As seen in two recent books by counterterrorism analysts, the ideology of Non-Interventionism is gaining popularity with a segment of the American public. While Non-Interventionist ideology plays off the frustrations of some of the American public with America’s handling of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is the wrong answer to the confusion over global Jihad and Islamism. Two recently-released books by counterterrorism analysts offer a panacea of Non-Interventionism ideology: Michael Scheuer’s “Marching Toward Hell – America and Islam After Iraq”, and Marc Sageman’s “Leaderless Jihad”. The Non-Interventionist ideology represented by these authors does not critically examine the role of political Islamism in Islamist terrorism; therefore the authors conclude that an appeasement approach towards Islamism will improve American national security.
In Michael Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell”, he argues that Islamist terrorism is a mere reaction to American foreign policy, and he calls for a vehemently “non-interventionist… non-ideological” approach to Islamist terrorism in the world (p. 263). Mr. Scheuer fails to even acknowledge Islamism as an ideological challenge or threat (or even acknowledge a defined American enemy), arguing basically that Americans should do what Bin Laden tells us to do (pp. 149-150, 154-155), and withdraw our military forces from the Middle East (pp. 149, 232). Mr. Scheuer focuses his Non-Interventionist philosophy on trying to persuade Americans to abandon foreign allies, especially (but not only) Israel (pp. 148-150, 184-185, 217), and to abandon military activities in the Middle East (pp. 149, 232). Mr. Scheuer also throws a red-herring in his book to allow a superficial claim that he is not “totally” Non-Interventionist, by the offering of a scorched earth approach of “savagery” (p. 85-87, 196, 247) as an alternative to his Non-Interventionism ideology (against an enemy he won’t define). However, it is clear that Mr. Scheuer’s argument is focused specifically on persuading Americans to adopt a Non-Interventionist policy (p. 184-185, 263), which he also calls for in his various Internet postings on the web site AntiWar.com.
In Marc Sageman’s book “Leaderless Jihad”, he argues that “global Islamist terrorism” (p.37) is really now more of a “social movement” (pp. 46, 66-70), rather than the actions of Islamist ideologues to further an ideological cause, and that when the “thrill” (p. 35) of such terrorism passes, the Jihadist threat will too. While Mr. Sageman’s book is not as non-interventionist as Mr. Scheuer’s, Mr. Sageman sees the “use of military as a last resort” only (pp. 152-153), but the basic message is the same as Mr. Scheuer’s – America should mostly mind its own business when it comes to Islamism, for fear of providing fuel to the argument that America is at war with Islam itself (Scheuer pp. 155-157, Sageman pp. 98, 149). Mr. Sageman uses the term “Islamist” (p. 37) without actually defining political Islamism as an ideology or ideologies, and while his book provides a few paragraphs to address the Muslim Brotherhood ideologues and to address takfiri (pp. 37-39), he concludes that we should not “make too much” out of Islamist ideologies as in Mr. Sageman’s view “terrorists rarely execute their operations as a direct result of their doctrines” (p.40). In Mr. Sageman’s view, Al Qaeda is merely a “social movement” (p. 31, 33, 40).
In their Non-Interventionist arguments, neither Mr. Scheuer or Mr. Sageman draw a clear distinction between political Islamism and Islam; they simply conflate political Islamism and Islam to be the same thing. Therefore, they call for appeasing Islamism as an argument to avoid a war with Islam.
Both Non-Interventionist arguments address public concerns that are the result of failing to identify the enemy and to develop a comprehensive war strategy. As an alternative, Mr. Scheuer and Mr. Sagemen recommend “solutions” for American policy that would result in graver, more serious errors by ignoring the ideology of Islamism and by refusing to acknowledge that the threat of Islamist terrorism will continue, regardless of American foreign policy.
The Non-Interventionists fail to understand that two wrongs don’t make a right.
1. America’s Confusion over Jihad and Islamism Provides Fuel for Non-Interventionism
One of the great challenges in addressing the Jihadist threat is the ineffectively explained rationale to the American public as to “Why We Fight”. Without an official government definition of specific enemies and a strategy to defeat them, individual efforts to define the threats of Jihad and Islamism provide only an educational band-aid, easily forgotten by the public in the endless barrage of news stories on the limited effectiveness of American operational tactics in military theaters. The September 18, 2001 Authorization for Military Force only referenced a reactive military action against those undefined groups responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
The failure to provide a detailed definition of the enemy and a strategy to defeat the enemy, combined with uneven operational tactics in Iraq and Afghanistan, has led to a large portion of public calling for change in what it views as an endless reactive quagmire of foreign fighting. With the nation feeling secure from Jihadist terror attacks for over six years, the starkness of the 9/11 attacks has faded, and the lack of effective leadership on larger strategic issues has allowed such extremist positions as Non-Interventionism to be taken seriously by a frustrated public.
Furthermore, the role of Islamism as the root of Islamist terrorism is only addressed once in the 9/11 Commission report. The larger challenge of Islamism has not been addressed by American political leadership in a meaningful way, nor has it been widely recognized that Islamism itself, as an anti-freedom ideology, is a threat to democratic nations.
In the face of the continuing threats of global Islamist terrorism and the challenge of Islamism, the ideology of “Non-Interventionism” is offered by its adherents as a panacea that will provide peace in our time. Instead of defining the enemy and developing a strategy to combat them, Non-Interventionists seek to get Americans to abandon our values, turn on our allies, pretend that the enemy will leave us alone if we merely change our foreign policy, ignore the interconnected nature of modern globalism, and ignore what the enemies of freedom seek to achieve in the world.
2. Defining the Enemy as Fundamental to Addressing the Threat
2.1. The “America First” Denial of a Threat and Identifying a Scapegoat
Non-Interventionists have over time used a propaganda technique that involves dual tactics of denying that America is facing any type of global enemy and identifying a foreign scapegoat to blame for the concerns about any such enemy threats.
Prior to World War II, Charles Lindbergh used such tactics with his Non-Interventionist “America First Committee” organization to convince Americans that there was no threat from Nazi Germany and its fascist allies. On September 11, 1939, Charles Lindbergh sought to convince Americans that there was no fascist global threat that would impact America, stating that in the “European war”, “there has been an over-increasing effort to force the United States into the conflict….” which “has been carried on by foreign interests” and the “groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration”. In this same September 11, 1939 speech, Charles Lindbergh’s scapegoating also included blaming America’s concern regarding the war against Nazism on Jewish “ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government”.
In our current times, Mr. Scheuer and Mr. Sageman deny the existence of an enemy threat from Islamist terrorism or from Islamist ideology. While Chapter 5 of Mr. Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell” is titled “And the Islamists’ Fire Quietly Spreads”, Mr. Scheuer does not define Islamism as an ideology or as an ideological threat, but rather mocks the “wild-eyed bogeyman of the imminent success of the Islamists’ plan to establish a worldwide Islamic Caliphate” (p. 148) and mocks the “Cold Warriors” “term of choice-Islamofascist” (pp. 148-149). Mr. Sageman similarly questions the idea of any meaningful shared Islamist ideology (p. 40), and specifically warns against finding such an ideology, stating “[a] counterterrorism focus on Islamic ideology is dangerous” (p. 157).
Today’s Non-Interventionists have also found a convenient scapegoat in Israel to misdirect Americans from the real threat. In Mr. Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell”, he picks up the “America First” mantle of Charles Lindbergh, ranting about “Israel-firsters”, criticizing a so-called “neoconservative” plot that is a “blood-soaked, imperialist, win-one-for-Israel campaign in the Middle East”… by a “pro-Israel, U.S. governing elite” (Chapter 5, pp 148-149, 154). Per Mr. Scheuer, “U.S. support for Israel is costing blood and treasure” and “is a severe handicap for U.S. national security” (p. 217). On the Bill Maher television show, Mr. Scheuer has stated that regarding Israel, “I just don’t think that it is worth an American life or an American dollar”. In his February 27, 2008 Antiwar.com blog posting, Mr. Scheuer states that “pro-Israel American campaign funders will demand McCain, Obama, or Clinton defend the Jewish state by staying in Iraq no matter the cost; and each will do so because each operates under the delusion that U.S. and Israeli national-security interests are identical.” Mr. Scheuer is convinced of numerous Israeli “clandestine” and “covert” activities within the United States which drives America to war, and claims the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum as among such Israeli “clandestine” activities.
While less colorful in his comments, in Mr. Sageman’s book “Leaderless Jihad”, he condemns America for its “sense of moral outrage” (pp. 154-156) against Islamists, and points to America’s support of Israel as a “sore that continues to fester”, and that “the U.S. government is seen as siding too closely with Israel, and complicit in Israeli operations against the Palestinians” (p. 155). Mr. Sageman also condemns “the Islamophobic press” for reporting when an “imam express[es] sympathy for terrorist aims” (p. 161).
This scapegoating technique by Non-Interventionists is a well-known approach in using misdirection to prevent discussion of an enemy ideology or ideologies. Non-Interventionists require both denial and scapegoating techniques, because the Non-Interventionist ideology is only plausible to the American public when global enemies can be denied and the known information about such enemies blamed on some nefarious scapegoat out to mislead them.
2.2. Relationship between Non-Interventionists and the Enemy
Such efforts at Non-Interventionism in modern America have frequently been supported by anti-freedom organizations with interests hostile to the United States.
In 1938, Nazi Germany awarded Non-Interventionist Charles Lindbergh (along with Henry Ford) the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal awarded by Nazi Germany to foreigners. Charles Lindbergh refused to return the Nazi medal to Germany as he stated that it would be “an unnecessary insult” to the German Nazi government. Moreover, Charles Lindbergh wrote Nazi Hermann Goring to thank him for the medal, asking Goring to convey his thanks to Adolf Hitler. Charles Lindbergh met with Nazi German air minister individuals, and was used to convey propaganda on the invincibility of Hitler’s air strength; non-interventionist Lindbergh helped to convince the British government to appease Hitler.
In 2007, Islamist Osama Bin Laden praised Non-Interventionist Michael Scheuer for his writings that call for Non-Interventionism against Islamism and changing American foreign policy to address Osama Bin Laden’s goals. In his September 7, 2007 message promoting global Islamism, Osama Bin Laden stated: “And if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing of your war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer in this regard.” Mr. Scheuer is also enthusiastic in his praise of Islamist Osama Bin Laden as well. In Mr. Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell”, he lauds Osama Bin Laden’s “piety” (p. 165), and refers to Osama Bin Laden as a “political genius” (p. 154), and an “ever-reliable guide” (p. 118).
In the same September 7, 2007 Bin Laden message, Islamist Osama Bin Laden condemns democracy and offers Islamism as an alternative to Americans: “as soon as the warmongering owners of the major corporations realize that you have lost confidence in your democratic system and begun (sic) to search for an alternative, and that this alternative is Islam”. In Mr. Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell”, he similarly mocks offering democracy to Muslims as nothing more than a pointless effort “so Mrs. Muhammad can vote, vamp, and abort” (p. 254). Non-Interventionist Scheuer sees Islamist Bin Laden as “urging Muslims to liberate themselves from tyranny in order to attain life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in terms that are compatible with their Islamic faith” (p. 164).
Like Charles Lindbergh before him, Mr. Scheuer seeks to convey his enemy-approved Non-Interventionist propaganda via world television, global Internet, and his books. Mr. Scheuer is a professor at Georgetown University, a news analyst for CBS News, and frequently appears on American national news programs as a commentator on counterterrorism subjects. Mr. Scheuer has recently appeared in Newsweek magazine in a uncritical interview, has appeared recently as a writer in the Washington Post, and has a series of Internet columns for websites such as Antiwar.com and LewRockwell.com.
In comparing Michael Scheuer’s Non-Interventionism versus Charles Lindbergh’s Non-Interventionism, it is slightly unfair to Charles Lindbergh, as Lindbergh did not publicly advocate such Non-Interventionism after the nation was at war, let alone after the United States homeland was actually attacked (as Mr. Scheuer has done).
2.3. Definitions of Islamist Terrorism, Islamism, and the Non-Response by Non-Interventionists
Released in 2004, the 9/11 Commission Report provides a U.S. government official definition of “Islamist Terrorism” in the Report’s Notes, Part 12, Note 3, page 562. The 9/11 Commission report states: “Islamist terrorism is an immediate derivative of Islamism. This term distinguishes itself from Islamic by the fact that the latter refers to a religion and culture”. In addition, the 9/11 Commission report states that “Islamism is defined as ‘an Islamic militant, anti-democratic movement, bearing a holistic vision of Islam whose final aim is the restoration of the caliphate.’ ” This U.S. government commission document provides a specific link between “Islamist Terrorism” and “Islamism” that America’s political leadership has since failed to further define, clarify, and develop a strategy to counter.
Non-Interventionists leverage the failure of American political leadership to follow up on the 9/11 Commission Report by misdirecting the public to focus only on American foreign policy issues, and avoiding discussion on Islamism as an ideology. It is not in the interests of Non-Interventionists to allow identification of an enemy ideology, because that would undermine their Non-Interventionist argument.
In the case of Mr. Scheuer, his Non-Interventionist argument is really to define Osama Bin Laden’s enemies (in terms of American foreign policy) and so he avoids defining an American enemy. Mr. Scheuer is focused on trying to convince Americans that they need to be focused in distancing themselves from Bin Laden’s other enemies (such as Israel) (pp. 250, 261). Mr. Scheuer states that “the United States is not the main enemy of bin Laden and other Islamists”, and the Islamists’ “primary enemy” is “the Muslim tyrannies that rule much of the Islamic world and Israel” (pp. 250, 261). So with Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist, foreign policy-based argument that Americans only need to care about Bin Laden’s “primary” enemies, it is too much of an inconvenient truth for Mr. Scheuer to address the actual ideology of Islamism and its links to Islamist terrorism.
Mr. Sageman’s Non-Interventionist argument claims that since Islamist terrorism is based on “social movement” activities, the ideology behind such Islamist acts is not important (pp. 31, 33, 40).
However, the Non-Interventionist arguments and the failure of American political leadership to fully address Islamism do not negate the very real existence of both Islamism and Islamist terrorism, as well as the links between the two. Non-Interventionist arguments don’t even take into consideration the concerns of Muslims that reject Sharia, or that Muslims could accept anything other than Islamism. As previously pointed out, Non-Interventionist Scheuer argues that Islamist Bin Laden offers “liberty…in terms that are compatible with their Islamic faith” (p. 164).
In October 2007, Wikipedia provided a concise definition for “Islamism” as “a term usually used to denote a set of political ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system and its teachings should be preeminent in all facets of society. It holds that Muslims must return to the original teachings and the early models of Islam, particularly by making Islamic law (sharia) the basis for all statutory law of society and by uniting politically, eventually in one state; and that western military, economic, political, social, or cultural influence in the Muslim world is un-Islamic and should be replaced by purely Islamic influences.”
It is important to note that, contrary to popular confusion (included in that definition), Sharia is not the definition for “Islamic law”, as it is not “Islamic law” for many Muslims. To many Muslims, Sharia is not “Islamic law” at all. There are many Muslims who oppose and do not recognize Sharia. In a recent article, Alex Alexiev, Vice President of Research at the Center for Security Policy, points out that Sharia law is not “Islamic law”, except as interpreted by Islamists. Alex Alexiev states “shariah is mostly a post-Quranic, man-made medieval doctrine that is almost completely at odds with modern norms of human rights, political freedoms and international relations… and [s]hariah doctrine, though claiming to be derived from the Quran, is thus a politicized interpretation of the Muslim scriptures and other non-revealed sources” [Alexiev article, page 3]. Alex Alexiev further points out that “the word shariah is mentioned only once in the Quran, and not at all as a system of jurisprudence, but in its traditional meaning of the ‘right path’” [Alexiev article, page 3]. Moreover, Muslim groups such as “Muslims Against Sharia” are advocates against such Islamist Sharia practices.
Islamism’s anti-freedom ideology is a continuing threat to Muslims, as demonstrated by the numerous blasphemy laws, and abuses seen in Islamist law and government. The ongoing fighting by Islamists in Iraq underscores how Islamist terrorists have total disregard for the lives and welfare of other Muslims.
In summary, Islamism is a political ideology based on a politicized, theocratic version of Islam, with Sharia law as the basis for all aspects of life, government, and society. It is an “anti-democratic” movement, and it is another of the anti-freedom ideologies that Western society has found itself facing in the past century. Rather than a “nationalist” movement, Islamism seeks the “restoration of the caliphate”, and Islamism is an internationalist political ideology. Islamism has numerous branches, as Islam itself has numerous branches; there are branches of Islamist political ideology including groups based on Wahhabism and Salafism (Sunni), Deobandism (Sunni), Muslim Brotherhood philosophies (Sunni), and Khumeinism (Shiite).
There have been some outstanding spokesmen who have made the effort to identify the problem and challenges raised by the Islamist ideology. One of these is Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, the founder and Chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Per Dr. Jasser, “This tactic of terror we are fighting will continue to exponentially regenerate itself as long as its fuel remains. The fuel is political Islam – Islamism. Islamism is effectively incubated in a culture like ours in the United States which stubbornly (to our own detriment) refuses to engage political Islam because of its invocation of a faith. The American people need leadership that not only understands the need to bring freedom and liberty to the world, but leadership ready to confront our Islamist enemies with the pathologies of their own ideas – leadership which can separate personal spiritual Islam from political Islam and genuinely engage liberty-minded anti-Islamist Muslims.” Non-Interventionists have no intention of listening to the words of anti-Islamist Muslims such as Dr. Jasser. Non-Interventionists like Mr. Scheuer would prefer that Americans accept the Islamist propaganda message of Islamist Osama Bin Laden instead.
However, America is faced with twin challenges on this issue: (1) the unwillingness of American leadership to face up to the global issue of Islamism, and (2) the Non-Interventionist propaganda movement led by Mr. Scheuer and others. The strategic challenge for America remains addressing the impact of political Islamism — as an overall ideology — on Islamist terrorism (Jihad) and on our national security. Political Islamists and Islamist terrorist Osama Bin Laden share the same ultimate goal, as stated by Osama Bin Laden on October 22, 2007: “The greater state of Islam from the ocean to the ocean, Allah permitting.”
Regarding Islamist terrorism, America’s greatest problem has been an inability to see the forest through the trees – due to an endless monofocus on tactics, operations, groups, individuals — without clearly acknowledging the identity and ideology of our enemy and developing a coherent strategy to defeat them. It is this flurry of confusion in the weeds that is leveraged by the Non-Interventionist appeasement argument. And in doing so, the Non-Interventionists have to convince America that it has no global enemy, despite the reality of the 9/11 attacks that we saw with our own eyes.
2.4. Non-Interventionist Logical Contortions to Avoid Naming an Enemy
Non-Interventionists approach the issue of national defense with a fixed agenda – denying that there is a need for America to have global military or strategic involvement in fighting an enemy. From that fixed position, Non-Interventionists will engage in logical contortions to avoid naming an enemy. So embarrassing contradictions will likely occur in their arguments, but these are readily brushed aside by the Non-Interventionists in the greater cause of avoiding conflict with an enemy.
In Mr. Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell”, he refers to Islamists, but won’t define the Islamist ideology. Mr. Scheuer mocks the idea of an Islamist caliphate as a threat, even though Steven Emerson has pointed out that in a previous book “Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror”, that Mr. Scheuer references such Islamist goals for a caliphate as being “found in the annals of Islamic history” (Imperial Hubris, pp. 141-142). In that same book, Mr. Scheuer inadvertently identified an American enemy as “some of Islam” (Imperial Hubris, p. 249). But Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist arguments were intended to ignore such missteps in writing. As his “political genius” Osama Bin Laden has recommended, Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist point and ideology is clearly to avoid recognizing an enemy and threat to America other than American foreign policy actions that may offend Osama Bin Laden and Islamists (Marching Through Hell pp. 148-150).
Similarly, Mr. Sageman’s book “Leaderless Jihad” recognizes the existence of Islamist ideologies (pp. 37-39), only to tell us to not “make too much” out of these as they do not really affect Islamist terrorists actions (p. 40), and to warn us that “[a] counterterrorism focus on Islamic ideology is dangerous” (p. 157).
To avoid close scrutiny on why such Islamist ideologies should be a concern to America, the Non-Interventionists have a ready argument that all of the problems with Islamism are due to one singular problem: American foreign policy.
3. Non-Interventionism: U.S. Foreign Policy to Blame for Islamist Terrorism
3.1. Occidentalism and Non-Interventionists – Islamist Terrorism as a Reaction to U.S. Foreign Policy
In his book “Marching Toward Hell”, Mr. Scheuer mocks those concerned about Islamism as “Cold Warriors” (p. 148), while adopting a Cold War mentality towards Islamism himself. In Mr. Scheuer’s efforts to promote Non-Interventionism, his argument is that Islamist terrorism is exclusively a reaction to U.S. foreign policy. Since logical contortion is inconsequential to the larger Non-Interventionist cause of preventing America from recognizing an enemy, Mr. Scheuer does not care that such reactive thinking is indeed a Cold War mentality itself. Contradictions don’t matter to the Non-Interventionist ideologue.
The term “occidentalism” is defined as “usually refer[ring] to stereotyped and sometimes dehumanizing views on the so-called Western world, including Europe, the United States, and Australia.” In the case of the Non-Interventionist arguments, occidentalism refers to the views that western ideas such as western democracy, pluralism, and secularism are somehow destructive forces in the larger world, as viewed by non-western eyes.
So to understand Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist views on American foreign policy, Mr. Scheuer’s occidentalist views on democracy, secularism, and pluralism must also be understood. Non-Interventionist Mr. Scheuer echoes Islamist Osama Bin Laden in regards to his contempt for democracy. As previously stated, in Mr. Scheuer’s book “Marching Toward Hell”, he mocks offering democracy to Muslims as nothing more than a pointless effort “so Mrs. Muhammad can vote, vamp, and abort” (p. 254), and sees Islamist Bin Laden as “urging Muslims to liberate themselves from tyranny in order to attain life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in terms that are compatible with their Islamic faith” (p. 164). In addition, Mr. Scheuer decries the value of secularism as well, stating “in the Muslim world” (p. 139) that Muslims “regard secularism as inherently inferior to their way of life and an affront to their faith, indeed, as fighting words”. (Mr. Scheuer sees no “hubris” himself in his speaking on behalf of “the Muslim world” or for all Muslims on this.) Moreover, Mr. Scheuer states that “[o]nly among the U.S. governing elite is multiculturalism an attainable goal” (p. 140).
With this occidentalist viewpoint, Mr. Scheuer provides a detailed argument that Islamist terrorism is the result of American foreign policy. In “Marching Toward Hell”, Mr. Scheuer calls attention to six areas of “indictments” by Islamists regarding America’s foreign policy (p. 149-150) that he insists on Americans keep “squarely in view”:
“1. The U.S. military and civilian presence in the Arab Peninsula”
“2. Unqualified U.S. support for Israel”
“3. U.S. support for states oppressing Muslims, especially China, India, and Russia”
“4. U.S. exploitation of Muslim oil and suppression of its price”
“5. U.S. military presence in the Islamic world – Arabian Peninsula, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.”
“6. U.S. support, protection, and funding of Arab police states”.
The basic thesis of Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist argument is that if America surrenders to Osama Bin Laden’s demands on these “indictments”, it will be spared from further Islamist terrorism. With such an argument, it is imperative for Mr. Scheuer to first completely deny the existence of any Islamist ideology or objectives, outside of a reaction to U.S. foreign policy, because the obvious question would be asked – what if the U.S. agreed to act on such “indictments”, and Islamist terrorism continued and/or increased? Such occidentalist, Cold War thinking by Mr. Scheuer is essential to make such his Non-Interventionist argument sound plausible.
(I address each of these “indictments” in part 3.4.)
Mr. Sageman’s book “Leaderless Jihad” makes a similar, although far less sweeping Non-Interventionist argument, that Islamist terrorism is the reaction of U.S. foreign policy, by ignoring the impact of Islamism on actual terrorist actions (p. 40), demanding that Americans lose their “sense of moral outrage” against Islamist actions, and insisting on “[w]ithdrawl from Iraq is a necessary condition for diminishing the sense of moral outrage that Muslims feel” (pp. 154-155).
3.2. The Kernel of Truth in the Non-Interventionist Big Lie
American political leadership must never forget the following axiom: “It is never too late to do the right thing.” Doing the right thing may be expensive, it may be difficult, it may even be embarrassing, but it still is always the right thing.
The Non-Interventionist argument is totally dependent on the unwillingness and lack of courage of America political leadership to do the right thing when it comes to Islamist terrorism and Islamism.
After the September 18, 2001 Authorization for Military Force and the initial military raids on Taliban and Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, the next immediate act of American political leadership should have been to unequivocally identify and define the enemy and its ideology, to further investigate the links between Islamism and Islamist terrorism (per the 9/11 Commission Report), and to develop a comprehensive global blueprint strategy on addressing both Islamist terrorism and Islamism. In recognizing that it was facing a global conflict against this global enemy, all U.S. military, law enforcement, financial, diplomatic, energy resource planning, and communications would be based on such a blueprint strategy to defeat the enemy. Any other military operations, in Iraq, or anywhere else in the world, would have to be evaluated and reviewed based on this blueprint strategy to determine if this was the most effective and appropriate use of resources to fight the defined global enemy behind Islamist terrorism.
It is never too late to do the right thing.
The kernel of truth that the Non-Interventionist big lie is dependent on – is the fact that American political leadership has not taken such a blueprint strategy approach to Islamist terrorism and Islamism, but has instead had a series of reactive-only, sometimes contradictory, actions in both military operations and foreign policy. Some of these reactive, operations-centric actions have confused both the American public and our allies. Some of these have created unnecessary foreign hostility. Most damaging of all, without a clearly defined enemy and a strategy towards that enemy, a reactive military and foreign policy approach can, at times, be inexplicable in terms of justification — because by definition – it is reactive, not strategically based.
In Afghanistan, as I have previously addressed, we have had one side of the American government launching military attacks on the Taliban enemy, while we have another side of the same government stating that efforts to mainstream the Taliban into Afghanistan politics would be desirable. We can’t effectively fight an enemy without defining the enemy, defining the enemy’s ideology, and developing a coherent strategy to defeat the enemy. An operational tactic that views the anti-freedom ideology of Islamism as compatible with democracy simply does not understand either ideology. There is no question that there are plenty of embarrassing tactical and operational activities in Afghanistan and in other parts of the world that provide fodder for the Non-Interventionist ideology.
But it is never too late to do the right thing, and disprove the big lie that the Non-Interventionist ideology is dependent on.
3.3. Churchill’s Lessons on Honor in Foreign Policy
The Non-Interventionist argument sums up to a craven “since we can’t figure out how to define and fight Islamist terrorism, lets withdraw from the world and make certain we don’t do anything to further offend Islamists, and pray they will leave us alone.” When facing an unknown Nazi Germany, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had the same idea and concerns in his day. As Neville Chamberlain wrote on September 27, 1938, “How horrible, fantastic, incredible, it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing!” (The Gathering Storm, p. 282).
By being so paralyzed with fear to determine what the right thing was to do, the British government went down a path of appeasement towards Nazi Germany, seeking “peace in our time”. As previously mentioned, the British government was in part persuaded by the Non-Interventionist Charles Lindbergh, who attested to false propaganda as to the invincibility of the Nazi air force, convincing the British government that appeasement was necessary, at a minimum to stall for time (The American Axis, pp. 173-176). But even after the disastrous appeasement of Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister, and proved that it is indeed never to late to do the right thing.
In a twisted moment of irony, Non-Interventionist Michael Scheuer attempts to hijack the words of Winston Churchill to augment his argument for appeasement towards Islamist terrorism, quoting Churchill in September 1936 that “we have a great treasure to guard; that the inheritance in our possession represents the prolonged achievement of the centuries” (p. 270). Based on this, Mr. Scheuer makes his occidentalist argument that this proves how “American democracy and republicanism are unique and largely nonexportable”, why American should take a Non-Interventionist position towards Islamism and Islamist terrorism, and why it should abandon its allies faced with this threat around the world.
In fact, Mr. Scheuer ignores that Winston Churchill actually addressed the challenge that Neville Chamberlain faced between appeasement and confrontation, war and peace, in dealing with the unknowns of such circumstances, and provided a guiding basis for future generations to consider when faced with these challenges.
In his 1948 book “The Gathering Storm” (pp. 286-287), Winston Churchill stated: “[t]here is, however, one helpful guide, namely, for a nation to keep its word and to act in accordance with its treaty obligations to allies. This guide is called honour.” Churchill goes on to state that “the moment came when Honour pointed the path of Duty, and when also the right judgment of the facts at that time would have reinforced its dictates.”
The Non-Interventionists would have Americans ignore the plain facts presented to us when our nation was attacked on September 11, 2001, and would instead try to convince Americans to believe in a Non-Interventionist policy of ignoring enemy anti-freedom ideologies that was craven even on September 11, 1939, when Non-Interventionist Charles Lindbergh tried to sell it. As Neville Chamberlain was paralyzed with fear in the face of what Non-Interventionists claimed was invincible Nazi military power, so Non-Interventionists would have us believe in 2008 that America should retreat in the face of invincible Islamist power.
Non-Interventionist Michael Scheuer writes that “[t]he geographical dispersal of our Islamist enemies also poses a daunting and nearly insurmountable obstacle to a U.S. victory”, that “America could not field the number of military personnel needed to fight an offensive war in every place in the world troubled by Islamist fighters”, that “the Muslim world outnumbers America by nearly five to one”, and that “the American governing elite have bitten off far more than the country can chew” (p. 190). In fact, Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist argument keeps inconveniently slipping in the word “enemy” in his writing, when in other paragraphs he keeps insisting that there is no enemy for America to fight.
In the end, a critical examination of Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist argument shows that is reduced to nothing more than a craven appeal for surrender. But Mr. Scheuer does not merely seek America alone to surrender to Islamism and Islamist terrorism. Mr. Scheuer also seeks to get America to abandon its honor, and to abandon its allies around the world to Islamism and Islamist terrorism. Like Charles Lindbergh’s well-earned Nazi medal, it is no wonder why Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist propaganda has gained the praise of Islamist Osama Bin Laden.
3.4. Terms of Surrender to Osama Bin Laden’s Demands
In his book “Marching Toward Hell”, Non-Interventionist Michael Scheuer argues in denial of an Islamist enemy to America, and he insists that those Americans concerned about Islamism are seeking “victory over a foe that exists only in [their] mind” (p. xvi). Mr. Scheuer argues that Osama bin Laden’s declarations of war (1996 and 1998) against the United States were “a defensive reaction to specific U.S. foreign policies and their impact in the Muslim world” (p. xiv), and America’s failure is in not changing its foreign policies to surrender to Osama Bin Laden’s demands.
Mr. Scheuer claims on the one hand to be an ultra-nationalist stating “the only country I care about is the United States” (p. 222), while on the other hand “the United States has no more right to exist than does Israel, Palestine, Bolivia, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, or Russia” (p. 28). This careless viewpoint regarding the existence of nations, some of which are American allies, provides Mr. Scheuer with his Non-Interventionist rationale as to why there is no dishonor in abandoning American global allies to fight Islamist terrorism alone. Per Mr. Scheuer, “America is simply in the way of Islamist forces and so prevents the attainment of their goals in the Islamic world; that is, to destroy the family-owned and U.S.-supported Muslim tyrannies that have ruled the region since 1945 and to destroy Israel” (p. 250). Per Mr. Scheuer, “the United States is not the main enemy of bin Laden and other Islamists” (p.250), therefore Mr. Scheuer argues that a Non-Isolationist approach to Islamism, and abandoning American allies, is the best course of action to ensure that Islamist terrorists will leave America alone.
Mr. Scheuer summarizes America’s terms of surrender to global Islamism, as America appeasing Osama Bin Laden on six Islamist “indictments”: “U.S. presence on the Arabian Peninsula; military presence in Muslim lands; unqualified support for Israel; support for Russia, China, and India against Muslims; theft of Muslim oil; and protection of Muslim tyrannies” (p. 98). I will disprove each of arguments for these terms of surrender in the following paragraphs.
Regarding “U.S. presence on the Arabian Peninsula”, Mr. Scheuer argues that American efforts to defend its ally Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War with staging of military forces in Saudi Arabia was an unforgivable affront to Islamists, due to defiance of “Muhammad’s prohibition against the presence of non-Muslims on the Arabian Peninsula” (p. 41). Mr. Scheuer argues that whenever the U.S. can ignore the needs of an ally nation, on the chance that it might offend any Islamist, the U.S. should choose the dishonorable path of abandoning allies in hopes of Islamist appeasement. The reality is that such an Islamist indictment of Americans on the Arabian Peninsula based on actions in the 1990s is nonsensical. American oil companies have been active, and invited into the Arabian Peninsula since 1938. But Mr. Scheuer would have us believe in the nonsensical argument that defending an ally nation in the 1990s was an unpardonable lack of foresight on America’s part in not taking Islamist sensibilities into consideration.
In terms of “military presence in Muslim lands”, the fact is that Mr. Scheuer himself sought to provide military presence in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, while he was with the CIA. Mr. Scheuer states that he sought “to do all I could to help the Afghan mujahedin kill as many Soviet military personnel as possible” (p. 57). As a known historical fact, it was precisely because of such American military presence welcomed in Afghanistan that many Jihadists gained military training, which supported the organization of Al-Qaeda’s organization. Mr. Scheuer asks Americans to accept an incredulous Islamist “indictment” by Osama Bin Laden that condemns the same “military presence” that benefited his efforts against the Soviet Union 10 years before Bin Laden’s initial declaration of war against the United States. Moreover, the “military presence in Muslims lands” totally ignores the historical presence of Axis and pro-Nazi forces in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, etc., not to mention efforts by Islamist leaders to create Nazi spy rings in the Middle East. The historical truth is that a foreign “military presence in Muslim lands” has been a reality for over 60 years. Islamists had no complaint or outrage when this military presence benefited them as in Afghanistan, or when they philosophically supported the ideology behind such a foreign military presence as with Nazi Germany. Mr. Scheuer’s argument calling for American appeasement on this Islamist so-called “indictment” is clearly, on closer inspection, based on nothing more than a deceit and a fraud.
Regarding “unqualified support for Israel”, Mr. Scheuer states that since “Israel’s survival is not essential to U.S. security” (p. 56), it would be in America’s interest to abandon Israel to appease Islamist goals “to destroy Israel” (p. 250). As Mr. Scheuer believes that the U.S. Holocaust Museum is a “clandestine” Israeli operation, his argument (repeated many times throughout his book) in favor of abandoning Israel is not surprising. Mr. Scheuer views that U.S. ally nation Israel has no “right to exist” (p. 28), and furthermore argues that American acceptance of any nation’s “‘right to exist’ is especially ahistorical when it is advocated by Americans, as it is a ‘right’ that they have never insisted for their own nation” (p. 28). (Mr. Scheuer conveniently forgets about the July 4, 1776 United States Declaration of Independence.) However, Mr. Scheuer’s baseline assumption that the United States provides “unqualified support for Israel” (p. 98) is simply false. This Islamist propaganda talking-point ignores the real facts: the United States has provided untold millions of taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Administration and Palestinians, the United States has provided weapons for Palestinian security (some of which have been reported to be used in Palestinian operations against Israelis), the United States has allowed numerous charities, NGOs, and American groups to provide manpower, education and support for Palestinians, the United States has repeatedly attempted to broker peace efforts between Palestinians and Israelis, the United States has been critical of Israel government actions, and the United States has sought Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas as a “peace partner” – despite his history debating the extent of the Holocaust. The fact is that while Islamist nations and groups raise funds for Palestinians to kill themselves and Israelis, the American taxpayers and untold American charities routinely provide funds for the health, education, and peaceful welfare of Palestinians. How does that translate into “unqualified support for Israel”? It doesn’t. What Non-Interventionist appeasers of Islamism seek to target is the fact the United States provides “qualified support for Israel” as an ally nation, the only democracy in the Middle East, as America would historically support any ally nation under attack. Once again, the Non-Interventionists depend on a false argument to appease Islamists.
Mr. Scheuer also parrots the Islamist “indictment” that America provides “support for Russia, China, and India against Muslims”. Regarding India, Mr. Scheuer ignores that approximately 3,700 Indians were killed in terrorist attacks between January 2004 and March 2007, and reports of 62,000 Indians killed in terrorist attacks in the 15 year period prior to December 2002. If that is how America provides such “support” to India versus Islamists, one would obviously question what level of support that amounts to. How long would Americans tolerate a fatality rate to terrorism equivalent to the reported 65,000 dead in India? But America’s level of “support” to India is clearly way too much here in the eyes of the Non-Interventionists. It isn’t enough that India endured a massive, bloody war with Islamists and had to create Pakistan. It isn’t enough that India has 20 times the terrorist death toll that America had on 9/11. It isn’t enough that barely a month passes without another terror attack taking place or being foiled in India. Clearly that is not enough for the Islamists that we should further appease, according to Non-Interventionists like Mr. Scheuer. He further recognizes that neighboring “Bangladesh is set to become a regional hub for Islamist activities”, which he shrugs off as something that “Washington can do little about” (p. 172).
Mr. Scheuer’s repetition of the Islamist “indictment” against U.S. foreign policy with Russia – ignores the Islamist terror travesties such as Beslan school massacre. In terms of Russia, and its history of terrorist attacks by Chechen Islamists on its subways, buses, planes, trains, and schools, what level of “support” is the United States providing “against Muslims” in Russia? Would that be the U.S. State Department’s complaints to Russia that “Moscow’s black-and-white treatment of the conflict” has made cooperation in the war against terrorism more difficult? Beyond the Islamist rhetoric, the fact is that Russia has historically complained about America’s handling of Chechen groups and uncooperativeness on the Chechen terror issue. That is a documented, historical fact that Islamist propagandists will continue to ignore. If anything, America should be doing more to help Russia with its Chechen terrorist problem, not less as Mr. Scheuer states. Mr. Scheuer recognizes the continuing threat of North Caucasus including the potential threat of nuclear component smuggling, but once again Mr. Scheuer shrugs off this challenge as “the United States will one day have to deal with a Russia whose diplomatic positions and national interests are defined in increasing measure by the demands of its Muslim peoples” (pp. 169-170). The defeatist nature of this Non-Interventionist ideology when it comes to a nuclear power like Russia is nothing short of suicidal.
Mr. Scheuer also claims that U.S. foreign policy is defective due to the Islamist “indictment” of U.S. “support for China against Muslims” (p. 98) as well as America’s “support for the genocides… Beijing’s against Uighur Muslims” (p. 231). It is hardly surprising that Mr. Scheuer fails to support such wild claims. Once again, the Non-Interventionist argument is based on a falsehood and an Islamist propaganda talking point. This falsehood would be readily apparent to any American who is aware that Communist China is anything but an ally and a friend of the United States, and that our political relationship with Communist China has long been “strained” at best. While Americans are rightly concerned about Jihadists in any part of the world, the U.S. is not supporting “genocide” against Chinese Uighur Muslims. The facts are that, during American fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the U.S. captured about a dozen Uighur Chinese Jihadists that have since been held at Guantanamo Bay. In 2006, the United States determined that five of these Uighur Chinese individuals were not terrorists, and they were transferred to a U.N. facility in Albania. The United States sent these Uighur Chinese to Albania rather than allow them to be returned to China for fear of their safety. The fact is that the United States repeatedly defied China’s request for the return of these Uighur Chinese individuals, and as of November 2007, one of the Uighur Chinese individuals was reunited with his family in Sweden. But the Non-Interventionist argument on U.S. foreign policy denies all of these facts and would have Americans believe the Islamist canard that the U.S. is supporting “genocide” against Uighur Muslims. Like so much of the Non-Interventionist argument, once again it is based on a falsehood.
In Mr. Scheuer’s condemnation of U.S. foreign policy based on the Islamist claim of U.S “theft of Muslim oil”, Mr. Scheuer defends this argument as “many Muslims entertained visions of what might be possible vis-a-vis their standard of living if a barrel of oil was pegged at bin Laden’s goal of at least $100 and the titanic thieving of their government could be reduced to the merely gross” (p. 150). Once again, this is more nonsense. Less than a month after Mr. Scheuer’s book was published, the price of a barrel of oil was over $110. Will the high price of oil end Islamist terrorism? Or will it provide more profit to Wahhabists and Khumeinists to fund Islamism around the world? Notably when Wahhabists get such petrodollar-based donations from wealthy Saudi princes, their first instinct is not to improve living conditions for Saudis or improve the standard of living for Saudis; it is used by Wahhabists to further spread Islamism and Islamist terrorism around the world. With all of the petrodollar oil profit that Wahhabists have received from oil buyers around the world, not to mention zakat payments on Islamist finance, such familiar victims recounted by Islamists as the Palestinian people – could have the best schools, the best food, and the best living conditions. The choice of Islamists to invest petrodollar profits in suicide bombs, in propaganda, and in hate-mongering – that is the deliberate choice of Islamists, not the result of unfair oil prices or unfair access to petrodollar profits. Once again, the Non-Interventionist argument is based on another fallacy promoted by Islamists to deceive Americans.
Mr. Scheuer’s final Islamist “indictment” in U.S. foreign policy is in regards to the claim of U.S. “protection of Muslim tyrannies”. Notably, he leaves such so-called “Islamist republics” like Iran out of this discussion. For an individual who mocks American efforts to spread democracy to Muslims, as nothing more than efforts “so Mrs. Muhammad can vote, vamp, and abort” (p. 254), Mr. Scheuer manages to simultaneously condemn America for defending “Muslim tyrannies”. Needless to say, Mr. Scheuer sees no logical contradiction in this. Mr. Scheuer also sees nothing but “failure” by the limited efforts at “democracy” in America’s defeat of the Taliban government in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Yet Mr. Scheuer also argues that America is at fault for defending “Muslim tyrannies”, as the American military overthrow (no matter how effective or ineffective) in Afghanistan and Iraq count for nothing towards challenging “Muslim tyrannies”. Nor is Mr. Scheuer concerned about were America challenges such “Muslim tyrannies” like in Iran, where freedom is crushed, where women’s rights are crushed, where human rights are doled out based on an Islamist Sharia interpretation, and where so-called elections are between anti-freedom Islamists. No, Mr. Scheuer is not concerned about that “Muslim tyranny” either. In Pakistan, the Pakistanis have just completed free elections, while continuing to struggle with Islamism and Islamist terrorism in that country. And certainly no educated individual would argue the prima facie nonsense that the United States is “protecting” Syria.
So this leaves Mr. Scheuer’s condemnations about U.S. “protection of Muslim tyrannies” to nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. It is a fact that none of these nations are a democracy. The U.S. government has been urging all of these nations to introduce some level of democratic changes. As shown by Islamist Iran, voting alone is clearly not sufficient for a “democracy”; democratic values and freedoms along with free elections makes a nation a democracy. It is also a fact that in each of these nations, they have struggled with Islamist terrorists in their nations, and particularly in Egypt, it has been active in repressing Islamists from electoral participation. Clearly political Islamism is not an answer to the growth of these nations, and while America has frequently pushed for increased liberties in these nations, it is also cognizant that political Islamism would only replace one “tyranny” with another that is much worse.
However, in Mr. Scheuer’s blind recitation of Islamist talking points as an argument for Non-Interventionism, he does not offer an alternative, other than his outrageous statement that Bin Laden’s Islamism will “urg[e] Muslims to liberate themselves from tyranny in order to attain life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in terms that are compatible with their Islamic faith” (p. 164). In fact, it precisely that Islamist ideology lauded in Mr. Scheuer’s statement which is the greatest threat of “Muslim tyranny” as clearly seen in the so-called “Islamic Republic” of Iran.
The challenge to the Middle East and America is to recognize that political Islamism is the root of such “Muslim tyrannies” and is anything but a solution to non-democratic nations in the Middle East. Not supporting an anti-freedom ideology that seeks to establish a “tyranny”, whether it is Islamism, Communism, or Nazism – is not an “indictment” against U.S. foreign policy – it is a definition of who we are as Americans. The final Islamist “indictment” on U.S. foreign policy by Non-Interventionist Michael Scheuer is also revealed for the nonsensical falsehood that it is.
3.5. The Non-Interventionist Abandonment of the World to Islamism
But these Islamist terms of surrender from Osama Bin Laden urged on Americans by Non-Interventionists are not enough. It is hardly just Israel that the Non-Interventionists seek America to abandon – it is quite literally the entire world. Mr. Scheuer claims that nothing short of America surrendering its position in addressing Islamism and Islamist terrorism throughout the world will suffice. Clearly his argument of appeasement seeks to proactively negotiate even greater terms of American surrender to Osama Bin Laden and Islamists than even they have demanded.
So Mr. Scheuer’s Non-Interventionist guidance on U.S. foreign policy continues to be littered with a series of defeatist recommendations and warnings should America dare to intervene in areas of the world where Islamism is continuing to grow.
In Nigeria, Mr. Scheuer warns that “where U.S. forces may have to intervene to secure oil supplies, the prospect of doing so in the Niger Delta may be the most appallingly difficult and bloody” (p. 174). In effect, Mr. Scheuer warns the U.S. to ignore a nation which has frequently seen Islamist violence, has seen efforts to attempt to institute Sharia law, and which represents a risk to evolve into another Islamist terror base.
In Somalia, Mr. Scheuer complains of how “trying to kill Somali-based al-Qaeda leaders” has been turned “into another casus belli for jihadists by endorsing the Christian Ethiopians’ destruction of an Islamist government and subsequent stationing of troops in the country to fight Somali Islamists” (p. 178). Mr. Scheuer apparently seeks to echo Osama Bin Laden’s July 2006 warning to America not to send troops to Somalia to fight Islamist terrorists. Moreover, Mr. Scheuer effectively seeks the U.S. to ignore a nation that has had a history of recruiting Islamist terrorists from around the world (including the U.S.) to help expand an Islamist terror base in Somalia.
In Thailand, Mr. Scheuer threatens that should America “be committed to respond positively to a Thai request for military help against the Islamist insurgency”, that “even the bare possibility of U.S. involvement in Vietnam-like jungle combat… would in turn draw other regional Islamist fighters to Thailand like a magnet” (p. 176). Once again, any where in the world where Islamist terror is having a significant influence, Mr. Scheuer would have America ignore it. In the past four years, Thailand has seen 2,776 killed as a result of Islamist terrorism in Thailand’s southern regions – nearly the same death toll as the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City. Not mentioned in this Thailand terrorist attack death toll is the grisly nature of the endless litany of decapitations, burning victims alive, and deliberate savage attacks on children, schools, elderly, and women. But Mr. Scheuer would have America look the other way regarding the Islamist terrorist crimes against humanity in Thailand.
In Europe, Mr. Scheuer shrugs off the growing Islamist problem as something where there is “very little America can do to help” (p. 179) and asserts that that it is “almost impossible for Americans to help Europe” (p. 180), as “demographic statistics” alone will allow Islamists to conquer Europe. In his defeatist discourse, Mr. Scheuer assails Europeans’ “manliness” (p. 179), while he argues for the surrender of the world to Islamism. Europe clearly does have many serious problems with Islamism, and it is well documented as to Europe’s demographic problems. But how does acknowledging this justify American abandonment of Europe? It doesn’t. America fought two World Wars to help liberate Europe. Apparently, given Mr. Scheuer’s philosophical embrace of Charles Lindbergh’s Non-Interventionist ideology, he views such past American sacrifices as a waste of time, as he shrugs while recognizing the growing Islamist movement develop in Europe.
Especially in Europe, ignorance of the growing Islamist movement is nothing short of national security suicide for the United States. The facts are that Europe-based Islamist terrorist cells were used in planning the 9/11 terror attacks, and have been used frequently since to try repeated efforts to attack the United States, especially with United Kingdom-based Islamist cells. In August 2006, a plot by British Islamist terrorists to hijack transatlantic jetliners to crash into the United States was foiled; had it succeeded, the loss of lives in the American homeland easily would have been in the tens of thousands if not more. In April 2001, British Islamist terrorists were in the final stages of plots against terrorist attacks in New York City on financial buildings, Jewish targets, and possibly the World Trade Center. In fact, British Islamist terrorists could have been the ones that succeeded in the first major mass-casualty terrorist attacks in the United States homeland, before the 9/11 attacks.
But Mr. Scheuer still makes a Non-Interventionist argument is that America can be secure from Islamist terrorists by appeasing Islamists and allowing their influence to grow around the world. Europe is just as acceptable a loss under such terms of surrender, as the rest of the world is – no matter what the direct consequences are to America’s national security.
Certainly, the U.S. has finite resources, which it must delegate based on a clear definition of the enemy and priorities in a coherent strategy to defeat the enemy. Such reality of finite American resources, however, does not justify the Non-Interventionist argument to ignore and abandon every area outside of the American homeland to Islamist terrorism and Islamism. This is nothing short of surrender. But to the Non-Interventionists, surrender is not a dishonorable notion; rather it is a practical tactic to achieve “peace in our time”.
3.6. The Non-Interventionist Demand for a Truce with Islamist Terrorism
Finally, as if Mr. Scheuer is seeking America to just sign on the dotted line of such surrender terms, he reiterates the value of surrender to Islamism. Specifically, Mr. Scheuer warns of the consequences of those who do not surrender to his “political genius” Osama Bin Laden. Mr. Scheuer writes: “[i]n April 2004, bin Laden had also spoken to the populations of America’s allies, warning them that the previous month’s attack on the Atocha train station in Madrid was an example of what al-Qaeda has in store for them”, and foolishly in Mr. Scheuer’s view, then “[t]he governments of Europe contemptuously rejected bin Laden’s truce offer, and al-Qaeda made its chief’s words good by attacking the London subway system on July 7, 2005″ (pp. 200-201).
Mr. Scheuer then goes on to cite the political misfortunes of those in Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Poland, and Australia – who dared to side with the United States. Mr. Scheuer crows that their political failures are the result of a successful “al-Qaeda policy result[ing] in… decrease in the will of U.S. allies to support American military operations against the group and its allies”. “[E]ach clearly advances the goals of the doctrine for international political warfare that bin Laden established for al-Qaeda; the erosion of popular support for the war on terrorism among the populations of America’s allies, and the gradual isolation of the United States” (pp. 201-203).
Basically, to make sure that Americans get Islamist Osama Bin Laden’s message, Mr. Scheuer underscores his point – surrender or else.
In Mr. Scheuer’s view, there is no hope against Islamism – America has already lost; surrender is nothing more than a pragmatic cutting of our losses, and all that remains is a craven appeal to the mercy of Islamists by America not standing “in the way” (p. 250) of Islamists to conquer the rest of the world. Yet as previously proven, this Non-Interventionist propaganda is based on a litany of falsehoods, deceptions, the leveraging of America’s confused monofocus on tactical operations, and, of course, an appeal to American fear and malaise. The Non-Interventionists seek to remake America into the land of the confused and the home of the cowards. Americans must refuse this Non-Interventionist defeatist ideology and these disgraceful terms of surrender.
Yet, the issue is not just that America must not surrender to Islamism and that it must reject the defeatist policies of Non-Interventionism. To truly address this issue, America must find a shared understanding regarding America’s identity, and recognize that it is the battle for America’s identity that is what truly empowers the Non-Interventionist movement. It is with a definition of who America is and what it stands for – that patriotic Americans can most effectively denounce and reject the anti-freedom ideology of Islamism and the appeaser arguments of Non-Interventionism.
4. Non-Interventionism and the Battle for the Identity of America
On September 12, 2001, could you have imagined that six and a half years later, Americans would be writing about and publicly advocating accepting terms of surrender with Islamist Osama Bin Laden? Let alone gaining praise for such defeatism by the Washington Post, Newsweek, the New York Times, and being uncritically allowed to bruit such propaganda on major national news television programs? While spreading a defeatist argument that is explicitly endorsed by Osama Bin Laden himself?
The magnitude of such Non-Interventionist appeasement during wartime, when your nation itself has been under attack by the enemy, is more than a Charles Lindbergh-led, “America First” isolationist phenomenon. The magnitude of a national presidential candidate such as Ron Paul espousing Non-Interventionism during wartime in America is more than a few outrageous books, speeches, and Internet web sites by former CIA employees. The root of this problem is much deeper; it requires an examination of the malaise and identity crisis that America has been struggling with since the Cold War, and a redefinition of our identity in regards to the global Islamist and Islamist terror threats to America and the world.
It is nothing less than a battle for the very identity of America.
4.1. The National Ignominy of the Non-Interventionist Argument
Given the enormous sacrifices of our fathers and forefathers, of American peoples for hundreds of years, to preserve, protect, and defend such commitment to liberty and justice – how dare any individual demand that our nation surrender to anti-freedom tyrannies such as Islamism. It is a craven disgrace beyond words.
The lack of political willpower to crush such disgraceful, defeatist dialogue through action and a strategy against a defined enemy is just a further ignominy to our great nation. It is a national imperative that all Americans must demand that American political leadership do the right thing, no matter how costly and difficult, in clearly identifying its enemy, in clearly defining the links between Islamist terrorism and Islamism, and in developing a blueprint strategy for all American use of resources to effectively combat this global enemy.
But to effectively come together, unified, as a United States of America, against such anti-freedom enemies as Islamist terrorism and Islamism, it is also essential to understand and counter the malaise and confusion that allows Non-Interventionists to spread their message and to keep us living in fear.
4.2. Source of American Malaise: Exhaustion from Racing Globalism and Complex Challenges
American business in the 20th and 21st centuries has required an endless series of globalist pressures that have filtered down to the American public in their life style habits, working hours, family commitments, and how their time is used. The endless frenetic pace of American workers in globalism has led to a decrease in reading, of fractionalized information media sources, dependency on sound bites, and on reactive decision making to keep pace with speed of globalism and global changes that increasingly affect the lives of Americans. Simultaneously, America has spent much of the better part of a century in a series of world wars and anticipation of such wars, concluding in a 40 year protracted “Cold War” with the former USSR. In the course of that protracted “Cold War”, a marked weariness in the American public found itself in a series of reactions that perhaps the Communist USSR was “not so bad”, and that perhaps military struggles such as the Vietnam War were not really worth the sacrifice in fighting the spread of the anti-freedom ideology of Communism.
Over the course of this period of weariness and malaise, the American baby boomer generation questioned America’s role in fighting against such anti-freedom ideologies. Some left the country to avoid military service, and some adopted a new language to critique concerns that the U.S. military was fighting simply for the sake of fighting. On January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower’s exit speech contained a reference to post-WWII America to be cautious about its military expenditures, warning of a growing influence of a “military-industrial complex”. This phrase and the oxymoronic use of the phrase “American imperialism” would become part of the vocabulary of debate during the ongoing military conflicts with the anti-freedom ideology of Communism in the years to follow. With 20/20 historical hindsight, it is clear that a centralized military response in the Cold War was a necessity to address the technological weapons threats of the Communist USSR enemy. But during that period of American history, that issue was still an open debate, as the newly adult American superpower gained its first lessons in balancing its inherent ideology of liberty with its global responsibilities.
But that baby-boomer dialogue and mentality would continue to influence academia, the mass media, and Americans for generations afterwards. “Vietnam quagmire” was the phrase used to attack any who would consider using American force in the world. In Afghanistan, American political leadership found it more politically acceptable to fight Communists via the Jihadist proxies, who would later turn on America itself. And the American defeat and withdrawal in Vietnam scarred a generation so much, that when the Communist USSR enemy inevitably collapsed in December 1991, there was as much puzzlement as there was joy. Among many in the baby-boomer generation there was also a sigh of relief that America had dodged a bullet in not having to fight an ICBM world war with the USSR. But the dialogue, language, and way of thinking among academia, the mass media, and much of the public did not change as a result of the Communist USSR collapse. There were no victory parades, no monuments to those who fought and dedicated their lives to defeating the anti-freedom ideology of Communism. Even the controversial Vietnam War memorial was a black, grim, slate of despair.
Outside of the short-lived tactical 1990-1991 Gulf War defending the U.S. ally of Kuwait, which Mr. Scheuer condemns as giving rationale for the Islamist “indictment” against “U.S. presence on the Arabian Peninsula” (p. 98), the post-USSR mood of the country was decided against foreign military engagements. As a result, there was no vision that recognized the need to challenge the anti-freedom ideology of Islamism. So despite repeated declarations of war by Osama Bin Laden in 1996 and 1998, the American political leadership was so affected by the national malaise regarding foreign engagements that decisions were made to not aggressively pursue Islamist terrorists in the 1990s. Islamists increasingly became convinced that America was no longer willing to fight.
4.3. The Depths of Despair in Confronting Global Threats
The deep and cancerous spread of this dialogue and thinking during the period of American malaise can not be underestimated. It is a fundamental aspect of why Non-Interventionist propaganda has successfully reached the American people, even during wartime. Once one starts looking for it, the malaise is like an ever-present virus infecting the nation, it is found in academia, it is found in the media, it is found in literature, it is found among political parties, it is found in the government, and in fact, it is hard not to find it. But identifying it is the first step to fighting and crushing it.
A typical product of the malaise regarding global threats is Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11″, which received American and foreign film awards. Mr. Moore’s non-interventionist propaganda film seeks to portray an America that is controlled by a government-induced climate of fear, and that goes to war only because of baby boomer-era military-industrial complex arguments. In Mr. Moore’s non-interventionist propaganda film, the war in Afghanistan is not to fight the Taliban who gave refuge to Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda to attack the United States homeland, but it is for ulterior corporate objectives, such as a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean. Not surprisingly, this film was popularly received among Islamists in the world, including Islamist Iran.
But the true depth of the malaise can be found in a 2006 propaganda film, sarcastically titled “Why We Fight”, produced and directed by Eugene Jarecki (who also directed the 2002 film “The Trials of Henry Kissinger”). In this film, Mr. Jarecki posed as a BBC filmmaker interviewing people about the Iraq war, when in fact, his intent was actually to get enough footage of film of American military members, civilians, and political figures making various comments, so that he could cut such comments out of context and make a film diatribe condemning the American “military-industrial complex”. Among those that Mr. Jarecki succeeds in embarrassing this way is Senator John McCain, who Mr. Jarecki then prominently lists as a “star” in this propaganda pseudo-documentary.
Mr. Jarecki managed to get clips of Senator McCain, a war hero who fought against Communism and who is dedicated to American values, making comments on the “military-industrial complex” and American “imperialism”: “President Eisenhower was concerned about the military-industrial complex. These words have unfortunately come true. He was worried that priorities are set by what benefits corporations, as opposed to what benefits the country” and “where the debate and controversy begins, is how far does the United States go, and when does it go from being a force for good to a force of imperialism”.
Even out of context, this language demonstrates the widespread reach of the malaise that America is facing that it must exorcise from its dialogue in using force to protect American interests, and that it must exorcise from its dialogue in combating anti-freedom ideologies around the world. When our war heroes talk like this, Americans need to realize that our nation’s psyche needs some serious ideological repair and re-tuning to remember truly why we fight. In today’s world, our enemy is not the “military-industrial complex” or “American imperialism” – our enemy remains the continuing threat of global Islamist terrorism inspired by the ideology of Islamism.
4.4. The Wakeup Call and the Failure to Develop a Strategy
On September 11, 2001, America received a tragic wake-up call on the threat of Islamist terrorism. For a short time, the blow to the nation cleared the fog of malaise that had long hovered over our nation like a dark cloud. Mr. Scheuer’s “political genius” Osama Bin Laden had miscalculated on America’s willingness to regroup, unify, and fight its enemies.
But after the September 18, 2001 U.S. Authorization for Use of Military Force, there was no follow through on defining the enemy, the enemy’s ideology, and developing a global strategy to address the enemy – with resources used on a priority basis to address such a specific strategy on an identified enemy. To date, other than the 2004 9/11 Commission Report reference on “Islamist terrorism”, there still remains this massive glaring hole in America’s political leadership in facing this global enemy.
In the absence of such strategic-thinking leadership, the fog of malaise found time to regroup and darken America’s psyche once again. An enervated America found distractions in endless debates over tactics, effectiveness of individual military operations, and arguments over whom or what the “enemy” was. Conspiracy theorist groups blossomed to debate whether there even was an enemy, or if all of the 9/11 attacks were indeed engineered by the U.S. government. In the ever broadening chasm of non-strategic American political leadership, the media, academia, and the public fell right back into abyss of the generations of malaise from which it had been awakened, and the same old dysfunctional discussion about American “imperialism” and “military-industrial complex” was reintroduced.
It is in this context that Non-Interventionists such as Mr. Scheuer dare to offer Americans with terms of surrender to Osama Bin Laden and the Islamists. But such advocates of surrender can only succeed if we lack the national will to demand that our American political leadership makes the decisions to identify the enemy, and develop a strategy that is focused on the Islamist terrorist enemy and its links to Islamist ideology — and uses resources to strictly address that strategy.
4.5. The Desperate Need for American Political Leadership to Define the Enemy
Both in our national leadership and across the nation, it is not enough to continue to straddle the fence on identifying the enemy and its ideology, which is more than merely “extremism”. We cannot pretend we have an enemy without an ideology. We cannot pretend that the enemy can be fought with only words or only weapons. America must have a strategy to do both – and a strategy that is based on an honest, fearless reckoning of the enemy’s identity.
Both the enemy and the Non-Interventionists benefit from such vacillation. The enemy wins from such straddling because America cannot get united in a cause to defeat it if it remains unknowable. The Non-Interventionists win because without an identified enemy, any military, diplomatic, or strategic global action can be condemned as not being in America’s so-called “nationalist” interests.
In these times that desperately require American political leadership on this subject, it is essential that Americans challenge those who seek to lead our nation on whether they can define the enemy, whether they can define the global strategy America must take against our enemy, and whether they can end the reactive-only operational tactics that have defined our efforts thus far. Americans must seek such specific commitments about Islamist terrorism and Islamism from those who aspire to national political leadership.
Senator McCain identifies the enemy as “violent Islamist extremists” and seeks to defend America from “global terrorism and Islamist extremism”. As previously discussed, the term “extremism” means different things to different peoples; “extremism” is a politically correct term that needs to be abandoned for something specific and precise. More important is Senator McCain’s use of the term “Islamist”, as referenced in the 9/11 Commission report discussing “Islamist terrorism”. If Senator McCain views Islamism as the root cause of Islamist terrorism (per the 9/11 Commission Report findings), then he needs to state so clearly and unequivocally, and explain his strategy to deal with the growth of global Islamism itself. Merely recognizing the dangers to our nation from “terrorists” or “extremists” on a tactical and operational basis are the mistakes of the past. Senator McCain needs to step forward and break with that past to clearly define the enemy and its ideology, and work to develop the strategy to defeat them.
Senator Clinton states that she can see “an America respected around the world again, that reaches out to our allies and confronts our shared challenges – from global terrorism to global warming to global epidemics.” But surely she must understand that for any true respect, America must define its enemies and also define what the specific threat to “global terrorism” is. Unlike the Non-Interventionist Michael Scheuer, Senator Clinton states that she supports “Israel’s right to exist”, but this “support” doesn’t mean much if she can’t define our enemies and develop a strategy to combat them. Moreover, while Senator Clinton states “you can’t lump all terrorists together” and “we’ve got to do a much better job of clarifying what are the motivations”, she needs to start with identifying the enemy, and explaining what her strategy would be to fight the enemy. It is disturbing that Senator Clinton perceives the past tactical, operational focused approach to fighting Islamist terrorism as an “ideologically driven foreign policy that is not rooted in a realistic assessment of the world”. Since this is her documented position, Senator Clinton needs to define what is “ideological” about a operational-centric position in fighting terrorism, and what her position is on the ideology of Islamism and its links to Islamist terrorism, as defined in the 9/11 Commission Report.
While Senator Obama rails against “color-coded politics of fear”, he needs to do much more in identifying the enemy other than identify a threat of “stateless terrorism” and of “violent extremists”. Senator Obama states that “[j]ust because the President misrepresents our enemies does not mean we do not have them.” If so, then it is Senator Obama’s obligation to correctly represent our enemies. But while Senator Obama recognizes that enemy “seek[s] to create a repressive caliphate”, Senator Obama fails to provide any more specifics. If Senator Obama seeks to represent change, the first change he must commit to is identifying the enemy and developing a strategy to defeating them, including his position is on the ideology of Islamism and its links to Islamist terrorism, as defined in the 9/11 Commission Report.
As Americans, we have a choice in our political leadership. We must demand responsibility of our leadership in identifying our enemy, in determining the links between Islamist terrorism and Islamism, and a developing a global strategy to fight this anti-freedom ideology. It is never too late to do the right thing.
Our choice is a choice that anti-freedom Islamists would deny other people in the world. Our choice is a choice that Islamists seek to wrench away from freedom-loving peoples in the future. And our choice in the determination of that future – whether it is one of hope in freedom or one of fear of Islamist tyrannies and terror – is a choice that we are empowered to make. Because we are Americans. And because America is all about freedom – it is who and what we are.
It is a choice and a historical burden that we must make carefully. It is a responsibility for Americans to understand why we fight.
4.6. America the Beautiful: Why We Fight
Despite what the Non-Interventionist propagandists would argue, America is not founded merely on “nationalist” values but on principles and values broader and greater than any national boundary – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” That revolutionary ideology stated on July 4, 1776 – that is the definition of our American values, and they are more than merely “nationalism”. It is this very ideology that defines the basis of who we are and what we stand for as Americans.
As Abraham Lincoln expounded on this idea: “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it. All honor to Jefferson–to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.”
America represents an ideology of equality to humankind throughout the world that challenges all tyrannies, all anti-freedom ideologies, all oppressors, and all those who would seek the surrender of human dignity. Understanding this fundamental truth about the identity of America and what American values mean around the world – must be an inherent part of being an American.
American political leadership must do the right thing, no matter how costly and difficult, in clearly identifying its enemy, in clearly defining the links between Islamist terrorism and Islamism, and developing a blueprint strategy for all American use of resources to effectively combat this global enemy. Americans make mistakes, but whenever we remember who and what we are, we can correct them.
Most importantly, the responsibility to change things and to correct our nation to get us on the right path to do the right thing is within our grasp. This responsibility in our American democracy lies with each and every one of us as individuals. We can and will make the difference. We can and will defy those who would have America surrender to anti-freedom tyrants. We can and will remain a light to all those in the world who seek freedom and hope.
The future rests in our hands and in our determination to never forget why we fight.