Donald Trump’s speech on national security and the war radical Islam has declared on America and the West mark a profound and remarkable change from the previous administrations’ approach and one that is long overdue.
While the establishment media concentrated their analysis on Trump’s call for “severe” vetting of Muslim refugees they missed the most consequential part of his speech; the policy of battling radical Islam as a totalitarian political movement akin to Fascism, Nazism and Communism.
In this analysis Donald Trump is most certainly correct. Islam as it is practiced by millions of Muslims who believe in the supremacy of Islamic law – Shariah – is not a religion as those of us raised in the traditions of the Western Enlightenment would define the term.
It is a totalitarian political system that seeks to regulate the minutest details of the lives of its adherents, while bestowing absolute power upon its self-appointed leaders. Shariah-compliant Islam is, in the words of Daniel Pipes, “transformed from a personal faith into a ruling system that knows no constraints.”
Trump’s speech at Youngstown, Ohio demonstrates that he understands this challenge on the same level that Ronald Reagan understood the challenge of Communism.
Reagan recognized that path to defeating Communism wasn’t to win this or that skirmish on some Third World battlefield – although winning those was important – it was to defeat the ideology of Communism.
Donald Trump’s speech in Youngstown, Ohio was in many ways a logical extension of the goals President reign set forth in his Second Inaugural Address:
America must remain freedom’s staunchest friend, for freedom is our best ally and it is the world’s only hope to conquer poverty and preserve peace. Every blow we inflict against poverty will be a blow against its dark allies of oppression and war. Every victory for human freedom will be a victory for world peace.
Reagan understood that to defeat the communist enemies of freedom we had to engage them on every battlefield of national power: cultural, economic and military. That is why he pumped up Radio Liberty and the Voice of America, supported the Solidarity labor movement in Poland, deployed America’s technological and industrial prowess in merciless military competition with the Soviets and made liberating the captive people of the Soviet empire the foundation of his foreign policy.
And just as President Reagan deployed economic and cultural power, rather than battlefield military power, to defeat Communism, Trump also recognized that it would take all of the elements of our national power; economic, cultural, technological and yes, military to defeat radical Islam.
For those of us who have been proselytizing for a more Reagan-like approach to the war radical Islam declared on us some the most encouraging sections of the speech were these:
The fight will not be limited to ISIS. We will decimate Al Qaeda, and we will seek to starve funding for Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah. We can use existing UN Security Council resolutions to apply new sanctions.
Military, cyber and financial warfare will all be essential in dismantling Islamic terrorism.
But we must use ideological warfare as well
Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.
While my opponent accepted millions of dollars in Foundation donations from countries where being gay is an offense punishable by prison or death, my Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith.
Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.
When was the last time your heard president Obama or Mrs. Clinton take the battle to Sharia-compliant Islam by decrying the female genital mutilation or the honor killings that are happening right now today in America?
The never have and never will because, unlike Donald Trump, they don’t see Western values and American culture as meeting universal human yearnings that are worthy of being defended.
In the years after the Soviet Union fell dissident after dissident came forward to say that it was Reagan’s message of hope and belief in the Western values of liberty, free markets and freedom of conscience were what kept them alive and fighting the Communist ideology of the Evil Empire.
The only reason we are not miles ahead in our battle with radical Islam is that President Obama and Hillary Clinton have made no similar effort to appeal to or build the credibility of secular Muslims and have largely dismantled the cultural and ideological tools that should have been deployed to fight radical Islam on that front.
Reagan understood that we face enemies with whom there can be no compromise, only the victory or defeat of freedom. The battles in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are only the first battles in a war that will be every bit as long and costly as the Cold War.
Donald Trump’s speech in Youngstown will no doubt be criticized by the many in the foreign policy establishment who are wedded to the idea that every battlefield is kinetic and have long been afraid to defend Western culture and American values, let alone deploy them as weapons against our latest and perhaps most virulent enemy.
However, Trump’s strategy of mobilizing our entire national power — diplomatic, economic, cultural and military when necessary — to defeat radical Islam, is not only right for our times, but a long-overdue recognition that Ronald Reagan’s strategy for defeating Soviet communism provides not just the goal, but the one proven model by which our future security may be assured.
George Rasley is editor of ConservativeHQ, a member of American MENSA and a veteran of over 300 political campaigns, including every Republican presidential campaign from 1976 to 2008. He served as lead advance representative for Governor Sarah Palin in 2008 and has served as a staff member, consultant or advance representative for some of America’s most recognized conservative Republican political figures, including President Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. He served in policy and communications positions on the House and Senate staff, and during the George H.W. Bush administration he served on the White House staff of Vice President Dan Quayle.