Understanding It–Why do we Know So little?

Walid Phares, author of Future Jihad writes an amazing piece which should be read in its entirety. His essential point is that the financing of US education by Wahhabi influenced funds (e.g. Saudi Arabian donations) have blinded much of academia to the worldwide Jihad and left America without a clear understanding of the war being waged by Islamo-fasicsts against us. The intellectual blurring begins in classrooms and spreads to newsrooms, Phares asserts.

excerpts: ………………… THE WAR ON US EDUCATION: 1980s-1 990s

One of the major results of the 1973 oil crisis was the rise of a determination by many oil producing regimes that the West, in general, and the United States, in particular, “understand” the greater Middle East, the Arab and the Muslim world and, accordingly, design its policies toward those regimes and ideologies on the basis of this “understanding.”

As a result, millions of dollars were invested in American and European educational institutions as a way to “foster” this understanding. But instead of fostering an objective understanding or spreading impartial knowledge, the growing influence of Wahabism, an extreme form of Islam, and other such ideologies on the nation’s campuses played a dangerous role: Because of the ideological nature of the donors, the financed programs followed the guidelines of the donor regimes and organizations, which obviously narrowed research and teaching to issues remote from the major historical crisis in the region, other than the modern Arab-Israeli conflict. It removed all serious attention to the rise of Islamism, jihadism and even Baathism, as well as the deep ethnic and religious conflicts and the mass abuse of human rights in that part of the world.

A careful review of curricula and research projects established within the US educational system, both public and private, since the 1980s stunningly reveals that American classrooms were deprived of knowledge on social, historical, ethnic and ideological movements rising to challenge the United States. Moreover, as I taught comparative studies for over a decade and lectured on many campuses in the 1990s, I came to realize that defense, strategic and security studies were heavily influenced by “regional” studies when it came to identifying the backgrounds of international terrorist movements emerging from the greater Middle East and penetrating western societies. History and Middle Eastern studies had been corrupted by Wahabi and other funding with an impact on political science, international relations and, ultimately, defense and security studies across the land.

A thorough review of the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, the Middle East Studies Association of America, the International Studies Association, the Middle East Institute and other professional education associations, of the hundreds of books, publications, articles, talks and research grants distributed by Ivy League universities and other colleges lead to only one conclusion: The gap is immense. There are no traces of the roots of jihadism and its long-term objectives against democracies and the United States. Instead, prominent scholars produced an enormous amount of literature precisely deflecting scholars and students away from the most serious issues related to American defense and security after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The “hole” was so vast and the “deflection” (not to use the term “deception”) so wide that a systemic problem strode the field producing waves of effects into the professional worlds of the media and policy. An academic lobotomy led to an incapacitation of the public learning process about the national security threat and created a cultural crisis in perception. In short, if one isn’t taught about the political thinking of the enemy and his ideological objectives in the classroom, where else would one catch up?


With this systemic crisis inside America’s educational system expanding during the 199 Os, a “mollification” of the national perception of the threat began. Deprived of the basic data and information about the terrorist threat, citizens were at the mercy of the elites’ debates. The latter, during the years leading to 9/11, were increasingly apologetic toward America’s most lethal enemies: Salafist and Khomeinist jihadists.

Despite the series of attacks, speeches and visible moves of radical jihadists worldwide, US national perception was blurred by the academic and educational deflection. Jihadism, for example, was described by leading “specialists,” many of whom have advised media and government for years, as a “theological experiment and spiritual phenomenon.”

Those who spread the doctrine of jihadism in America during the 1 990s had no counter check from the public or government, while even a minimal manifestation of Nazism, anti- Semitism or domestic violent racism was quickly countered. Clearly, Americans never lacked for imagination, but they were deprived of the necessary information.


When historians analyze the War on Terror in the near future, they will most likely look back at the war of ideas preceding 9/11 and understand the role academia played as a central battlefield leading to the weakening and defeat of the country, before it rose back in resistance. For if the fields of foreign policy, regional studies and international relations teaching—the most sensitive feeders for security and defense decision-making—were obsolete in identifying the “enemy,” all that is left to national security is the last shield, which is the hope that intelligence and counterterrorism sensors can catch the raiders at the doors or beyond the gates. And that’s what didn’t occur in 1993, 1998 and 2001.The terror offensive against America was preceded by a War of Ideas, blurring the eyes of the nation………………………


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