Inside the fringe national security worldview that now shapes U.S. policy — led by controversial adviser Sebastian Gorka

Business Insider reports: On a panel titled “When did World War III Begin?” at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week, former Army special-forces commander Mike Waltz was talking about the long road ahead in the fight against terrorism.

“We’re in for a long haul, and I think our nation’s leadership needs to begin telling the American people, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t have a choice, we are 15 years into what is going to be a multigenerational war, because we’re talking about defeating an idea,'” Waltz said.

During his government career, Waltz was an Afghanistan policy director at the Defense Department and worked in the White House for Vice President Dick Cheney. He has since worked for think tanks such as New America and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

“It’s easy to bomb a tank, very difficult to defeat an idea,” Waltz said, referring to extremist ideologies. “And that’s exactly what we have to do.”

To this an audience member shouted out, “It’s impossible!” The crowd started to applaud.

But one of Waltz’s fellow panelists, senior White House official Sebastian Gorka, politely disagreed.

“I have to disagree mildly with my colleague and especially with the gentleman who just shouted out from the audience, ‘It’s impossible to defeat an idea,'” Gorka said. “Wrong, sir. Wrong.”

Gorka went on to reject an assertion that’s been common among counterterrorism analysts in previous administrations — that the West is in a multi-generational fight against terrorism.

“We jettison the idea that this is a generational war,” Gorka said. “We will defeat ISIS and we will defeat them rapidly. To undermine the ideology will take a little bit longer, but not generations, because remember one thing: In 1987, a man called Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Berlin Wall and he said, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!'”

“Eighteen months later,” Gorka continued, his voice rising, “without a shot being fired, the people imprisoned on the other side of that wall took … it … down.”

The crowd cheered as Gorka concluded: “Ideas can be defeated!”

National-security analysts who emphasize the importance of defeating Islamic extremist ideology say they have struggled under several administrations to get a seat at the policymaking table and push their ideas into the mainstream.

But that’s changing under President Donald Trump.

This turning tide is illustrated by Gorka, a former editor at Breitbart News who is now a deputy assistant to the president for the Strategic Initiatives Group, a new White House organization that US officials have said is like a parallel National Security Council. Gorka has faced an onslaught of negative media attention in recent weeks.

Many well-respected national-security experts have come out publicly against Gorka holding a high-level position in the White House. They say he doesn’t have the qualifications or knowledge to be influencing government policy, and some say his ideas are even dangerous and Islamophobic. [Continue reading…]

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