Militant Islamist ideology he condemns as a vicious fraud, for it "is composed of fragmented pieces of Islam ... they are recombined out of context to make up the bulwark of Militant Islamist ideology, which is not the religion of Islam." Militant Islamist ideology "seeks to establish a totalitarian state steeped in the language, symbols and narrowly selective aspects of Islam."
Aboul-Enein says faithful Muslims play a central role in defeating Militant Islamism, arguably the key role. "Unlike communism," he writes, "against which free enterprise and democracy were used as ideological counterweights, Militant Islamist ideology can be opposed among the Muslim masses only by Islamic counter-argumentation. We cannot contain Militant Islamist ideology but only work to marginalize, de-popularize, and erode its influence and mass appeal by identifying it as different from Islam or even from Islamist political groups."
Aboul-Enein does not dismiss the ideological warfare effects of defeating al-Qaida militarily on its home ground, such as Iraq. His chapter titled "Marginalizing al-Qaida" has definite operational implications for exploiting tensions and divisions in a terrorist organization when it is engaged militarily in a decisive theater.
Chapter 20, titled "Mindsets That Hamper America's Capabilities," begins with a quote from Saint Augustine: "When (men) go to war, what they want is to impose on their enemies the victor's will and call it peace." The chapter is a strong riposte to the imposing "Clash of Civilizations" argument Samuel Huntington made in the 1990s.
While Aboul-Enein specifically addresses Militant Islamism, with a tweak of terms and a slight adjustment of the historical dial, his analysis of American information warfare weaknesses applies to World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the great ideological and economic struggle we call the Cold War.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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