Obama vs. Sun Tzu: The Deadly Price of Not Making a Threat Assessment


President Obama is very upset at his critics, who are taking him and his administration to task for refusing to use the term “radical Islam” to describe our enemy in the terror war.

During his speech on Tuesday, in referring to the term “radical Islam,” the president stated angrily:

What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.

It is interesting to note that our enemy has quite a preoccupation with this very same “political distraction.”

Indeed, back in 2011, Muslim Brotherhood front groups approached the Obama administration and demanded to look at the training materials for the FBI and law enforcement agencies to see what words they were using. It’s curious that instead of telling the Brotherhood to go away with the explanation that labels didn’t “accomplish” or “change” anything, the administration docilely obliged. More curious still, when the Brotherhood returned and demanded that all mention of words connected to Islam, such as “jihad,” “Sharia” and “radical Islam,” be purged from the manuals, the administration again docilely obliged.

So we have an intriguing situation: when people who want to protect America implore Obama to use the term “radical Islam” to describe the force waging war on us, he refuses and angrily responds that “different” names don’t make things go away. But when a totalitarian ideology that seeks to destroy our civilization (and boasts that it will do so by our own hands) tells us not to use the label “radical Islam” when we were doing that, Obama follows the orders.

And so, as author Stephen Coughlin has documented in his work Catastrophic Failure, the Obama administration rooted out all references to jihad and Islam from U.S. intelligence agency manuals. And this action and attitude has affected every realm of government. That’s why in the State Department, for example, an official is not even allowed to ask an immigrant about his views on jihad or Sharia law before approving his visa application. In fact, a “counterterrorism” government guide counsels that keeping Muslims out of the country for supporting Sharia law violates the First Amendment.

Such is the devious mentality behind Obama’s “defense strategy” in the terror war, which demands that American officials and investigators are to consider only violent or criminal conduct when trying to keep America safe. Radical ideology is to be ignored, particularly if it has the veneer of “religious expression.”

As a result, when the Muslim Orlando mass murderer, Omar Mateen, verbalized his support for killing unbelievers for the sake of Allah and Islam, it was to be ignored, and the FBI did ignore it. That’s why they let him slide. The Bureau didn’t want to break the administration’s rules and let the potential hazard to innocent American lives get in the way of fighting racism and Islamophobia.

And so we come to understand better why, when the Russians had warned the FBI about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the FBI looked into the brothers, Bureau investigators found nothing of concern. It is a bit difficult to find things of concern, you see, when speaking to jihadists entails never mentioning jihad.

And so Tamerlan and Dzhokhar went on to set off their bombs at the Boston Marathon Massacre, killing 3 people (including 8-year-old Martin Richard) and injuring an estimated 264 on April 15, 2013. And they made it very clear that they did it for the sake of Islam and Allah.

But labels don’t matter.

Labels did matter, though, to Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik on December 2, 2015, when they opened fire on Farook’s municipal government workmates at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, California, leaving 14 people dead and 21 wounded. Malik and Farook were inspired by the same ideas that the Tsarnaevs were inspired by. Indeed, just before the attack, Malik had been using her social media to announce her love of jihad and to pledge her undying devotion to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. She was linked to a jihadist mosque in Pakistan. Farook, meanwhile, had made contact with several Muslim terrorist organizations.

But the Americans who were slaughtered by Malik and Farook, in the administration’s view, were clearly a small price to pay for the necessary pursuit of a utopian label-free world. That’s why Malik’s social media proclamations were never discovered before the San Bernardino massacre — because immigration officials were forbidden to review social media as part of their screening process. The Obama administration, through the highest levels of the Department of Homeland Security, explicitly banned examination of the social media of immigration applicants. John Cohen, a former acting under-secretary at DHS for intelligence and analysis, explained that this rule was in place because of the fear of a “civil liberties” backlash and “bad public relations” for the Obama administration.

Even more intriguing was how the administration had actually shut down a project that would have most likely led authorities to Farook and Malik and prevented the attack in the first place. Investigator Phil Haney, a former Department of Homeland Security agent, has revealed that the government had quashed a surveillance program that he had created to identify global networks that were smuggling Islamists into the United States. The database investigated groups that had ties to Farook and Malik as far back as 2012. But the State Department and the DHS Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties believed that Islamophobia was at play and that the “civil rights” of the Muslims being monitored were being violated, even though an overwhelming majority of them were not even American citizens. The administration officials accused Haney of profiling Muslims, removed his security clearance and shut down his program, destroying all 67 records of information that he had gathered. One of those records included an investigation into an organization with ties to the mosque in Riverside, Calif., that Farook had attended.

Haney has emphasized that if his work had been allowed to continue that it very well could have prevented the San Bernardino massacre. According to Haney:

Either Syed would have been put on the no-fly list because association with that mosque, and/or the K-1 visa that his wife was given may have been denied because of his association with a known organization.

Haney has also stated that he was looking into Tablighi Jamaat, a Sunni Islamic group tied to the fundamentalist Deobandi movement – a movement that also has ties to the Pakistani school attended by Malik.

More disturbingly, Haney says that the terrorist attack in Orlando also very well could have been prevented if his investigation had not been shut down.

In contrast to the president’s seemingly befuddled query on what the use of the label “radical Islam” would accomplish, Sun Tzu, the Chinese general and military strategist who authored the masterpiece The Art of War, which serves as an indispensable guide on military strategy, offers a key insight on the crucial importance of identify one’s enemy.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

In order to even have a chance of defeating radical Islam, therefore, which has declared war on us, Sun Tzu taught us the importance of making a threat assessment. We have to label our enemy and to isolate what inspires and sanctions the enemy’s war against us.

Stephen Coughlin emphasizes this urgent rule, explaining that, as Sun Tzu instructed, we must know what motivates the jihadists and always keep in mind that it is completely irrelevant whether their comprehension of their own doctrine is accurate or not, because we must know what motivates the enemy regardless of whether his motivations are based in legitimate understandings. In other words, Coughlin writes, a national security professional’s duty:

…is not to know true Islam; it is to identify and establish a functional threat doctrine, regardless of whether that doctrine accurately tracks with ‘true’ Islam or not. What matters is that we understand the enemy’s doctrines, not whether he is correct about them.

Today, unfortunately, with Obama in charge, the very opposite of what Sun Tzu and Stephen Coughlin urge must happen in order to defeat an enemy is taking place. Our language is controlled and the enemy cannot be named. Actually, naming the enemy is now hazardous for anyone working in the Obama administration. Coughlin notes: “Today, FBI and Homeland Security analysts are sanctioned if they refer to the Islamic Movement by name, even if citing to threat sources that use those same Islamic terms.”

Thus, Coughlin paints the horrifying portrait for us: the enemy has established “language dominance” over us and this situation “puts groups like the Muslim Brotherhood out of reach of investigators, national security analysts, and even concerned Members of Congress.” In other words, Brotherhood-linked groups and individuals are now above and outside of the law.

Yes, using “labels” really might accomplish something after all.

During his Tuesday speech, in referring to “radical Islam,” Obama pronounced vehemently: “Not once has an adviser of mine said, ‘Man, if we use that phrase, we are going to turn this whole thing around,’ not once.”

Doubtless the president’s statement is correct. His advisers surely do not want to be punished or let go. They know what their orders are – and what they are allowed, and not allowed, to say.

It is obvious why not once has anyone with whom Obama has surrounded himself with ever said anything to him that would empower the administration to defeat America’s enemies, defend this nation and save American lives.

Indeed, not once.

Jamie Glazov is the editor of Frontpagemag.com. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of United in Hate, the host of the web-TV show, The Glazov Gang, and he can be reached at jamieglazov11@gmail.com.


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