Brian T. Kennedy
November 5, 2016
hite House press secretary Josh Earnest recently described the conflict between the United States and ISIS as a “war of narratives.” War is ordinarily understood as a means of defending vital national interests by defeating enemies. That we are governed by people who, instead, find it congenial to frame our challenges by using Literature Department terminology explains why Donald Trump is on the verge of the presidency.
The 2016 Republican presidential nominee has rejected and mocked the narratives that have degraded our national security: Islam is a religion of peace; the costs of illegal immigration are negligible and the benefits are immense; we must, in particular, bring in more Muslim refugees, even if they can’t be vetted, because to deny them entry is “not who we are.” When Trump wins the presidency, it will be a vindication of the common sense of the American people in rejecting these canards.
The citizens who make the country work are not fools. Throughout the campaign, Trump has openly rejected the authority of the media, academic, and government elites—witness his complete fearlessness when it comes to challenging the Generals’ expertise on dealing with terrorists. For Trump, the facts about illegal immigrants killing American citizens, the failures to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan with any clear, sustained objective, and the threat posed by Islamic terrorists on American soil, suffice to demonstrate what has not worked. His complete aversion to political correctness now seems like an indispensable qualification for a commander-in-chief.
When the United States government fosters false ideas and fraudulent sentiments about an enemy, and then sacrifices the people’s blood and treasure on that basis, there must be a reckoning. Consider the most powerful national security narrative at work. While bodies of American citizens were still burning in the rubble of the World Trade Center, President George W. Bush declared that Islam was a religion of peace. A simple reading of the Koran can find the authoritative chapters and the verses that guide the devout Muslim. As we approach a national referendum on the future of our country, it’s important to grasp that faith’s explicit commands.
Sura 9 holds: “Fight and slay the unbelievers wherever ye find them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war.” And Sura 5: “Oh ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors; they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them for friendship is of them. Verily Allah guideth not the unjust.”
It is often said that anyone who cites these Suras is cherry-picking the Koran’s most violent parts. But they are crucial to the most radical Muslims’ worldview. They believe that the infidel, the non-believer, must be made into a Muslim, killed, or subjugated by conceding sovereign authority over his nation.
It is not our job to interpret Islam in ways that comfort us or gratify Muslims. Our job is to defend these United States from all enemies foreign and domestic, which requires understanding them as they understand themselves. And it matters not whether the number of Muslims who actually believe this is a thousand, a million, or a billion. This is what Donald Trump was getting at when, after a series of terrorist attacks here and abroad, he called for a pause in Muslim immigration.
We have now almost two decades of failed policies—from our inadequate response to September 11, to squandered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to Obama and Hillary Clinton’s encouraging the overthrow of stable regimes in the Middle East in favor of radical groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Qaeda and its various offshoots have metastasized into a global Islamic ideological movement that recruits Muslims, young and old.
The leaders of al Qaeda mean to inspire a new generation of terrorists to attack America and the West. If the “Great Satan” is willing to lie to its own people and put political correctness ahead of strategic imperatives, they reason, then victory is not merely possible but inevitable. Their goal is to continue to demoralize us and our allies through attacks that condition the West to accept endlessly growing Muslim populations and Islamic terrorism.
This clearly is the strategy of ISIS, whose narrative is that America is a force for evil in the modern world. ISIS presents itself as the liberator of Islamic peoples from western corruption, which it will effect by showing the “cross worshipers and democratic pagans of the West” the true nature of their aggressions. Their goal has been to pursue military actions that displace millions of Muslims in Syria and elsewhere, driving them into Europe and the U.S. In so doing, they will have put in place both terrorists and sympathetic migrants who’ll confuse and paralyze the West.
Trump rightly blames the rise of ISIS on Obama and Clinton. ISIS was organized, supported, and armed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton regard all three as American allies, much more so than Israel. The rise of ISIS is either gross incompetence on the part of Obama and Clinton or high government policy. The WikiLeaks transcripts reveal some of each.
In any case, Hillary Clinton is willing to fulfill part of the ISIS strategy by calling for America to accept 65,000 Syrian refugees. This does not include her immigration policies in general, which will lead to hundreds of thousands of additional immigrants, many of them Muslim. On pure policy grounds none of this makes sense.
There are, it is believed, 30 million foreign nationals in the United States today, plus 11 million more people here illegally. No one is quite sure of either number. We try to assimilate them at a time when our government-run education system does not adequately teach the country’s history and principles, math and science, or any other basic skill, leaving these new immigrants unequipped to hold anything other than the lowest paying jobs. And, we try to assimilate them while heavy and increasing regulatory burdens inhibit investment and economic growth. Instead, government welfare policies discourage immigrants’ ambition and resourcefulness. One need look only to Europe’s stagnant economies and fractured polities to see the inevitable consequences.
Islamic immigration is dangerous because Islam operates like a political ideology, one antithetical to American principles. The Suras mentioned above may not mean much to most Muslims, but are taken quite seriously by large numbers.
We have the example as well of the Muslim Brotherhood and their operations in the United States. We know, from a 2007 federal trial in Texas that investigated terrorist funding, the contents of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Strategic Memorandum on North American Affairs,” written in 1991:
The general strategic goal of the Group in America is: Enablement of Islam in North America, meaning: establishing an effective and a stable Islamic Movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood which adopts Muslims' causes domestically and globally, and which works to expand the observant Muslim base, aims at unifying and directing Muslims' efforts, presents Islam as a civilization alternative, and supports the global Islamic State wherever it is.
The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan (the Muslim Brotherhood) must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.
Andrew McCarthy, Frank Gaffney, Stephen Coughlin, and others have written excellent treatments of the Muslim Brotherhood threat, but the federal government has yet to designate it a terrorist organization. This passivity demonstrates the political power of the Brotherhood’s affiliates: the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, and Muslim Student Associations around the country. All aggressively exploit America’s politically correct deference to Islam.
Donald Trump’s success, however, means millions of Americans refuse to look the other way when it comes to the nature of Islam. Americans are very tolerant, but the attacks after September 11—from Fort Hood, to the beheading in Oklahoma, the San Bernardino massacre, and the Orlando nightclub shooting—demonstrated what was at stake. It is one thing to have hundreds of individuals for law enforcement and the U.S. intelligence community to monitor. It’s another if thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people living here disdain the United States in favor of an operational form of Islam that seeks America’s destruction. If this permanent threat to the peace and tranquility of the American people cannot be understood as a national security threat, then nothing can be.
President Trump will have to address many threats. We do not yet possess a ballistic missile defense to protect us from Russian, Chinese, Iranian, or North Korean nuclear attacks. We have allowed our military and strategic forces to deteriorate to dangerous levels, and treated our veterans scandalously. Transforming these failures into successes will require an urgency not seen since the Cold War. Thankfully, all are well within our means.
We lack, above all, the moral clarity to grasp that our civilization is worth defending. Whether it is stopping illegal immigration, thwarting Islamic terrorism, or protecting against foreign enemies, this election is about what is good for the American people. The required choices and actions will save lives, but the point is not that we are afraid of dying. Death comes to us all. We are more concerned about living as free men and women. That’s an imperative, not a narrative.