by Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D.

Many experts, genuine or self-proclaimed, assert that the battle against radical Islam will be won, not so much by killing its adherents, but by discrediting the ideology.

That sounds profound indeed, yet, what exactly does it mean?

Former Trump National Security Advisor retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn in his 2016 book "The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies," suggested[1] using psychological operations and counter-propaganda, through federal government channels, schools, media and social networks to discredit the "evil (religious) doctrines" motivating jihadists.

If the new National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster has a unique and detailed strategy to defeat radical Islam, in addition to not using the term,[2] or "putting politics at the center," I have yet to find it.

Further evidence[1] that McMaster's views on radical Islam are closer to Barack Obama's than to Donald Trump's is his endorsement of the book "Militant Islamist Ideology: Understanding the Global Threat," he described as both "excellent" and "deserv[ing] a wide readership."

The author claims[4] that, although "militant" Islamists are enemies; non-militant Islamists are not. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood," which sees "incremental infiltration and subtle subversion of infidel Western states as more effective than outright terrorism," does not pose a problem.

It is the same false premise that led to Obama's support for the Muslim Brotherhood's 2012 takeover of Egypt, disregarding[5] "the near unanimous advice of the national security team," deciding "to depose then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak."

Sebastian Gorka, military and intelligence analyst and now Deputy Assistant to the President, applies the lessons of the Cold War, recommending[6] "a massive campaign to counter enemy propaganda using social media, but reminiscent of tactics the West employed against the Soviets, such as the establishment of publishing houses in Europe with CIA funds and the dissemination of news on Voice of America radio broadcasts."

Gorka explained:[7] "Ultimately we will win when the ideology of global jihadism is no longer attractive to young men and women from Orlando to Brussels, from Paris to San Bernardino. That can only be done through a strategic-level counter-propaganda campaign driven by the White House, in exactly the same way that we did during the Cold War."

David Satter, a former Moscow correspondent and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute noted:[8] "I think we must begin by recognizing that, although it pretends to be a religion, radical Islam is an ideology. In this respect, it is the blood brother of atheistic communism. Both systems treat artificial dogma as infallible truth and seek to impose it on all of humanity."

Yes, attacking the ideology was important in defeating communism and it is relevant as a tactic in the war against radical Islam.

But didn't President Ronald Reagan, the architect of the defeat of the Soviet Union, focus on the source, the "Evil Empire" itself, rather than on the fringes of Soviet expansionism?

The center of gravity of today's ideological struggle is Iran, followed by the "Soviet Block" of radical Islam - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, Erdogan of Turkey, as well as radical Islam's "Comintern" (international communist organization that advocated world communism), the Muslim Brotherhood.

The limitations of information warfare need to be recognized. The targets of propaganda, such as the Soviet Union, are often also the most effective in censorship and media control. It was only after Gorbachev initiated glasnost, a consequence of other pressures, did the availability of information increase and, thus, a greater impact of Western influence operations.

Pumping out more counter-propaganda, while leaving the sources of the ideology free to go about their dirty business seems, well, counter-productive.

Contrary to what some might believe, dangerous ideologies are not Twittered to death.













McMaster is considered a very capable military officer with insight into the political aspects of military action. But his apparent dismissal of how dependent Salafist terrorist activities are on the Koran's core values is worrisome. As Lt. Col James G. Zumwalt has said, "An Iraq war veteran and student of history, McMaster is apparently taking a stand - similar to that espoused by former President Obama - not to suggest Islam itself is violent but that extremists have hijacked Islam, giving it a violent interpretation."

These are other articles on McMaster's evident views of Islam:

James Zumwalt "The Islamic Ambush Awaitng Us," here.

Raymond Ibahim, "More Evidence That McMaster Shares Obama's Views on Islam and Terror" here.

J.E. Dyer, "The breadth of vision: How H.R. McMaster’s view of Islam matters," here.

Contrary to reader Georgiaboy61's complaint, Lawrence Sellin understands full well that calling a Muslim group's ideology radical doesn't imply that the ideology is not really part of the Islamic religion. That aside, the comment by Georgiaboy61, does an excellent job making clear the symbiosis between the belief structure of radical Islam and normative Islam.

Colonel Sellin, one is rather surprised a man of your obvious insight would fall for the old "radical Islam" ploy used by the Islamists and their western enablers. Permit a reader recommendation which will do much to set your thinking straight: "Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad" by Major Stephen Coughlin (U.S. Army, ret.).

Major Coughlin's book has much to recommend it, but perhaps the greatest service it does for the counter-jihad cause is to demolish the idea that the jihadists and terrorists of groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS are somehow separate from and apart from mainstream, orthodox Islam.

For many years now, Muslims - in particularly the Sunni Arabs and their proxies - have been successful in selling the notion to non-Muslims that the terrorists are "extremists" not representative of the "real" Islam. If we use a Venn Diagram as a teaching tool as Coughlin does in the book, according to this description, mainstream Islam is represented by one circle, "radical" and "extremist" Islam by another smaller and non-intersecting circle. Presto - "mainstream" Islam and "radical" Islam have nothing whatsoever to do with one another!

This representation is utterly false - and just as importantly a form of taqiyya (i.e., a form of lie believers are permitted to tell infidels in order to protect/advance Islam).

The correct description and representation of Islam is as follows: So-called "extremist" and "radical" Islamic groups like ISIS - far from being alien to orthodox mainstream Islam, lie at its very center. Represented in a Venn diagram, the small circle representing "extremist" Islam is completely enclosed by the larger circle depicting Islam as a whole.

In other words, the problem isn't "radical" Islam and it isn't "extremist" Islam; it is simply Islam.

Muslims themselves do not use such modifiers to describe their system of belief; indeed, there is much evidence that they find such labels abhorrent and off-putting. No less than President (then Prime Minister) Erdogan of Turkey, himself an unapologetic Islamic supremacist, addressed the use of these modifiers some years ago in reference to western media descriptions of his own AKP Party as "moderate" when he stated,

˜These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” [emphasis added]

The point is that these modifiers are the politically-correct inventions of western media and other observers, most of whom lack even the most-basic and rudimentary of knowledge of Islam necessary for informed comment and coverage.

Virtually no western reporters, commentators and analysts go to the trouble to research the core, fundamental texts, sources and doctrines of Islam, namely the Koran (Islam's holy book), the Hadiths (traditions of Mohammed), and the Sira (biography of Mohammed) - despite the fact that it is impossible to begin to understand Islam without doing so.

Major Coughlin spent years immersed in this subject-matter material, and was perhaps the top expert in the U.S. military upon Islam - before being purged by the Obama regime and forced into retirement.

If one studies the foundational texts, doctrines and beliefs of Islam, it is quickly apparent that groups like ISIS, far from being outliers on the periphery of the faith, are exemplars of it and lie at the very heart of orthodox mainstream Islam - in particular mainstream Sunni Islam, the dominant Muslim sect in the world today. It is also readily-apparent that Islam is at war with western (non-Muslim) civilization - and has been for well over a thousand years.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of "Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution ". He receives email at This article appeared March 18, 2017 in Fmily Security Matters and is archived at

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