| | | |
By Joseph Myers
May 4, 2008
Words matter, and in the global war on terror we are losing the battle of words, in a self-inflicted defeat. The consequences could not be more profound.
Recent government policy memoranda, circulating through the national counter-terrorism and diplomatic community, establishes a new "speech code" for the lexicon in the war on terror, as reported by the Associated Press and now available in the public domain.
These new "speech codes" recommended that analysts and policy makers avoid the terms jihad or jihadist or mujhadid or "al-Qaida movement" and replace them with "extremists" and by extension other non-specific terms.
The use of these "new words" and rejection of the "old words" is ostensibly designed to avoid legitimating al-Qaida and its followers while mollifying the sensitivities of the larger Muslim community.
This culmination of previous trends does not surprise me at all.
This is more than simply dancing on the pinhead of cultural sensitivity-words have meaning, ideas have consequences.
This policy is a strategic collapse.
It does nothing to improve our strategic comprehension of the threat or improve our foreign strategic communications; in fact it reinforces existing conceptual problems and risks confusing our messaging with our own actual knowledge of the jihadist threat.
It is a failure of commission, a collapse of competency and reason. It is a collapse of precision and possibly the most profound setback in the war on terror since 9-11, when the global jihad brought itself to our attention.
Clausewitz noted that in war the moral factors are perhaps the most important, and we have just demonstrated we neither have the moral clarity or moral fortitude to comprehend the nature of the war we are in. Dr. Antulio Echevarria of the Army's Strategic Studies Institute stated once that the "US military does not have a doctrine for war as much as it has a doctrine for operations and battles" and we have just demonstrated we don't have the comprehension of this war as much as we can comprehend its operations and battles.
The AP report highlights a level of ignorance and hubris by the functionaries speaking to this topic so grave that is raises my concern about the actual extent that our government is in fact co-opted by our enemies.
War is a complex endeavor, there are no silver-bullet weapons, theories, words or phrases that will disarm our enemies or shape the cultural attitudes of the jihadists or other fellow Muslims. Only how the Islamic world doctrinally perceives and receives the claims of legitimacy of al-Qaida and the rest of the global Islamic movement will determine that outcome -- not any mincing of words by the West.
But it is important that we use the right words so that the West and the American people can understand the nature of our global challenge in this war as much as anyone else.
No Global Threat Model
Over the last several years, there have been numerous examples of incredible malfeasance and lack of due diligence in homeland security, prediction and investigations evidenced by the reporting of, for example, Patrick Poole in his Hometown Jihad series.
Also the schizophrenic activities of our government in dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood in America that has declared itself engaged in "civilizational jihadist process" to destroy our way of life and replace it with an Islamic model, and repeated examples of one arm of the government attempting to prosecute elements of the Brotherhood while the other half vets their actions and cultural sensitivity programs against the same organizations. Or recall the DHS booth placed next to the Islamic revolutionary organization of Hizb ut-Tahrir at another Islamic conference.
National security strategy is policy and policy implies a theory -- a theory for action. To date we have no concrete theory of action because we have no fully articulated global threat model. We are seven years into a global war with armed combat and many dead and wounded, and yet still lack a common analytic paradigm to describe and model the enemy. It is a stunning failure to propel the country to war without a fully elaborated threat model that clarifies and specifies the enemy and makes clear our true objectives.
The lack of a threat model and a theory for action explains our schizophrenia, our failures and homeland security shortcomings.
Understanding the enemy -- "the threat," his threat doctrine and the authoritative statements, sources and philosophy undergirding that doctrine is a primary duty. That is the first step in developing a threat model. It is the vital step in the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield process, to template enemy doctrine by laying it over the terrain: the physical, human and cultural terrain to understand its manifestations in reality. These are the first relevant questions to be answered for US national security analysis.
Our enemy says he is fighting jihad warfare to extend the Islamic faith; the basis of that claim rests on his exegesis of Quranic and Islamic Law injunctions. Irrespective of whether we or other Muslims accept or deny the legitimacy of his claim, if that is his stated doctrine, then that is the doctrine we must study and comprehend. That is the doctrine that will provide the indicators and warnings of future threats, that is the basis of our threat model.
That fact that other Muslims do not engage in violent jihad bears no relevance to our problem set or the analysis of those who do; it is a distraction and ancillary information that does not contribute to the threat model or understanding the enemy.
The fact is we have already so nuanced this war that we have failed to complete those required analyses. Our national security strategies and plans are so nuanced now as to be useless in terms of understanding the threat, defining it, clarifying it, modeling it. Read them, see if you can distill the enemy and orient on a clear objective. Even in our own strategic planning documents we admit to ourselves that we don't agree on the threat.
This completely contrasts with our well-developed threat model in the Cold War, beginning with NSC-68 and the containment policy, national security courses that taught Soviet ideology and world-view, the Soviet threat doctrine series published by DIA, and then wargaming against it at our military schools. We understood them intellectually, philosophically, doctrinally from the very top down to the tactical bottom.
Seven years into this war we cannot say the same for the global jihad and have failed the same analytic and policy rigor. That is a serious error of omission.
Submission to Multiculturalism
Dr. Bernard Lewis, speaking recently at a luncheon and conference in Washington DC, noted that the two greatest shortcomings to understanding the Middle East are the "orthodoxy" of "political correctness and multiculturalism" and the reality that in the face of those driving ideologies, too many sworn to defend have proven themselves wilting lilies.
This new "no jihad policy" is the greatest of example.
Let's dissect the government message to show not only its folly, but factual errors that point to a lack of strategic comprehension and due diligence amounting to the level of an ethical failing.
By David Warren
June 5, 2008
The writings of Canada's most talented journalist, Mark Steyn, went on trial in Vancouver on Monday, in a case designed to challenge freedom of the press. It is a show trial, under the arbitrary powers given to Canada's obscene "human rights" commissions, by Section 13 of our Human Rights Act.
I wrote "obscene" advisedly. Before Canada's "human rights" tribunals, a respondent has none of the defences formerly guaranteed in common law. The truth is no defence, reasonable intention is no defence, nor material harmlessness, there are no rules of evidence, no precedents, nor case law of any kind. The commissars running the tribunals need have no legal training, exhibit none, and owe their appointments to networking among leftwing activists.
I wrote "show trial" advisedly, for there has been a 100 percent conviction rate in cases brought to "human rights" tribunals under Section 13.
Take this in:
A group of Islamist fanatics, claiming to speak for every Muslim in Canada, charged Maclean's magazine with "spreading hatred against Muslims" for having printed a lucid and reasonable (if controversial) excerpt from Steyn's bestselling book, America Alone. This is a news story that should be on the front page of every newspaper in Canada, every day until it is resolved.
Everything about this case stinks to high heaven. It was brought before three different "human rights" tribunals simultaneously. The British Columbian venue was openly "jurisdiction shopped" because the province's human rights tribunals have an especially egregious record for ignoring respondents' most basic charter rights. The charges were brought more than a year after the article appeared. There was an open attempt at extortion, when representatives of the complainant called a press conference in which an offer was made to retract the charges for unspecified considerations. And so on: a layering of affronts to the most elementary standards of justice and decency.
The case is the more ludicrous because the allegations brought are semi-literate (for instance, Steyn's quotations of lunatic Islamist imams are confused with Steyn's own assertions). The remedies sought keep changing; the arguments keep changing; the explanation of why the complainant has brought the case and what he hopes to gain from it has kept changing. And now the show trial has begun, the prosecution is presenting a parade of entirely irrelevant testimony. (Has Steyn properly understood the Koran? Etc.)
A farce, but a farce that has huge consequences for Canada: for by such methods free speech and free press are being snuffed out. The Left may think they have found the ideal method to silence anyone who challenges their insane, "politically correct" ideas, but have instead created a monster that can as easily eat them next.
This is a disaster also for Canada's Muslims, for the views of fanatical Islamists are being presented as representative of them all. No single person has done so much to advance contempt for Islam in this country as Mohamed Elmasry, president of the "Canadian Islamic Congress," the complainant in this case -- whose public assertions have included e.g. the view that every Israeli citizen is a valid target for Palestinian hitmen.
The bland acceptance of this jackass, by mainstream Canadian media, as the definitive spokesman for Muslim interests in Canada, cannot be blamed on the Muslim community. Innumerable Muslims have disavowed him, and yet are entirely ignored. Indeed: Mark Steyn has been among the few journalists distinguishing between camps. He would be: for he has plenty of Muslim supporters.
There is some good news. It appears the Harper government has finally been goaded into calling a public inquiry into proceedings of at least the federal "human rights" commission. Some good may come from public confirmation of the outrageous, often sick behaviour of its members and hangers-on -- which Canada's leading bloggers have been documenting.
But the problem is at once more urgent and much broader than any carefully-focused inquiry can present. For what radical activists have achieved through "human rights" commissions is now endemic, in all kinds of "star chamber" and "kangaroo court" operations, in everything from the tax system to provisions of family law.
Another crucial point:
While media attention to Mark Steyn's show trial is inadequate (it is getting more attention in the United States than up here), it is nevertheless the best publicized case ever to come before our "human rights" bureaucracies. Most of the victims of these neo-Maoist tribunals have been "little people," with nothing like the resources Maclean's magazine has put in play to defend itself and Steyn, and no media reporting whatever. They have been persecuted, stripped of their livelihoods and savings, demonized among their neighbours, made to endure humiliating "re-education" programmes -- without lawyers, without assistance of any kind -- all for exercising rights that any Canadian would have taken for granted a mere generation ago.
I want justice for Mark Steyn. But I also want justice for all these little people, who have been crushed under the jackboot of "political correction."
By John Turley-Ewart
May 28, 2008
It's an issue the Liberal govenrment of Ontario, led by Premier Dalton McGuinty, doesn't want to deal with - polygamy in the Muslim community. Last week the Toronto Star told the story of Safa Rigby, a 35-year-old mother of five children who recently learned her husband of 14 years had two other wives. Ms. Rigby's life is in tatters. She followed her husband's advice that she leave Toronto and live in Egypt for a year on the grounds that it would be better for their children to spend more time in a Muslim country. Now she knows it was a ruse. He used her time there to marry two other women.
Ms. Rigby does not support polygamy, which has been illegal in Canada for more than a century. But Toronto Imam Aly Hindy, who runs the Toronto Salahuddin Islamic Centre, does. He married Ms. Rigby's husband knowing he already had a wife and counselled him to keep the marriage secret from Ms. Rigby for as long as possible. Hindy has by his own admission performed 30 ceremonies in which men were married who already had wives. When Ms. Rigby confronted Hindy his response was reportedly cold and unsympathetic: "You will have to stand beside him in these difficult times," Hindy told her. "You should stop causing problems to (sic) him. You will not get anything by divorce except destroying your life" he went on to say.
For Hindy this is not about Ms. Rigby or her husband's desire to marry another woman - but making a broader political point.
Hindy is using polygamy as a proxy for his fundamentalist version of Islam, something he wants to see legitimized in Canadian society as a whole. It is part of an attempt at empire building, a bid that if successful will enhance his influence within the Muslim and demonstrate that Ontario and Canada is too ignorant and too afraid of Islam to uphold its own laws. He has admitted as much, challenging Ontario's government to dare stop him. "If the laws of the country conflict with Islamic law, if one goes against the other, then I am going to follow Islamic law, simple as that," he told the Star. Interviewed after the Star story appeared on the John Oakley Show on AM 640Toronto, Hindy was not apologetic and argued that freedom of religion in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms trumped prohibitions against polygamous marriages.
When he and another Imam from Toronto, Steve Rockwell, were challenged on the appropriateness of polygamy by a Muslim caller to the Oakley Show, the caller was immediately attacked and his identity as a true Muslim questioned because he did not follow Hindy's view that polygamy is a foundational pillar of Islam that grows out of Sharia Law. This speaks to a troubling absolutist interpretation of Islamic law, which runs against the reality that Sharia law is much more flexible that Hindy allows for, a fact well documented by Anver Emon, a specialist in Islamic law at the University of Toronto. Moreover, as noted in the Star article on Ms. Rigby, there is grave doubt that the Charter protects Islamic polygamy, as Hindy believes. Nik Bala, who teaches family law at Queen's University, points out that "Islam permits polygamy, but doesn't require it to be a practising Muslim." This is key, and may mean Hindy's attempt to find shelter behind the Charter will fail. Moreover, the impact polygamy has on women's equality and children could also sway the courts to uphold Canada's ban on polygamy.
But there is little chance at the moment that this will become a Charter issue down the road. Dalton McGuinty's government has responded to the revelations about polygamy in the Muslim community by denying its existence. On Wednesday Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin responded to a question on the issue in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario saying:
"Polygamy is a serious crime in Ontario . It's not something that's tolerated. As you know, the best advice I can give the honourable member opposite is that if she has any evidence that someone is engaging in multiple marriages, she should report it, because our Registrar General and our official reporting mechanisms have no evidence that that's happening. As you know, Mr. Speaker, marriage is a contract. A contract require a licence, and once a marriage occurs, it has to be registered. There are no multiple marriages being registered in the province of Ontario."
Mr. McMeekin's response is a shameful twisting of the law.
The criminal code is clear. Section 293. (1) reads: "Every one who
(a) practises or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practise or enter into
(i) any form of polygamy, or
(ii) any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time,
whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or
(b) celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a relationship mentioned in subparagraph (a)(i) or (ii),
is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years."
There is no provision in the law, contrary to Mr. McMeekin's assertion in the Ontario Legislature, that a polygamous marriage has to be registered before the government can act. The opposite is in fact true.
By turning a blind eye to polygamy, Premier McGuinty is giving licence to Sharia by stealth.
In 2005 Ontario's premier rightly ruled out Sharia family courts, conceding that Muslim women may well fair poorly if such a system was allowed to be established. The same concern exists today, yet Ontario's Liberals sit on their hands.
Muslim women like Ms. Rigby are being victimized as are her children. Imam Hindy has told her to put up with her husband's desire for other wives. She has properly said no and has now obtained a divorce. When will Premier McGuinty's government say no and enforce the law it is bound to uphold?
By Sheik Yer Mami
June 1, 2008
The annulment of a young Muslim couple's marriage because the bride was not a virgin has caused anger in France, prompting President Sarkozy's party to call for a change in the law.
The decision by a court in Lille was condemned by the Government, media, feminists and civil rights organisations after it was reported in a legal journal on Thursday. Patrick Devedjian, leader of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement, said it was unacceptable that the law could be used for religious reasons to repudiate a bride. It must be modified "to put an end to this extremely disturbing situation", he said.
The case, which had previously gone unreported, involved an engineer in his 30s, named as Mr X, who married Ms Y, a student nurse in her 20s, in 2006. The wedding night party was still under way at the family's home in Roubaix when the groom came down from the bedroom complaining that his bride was not a virgin.
He could not display the blood-stained sheet that is traditionally exhibited as proof of the bride's "purity".
Mr X went to court the following morning and was granted a annulment on the grounds that his bride had deceived him on "one of the essential elements" of the marriage. In disgrace with both families, she acknowledged that she had led her groom to believe that she was a virgin when she had already had sexual intercourse. She did not oppose the annulment.
Critics ran out of superlatives to condemn what they depicted as a dangerous aberration. Valérie Létard, Minister for Women's Rights, said that she was "shocked to see that today in France the civil law can be used to diminish the status of women".
Elisabeth Badinter, a philosopher and pioneer of women's legal rights, said that she felt shame for the French justice system. "The sexuality of women in France is a private and free matter," she said. "The annulment will just serve to send young Muslim girls running to hospitals to have their hymens restored."
Although officially discouraged, the 30-minute operation is in increasing demand from Muslim women who fear the consequences of being unable to prove their virginity on their wedding night. Numerous agencies offer services for surgery trips to north African nations. One is offering a "hymenoplasty trip" to Tunis for €1,250 (£980). Internet sites and blogs are full of would-be brides in fear of the test of "the blood-soaked sheet".
While ministers fulminated against the Lille decision, a different stand was taken by Rachida Dati, the Justice Minister, who has Moroccan and Tunisian parents. The law had, she said, protected the bride. "Annulling a marriage is a way of protecting the person who perhaps wants to undo a marriage. I think this young girl wanted . . . to separate quite quickly. The law is there to protect vulnerable people," Ms Dati said.
The annulment was defended by Xavier Labbée, the lawyer who acted for Ms Y. The decision was justified by the bride's deception, not her sexual history, he argued. "Quite simply it is about a lie," he said. "Religion did not motivate the decision . . . but it is true that religious convictions played a role."
Requests for annulments have risen sharply to nearly 2,000 a year in France, but experts could recall no case involving non-virginity.