Contemplating America’s Catastrophic Failure

Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad is a project close to my heart. Not that I was ever involved in the actual work of getting Steve Coughlin’s ideas onto the printed page; I was just in the cheering section. Mostly that consisted of watching the long hours the Baron spent helping to convert Major Coughlin’s electrifying briefings into prose, and then discussing with him what he was learning.

The Baron was merely one of the first one to “step on” this project, back at the beginning of the process that created memorable text out of already quite memorable videos. Back in 2009 Major Coughlin’s briefings about the mortal dangers Islam represents to the West were well-known within the national security community; the Baron’s task was to help turn them into a book. Though by now the B is quite far back in the long line of people who helped make this book come to life (many of them far more professionally qualified) it made me so happy to see that Major Coughlin graciously acknowledged those first efforts by the Baron at the start of his book.

Even as he worked to turn briefings into print, the Baron kept telling me how much he was learning from the process, and that it was knowledge he couldn’t have acquired so thoroughly any other way. Without having repeatedly gone over video clips to capture Steve Coughlin’s compelling ideas, he’d never have made so thoroughly his own what Major Coughlin had developed in those talks. What had happened to so many who’d seen those briefings over the years also happened to the Baron: he “swallowed the Red Pill” (heads-up, Matrix fans). Over the years of writing about the real Islam on our blog, there had been many such Red Pills, but the ones that Stephen Coughlin dispenses change your hard-wiring.

Stephen Coughlin at OSCE Warsaw 2014

The editorial on the Amazon page for Catastrophic Failure sums up much of what the B told me about Major Coughlin’s odyssey to bring real information about Islam to those inside the Beltway Bubble. After he was shut down by the Muslim Brotherhood, he took his mission to the private sector to make sure the rest of us were given the information that Washington finds so scary [the emphases in the editorial are mine -D]:

After the events of September 11, 2001, Stephen Coughlin was mobilized from his private sector career to the Intelligence Directorate at the Joint Chiefs of Staff to work in Targeting.

Thus began his education in terrorism.

In the years that followed, Coughlin earned recognition as the Pentagon’s leading expert on the Islamic-based doctrines motivating jihadi groups that confront America. He came into demand as a trainer and lecturer at leading commands and senior service staff institutions, including the National Defense University, the Army and Navy War Colleges, the Marine Corps-Quantico, the State Department, and the FBI. So effective were his presentations that some in the special operations community dubbed them “Red Pill” briefings, a reference to an iconic scene in The Matrix. It’s an apt metaphor: Once the facts and doctrines are properly explained and understood, there is no going back.

This was more than our enemies — and, it seems, our leaders — could tolerate.

Beginning in 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood convinced the White House to ban Coughlin and put an end to his briefings. The move was in keeping with shariah concepts of slander that seek to blindfold America to certain realities that render us defenseless against a threat made existential by the very ignorance it gets our leaders to enforce. In times like this — when the White House’s former counter-terrorism strategist can declare it unconstitutional to allow national security analysts to look to Islam to understand jihad — there’s an urgent need to pull away the blindfold so we can see and confront the threat. Such is the goal of Catastrophic Failure. The book, drawn heavily from Coughlin’s “outlawed” briefings, is a comprehensive assessment of Islamic law and doctrine known to form the basis of hostile threat strategies directed against America and the West, the challenges they present, and the ideologically induced breakdown of fact-based decision-making that is nothing short of professional malpractice by our national security elites.

The book has been out for about a fortnight now. There’s one review, a five-star recommendation by someone retired from Special Forces. He says:

If you are an American patriot who, unlike most of our so-called political elites in Washington, still believe in defending our Constitution and exceptional nation against her enemies — both foreign and domestic, then ignoring Major Coughlin’s masterful work will be “To Our Great Detriment!”

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Somewhere in this process we realized the necessity for having our own copy of the essential resource for anyone who wants to understand the nature of what we’re up against. Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law is an indispensable guide on a perilous journey. As I’ve said previously, the Koran is Islam’s scripture, but Reliance of the Traveler is their workbook. Reliance is absolutely everything you need to know about Islam and were afraid someone would tell you — though some of the more salacious material is left in the original Arabic so as not to scare the kafir. Look at this review of Reliance on the Amazon page, left there in 2010. Now with 94 comments appended to that review, people are still replying to him. In other words, Reliance is a perennial.

In years to come, Major Coughlin’s Catastrophic Failure will prove to be the same kind of magnet for people deprived of real information and looking for the truth. They will show up on his reviews to encourage others to read this courageous man’s depiction of modern tyranny.

In his briefings Major Coughlin repeatedly referred to the Muslim Brotherhood’s success at infiltration as a “catastrophic failure” for the United States. Those words eventually became the title of the book. They are dismayingly appropriate.

If you’re a frequent reader of Gates of Vienna, the book may sound echoingly familiar. That’s because there was a long gap between his initial work on C.F. and its eventual publication. Thus, when the Baron needed to draw on the Major’s extensive sources, he’d ask for permission, and it was always granted.

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Afterword from the Baron: My intimate connection with the production of Catastrophic Failure obviously precludes my reviewing it. However, I will be talking about it from time to time, and I’ll continue to use Maj. Coughlin’s invaluable source references in my own work.

I strongly urge everyone to acquire a copy of this book and take the time to read the whole thing. It is one of the most important treatises of our time.

In his briefings Steve repeatedly made the point that in order to understand Islamic law, you have to learn to think like a Muslim. It’s like acquiring a foreign language — you put aside your habitual ways of thinking and learn to perceive the world from an Islamic perspective. That’s the only way you can fully grasp what we’re up against.

This is exactly what Catastrophic Failure does: it teaches you to understand Islam from the inside.

24 thoughts on “Contemplating America’s Catastrophic Failure

    • Todenhofer doesn’t address the question of whether there is a vital US interest in having a Middle Eastern presence. Suppose, for instance, Iran gets a nuclear bomb, and has active plans to send bombs to the US as quickly as it can. Would that constitute a vital US reason for an active intervention?

      On the other hand, Todenhofer makes a cogent point that the US has no idea of what it’s doing right now: its actions are either ineffective, or powerfully counterproductive. He gives the example of the exponential increase in the number of Muslim jihadis in the Hindu Kush region after decades of US bombings there.

      So, we have the prospect of disastrously expensive campaigns, led by elected and non-elected officials either ignorant of, or indifferent to, vital US interests, i.e. internal security and the promotion of individual freedom.

      It’s kind of a cop-out to say we should only get involved if an intelligent analysis shows we absolutely have to get involved. Imagine, learning in 2000 that an active plan originating in Afghanistan was being pursued to fly airplanes into heavily-populated US buildings. Would that justify an active invasion of Afghanistan? I think so. But, suppose the invasion of Afghanistan was connected to expensive and futile “nation building” in pursuit of a democratic government in a Muslim population?

      I guess there’s no substitute, no general rule, that can take the place of true intelligence and integrity in international strategy.

  1. [edited]

    Some would argue that had we stayed at the “Surge” levels, this chaos could not have happened. IOW, we left a huge sucking vacuum…

    because Obama leads from his behind, and draws bright red lines w/ his fat red wax crayon that melt in the desert heat, and generally creates chaos wherever he alights, we can only wait till he’s gone and hope his replacement can heal the horror.

    There is no way back to virginity…we can neither stay nor go and that was BHO’s “strategy” to destroy the will of the military.

  2. “Beginning in 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood convinced the White House to ban Coughlin and put an end to his briefings. ”

    Actually, his problems with the U.S. government arose several years earlier. During the bush administration, Coughlin was dismissed from his position in the Pentagon at the insistence of one hesham islam (no joke, that’s his name), assistant to that dick armitage of the state department.

  3. Not allowing the war colleges to study Islamic war doctrine sounds like treason to me.

    Whoever is responsible (Obama?) should be tried for treason.

    • It started long before Obama. Steve was banned from briefing during the Bush administration.

      Focusing on Obama is a big mistake. The Muslim Brotherhood infiltration began decades ago, and was firmly in place well before 9-11. It got much worse in the second half of the Bush administration.

      • A refresher of events behind and leading up to Coughlin’s separation may be insightful for readers who are not seasoned Gates of Vienna visitors. The record of involvement of former deputy secretary of defense Gordon England, Hesham Islam and all Islamophilic enablers undermining national security should not continue to collect dust and fade from memory so as to evade Constitutional justice.

        It is encouraging to see multiple sites taking this work seriously and providing a forum in which to disseminate it the public…
        Blaze: LISTEN: A leading national security advisor and Islamic law expert explains how and why America is losing to jihadists

        God bless and protect Stephen Coughlin and those who persist in exposing these catastrophic failures.

        • I am hoping that the events leading to the ouster of Maj. Coughlin from the Pentagon will be in the book. It is important to remember that the emasculation of our military and intel ppl has been going on for a very long time.

          At the very least we could begin the countdown with Bosnia and work forward to today’s utter horror of failed states and bloody chaos.

          The Department of State is up to its bloodied elbows when it comes to massaging those machinations that pass for “statecraft” today. A normal government does not do – CANNOT do if it is ‘normal’ – what we have allowed/helped to happen in MENA.

          I am filled with dread when I consider what other places we might stick in our hands. South Africa is ripe for interference, and the terror tactics of those in power will be aided by our “administration” – especially so if it happens within Obama’s time on the throne, or if Hillary or a new Bush moves onto the seat.

        • I stand corrected. I also seem to remember seeing a photo of hesham islam posing with his son, who at the time was a midshipman at Annapolis (the US Navy’s West Point, for the benefit of those who pronounce corpsman like “corpse man”).

      • Bush must have gotten these Islam-is-Peace ideas from Bernard Lewis, I bet. Probably there was some secret big international confab after 9/11 where Lewis told everyone how to behave vis a vis Islamists. Karen Armstrong and John Esposito were probably there too.

  4. Thank you as always excellent and so informative. Will get the book.


  5. This whole situation is just beyond aggravating. It’s like we’re at war with the asymmetric version of the Nazis yet all we hear is nonsense about how National Socialism is some great and wonderful thing and it has nothing to do with the Nazi terrorists.

    What sort of disaster is it going to take for the media-political complex to get real? It seems that most people are unable to take any threat seriously unless they become unsure of their continued survival. Right now most people still believe that they’re invulnerable, at least if they don’t draw Mohammed cartoons.

  6. I need to get a copy for my children. They think there’s no threat; that I’m a bitter, delusional old man ranting and hating muslims. But when a “theology” calls for the overthrow of a country’s government it ‘invades’ the country can and should ban that religion simply because it is seditious.

  7. I just watched again that classic movie Judgement at Nuremberg. One of the defense used by lower tier Nazis was that the people doing the mass murdering were the extremists, not the everyday Nazi party members, and so should not be held responsible for the horrible crimes.

  8. There is a way back after taking “the red pill”.

    In point of fact, The Matrix wouldn’t have much of a plot otherwise, because Cypher basically has no other character motivation.

    Of course, it’s not a great idea to go back. But that doesn’t mean nobody can or does.

  9. What bizarre times! Why are our leaders trying to fool us so much? Do they really want to live under Sharia? It’s like we have been invaded by cuckoo aliens. Have there been insane national psyches before? in history?

    • That’s an excellent question. One for those who’ve specialized in European history, perhaps.

      We have been taken over by a power-hungry oligarchy. Could we have prevented it? That’s hard to say…maybe all we’re proving is the end result of universal suffrage that permits the privilege of voting to be given to those who have no real stake in the outcome of an election.

      Back during LBJ’s push for “The War on Poverty” he was warned by his own advisors what was coming if he followed through with his huge government grab. But by then we’d been softened up by FDR.

      • What we have seen is the birth of a neo-aristocracy, who have yet to give themselves ‘titles’ and have yet to do away with the ‘vote’ even though it has become meaningless. What we do have is a ‘divine’ right of Kings (where divine = pen & telephone) but is yet to secure his ‘third’ term (declare a state of pen & telephone induced emergency perhaps).

        • A more fitting term than aristocracy for the elite rulers today is oligarchy. Assigning the word aristocracy to them elevates them undeservedly.

          • Duke of Google
            Count Facebook
            Baron Big Mac
            Marquis of Microsoft
            King Barry 1
            Prince Reid of Washington

    • “Do they really want to live under Sharia? ”

      Before the availability of cheap fuel, for 1000s of years the tallest building in the world were the pyramids.

      Will our great metropolises function when oil runs out? Will the elite want to have a Demos demanding equal rationing of oil? The elite will not want democracy around when the oil becomes scarce.

      • In point of fact, there are more oil reserves now than ever before, thanks to the new technologies such as fracking.

        Also, a lot of the oil is produced in the West. We could function without Saudi oil, although life would be a bit harder. The real danger of the Saudis at present is not their ability to embargo oil, but their oceans of money with which they can finance sharia, hijra, dawa, and misinformation about Islam in the west.

        The Obama administration has also fought the keystone pipeline, which would help develop the market for western exploration, production, and transportation of petroleum.

  10. Does not conspiracy to replace Constitutional government contravene the much-amended Smith Act of 1940, written to address exactly such a threat from fifth columnists? The Federal prison system is not large enough to accommodate a flood of the pious yielded by enthusiastic prosecution. The longest journey may begin with a singleton step, but that step will have to be postponed till 2016, assuming we can produce leadership with a brain plus a spine both.

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