Robert Spencer, and knowledgeable experts like him, are the ones who government officials should turn to in understanding the threats that face us vis-a-vis an insurgent Islam.
THE AMERICAN “INABILITY TO UNDERSTAND” JIHADIS
It has hamstrung our foreign policy for decades.
One of the biggest ongoing problems of U.S. foreign policy is a failure to understand what we’re really up against. This problem is nothing new, although Barack Obama took it to new heights by banning all mention of Islam and jihad from counterterror training, with many of his loyalists still in place and hampering our ability to deal realistically with the jihad threat today.
This myopia goes back decades. In Theodore H. White’s America In Search of Itself, there is this telling passage about the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979:
Of the negotiating effort, the most biting summary was that later made by Captain Gary Sick of U.S. Naval Intelligence. “Nobody knew what kind of person Khomeini was,” said Sick…”In every day of this early crisis,” he said, “and right through until this day, there’s been this American inability to understand the true fanaticism of this man, not moved by any sense of compassion, by any concern for law, by any understanding of international tradition. We’d been dealing with people like Kim Il-Sung, Mao Tse-tung, and other dictators. So it was difficult for us to grasp the total, unyielding, unwillingness of this man to consider any other factor outside of his own limited view of the world. Khomeini was beyond the experience, if not the imagination, of anyone in the United States government. We made that mistake repeatedly — of trying to deal with Khomeini as if he were a government.”
Khomeini’s Islamic regime was a government, but not in any sense that American diplomats were used to dealing with. What set Khomeini and his regime apart from the likes of Kim and Mao was Islam, and few, if any, foreign service professionals in the State Department understood that or knew how to deal with it.
And it wasn’t just Khomeini. American Presidents and policymakers of recent times have consistently shown an inability or unwillingness to understand the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat in general. This willful ignorance persists and his gotten worse, with the Bush/Obama policies of denying that the jihad terror threat has anything to do with Islam. The wrong diagnosis of the problem leads to the wrong solutions being applied. This is true of the Israeli/“Palestinian” conflict, the incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan, the immigration issue, and more.