American gestures and concessions to Islamic terrorists, and the waiving of a U.S. military option while negotiating with Iran’s regime of terror, are perceived as weaknesses by American adversaries and allies alike.
Such a policy ignores, or takes lightly, the objective and well-documented 1,400-year track record of Islamic terrorism, while emphasizing the speculative future actions of terrorists.
Such a policy erodes the U.S. posture of deterrence, which is a prerequisite to the minimization of global turbulence, undermining U.S. interests in the international arena while bringing the threat of Islamic terrorism closer to the U.S. mainland.
Such a policy is based on the assumption that Islamic terrorism is driven by despair, and that it therefore must be dealt with diplomatically and economically, rather than militarily. However, Islamic terrorism is driven—and has been since the seventh century—by the imperialistic religious vision of establishing a universal Islamic society, dominating the world and subordinating the “infidel” to Islam, peacefully or otherwise.
Such a policy is based on the assumption that Islamic terrorism is driven by U.S. policy. However, Islamic terrorism has haunted the United States since the late 18th century during both Democratic and Republican administrations.
• During the 1980s, it was U.S. diplomatic, financial and military assistance that enabled the mujahideen to drive the USSR out of Afghanistan. Mujahideen-related Islamic terrorists reacted with an anti-U.S. terrorist offensive, which has persisted since 1996 and culminated on Sept. 11, 2001.
• In 2015, the United States engineered the nuclear accord with Iran’s ayatollahs (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA), which generated a mega-billion dollar bonanza for the Islamic Republic’s treasury, in addition to unprecedented diplomatic benefits. Iran’s ayatollahs reacted by vastly bolstering their role as a regional and global epicenter of subversion, terrorism, civil wars, the proliferation of ballistic capabilities and drug-trafficking in the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, Europe, and South and Central America, emerging as a leading threat to regional and global stability in general, and U.S. national and homeland security in particular.
• In 2011, the United States engineered a U.S.-led NATO military offensive against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, playing the key role in the toppling of the dictator’s regime by Islamic terrorists. In 2012, the Islamic terrorists took over the U.S. consulate and CIA compound in Benghazi, lynched the U.S. ambassador and three more Americans, and transformed Libya into a major platform of regional and global anti-U.S. Islamic terrorism.
• In 1978-79, the United States played an essential role in the toppling of the Shah of Iran (“America’s policeman in the Gulf”) by Ayatollah Khomeini. The ayatollahs reacted by taking over the U.S. Embassy, holding 63 American hostages for 444 days and emerging as a key threat to regional and global stability, including threatening vital U.S. interests abroad and on U.S. soil.
• In 1982-83, the United States sent its soldiers to Lebanon, in order to slow down Israel’s military pursuit of Palestinian terrorists. But in 1983, Palestinian and Islamic terrorists truck-bombed the U.S. Embassy and Marine headquarters in Lebanon, murdering 250 Americans.
• In 1993 and 2005, Israel made unprecedented concessions, which no Arab country ever did, by extending Palestinian Authority to major parts of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip, importing some 100,000 Palestinian terrorists from Tunisia, Lebanon, Yemen and Sudan to areas vital to the existence of the Jewish state. The reaction by the PLO (Palestinian Authority) and Hamas to these unprecedented concessions has been an unprecedented wave of anti-Israel terrorism and hate education, which reflect the Palestinian vision of eliminating the Jewish state.
• In the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and 1990, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait extended P.A. on their ground, triggering Palestinian terrorism against their generous hosts, culminating in Arafat’s and Mahmoud Abbas’s collaboration with Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Hence, the Arab view of Palestinians as a role model of intra-Arab subversion, terrorism and ingratitude. This is the cause for the wide gap between the pro-Palestinian Arab talk and the anti-Palestinian Arab walk, as demonstrated by the actual opposition of pro-U.S. Arab regimes to the establishment of a Palestinian state, which they assume would be another rogue entity, fueling further turbulence in the Middle East.
Against the backdrop of the aforementioned developments, one should not subordinate the reality of Islamic/Arab/Palestinian terrorism to well-intentioned oversimplification, lest it erode the U.S. posture of deterrence. This would play into the hands of Iran’s ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood (the largest Sunni Muslim terror network, spanning from India through the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the United States), the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, as well as Pakistan, Turkey, China and Russia.
Unlike the post-World War II German population, which was ready—historically, culturally, ideologically, politically and educationally—to accept democracy, coexistence and human rights, the Islamic/Arab Middle East is not susceptible to these Western values and institutions, persisting in its 1,400-year-old intra-Arab and intra-Muslim subversion, terrorism and war, irrespective of U.S. policy.
The assumption that Islamic/Arab/Palestinian terrorists will accord the Western/Israeli “infidel” that which they have yet to accord to one another—peaceful coexistence—is premature and divorced from reality.
Therefore, it behooves Western democracies in general, and the United States in particular, to enhance their military posture of deterrence and pursue peace through strength rather than peace through gestures, concessions and retreat.
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.
This article was first published by The Ettinger Report.