In 334 BC, Alexander the Great looked across the River Granicus and studied the formations of the Persian Army: On the east bank of the river, the Persian Commander had positioned his strongest forces on the low ground, where it was most conducive for Alexander to attempt a crossing. Alexander felt that it was shameful for a commander to use terrain to tactical advantage. In his day, the outcome of a war was determined by a single, decisive battle, where enemies faced each other on open ground. Alexander thought that the use of archers to support the infantry was an act of cowardice and even scorned the use of flank or rear security. Look your enemy in the eye; attack straight ahead.
So it was in days of First Generation Warfare. Things are more complicated now.
Fast-forward 2300 years and two generations of warfare…
If the Cordoba Project goes forward as planned and a Mosque is built at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, the propaganda arm of Islamic Terror Networks will fill cyberspace and AM radio waves across the Muslim World with news of Allah’s victory over the infidel. If the organizers of the project bow to public outrage in the US, the same Terrorist propaganda media will enrage the Muslim World with accusations that the US is persecuting Islam. Regardless of which scenario comes to pass, recruitment of young terrorists will surge as a result of terrorism’s application of a hybrid model of warfare, which combines ancient guerrilla tactics with modern technology, known as Fourth Generation Warfare or 4GW. So much for looking your enemy in the eye.
Despite the United States’ failure to recognize and address the enemy’s strategic application of 4GW, steps can be taken to minimize terrorist exploitation of the Ground Zero Mosque Controversy and, perhaps, even gain some ground in other aspects of this conflict.
So far, the primary instrument of response has been the US Military, inadequately backed up by our ill-prepared intelligence agencies, still trying to rebuild after an eight-year effort by the Clinton Administration to dismantle them. The ideal solution to confront Islamic Terrorism using Fourth Generation Warfare tactics would be to bring the full capability of the US to bear, by using all four instruments of national power: Diplomacy, Economic Power, Information Operations and Military Power. There are several ways to do this in regards to the Ground Zero Mosque.
First, the US National Command Authority must recognize and understand exactly what we are dealing with in a 4GW adversary. Our Military and Intelligence Services understand, but they do not drive National Policy nor do they drive Strategic Objectives. So far, the actions of US National level leadership of both the Bush and Obama administrations indicate that they do not grasp the strategic, three-dimensional nature of how International Terror Groups operate. Our Government must listen to their leadership in the Military and Intelligence Services and recognize that the Global War on Terror is not something that can be won using a series of conventional military operations. It is a struggle of cultures and ideologies which must be fully engaged using all instruments of national power.
Alexander was faced with a similar dilemma in looking at the Persian formations across the River Granicus: He discovered that his adversaries’ way of war was different from the conventional Greek model. He realized that it was not always possible to achieve victory by fighting the way he liked to fight. Alexander understood that strategic and tactical operations are driven by what the enemy is going to do, not what a commander wants them to do, and he made appropriate adjustments.
Once our leadership understands the irregular way this enemy fights, they must begin damage control. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the public face of the Ground Zero Mosque has worked with the State and Justice Departments and has established relationships there. Therefore, he should be engaged on a diplomatic level to convince him that he is not building bridges with this project, but is, in fact, building walls. Suppose Imam Feisal sees things our way: The Imam himself correctly predicts that the Muslim world would be infuriated if the Mosque were moved from its planned location at 51 Park. They would interpret it as persecution of Islam and would be motivated to resort to terrorism to defend it.
The American Left, in its zeal to defend the project and to paint Imam Feisal as a moderate, point to how he has cooperated with the FBI and State Department by helping advance US interests in the Muslim world, where he apparently has considerable clout. First, cooperation with the US Government cannot be the measure of one’s loyalty because we have a tradition of trusting people who ultimately betray us, such as the Al-Qaeda double agent who blew up eight CIA agents in Afghanistan this year. Second, if Imam Feisal is such a big shot, he should be willing to speak on behalf of the US to preempt the notion that we are attacking Islam by protesting the Mosque. If he were truly a moderate Muslim who wants to help heal the wounds of 9/11, Imam Feisal would first move the mosque away from Ground Zero to reinforce his stated goal, aggressively defend the move, and recruit his fellow Islamic Scholars to add their voices to the message of tolerance and non-violence. Although this would be the preferred course of action and technically in the realm of possibility due to his public statements, it is highly unlikely because Imam Feisal is not a moderate.
The Two Front Approach
The Global War on Terror must be fought across two very broad fronts: 1. Eliminate immediate threats to US National Security. 2. Preempt the radicalization and recruitment of future terrorists. The Ground Zero Mosque controversy falls into the latter and should be viewed by the US as a very costly learning experience. The main learning point should be that only through the full application of all instruments of national power can we compete with Islamic Terrorists’ Three-Dimensional 4GW Battlefield Operating Systems. In the future, fabricated controversies like this one should be dealt with using diplomatic engagement to deny the enemy of propaganda fodder combined with aggressive information operations to discredit radical Islamic accusations of persecution.
Unfortunately, it is too late in the game to get the government ball rolling as far as diplomacy and information operations, so the Mosque will most likely be built on Ground Zero. But it is not too late to have something good come from something bad: Due to the propaganda theme of an extraordinary victory over the infidel, this mosque is certain to become a pilgrimage destination for radical Muslims across the globe. As such, this fact makes the mosque an ideal site in which the FBI conducts intelligence operations, and it should be placed under immediate surveillance.
Additionally, the international exposure given to the Ground Zero Mosque translates to free advertising in its efforts to raise funds to finance the project. The US should track the movement of money to this project, expose any terrorist ties and freeze those financial assets.
Islamic Terror Networks have definitely seized the initiative in exploiting the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, but some options still exist for the US to minimize the impact on our efforts to fight the Global War on Terror. The key is to adapt countermeasures to an ever-evolving enemy. The US National Command Authority must listen to the American people and to the warriors in the Military and Intelligence Services to understand the operational environment, learn from their mistakes and act accordingly.
Incidentally, Alexander won at the Granicus.
De Oppresso Liber