Today’s Australian reports below an address by Kevin Andrews to a leading US think-tank, the Heritage Foundation, in Washington DC. (I attended Heritage in the 1980s and contributed an article to its journal). Andrews claims there is scope for greater use of special forces in Iraq/Syria and that Turnbull’s support for the advise-and-assist mission to train the Iraqis is not the right strategy. He refers to the advice to Congress by the US Defense Secretary, Ashley Carter, that there would be an increase in the use of US special forces (it appears that subsequently an additional 200 were sent).
There is an implication here that Carter himself has recognised that Obama’s “no troops on the ground” is not working and that it should be stretched to the limit by using “special forces”, but not troops as such. Whether such a strategy is sufficient to have a major impact must be doubted: but it has the potential to show that the US and others are getting some positive results, which the air strikes do not seem to be achieving.
The attached report by US think-tank Clarion provides an example of what special forces can do by targeting IS leaders – and even at the HQ of IS at Raqqa in Syria (see “What troops on the ground might do?”). Note that the special forces were British. The French have made good use of such forces in Africa and they might participate in a more general expansion.
Importantly from a political perspective, an increased use of special forces by western countries would provide an expanded basis for not only supporting the “elimination” of IS (which Obama and other leaders say openly is their aim) but for a wider rejection of Islamic extremism around the world. I am not sure whether there is a clear distinction between special and ordinary forces but there may be scope to increase the size of “specials” of the three countries which use them.
The spread of jihadism is alarming and is increasingly exposed by various think-tank type organisations. There is an obvious need to use a wider political as well as military approach in support of western values internationally, not to mention the support of Christians who are being slaughtered or forced to emigrate. But that will require increased US leadership, which is lacking under Obama.
And what of America itself. Worryingly, the Gatehouse Institute and the Clarion Project have drawn attention to an astonishing expansion in Muslim agencies and support for jihadist activity in the US itself. Very little of this has appeared in Australian media. The three attachments above elaborate, with the two Gatehouse being too lengthy to spell out here. But the fact that there are lengthy references to a country that is supposedly the leader of the western world is very concerning. Note in particular that during 2015 Obama spoke publicly about “less-than-loving Christians” (Part II above) and that the first official sharia court has been established in the US (Part I).
In Australia we have one organisation (Australian Liberty Alliance) which favours small government and aims to educate us about Islam in Australia. It is running in the next election under a policy of STOP THE ISLAMISATION OF AUSTRALIA and it has already announced a policy involving a 10-year moratorium on resident visa applications from nationals of the 56 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). An exemption would apply to genuine refugees from persecuted minorities. OIC members are typically states which have elements of sharia law enshrined in their constitution and legal system.
We also have an expert (Dr Mark Durie) who understands that a significant proportion of Muslims support jihadism by reference to the Koran. A limited number of academics and journalists are also aware of the dangers and have written about them. But we need the government to also warn of the dangers and to espouse our values. Our PM clearly doesn’t understand the dangers and has made only a weak acknowledgement that jihadism can be justified by reference to the Koran. There has also been no retraction by the head of ASIO on his denial of a connection between terrorism and the Islamic religion.
PS The (relative) success of both Rubio and Cruz in the Iowa polling is encouraging. My “spy” on the US Presidential elections judges Rubio as “a principled conservative, very well read, superb debater and question handler, tough yet has a kindly side”. He thinks Cruz is very good also. He has more campaigning energy, a bit less likable than Rubio but that gets exaggerated. “Either of the two would make an excellent prez”. I don’t know whether they have a specific policy on Islamisation but it would have to be better than Trump’s!