U.S. Embassy Attacks: American Foreign Policy Chickens Coming Home to Roost
Around the State
President Obama vowed Wednesday “to bring to justice” those responsible for the attacks. But as two destroyer warships and a 50-member Marine unit make their way to Libya, we would do well to place the blame squarely where it belongs: on religiously fanatical Islamists, to be sure, but also on the president himself and the political establishment of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
The official narrative promoted by the president and Republican leadership was that our military venture – which lasted from March to October 2011 – was an act of humanitarian intervention on behalf of beleaguered liberal-democrats brutalized by 40-year dictator Moammar Gadhafi in the course of their civil war, which had erupted a month earlier.
The narrative was half-right: Gadhafi was indeed a socialist totalitarian, but his armed opponents were not the partisans of “freedom for people to express themselves” – much less “the bright light of freedom and dignity” – our president and his supporters made them out to be. As Andrew C. McCarthy -- former assistant United States attorney for the southern district of New York and chief prosecutor of Khalid “Blind Sheikh” Mohammed of 1993 World Trade Center bombing infamy -- put it in an October 2011 National Review article:
We jumped in as a partisan on the side of the Islamists, who sported violent jihadists in their ranks and among their commanders — including al-Qaida operatives whose dossiers included a stint at Guantanamo Bay and the recruitment of jihadists to fight a terror war against American troops in Iraq. While NATO targeted Gadhafi, the rebels rounded up black Africans, savagely killing many. ...
When the Islamists finally began seizing territory, which they could not have done without NATO, they raided weapons depots. In Gadhafi’s Libya, his regime controlled the materiel; once the “rebels” swept in, weapons started going out — to other Islamists, like al-Qaida in Northwest Africa and Hamas in Gaza.
And now that the Islamists have won, the first order of business, naturally, was to install sharia — Islam’s politico-legal framework that oppresses non-Muslims, women, homosexuals, and apostates. To install sharia, by the way, is the reason jihadists engage in violence — it is the prerequisite for Islamizing a society.
Developments in the past year have borne McCarthy’s warnings out. The putatively “liberal” (but not secular) National Forces Alliance won a majority of Libya’s parliamentary seats in July, and its leader has promised the government will govern according to sharia. And just yesterday Libyans elected their first postwar head of state, Mustafa Abu-Shakour, who is said to be “acceptable to Islamists” and affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Sharia law prevails in many regions of the country, and government officials both actively and tacitly participate in the persecution of religious minorities: It’s no accident that the same government that has largely stood by and done nothing while Islamists destroy Sufi mosques and shrines with impunity was equally unsolicitous in protecting our diplomats.
To recap: Ambassador Stevens was assassinated by the very politico-ideological faction our government sided with during last year’s civil war and whose rise to political and cultural dominance it has facilitated. We continue to prop it up with billions of dollars in foreign aid.
This should come as no surprise. There’s nothing intrinsically liberating about “democracy,” which is nothing more than two wolves and a lamb having a vote on what’s for supper. Man is free to the extent he is unmolested in the enjoyment of his property, not to the extent his molestation is consented to by 50.01 percent of his fellows.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney responded to the attacks by claiming they “underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed.”
No, Gov. Romney, these attacks, along with every other Muslim terrorist attack against Americans over the last several decades, are a decisive rebuke to that leadership. To the extent the United States needs to “lead,” it is dramatically reversing course on the bipartisan foreign policy consensus of military and political intervention in conflicts that do not implicate our national security.
This is not “isolationism”; our nation should actively engage every country on the planet by extending the arm of official friendship and lifting all American-imposed trade restrictions, freeing Americans to relate to every country and its dynamics howsoever they please.
Contrary to establishmentarian myth, it is not true that the only options Americans can avail themselves of are aggressive military interventionism and xenophobic isolationism. The foreign policy of any truly free society is official neutrality vis-à-vis foreign conflicts that do not implicate domestic tranquility, and free trade with every nation. This is also called “non-interventionism.”
Political neutrality does not mean moral neutrality. In a free society, every citizen may choose to support or oppose – if and however they are so inclined – whatever side they wish to in any foreign conflict: if you want to support the so-called “Arab Spring,” you do so with your prayers, your pocketbook, your volunteer humanitarian or military service, etc. Just don’t use the arm of government to force your fellow citizens to subsidize your ideological crusades.
It is not unpatriotic, and takes nothing away from the tragedy of terrorism, to point out that our government’s aggressive foreign policy brings suffering and death to untold numbers of innocent people, including our own citizens.
Which brings us to another establishmentarian myth that needs shattering: that to attribute Islamist terrorism in major part to America’s foreign policy ventures is to necessarily buy into the politically-correct myth that “Islam is a religion of peace” and that these conflicts have nothing whatsoever to do with competing world views and visions of civilization. It’s not either/or. It’s both.
Yes, every single barbarity we associate with the Muslim world is firmly rooted in orthodox Islamic history theology, and jurisprudence, and enjoys widespread, mainstream support among the world’s Muslims, especially their religious leadership. A non-interventionist American foreign policy would not rid the world of all jihadism, nor would it bestow political equality on women and religious minorities who live in Muslim countries. But one does not have to deny the existence of underlying and (in the foreseeable future) inevitable cultural tensions to see that an intrusive foreign policy does nothing but exacerbate them.
Conservatives cannot have it both ways: they cannot insist that we don’t take jihadists at their word when they insist the Sept. 11 hijackings were motivated by our interventionist policies, and yet insist we must take Muslim religious texts at their word. Conservatives also can’t insist that the very same “big government” dominated by greedy sociopaths hell-bent on interfering in our domestic freedoms is somehow incapable of doing wrong when it fixes its same sights on the foreign scene.
Liberals, for their part, who are so fond of criticizing corporatist influence over government should be indignant over findings by a 2010 USA Today study that “of the 158 retired generals and admirals identified as mentors [to the United States military], 80 percent had financial ties to defense contractors, including 29 who were full-time executives of defense industry companies.” It’s not conspiracy-mongering to suggest we ought to be disturbed that a significant number of our military’s senior advisers have a financial interest in keeping the nation in a state of perpetual war.
That, more than silly partisan bickering over the timing or content of press statements and tweets, will go far in honoring the memory of our fallen.
Reach Eric Giunta at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.