Alarming appointees: Trump and his Islamophobic ideologues
“This is a holy war. This is essentially the Constitution versus the Quran on every level.”
Trump national security appointee Monica Crowley
President-elect Donald Trump seems intent on surrounding himself with a cabal of ill-advised advisers, nefarious neurotics, disturbing demagogues and Islamophobic ideologues, which does not portend well for the Islamic Ummah. Based on the rhetoric spewing forth from some of these rabid reactionaries, Trump may not only be blocking immigration from Muslim-majority countries, but also may be planning nationwide surveillance of all American Muslims.
Trump’s national security squad
One need look no further than Trump’s national security appointees to get a feel for the Islamophobic infrastructure being constructed to safeguard the American homeland. At the head of Trump’s national security apparatus is retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn, who has already presented his credentials as an Islamophobe in good standing. According to Flynn, Islam “is a vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people on this planet and it has to be excised.”
Flynn also accused Democrats in the U.S. state of Florida of voting “to impose Islamic shariah law at the state and local level,” which, of course, is utter nonsense. Moreover, he intimated that U.S. president Barrack Obama may be a Muslim, which undoubtedly meshed well with Trump’s “birther” views, although the president-elect has reportedly retracted them.
Another addition to the Trump national security team is retired U.S. army lieutenant general Joseph Keith Kellogg, who will be chief of staff and executive secretary of the National Security Council. A soldier who rose up through the ranks, Kellogg fought in the war against Vietnam and ended his career in 2003 as director of command, control and communications for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon.
Soon after retiring from the army, Kellogg served as chief operations officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad from November 2003 to March 2004 and, as such, played a key role in the ruinous U.S. occupation of Iraq, which contributed to the rise of Daesh. After that, he became an executive vice president for CACI International, a firm that supplied intelligence interrogators to the U.S. military and was accused by 250 Iraqis of involvement in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.
More recently, Kellogg has been the vice president of strategic initiatives for Cubic Corporation, a defense contractor involved in combat training, communications, intelligence and surveillance. Before that he was with secretive Cubic subsidiary Abraxas, which developed a highly controversial surveillance tool called “Trapwire,” which reportedly could analyze images to identify terrorists planning an attack. Given Trump’s inclination towards spying on American Muslims, Kellogg, with his well-honed surveillance skills, is a natural.
Trump’s most recent appointee to the post of senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council is Monica Elisabeth Crowley, who holds a Ph.D. in international relations from Columbia University and is also a former Fox News personality. Both Crowley and Kellogg will report to Trump’s national security adviser, Flynn.
A member of the elitist Council on Foreign Relations, Crowley got her start in foreign affairs when former U.S. president Richard Nixon offered her a job as a research assistant in 1990. After Nixon’s demise, Crowley, encouraged by former New York Times columnist William Safire, converted her personal notes into two books on the former president. While her disclosures have been viewed by some as a breach of confidentiality, she now stands to hold a sensitive security post in the Trump administration.
U.S. in “holy war” against Islam
While Crowley may be quite knowledgeable on Nixon, she has repeatedly displayed her lack of erudition on Islam, Iran and the Middle East. Her ignorance can be gleaned from her statement that the only democracy in the region “is the one built by the United States in Iraq.” With Islam, she has conflated and confused the Islamic concepts of jihad with hijra, the latter being the emigration of the Prophet Muhammad (S) from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE, and the former being the concept of striving in the way of Allah.
While usually translated in the west as “holy war,” jihad in Islam is struggle, either in one’s self-betterment or in defense against enemies. In any case, Crowley is convinced that the U.S. is locked in a “holy war” with Islam, as she declared in a 2014 interview on Fox News. “This is a holy war,” she cried, continuing her rant, “This is a holy war. Whether we want to see it that way or not, whether it’s politically correct to say it or not, this is the truth.”
In a November 2015 op-ed published in the Washington Times, Crowley expressed her views of the refugee crisis, which has been caused by the U.S.-backed wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan. Crowley insisted that the massive influx of refugees was really an “act of violent jihad...that has been underway in Europe for decades but has ramped up dramatically over the past year.”
Referring to the crisis as an “Islamic tsunami,” which she claims to have witnessed firsthand, Crowley authoritatively stated that some of the refugees “may be fleeing war and persecution, but most are not.” Her solution for weeding out “genuine” refugees from the “jihadis” is to follow “Australia’s example of processing all refugees offshore. Those who qualify as actual refugees are then brought onshore to be further processed.”
For Crowley, hijra is a form of jihad involving conquest by migration. According to her, “The objective is to overwhelm non-Muslim territories with Muslim populations until they achieve domination through sheer numbers.” She fears “The Islamic Trojan Horse” has arrived in America, and she condemns Obama for pledging to accept “200,000 ‘refugees’.” Yet according to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. pledged to accept only 85,000 of which only 10,000 were from Syria.
Ramping up Iranophobia
On Iran, Crowley parrots the talking points of the Likudniks. She insists the JCPOA “legitimizes as a threshold nuclear power the world’s most fearsome state sponsor of terror,” which, of course, according to her is Iran. Furthermore, Crowley charged that president Obama “has now given a green light to Iran’s march toward nuclear weapons.” Continuing, she pontificated, “That’s why it’s now up to us to fight this potential death sentence for the West and Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East.”
Crowley also inappropriately accused the Islamic Republic of being “one of the most efficient traffickers of deadly weapons.” This ignominious title, however, rightfully belongs to the United States, which controls half of the world’s arms market. Her future boss Flynn also sees the hand of Iran behind every incident. Following the September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Flynn obsessively hunted for evidence of Iran’s involvement.
Clearly, Crowley’s distorted perspective of Iran not only complements those of Flynn, but also those of other Trump appointees. For example, anticipated nominee for deputy secretary of state, John Bolton, has openly called for regime change in Iran, which he feels is the “only long-term solution” to the imagined threats posed by the Islamic Republic, and has even advocated bombing to stop “Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons.”
What next for Muslims in America?
John Robbins, an American Muslim and executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is very concerned about the implications of Trump’s Islamophobic entourage. The president-elect’s actions “inherently label Muslims as second-class citizens in our own country, and send a clear message that equality is only for some.” Omer Aziz, a J.D. candidate at Yale Law School and recently with the U.N. Special Envoy to Syria, wrote, “Our life for at least the next four years will be one of opposition.”
All of us in Washington can find this appalling and scary,” confided columnist Matt Bai on Trump’s ascendancy. If this is true for Beltway insiders, how much more alarming are Trump’s Islamophobic appointees for Muslims in the United States, as well as in Iran and worldwide?