Is it “hawkish” to empower the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Middle East? What about arming Al Qaeda affiliates and creating chaos for Jihad to thrive?
Thanks to Tuesday night’s debate, the American people finally observed a substantive debate that highlights the false choice and phantom labeling of “isolationist” vs. hawk.
There legitimately are some isolationists who believe the Islamists are not a problem so long as we don’t “bother” them. But that is not the position of most conservatives. In fact, most conservatives fully understand the threat of Islamic supremacism. It is those who subscribe to the Graham/McCain/Rubio foreign policy that fail to understand the root cause of terrorism.
The GOP foreign policy establishment inside the beltway is full of people who are experts in jargon but are devoid of common sense and prudence.
The juxtaposition of their immigration policy to their foreign policy is breathtakingly irresponsible and both are rooted in political correctness regarding the problems endemic in the practice of Islam in many parts of the world.
Listening to those who subscribe to this ideology, they essentially believe we must have open borders, bring in all the Islamists to our country, then send our troops overseas to get involved in every inconclusive Islamic civil war. The one question they refused to answer, and unfortunately none of the other candidates on Tuesday deftly posed it to them, is what comes next in Syria? Iraq? Libya? Cruz came the closest to hitting on this point when he scoffed at the endless talk of moderates in the Middle East as if they were “purple unicorns.” But the problem with their foreign policy runs much deeper.
The GOP foreign policy establishment inside the beltway is full of people who are experts in jargon but are devoid of common sense and prudence. Think of it this way. Let’s say you are confronted with a septic tank of snakes, scorpions, sharks, and piranhas. How would you react to someone frenetically declaring “we must get rid of the head of the sharks?”
Anyone with a lick of common sense would respond, “Well, yes, the head of the sharks should go. In fact all the sharks should go. Heck, all the snakes, scorpions and piranhas need to go too. But why should we jump into the septic tank and risk life and limb to affect an impossible outcome?”
We often hear the canard “Assad needs to go.” Nobody disagrees with that. He does need to go. Putin needs to go. ISIS needs to go. Al Nusra needs to go. Hezbollah needs to go. The Islamic Front needs to go. The Muslim Brotherhood rebels we are arming need to go. And frankly, the people who support them all need to go. But therein lies the problem.
Undoubtedly, with the right leadership and non-PC rules of engagement, we can invest enough time and treasure into degrading the command and control of these terror groups and banishing their support networks.
But what happens next?
Evidently, we then discover phantom moderates who are able to rule over Syria and put the post-WWI hodgepodge of sectarian Islamic factions back together under those ill-drawn borders?
Neo-conservatives, steeped in political correctness fail to see that these groups are merely a reflection of a large part of the population and/or a rubber-band effect of other moving parts in sectarian civil wars we can’t control.
This dynamic is playing out in Iraq. Sure, we can work with some Sunni tribes to degrade ISIS, which has worn out their welcome in some areas. But in the long run, ISIS is merely a reflection of the Sunni insurgency against Iran-controlled Baghdad (brought to you by the Iraq war), the same dynamic that led to the original rise of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Senior leadership was taken directly from Saddam’s regime.
Neo-conservatives believe that bad regimes and terror groups are divorced from the broader Islamic supremacism supported by those who practice strict sharia in the Middle East. As such, they believe that if we just destroy those regimes and terror networks, we can install pro-American quasi-democratic governments. In most places in the Middle East, particularly Arab Muslim countries, that just doesn’t work.
Accordingly, to continue our analogy with the septic tank, what is hawkish with regards to the snakes is dovish with regards to the sharks. The best course of action is to stand outside of the tank from a position of strength, contain the problem from spilling into land and fight against any one of the nefarious creatures that threaten out interests. But that must be done without the goal of attempting to create solvency within the septic tank itself.
The same applies here. Nobody is suggesting we retreat from the world. We stand outside at the ready to protect our interests from a position of strength where there are easy. Prudent investments can be made which yield a positive result in the risk/return matrix. We draw a line around Jordan and the Kurds, arm and fund the Kurds, train the Assyrians and Yazidis to fight for their land. Likewise we create safe zones in or near Kurdistan, and give Sisi in Egypt any logistical support he needs. Once we act decisively to protect those protectable and worthy strategic interests, the most hawkish thing to do is to let the rest of our enemies kill each other in the remainder of Iraq and Syria.
Finally, for goodness sakes, we don’t bring the problem to our shores. The same politically correct view of Islamic doctrine that leads the neo-conservatives to believe we can spread democracy to the Middle East, ironically impels them to believe we can bring the Middle East to America through immigration.
In fact, throughout the debate, numerous candidates who subscribe to Lindsey Graham’s policies breathlessly decried a cool down of immigration from the Middle East, noting that it would prevent us from having moderate Muslims help us against terrorism. Yes, they believe we need to bring in more security threats in the hopes that some of the moderates will mitigate the damage from all the new homegrown threats. Never mind the fact they failed to mention the Muslim Brotherhood is the biggest threat to moderate Muslims in America. Then again, they can’t talk about the Muslim Brotherhood because that flies in the face of their democracy project and arming them in Syria.
The American people aren’t looking for isolationism or neo-conservatism. They are looking for plain conservatism, which if applied properly, is nothing but plain old common sense.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.