The Winnable War
Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C., 2016, 256 pages
Book Review published on: July 12, 2019
The Global War on Terrorism is a battle for the “soul” of America. National security analyst Sebastian Gorka presents cogent argument concerning the unconventional war against the latest totalitarian threat to American values. Like the fascist regimes of World War II and the communist bloc that followed, America is the antithesis to the current global jihadist movement. And like these previous existential threats, America, as Gorka argues, can win this battle but only if we begin to really understand and define the threat, recognize American exceptionalism, and commit to an “us or them” strategy.
Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War is arranged in five chapters that examine the current progress of the war, details the historical story of jihad and the personalities who define it, and how new masterminds have strategized the modern jihad. It finishes with a primer on how America can win. Additionally, Gorka provides a resource and further reading section to assist the “active citizen better understand our new enemy and allow him to educate his family, friends, and colleagues.”
The first chapter establishes the contrast between the uniqueness of the American identity and the new “hybrid totalitarianism.” Gorka frames the argument in contrast to the Nazis, who focused on the “state,” and the communists, who focused on “classes” for recruitment. Gorka asserts this new threat inculcates a transcendental foundation that merges faith and state. Moreover, we have failed to accurately understand and define the real nature of our enemy, we are “doomed to an endless round of whack-a-mole.”
In order to understand and define the enemy, Gorka devotes the next three chapters to explore the “story of jihad.” He begins with the foundations of Islam in the seventh century, and then follows the maturation of jihad into a puritanical, political, and global mandate. In the end, jihad fully develops the only possible way—the caliphate. Gorka then examines the evolution of jihad from its declaration by the “state” to the “democratization” of jihad and the individual responsibility to take up the fight. Lastly, he profiles the enemy strategists’ treatise, leaving the reader with this final observation, “There is no negotiating with totalitarians, especially religious totalitarians, who see the rest of the world as infidels to be converted, enslaved, or killed.”
So how does America win? Gorka suggests we learn from our own history in defeating communism. Cold War architect George Kennan’s famous “Long Telegram” and diplomat Paul Nitze (National Security Council Report 68) provide a framework for America. In recognizing the commonalities and differences between the communists of the Cold War and the jihadists of today, Gorka concludes that we can replicate this strategy against the global jihad movement. This strategy is based on the realization of the enemy center of gravity as the “ideology of holy war against the infidel” and must, therefore, focus on the human element. Defeating Jihad establishes a foundation in enlightening the reader on what it means to be American, why global jihadists are an ever-present threat, and what can be done to defeat them. Like Sun Tzu’s adage, victory begins with knowing yourself … and your enemy.
Book Review written by: Vincent P. Particini, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas