26 Reasons Tom Woods Is A Hack (or, Why Courting Ron Paul’s Voters Is a Fool’s Errand)

Generally, I make it a point not to concern myself with the ramblings of Tom Woods, Ludwig Von Mises Institute senior fellow and peddler of dubious historical revisionism. But when his February 8 piece, “26 Things Non-Paul Voters Are Basically Saying,” appeared in my Facebook feed, I bit. As a non-Paul voter, I couldn’t help but be curious about the hidden meaning behind my own words.

What I found was that I blindly trust the government and the media, I don’t care about spending or the Constitution, want drug addicts to get raped, reject Thomas Jefferson, and prefer Goldman Sachs to the US Army.

Huh. And here I thought it was Ron Paul’s slandering of Israel, bigoted newsletters, Civil War revisionism, earmark hypocrisy, shilling for traitors and dictators, 9/11 Trutherism, desire to imprison Scooter Libby on false charges, and anti-Semitism that repelled me from the Texas Congressman. Good thing a genius like Tom Woods came along to so skillfully expose my subconscious motives. All without even meeting me! 

Woods says he’s “trying to understand the thinking behind” those of us who haven’t joined the rEVOLution, but it soon becomes glaringly obvious he’s made no such attempt, and is merely indulging a fanatical desire to berate those who won’t genuflect before his idol. Woods’ twenty-six claims about the non-Paulite psyche are an odyssey of deceit, oversimplification, and sometimes outright childishness.

(1) The American political establishment has done a super job keeping our country prosperous and our liberties protected, so I’m sure whatever candidate they push on me is probably a good one.
Ah, the simpleton’s favorite boogeyman: “the establishment.” Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, you know that there’s not much consensus anywhere on the Republican candidates—not among activists, not among pundits, and certainly not among some undefined “establishment.” The intense battle currently raging among Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum supporters is no sign of a movement simply marching to the beat of some elite’s drum. (Oh, and would this be the same political establishment in which conservative superstars Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin regularly praise Paul?) 
(2) Our country is basically bankrupt. Unfunded entitlement liabilities are in excess of twice world GDP. Therefore, it’s a good idea to vote for someone who offers no specific spending cuts of any kind.

(3) Vague promises to cut spending are good enough for me, even though they have always resulted in higher spending in the past.
The idea that Ron Paul is any better than his competitors on spending is dubious. While it sounds good on the stump to say you’ll abolish five departments, you’d think an undertaking of that magnitude would require some discussion as to how. More importantly, though, Paul doesn’t have much of an entitlement reform plan, either; in fact, he’s campaigning on the fiscally-fraudulent promise that if we just take a hatchet to military spending and close down military bases left and right, we won’t have to cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security at all.
(4) I prefer a candidate who plays to the crowd, instead of having the courage to tell his audience things they may not want to hear.
Yet it somehow isn’t the epitome of telling people what they want to hear to promise that we can keep the federal goodies flowing if we simply bring the troops home and stop all that icky fighting. As far as playing to crowds goes, Ron Paul is in a class by himself. After all, this is the author of those deranged newsletters which multiple sources indicate were specifically meant to exploit bigotry and paranoia. Ron Paul is unique among modern politicians in that there’s no crowd he won’t play to, no matter how evil, irrational, or destructive.
(5) I am deeply concerned about spending. Therefore, I would like to vote for someone who supported Medicare Part D, thereby adding $7 trillion to Medicare’s unfunded liabilities.
First, see above about Paul and Medicare. Second, Medicare Part D may well be a mark against Gingrich and Santorum (though not Romney), but to berate people for supporting candidates with Shortcoming X or Bad Position Y, which Woods repeats throughout the column, simply won’t do.

The four Republican candidates don’t exist in a vacuum, and they aren’t running against some Platonic ideal of the perfect conservative or constitutionalist. Unless you stay home on Election Day, it’s impossible to avoid picking a candidate who doesn’t have at least one position that many people will find objectionable. Ron Paul has many such positions, and it would be just as easy to write a similar list of  “26 Things Paul Voters Are Basically Saying,” full of propositions that Tom Woods would never agree to.

Candidate selection is a matter of weighing imperfect alternatives, and choosing the one you believe has the most strengths and/or fewest shortcomings. Most rational people understand that your choice of candidate doesn’t mean you endorse those shortcomings.
(6) I am opposed to bailouts. Therefore, I will vote for a candidate who supported TARP.
Santorum opposed TARP. Other than that, see (5).
(7) The federal government is much too involved in education, where it has no constitutional role. Therefore, I will vote for a candidate who supported expanding the Department of Education and favored the No Child Left Behind Act.
See (5).
(8) Even though practically everyone was caught by surprise in the 2008 financial crisis, which we are still reeling from, it’s a good idea not to vote for the one man in politics who predicted exactly what was bound to unfold, all the way back in 2001.
While Santorum’s record here is imperfect, it’s worth noting that he opposed Dodd-Frank and sounded the alarm on Fannie & Freddie back in 2005. Beyond that, see (5).
(9) I am not impressed by a candidate who inspires people, especially young ones, to read the great economists and political philosophers.
I am not impressed by a candidate who miseducates America’s youth on the American Founding, the Civil War, the history of US intervention, and radical Islam.
(10) I am concerned about taxes. Therefore, I will not vote for the one candidate who has never supported a tax increase.
That’s not entirely true—Paul signed a letter affirming that tax increases must be on the table to get the debt under control. Beyond that, see (5).
(11) I believe it is conservative to support bringing the Enlightenment to Afghanistan via military intervention.
Here’s where Woods stops even pretending to care about the truth. While it’s fair to say that the Bush Administration and many conservatives were overly optimistic about the power of free elections to transform societies like Afghanistan, it’s not at all fair to suggest that conservatives were ever out to “bring the Enlightenment” to the Middle East. The Afghanistan War that Paul voted for was motivated by the Taliban’s refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden. If they had given him up, there wouldn’t have been a military intervention.
(12) Even though I lost half my retirement portfolio when the economy crashed from the sugar high the Federal Reserve’s artificially low interest rates put it on, I would like to vote for someone who is not really interested in the Federal Reserve.
For what it’s worth, Gingrich is very interested in the Federal Reserve these days. Beyond that, see (5).
(13) Even though 50 years of the embargo on Cuba did nothing to undermine Fidel Castro, and in fact handed him a perfect excuse for all the failures of socialism, I favor continuing this policy.
Another recurring pattern among Paulites: taking dictators’ propaganda at face value and suggesting we let it dictate US policy. It never seems to occur to these guys that, thanks to little things like state-run media, these PR battles are largely out of our hands. However ineffective the embargo may be, it’s doubtful that lifting it, or increasing tourism and diplomacy with Cuba, will improve things. On the whole, the plight of Castro’s Cuba is yet another issue Paul is clueless on.
(14) If someone has a drug problem, prison rape is the best solution I can think of.
I sincerely hope the mental faculties of the average American aren’t so far gone that I have to spell out how this is so insipidly demagogic. It’s also based on a myth [PDF link]—the overwhelming majority of federal drug convictions are for trafficking, not use or possession.
(15) Even though the Constitution had to be amended to allow for alcohol prohibition, and even though I claim to care about the Constitution, I don’t mind that there’s no constitutional authorization for the war on drugs, and I will punish at the polls anyone who favors the constitutional solution of returning the issue to the states.
Again, see (5). And while Paul’s right that drugs shouldn’t be a national issue, his arguments sure sound like he also wants states to legalize them.
(16) I believe only a “liberal” would think it was inhumane to keep essential items out of Iraq in the 1990s, even though one of the first people to protest this policy was Pat Buchanan.
American sanctions against Iraq didn’t starve the Iraqi people; Saddam Hussein did. America, along with the rest of the international community, attempted to deliver humanitarian aid to Iraqi civilians through the United Nations’ Oil for Food Program, but Saddam stole billions of dollars from the program and used it to bribe politicians and fund terrorism.
(17) The Brookings Institution says Newt Gingrich’s 1994 Contract with America was an insignificant nibbling around the edges. I favor people who support insignificant nibbling around the edges, as long as they occasionally trick me with a nice speech.
See (3) and (5).
(18) I am deeply concerned about radical Islam, so it was a good idea to depose the secular Saddam Hussein — who was so despised by Islamists that Osama bin Laden himself offered to fight against him in the 1991 Persian Gulf War — and replace him with a Shiite regime friendly with Iran, while also bringing about a new Iraqi constitution that makes Islam the state religion and forbids any law that contradicts its teachings.
Appeasement types love the talking point about Hussein’s secularism, because on the surface it seems to indicate that he couldn’t possibly have aided theocratic terrorists. But the empirical record doesn’t lie: Saddam’s Iraq was an active state sponsor of international Islamic terrorism. And while I actually agree that history won’t be kind to Bush’s handling of postwar Iraq, does anybody doubt that if Bush had taken stronger measures to install a more pro-Western, less Iran-sympathetic government in Iraq, Paul would condemn that, too?
(19) Indefinite detention for U.S. citizens seems like nothing to be worried about, especially since our political class is so trustworthy that it could never abuse such a power.
As Andy McCarthy expertly explains, this is a gross misreading of the situation. Indefinite detention of US citizens in wartime is well within the confines of the Constitution, current law strictly and expressly limits which citizens may be detained, and citizen detainees retain robust legal protection via habeas corpus petitions. In short, there’s no blind trust of the government required, Mr. Woods.
(20) Following up on (19), I believe Thomas Jefferson was just being paranoid when he said, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
Jefferson also said:
A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.
Cherry-picking is fun, isn’t it?
(21) Even though the war in Iraq was based on crude propaganda I would have laughed at if the Soviet Union had peddled it, and even though the result has been hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, four million people displaced, trillions of dollars down the drain, tens of thousands of serious injuries among American servicemen and an epidemic of suicide throughout the military, not to mention the ruination of America’s reputation in the world, I see no reason to be skeptical when the same people who peddled that fiasco urge me to support yet another war as my country is going bankrupt.
It never ceases to amaze me how much people with PhDs can get wrong in so little space:
  • The truth about the Iraq War is that we were not lied to—the pre-war consensus that Saddam was a threat spanned both parties, two administrations, and multiple foreign nations; independent postwar investigations determined that the intelligence was not manipulated; and, believe it or not, we did find WMDs.
  • Far too many Iraqi civilians have been killed, which may also be justly laid at the feet of Bush’s inept postwar strategy. But lying about how many Iraqis died as Paul does is another matter entirely.
  • Nobody is pushing for another war in Iran. The other candidates simply insist on keeping military action on the table as a last-ditch option for keeping Iran from going nuclear—which, if you understand the threat Iran poses, is far preferable to Paul’s shameless pro-Iran propagandizing.
(22) I do not trust the media. But when the media tells me I am not to support Ron Paul, who says things he is not allowed to say, I will comply.

(23) I know the media will smear or marginalize anyone who would really fix this country. But when the media smears and marginalizes Ron Paul, I will draw no conclusion from this.
More sheer delusion. For years, Paul was one of the media’s favorite Republicans because he dutifully repeated all of their anti-Bush, anti-war propaganda. What does Woods make of no less a left-winger than Rachel Maddow sticking up for him? I assume the main “smear” Woods has in mind is the newsletter controversy, but the available evidence is clear: the newsletters are indefensible, and Paul likely knew exactly what was going on. Even so, the media has largely given him a pass, with the harshest treatment being an entirely fair interview Paul walked out on in a huff. The why is obvious: most MSM-ers figure Paul isn’t worth the trouble to destroy because he’ll never be president anyway, and letting him get the nomination would the godsend they don’t dare hope for, because he gives them the ultimate opportunity to sell the narrative that conservatives are bigoted crackpots.
(24) I want to be spoken to like this: “My fellow Americans, you are the awesomest of the awesome, and the only reason anyone in the world might be unhappy with your government is because of your sheer awesomeness.”
I would call this a straw-man argument, but usually straw-man arguments at least sound somewhat like something people are actually saying. This sounds more like something you’d hear in a schoolyard tantrum.
(25) I think it’s a good idea to vote for Mitt Romney, whose top three donors are Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and Morgan Stanley, and a bad idea to vote for Ron Paul, whose top three donors are the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Air Force.
Actually, if you dig into the numbers, Paul’s claim to be the military’s favored candidate is misleading at best. And it never ceases to amaze me how tone-deaf Paulites are about their guy’s weaknesses, and how carelessly they play right into critics’ arguments. If Woods wants to open the door to guilt by association, then he also has to account for their guy’s popularity with David Duke, Stormfront, the American Communist Party, and numerous other assorted neo-Nazis, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and anti-Semites.
(26) I have not been exploited enough by the cozy relationship between large financial firms and the U.S. government, and I would like to see it continue.
If Woods wants to make a case that Romney and Santorum are shills for large, exploitative financial firms, he’ll have to do better than this. Maybe he’s got Gingrich, but to that I’ll once more refer readers back to (5). I’ll take an apologist for Freddie Mac over an apologist for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad any day of the week.    

Tom Woods embodies everything that’s wrong with the Ron Paul rEVOLution: its dishonesty and hypocrisy, its selective image of the American Founding relentlessly promoted as gospel, and the endless disgraces it’s willing to overlook while simultaneously denigrating all others for much lesser offenses. And while trying to talk sense into a hack like Woods would be an exercise in futility, there’s a lesson here everyone else should heed.

Conservatives sometimes argue that we need to play nice with Paul and figure out a way to bring his voters into the GOP fold. But if the sheer irrationality on display here doesn’t prove any such attempt to be a fool’s errand, then the seething contempt for the very thought of backing anyone else should. These guys were never part of the conservative coalition to begin with; they’re hopelessly infatuated with an America that never existed, which in their minds Republicans have betrayed just as fully as Democrats. 

No significant percentage of them will consider voting for a normal Republican, and the only way to catch their attention would be to emulate the worst aspects of Ron Paul’s ideology. What good is it to win some voters if we lose ourselves in the process?

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Chris Christie and His Islamist Pals

Here’s recent video New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie angrily denouncing the critics of one of his judicial nominees, Sohail Mohammed, as Islamophobes who are groundlessly smearing a good patriot based on his religious background.
Oh really? That’s not the impression I got from Jonathan Tobin’s January write-up on Mohammed:
Mohammed is mainly known for the fact that he was the defense attorney for Muslims who were arrested in the wake of 9/11 because of their ties to terror organizations. In one case, Mohammed fought the government’s effort to deport Mohammed Qatanani, the imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County and an influential member of the extremist — though well-connected — American Muslim Union. Though the New York Times praised him in 2008 during his deportation trial as a “revered imam” and portrayed the case as an overreaction to 9/11, Qatanani, a Palestinian, is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and admitted to being a member of Hamas when he was arrested by Israeli authorities in 1993 before coming to the United States. Though he claimed to be an advocate of interfaith dialogue (and was accepted as such by some liberal Jews), Qatanani was no moderate on the Middle East. His ties to Hamas were well known, and just the year before his deportation trial, Qatanani endorsed Israel’s absorption into an Islamic “Greater Syria.” Qatanani clearly lied about his record as an Islamist on documents that he used to enter the country. But he was nevertheless able to evade justice in the immigration courts because the judge accepted his undocumented claim that the Israelis tortured him.
Qatanani also benefited from having some highly placed friends in the justice system as a result of the political pull of the American Muslim Union, which boasts Sohail Mohammed as one of its board members. The AMU was able to get former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell, and then U.S. attorney Chris Christie to intervene on Qatanani’s behalf during the trial. As far as Christie was concerned, this was not a matter of merely signing a letter or making a phone call. The day before the Immigration Court announced its decision, Christie actually spoke at Qatanani’s mosque (Qatanani’s predecessor had boasted of raising at the mosque $2 million for Hamas via the now banned Holy Land Foundation) at a Ramadan breakfast dinner, where he embraced the imam while praising him as “a man of great good will.”
Terror researcher Steve Emerson was quoted at the time as calling Christie’s involvement in the case “a disgrace and an act of pure political corruption,” especially since “I know for certain that Christie and the FBI had access to information about Qatanani’s background, involvement with and support of Hamas.”
Put aside all the other black marks against Christie; this alone is enough to disqualify him from any presidential consideration, serious or otherwise. Absolutely disgraceful.
Interestingly enough, I found the link for the top video on the sidebar of Ann Coulter’s website, with this confusing caption: “Our Next President Defends Slander about ‘Sharia Law’ Judge.” Coulter has been an obsessive Christie for President advocate, and I’ve been especially curious how the author of Treason would react to her hero’s coziness with Islamic radicals. Saying that Christie “defends slander” seems awfully damning, but she still calls him “our next president.” Here’s hoping Ann has reconsidered her support for Christie, and that she’ll clarify it soon.

New on NewsReal – What Does the Bin Laden Takedown Mean for Obama’s 2012 Prospects?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Democrats were understandably thrilled that it was their guy, Barack Obama, who finally nailed Osama bin Laden, who has for the past decade been as elusive as he was hated. But just how much of a political boon is the victory for the president? That’s the question asked today by the Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky, who sees it as a major shift away from the Democrats’ dovish image:

But now, the killing of Osama bin Laden is changing this equation dramatically. Alleged Muslim Barack Obama did in two and a half years what Bush couldn’t do in seven and a half. It wasn’t just the result. The nature of the operation is still breathtaking, weeks later, and the risk Obama took, which he conveyed with masterful cool in his 60 Minutes interview, is mind-blowing (imagine if bin Laden hadn’t been there!). You can call the president who oversaw the operation many things, but weak isn’t one of them.

To talk as if there were two separate hunts for bin Laden is an astoundingly dishonest oversimplification. The truth is that American intelligence officials spent years following the key intelligence trail:

Some time after Sept. 11, detainees held by the U.S. told interrogators about a man believed to work as a courier for bin Laden, senior administration officials said. The man was described by detainees as a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and “one of the few Al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin laden.”

Initially, intelligence officials only had the man’s nickname, but they discovered his real name four years ago.

Two years ago, intelligence officials began to identify areas of Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated, and the great security precautions the two men took aroused U.S. suspicions.

Last August, intelligence officials tracked the men to their residence in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a relatively wealthy town 35 miles north of Islamabad where many retired military officers live […]

President Obama was made aware of the compound when it was discovered last year. By mid-February, the intelligence was solid and since mid-March, Obama led five meetings with the National Security Council regarding the issue.

Intelligence officials worked with the U.S. military to plan the operation and a small team accepted the risk and began to train for it.

On April 29, this past Friday, Obama gave the final go ahead.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – Ron Paul’s Latest Lonely Position: We Should Have Asked Pakistan to Arrest Bin Laden

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Ron Paul’s descent into self-parody continues. Earlier this week, the newly official presidential candidate offered his unique take on the mission that killed Osama bin Laden:

“I think things could have been done somewhat differently,” Paul said this week. “I would suggest the way they got Khalid [Sheikh] Mohammed. We went and cooperated with Pakistan. They arrested him, actually, and turned him over to us, and he’s been in prison. Why can’t we work with the government?”

Asked by WHO Radio’s Simon Conway whether he would have given the go-ahead to kill bin Laden if it meant entering another country, Paul shot back that it “absolutely was not necessary.”

“I don’t think it was necessary, no. It absolutely was not necessary,” Paul said during his Tuesday comments. “I think respect for the rule of law and world law and international law. What if he’d been in a hotel in London? We wanted to keep it secret, so would we have sent the airplane, you know the helicopters in to London, because they were afraid the information would get out?”

Actually, there are conflicting reports about the possibility that the United States did have Pakistan’s permission to get bin Laden on our own if we got a bead on him. Now, your guess is as good as mine as to who’s telling the truth, but something tells me that getting the details straight wouldn’t change Paul’s opinion. Either way, one wonders if Paul has ever stopped to consider the fact that bin Laden spent six years in a sizeable compound built in a town dominated by the Pakistani Army, and wonder how that little detail could have possibly escaped the Pakistanis’ notice.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – Justice or Revenge? The Morality of Celebrating Osama bin Laden’s Death

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Most of the nation is still celebrating the elimination of Osama bin Laden, the monster behind one of the worst days in American history. Some are relieved bin Laden can no longer aid the jihadist cause; others take pleasure in knowing the suffering he caused us has been partially repaid.

But at least one voice is having none of it. At the Huffington Post, “specialist in transformational change” (whatever that means) Dr. Pamela Gerloff writes that celebrating bin Laden’s death is mentally unhealthy and geopolitically dangerous:

“Celebrating” the killing of any member of our species–for example, by chanting USA! USA! and singing The Star Spangled Banner outside the White House or jubilantly demonstrating in the streets–is a violation of human dignity. Regardless of the perceived degree of “good” or “evil” in any of us, we are all, each of us, human. To celebrate the killing of a life, any life, is a failure to honor life’s inherent sanctity.

Plenty of people will argue that Osama Bin Laden did not respect the sanctity of others’ lives. To that I would ask, “What relevance does that have to our own actions?” One aspect of being human is our ability to choose our own behavior; more specifically, our capacity to return good for evil, love for hate, dignity for indignity. While Osama Bin Laden was widely considered to be the personification of evil, he was nonetheless a human being. A more peaceable response to his killing would be to mourn the many tragedies that led up to his violent death and the thousands of violent deaths that occurred in the attempt to eliminate him from the face of the Earth; and to feel compassion for anyone who, because of their role in the military or government, American or otherwise, has had to play a role in killing another. This kind of compassion can be cultivated, as practitioners of many different spiritual traditions will attest […]

It is hard not to think that some of the impulse to celebrate “justice being done” may also contain a certain pleasure in revenge–not just “closure” but “getting even.” The world is not safer with Osama Bin Laden’s violent demise (threat levels are going up, not down); evil has not been finally removed from the Earth; the War on Terror goes on–so any celebration must be tempered with the sobering fact that much work still needs to be done to establish peace.

There’s a lot to unpack here, most of it awful. But first, for the sake of fairness and decency one fair point must be acknowledged: If we truly recognize the intrinsic worth of all human life, we have to recognize that even the worst among us have souls, warped and polluted though they may be, and be careful not to think casually of any killing—even just and necessary killing, as bin Laden’s death clearly was. Now, I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t found some satisfaction in the confidence that Osama now knows the afterlife isn’t quite what he expected, but I also have to admit those thoughts don’t live up to the standard my Savior has set for me.

So we shouldn’t take pleasure in exacting bloody vengeance, but there is another aspect to the celebration that is entirely appropriate.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – Pathetic: Peter Beinart Uses Bin Laden’s Death to Declare War on Terror Over

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

We knew this was coming. No American victory in this day and age, not even the long-overdue death of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, is safe from political hijacking by the useful idiots of the Left.  Within hours of hearing the good news, left-wing Daily Beast flunky Peter Beinart took to the keyboard to declare that the War on Terror is finally over.

Wow, what a relief! So that means Iran’s nuclear program is kaput? Er, no. Well, maybe it means the UN Security Council has stopped playing nice with Middle Eastern thug regimes. Wait, that didn’t happen, either. I know – peace between Israel and the Palestinians is finally in sight! Nope, try again. Um, then maybe anti-American sentiment among Muslim populations is waning? Uh-uh.


If none of that’s the case, then what does Beinart mean?

I don’t mean that there is no threat of further jihadist attack. In the short term, the threat may even rise. I don’t mean that we should abandon all efforts at tracking terrorist cells. Of course not. But the war on terror was a way of seeing the world, explicitly modeled on World War II and the Cold War. It suggested that the struggle against “radical Islam” or “Islamofascism” or “Islamic terrorism” should be the overarching goal of American foreign policy, the prism through which we see the world […] It made East Asia an afterthought during a critical period in China’s rise; it allowed all manner of dictators to sell their repression in Washington, just as they had during the Cold War; it facilitated America’s descent into torture; it wildly exaggerated the ideological appeal of a jihadist-Salafist movement whose vision of society most Muslims find revolting.

Bin Laden’s death is an opportunity to lay the war on terror to rest as well. Although President Obama avoids the phrase, its assumptions still drive our war in Afghanistan, a crushingly expensive adventure in nation building in a desperately poor country whose powerful neighbor wants us to fail. Those assumptions fuel anti-Muslim racism in the United States, where large swaths of the Republican Party have decided they are at risk of living under Sharia law. And they blind us to the differences among Islamist movements, allowing Glenn Beck and company to depict Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as al Qaeda’s farm team.

Instead, we can now take on real problems, like debt and China. Because Barack Obama has been such a crusader on those issues so far.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – Ex-Carter Official Blames Neocons for "Trapping" Obama Into Acting in Libya

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

The Left has a problem. Attacking countries that haven’t attacked us first is a major no-no, but the president who’s initiated the latest campaign in Libya, Barack Obama, is their standard-bearer, not a warmongering right-winger. What to do?

On the Daily Beast, Leslie Gelb, Assistant Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter, has an analysis of the situation which liberals eager to give Obama cover might find useful: the neocons made him do it!

Neocons and liberal interventionists stampeded Obama into imposing a no-fly zone against Libya—despite the absence of vital U.S. interests there […]

The manufactured crisis in Libya is a prime case in point. No foreign states have vital interests at stake in Libya. Events in this rather odd and isolated land have little bearing on the rest of the tumultuous Mideast region. Also not to be dismissed, there are far, far worse humanitarian horrors elsewhere. Yet, U.S. neoconservatives and liberal humanitarian interventionists have trapped another U.S. president into acting as if the opposite were true.

Obama’s been “trapped” into ordering airstrikes? How?

Once this terrible duo starts tossing out words like “slaughter” and “genocide,” the media goes crazy. Then, the chorus begins to sing of heartless inaction by the U.S. president, blaming him for the deaths. White House common sense crumbles into insanity. The reason why neither President Obama nor his coalition partners in Britain and France can state a coherent goal for Libya is that none of them have any central interest in the outcome there. It is only when a nation has a clear vital interest that it can state a clear objective for war. They’ve all simply been carried away by their own rhetoric.

The drama usually starts when leaders and thinkers are seduced by the feeling they must do good. Sometimes, they essentially ignore the killings, even as deaths climb into the hundreds of thousands, as in Rwanda and millions as in Congo. Other times, the deaths number in the hundreds or so, as in Libya—and the guy doing the killing is someone they have good reason to dislike, and so they want to do good and stop him. It was just so with the irresistible trio of Senators—John McCain, John Kerry, and Lindsey Graham—and with their counterparts in foreign-policy land.

And just like that, interventionists insist there’s “no time to deliberate,” and the president helplessly complies with their calls to arms.

There are a couple problems with this theory, though. First, polls show that, on the whole, Americans approve of the action now that we’re in it, but their support is far from overwhelming. On Capitol Hill and among the Tea Party, the battle lines are similarly muddied, with politicians of Obama’s own party blasting him for intervening while his sworn enemies in the Tea Party are more open to the idea. So if Obama really thought getting involved was a bad move for the United States, there’s certainly enough political cover for him to withstand interventionist condemnation for staying out.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.