Let me remind my readers that I am a non-ideological fiscal conservative and social moderate. My two main sources of background information for this blog are the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both of which I read assiduously on a daily basis. When they agree on a particular issue, I will probably agree with them. Otherwise I’m on my own!
In last Saturday’s WSJ there appeared a powerful article, “Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Islam’s Most Eloquent Apostate.” Ms. Ali explains that “The West’s obsession with ‘terror’ has been a mistake. Dawa, the subversive, indoctrinating precursor to jihad, is a broader threat.” Here is the gist of her argument:
There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and at least 10% of them, or 160 million, are Islamists (who practice political Islam). Islamists want to impose Sharia (Islamic law) on society which is fundamentally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution: religious tolerance, the equality of men and women, and other fundamental human rights.
The ultimate goal of dawa is to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with the rule of Sharia law. This is accomplished by subversion from within – the abuse of religious freedom in order to undermine that very freedom. The U.S. is in a weak position to combat nonviolent extremism because of the First Amendment which bars Congress from prohibiting the free exercise of religion, etc.
There are now 2.6 million Muslims in America and likely to be 6.2 million in 2030. Half say they think of themselves first as Muslims, second as Americans. A fifth of Muslim Americans say there is support for extremism in the Muslim American community.
The U.S. government should ally itself with genuine Muslim moderates and reformers, not with “nonviolent” Islamists. The FBI should scrutinize the ideological background and nature of all Islamic organizations. The DHS should deny entry to foreign individuals involved with or supportive of Islamism.
Conclusion. According to Ms. Ali, “We are dealing with a lethal ideological movement. … We have to grasp the gravity of dawa. Jihad is an extension of dawa. It is dawa by other means.”
The lead story in yesterday’s New York Times, “Experts Explain How Global Powers Can Smash ISIS,” starts out “Much of the world agrees that the Islamic State needs to be crushed. But how can that be accomplished?” Here is the strategy espoused in the NYT article and also by Garry Kasparov, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
Assad must go. “For the U.S. and the West to ally with Iran, Russia and the Assad regime in Syria would be morally repugnant, strategically disastrous and entirely unnecessary.”
The importance of the Sunnis. “To beat ISIS you need the enlistment of the Sunnis and this won’t happen as long as Assad remains in power.” Removing Assad “would immediately have the support of Turkey and Saudi Arabia.” “The 2007 U.S. military surge in Iraq was so successful because it included the protection and recruitment of Sunni tribes to fight Sunni extremists.” “The hasty exit from Iraq left the Sunnis at the mercy of a hostile Shiite government.”
Troops on the ground. “Anything less than a major U.S. and NATO-led ground offensive against ISIS will be a guarantee of continued failure and more terror attacks in the West.”
Long term governance. “For the long term, eradicating the Islamic State and other violent Jihadi groups will require drastic reforms in the nature of Middle East governments. ISIS thrives on their failures.”
After the Paris attacks, the West now realizes that ISIS represents a huge threat to world peace and stability. Hopefully the U.S. is also beginning to realize that only it can provide the leadership to organize an effective response.
I will soon return to talking about the fiscal and economic issues which I usually dwell on. Every once in a while another major issue intervenes and takes precedence.
What happened in Paris could also easily happen in London, New York City or Washington D.C. and soon will if our President does not adequately respond to the threat of terrorism. As the Wall Street Journal declared yesterday, “For seven years Mr. Obama has used the unpopularity of the Iraq war as a shield for his retreat from anti-terror leadership and the Middle East.” The American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka informs us that:
NATO aircraft scrambled more than 500 times in 2014, with only a few exceptions, in reaction to Russian incursions into NATO member airspace.
In 2014, Japan scrambled aircraft almost 1000 times, with all but a few of these incidents attributed to either Russian or Chinese warplanes.
Russian bombers entered US airspace 10 times in 2014, double the previous average.
Ms. Pletka also suggests how we should respond to four years of carnage in the Middle East:
The first step is to actually have a strategy, rather than a series of reactive tactics and incremental escalations.
The second step is to build a coalition with sub-state and national partners that we trust and that trust us to stick with the job.
The good news is that there is still time to lead a decisive war against ISIS.
There is no need to launch broadsides against all Muslims, the Syrian people and refugees in general. It is Islam extremists who are attacking us, not mainstream Islamists.
The world is a dangerous place and we have many enemies. On this website I am mostly focused on our own fiscal and economic problems which are very serious and need to be dealt with in a timely manner. However the immediate safety and security of our country is the highest priority of all and, on occasion, takes precedence over everything else. Now is a time for such heightened vigilance.
About a month ago I wrote a post about a book by Dennis Prager, “Still the Best Hope: why the world needs American values to triumph.” According to Mr. Prager, there are three ideologies competing for the allegiance of humankind. They are: Islamism, Leftism and Americanism. He defines American values as 1) Liberty, 2) In God We Trust and 3) E Pluribus Unum, the three expressions which appear on all American coins. His trinity of ideologies and values helps me understand my own political framework. I consider myself to be a cultural Christian meaning that I identify with Christian values such as practicing the Golden Rule and trying to be a Good Samaritan rather than believing in any particular theological doctrines.
My social values are based on my moral and religious values. Americans have the good fortune to live in a very prosperous country with much personal liberty. But along with our freedom and prosperity comes responsibility. First of all, we are responsible for our own behavior. If we make bad choices, we have to accept the consequences and try to learn from our mistakes. We have greatly benefitted from the hard work of our forebears. In return it is our responsibility to leave the world a better place than we found it.
Just as my social values are consistent with my moral values, so do my social values determine my political values. I am a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. I consider it highly irresponsible for my generation to leave a huge, and growing, national debt for future generations. Either government should cut back on spending or it should raise taxes to pay for what it spends.
But I also consider it to be America’s responsibility, as well as in its own self-interest, to promote freedom and responsibility around the world. This is demanding, expensive and sometimes controversial but we need to be willing to do it. Likewise, we need to provide an adequate safety net for those among us who are truly unable to cope for themselves.
This is my first public attempt to describe the underlying values around which I organize and conduct my life. It’s a start but I’m pretty sure that I’ll be coming back to this theme again in the future!
I am currently registered as an independent. Ideologically I am a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. For most of my life I have been a registered Republican and have almost always voted Republican in national elections. But most of my friends are Democrats and I often agree with them on specific issues. So why do I identify more closely with the Republican point of view overall? I may have finally figured it out! I have just come across and read the provocative book, “Still the Best Hope. Why the world needs American values to triumph” by the public intellectual, Dennis Prager. Here is his message:
There are three ideologies competing for the allegiance of humankind. They are Islamist, Leftist and American. “Islamist” refers not to Muslims in general but those within the Muslim world who want to see the world governed by Sharia, or Islamic law. “Left” refers to the values associated with the western welfare state, secularism, and to contemporary socialist democratic parties. Americanism refers to the American Trinity of values: ‘Liberty,’ ‘In God We Trust,’ and ‘E Pluribus Unum’ which appear on all American coins.
The three ideologies are incompatible. Any one of them succeeds at the expense of the other two. All Islamists know this, many Leftists know this, but most Americanists do not know this.
Of the three, only Americanists do not proselytize.
One of the three is being promoted violently.
Leftism is a religion.
Americanism is the major impediment to Leftist success.
The impediments to the spreading of American ideals. Islamism and Leftism each dominate many countries. Americanism only dominates one country: America. Neither religious values, individual liberty nor market values are secure in America. Few are teaching the next generation of Americans what constitutes the American value system. The most important battle for American values is the ideological one within America.
Is there a fourth – Chinese – alternative? Either China will become a freer society or it will fail. It will have to affirm values beyond material success in order to succeed, as America has.
Such a stark framework as this hasn’t occurred to me before. But it makes sense and I totally identify with Americanism as opposed to Islamism or Leftism. This is not going to change the way I do things but it helps me understand why I am the way I am!