September 22, 2009

South Carolina’s Jim DeMint is one of my favorite Republicans. The senator’s unwavering opposition to government spending—from “stimulus” and national healthcare to auditing the Federal Reserve—just warms my conservative heart. That is until he breaks it again, as he always does, by going back to supporting the biggest government program of them all.

On the day before DeMint appeared on FOX News in support of the tens of thousands of anti-government protesters who gathered on 9/12 in Washington, DC, he gave the following comments on the senate floor:

Today marks the eighth anniversary of America’s war on terror… It’s crucial to remember now, as the terror and tragedy of that day recedes into the past, this war did not begin with the 9/11 attacks or when we sent troops to Afghanistan and it will not end when we defeat terrorists on any battlefield. Our goal cannot be merely to end one war but to win the war on terror. We will not win trying to appease the grievances of our enemies. They do not hate our policies; they hate us, our freedoms and our way of life.

DeMint could not be more wrong—wrong about the nature of Islamic terrorism, their motive for murder, and how to prevent further attacks.

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Do Islamic terrorists find American democracy weak, our culture too libertine and our comparative materialism repugnant? They sure do, and their Koran even says all sorts of nasty stuff about Christians, Jews, and other infidels. I have about as much tolerance for intolerant Islam as they do for Western liberalism, and we allow too many followers of Allah on American soil at our own peril. Right now, Europe is learning this lesson the hard way.

But blaming 9/11 or the current terrorist threat exclusively on Islamists’ anti-Western prejudice is like blaming alcoholism on an addictive personality while completely ignoring the substance of the problem; the alcohol. The overwhelming, primary motivator for Islamic terrorism is our interventionist foreign policy. A would-be Islamic terrorist might cringe over Playboy or gay marriage in a far-away land, but the substance of his hatred is the presence and activity of the U.S. in his homeland.

In the 1990’s, the U.N. estimated that over a half Iraqi million children had died due to US sanctions, the Iraq War alone has resulted in over 100,000 civilian casualties to over a million depending on the source, and the number of American “infidels” on Muslim holy land -a primary complaint of Osama Bin Laden in 2001 – has now increased ten-fold. Plenty of Americans believe the US is justified in invading any nation it sees fit to avenge deaths of the 2,998 civilians killed on 9/11. Yet, that Islamic terrorists only hate our “freedom” and are not retaliating to avenge the hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of their own civilian deaths, is dangerously naïve. The terrorists attack us here because we are over there. Period. And in 2009, more of us are over there than ever.

DeMint strikes me as a patriotic guy who bought into the same false war narrative many Americans did in the days and months that followed 9/11. Today, DeMint finds himself as a primary spokesman for many of these same Americans – only this time they want to go to war against the Democrats big government agenda. So do I.

But it makes no sense to protest the big government on the Democrats’ horizon while still promoting the big government of the recent Republican past. DeMint’s clarion call on the eight anniversary of 9/11to “defeat” a vaguely defined enemy by achieving some undefined victory is a recipe for eternal war, a foreign policy approach that not only almost guarantees another terrorist attack, but the astronomical cost of which completely negates the senator’s otherwise limited government message.

DeMint seems like a genuine man who truly believes in limited government, but has yet to confront the glaring contradiction between his domestic and foreign policies. DeMint is representative of many conservatives who continue to harbor the same contradiction. Pro-war conservatives remind me much of welfare-loving liberals—no matter how much it costs and no matter how much government makes the problem worse, both groups insist their respective wars on “terror” and “poverty” are battles America must fight forever. DeMint’s attachment to the failed “war on terror” narrative might indeed be heartfelt, but remains just as destructive to America’s financial health and national security as the “socialist” Democrats he opposes so stridently.

Perhaps the two greatest threats to the U.S. today are terrorism and big government. The Democrats have long been champions of more government and Obama now seems intent on continuing with a Bush-style, interventionist foreign policy. The Republicans have decided to fight this president on much of his domestic agenda, but essentially agree that Obama should mimic Bush by turning Afghanistan into his own $3 trillion war. It seems the Democrats are completely wrong and the Republicans are half wrong and neither truly stands for limited government. And I’m sorry, but having to choose between the jackass party and the half-assed party, is no choice for me.


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