Islam, U.S. Foreign Policy, and the Presidential Debate - Public Versus 'Elite' Perceptions
While Osama bin Laden has been assassinated by brave U.S. Navy SEALs (and accorded a formal U.S. military "sea burial" by the Obama administration), the jihad to impose the totalitarian sharia is ascendant, and flush with victories across Islamdom, and Islam's Huntingtonian bloody innards, and borders. Despite President Obama's much-ballyhooed "outreach" to the Muslim world, as articulated in his June 2009 Cairo speech, ensuing events -- punctuated by the 9/11/12 jihadist assault on the U.S. government's Benghazi, Libya compound, which killed our Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Navy SEALs Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods, and Air Force veteran Sean Smith -- have confirmed the catastrophic willful blindness of that vision.
What our policymaking elites ignore, perilously, is that sharia, Islamic law, is not just holistic, in the general sense of all-encompassing but totalitarian, regulating everything from the ritual aspects of religion to personal hygiene to the governance of an Islamic state, bloc of states, or global Islamic order. Clearly, this latter political aspect is the most troubling, being an ancient antecedent of more familiar modern totalitarian systems. Specifically, sharia's liberty-crushing and dehumanizing political aspects feature: open-ended jihadism to subjugate the world to a totalitarian Islamic order; rejection of bedrock Western liberties -- including freedom of conscience and speech -- enforced by imprisonment, beating, or death; discriminatory relegation of non-Muslims to outcast, vulnerable pariahs, and even Muslim women to subservient chattel; and barbaric punishments which violate human dignity, such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing for alcohol consumption.
But President Obama's (and his administration's) missteps vis-à-vis Islamdom -- albeit more profound and dangerous than those of his immediate predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- represent the apotheosis of our miserably failed, bipartisan "See No Islam" foreign-policy Weltanschauung. Pace nearly 20,000 jihadist attacks worldwide since 9/11/2001, it is axiomatic that there will be no discussion of jihad specifically, or of Islamic totalitarianism more broadly, during tonight's ostensible foreign policy presidential debate. Such tragic and dangerous bipartisan failure of imagination is borne of a toxic brew of ignorance, amoral cultural relativism, and intellectual cowardice. Compounding the tragedy is the fact that polling data consistently reveal an American public cognizant of Islamic totalitarianism and seemingly prepared to hear a candid discussion of this existential threat -- accurately identified, without politically-correct, obfuscating terms -- and how best to combat it.
For example, a survey of 1,000 likely voters nationwide, conducted on May 10-11, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports, revealed the following key findings:
- Sixty-three percent total -- 80% of Republicans, 62% of independents, and even 46% of Democrats -- believe that there is a conflict between Islamdom and Western civilization. What the report terms the "Political Class" -- a group held in low esteem by "Mainstream Voters" -- remains "evenly divided on the question," and "more supportive of U.S. efforts to encourage democracy in the Islamic world," compared to the mainstream. However, 73% of the latter -- i.e., Mainstream Voters -- recognize the conflict. Those who have served in the military, past or present, or are family members of those currently serving, are more pessimistic than those who lack this background.
During a May 15, 2012 speech in Washington, D.C. at an event entitled "Celebration of Human Freedom," sponsored by his presidential foundation, George W. Bush hectored critics who do not share his ebullient cognitive dissonance about the unfolding so-called Arab Spring phenomenon.
Some look at the risks inherent in democratic change, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and find the dangers too great. America, they argue, should be content with supporting the flawed leaders they know, in the name of stability.
Mr. Bush also made the egregious claim that the ongoing, de facto Springtime for Sharia in Araby is tantamount to "the broadest challenge to authoritarian rule since the collapse of Soviet Communism."
Fortunately, additional Rasmussen Reports polling data (also from May 2012) indicated that most Americans did not share Mr. Bush's dangerous delusions. It should be emphasized that these findings were obtained before the murderous 9/11/12 jihad terror attack in Benghazi, and the rash of violent anti-American demonstrations across Islamdom, and within Muslim communities in the West, precipitated by the obscure 13-minute Innocence of Muslims video, which depicted some of the less salutary aspects of Muhammad's sacralized, pious Muslim biography.
- A mere 27% of likely U.S. voters believes that even "somewhat likely" countries such as Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia will become free, democratic, and peaceful over the next several years. Only 3% conclude that this outcome is very likely, while 62% believe that such a transformation is unlikely, and 16% maintain that it is not at all likely to occur (i.e., pooled "Unlikely"= 78%). Just 26% believe that the United States should be aggressive in encouraging "the growth of democracy in the Islamic world," while 58% maintain that the U.S. should leave matters alone, and 16% are undecided. Moreover, a scant 10% of voters predict that America's relationship with the Muslim world will improve a year from now, while 29% believe that relationship will deteriorate further, and 50% expect it to remain unchanged.
George W. Bush's Weltanschauung diverged most dramatically from his own fellow Republicans and from independent voters: 73% of Republicans and 68% of voters unaffiliated with either major political party think it remains unlikely that the Arab Spring nations will become free, democratic, and peaceful over the next few years. Democrats are more likely to share Mr. Bush's outlook, with 40% believing that democratization will likely be successful in advancing freedom versus 48% who think it unlikely. Moreover, a majority of Democrats (58%) think these nations will soon become allies of the United States, a view held by just 28% of Republican voters and 35% of independents. Finally, Mr. Bush's excessive optimism is shared, not unexpectedly, by a majority of those in the Political Class.
Following the recent violent Muslim reactions to the amateurish Innocence of Muslims video, international and domestic Islamic agendas are openly converging with vehement calls for universal application of Islamic blasphemy law. This demand to abrogate Western freedom of expression was reiterated in a parade of speeches by Muslim leaders at the U.N. General Assembly. The U.S. Muslim community echoed such admonitions, for example during a large demonstration in Dearborn, Michigan, and in a press release by the Islamic Circle of North America.
Yet once again, the American public has demonstrated a wisdom and devotion to our bedrock freedoms apparently not shared by many cowering academic and political elites. Rasmussen polling data reported on 9/17/12 indicated that likely voters overwhelmingly (72% to 15%) considered it more important that the U.S. guarantee First Amendment protection of free speech, relative to not offending other nations and cultures -- i.e., a firm rejection of sharia-based blasphemy law. These findings, in turn, are concordant with the national poll of one thousand likely American voters completed a year earlier (during August 2011) by Democratic pollster Pat Caddell and Republican pollster John McLaughlin. The published results indicated that despite the prevailing apologetics and denial about sharia, by a ratio of 13:1 (76.4% to 5.9%), Americans opposed the application of sharia in U.S. federal or state courts.
Obsequious pandering to Islam -- despite the daily confirmed abject failure of these efforts to provide any strategic benefit to the U.S. -- was not always enshrined State Department or in broader U.S. "policy."
Edward A. Van Dyck, then-U.S. Consular Clerk at Cairo, Egypt, prepared a detailed report in August 1880 on the history of the treaty arrangements (so-called "capitulations") between the Muslim Ottoman Empire, European nations, and the much briefer U.S.-Ottoman experience. Van Dyck's report -- written specifically as a tool for State Department diplomats -- opens with an informed, pellucid, and remarkably compendious explanation of jihad and Islamic law (sharia):
In all the many works on Mohammedan law no teaching is met with that even hints at those principles of political intercourse between nations, that have been so long known to the peoples of Europe, and which are so universally recognized by them. "Fiqh," as the science of Moslem jurisprudence is called, knows only one category of relation between those who recognize the apostleship of Mohammed and all others who do not, namely Djehad [jihad]; that is to say, strife, or holy war. Inasmuch as the propagation of Islam was to be the aim of all Moslems, perpetual warfare against the unbelievers, in order to convert them, or subject them to the payment of tribute, came to be held by Moslem doctors [legists] as the most sacred duty of the believer. This right to wage war is the only principle of international law which is taught by Mohammedan jurists; ... with the Arabs the term harby [harbi] (warrior) expresses not only an unbeliever but also an enemy; and jehady [jihadi] (striver, warrior) means the believer-militant. From the Moslem point of view, the whole world is divided into two parts -- "the House of Islam," and "the House of War;" out of this division has arisen the other popular dictum of the Mohammednas that "all kinds of unbelievers from but one people."
We are in desperate need of a strong new executive leadership willing to purge the Departments of State and Defense of all those dogmatically inculcating a counterfactual, delusive Islamophilia. Diplomatic and military leaders alike possessed of, or at least receptive to learning, Van Dyck's unapologetic wisdom, must be recruited and installed if we are to survive the violent and non-violent jihad being waged against the U.S. America employed such informed, clear-eyed patriotic diplomats in the past; we need them now more than ever before. The good news is that consistent national polling data indicate public support for such bold, wrenching changes by an overwhelming margin.