OBAMA'S TOP COUNTERTERROR ADVISOR"S INABILITY
TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX BODES DISASTER
By Raymond Ibrahim
Such were the words that opened my testimony to Congress. One year later, none other than President Obama's top counterterror advisor, John Brennan, has come to to personify the approach I warned against, that is, the misguided phenomenon of Westernizing Islamic concepts.
A Fox New's report, titled "Counterterror Advisor Defends Jihad as 'Legitimate Tenet of Islam,'" has the details:
During a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, John Brennan described violent extremists as victims of "political, economic and social forces," but said that those plotting attacks on the United States should not be described in "religious terms."
In other words, despite the fact that Islamists describe all their goals in "religious terms," Brennan sees them — you know, people like Osama bin Laden, who murdered 3,000 Americans — as naught more than victims of the system. And why is that? Because Brennan believes that "political, economic and social forces" — the three I specifically stressed in my excerpt above — are the only precipitators to violence. So jihadists can openly articulate their violent bloodlust through religious terms all they want, it matters not: Brennan and his ilk have their intellectual blinders shut tight and refuse to venture outside the box.
Next, our counterterror advisor evokes the perverse logic behind the administration's recent decision to censor words offensive to Muslims (which I closely explored here):
Inasmuch as he is correct in the first clause of that sentence — "jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one's community" — he greatly errs in the latter clause, by projecting his own notions of what constitutes "holy," "legitimate," and "innocent" onto Islam. In Islam, such terms are often antithetical to the Judeo-Christian/Western understanding. Indeed, the institution of jihad, according to every authoritative Muslim book on Islamic jurisprudence, is nothing less than offensive warfare to spread Sharia law, a cause seen as both "legitimate" and "holy" in Islam. As for "innocence," by simply being a non-Muslim infidel, one is already guilty in Islam. Brennan understands the definition of jihad; he just has no clue of its application. So he is left fumbling about with a square peg that simply refuses to pass through a round hole.
Fox News continues:
"Brennan defined the enemy as members of bin Laden's Al-Qa'ida network and 'its terrorist affiliates.' But Brennan argued that it would be 'counterproductive' for the United States to use the term, as it would 'play into the false perception' that the 'murderers' leading war against the West are doing so in the name of a 'holy cause.'"
Fine, do define the enemy as members of bin Laden's Al-Qa'ida network and "its terrorist affiliates," but do also define the cause that binds these "terrorist affiliates" together in the first place. Of course, one need only read their writings to know that they adhere to one and the same cause: the establishment of a hegemonic caliphate that governs the world according to Sharia. As for Brennan calling the terrorist affiliates "murderers," would he also be willing to apply that epithet to their prophet Muhammad, who was wont to send assassins to, well, murder his critics, including poets and one old woman, whose body was dismembered by her Muslim assailants — assailants who were no less convinced that they were involved in a "holy cause" than were the 9/11 hijackers?
It should be further noted that this tendency to project one's own cultural norms and priorities onto others is the height of arrogance and ethnocentrism — precisely what Liberals constantly warn against. Yet, the irony is that "open-minded" proponents of cultural relativism are also the ones most prone to Westernizing Islam. When Brennan insists that jihadists are really not motivated by religion, but rather are products of "political, economic and social forces," is this total dismissal of the "other" and his peculiar motivations (in favor of Western paradigms) not arrogant?
In the end, Brennan is not all to blame. After all, though he and I were both born and raised in North Bergen, New Jersey, perhaps my dual Middle-East/Western background gives me the advantage to understand both the Islamicate and American mindsets equally. No, seems the greater blame lies with the President, whose election campaign denounced ignorance and arrogance as leading us astray — only to hire a counterterror advisor who epitomizes both.
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
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Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
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Raymond Ibrahim is Associate Director of the Middle East Forum, author of The Al-Qa'ida Reader, and Guest Lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College.
The foregoing article by Ibrahim was originally published in the Pajamas Media, May 29, 2010, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-ŕ-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (Article URL: http://www.meforum.org/2662/brennan-counterterror-adviser-disaster)
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