Wage Semantic Warfare to Divide the Enemy

Wage Semantic Warfare to Divide the Enemy

By J. Michael Waller
FrontPageMagazine.com | 8/8/2007

The surge in Iraq appears to be working, largely because U.S. forces have taken advantage of divisions among the insurgents and allied with some in order to destroy other Islamist factions.

This is a pretty tough tactic to stomach, because many of our newfound Iraqi “allies” have American blood on their hands. But it just might mark a turning point in the war. By fighting all radical factions, we inadvertently united them against us – not a good idea when some of their most mortal enemies are one another. By working with some Iraqi insurgent groups to wipe out al Qaeda, we will be better positioned to turn our guns against other enemies in due course.

A similar analogy is true in the war of ideas. We can take a blanket approach, as some are doing, by adopting the al Qaeda/Wahhabi narrative and its absolutist definition of terms. We can see enemies in all who believe in jihad, regardless of how they interpret the idea. Or we can be more judicious about which battles we pick. In so doing, we can enlist support, tactical though it may be, from certain of our adversaries.

Uniting our enemies against us is a loser strategy. During World War II, we held our noses and allied with mortal enemy Stalin to defeat Hitler. Then we signed an easy peace with the Germans and dealt with the Soviets in due course. And in resisting and repulsing the USSR, we allied with a rogue’s gallery of tyrants, socialists, Islamists, kleptocrats and assorted nut-jobs – even with other communists. Circumstances often offered us few alternatives.

So it’s natural that we seek fissures within the highly factionalized world of Islam to find tactical allies in the global terrorist battlespace.

That’s why some of us have looked across a broad spectrum of Islamic thought to find pressure points to divide those with the will to kill us from those without, and to marginalize the most extremist elements and help them self-destruct. With help from Arabic linguists and Muslim scholars of various persuasions, we set forth a glossary of Islamic terms of relevance to the war against terrorists.

Does it make sense for us to keep calling the terrorists “holy warriors,” as some do every time they call them mujahideen? Or to imply that their death squad activity is somehow praiseworthy when we call terror an act of jihad holy war? Especially when there are many interpretations of jihad within Islam?

We found terminology that properly implies that our enemies are sadistic sociopaths who must be killed – even terms in Islamic law that can morally obligate faithful Muslims to hunt them down. We found that a broad cross-section of Muslim thought, from modern and western-oriented all the way to some with at least one foot in the extremist camp, agrees on many of these important terms, and not with the terrorists’ definitions.

Yet some observers like Walid Phares attack the idea of semantic warfare. Recently Phares departed from his normally reasoned debate to imply ulterior motives. In a July column, he tried to de-legitimize the ideological warfare work of Jim Guirard. Phares hinted that Guirard was influence-peddling for hidden clients by inaccurately calling him a “lobbyist” and brushing off his essays and memos as “lobbying pieces.” Though he never did say just who was supposedly paying. Those of us who share Guirard’s approach, Phares says, are doing nothing more than pushing a “lobbyist-concocted theory.”

That’s a cheap shot, and a false one at that. Guirard, a former Fulbright scholar, is not a lobbyist. Though he used to be, six or seven years ago, as OpenSources.org reports from the public record. Even then, Guirard lobbied for a Louisiana company on issues relating to the U.S. Army – nothing, as Phares appears to imply, relating to Wahhabis or the Muslim Brotherhood. Guirard has been wordsmithing for decades. Twenty years ago he was waging semantic battles against “liberation theology.” Today he’s doing the same against Islamism.

Phares says that we proponents of using language against the enemy are “representing the views of classical Wahhabism and the Muslim Brotherhood.” Certainly Wahhabi elements and the Muslim Brotherhood are circulating all sorts of disinformation. Lies and other forms of deception are part of the cultural DNA of the Middle East, and are demonstrably part of the ideological war against the United States. But Phares does not substantiate his allegation. He should either back up his claims or retract them.

He does have a good point, though: It is dangerous to view the Muslim Brotherhood, whose “jihadist” strategy stresses power through infiltration, co-optation and subversion more than through violence, as the “good guy” against Islamist terrorism. Ditto for the subversive ideological exports of the House of Saud.

Political, economic and cultural subversion may constitute a far greater strategic danger to the United States and the free world than the fanatical terrorism of al Qaeda. And this is where the Wahhabis and the Muslim Brotherhood have been investing heavily, even among American conservatives. However, as with al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgents, it is important for us as citizens to understand the narrative, find pressure points within the languages and cultures, and use them to divide the enemy.

But we won’t approach that understanding if people in our own American camp snipe with sloppy reporting and phony innuendo. Let’s try fighting the war of ideas by reclaiming key concepts from the terrorists and splitting their ideological support base. After a year of serious effort, we can review the results and become smarter defenders of freedom.

J. Michael Waller is the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of International Communication at The Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. His latest book is Fighting the War of Ideas like a Real War (2007).

Shi’ite militiamen with Iranian weapons responsible for 73% of attacks on U.S. forces in July

Shi’ite militiamen with Iranian weapons responsible for 73% of attacks on U.S. forces in July

“Stepping into the void left as Sunni insurgents have been dislodged…”

“Shi’ite militiamen blamed in attacks on U.S. troops,” by Kim Gamel for the Associated Press:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Shi’ite militiamen with Iranian weapons and training launched nearly three-quarters of the attacks that killed or wounded U.S. forces last month in Baghdad, stepping into the void left as Sunni insurgents have been dislodged, a top U.S. commander said Sunday.

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno didn’t provide a total number of militia attacks. But he said 73% of the attacks that wounded or killed U.S. troops last month in Baghdad were launched by Shi’ite militiamen, nearly double the figure six months earlier.

Iran has denied U.S. allegations that it is fueling the violence in Iraq, and the Americans and the Iranians have agreed to set up a committee to deal with Iraqi security issues.

Setting up a committee and having the committee actually do something are not the same thing.

Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr agreed to pull his Mahdi Army fighters off the streets as the security crackdown began Feb. 12. But some members of his group broke away.

That doesn’t even begin to exonerate al-Sadr, to say nothing of addressing the Iranian connection.

Double Tap—Marine Perspective

Double Tap—Marine Perspective

A Marine response to a simple question. Regarding the news blurb about the
Marine who put two rounds (“double tap”) in a wounded insurgent’s head in
Fallujah, here’s a response from a Marine:

“It’s a safety issue, pure and simple. After assaulting through a
target, we put a security round in everybody’s head. Sorry al-Reuters,
there’s no paddy wagon rolling around Fallujah picking up “prisoners” and
offering them a hot cup o’ Joe, falafel, and a blanket. There’s no time to
dick around on the target. You clear the space, dump the chumps, and move
on.
Are Corpsman expected to treat wounded terrorists? Negative. Hey
Libs, worried about the defense budget? Well, it would be waste, fraud,
and abuse for a Corpsman to expend one man-minute or a battle dressing on a
terrorist. It’s much cheaper to just spend the $.02 on a 5.56mm FMJ. By
the way, in our view, terrorists who chop off civilian’s heads are not
prisoners, they are carcasses. Chopping off a civilian’s head is another
reason why these idiots are known as “unlawful combatants.” It seems that
most of the world’s journalists have forgotten that fact.
Let me be very clear about this issue. I have looked around the web,
and many people get this concept, but there are some stragglers.
Here is your typical Marine sitrep (situation report): You just took
fire from unlawful combatants (no uniform – breaking every Geneva
Convention rule there is) shooting from a religious building attempting to
use the sanctuary status of their position as protection. But you’re in
Fallujah now, and the Marine Corps has decided that they’re not playing
that game this time. That was Najaf. So you set the mosque on fire and
you hose down the terrorists with small arms, launch some AT-4s (Rockets),
some 40MM grenades into the building and things quiet down. So you run
over there, and find some tangos (bad guys) wounded and pretending to be
dead. You are aware that suicide martyrdom is like really popular with
these idiots, and they think taking some Marines with them would be really
cool. So you can either risk your life and your fire team’s lives by
having them cover you while you bend down and search a guy that you think
is pretending to be dead for some reason. Most of the time these are the
guys with the grenade or a vest made of explosives. Also, you don’t know
who or what is in the next room. You’re already speaking English to the
rest of your fire team or squad which lets the terrorist know you are there
and you are his enemy. You are speaking loud because your hearing is poor
from shooting people for several days. So you know that there are many
other rooms to enter, and that if anyone is still alive in those rooms,
they know that Americans are in the mosque. Meanwhile (3 seconds later),
you still have this terrorist (that was just shooting at you from a mosque)
playing possum. What do you do? You double tap his head, and you go to
the next room, that’s what!
What about the Geneva Convention and all that ‘Law of Land Warfare’
stuff? What about it? Without even addressing the issues at hand, your
first thought should be, “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by
6.” Bear in mind that this tactic of double tapping a fallen terrorist is
a perpetual mindset that is reinforced by experience on a minute by minute
basis. Secondly, you are fighting an unlawful combatant in a Sanctuary,
which is a double No-No on his part. Third, tactically you are in no
position to take “prisoners” because there are more rooms to search and
clear, and the behavior of said terrorist indicates that he is up to no
good. No good in Fallujah is a very large place and the low end of no good
and the high end of no good are fundamentally the same … Marines end up
getting hurt or die. So there is no compelling reason for you to do
anything but double tap this idiot and get on with the mission.
If you are a veteran, then everything I have just written is self
evident. If you are not a veteran, at least try to put yourself in the
situation. Remember, in Fallujah there is no yesterday, there is no
tomorrow, there is only now, Right NOW. Have you ever lived in NOW for a
week? It is really, really not easy. If you have never lived in NOW for
longer than it takes to finish the big roller coaster at Six Flags, then
shut your hole about putting Marines in jail for “War Crimes.”

Semper Fi

Haunting Video: Al Qaeda’s Reign Of Terror In Iraq

Gates says US underestimated depth of Sunni-Shiite divisions

Gates says US underestimated depth of Sunni-Shiite divisions

As we have noted here many times. From AFP (thanks to Freckles):

The US administration underestimated the difficulty of having Iraq’s Sunnis and Shiites agree on key national reconciliation measures, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates admitted Thursday.At the end of a regional tour, he called the withdrawal of the main Sunni bloc from the Baghdad government “discouraging.”

Gates told reporters as he flew back to Washington that gains made in security in western Iraq’s Anbar province and at the local level were cause for optimism, but he acknowledged they were offset by divisions at the top.

“In some ways we probably all underestimated the depth of mistrust and how difficult it would be for these guys to come together on legislation, which let’s face it is not some kind of secondary thing,” he said.

“The kinds of legislation they’re talking about will establish the framework of Iraq for the future so it’s almost like our constitutional convention,” Gates said.

Almost.

“And the difficulty in coming to grips with those we may all have underestimated six or eight months ago,” he said.

Yep.

The Real Long War

The Real Long War

By Christopher Chantrill

A faction within America always denigrates our country, seeing our enemies through rose colored lenses and finding only oppression at home. The Long War we face with Radical Islam is matched by the long war against this bloc.

Color me cynical, but I think that the fix is in on Iraq.  In September Gen. Petraeus will report on the surge and declare a qualified victory.  Then President Bush will start drawing down the troops. Slowly.
Everyone will feel betrayed.  The conservative base will feel that our steadfast support for the war was all in vain.
The netroots will continue to demand immediate withdrawal.  Expect the Democrats in Congress to keep offering a Resolution of the Week to support the troops and bring them home now.
It would be easy in this situation to get discouraged, but we are conservatives and we are better than that.  This is a point worth making because right now the Conservatives in Britain are having a total meltdown over a couple of minor political setbacks.
But if we are not to panic like our formerly stiff-upper-lipped cousins across the Atlantic we must “do something.”  I recommend we “do” some strategic thinking.  As we retreat from Iraq we should think about the big picture.
The great lesson that we should learn from the first six years of the 9/11 era is this.  If it weren’t for our liberal friends here in the United States and in Europe, the terrorists would be nothing more than a bunch of Saudi rich kids and Iranian regime thugs out for a rumble.
What makes these Saudi rich kids and their pals world-historical is the understanding they get from the left and the publicity they get from the media. Exhibit A is the CNN-YouTube questioner who asked the Democratic presidential candidates:

“Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?”

Earth to YouTube:  The gap that divides us from the thug dictators is not a lack of negotiations; it is the question of power.  For a dictator power isn’t everything.  It’s the only thing.
The left always seems to be swooning over the latest gang of designer thugs.  Right now university book stores are featuring dozens of earnest attempts to understand Islam.  Back in the 1980s the lefty Sandalistas were flocking to Sandinista Nicaragua.  In the 1970s the left was busy understanding the rage of well-born terrorists in the Weathermen, the Italian Red Brigades, and the Baader-Meinhof gang.  A decade before that it was Castro and the execrable Che Guevara.  All of those thugs would have got nowhere without the fawning of the luvvies on the left.
You might think that these dictator lovers are evil, and you might be right.  But conservative philosopher Roger Scruton talks instead, in A Political Philosophy, of a kind of sickness: “oikophobia.”  It’s a fancy Greek neologism for “educated derision at… national loyalty,” always siding with “‘them’ against ‘us,’ and the felt need to denigrate the customs, cultures, and institutions that are demonstrably ‘ours.'”  In short, as Scruton writes, it is “the repudiation of inheritance and home.”
Modern conservatism was founded by Edmund Burke upon the opposite idea.  It  regards “our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity” without repudiation.
The great challenge for us, conservatives and libertarians, people inspired by the spirit of democratic capitalism, is the challenge of the “oikophobes.”  It means that the war on terror is not finally a war with Islamic terrorism, but an episode in the long war within the west that began in 1789.  It is the war between the heirs of Burke and the heirs of Rousseau and Robespierre, between ordered liberty and the “oikophobic” alliance between rational experts, progressive activists, designer revolutionaries and out-and-out thugs.
The “oikophobic” alliance presents a Janus face to the world.  It claims to be the very highest and best in human evolution, committed to equality, sharing and caring.  In pursuit of this ideal it advocates constantly for inclusiveness and against divisiveness. Yet it conducts its politics according to the crudest techniques of the demagogue, setting worker against boss, renter against owner, woman against man, poor against wealthy, secularist against believer, black against white, gown against town.
And its institutions–the schools, universities, foundations, arts communities, and newsrooms of the world–are the most exclusive and divisive around.  Conservatives and Christians need not apply.
But for all their faults you would think that the “oikophobes” would be willing to help conservatives defeat the homophobes, the racists, and the patriarchs of the Middle East.
But they won’t.  They are “oikophobes” and they believe in taking the side of “them” against “us.”
Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his roadtothemiddleclass.com and usgovernmentspending.com. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

Methods That Work in Iraq

Methods That Work in Iraq

By Frederick J. Chiaventone

The United States is now employing our former enemies to fight Al-Qaeda. This new approach, especially noticeable in the provinces of Anbar and Diyala, is paying off. We shouldn’t be surprised. History has ample precedent.

A number of former enemies – Sunni and Shi’a groups – of the American presence in Iraq have already signed on and are guided by three simple rules: they must promise to stop fighting American forces; agree to attack Al-Qaeda forces; and finally, begin a gradual rapprochement and cooperation with Iraqi military and police forces.
Bringing former insurgents into the fold is a mark not only of progress but of sound, practical thinking, a good grasp of historical precedent, and a much better understanding of local politics. Pols everywhere agree: all politics is local.
U.S. commanders have in fact realized that the best weapon against a guerrilla is frequently a former guerrilla. Except to the political naifs who get their history lessons from Showtime this is not a new concept, but one which has been used by the U.S. Army — indeed by a number of armies — in the past, and frequently with remarkable success.
When the fascist government in Italy finally collapsed, some of the fiercest fighters on the Allied side were Italian soldiers who but weeks before had fought alongside their German counterparts. The Italians, however, had come to fear and loathe their Nazi allies. It hadn’t taken too long for them to realize who their real enemies were. Eager to come to blows with their former oppressors they sought to fight alongside Allied forces. Allied leadership was practical enough to recognize the potential contributions of Italian fighters. Rather than disarm these former enemies or shift them to the sidelines, we took strategic and tactical advantage of our new allies’ hard won experience, their intimate knowledge of Wehrmacht operations, and their enthusiasm to pay back their Nazi overlords.
Payback is by no means a new concept. When Hernando Cortez conquered what is now Mexico he never had more than 500 Spanish soldiers under his command. Certainly the horses, steel swords and primitive muskets gave the Spaniards a limited advantage, but even these would have been fairly useless in confronting an enemy numbering literally in the tens of thousands. Instead, Cortez quickly realized that while the Aztecs were the big dog on the block, they had not made any friends in the region. Arrogant to a fault, rapacious and brutal to neighboring tribes, the Aztec Empire looted and murdered its neighbors without compunction. They herded thousands of captured subjects back to Tenotchtitlan for the sole purpose of butchering them to appease bloodthirsty gods. (Does the behavioral pattern sound familiar?) When the Spaniards arrived they were delighted to welcome the thousands upon thousands of local tribesmen who flocked to their banners in the hope of getting back at their Aztec overlords. This approach worked to a fault. In record time the vaunted and vicious Aztec Empire ceased to exist.
American soldiers in the field were quick to recognize the potential of the disenchanted and yet fierce members of Native American warrior sects. The majority of scouts for the US Army during the extensive Sioux Wars of the 1870’s through 1890’s for example were not, as Hollywood might have us believe, United States soldiers. Instead they were largely Arikara, Shoshone, Pawnee, Winnebago, and Crow scouts. All of these indigenous people knew and hated the Sioux. The Sioux were fellow Indians to be sure, but not well loved by those who by necessity or tradition lived near them. It was a group of Shoshone and Crow scouts who in June of 1876 first discovered and then blunted a massive assault by Crazy Horse’s warriors on Brigadier General George Crook’s encampment along the Rosebud. A week later, George Custer would use Crow and Arikara scouts to discover a large encampment of Sioux led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Unfortunately for him and many of his men Custer would dismiss the Crow’s declaration that the camp contained “…more warriors than you have bullets.” A cavalier disregard of his scouts’ advice proved disastrous in this event.
The following year the Sioux themselves would actually volunteer to track and fight the Nez Perces. And in later years General George Crook would be faced with the task of bringing to bay Geronimo’s fierce marauding Apaches. No pushovers, Crook described the Apaches as “the tigers of the human species.” Knowing the difficulties facing him Crook quickly enlisted the aid of other Apache warriors as scouts. It was the Apache scouts who finally located and brought Geronimo to bay. They knew the enemy and the terrain intimately. Apaches would continue to serve as scouts for the Army as a separate unit until as late as 1942. In almost every significant case, throughout the Indian wars it was the Indian Scouts who led American forces to the enemy in question.
We should keep this in mind when congressmen and news commentators begin to question a military use of former guerrillas against Al-Qaeda or the Mahdi Army. Perhaps it has taken us some time to relearn the lessons of history but this may just be the approach that our commitment to Iraq requires. Our newly acquired allies have learned their lessons the hard way. They have come to realize that the true enemies of Iraq and the Iraqi people are not American GIs — instead they are fanatical Saudis, Syrians, Egyptians, Chechens, Palestinians and Iranians who have come to feed their blood thirsty gods with the bodies of Iraqis. Or they are criminals and murderers who thrive on the chaos of war at the expense of those who would work and live in peace rather than raise their children in a climate of fear and death.
What we must now strive to do is to not repeat our past grievous errors. Most Native American Indian scouts were woefully treated after they had served honorably and well. Disarmed, abused, returned to reservations, their treatment amounts to nothing less than a national disgrace. In our own history General Crook, in a rare display of integrity, resigned his commission when his promises to his Apache scouts were broken by a duplicitous government in Washington.
But I don’t worry about the generals, it’s the politicians who bear careful watching.
Frederick J. Chiaventone – retired Army officer and award-winning novelist and screenwriter taught counter-insurgency at the Army’s staff college.

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