Maj. Gen. Nagata contradicts President Obama about ISIS

Maj. Gen. Nagata contradicts President Obama about ISIS

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Special Forces Maj. General Michael Nagata admits the Pentagon doesn't understand Islam or ISIS. Nor does the White House.

Pentagon 9/11 memorial / Photo: Mark Fischer, used under Flickr Creative Commons license
Pentagon 9/11 memorial / Photo: Mark Fischer, used under Flickr Creative Commons license

CHARLOTTE, N.C., December 31, 2014 — A United States Army major general has admitted that there is no way to defeat Islamic extremism until we understand it.

Nuanced as his comments were, Maj. Gen. Michael Nagata, President Obama’s top Special Forces general in the Middle East, is quietly attempting to expose the Islamic terrorist movement for what it really is.

“We do not understand the movement,” says Nagata, “and until we do, we are not going to defeat it.”

Nagata adds that the Western level of comprehension of Islam, especially in the United States, is undermined because so-called moderate groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) demand and get cooperation from the Obama administration to minimize the efforts of Islamic scholars such as Robert Spencer and Ibn Warraq to educate the FBI, CIA and others about jihadist doctrines.

In an article for The Daily Caller, Neil Munro quotes Nagata: “There is a magnetic attraction to I.S. that is bringing in resources, talent, weapons, etc. to thicken, harden, embolden I.S. in ways that are very alarming.”

Nagata continues, “The Islamic State’s supporters revel in being called murderers when the words are coming from an apostate.”

Though Nagata carefully avoided directly contradicting his commander-in-chief, President Obama, Robert Spencer notes that the use of the term “apostate” is an indication that Nagata “knows very well what the Islamic State is all about, and that it is absolutely forbidden to say so in the Obama administration.”

Though subtly, Nagata is challenging the president’s insistence that “ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’”

Spencer continues his argument saying, “the group’s founding document is titled ‘This is the Promise of Allah.’ The group’s black flag says ‘There is No God but Allah,’ and carries the symbol for Islam’s reputed prophet. The group calls itself the Islamic State, and its gunmen promise perpetual jihad.”

Spencer insists that Nagata’s actions are vital and necessary because of Obama’s “see-no-Islam” policies which are crippling the U.S. in its war on terror.

Nagata “was subtly suggesting that the administration’s refusal to examine the Ideology of the Islamic State is foolish and wrong-headed,” Spencer says in the Munro article.

Even the New York Times, which picked up on the Nagata story, either got the general’s message wrong or deliberately wrote a misleading interpretation. “Trying to decipher this complex enemy — a hybrid terrorist organization and a conventional army — is such a conundrum that General Nagata assembled an unofficial brain trust outside the traditional realms of expertise within the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies, in search of fresh ideas and inspiration. Business professors, for example, are examining the Islamic State’s marketing and branding strategies.”

Jonathan Schanzer, the research vice-president at the Federation for the Defense of Democracies, countered the Times perspective. “Obama’s refusal to recognize the region’s unique cultural and religious diversity is also exacerbating the regional wars.”

For further emphasis, Schanzer added, “The fact that the U.S. is embracing (Iran), even nominally, will undoubtedly bring about new Sunni extremists who believe there is no longer a counter to Iran. It is amazing that after all this time, that (the backlash) is still a mystery.”

As a corollary to Nagata’s “awakening” regarding the Middle East, the opposite situation is also true – Islamic extremists understand the Western mindset and way of thinking so well that they can practically anticipate our strategies before we do.

That fact alone is perhaps more dangerous than our own lack of Islamic understanding.

No matter what negotiations may bring between Iran and the Obama administration, it appears that everyone except Obama knows that nothing will change regardless of the parameters of a deal.

Only a few days ago a top Iranian general said, “There are only two things that would end enmity between us and the U.S. Either the U.S. president and the EU leaders should convert to Islam and imitate the Supreme Leader, or Iran should abandon Islam and the Islamic revolution.”

In other words there is no choice, and if there were, the first is more likely to occur than the second.

Maj. Gen. Nagata has it right. Unfortunately, the only people who seem to know that the general “gets it” are those who already get it themselves.

We have a tendency in the U.S. to believe that the battle with Islam began in September of 2001. The truth is the conflict originated more than 200 years ago when Thomas Jefferson formed the United States Navy to protect American sailors from the Islamic Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean.

We have been at war with Islam since 1798. Any reasonable person would think that should be plenty of time to reach a minimal degree of understanding of what Islam is all about.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News; follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod

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