WASHINGTON — One of the nation’s leading foreign-policy experts has revealed to WND what he believes is the key to getting leftists to join the war on terror: Enlisting feminists to the cause.
And, suddenly, Richard Perle’s prescription seems like a prediction coming true before our very eyes.
Such prominent figures as actress Angelina Jolie began sounding practically like neoconservatives from the administration of President George W. Bush last week, loudly demanding terrorists be brought to justice or risk “setting a horrible precedent.”
Even Kim Kardashian was sending tweets condemning terrorists.
What was happening?
Terrorists had gone after girls.
Perle, an adviser to the Bush administration, also served in the Reagan administration from 1981 to 1987 as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy. In 2004, he co-wrote the book “An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror” with David Frum, former speechwriter for Bush.
The former Pentagon official was one of a number of policy exerts and lawmakers who recently gathered at a Washington, D.C., home for an informal briefing and discussion on “Terrorism and what should be done” organized by Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, and chaired by his senior policy counsel, Howard Segermark.
Perle told WND it is vital to convince feminists to join the war on terror because it is in their best interests to oppose Shariah law, the Islamic code which permits the brutalization of women.
Shariah is a system of Islamic jurisprudence found in the Quran that covers all aspect of life. It allows or demands:
- The subservience of women to men, permits the beating of women, and punishes sexual relations outside marriage by women with lashings, imprisonment or stoning to death.
- Genital mutilation, the partial or complete removal of the female genitalia for religious and cultural reasons. It is practiced to preserve a female’s chastity and dampen her sexual desire.
- Child marriage, forced marriages and polygamy.
- Honor killings, the murder of females who disgrace their families by such acts as appearing in public without a male relative chaperone, talking to an unrelated male, or exhibiting independence in thought and action.
Last week, leftist politicians and celebrities vociferously condemned the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria by the jihadist group Boko Haram, with ultra-liberal Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, even referring to the group’s leader as a “terrorist thug.”
WND asked Perle if he thought the kidnappings might herald a turning point in which the left would finally embrace the war on terror, wholeheartedly.
The scholar answered he did not know if the incident would be a turning point, but he emphasized the necessity of getting feminists to join the war on terror.
And practically as he was speaking, feminists suddenly appeared to be recognizing the horrors of Shariah law and loudly condemning terrorism, all because of a previously obscure jihadist group.
The left and the mainstream media had steadfastly ignored the atrocities committed by Boko Haram, an exceedingly violent and cruel advocate of sharia law, including its murder of up to 50 Nigerian boys on February 25, by slitting their throats, gunning them down or burning them alive. The left also ignored the 1,000 people the group had murdered by March.
But on April 14, Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is a sin" kidnapped more than 250 schoolgirls. Fifty escaped, but the jihadists have threatened to sell the remaining girls into sexual slavery.
And a few weeks later, the left was suddenly outraged.
Overnight, female celebrities appeared in selfies by the droves on social media with the message "#Bring back our girls."
Jolie demanded the terrorists be brought to justice, exclaiming, “If the world does nothing and they get away with this then we set this horrible precedent."
"We have to start arresting people for this, we have to start bringing them to justice and we have to start making it an absolute crime that puts fear in these men so that they think twice about this kind of action," said the actress who is also United Nations special envoy for refugees, at a film premier in London on Thursday.
Adding it was "infuriating" and she was “absolutely sickened,” Jolie even cast the atrocity in moral terms, observing, "Sadly of course there is real evil in the world, you watch the news and you see all of the people suffering and so much cruelty .... Unthinkable cruelty and evil."
The kidnapping has even made a political activist out of Kardasian, who tweeted, "Heartbreaking! Let's all raise awareness! #BringBackOurGirls."
Twitter was soon awash in celebrity tweets from famous females:
- Mia Farrow: "A serious search for Nigeria's stolen girls has taken WAY too long #BringBackOurGirls"
- Whoopi Goldberg: "Fear of education 4 girls in any country condemns the future of that country. WHY HURT YOUR OWN FUTURE#BringBackOurGirls."
- Reese Witherspoon: "Sending prayers to Nigerian families who are missing their daughters. It's time to #bringbackourgirls."
- Rashida Jones: "#BringBackOurGirls NOW."
Celebrity men got into the act, appearing in a selfie campaign with signs that read "Real men don't buy girls."
Michelle Obama even filled in for her husband on Saturday in delivering the president's weekly national radio address, declaring, "This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education - grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls."
It was the culmination of a slow-motion about-face for the administration.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton steadfastly refused to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist group, even after it bombed United Nations headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2011. Only under John Kerry did the State Department designate the group as a terrorist organization, in November 2013.
By last week, Clinton was condemning Boko Haram, but even mainstream news outlet CNN was questioning her judgment.
Under Clinton, the State Department argued that designating Boko Haram as a terrorist organization would cause more harm than good by enhancing the group's standing and prompting it to target U.S. and Western interests.
On Wednesday, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said, "There was a concern that putting Boko Haram on the foreign terrorist list would in fact, raise its profile, give it a greater publicity, give it greater credibility, help in its recruitment and also probably drive more assistance in its direction."
However, a Homeland Security Committee report in November 2011 warned Boko Haram was getting support from al-Qaida affiliates and could become a threat beyond Nigeria.
GOP lawmakers argued that adding Boko Haram to the terror list would give the U.S. a wide range of economic and military tools against the group.
However, the House report also claimed, "A number of factors have been attributed to fueling Boko Haram's violence and fanaticism, including a feeling of alienation from the wealthier, Christian, oil-producing southern Nigeria; pervasive poverty; rampant government corruption; heavy-handed security measures, and the belief that relations with the West are a corrupting influence," adding, "These grievances have led to sympathy among the local Muslim population despite Boko Haram's violent tactics."
That would be a misreading of what fuels terrorism, according to Perle and what appeared to be a majority of the experts at the informal panel assembled by Stockman on Thursday evening.
Perle called ideology the key driving force behind the global jihadist movement, and that economic and political conditions and grievances were largely secondary.
That was because, he observed, the vast majority of proponents of global jihad are not poor, but usually middle-class or well-to-do. It is the henchmen who largely come from poorer conditions.
Interestingly, Perle saw an exact parallel between the Cold War and the war on terror.
He said the U.S. approach to terrorists now is like détente with the Soviet Union in the 1970s. It is accommodating and seeks to coexist rather than confront and conquer.
Perle agreed it was like the broken-windows theory of policing: If smaller crimes go unopposed, it leads to greater crimes.
His advice was to, first, recognize the war on terror is a real war and, secondly, to stop détente and accommodation and to adopt a confrontational strategy on every front. The implication was to do as President Ronald Reagan did in challenging the Soviets militarily in an arms race, while also engaging them in a battle of ideas.
Another parallel he drew with the Cold War was that the enemy can be identified by its ideology. Back then it was communism. Now, a group can be identified as terrorist, and the enemy, if its goal is to create a geographic Muslim entity. In other words, the enemy are those trying to build an Islamic empire, or caliphate.
In stressing that the enemy cannot identified by its grievances, which could be endless, Perle used an example to illustrate how it is ideology, not economic conditions, that create radical Muslims.
He noted the book "Who killed Daniel Pearl?" by Bernard-Henri Levy described how an honor student at the London School of Economics became radicalized by a sheik in London, and, with the permission of his upper-class parents, went to Afghanistan. That led to the beheading of Pearl by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who posted a video of the atrocity on the internet.
Drawing again on lessons from the Cold War, Perle felt foreign aid could be used as a weapon against terrorism. He described how many nations the U.S. supported with aid in the 1980s were voting against American interests in the United Nations until Reagan gave U.N. ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick permission to threaten to withhold aid, and it was "amazing" how quickly those nations changed their voting patterns.
Also important in confronting terrorists, said Perle, is finding out where they are and which nations they are using as hiding places. Then, figuring out what pressure can be brought to bear on the host nations to surrender the terrorists or kick them out.
Perle said it is important to hold accountable nations that harbor terrorists, because countries have an address and can be located, whereas it is nearly impossible to track down each individual terrorist. That was the importance, he said, of President George W. Bush's declaration "You are either with us or against us."
That, he added, should be particularly true with Pakistan, one of the greatest state hosts of terrorists, yet a recipient of generous U.S. foreign aid – $18 billion since 2001.
Perle criticized the State Department for not threatening to withhold foreign aid and demand states such as Pakistan close the madrassas, or schools, where many Muslim children become radicalized.
He also emphasized the importance of military confrontation, observing it's easier to recruit terrorists if they think they're going to win, but "there's nothing like defeating them to discourage them."
Perle felt a greater percentage of military spending should go to special forces because special operations, rather than conventional warfare, now form the nature of the conflict.
Other observations made by participants at the dinner:
- Islamic terrorism is about religion, first and foremost. In his first taped address, Osama bin Laden called terrorism a religious obligation. Therefore, we must understand it as a religious issue, and see Islamism as a spiritual pathology.
- Jihad really is a global phenomenon and it was the Internet that allowed jihad to go global. First, terrorists used websites, now they use social media.
- There are too few U.S. troops to confront jihad everywhere, even if we wanted to. There are 1.5 billion Muslims. If even just 1 percent are radicalized, that is still 15 million, enough people to fill a country. Therefore, it is an intellectual conflict, as much as, or even more than, a military conflict – but we have not armed ourselves to fight it. We are not countering the Islamist ideology persuasively or effectively with reason. We are losing the informational war.
- Even Albania, formerly the most sedate of Muslim nations, has radicalized. It has 1,000 fighters in Syria.
- By pushing a civil war in Syria, the Obama administration has created two virulent terrorist groups, an al-Qaida affiliate and Shi'ite radicals, drawing militants from all over the world.
- Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of new jihadists will come out of Syria.
- A number of panelists feared Syria could become a real base of operations for international terrorist attacks.
- Iran's diplomatic successes against the U.S. embolden even its rivals, the Sunni jihadists such as al-Qaida.
- Al-Qaida has changed its organization but the U.S. hasn't changed its approach. Al-Qaida is not hierarchical, as it was in 2001. It is more decentralized and cellular but the U.S. government is still fighting it as though it were 2001, looking for the "al-Qaida" stamp of approval on every act of terror. The U.S. doesn't see the smaller, non-al-Qaida groups as a threat, and that is a mistake.
- One participant recalled how Vice President Joe Biden even said in 2011 that the Taliban is not an enemy of the U.S., causing a round of incredulous laughter.
- A congressman lamented that even among the GOP, lawmakers had returned to a 9/10 mentality and were not concerned with the terrorist threat.
Follow Garth Kant on Twitter @DCgarth