Romney’s Syria Problem
His support for “opposition groups” is misplaced.

Mitt Romney campaigns in Warwick, R.I., May 31, 2012.


Andrew C. McCarthy

Yet, here comes Romney, jumping with both feet into the Islamist camp. This week, he slammed President Obama for purportedly failing to work with our two fabulous “allies,” the Brotherhood-tied Islamist regime in Turkey and the jihad-propagating Wahabist regime in Saudi Arabia, in order to oust Assad. Obama’s temporizing, according to Romney, had “merely granted the Assad regime more time to execute its military onslaught.”

This is a specious critique. Put aside that Romney is wrong — the administration should stay on the sidelines. The reality is that Obama has been working behind the scenes with the Saudis and the Turks. The administration is supporting the Brotherhood-controlled SNC — just as it threw its weight behind Islamists in Egypt and Libya. What Obama has been smart enough to do, at least to this point, is refrain from direct military aid, undoubtedly realizing that he would be blamed when, inevitably, it became clear that American arms went to America’s enemies. But McCain and the Brotherhood goaded the president into using force in Libya — where the victorious “rebels” quickly installed sharia law and parceled out Qaddafi’s arsenal to Hezbollah, Hamas, and al-Qaeda. Another misadventure in Syria, it seems, is only a matter of time.

In their anxiety over our nation’s future, conservatives see the upcoming November election as a make-or-break crossroads. Thus, the Right’s indifference to Mitt Romney, the only alternative to Obama’s reelection, is striking. But it is not bewildering, and stories like Syria’s go a long way toward explaining it. Desperation to avoid the third Carter term does not translate into enthusiasm over the specter of the third Bush administration.

It was during George W. Bush’s second term that the original Bush doctrine of eradicating terror networks and their supporting regimes was fully superseded by the revised Bush doctrine of “Muslim outreach” and Islamist empowerment — gussied up as “democracy promotion.” It was during the second Bush term that the coherent, completed anti-terrorist mission of dislodging Saddam Hussein gave way to the incoherence of the “freedom agenda.” That was policy made of the pretense that Islamic hearts and minds could be won over by a kinder, gentler style of war-fighting, one that elevated the safety of hostile Muslim populations over the security of our troops and the vanquishing of our enemies. It was under Bush, not Obama, that the executive branch began indulging Islamist demands that the government purge references to Islamic doctrine in discussions of jihadist terror. It was Bush’s State Department, not Obama’s, that first sustained the Clintonian approach of appeasing Iran: a blind eye to the mullahs’ facilitation of terror against our troops and a blind faith in the capacity of sanctions to bring them to heel.    

These policies were not merely unwise; they were immensely unpopular. Americans strongly favored military action against jihadists and their enablers. They never supported nation-building schemes and never agreed with the ruling class that propping up sharia states disguised as democracies was an appropriate use of our armed forces. And while official Washington lauds leaders of Islamist organizations as “moderates” who are willing to seek “change” through the political process rather than violence, Americans see them as extremists trying to sow sharia principles into our law and institutions. Thus, despite an unrelenting smear campaign by which Islamists — abetted by leftists — seek to silence their critics with accusations of bigotry and “Islamophobia,” Americans continue to support state initiatives to bar courts from relying on sharia law, to oppose provocations such as the Ground Zero mosque, and to applaud initiatives such as Senator Rand Paul’s worthy proposal to cut off U.S. aid to Pakistan because of its enforcement of such sharia strictures as the death penalty in blasphemy cases.

So unpopular was the second Bush term that it gave us, first, the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006, and then, in 2008, the Obama administration. The Republican establishment sloughed these electoral thumpings off to the country’s being “war weary.” But the country has never been war weary — when we are threatened, we want the threats dealt with decisively. What we are is Islam weary.


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