Small Wars Journal

Treating Islamic Violent Extremism as a Pandemic Super-infection

Fri, 09/16/2016 - 1:35am

Treating Islamic Violent Extremism as a Pandemic Super-infection

Thomas Doherty

The United States and its allies have been fighting a protracted war against a Global Jihadi Movement that draws it inspiration from Islam and wishes to enforce its view of Islam upon the world.  In this process strategy, tactics, techniques, and procedures have evolved.  Muslim extremist organizations have evolved to survive by becoming more and more resistant to elimination by the United States and its allies.  Effectively speaking, Islamic extremist ideology has become a pandemic super-infection resistant to current counter-ideological methodologies.  Therefore, we should treat Islamic extremist ideology as the equivalent of an ideological MRSA pandemic.

A key step in the planning process is defining the problem by developing a problem statement.  A proposed problem statement is: The governments of the world lack the ability to stop and or reverse the growth of the Global Jihadi Movement (GJM).  Current methodologies force a rapid evolution in the capabilities of Muslim extremist organizations (MEO) within the GJM and aid/force the spread of extremist diaspora across the globe.  A proposed solution is to treat Islamic extremist ideology the same way we would treat a global pandemic of MRSA.

Over the last few decades, Islamic extremist ideology has metastasized and grown to be more capable of damaging the host country it infects.  In the process of fighting the pandemic, we have repeatedly made the mistake doctors warn us about when they tell you to take every single antibiotic pill, and you do not finish the entire prescription.  Even with this warning, when the symptoms have receded sufficiently people stop treatment before the medicine is finished.  As a result, the infection - in this case a violent ideology - evolves after losing its weakest members.  The members that survive develop immunity to the treatment.  Now the infection, which is in a latent incipient phase, is able to reorganize, consolidate, and grow stronger.  The most recent example of this phenomenon recently is the rise of ISIS, which came back so strongly that it jumped rapidly into the war-of-movement phase.

If we look at Islamic extremist ideology as if it was a super-infection, we see the MEOs are never fully destroyed.  We only “disrupt” the infection.  We have become so fond of the tactical task disrupt that no commander dares to say destroy, defeat, or neutralize.  By constantly disrupting and hitting every target as soon as we can, we aid in the rapid evolution of a MEO’s capabilities and increase its ability to recover.  A side effect of all these disruption operations with not destruction of the cotangent is the spread of Islamic extremist ideology.  The contaminated diaspora metastasize into previously unaffected areas as refugees and internally displaced people.  In other words, we cause the threat to spread.

Treating violence as a disease process is not a new idea.  Dr. Slutkin, founder of Cure Violence, has applied a similar idea to street crime in multiple cities across the United States and has started to spread the concept globally.  This may actual help a military version by sensitizing allied governments to a similar concept.  So far, Dr. Slutkin’s process has shown to reduce violent street crime.  In Puerto Rico, this practice has reduced the incidents of violent crime by 55 percent in the first treated neighborhood.[i]  However, as a domestic policing strategy for a policing problem it is not as simple as copy pasting this program onto global Jihad.  It does however provide a starting point and the first three lines of effort for a strategy.  According to Dr. Slutkin the three steps he applies are interrupt transmission, prevent further spread, group immunity.  These LOEs and subordinate efforts would look like this.

1. Interrupt transmission: Stopping known MEOs and individuals etc., from 'infecting others'

  • ‘Street Cred’ reduction/ character assassination
  • Intercepting transmission messaging material
  • Reducing subject’s access to none ‘infected’ people
  • Travel VISA denial, no fly lists, etc.
  • Finance interception

2. Prevent further spread: Stopping first and second degrees of separation connections, etc., from becoming further infected

  • Counter messaging
  • Restricting access to known jihad groups/ individuals
  • Connecting followers of jihad groups/ individuals to apostate status

3. Group immunity: Pre-treating population groups and third or higher degrees of separation connections to MEOs and infected individuals from buying into Jihadi messaging by convincing them that the hardened groups are anti-Islamic or by secularizing them.

  • Counter messaging
  • Restricting access to known MEOs and infected individuals
  • Connecting followers of MEOs and infected individuals to apostate status

LOE 3 will be hard to achieve and require mapping of association matrixes.  In an epidemic doctors need to achieve a 96% effectiveness on the immunization front.[ii]  This number is misleading and does not actually mean you have go to the person and physically inoculate 96% of all people.  Medical research in the spread of epidemics has shown that this can be accomplished by inoculating approximately 30% of the people.[iii]  To do this, three rings of containment will be established with LOE 1 forming the Alpha ring, LOE 2 forming a Bravo ring, and LOE 3 being the Charlie ring. 

By vaccinating at high degree nodes on the association matrix, you have effectively inoculated everyone on the other side of the node.  Admittedly, the 30% statistic is for a standard disease process not for a contagion spread by the internet.  At the same time, it also means inoculation does not have to be performed physically either, the inoculation can use the same medium that the contingent uses.  Although the actual percentage of people is most likely higher than 30, it will still be lower than 96% based on the lack of word of mouth spread and reduced groupthink of the contagion within social nodes.

Figure 1: LOE Containment Rings and Inoculation Points

In addition to the three LOEs there are two Lines of Operation (LOO) that are in effect the anti-viral part of the treatment process.  Day-to-day medicine and domestic policing policy cannot apply to these LOOs for two reasons.  First unlike a doctor fighting MRSA, it is possible to reverse the learned resistance that decades of Counterinsurgency  (COIN)  ‘disrupting operations’ have developed in MEOs.  This is possible for two reasons, one humans do not pass on learned immunity processes genetically and secondly we can induce an inverse Darwinist effect were the less virulent extremists survive while the more virulent extremist dies.  We would do this by assessing the capabilities of individuals and then chose the least competent individuals for survival.  We would then eliminate the more competent leaders assisting the less competent in moving up the chain of command.  Over time, the less competent and the preferably less OPSEC savvy individuals would compromise MEOs and illuminate their networks.  Second is Cyber operations to infiltrate networks to gain intelligence support the other LOE/Os.  In this LOO, cyber operations and related intelligence disciplines would set the conditions by mapping high degree communications nodes and setting the conditions for defeating MOEs and their messaging capabilities.

1. Inverse Darwinist lethal operations: De-evolving resistance to COIN operations by conducting kinetic strikes and MILDEC in a manner that promotes less competent leadership especially less OPSEC savvy individuals and messaging groups.

  • Leadership capabilities assessment
  • Chosen leader promotion via MILDEC and kinetic strikes
  • Lethal strike synchronization 

2. Cyber operations: Use Internet and other cyber operations to gain intelligence and support the first three LOEs.  Establish the ability to create a Jihadi black out post long-term infiltration of Jihadi technological systems:

  • Web crawling to predict breakout zones for MEOs
  • Infiltrate cyber infrastructure of MEO’s over extended period to gain ability to stop all messaging for a period of time
  • Gain intel to support other LOE’s

The decisive point for destroying an MEO is identifiable when we achieve four conditions.  First, the LOEs have achieved containment of an MEO reducing its ability to draw strength from the surrounding population.  Second, we have adversely affected the MEO chain of command ability to handle adverse conditions by inverse Darwinism.  Third, the cyber infrastructure of the MEO is mapped and penetrated.  Finally, subordinate units receive an Operations Order to execute this portion of the mission.  This last step is extremely important because the rapid changes in situation will not allow for the current sluggish highly centralized command procedures used by the military.  The operational commander will have to follow the principles of mission command; mission approval authorities delegated to the lowest ranking commander in an Areas of Operation, lethal strike authority limited to no higher than battalion command, release authority during troops in contact situations delegated to the ground force commander.

At this, the decisive point, the operational commander will mass effects in a rapid, systematic, and sequenced series of strikes conducted across both cyber and physical domains causing a collapse of the targeted MEO.  These strikes would prioritize the high value target list (HVTL) followed by high payoff target list (HPTL).  Where discrepancies exist between the two lists, the HVTL target will take priority.  Lethal strikes would prioritize leadership targets based on a leader's capabilities and capacity not by a leaders rank or position on a wire diagram.  It would be theoretically possible to place the leader of an MEO on the bottom of the priority list.  The desired effect is to cause irreversible shock across all of the War Fighting Functions of the targeted MEO in short order.  The already weakened MEO would then fracture and become ineffective.

The political will to win is a concern, as are the methodologies within more constrained territories such as with a developed country.  The LOE are rather liberal in their leanings and are executable without violence.  Several governments including the United States are already using a form of the LOEs within their cities.  However, the focus of these LOEs within these countries is on street crime not Islamic extremist ideology.  The two LOOs however, pose an issue within developed countries and long-term incarceration will be the tool to remove targets from the battlefield.  In war zones like Afghanistan, and Syria the problem inverts.  With such a high percentage of the population accepting Islamic extremist ideology, containment will be the difficult part.

By treating Islamic extremist ideology as a disease process, we can limit its spread of Islamic extremist ideology then begin to reduce the number of people contaminated.  While doing this the LOOs of inverse Darwinist kinetic operations and cyber operations will set the condition for destruction of an MEO’s infrastructure and chain of command in one rapid series of strikes.  After which the LOEs will continue to treat the target populace until Islamic extremist ideology is no longer accepted.  We can eradicate the pandemic of Islamic extremist ideology just like Small Pox.

End Notes

[i] Gary Slutkin, "Gary Slutkin: Let's Treat Violence Like a Contagious Disease", Video file, 14:08. TED.Com. Posted by TEDMED, April 2013, Accessed August 29, 2016,

[ii] Nicholas Christakis, "Nicholas Christakis: How social networks predict epidemics", Video file, 17:54, Posted by TED@cannes, June 2010, Accessed August 29, 2016,

[iii] Slutkin, “Violence”


About the Author(s)

Thomas Doherty has a Master of Arts in Military History from Norwich University and Strategic Security Studies from the National Defense University. He has served in both the enlisted and officer ranks in both the National Guard and active duty Army. Originally commissioned through the Arkansas National Guard OCS program he was re-commissioned via a direct commission. He has served in multiple military occupational specialties. He has served in 3rd Ranger Battalion, 7th and 3rd Special Forces Groups, 51st LRS, JRTC, and other staff and instructor positions. He has deployed to Colombia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan, Botswana, and Germany. Currently he is serving as a Special Forces officer. Follow him on Twitter at, @warfarebytom


From the extensive work that I have done below, we can now see that "treating Islamic violent extremism as a pandemic super-infection" appears to make no sense.

For example, and from the critical "prevention" point-of-view offered by various parties here (to include COL Maxwell's Georgetown students below), to consider the following:

Given, as we now know, that the "root cause of extremist behavior"/the "social grievances that drive populations to violent extremism" (in the Old Cold War of yesterday much as in the New/Reverse Cold War of today); that these such "drivers of violent extremism" are, in fact, the massively unwanted and massively intolerable political, economic, social and value "change" requirements (the pandemic super-infections) that ambitious "expansionist" great powers unleash upon the world (think the Soviets and their "worldwide communism" ambitions back-in-the-day; think the U.S./the West and re: our "worldwide market-democracy" ambitions currently);

Given these such intolerable matters, we come to understand that -- in order to address the "root cause" of extremist behavior -- in order to address the "social grievances" that give rise to violent extremism today -- we (the U.S./the West) would need to abandon, and/or curtail, (a) many/most of our "international development" initiatives/projects and (b) our "expansionist" grand strategy generally (to wit: the very matters that give rise to such "extremist" behavior as we are addressing here). And this (the abandonment/the curtailing of many/most of our most important "international development" initiatives/our "expansionist" grand strategy), as we all know, we have absolutely no intention of doing.

Given these realities, then I suggest that we must understand, address and approach such things as "violent extremism" as I have suggested below and, thus, more from the "natural resistance"/the "immune system's natural reaction to foreign infection" perspective that I have put forward.

Thus, properly understood, the requirement in the New/Reverse Cold War of today, and re: "resistance to unwanted transformation" generally, and related "violent extremism" specifically, is to find a way to massively weaken, circumvent and/or destroy the natural "immune systems," and the aggressive and effective "anti-bodies" thereof, of these outlying states and societies. To wit: the very same "immune systems"/the very same "anti-bodies" which the U.S./the West, in the Old Cold War of yesterday, worked to so hard to enhance/to harden/to improve upon. (And, thus, in such projects as these, one surely cannot look -- as everyone else seems to be doing -- at the wrong "root causes," of "resistance" generally and, specifically, of "violent extremism" undertaken in "resistance's" name.)

Bottom Line:

In the Old Cold War of yesterday, when communism was on the march and the Soviets/the communists were actively promoting same, in many cases, we wanted the "patients" (the diverse political, economic, social and values models of the world) to live/to survive/to prevail.

Why? Because, back then, and re: our Old Cold War grand strategy of "containment," these folks (and especially their diverse political, economic, social value models -- and their "immune systems" which we worked so hard to enhance so that they might better protect same); these such "defensive" entities were our "natural allies." Together, we could -- and indeed would -- stand hard against the spread of communism throughout the world.

In the New/Reverse Cold War of today, however, and with market-democracy being on the march, and with the U.S./the West actively promoting same; in this such New/Reverse Cold War "conflict environment" we want these "patients" (many/most of these exact same different/diverse political, economic, social and value orders and many of their exact "immune systems"?) to succumb/to die/to cease to exist.

Why? Because in the New/Reverse Cold War today, and re: our now-grand strategy of "expansion", we (like the Soviets/the communists who came before us) want to replace these such diverse political, economic, social and value orders -- of these such outlying states and societies -- with a "universal" model. (In our case today, of course, those/that of the modern western world.)

And, in this regard, these such diverse non-western political, economic, social and value models -- and their "bolstered-by-the-U.S.-in-the-Old-Cold-War" immune systems -- these such "defensive" entities are (a) our "natural enemies" today. (This, much as they were the "natural enemies" of the Soviets/the communists in the Old Cold War of yesterday and re: their similar "expansionist" agenda back then.)

Bill C.

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 12:35pm

As an addendum to my "we are the pandemic super-infection" comment immediately below, note that it is our very own Old Cold War "grey beards," soon after the Old Cold War ends, who will inform us of the folly of unleashing a new pandemic super-infection upon the world; one promoted by the U.S./the West now and re: its own "universalist" ambitions.

This, after the U.S./the West had recently spent an entire half-century helping to enhance the "natural resistance"/the "immune systems"/the "anti-bodies" of other states and societies (to include the "violent extremism" aspects of same?); this, so that these such "resisting" states and societies might successfully oppose the "universalist"/"pandemic super-infection"/"expansionist" activities of the Soviets/the communists. (Herein, to see the two "root causes" of our problems in the current age, these being [a] a U.S./Western-sponsored pandemic super-infection now but [b] states and societies, well trained by the U.S./the West itself, to successfully resist such activities.)

Thus, it would be our very own Old Cold War "grey beards" -- soon after the Old Cold War ends -- who, understanding the above, would tell us to not to go the exact same "expansionist"/"pandemic super-infection"/ "universalist" route of the Soviets/the communists.

The "grey beards:"

a. Samuel Huntington re: the religious -- and specifically the Islamic -- reaction to the West's newly sponsored pandemic super-infection:

"... The global revival of religion is a direct consequence of modernisation. In non-western societies it almost necessarily assumes an anti-western cast, in some cases rejecting western culture because it is Christian and subversive, in others because it is secular and degenerate. The return to the indigenous is most marked in Muslim and Asian societies. The Islamic resurgence has manifested itself in every Muslim country, often becoming a major social, cultural and intellectual movement with a deep impact on politics. In 1996 virtually every Muslim country except Iran was more Islamist than it was 15 years earlier. In the countries where Islamist political forces do not shape the government, they invariably dominate the opposition to the government. Throughout the Muslim world people are reacting against the “westoxification” of their societies ... "

b. George Kennan re: Russian reaction to the West's new pandemic super-infection/"universalist" efforts:

" I think it is the beginning of a new cold war," said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. "I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way."…

c. Paul Nitze re: the need for the U.S./the West to avoid the exact same pandemic super-infection"/"universalist" activities of the Soviets/the communists, and to, instead, promote and respect political, economic, social and value "diversity" throughout the world:

"The lessons of the past era and the needs of the future argue that the fundamental U.S. foreign policy goal should be accommodating and protecting diversity within a general framework of world order. We should seek a global climate in which a large array of political groupings can exist, each with its own, perhaps eccentric, ways. We should seek to eliminate force and intimidation as acceptable means of resolving disputes between these groupings. To assure progress toward this set of goals we should seek to foster cooperative efforts among the diverse groupings necessary to a resolution of common problems. An emphasis on diversity provides certain guidelines for handling problems that are truly intemal to individual nations. The overriding principle must be a respect for sovereignty: there should be no effort to impose political, economic, or social preferences on others." (Go all the way down to Page 131.)

As we now know, the U.S./the West would (a) ignore these warnings and suggestions of our Old Cold War "grey beards," (b) unleash a new "universalist" (along modern western political, economic, social and values lines this time) pandemic super-infection upon the Rest of the World and, thus, (c) reap the consequences (both at home and abroad) of these such decisions.

Bottom Line:

The U.S./the West, in unleashing a new "universalist" pandemic super-infection upon the Rest of the World post-the Old Cold War, would run directly into a Rest of the World that had been trained, equipped, motivated, inspired, led, etc., -- by no less than the U.S./the West itself in the past half-century -- to successfully RESIST (often by violent extremism) such unwanted transformations as the U.S./the West, now, set about attempting itself.

And guess what: The "anti-bodies"/the "immune systems," etc., of the Rest of the World, would now -- quite understandably -- be more than ready and able (due significantly to such earlier U.S./Western "resistance" assistance, motivation and training, etc., as is discussed above) to meet, both head-on and decisively, this new existential threat: to these states, societies and civilizations' preferred ways of life, their preferred ways of governance and their preferred values, attitudes and beliefs. On this can we agree?

(The following was inspired by COL Maxwell's linked item below -- but it has relevance as per the fallacy that appears to represented by this entire discussion):

Given the -- well-known -- "native and natural resistance," the "defensive" nature, etc., of "violent extremism." And given the -- equally well-known -- "foreign body"/"aggressive"/"offensive"/"invading" nature of a "pandemic super-infection." Given these such matters, one comes to easily understand that it is:

a. The foreign intervening/invading great powers -- who are attempting to transform the outlying states and societies of the world more along their alien and profane political, economic, social and value lines -- that, logically it would seem, must be seen in "pandemic super-infection" terms. And it is:

b. The native populations (and specifically the culturally patriotic/conservative elements of same) -- who undertake routine and/or extreme measures to avoid such alien and profane transformations as the foreign great powers seek to impose -- that, logically, must be seen in "white blood cells"/"the immune system"/"natural resistance to infection" terms.

In support of this argument, consider the following three examples:

Example Number One: The Zealots (versus the Pagan Romans):

"Zealot: A member of a Jewish sect noted for its uncompromising opposition to pagan Rome and the polytheism it professed. The Zealots were an aggressive political party whose concern for the national and religious life of the Jewish people led them to despise even Jews who sought peace and conciliation with the Roman authorities. A census of Galilee ordered by Rome in AD 6 spurred the Zealots to rally the populace to noncompliance on the grounds that agreement was an implicit acknowledgment by Jews of the right of pagans to rule their nation.

Extremists among the Zealots turned to terrorism and assassination and became known as Sicarii (Greek sikarioi, “dagger men”). They frequented public places with hidden daggers to strike down persons friendly to Rome. In the first revolt against Rome (ad 66–70) the Zealots played a leading role, and at Masada in 73 they committed suicide rather than surrender the fortress, but they were still a force to be reckoned with in the first part of the following century. A few scholars see a possible relationship between the Zealots and the Jewish religious community mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls."

Example Number Two: The Islamists (versus the Secular Soviets/Communists):

"The overt attack on Afghan social values was presented, by the resistance forces, as an attack on Islamic values. This was also seen as an attack on the honour of women. The initiatives introduced by PDPA -- to impose literacy on women and girls -- inevitably raised questions as to the potential role of women outside the home. This provoked defensive actions from men, concerned with protecting the honour of women with their families, and to also ensure that traditional roles of women within the domestic sphere continued to be performed. It also generated fears that the important roles of women, as the primary vehicles for passing traditional and Islamic values from one generation to another, would be undermined if they were exposed to external and, particularly, non-Islamic values. This enabled the exiled radical Islamic parties to claim leadership of the resistance and to also declare a jihad." (On Page 58, in Chapter 4 entitled "The Soviet Military Intervention."

Example Number Three: The Islamists (versus the Secular U.S./the Secular West):

(As we all know [a] pretty much the exact same -- radical, extreme and comprehensive -- state and societal "change" activity attempted by the "transformative"-oriented/determined Soviets/communists [in our case, of course, this will be along alien and profane modern western political, economic, social and value lines] and [b] pretty much the same -- adverse reaction and resistance activity -- by the native populations concerned, and specifically, by the culturally patriotic/conservative elements of same?)

Bottom Line:

Thus, the problem for the "expansionist"/"pandemic super-infection" U.S./the West -- much as it was the problem for the similarly "expansionist/"pandemic super-infection" Soviets/the communists -- and for the similarly-described Romans -- is/was the same. This being:

a. How to overcome the "natural resistance"/the "white blood cells"/the native populations "immune system's natural reactions" (which, quite naturally, normally and understandably, often includes "violent extremism");

b. This, to the "pandemic super-infection" -- commonly associated with great power "expansionist" activity. ("Pandemic super-infection" being an exceptionally accurate and proper description of a foreign imperial great power seeking to transform and incorporate the entire Rest of the World; this, more along their alien and profane political, economic, social and/or value lines?)

(Thus, to send the Georgetown students [et al.] -- back to the drawing board -- so that they might address the real and actual problem which confronts us today. And which, shall we agree -- and for now obvious reasons -- is only properly described, only properly understood and, thus, only properly addressed as per my argument above?)

Bottom/Bottom Line: Know oneself, know one's enemy and, thus, know the war that one is actually embarked upon?

Re: a general understanding of the nature of "small wars" -- yesterday and today -- note that one does not find C.E. Callwell, Rudyard Kipling or Joseph Schumpeter (all luminaries in the time known as the "New Imperialism"?) blaming the "small wars," which occur during the "long war" of their age, on such things as their opponent's "religion."

Rather, these individuals -- uniformly it would appear -- stepped directly up to the "honesty" plate and blamed their "small wars" on (a) the enhanced commerce, trade, investment and economic "growth" ambitions of the "expansionist"-oriented Western powers and on (b) the directly-related state and societal "change" demands for the native populations (as per "colonization" back then; as per "westernization" today) that these such enhanced commerce/trade/investment/growth ambitions routinely brought in their wake.


a. Callwell would tell us that "small wars" were the "heritage of extended empire, a certain epilogue to encroachments into lands beyond the confines of existing civilization;" wherein, "the trader heralds almost as a matter of course the coming of the soldier and the commercial enterprise in the end generally leads to conquest."… (See Chapter II: The Causes of Small Wars.)

(Today, of course, it appears that we often send the soldier in first; this, to pave the way for the commercial enterprises that will follow?)

b. Schumpeter would describe the matter in these terms: "Where cultural backwardness of a region makes normal economic intercourse dependent on colonization, it does not matter, assuming free trade, which of the civilized nations undertakes the task of colonization."

c. Kipling, in his "White Man's Burden," would describe the situation in much these same ways.

Herein, it is important to note that Senator Benjamin Tillman, in his address to the Senate on February 7, 1899, would read aloud three stanzas of “The White Man’s Burden” and suggest that U.S should renounce claim of authority over the Philippine Islands. To that effect, Senator Tillman asked:

"Why are we bent on forcing upon them a civilization not suited to them, and which only means, in their view, degradation and a loss of self-respect, which to them is worse than the loss of life itself? I am nearly done. Nobody answers and nobody can. The commercial instinct which seeks to furnish a market and places for the growth of commerce or the investment of capital for the money making of the few is pressing this country madly to the final and ultimate annexation of these people -- regardless of their own wishes."

(Tillman, being a Southern senator from South Carolina, understood well about what he preached; this, given that -- cir. 1861 -- the populations of his own region [and for similar enhanced commerce/ trade/investment/growth reasons?] had forced upon them -- "regardless of their own wishes" -- a "civilization not suited to them," and were, accordingly, forced to experience a similar "degradation and loss of self-respect," which, indeed, for many of his recent ancestors, was "far worse than the loss of life itself?")

NOW, I suggest, you have before you the cause of "small wars" -- and indeed the cause of civil wars -- yesterday and today -- as per:

a. The socio-economic "North's" commerce, growth, investment and trade-oriented "expansionist" requirements and designs for

b. The socio-economic "Southern" regions of the world.

("Religion," thus, in these such instances -- while certainly being seen as an excellent "resistance to unwanted transformation" mechanism in certain cases -- -- certainly cannot be seen as the "root cause" of these such enhanced commerce/trade/investment/growth-related "small wars" and civil wars -- or of the disasters, the suffering and the chaos that routinely follow, yesterday as today, in their wake.)

Not to sound dismissive, but aren't these approaches already being undertaken?

The problem with the entire notion of the War on Terror is that the overwhelming majority of victims of Muslim terrorism are fellow Muslims. In many respects, the terrorism against the West is spillover of political and sectarian violence within Muslim-majority societies.

For reference, the conflicts in Ireland and Northern Ireland are popularly conceived of as a conflict between the English or British and the Irish.

However, looking at the total fatalities of the various conflicts from 1919 to 1998, only 8% to 12% of the 6,500 to 9,500 dead were British, including civilians and security forces.

Overwhelmingly, the euphemistically-named Troubles involved Irishmen killing fellow Irishmen, despite the rhetoric about liberating Ireland from British occupation or taking the fight to Britain. More Irish died during the 10-month civil war following independence, than in either the War of Independence or the Northern Ireland Conflict (which lasted 30 years). Nor could the carnage in 1922-1923 be divided along sectarian lines, as Catholic Irish were slaughtering fellow Catholic Irish in the main.

Therefore, as much as we want to minimize or eliminate Muslim terrorism in the West, we have to recognize the broader context.

Bill C.

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 7:39pm

In reply to by Thomas Doherty

First, to note that with all its power, the Soviets/the communists -- even in places where the U.S./the West did not provide assistance -- often were not able to "convert" (to communism) the Islamic populations; if at all, or for long.

Next, to note that, re: their worldwide "transformational" efforts of the Old Cold War, the Soviets/the communists (much as the case with the U.S./the West today and re: our current worldwide "transformational" designs?) did not see the need to -- and indeed saw the folly in -- attempting to conquer either Medina or Mecca. (Both sides likely seeing this approach as the means to insight a worldwide Islamic revolution?)

Most importantly, one must understand that during the Old Cold War of yesterday, when the U.S./the West sought to contain and/or roll back then-Soviet/communist "expansionist" designs, Islam -- like most/all other such especially strong "conservative"/"no change" social/cultural attributes -- was considered, by the U.S./the West then, as a most wonderful thing; as a most beautiful and potent "resistance" weapon.

In this regard, and for example, to consider the following:

"The role of Islam as a source of resistance to Soviet rule attracted even more scholarly attention. In short, it was commonly viewed as the dominant social force in Central Asia and, more importantly, as purely an oppositional one. More specifically, because modernization is equated with secularization, Islam was depicted as the primary weapon "against the forces of Soviet modernity." Thus, Islam was considered a crowning symbol of both Central Asia's ability to resist Soviet rule and the Soviet Union's failure to achieve modernization in this region."… (See Page 9 of the Introduction.)

Thus, in Old Cold War era documents -- such as the one offered next below -- one almost always finds Islam/Islamists/Muslims:

a. Being referred to in glowing "resistance"/"resistance movements" terms; and, this,

b. Specifically in relation to opposing -- the aggressor -- Soviet/communist worldwide "transformational" efforts.

(If this depiction of the combatants is wrong, then should we suggest that [a] the powerful Soviets/the communists were indeed the "resistance fighters" back-in-the-day, and that [b] those comparatively much weaker native populations -- clinging to Islam or other conservative social/cultural attributes throughout the world -- these much weaker folks were indeed the "aggressors"/those seeking to "transform" the entire Rest of the World more along their alien and profane political, economic, social and value lines? Note how this -- seemingly ridiculous thought -- tends to dispel/to call seriously into question your final "they are the bad guys" argument above.)


a. It is only in the New/Reverse Cold War of today, with the U.S./the West now having replaced the Soviets/the communists as the great power (to wit: those having the means to achieve their desired ends?) attempting world-wide "transformations" (in our case today, as per our particular version of secular modernity; our peculiar political, economic, social and value norms). It is only in this context that we find:

b. Islam/the Islamists/the Muslims (to wit: those only having the power to resist) -- currently and quite understandably re: the above correctly explained "transformational entity" v. "resistance to transformation entities" conflict -- coming to be viewed as such a "bugbear" (a cause of fear, anxiety, irritation and/or loathing; a difficult or persistent problem).

Concluding Question: If the Jews in Khaibar, the Battles of Baghdad, Damascus and Ain Jalut, and the Battles of Toulouse and Tours did not concern us -- even in the least -- in the recent half century of worldwide conflict known as the Old Cold War of yesterday (the Islamic resistance being fairly active back then?), why then should these such battles -- all of a sudden -- come to concern us now?

Concluding Answer: This appears to be because we do not wish to see ourselves, in our "expansionist" role in the New/Reverse Cold War of today, as, indeed, being the ones who are the true source of such conflicts (to include civil wars) -- and related disasters and chaos -- as we, and indeed the entire Rest of the World, are involved in currently.

(This, much as the Soviets/the communists, and re: their similar "expansionist" role in the Old Cold War of yesterday, were, indeed, the primary source of the such conflicts [to include civil wars], disasters and chaos as ensued back then?)

Thomas Doherty

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 5:59pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Short answer:

USSR questions:
If the USSR/Communism had won they would have treated Islam as a disease but the cure would have been amputation. With no ‘West’ to help them, no safe havens, and the Soviet willingness to kill those that resist, any resistance offered by what was left of Islam would be small.

The rest of your questions are based on what I feel is the false premise that Islam is simply resisting and lacking other capabilities it is using what some call terrorism. This might be an argument if we were talking about ‘the West’ conquering Medina or Mecca. However the resistance argument falls away quickly during Mohamed’s lifetime with the attack on the Jews in Khaibar.

One could try to reinsert the resistance argument for the Battles of Baghdad, Damascus and ultimately Ain Jalut. But you have to ignore the fact that this was two different conquerors fighting over conquered territory. The expansion that was halted in modern day France at the Battles of Toulouse and later Tours was not a resistance army it was a conquering Army.

One could also try to argue the Taliban are simply resisting change except the culture they are trying to force their ideology on had a different culture prior to their existence. Leading to who is resisting who? Not to mention a lot of the groups ‘resisting’ asked for western help previously.

Is ISIS killing fellow Sunni Muslims in their own territory to resist ‘The West’? Have the Yazidi oppressed Muslims in Iraq and Syria? If ‘The West’ completely left the Mideast would these ‘resistance’ groups say ‘we won against the ‘Great Satan’ everyone stop fighting’?

The answer is no. These ‘resistance fighters’ and their ancestors have been on the march to inforce ideology on the world for centuries. Although some of the full text of Bin Laden's 'letter to America' does have some resistance style propaganda including saying the Jews were not in Israel prior to Islam’s conception, a lot of it has nothing to do with resistance and all to do with you will believe like we do or else.

‘Let us do what we want to do’ is resistance. ‘Do what we tell you to how we tell you to’ makes ‘The West’ the resistance fighters.

Thomas Doherty

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 6:02pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Sorry double posted somehow.

Edited and added to slightly from my earlier offering:


If the Soviets/the communists had won the Old Cold War, and if they had adopted, much as the U.S./the West did cir. 1993, a "capitalize on and consolidate gains" grand strategy -- one designed to transform the entire Rest of the World more along one's own alien and profane political, economic, social and value lines,

If these "winning" Soviets/communists had continued to pursue their "world transformative" agenda, post-the Old Cold War, then would they, much like the U.S./the West today, ultimately have had to:

a. "Fight a protracted war against a Global Jihadi Movement that draws it inspiration from Islam and wishes to enforce its view of Islam upon the world?"

b. Consider "Islamic extremist ideology as a pandemic super-infection resistant to current counter-ideological methodologies?" And

c. Come to consider "treating Islamic extremist ideology as the equivalent of an ideological MRSA pandemic?"

Thus to ask, if the Soviets/the communists had won the Old Cold War, would they have benefited from treating -- as a disease:

a. Not "violence," "terrorism" and/or "Islamic Extremist Ideology" per se. (All of these, after all, are simply "resistance" tools). But, rather,

b. The continued resistance -- of both state and non-state actors -- to the unwanted transformation of their states, societies and civilizations (more along the alien and profane political, economic, social and value lines of a hated foreigner)?

Thus to suggest, in sum, that if treating -- as a disease -- "continued resistance to unwanted transformation" makes sense, then so to does our author's suggested strategy/approach above.

If not, then to suggest that we may need to look elsewhere for a "cure."

Why? Because the "resistance to unwanted transformation" forces -- if "Islamic Extremist Ideology" (etc., etc., etc., etc.) is somehow taken away from them -- will simply adapt, and look for new and other ways and means to achieve their "resistance to unwanted transformation" ends.

Bottom Line Questions:

Are we barking up the wrong tree when looking at -- and focusing on -- such things as the "tools" (terrorism, violence, ideology) that a resistance group uses to pursue its objectives?

Would it be better to look at -- and focus on -- the "root cause" of such "resistance" behavior?

In our case today, this "root cause" of resistance behavior being -- whether we are talking about state actors such as Russia, China, Iran, etc. -- or non-state actors such as as AQ, ISIS, and the "lone wolves," etc. -- the determination of the winner of the Old Cold War (to wit: the "expansionist" U.S./West) to transform the entire non-western/less-western world more along our alien and profane (from the "resister's" point-of-view) political, economic, social and value lines.

Thus to ask, in sum, can a "cure" -- to "resistance" -- be achieved via this alternative method (to wit: by looking at "us" rather than "them")?

(Is this not the "cure to resistance" approach that COL [ret.] Robert C. Jones constantly and consistently suggests to us?)

Thomas Doherty

Thu, 09/29/2016 - 7:36pm

FBI Director Comey recently discussed the diaspora that will spread when an Muslim Extremist Organization (MEO) in this case ISIS is forced into the latent incipient phase. In effect, ISIS will metastasize even more.…

Notice this is taken care of in this strategy. Not that it would be an easy task but at least the issue is addressed and not simply put off until the exact same thing is repeated in another place. This issue was also raised in "Should There Be a Human Warfighting Domain?" which recommended giving SOF the ability to deal with such issues for the military.