(CNSNews.com) — Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both failed to develop a winning strategy to defeat violent Islamic extremists such as ISIS, which pose the “gravest threat to the United States since Hitler,” says a former Green Beret.
“The difference between fighting Islamic terrorists and the Nazis is that the Nazis didn’t follow us home,” Lt. Col. Scott Mann (US Army Special Forces-Ret.) told CNSNews.com.
“Bush’s biggest mistake was not mobilizing the American public after 9/11,” he said. “Obama’s biggest mistake was referring to ISIS as ‘JV’.”
Both presidents exhibited a fundamental misundertanding of the nature of the threat posed by Islamic extremists, he said. As a result, the U.S. has relied on a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy even though “it was as much of a failure in Iraq and Afghanistan as it was in Vietnam.”
There’s a “third option”: “a bottom-up approach” that has been combat-tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, says the author of Game Changers, but politicians in Washington are not using it and most Americans are not aware of it.
“And every day we spend dabbling in political correctness and equivocating attacks as lone wolf and not that big of a deal gives our enemy time to plot violence against our schools, communities and work sites,” he said.
Mann, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is now CEO of Mission America, told CNSNews.com that the “bottom-up approach” involves abandoning what he called the “big-footprint, heavy-handed, strategy” that partners with corrupt national governments.
Instead of “trying to impose Jeffersonian democracy on honor-based tribal cultures where the concept of individual rights does not exist,” Mann says U.S. strategy should focus on working with local groups to create ISIS-free zones.
Mann saw firsthand how effective this strategy was when he ran the Village Stability Operations in Afghanistan. “It worked in Iraq and Afghanistan and it can work today against this next generation of Islamic violent extremists,” he said.
“In these types of wars, the best storyteller carries the day,” he pointed out, noting that ISIS’ narrative about establishing a global caliphate to fulfill an Islamic prophecy stands in stark contrast to the lack of a compelling counter narrative from the U.S.-led Coalition, which “can’t even name the enemy.”
It took about two years of on-the-ground work in Afghanistan “for the master narrative of local clans standing up for themselves, supported by their government, against an oppressive and unwanted group of violent extremists” to take hold, Mann writes in his book.
The former Green Beret acknowledged that this targeted boots-on-the-ground strategy is a hard sell to war-weary Americans, but said we have no choice because the war on terror is now a two-front war that the U.S. must win.
“ISIS is already here,” he pointed out.
Rooting out Islamic terrorists at home will involve a “victory garden” approach in which all Americans – including Muslim Americans – are mobilized to help law enforcement identify and isolate radicalized individuals before they are able to launch deadly attacks on the homeland, Mann says.
“ISIS has us by the belt buckle,” he told CNSNews.com. “And it will fall to the next president to deal with it.”