Even more destructively, the neoconservative campaign to make the Islamic world ripe for democracy necessarily ignored the larger pathologies there that rendered the totalitarian dogma of the Muslim Brotherhood the most salient and popular ideology among Sunni Muslims. The neoconservatives’ focus on democratization blinded them to the fact that authoritarian and problematic allies like Mubarak were often the only possible allies available to the United States. Finally, the neoconservatives’ insistence that the urge toward democracy and freedom is universal led to their failure in places such as Iraq and Egypt to use U.S. resources wisely. If everyone is just like us, then there is no reason to cultivate the habits of liberty. There is no reason to empower women. There is no reason to financially and politically support nascent and weak democratic forces or to postpone elections until the scales are properly tipped in the direction of moderate forces congruent with U.S. interests. There is no reason to support Christian minorities. There is no reason to insist on the normalization of relations between countries such as post-Saddam Iraq and Israel.
Instead, elections were perceived as a panacea. Give the Arab world the vote and all will be well. In the event, the result was just the opposite. The Palestinians elected Hamas — their branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptians and Tunisians elected the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Bush administration’s false claim that the masses of the Islamic world share the values of the American people led to other problems as well. First and foremost, it confused Bush and his advisers about the distinction between Israel and its neighbors and so brought about Bush’s full-throated support for Palestinian statehood. His endorsement came even as it was becoming undeniable that the Palestinians, with their addiction to terrorism, their support for jihad, and their anti-Americanism and genocidal anti-Semitism, are the embodiment of all the pathologies of the larger Arab world. If you believe that Israel is no better than the Palestinians, then it is a short step to concluding that weakening Israel on the Palestinians’ behalf is only fair.
Losing sight of what makes Israel America’s closest strategic ally, the Bush administration relegated it to the uncertain category of “special friend,” sending to the Arab world the message that the U.S. was a treacherous ally and fundamentally confused about its interests in the global arena. If the so-called “peace process” was America’s chief concern in the region, then it followed that the U.S. should empower its worst enemies at the expense of its closest ally.
And indeed, by supporting Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and insisting on an Israeli ceasefire with Hezbollah in the 2006 war in Lebanon and northern Israel, the U.S. did in fact help its worst enemies. In Gaza, it supported the establishment of a jihadist state that has since contributed to the transformation of Sinai into a jihadist base of operations, and it emboldened the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan. And it facilitated Hezbollah’s — that is, Iran’s — takeover of Lebanon.
The Republican party’s failure to reconsider the ill-founded assumptions of Bush’s foreign policy toward the Islamic world led inevitably to Romney’s adoption of it in the election campaign. And as a consequence, his endorsement of Palestinian statehood and of Obama’s abandonment of Mubarak made it impossible for Romney to draw a meaningful distinction between Obama’s foreign policy and the foreign policy Romney himself would follow if elected.
There are two reasons that it is essential today for the Republican party and the conservative movement to reassess their foreign-policy positions and sharpen the distinctions between their positions and those of the Obama administration. First, while we cannot say exactly how Obama’s policy of appeasing jihadists will play out, its trajectory is clear, inevitable, and dangerous for America. When the dangers become obvious to the American public, the Republicans will have to have a clear, distinct vision and plan for American foreign policy. If they fail to present one, they will not only hurt themselves. They will hurt their nation.
Second, today and in the coming months and years, there will be a lot of soul-searching in the Republican party and the conservative movement over what went wrong in the 2012 elections. And with that soul-searching will come the inevitable temptation to adopt the Democrats’ policy of appeasement in a bid to woo various constituencies — suburban mothers, for example, and perhaps Muslim communities in Michigan, Tennessee, Minnesota, and other states. But Republicans must understand that, while this is tempting, it is a recipe for repeated electoral defeats. Democrats will always and forever be able to out-appease Republicans. And so constituencies that want the American government to appease our enemies will always and forever vote for them. If the Republicans wish to return to power in the foreseeable future, they must boldly draw a distinction between themselves as the party of victory and the Democrats as the party of defeat.
— Caroline B. Glick is senior contributing editor of the Jerusalem Postand director of the Israel Security Project at the David Horowitz Freedom Center in Los Angeles. She is currently writing a book (Crown, 2013) setting out a new U.S. and Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.