Monday, August 16, 2010

Advice from the left

I love it when people who hate the Republican party give it advice. This comes from Mark Halperin at Time:

Dear Republican Party:

Your moment is now.

This weekend, President Obama defended the right of Muslims to build a community center and mosque two short blocks from Ground Zero, despite cries of insensitivity from some New Yorkers and accusations of mischief from some pundits. This finally gives you an opportunity to add a powerful national-security cudgel to the message of economic woe you have been pushing as the midterm election approaches. (See pictures of America's Muslim community.)

The political potency of the issue is obvious. Polls overwhelmingly show the President has put himself on the wrong side of public opinion. Opposition to the new facility arouses acute emotion and creates near total unity among relatives of 9/11 victims, first responders, Republican officeholders, potential 2012 presidential candidates, Tea Party members, the Fox News–talk radio–Drudge Report echo machine and many of the highly coveted swing and occasional voters whom you will need at the polls to win in November.

Up until now, you have restricted yourself as much as possible to an economic message, eschewing social issues and foreign policy as you try to establish contrasts for the electorate between your brand and the Obama-Pelosi-Reid record. This is a smart, straightforward strategy, since worried voters chiefly are concerned about unemployment and the nation's future financial prospects.

But you also have been frustrated by the President's skill at limiting Democratic vulnerability on the party's traditional weak spot, national-security issues. Sure, Obama remains a young, inexperienced Commander in Chief with few discernible foreign policy achievements. But he has left almost no room for attack on his security record. He has shrewdly retained Bush's Defense Secretary (letting Robert Gates take the lead on Pentagon budget cutting); continued many of the previous Administration's antiterrorism policies at home and abroad, to the chagrin of some civil libertarians; engaged in a tough assassination campaign against suspected al-Qaeda operatives around the world; and emphasized the necessity of winning in Afghanistan, placing the revered David Petraeus in charge of the game plan. In 2008, Obama was the first Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992 to successfully play offense on national-security issues, and his bold choices and canny instincts have thus far served him well in warding off GOP assaults in office. All the while, he has adeptly dodged the Muslim issue, often a subject of slick gossip and bizarre innuendo, which you have wisely left to gather dust since the campaign.

Now Obama has given you an in. At a White House dinner on Friday celebrating the start of Ramadan, the President took a position. "Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country," he said. "That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances." This remark opened the door so wide that walking through it will be effortless. Even your usually tone-deaf national chairman, Michael Steele, could not mess this one up. If you go full force on the offensive, every Democratic candidate in every competitive race in the country will have three choices, none of them good, when asked about the Islamic center: side with Obama and against public opinion; oppose Obama and deal with the consequences of intraparty disunity; or refuse to take a position, waffling impotently and unattractively at a crucial time. (Read about the imam behind the mosque.)

Say what you will about the wisdom of Obama's policies overall, but his belated commentary on religious freedoms clearly was not done for political gain. Quite the contrary. the President knew that he and his party would almost certainly pay a political price for taking a stand, especially this close to the election, and with few prominent leaders, other than New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on the White House's side. The reaction since the President spoke has been vitriolic and unvarying from leading voices on the right, painting Obama as weak, naive, out of touch and obtuse (not to mention flip-flopping, after his confusing follow-up comments Saturday suggested to some that he might be hedging his position).

Yes, Republicans, you can take advantage of this heated circumstance, backed by the families of the 9/11 victims, in their most emotional return to the public stage since 2001.

But please don't do it. There are a handful of good reasons to oppose allowing the Islamic center to be built so close to Ground Zero, particularly the family opposition and the availability of other, less raw locations. But what is happening now — the misinformation about the center and its supporters; the open declarations of war on Islam on talk radio, the Internet and other forums; the painful divisions propelled by all the overheated rhetoric — is not worth whatever political gain your party might achieve.

It isn't clear how the battle over the proposed center should or will end. But two things are profoundly clear: Republicans have a strong chance to win the midterm elections without picking a fight over President Obama's measured words. And a national political fight conducted on the terms we have seen in the past few days will lead to a chain reaction at home and abroad that will have one winner — the very extreme and violent jihadists we all can claim as our true enemy.

As I said, Republicans, this is your moment. As a famous New Yorker once urged in a very different context: Do the right thing.

This isn't so much an attempt to shield Obama from controversy (he has already dug his grave on this matter) as it is an effort to protect Democrat candidates from having to deal with the issue.

Good luck with that (not really).

This mosque puts America in a lose-lose situation to some extent no matter what we do. If we block the mosque then Muslims the world over will see it as the US "oppressing" Muslims and being anti-Islam. If the mosque is built Muslims the world over will see it as a monument to Islam's victory over the Great Satan on Sept. 11, 2001.

So we are damned if we do and damned if we don't. So which outcome has the most potential for causing harm?

If we allow the mosque to be built Muslims the world over will view it as a victory monument. They will believe that the US is weak and naive for allowing their enemies to build a victory mosque on the site of Islam's greatest victory over the West.

Remember Osama bin Laden's parable of the strong and weak horses. People are attracted to the strong horse and that mosque sitting on Ground Zero will send the message that Islam is the strong horse and the USA is the weak horse.

It will tell every Islamofascist that despite their loses on the battlefield that they are still winning. Comparisons with Vietnam where the US lost the war without ever losing a battle will be made and they will be apt.

Islamists will take heart in knowing that as long as they keep up the fight that America's left wing will continue to corrode America's will to resist until our resolve collapses and we hand them the victory they could never win in a stand up fight.

But if we don't build the mosque Muslims the world over will feel that the US is oppressing them.

So what?

The "holy" Koran teaches Muslims that it is the rightful destiny of Islam to hold absolute power over the entire earth. To people who are taught from birth that it is God's will and promise that they enjoy total power and control over every human being in existence anything less will always feel like oppression.

When Christian Europeans drove Islamic conquerors out of Spain Muslims felt, and to this day still feel, that they were being oppressed. Ditto for North Africa and the Holy Land.

Get that, the Muslims conquer a nation in a jihad and when the rightful owners take it back they whine about being the victims of an unjust war of aggression.

As long as any part of the world holds out against Islamic domination Muslims everywhere will feel "oppressed". As long as one square mile of the earth's surface contains human beings who reject Islam and will not accept diminitude Muslims will feel threatened and denied their just rights.

The question is does feeling "oppressed" automatically cause Muslims to turn to terrorism.

No it does not. Muslims have felt that the world was oppressing them ever since the original jihad started my Mohammad petered out short of total victory over the Christian West. However Muslims have only taken up arms against the West when they felt that they had a chance at success. Whenever Islam has been defeated and punished it has tended to go quiescent for generations at a time.

What has awakened Islam this time was the Islamic revolution in Iran followed so closely by the apparent victory of Islam over the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Many Muslims see the fact that the USSR collapsed so soon after its defeat in Afghanistan as evidence that Islam didn't just win a war against the USSR but actually destroyed it.

Bin Laden is one of those Muslims and he clearly believed, and probably still believes, that Islam will destroy the USA next.

All that it will take to make Islam go dormant again is decisive defeat by non Muslims. We have achieved that in Iraq. We are attempting it in Afghanistan and if we destroy the Iranian nuclear program before they can produce nuclear weapons it is unlikely that the Iranian Islamic regime will survive.

Al Quada has been severely damaged with almost everyone who held a leadership position on 9/11 being either dead or captured today. Bin Laden may still be alive but his existence is that of a hunted rat scurrying from one hole to the next.

There are only two areas remaining which give the Islamists hope and comfort. One is the continuing possibility of a Palestinian victory over Israel and the other is the possibility that the American left will destroy America's will to continue the fight.

If American voters will turn out this November and render a solid defeat to Democrats and then turn out again two years later and send Obama back to Chicago (or Hawaii or Kenya or wherever) and give the White House and both chambers of the legislature to conservative Republicans who understand the nature of the global conflict we can begin the process of putting Islam back to sleep for a century or more.

The final step will have to be Israel, with firm US backing, announcing that it rejects the two state solution because of Palestinian refusal to bargain in good faith. When Israel reasserts full sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza the final source of fire under the Islamic boiler will be extinguished. Muslims will realize that their dreams of a global caliphate will not come true at the present time and will retreat back into sullen (but non violent) resentment as they navel gaze and ponder why Allah didn't give them victory this time either.

It won't last, but it will give the civilized nations of the world as much as a century of relief (during which time they can figure out how to deal with an aggressive and expansionist Chinese empire).

PS - Note that I did not address the possibility that Muslims will see us allowing the mosque to be built and conclude from our tolerance that we are really not so bad and stop supporting terrorist acts against us. The reason I didn't talk about that potential outcome is that it is not a realistic possibility.

If the mosque is built even moderate Muslims who don't hate us will see it as a sign of weakness not tolerance and the only likely outcome will be to cause them to reconsider their moderation. After all if it looks like we are going to lose the war their won't be much reason to be on our side.