Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Islamist threat Leftists didn't see

John Esposito is the specialist on the Middle East who was invited to provide advice to the White House during the Clinton administration and perhaps the early days of the Bush administration. He argued that the idea that Islamism was a threat was a bogeyman. He argued it was fiction. After 9/11 he was no longer invited. Instead Bernard Lewis was asked for advice.

Esposito was one of those “area” historians that got caught up in his subject. You can find Esposito’s books on Islamist websites alongside those of Sayyid Qutb.

As to “Terror,” this is a term that applies to the tactic of targeting civilians in order to weaken the resolve of a nation to wage war. The Leftists early on tried to claim that anything that caused fright or dismay (i.e., anything the U.S. did of a military nature) could be considered terror, but that ploy never really caught on. It is too easy to define the tactics of the Islamists.

Also, the Islamists and their Leftist sympathizers have argued that the U.S. reaction to the terrorism is just as bad as terrorism. This is a specious argument. Were we just as bad as the Japanese after Pearl Harbor when we waged war against them? If someone were to persist and attempt to make all opinions equal, i.e., the Islamists opinion about the U.S. is just as valid as the U.S. opinion about the Islamists, that would be a move in the direction of clarity. We could then see that the Islamists and the U.S. are enemies at war with each other. The next question could then be asked: whose side are you on?

As to hammering against the justification for warring against Saddam’s Iraq, only the most die-hard Leftists (and those they have influenced) engaged in that. I could cite a number of books that would put this into perspective. Saddam Hussein did support terrorism. He did pay the families of suicide bombers. He did continue to attempt to shoot down American Airplanes. He did support anti-American efforts in a number of arenas. It is clear to any interested non-Leftist that Saddam Hussein was a major stumbling block in our war against Terror.

After the 1991 war against Saddam, he declared victory. We think we accomplished the limited (and UN specified) goals and therefore won, but Saddam claimed that he pulled his troops back to Baghdad and dared the US to face him on his own ground and that the US turned tail and ran. We think that nonsense, but what matters here is what Middle-Easterners thought. Most of them believed him. We could not get very much Saudi Arabian cooperation in our anti-Al-Quaeda efforts because Saddam was unhappy with any nation too cooperative with the U.S. and Saddam stood up to the U.S. and the U.S. ran away; so the U.S. had no credibility when it threatened to flex its muscles.

Some facts Leftists like to overlook: Saddam kicked out the UN inspectors and violated 14 UN resolutions. The1991 war was never over but was subject to a conditional truce which Saddam violated on a regular basis. Saddam bypassed the UN embargo by using the food-for-oil program to acquire money to enhance his weapons programs. Saddam regularly shot at British and American plans overflying the Kurdish area to keep Saddam from killing Kurds. See for example The Threatening Storm, the Case for Invading Iraq, by Kenneth Pollack, 2002.

Leftists complained against our invading a sovereign nation, i.e., Saddam’s Iraq until Saddam went to trial and his outrageous conduct became more fully known. Liberals try to distance themselves from this outrageous Leftist position. See Paul Berman’s Terror and Liberalism, but they stand too close and a lot of the tar intended for the Leftists inevitably gets on them.

Notice one of the most outrageous Leftist claims, that we have invaded Iraq for our own profit. What we did was remove an obstacle to 1) our war against terror, and 2) stability in the Middle East. Any non-Leftist can review events after the fall of Saddam’s Iraq and see that progress has been made. Libya voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons. Pakistan made significant concessions in controlling what hitherto can only be characterized as their participation in nuclear proliferation; although who knows what will happen there now that Musharraf is out of power. And several Middle-Eastern nations are showing increased interest in some form of democratization.

The matter of why Leftists support Islamists is an interesting study in itself. David Horowitz, a former leftist himself, has specialized on this matter. See his Unholy Alliance, Radical Islam and the American Left or his web site at Anyone who has followed Leftism from the days of the Vietnam War forward will understand why Leftists support the Radical Islam against America. Anti-Americanism came into its own during that war. The American Leftist acceptance of Communist propaganda about that war was one of Communism’s greatest propaganda victories and it is still paying dividends. Unfortunately, the originators of that propaganda are no longer around to cash in its dividends. But Radical Islam is delighted to cash them in.

Lawrence Helm

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