On the September 28, 2014 edition of 60 Minutes, President Barack Obama spoke about his recent decision to commit American troops to fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“When trouble comes up anywhere in the world,” said Obama, “they don’t call Beijing. They don’t call Moscow. They call us.”
And, according to former CIA agent Michael Scheuer, that’s the problem: America can’t learn to mind its own business.
Scheuer is a 20-year CIA veteran–as well as an author, historian, foreign policy critic and political analyst.
From 1996 to 1999 he headed Alec Station, the CIA’s unit assigned to track Osama bin Laden at the agency’s Counterterrorism Center.
He is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies.
He’s also the author of two seminal works on America’s fight against terrorism:Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (2003) and Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam after Iraq (2008).
Scheuer says that Islamics don’t hate Americans because of “our way of life”–with its freedoms of speech and worship and its highly secular, commercialized culture.
Instead, Islamic hatred toward the United States stems from America’s six longstanding policies in the Middle East:
- U.S. support for apostate, corrupt, and tyrannical Muslim governments
- U.S. and other Western troops on the Arabian Peninsula
- U.S. support for Israel that keeps Palestinians in the Israelis’ thrall
- U.S. pressure on Arab energy producers to keep oil prices low
- U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan
- U.S. support for Russia, India, and China against their Muslim militants
Scheuer contends that no amount of American propaganda will win “the hearts and minds” of Islamics who can “see, hear, experience, and hate” these policies firsthand.
But there is another danger facing America, says Scheuer, one that threatens “the core of our social and civil institutions.”
And in Marching Toward Hell he bluntly indicts that threat: The “profound and willful ignorance” of America’s “bipartisan governing elite.”
Scheuer defines this elite as “the inbred set of individuals who have influenced…drafted and conducted U.S. foreign policy” since 1973.
Within that group are:
- civil servants
- military officers
“Some are Republicans, others Democrats; some are evangelicals, others atheists; some are militarists, others pacifists; some are purveyors of Western civilization, others are multiculturalists,” writes Scheuer.
But for all their political and/or philosophical differences, the members of this governing elite share one belief in common.
According to Scheuer, that belief is “an unquenchable ardor to have the United States intervene abroad in all places, situations and times.”
And he warns that this “bipartisan governing elite” must radically change its policies–such as unconditional support for Israel and corrupt, tyrannical Muslim governments.
Otherwise, Americans will be locked in an endless “hot war” with the Islamic world.
During his September 28 appearance on 60 Minutes, President Obama admitted that the mostly Sunni-Muslim Iraqi army had refused to combat the Sunni army of ISIS.
Then followed this exchange:
Steve Kroft: What happens if the Iraqis don’t fight or can’t fight?
President Obama: Well…
Steve Kroft: What’s the end game?
President Obama: I’m not going to speculate on failure at the moment. We’re just getting started. Let’s see how they do.
It was precisely such a mindset that led the United States, step by step, into the Vietnam quagmire.
As in the case of Vietnam, the United States lacks:
- Real or worthwhile allies in Iraq or Syria;
- A working knowledge of the peoples it wants to influence in either country;
- Clearly-defined goals that it seeks to accomplish in that region.
America rushed to disaster in Vietnam because its foreign policy elite felt it had to “do something” to fight Communism anywhere in the world.
And it is continuing to rush toward disaster in the Middle East because its foreign policy elite once again feels is must “do something.”
During his interview with the “Today” show, Carl Mueller–the father of Kayla, who went to Syria to help Syrians caught up in their own civil war–said:
“How many mistakes have we all made in life that were naïve and didn’t get caught at? Kayla was just in a place that was more dangerous than most. And she couldn’t help herself. She had to go in there and had to help.”
But there were plenty of communities within the United States that could have used the help of a truly caring social activist. And plenty of organizations–such as Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), Habitat for Humanity and Catholic Relief Services–that would have been thrilled to have her services.
And she could have made lives better without constantly facing the dangers of kidnapping by Islamics determined to humiliate and slaughter Americans.
Michael Sheuer is right: The United States should learn to mind its own business and quit intervening in the affairs of Middle Eastern governments and peoples.
Kayla Mueller is proof of the rightness of that assertion.