Defining the Jihadist Threat

by on October 30th, 2006

Retired Marine officer, current employee at the Department of Homeland Security, and friend of the editor, Bill Powell, submitted this unclassified testimony given to the House Subcommittee on Intelligence on September 20, 2006, by Professor Walid Phares, subtitled “Intercepting Radicalization at the Indoctrination Stage.”

It’s this level of analytical exegesis that one rarely finds and it demonstrates the efficacy of the resources and capabilities that a resolute enemy such as the Islamic extremists enjoy in a free, pluralistic society. The assessment concludes by calling for a

…comprehensive strategy of containment of the Terror ideology within the framework of the civil and democratic rights of society.

Beyond bringing into stark relief the full breadth and depth of this profound challenge, it also makes one ponder whether our political will is sufficiently intact degrade if not decimate this enemy. Given our belated response to attacks on the U.S., its interests and allies over the past two decades it’s a legitimate question.

A key explanation for the checkered way in which we’ve prosecuted this war is its unprecedented nature, which belongs to a military genus that the United States has never faced and for which counter measures remain in their infancy. Indeed, the tenants of asymmetrical warfare exploit inherent force structure vulnerabilities while insidiously testing the myriad weaknesses that inform the very essence of our democratic society.

Those premises have forced us to fundamentally rethink every aspect of conventional warfare and to exempt no viable and legal alternative that might inhibit the Jihadists’ capabilities to strike. It’s ironic that those such as Mr. Powell, who have a deep understanding of this enemy as well as the unique manner in which our current political landscape a priori dismisses the most effective tools at our disposal, are those for whom the left has an abiding distrust.

We segue to the great unfinished work, On War, by General Carl Von Clausewitz, which is a veritable compendium of theoretical and strategic battlefield wisdom that should be required reading for every American, beginning with our mainstream media and ending with our Potomac elites. It begins with the definition of war as

…an act of violence to compel our opponent fulfill our will.

Of course, our cultural Brahmins would excise the word “violence” from this definition, preferring the softer contours of the word “wishfulness” which implies the need for at least a decade of diplomacy, which is typically sufficient to gather the political momentum for appeasement.

From there it takes us on a tour of remarkably insightful and nuanced tutorials that at once convince the reader of their veracity and of the difficulty of applying them in our contemporary age when political correctness and the allure of antiseptic warfare encourage (read, mandate) a strategic diffidence that only assures that the conflict will be needlessly protracted with commensurately higher casualties.

As we watch our elected officials preen and posture in advance of the November elections we would do well to remember that the most effective strategy is that which redefines the terms of engagment to maximize our strategic advantage, which also provides unambiguous evidence of the resolute nature of our will. Anything short of that telegraphs the kind of weakness that this foe will exploit with a level of lethality that will dwarf the barbarism of 9/11.

When reflecting on that formula for victory, one party leaps instantly to mind and it isn’t the party of Pelosi, Kennedy, and Durbin, the left’s practitioners of defeat. Therefore, cast your vote accordingly.

Mella is Founder and Editor of

Philip Mella