A thoughtful essay on recent public announcements by both men, and ensuing attention they aroused.
There is another aspect of the Cold War period that Sebastian Gorka refers to that is in need of some evaluation. He is entirely correct in comparing the fight against Marxist communism of that period to the present-day fight with Islamic jihad, but he should avoid being blindsided by the thinking of most Cold Warriors. These heroic patriots were hindered in their goal of establishing real liberty in Europe, for throughout the Cold War era, the fight was exclusively focused on the Marxist communism being spread by the USSR. Never was the European states’ so-called “democratic socialism” to be portrayed in a negative light, though socialism was the key identifying marker in Marxist theory. “Socialism light” was to be looked at through the fingers; the Cold Warriors couldn’t afford to anger their European allies.
We simply can’t afford the same mentality with Islam. Civilizational (or stealth) jihad is the key element driving Islam forward; violence is but a means in achieving that aim. Saying that we are at war with “radical Islam,” or that the terrorists are un-Islamic, in order not to offend our Muslim allies, brings us to the same dilemma faced by these Cold Warriors: yes, the Marxist empire imploded, but socialism still lives on in all of its destructive forms. We are still fighting it to this day.
McMaster and Gorka: Understanding or Misunderstanding Islam?
There are two fundamental ways to view Islam in the West, and it is now clear those who hold to the “Islam is a religion of peace” view, which has held sway over the affairs of the West for so long, are fighting a desperate rear-guard action to remain in charge following Trump’s rise to power.
As we watch the public pronouncements and the actions of the new administration, we have to carefully determine which path administration officials are on.
It’s pretty clear that Trump himself, throughout his campaign and with his first appointments, completely rejects the old view of Muslims falling prey to a mass misunderstanding of a peaceful Islam. Michael Flynn rejected this view; that was clear from his many public pronouncements. Having him brought down by the shady leaking of supposedly sensitive gathered intelligence was a blow.
Robert Spencer quoted from the New York Times’ latest piece on Flynn’s replacement as national security adviser, General H. R. McMaster. As ever, to confirm what General McMaster said to the first “all hands” staff meeting of the National Security Council, the New York Times quotes its most reliable government sources by citing “people who were in the meeting” and noting what “several officials said.” Ah yes, those anonymous sources are so busy. According to those anonymous sources and the agenda of the New York Times, therefore, General McMaster is continuing to reaffirm the “Islam is a religion of peace” doctrine. Robert is correct to be suspicious about McMaster’s approach to Islam until we see what practical effect he has in his role.
We also have Dr Sebastian Gorka. Any reasonable reading of his book Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War would place him over toward the Trump and Flynn side regarding the underlying ideology of Islam with deep suspicion. That paints a big target on Dr Gorka. The first shot came from Eli Clifton writing on an obscure blog concerning an old Hungarian medal Dr Gorka wore, which Clifton claimed was evidence of antisemitism from Gorka. An interesting claim from Clifton, who has written for the notorious Jew-hating site, Electronic Intifada. That charge was easily debunked, so a new charge was needed.
Up to the plate steps the New York Times, and this time they’re going for the jugular with the charge that Gorka is an “ill-informed Islamophobe”:
The new point man for the Trump administration’s counter-jihadist team is Sebastian Gorka, an itinerant instructor in the doctrine of irregular warfare and former national security editor at Breitbart. Stephen K. Bannon and Stephen Miller, the chief commissars of the Trump White House, have framed Islam as an enemy ideology and predicted a historic clash of civilizations. Mr. Gorka, who has been appointed deputy assistant to the president, is the expert they have empowered to translate their prediction into national strategy.
Mr. Gorka was born and raised in Britain, the son of Hungarian émigrés. As a political consultant in post-Communist Hungary, he acquired a doctorate and involved himself with ultranationalist politics. He later moved to the United States and became a citizen five years ago, while building a career moderating military seminars and establishing a reputation as an ill-informed Islamophobe. (He has responded to such claims by stating that he has read the Quran in translation.)