President Obama’s latest strategic innovation in the war on terrorism is to ignore jihad and maybe it will go away.
The Obama administration is removing terms such as “jihad” and “Islamic extremism” from the U.S. National Security Strategy in an attempt to convince Muslim countries that America doesn’t view them solely through the lens of counterterrorism. It’s reasonable to look beyond terrorism in developing relationships with Islamic states. Our assistance programs are based on humanitarian motives, for example, so they need not explicitly draw links between promoting good will and hopefully making it less likely that people will fly aircraft into our buildings.
But the National Security Strategy is not some kind of outreach initiative, it is the framing document for America’s global safety. The United States cannot effectively combat the root causes of Islamic extremism by ignoring them. The war on terror - rather, the “overseas contingency operation,” in O Force terminology - won’t be effective if this country overlooks the nature of the enemy and his motives. The U.S. strategic blueprint is not the proper place for a public-relations stunt.
Even the Muslim majority states in question understand the religious component of terrorism as a motivator, recruiting tool and strategic road map. They are threatened by Islamic extremism even more than the United States and have no problem describing the threat by its true nature, which must be understood if it is to be defeated.
The most troubling signal is the one being sent through the bureaucracy that any thoughtful discussion of Islamic radicalism and the global threat it poses will be hazardous to one’s career. Analyses of the extremist Muslim threat will be increasingly deleted from briefing papers, assessments and planning documents. Those who continue to spread the alarm will be marginalized and ignored. Such sanitizing may please the White House, but it’s likely to put the United States in more danger as threats that should have been detected in advance slip by because officials have been trained not to look for them.
The new development is a disturbing example of Mr. Obama’s seeming obsession with all things Muslim. It’s reminiscent of the Department of Homeland Security’s 2009 draft glossary of domestic extremist groups that listed Christian and Jewish organizations as threats but didn’t include any Muslim groups. Or the administration’s obstinate unwillingness to describe the Fort Hood massacre as an example of Islamist terrorism, even though the shooter - Nidal Malik Hasan - clearly was wrapped up in that ideology and shouted the traditional jihadist war cry “Allahu Akbar!” before opening fire.
Mr. Obama’s Muslim mania increasingly pervades government and has yet to be adequately explained or even addressed. It places America in growing peril.