IT'S NEVER JUST THE ECONOMY, STUPID!
By Brian T. Kennedy
Let me begin with Islam. We were assured that it was a religion of peace immediately following September 11, 2001. Former President George W. Bush, a good man, believed or was persuaded that true Islam was not that different from Judaism or Christianity. He said in a speech in October, 2001, just a month after the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon:
But, unfortunately, President Bush was trying to understand Islam as we would like it to be, rather than how countless devout Muslims understand it.
Organizationally, Islam is built around a belief in God, or Allah, but it is equally a political ideology organized around the Koran and the teachings of its Founder, Muhammad. Whereas Christianity teaches that we should render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s — allowing for a non-theocratic political tradition to develop in the West, culminating in the principles of civil and religious liberty in the American founding — Islam teaches that to disagree with or even reinterpret the Koran’s 6000 odd verses, organized into 114 chapters, or Suras, and dealing as fully with law and politics as with matters of faith, is punishable by death.
Islamic authorities of all the major branches of Islam hold that the Koran must be read so that the parts written last override the others. This socalled Theory of Abrogation means that the ruling parts of the Koran are those written after Muhammad went to Medina in 622 A.D. Specifically, they are Suras 9 and 5, which are not the Suras containing the verses often cited as proof of Islam’s peacefulness.
Sura 9, verse 5, reads:
Sura 9, verse 29, reads: .
Sura 5, verse 51, reads:
And Sura 3, verse 28, introduces the Doctrine of Taqiyya, which holds that Muslims should not be friends with the infidel except as deception, always with the end goal of converting, subduing, or destroying him.
It is often said that to point out these verses is to cherry pick unfairly the most violent parts of the Koran. In response, I assert that we must try to understand Muslims as they understand themselves. And I hasten to add that the average American Muslim does not understand the Koran with any level of detail. So, I am not painting a picture here of the average Muslim. I am trying to understand those Muslims, both here in the U.S.A. and abroad, who actively seek the destruction of America.
Here at home, the threat is posed by the Muslim Brotherhood and its organizational arms, such as the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, and the various Muslim student associations. These groups seek to persuade Americans that Islam is a religion of peace. But let me quote to you from a document obtained during the 2007 Holy Land Trial investigating terrorist funding. It is a Muslim Brotherhood Strategic Memorandum on North American Affairs that was approved by the Shura Council and the Organizational Conference in 1987. It speaks of --
Elsewhere this document says:
Now during the Bush Administration, the number of Muslims in the U.S.A. was typically estimated to be around three million. The Pew Research Center in 2007 estimated it to be 2.35 million. In 2000, the Council on American Islamic Relations put the number at five million. And President Barack Hussein Obama in his Cairo speech two years ago put it at seven million.
In that light, consider a 2007 survey of American Muslim opinion conducted by the Pew Research Center. Eight percent of American Muslims who took part in this survey said they believed that suicide bombing can sometimes be justified in defense of Islam. Even accepting a low estimate of three million Muslims in the U.S., this would mean that 240,000 among us hold that suicide bombing in the name of Islam can be justified. Among American Muslims 18-29 years old, 15 percent agreed with that and 60 percent said they thought of themselves as Muslim first and Americans second. Among all participants in the survey, five percent — and five percent of the low estimate of three million Muslims in America is 150,000 — said they had a favorable view of al-Qa'ida.
Given these numbers, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the political aims and ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood represent a domestic threat to American national security. It is one thing to have hundreds of terrorist sympathizers within our borders, but quite another, if that number is in the hundreds of thousands. Consider the massacre at Fort Hood: Major Nidal Malik Hasan believed that he was acting as a devout Muslim — indeed, he believed he was obeying a religious mandate to wage war against his fellow soldiers. Yet, even to raise the question of whether Islam presents a domestic threat today is to invite charges of bigotry or worse.
And, as dangerous as it potentially is, this domestic threat pales in comparison to the foreign threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies — a threat that is existential in nature. The government in Tehran, of course, is enriching uranium to convert to plutonium and place in a nuclear warhead. Iran has advanced ballistic missiles such as the Shahab-3, which can be launched from land or sea and is capable of destroying an American city. Even worse, if the Iranians were able to deliver the warhead as an electromagnetic pulse weapon from a ship off shore — a method they have been practicing, by the way — they could destroy the electronic infrastructure of the U.S.A. and cause the deaths of tens of millions or more. And let me be perfectly clear: We do not today have a missile defense system in place that is capable of defending against either a ship-launched missile attack by Iran or a ballistic missile attack from China or Russia. We do not yet today have such a system in place, even though we are capable of building one.
Since I have mentioned China and Russia, let me turn to them briefly in that order. The U.S. trades with China and the Chinese buy our debt. Currently they have $2 trillion in U.S. reserves, about half of which is in U.S. treasuries. Their economy and ours are intimately intertwined. For this reason it is thought that the Chinese will not go to war with us. Why, after all, would they want to destroy their main export market?
On the other hand, China is building an advanced army, navy, air force, and space-based capability that is clearly designed to limit the U.S.A. and its ability to project power in Asia. China has over two million men under arms and possesses an untold number of ICBMs — most of them aimed at the U.S.A. — and hundreds of short-range and medium-range nuclear missiles. China’s military thinking is openly centered on opposing American supremacy, and its military journals openly discuss unrestricted warfare, combining traditional military means with cyber warfare, economic warfare, atomic warfare, and terrorism. China is also working to develop a space-based military capability and investing in various launch vehicles, including manned spaceflight, a space station, and extensive anti-satellite weaponry aimed at negating U.S. global satellite coverage.
Absent a missile defense capable of intercepting China’s ballistic missiles, the U.S. would be hard pressed to maintain even its current security commitments in Asia. The U.S. Seventh Fleet, however capable, cannot withstand the kinds of nuclear missiles and nuclear-tipped cruise missiles that China could employ against it. The Chinese have studied American capabilities, and have built weapons meant to negate our advantages. The destructive capability of the recently unveiled Chinese DF-21D missile against our aircraft carriers significantly raises the stakes of a conflict in the South China Sea. And the SS-N-22 cruise missile — designed by the Russians and deployed by the Chinese and Iranians — presents a daunting challenge due to its enormous size and Mach 3 speed.
China has for some time carried out a policy that has been termed “peaceful rise.” But, in recent years, we have seen the coming to power of what scholars like Tang Ben call the “Red Guard generation” — generals who grew up during the Cultural Revolution, who are no longer interested in China remaining a secondary power, and who appear eager to take back Taiwan, avenge past wrongs by Japan and replace the U.S.A. as the preeminent military power in the region and ultimately in the world.
However far-fetched this idea may seem to American policymakers, it is widely held in China that America is on the decline, with economic problems that will limit its ability to modernize its military and maintain its alliances. And indeed, as things stand, the U.S.A. would have to resort to full-scale nuclear war to defend its Asian allies from an attack by China. This is the prospect that caused Mao Tse Tung to call the U.S. a “Paper Tiger.” Retired Chinese General Xiong Guong Kai expressed much the same idea in 1995, when he said that the U.S.A. would not trade Los Angeles for Taipei — that is, that we would have to stand by, if China attacks Taiwan, since China has the ability to annihilate Los Angeles with a nuclear missile. In any case, current Chinese aggression against Japan in the Senkaku Islands and their open assistance of the Iranian nuclear program, not to mention their sale of arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, would suggest that China is openly playing the role that the Soviet Union once played as chief sponsor of global conflict with the West.
Which brings us to Russia and to the degradation of American strategic thinking during and after the Cold War. This thinking used to be guided by the idea that we must, above all, prevent a direct attack upon the U.S. homeland. But, over the past 50 years, we have been taught something different: that we must accept a balance of power between nations, especially those possessing nuclear ballistic missiles; and that we cannot seek military superiority — including defensive superiority, as with missile defense — lest we create strategic instability. This is now the common Liberal view taught at universities, think tanks, and schools of foreign service. Meanwhile, for their part, Conservatives have been basking in the glow of “winning the Cold War.” But, in what sense was it won, it might be asked, given that we neither disarmed Russia of its nuclear arsenal nor put a stop to its active measures to undermine us. The transformation of some of the former captive nations into constitutional democracies is certainly worth celebrating, but, given the Russian government’s brutally repressive domestic policies and strengthened alliances with America’s enemies abroad over the past 20 years, Conservatives have overdone it.
Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that our policy toward Russia has been exceedingly foolish. For the past two decades, we have paid the Russians to dismantle nuclear warheads they would have dismantled anyway, while they have used those resources to modernize their ballistic missiles. On our part, we have not even tested a nuclear warhead since 1992 — which is to say that we aren’t certain they work anymore. Nor have we maintained any tactical nuclear weapons. Nor, to repeat, have we built the missile defense system first proposed by President Reagan.
Just last month, with bipartisan backing from members of the foreign policy establishment, the U.S. Senate ratified the New Start Treaty, which will further reduce our nuclear arsenal and will almost certainly cause further delays in building missile defenses — and this with a nation that engages in massive deception against us, supports our enemies, and builds ever more advanced nuclear weapons.
At the heart of America’s strategic defense policy today is the idea of launching a retaliatory nuclear strike against whatever nuclear power attacks us. But, absent reliable confidence in the lethality of forces, such a deterrent is meaningless. In this light, deliberating about the need for a robust modernization program, rather than arms reductions through New Start, would have been a better way for Congress to spend the days leading up to Christmas — which is to say, it would have been supportive of our strategic defense policy, rather than undercutting it.
But what about that strategic policy? Some of New Start’s supporters argued that reducing, rather than modernizing, our nuclear arsenal places us on the moral high ground in our dealings with other nations. But can any government claim to occupy the moral high ground when it willingly, knowingly, and purposely keeps its people nakedly vulnerable to nuclear missiles? The Russians understand well the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the American defense establishment, and have carefully orchestrated things for two decades so that we remain preoccupied with threats of North Korean and now Iranian ballistic missiles. We spend our resources developing modest defense systems to deal, albeit inadequately, with these socalled rogue states, and meanwhile forego addressing the more serious threat from Russia and China, both of which are modernizing their forces. Who is to say that there will never come a time when the destruction or nuclear blackmail of the U.S.A. will be in the interest of the Russians or the Chinese? Do we imagine that respect for human life or human rights will stop these brutal tyrannies from acting on such a determination?
If I sound pessimistic, I don’t mean to. Whatever kind of self-deception has gripped the architects of our current defense policies, the American people have proved capable of forcing a change in direction when they learn the facts. Americans do not wish to be subjected to Sharia law, owe large sums of money to the Chinese, or be kept vulnerable to nuclear missiles. Having responded resoundingly to the economic and constitutional crisis represented by Obamacare, it is now time for us to remind our representatives of the constitutional requirement to provide for a common defense — in the true sense of the word.
Copyright © 2010 Hillsdale College
Reprinted by Permission from Imprimis,
A Publication of Hillsdale College.
Imprimis, Vol. 40, # 1, January, 2011
Military Weaponry & International Security
China -- Serious Threat to the U.S.A.:
U.S. Foreign & National Security Policy
The Far East & U.S. Foreign Policy
Russia & Other Former Soviet Republics:
U.S. Foreign & National Security Policy
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three Page Two Page One
The Islamist Fifth Column -- America's Internal Enemies:
Disloyalty, Subversion, Sedition, & Treason
The Middle East & the Problem of Iran
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
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American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
International Politics & World Disorder:
War, Peace, & Geopolitics in the Real World:
Foreign Affairs & U.S. National Security
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Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
Counterterrorism & U.S. National Security
U.S. National Security Strategy
Brian T. Kennedy is President of the Claremont Institute and Publisher of the Claremont Review of Books. He has written on national security affairs and California public policy issues in National Review, the Wall Street Journal, the Investor’s Business Daily, and other national newspapers. He sits on the Independent Working Group on Missile Defense and is a co-author of the recent book Shariah: The Threat to America.
The foregoing article is adapted from a speech delivered by Brian on January 7, 2011, in the “First Principles on First
Fridays” lecture series sponsored by the Hillsdale College Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in
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