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FRANK GAFFNEY:

Welcome to Secure Freedom Radio. This is Frank Gaffney, your host and guide for what I think of as an intelligence briefing on the war for the free world. At the core of that war these days, of course, is something that has eluded altogether too many of us in terms of really understanding its nature and the extent to which it must be confronted rather better than we’ve done to date. Our guest in this very special edition of Secure Freedom Radio is going to help me explore Islamic totalitarianism. A term he is using as part of a new book on the subject entitled Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: From George W. Bush to Barack Obama and Beyond. He is Elan Journo, his co-author of that book is Onkar Ghate. He is also the editor of another terrific book entitled Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism. Elan is a fellow and director of policy research at the Ayn Rand Institute. You can find his writings in all the right places, notably Middle East Quarterly, the Federalist, foxnews.com, Foreign Policy and on and on. We’re delighted to welcome back and thank him for giving us a full hour of his time to talk about these and related issues in depth. Elan, thank you. Good to have you back.

ELAN JOURNO:

It’s great to be with you. Thanks.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Well, let me start at the beginning, I guess, Elan, you’ve brought forward this concept that what we’re up against is Islamic totalitarianism. Others have described it alternately as, oh, I don’t know, terrorism or violent extremism or some jihadism. Give us your working definition of Islamic totalitarianism and why you think that term is most apt.

ELAN JOURNO:

I regard the enemy as defined by its ultimate goals, not by its means. I think that’s the way to approach any enemy and that’s how we approached it in the past. When you think about World War Two, we didn’t call the Japanese Kamikazeists and we didn’t call the Nazis U-Boatists or whatever it was their favourite tactic was. We called them by the ideology that animated their pursuit of a certain goal and the goal was at the core of that ideology. With Islamic totalitarianism, I think that name is apt and there might be a better name, but this one captures, I think, the essence of the movement because what they are seeking is to reshape society wherever they can exert power and authority. And they have told us many times, and quite openly, which is part of the scandal of how we really haven’t understood them, that what they want is a world that is in total shaped by their interpretation of Islamic religious law, shariah. And what’s significant here is that it spans different interpretations. So that it’s both Shia and Sunni sects of it there you can find. And it comes from different countries and there are different groups and there are factions and they fight against each other, and I mention that because it’s important to not be drawn into, well, al-Qaeda and ISIS hate each other, al-Qaeda disowned ISIS so there’s clearly not one movement, there’s lots of splinter groups. That’s not the way to look at it. The way to look at it is to zoom out and see what is the common goal, even if certain factions and certain leaders fight each other. Because that’s typical to any ideological movement. You can find it among the communist movement. So I think Islamic totalitarianism is a key way to capture that.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Let me ask you what you would describe as the goals of Islamic totalitarianism.

ELAN JOURNO:

Sure. So, I mean, good examples of what it looks like are the Taliban regime pre-2001. ISIS today, Iran’s today, Saudi Arabia today. Now, a lot of people would balk at that, because they’d say, wait, wait, wait, wait. You can go to Iran and be a tourist and look around and that’s great. But you would never go to pre-2001 Afghanistan. But essentially, they differ only in certain degrees. Now, what do they have in common? It’s a society where the law is defined by religious adherence to their interpretation of shariah. And that means in every particular, at least this is what the state tries to do, is to enforce specific detailed laws about how you live your life, whom you may marry, what you may do in your marriage. What your – how you can earn money and what kind of work you can’t do. You can’t lend out money unless it’s according to certain religious doctrine. You can’t not pray five times a day, you can’t avoid fasting at Ramadan or you will be punished by people enforcing the law. To have morality police. So it’s a way of having a kind of moral view of the world that is enforced politically as an all-consuming system. And it’s – one more thing to mention, if we’re just going to give kind of a snapshot, is that this is inherently an expansionist or imperialist doctrine. In other words, it seeks to expand the realm under its authority by conquest. And that doesn’t always mean war, but it means trying to grab more people and subjugate them. So it’s inherently an oppressive system.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Let me just drill down on some of this because you’ve given us so much food for thought. There are those who say shariah is only partially, really, about religious practice. And that the vast majority of it involves, well, the kinds of things you’ve just talked about. Governance of all aspects of life. I kind of think of it as basically being about power, whether it’s, you know, within your family unit or with your neighbours or with your business associates or with, you know, the various rulers, ultimately, you know, governing the world, really. Is that how you see it? And if so, does that sort of contribute to the confusion about what it is we’re up against, because, well, again, as frequently as – as recently as last night, in the debate between the vice-presidential candidates, the proposition kept cropping up that this is all really about a religion?

ELAN JOURNO:

I think it’s rooted in the religion without question. So I think every jihadist and every jihadist is clearly a – professes to be a Muslim. But it’s certainly not all Muslims. And I think it needs to be said that not all Muslims are our enemies, that’s far from the truth. But I think it’s critical to see that the nature of the problem is that this is a movement that seeks obedience by force. And obedience as in bowing to authority. And politically. And it’s also a movement that stems from a culture that has had no meaningful separation of religion from state, from temporal power. And so the doctrines are wedded so that it’s a comprehensive way of life that doesn’t separate what politics looks like from what religion is. It’s one and the same. They’re all together. So if you’re a good person, you live under a good – a good government and a good government is one defined by shariah. And that means obedience to Allah and obedience to his temporal representatives. And that’s both a historical fact of the kind of societies that have flourished under this kind of regime and it’s a fact that in many respects, as I understand the doctrines, they call for that kind of unity that, well, why separate out government from religion? Why separate morality from politics? So there’s definitely an integration between them. Which doesn’t deny the fact that there are people who are faithful Muslims and who are peaceful and don’t seek a society that is like that. Now there are questions that, for scholars of Islam, to debate about, well, what does that really mean and what kind of interpretation, is that a mainstream interpretation? Is that a kind of a reform perspective? Who is actually being more true to the doctrine? But that’s – that’s a scholarly, exegetical kind of debate that doesn’t really concern us if we’re trying to understand the nature of the enemy. The enemy is the core of the problem and what we do understand about them. It is rooted in this religion that takes religion and politics to be one and they seek our subjugation and death.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Very explicitly, as you say, Elan Journo, this is not something that is concealed from us. Or that is hard to ascertain based upon the writings and the speeches, to say nothing of the behaviour of many of those who are at the leading edge of this enemy phalanx. Elan Journo is our guest for this full hour of conversation about Islamic totalitarianism and our failure to confront it. We will talk more with Elan about the various, well, interpretations and what their implications are for us with regard to shariah. Right after this.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Welcome back. Our guest for this hour is Elan Journo. He is the co-author with Onkar Ghate of a very important, very thoughtful, very timely book entitled Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: From George W. Bush to Barack Obama and Beyond. He is the fellow and director of policy research at the Ayn Rand Institute and has been a guest once before, but we’re very pleased to have him back for a more in depth conversation about the topic that he has addressed in this book and others. Let me ask you, Elan, about this issue of shariah. I think you’ve characterised it very well as kind of at the core of the ideology and the thing that is driving the goals of Islamic totalitarianism. There are those who say there are different kinds of shariah and that one shouldn’t be unduly concerned about the specific claims being made by, say, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, because he’s just following one interpretation and, as you said in the previous segment, you know, there are peaceful Muslims who are following their own and they’re clearly not a problem. Tease that out with us if you would. Is there more than one kind of shariah in the Islamic tradition, the mainstream tradition I’m talking about here, or are we really looking at the same corpus of law, if you will, just enforced to varying degrees in different places throughout the Muslim world?

ELAN JOURNO:

So I should say I – my expertise is not Islamic scholarship, but I have looked into it. So with that qualification, I would say you will find different schools of jurisprudence within Islam and within the different major sects. And there’s two perspectives you can take. From the inside of the religion, I’m sure that people would insist and they would make a strong case that, no, no, no, our view is very different from those people over there, you know, we have certain ways of looking at things that are very different. In the same way that if you look at Christian denominations, the Catholic and various Protestant sects look at things very differently from the inside. Now that – those are interesting questions and they’re important from a certain perspective, but from our perspective on the outside looking at this, what matters is, when we think of the Islamic totalitarian movement that – one question to ask is, does it have roots in the religion of Islam and the history and the tradition and things like that? So like the whole tradition of an empire and conquest, those different denominations, different sects, and the different jurisprudence schools. But on the outside, from our perspective of thinking of this as a national security issue, not as a theological one, the question to ask is, can we understand this ideology without seeing its important roots in the history and doctrines of Islam and just the model of Mohammad as a conqueror who was both a political and religious leader? And the answer is, no, we can’t. And if you look at the doctrines of Islamic totalitarianism, and when you boil them to their kind of common denominator, the kind of society they want, how they want to achieve it, there are commonalities and it does follow from sort of an outside perspective on Islam as a doctrine. And by that, I mean this, it would be strange if the Islamic totalitarians told us that we must bow in the name of Zeus and Aphrodite. That would definitely be a non-mainstream interpretation of Islamic doctrine. But they don’t tell us that. Yeah, they don’t tell us that. And they don’t tell us we have to bow in the name of Moses. They tell us we have to bow in the name of Allah. And they tell us they’re modelling themselves on Mohammed in very specific ways and this is one of the things ISIS has done, and they model themselves on this – on what is easily traceable and it’s a natural interpretation. Now, I’m not going to take a stand and say, this is the only interpretation that makes sense, that we have to discount all the others as non-Muslims, because that’s a debate that Iran and Saudi Arabia have every day. Who’s more Muslim and are you a Shiite or are you a Sunni and who’s a heretic. And from their perspective, that’s very significant. From our perspective, it is not. Because what matters is, what really animates the people who are blowing themselves up in the streets of Paris and in the streets of Ankara and in the streets of New York and who would want to blow up things in New York, no, it is a certain doctrine that is a political movement, ideological movement, rooted in this ideology and in this religion. And that’s significant. We have to understand that if we hope to stop them.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Yeah. You know, Elan, I think you’ve really said that as well as it can be said. The one fillip that I would add is it seems to me that as long as this is reflected in authoritative Islam, not just sort of heretical, you know, factions, it greatly exacerbates the problem you’re describing. You know, it’s bad enough if it’s just an Islamic State here or an al-Qaeda there or a Taliban someplace else or a Boko Haram or a Hamas or a Hezbollah. I mean, that’s a serious national security problem all by itself. But if potentially many, many millions of other Muslims are persuaded that this Mohammaden model, as you mentioned, this doctrine of shariah as practiced by the authorities of al-Azhar and, you know, the Saudis and the like, are in fact the true teachings of the faith, clearly, that’s at least an incipient and far larger problem than the various outcroppings of it in these terrorist groups that I’ve mentioned.

ELAN JOURNO:

Yeah, let me just add something to that cause I think there’s a perspective on this that’s important, which is, if you recall, after the 2005 suicide bombings on the London Underground, there was a famous survey, opinion poll of Muslims in the UK. And the result of it – and the basic question that a lot of people were alarmed by is do you, would you support taking such actions against the UK and other Western countries? I think that was the way the issue was framed. And an astonishing number said, yes. And it was, in a sense, taken to mean there was a certain sympathy with what was done, though not a willingness to do it themselves. And there have been other polls in the years since, both about people’s perspectives on al-Qaeda and so on. And what’s surprising there is that whether or not they themselves would regard their views as where Islamic totalitarianism is or just, I’m a regular Muslim and this is my view, there’s a – there’s an alarming number who see either, either have sympathy for the goal that Islamic totalitarians have or at least believe that however bad their means what they’re trying to do is, in some sense, noble. Now I don’t remember the poll offhand right now, I don’t have it in front of me, but people can look this up. I think one of the most recent ones was a Pew survey and it’s troubling because it means that there’s a certain resonance at least by the people who have peaceful lives, but who just espouse a certain view of Islam and there view of these actions. Now, that doesn’t mean we – that’s not something you can draw very strong conclusions about, but it’s a very important fact that you need to understand as there’s a certain constituency that has resonance and sometimes sympathy and more, perhaps, than they might tell in the surveys. But that’s real data to chew on and to understand as, okay, what are we really looking at? Is it just the fringe, ragtag group of people or is there a wider resonance for this ideology?

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Well and, again, this is what I keep calling us back to, is without getting into the various sectarian divides and fissures and fault lines and the rest, there is this common belief that within, you know, sort of the so-called mainstream Islam, that jihad is an obligation. And it’s not just personal struggle, it is about bringing about the triumph of shariah worldwide and in keeping with Muslim practice, Mohammad’s model, doing it through violence where you can and through stealthy means where you can’t. Which brings us to the question of the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in all of this and we’ll talk about that with Elan Journo and much more, right after this.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

We’re back for the third segment of this important conversation with an extraordinarily informed and thoughtful observer of the nature and menace of Islamic totalitarianism. He is Elan Journo with the Ayn Rand Institute. We’re talking a little bit about his newest book, Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism, but also drawing upon some of the insights in an important companion piece that he wrote in 2009, edited in 2009, entitled, Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism. Elan, I want to really walk through a facet of this larger problem that is almost entirely unremarked. I mean, you get it, I think, and have helped shed light on it, but, for example, in the course of the conversation last night between Senator Tim Kaine and Governor Mike Pence, the vice-presidential candidates, respectively, for the Democrats and the Republican Party, there was nary a mention of the problem of the Muslim Brotherhood. And I would just ask you to talk a little bit about this group, what it represents in terms of this, you know, sort of global, totalitarian, jihadist movement, including in our own country.

ELAN JOURNO:

The Muslim Brotherhood is probably one of the oldest Islamic totalitarian movements, organisations, that we know of. It started in the 1920s in Egypt. As some of your listeners will well know, I think. And it was a really powerful movement in the sense, not that it achieved any of its immediate goals in the first hundred, ninety years or so of its existence. But I think they came close in Egypt after the Arab Spring. But in that it was an intellectual fount and many groups spun off from it and managed to build a network throughout the Middle East of chapters, some of which we know today because they’ve become very, very powerful and dangerous. So Hamas was a spinoff from the Muslim Brotherhood chapter in the Palestinian territories. One of the groups that is also notorious is some of the groups that formed al-Qaeda originated as parts of the Muslim Brotherhood. Now it’s important to see that the spinoffs were often by people who felt that the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda was too slow, it was too incremental, it was too focused on cultural change for the long term. Cause they played the long game. And the people who spun off basically said, well, we need to be more active, look at what they’ve managed to do in 1979 in Iran, you know, the fighters for jihad succeeded in overtaking that country. We need to act and act now. And it’s that kind of spirit of activism and the need to take up arms sooner rather than later and that’s a – ultimately, that’s important to see that it’s, we need to take violence to the streets at some point. But when are we ready?

FRANK GAFFNEY:

How has that translated in practice, that kind of jihad, I think they call it civilisation jihad, in countries in the West, including our own?

ELAN JOURNO:

So I think the best model to look at, and I think what they hope to replicate is what they did in Egypt and elsewhere and then I will talk about the West. So it was essentially cultivating a group of people, a culture, a subgroup, and then widely the whole culture. So that they – people accept the ideas in their own lives through indoctrination and education and just acculturation. So that by the time there’s a need to call a revolution or seal the deal in effect, most people in the culture are ready for it. Now I understand, though, this has not been a focus of my research, that part of that goal is to do that beyond where they have chapters and perhaps even in the West and try to infiltrate and do subversion and so forth. As I say, that is – maybe this is a field you know more about, but I understand that and I wouldn’t – I wouldn’t discount it. I think it’s important to understand that the only way that that can succeed fundamentally is, is not because they’re wily, but because we aren’t paying attention. And we aren’t scrutinising the people that we’re holding up as experts on Islam, acting – so there are all kinds of stories of the last fifteen years of advisors and trainers to the FBI and the CIA who, in effect, are put up as, well, these guys are normal, great people, they’re on our side, they’re helping. But in fact, if you look at their statements and their actions, they’re very sympathetic to the enemy. And that’s a problem, though. To me, it’s startling that they can gain authority and positions of training and instructorship of law enforcement. And yet be so sympathetic to the enemy. So to me that’s another telling sign of how little we understand them. And not just their tactics and the idea that they can subvert from it within, but just the very idea, well, how do you know if someone’s on your side? How do you know what their stand is? And to me, that’s significant.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

It is enormously significant and, in fact, Elan Journo, this is a subject that the Center for Security Policy has focused a lot of time and effort on. In fact, we had entire series of monographs that we published which I commend to you as well as our listeners. They’re available for free online as PDFs at securefreedom.org. We call them the Civilisation Jihad Reader Series. A name that derives from this extraordinary book, I’m sure you’re familiar with, called the explanatory memorandum, a secret plan that the US government introduced in evidence in the Holy Land Foundation trial, the largest terrorism financing trial in US history back in 2008. And used it to convict people associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and I think setting the stage for prosecuting a whole bunch more. Alas, that didn’t happen. For reasons, among others, that you sort of alluded to, the extent to which we’ve – we’ve taken counsel and guidance about what we can know and see and do about all of this from people who are, in fact, Muslim Brotherhood operatives or at least aligned with them. I guess this is really the crux of the matter, one of the things, as you know, has been very much a feature of the Islamist agenda has been to prevent what they call shariah blasphemy, which would be things, expression, videos, speeches, written articles, what have you, I dare say your books and writings most certainly, that offend Muslims. And I’d just ask you to talk a little bit about if, indeed, as you say, we’ve had a failure under successive administrations, Republican and Democratic, to understand, let alone effectively to confront Islamic totalitarianism, whether that silencing of us in the name of, you know, avoiding giving offence might be a contributing factor.

ELAN JOURNO:

It is a huge factor. I think it’s way understated and people don’t really appreciate what we’re facing here with the attacks on free speech, because they’re just the tip of the spear for what I regard as the essential agenda, which is if we’re – if people recall the cartoon crisis of 2005, 2006 with the Danish cartoons and the uproar that caused, and one of the publications that reprinted those cartoons was Charlie Hebdo, of course, in 2015. The editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo were attacked and their editorial staff massacred. What people don’t understand is that this isn’t about offence. This is about elevating their perspective on the world, the Islamic totalitarian agenda, and saying, no, you mustn’t live according to the principle of free speech, which means that every ideology is subject to criticism and ridicule, and you might not like that, you have to live with it. That’s what a free society looks like. No, you mustn’t live by that principle. You must live by a higher principle. That means the doctrines of shariah, which say blasphemy is bad. And blasphemy, by the way, as it was in the medieval times in Europe under the church and today is a subjective term. What does it really mean to blaspheme, except to offend the people in power who want to subjugate you? So the attacks on free speech, which are significant, are part of this idea that we have to elevate certain religious dicta above the constitution, above our First Amendment, above free speech as a principle, moral principle. And what I would highlight here is that this has succeeded in the examples we’ve seen lately in the cartoon crisis from about ten years ago and even before that with the fatwa on the life of the author Salman Rushdie. These only succeed because we in the West have crumpled. We have not stood up for our own principles. And that has only encouraged them.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Elan, we have to pause for another moment. And when we come back, I want to talk about that phenomenon, why we’re – why we’re doing it and what it’s signalling to our adversaries in the Islamic totalitarian or global jihadist movement. That and more with Elan Journo, straight ahead.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

We’re back. We’re talking with Elan Journo, the co-author of Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: From George W. Bush to Barack Obama and Beyond. Also the editor of another important book, Winning the Unwinnable War. And Elan, one of the things that has made this war, well, unwinnable, to use your term, I think, has been the extent to which we have this practice of political correctness is a term that is favoured, some people call it diversity, sensitivity, or multiculturalism or to stop wanting to give offence or appear being racist or bigoted or Islamophobic. But I wonder if you would agree with me that whatever we call it, however we rationalise it or justify it or dress it up, the enemy has a different term for it, different way of seeing it, and that is as submission. And if you would, what are the implications of them perceiving our behaviour in that fashion?

ELAN JOURNO:

I think it is crucial that in the widest sense of their goal, what they’re trying to fashion is a society that is dominated by religious law. And that means that the people who are subjugated by it are submitting, are bowing, are bowing to authority and surrendering their own minds and giving up control of their lives and sacrificing their freedom, basically. All the rights that we take for granted in this country. So that’s the perspective of, that’s a test of success for them, to the extent that people submit to their doctrines and their control, that is an index for them of how well they’re doing. And I think you mentioned the issue of the attacks on free speech, which I think are super-significant and require people’s commitment and understanding to see how significant they are. I think it is evidence that we’re submitting and we’re bowing to them. And I would say that one of the things I talk about in the earlier book that you mentioned, Winning the Unwinnable War is I go into a little depth on the Western reactions to the cartoon crisis of 2005, 2006, and one of the things that you see is the European leaders in particular and even George W. Bush, they went out of their way to apologise. And it’s not their place to apologise for what journalists do, to apologise and beg forgiveness and promise that there’ll be better safeguards and there’s no way to look at that and say that they’re not submitting to the demands of the people who created this crisis and who want us to surrender our principle of freedom of speech and, in effect, bow to the idea that you mustn’t blaspheme against Islam. Which is – I think it’s also interesting to say about how nonsense – how much of nonsense that is. But you can’t look at that from the outside and say, oh, yeah, they’re not submitting, they’re not bowing to it. Because that’s exactly what we did and that’s what we continue to do. And probably what’s so horrifying about this is now things have gotten so bad here in the West is that we’re attacking the people who are willing to speak up and criticise the ideology of Islamic totalitarianism. Allowing them to be branded Islamophobic, which is – I don’t accept that term. It’s a smear. And so, you know, if you recall, there are lots of incidents and one of my colleagues, Steve Simpson, has written a book called Defending Free Speech, that tracks a lot of these instances of blaming the victims now. Which is – what more could you want if your goal is to make us submit that we’re now attacking the people who are not submitting?

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Really, the crux of the problem, it seems to me, is dangerous as the foreign violent jihad is, at the core of the threat posed to our country by Islamic totalitarianism, to use your term, is our failure to even allow ourselves to talk about it accurately, which is, of course, the precursor to disabling us from doing anything else about it. And let me just ask you, you, of course, as I’ve mentioned, hail from the Ayn Rand Institute, an entity that I think has helped carry forward sort of a libertarian intellectual tradition. I find this very refreshing what you’re saying, to be honest, because typically, in my experience, the response of many in the sort of, if I may call it, the libertarian community has been, well, look, we’ll leave them alone, they’ll leave us alone, we’re not going to tell them what to think or say and we just want to be able to, you know, do our own thing. And yet, what you’ve described here, Elan Journo, is a very, I think, clear-eyed appreciation. It doesn’t work that way when you’re dealing with totalitarians. Would you sort of address that sort of intellectual tradition and how it must be brought to sort of an understanding of what we’re really up against now?

ELAN JOURNO:

Yeah, I think the purpose of our government is to protect our individual rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So our government’s responsibility, as well, is to uphold freedom of speech and, of course, defend us from foreign threats. And I believe it has failed to do that for ideological, philosophical reasons. We don’t have an understanding of the enemy and we don’t feel we have a right to defend ourselves. And the people who say if we just ignore it, it will go away and don’t bother them, they won’t bother us, that trades – and I’m not imputing this view to everyone, but often it trades on a mistaken understanding of American foreign policy, cause that’s a big account here. American foreign policy went around and created this problem. That is not the way to see it. The problem is we failed for many decades to understand the nature of the Middle East as an area, we failed to understand the ideology that’s rising and ascendant in that area. And that there’s a movement that seeks to obliterate freedom everywhere. And to me, you can’t – if you take our lives seriously, you have to defend against that, that’s the purpose of government and it’s a failure of government not to do that. So there’s all kinds of things packed into the idea of we can ignore it, it will go away. And it doesn’t. I mean, the history leading up to 9-11, the years and months leading up to that were a farce of pretending that we’re doing something and not really understanding who we’re up against and what they’re trying to do and that didn’t make them go away. That made them come back with a force because every time we appear to be weak and submissive, and we did appear weak and submissive for many decades, that only encourages them. And we’ve seen that for the last fifteen years, in particular. And that’s part of what the books I’ve written document.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

One of the things that I keep calling people’s attention to is that this isn’t exactly an accident. In fact, one of the central tenets of the Koran, as you know, is that it’s not enough to obtain the infidel’s submission through jihad to shariah and this totalitarian program, you must make them, in the words of the Koran, feel subdued. By which I believe it’s meant that the infidel, the submitting dhimmi or whatever you might call him, is to understand there will never be another state. They will always be, you know, enslaved or, you know, worse, dead at the hands of their supremacist shariah-adherent Islamic – this is the thing that is so frightening to me as I look at the mistakes that we’ve been making that are so well-chronicled in your books about our failure to understand and confront Islamic totalitarianism, is that far from actually attenuating the danger we’re facing by trying to be accommodating or giving no offence or being politically correct or sensitive or whatever you want to call it, when they see that submission, they are actually doctrinally required to redouble the effort to make us feel subdued and that, I’m afraid, means more jihad and particularly of the violent kind, not less. Elan Journo, we’ll be right back with one last segment. And we’re going to talk about, so what do we do, given where we are now, given the condition we’ve put ourselves in, how do we confront and defeat this Islamic totalitarianism. That and more with Elan Journo, right after this.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

We’re back. The final instalment of this very informative conversation with Elan Journo, a man who has given a lot of thought and considerable intellectual capability has been brought to bear by him and his co-author, Onkar Ghate, about the phenomenon of Islamic totalitarianism and the threat that it poses to all of us if it is not effectively countered. Let’s turn, in this final few minutes, to what you would prescribe, given the various problems that we’ve discussed and their manifestations and the challenges that are entailed even in talking about this, as you have done, let alone doing something effective about it. What would you recommend to be done to counter effectively this threat?

ELAN JOURNO:

I and my colleagues have been making this case for about fifteen years and I’ll keep making it, cause I think it’s the right way to go. It’s in the books you’ve mentioned. And it’s basically that we need to take military action and I say that with a big proviso, which is it doesn’t look like the Iraq or Afghanistan campaigns, which were essentially nation-building efforts, and really went awry and were bad from the conception, which is part of what the books articulate, I mean a war that is properly defined with a goal that is achievable. And it has to target the leading state sponsors of Islamic totalitarianism and then cascade to as far as what you have to do. So I think you start with an ultimatum to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and particularly now that we’ve allowed this to happen, the Islamic State has to be part of that focus. And it has to be that you must stop being the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, you must stop being the world’s most active proselytiser for this cause, Saudi Arabia. And if that isn’t enough – and it might need be that we have to prove ourselves yet again, but we take military action. Now when I say that, people are going to scoff and they are going to roll their eyes and understandably, cause nobody wants, to echo Obama, nobody wants another Middle East war, which means another quagmire like Iraq. And that’s not what I’m advocating. That was the option I wouldn’t choose. I think what you need to do is demonstrate our willingness to defeat the enemy and then defeat the enemy, because our lives matter. And you’re worth it. And once you do that, once you take the state sponsors out of the equation, including Islamic State, once you take them out of the equation, what you are trying to do and what you demonstrate is that this cause is lost. And all these people who gravitate to it because they want to fight and die for this ideology will rethink it and then stop a lot of them in their tracks. And that’s ultimately how you defeat an ideological movement like Islamic totalitarianism. I go into a lot more depth in the books, but this is the crux. There’s no way to end this unless you take military action. And I’m afraid that having tried and failed, people have come to the conclusion that military action is ineffective. And that’s a misconception. That’s an injustice to the military. What happened is a policy failure because we ultimately didn’t know what we were going after. Why Iraq versus Iran? I mean, Iran is much more clearly central to the Islamic totalitarian movement than Iraq was. There’s so many things that went wrong, so it’s understandable that people recoil. But here we are, fifteen years after 9-11, and the enemy isn’t just around, it isn’t just on the run, it is in force and it’s attracting people and it’s able to inflict harm. And this is a long term problem unless we take serious action.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Elan, this is such a crucial point, the idea that you must defeat this enemy, you must dissuade them from believing that it is in fact God’s will that they will decisively defeat you is an absolutely necessary condition. I’m wondering whether the use of military force is sufficient, however, even if the policy direction is right and the full effect of our military power can be brought to bear decisively, is it enough? Or are there other instruments of political power that also need to be marshalled? I, as you may know, was a creature of Ronald Reagan’s Administration and helped in a small way with his use of, really, all instruments of national power against the former Soviet Union, the last totalitarian ideology that sought our destruction. And I wonder whether some of the techniques that he utilised, whether it’s economic power, including, you know, going at the energy resources and wellspring of wealth of so many of these dangerous countries, whether it’s political warfare, information operations, discrediting them, and such techniques, intelligence, of course, that also ought to be in the mix.

ELAN JOURNO:

I would agree that there’s a lot we can do. And we have a – we have more than a Swiss Army knife. We have the world’s most powerful military slash intelligence infrastructure known to man and I think we should use its full capacity and resources. But you do raise an important point that I want to highlight and then just really emphasise. Which is that as part of taking the fight to the enemy, which I think is a necessary condition, and understanding who the enemy is, as part of doing that, it’s not sufficient to go in and say – and it would be worse than that, it would be counter-productive to go in as we did and say, we’re going to defeat the enemy so that you guys can have elections. We’re going to defeat the enemy so that you guys can rebuild your society. That’s not why we’re going in. We’re going in to defend ourselves and prevent this enemy from fighting and end it. And part of what we need to do, this thesis, or what – call them the, today, the heading of public diplomacy. But I think of it more as stating our moral case. So in the Declaration of Independence, they were correct, I think people will agree, in saying that in the course of human events when you have to take significant action, you have to explain yourself. And we need to explain what we’re doing and why, the moral justification for it. And this goes back to the issue of if we show that we understand them and what we’re trying to do and emphasise that we’re – we know what we’re trying to do, we’re going to defeat you and you’re going to lose and everyone is hearing that broadcast. That’s incredibly powerful. As powerful as our submission is in encouraging them, our moral stand and our straightening up of our spine is incredibly powerful in making them back down. Because like a lot of bullies, the bravado, the braggadocio, all of that goes away when there’s some serious opposition. And that’s why I think that the start of this doesn’t even have to be a military effort, it just needs to be a significant military threat. Not a red line that we then wipe off with our finger, but a real military ultimatum. And then you escalate as you need to. But you might not even need to if you have the right kind of messaging that is sincere and that we back up with action. So, you know, you mentioned Reagan. There’s one thing I agree about his doctrine, part of what he did that I actually admire, and there’s a lot of things I disagree with and agree with him, but one of the things he did is he spoke up in a way that people behind the Iron Curtain really understood and it was incredibly motivating for them. When you think about the Polish opposition, they would say, and a lot of them have said this, that just the thought that he’s on their side, just the thought that he was against the communist totalitarian oppressors, that was enough to keep them going. Now, we would like to support better people in the Middle East, wherever they are and to whatever extent they can have influence, but more importantly is the inverse of that is to want to deter the people who have malign goals. And a strong, powerful moral message about our own right to self-defence and our moral right to do it is going to be incredibly resonant if we do it right. So I would say it’s not – military action can’t be taken without that because it’s not going to be as effective.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

A closing thought on that very important point, Elan Journo, one Reagan talked about, going back to what I said at the outset, every generation facing an existential threat to freedom. And I think this is ours. Our generation at the moment. Secondly, I would just say that I think your point about laying out the case for us and our determination to defend our civilisation decisively is important not just with respect to foreign populations who are deciding whether to throw in with these Islamic totalitarians, but also for Muslims within our own country. Elan Journo, there is so much more to talk about, but we’ve done a fair bit of it today and I think very helpfully so. Thank you for your time and for the important work you’re doing at the Ayn Rand Institute. Come back to us again soon if you would, sir. I hope the rest of you will do the same tomorrow. Same time, same station. Until then, this is Frank Gaffney. Thanks for listening.

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