Response to ‘Salon’ Article: “We Created Islamic Extremism

Read Salon article:

This article was very thought provoking and challenging to my worldview. I appreciate the person who suggested it to me because i think it is healthy to know what is out there in the marketplace of ideas and to not insulate ourselves from alternative points of view.

I have several thoughts on the article and I hope you will try to see from my point of view. 1) The article made me think about the stark differences between the political left and the right in the way we view the world. Salon is far left on the political spectrum and understanding this helped me see why the author kept pushing socialism while criticizing capitalism as immoral. Along the same lines, the author made a false dichotomy between socialism and capitalism when he stated, “The West was much, much more interested in preserving capitalism than it was in allowing secularism, gender equality and relative economic equality to flourish under socialism” As if to say that capitalism entails gender inequality automatically or that communism entails better outcomes than capitalism. This seems disconcerting considering the author is railing on the same system that they are benefiting from. I wonder if the author would have preferred the soviet communists had won the cold war? does he think that islamic extremism would have been quelled? Not obviously. The author makes an interesting point when he says of “bigoted” and “hateful” conservatives: “if they admit that it “sometimes” engages in problematic behavior, they, deep-down, believe Western empire to be fundamentally rooted in good will, in humanitarianism, in progress, in the proselytizing of civilization” I would rephrase this in terms of the U.S. interventions abroad and say that- “with few exceptions our efforts have been noble efforts to spread liberty” while those on the left (e.g. salon) would say, “with few exceptions, the U.S. interventions abroad have been engaged in for solely economic and/or imperialist reasons” (for more on this, i suggest Dennis Prager’s book “still the best hope…”)

2) the author seems to sympathize with and excuse the terrorists murderous actions by shifting blame to the west and the US. This is outrageous not to mention a fallacious form of argumentation. (Tu quoque) Even if we were to concede that every point the author made about the evils of American foreign policy, it would not follow that what the terrorists are doing is morally acceptable. It is also interesting to note that while the U.S. still has military bases all over the world including Germany and japan following WWII, we do not see Germans or Japanese committing acts of terror for our supposed “imperialist” sin of staying there. Although the author would probably be okay with them doing that. Our reasons for staying in these countries regards our strategic ability to project power and defend our interests and our ally’s abroad quickly. We did not have this ability before WWII. (…/assessing-common-arguments-for-cu…).

Maybe one day we will be able to be an isolationist nation. Today is not that day and the day we step away from our responsibilities is the day another power will step into our place. I wonder what that power will look like. Will it be worse than the U.S.? We must remember that “imperialism” and the conquest ethic is not uniquely a western or american ideal. Every national border we see today took years of conquest and in some cases imperialistic ideals in order to obtain them. Most of these borders were formed while the U.S. was not in existence. “From the 13th century to the 20th, the Ottoman Empire sought to conquer and expand—not least in Europe. Its collapse came about when its sultan decided to enter what became known as World War I on what turned out to be the losing side.” (…/a-quick-world-war-i-history-lesso…/) The Ottoman empire was today’s middle east

3) “In the past century alone there have been four great threats made to peace, democracy and freedom. Each of them have come from enemies that hate and fear what the United States stands for, as laid down in her Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. Three of these have come from differing mutations of Fascism, and one from its totalitarian twin, Communism. In each case it has been the US military that has been a principal force protecting the Free World from the tyranny these threats have sought to impose.”- Andrew Roberts (British historian) (…/why-americas-military-must-be-str…). The current threat to freedom is fundamentalist islamic terrorism which is a form of fascism. While the author is right to say that we utilized Afghans warriors to fight USSR during the cold war. does this mean that we were intentionally preparing and arming our enemies knowing that they would wage jihad against us in the future? No. Is the author saying that we should not strategically place weapons in the hands of the enemies of our enemies so that they dont turn on us in the future? We should certainly learn from our past strategies when coming up with strategies in the future.

None of what i just wrote abrogates the U.S. responsibilities to ethically and thoughtfully lead the world. The above responses, if taken seriously, show a reasonable response from an alternative viewpoint that I hope will encourage further thought and comment on the subject. I take this very seriously and if i am wrong about my assumptions regarding history or this issue, i should be corrected.


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