Sebastian Gorka—Islamophobic Warrior, Rising Star in the Trump/Pence Regime
February 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Sebastian Gorka is emerging into the public eye as a key figure in the Trump/Pence regime’s plans to “eradicate” jihadist forces like ISIS as part of a much broader attack and aggression against Muslim countries and people as a whole.
Gorka is part of the core of people around Steve Bannon, the former editor of Breitbart News, who see America and the “Christian West” as locked in an existential struggle with the Muslim world and non-European/dark-skinned people generally. Bannon is Trump’s chief of strategy, and clearly very close to him in his thinking and policy. Gorka worked for Bannon at Breitbart for the last two years.
In January, Bannon brought in Gorka to be deputy assistant to Trump, and he was then named to the “Strategic Initiatives Group” (SIG), newly created by Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. SIG appears to be meant to serve Bannon’s fascist ideological “oversight” of the White House national security apparatus. And in the last month, Gorka has been trotted out for numerous press interviews to defend the Trump regime.
Gorka was considered a “fringe” figure during the last 15 years, working at a series of lecturer positions in U.S. security and military training institutions. His trademark was his bitter disagreement with the mainstream of U.S. imperialist policymakers under Clinton, both Bushes, and Obama over whether or not to target the Islamic religion as a whole, and the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, as “the enemy” of the U.S. empire.1
For over 20 years, the U.S. has waged a series of wars that killed millions of people, and reduced countries like Libya, Syria, and Iraq to complete ruin, in the ruthless pursuit of domination of the Middle East and North Africa. These wars have been fought against both secular forces (like Saddam Hussein in Iraq) and Islamist forces (like Osama bin Laden and ISIS) who, from different—utterly reactionary—angles were obstacles to U.S. imperialist control of this strategic region.
But even while committing these horrendous crimes against humanity, Clinton, the Bushes, and Obama all sought to avoid casting this struggle as a “clash of civilizations,” as “the West vs. Islam.” Doing so, in their view, would drive the bulk of the world’s Muslims into the camp of the jihadist forces, and harm U.S. imperialist interests. Instead they noted (accurately) that groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda did not have the support of the great majority of Muslim people, and they sought to politically isolate these forces and win sections of the population to support the U.S., or at least not to actively oppose it. As part of this, for example, George W. Bush gave a speech after the 9/11 attacks in which he appeared with a number of Muslim religious leaders and declared that “Islam is peace.” This is also part of the context in which U.S. military leaders like General James Mattis (now secretary of defense under Trump) publicly disavowed torture (even while secretly carrying it out).
But Gorka—and the Trump/Pence regime as a whole—completely rejects this approach. Gorka believes that “the global jihadi movement [is] a modern totalitarian ideology rooted in the doctrines and martial history of Islam.” (From the promotional material for Gorka’s book, Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War, emphasis added.)
Gorka has argued that portions of Islamic scripture justify and advocate horrific acts like beheadings of enemies, stoning of women, and so on, which is true. But what Gorka denies is that portions of the Bible also advocate horrors, like ethnic cleansing of other peoples through pillage, mass rape, and murder—right down to “dashing in the heads” of your enemy’s infants—as well as for murdering homosexuals, women who are not virgins upon marriage, and so on.
So rather than recognize the reality—that all religious doctrine, taken literally, will lead to horrors, Gorka claims that this is only true of Islam, and therefore that anyone who deeply believes in Islamic scripture is “predisposed” to terrorism, whereas anyone who truly believes in the Christian scripture would never commit barbaric acts. It is not far from that to “Christianity good, Islam evil”!
Gorka does identify some Muslims as “allies”—most notably, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, president of Egypt, a brutal dictator backed with billions of dollars in U.S. aid. Sisi opposes the Islamist forces in Egypt, as well as anyone else who challenges the government. He is notorious for his troops opening fire on thousands of protesters and his courts issuing death sentences in batches for hundreds for people who participate in demonstrations. Gorka’s actual criteria for who is considered an “ally” is that they must throw in 100 percent with the U.S. and carry out savage attacks on America’s foes. In Gorka’s view, everyone else (and not just people who are actively part of the Islamic fundamentalist forces) is “the enemy” or at least a suspect.
This characterization of Gorka’s view is no exaggeration! In November 2014, the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington, DC, invited Muslim religious leaders to conduct afternoon prayers there in order to promote “a world in which all are free to believe and practice and in which we avoid bigotry, Islamophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Christianity and to embrace our humanity and to embrace faith.” The cathedral has done similar things with many different faiths in the past.
Gorka, at that time a writer for Breitbart News, wrote an article headlined “Muslim Brotherhood Overruns National Cathedral in DC.” (The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamist political group in Egypt which had no connection with the prayer event.) He then let loose a 500-word tirade in which he managed to bring up the advance of a Muslim army to Austria in 1683, the Turkish genocide against Armenians after World War 1, the 9/11 attacks, and ISIS attacks on Christian communities in Iraq—all in order to “prove” that Muslim participation in this prayer event reflected Islam’s “ideological commitment to see other faiths destroyed or subjected.”
A more recent incident, reported in the Washington Post, was a celebratory talk Gorka gave to Trump supporters in Florida three days after the election. The high point of the talk apparently was when Gorka flashed “a photograph of a dead, bloodied brown-skinned man, lying on the ground next to an AK-47 assault rifle” and led the audience in cheers and then thundered, “We can win now, we can win!”
Gorka’s rise to power and prominence is another ominous sign that the Trump/Pence regime may be preparing a broad and brutal war on much of the Islamic world. This will also encompass demonization and persecution of Muslims within the United States, including people who were born here. It is another warning sign that even more grotesque horrors than we have already seen against the Muslim world and Muslim people are hurtling down the tracks towards us, unless and until this regime is driven from power.
1. Gorka was also known for his outright refusal to subject his ideas to scientific examination and criticism in peer-reviewed journals, preferring, he said, to speak directly to the “warfighter.” Meaning, as Lt. Col. Mike Lewis, who ran the Special Operations department at Marine Corps University, put it: “He made a difficult and complex situation simple and confirmed the officers’ prejudices and assumptions.” [back]
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