Tuesday, November 24, 2015

George W. Bush: Obama’s New Counterterrorism Guru. By Caroline B. Glick.

Obama’s new counter-terrorism guru. By Caroline B. Glick. Jerusalem Post, November 23, 2015. Also at CarolineGlick.com.


Since the Islamic State attacks in Paris on November 13, we have seen the development of a new, and strange justification for the Obama administration’s insistent refusal to jettison its manifestly failed strategy of contending with IS specifically and with Islamic terrorism generally.

In broad terms, Obama’s strategy for dealing with radical Islamic terrorism and jihadist movements is to ignore their motivating ideologies, take minimal action to combat them, criticize other governments for failing to destroy IS and its jihadist brethren on their own, and attack Republicans for criticizing Obama’s strategy for defeating radical Islamic terrorism.

The new justification for Obama’s refusal to revise his strategy was first uttered by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton at the Democratic presidential debate on November 14. Five days later, the Democratic National Committee produced an ad attacking Republican presidential candidates based on this new rhetorical theme. Obama himself resonated the new message during his press conference in Malaysia on Sunday.

According to the new talking points, Republicans have no right to criticize Obama, or Clinton for their failure to contend with the nature of the enemy because in ignoring the enemy’s doctrine, ideology and strategic goals, they are merely following in former president George W. Bush’s footsteps.

During the Democratic presidential debate, Clinton argued that refusing to identify the radical Islamic nature of the enemy that attacked the US on September 11 and in the months and years that followed “was one of the real contributions — despite all the other problems — that George W. Bush made after 9/11, when he basically said — after going to a mosque in Washington — we are not at war with Islam or Muslims.”

In its new ad, the DNC attacks five Republican presidential candidates that have stated in recent days that radical Islam is the force that is warring against the US and its allies.

To prove that the candidates are “unpresidential,” for naming the enemy, the DNC ad includes a clip of Bush’s speeches in praise of Islam as “a religion of peace,” which he delivered in the days immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Democrats’ invocation Bush, as their counterterrorism authority and as a means to justify their refusal to use the term “radical Islam,” is more than a bit ironic, of course, since they have spent the past 14 years pillorying Bush’s counterterror policies.

But it is also extremely helpful. By aligning with Bush to justify their refusal to discuss the radical Islamic foundations of the terrorist scourge facing the free world and devouring large swathes of the Middle East, the Democrats have given us the opportunity to consider what that refusal has meant for the US’s ability to lead the free world in its war against the forces of radical Islam.

At the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, and for the first five years of Bush’s war on terrorism that followed them, Michael Gerson served as Bush’s chief speechwriter. Gerson authored Bush’s statements about Islam being a religion of peace.

In November 2014, Gerson participated in a debate about the nature of Islam and the war on terror. Gerson explained that Bush’s decision to ignore the nature of the enemy emanated from a strategic calculation.

Bush believed that radical Islam was but a marginal force in the Muslim world. By embracing Islam as a whole, and insisting that the terrorists from al Qaeda and other groups did not reflect the authentic nature of Islam, Bush hoped to draw the non-radical Muslims to America’s side against the jihadists.

In Gerson’s words, “Every religious tradition has forces of tribalism and violence in its history, background and theology; and, every religious tradition has sources of respect for the other. And you emphasize, as a political leader, one at the expense of the other in the cause of democracy.”

Gerson continued, “That is a great American tradition that we have done with every religious tradition that comes to the United States — include them as part of a natural enterprise and praise them for their strongly held religious views, and emphasize those portions that are most compatible with those ideals.”

The flaws in this reasoning began surfacing immediately. When Bush made his remarks about Islam after the Sept. 11 attacks, he was flanked by Muslim leaders who were in short order exposed as terrorism apologists and financiers.

On the battlefield, by failing to acknowledge, let alone discredit the enemy’s world view, Bush made it all but impossible for Muslims who oppose radical Islam to stand up against it. After all, if the Americans didn’t think it was a problem, why would they?

Since the Americans refused to admit the existence of radical Islam, the US refused to favor non-radical forces over radical ones. And so, in the 2005 Iraqi elections, while Iran spent a fortune financing the campaigns of its supporters, the US did nothing to support the Iraqi forces that shared the US’s goal of transforming Iraq into a multi-denominational, pluralistic democracy.

The results were preordained. The elected government took its cues from Iran, and as soon as US forces withdrew from Iraq, all of America’s hard won gains were squandered. The Iraqi government became an Iranian puppet. And in areas where Iran didn’t care to assert its control, al Qaeda-aligned forces that now comprise Islamic State rose once again.

Obama’s refusal to discuss radical Islam stems from a different source than Bush’s refusal to do so. Unlike Bush’s position, Obama’s insistence that IS, al Qaeda, Hamas, Boko Haram, and their brethren have nothing to do with Islam, does owe to a strategic calculation on how to win a war. Rather, it stems from an ideological conviction that the US and the rest of the Western world have no right to cast aspersions on jihadists.

As Obama sees things, the problems in the Middle East, and the Middle Eastern terrorism plaguing the rest of the world, are the result of past Western imperialism and chauvinism. All anti-Western movements – including jihadist movements – are legitimate responses to what Obama perceives as the crime of Western power.

Obama’s peevish response to the massacre in Paris and his assaults on Republicans who argue that the religious convictions of Syrians requesting asylum in the US are relevant for determining whether or not to let them in have brought his refusal to identify the enemy to the forefront of the US debate on how to defeat IS.

This debate is clearly uncomfortable for liberal US media outlets. So they have sought to change the subject.

As the Democratic Party adopted Bush as its new counterterrorism guru, the liberal media sought to end discussion of radical Islam by castigating as bigots Republicans who speak of it. The media attempt over the weekend to claim falsely that Republican frontrunner Donald Trump called for requiring American Muslims to be registered in a national Muslim database marked such an attempt to change the subject.

The common denominator between Bush’s strategic decision to lie about the nature of the enemy, Obama’s apologetics for IS, and the media’s attempt to claim that Republicans are anti-Islamic racists is that in all cases, an attempt is being made to assert that there is no pluralism in Islam – it’s either entirely good or entirely evil.

This absolutist position is counterproductive for two reasons. First, it gets you nowhere good in the war against radical Islam. The fact is that Islam per se it is none of the US president’s business. His business is to defeat those who attack the US and to stand with America’s allies against their common foes.

Radical Islam may be a small component of Islam or a large one. But it certainly is a component of Islam. Its adherents believe they are good Muslims and they base their actions on their Islamic beliefs.

American politicians, warfighters and policymakers need to identify that form of Islam, study it and base their strategies for fighting the radical Islamic forces on its teachings.

Bush was wrong to lie about the Islamic roots of radical Islam. And his mistake had devastating strategic consequences for the world as a whole. It is fortuitous that the Clinton and the Democratic party have embraced Bush’s failed strategy of ignoring the enemy for justifying their even more extreme position. Now that they have, they have given a green light to Republicans as well as Democrats who are appalled by Obama’s apologetics for radical Islam to learn from Bush’s mistakes and craft an honest, and effective strategic approach to the challenge of radical Islam.

Donald Trump — The Jacksonian Candidate. By Rich Lowry.

Donald Trump — The Jacksonian Candidate. By Rich Lowry. National Review Online, November 24, 2015. Also at Real Clear Politics.


After the Paris attack, conventional wisdom held that Republican voters would finally turn away from political outsiders and reward candidates representing sobriety and experience. No one stopped to consider that, actually, voters might be drawn to the guy who memorably said of ISIS that he would “bomb the [expletive] out of them.”

Not only has Donald Trump not been hurt by Paris, he has bumped up in the aftermath (Ben Carson, on the other hand, has indeed dropped). The cliché about Trump is that he’s defying the laws of political gravity. If Trump is cutting against the contemporary political grain — certainly, no one else could get away with being as routinely careless and insulting in his statements — he is also tapping into one of America’s deepest cultural and political wellsprings.

In large part, Donald Trump is a Jacksonian, the tradition originally associated with the Scotch-Irish heritage in America and best represented historically by the tough old bird himself, Andrew Jackson. Old Hickory might be mystified that a celebrity New York billionaire is holding up his banner (but, then again, Jackson himself was a rich planter). Trump is nonetheless a powerful voice for Jacksonian attitudes.

Historian Walter Russell Mead once wrote a memorable essay on the Jacksonianism that, so many years later, serves as a very rough guide to the anti-PC and fiercely nationalistic populism of the 2016 Trump campaign.

Trump has trampled on almost every political piety, and gotten away with it, even when he has been factually wrong or had to backtrack. “The Jacksonian hero dares to say what the people feel and defies the entrenched elites,” Mead writes. “The hero may make mistakes, but he will command the unswerving loyalty of Jacksonian America so long as his heart is perceived to be in the right place.”

Trump condemns the political system, and everyone who has thrived in it. For Jacksonians, Mead writes: “Every administration will be corrupt; every Congress and legislature will be, to some extent, the plaything of lobbyists. Career politicians are inherently untrustworthy.”

Trump is obsessed with how other countries are taking advantage of us. He is tapping into the Jacksonian fear of, in Mead’s words, politicians “either by ineptitude or wickedness serving hostile foreign interests.”

Trump is hell on criminals and unwelcoming to illegal immigrants and Syrian refugees, reflecting what Mead characterizes as the Jacksonian’s “absolute and even brutal distinction drawn between the members of the community and outsiders.”

Trump never sweats the details. Jacksonians, according to Mead, believe “that while problems are complicated, solutions are simple.” In fact, the side in a public debate that “is endlessly telling you that the popular view isn’t sufficiently ‘sophisticated’ or ‘nuanced’ — that is the side that doesn’t want you to know what it is doing, and it is not to be trusted.”

Trump doesn’t believe in limited government. “Jacksonians believe that the government should do everything in its power to promote the well-being — political, moral, economic — of the folk community,” Mead writes. “Any means are permissible in the service of this end, as long as they do not violate the moral feelings or infringe on the freedoms that Jacksonians believe are essential in their daily lives.”

Trump isn’t ideologically consistent. The Jacksonian philosophy, Mead notes, “is an instinct rather than an ideology — a culturally shaped set of beliefs and emotions rather than a set of ideas.”

Finally, national honor is a paramount value for Jacksonians, a concern that can be heard in Trump’s signature promise to make America great again. He will out-bully and out-fox our adversaries and, as for ISIS, he will bomb and water-board it into submission.

It is tempting to see Donald Trump as something wholly new, the reality star who represents the merger of entertainment and popular culture. He is also something centuries old, the populist railing against a corrupt and ineffectual elite that will, through his chastisement, get the comeuppance it deserves.

Hillary Clinton’s Denialism Is the Other Extreme of Trump’s Rhetoric on Islam. By Mollie Hemingway.

Hillary Clinton’s Denialism Is the Other Extreme of Trump’s Rhetoric on Islam. By Mollie Hemingway. The Federalist, November 24, 2015.

Hillary Clinton Subscribes to an Islamic Belief System. By Caleb Howe. RedState, November 19, 2015.


The media are continuing their codependent obsession with Donald Trump by focusing, in this week’s edition of media-fueled Trumpmania, on comments he made regarding Muslims. You can look anywhere for evidence of this, but the first five Google hits for Donald Trump + Muslims are a good indication:
·         Donald Trump’s Muslim Database GameThe New Yorker
·         Donald Trump’s Views on the “Muslim Problem” – The Political Insider
·         First, Donald Trump Came for the Muslims – The Daily Beast
·         Donald Trump Sets Off a Furor With Call to Register MuslimsThe New York Times
And on and on and on it goes. I get it. Trump is good for traffic. It’s fun to write outraged pieces about him! The media seem to have no limit for their love of covering everything he says. I was trying to find out what exactly, he’d said that had the media in such a tizzy and landed on an article headlined “The 7 Most Ridiculous Things Donald Trump Has Said In The Last 2 Weeks.” It was published in 2011. So forgive me if I opt out of this round of groupthink outrage on The Donald.

Or rather, while what Trump says (now, in 2011, in 1984, I could go on) is in fact, “ridiculous,” what other things are politicians saying that are also ridiculous?

Check out what Hillary Clinton said last week about the role Islam plays in global terrorism.
Let’s be clear, though. Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.
Part of this is fine rhetoric for a politician. And obviously the majority of Muslims, particularly American Muslims, are peaceful and tolerant. But to say that Muslims have “nothing whatsoever” to do with terrorism is simply not true. The world may wish it were so, but it’s not. It’s as clownish and cartoonish and demonstrably false as anything Trump has said in the last week.

Clinton’s statement is extreme rhetoric that has no place in adult conversations in the aftermath of 9/11, which claimed the lives of 2,997. Or the attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates in Beirut, Karachi, Nairobi, Tanzania, Kenya, Sarajevo, Jeddah, Benghazi, Herat, and Erbil. Or the Moscow theater hostage situation, which killed more than 100 and injured more than 700. Or the nine synchronized bomb blasts in Jaipur that killed 80. Or the Ahmedabad bombings a year later that took the lives of 56 and injured 200. Followed two months later by the Delhi bombings that took another few dozen. Or the Islamabad Marriot hotel bombing that killed two U.S. servicemen and 52 others. The Qahtaniya bombings of the Yazidi that killed nearly 800 and wounded 1,600. The 2008 attacks on Christians in Mosul that killed more than 40. The siege of Mumbai, killing 166. The Little Rock recruitment office shooting. Fort Hood. The 2009 Marriott and Ritz-Carlton bombing in Indonesia. The Nag Hamadi massacre of Coptic Christians. The Moscow Metro bombings that killed 40. The London Underground bombings that killed 53 and injured 700. The Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people and wounded 1,800. The Mumbai train bombings that killed 209 injured more than 700. The Beslan school hostage crisis, where some 385 people — including 186 children — were killed. The murder of Theo Van Gogh. The 2005 Delhi bombings. The Amman bombings that killed more than 60 and injured 115. The Westgate shopping mall attack where 67 were killed and 175 wounded. ISIS’ beheadings of Americans, of Christians, of other enemies of the state. Paris.

Each of these attacks — and countless others — were done in the name of Islam. And while it might comfort us to issue platitudes about Islam being peaceful and having “nothing to do” with these attacks, such statements are unbecoming of serious politicians.

Anyone with a brain wave and a pulse knows that Islam and Islamist terrorism have a relationship. What’s more, refusal to acknowledge that Islam contains within it groups of people dedicated to such carnage actually does more damage to peaceful Muslims than otherwise. Would you rather have those people who are cognizant of world events understand that there is a stream of thought within Islam that lends itself to such violence or to believe that all Muslims are so inclined? Because in a world with the reality of Islamist terrorism, that’s the option its prominent deniers are giving people.

Cathy Young made this point when she noted a Daily Beast article about some group of college students saying that remembering 9/11 was offensive to Muslims, “Are you saying that all Muslims are terrorists?” she asked.

Seriously. Check out this ad that was put out by Democrats this past week. It’s mindboggling.

First off, if you told me that this was a Republican ad, I would have believed you. It was produced in a country where fully two-thirds of respondents to a recent poll used the term “radical Islam” to describe the enemy. You will of course note that there is not a drop of conflict between GOP politicians talking about Islamist terrorism or the other problems of radical Islam and George W. Bush’s statements about not being at war with Islam. That’s because both of these statements are true. Islamist terrorism is a problem, and the U.S. is not at war with Islam. It’s Democrats who come off bigoted in this ad by their implicit argument that all Muslims are indistinguishable from one other, no matter their particular political or religious views.

“Strange New Respect” For George W. Bush

In the hours after Islamist terrorists carried out their attacks on American soil in 2001, President George W. Bush and his advisors agreed on a strategy for talking about the role Islam. It was difficult because the attacks were perpetrated by Muslim terrorists who based their violence in their understanding of their religion. So the Bush administration was trying to manage what they worried could be a touchy situation both domestically and globally. They wanted to make sure that American Muslims weren’t subject to retaliatory violence. And they wanted to make sure that global Muslims didn’t feel the need to pick a side against the U.S. in the coming days.

So on September 17, 2001, President Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., and said, “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

This was a political statement, as were other similar statements. Bush was no more qualified to opine on Islamic theology than the vast majority of politicians and talking heads who have done so in the years since. What’s more, it was an emergency political statement, a measure taken to address immediate problems.

It’s been hilarious to watch the media and other progressives pull out the “strange new respect” routine for Bush’s political positioning of Islam. “Strange new respect” is the term for how the media do everything they can to demonize and tear down whichever Republican is in power or in the news. Then, a decade later, they pretend that the Republican they loathed was in fact totally reasonable all along in order to demonize and tear down whichever Republican is in power or in the news.

Many reporters are probably too young to remember, but the media treatment of Bush was so bad by 2004 that non-unhinged observers referred to it as Bush Derangement Syndrome. If there was one Republican I was sure wouldn’t get the “strange new respect” treatment — much less so quickly — it was George W. Bush. In any case, he’s getting it now.

“Islam means peace,” we’re told, but it actually means submission. Not to make a qualitative judgment, but if it did mean peace, it would have never left the Arabian Peninsula, but it did and almost immediately. The battle of Yarmuk, one of the most significant battles in human history, took place in 636, just four years after Muhammad died. In Syria, as it happens. A small band of Muslim soldiers overtook the mighty Byzantines in just six days, ending Byzantine rule there. Military historians say what was needed to defeat the Muslim invaders was a quick deployment of forces. That didn’t happen, so the Muslim army worked quickly to overpower a much larger opponent. It was one of the battles Osama bin Laden mentioned in his inspirational statements about how to overtake Westerners.

Here’s a quick and dirty animated map showing the expansion of Islam via conquest:

According to historian Will Durant:
The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace, can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.
The Cost Of Denialism

Politico published a piece this week headlined, “Molenbeek broke my heart: A former resident reflects on his struggles with Brussels’ most notorious neighborhood.” How did Molenbeek become Europe’s jihadi base? Teun Voeten says:
But the most important factor is Belgium’s culture of denial. The country’s political debate has been dominated by a complacent progressive elite who firmly believes society can be designed and planned. Observers who point to unpleasant truths such as the high incidence of crime among Moroccan youth and violent tendencies in radical Islam are accused of being propagandists of the extreme-right, and are subsequently ignored and ostracized.

The debate is paralyzed by a paternalistic discourse in which radical Muslim youths are seen, above all, as victims of social and economic exclusion. They in turn internalize this frame of reference, of course, because it arouses sympathy and frees them from taking responsibility for their actions. The former Socialist mayor Philippe Moureax, who governed Molenbeek from 1992 to 2012 as his private fiefdom, perfected this culture of denial and is to a large extent responsible for the current state of affairs in the neighborhood.

Two journalists had already reported on the presence of radical Islamists in Molenbeek and the danger they posed — and both became victims of character assassination. In 2006, Hind Fraihi, a young Flemish woman of Morrocan descent published “Undercover in Little Morocco: Behind the Closed Doors of Radical Islam.” Her community called her a traitor; progressive media called her a “spy” and a “girl with personal problems.”
No, Islam isn’t synonymous with peace, and Bush was just doing politics when he claimed otherwise in the stressful aftermath of 9/11. But as much as his apologetics were amateur, they were significantly more excusable than pushing out the same false rhetoric now.

We are not children. We have read the news in the last 14 years. The attack on the Radisson hotel in Mali is simply the latest bloody demonstration that Islamist terrorism is real. We know that the terrorists are truly and genuinely motivated by their religious beliefs, however much the professors writing op-eds assert they are not. And while there may be an earnest debate about what can and should be done to deal with Islamist terrorism, no serious person can deny its existence.

So yes, Trump’s rhetoric is extreme. (Can you believe it? Donald Trump! The man known for his probity and reasonableness.) But the other extreme is also dangerous. That’s the extreme that denies the reality of Islamist terrorism, the threat it poses in Paris, London, New York, Mumbai, Madrid, Karachi, Delhi, Cairo, Jerusalem, Khobar, Washington, D.C., Moscow, Nairobi, Benghazi, and throughout the world.

It’s telling that much of the media find only one of the views extreme.