Despite reflexive mainstream media contempt for the practice, on the campaign trail, President-elect Trump frequently invoked iconic U.S. World War II Generals Douglas MacArthur and George Patton to “emphasize the need to strengthen the U.S. military, talk less and do more to protect America.”
Mr. Trump, albeit unfortunately, in somewhat mangled fashion, also referenced MacArthur/Patton era predecessor General Pershing’s successful early 20th century campaign against the Filipino Moro’s jihad “insurgency.” The irrefragable truth which our president-elect inartfully alluded to was that Pershing “materially reduced” Moro jihadist attacks in the rural Philippines (~1911), employing, as described in Pershing’s autobiographical account:
[A] practice that Mohammedans held in abhorrence … The bodies [of slain jihadists] were publicly buried in the same grave with a dead pig. It was not pleasant to have to take such measures, but the prospect of going to hell instead of heaven sometimes deterred the would be assassins.
Retired Army Major General Jerry Curry, who served as both President Carter’s deputy assistant defense secretary, and acting press secretary to the secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration, writing August 5, 2016, after the GOP convention, opined on the Trump-Patton connection:
Mr. Trump has more than the normal amount of fire in his belly. Like General Patton, he is not happy unless he is fighting and winning. The American people deserve to be led by someone like him. It is time the political elites in Washington realized this and subordinated themselves to the will of the American people.
According to military historian Rick Atkinson, a young George Patton “caught the eye” of General Pershing during the 1916 U.S. Mexican expedition against Pancho Villa, Pershing declaring, “This Patton boy! He’s a real fighter.” Patton, the consummate “fighter” and “winner,” having sojourned in North Africa, also shared his former commander Pershing’s unbowdlerized early to mid-20th century American wisdom about Islam, observing:
One cannot but ponder the question: What if the Arabs had been Christians? To me it seems certain that the fatalistic teachings of Mohammed and the utter degradation of women is the outstanding cause for the arrested development of the Arab [Muslims]. He is exactly as he was around the year 700, while we have kept on developing. Here, I think, is some text for an eloquent sermon on the virtues of Christianity.
Tragically, these informed, experience-based understandings shared by Generals Pershing and Patton have been replaced with the self-delusive (and self-destructive) see-no-real-jihad/Sharia-based Islam “COIN” Counterinsurgency doctrine, jointly “catalyzed” — and evangelized — by two men President-elect Trump is considering in earnest for his cabinet: Generals Mattis and Petraeus.
A 2010 hagiography of General Mattis describes the key features of the COIN manual, and how Mattis conceived and acted upon its directives:
The manual articulates a new concept of risk: Troops use less force and accept more short-term vulnerability to build ties with locals that will bring longer-term security.
Mattis called in experts in Arab culture to lead cultural sensitivity classes …
Marines were taught to remove their sunglasses when talking to Iraqis, and when searching a home, to respect the head of the household by seeking his permission to enter …
For Mattis, the teaching didn’t stop once the Marines got to the fight. He constantly toured the battlefield to tell stories of Marines who were able to show discretion and cultural sensitivity in moments of high pressure …
Mattis called on his troops to accept more immediate risks — to not shoot, to remove helmets — in order to plant seeds for future peace. [E]ven at the end of the heaviest fighting [in Fallujah], Mattis met with sheiks to continue the effort to win over the locals. He left Iraq in August of 2004, but the Marines continued to repeat his mantra: “First, do no harm.”
While he commanded U.S. troops in Iraq, Petraeus (re-)stated during a 2007 interview with National Public Radio the standard mantra of COIN enthusiasts: that this mode of warfare featured “protecting the Iraqi population,” ostensibly to avoid actions which “create more enemies than you take off the streets.”
Some 125 years before the 2006 Petraeus/Mattis COIN “guidelines” were published, the U.S. Department of State (in 1880) produced a specific learning tool for diplomats stationed in Muslim nations, which opened with this clear, and remarkably concise explanation of jihad, and its Sharia, Islamic law jurisprudence (“fiqh”) basis:
In all the many works on Mohammedan law no teaching is met with that even hints at those principles of political intercourse between nations, that have been so long known to the peoples of Europe, and which are so universally recognized by them.
“Fiqh,” as the science of Moslem jurisprudence is called, knows only one category of relation between those who recognize the apostleship of Mohammed and all others who do not, namely Djehad [jihad]; that is to say, strife, or holy war.
Inasmuch as the propagation of Islam was to be the aim of all Moslems, perpetual warfare against the unbelievers, in order to convert them, or subject them to the payment of tribute, came to be held by Moslem doctors [legists] as the most sacred duty of the believer.
This right to wage war is the only principle of international law which is taught by Mohammedan jurists; … with the Arabs the term harby [harbi] (warrior) expresses not only an unbeliever but also an enemy; and jehady [jihadi] (striver, warrior) means the believer-militant. From the Moslem point of view, the whole world is divided into two parts — “the House of Islam,” and the House of War;” out of this division has arisen the other popular dictum of the Mohammedans that “all kinds of unbelievers from but one people.”
The 2006 COIN manual, in stark contrast, makes only a solitary vacuous and misleading reference to jihad as allegedly “defined” in some unique, exclusive manner by the [Osama] Bin Laden/ Al Qaeda “narrative.”
The entire COIN strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people. The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense.
MacGregor’s plaintive statement reiterated the essence of Marine Corps Sergeant Major (Ret.) James Sauer’s criticisms elaborated with meticulous detail — doctrinal, historical, and hands-on experiential — in an October 2009 essay. Diana West, in her singular clarity, further identified the Gordian knot intertwining Petraeus/Mattis COIN doctrine and our troops’ hideously self-destructive rules of engagement [ROEs] — which she aptly termed “a post-modern form of human sacrifice” — in Afghanistan:
It is this COIN theory that is directly responsible for the unconscionably restrictive ROEs that have been attracting media attention, a postmodern form of human sacrifice staged to appease the endlessly demanding requirements of political correctness regarding Islam. There is no separating the two. If we have COIN, we have these same heinous ROEs.
This self-righteous moral repugnance of Petraeus/Mattis COIN doctrine was compounded by its abject failure as a military strategy, including the Iraq “surge” of 2007.
General Daniel P. Bolger’s “Why We Lost—A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars,” provides a sobering post-mortem on COIN generally, and the surge, in particular. Bolger went from a 1 to 3 star general in Iraq, and then Afghanistan, and once commanded 20,000 troops in Baghdad. He served 8 years in these war zones, between 2005 to 2013. Bolger noted:
A sensible look at American military strengths in 2001 showed a clear alternative to grinding counterinsurgency campaigns. As a joint force and as individual services, the U.S. military recognized the value of short decisive conventional conflicts for limited ends…Employed thusly, American airpower and SOF [Special Operations Forces] in Afghanistan in 2001, and airpower and armor in Iraq in 2003, worked as advertised. Had that ended our efforts, we would have been fighting well within our means … But here success undid us.
Rightly impressed by the innovation and speed of the initial attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq and thoroughly convinced of the quality of our volunteer troops, successive generals in command at the 4-,3- and 2-star levels signed on for more, a lot more, month by month, year by year. In doing so, we did not heed Sun Tzu’s caution. We did not understand our enemies. Indeed, drawn into nasty local feuds, we took on too any diverse foes, sometimes confusing opponents with supporters … Then we compounded that ignorance by using our conventionally trained forces to comb through hostile villages looking for insurgents …
And Bolger characterized the much ballyhooed 2007 Iraq “surge,” at its tactical conclusion, as follows:
The casualty and hostile attack rates went down in the fall of 2007, never again to rise to their previous heights, at least during the remaining years of the American campaign. But the fighting never stopped either. It lingered, a third of the previous rate, but that was no comfort to those who fell, killed or wounded, or to their families.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq, unrepentant Sunni rejectionists, surly Sadrists [Shiite followers of Muqtada al-Sadr], and Iranian handlers all kept their pieces on the board. As long as the occupiers remained, there would be attacks. As long as Iraq was Iraq, violence remained part of the picture.
Gen. Bolger dilated on these sentiments in a November 2014 op-ed, while exploding the standard mythical trope about how the alleged “decisively victorious” 2007 troop surge — with irony, repeatedly dubbed “fragile and reversible” by its putative architect, General Petraeus — was “squandered” by the Obama administration’s policies:
Here’s a legend that’s going around these days. In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq and toppled a dictator. We botched the follow-through, and a vicious insurgency erupted. Four years later, we surged in fresh troops, adopted improved counterinsurgency tactics and won the war. And then dithering American politicians squandered the gains. It’s a compelling story. But it’s just that — a story. The surge in Iraq did not “win” anything. It bought time. It allowed us to kill some more bad guys and feel better about ourselves.
Bolger concluded that “shackled to a corrupt, sectarian government in Baghdad,” which engendered a reasonable “unwillingness” of Americans’ “to commit” to a decades-long conflagration:
… the surge just forestalled today’s stalemate. Like a handful of aspirin gobbled by a fevered patient, the surge cooled the symptoms. But the underlying disease didn’t go away.
The remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq and the Sunni insurgents we battled for more than eight years simply re-emerged this year  as the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
When President George W. Bush announced the “surge,” during 2007, embracing the COIN strategy, he maintained the overall objectives for this great expenditure of precious U.S. blood and treasure were to establish a “ … unified, democratic federal Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself, and is an ally in the War on Terror.”
Any rational post-mortem indicates none of those goals were achieved, from either an Iraqi or U.S. perspective, even in the near term, let alone chronically. Born of sheer willful ignorance about living Islamic doctrine, and history, this deficient mindset begot a corollary dangerous absurdity: embrace of COIN, a “see no jihad, see no Islam” military strategy designed, perversely, to somehow “defeat” the ancient-cum-modern forces of global Islamic jihadism.
The ongoing predicament of Iraq’s Yazidis, and Christians, past as prologue, also illustrates, strikingly, mainstream (including conservative) ignorance and dishonesty about Islam, and the creed’s timeless sine qua non institution, jihad. Post-surge Iraq — the paragon of Petraeus/Mattis COIN doctrine “triumph”– rapidly deteriorated, well before the emergence of the traditionalist Islamic Caliphate movement IS/IL, per se, into a hotbed of anti-Christian, and anti-Yazidi, Islamic brutality.
Pew survey results reported in 2013 have confirmed the abysmal failure of the U.S. midwifed Iraqi and Afghan “democracies” to fulfill the utopian aspirations of both COIN, and more broadly the “seeding Islamic democracy” (Bernard) Lewis doctrine. The negative prognostications, epitomized by my colleague Diana West’s evocative description “Making the world safe for Sharia,” have instead been realized. Specifically, the Pew data indicated 91% of Iraqi Muslims and 99% of Afghan Muslims supported making Sharia the official state law of their respective societies. Hurriyya, the Arabic term for “freedom,” but meaning “perfect slavery to Allah and his Sharia” — Islamic religious totalitarianism — has triumphed over the diametrically opposed Western, Judeo-Christian conception of individual liberty, founded upon the bedrock freedoms of conscience and expression.
Unlike Generals Petraeus and Mattis, vis-à-vis Islam, jihad, and the Sharia, the other World War II era general extolled by President-elect Donald Trump, General MacArthur, understood that Japan’s state religion, militaristic Shintoism, had to be “completely suppressed.” Directives were issued which terminated various educational platforms for the indoctrination of students into Shintoism and fired their purveyors. Textbooks were rewritten, and student education retooled to emphasize “the importance of challenging dogma, and of forming their own opinions.” The successful post-World War II paradigm of neutralizing Japan’s bellicose, religio-political creed of Shintoism has been turned on its head with regard to Islam, and the theocratic Islamic legal code, Sharia — imbued with jihad, and completely antithetical to modern human rights constructs.
We have a moral obligation to oppose Sharia which is antithetical to the core beliefs for which hundreds of thousands of brave Americans have died, including, from 2001, till now, almost 7000 in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. There has never been a Sharia state in history that has not discriminated (often violently) against the non-Muslims (and Muslim women) under its suzerainty. Furthermore, such states have invariably taught (starting with Muslim children) the aggressive jihad ideology which leads to predatory jihad “razzias” on neighboring “infidels” — even when certain of those “infidels” happened to consider themselves Muslims, let alone if those infidels were clearly non-Muslims. That is the ultimate danger and geopolitical absurdity of COIN doctrine-rooted policies advocated by Generals Petraeus and Mattis, which ignore or whitewash basic Islamic doctrine and history, while however inadvertently, making or re-making these societies “safe for Sharia.”
Please, Mr. Trump, do not appoint COIN-dinistas Petraeus or Mattis to your cabinet.