“The war on terror is over,” one senior State Department official who works on Mideast issues told Michael Hirsh of the National Journal. “Now that we have killed most of al Qaida, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaida see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism.”
But top Obama campaign strategist, David Axelrod said Sunday, “I think a lot of Republicans in Congress want to cooperate, know better—but they’re in the thralls of this reign of terror from the far right that has dragged the party to the right,” Take a look:
Of course the Syndicate calls us racists, extremists, flat-earthers and more. (The Republican establishment even joins the action. Last year it was hobbits.) So far Joe Biden hasn’t said any of us have “a big stick.”
But now that we have properly called the Syndicate out on their pitiful vocabulary, let’s get back to the serious part of this post—the war on terror is over. Of course they haven’t killed most of al Qaida. Not even close. The Taliban is growing. Under Obama’s careful watch, the Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabism are on the ascendancy. Turkey has become Islamist. Iran is about to go nuclear. The few sane people in Pakistan are about to lose to the radicals (not to be confused with is hobbits). I was right early about the “Arab Spring.” The Obama damage in the entire Mediterranean and Middle East is incalculable and dwarfs Jimmy Carter merely giving us the Shiah Iran. The Michael Hirsh National Journal Piece is very instructive and deeply sobering. (Hirsh is clearly as clueless as the Obama crowd.)
Can Obama Safely Embrace Islamists?
In an article in the current National Journal called “The Post Al Qaida Era,” I write that the Obama administration is taking a new view of Islamist radicalism. The president realizes he has no choice but to cultivate the Muslim Brotherhood and other relatively “moderate” Islamist groups emerging as lead political players out of the Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. (The Muslim Brotherhood officially renounced violence decades ago, leading then-dissident radicals such as Ayman al-Zawahiri to join al Qaida.)
It is no longer the case, in other words, that every Islamist is seen as a potential accessory to terrorists. “The war on terror is over,” one senior State Department official who works on Mideast issues told me. “Now that we have killed most of al Qaida, now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaida see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism.” (In a Tuesday night update to this post, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor clarified that while the “war on terror” concept has been dropped, “we absolutely have never said our war against al Qaida is over. We are prosecuting that war at an unprecedented pace.”
The new approach is made possible by the double impact of the Arab Spring, which supplies a new means of empowerment to young Arabs other than violent jihad, and Obama’s savagely successful military drone campaign against the worst of the violent jihadists, al Qaida.
Some of the smarter hardliners on the Right, like Reuel Marc Gerecht, are coming to realize that the Arab world may find another route to democracy–through Islamism. The question is, how will this play politically at a time when Obama’s GOP rival, Mitt Romney, is painting the president as a weak accommodationist?
According to a senior advisor to Romney, the campaign is still formulating how to approach the new cuddle-up approach to Islamists. But the spectacle of an administration that is desperately trying to catch up to the fast-evolving new world of the Mideast fits into the Romney narrative of a president who “has been outmatched by events,” the adviser said. “Obama came to power with a view of the region that would make progress in the Arab world and get the Iranians back to the table. He would deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and the key to that was dealing with settlements. Instead it’s been chaos.”
The president may have no choice but to preside over chaos at this point–a chaos that may not be the disaster that critics say and may in fact be the Arab world’s only path to modernity — but it won’t play well in the seven months between now and election day.