Frank Salvato Frank Salvatois
the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for
a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education
initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House
International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for
Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org,
partnered in producing the original national symposium series
addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is
a member of the International Analyst Network.
He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal.
Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News
Channel, and is a regular guest on talk radio including on The
Captain's America Radio Show airing on AM1220 WSRQ and on the
Internet catering to the US Armed Forces around the world and on
The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the
USA Radio Network. His
opinion-editorials have been published by The American
Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times & Human Events and
are syndicated nationally. He is occasionally quoted in The
Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking
There has been
quite a bit of criticism directed at President Obama for his handling –
or mishandling – of the Afghan theater in the global conflict with
radical Islamists. To be certain, it should be the number one or, at the
very least, number two item on his list of priorities. That it is not is
deserving of criticism. But the catalyst for this dysfunctional thinking
emanates from the reality that we, as a nation, don’t have a proper
understanding of the conflict at hand and, therefore, have very
different opinions – some based in fact but most influenced by ideology
– as to the consequences of implementing the wrong strategy.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, then candidate Barack Obama
identified the Afghan theater as the only "legitimate” military theater
in which the US military was engaged. He did so in a politicized attempt
to paint the Iraqi theater as illegitimate; an optional battle theater
championed by his opponent. Whether or not you agree with that belief is
irrelevant to the fact that Mr. Obama identified the Afghan theater as
being "the good war.” This declaration, along with his promise to
support the generals on the ground, intimated that he was going to
respect the judgments and opinions of the field commanders with regard
to strategy and assessment. That understood, it really shouldn’t be too
much for the American people to expect their president to follow through
on his campaign promises.
The Enemy Ongoing military campaign
aside, we have never really accurately profiled the enemy and therefore
have never really been about to honestly contemplate a successful
strategy for achieving victory in not only the Afghan theater but in the
overall global conflict with radical Islamists.
One of the main reasons this has come to be is that the politically
correct – the Progressive movement – have thwarted any real discussion
on and examination of the origins, history and purveyors of radical
Islam. For all practical purposes, the politically correct have
contributed very little to the world but to ideologically blur reality
so as to force society into kow-towing to a shadow set of Marxist-based
societal limitations. These limitations are not only counter-productive
in combating radical Islamists but they infringe and encroach upon
national sovereignty, constitutionally recognized natural rights and
individualism. To honestly contemplate a strategy to potently engage
radical Islamists in Afghanistan and around the world we, as a nation,
must be courageous enough to exorcise the politically correct ideology
and its limitations from our societal norm.
Facts are stubborn things and no matter how politically or ideologically
partisan or disengaged we choose to be, our survival depends exclusively
on being honest about the facts. As a culture, we Americans – for the
most part – have been either oblivious to or in denial of the facts
about fundamentalist or radical Islam. This intellectual apathy has
allowed not only the politically correct but the politically opportune
to define radical Islam to fit their political and ideological agendas.
But these special interest definitions ignore or manipulate the true
nature of radical Islam and, perhaps, even Islam as a religion.
In the days after September 11, 2001, we heard our nation’s leaders
extolling the virtues of "mainstream Islam” and declaring Islam a
"religion of peace” in an attempt to stave off any retaliation against
the Muslim community here in the United States. Many have come to
believe this declaration even though they have never obliged themselves
to actually reading the Islamic holy text. The fact of the matter is
that even a layman’s examination of the
Hadith (the oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of
Muhammad) and the history of Islam under Muhammad reveals a violent and
intolerant dogma based on subservience.
Then there are the Progressive apologists who insist that American
policy and/or economic disenfranchisement in the Arab world are the
causes for radical Islamists’ hatred of the West. This stance fails to
explain radical Islamists’ violent aggression toward Indians, Africans,
Asians and those of the South Pacific in places like Mumbai, Mogadishu
and Bali. Further, it fails to address why some of the richest
oil-producing states exist within the Arab world while many in the
Middle East continue to live in squalor; why even as hundreds of
billions and even trillions of dollars flow into Saudi Arabia, Kuwait
and the United Arab Emirates – to name but three of the many oil
producing states within the Middle East, the Arab World – many
throughout the Middle East live on a weekly budget that is less than the
cost of a meal at McDonald’s.
In addition to the unanswered questions about radical Islamist
aggression against those other than Westerners and the rampant poverty
throughout the oil-rich Middle East, Progressive apologists have yet to
address the fact that during the Soviet-Afghan conflict, Afghan
warlords, who would become Taliban and al Qaeda fighters and leaders,
benefited from their alliance with the United States. As the world has
come to accept their victory over the Soviets, one would have to ask why
these radical Islamists – these fundamentalist Islamists – would turn on
an ally; would object to a US policy that provided them the resources
and training to defeat the Soviets.
A traditional Islamic saying is that, "A woman's heaven is beneath her
husband's feet." In the Islamic culture, to show someone the bottom of
one’s shoes, to figuratively place them beneath one’s feet, is an insult
of the highest order.
Women in the Islamic world are treated as chattel. In the fundamentalist
or radical Islamist world they are treated even worse. They are
subjected to incredibly harsh and degrading cultural edicts where
transgressions are punished – justified under Sharia Law – by whippings,
beatings, amputations, stoning and death. Offenses that warrant a death
sentence for women under Sharia Law range from un-Islamic dress to being
in the presence of an unrelated male, never mind adultery. Honor
killings are not unusual in the Middle East and the practice has been
transplanted anywhere and everywhere fundamentalist, radical Islam
In Afghanistan, under the Taliban, women were forbidden from going to
school. Most couldn’t read and those who taught women did so under the
threat of violent retribution. Women’s schools were burned to the
ground. Young girls as young as 9 – some even younger – were sold into
marriages to men sometimes five-times their age.
These are just some of the facts about the radical Islamist culture.
They are indisputable and verifiable. It is a matter of honesty that we
accept these facts as reality when debating strategy centered on global
conflict with radical Islam.
Our enemy in the radical Islamist is a narcissistic religious zealot. He
is an ideologically brainwashed political opportunist, a race-baiter and
a misogynist. He uses a violent dogma as validation for murdering
innocents in cold blood as he quests to establish a global Caliphate
existing under a totalitarian Sharia Law, elevating the Muslim above all
others according to their belief.
And while the politically correct and the Progressives among us will
insist that the majority of Muslims are "peace-loving” people who simply
want to practice their religion without societal scrutiny, the fact is
that they are complicit in their silence; in their not taking the lead
in combating radical Islam wherever it exists. The "peace-loving” Muslim
community, worldwide, is complicit in the efforts of radical Islamists
because they are not engaged in purging their religion of these
fanatics. In the end, it must be the Muslims themselves who expunge the
violent tenets of Islam from their religion. Until then the violence
The nature of our enemy understood – at least to a better degree than
before – we have to weigh the consequences of our actions when it comes
to formulating a strategy for the Afghan theater.
The one thing that we do know – or that we need to understand – is that
not winning is not an option. Should we choose to make the
same mistakes in Afghanistan that we did in Vietnam in letting
politicians snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the consequences
will be much more devastating than they were in the aftermath of
Should the US implement a strategy of "peace
with honor” it will cost much more than the re-oppression and
slaughter of the innocent Afghanis, especially those who cooperated with
NATO and US military forces. It would provide the Taliban and al Qaeda
with two things:
▪ The Taliban and al Qaeda would be emboldened by the fact that they had
not only defeated the Soviet Army during the Soviet-Afghan Conflict but
that they defeated the world’s only superpower in the United States,
even after successfully striking the US on American soil. It would
provide not only a potent recruitment propaganda platform but would
bolster their fanaticism and reinvigorate their radical ideology.
▪ The Taliban and al Qaeda would now have a permanent base of operations
in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan. They would be able to
re-equip, train and develop new and more lethal means with which to
strike at the United States, Europe and the West, in general. With
AQ Khan now free to move about Pakistan the threat of a concentrated
effort to develop a nuclear arsenal would be paramount in their
The Obama Administration must come to realize that we not only have to
grant Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the US commanding general in the Afghan
theater, his request for more troops, we must escalate the conflict on
Militarily The US and NATO must be willing
to escalate military operations to "take the fight to the enemy.” A good
example of this was seen in the
recent British operation executed by The Black Watch (3rd Battalion,
The Royal Regiment of Scotland) that swiftly and decisively destroyed a
Taliban stronghold in Kandahar. With respect to operations of this
nature Gen. McChrystal is the best man for the job in that he
understands the capabilities of Special Forces and the intricacies of
Special Forces operations.
World leaders, with or without the backing of the corrupt and impotent
United Nations, must agree to ferret-out radical Islamist cells and
Taliban and al Qaeda operatives wherever they may exist. If radical
Islamists engage in violence then the forces of the free world must
strike back with superior strength and determination.
Diplomatically One of the avenues that Pres.
Obama would be wise to continue engaging would be in galvanizing the
"Coalition of the Willing.” This coalition took an ideological beating
from the politically correct, the Progressive movement and the
politically opportune during the Bush Administration. But without a
coalition of countries willing to pledge blood and treasure to achieving
the security of all freedom-loving countries around the world radical
Islamists and the nation states that facilitate their survival (read:
Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Somalia, etc.) will continue to exploit the
corruption embedded at the United Nations to block sanctions and condemn
action aimed at combating radical Islamist entities.
It is well past time that nations affected by radical Islamism – nations
like Russia and China – realize that if we band together to defeat this
violent ideology the expenditure of blood and treasure for all will be
less than having to combat radical Islamist groups individually.
Ideologically Perhaps the avenue least
travelled in the conflict with radical Islamism has been that of the
ideological; the war of ideas. The United States has placed no priority
in the war of ideas.
A perfect example of US apathy toward the war of ideas in the conflict
with radical Islam is illustrated in a report by The Washington
Times’ Bill Gertz in his
Inside the Ring column circa September 21, 2009:
"Congress plans to cut millions
of dollars from the fiscal 2010 defense budget that the Pentagon says
are urgently needed for information operations to counter Iranian
propaganda in Iraq and terrorist propaganda worldwide.
"Senate and House defense appropriations conferees currently are
debating planned cuts by the Senate of $58.8 million requested by
military commands for what is called IO (Information Operations), while
the House version would cut some $500 million.
"The Senate bill would cut $20 million from US Central Command and $20
million from Special Operations Command IO budgets, significantly
reducing their funds and operations. It also will further cut $10.9
million from the European Command and $7.9 million from Africa Command.
That will effectively kill IO programs in those commands, according to a
defense source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not
authorized to speak publicly...
"Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Defense Secretary Robert M.
Gates; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen; and
military commanders including Central Command commander Gen. David H.
Petraeus regard the funding as urgent and are pressing Congress to have
"’Information operations are an essential component of our efforts in
Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world,’ Mr. Morrell said. ‘We are
dealing with a very savvy and sophisticated enemy and they know how to
manipulated populations, to try to persuade populations through
propaganda and we need to be able to counterbalance that.’”
If we are to win the battle in
Afghanistan – and as we have established, a non-victory, loss or "peace
with honor” will culminate in an eventual victory for radical Islamists
and almost certain acts of violent jihad on American soil – we must
escalate our efforts in the Afghan theater and we must do it now.
If President Obama can rationalize the hurried passage of a pork-laden
stimulus bill and extol the need for urgent healthcare legislation, he
can legitimize the immediate escalation of our military engagement with
bloodthirsty radical Islamists.