Radical Islamic Extremism. After fifteen years of war someone finally had the courage to utter the words in public. From last night’s State of the Union address:
Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States. We are also taking strong measures to protect our Nation from Radical Islamic Terrorism.
This is one of those things that is important. Our government has spent the past decade and a half trying to convince the American people and the Islamic world that radical Islam is not Islam. This is nonsense. The fact that you don’t hear that argument being made in the Islamic world should be a clue that it isn’t particularly useful. When you look at public opinion polling of Muslims you find broad agreement with the objectives and methods of radical groups like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In the past week we were told on numerous occasions, always by anonymous sources, that Trump’s new National Security Adviser, LTG H. R. McMaster, opposed the use of the term because it would give our regional allies major cases of grit-crotch.
One of the major proponents of naming the threat is NSC staffer Sebastian Gorka. He was on NPR this morning to talk about the speech last night and the three words that shall not be spoken.
In a morning interview, NPR asked Gorka about Trump’s view on Islam because the adviser had previously declined to answer that same question on the radio station. On Wednesday, Gorka again dismissed the line of inquiry.
“This is not a theological seminary. This is the White House, and we’re not going to get into theological debates,” he said. “If the president has a certain attitude to a certain religion that’s something you can ask him, but we’re talking about national security and the totalitarian ideologies that drive the groups that threaten America.”
Gorka spent the earlier few minutes of the segment defending Trump’s continued use of the words “radical Islamic terrorism” to describe extremist groups like the Islamic State. Gorka denied reports that new national security adviser H.R. McMaster had tried to persuade the White House to stop using that phrase.
“We’re not wavering on this one,” Gorka said. The threat, he added, “is radical Islamic terrorism, and it’s never changed, and it will not change.”
Gorka also defended Trump’s much-criticized executive order that sought to ban people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from traveling to the U.S. After NPR noted that some terrorism specialists say it’s more important to focus on stopping home-grown extremists, Gorka dismissed the expertise of those associated with the Obama administration.
“We’re not going to listen to so-called terrorism experts who are linked in any way to the last eight years of disastrous counterterrorism,” he said. “We’re going to take a new approach. We have a new president.”
This is good stuff for a lot of reasons:
- McMaster cleared Gorka for this interview which shows that McMaster isn’t afraid to send Gorka out on the subject. That is great news because Gorka is the guy you want talking about defeating terrorism.
- McMaster had to know question of press reports on his views would come up because he’s not stupid. Unless Gorka is really stupid, his answer is correct.
- Gorka makes it very clear he’s not going to get dragged into a discussion of Islam at large.
- The administration is not retreating, as I had feared, from naming out enemy.
- This NSC is not going to argue with Obama’s loyalists. Gorka is right. There is nothing accomplished by the Obama administration in the fight against terrorism that gives a hint that they can tell their ass from a hot rock.