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Glenn Beck’s Dangerous View of the Middle East

Last week, Glenn Beck rolled out a plan to fundamentally transform America – back to its roots of limited government, individual liberty and free enterprise.  Whether you like Glenn Beck’s shtick or not, the fact of the matter is that on a nightly basis he has been performing a public service in exposing Americans to vital ideas, and shedding light on stories that the rest of the MSM has shamefully ignored.  But during Thursday night’s episode and as has been common of late, Beck presented what I believe is a fundamentally flawed and dangerous premise when it comes to foreign policy.

Last Thursday’s program centered on slashing the defense budget, part of a principled effort on Mr Beck’s part to show that we can shrink every aspect of the state and return to fiscal sanity.  Many of his ideas were quite reasonable: that the US should generally avoid foreign entanglements, fight wars to destroy its enemies, not win their hearts and minds, and stop kowtowing to dictators.  While I would take issue with the idea that we should completely depart from the rest of the world, as certainly some of our bases serve worthy strategic ends, this criticism is secondary to one I have on another point that Glenn proffered.

Beck said,

Nothing is in our interest if our values and principles are gone.  Why do you think they hate us in the Middle East?  Maybe because we don’t stand for anything.  We’ll get into bed with Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  We’ll get into bed with anybody.  It doesn’t matter as long as we get our oil, as long as our interests are served.  They’re not served if we disregard our values and our principles.

After Beck’s opening monologue, he continued:

In the last five years, I have, I’ve gone from a big hawk to…not Ron Paul but on the road to Ron Paul.  Part of it is motivated by…we can’t spend it anymore, and the other part honestly is, I wasn’t paying attention before 9/11…When people said they hate us, well, did we deserve 9/11?  No.  But were we minding our business?  No.  Were we in bed with dictators and abandoning our values and principles?  Yes.  That causes problems.

While Beck is right that it would be a tremendous boon to our nation and blow to our enemies to end our reliance on Middle Eastern oil, there are major problems with the rest of his argument.  That Beck attributes hatred in the region to America’s disregard for its values, and for its presence and influence overseas, leads him down a troublesome path paved by Ron Paul and his followers.  The notion that the Muslim world hates the US because we are hypocritical and to use their parlance, “imperialist,” is wrongheaded and naïve.

When a nation is fighting a war, the first thing it must do is recognize its enemy.  Beck and others that adhere to the above view of the Middle East do not understand our enemy.  Leaving aside that Islamists have carried out attacks on the most isolationist of areas of Europe, and on the most peaceful of people’s including Buddhists in Bangladesh, the fact of the matter is that Beck and others have fallen for the propaganda that Muslims hate the US because of things we have done, or presumably because of our alliance with Israel, though to be fair Beck rightly defended this friendship (and has continued to warn about Iran) which Paul’s followers would not.

The folks who espouse this view of the Muslim world should grapple with other perspectives on Islam in theory and practice before coming to their conclusions.  Were they to listen to the words of Islamic scholars such as Robert Spencer, intelligence officials such as former Pentagon Analyst Steve Coughlin, military leaders (and hopefully future Congressmen and maybe even Presidents) such as Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, apostates such as Hirsi Ali, Hamas defectors such as Mossab Hassan Youssef, Middle East politicians such as Tayyip Erdogan, Islamic thinkers such as Maulana Maududi and tireless activists such as Pamela Geller, to learn about the Quran, Hadith and important concepts revealed within these works such as taqiyya and dhimmitude in addition to studying history past and present, I believe their world view would change.  I fear that heretofore Glenn Beck has not done so, which may have major ramifications given his reach and influence across the country.

Glenn Beck is right that we have abandoned our values and principles, but our enemies in the Middle East and abroad do not hate us for doing so.  In fact, if anything they should like us for our unprincipled words and actions, as by accommodating, cowering to, fighting halfheartedly and refusing to properly recognize them, we have shown them that we do not have a will to win.  They do not hate us, nor fear or respect us for our spinelessness, but laugh at us.  Out of ignorance or fear of the truth, we have put forth values and principles in our cultural relativism and political correctness that an enemy that loves death more than we love life can easily exploit both violently and democratically.

What our enemies would hate is America standing for its principles, because our social, political and religious traditions and institutions are incompatible with Sharia law.  To the degree to which the Muslim world hates us, it is because our values are anathema to it, and dictate that we will never submit to it.  We are the Infidels.  And as Robert Spencer notes in countering the popular Buchanan trope that Islamists hate us because of our actions,

the Qur’an directs Muslims to continue to wage war against Infidels not just “until persecution is no more,” but until “religion is all for Allah” (Qur’an 8:39). As the influential Pakistani jihad theorist Maulana Maududi put it, “the purpose for which the Muslims are required to fight is…to put an end to the suzerainty of the unbelievers so that the latter are unable to rule over people. The authority to rule should only be vested in those who follow the True Faith.”

The premise that our enemies hate us for the reasons that Beck highlights represents a faulty one, and one that is most dangerous given that we are engaged in an existential battle whether we recognize and choose to participate in it or not.  When Beck presents views like he did tonight, and calls people such as Geert Wilders fascists – brave people who are trying to warn us so we do not end up like them – he is making a fatal error that undermines much of his great work.  This is because if we do not fight to preserve the Western Civilization that Beck and you and I love, a fight that can only be won by first properly understanding the nature of our enemy, we can kiss the rest of our values goodbye.  Without life, there can be no liberty or pursuit of happiness.

  1. April 26, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    While I disagree with some of Beck’s, and especially Paul’s, stances, I do partially agree with them when they point out that part of the problem is simply that we’re THERE. While it is true that Islamic values are fundamentally opposed to the values of the West, the fact remains that most people are practical people who simply want to live their lives in peace. If we did not get involved in Middle Eastern affairs, terrorist groups might be able to whip up some ideological anger against us, but it’d be a lot harder to convince people to lay down their lives against something they do not see as having anything to do with them. I also agree with Paul about stopping the money flow to Israel, as well as to the surrounding countries. Foreign aid does nothing but help to prop up dictators, and although this is not what happens in Israel’s case, it is unbecoming to a free country to have to toe the line of another country’s government when it comes to their own foreign policy. So keep the friendship, keep the alliance, keep the cooperation, but lose the money.

    Now that we’ve got the agreement out of the way, time for the disagreement. I agree we should reduce military expenditures abroad, but which? Iraq? After all that time and effort we put into it? Afghanistan? And make the world think that America doesn’t have the will to win a fight? Israel? And give up our only ally in the Middle East? Even bases in places like Germany and Japan have strategic value in that we can keep people and materiel for when we need it. And even if we could just pick it all up and go, we couldn’t exactly get rid of their hatred for us by wishing, nor could we remove the trappings of western culture from their domain even if we wanted to.

    The worst part is that, from a purely fiscal point of view, Paul and Beck are right: we can no longer afford this insanity. In short, it’s one of those situations where, if we were really smart, we would never have gotten into it in the first place.

  1. May 20, 2010 at 2:51 am

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