The president is not on the right side of the battle in his attempts to punish Israel, partner with Iran, and trim America’s role.
We are in a battle for civilization because the Islamic State, which is darkness and evil personified, has declared war against us — and we in the West and the modernized Orient (Japan, India, Taiwan, and the like) are, despite our flaws, the very repository of civilization. They are backwards; we are enlightened. They are warped; we are well-intentioned. They are inhuman; we are humane. They are soul-less; we are desirous, however imperfectly, of a grace beyond our ken.
The Islamic State, meanwhile, is aided in its anti-civilizational enterprise even by some of its nominal enemies. The Iran of the ayatollahs is a cancer on humanity, while Hamas and Hezbollah are its murderous allies, serving a “prophet” they make into a thug. Al-Qaeda and its affiliates still poison vast swaths of the Middle East and Africa. The Muslim Brotherhood bizarrely enjoys something approaching respectability in left-wing circles, although in reality it’s a vicious virus working toward death. North Korea is, of course, a black hole; Russia is led by a black-hearted villain. And in other places in the world, Marxists still peddle their poison.
Against those antediluvian influences, in the very heart of the Middle East darkness, only one nation fully embraces Western civilization. That nation is Israel. It is a representative republic. It guarantees civil rights and all the basic human rights. It is a land where commerce thrives, where faiths of all kinds are protected, where people walk free, and where Western civilization is cherished. Israel merits support not mostly because it is a haven for Jews in a hostile world — although history teaches that such a haven is necessary — but because it is a phalanx of liberty and decency behind enemy lines.
Yet Barack Obama, despite his longstanding fakery to the contrary, is a deliberate adversary to the Jewish state. Obama bolsters Hamas, undermines Israel diplomatically on almost all fronts, pushes Israel to give up land for essentially no benefit to it, leaks intelligence about Israel’s self-defense, works to marginalize Israel’s American supporters, and puts roadblocks in the way of Israeli efforts to protect itself from Iran.
The problem is not just that Obama detests Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As William Kristol describes in his most recent column, the real trouble is much more fundamental: The reason Netanyahu bothers Obama so much is that Netanyahu has the gall to fight for Israel’s just interests and for Israel’s survival. Even worse, from Obama’s perspective, is that Netanyahu believes in and defends not only Israel’s Jewishness but also its Western-ness. Against Obama’s rather obvious belief that the West has been, in world affairs, at least as much oppressor as liberator, Netanyahu fully embraces the values that animate the whole of Western Civilization.
To keep Netanyahu from fighting for the West, Obama will try to destroy him politically, sending his minions to run a campaign in Israel against him. Yet that’s not the worst of it. After all, Netanyahu is more a master of Israeli politics than anything Obama can throw at him — besides, Israel will remain Israel even if Netanyahu loses the March elections. The worse way in which Obama works against the interests of the West is that he does not merely appease Iran — he seeks to partner with it.
Amazingly, Obama clearly sees Iran not as a mortal enemy but as a long-term force for stability in the region. Thus it is that Obama seems not only undisturbed by Iran’s continuing nuclear development but indeed welcoming of it, even though Iran is also developing missile capability with which it might launch the nukes. David Rothkopf — hardly a raving right-winger or war hawk, put it this way in Foreign Policy recently: “It is quite possible that, by the time Obama leaves office, no other country on Earth will have gained quite so much as Iran. . . . The United States is changing the terms of its relations with Iran and triggering a strengthening of that country economically and politically.”
Yet anyone with sense knows that Iran cannot be tamed as long as the ayatollahs rule. Anyone who understands power knows that even if Israel ceased to exist, an Islamist regional hegemon in the Middle East would not then settle down quietly into peaceful coexistence with the world’s nations; it would use consolidated power to wage an even more devastating war on the West. The ayatollahs feel no less strongly than the Islamic State does about the jihadist mandate to eradicate unbelievers who will not submit to sharia and Allah.
Meanwhile, the Russians, the South American Marxists in Venezuela and Ecuador and elsewhere, the North Koreans, and possibly the Chinese will not feel not grateful for American forbearance but emboldened by our weakness.
Victor Davis Hanson suggested on NRO this month that Obama’s goal is a deliberately calibrated weakening of the United States. He aims to degrade American might, because he believes that “for America to quietly recede and give other nations a chance to direct their own affairs and become global actors would be far more equitable, leading to a world that far better represents heretofore unrepresented billions of people.” Hanson’s is a generous interpretation of Obama’s motives.
Whatever Obama’s intentions, his actions will serve not to strengthen civilization but to weaken it. If the United States recedes as Obama seems to wish, those billions of people will not be “represented,” but even further subjugated.
Those who behead peaceful journalists and even aid workers, or who use the power of the state to execute bloggers, will never be anything but human swine. By not putting America’s full might against the swine in every prudent way, Obama hurts the cause of civilization itself. We who care about our heritage must oppose his policies with every republican (small ‘r’) weapon in our arsenal. Ordered liberty is at risk. We must defend it.
— Quin Hillyer is a contributing editor for National Review Online. Follow him on Twitter: @QuinHillyer.