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:
- “Make no distinction between terrorists and the nations that harbor them–and hold both to account.”
- “Take the fight to the enemy overseas before they can attack us again here at home.”
- “Confront threats before they fully materialize.”
- “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.