A hard reality is finally sinking in across America: for a long time now – actually, for more than thirty-five years – the United States has been at war with an enemy sworn to its destruction.
It did not seek enmity or hostilities with them. Both are the product of forces that long predated the establishment of this country, to say nothing of its adoption toward the end of the 20th Century of certain policies towards the Middle East or other regions.
The enemy is the Global Jihad Movement. And it is inspired, guided, and enabled by the Islamic supremacist doctrine its adherents call shariah.
For much of this period, the U.S. government has pursued various approaches to the threats posed by that enemy – including selective military engagements, benign neglect, willful blindness, and outright appeasement. They have all shared one common denominator: They ignore the aforementioned realities and, as a practical matter, have exacerbated them.
Yet, no one has advanced a more reality-based, more practical and more effective way to counter, let alone defeat, this ideologically driven enemy.
At the National Press Club at noon on January 16th, an ad hoc group of highly skilled national security professionals will unveil an alternative plan of action that has been proven effective in protecting us against relentlessly aggressive totalitarian ideologues in the one environment that matters: the real world. The resulting approach, called the “Secure Freedom Strategy,” is modeled after the one President Ronald Reagan successfully employed to take down Soviet communism and the Evil Empire it spawned.
The “Secure Freedom Strategy” offers a detailed prescription for a clear-eyed understanding of the enemy we confront and actionable steps for vanquishing it. Its key components include:
Understanding the Enemy’s Threat Doctrine: Having conclusively demonstrated that Sun Tse’s admonition that you can’t defeat an enemy you don’t know still operates, the United States must now abandon past practice by adopting a realistic understanding of the enemy and its doctrine. That requires, in particular, clarity concerning shariah, the jihad it impels, and the various ways in which such warfare is being waged against us.
The Tiger Team makes clear that its use of the term shariah is informed by the practice of Islamic law by the recognized authorities of the faith since at least the 10th Century. (It is noteworthy that, when Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi complained publicly and courageously about the jihadist character of contemporary Islam, he did not berate so-called “radical extremists” of al Qaeda or Islamic State. Rather, he took to task the leading imams in Sunni Islam’s equivalent of the Vatican, al-Azhar University.) Such use of the term shariah, therefore, does not refer to an idiosyncratic, personal, or purely pietistic observance of Islamic law which may or may not conform to the entirety of established Islamic doctrine.
The jihadism of shariah is being advanced by both violent techniques and by means other than terrorism. We must, accordingly, be prepared to deal kinetically where necessary with the perpetrators of violent jihad. But it is also imperative that we contend no less effectively with what the Muslim Brotherhood calls “civilization jihad” – its stealthy, subversive effort to “destroy Western civilization from within…by [our own] hands.”
Establishing Our Objective: Next, the United States must enunciate a national commitment to – using a phrase President Reagan employed as the object of NSDD 75 – “contain and over time reverse” shariah-driven Islamic supremacism, including establishment of the Caliphate. The rising tide of shariah and various efforts to impose it here and abroad make abundantly clear an unalterable fact: America and, indeed, Western civilization cannot coexist with the Global Jihad Movement.
Reestablishing “Peace Through Strength”: Just as President Reagan did in his day, the contemporary hollowing out of the U.S. military must be reversed as a matter of the utmost priority. The perception of American weakness only reinforces our shariah-adherent enemies’ conviction that the time has come for intensifying jihad operations. It is also emboldening other adversaries, including Russia, China and North Korea.As the United States is not confronting simply terrorist organizations, or even their state-sponsors, but prospectively “peer competitors,” the rebuilding of American military power must be balanced across the spectrum of nuclear, missile defense, conventional and special operations forces. We must also continue to develop asymmetric capabilities (e.g., in space and cyber space) while correcting our most egregious vulnerabilities to these enemies’ asymmetric attacks (notably, electromagnetic pulse, cyberwarfare, counter-space, economic/financial warfare, smuggled weapons of mass destruction, etc.)
Counter-Ideological Warfare: As in the Cold War, America’s ability to challenge and neutralize its enemies’ animating ideology is at least as important as the task of countering their kinetic threats. Once we are clear about the nature and centrality of the shariah doctrine to the existential danger we currently face, the need for a serious and effective counter-ideological strategy becomes self-evident.Putting such a strategy into practice will require, first and foremost, identifying the Muslim Brotherhood for the explicitly jihadist organization it has always been and is now.
Continuing to treat its operatives and organizations (overt and covert) in America and overseas as “partners” because we are told they “eschew violence” is a formula for our incremental destruction. Wherever and as soon as possible, these foes should be neutralized as political forces. At a minimum, they must be denied access to U.S. government agencies, funds, arms and, via television cable packages, American household subscribers.
Intelligence Operations: We must take a page from the playbook developed during the Reagan administration by then-Director of Central Intelligence William Casey and use covert means wherever possible to counter, divide and undermine our enemies. To the traditional intelligence techniques should be added aggressive use of psychological operations, cyberwarfare and, where necessary, clandestine and special operations.
Economic Warfighting: As with the Reagan NSDD 75 plan, there must be a central economic/financial warfighting component to a new American strategy for defeating our time’s existential enemies. This component would include: constricting the principal source of revenues for the jihad – vast petrodollar transfers from Western nations to OPEC states; reversing the present practice of accommodating and even encouraging shariah finance, a technique employed by civilization jihadists to penetrate and subvert our capitalist system: and exposing shariah-inspired sovereign wealth funds as instruments of financial jihad.
Cyber Warfighting: Cyberspace is the new battlefield of asymmetric warfare where attacks across domains and technologies by the Global Jihad enemy, as well as peer adversaries, must be countered with 21st Century capabilities drawn from the best and brightest in the civilian, intelligence and military worlds.
Were these and similar policy priorities articulated by the Tiger Team to be adopted and executed appropriately, it should be possible to effect the necessary second step: the adoption by the nation of a true warfooting, a state of national commitment that will bring to bear the popular vigilance and support that will make it possible for the Secure Freedom Strategy to be fully executed.
If we are to have a prayer of bequeathing, as President Reagan put it, to our children and children’s children an America that is free – and not one that has submitted to the jihadists and shariah – we must get about the business of securing freedom in a strategic and time-tested way.
And we must begin to do it now.