Doctor McCarthy Is In
Curing a case of bad foreign policy

Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, by Andrew C. McCarthy


LOPEZ: Who is Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi?

McCARTHY: Mohamed Morsi is an interesting character. For one thing, he is a testimony to the Muslim Brotherhood’s American infrastructure: He joined the organization while attending college in the United States — his gateway was the Muslim Students Association, as it is for many Islamists, including some notorious terrorists. He is a dyed-in-the-wool sharia activist who rose through the Brotherhood’s ranks because he believes in both supremacist ideology and the Brotherhood’s rigorous discipline and respect for hierarchy. He did brief stints in jail under Mubarak, was reliably anti-Western as a legislator, and despises Israel. He is not a charismatic figure; he has long been regarded as the smart, steady guy in the retinue of Khairat el-Shater, who is the dynamic leader of the Brotherhood. Shater would have been president if the military junta had not manufactured a bogus reason to take him off the ballot. Morsi was “Plan B” — the alternative if something happened to Shater. But Shater’s removal happened so late in the race, few gave Morsi a chance. His victory speaks volumes about the Brotherhood’s influence and political operation in Egyptian society.


LOPEZ: How bad has the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel been, and why should it matter to the American voter?

McCARTHY: Obama’s treatment of Israel has been deplorable. He has seemingly gone out of his way to provoke the Israelis, most recently by excluding them from the State Department’s Counterterrorism Forum — in which we “partner” with Turkey (which now funds Hamas) and other Islamist countries — even though Israel is the world’s leading target of terrorism. He has implicitly endorsed the Islamist claim that violent attacks against Israel are “resistance,” not terrorism. He has colluded with Turkey and the Brotherhood despite their explicitly anti-Israeli posture. It should matter to voters because when it becomes dangerous to be America’s friend and advantageous to be an Islamist (Islamists by nature are anti-Western), the world is a lot less safe for Americans. We’ve seen a good deal of that in the last couple of weeks.

LOPEZ: You have a chapter titled “Culture Is Everything.” Didn’t that get Mitt Romney in trouble?

McCARTHY: Well, if Romney is in trouble — and I happen to think the latest kerfuffle is way overblown — it will end up being because our culture has changed much more than we realized. I hope that’s not the case, but as I wrote in my weekend column a couple of weeks ago, we have lost about a third of the country from the culture of liberty that was the defining element of the American character. That’s an awful lot of people. My point about culture’s being everything is that we fixate on law and process. The Brotherhood homes in on culture — the Brothers grasp that once you control the culture, the law comes around in your favor, too.

LOPEZ: How quickly should we have gotten out of Afghanistan?

McCARTHY: Probably as soon as we decimated al-Qaeda and toppled the Taliban. We should obviously maintain a presence (or a number of “presences”) in the region to be ready to strike at jihadist safe havens. But we were always ambivalent about the Taliban. After 9/11, Bush originally offered to let them be if they’d hand over al-Qaeda, and now, of course, we’re negotiating their return. We shouldn’t commit our forces unless we are committed to defeating our enemies. As it happens, the government was never clear on whether the Taliban was our enemy, and the public never had any interest in having our people in Afghanistan in order to construct a new Afghan society. So the mission is a mess — an ever more perilous one in which we are irresponsibly putting our men and women in grave danger toward no good end.

LOPEZ: Who is sharia a threat to? Have we helped lessen its threat at all?

McCARTHY: Sharia is a threat to liberty. We can’t lessen its threat, because it is what it is. There are ways of interpreting it moderately, and many Muslims in the West do that. But the strong intellectual current in Islamic circles favors classical sharia, which is repressive. Don’t take my word for it. As I argue in Spring Fever, just read Reliance of the Traveller. It’s eye-poppingly repressive, and it bears the endorsements of the faculty at al-Azhar University and the Muslim Brotherhood’s American think tank, the International Institute of Islamic Thought.

LOPEZ: Is there reason to believe Mitt Romney would be an improvement? 

McCARTHY: Obama is affirmatively advancing the position of our enemies. This is not willful blindness anymore, it’s being on the wrong side. He is making Israel’s position ever more perilous. He is telling the world that it’s better to be America’s enemy than America’s friend. He is helping the Islamists try to force their sharia speech-suppression standards into our law, against our Constitution. He makes policy in accordance with his sense of global interests (as the Left sees them), not American interests. Just getting Obama out would be an enormous improvement in the addition-by-subtraction sense. But I think Romney would be a positive improvement. He is an American first. Do I worry that he’ll fall into the trap of seeing our enemies as our friends, which is a failing of the Republican establishment? Sure — although he did say on that tape that the Palestinians don’t want peace with Israel, which was a refreshing bit of truth. In any event, I think he’s smart enough to have learned from some of the missteps of the last decade, and I’m also confident that he knows who our actual friends are, particularly Israel. That would be a vast improvement.