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Cultural Sensitivity and America’s Continuing Crisis

Our relativism relating to Islam isn't winning us any points with Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, or here in America.

by
Abraham H. Miller

Bio

November 24, 2010 - 12:00 am

You’re about to be groped, X-rayed, and generally humiliated in the airport. The Islamic Fiqh Council, however, has issued a fatwa prohibiting Muslims from going through an X-ray machine. Separately, CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) is advising Muslim women to avoid pat-downs beyond the head and neck. Our culturally sensitive administration will undoubtedly acquiesce. You, however, will be groped and X-rayed, unless of course you show up at the airport dressed in a tent.

Meanwhile, the ever-vigilant ACLU is coming to the defense of Anwar al-Awlaki, the imam who inspired Major Nidal Malik Hasan, murderer of  thirteen of his fellow soldiers in the Fort Hood massacre. The imam also trained Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, known as the underwear bomber, who attempted to blow up a Northwest flight last Christmas. But al-Awlaki is still an American citizen, a status of which the administration didn’t relieve him. Despite his abhorrence of America, al-Awlaki, the ACLU argues, is protected by the values of the system he would destroy. From his base  in Yemen, his voice fills the airwaves with calls for death to Americans, but the ACLU wants to give him a stay-alive card as he hatches more plots to kill our citizens.

After stooping and genuflecting to the Islamic world and cutting Israel off at the knees, President Barack Obama has had such a positive impact on the Muslim street that its attitudes toward America were slightly better during Bush’s last year.

Cultural sensitivity has fared no better in Afghanistan, where the rules of engagement put the lives of our soldiers at greater risk in an effort to reduce civilian casualties. The administration has decided to trade American deaths for Afghan lives.  The Afghan people, however, seem to have engaged in the rational calculus that it is better to side with those who will be there, the Taliban, than those who have announced their intention to leave.

Obama has been continually indecisive about the Afghan departure  date, to the point of irritating our unenthusiastically committed NATO allies. Combat roles for European troops in Afghanistan are becoming a political liability. The Dutch have pulled out and the British will not stay beyond 2015, no matter what America does. But the Obama administration’s enunciating a departure date does show the Islamic world that we are not occupiers, just as it shows the Taliban that they can disengage, pop off a few suicide bombings, and await our departure.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is still unable to utter the words “Islamist terrorist,” preferring to engage in Newspeak about “man-made disasters.”  The real man-made disasters are the multi-ethnic states of Iraq and Afghanistan, lines on the map encompassing diverse people who have found familiarity breeds contempt and contempt breeds irrational violence. But more irrational is our hubris, thinking that we can suddenly transform seventh century societies into modern democracies amid the most virulent and transformative ideology on the planet, radical Islam.

The wars persist. Victory is as elusive as it is undefined. The spilling of blood and treasure goes on. We cannot kill our way to victory, and we cannot reshape the foundation of these cultures.

Our status in the world diminishes. For all the public adoration and media hype about the president, his last trip was a bust. The president couldn’t get the South Koreans to sign on to a trade agreement the Bush administration had previously negotiated down to the ratification. China hypocritically lectures us about the manipulation of our currency, while it buys up GM’s initial public offering and continues to buy up the world’s strategic resources with its surplus American dollars created, in part, from its own currency manipulation. In the Middle East, China is launching a unilateral strategic policy by replacing Russia as the new merchant of death.

And the Obama administration, having disengaged from Israel, has decided, in an act of consummate recklessness, to create a Saudi hegemony, to balance Iran,  with the largest arms deal in the history of our nation, sixty billion dollars. Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. This was the policy of prior administrations with regard to the shah of Iran, who was supposed to be the hegemonic power in the Persian Gulf, offsetting  then Soviet interests in that region. And we all saw how well that turned out.

So now we are banking on an aging royal family with the legitimacy of Weimar standing in the headwinds of rising fundamentalism, a family that has walked the tightrope of dealing with the West while exporting its own brand of Islamic fundamentalism to undermine Western traditions and institutions. We are afraid to confront them, for in our multicultural mindset one culture is as good as another.

The arms deal will require an increasing American presence in the Islamic kingdom, adding fuel to the fires of fundamentalist outrage. We will become a recruiting poster for al-Qaeda, and as we build Saudi defenses against Iran, we create an internal Saudi vulnerability to the inevitable war of the flea, the war of the guerrilla.

Iran is not going to fight a conventional war with Saudi Arabia. All Iran has to do is undermine the Saudis internally.  We are selling the Saudis weapons they will never use against Iran, but these weapons will become the means of the Saudis’ own destruction.

Our influence in the world declines along with the value of our currency.  We elected a president whom the world’s leaders do not take seriously. We are saddled with large unemployment in an economy that exports jobs faster than it creates them.  We are becoming Britain of the post-World War II era, but now there is no America in the West to step into the power vacuum.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science and a former head of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association.
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