America First and survival or an endless losing war with Islam?

“Those Americans who refuse to plunge blindly into the maelstrom of European or Asiatic politics are not defeatist or neurotic. They are giving evidence of sanity, not cowardice, of adult thinking as distinguished from infantilism. They intend to preserve and defend the Republic. America is not to be Rome or Britain. It is to be America.” — Gore Vidal, 2004

Last Wednesday afternoon (27 August 2014), Fox’s Neil Cavuto hosted a former senior U.S. government official on the subject of Iraq’s Islamic State organization. For my money, Mr. Cavuto has one of the most informative programs on Fox or any other network, but on this occasion the guest provided no light and only added to our national muddle by describing the Islamist fighters and their leaders as frustrated, angry, and under privileged youth who are in essence brain-washed by cynical Islamist leaders to join the jihad. Sound familiar? Well it ought to. U.S. politicians from both parties and most of the U.S. and Western media have been spewing this nonsense since the early 1990s. Mr. Cavuto’s guest than piped in with the usual mantra that the war against the Islamists cannot be won militarily but only by an ideological confrontation with them that will show young Muslim males how much more pure, noble, and well-meaning America is than are those he called “Islamo-Facists.”

I am not using Mr. Cavuto’s guest’s name because it is irrelevant. The guest could have been almost any American politician, pundit, general, admiral, or senior civil servant and the words would have been nearly identical, and surely identically wrong. This bipartisan U.S. political elite is simply too arrogant, authoritarian, and ill-educated in the discipline of history to craft and conduct a foreign policy that will protect U.S. national security. They leave Americans no choice but to search out and elect men and women who will champion U.S. neutrality and refuse to intervene in matters that are none of America’s concern. In that regard, let us hope Senator Paul gets his meandering policy views straightened out so that he can get squared away with the many millions of his dad’s supporters who are eager to support him.

To begin, we cannot win an “ideological confrontation” with the Islamists. We have already tried that — though Mr. Cavuto’s guest said we had not — and it was an utter failure. The Islamists simply will not buy what Washington’s hucksters present as an alternative to their beliefs and agenda. The Islamists are fighting a religious war against what they deem to be authoritarian regimes that both oppressively rule much of the Arab world — recall Iraq’s Maliki was an elected Shia tyrant and our foreign policy gurus now want to ally America with Syria’s Asaad and the tyrants of Jordan and the Gulf states — and prevent the unity and religious orthodoxy that the Islamists believes Allah demands. Think what you will of the Islamists and their brand of war-making , but they have been in the field fighting since the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and their movement has never been larger, more popular, more geographically dispersed, or as well-armed as it is today — 35 years later. Our political elite needs to get a grip on this reality. These men are not fighting for money, fame, or upcoming mid-term elections. They are fighting for their faith and for freedom and self-determination as they define it. And they believe Allah is smiling on their efforts, having allowed them to humiliate and defeat superpowers in Iraq and twice Afghanistan.

And what points, pray tell, could we argue that would drive the Islamists away from these beliefs and perceptions? Should we tell them of the glories of secularism when it is legislatively imposed on a once believing and pious American nation? The glories of a democracy that is controlled from start to finish by money and foreign lobbies? The desirability of making women equal to men by giving them the “right” to kill other human beings? The inspiring reality of a lawless president and attorney general bent on destroying the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendments? By offering to share with them the world’s biggest and wealthiest pornography industry? By showing them the uselessness of a government that has wasted all of its citizens resources and now wants to tax them even more? By urging them to abandon faith in God and begin to call their religious leaders “life coaches” as the U.S. military apparently intends to rename their chaplains? If this is what we are trying to sell men fighting for their faith, we are well and truly licked before we start.

So we need to trash the idea of an ideological confrontation that we can win. What to do? Begin by understanding that today’s worldwide Islamist movement would not have been born, or once born gelled, or once gelled steadily grown without unrelenting U.S. and Western intervention in the the Muslim world. Moscow started it by invading Afghanistan in 1979 and then Washington, Britain, France, Germany, and the UN picked up the dictatorial Soviet baton by installing a regime in Kabul that all but excluded the men who had fought for 15 years and finally defeated the Red Army and the Afghan communists. Having watched the mujahideen beat the Soviets, the Muslim world then saw the West intervene to deny the Afghans the fruits of the victory Allah had given them. That Western intervention, by the way, facilitated the rise and then the victory of the Taliban, the organization that is about to accept another Allah-provided victory over the hapless and averse-to-killing-our-enemies U.S. and NATO militaries.

Although Afghanistan is the poster boy for the disasters that always accompany U.S.-led interventions in the Muslim world that are conducted by American presidents who have no intention of winning the wars they start, the list of self-defeating U.S. interventions continues to grow and now also includes:

  • The 2003 invasion of Iraq and its famous surge, which, respectively, allowed the flow of mujahideen from South Asia to the Levant and trained the military backbone of the Islamic State.
  • The U.S.-backed Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia that destroyed the Islamic Courts regime and opened a path for the rise of al-Shabab and propelled the Islamization of East Africa.
  • The U.S.-led Western rejection of the fairly elected Hamas government, ending for all Muslims any belief in the American and European democracy mongers who endlessly preach that the results of “free and fair” elections are final and must be respected by all.
  • The U.S.-led Western support for the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt, which — along with Saddam’s overthrow — created a destabilized political environment in which Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities are now being casually slaughtered.
  • U.S. support for the removal of a fairly elected Islamist government in Egypt via a military coup, followed by U.S. and Western silence as Egypt’s new military dictator stamps out what Obama and others call “universal Western values.”
  • U.S. support for the mujahideen’s effort to oust Asaad’s regime in Syria, which yielded the forces that are now known as the Islamic State
  • The Washington-led Western destruction of of Qadhafi’s Libya, which is now delivering oil-rich Libya to the Islamists, and whose looted arsenals and prisons — with those of Egypt and Tunisia — have supplied mujahideen around the world with enormous stocks of modern weaponry and a substantial augmentation of veteran combat leaders, bomb-makers, and money handlers.
  • Flamboyant U.S. support for three Israeli wars in the Levant and the very public resupply of Israeli forces with U.S.-made ordnance to be used to kill Palestinians. (NB: The Israelis, of course, have every right to kill as many Palestinians fighters and civilians as they believe their national security requires, but what does America gain by publicly aligning itself with Israeli military actions that kill hundreds of Palestinian kids and are deemed by a billion-plus Muslims — including those young American Muslim men who now fight in the Islamic State’s ranks — as just as barbarous as Americans deem the beheading of Mr. Doyle? By the way, Mr. Doyle’s demise has worked exactly as the Islamic State intended. It wanted the U.S. government to re-intervene in Iraq on the side of those the Sunni world sees as heretical Shia. Using the decapitation of Mr. Doyle as a lure did the trick nicely, making Pavlov’s Obama-Kerry-McCain-Graham dog respond as desired.)
  • U.S. support for the French invasion of Mali and Washington’s simultaneous establishment of drone bases in Niger, which provided Malian Islamists and other Islamists across northern and central Africa with a Western military intervention that they have used as their foil in promoting unity among diverse Islamist groupings as well as a spur to their recruitment and fund-raising operations.

There are other examples but the foregoing are enough to provide even aspiring-to-be-Fascist Neoconservatives with an understanding of why so many Muslims — militant, moderate, and nominal — perceive the United States and its allies as being determined to determine how (or if?) Muslims will live, organize their societies, conduct elections, interpret their religion, and supinely refuse to oppose the imposition by military force of what Obama, McCain, Cameron, Netanyahu, et al describe with straight faces as “Western values.” The examples likewise are sufficient to show that the above-named interventions have been costly failures that have left local, regional, and international Islamist forces stronger than when the interventions began. Finally, a close and thoughtful look at the above list will strongly suggest that if Washington refrained from all of the interventions America’s national security would be far less threatened, and everyday life, economics, and social affairs inside the United States would have been unaffected no matter how the overseas problem worked itself out.

So what do Americans do? As in August, 1996, when Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States, we have only two choices:

    1.  To continue to maintain the status quo in our foreign polices in the Muslim world — meaning steadily intervening and backing tyranny there — and thereby motivate ever greater numbers of Muslims to join the war now being waged by Islamist forces against the United States, its European allies and Israel, and its favorite tyrants in the Islamic world. If these policies and interventions are essential to genuine U.S. national security interests, they, of course, must be maintained and perhaps strengthened and expanded. If national security requires the eternal maintenance of this status quo, it will also mean an endless, increasingly widespread, and unprecedentedly bloody war with Islam. It will also require a massively costly rearmament effort by the U.S. government and the immediate reintroduction of conscription. The Islamist enemy we witlessly motivate has long been too large, talented, and religiously dedicated to be defeated by killing or capturing one jihadi at a time with drones, Special Forces, rendition/interrogation, and thundering but toothless threats that the Islamists will face justice. We are far past facing terrorists. Rather, we are in the midst of fighting an international insurgency, and we are on the way to a world war that the United States will have to fight at home and abroad if the foreign-policy status quo is retained.
    2.  Or, we can seek America’s survival;
      • By closing our borders and strictly enforcing exiting immigration laws;
      • By moving to the energy self-sufficiency that plainly is within our reach;
      • By bidding the Saudis and the Israelis farewell, henceforth letting them find their own destiny, and further insulating America from their malignant influence by terminating the Saudis’ ability to direct the religious education of young Muslims in the United States and forcing AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobbying groups to register as what they are, agents of a foreign power;
      • By creating a military that can, after a formal Congressional declaration of war and without “coalition partners,” respond with the utmost barbarity — perhaps as Huns, as Kaiser Wilhelm II once recommended to his magnificent army — against the Islamists and their civilian supporters if they dare attack America or its genuine interests;
      • By withdrawing from NATO and letting the arrogantly effeminate, U.S.-resource draining, and militarily feckless Europeans deal with the Russians over the war that the EU’s democracy crusading in Ukraine has yielded.

Such a neutral and non-interventionist policy would be historically appropriate for Americans, would strengthen our national security, and would give our genius political leaders time to do something useful, like solving a genuine national security problem by organizing the construction of a transportation system that can get the water to California that has long been desperately needed for crop irrigation.

As Mr. Reagan use to say, America’s national government is often more the problem than the solution, and nowhere is this more true than in the foreign-policy realm where Washington and the leaders of both political parties are the most dangerous enemies of our country’s national security. In the Republic’s early years, John Adams warned that the revolutionary regime in France presented an unprecedented threat to the world. “I know of no government ancient or modern,” Adams wrote, “that ever betrayed so universal and decided a contempt of the people of all nations, as the present rulers of France. They have manifested a settled opinion that the people have neither sense or integrity in any country, and they have acted accordingly.” My guess is that Mr. Adams never imagined that his words could be used today by simply replacing “the present rulers of France’s” with “the present rulers of America and their vassals in Western Europe.”

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and he helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.