The Dysfunctional U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Islam

By Col Tom Snodgrass

The U.S. Foreign Policy Dysfunction Problem Began With The End Of the Cold War
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War in 1991, U.S. foreign policy has alternated between somewhat different approaches caused by the slightly differing assumptions about Islam held by the Republican and Democrat parties in the post-Cold War international environment. Unfortunately for Americans, both parties’ assumptions are counterfactual. For more than four decades after the Second World War, U.S. foreign policy was based on the mutually agreed, fact-based assumption that containment of Soviet-led, international communism was the primary national strategic objective, irrespective which political party was in power.

The main difference between the parties was the emphasis envisioned for the role of military force in containing communism. However, the removal of the over-arching threat of communism abolished the political consensus concerning what should be the central organizing principle of U.S. foreign policy. Consequently, the fundamental underlying assumption of U.S. foreign policy has fluctuated between the parties’ two different interpretations of Islamic jihad, neither of which is reality-based. The role of military force also remains a continuing difference between the political parties in the Islamic threat world.

How The Democrat And Republican Faulty Foreign Policy Assumptions About Islam Differ

After the fall of communism, the Democrat administration of President Bill Clinton assumed that there was no threat to U.S. interests, the undisputable evidence of the rise of Shari’a-compliant Islam notwithstanding. Clinton pretended that the Islamic jihadist attack on the New York World Trade Center in 1993; the Islamic jihadist attack on U.S. military famine relief force in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993; the Islamic jihadist attack on the U.S. Air Force troop barracks in the Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia in 1996; the Islamic jihadist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya in 1998; the Islamic jihadist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 1998; and the Islamic jihadist attack on the USS Cole in 2000 were not Islamic-motivated terrorism! It doesn’t get any more dysfunctional than that! After seven years of Islamic jihadist attacks and threats of attacks, most directly traceable to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, U.S. foreign policy was still functioning on the Democrat Party’s baseless assumptions that Islam is benign and poses no national threat to the U.S. In reality, Clinton’s foreign policy was principally to subordinate his goal of getting reelected in the 1996, and in his second term Clinton’s foreign policy priority was primarily to preclude failures in order to preserve his “legacy”. As a result, Clinton passed up several opportunities to take out bin Laden and al-Qaeda in his caution to avoid hard decisions that had the potential for consequential gain or disaster. Clinton’s Democrat administration dealt with the Islamic jihadists and their terror attacks as international outlaws committing crimes in an effort to mislead the American public about the Islamic threat. Clinton worked diligently to cover up the ineptitude of his denial policy regarding Islamic jihad to preserve the fiction of his foreign policy effectiveness. A sympathetic media assisted him greatly in his prevarication.

Then came the Republican administration of President George W. Bush. Shortly after taking office, Bush was confronted by the second jihadist attack on the New York World Trade Center in 2001. After almost 3,000 Americans were murdered on 9/11 by Islamic jihadists, the Islamic religious connection to the continuing terrorism against the U.S. was no longer deniable, although many Republican and Democrat politicians and policy makers still try to this day. Nevertheless, Bush advanced the ball forward from where Clinton had left it by acknowledging that the 9/11 perpetrators were in fact Islamic jihadists, not criminals, and by declaring the U.S. response to the Islamic jihad was a “Global War on Terror” (GWOT). Of course, the idea of declaring war against the “tactic of terror” rather than declaring war on the Islamic jihadists using the tactic of terror discredited the concept of “GWOT” from the beginning, and more ominously it indicated that there was a continuation of some variation of Clinton’s denial that Shari’a-compliant Islam is a national security threat.

According to President Bush’s 2010 memoir, Decision Points, the “Bush Doctrine” for fighting Islamic terror contained four fundamental precepts. Unfortunately, the fourth precept ultimately cancelled the effectiveness of the other three out, thus undermining and ultimately destroying Bush’s GWOT by the end of his second term in office. The Bush Doctrine precepts were:

  1. “Make no distinction between terrorists and the nations that harbor them–and hold both to account.”
  2. “Take the fight to the enemy overseas before they can attack us again here at home.”
  3. “Confront threats before they fully materialize.”
  4. “Advance liberty and hope as an alternative to the enemy’s ideology of repression and fear.”

Obviously the first three precepts of the Bush Doctrine were essential as an effective policy foundation for the aggressive foreign policy that is absolutely imperative to countering the offensive jihadist doctrine contained in the Islamic Shari’a. However, the counter-historical idea in the fourth precept that Middle Eastern Islamic governments would embrace personal “liberty” led to the ill-advised adoption of Bush’s inherently flawed, limited war strategy of nation-building/counterinsurgency. The nation-building/counterinsurgency strategy was unrealistically based on forcibly implanting democracy in the tribal, medieval, Islamic-sectarian governmental cesspools in Afghanistan and Iraq. In order for it to be even remotely possible that liberty and democracy might take root in those Islamic societies, Islam would really have to be the “religion of peace” as claimed by apologists, instead of the “supremacist, imperialist, theo-military-politico doctrine” that is clearly mandated by the Qur’an and Shari’a. However, contrary to the fourth precept of the Bush Doctrine, Islamic society is constructed on the premise that all non-Islamic ideas and institutions are religious heresy that should be rejected. But in spite of explicit, jihad-mandating injunctions in these “sacred” Islamic Qur’an and Shari’a texts, an undisputed history of fourteen centuries of worldwide jihadist attacks on non-Muslims, and a tradition of rejecting outside cultural influences and peaceful coexistence with neighbors, Bush succumbed to the irrationality of political correctness and pronounced Islam to be “the religion of peace.” But saying it doesn’t make it so.

While the unrealistic premise of Bush’s Republican foreign policy assumption that Islam is a peaceful religion is dangerously naive, it unfortunately grows from the same type of politically correct denial of the “aggressive, supremacist nature” of the Muslim religion that buttressed Clinton’s pretence that jihad wasn’t being waged against the U.S. The difference between the assumptions underpinning the Democrat and Republican foreign policies of Clinton and Bush toward Islam was one of degree rather than substance.

Clinton worked on the assumption that the Islamic religion was no factor at all in the attacks on the U.S., while Bush’s equally invalid assumption was that a hijacked, perverted version of Islam was motivating misguided Muslims to commit their murderous acts. Consequently, different degrees of politically correctness denying the violent, imperialistic character of Islam was the difference between Clinton and Bush. Lamentably these politically correct, reality-adverse interpretations of Islam still underlie Democratic and Republican basic foreign policy assumptions about Islam, rendering both dysfunctional.

President Obama’s Fantasy Foreign Policy Assumption Regarding Islam

The Republican foreign policy assumption about Islam developed by Bush was at least somewhat more realistic than the assumption of the Democrats developed under Clinton because the Republican foreign policy acknowledged that Islamic jihad is a real war against the U.S. However, the major deficiency in Bush’s policy assumption about Islam was that it failed to identify the uncompromising, expansionist nature of the Islamic Qur’an and Shari’a as the wellspring of Muslim jihad.

But to make matters worse, President Barack Obama’s Democrat regime, that replaced the Bush’ Republican administration in 2009, dropped even the inadequate Republican assumption that Islamic jihadist terror stemmed from a hijacked, perverted version of Islam. Instead Obama’s national security policy and strategy documents, directives, and public statements erased every mention of Islam, Qur’an, Shari’a, and jihad! The Obama national security team eliminated all-things-Islamic as causes of jihadist terrorism, and narrowed the focus down to “al-Qaeda” as the sole enemy to be fought! The elimination of Islam as a cause of terrorism and as a national security threat is a cynically transparent political move to define a potential worldwide threat pool of millions of Shari’a-motivated Islamic jihadists down to a few hundred shadowy al-Qaeda terrorists hiding in caves and deserts. According to Obama’s version of the threat facing the U.S., al-Qaeda fanatical terrorists are motivated to kill Americans by some unnamed, undefined, intangible “radicalism,” but not Islamic Shari’a.

It is much easier to spin victory claims and to declare successes – like “bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda is on the run” – while battling just hundreds of vaguely motivated criminals rather than combating millions of enemies with an existentially hostile ideology. Besides, the politically cynical move of pretending that al-Qaeda is the lone enemy changes a very difficult war of religion-based ideology to a much less complicated campaign of law enforcement to eliminate a gang of international criminals. Another transparent reason for the cynically political stratagem of reducing the U.S. society’s enemies down to a limited number of al-Qaeda radicals with an ethereal motive is that it permits both Democrats and Republicans to continue to mouth politically correct, comfortable nostrums about the benign character of the “Islamic religion of peace.” Furthermore, this definition-deception fits perfectly with the failed liberal dystopian dogma of “multiculturalism.” Obama has returned to the totally false assumption of the Clinton presidency that jihad-motivated, Islamic Shari’a-compliant terrorism bears no responsibility for the murder and mayhem committed to the bloodcurdling screams of “Allah-u-Akbar”!

“Do we really want to return to the policies of the past that got us here?”

Published at Right Side News

Col. Thomas Snodgrass, USAF (retired), was an Intelligence Officer and an International Politico-Military Affairs Officer serving in seven foreign countries during a thirty-year military career.

Editorial: Obama’s Foreign Policy Is A National Disaster

Front Page:

President Barack Obama was elected largely on the assumption that he could – and would — make the world “like” us again. The disturbing and disgraceful events that we are witnessing in the Middle East over the last few days have revealed just what an unmitigated disaster this President’s foreign policy has been.

Obama began his tenure in office by traveling around Europe apologizing for America’s supposed international arrogance, which earned him only contempt, not goodwill. He went on to begin alienating our longstanding, closest allies. It began with small but offensive gestures like returning Churchill’s bust to England and openly snubbing Israel’s Netanyahu. Speaking of Israel, Obama has proven himself to be “the anti-Israel President.”

But it wasn’t enough that Obama pushed away our allies – he has also emboldened and empowered our enemies. He stood by and did nothing as the Iranian regime crushed the people’s Green Revolution which, with our support, could have removed Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollahs from power. One can only imagine how that would have changed the balance of power in the Middle East. Obama could have taken credit for taking down the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism; instead, he gave them space to continue their pursuit of nuclear weapons and dumped the problem of a nuclear Iran in Israel’s lap.

After the Green Revolution fizzled out there came the supposedly democratic uprisings across the Middle East called the “Arab Spring” – the inspiration for which some attribute to Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech. They degenerated quickly into an Islamist Winter, with Muslim fundamentalists (including al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood) seizing power, threatening war with our ally Israel, and now attacking our embassies and murdering Americans. Obama helped pave the foundation for this nightmare by helping to oust our former ally Mubarak in Egypt; now the largest country in the Middle East is in the grip of the Muslim Brotherhood and the black flag of jihad has been raised over our own embassy.

And so here we are. It is interesting to note that, up until now, no one defined the Obama Doctrine. Americans had a general idea what the Bush Doctrine was; we obviously understood the Reagan Doctrine. But the Obama Doctrine has puzzled commentators for years — is it appeasement? Is it anti-colonialism? Is it multilateral internationalism?

Well, as we witness the catastrophe unfolding right before our eyes in the Middle East, with our enemies unleashing hate and violence against America and with our President beating his breast in response with contrition and mumbling mea culpa, we now know what the Obama Doctrine is: it’s a vacuum.

President Obama is a foreign policy failure who has placed America in the worst global position she has been in since the end of the Cold War. Nations that were once our allies — though Obama says the term “ally” is a “term of art” — are now our enemies (Egypt, Tunisia). Nations that were quiet are now loud (Libya). Nations that were headed in the right direction have been turned over to Islamists (Iraq, Afghanistan). Meanwhile, we have sold our debt to China, giving them outsized influence over our foreign policy; we have allowed Russia to broaden its sphere of influence in the Middle East, as well as Central and Eastern Europe; we have ceded ground to the Hugo Chavez acolytes in South America. It is difficult to name a single spot anywhere on earth that is more pro-America thanks to President Obama.

Obama’s foreign policy: a national disaster.

Eleven Years of the Same Mistake

By Bruce Thornton On September 11, 2012

Eleven years ago today America was violently awakened to the fact that it was at war. The attacks of 9/11 were the latest gruesome assault in the long conflict between the West and Islam, a war most Americans didn’t know was being waged, a war that had been going on for 14 centuries. Yet for the following eleven years, America’s response to this war has been compromised by the serial violation of Sun Tzu’s dictum, “If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Eleven years on, we still haven’t taken an accurate measure of the enemy who wants to destroy us.

The ruins in New York were still smoking as the preposterous explanations for the murders started pouring forth, most of them marked by what Andrew McCarthy calls “willful blindness” not just to the doctrines of Islam that motivated al Qaeda, but to our own unexamined assumptions and received wisdom. Of course, the left blamed America for the attacks, professors blaming the “terrorism” of the first Gulf War, or the “millions of victims of American imperialism,” or the “fascism of U.S. foreign policy over the past many decades.” Support for Israel was another spurious cause of jihadist violence, even though bin Laden himself cited the dissolution of the Ottoman caliphate, not the creation of Israel, as the most important “disaster” that led to the 9/11 payback.

More common in the mainstream media were the various psychological explanations that reflected the modern secularist view of religion as a Marxian “opiate” or a Freudian “illusion,” compensation for a lack of jobs or political freedom. The New York Times editorialized that “the disappointed youth of Egypt and Saudi Arabia turn to religion for comfort” for their lack of economic opportunity or political participation. Bill Clinton, on whose watch al Qaeda and bin Laden were allowed to proliferate and attack America with impunity, trotted out the antique progressive fingering of “poverty” as the motive for jihadist violence: “The forces of reaction feed on disillusionment, poverty, and despair.” Such reductive psychologizing was a favorite of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, the Delphic oracle of received wisdom, who claimed that economic inferiority and lack of development in Middle Eastern states caused “dissonance and humiliation” that “produces lashing out,” as though the jihadists were teenaged juvenile delinquents with low esteem. Ignored in all these analyses were the numerous jihadist tracts that legitimized their attacks with appeals to 14 centuries of Islamic theology and jurisprudence.

Yet the Bush administration was equally dismissive of Islamic theology as the engine of jihadist violence. Lack of liberal democracy and political freedom, not Islamic belief, was the breeding ground of terrorism. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at the time necessary in order to eliminate state sponsors and facilitators of Islamic terrorism, soon came to be conducted from the perspective of the larger “Bush Doctrine” of democracy promotion. In the September 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States of America, the idea of supporting and fostering global democracy formed one key part of that strategy. The NSS asserted that there is “one sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise,” for “these values of freedom are right and true for every person, in every society.” Thus the foreign policy of the U.S. will be “to extend the benefits of freedom across the globe. We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every corner of the world.” Bush returned to these themes in January 2005 in his inaugural speech, in which he linked U.S. security and global peace to the “force of human freedom” and the expansion of democracy: “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.”

But these assumptions ignored the central place religion holds for pious Muslims, for whom obedience to Allah is more important than political freedom or democracy, and Islam and shari’a law provide a perfect, divinely sanctioned system for organizing political, social, economic, and private life. This rejection of Western political systems as un-Islamic has for decades characterized theorists of jihadism like Hassan al Banna, Sayyid Qutb, and the Ayatollah Khomeini, all of whom related the moral decadence and irreligion of the West to its seductive but false “benefits of freedom.” This failure to acknowledge and take seriously the different “philosophical assumptions, underlying values, social relations, customs, and overall outlooks on life,” as Samuel Huntington wrote in 1996 in his prophetic The Clash of Civilizations, that create civilizational differences was particularly significant for Islamic states. Islam’s historical record of violent expansion on its “bloody borders,” its own universalist pretensions, its anger at its faith being surpassed by a West it once dominated, and its theologically sanctioned confidence in its superiority and divine right to global dominance, all make Islamic civilization particularly unlikely to acquiesce in a “new world order” that reflects Western values and its secularized culture.

Despite the continuing dubious outlook for the success of the democratic project in Afghanistan and Iraq, difficulties reflecting in part the civilizational differences Huntington wrote about, there was little prudence in our foreign policy establishment’s response to the wave of revolutions, violent protest, and regime changes in the Middle East that started in Tunisia in December 2010 and was quickly dubbed the “Arab Spring.” Indeed, reactions to these events reprised the unexamined assumptions about democracy as the default global political order that had animated the Bush Doctrine. Senator John McCain asserted that the Libyans battling Muammar Gaddafi were aiming for “lasting peace, dignity, and justice.” Senator Joseph Lieberman’s article in Foreign Affairs summarized the Arab Spring as a struggle for “democracy, dignity, economic opportunity, and involvement in the modern world.” And President Obama claimed that Egyptians revolted against Hosni Mubarak because they wanted “a government that is fair and just and responsive.” All ignored the numerous polls and evidence that critical masses of rebels wanted to create Islamic regimes founded on shari’a law.

The subsequent electoral success of Islamist parties eager to create governments that substantially incorporate illiberal shari’a law, or the ascendancy in Egypt of the anti-Western, illiberal Muslim Brothers–– whose credo is “God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations”––seemingly has not troubled this bipartisan cheerleading for the magic powers of democratic elections. The June 2012 election of Muslim Brother Mohammed Morsi as Egypt’s president was met with congratulations from Republican Senator John McCain and Independent Joseph Lieberman: “The Egyptian people have spoken,” the senators said in a joint statement, “and we respect their choice and look forward to working with President-elect Morsi in a spirit of mutual respect and in pursuit of the many shared interests of the United States and Egypt.”

The Obama administration has been particularly eager to perpetuate this delusional belief that democratic machinery and rhetoric can trump deep-seated religious beliefs that conflict with Western notions of human rights and freedom. As a consequence, Obama had encouraged and legitimized Egypt’s Muslim Brothers. His Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, called them “a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam,” an estimation contradicted by numerous statements by Muslim Brother spokesmen and spiritual advisors advocating shari’a law, promoting violent jihad against Islam’s enemies, and calling for the abrogation of the peace treaty with Israel. Regarding the treaty, Egypt’s intentions may be divined in a statement made by Morsi’s spokesman, who has declared, “Our capital won’t be Mecca or Medina, but Jerusalem, millions of shahids [martyrs] will march on the city.”

As for the possibilities of a liberal democracy taking root in Egypt, consider Morsi’s statement that “The day will come when the Sharia of the truth is put into effect,” and his pardoning of 25 convicted jihadist leaders.  Morsi has also called for the release of the “Blind Sheikh” Abdul Rahman, who masterminded the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 that killed 6 people and wounded over a 1000. Just recently a consortium of jihadist outfits have threatened to burn down the American embassy in Cairo and take hostages from the survivors if Rahman and other terrorists held in the U.S. are not released. Morsi has also met with leaders of Hamas, the Muslim Brothers terrorist subsidiary that controls Gaza, and recently travelled to Tehran to forge closer relations with the mullahs’ genocidal regime. Meanwhile, violent assaults on Egypt’s Christian Copts continue, with over 100,000 having fled their homeland since the revolution began. Despite all these red Islamist flags, President Obama has invited Morsi to the White House in September 2012, and is negotiating $1 billion in debt relief for Egypt.

These 11 years of delusion, which have culminated in the Obama administration’s empowering a jihadist regime in the strategically important and most populous Arab state in the Middle East, are the consequence of our continuing failure to understand accurately the motivating religious ideology of the jihadists. We have perpetuated the empirically dubious claim that Muslims like the Ayatollah Khomeini or Osama bin Laden, revered as heroes across the Muslim world, had “highjacked” the noble “religion of peace.” Once again Thomas Friedman provides the best example of this sort of thinking: “Muslims have got to understand that a death cult has taken root in the bosom of their religion, feeding off it like a cancerous tumor.” Friedman’s simile, however, is false. Jihadism is not a diseased “tumor” in Islam, but a vital organ. Jihad is a core Islamic belief copiously documented in the Koran, hadiths, and theological writings, a belief that fueled Islam’s great conquests from the Atlantic to China.

In the coming years, we would do better to heed Sun Tzu’s injunction about knowing our enemy, instead of listening to the numerous apologists and propagandists who separate jihadism from Islam and whitewash the latter’s long history of supremacism, illiberalism, and violence. We need to take seriously the respected theologians and teachers like the Ayatollah Khomeini, the architect of the Iranian jihadist regime who once said, “Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! . . . Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and the shadow of the sword.” Substitute “nuclear weapons” for “sword” and you’ll see how grievous in the next decade will be the consequences of failing to take our enemy seriously when he tells us what he believes, and then shows us what he will do to honor that belief.

Published at Front Page