Leon T. Hadar, a Cato Institute research fellow in foreign-policy studies, writes (abridged):
Even in the aftermath of 9/11 and at the height of the War on Terror, President Bush and his aides refrained from defining their Middle East agenda as a clash between the West and Islam and initiated numerous public relations campaigns aimed as distinguishing between radical Islamists and the moderate majority of Muslims at home and abroad.
Hawks who believe that the U.S. has an obligation to spread democracy worldwide, including through the use of military power, have the right to be critical of Obama’s policies abroad that, if anything, are based on the kind of realpolitik that guided the foreign policy of President George H.W. Bush.
Similarly, there are legitimate reasons for conservatives to oppose a mosque blocks from Ground Zero, although a commitment to property rights and religious freedom is not among them. And the relationship between Islamic religious law and American law would probably require urgent attention if this country were being flooded by millions of Muslim immigrants. But according to no less an authority than the leading anti-Islam scaremonger, Daniel Pipes, the number of Muslim immigrants and their progeny in the U.S. is “somewhere above two million”
Nevertheless, Pipes has been warning that Muslim militants “want to change America and make it Islamic.” Pipes, together with Robert Spencer, the head of JihadWatch.org, and Frank Gaffney of the war-mongering Center for Security Policy, has been warning for years that these Muslim radicals are attempting to assert the primacy of the Sharia over American law. These professional Muslim-baiters have been joined lately by more mainstream figures like Newt Gingrich, who has called for a federal ban on Sharia law, as well as by local activists around the country who have been pressing for measures that would bar state judges from considering Sharia in formulating rulings.
Muslim anti-Americanism and violence …is in large part a response to American attempts to establish domination over the Middle East. Interestingly enough, in his groundbreaking essay “The Clash of Civilizations,” Samuel Huntington warned against the kind of policy that would inflame anti-Americanism in the Middle East and foment conflict between the U.S. and the Muslim world.
The suggestion that Muslims are invading America and trying to force their values and law on us seems to be a form of projection bias — attributing our own impulses to the other side. We want to control Muslims in the Middle East, and we blame the Muslims for planning to control us here at home.
Pursuing a foreign policy that presupposes a unified, homogeneous, and anti-American Muslim world runs very much contrary to U.S. strategic interests. We would be better off recognizing that this imaginary entity, the Caliphate, consists in reality of many conflicting nation-states, ethnic groups, and religious sects. Some of them want to work and trade with us, and some don’t. But sowing fear of a monolithic Islam serves the interests of our client states, defense contractors, and lobbyists who press for rising defense budgets and further military interventions.
This anti-Islam narrative is also promoted by Republican activists and conservative-movement pundits who hope that like the Red Menace of old, the specter of a Green Peril could serve as a unifying force for the political right. But this kind of policy would only end up overextending the military, ballooning deficits, and devastating our economic base.
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