systems. You are
with them. You cannot get rid of them.” The Soviet strategy’ssuccess was impressive, if unquantifiable.In essence, the Soviets intended for us to do it to
. I am reminded of aMuslim Brotherhood-linked document exposed in the course of the U.S. v Holy LandFoundation trial, a strategic memo for internal dissemination that envisioned bringing theUnited States down by “its own miserable hands.”
Like in Judo, the intent is to exert aminimum of kinetic effort and have us collapse under our own intellectual weight. But itis a long-term investment; Bezmenov claims it takes 15 to 20 years before the firstreturns are noticeable, and it would take at least that amount of time to reverse the process. That period, by the way, is about the length of time it takes to educate onegeneration of activists.In
Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against the West
, Walid Phares explores asimilar, Saudi Arabian penetration of the American education system. In this strategy, petro-dollars fund universities, libraries, and research centers, which willingly muteserious exploration of Islamic conquest. “In the new textbooks, there was no Islamicconquest, no
, no conquered peoples…. Jihad was painted as a spiritual inner experience, almost a yoga exercise.”
Groups like the Middle East Studies Association of America (MESA) would anoint “…new generations of Middle East studies graduates[thereby putting] even more teachers in the classrooms…. From the classroom, thegraduates were picked up to serve either as teachers for future classrooms or as publicservants in agencies—State Department, Congress, embassies, and beyond.” MESA’s presidents have included Juan Cole and John Esposito, who defined the Americandiscourse on jihad and Middle East studies for decades.
Intelligentsia—including press, policy and intelligence circles—are probably no more or less immune to this phenomenon than the rest of the public. Jacques Ellul brilliantly argued that education isthe very
for successful propaganda. It is a kind of “pre-propaganda” that isslow, constant, and paves the way for the harder stuff, when agents of influence aretriggered to action.If jihadists have really penetrated the American discourse, then Bezmenov predicts no amount of contrary evidence or “authentic information” can sway us. Ellul,for his part, argued that propaganda is successful precisely because it circumvents thethinking parts of our brains. So, without the obstacle of critical thought, which we shouldhave all learned in our education, jihadists can leverage Esposito’s tendency to see onlythe positive in Islam in order to disguise their real intent. When raw and unfavorableevidence turns up showing jihad to be hegemonic and violent, Muslims can dismissivelywave their hands in a manner reminiscent of Obi-Wan Kanobe in Star Wars, and suggestthat “this isn’t the jihad you’re looking for.”
So, in the midst of an ideological war, jihadists may have convinced Western intelligentsia that the root sources of their ideology are just fine.
INFORMATION OPERATIONS IN CONVENTIONAL WARFARE
In 2007 and 2008 I developed a theory that attempts to explain this process usingthe Arab-Israeli conflict as a case study. I went beyond what the Soviets would call political warfare or active measures, though that is the closest approximation. My broadapproach reaches down to the most basic element of cognitive warfare—the meme—and