In addition to promulgating her vacuous “strategy” for vanquishing ISIS, Hillary has been making other foreign policy news. In part to push back on a potential source of criticism, she has defended her part, and the administration’s part in pushing the “Arab Spring”, and the uprising in Libya in particular:
Well, he has a very short-term view of history, because it is not at all clear what the final outcome will be in the places that you named. As I mentioned in the speech, I spoke about the foundations of the region sinking into the sand just as the Arab Spring was breaking. And I did so not knowing about the Arab Spring coming to full bloom, but because it was so clear that what was being done by dictatorships, by the denial of opportunity, by the repression, by the sectarian divide just could not stand. It was going to explode at some point or another.
And with the developments in Libya, for example, the Libyan people have voted twice in free and fair elections for the kind of leadership they want. They have not been able to figure out how to prevent the disruptions that they are confronted with because of internal divides and because of some of the external pressures that are coming from terrorist groups and others. So it’s — I think it’s too soon to tell and I think it’s something that we have to be, you know, looking at very closely.
She’s right, actually. We don’t know what kind of hell it will end up being, or which terrorist group(s) will end up in charge of which part of the “country.” We don’t know how many people will be slaughtered.
Apropos Nancy Pelosi’s defense of Obamacare, we’ll just have to wait to see what’s in it! Oh joy.
Hillary is basically saying we can only judge on the basis of what happens in the long run. This brings to mind Keynes’s quip “in the long run, we’re all dead.” In some places, that long run arrives sooner than others. Libya being one prominent example.
The administration played Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Libya, and in the Arab Spring generally, and brought chaos and destruction in its vain attempts to control the forces it unleashed.
The bottom line is that we are in a contest of ideas against an ideology of hate, and we have to win. Let’s be clear, though, Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people, and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. The obsession in some quarters with a clash of civilization, or repeating the specific words radical Islamic terrorism isn’t just a distraction, it gives these criminals, these murderers more standing than they deserve. It actually plays into their hands by alienating partners we need by our side.
It is quite remarkable how progressives, who adamantly support the idea that someone with a Y-chromosome can self-identify as a woman deny ISIS, etc. can self-identify as Muslim. As Orwell said, there are some ideas so stupid only an intellectual can believe. Or, in Hillary’s case, an intellectual poseur.
Not that the Republican presidential candidates, and many Congressional Republicans, are better, for they’ve veered to the opposite extreme, with Trump calling for registration of Muslims in a national database, Carson comparing refugees to rabid dogs, and indiscriminate condemnations of Muslims by many on the right.
Clinton is wrong: our adversaries–enemies, really–are avowed and chauvinistic Muslims. Those on the right are wrong: not all Muslims are a threat.
The problem is with Salafism, and in particular the virulent supremacists and eliminationist creed of Wahhabism. The wellspring of Salafism is the Gulf countries, notably Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE. From the time of the first oil shock in 1973, oil money (or gas money, in the case of Qatar) has flooded the world, and supported the spread of this uncompromising and violent creed.
The United States is by no means immune. Many mosques (not all, but too many) have been created and supported with Saudi money, and have served as outlets for Salafist proselytizing–and worse. This deserves to be the focus of criticism and pushback. (To her credit, Hillary did so the other day, even though the Clinton Foundation has accepted about $40 million in Gulf government money.)
Focused on Iran and Assad, many on the right (notably McCain, who exercises great influence over Rubio) have made common cause with Iran’s enemies in the Gulf. They have also forgotten-or chosen to ignore-the fact that the attack on the USS Cole, 911 and the vast bulk of terrorism directed against the United States had originated on the Arabian Peninsula.
Perversely, by attacking Muslims indiscriminately, too many on the right are alienating non-Salafist Muslims, and moderate non-Muslims, and driving them into the embrace of the insidious and subversive public face of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US, CAIR. Reprising its post-911 role, CAIR is again claiming to be the voice of oppressed American Muslims. This is extremely disturbing, because CAIR is very much part of the problem, but because of overreaction on the right, it can successfully pose as the victim, and represent itself as the voice of all American Muslims. The right is therefore empowering the very elements of Islam that they should be fighting.
Left and right are locked in a sick dynamic right now. Denial on the left that terrorism generally, and ISIS and Al Qaeda in particular, are an Islamic phenomenon, and that there is a civilizational clash between parts of Islam and the West is driving the right to be indiscriminate in its criticism of Islam. The right’s intemperate criticism gets the left to double down on its indiscriminate defense. And the cycle goes on and on.
In some respects I get it. Political rhetoric tends towards the black-and-white, especially when a message has to be delivered in a short time to an audience with divided attention. I also get that a lot of this rhetoric is signaling and affiliation. It is hard to articulate to a (rationally) uninformed electorate the distinctions within a religion that is almost completely alien to most Americans.
But until we do, we are going to be trapped in this vicious and unproductive cycle. And the biggest winners will be the retrograde and violent parts of Islam who do not get the focused attention-and opposition-that they richly deserve.