In other words, people with high-level Muslim Brotherhood connections occupy positions of influence in the Obama administration on matters related to national security and Muslim affairs — at the same time Obama’s policies have encouraged the dramatic rise of the previously outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East. Yet when the congressional letter surfaced, Bachmann and her colleagues came under savage attack as McCarthyites and “Islamophobes,” whose request for an inquiry was itself deemed un-American. These attacks came not only from the Washington Post, leading Democrats, and such well-known apologists for Islamists as Georgetown’s John Esposito, but also from Republicans John McCain and John Boehner. Without bothering to address the facts the Bachmann letter presented, McCain said, “When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches vicious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are, in ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poor because of it.” In other words, Bachmann and her colleagues were bigots. Said Boehner: “I don’t know Huma, but from everything that I do know of her she has a sterling character. Accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.” In other words, asking reasonable questions about a woman with undeniable ties to the Muslim Brotherhood who stands at the center of American policy was more dangerous than allowing those ties to remain unexamined.
In the hands of today’s leftists, the terms “McCarthyite,” “Islamophobe,” and their equivalents are not descriptions of a political pathology but rather bludgeons wielded to shut down inquiry into behavior that may be harmful to the United States. Instead of rejecting these slurs as they are used to invoke a brutal cloture on a matter of national security, Republican leaders participated in the successful effort to suppress the debate.
The Betrayal of Iraq
Why this lack of conviction on a matter combining internal security and foreign policy, traditional pillars of Republican strength? The answer can be found in the way the Republicans allowed themselves to be intimidated and then silenced as the Left put forth its version of “the lessons of Iraq.” The moment when Republicans lost the national-security narrative — and abandoned their role as defenders of the homeland — came in June 2003, just six weeks after the Saddam regime fell. That month, the Democratic party launched a national television campaign claiming that Bush lied to the American people to lure them into a war that was “unnecessary,” “immoral,” and “illegal.”
Until that moment, the war in Iraq had been supported by both parties and was regarded by both as a strategic necessity in the larger War on Terror. Removing Saddam’s regime by force, moreover, had been a specific goal of U.S. policy since October 1998, when Bill Clinton, a Democratic president, signed the Iraqi Liberation Act.
In his time on center stage, Saddam launched two aggressive wars, murdered 300,000 Iraqis, used chemical weapons on his own citizens, and put in place an active nuclear-weapons program. He was thwarted only by his defeat in the first Gulf War. As of 2002, his regime had defied 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions designed to enforce the Gulf War truce and stop Iraq from pursuing its ambition to possess weapons of mass destruction. In September 2002, the U.N. Security Council added a new resolution, which gave the regime until December 17 to comply with its terms or face consequences. When Iraq failed to comply, Bush made the only decision compatible with the preservation of international law and the security of the United States: He prepared an invasion to remove the regime and the weapons of mass destruction it was reasonably presumed to possess. The Iraqi dictator was provided the option of leaving the country and averting war. He rejected the offer and the U.S.-led coalition entered the country on March 19, 2003. (I recounted the story in Unholy Alliance.)
The use of force in Iraq had been authorized by both houses of Congress, including a majority of Democrats in the Senate. It was supported in eloquent speeches by John Kerry, John Edwards, Al Gore, and other Democratic leaders. But just three months into the war, Democrats turned against an action that they had authorized and began a five-year campaign to delegitimize it, casting America as its villain. It was a fundamental break with the post–World War II bipartisan foreign policy that had survived even Vietnam.
With the support and protection of Democratic legislators, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the major TV networks now undertook a relentless five-year propaganda campaign against the war, taking relatively minor incidents like the misbehavior of guards at the Abu Ghraib prison and blowing them up into international scandals, damaging their country’s prestige and weakening its morale. Left-leaning news media leaked classified national-security secrets, destroying three major national-security programs designed to protect Americans from terrorist attacks. (For more on this, see my work with Ben Johnson, Party of Defeat, and Douglas Feith’s War and Decision.) Every day, the New York Times and other left-leaning media provided front-page coverage of America’s body counts in Iraq and Afghanistan and helped to fuel a massive “anti-war” movement, which attacked America’s fundamental purposes along with its conduct of the war. The goal of these campaigns was to indict America and its leaders as war criminals who posed a threat to the world.