In a recent issue of Newsweek, the journal’s inexplicably renowned Muslim-world and foreign-policy expert Fareed Zakaria had a cover story called “Learning to Live With Radical Islam.” To my surprise, I received a call from Newsweek editor Will Tacy, who said that the journal was canvassing other “experts” for a 700-word comment on Zakaria’s article and asked if I would write a contribution. I agreed, wrote an article of the requisite length, and submitted the piece before the deadline. Mr. Tacy acknowledged receiving the commentary, but I have never heard from him again — despite sending several notes and leaving voice-mail — and the piece was not printed.
Last December, I spoke to the nonpartisan Jamestown Foundation’s annual conference on al-Qaeda. My talk was a worldwide survey of how America’s war against Islamism had gone in 2008; an analysis of al-Qaeda’s current fortunes and growth potential; and an assessment of whether U.S. policies were adequately protecting genuine U.S. national interests as the Obama administration began. I concluded that 2008 was a year of setbacks for America, and that the future appeared rather bleak.
If America were blessed with a noninterventionist foreign policy, we could all thank Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for giving President-elect Barack Obama a thoroughgoing lesson in the absolute irrelevancy of Israel and Palestine to the national interests of the United States. More than a week into Israel’s invasion of Gaza, America is still alive and kicking and none of our citizens are dead, which is the way it should be, as this is their religious war and not ours. If stubborn noninterventionism were our creed — as the Founders intended — the Gaza war could continue for two more days or two more months and we could simply shrug and mutter “Who cares?” America could simply go on its way, rebuilding its economy and marveling over the madness of two religions fighting to the death over a barren sandpit at the eastern end of the Mediterranean.