Obama’s Greatest Foreign Policy Error

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Obama’s greatest foreign policy error was the same one that had been made by Bush and by numerous past administrations. The error was that the problem was not Islam, but Islamic violence. It was Obama however who took that error to its logical conclusion by pursuing a foreign policy meant to part Islamists from their violent tendencies by allowing them to win without the need for terrorism.

Violence, the thinking in diplomatic circles went, was inherently alarming and destabilizing. When Islamists don’t take over, they move to the West, preach radical theology, gather up followers and begin blowing things up. But let them take over their own home countries and they’ll no longer have any reason to draw up maps of London and New York, not when they’re beheading adulterers and burning churches back home.

The Arab Spring was to the Middle East what the betrayal of Czechoslovakia to the Nazis and the betrayal of the rest of Eastern Europe to the Communists was to 20th century European history. It was the moment when all the diplomatic folly that had come before it came together in one great historical instant of national and international betrayal.

The diplomatic wunderkinds had never taken Islamist theology seriously, just as their predecessors had not considered the possibility that the Bolsheviks might be serious about their world revolution. And they had also failed to recognize that Islamic terrorism was not only a means to power, but also an end in and of itself, a way of harnessing the endless violence and instability in desert societies and turning them into power and profit.

What every Middle Eastern leader has always understood is that the violence, call it raids, terrorism, guerrilla warfare, gang activity, sectarian militias, military coups, desert banditry, was never going away. It was the tiger and the clever leader rides the tiger, rather than ending up inside it, harnessing and directing the violence, to remain in power.

Islam is a religion built around that violence, sanctifying it as a religious principle, and thus taking it out of the realm of Fitna and into the realm of Jihad. The difference between the two is a matter of theology and that theology is a matter of perspective. What is banditry and what is a holy war is a matter of where you’re standing and which way the bullets are flying.

The Islamists might be able to direct the violence, but they could no more shut it down than any of their secular predecessors could. They could kill their enemies, but only by unleashing the tiger on them and when the killing was done, they would still be left with a hungry tiger looking around for his next meal. So the Islamists, like the Saudis, were bound to fuse religion with realpolitik by making sure that the tigers were pointed our way.

Even if their violence were only a means to an end, the end would not come when every Middle Eastern country was run by Islamist governments. For one thing there would never be a means of agreeing on what a truly Islamist government was. The reactionary impetus of Wahhabism leads to an endless series of reforms meant to recreate a lost 7th century theological paradise by purging those damnable 8th century theological innovators.

To many Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood is just Mubarak with a beard. To other Salafists, those Salafists are just the Muslim Brotherhood with an untrimmed beard. After overthrowing Mubarak to end the perception that the United States supports un-Islamic dictators, maintaining ties with the Muslim Brotherhood would invite attacks from those Salafists in the hopes of ending US support for the Brotherhood, resetting that foreign policy accomplishment to zero. And the Brotherhood would wink and nod at those attacks to maintain its Islamist street cred and keep the violence going in the other direction.

As the attacks of September 11, 2012 showed us, the effect of putting the Islamists in charge of the Arab Spring countries was not to relieve tensions or improve America’s image, but to make it easier for Jihadists to launch attacks on America. And the argument advanced by Obama and so many others, that it was our support for dictators that inspired terrorists, had come to nothing. As Carter had done in Iran, Obama had stood behind the Islamists and against the “dictators”, only to have the newly Islamist dictators kick him in the face, first through mobs carrying out attacks against American diplomatic facilities under the guise of plausible deniability, and then through bolder confrontations.

But finally, the seizure of one Muslim country or two of them or a dozen of them is not the end of the Islamists. Islamists don’t recognize borders or national identities, no more than the Communists did. Their objective is not a flag of their own, but the territorial expansion of their ideology.

The presence of Muslims in the West makes the takeover of Western countries necessary for the same reason that the takeover of Muslim countries by Islamists was necessary. Muslim immigration to the West creates a mandate to impose Islamic law on the West. Western leaders react to that by offering to accept some elements of Sharia into their legal system. This moves the process into the second stage, the one that the Arab Spring countries were under, practicing an imperfect version of Islamic law that the Islamists were then compelled to “perfect.”

Everything that the West has done to appease Muslims has worked as well as a man jumping into a tiger cage and pouring meat sauce all over his body. Each act of appeasement only makes Muslim violence necessary and inevitable. Every increase in the Islamic footprint in the West attracts Islamists intent on expanding and purifying that footprint, as they have done in their own countries. The more the West takes in Islamic populations and laws, the more Islamists are compelled to bring Diaspora Muslim populations and laws into full compliance with their theology.

Obama’s foreign policy aimed at allowing the Islamists to win. He ignored the Iranian protesters against an Islamist state, while rushing to support the Islamist protesters in Egypt and Tunisia. The Islamists won and September 11, 2012 was a consequence of those victories. And it won’t be the last consequence.

As Chamberlain learned of Hitler and as the Democrats learned of the Commies, there is no finite amount of concessions, no set range of territories that can be traded in exchange for peace. The Nazis and Communists wanted the world because their goals were not confined to mere territories, but to the enslavement of billions to create an ideal world for the benefit of their chosen elites. Islam is interested in the same thing.

Islamists don’t want Egypt, Syria or Palestine. And they certainly won’t settle for them. No more than Hitler settled for Czechoslovakia or Stalin settled for Poland. They will accept their conquests in bites, but they will never stop biting, chewing and swallowing until they run up against a force that will not allow them to advance and expand further.

Obama tried to divide violent Islamism from political Islamism, giving the Islamists what they wanted without violence, to eliminate the need for a War on Terror. But all he accomplished was to give Islamist violence a bigger base and more resources to work with. Islam is inherently violent. A non-violent Islamic victory doesn’t end the violence; it only expands its capacity for violence.

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  • objectivefactsmatter

    "It was Obama however who took that error to its logical conclusion by pursuing a foreign policy meant to part Islamists from their violent tendencies by allowing them to win without the need for terrorism."

    According to Obama, the USA is a Muslim nation. He's just building up allies for his brave new world.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "Violence, the thinking in diplomatic circles went, was inherently alarming and destabilizing. When Islamists don’t take over, they move to the West, preach radical theology, gather up followers and begin blowing things up. But let them take over their own home countries and they’ll no longer have any reason to draw up maps of London and New York, not when they’re beheading adulterers and burning churches back home."

    It would be hilarious if it wasn't so serious. Ever hear of global domination? It's not just something Ian Fleming thought up for his books.

  • Anthony

    Mr. Greenfield has written an excellent piece here and I think it should be emailed to the NYT and State Department. It should also be sent to Mitt Romney who appears to also confuse Islam as just another religion, sort of like his Mormon religion.

    I really don’t recall reading about Islamic aspirations for world domination in quite this way. The examples paint a picture of an ideology that needs to be quarantined in its own lands or else. The clearly stated premise that a Moslem presence in welcoming lands is a mandate for territorial gain, coupled with the clear warning that Islam is at core, a violent religion, profound in its truthful simplicity. Finally, the statement about Moslem beards and perceptions of each others sect, very funny considering the deadly serious nature of these notoriously humorless people.

    In all, Mr. Greenfield. Is right on the money.

    • Horace

      The Mormon religion has some unsettling similarities to Islam. Joseph Smith is their Mohammed equivalent. Until Joseph Smith came along (the Mormons say) the gospel of Jesus Christ was absent from the world-known by Mormons as the Great Apostasy. In other words, all you folks out there who thought you were Christians and read the gospel, Protestants, Catholics Orthodox, etc. -well you are wrong! Only the Mormons have it right. What the hey! Well lets skip over all that and contemplate the current alternative- Mohbama the muslim (advocate and enabler or actual-what's the difference). Muslims are currently a lot more violent than Mormons who have sort of reformed, so we have no choice but to pick the Mormon and hope for the best.

      • Kufar Dawg

        Mormon violence over the history of their entire religion is nothing in comparison to a typical month in the islamic world.

  • pierce

    WHICH FOREIGN POLICY ERROR ARE YOU REFERRING TO. THIS ONE OF MANY, BUT THE FIRST ONE STANDS OUT ABOVE THEM ALL. THE FAMED APOLOGY TOUR, OOPS, THAT WAS NOT AN APOLOGY TOUR, BUT OH YES IT WAS.
    ANY WAY THE MAN IS DISGUSTING, AND MORE SO, INCOMPETENT.

    • davarin

      Obama childishly scolded Romney in the last debate that "we're not playing Battleship". So what game is he playing, Sorry?

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "So what game is he playing, Sorry?"

        Let's pretend to be president.

        • Andy Lewis

          "Let's pretend to be an American" is more like it. And he's not a very good pretender at that.

  • Rev. Roy Trepanier

    A fair but lacking overview of Islam.
    The first problem I see, and so common to the majority of pundits, is the heading of this article.."Obama’s Greatest Foreign Policy Error". What "if" it is not an error at all, but a well planned takeover of the U.S.A. by the yet to be proclaimed Caliph of the new, Global Caliphate, Barack Husseiin Obama. (Obviously though, there are others behind Obama, guiding and teaching him, and doing their damndest to keep him reading his "Monitors".George Soros ring a bell)?
    The second is continually referring to Islam as a "religion". Islam is a socio-economic, political/military entity that keeps its subjects submissive by violence and threats of violence and hides behind the "guise" of a religious facade.So, David, your heading for this article should read…"Obama's Foreign Policy Right on Track".
    Rev. Roy….<><

    • Keith1941

      Rev. Roy, you said it very well. If obama is reelected, this country has no idea what is coming. obama is doing everything he can to Balkanize this country. When chaos reigns, the Marxists will prevail. All we have to do is look at what happened in Russia.

      • Kufar Dawg

        If the zero is re-elected at all, it will be by other than honest means.

    • vladdi

      Islam is NOT a "socio-economic political/military entity" at all!

      There's nothing "social" about anti-social extortion, nor "economic" about theft. Extortion isn't "political" and offensive, predatory crime-gangs aren't the legitimate defensive military (although they can certainly be militant)!

      And, (for the truly libtarded) it's also not a "religion" (at all, much less one "of peace"), nor a "race" (at all, much less one of "poor, oppressed People Of Color")!

      Here's islam's "holy Message from god" as exemplified by the collective words and deeds of it's Founder:

      "I will save humanity by lying to, extorting, torturing, robbing, burning out of their homes, kidnapping and ransoming, enslaving, raping and murdering everyone who even only verbally disagrees with me – and you can, too!"

      -Muhammad-

      So obviously, islam is ONLY an ancient, ongoing extortion-racket CRIME-syndicate, and the only "religious" part in it, is where they say:

      "God told us to commit these crimes!"

      (Capisce?)!
      ;-)

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "A fair but lacking overview of Islam.
      The first problem I see, and so common to the majority of pundits, is the heading of this article.."Obama’s Greatest Foreign Policy Error". What "if" it is not an error at all, but a well planned takeover of the U.S.A. by the yet to be proclaimed Caliph of the new, Global Caliphate, Barack Husseiin Obama. (Obviously though, there are others behind Obama, guiding and teaching him, and doing their damndest to keep him reading his "Monitors".George Soros ring a bell)?"

      A conspiracy is plausible, but so is this article. This article in my mind doesn't dispute the menace of Islam, it just focuses on what we know for certain about current events.

    • PhilipReinstein

      I would go further than Greenfield. I think Obama wants to empower Islam, and the Arab states that promote it. I don't agree with Reverend Trepanier that Obama wants to be Caliph of the Global Caliphate, but the good reverend is exactly right in saying that Islam is more than a religion.
      Islam is as totalitarian and warlike as Communism or Nazism before it. Any religious aspects of Islam are irrelevant to us. Islam today, intends to murder all the Jews and subjugate the rest us. The Arab world is big in size and population, and it is rich. We cannot afford such egregious "errors in foreign policy". Obama delivered Egypt's 80 million people to the radicals, and intends to let Iran have nuclear weapons. The first was a disaster. The second would be a holocaust, and not just for the Jews. It cannot be allowed.

  • American thinker

    Excellent article and interesting well put thesis.

  • Spider

    I agree with Roy – This is no "Foreign Policy Error" – This is BOs Foreign Policy. I view BO as almost a Manchurian candidate – a foreign plant if you will sent here to destabilize our country and Further the interests of our arch enemies.His administration is completely infested with Com-munists and Is-lamists. Every foreign policy speech or action he has taken has been Sharia and Mu-slim Brotherhood compliant.

  • http://weroinnm.wordpress.com/ weroinnm

    Middle East Analyst: U.S. Appeases Muslim Brotherhood; Syria in Possession of Missiles!
    http://wethepeopleusa.ning.com/profiles/blogs/mid
    “Food For Thought”

    Semper Fi!

    Jake

  • patsjc

    One of the biggest problems in the US is that about 95% of our people do not understand that there
    is a religious and a POLITICAL side to Islam. If they dont get this soon we will be overun by the Political side of Islam. We believe in freedom of religion but not freedom of politics as Islam would like us to believe.

    This is an excellent article byGreenfield.

    • vladdi

      Extortion is NOT politics! Politics has been best defined as "power-trading;" but in islam, there's absolutely NO give-and-take trading; it's ALL TAKE!

      And, as for it being a "religion" – it's not one at all, much less one "of peace!"

      Here's islam's "holy Message from god" as exemplified by the collective words and deeds of it's Founder:

      "I will save humanity by lying to, extorting, torturing, robbing, burning out of their homes, kidnapping and ransoming, enslaving, raping and murdering everyone who even only verbally disagrees with me – and you can, too!"

      -Muhammad-

      So obviously, islam is ONLY an ancient, ongoing extortion-racket CRIME-syndicate, and the only "religious" part in it, is where they say:

      "God told us to commit these crimes!"

      (Capisce?)!
      ;-)

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "Extortion is NOT politics! Politics has been best defined as "power-trading;" but in islam, there's absolutely NO give-and-take trading; it's ALL TAKE!"

        You're right about the end goals, for sure, but politics are used extensively when they are weak. That happens a lot.

        • vladdi

          Well sure – their doctrines define a political peace treaty ("hudna") as a merely temporary one – to last, at MOST, ten years (and to be broken all the sooner if and when they have the numbers & strength to have a reasonable chance of success); war against the infidels is, after all, OFFICIALLY their "most pious act!"
          ;-)

          • objectivefactsmatter

            Right. Totalitarian regimes may not want to compromise, but they use politics to gain their total power. It's just not part of their strategic end game to continue politics once they assume total control. Having said that, it's never really happened that way.

            We agree, I'm just offering a nuanced explanation.

          • vladdi

            Right again; islam is based on the tribal us-versus-them meme. It's totalitarian CONFORMITY is what it is – pretty-much exactly the same as their communazi buddies on the left. And the only difference between fascism and communism (both rely on the criminal jungle-law of group might makes rights, depriving all individuals of theirs) is that the fascist state pretends to have an arms-length control, but not outright ownership of the military/industrial complex, and the communists endorse outright theft and so 'ownership' of them! i.e: NO real difference, because of course enforced control = ownership, (or at least responsibility) for all practical purposes!

            Doesn't matter what tactics they use, their overall strategy is power at any/all costs, because of course like all criminals they believe in might makes right, and not (like all us civilized folks) the reverse. They will steal because they like to think they can have rights without responsibilities, and they lie because lying is only the most basic form of theft (it's the theft of the Truth) and theft IS crime!
            ;-)

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Doesn't matter what tactics they use, their overall strategy is power at any/all costs, because of course like all criminals they believe in might makes right, and not (like all us civilized folks) the reverse. They will steal because they like to think they can have rights without responsibilities, and they lie because lying is only the most basic form of theft (it's the theft of the Truth) and theft IS crime!"

            Again, total agreement. I'm explaining why some discourse seems to overlook the points you make, and that is the tactics are important when we need to counter them. In other words, we do need to be concerned with more than their end game if we plan to stop them before doing more harm. Having said that, their end game is also important because people will some times trivialize the facts under discussion by attempting to draw parallels with Western culture, which are deceptive without the big picture (or enough comprehensive fact-based history).

            Have a nice weekend Vlad

          • vladdi

            Of course. When libs try to draw parallels with western culture, they're really only employing the cognitive-thinking logical fallacy evasion tactic known as the Argumentum Tu Quoque, which in this case can be most basically summed up as: "ISLAM ISN'T EVIL BECAUSE WE ALL DO IT TOO!" As if simply listing more than one wrong somehow then miraculously turns one of them into a right!

            They've never actually dared to read the moslems' own stuff – their Qur'an, sahih ahadith, Tabari histories, Ibn Hisham's rendition of Ibn Ishaq's sirat rasul allah, nor any of the four sunni nor one shia maddhab fiqhs of sharia crime ("law"). They always just put their BIGOTTED, fact-free OPINIONS up against the moslem's own most official commandments and subsequent historical FACTS. That's careless, criminally negligent slander, where they assume they have the right to accuse others of crimes, without having the personal responsibility to gather any facts for evidence against them (i.e: us).

            By definition, (our Western,) "civilized" cultures DO NOT ATTACK OTHERS FIRST – they obey the Golden Rule which forbids this, and so enjoy trust & progress.

            The only "cultures" which attack (decapitate, straight-up murder, etc) other people, are, by definiton, the (Eastern,) barbaric ones which go by the might-makes-right jungle law; and so they inflict distrust & stagnation on them selves and on everyone else, too… which is why we have technology and they still live in dirt and ruins. Because if "all indoctrinating cultures are really the same," as the liberals would like to choose to pretend then, then it's never the cultural software that's at fault, so it must be the physical hardware – in other words, they're simply advocating for the false notion that the moslems are impoverished because we are smarter than they are (and so, we caused it) or that the moslems are simply racially inferior and can't help being mindlessly violent animals, the poor benighted little dears. Liberals can't seem to simply man up and admit that the might-makes-right, violent "culture" of islam is evil all on it's own, regardless of any/all other evils! And that' s simply because they already know it is, but are personally too scared to admit it, the cowardly traitors.

            Obviously, those parochial bigots only know some recent, 'western' history; they've been able to safely ignore all the moslems' Eastern depredations; to them, nazis and moslems aren't exactly the same, simply because moslems are poor brown people from Africa, and the nazis were rich white Europeans! How shallow.

            For the last 1,400 years, islam has openly and OFFICIALLY declared criminal, aggressive war on all of humanity, officially, right in their "holy" Qur'an. And they've acted on it, too – with a historical average of a lot less than 1% of the global population, they've still managed to be responsible for over HALF of all murders (and all other crimes). Islam has murdered over 270 million people (that's OVER A QUARTER-BILLION INNOCENT LIVES SACRIFICED TO ALLAH so far)! Islam has committed more murders (and all other crimes) than EVERY other human creed (both secular and religious)!

            So, because of their official, "THOU SHALT KILL!" creed, (and even with having bred themselves up to be one fifth of the world today,) the moslems are still from between four and several hundred times more likely to commit murders (and all other crimes) than EVERYONE ELSE, combined!

            Have a great weekend, yourself!

  • Randy CA

    The current clash of civilizations stated with the greatest of clarity:

    "The presence of Muslims in the West makes the takeover of Western countries necessary for the same reason that the takeover of Muslim countries by Islamists was necessary. Muslim immigration to the West creates a mandate to impose Islamic law on the West. Western leaders react to that by offering to accept some elements of Sharia into their legal system. This moves the process into the second stage, the one that the Arab Spring countries were under, practicing an imperfect version of Islamic law that the Islamists were then compelled to “perfect.”

  • Anthony

    Another nail in Uncle Sam’s coffin is trying ho hold together a polyglot nation by importing a replenishment population consisting of non-European peoples and then expecting them to live harmoniously while maintaining the European civilization that supplies them all the goodies, safety, and comfort not found in the home they left behind, yet still wish to recreate (Eg., Moslems) here.

    Close the lid, America is dead, has been for quite some time.

    • nina

      Do you7 include Hindus, Chinese and Koreans in this dirge?

    • Ghostwriter

      I'm not as gloomy about the state of this country as you are,Anthony. We've been through tough times before but have managed to bounce back. The Civil War was bad but we managed to come back stronger. You blame non-Europeans for our nation's problems. Not all of them are like what you say. There are those that are a problem but there are others that are not. With the right leadership,we can bounce back.

  • http://oldschooltwentysix.blogspot.com/ oldschooltwentysix

    Too many are unable to understand that Islam may have tried to be about peace, but soon turned to aggression as its means to bring submission of non-believers.

    • vladdi

      I'm not so sure it ever tried to be about peace; even in the beginning, when Moe was preaching peace-like stuff (before he got exiled from Mecca and formed his first gang of holy bandits in Medina) he was quoted in his own most official hadiths as having demanded the rest of the Meccans destroy all their idols, and, when they refused, he said:
      "Then I will bring you slaughter!"

      So his first attack was a non-defensive, psychological one – a threat (and all threats are coercion, duress, extortion – "TERRORISM!") and all non-defensive attacks are crimes.

      "Submission, the religion of Pacification" = "Extortion, the religion of Thieves!"

  • vladdi

    Islam's "Might makes right!" credo meets the Western salesman's one, that:
    "There's no money in solutions!"

    Guess who's going to "win!"?

    As someone once said:
    "The one thing both militarists and pacifists can agree on, is that there should be no resistance to the use of force!"

    "Whee!"
    ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/TopAssistant Frank Livingston

    Obama’s goals are to be UN Secretary-General, form a global Caliphate which will include the United States, implement UN Resolution 16/18 which will begin the process of removing our First amendment. He violates the Constitution and our useless RINO leadership does nothing.

  • Sunbeam

    I fully agree with Anthony that this written article of Greenfield should be email to the NYT and the State Department and one to Romney as he may be quite ignorant of Islam's political ideology and its tenets. It would be very wise and can be helpful where one is not well verse in this complexity of issue such as Islam's main objective and goal. Why not, Fpm? We do hope that Mr Greenfield would continue to write this truth to circulate to the public to bring awareness and educate society who have been far too long kept in the dark and in total ignorance of the whole situation.

    • Kufar Dawg

      LOL, the NYT? Are you kidding me? They specialize in printing islamofascist propaganda as fact. The State Dept. is quite possibly being run by an islamofascist collaborator!

      • Sunbeam

        Oh, I made a mistake, Kufar, not NYT….it's an error, dear. Thank you for pointing out.

        • Kufar Dawg

          I didn't mean to offend you, although I probably did. I'm sorry.

          Sending this to the US State Dept. these days would be like complaining to the
          NKVD about Stalin.

  • fanlad

    We now know why the Communists and Islamist s cooperate in bringing down western concerns and interests. Both have the so called future political vision with a final world solution, but only one currently has the violent attack and bite of the "Tiger". I now picture a Communist riding a tiger, both running toward world domination. How does this picture end? Thanks for the image Mr. Greenfield.

    • vladdi

      Yep! Like all criminals who pretend they can have rights to other's property without the responsibility of trading and negotiating for it, they believe in might makes right. They attack first by slanderously blaming their victims: "If I didn't defend myself by attacking you first, you would have attacked me first anyway! Whee!"
      ;-)

  • Sunbeam

    My mistake……….not NYT. NYT is mainstream media who pledge its allegiance and support to Obama for a second term office. My full apologies.

  • Melanie M.

    Obama was raised in their traditions. Obama knows what Islam is about, just as a kid raised in west Texas knows what Christianity is about.

    It does not take a genius to understand what Islam’s goals are, just an honest person who is willing to observe and hold people accountable for their ACTIONS.

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