Do you remember when George Casey was in the news, less than a year ago, in the immediate aftermath of the murders at Fort Hood by Nidal Hasan? Hasan was a Muslim, the son of "Palestinians" who had been not only allowed into this country but given the rare privilege of American citizenship. He had, furthermore, accepted full payment of his medical school tuition by the Army. Then as a psychiatrist in the Army he was earning $90,000 a year, but because he took Islam to heart, because he did not allow self-interest to get in the way of his carrying out what he regarded as his duty as a good Muslim: to "smite the Unbelievers" for....for being Unbelievers -- he murdered eleven unarmed men, fellow members of the American military.
And George Casey, Chief of Staff of the Army, immediately expressed his concern that the "real tragedy" would be if, because of this event, harm were done - hadn't another kind of harm already been done? - to the Great Aim And Only End Of American Life, Diversity: "As great a tragedy as this was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well." He was severely and properly criticized for this, but not by any of those in power. No, in the face of such criticism, they didn't dare rush to his rescue - after all, he was merely mouthing the Party Line - but they did nothing to suggest that they in any way found his remark remarkable. And Casey did not learn a lesson. He did not ponder the idiocy of what he had said, for a few months later, in a February 2010 interview, Casey warmed again to the theme: "Our diversity not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse."
It was one more Burnt Offering on the Altar of An Idol of the Age - "Diversity" - and one more example of assertions being made without any evidence at all to support them, such as that "Diversity is our strength." (In the mighty contests to come, including possibly one with China, a country that, like Japan and Korea, does not worship or admire or have any great desire to enforce or bring about "diversity," we shall see just how much "diversity" turns out to be "our strength.")
Well, sometimes one almost feels a certain sympathy for General Casey, the hapless political general, because it is unclear if he is simply mouthing the script or if he really believes it. He was back in the news, fleetingly, and far too unremarked upon, two weeks ago, with what he said at the Aspen Institute, meeting in a bucolic setting. Here is the important part of what he said:
General George Casey, the Chief of Staff of the Army, said today the United States could face another "decade or so" of persistent conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In two months, the U.S. will have been at war in Afghanistan for nine years.
The four-star general said the U.S. military moved beyond conventional warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan "long ago," and that the focus is now on the people. Casey highlighted job, education and economic growth as essential to success in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When asked if enemies of the U.S. have to be a part of the reconciliation process for it to be considered a success, Casey said that is a "matter of debate," but that enemies have to be convinced they will lose.
In a follow-up statement to CBS News, a spokesperson for Gen. Casey, Lt. Col. Rich Spjegel, said that "General Casey was speaking of the types of conflict we will be fighting for a decade or so. He did not, nor did he intend to, imply that we would be fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan for 10 more years.
The general's comments were made at a session moderated by the New York Times' David Sanger at the Aspen Institute's Ideas Festival. Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff was in the audience, and his wife Meryl Chertoff, the Institute's Co-Director of Justice and Society Programs, introduced Casey.
Now there are two distinct parts to what Casey said. Both need to be examined.
First, without any hint that he might find the prospect intolerable, the head of the U.S. Military blithely said that the U.S. faced another ten years if fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And did the audience rise up and rage, as it should have? Or was the response tepid, among all these complacent souls at one of those depressing meetings of the Great and The Good? They all know each other. It was the kind of thing that used to be mocked when it was Just Boys Having Fun at Bohemian Grove, but then was taken solemn-seriously when the boys added girls, and they all became Rulers of the World, meeting at Davos. And now the Aspen Institute has gotten into the game.
We, however, who are not part of the game, and would never be invited to Aspen, or Davos, or the Bohemian Grove, and who take as dim a view of our ruling class or classes as did Mark Twain (though he did have a fondness, let's face it, despite his contempt for those who made out like gangbusters, because they were respectable businessmen-gangsters, during the Gilded Age, for Henry Huddleston Rogers, of Fairhaven, Mass.), can express - please join me in doing so - our rage at this kind of remark. It was made by someone who can no longer be taken seriously on any matter having to do with fighting the Jihad. It is appalling that he would dare to contemplate another five or ten years of squandering of men, money, materiel, so wastefully in distant, remote, hopeless, quite unnecessary Afghanistan.
Five or ten years more?
So what do you think they think is the duration of the "war" we are fighting?
Former Vice President Cheney famously said that this would be a "Long War."
And now General Casey, and those behind and above him, say that at the very least, this war in Afghanistan alone may go on for another five or ten years. And hearing this, we may ask ourselves where else will this war, fought this way, be taken - will it go to Somalia, or to Yemen? Will these be the next Stations of the National Cross we are collectively made to bear, because those who rule over us do not know, and do not want to know, and may even not know that they do not know, what is necessary if a sensible policy of managing the war of self-defense against all those who take the duty and doctrine of Jihad seriously can be constructed and applied?
That war of self-defense is not a "Long War." It is not a war that might go on for "five" or maybe "ten" more years, in Afghanistan or anywhere else, and then be over with.. It is a permanent war, a war without end, because the doctrine of Jihad is a permanent, and central, not tangential, part of Islam. The duty to engage, directly or indirectly, in Jihad - which should not be thought of only as involving terrorism or other forms of violence - does not disappear. It did not disappear in the century-and-a-half, from roughly 1800 to 1950, when Muslims were so obviously weak that those who wanted to engage in Jihad simply could not. But now things have unalterably changed: the OPEC trillions (more than 13 trillion dollars since 1973 alone to the Muslim members of OPEC), with more piling up every year, and the millions of Muslims foolishly allowed in, through the casually criminal negligence of political and media elites, to the countries of Western Europe. All this, and then the exploitation of Western technology that is useful in the dissemination of the message of Islam, both to Muslims (some of whom might heretofore have been unaware of the full message of Islam, but can remain so now only with difficulty) and to non-Muslims who might be seduced by the siren-song of whatever melody (e.g., "social justice") that Muslims conducting Da'wa might wish to underhum.
Far from being "realistic" in their supposedly "glum" assessments, Cheney with his "Long War" and General Casey with his "five or ten more years in Afghanistan" are actually misleading themselves, and us. For they are refusing to grasp the nature of the war. They are thinking in terms that do not make sense. To wit: It might take us "five or ten years" to stamp out Al Qaeda, and the Taliban, in both its Afghani and Pakistani versions, and then, supposedly, we will have our "victory," we will have "won." But no "victory" in the conventional sense is possible. And there is to be no "winning" but only, rather, the minimizing of the threat and the conceivable damage, from Muslims. Why? Because there is no sell-by date to the doctrine and duty of Jihad. It goes on forever. And when anyone tells you, with a sober mien that is supposed to convey the message that "I'm not naïve, I'm a grim realist, I know this is going to be a long hard slog and it might take five years, ten years, twenty years, in Af-Pak and the Horn of Africa," you should not think to yourself that at long last someone has dared to tell the truth, someone in authority is leveling with you.
Not at all. It is the same misleading view as before, and anyone who gives you a date by which Jihad will "come to an end" is a fool. Why, the very title of the book by the academic entrepreneur Noah Feldman, After Jihad, is evidence enough of his misunderstanding of Islam, the very subject which he was said to know so much about. And how he played that, and his brief role "in writing Iraq's constitution," into a tenured position at Harvard Law School, where for obvious reasons he's now busily distancing himself from the Islamic law shtick and presenting himself in new, improved guise as an expert on American Constitutional Law which, he now is careful to let his colleagues know, was "always my real interest."
There is no such thing as "After Jihad." Jihad is the duty on Muslims to participate, directly or indirectly, in the "struggle" to remove all obstacles to the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam. It will go on as long as Islam exists. There is no end, therefore, to the war of self-defense - a war which must recognize the major instruments of that Jihad, and counter them. The major instruments are not, at this point, violence but, rather, the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, propaganda on behalf of Islam, and demographic conquest. And the main theatre of war is not Iraq, not Afghanistan, not Af-Pak, not Yemen, not Somalia, not anywhere in the Muslim-ruled lands, but the imperiled countries of Western Europe (the Jihad against Israel being a given, though as yet most Israelis still are unwilling to grasp - perhaps they find the notion too disheartening - that the war against them is permanent, and not to be assuaged by further surrenders of territory).
Anyone - a Vice-President, a General -- who gives you a date, no matter how far in the future, when the "victory" will be achieved, or the "war" will end - is misleading himself, is misleading you. And the question then becomes: why would George Casey say such a thing?
And the reason is that he really does not understand. Nor do those whose views he is careful to reflect. They do not believe, they cannot allow themselves to believe, that Jihad is a central part of the ideology of Islam. Or they may, like the comical and execrable John Brennan, choose to believe the most obvious nonsense, that business about Jihad being an "internal fight to be a good Muslim." That's the kind of thing only a real idiot - a Karen Armstrong or a John Brennan - could allow himself to believe. But when John Brennan, the Deputy Special Assistant For Terrorism and Homeland Security to President Obama on Terrorism, told the world that Jihad means merely that "internal struggle of Muslims to master themselves and to be good Muslims," that was a statement he made to an audience of Muslims who surely knew the truth. Though they were happy to hear the falsehood, no doubt they were also secretly contemptuous of Brennan for this display of idiocy and appeasement. Arabs and Muslims do not display contempt for, though they have much more to fear from, those non-Muslims who do grasp the meaning and menace of Islam.
When Brennan told us that Jihad was really an internal struggle, and what's more, a worthy one, one that we should all admire, this Special Deputy Assistant On Terrorism and Homeland Security to President Obama chose to ignore - could it be that he does not know? - what all the great Western scholars of Islam (not the espositos of today, the venal and/or true-believing apologists, and Defenders of the Faith) have written about Islam, and what Muslim clerics and scholars have written and said about Islam for audiences of fellow Muslims, and what the Defectors from the Army of Islam - Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Magdi Allam, Ibn Warraq, Ali Sina, Anwar Shaikh, et al. - have said about Islam.
And then there is General Casey, who may think that as a simple military man, he must defer to the brilliant likes of the "experts," such as John Brennan, and if they don't see this as an unending conflict, if they think that Jihad is not what the Muslim clerics and scholars, and the Western scholars of Islam, and the defectors from Islam, that is the apostates, all say it is - well, who am I, simple good soldier George Casey wishing to tow the line and not rock any boats, and to endorse at every step what those above me want me to think and say - well, who am I to bring anyone's attention to the meaning of Jihad, and the duration - forever, without end - of Jihad?
That's the business of "five or ten more years" in Afghanistan. Anyone who gives a date, meant to imply that at a certain point the "war is over," is misleading himself, and misleading us, and does not understand the nature of the conflict.
And a second part of the Aspen speech by George Casey also merits attention: "Casey highlighted job, education and economic growth as essential to success in Iraq and Afghanistan."
This is what we are so drearily familiar with, the idea that we should do with Muslim lands what we did with the countries of Western Europe after World War II with the Marshall Plan (indeed, Al-Jaafari and others in Iraq have more than once called for a "New Marshall Plan" for Iraq, in which the United States taxpayers foot the bill; "Marshall Plan" is a phrase strangely familiar to many Arabs and Muslims). We have an official unemployment rate of nearly 10% in this country (and more, if one counts those who have given up looking for work, and still more, if one counts all the greatly under-employed). We have a collapsing educational system. We do not have economic growth. But Casey, and those for whom Casey also speaks, thinks that Americans should pay for "jobs and education and economic growth" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Never mind that Iraq has the second or possibly first largest reserves of oil in the world, and thanks to the United States had its entire debt of nearly $100 billion cancelled by the Western nations (but notice that the Arab creditors did not cancel what was owed to them), and will be raking in hundreds of billions. Never mind that "education" may make an enemy more formidable, not less, and if "education" never questions the teachings of Islam, but merely makes Muslims more dangerous because better educated, why is this something we should encourage?
And as for "economic growth," Casey apparently has not noticed that what "prosperity" has come to Saudi Arabia, because of unmerited revenues from the sale of oil, has not made Saudi Arabia less but more dangerous. Nor has he apparently noticed that Iran is now more dangerous, thanks to four decades of oil-fueled "economic growth," than it was, say, a half-century ago. "Economic growth" means more money to play with, more money to buy Western arms, to finance WMD projects, to export Islam by funding mosques and madrasas and propaganda and campaigns of Da'wa. It is not only counterintuitive to wish the Muslim countries well, to hope that they will experience "economic growth." It is also wrong.
Finally, even if one thought somehow that countries not mired in poverty would be less of a threat to us, even, that is, if one joined the camp of believers in the usefulness of "economic growth" in limiting the appeal of Jihad, if one fails to take into account the nature of Islam as a break on economic growth, because of the hatred of Bid'a, innovation, and the inshallah-fatalism that colors the outlook of individuals in societies suffused with Islam, and dampens their desire for hard work - given that Allah giveth and taketh away whenever the whim occurs - what does General Casey and the Brigade of Nation-Builders in Washington make of that? Anything? Nothing?
And the same goes, but in spades, for remote, tribal-riven Afghanistan. The Afghans will not be less of a threat if they acquire televisions and computers, for those televisions and computers will merely disseminate the message of Islam, and are already doing so. There is no reason to think that the illiterate and poor Afghan villager is more of a threat than those to whom, thanks to American billions, become less poor, and find out more about Islam. And in any case, how does General Casey or those for whom he speaks think they will manage to undo the real break on Afghani development - Islam itself? If one truly wished the Afghans well, wouldn't you wish for the power of Islam to be broken? What, secretly, do Sarah Chayes, and Greg Mortensen, and all those people who are trying to help Afghans think or know? Do they allow themselves to recognize that the problem in Afghanistan, the thing that makes life hell for girls and women, and not only for them, is the power of Islam? I wonder if they could ever allow themselves to recognize that truth, to reach that conclusion.
Americans are supposed to provide for Afghans, at great and endless expense, both "jobs' and "education." What kind of jobs? With what infrastructure? What kind of education? Would schools for girls be built, and then be blown up? And will the curriculum have to fit with Islam? For if so, the teaching of history will be most peculiar, and the teaching of science, which depends partly on encouraging an attitude of questioning, of skepticism, will not be possible. In short, an education of Muslims in a Muslim-ruled land will mean an education that stunts mental growth. No amount of new buildings or teachers' salaries paid by the long-suffering Americans will change that, even if we have photographs of smiling, eager children - the kind that are always used to encourage charitable giving. Yes, basic literacy may be increased, but so what? What happens when an illiterate villager becomes literate? Does he become more, or less, aware of what Islam teaches? Is he more likely to be favorably inclined toward Infidels, or less, as he reads the propaganda of those who, round the clock, are disseminating the message of Islam?
Casey's prediction as to the duration of the conflict, and his prescription as to what will work to end it - more "jobs and education and economic growth" - bespeak a failure to even start to grasp that this is, as so many apostates keep telling us, an ideological war. And in this war, it is up to us to demoralize the enemy, to shake the resolve of those who are Muslims. And that shaking of that resolve does not require boots on the ground, and planes flying expensively overhead, in Afghanistan or anywhere else. It does require our own ability to grasp the meaning of Islam, and to relate what Islam teaches, and the effect it has on the minds of its adherents, and on their observable attitudes and behavior, so that we - not they - can understand how the many failures, political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral, of Muslim societies and states are a result of Islam itself. And if we keep talking about this, here and there and everywhere, Muslims will overhear us. Some will angrily deny the connection, but the argument that makes that connection is just too strong, and too convincing, to be gainsaid by many, for long. And if, in addition, we spread the word - the word happens to be true - that Islam is and always has been a vehicle for Arab supremacism, then among the 80% of the world's Muslims who are not Arabs, some will hearken, some will begin to think, and that too, will have its effects.
General Casey, I'm afraid, is not among the clear-sighted few, but among the dim-witted many. Whether he has suffered from years of being just too dutiful in his climb ever upwards, and not allowed himself the great luxury of ferociously independent thought that might even get him in trouble, I don't know. But it's too late for him. And his statements in Aspen reflect the same mental failure as do those remarks of the amiable Charles Bolden, blandly telling an Al Jazeera interviewer of the important task that Barack Obama had entrusted to him as the administrative head of NASA, that, of convincing or reassuring Muslims of their great history of achievement in science, in math, in engineering. But in both cases, behind Bolden and behind Casey, there lie or loom others, more powerful - the President and those whom he has disastrously selected to advise him, such as John Brennan, on the matter of Islam.
Is there time for Obama to begin to see things differently, and to get rid of the brennans and bring on board the ship of state, now a dangerously listing Narrenschiff or S. S. Naufragium, others, less ignorant and less self-deceived? Yes. There is time. But only just.