Now that Obama has made his momentous choice, it is useful to recall that during a Democratic presidential candidates’ debate in April 2007, Biden was among those who did not raise his hand to affirm his belief in the existence of a “global war on terror.”
In this, Biden and the head of the ticket appear to be completely simpatico. This has been clear from the beginning of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign: analyzing an Obama speech at the same time that Biden was denying the existence of the war on terror, a Washington Post editorial noted that the candidate “does not use the phrase ‘war on terrorism.’ More remarkably, he doesn’t mention Islam, much less Islamic extremism — which Mr. Bush has described as a critical ideological threat to freedom inside and outside the Muslim world.”
Actually, given the Democratic Party’s position on the global jihad, it would have been more remarkable if Obama had mentioned Islam. And his new running mate offers more of the same. Biden recently offered some hope of insight when he declared that “terrorism is a means, not an end, and very different groups and countries are using it toward very different goals. If we can’t even identify the enemy or describe the war we’re fighting, it’s difficult to see how we will win.”
He then offered an insight into how he would identify the enemy when he identified the jihad terrorists in Chechnya — the ones who massacred over 300 children at Beslan — as freedom fighters: “The war in Chechnya is a war of liberation — it engaged in terrorist activities, but it is fundamentally different.”
Obama and Biden, once ensconced in the White House, would thus revert to the Clinton-era policy of seeing each front in the global jihad as a discrete liberation struggle to be bought off by the right aid package. Several weeks ago, CNN aired an interview with Obama in which the candidate expressed the opinion that Islamic jihad is a result of U.S. foreign policy failure. He blamed global jihadist activity on poverty — a popular correlation that has been disproved by numerous studies (quick: how many Haitian terrorists can you name?). But of course it is also the West’s fault: Obama asserted that “there has been a shift in Islam that I believe is connected to the failures of governments and the failures of the West to work with many of these countries, in order to make sure that opportunities are there, that there’s bottom-up economic growth.”
So according to Obama, the “shift in Islam” doesn’t have anything to do — or anything significant to do — with imperatives within Islam itself, or with changes in conditions in the Islamic world that have allowed for a resurgence of the jihad ideology. That resurgence is all because of the “failures of the West to work with many of these countries” — although we are pouring billions into Egypt and Pakistan and they are still hotbeds of jihadist sentiment.
Obama made a recommendation: “But what we also want to do is to shrink the pool of potential recruits. And that involves engaging the Islamic world rather than vilifying it, and making sure that we understand that not only are those in Islam who would resort to violence a tiny fraction of the Islamic world, but that also, the Islamic world itself is diverse.”
Wouldn’t it also be useful to understand that there is an expansionist and supremacist imperative shared by all orthodox sects and schools of Islam, and that some Muslims will most likely continue to act upon that imperative no matter how much we demonstrate our understanding of Islamic diversity?
Although he continues to campaign under a mantra of “change,” so far Obama is offering more of the same in a field where genuine, informed and careful change is needed more than ever. Neither Obama nor Biden show any sign of being aware of the global jihad agenda, and has to my knowledge never said anything about the jihad or Islamic supremacism.
When Biden says that we have to identify the enemy, he apparently means that we have to define them as various insurgent and nationalist movements, and find the right mix of concessions and aid to offer them in order to pacify them. Given the Islamic jihad agenda, of course, this is short-sighted, and time and events will demonstrate just how short-sighted the Obama-Biden ticket’s policy really is.