According to the July 30, 2014 Rasmussen Reports, 59% of likely US voters believe that there is a global conflict between the Muslim World and Western civilization, only 17% disagree and 24% are undecided. Likely voters also believe that the “Arab Spring” does not bode well for the US.
The US posture of deterrence played a key role in bolstering Western civilization in face of intensifying threats, checking global violence and instability, bolstering the confidence of US allies, and constraining the maneuverability of rogue regimes.
However, the current perception of the US posture of deterrence among US Arab allies is reflected by a July 27, 2014 OpEd in the leading Saudi daily, A-Sharq al-Awsat, which is one of the most influential Arab newspapers, owned by the Saudi royal family: “…. Secretary John Kerry is representing a weak US administration…. He visits Baghdad to represent an administration that lacks decision-making. He shuttles between Tel Aviv and Cairo as a mediator with no real clout…. Barack Obama’s weak foreign policy is weighing on the deteriorating situation across the world…. Washington’s position on Egypt has changed over the course of the past three years in a manner which demonstrates America’s confused vision and weak foreign policy…. Obama did not even bother to issue a statement regarding the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forcing Mosul’s Christians to flee. Obama’s increasingly isolationist policy is damaging Kerry’s credibility….”
In order to improve the US image in the Muslim World, President Obama issued a July 27, 2014 statement on the occasion of the Muslim holiday, Eid al Fitre:”…. In the United States, Eid reminds us of the many achievements and contributions of Muslim Americans to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy.” That statement was consistent with Obama’s June, 2009 speech at the University of Cairo: “America and Islam are not mutually-exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles of justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings…. Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality…. I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story…. Since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States…. [The] partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is….”
President Obama’s view of Islam has been reinforced by CIA Director, John Brennan, who was Obama’s Advisor on Counter-Terrorism: “Our enemy is not ‘terrorism’ because terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not ‘terror’ because terror is a state of mind and as Americans we refuse to live in fear. Nor do we describe our enemy as ‘Jihadists’ or ‘Islamists’ because Jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenant of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community….”
While Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman dread the clear and present lethal threat of Islamic, Jihadist terrorism – initially and mostly bankrolled by Saudi Arabia – President Obama claims that there is no Islam-driven terrorism or radicalism, but local cases of Al Qaeda, Taliban and ISIS terrorism and Major Nidal Hasan Ft. Hood “workplace violence.” Therefore, he ordered the revision of the US National Security Strategy and the training literature of the military, intelligence and homeland security agencies, deleting all references to Islamic terrorism. Thus, the Los Angeles Times editorial stated on June 8, 2010: “The [Obama] administration has assiduously avoided terms that recognize the distinct threat posed by those who cite Islam as a rationalization for terror.”
President Obama’s ideological ambiguity undermines operational clarity in the battle against Islamic terrorism. It further erodes the US posture of deterrence among increasingly vulnerable US Arab allies, who are also concerned about Obama’s core belief in multilateral diplomatic engagement of – rather than unilaterally confronting – rogue regimes, such as Iran.
The anxiety of Saudi Arabia and other pro-US Gulf states – which are afflicted by domestic and regional Sunni and Shite Islamic terrorism – was expressed by a series of July 2014 columns in A Sharq al Awsat. For examples, “… it is clear that the policy of withdrawal and isolationism practiced by President Barack Obama’s administration has helped set instincts loose, encouraging [Middle Eastern] groups and people who show no respect for peaceful coexistence…. What if Egypt was left to the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the wishes of the Obama Administration?…. The Obama Administration is still dithering and preoccupied with the illusion of an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program….”
The Arab Tsunami-driven threat of Islamic terrorism is not limited to the pro-US Arab regimes. It has afflicted India (the largest victim of Islamic terrorism), China (XinjIang province), Russia (Chechnya), Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Thailand, the Philippines and Africa. It constitutes a clear and present threat to Europe and the US mainland, emboldened by US ideological and operational ambiguity and indecisiveness.
When it comes to “third down and ten yards to go” in the battle against Islamic terrorism, the US quarterback can rely on the Israeli wide receiver, which provides a uniquely reliable and effective battle-tested laboratory and training ground for America’s defense and homeland security forces and industries, the unconditional and democratic ally of the US.
About the Author: Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger is consultant to Israel’s Cabinet members and Israeli legislators, and lecturer in the U.S., Canada and Israel on Israel’s unique contributions to American interests, the foundations of U.S.-Israel relations, the Iranian threat, and Jewish-Arab issues.
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