How 'Friendly Persuasion' Subverted The Enemy Assessment Process and Robbed Our Warriors Of A Chance To Win And Survive In Afghanistan; Three- Years-Ago! Part III

Part III

The Message, Apathy and Malfeasance

The Message:

The message in Coughlin’s thesis, “To Our Great Detriment”, is principally that ignoring so major a doctrine based ideology as Islam and refusing to consider it’s potential for motivating it’s followers is foolish. This is especially true when the enemy you are about to engage or the people you are about to surround your Warriors with, are uniformly beholding to that ideology.

No one can deny that Islam is the predominate religion of Afghanistan to the tune of 99+%. No one can deny that Allah is their God. No one can deny that they all submit to Jihad, and live by the doctrines like Taqiyya and Kitman. If this is true then why the aversion to doing what men have done since the dawn of warfare; study the enemy and his doctrines?

Throughout history men have considered the religions of their enemies and considered the religion’s role in motivating men and providing them with the endurance needed to continue in a prolonged conflict with an enemy. Conquering Armies from the time of Joshua to Sennacherib, Hitler to Stalin and in history in between, and since have recognized the value of religion in motivating men to endure the hardships of battle and the willingness to fight, mutilate and die for their deities and their doctrines.

General Orders have been given not only to stifle the religions and places of worship of whole populations but to destroy edifices and places of worship in recognition of their power over the people.

The phrase ‘religious ideology’, is not of necessity tied to a spiritual deity but is always tied to an entity – alive or spiritually existent. It is also something that defines a significant part of the person who chooses to take on that ideology. Separating the ideology from the adherent is work that Missionaries do simply by sharing opposing ideologies. Sometimes this is effective and sometimes it fails. Failures of this kind are catastrophic for the Missionary often ending with the killing of the Missionary and his family.

In the first few pages of his thesis, Coughlin quotes from a speech by General Peter Pace who declares;

“Remember Hitler; Remember he wrote Mein Kampf. He said in writing exactly what his plan was and we collectively ignored that to our great detriment. Now, our enemies have said publicly on film, on the Internet, their goal is to destroy our way of life.”

How strange that we can collectively understand the tragedy of that statement as it relates to a conflict in history but not understand that the principle it teaches is timeless. While Mein Kapf relayed the principles and doctrines of a socio-economic structure, those who believed in it followed it with the same vigor as any religious adherent. How much more should we expect, then, from a religious adherent who by willing submission to a deity also submits to the revelations and precepts of the religion?

Coughlin also exposed what is second to the potential dangers of the literal teachings of Jihad doctrine. Quoting from Jeff Stein, national security editor for Congressional Quarterly;

{He}”exposed the depth of the deficit among senior Washington decision-makers, including those with direct responsibility for WOT related issues. Leading into the elections, in a New York Times article titled “Can you tell a Sunni from a Shi’ite?,” Stein caused a stir by demonstrating that most American officials interviewed “did not have a clue” about the most basic issues concerning Islam.”

This is a sad commentary and completely inexcusable because these cretins we call public servants have been making uninformed decisions FOR TEN YEARS, that have cost the lives and limbs of tens of thousands of this generation’s best! Not only have their decisions been uninformed, but intentionally so.

Some will ask, then, why a study wasn’t ordered…Well; it was, within the Department of Defense under Deputy Secretary Gordon England but that study which is the subject of this piece, was effectively buried by an ideological mole by the name of Hesham Islam and England himself. The study was the victim of an apathetic and uneducated if not cowardly pool of Congressional Representatives and Senators and the poor professional ethics portrayed by England.

Coughlin’s study makes the case, over and over again, that the religion and it’s supporting texts, scholars and studies declare the religion and it’s exhortations are for “believers” to actively support and be part of Jihad as understood in the latter verses. From page 10 of the thesis;

“From the English language translation of the Saudi-published Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English Language, one can read “Appendix III — The Call to Jihad — (Holy Fighting for Allah in the Qur’an Statement),” written by Saudi Arabia’s Chief Justice, and learn that jihad –holy fighting in Allah’s Cause — is a requirement of Islam:”

“The Verses of the Qur’an and the Sunnah (the Prophet’s legal ways, orders) exhort Muslims greatly to take part in Jihad and have made quite clear its rewards, and praised greatly those who perform Jihad (the holy fighting in Allah’s Cause) and explained to them various kinds of honours which they will receive from their Lord (Allah). This is because they –Mujahidin are Allah’s troops. Allah will establish His religion (Islam), through them (Mujahidin). He will repel the might of His enemies, and through them He will protect Islam and guard the religion safely. And it is they (Mujahidin) who fight against the enemies of Allah in order that the worship should be all for Allah (Alone and not for any other deity) and that the Word of Allah (i.e. none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and His religion Islam) should be superior.”

The very Scholars of Islam make it imperative to understand the tenets and principles of any teaching from the progenitors of those doctrines rather than from our own history and teachings. Trying to imbue our desire for these teachings upon the adherents or their doctrines is not only futile, but doomed to fail. It amounts to a dog chasing his own tail.

The thesis continually draws a distinction between the language of the western ideal and Islamic teaching. Whenever the subject of “terrorist” acts comes up for instance, the question that follows leads to misleading answers; does “true” Islam teach terrorist acts are permissible? Of course the typical answer to the typical infidel is no. However it is important to remember that one man’s terrorist act is another man’s righteous act in combat. An example is the underground movement in France, Belgium and other European countries during World War II. We, as a nation supported those efforts with rhetoric and war materiel. The German soldier however saw those acts in a far different light.

It is easy to mark the acts committed by “Islamic extremists” as different by virtue of their seeming indifference to the wanton killing of civilians but not so if you consider their understanding of the civilians they kill. For them, those civilian deaths are just as justifiable as the killing of infidel soldiers because those particular civilians fall into one of two categories; (1) non-believers and (2) apostates. In both cases, by the chronologically defined latter verses and keeping the doctrine of abrogation in mind, Allah permits and even commends the killing of these two groups. The killing of civilians that fall into these two categories while killing infidel troops, then, is win, win.

Again; trying to confine the religion of Islam, as defined by the Prophet and the Scholars of the religion, into western concepts, reaps a wrong-headed understanding of the religion and it’s mandates for the believer. Coughlin’s entire effort was to provide insight into the religion as seen through the eyes of the Prophet, the Caliphs and the Scholars; unfiltered and without bias. Consider this from page 44 of the thesis;

“Because the paper seeks to reflect the broader consensus view, Islamic authorities

and authoritative sources relied on will be those demonstrating broad acceptance within the four orthodox schools of Sunni Islamic law – the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali- as reflected by the broad acceptance of those authorities in the historical writings on jihad. For this reason, while reference to Hanbali authorities may be used to round out representation of the four doctrinal schools, this paper will not rely on Hanbali law to establish the doctrinal authority of any point of law. The decision is purposeful and based on three reasons. First, a review of “extremist” literature from Wahhabi groups like al-Qaeda reveals that they rely on the writings of the authorities from all the schools, including those used in this thesis. Extremists rely on these authorities not only because they are recognized among the broader Islamic community but also because, by using them, they can genuinely demonstrate that jihad — as they define it — actually is a requirement of Islam for all Muslims.”

When you keep the doctrine of Taqiyya in mind, it renders any Islamic renunciation of terrorist acts, or any defense of Jihad as a ‘personal inner struggle with sin’ or the many other declarations by true adherents as suspect especially when the very Apostles of the religion say something radically different. Deceit as a weapon in the war to subjugate the world to the teachings of Islam becomes the single most effective weapon if it keeps the infidel forces off balance and forces them to adopt battlefield strategies and practices that weaken their ability on the battlefield.

For a military organization to employ Counter Insurgency Doctrine in a religiously monolithic society that upholds deceit and cunning as proper in the day to day transaction of business with unbelievers as righteous and sanctified by the deity of that society is sophomoric and doomed to fail. And yet that is the road the General Grade Officers of this nation chose to do. There can only be one of two reasons they did so; they are either incredibly poor strategists or they proceeded with faulty or incomplete information.

Over and over again, Coughlin allows the teachings and beliefs of those in authority within the structure of the religion to inform those reading his thesis. Let’s remember that the purpose of the thesis was to analyze the religion, it’s doctrines and demands on it’s adherents and ultimately, then, the likely affect they would have on a population of people ensconced in a culture controlled by this religion.

Coughlin’s own notes from page 34 define his definition of doctrine along with a recent example of this nation studying the doctrine of a then current enemy in order to better understand them from a cultural and martial perspective:

Author’s Note on Doctrine. Through the Cold War, national security analysts and

decision-makers evaluated the Soviet threat based on its known doctrine. Soviet military commanders trained their forces using Soviet war-fighting doctrine and their competencies and capabilities were evaluated based on their conformance to it. When commanders deviated, they were evaluated to determine if they broke from it because they were inadequate to the task or whether instead they exceeded its parameters through sheer command of the operational art. In all cases, the evaluation was templated against the Soviet doctrine that defined their rules of engagement. If, rather than evaluating Soviet military commanders based on their doctrine, national security analysts and decision-makers used U.S. war-fighting standards, those analysts and decision-makers would have concluded that Soviet war-fighting was incoherent and therefore difficult to explain rationally. A Soviet meeting engagement was not the same as a U.S. movement to contact. This was true even as they appeared the same in battle because they reflected two different concepts of the battle based on competing theories of war. Islam is not Christianity, Judaism, or Hinduism. Islamic law is not U.S. Constitutional, English common or European civil law. Hence, to measure against those standards, or to allow Current Approach advocates to explain along those lines, is to find incoherence and an inability to explain – or predict – the rational decisions of a rational threat. This often leads one to erroneously conclude that we are facing an irrational threat making irrational decisions. Before being able to generate the ability to reliably plan against terrorism perpetuated in the name of Islam, one must first know Islamic doctrine and then Islamic doctrine as it relates to Islamic concepts of war. To be able to do this, one must first read their doctrine.

What a unique concept; studying the enemy and his doctrines in order to better understand him and the effect of his doctrines – whatever they might be, on his decision-making processes.

Does anyone want to argue that a culture or country with a 99% adherence to Islam is not likely to have some of that teaching affecting their day-to-day decisions – especially as they pertain to a common enemy; an enemy as defined by the sacred writings of the “one true prophet”, having been received through revelation by their god? And if we can agree that ignoring information of this kind to be not only irresponsible but potentially catastrophic, then what does it say about a person or persons who deliberately withheld a well appointed thesis from consideration in a process designed to improve our chances on the battlefield and reduce our casualties? What can we then say about our current government and their continued disregard for this treasonous episode and the intentional diversion of this information from those who could use it to save lives; American lives?

Conclusion

I first heard of this story a little over a year and a half ago and instantly realized the ramifications of the actions of all involved on our war effort and most importantly, our Warriors. That either makes me one of the most insightful people in the world, or suggests something very devious about those whose sworn duty it was to provide the most accurate and timely appraisal of the human terrain in Afghanistan. This information was critical to facilitating our Warriors ability to win this war by vanquishing an incalcitrant and ideologically motivated enemy and the survival of our Warriors amidst an ideologically driven population.

I humbly suggest the latter.

It defies logic to think that people who have been rewarded with rank and appointments to lofty positions in the upper echelons of the defense structure, could collectively miss such important information by sheer chance. It also seems highly unlikely that there would be a confluence of personal gut feelings, knee-jerk, politically correct attitudes and chance that would so affect the entire upper echelon military structure to the point of intellectual paralysis. What does seem clear, is that the continual campaign-mode attitude in DC with it’s politically correct vision of this ideology and the one billion people who have made a free will choice to subjugate themselves to it’s doctrines were waiting for a convenient pass. It also appears that the upper echelon Military structure was awaiting the same. If there were those who did not fall under the trance, they lacked the political and personal courage it required to define the enemy at the time. The sad thing is, they still lack the courage and now the vision. Both got what they wanted and needed, and like Pontious Pilate, they washed their hands and ceded responsibility to someone else and in this case, the good Islamic soldier, Hesham Islam.

Hesham Islam, and his associates in ISNA and MB were successful in piercing the security of the Pentagon and Gordon England’s better judgment and in so doing, caused the citizenry of Afghanistan to be declared ‘friendly and oppressed’ and needing the protection of America and her Allies. It also successfully caused this country’s war planners to decree an Afghan phenomenon, The Taliban, an insurgency not known or wanted by the average, Afghan citizen. The reality is, the Taliban are Afghan and are of the citizenry, supported by the citizenry and recruited from the citizenry. Even the Pentagon’s defense of COIN strategy testifies to this truth. Over, and over again they have told us that not making heroic attempts to preserve the lives of the “innocent” in Afghanistan would cause them (the “innocent” Afghan’s), to join the Taliban.

This schizophrenic defense has been allowed to stand and even thrive by a media lacking any regard for their first obligation as American citizens to actively engage in the defense of this nation and this government’s lack of intestinal fortitude to declare our current enemy – the enemy. A curious thing being as they have made it clear for nearly as long as we have been a nation. Stranger still being as the doctrine they have chosen to believe is 1400 years old.

NOTE: Had Coughlin’s thesis been studied, what has since come to be the war doctrine in Afghanistan, would never have been considered. The entire Defense department and military establishment has been guided to ‘another rail’ by the complaint of a man the FBI deemed a security risk with questionable loyalties.

Essentially, England allowed a personal relationship with a person of questionable design for this country to divert his attention from his sworn duty to support and defend the Constitution and the security of this nation. In so doing:

1. He pulled the thesis and removed Coughlin from the project. The result was an assessment without consideration of the possible ramifications of a, religious and ideologically motivated enemy for our forces on the ground. In addition, it yielded a skewed understanding of the “innocent civilian” population there and the possibility of collusion to our detriment. The persistent mantra that the Taliban is an “insurgent militancy” continues to poison the well of reason and absolutely no legitmate consideration is given to the relationship between the insurgency and the local population. This continues to hamper the ability of local commanders to deal, realistically, with the threat faced by our Warriors on the ground. It does so strategically and personally for there is an eager gaggle of lawyers gleaning after action reports, seeking which American Warriors they might prosecute – and the entirety of our Military; knows it.

2. This led directly to the adoption of COIN and it’s disastrous ROE. For if in fact the local population did not agree either with the Taliban or their ideological motives, an argument could be made that a properly waged Counter Insurgency operation could succeed. But if, in fact, the population had been misjudged and the affect of their shared ideology ignored or underestimated, COIN could in effect finish the job an underequipped militant force could not. The evidence is to the latter. Our government’s current efforts to woo the Taliban are not only fruit of a failed strategy – they are repugnant and an insult to the incredible valor displayed by the average PFC and LCpl!

The consequence is that the total number of American deaths suffered in Afghanistan at least since June 2009 as well as Afghan civilian deaths can be attributed to this failure to adhere to proper and secure relationships, free of the perils of fraternization by England and the subversive conduct of Islam.

3. Coughlin’s report has never been gleaned for impact on the war strategy by the people who wrote the orders and selected the strategy although Coughlin has been asked to present his material to deploying units at the behest of the base and unit commanders being held to the most stringent elements of COIN doctrine. Although his thesis is readily available in PDF format online, the upper most echelons of civilian and military leadership as well as our collective Congressional representation have stubbornly refused to read it and consider it’s conclusions.

The cost of the illicit relationship between Islam and England has effectively destroyed any possibility of military success in Afghanistan and contributed to a far less secure America by virtue of our having effectively abandoned the battlefield and allowed the Taliban, the enemy, to exploit the vacuum and our perceived weakness in not maintaining pressure on the Taliban due to the doctrinal restraints of COIN “warfare”; and this because Hesham Islam through Gordon England, ensured the information in Coughlin’s thesis was never scrutinized by those whose job it was to properly assess the “human terrain” in Afghanistan.

Our follow on decisions in Libya, Syria, Yemen and the others that-will-follow are evidence that the particulars of that same faulty assessment have contaminated our world-wide perspective of Islam and it’s motivational affect on civilian and military populations alike. The current unrest in Iraq and threats from Al Sadr’s Al-Mahdi militancy to attack American forces still on the ground in Iraq, punctuate our continued misunderstanding of the implications of a religiously motivated population.

The question that begs asking is whether the intentional deflection by Hesham Islam from a full and proper analysis and the failure in judgment of England rises to the level of a treasonous act. For most; the radical associations of Hesham Islam and his subsequent forced resignation, ended the entire episode…But not for the hundreds of thousands of American Warriors forced to perform under the most stringent set of rules ever experienced in the annals of warfare.

And what of Coughlin and his thesis?

As for Hesham Islam, what is certain is that his most affective single act of “service” was to his religion and not for this country during his years “of service” or, for that matter as a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Regardless of what we, as Americans choose to believe about this man or his religion, the fact is he managed to get the single piece of evidence buried that would have swayed the order writers who were reconsidering our posture in Afghanistan and consequently forced the General Grade Officers in charge of the operation there to consider alternate strategies rather than rolling COIN doctrine from the battlefield in Iraq, to the battlefield in Afghanistan without so much as a blink.

And the best of this generation continue to pay the price and our current crop of representatives continue to ignore the cost….Except at grave sites! Please visit www.letthemfight.blogspot.com .

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard



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