Saving Major Coughlin
It may not be too late to save the career of a Pentagon analyst of jihad threats whose frank and honest work has gotten him into trouble. Bill Gertz in his weekly Washington Times "Inside the Ring" column (1/11/08) reported that "Pentagon and military leaders, along with lots of working-level officials, are quietly rallying" in support of Major Stephen Coughlin (USAR), whose plight I have discussed, earlier here. Gertz also makes clear in no uncertain terms, dismissing some rumor mongering, that Coughlin was being accused "falsely" of talking "out of school to the press." As is his wont, Gertz gets to the heart of the matter:
But defense and military officials supportive of Mr. Coughlin said the real reason is that critics, like Mr. Islam. want him sidelined because they oppose his hard-to-refute views on the relationship between Islamic law and Islamist jihad doctrine. Those views have triggered a harsh debate challenging the widespread and politically correct view of Islam as a religion of peace hijacked by extremists.
So how does one explain the prevailing assumption that Islam does not stand for such violence undertaken in its name with the fact that its laws and education materials validate the very acts undertaken by "extremists" in Iraq?
... the first "radicalizing" lesson that Saudi youth receive that motivates them to travel to Iraq and fight Coalition forces does not come from "extremists" groups like Al Qaeda, but rather is taught as part of Saudi Arabia's standard secondary school curriculum.
Hence, groups like Al-Qaeda can reasonably claim that they are simply executing the same legal requirements that Muslim governments require their students be taught. An analysis that relied on Islamic law to assess bin Laden's claim that Islamic law supports his 1996 fatwa would most likely have generated different results than an analysis that ignored it.
...first, we do not understand the Islamic components to the WOT [War on Terror]; second, Muslim adversaries conceptualize the threat in authentic Islamic terms that; third, appear to drive their decision making thereby; fourth, making an Islamic vision a component of adversaries' doctrine which; fifth, the Underlying Causes model does not account for and cannot compensate for by reference to alternative academic (behavioral, sociological, economic, psychological, or anthropological) models.
Because Islamic law matters to Muslims, in the WOT, it should also matter to us.
Given both our inability to develop a descriptively accurate understanding of the nature of the enemy and our broad frustration with the current state of affairs in the WOT, it may be time to ponder deeply what was meant when Majid Khadduri [in his seminal "War and Peace in the Law of Islam"] said that "the universality of Islam, in its all embracing creed, is imposed on all believers as a continuous process of warfare, psychological and political, if not strictly military" that Pakistani Brigadier S.K. Malik said was the point [ in "The Qur'anic Concept of War"] where Qur'anic concepts of war are won-at the war of will phase. To break from the slow submission cycle that leads to the destruction of our confidence, a recommitment to a process driven by facts along with an associated commitment to ruthlessly go wherever those facts may take us, is recommended. With IPB [Intelligence Preparation for the Battlefield], we already have a methodology capable of taking us down that path.
...to get readers to believe the positions asserted but rather to convince them to submit those assertions to an intense threat analysis in furtherance of generating facts able to service a functional threat model of the enemy in the WOT
If, in furtherance of creating a working threat model, points in this thesis are successfully challenged, this thesis will still have served its purpose. Having said that, it is the position of this thesis that it will not fail if decision makers and analysts return to an IPB [Intelligence Preparation for the Battlefield] methodology that begins with an unconstrained, undelegated, systematic, factual analysis of the threat doctrine that the enemy self-identifies as being driven by Islamic law. Following such a process has the benefit of meeting professional standards for competent analysis. This thesis cannot succeed, however, if the response is to outsource it to subject matter experts willing to volunteer their information under the sole condition that it be accepted both uncritically and unconditionally. This is not only true because such an approach fails to meet the professional standard, but also because it fails the standard that will lead to defeat in the WOT.
..hit the mark in explaining how jihadists use the Koran to justify their actions. Your [Coughlin's] presentation has armed service men and women with more intellectual ammunition to take the fight to the enemy.
This high-level effort to, in effect, deny the connection between Islamic law and what the military calls the "enemy threat doctrine" should ring bells, not just in the military, but in Congress, which obviously has Pentagon oversight responsibilities. When such advice brings the military's woefully belated education on jihad to a halt, it becomes shockingly clear that the Pentagon is more concerned with political correctness than protecting the nation.