The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Institutionalized Ignorance of Islam

A typical modern critic was as likely to grasp or report the
substance of a book – good  or bad, and
whether or not he liked it or approved of it – as it was that a chimpanzee would
appreciate a thermometer. He’d worry it, nibble on it, look through it, try to
clean his ears with it, or use it to fish for maggots.
Private Detective Chess Hanrahan, in Honors
Due
(2011)
In October 2014, Mark Tapson published on FrontPage
a review of an online document which qualifies as an enemy’s threat doctrine.
It was reprinted on The Counter
Jihad Report
.
In
the spring of 2004 a strategist who called himself Abu Bakr Naji
published online The Management of Savagery: The Most Critical Stage Through
Which the Ummah Will Pass
(later translated from the Arabic by William
McCants, a fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center). The book – what
the Washington Post calls
the Mein Kampf of jihad – aimed to provide a strategy
for al-Qaeda and other jihadists. “The ideal of this movement,”
wrote Lawrence Wright in The New Yorker, “as its theorists saw
it, was the establishment of a caliphate that would lead to the purification of
the Muslim world.”
By that Naji doubtless meant a planet that has been
conquered by Islam, scoured clean of all unbelievers, with the Ummah lording it
over what few recalcitrant infidels have survived, all the others having been
made extinct. What astounded many was the unabashed endorsement of such savagery
as a military policy by Naji.
The manifesto proposes that
the jihadists exhaust an overstretched America through a patient war of
attrition and a manipulation of the media to dismantle the superpower’s “aura
of invincibility.” It demands that the enemy be made to “pay the price” for any
and all attacks carried out against the jihadists, even if the retribution
takes years, in order to instill in the enemy “a sense of hopelessness that
will cause him to seek reconciliation.” No mercy must be shown: “Our enemies
will not be merciful to us if they seize us. Thus, it behooves us to make them
think one thousand times before attacking us.”
Shocking violence is a key
element of that strategy. “The beheadings and the violence practiced by [the
Islamic State] are not whimsical, crazed fanaticism, but a very deliberate,
considered strategy,” writes British
analyst Alastair Crooke
. “The seemingly random violence has a precise
purpose: It’s [sic] aim is to strike huge fear; to break the psychology of a
people.” For example, Naji recommends that in instances in which hostage
demands are not met, “the hostages should be liquidated in a terrifying manner,
which will send fear into the hearts of the enemy and his supporters.”
Naji believed that “we need
to massacre” others as Muslims did after the death of Muhammad. “We must make
this battle very violent,” the book says.
“If we are not violent in our jihad and if softness seizes us, that will be a
major factor in the loss of the element of strength.”
In short, there is a method to the madness, a cold,
calculated purpose to the savagery of ISIS, which did not exist at the time
“Management of Savagery” was published. ISIS’s alias is Al-Qaeda. However, ISIS
and Islam are names President Barack Obama is reluctant to pronounce in public,
which ingloriously but appropriately reflects the nature of our inept and misdirected
warfighting policy against ISIS in particular, and against Islam in general. As
though to underscore the fact that Islam radically re-defines Western terms so
that they mean the opposite of what is understood, Naji clarifies what he means
by the term “mercy”:
Some
may be surprised when we say that the religious practice of jihad despite the
blood, corpses, and limbs which encompass it and the killing and fighting which
its practice entails is among the most blessed acts of worship for the servants…
Jihad is the most merciful of the methods for all created things and the most
sparing of the spilling of blood.
Tapson reveals the “stage” or “phase” policy of
Naji’s overall strategy. It comports with Stephen Coughlin’s insistence, in Catastrophic
Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of JIhad
, that to effectively
fight the enemy, one must first grasp and integrate into one’s own warfighting
doctrine a sound knowledge of that of the enemy.
It is immediately apparent
from reading it that the logic of the work and the worldview of the author is [sic] significantly different from that
familiar to many in the West. The structure is both more circular and
multi-active than linear and sequential, and the world is viewed through an
Islamic and eschatological lens. This is important because although beating
ISIS militarily may be straightforward, in
order to defeat the movement we have to defeat them in terms that they
recognize
, and the logic of their campaign plan and narrative may not be
apparent to us. A force can be defeated militarily, but a movement is only
defeated when it recognizes itself as
defeated
in its own terms; the narrative of any campaign must reflect this.
(Italics mine)
A PDF copy of The
Management of Savagery
can be found here.
On the other hand – on the side of Western
civilization – we can also cite John David Lewis’s Nothing
Less Than Victory:
Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History
, published in 2010, in which Lewis
stresses throughout that victory over an enemy must move from demoralizing him to causing him to concede defeat and surrender. I reviewed this important
work in 2012 on Rule
of Reason
.
Lewis…does
not immediately discuss 20th century conflicts, but wars of antiquity, using
them as overtures to his discussions of the Civil War and World Wars One and
Two, underscoring the need, in warfare, of a government to have the will to identify an enemy and his morality or
ideology
, and then the will to fight the war on its own terms, and not
those of the enemy. What is more, the attacked nation must be willing to eviscerate the enemy’s will to
fight
on to foreshorten the conflict and possibly establish a peace
beneficial to the former opponents. (Italics
mine)
But to accomplish the demoralization, the loss of
will to fight, and concession of defeat in an enemy, the enemy’s total doctrine
or ideology must be understood trunk, root, and branch. This is a policy our
current intelligence and military communities refuse to adopt from a
politically correct notion that do so would offend the enemy’s sensibilities
and reflect,” among other things, “Islamophobia,” probably racism, and the
hubris of “imperialistic superiority.” Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, writes
Lewis, were not defeated until they felt they were defeated. It took two atomic
bombs to wring a surrender from Japan.
And there is evidence that Nazi Germany was crying
uncle before American tanks were rolling into Germany. But FDR, in apparent
accommodation to Josef Stalin, brushed off German High Command overtures to sue
for peace to allow the Soviets to “share in the glory” of defeating Germany and
also to allow them to gobble up half of Germany and most of Eastern Europe. See
my three Rule of Reason reviews of Diana West’s American
Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character
here,
here,
and here
in which she offers that evidentiary hypothesis.
Diana West emailed me this cautionary note:
We
don’t know FDR actually received these messages — for example, if you recall in
the case of the AP Berlin bureau chief Louis Lochner, Soviet agent and White
House advisor Laughlin Currie is the one who blocked his efforts to reach FDR
personally.”
[Concerning the
German High Command’s willingness to negotiate a surrender coupled with the removal
of Hitler.]
Stephen Coughlin, in
Part VIII, “Our Ignorance,” of Catastrophic
Failure:
  (pp. 443-484), dwells on
the depth and nature of our ignorance of our Islamic enemy. But suppose that
ignorance is a consequence of a policy that favors the postmodern mantra that
true, incontrovertible knowledge is impossible.
While reading
“Assumptions, Presuppositions, and Fraud” in Part VIII, “Our Ignorance,” I
suddenly recalled something from my early philosophical readings. In a critique
of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, in which he argues that we
can’t know reality – or the “real” reality because our minds’ subjective senses
distort what we see – one thinker proposed, as a counter argument, that if that
is true, then Kant must include his own book, and the words in it, which would
lead one to conclude that Kant’s pretzel-like, brain-disabling assertions are
pure gibberish. If what we see on a page doesn’t reflect the “real” page or
even the words on it, what are we unable to
see? The unprovable. The indemonstrable. The nonexistent.
 Had that logic ever occurred to Kant? Would he
concede or not that the “truth” of his assertions, by his own hypothesis, was
no more provable or valid than anyone else’s? That the book in our hands and
the words in it were but the distorted products of our inadequate sense
organs?  Kant’s was the ultimate
philosophical con, using the “stolen concept” of “reason” and the demonstrable
evidence of his books and words to put over an attack on the Enlightenment,
which he opposed.
Unfortunately,
Kant continues to exert a powerful, tenacious, and destructive influence in
Western culture today. This I particularly true, as I can see, in Coughlin’s
description of how analysts must assume that what they think they know is just subjective,
baseless suppositions and assumptions “in the absence of facts” – which Kant
declared are unknowable, a claim with which the threat doctrine designers and
enforcers seem to agree, whether or not they have ever heard of Kant.
Under the
subtitle, “The Doctrinal Template,” Coughlin states:
The deliberate decision-making process that
the U.S. military uses to fight its wars is intended to begin with a doctrinal
template analysis of the enemy. Until it was disabled in 2009, U.S. doctrine on
threat analysis was based on an institutionalized preference for facts as the
cornerstone of threat analysis. It was Sun Tzu: Know the enemy, know his
doctrine, and know yourself. This doctrine was reflected in its simplest form
in an older edition of Army Field Manual
34-130, Intelligence Preparations of the Battlefield…
We would call it
“classic IPB.”
The IPB
Manual
dictated that all threat analysis begins with an evaluation of the
enemy’s stated threat doctrine based on his doctrine [e.g., in the published Management of Savagery], given his order
of battle. This phase of threat analysis is designed to generate a doctrinal
template of the enemy based on what he could or would do if able to fully
execute his doctrine, unconstrained by the environment or by an opposing
force. (P. 445 brackets mine; bolding the author’s)
Coughlin
then discusses some doctrinal  practices
and fallacies.
No
blue in the red
. The language of
military planning includes what are known as blue and red models. Blue models
represent the strengths and doctrines employed by the United States and its
allies; red models refer to the doctrines and strategies of the enemy. By
orienting our models entirely on abstractions, we commit the fatal error of
confusing our blue expectations with red realities. (p.446)
However,
writes Coughlin, there’s a catch and the ingredients of a delusion:
Model-based warfighting can sustain itself
almost indefinitely on the assumption that it serves as a reasonable proxy for
fighting a red enemy. All it consists of, however, is mapping blue capabilities
to blue expectations based on blue projections. 
And on and on – until, that is, a real enemy decides to assert himself.
Our exclusive reliance on war fighting processes based on blue modeling has
rendered us incapable of knowing real enemies. In the postmodern narrative,
there are no enemies. Today, Sun-Tzu
has little value beyond being a good source for signature block quotes. (P.
447)

Find the Islamic Terrorist

Facts, not
the jihadists, are the enemy of strictly blue threat analyses. Facts are
unwanted. Facts are intrusive. Facts get in the way of ideal, perfectly constructed
battle scenarios, just as facts and real events have exploded every
anthropological global warming (or cooling) computer model; computer models are
preferred because they are manageable while that unknown factor – the real
enemy – is not. Facts have nothing to do with Islam or an enemy’s ideology or motivating
doctrine. And we must not cast any aspersions on Sharia law and what it
condones, because that would entail Islamophobia and other indecorous frames of
mind. Coughlin continues:

In the War on Terror, it is incumbent on us
to incorporate stated jihadi motivations – as the jihadis express them – into our
threat doctrine. Unfortunately, when such an analysis is done, it doesn’t support
the preferred explanation of our senior civilian and military leaders. When they
contemplate the actions of the enemy, they ascribe a completely different motivation
to him – generally expressed in terms of “violent extremism,” usually in
furtherance of “underlying causes” – that is invariably based on behavioral
models that service blue expectations.
As noted earlier, in order to maintain the “violent
extremism” narrative, discourse must be reduced to a fourth-grade level of
speaking. “We are fighting violent extremists.” “Why are they extreme?” “Because
they resort to violence to achieve their goals.” “Why are they violent?” “Because
their extremist views forced them to become violent.”  Through this syllogism, any disagreement can
be framed in terms of “violent extremism.” (pp. 450-451)
And what
exactly is “violent extremism”? A “violent extremist”? Coughlin explodes the
idea:
In actual usage, it turns out that violent
extremism can mean anything you want it to mean, as long as it has nothing to
do with jihad. The “violent extremist” narrative is important to analysts in
the War on Terror because it fills a need to create value-neutral models. It allows
them to pretend they are talking about something when, in fact, they are
talking about nothing. Because the Countering Violent Extremis (CVE) narrative
reduces analysis to incoherence, it is a nihilist construct. (p. 451)
Coughlin
asks some important questions about why our strategy against jihad is so irrational,
incoherent, and ineffectual.
But if we are not fighting the war according
to our strategy, then whose strategy and to what end? If there is any
possibility that our current, strategically unmoored state is someone else’s
desired outcome, what strategic advantage would that person have (at our
expense)?….[W]e have yet to understand what we are doing. But somebody does and is benefitting from it.
(p. 452; Italics the author’s)
Al-Qaeda? The
Muslim Brotherhood? The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)? CAIR? The ISNA?
The ICNA? President Barack Obama? Obama has shown that he is reluctant to
charge Islam with any doctrinal responsibility for terrorist acts committed in
this country. Or anywhere else, for that matter. He has simply perpetuated
President George Bush’s narrative that Islam has been “hijacked” by terrorists,
to be sure, but by terrorists who have purportedly misinterpreted Islam or put
a perverted meaning on the Koran’s many
violent
verses
– that is, on the verses that abrogated the earlier, banal,
non-violent verses. And if no doctrinal responsibility can be attached to Islamic
terrorism – if Islam and Sharia cannot be named in any threat analysis or by
the FBI or by military intelligence – then, indeed, everything and nothing can
be held responsible, and the issue sinks into a thousand-tentacle mishmash of
theoretical but unknowable causes.  
Coughlin has
no use for “complex” threat models. An enforced allegiance to “complexity,” he
argues, only hamstrings threat analysts in their jobs. They are expected to
produce answers that resolve nothing but abstractions that are not anchored to
reality – or to the enemy. A Jackson Pollock painting of drips and smears and
blobs may be said to be complex, but does it mean anything? You can attach any
meaning you wish to one of his canvases – everything but madness. That would be
offensive to Pollock and his followers, and indicative of a phobia for abstract
art. But a rational observer would say: Pollock doesn’t “do” art. Coughlin
would likely agree with that prognosis.
We don’t do intelligence anymore. Today, we
collect a tremendous amount of raw data. We denature it, break it into data
bits, and pour it into a soft-science mold, following the pre-determined path
prescribed by the model. The data on which our understanding should have been
based now serves to buttress whichever theory is in vogue.
This process allows us to concentrate on
models without having to identify the threat while sounding very scientific,
academic, and sophisticated. It is the illusion of knowledge where none exists.
A form of scientism, it’s the gnostic knowledge of our time thinly wrapped in a
veneer of science. Because we don’t have to define the actual threat, no one
has to worry about being reprimanded because they failed to accurately identify
real groups that publish real doctrines that call for the killing of real Americans.
(p. 453)

I think we’re
lucky that our current echelon of threat analysts have not yet projected an
Amish jihadi assault on a Lancaster, Pennsylvania mall by driving their horse-drawn
buggies on the sidewalks to mow down shoppers, or Pentecostal jihadis wearing
suicide vests assaulting a packed Mormon temple. But, then again, the equally ethereal
scenarios they are projecting have nothing to do with Islam, either, even
though the Islamist supremacists say it has everything
to do with Islam. But given the preference for what Coughlin calls a pseudo-reality
that allows the analysts to duck and dodge Islamic jihad, it’s only a matter of
time.
If you
could imagine the three monkeys rolled into one, you’d have a consciousness
that was conscious of nothing, as a matter of choice. The insensate monkey
doesn’t “do” reality. And you can’t ask him how long he expects to remain alive
in that condition. You won’t get an answer because he can’t hear or see you. To
him, you, the individual anchored in reality, don’t exist.
Catastrophic
Failure
: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad
, by Stephen Coughlin. Washington DC: Center
for Security Policy Press, 2015. 788 pp.

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5 Comments

  1. blnelson2

    Thanks Ed. Almost seems as though ISIS (Al Qaeda) has read and is following the strategy in "Nothing Less Than Victory" – "victory over an enemy must move from demoralizing him and to causing him to concede defeat and surrender…" and "the will to fight the war on its own terms, and not those of the enemy…to eviscerate the enemy's will to fight." Moreover, I cannot help but think Obama and his minions know exactly what they are doing.

  2. Edward Cline

    Barbara Nelson: Thanks, and also thanks for using the Lewis quotation; I thought I'd removed the extraneous "and" in "must move him from demoralizing him and to causing him…" It's been removed.

  3. Rob McVey

    Ed, Another good one. Thanks for more evidence from Islam's own mouth, in "A PDF copy of The Management of Savagery can be found here."
    RE quote of Coughlin "Because the Countering Violent Extremis (CVE) narrative reduces analysis to incoherence, it is a nihilist construct. (p. 451)" Tho' I've just started the book it appears that one thing underlying CVE is the lefty moral premise, the moral relativism of anti-violence regardless of context, ignoring the essential differences such as between protection and abrogation of individual rights. I expect we could name more elements leading to its nihilism; one massive blankout usually entails another.

    Considering the time, Merry Christmas.

    — Rob McVey, T4B

  4. Rob McVey

    Ed, On Dec 23 in National Post epaper, P. Foster's piece at FP Comment, I recommended your review of Catastrophic Failure; then today (24th) I see in NP affiliates a tout of a Cdn book, The Threat From Within by Phil Gurski. The news piece is 'No one path to extremism / radicalization: ex- CSIS analyst' It sounds like 'complexity' theory, in that there is no one 'root cause' for terrorism, such as poverty, education, sex, age….Sounds like he was looking for the usual lefty excuse absent volition, for Marx's materialist determinism. As ex-CSIS he is likely on the same denial wavelink as Coughlin's complaint for the USA. I may try to read it, but I suspect I'd be disappointed.

    — Rob McVey, T4B

  5. Edward Cline

    Rob McVey: You quoted, 'No one path to extremism / radicalization: ex- CSIS analyst' It sounds like 'complexity' theory, in that there is no one 'root cause' for terrorism…." Yes, this is a variation of the "complexity" narrative favored now by our intelligence community, military and civilian. Blaming poverty, lack of education, "Islamophobia," etc. for terrorism saves careerist analysts, especially the senior ones, from having to tread into Islamophobia turf. See the diagram from Catastrophic on my column; that's where their minds are. As in Islam to tell the truth about the evil of Islam is blasphemy, telling the truth about Islam in the intelligence and threat assessment community is seen as horrific. And many of these analysts rely on Muslim "experts" in Sharia for the "truth" about Islam.

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