In “Education Versus Jihad,” counterterrorist expert Walid Phares provides a robust “strategic plan…for better intellectual resistance to terrorism….a strategic plan for a national counterterrorism education.”
Along with eight other recommendations he urges “dramatic reform at the level of colleges and universities so that courses on the War on Terror and home-land security are made available and integrated into concentrations, certificate and degree programs in these two fields.”
Education against jihadism is dangerously lacking, Phares writes:
as we watch Al Qaeda undergoing a metamorphosis from a regime-protected network in Afghanistan to a landless web of branches around the world, the US and Europe are increasingly encountering a second-generation Al Qaeda and, even beyond it, what governments are now identifying as “homegrown” jihadists.
…it is clear to connoisseurs of jihadism that mutation is one of its essential characteristics…far from being a mere emotional reaction to American or other foreign policies, [it] “is” by itself a movement with goals, strategies and changing tactics.
Unfortunately, most Americans weren’t enabled to absorb the basics of their rising enemy so that they could prepare, mobilize and win…I…continue to argue that the initial and structural failure of understanding is in western and, specifically, American education.
…If you look at all incidents that involved intercepting, interpreting and learning about terrorism directed against America [prior to 9/11]…you’ll realize that…a black hole dominated the decision making process regarding both preemption of jihadism and consequences of falling to do so.
…the public was not informed of the threats against the homeland, precisely because the classrooms, the backbone of the nation’s future, were misinformed and the talents graduating year after year were deprived of the right to learn about the threat and, therefore, to serve their government and nation proportionally to the menace.
American graduates of Middle East studies, history and security studies weren’t equipped with the right knowledge…If one reviews the curriculum in place between 1980 (when Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran) and 2001 (when Bin Laden attacked America), one can see an inexplicable and immense hole in teaching students about the roots, development, rise, logic, strategies, tactics, methodologies and literature of the movements that targeted the US during those two decades.
Phares traces the origins and consequences of this “educational breach of historical dimension.” To fill this breach it is imperative that we adopt his plan for intellectual resistance.