Obama, Egypt, and Israel: None Dare Call It Treason, Fifty Years Later
Barely more than three years ago, President Obama traveled to Cairo, speaking to students and offering a “new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” Now, in the wake of the storming of the US Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday, Obama’s outreach policy is in ruins; the death of the US ambassador in Libya further underscores the reality that the “Arab Spring” is really an Arab winter.
Hell, as Thomas Hobbes said, is reality seen too late. And the hellishness of today’s Egypt seems manifest to anyone paying attention to Egypt today; after the embassy violence, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi seems focused only on prosecuting the makers of the movie, even as Morsi’s own Muslim Brotherhood continues protests in front of the US embassy on Friday.
Confronted with all this bad news, the mainstream media seems to have made a key decision on its coverage--attack Mitt Romney. They will continue to defend their anointed champion, Obama, against attacks on his foreign policy record. A headline from The Business Insider sums up the state of play: “Mitt Romney Is Getting Completely Shredded For His Response To The US Embassy Attacks.”
Romney’s basic point was that Islamists are attacking us because we are weak; as a campaign document puts it, “We have seen a foreign policy of weakness and decline in American influence and respect. Yesterday, we saw the consequences of this perceived weakness.” And that’s what has sent the MSM into overdrive in defense of Obama. Romney is now being picked apart on minor timeline issues (issues on which he was correct), while the major thrust of what he said--his critique of Obama policy weakness--is ignored.
As Breitbart News’s Joel Pollak pointed out, it would have been just as easy, were the MSM so inclined, to take apart the contradictions of various Obama administration statements. Or, as Breitbart’s Tony Lee observed, the MSM could have made the Obama administration’s lack of preparation against possible attacks--it was, after all, the anniversary of 9-11--into an issue. But the MSM wasn’t interested in any of that. And of course, there’s the larger question hanging over all US Mideast policymaking: are we seeing, as Samuel Huntington suggested almost 20 years ago, a “clash of civilizations” that might be beyond the power of even the 44th President to solve? But none of those arguments fit the needs of the pro-Obama MSM narrative. So they are ignored.
Thus Obama was able to look stern and solemn, denouncing the latest violence on Wednesday’s nightly news broadcasts--and none of those shows noted that the President was jetting off, that same night, to a political campaign rally in Las Vegas.
No wonder Romney’s having a hard time; the media really are out to get him. As Brent Bozell, president of the watchdogging Media Research Center, put it earlier this year:
There is a narrative that is evolving out there which is if the story helps Barack Obama re-election, it’s news. If it doesn’t, it’s not news. You’ve seen story after story after story that has been completely spiked, on purpose, by the media.
And that’s the bottom line: if it helps Obama, cover the story. And if it doesn’t help Obama, don’t cover it--or better yet, blast Romney. And as we have seen, the media’s endless efforts to hurt Romney also entail hurting the US national interest and also the interests of our allies, most notably Israel.
In the third part of this series, we observed that the Obama administration seems to be putting more trust in Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood than in Bibi Netanyahu and the Israeli government. The Obamans were looking the other way as Morsi warmed up to the government of Iran, but at the same time, the Obamans were doing everything they could to interfere with possible Israeli plans to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities.
In fact, the tilt toward the Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood--and away from American and Israeli interests--is part of a remarkable pattern of US foreign policy over the last six decades. It’s a pattern so distinct, in fact, that it requires historical explication.
A half-century ago, President John F. Kennedy quipped, “The only thing worse than being an enemy of the United States was being an ally.” Kennedy was thinking about countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, all associated with the United States, all opposed to communism--and yet under fire in the US for alleged corruption and autocracy. Indeed, over the previous 15 years--in the '40s and '50s--the US had lost allies in Eastern Europe, gallant anti-Nazi countries such as Poland and Czechoslovakia that were traded away at Yalta, and then, in turn, China, North Korea, and Cuba. Meanwhile, in JFK’s time, communist subversions threatened other US allies around the world.
In 1964, a year after Kennedy’s assassination, an American named John Stormer tried to make sense of what was happening in the US. Stormer published a book, None Dare Call It Treason, taking the title from a couplet from a 16th century English courtier, John Harington: “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.” In other words, by the time you know it, it’s too late.
Stormer’s first chapter asked bluntly, “Have we gone crazy?” That is, have we failed to see what’s going on? Have we obtusely sat by as countries fall to communism? Thus, Stormer wondered, could there be a larger pattern of defeat and retreat that Americans were not seeing?
As Stormer put it, “The Cold War is a real war. It has already claimed more lives, enslaved more people, and cost more money than any ‘hot’ war in history. Yet, most Americans refuse to admit that we are at war.” He continued, “That is why we are rapidly losing.”
Stormer quoted Sen. Thomas Dodd, an FBI agent who became a Democratic senator from Connecticut: “At the close of World War II, our forces stood triumphant… The last 16 years have witnessed a calamitous retreat from victory. During all these years we have suffered defeat after defeat at the hands of international communism.”
The alarmist tone of None Dare Call It Treason struck a chord with Americans, at least on the right. The book was embraced by Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign, selling more than two million copies in its first year of publication. And yet long after the Goldwater era, the book continued to sell--some seven million copies over the next quarter-century.
The analysis in Treason fades out, of course, after 1964, so the Vietnam War, for example, is not a significant part of Stormer’s narrative. However, Stormer popularized one important phrase, “anti-anti-communism,” that would continue to affect our politics for the next quarter-century. “Anti-anti-communism” can be defined as the fear felt by many Americans--especially among the elite--that if they were vocally anti-communist, they then would be lumped in with such demonized figures as Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, and J. Edgar Hoover. Thus the spirit of anti-anti-communism mitigated the effectiveness of anti-communism.
So as we think about the Vietnam War, for example, it’s hard to say that the US went easy on the Vietnamese communists; yet on the other hand, we clearly didn’t try to win. Our efforts were anti-communist, but they were not that anti-communist; the US was infected with the anti-anti-communist bug.
Thus in 1968, after just three years of large-scale fighting, the US was already looking to negotiate--over the heads of the South Vietnamese--a face-saving deal with the North Vietnamese. By that year, it was obvious to all that the US would eventually leave South Vietnam to its fate. Indeed, as we look back at Vietnam, it’s hard to think of a war that turned out worse for US interests. We fought and bled in a war that was unlikely ever to succeed. And meanwhile, the cause of anti-communism was discredited in the US and around the world.
No wonder, then, that our mission to help defend South Vietnam against takeover by North Vietnam ultimately ended in complete debacle. In the spring of 1975, the Democratic-controlled Congress pulled the plug on the Saigon regime, leaving Hanoi--still aided by the Soviet Union and China--to take over the entire country. So in the end, JFK’s point was vindicated: the only thing worse than being an enemy of the US is being an ally.
Around the world in the mid-'70s, the pattern seemed the same. Communists took over in Angola, Ethiopia, and Mozambique; in each case, Western elites, including the MSM, regarded these red victories as much-deserved defeats for colonialism and toadyism.
Later in that decade, President Jimmy Carter--having filled up his administration with committed anti-anti-communists--declared that “human rights” were more important than anti-communism.
Thus the Carter administration went searching around the world for pro-American regimes that needed to be reformed by Washington--regardless of the threat they faced. One such was Nicaragua: the anti-communist regime of leader Anastasio Somoza was deemed corrupt and oppressive, so he was soon gone, replaced by Karen DeYoung’s friends, the Sandinistas. Carter similarly attempted to pull the US out of its peaceful military alliance with South Korea--only to be thwarted by an uproar from Ronald Reagan and the right.
Yet Republican opposition to Carter policies could not save an even more important US ally, the Shah of Iran--toppled in 1979. In the minds of many in the MSM and in the elite culture, the Shah’s rule had always been illegitimate; after all, he had been installed into power, back in 1953, by an Anglo-American coup, pushing out the previous leader, Mohammad Mossadegh--who has, as a result, been sainted by leftist historians.
Carter himself did not cheer for the fall of the Shah’s government, but plenty in his administration and in the Democratic Party did cheer, because they saw the Shah as not only illegitimate but also corrupt and dictatorial; he was, after all, an American ally. Meanwhile, the Ayatollah Khomeini was seen as an honest, albeit rigorous, reformer, sure to enact land redistribution. Therefore, by the time of the US embassy takeover in November 1979, when it became obvious that Khomeini was a genuine enemy of the US, it was too late. And we all know what’s happened since: we lost an imperfect friend in Tehran and gained an implacable enemy.
But wait: Not everyone saw Iran as an implacable enemy. On July 23, 2007, Barack Obama was asked in a Democratic presidential debate if he would be willing to negotiate with the Iranians without any preconditions. Would Obama come to talks with the Iranians without demanding that Iran first forswear, for example, terrorist violence and the destruction of Israel? Obama’s direct answer: “I would.” Thus the future president undercut years of American diplomatic efforts to isolate Iran, or at least to make that rogue regime make some sort of concessions to common civilization. Indeed, as late as May 2008, the Obamans were sticking with that no-preconditions line; only the challenge of defeating John McCain caused Obama to hawk up a bit.
For their part, the Iranians noticed. In October 2008, analyst Amir Taheri described how the Iranian government was rooting for Obama to win that November. As Taheri put it:
Seen from Tehran, Obama's election would demoralize the U.S. armed forces by casting doubt on their victories in Iraq and Afghanistan, if not actually transforming them into defeat. American retreat from the Middle East under Obama would enable the Islamic Republic to pursue hegemony of the region. Tehran is especially interested in dominating Iraq, thus consolidating a new position.
And all that has mostly happened. The hard-won US victory in Iraq, tenuous as it might have been, has been tossed away by the Obamans.
Just as strikingly, the Obama administration conspicuously failed to support Iranian protesters during the abortive “green revolution” of 2009. And yet just two years later, of course, the Obamans supported the Egyptian uprising against Mubarak. As JFK might have said, we failed to help a revolt against an enemy, and then we helped a revolt against a friend. And now, of course, the US spends its time rewarding Morsi and restraining Israel.
The headline in The Financial Times--not exactly a pro-Zionist publication--was blunt in describing the argument between Obama and Netanyahu over Iran policy: “US and Israel in open feud over Iran.”
So if John Stormer, author of None Dare Call it Treason, were describing these events, what might he say? How might he describe what’s happening in the Middle East?
He might begin by noting the obvious: the dominoes are all falling one way--against the US. And meanwhile, of course, the experts and the MSM are busy assuring us that everything is fine. We must then ask: So what should that tell us about our experts and reporters?
Stormer might indeed revive his phrase, “anti-anti-communism,” and speak today of “anti-anti-Islamism.” That is, just as it was gauche to be too anti-communist in decades past, so today it is poor form to be too anti-Islamist.
In other words, the real threat is not Islamism, but rather, anti-anti-Islamism. And yet a truth remains: we cannot win a war against Islamic radicalism and violence if we can’t see it and name it.
Stormer might note, moreover that this baleful phenomenon preceded the Obama administration. It was, after all, George W. Bush, who, after the 9/11 attacks, traveled to an Islamic center in DC and declared--bizarrely but politically correctly--that “Islam is peace.” Stormer might also critique the faddish academic/journalistic romanticization of “The Other,” which puts law enforcement on the defensive here at home. Stormer might even make mention of the propaganda campaign detailed by Mitchell Bard detailed in his name-naming 2010 book, The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East.
As proof that anti-anti-Islamism is on the rise, Stormer might further take note of the furious reaction against Rep. Michele Bachmann and the rest of the “National Security Five” when they raised questions about the Muslim connections of Obama State Department aide Huma Abedin. As I wrote on July 23, the anti-anti-Islamist DC Establishment seems to have decided that the real enemy in the fight against jihad is Bachmann and her colleagues.
So yes, anti-anti-Islamism has been a powerful force in American society, and a prime beneficiary has been one Barack Hussein Obama. After all, Obama soared from the Illinois State Senate to the White House in just four years, lofted upward on a magic carpet of elite/MSM adulation.
How could someone such as this man rise so far, so fast, with so little scrutiny? Some, such as Dinesh D’Souza, have tried to scrutinize the 44th President, but D’Souza’s documentary, “2016,” which attempts to connect all the dots of Obama’s life, is, of course, beyond the pale of polite dialogue in DC--even if it is attracting audiences across the country.
And then there’s top White House aide Valerie Jarrett, who seems to run the White House. She is a leftist, descended from leftists, long associated with leftists--and as we have seen, the left veers toward the multicultural and towards a Fanon-esque romanticism of anti-Western violence. And, for what it’s worth, she was born in Iran. As with Obama, how could someone with such a background rise so high, with so few questions?
Indeed, none of these questions are being asked, or even talked about, by the MSM. In the meantime, the dolorous dominoes of American defeat continue to fall in the Middle East.
Perhaps they will keep falling until there are no more questions to be asked--because, for the reasons that Stormer outlined, none will dare ask them.