Obama’s generals are drafting a new National Military Strategy in the hope of imposing it on whoever succeeds him in office. It is President Obama’s final attempt to prevent military strategists from connecting the most dangerous terrorist networks to the Islamic ideology that motivates, guides, and binds them all.
Since his 2009 inauguration, Obama has sold this fiction to the media as well as the military. Both quickly succumbed to it. After the 2009 Fort Hood massacre by an Army officer whose business cards proclaimed him a “soldier of Allah,” Gen. George Casey, the army’s chief of staff, said it was a case of “workplace violence.” The media proclaim it again and again whenever a terrorist act is committed in America by a Muslim. Whether it’s the Boston Marathon bombing, the Orlando nightclub massacre or Rahami’s bombings in New York and New Jersey, the media and a cohort of politicians immediately declare that the attackers’ motivations are unclear and that there’s no evidence connecting the attack to Islamic terrorism.
As Rowan Scarborough reported on September 26 in the Washington Times, Obama has adamantly refused to connect Islam with terrorism. His generals may base the new National Military Strategy on that position contrary to experience and fact.
The man in charge of drafting the new NMS is Marine General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Scarborough reports that Dunford’s staff is resolutely resisting the position taken by U.S. Special Operations Command to include in the National Military Strategy the threat of Salafist Islam. (It is essential to note that Dunford hasn’t yet decided this matter and may not yet have discussed it with SOCOM’s commander, Gen. Tony Thomas.)
“Salafist” ideology is fundamentalist, rejecting all modern thought including democracy. It is the Sunni Muslim ideology that propels the most dangerous Muslim terrorist networks including al-Qaida and the Islamic State.
Earlier versions of the NMS have followed the guidance set in Obama’s National Security Strategy and the National Counterterrorism Strategy by avoiding mention of Islamic ideology in an effort to avoid the responsibility of having to plan to defeat it. The 2016 version evidently won’t be any better. It will, for example, use the bowdlerized term “violent extremist organizations” instead of “Islamic terrorist networks.”
(This is more than a semantic exercise. The Department of Homeland Security has defined Violent Extremist as “an individual who supports or commits ideologically-motivated violence to further political goals,” thereby including right wing extremists having no connection to Islamic terrorism.)
Since 9/11 we haven’t defeated any of the terrorist networks in part because we haven’t even attempted to defeat their ideology. President Obama, in July 2009, said that he is uncomfortable using the word “victory” to describe the United States’ goal in Afghanistan. He said the U.S. fight there is against terrorism and not a nation.
At a CNN “townhall” meeting on September 28, Obama was asked by a Gold Star mother if he believes that terrorism has “Islamic religious motives” and why he won’t say “Islamic terrorist.”
In response, he said that this was a “manufactured” issue — i.e., false and invented — and that he didn’t want to agree with those who say these things. He said he had learned from Muslim families in the United States and overseas that when you start calling these organizations “Islamic terrorists,” they take offense and getting their cooperation becomes harder.
As one source explained to me, Dunford believes that his job is to define our military strategy in accordance with the policy limits Obama has set. In other words, if Obama defines the line as between points A and B, Dunford believes that he cannot go farther to define a strategy that will answer threats that are found beyond either of those points.
I have known two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs. Both of them believed that it was their duty to provide the best military advice to the president regardless of the president’s political interests so that the president could make decisions on policy based on the best information and advice he could get.
Dunford’s approach is the opposite. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is the senior military adviser to the president. By law, CJCS is subordinate to the secretary of defense and is the “…spokesman for the combatant commanders especially on the operational requirements of their commands…” That includes Gen. Tony Thomas, commander of Special Operations Command, which is the point of America’s spear in the war to defeat Islamic terrorism.
Obama shuns the idea of victory, but it’s probably unfair to say all of his generals do. Donald Trump has pointed out repeatedly that these generals and admirals — the ones appointed to high leadership positions among the Joint Chiefs and elsewhere — have not produced victory. To say the generals have been reduced to “rubble” is high schoolish, but the problem remains: Obama owns his generals’ thinking. They have, so far, been bent to his will, instead of insisting on the facts and a strategy that will produce victory rather than endless war.
This problem goes far beyond politics. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and their chairman are bound not only by law but even more importantly by duty and honor to provide their best military advice to the president and secretary of defense. That doesn’t mean the best advice that fits into what a president wants to hear. It means the best advice based on the facts as they understand them through the eyes of warriors.
We know that part of that duty has been abandoned by some military leaders. Last December, the news broke that at US Central Command, “CENTCOM,” some of its leaders altered conclusions reached by intelligence analysts to paint a prettier picture for the president about the military’s success against ISIS than the facts allowed. It was a warning that a more serious problem existed among the military’s top leadership.
Only a profound form of intellectual and moral corruption could cause Obama’s generals to go along with his refusal to recognize that the Islamic ideology is the principle motivation of Islamic terrorism around the world. There’s no mystery about the motivation of the Nice, France truck driver who mowed down innocents on Bastille Day any more than we need to psychoanalyze the people who kill with bombs, guns, and knives in Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa. It’s the same wherever Islamic terrorists strike.
Are Obama’s generals so consumed by loyalty to him that they believe there is no connection between Islamist ideology and terrorism? Do they believe, as Obama says, that it’s a “manufactured issue”? Are they so worried, as Obama says he is, with offending Muslims that they are scared of the consequences of attempting to defeat the Islamic ideology?
It may be that they are. And if so, they have surrendered to the ideas of Islamic supremacy and the inevitability of Islamic domination that are the key elements of that ideology. Think about it: if you accept the premises of the ideology you must also accept the justification of terrorism. And you condemn us and our allies to losing this war.
Dunford is a Marine, and because of that we expect more of him than we might of other generals and admirals. If he accepts SOCOM’s position and includes a discussion of Salafi ideology in the NMS, he cannot avoid the conclusion that our national strategy has to include a way to defeat the Islamic ideology. He has to choose between SOCOM’s position and Obama’s, and he evidently has accepted the latter over the former.
If we don’t learn soon that Dunford has done his duty and adopted SOCOM’s position that the Salafist ideology — and a plan to defeat it — must be part of the NMS it will mean that he hasn’t. If he does, word will leak quickly. The more shouting we hear from the left’s apologists for Islamic terrorism, the better.
If Mr. Trump is elected, he will have the opportunity to replace any or all of Obama’s generals. Once he reads the new National Military Strategy, he will know if the Joint Chiefs and their chairman should be among them.