Lt. Gen. John H. Vines, who is set to take command of American ground forces in Iraq, has assigned a series of books on Islam to his staff members. Here are comments on Vines’ choices from Jihad Watch Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald:
The Reading List of General Vines deserves further detailed study. There are two books by Esposito. There is one by Karen Armstrong, whom, one would have thought, is by now regarded as a complete buffoon. There is something about Islam for Dummies. There is a book by the jejune Sandra Mackey on Iraq, when either the Letters of Gertrude Bell (those from Baghdad up to 1927, when she killed herself), or Philip Ireland’s book published in 1939 would have helped — and best of all would have been the essay on Iraq by the native of Baghdad, Elie Kedourie, published in Islam in the Modern World.
Nothing by Lewis. Nothing by Kedourie. Nothing by J. B. Kelly, not even that essay “Of Valuable Oil and Worthless Policies” which, while it dates in the section on the Soviet threat, does not date as a description of the misperception of Saudi Arabia. The spirit of ARAMCO propagandists still lives.
What is good about the Reading List is that it is so bad, so truly bad, that eyebrows should be raised all over Washington. Who compiled this list? Who carefully allowed in, as the single sop, the Naipaul, but left out the Lewis, the Kedourie, the Kelly? Who left out any serious essays on the nature of Islam, on Jihad? How are the Infidel soldiers supposed to comprehend the hostility that is felt towards them, even though they are only there to “rebuild” Iraq? For if they cannot understand that hostility — which is in every textbook, every mosque, every madrassa, every Arab satellite channel, every Qur’an and volume of the Hadith and every life of Muhammad, they will be eternally confused. And confusion and incomprehension, or miscomprehension, leads to demoralization.
Here is an example of a little colloquy reported by NPR Correspondent Deborah Amos this morning. She was reporting from Basra. She interviewed a man, asking him as follows:
Amos: “Do you want foreign troops to leave?”
Iraqi: “Would you want your country to be occupied?” (Iraqis, she said, and soldiers know, tend to reply to questions cannily, warily, with questions of their own, and almost never give a straight answer to anything).
When Amos then presses him if he wants the Americans to leave, he answers:
“Yes, I do. But not before they fix everything, and stop terrorism.”
How nice. I hate you, and I want you to leave. But first you have to “stop terrorism” and, oh by the way, “fix everything.”
That kind of attitude will not be understood by reading Karen Armstrong, who describes Muhammad as the man who “brought peace” to the Arabian Peninsula. It will not be understood by reading John Esposito, author of The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality? (we know which he chose), a man who in previous editions of his books does not give more than a single mention of the word “Jihad” and has never treated of the dhimmi.
How can American officers figure out why the Christians are being terrorized, if they know nothing about the 1350 year history of Jihad-conquest and of the imposition of dhimmitude? How?
How can American officers understand what is going on if the inculcated hostility toward them is not understood?
The greatest Intelligence Failure of the Iraq War was not about WMD. It was about Islam, its tenets, its nature, the attitudes and atmospherics it engenders. It was an intelligence failure that continues as long as we prate about how everyone wants freedom (nonsense), that “democracy” will lessen the threat in the Middle East (double-nonsense), that the best way to limit a threat based entirely on the classic ideology of Islam is to say nothing, to learn nothing, to hint at nothing, about Islam itself.
Supposedly, the “faculty at Yale” and people at the “Foreign Service Institute” were responsible for this list. Let’s find out something more about precisely who was involved in the selection of the final group of eight books. What are their names? What are their own interests?
Note to Hollywood: it is time for movies and television stories, not about Muslim terrorists, but about those who are apologists for Islam, and who are determined to keep certain truths from getting out, in very high places indeed. One need not be of a conspiratorial frame of mind to see that with such a Reading List, something is very amiss — and very high up.
This has to be thoroughly investigated.