The Gaffney Report aka ‘The Return of Dr Strangelove’
by Abdul Cader Asmal
Given the existential threat that the nuclear armed adversaries, the USA and USSR, posed to each other and to the rest of the world; in 1976, George W Bush, then Director of the CIA, commissioned an independent, select group of intelligence experts to critique the data available at the time, as to whether a policy of détente with, or confrontation against, the Soviet Union would be in the best interests of the US and the world. The opinion they provided was at variance with conventional wisdom ( Plan A) and came to be known as plan BI, and is credited in large part with the premature demise of the Soviet Union.
In an act of unparalleled megalomania, Frank Gaffney (Center for Security Policy) took it upon himself to assemble a coterie of specialists from the branches of the military,intelligence, security, and law enforcement, to investigate the ‘existential threat’ that Islamic ‘Shariah’ posed to the US and the rest of the non-Muslim world! Not surprisingly not only was there a conspicuous absence of any credentialled experts on Islam, but also most of the prticipants had at one time or another expressed blatantly anti-Islamic sentiments. Evidently to rectify this oversight Mr Gaffney saw fit to fill the vacancies with a cadre of ex-Muslim terrorists who were willing to deliver with requisite obsequiousness the ‘expert’ testimony that was otherwise lacking. Such fabricated ‘evidence’ would serve to corroborate the preconceived notions of the team masquerading as independent intelligence experts on Islam!
The report that ‘maestro’ Gaffney self-indulgently refers to as plan BII, is as predictable as it is delusional. In it he and his consultoids make the case that Islamic ‘Shariah’ is indeed the equivalent to the existential threat that the former USSR had posed to the US, and as such it must be dealt with the same ruthless confrontation. If not, the US and the rest of civilization, will end up under the sword of Shariah!. This delusional, quasi-academic, self-aggrandizing ‘report’ (that makes the claim about the ‘weapons of Mass Destruction’ in Iraq look almost plausible) is totally fraudulent from the get-go, both because the ‘independent experts’ make no bones of their prejudice against Islam, but also because of their highly biased selection of data to incude only data that serves to reinforce their preconceptions. The slew of blatant lies and distortions do not dignify a response, but all Americans deserve to get the facts so that they can distinguish these from the war-mongering propaganda and the psycho-terrorism that Mr Gaffney and his ‘experts’ have unleashed against Islam. Of the expansive obfuscation and confabulation embedded in the ‘report’, there are three areas of gravest concern.
Firstly, even if there were a world-wide unified Muslim community (and there is not) hell-bent on establishing Shariah throughout the world with a supremacist Islamist ‘caliphate’ on the throne, how on earth would a motley bunch of warlords (Afghanistan and Pakistan), competing theocrats (Saudi Arabia and Iran), obscenely rich plutocrats ( Kuwait and Abu Dhabi) proximate to the starving masses of failed states (Somalia, Niger), and a multitude of sects involved in endless internecine feuds, butchering fellow Muslims with whose understanding of Islam they disapprove, muster the will, collect sophisticated intelligence, and develop effective weaponry, to be able to take on the mighty USA with the buffering zone of Europe in the way?
The proposition of a military confrontation between the so-called Muslim world and the US or any of its allies would see the immediate extinction of even the dream of a ‘Shariah Threat’, if ever such a dream existed. As Lee Smith so eloquently stated in the Tablet, “I can’t imagine how he (referring to Newt Gingrich’s fear about the imposition of Shariah) sees that happening, short of the largest land invasion in human history of foreign Muslim soldiers, administrators, and religious scholars with the connivance of millions of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and pagan collaborators” (quoted by Andrew Silow-Carroll , NJJN Editor-in-Chief of the New Jersey Jewish News). That is not to deny the fact that Islam like Christianity is a proselytizing religion, and not an insignificant number of Muslims would like to engage their non-Muslim counterparts in ‘Dawah’ (or an invitation to learn about the virtues of Islam). To win the hearts and minds of the ambiguous is the spirit of proselytization. Clearly with the heretics of AlQaeda devastating the image of Islam and brain-washing countless impressionable minds to justify unspeakable acts of brutality, any efforts towards propagating Islam will first have to overcome the monumental challenge of reversing the demonization of Islam that AlQaeda has been able to instigate. In the current climate of public opinion the chances of hell freezing over are infinitely higher than the chances of Muslims converting the West to Islam either militarily, politically, economically socially or ideologically. Thus the Gaffney report (hyperbolized as plan BII) that shariah poses an existential threat to the safety security and prosperity of the US is not only preposterous. It is also delusional in its grandiosity in promoting itself as the seminal equivalent of the scholarly researched prototype plan BI. By introducing its own benchmark as to who is a Muslim threat and who is not, based on the delusional concept of a ‘shariah-faultline’ this report is designed to amplify the Islamophobia generated by AlQaeda and to serve as a readily available template for anti-Islamism and for the relentless psycho-terrorism of Muslims.
Secondly, and much more detrimentally to the welfare of this country, the demagogues who point to Islam as the enemy that will bring the US to its knees, do a grave disservice, almost to the level of sedition to our people, by deliberately deflecting attention from the real threats this country faces. These include the terrible economic collapse we have inherited, a massive deficit, a soul-destroying unemployment rate, a failing educational system, inadequate health-care, crumbling infrastructure, environmental depredation, and the increasing economic challenges posed by the expanding economies of potentially hostile countries.These threats are more real pressing and existential than that of any phantasmagorical global Islamic caliphate, deployed as a scare-mongering tactic by the present day reincarnation of Dr Strangelove. That does not deny in any way the threat of ‘terrorism’ which is a clear and ever present danger, and which is an anathema to all decent God-fearing human beings. It needs to be eradicated off the face of the earth by the collective actions of all, especially those who are imbued with, and truly understand the spirit of Shariah with which this abomination is totally incompatible. I am a Muslim and an American, and I find nothing irreconcilable between being a proud American and a practicing Muslim. I reject completely the grotesque implication that Shariah is a threat to this country in the same breath that I condemn the heretical Muslims who threaten or commit terror in the name of Islam.
The third may be viewed as the ‘mother of all conspiracies’, replicating that attributed to Jews in the so-called ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ in which Jews were portrayed as the masterminds behind a global design to take over the running of the world. In Gaffney’s deranged world view, it is Islam, through its invocation of ‘Shariah”, that is now set on a course of establishing global Islamic hegemony, either by violent ‘jihad’ (as symbolized by mindless contemptible acts of mayhem against innocent individuals and groups), or through the process of ‘stealth jihad’ an expression coined by no less than the lynchpin of pseudo-intellectuals leading the crusade against Islam. The term Shariah as Gaffney himself admits means different things to different people; even in the Muslim community it has no consensus. It falls within the comprehensive framework of Islam. It is not a component of the fundamental tenets of Islam, nor is it listed under the articles of faith. Yet the shariah does embody their precepts to guide Muslims on the Straight Path. According to a celebrated authority on Islam, Noah Feldman, ‘Shariah is not just a set of legal rules. To believing Muslims, it is something deeper and higher, infused with moral and metaphysical purpose. At its core, Shariah represents the idea that all human beings - and all human governments- are subject to justice under the law”. In as much as Islam is a complete way of life with God-consciousness being a guiding light in all of one’s actions related to one’s fellow beings, whether in the social, economic, political, educational, social, environmental or military fields of endeavour, it has to be embraced with an open heart and mind. Shariah cannot be imposed on non-Muslims any more than Islam be propagated by force. ‘There is no compulsion in religion’ is a cardinal, immutable and unabrogated refrain in the Quran.
These facts stand in stark contrast with the distorted opinions propagated by Gaffney who chooses to ignore the grand scope of Shariah and make sweeping statements about issues that he knows are anchored in ignorance and controversy and guaranteed to generate sensationalism. Thus, he blandly asserts that the ‘Shariah’ condones or commands the following behavior: ”underaged and forced marriages, honor killings, female genital mutilations, polygamy, domestic abuse and marital rape’. As a scholar of the subject Feldman documents that the Shariah, ‘prohibits bribery, demands equal treatment for the rich and poor, condemns vigilante style ‘honor-killings’, and protects everone’s property - including womens’. Feldman sees the attraction of Shariah in some Muslim countries, ‘living in corrupt autocracies not as a call for sexism, obscurantism or savage punishment, but for an Islamic version of what the West considers its most prized principle of political justice : the rule of law’. This is viewed by Feldman as a pivotal reason why the introduction in Muslim countries of Shariah is supported by such large numbers of women.
For a scholarly dissertation of the Shariah and its compatibility with the fundamental principles of our Constitution one can do no better than refer to the authoritative expert on Islamic jurisprudence Dr. Robert Crane. He notes, ‘The Preamble to the American Constitution listed five purposes for establishing the United States of America. Of these, the first was justice, then order (domestic tranquility), national defense, and prosperity, and the last, the product of the others, was freedom. This set of priorities is classically Islamic, as well as classically American, but this wisdom can be operationalized only when we recognize this fact as the basis for inter-faith understanding and cooperation in pursuit of peace, prosperity, and freedom through compassionate justice. The praxis or actualization of universal human rights is the true meaning of shari’ah compliance.’
Notwithstanding the wealth of information presented by Muslim and non-Muslim experts on Islam and the Shariah, Gaffney has been able to compile a littany of falsehoods to justify his fear-mongering tactics against Muslims. Gaffney’s grotesque distortion of the Shariah is based on several principal recurring fallacies:
1. A compilation of all the so-called ‘controversial verses’ in the Quran as though they are all components of Shariah
2. A sweeping assumption that abrogation of verses implies that the earlier ones regardless of their context or timelesness are abrogated by later ones
3. The claim that taqqiya is a modus operandi promoted by the Quran that encourages Muslims to lie in order to attain supremacy.
4. The claim that the spearhead of Sharia supremacy is the Muslim Brotherhood to which all ‘terror’ networks are linked and to which all major Muslim organisations in this country subscribe. The following comments about the Muslim Brotherhood are absolute balderdash, ”... the Muslim Brotherhood has succeeded in penetrating educational, and political systems, as well as top levels of government intelligence, the media and the US military virtually paralysing our ability to respond efficiently”. In this effort to magnify the adversarial enormity of the Muslim Brotherhood, Gaffney spares no attempt not to assassinate the characters of some of the key Americans allegedly working in dual roles for the Brotherhood and its multi-pronged ‘front organisations’ such as ISNA, ICNA, CAIR, MAS and MPAC to one or another of which almost every proud American who is a Muslim belongs! But of course according to the staggering chutzpah he displays, the definition of a moderate Muslim should be reset according to the ‘shariah-faultline’ - those who reject shariah are the real Muslims. Presumably the rest who accept Shariah for guidance are either an anachronism or a threat!
5. The selection of the ‘experts’ in his report consists of a coterie of consultoids, one of whom as a General in the US Army made the unspeakably contemptible remark to the effect that ‘my God is better than your God.’ Mr.Gaffney’s advisors apart from including the nefariously anti-Muslim polemicist previously alluded to ( and as with Lord Voldemort ‘he who must not be named’ ), also depended on the testimony of three former ‘terrorist Muslims’ whose only redeeming ‘virtue’ was their vitriolic repudiation of Islam.
The following statements made by Gaffney, give us insight into his mindset and motivation in conjuring up such a wildly provocative report with largely baseless accusations against Islam and Muslims worldwide:
‘Arguably, not since the days of the first Team B report - when unwelcome information about Soviet communism’s agenda, doctrine,and capabilities was discounted or suppressed- has there been a greater need for unconstrained analysis using all relevant facts to contribute to the development of an awareness of the self-identified enemy’s stated doctrine. The’second opinion’ on Shariah offered by this Team BII analysis is intended to be a catalyst for such an all source analysis, and for a national debate about the inadequacies of the present, official ( Team A) assessment of the threat’.
‘An informed and determined counter-strategy to defend the Constitution from shariah can yet succeed - provided it is taken in the prompt, timely and comprehensive manner recommended by Team B II.’
It would take an ego of epic proportions to arrogate the right to proclaim itself ‘Team BII’, thereby elevating its status to that of the highly acclaimed Team BI. Team BI was comprised of professional, analytical experts on intelligence; the so-called ‘Team BII’ consisted of a motley crew whose only expertize on Islam was their negative preconceptions. However, takes more than mere megalomania to arrive at the conclusion that Islamic Shariah poses the same degree of existential threat to the rest of the world as did the USSR with its massive stockpile of nuclear weapons. This requires the presence of a delusion of such grandiosity that in recognizing the ‘threat’ it becomes a mission to eradicate it, thereby becoming the eternal saviour of the ‘free world’. The evolution of such a delusional mindset may have its origins in Noah Feldman’s observation,’ It sometimes seems as if we need Shariah as Westerners have long needed Islam: as a canvas on which to project our ideas of the horrible, and as a foil to make us look good’. What is clear is that Mr Gaffney is not alone in such thinking. Dr Strangelove ( thank God only a movie character), even before the Team BI report, had the paranoid belief of a Communist conspiracy to dominate the world, and advocated a pre-emptive nuclear assault on the Soviet Union to annihilate it. It is in this similar delusional belief that he shares with Dr Strangelove, that Mr Gaffney is such an existential menace to society. It is indeed as if he has adopted Dr Strangelove’s playbook as his protocol!