BEN WEINGARTEN

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Tag: Iraq

13 Interviews that Will Make You Smarter on U.S. National Security & Foreign Policy

Over the last five years I’ve had the privilege to interview some of the savviest thinkers on American national security and foreign policy.

These discussions have covered critical subjects ranging from the global jihadist movement, to Iran, Russia and China, strategic disinformation and EMPs.

Below are what I think are some of the most insightful and thought-provoking of these conversations on such live and all-too-relevant topics.

1) Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Heretic

2) Andrew Bostom, Iran’s Final Solution for Israel: The Legacy of Jihad and Shi’ite Islamic Jew-Hatred in Iran

3) Victoria Coates, Special Assistant to the President & Senior Director for International Negotiations, NSC for the Trump Administration, David’s Sling [Transcript]

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We’re All Infidels Now (and Forever): A Dire Message from Rudyard Kipling and Middle Eastern Christians to the West

Father George William Rutler has written a piece over at the Catholic Crisis Magazine worthy of the West’s attention, and therefore consequently unlikely to get it in these times of willful blindness and unblissful ignorance.

In it, he pens a critical passage linking the prescient poet Rudyard Kipling to the persecuted Christians of the Middle East [emphasis mine]:

[O]ne still might echo Rudyard Kipling: “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.” The Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, Amel Shumoun Nona, has warned from exile in Kurdistan: “Our sufferings today are a prelude to what even European and Western Christians will incur in the near future. Your liberal and democratic principles here (in the Middle East) are not worth anything. You need to rethink our reality in the Middle East because you are receiving in your countries, an increasing number of Muslims. You too are at risk. You have to take strong and courageous decisions, at the cost of contradicting your principles. You think that men are all the same. It is not true. Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand in time, you will become victims of the enemy you have welcomed into your home.

East is East and West is West. Yet the Wise Men in their wisdom outwitted King Herod and such wisdom, mated with self-neglectful virtue, melts all physical and ideological boundaries with a charity that gives hope to the most helpless. That is why Kipling continued with his ballad:

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

Jews have served as the historical canary in the coal mine of Western civilization, with the nation of Israel today’s first line of defense against Islamic tyranny.

But the unheeded cries of persecuted Christians in the Middle East are a harrowing reminder that Islamic supremacism’s enemy is Judeo-Christianity in toto.

We’re all infidels now, and indeed have been for all time.

There is a slow-motion global jihad being waged against us all, and we ignore the Islamic supremacist ideology that animates its soldiers abroad and at home at our own peril and to our own great detriment.

20 Foreign Policy Questions For the 2016 Republican Presidential Field

With the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination officially under way, I thought it apt to share a set of questions on foreign policy — an area in which it is vital that each candidate distinguish himself given the size and scope of the threats we face.

Below are 20 questions the next commander-in-chief will likely be grappling with, and should be able to answer cogently, consistently and comprehensively.

The responses to these queries would serve to elucidate the first principles of each of the potential nominees, and create a clear contrast in terms of their goals, strategies and tactics with respect to protecting and furthering America’s interests both at home and abroad.

1) Define your general foreign policy doctrine, and explain how it will differ from that of President George W. Bush.

2) How should America respond to the metastasization of Sunni and Shiite jihadists in the Middle East?

3) What do you believe would be the consequences of a hegemonic Iran in the region, and what steps might you take to counter her?

4) In the event of a nuclear arms race triggered by Iran, what if anything would you do as president?

5) Will you stand in the way if Israel acts unilaterally to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities?

6) What is in America’s national interest with respect to Syria, and how do you intend to achieve it?

7) Do you believe it a sound policy to arm Muslim groups in the Middle East given the historically negative consequences for the West?

8) What is/are the key lesson(s) of the Iraq War?

9) What is/are the key lesson(s) of Libya?

10) Do you believe the Muslim Brotherhood and its violent and non-violent proxies both in the Middle East and the West pose a direct threat to the United States and her interests, and how will you counter the group’s growing influence?

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Why America’s Foreign Policy Has Failed, From George W. Bush to Barack Obama, and the Antidote

America’s foreign policy is, and has been driven by fatally flawed, intellectually dishonest premises and principles for more than a decade.

As a result, since Sept. 11, 2001, our goals, tactics and strategies have ranged from wrong-headed though well intentioned, to wrong-headed and ill intentioned. If America continues to fundamentally misunderstand its enemies, let alone honestly define who they are, it risks losing its position as the world’s preeminent superpower, a calamity the likes of which may spell the end of Western civilization as we know it.

President George W. Bush’s crucial first mistake in this author’s view was declaring a “War On Terror.” In announcing that America was at war with a tactic — either due to a genuine inability to identify the enemy or out of political correctness so as to avoid having to identify a foe primarily animated by religion — President Bush’s rhetoric was incoherent at best and obfuscatory at worst.

President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush shake hands during the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas on April 25, 2013. (Getty Images)

President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush shake hands during the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas on April 25, 2013. (Getty Images) 

While designating members of the so-called “Axis-of-Evil” as our chief adversaries was closer to the mark, President Bush nonetheless failed to recognize or refused to acknowledge a central truth we continue to ignore: That we are the enemy of a transnational theopolitical Islamic supremacist ideology that knows no borders whose adherents serve as an ally of, and proxy for international powers with anti-Western designs.

In fact, President Bush explicitly disavowed the notion that there was a link between Islamic supremacism and the jihadist acts that it compels, arguing in the days following September 11 that Islam was a “religion of peace.”

We can debate the merits of this assertion by looking to the Koran and the hadith as well as the theological interpretations of these works by leading Islamic scholars, but this is merely an academic exercise. Whether or not we call Islam a religion of peace, more important is that while there may be millions of peaceful Muslims, there are also millions of believers who are either violent Islamic supremacists or their aiders, abettors and enablers.

The latter group seeks to unite the world under a caliphate governed by Shariah law. Corroborative data on Islamic views not only in the Middle East but in Europe and the United States is readily available for all those who wish to see it.

Bush and those who shaped his foreign policy believed that America could forcibly transform Islamic nations into peaceful liberal bastions, pushing Afghanistan and Iraq forward by hundreds of years in a decade.

Iraq President Saddam Hussein is shown in Baghdad in this Jan. 1991 file photo. State-run Iraqiya television says, Saturday morning, Dec. 30, 2006, that Saddam Hussein has been hanged. (AP Photo, file)

Iraq President Saddam Hussein is shown in Baghdad in this Jan. 1991 file photo. On Dec. 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was hanged after being deposed by American military intervention. (AP Photo, file) 

The de-Ba’athification of Iraq was done without recognition of the theopolitical Islamic supremacist ideology that reigns supreme in much of the Middle East in general, and in Iraq in particular. It further undercut America’s strategic interest in having Iraq continue to serve as a strong counterweight to Iran, based on the Sunni/Shiite divide between the two nations.

Many of our efforts under former presidential envoy to Iraq Paul Bremer seem to have been undertaken without clear goals, realistic objectives or even sound tactics. Much of the activity on the ground appears to have been chiefly informed by political correctness. Militarily, our troops report being hamstrung by suicidal rules of engagement that gave the benefit of the doubt, and thus the upper hand to enemy combatants. Finally, and most fundamentally, this mission was undertaken without a clear exit strategy.

However noble the aims of those who supported such a policy, and however much blame President Barack Obama deserves for not consummating a status of forces agreement with Iraq upon our departure, nearly $2 trillion — and more importantly the lives of thousands — have been spent “winning” wars and losing the peace, establishing Shariah-compliant constitutional “democracies” in Afghanistan and Iraq, and little else.

Freeing majority Islamic nations from secular authoritarians in order to re-make them as liberal Western democracies, and thus “win the hearts and minds” of those with views anathema to ours sounds great in theory. Yet practice has proven less hospitable.

Under President Obama, America’s war has morphed, with national security leaders – including our commander in chief – intentionally downplaying the size and scope of the threats we face, and denying the true nature of those who pose them, with deadly consequences.

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