'Mindslaughtered': U.S. Arms Negotiations, From Communists to Jihadists
“Today, your diplomatic generals are defending [our nation] in the field of diplomacy; this too is jihad.”
—Iranian President Rouhani, March 9, 2015
Irrational, vitriolic attacks on Sen. Tom Cotton and the GOP-47 for their March 9, 2015 “Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran notwithstanding, the Senators’ message has had a salutary clarifying effect.
Obama administration officials, including Secretary of State Kerry, have been compelled to acknowledge that, acting via the P5 (i.e., the U.S. Russia, China, France and Britain) +1 (Germany), any looming nuclear deal with Iran will be a non-binding agreement (i.e., the arrangement will impose no obligations under international law).
Moreover, Senator Corker, the head of the Senate Foreign relations Committee, sent a follow-up letter to President Obama questioning administration statements that the deal with Iran would “take effect without congressional approval,” and would be submitted “to the United Nations Security Council for a vote.” Corker’s March 12, 2015 letter concluded with this request: “Please advise us as to whether you are considering going to the United Nations Security Council without coming to Congress first.”
A spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, responded to Senator Corker’s query in an email statement to BuzzFeed, maintaining that the United States would not be “converting U.S. political commitments under a deal with Iran into legally binding obligations through a UN Security Council resolution.” Ms. Meehan added that any UN Resolution on this matter “would not change the nature of our commitments under such a deal, which would be wholly contained in the text of that deal.” She also claimed: “Even if the Iran nuclear deal was blessed by the Security Council operating under Chapter VII of the Charter, … it wouldn’t … impede the ability of any parties to the deal to reach its own judgments about compliance by other parties or conclude that the deal no longer served their interests and withdraw from it.”
Meehan further told the New York Times that because Congress would eventually be asked to vote on lifting sanctions on Iran, once the Islamic Republic had been in compliance with the accord “for a considerable period of time,” Congress was not being excluded from the agreement process.
These exchanges reveal that contrary to almost all past arms control agreements, which have been Senate Advice and Consent Treaties (whose approval requires a 2/3 vote in the Senate), the Obama administration appears hell-bent on giving legitimacy to Iran’s uranium enrichment program, and waiving economic sanctions on Iran, while not submitting this rather appalling deal (which also fully ignores Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear weaponization programs) for a Congressional vote.
During a Sunday, March 15, 2015 CNN interview, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell provided an appropriate, understated assessment of Obama Administration hypocrisy, while re-emphasizing the concerns of the 47 signatories of Senator Cotton’s letter. McConnell highlighted the “selective outrage” of Secretary of State Kerry for ignoring both Kerry’s own meeting (as a U.S. Senator) with Communist Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega in the midst of the U.S.-Sandinista conflict, and then Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd’s 1979 flight to Moscow, warning Soviet officials the Senate could thwart the SALT II nuclear treaty, under discussion at that time. Most importantly, Senator McConnell warned,
The President is about to make what we believe is a very bad deal… with one of the worst regimes in the world…The President would like to keep us out of it. We know that….He clearly doesn’t want Congress involved at all. And we’re worried about it.
Re-reading the late Joseph D. Douglass’s 1988 compendium, Why the Soviets Violate Arms Control Treaties, is a bitter reminder of how the Soviet experience has no resonance with our ineducable present day State Department mandarins validating jihadist Shiite Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium via “negotiations.” Douglass recounts how in November, 1982, President Reagan requested that his General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament perform a detailed analysis of Soviet compliance with arms control treaties.
As stated in the Committee’s report, submitted one year later, this was the first concerted effort to examine arms control compliance since the start of the arms control process twenty-five years earlier. This review was followed by a series of five interagency studies conducted under the auspices of the National Security Council and reported to Congress in 1984-1985. The results of these detailed examinations were, at best, discouraging. The Soviets were judged guilty of deliberate and serious violations, circumventions, and related transgressions that implicitly brought into question the entire arms control process. The violations were not just scattered or isolated cases, but rather were directed against nearly all major treaties and agreements. In all cases, the U.S. government has raised its concern with the proper Soviet authorities who have responded with silence, with answers that clearly belie the facts, or with simple “nyets.” The only evident conclusions at this juncture is there exists a serious, and probably unresolvable, difference between the objectives of the USSR and those of the United States in negotiating arms control “agreements.” The heart of the problem, and crucial to the future of arms control, is the Soviet decision to “cheat”—to deliberately violate the arms agreements.
Douglass’s sober analysis makes plain that Marxism-Leninism provided a “coherent framework” for the Soviet Union’s world dominance aspirations, which “formalized and legitimized” its “absolute totalitarian control of the state and the so-called world revolutionary movement.” He further emphasized comprehending this worldview was “an essential step in assessing Soviet objectives and in estimating realistically what could be accomplished through arms control.” Douglass also stressed the importance of cheating as a quintessential, celebrated tool for advancing Soviet interests.
Cheating, deception, disinformation, and misleading the enemy are vital functions of both party and government organizations because they help protect socialism, blind the enemy to the nature of the main strategic goals, and cover the methods used to achieve those goals. Accordingly, these activities are considered to be the preeminent responsibilities of the highest party and government officials. Failure to take advantage of an opportunity to serve state interests through cheating and deception would be regarded as a crime.
Islamic tactical deception, takiya/kitman—enunciated by Islam’s prophet Muhammad in his visions of Muslims conquering Christian Byzantium (Caesar) and Zoroastrian Persia (Khosrau), as “War is deceit” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 267)—became permanently embedded within jihad war doctrine. Igor Lukes, in his contribution to Douglass’s essay collection, analyzed the marked concordance between Soviet Communist “linguistic maneuvers,” and their ancient historical antecedent, takiya/ kitman:
It is hard to ignore the existence of clear parallels between the defensive deceptions of Islamic kitman and the more global linguistic maneuvers of the Kremlin decision makers…[D]eception and conspiracy were to become a way of life of all communist movements. Indeed the long careers of Philby et al. [Harold Adrian Russell “Kim” Philby (d. 1988) was a high-ranking member of British intelligence, and Soviet double agent, who defected to the Soviet Union in 1963, having been an operative of the Soviet NKVD/KGB, as part the spy ring now known as the “Cambridge Five”] demonstrate that kitman is as Soviet as it is Middle Eastern.
Earlier, Sociologist Jules Monnerot, whose 1949 Sociologie du Communisme, was translated into English and published as Sociology and Psychology of Communism, in 1953, had made broader, very explicit connections between pre-modern Islamic and 20th century Communist totalitarianism. The title of Monnerot’s first book chapter (and entire initial section of the full work) dubbed Communism as “The Twentieth Century Islam.” Monnerot elucidates these two primary shared characteristics of Islam and Communism: “conversion”—followed by subversion—from within, and the fusion of “religion” and state.
Communism takes the field both as a secular religion [emphasis in original] and as a universal State [emphasis in original]; it is therefore…comparable to Islam [emphasis added]…Soviet Russia (to use the name it gives itself, although it is a mis-description of the regime) is not the first empire in which the temporal and public power goes hand in hand with a shadowy power which works outside the imperial frontiers to undermine the social structure of neighboring States.
Monnerot’s compendious analysis supplements these apposite examples from Islam’s enduring legacy of jihad—the exploits of Sunni Muslims Mahmud of Ghazni, Togrul [Tughril] Beg, Alp Arslan—with additional jihad campaigns waged by the Fatimids of Egypt, and notably, the Shiite Persian Safavids, whose efforts featured collaboration by Sufis.
The Islamic East affords several examples of a like duality and duplicity. The Egyptian Fatimids, and later the Persian Safavids, were the animators and propagators, from the heart of their own States, of an active and organizing legend, an historical myth, calculated to make fanatics and obtain their total devotion, designed to create in neighboring States an underworld of ruthless gangsters. The eponymous ancestor of the Safavids was a saint from whom they magically derived the religious authority in whose name they operated. They were Shi’is [Shiites]of Arabian origin, and the militant order they founded was dedicated to propaganda and ‘nucleation’ throughout the whole of Persia and Asia Minor. It recruited ‘militants’ and ‘adherents’ and ‘sympathizers’. These were the Sufis.
Bernard Lewis, the doyen of contemporary Western Islamic scholars, in his 1954 essay “Communism and Islam,” expounded upon on the quintessence of totalitarian Islam, and how it was antithetical in nature to Western democracy, while sharing important features of Communist totalitarianism—most notably, global domination via jihad. The “very nature of Islamic society, tradition, and thought,” Lewis argued, is manifested by “the authoritarianism, perhaps we may even say the totalitarianism, of the Islamic political tradition.” Islam, he continued, “was authoritarian, often arbitrary, sometimes tyrannical,” asserting its “sovereign power, to which the subject owed complete and unwavering obedience as a religious duty imposed by the Holy Law. [Sharia].” While acknowledging, obvious distinctions, “the Ulama [religious leaders] of Islam are very different from the Communist Party,” Lewis elaborated “on closer examination,” what he termed “certain uncomfortable resemblances,”—the crux of his remarkably frank, searing analysis—as follows:
Both groups profess a totalitarian doctrine, with complete and final answers to all questions on heaven and earth; the answers are different in every respect, alike only in their finality and completeness, and in the contrast they offer with the eternal questioning of Western man. Both groups offer to their members and followers the agreeable sensation of belonging to a community of believers, who are always right, as against an outer world of unbelievers, who are always wrong. Both offer an exhilarating feeling of mission, of purpose, of being engaged in a collective adventure to accelerate the historically inevitable victory of the true faith over the infidel evil-doers. The traditional Islamic division of the world into the House of Islam and the House of War, two necessarily opposed groups, of which—the first has the collective obligation of perpetual struggle against the second, also has obvious parallels in the Communist view of world affairs. There again, the content of belief is utterly different, but the aggressive fanaticism of the believer is the same. The humorist who summed up the Communist creed as “There is no God and Karl Marx is his Prophet” was laying his finger on a real affinity. The call to a Communist Jihad, a Holy War for the faith—a new faith, but against the self-same Western Christian enemy—might well strike a responsive note.
Mindslaughter was the brilliantly evocative term coined by Robert Conquest for delusive Western apologetics regarding the ideology of Communism, and the tangible horrors its Communist votaries inflicted. Conquest, nonpareil historian of Communist totalitarianism’s ideology, and resultant mass murderous depredations, also observed,
The Soviet Union, right up to the eve of its collapse, was committed to the concept of an unappeasable conflict with the Western world and to the doctrine that this could only be resolved by what Foreign Minister Andrey [Andrei] Gromyko described as officially as one could imagine, in his 1975 book The Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union, as world revolution: “The Communist Party of the Soviet Union subordinates all its theoretical and practical activity in the sphere of foreign relations to the task of strengthening the positions of socialism, and the interests of further developing and deepening the world revolutionary process.” One could hardly be franker.
In his elucidation of Western vulnerability to totalitarian ideologies, Conquest wrote that democracy itself is “far less a matter of institutions than habits of mind”—the latter being subject to constant “stresses and strains.” He then notes the disturbingly widespread acceptance of totalitarian concepts among the ordinary citizens of pluralist Western societies.
Many in the West gave their full allegiance to these alien beliefs. Many others were at any rate not ill disposed towards them. And beyond that there was . . . a sort of secondary infection of the mental atmosphere of the West which still to some degree persists, distorting thought in countries that escaped the more wholesale disasters of our time.
But Conquest evinced no sympathy for those numerous “Western intellectuals or near intellectuals” of the 1930s through the 1950s whose willful delusions about the Soviet Union, “will be incredible to later students of mental aberration.” His critique of Western media highlights a cultural self-loathing tendency which has persisted and intensified over the intervening decades, through the present, applying with even more delusive fervor to Islam, and Islamic depredations.
One role of the democratic media is, of course, to criticize their own governments, draw attention to the faults and failings of their own country. But when this results in a transfer of loyalties to a far worse and thoroughly inimical culture, or at least to a largely uncritical favoring of such a culture, it becomes a morbid affliction—involving, often enough, the uncritical acceptance of that culture’s own standards.
Conquest’s Preface to the 40th Anniversary Edition of The Great Terror (September, 2007, p. xxiv), his seminal indictment of Soviet Communist state tyranny under Stalin, noted:
One of the strangest notions put forward about Stalinism [substitute jihadism] is that, in the interests of “objectivity” we must be—wait for it—“non-judgmental.” But to ignore, or downplay, the realities of Soviet [substitute Islamic] history is itself a judgment, and a very misleading one. Let me conclude with Patrick Henry saying in 1775, “I know no way of judging of the future but by the past.” The corollary is that misreading of the past incapacitates us as regards our understanding of the future—and of the present too.
I have indicated above, in brackets, where one could readily substitute Jihadism for Stalinism, and Islamic for Soviet.
Early August, 2008, in commemoration of Solzhenitsyn’s passing, Roger Kimball described the following anecdote related by Kingsley Amis, about the reception of Professor Conquest’s landmark study (i.e., The Great Terror), which “for many years,” was “ignored where possible or dismissed as propaganda.” As Amis notes,
Then, in 1988, favorable references to it began to appear in the Soviet media. . . . [A]n American publisher suggested a new edition of the book. “What about a new title Bob? We won’t pretend it’s a new book, but a new title would be good. . Bob answered in terms that get a lot of his character into small compass. “Well, perhaps, I Told You So, You Fucking Fools. How’s that?”
We are in crying need of Conquest’s intellectual courage, and brutal honesty when it comes to addressing the contemporary scourge of resurgent jihadism, and its most dangerous manifestation: a nuclear weapons possessing, jihadist Iran.