With the announcement out of United Kingdom today that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died at the age of 87, her life, career, and words are being appropriately reviewed. This is an opportunity for some to recall her wisdom and tenacity. For others, it will just be an extended awkward moment as some try to find nice things to say about a leader whose policies and philosophy they despised. The next few days over there will be much like things were here in America in 2004, when Ronald Reagan died.
I try to watch Prime Minister’s Question Time on C-Span, when I can. This is where Great Britain’s top elected official stands in the House of Commons and wages verbal war with friend and foe alike over policies and practices. Across the pond, their big political kahuna answers to other elected officials, the way our leaders occasionally face a hostile press (though mainstream media hostility toward the White House is a rarity these days). I think we might have better executive leaders, if they had to actually debate directly with congress – at least on occasion.
Margaret Thatcher was at her best when it came to those exchanges. Her last such appearance, on the day she left office in 1990, is worth watching again today.
There is much to review and laud about the Iron Lady’s life and work. Of course, her views on economics were the things for which will be most remembered. But today I am thinking of something else she said—when she had actually been out of office for more than a decade.
By then she was called Lady Thatcher, and she wrote an op-ed article that was published in the New York Times on February 11, 2002, a few months after the Sept. 11th attacks. The title of the piece was, Advice to a Superpower. She was characteristically direct describing the ideology behind the attacks and the on-going threat. Her words from that article will probably not be highlighted in the media today—likely not even mentioned. But her focus on the Islamist threat drew a clear, unmistakable warning from the past. Thatcher wrote:
Perhaps the best parallel is with early communism. Islamic extremism today, like bolshevism in the past, is an armed doctrine. It is an aggressive ideology promoted by fanatical, well-armed devotees. And, like communism, it requires an all-embracing long-term strategy to defeat it.
The Iron Lady nailed it. Though Islamism and communism as ideologies bear little resemblance to each other, beyond a mutual affinity for subduing and controlling others, they do have much in common when it comes to methodology.
Our greatest enemy is, and will be for a long time, Islamism and its very clear agenda to subdue all who persist in the audacity of being non-Muslim infidels.
In the sixth century B.C., Sun Tzu, in Art of War, said:
So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will fight without danger in battle. If you know only yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or lose. If you know neither yourself, nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
He also said: “All warfare is based on deception.”
John J. Dziak, Ph.D., a professor at The Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C., has written extensively on Russian Intelligence. A while back, his article, Islamism and Stratagem, appeared in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (I have also been published in that journal). He drew parallels between the methods used by current day Islamists, and those used nearly 100 years ago by Lenin and company:
The Bolshevik regime was a conspiracy come to power. The Soviet Union in practice was a seventy-one-year old counterintelligence operation raised to the level of a state system. Organic to such a counterintelligence system is the widespread practice of provocations, diversion, deception, disinformation, ‘maskirovka’ (military focused deception), penetration, and other active measures of a highly aggressive nature.
He also noted that, “from its earliest history Islam has practiced what westerners label stratagem, deception, dissimulation, concealment, etc., in its dealings with not only the Infidel but with other Muslims, as well.” He identified Islamism as, “the twenty-first century heir to the counterintelligence state traditions of the totalitarian systems of the last century.”
So, Margaret Thatcher, who is being eulogized—appropriately so—today for her tireless crusade against the decadent grip of socialism, should also be remembered for her words about the greatest threat facing our nation and the world—Islamism.
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