that is responsive to working-class problems while accommodating demographic realities. This is what makes Paul Ryan so attractive as the Hail Mary pass of an open convention. But, more realistically, it will be the work of a headless Republican Party, reconstituting itself in a new Clinton era.