By Ron Paul
The credibility of all American politicians now requires acknowledging that America is engaged in a great war for survival – “the war against Islam.” Fear of “radical Islamic terrorists” requires our undivided attention. We’re to believe that the ugly and vicious violence of a very small percentage of the 1.7 billion Muslims around the world, without an army, navy, or air force, is on the verge of engulfing America and Western civilization. The claim is that the Western concept of Christianity, liberty, and free markets is threatened. If this is so, it speaks more about the weak support for these values than for the strength of a small group claiming to speak for all of Islam. It may not make much sense, but it provokes the fear required for war-mongering.
The popular belief that a gigantic clash of civilizations explains today’s conditions fits well into the propaganda efforts of the neocon inspired American Empire. One cannot deny that a group exists that associates itself with Islam and preaches violence in combination with extreme religious beliefs. Al Qaeda and ISIS do exist. Claiming that they alone are responsible for the great “clash” is purposely misleading. That misunderstanding is required by Western propagandists to gain public support for their wars in the Middle East, and for a continuation of the American Empire. Unfortunately, so far it has worked pretty well.
U.S. throws reason to wind
Fear is the tool used to galvanize a people into supporting war while sacrificing liberty. Exaggerations and propping up groups who falsely claim to represent 99 percent of Muslims, serves the interests of those in the West who want the clash of civilizations for their own selfish purposes. Current US and Western support for ISIS in Syria, even though it’s denied, is designed to remove Assad. This policy is in the tradition of our foreign policy of recent decades. Aligning ourselves with the creation of Hamas and the mujahedin (Taliban) is well documented.
The emphasis on a clash of civilizations is more about ruthless pragmatism than it is of a great battle of two civilizations. Promoters of war must first find or create an enemy to demonize in order to gain the people’s support for stupid and illegal preemptive wars. The Iraq war was built on lies and fear-mongering. U.S. leaders, prodded by the neoconservatives, continue to propagandize for a “crusade” against Islam in order to justify rearranging the Middle East according to their desires. Disregarding all previous failures in this effort is not a problem if the people can be convinced that the enemy is grotesque and threatening our way of life.
It’s strange, but 130 people killed in Paris has served the purpose of throwing reason to the wind, and the majority of Americans have become anxious for a showdown with Islam no matter how many lies have to be told and people killed.
If what is said by the neoconservatives about Islam is true, nuking Indonesia would seem logical. Two hundred and three million Muslims could be wiped out rather quickly. What many fail to admit is that ISIS deliberately manipulates Islam to inspire violence by some, which helps them gain recruits for their cause. This is not a reflection of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. It’s like claiming that the KKK represents sound Christian theology. Many evangelical Christians support preemptive war in the Middle East, but that doesn’t mean that Christians must give up the notion that, as Jesus said, “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”
Radicalizing both sides
Both sides of this huge so-called clash of two civilizations benefit from allowing fringe elements of both religious cultures to support the hypothesis. Both sides need the fear associated with a clash of civilizations to motivate the masses to fight a war that Western leaders have initiated. It may be a hoax, but such a war is still very dangerous and can easily spin out of control.
The death of 4 million Muslims in the Middle East over the last 14 years, since Western foreigners moved in, has rearranged the political power structure of the region. This cannot be ignored. The deliberate killing of innocent civilians and retaliation lays claim to the reality of a clash of civilizations rhetoric.
The U.S. can’t be serious in this clash of civilizations, which is used to radicalize both sides. Our ally Turkey playing games with ISIS hardly convinces us that ISIS will bring our civilization to its knees and destroy our way of life. The United States is a loyal supporter of Saudi Arabia, a nation noted for its ruthless enforcement of Sharia law. This hardly suggests our political leaders are at war with Islam. The neoconservatives, perpetrators of the clash of civilizations rhetoric and a war against Islam, aren’t advocating bombing Saudi Arabia even with evidence of their involvement in 9/11 and the recent shootings in California.
U.S. attacks aids ISIS recruiting
Our foreign policy makers, both Republicans and Democrats, remain obsessed with overthrowing another secular Muslim country: Syria. That policy did not work out well in Iraq and elsewhere, and so far it has only made the Middle East an ever more dangerous place. The harder we work at remaking the Middle East, the worse the conditions become, with an ever stronger and more dangerous Al Qaeda and ISIS.
The more violent our military response is to ISIS, the easier it is for more jihadists to be recruited to its cause. And the greater the violence and political demagoguery, the more gullible Americans join the ranks of supporters for expanding this so-called “holy” war.
Republicans have a knee-jerk explanation for the violence in the Middle East which is now spreading into Europe: It’s simply “Obama’s fault.” He hasn’t killed enough Muslims fast enough. It may not be the “clash of civilizations” that many describe, but Islamic terrorism confronts a Western crusade against Islam inspired by radical minorities on each side. Neocon radicals are the greatest domestic threat to liberty here at home — not foreign invaders.
Many Americans fervently believe that our policies represent “American exceptionalism” — democracy, freedom, generosity, and a willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of mankind. They accept the notion that we have a responsibility as the world’s policeman to thwart evil. The recipients of our “largesse” and interventions don’t see it that way. They understand exactly what encroachment of empire means to them. It is understood that our presence has nothing to do with spreading humanitarian American goodness and values. Instead, the people of the region see us as invaders: stealing their oil, while corrupting and bribing puppet dictators to serve our interests. The response should never surprise us. Blowback and unintended consequences should be easily understood and anticipated.
The answer we get from those most angry with our plunder and killing comes in the form of inspired radical Islamism that pretends it speaks for all of Islam. The radicals of neither side really speak for a “civilization.”
The influence and profiteering of the military-industrial complex is never criticized by the neocons. Never do we hear an honest debate by the politicians regarding the immorality of the Bush/Cheney doctrine of pre-emptive war that was soundly repudiated in the 2008 election. Memories are short, and demagoguery is a team sport by politicians.
Transparency — and a little history —‚ should convince the people that the clash of civilizations rhetoric is only war propaganda. The idea of the clash of civilizations is not new or unique. Samuel Huntington responded to Francis Fukuyama’s 1992 book “The End of History,” and addressed this issue. Huntington was allied with neoconservative guru Bernard Lewis and the American Enterprise Institute. The origin of this recent use of the term should tip one off as to the motivation for popularizing the idea of the “ clash of civilizations.”
Huntington, in his 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations, encourages the notion that Western Christian civilization is destined to be in conflict with the Muslim world of the Middle East. Almost at the same time, in 1997, the neocons released their plan “For a New American Century.” Philosophical support for the war between the East and the West was especially helpful to the neocons after 9/11. It served to deflect any consideration of blowback being a contributing factor to the attack on the US on September 11th. Our instigators for war and empire have worked diligently to place the blame for the violence in the Middle East on Islam itself, with which we are now said to be at war. To suggest anything else today is “blasphemous” to the concept of “American Exceptionalism.”
Huntington’s thesis is that ideology and economic conditions are no longer important in world conflicts. That age, he claims, has ended. The world is now moving back, according to Huntington, to a more “normal” state of cultural and religious conflicts and away from state versus state in conventional war.
But it’s not quite so simple. Diminishing the importance of the state should always be helpful since less big wars and central powers would result. But that’s not their plan. World government is what the neocons and many other world leaders seek.
Espousing correct ideology and real economic understanding are the only answers to unwise cultural and religious clashes, or clashes between various governments. My sense is that although most wars have many components to them, economic conditions are always important. A healthy economy usually results from a decent respect for economic liberty, and establishing conditions that encourage peace over war. International trade diminishes prospects for war as well. Inflation and hunger encourages civil strife and violent overthrow of incompetent governments.
The argument that cultural and religious wars occur when there is an absence of an ideology and economic policy is not a reasonable explanation. It’s my opinion that ideas and economic conditions override cultural and religious differences. When economic conditions deteriorate and cultural differences arise, religious beliefs are used to mobilize people to hate and start killing each other.
Economic ideas that encourage empire-building and resentment are what hurts the economy and encourages war. Instead of understanding how free markets, sound money, property rights, and civil liberties lead to prosperity and peace, the explanation is that the ensuing wars are explained by a “clash of civilizations” stirred up by racial tensions and religious differences. This is something that always ends badly.
Here is the sequence: First, it’s the powerful financial interests that initiate empire building and control of natural resources. Second, the people’s response is to resist, and the occupying forces compensate by establishing puppet dictators to keep the peace by force. Third, when resistance builds, preemptive war is used to circumvent national and international restraints on initiating wars. Fourth, both sides develop reactionary groups, motivated by anger, cultural, and religious differences, and a desire to expel the foreign groups that occupied their land.
Beware Trump’s ‘aggressive populism’
Today in the Middle East it’s the various uprisings over economic conditions, plus other concerns, that prompt a struggle to push governments to reflect the people desires rather than the dictates of foreign occupiers and their stooges. Witness the growth of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups that currently saturate the entire Middle East.
In the United States, the “ clash of civilizations” is manifested by a contrived anger directed toward Islam, immigrants, and a worsening of wealth inequality. The latter results from a flawed economic policy and an ideology of entitlements.
Nearly everyone senses that there is grave danger on the horizon. This leads to an aggressive populism with an appeal to a broad spectrum of society. Note that numerous black ministers now claim they support billionaire Donald Trump’s promise of making everything right with America, delivered with an authoritarian confidence that the people welcome – a bit unusual for a Republican candidate for president.
This is a perfect set up for a clash between ISIS, inspired by a group of radical Islamists, and a tough and energetic populism promoted by Donald Trump. The ideology that encourages the use of force is engulfing the world and many are anxious to bring on the clash of civilizations for their own selfish purposes. Rough days are ahead, but ending an era of bad economic policy and lack of respect for liberty opens the door for the growing interest and understanding of liberty by a new generation. Voluntarism is far superior to the authoritarianism offered to the world today.
What seems to be support for constant escalating wars can all be reduced by replacing the bad policies of state-ism with a simple and easily understood philosophical principle: “The rejection of all aggression as a method for individuals or governments to alter society.” In spite of the chaos the world is now facing, the solution is not complex. As the state entities continue to fail, a little common sense could go a long way in advancing the cause of liberty, peace and prosperity.