Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Alex Alexiev, adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute in Wash. D.C.
FP: Mr. Alexiev, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
During the last election campaign you wrote that if Barack Obama emerges victorious “the loudest cheers could come from the sworn Islamist enemies of our civilization.”
What are your views of President Obama’s policies with respect to radical Islam so far and do you still believe that the Islamists have a reason to be happy with the new administration?
Alexiev: With a caveat that it is still too early in the new administration’s tenure to form a definitive opinion, I’d have to say that the Islamists, foreign and domestic, have every reason to be happy with the direction in which the president is taking the country. This is particularly clear in the realm of foreign policy, but is also manifesting itself in domestic policy.
FP: Give an example. Start with the domestic situation.
Alexiev: Well, as I said, it is still early and the administration is not yet fully staffed - especially in the second-tier staff positions - so we don’t yet know what direct role radical Islamists are likely to play, but let me give you two examples that indicate either remarkable ignorance on the part of the White House with respect to Islamism or else a sympathetic attitude that is troubling.
The first is the invitation to the head of ISNA, Ingrid Mattson, to participate in the inauguration celebration as a guest of the presidential box. Now, it is well-known that ISNA is a key player in the Muslim Brotherhood subversive networks in this country and an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) terror financing trial. What must be particularly galling to our counter-terrorism officials is that Mattson and ISNA are still being coddled by the White House despite the fact that last November the HLF conspirators were found guilty on all charges and Justice refused to remove ISNA from the list of unindicted co-conspirators. Exactly what kind of message is Mr. Obama trying to send to our law enforcement?
The second case has to do with the notorious Saudi shill Charles “Chas” Freeman. He has been roundly criticized for his strident anti-Israeli and pro-Communist Chinese views and such criticisms are of course valid. But what’s much more important in my view is the fact that he has been a paid Saudi agent of influence for a long time, including publishing and promoting Islamic and anti-American propaganda in our schools. For a man who should objectively be considered a security risk to be been appointed the head of the National Intelligence Council is simply unconscionable. And yes, Freeman ultimately exited the stage, but the fact that he was appointed for the position speaks volumes.
FP: Closing Guantanamo? Do you consider it a domestic or a foreign policy issue?
Alexiev: It cuts both ways really but the latest news from the administration could make it more of a domestic issue. We have just been told by Attorney General Eric Holder that the administration is now considering releasing some of these murderous thugs in America, since their own countries won’t have them, in order for Mr. Obama to keep his promises to the loony Left to close the facility next year. It is not difficult to imagine some of these cutthroats promptly reverting to jihad on American soil courtesy of the American government.
FP: Tthe recent foreign political initiatives of the White House?
Alexiev: It is clear that after only nine weeks in power, President Obama is embarked on a dramatic reorientation, or should I say about face, of American foreign policy in the direction of appeasement of our enemies and indifference or worse toward our friends, something we last saw under Jimmy Carter.
Take Obama’s eagerness to talk to those that don’t want to talk to us like the mullahs in Tehran, the decision to steer $900 million to Gaza, which, whatever the spin, means Hamas, and new efforts to appease Putin by reneging on our missile defense commitments to the Eastern Europeans, to name just a few examples.
In the process, the president has also reneged on key campaign promises. Let’s just take the Afghan issue for a minute. You would remember, Jamie, Obama’s tough campaign rhetoric about invading Pakistan to deny sanctuaries to the Taliban, going to the “gates of Hell” to get Osama bin Laden and winning the “good war” in Afghanistan as opposed to the bad war in Iraq.
FP: Yes, it was the one foreign policy issue on which Obama projected a tougher image than McCain and it played well.
Alexiev: Well, you don’t hear any of this nowadays. What’s most disturbing is that Washington no longer talks about winning in Afghanistan but rather about striking a deal with the Taliban, which essentially means abandoning Afghanistan to the terrorists. It is not a coincidence that the American Left now feels emboldened to openly call for just that or that Obama’s claqueurs in the media like Farid Zakaria advise us to learn to live with radical Islam. If you think that’s far-fetched, take a look at what’s happening in Pakistan.
A month ago, the government of the Northwest Frontier Province, evidently at the urging of the military, made a deal with the Taliban in Swat to impose Sharia law in this federal Pakistani territory in return for a Taliban promise to cease hostilities. As part of this deal the military was to return to their barracks, report all their movements to the militants and the government was to release all imprisoned Taliban, including assorted murderers and rapists. These are the same people, by the way, that destroyed 200 schools in the area and threatened to bomb all schools attended by girls last December.
This was nothing short of a complete capitulation of the Pakistani government and its military to the terrorists. It is interesting to note that the NWFP’s ruling Awami National Party which arranged this surrender had come to power by defeating the Islamist parties with the votes of the people of Swat, who have now been delivered to the tender mercies of the same fanatics. It is further of note that this capitulation also means that the Pakistani military, in which we have sunk billions of dollars over the years, is either unable or unwilling to stand up to the terrorists. Last but not least, this is not just a surrender to the Taliban but also to Al Qaeda with which the Swat militants are closely allied.
FP: How has the Obama administration reacted to this troubling development?
Alexiev: Washington’s reaction is the most disturbing not to say scandalous aspect of this disaster. It has come in the form of remarks by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the effect that he considered the Swat agreement an acceptable compromise. If this is a sign of the administraton’s thinking about negotiating with the Taliban, and I can’t see how it could be otherwise, we’re facing a national security disaster.
As you know, Jamie, I have been very critical of the Bush administration’s policies toward Pakistan which was declared our strategic ally despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. But this administration has already proven more dangerously misguided on this key issue in just nine short weeks.
The American people should know that negotiating with the Taliban is the same as negotiating with Al Qaeda and ultimately means surrendering Afghanistan and Pakistan both to the people that brought you 9/11. An American government that becomes complicit in such an outcome is an American government that would be complicit in the next 9/11.
FP: Thank you Alex Alexiev.