“The president, however, had clashed with Tillerson over and over again in the past year, seeing him as a relic of the Republican establishment at a time when the nation needed more unconventional thinking.”
This is very good news, for just that reason. We can only hope that with the departure of Tillerson, the failed policies of the State Department establishment will be swept out as well.
Chief among these is the almost universally held idea that poverty causes terrorism. The United States has wasted uncounted (literally, because a great deal of it was in untraceable bags full of cash) billions of dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, and other countries in the wrongheaded assumption that Muslims turn to jihad because they lack economic opportunities and education. American officials built schools and hospitals, thinking that they were winning over the hearts and minds of the locals.
Sixteen years, thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars later, no significant number of hearts and minds have been won. This is partly because the premise is wrong. The New York Times reported in March that “not long after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001…Alan B. Krueger, the Princeton economist, tested the widespread assumption that poverty was a key factor in the making of a terrorist. Mr. Krueger’s analysis of economic figures, polls, and data on suicide bombers and hate groups found no link between economic distress and terrorism.”
CNS News noted in September 2013 that “according to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, ‘Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.’ One of the authors of the RAND report, Darcy Noricks, also found that according to a number of academic studies, ‘Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population.’”
Yet the analysis that poverty causes terrorism has been applied and reapplied and reapplied again. The swamp is in dire need of draining, and in other ways as well. From 2011 on, it was official Obama administration policy to deny any connection between Islam and terrorism. This came as a result of an October 19, 2011 letter from Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates to John Brennan, who was then the Assistant to the President on National Security for Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism, and later served in the Obama administration as head of the CIA. The letter was signed not just by Khera, but by the leaders of virtually all the significant Islamic groups in the United States: 57 Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations, many with ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Relief USA; and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
The letter denounced what it characterized as U.S. government agencies’ “use of biased, false and highly offensive training materials about Muslims and Islam.” Despite the factual accuracy of the material about which they were complaining, the Muslim groups demanded that the task force “purge all federal government training materials of biased materials”; “implement a mandatory re-training program for FBI agents, U.S. Army officers, and all federal, state and local law enforcement who have been subjected to biased training”; and more—to ensure that all that law enforcement officials would learn about Islam and jihad would be what the signatories wanted them to learn.
Numerous books and presentations that gave a perfectly accurate view of Islam and jihad were removed from coounterterror training. Today, even with Trump as President, this entrenched policy of the U.S. government remains, and ensures that all too many jihadists simply cannot be identified as risks, since the officials are bound as a matter of policy to ignore what in saner times would be taken as warning signs. Trump must reverse this. He has spoken often about the threat from “radical Islamic terrorism”; he must follow through and remove the prohibitions on allowing agents to study and understand the motivating ideology behind the jihad threat.
The swamp needs draining indeed. Maybe Pompeo will start this all-important work.
“Trump dramatically FIRES Rex Tillerson on Twitter without telling him personally – leaving secretary of state baffled at sudden replacement by CIA boss Mike Pompeo,” by David Martosko, Dailymail.com, March 13, 2018:
President Donald Trump fired his secretary of state on Tuesday without telling him personally, announcing on Twitter that he would dismiss Rex Tillerson and elevate the nation’s spymaster to the role of global diplomat-in-chief.
And he said he will appoint a woman to lead the CIA for the first time in history.
Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steven Goldstein said in a statement that Tillerson ‘had every intention of staying.’
‘The Secretary did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve,’ Goldstein added.
Despite the awkwardness of the moment for Tillerson, the president took the public spotlight for himself.
As he left the White House for a trip to California, Trump told reporters that he and Tillerson had been ‘talking about this for a long time’ but that he ‘made the decision by myself.’
‘We disagreed on things,’ Trump said, citing the Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran.
‘I think Rex will be much happier now,’ he declared.
‘We were not really thinking the same. With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it’s going to go very well.’
He gushed that the future secretary as Mike Pompeo has ‘tremendous energy, tremendous intellect, we’re always on the same wavelength. The relationship has been very good.’
The president had tweeted earlier that Pompeo ‘will do a fantastic job!’
‘Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!’
Haspel was the CIA’s deputy director, a career officer who was a longtime clandestine officer.
In a statement, Trump said Pompeo ‘graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the U.S. Army, and graduated with Honors from Harvard Law School. He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with a proven record of working across the aisle.’
He called Haspel’s move to the CIA’s reins ‘a historic milestone.’
Trump also had words of praise for Tillerson: ‘A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well,’ he said.
The president, however, had clashed with Tillerson over and over again in the past year, seeing him as a relic of the Republican establishment at a time when the nation needed more unconventional thinking….