It is time for a "Team B" approach to Islamist ideology. The strategy has worked before, against a similarly determined threat to freedom. In 1976, George H.W. Bush, then director of central intelligence, invited a group of known skeptics about the strategy of detente to review the classified intelligence regarding Soviet intentions and capabilities. The point was to provide an informed second opinion on U.S. policy toward the Kremlin.
The conclusions of this experimental Team B study differed sharply from the government's regnant theory. The skeptics found that, pursuant to its communist ideology, the Soviet Union was determined to secure the defeat of the United States and the West and to tyrannize the globe. Thus, not only was detente unlikely to succeed, but national-security policies undertaken in its pursuit exposed the nation to grave danger. The study was particularly persuasive to former California Gov. Ronald Reagan, who would use it not only to challenge the detentist policies of the Ford and Carter administrations but to build the strategy that ultimately brought down the "Evil Empire."
Today, the United States faces a similarly insidious ideological threat: Shariah, the authoritarian doctrine that animates the Islamists and their jihadism. Translated as "the path," Shariah is a comprehensive framework designed to govern all aspects of life. Though it certainly has spiritual elements, it would be a mistake to think of it as a "religious" code in the Western sense because it seeks to regulate all manner of behavior in the secular sphere - economic, social, military, legal and political. That regulation is oppressive, discriminatory, utterly inimical to our core constitutional liberties and destructive of equal protection under the law, especially for women.