Those pleased with mid-term election results should be concerned about critical discussions missing during the candidates’ campaigns. The tone for the missing discussions was set by a president whose national security guidelines fail to recognize the greatest existing threat to our freedoms.
As pointed out prior to Election Day by Danielle Pletka, American Enterprise Institute’s vice-president for foreign and defense policy studies, “I don’t think we know where a lot of those who are likely to be elected stand on a lot of national security issues because national security issues have been completely absent from this election.” Thus, missing during most campaigns were candidates’ perceptions of where our greatest threat to national security is to be found.
The Bush Doctrine clearly identified the struggle against militant Islamic radicalism as the greatest ideological conflict of the early 21st century. But in national security guidelines issued after he took office, President Obama has sought to minimize this conflict. These documents avoid references to words such as “Islam,” “Islamic extremism,” and “jihad.” The rationale for these erasures was that only “a very narrow segment” of the world’s population is at risk of turning to extremism, so we do not want to “risk offending people by creating the impression that we think they are going to go that way, when in fact they don’t.” In other words, Obama’s guidelines sought not to offend Islamic moderates.
A great disservice is done to our country when national security guidelines based on concerns about possible offense to Islamic moderates—most of whom have proven unwilling to confront Islamic extremism—are issued in place of accurate, specific identifications of real threats to our national security. The result is that Muslim moderates continue to react passively toward Islamic extremism while the national security guidelines continue to “dumb down” the American people on the true threat. By failing to focus on this issue, the 2010 political campaigns, regardless of party affiliation, contributed to this disservice as well.
While the dawn of the 21st century saw US forces fighting Islamic-extremist organizations like the Taliban and al-Qaeda, one Congressional “lone voice in the wilderness” has warned that war with an Islamic extremist state may also be necessary. Sadly, although this warning was first sounded months before Election Day, it fell on deaf ears of 2010 political campaigners. But days after Election Day, that voice is being heard again.
At a November 6th international security forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said, “The last thing America wants is another military conflict, but the last thing the world needs is a nuclear-armed Iran.” In stopping the effort of Iran’s fundamentalist mullahs to develop a nuclear weapon, Obama and other Congressional leaders have been ambiguous, referring to the idea that “all options are on the table.” Graham, however, is unambiguous: He talks not about a limited US military strike against Iran, but about waging an all-out war. While idealists may take umbrage at Graham’s statement, realists should recognize that time is running out before Tehran’s religious thugs, who have threatened the world order, will soon be armed with the means by which to carry out their murderous threats.
Curiously, the issue of having the US go to war with Iran comes only three decades after Tehran began acts of war against the US. Starting with the 1979 US Embassy seizure in Tehran, the mullahs’ fingerprints are also found on the 1983 bombings of the US Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon, as well as on the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. After the US became involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran—which borders both countries—began feeding the insurgencies through its borders. Iranian explosive devices have claimed numerous American lives. Tehran also offers militants a bounty for killing US service personnel. And, despite the centuries’-old Islamic intra-faith rivalry between Sunnis and Shi’ites, it is believed that Shi’ite-dominated Iran may well be harboring Sunni al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
A non-nuclear-armed Tehran has been brazen in its acts of aggression against the US. One can only imagine what fate awaits the world community once Iran possesses nuclear weapons.
Idealists will adopt a positive view of Tehran’s willingness to meet later this month to discuss its nuclear program; realists will not, based on Iran’s track record of using such talks as a stalling tactic.
As the 2010 political campaigns suggest, the absence of voter interest in national security issues such as Islamic extremism indicates that the American populace has been lulled into a false sense of security by a President who fails to grasp the threat himself.
Muted voices eventually will make moot the need for any such discussions as Iran imposes the ultimate act of aggression—nuclear war—upon the global community.