Obama redefines national security strategy, looks beyond military might

The Washington Post (Link) - Karen DeYoung (May 27, 2010)

In a broad redefinition of U.S. strategic priorities, President Obama has said that the United States must revitalize its economic, moral and innovative strength if it is to continue to lead the world.

Just as it did after World War II, the United States today must shape an international order and system of global institutions that reflect a 21st-century reality in which �America�s greatness is not assured,� Obama says in a 52-page �National Security Strategy� released Thursday morning.

�As we fight the wars in front of us, we must see the horizon beyond them,� he writes in an introduction to the document. �To get there, we must pursue a strategy of national renewal and global leadership -- a strategy that rebuilds the foundation of American strength and influence.�

The report is the first that Obama has prepared under a 1986 law requiring the president to present Congress with an annual strategic statement. Most administrations have only sporadically adhered to the requirement; George W. Bush issued two national security strategies during his presidency, in 2002 and 2006.

The document serves to set administration priorities inside the government and communicate them to Congress, the American people and the world. It also is intended as a framework for strategy documents produced by other parts of the government, including the Pentagon�s national defense strategy.

Obama�s new doctrine represents a clear break with the unilateral military approach advocated by his predecessor after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Bush tempered that guidance toward the end of his presidency, but the Obama strategy offers �a broad concept of what constitutes our national security,� the document says.

Military superiority must be maintained and �the United States remains the only nation able to project and sustain large-scale military operations over extended distances,� the document says. But �when we overuse our military might, or fail to invest in or deploy complementary tools, or act without partners,� it says, �then our military is overstretched. Americans bear a greater burden, and our leadership around the world is too narrowly identified with military forces.�

The strategy cites four �enduring national interests� that are �inextricably linked:� security, prosperity, values and international order.

�One of the things we really wanted to do is to have this document represent the appropriate context of our times,� Benjamin Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said in an interview.

Reiterating international engagement and collaboration as first options against national security threats, themes that Obama has emphasized throughout his 16 months in office, the strategy emphasizes his commitment to nuclear nonproliferation and combating climate change. Obama previewed elements of the document Saturday, when he told the graduating class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., that �America has not succeeded by stepping out of the currents of cooperation.�

In a choreographed series of events Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discussed the diplomatic elements of the doctrine in a speech at the Brookings Institution, while James L. Jones, Obama�s national security adviser, was to explain the strategy later at the Foreign Press Club.

�We are in a race between the forces of integration and the forces of disintegration, and we see that every day,� Clinton said. �In a world like this, American leadership isn�t needed less; it�s actually needed more. And the simple fact is that no significant global challenge can be met without us.�

At the same time, she added, the United States needs partners to help it tackle common problems. �Leadership means . . . building the coalitions that can produce results against those shared challenges. It means providing incentives for states who are part of the solution, whether they recognize it or not, enabling them and encouraging them to live up to responsibilities that even a decade ago they would never have thought were theirs, and disincentives for those who do not,� she said.

On Wednesday, John O. Brennan, Obama�s top counterterrorism adviser, discussed homeland security elements, saying the document �explicitly recognizes the threat to the United States posed by individuals radicalized here at home.�

In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Brennan described a �new phase� in al-Qaeda tactics, one in which people who do not fit the �traditional profile� attempt to carry out relatively unsophisticated attacks. He cited the Nigerian suspect in the failed Christmas Day airliner bomb attack, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani American who allegedly parked a car bomb in Times Square this month.

�As our enemy adapts and evolves their tactics,� Brennan said, �so must we constantly adapt and evolve ours, not in a mad rush driven by fear, but in a thoughtful and reasoned way that enhances our security and further delegitimizes the actions of our enemy.�

Implicitly rejecting the antiterrorism rhetoric of the Bush administration, Brennan said that �our enemy is not terrorism, because terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not terror, because terror is a state of mind and, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear.�

John Brennan May 26, 2010 - Jihad a Legitimate Tenant of Islam

�Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists,� Brennan said, because use of these religious terms would �play into the false perception� that al-Qaeda and its affiliates are �religious leaders and defending a holy cause, when in fact, they are nothing more than murderers.�

�The United States is at war,� he said. �We are at war against al-Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates.�

The administration �will take the fight� to the extremists �wherever they plot and train in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond,� Brennan said, but �will exercise force prudently, recognizing that we often need to use a scalpel and not a hammer.�

�When we know of terrorists who are plotting against us, we have a responsibility to take action to defend ourselves, and we will do so,� Brennan said. �At the same time, an action that eliminates a single terrorist but causes civilian casualties can, in fact, inflame local populations and create far more problems -- a tactical success but a strategic failure.�

Even as the United States strengthens internal and international defenses, American values and resilience remain the primary U.S. weapons, he said.

�Terrorists may try to bring death to our cities, but it is our choice to either uphold the rule of law or chip away at it . . . to either respond wisely and effectively or lash out in ways that inflame entire regions and stoke the fires of violent extremism. That is our choice. And with the strategy . . . President Obama and the administration offers our answer.�

The administration, the strategy document says, will �do everything in our power to prevent these dangers . . . [but] we also recognize that we will not be able to deter or prevent every single threat. That is why we must also enhance our resilience -- the ability to adapt to changing conditions and prepare for, withstand and rapidly recover from disruption.�

The document repeats Obama�s pledge to close the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo, Cuba, but offers no new details on how and when that will happen. It renews the administration�s commitment to �bring terrorists to justice . . . in line with the rule of law and due process� and called for �durable legal approaches consistent with our security and our values.�

The strategy restates familiar administration policy on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as Iran and North Korea, and reiterates that �our relationship with our European allies remains the cornerstone for U.S. engagement with the world.� It nods to strong U.S. partnerships with Asian powers, including Japan and South Korea, and Canada and Mexico as hemispheric allies.

It briefly mentions Israel, citing the importance of maintaining a �strong partnership� and supporting Israel�s �lasting integration� into the Middle East. But in the same paragraph, it says that the United States �also will continue to develop our key security relationships in the region� with Arab states, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states.

A central part of administration strategy, the document says, is expanding U.S. engagement with �other key centers of influence -- including China, India and Russia, as well as increasingly influential nations such as Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia.� It notes a previously announced shift in U.S. focus from the Group of Eight industrialized nations to the Group of 20 as �the premier forum for international economic cooperation.�

The strategy concludes on a somewhat wistful note, saying that both domestic and international progress will depend on �broad and bipartisan cooperation� whose absence �places the United States at a strategic disadvantage.�

�Throughout the Cold War, even as there were intense disagreements about certain courses of action, there remained a belief that America�s political leaders shared common goals, even if they differed about how to reach them,� it says. �In today�s political environment, due to the actions of both parties, that sense of common purpose is at times lacking in our national security dialogue.�

On a personal note, I have nothing against any person and harbor no ill-will for anyone. Indeed it is the central tenant of my faith to love even those who hate and persecute you. Love is selfless and the fulfilling of the Law, supremely demonstrated by Yeshua when he gave up all that He had to die on a cross of wood for the sins of you, me and every single Muslim out there, if they will believe and accept this gift of grace. If they do not believe, then the tenant of my faith is to live in peace with all men if possible. This means if they don�t believe as I do, that is fine and I will let them believe as they want. God doesn�t force us to accept Him, He offers us the choice and honors the free will given us to accept Him or not. While there are consequences for rejecting God (He will reject you and separate you eternally from Himself -- God is love), those who follow God are not to be judges, but rather love. This doesn�t mean ignoring the lost, but it also doesn�t mean eliminating them either.

Romans 12
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation
[a form of deception in which one conceals the truth]. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Obama�s counterterror advisor John Brennan: �Jihad is a holy struggle� Hyscience (May 27, 2010)

Via FOX News: Counterterror Adviser Defends Jihad as �Legitimate Tenet of Islam�

The president�s top counterterrorism adviser on Wednesday called jihad a �legitimate tenet of Islam,� arguing that the term �jihadists� should not be used to describe America�s enemies.

During a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, John Brennan described violent extremists as victims of �political, economic and social forces,� but said that those plotting attacks on the United States should not be described in �religious terms.�

He repeated the administration argument that the enemy is not �terrorism,� because terrorism is a �tactic,� and not terror, because terror is a �state of mind� -- though Brennan�s title, deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security, includes the word �terrorism� in it. But then Brennan said that the word �jihad� should not be applied either.

�Nor do we describe our enemy as �jihadists� or �Islamists� because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one�s community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children,� Brennan said.

�Legitimate Tenet of Islam�? It does indeed depends on what Brennan means by �legitimate.�

As Allahpundit aptly suggests, Hezbollah and their ilk will be surprised when they find out they�ve misunderstood what �jihad� means. That�s because, while the Obama administration and perhaps most Muslims may indeed believe �jihad� is first and foremost a spiritual struggle, followers of �radical Islam� (a term the Obama administration refuses to recognize) take �jihad� to be the central tenet of Islam and see it as primarily about fighting both defensively and offensively (to spread what they consider to be the just laws of Islam).

As Robert Spencer, scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch points out in his piece �The Definition of �Jihad�:
... the theology of offensive and defensive jihad is far older than the �extremists,� and is in fact rooted in the Qur�an (2:193 and 9:29 and for offensive jihad) and Muhammad�s statements, notably the one in which he directs his followers to offer non-Muslims conversion, subjugation, or war. Then there are the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, which all teach the necessity for offensive jihad in order to subjugate unbelievers under the rule of Sharia.
And as Spencer notes in a piece at Human Events, Islamic groups in America are doing exactly nothing to teach their people against the jihad doctrine of warfare against unbelievers and their subjugation under the rule of Islamic law, and nothing the Obama administration is doing will change this:
[...] The Islamic jihadists refer to Islamic texts and teachings to justify violence and supremacism, and make recruits among peaceful Muslims. Whom does it benefit when government and law enforcement officials ignore that? Only the jihadists, whose motives and goals remain unknown, unexplored, and unchallenged.

Meanwhile, Obama has been reaching out to unsavory Islamic groups with ties to jihad terrorism. He sent Jarrett to give the keynote address at the Islamic Society of North America�s convention, ignorant of or indifferent to the fact that this group was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation�s Hamas-funding case.

[...] Islamic groups in America are doing exactly nothing to teach their people against the jihad doctrine of warfare against unbelievers and their subjugation under the rule of Islamic law. Surveys have shown that such material is taught in a large majority of mosques in America. Yet instead of calling Islamic groups in America to account, Obama is relaxing airport security and busying himself finding new ways to placate Muslims in the U.S., who are so skilled at playing the aggrieved victim card.