Caroline B. Glick is the deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post and the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy. Author of the recently released book Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad, Glick recently spoke to National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez about the region, the book, and the American presidency.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Who is the shackled warrior?
Caroline Glick: The shackled warrior is Israel. Between the Israeli peace movement, the local and international media, the U.N., Europe and the U.S., Israel is both forced to fight the war being waged against it with both hands tied behind its back and to believe that it bears responsibility for the genocidal anti-Semitism that has taken over the Islamic world.
Lopez: You recently wrote, “Today the Gaza strip is a terror state run by an Iranian proxy.” What can be done?
Glick: Iran’s proxy — Hamas — must be defeated militarily. Israel must overthrow its regime in Gaza by force of arms. And Israel mustn’t agree to simply replace Hamas with Fatah.
Fatah is an unacceptable alternative to Hamas for two main reasons. First of all, Fatah refuses to fight Hamas and is far less popular than Hamas among Gazans, so transferring control over Gaza to Fatah would simply permit Hamas to regenerate and reassert control. Second, Fatah itself is a terrorist organization. Even today with Hamas in power in Gaza, Fatah terrorists continue to attack Israel with missiles from Gaza. Indeed, it bears recalling that until its government was overthrown by Hamas in June 2007, Fatah smuggled more Iranian weapons into Gaza from Egypt than Hamas did.
Lopez: How did Washington resistance to an Israeli victory come to be?
Glick: Since 1956, the U.S. has prevented Israel from achieving political victory over its enemies, even as Israel has repeatedly defeated its enemies militarily. This happened most recently in 2003. After Israel defeated the Palestinian terror networks in the West Bank in 2002 and 2003, and despite the fact that in the course of its operations Israel proved conclusively that the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority was commanding and coordinating the Palestinian jihad against Israel, the U.S. forced Israel to accept the Road Map peace plan in 2003, and so forced it to continue to accept Fatah and the Palestinian Authority as legitimate interlocutors that should be given statehood, land, arms, money, and international legitimacy.
Lopez: But why won’t Washington let Israel win?
Glick: For the U.S. to support an Israeli victory over its foes, Washington would have to acknowledge that the war against Israel and the war against the U.S. are one and the same. Such a U.S. move would also necessitate an acknowledgement of the nature of the war that is being waged against the U.S. Yet as the experience of the past seven years has made clear, the U.S. prefers to ignore the identity of its enemy.
It is due to this stubborn denial of the nature of the war that the U.S. has preferred to refer to the war as a “war on terror” instead of a war on jihad. And it is due to this refusal to accept the nature of the enemy that jihadist leaders and jihadist states are referred to as “extremists” or “thugs.”
Since embracing Israel as a crucial ally and not only letting Israel win but encouraging it to do so would prevent the U.S. from continuing its policy of denying the nature of the war, the U.S. has insisted on pretending that the war against Israel is completely unrelated to the war being waged against it. In short, ignoring the nature of the war against Israel is a central component of the strategy of denying the nature of the war and so avoiding the need to fight it in a coherent fashion.
Lopez: Is it counterproductive to criticize Washington? Isn’t the White House right now about the best friend Israel has?
Glick: The U.S. is certainly the best friend that Israel has, but that doesn’t mean that Israel should place the interests of the U.S. State Department — which has been hostile to Israel since 1948 — above its own interests. Neither Israel nor the U.S. benefits from such a policy.
I think that what is most counterproductive is embracing delusion. If the U.S. got angry at Israel for pointing out a reality, would that make Israel worse or better off than it is when it collaborates with the U.S. by basing its policies on fantasy? I think that everyone is better off when we base our strategic decisions on reality.
Lopez: Is there any hope for Israel in any of the presidential candidates?
Glick: Israel is at war. Its enemies seek to destroy it. The U.S. is at war; its enemies — which are also Israel’s enemies — seek to bring America to its knees with the intention of eventually destroying it also. If an antiwar candidate wins the presidential elections, and if anti-war politicians are able to win filibuster-proof control over one or both houses of Congress, it will be bad for Israel. Israel is the frontline state in the global jihad and so it will be the first to pay a price for a U.S. capitulation. If the counterjihad that Israel and the U.S. are fighting is the contemporary equivalent of Vietnam for instance, then Israel is Cambodia.
But then, unlike the North Vietnamese, our common enemies have already attacked on U.S. soil. And so in the event that the U.S. simply stopped fighting, while Israel would be the first to suffer, the U.S. would also suffer.
Moreover, unlike the South Vietnamese and the Cambodians, Israel is not dependent on direct U.S. military assistance to defend itself. It only needs spare parts. So if the U.S. cut and ran under an anti-war administration, if Israel had good leaders, it would probably do just fine.
Lopez: Having been to Iraq and knowing jihad all too well, what’s the message you’d like to see U.S. politicians get?
Glick: I think that the work that U.S. forces are doing in Iraq is a stunning achievement. The U.S. is beating back jihad in Iraq in a thousand different ways every day. But U.S. success in Iraq is contingent upon the Iraqis trusting America to stay the course. Everywhere U.S. forces are approached by Iraqis who beg them not to leave. The message to U.S. politicians is loud and clear — the U.S. has to stay engaged in Iraq and throughout the region if freedom has any chance of taking root and beating back the forces of slavery and jihad. The war is not about the suicide bomber. It is about the mentality that produces suicide bombers and replacing that mentality with the habits of liberty. And that takes time.
Lopez: Are you surprised we’re not seeing the kind of suicide-bombing violence in the U.S. that Israelis are used to? (I think about this question every time I’m at Grand Central, Union Station, or Macy’s …. or a Sbarro’s.)
Glick: In Israel we have managed to curb suicide bombers by, among other things, placing armed guards at the entrances to our shopping malls and cafes and parking garages. Actually it is worth noting that Palestinians aren’t the only ones who have to wait at roadblocks. Israelis have to be inspected every single time we want to get on a bus or go into a mall or grocery store.
What Israeli generals like former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon always say is that the drop in bombings in Israel is 100 percent attributable to Israel’s military success in fighting and penetrating terror cells and preventing them from infiltrating into our cities and towns and highways. It has nothing to do with the Palestinians’ desire to attack us, which ha
s only increased over time. I think the same can be said of the U.S. The U.S. has succeeded in foiling terror plots against it since 9/11. And it is essential that those counterterror efforts continue because just assessing the statements made and the actions taken by the likes of al-Qaeda and Iran, it is clear that there has been no decrease in the enemy’s motivation to attack America.
Lopez: Has Europe betrayed Israel?
Glick: I think that the root of Europe’s refusal to support Israel is Europe’s refusal to accept the true lessons of the Holocaust. The lesson that Europe took from the Holocaust is that nationalism is bad. This of course, is absurd. Nationalism is neutral. Its relative badness or goodness is a direct function of how any specific nation behaves. The true lesson of the Holocaust is that nations and individuals have a responsibility to distinguish between good and evil and to support good and fight evil. Israel’s struggle against its neighbors, who refuse to accept it as a sovereign state just as Europeans refused to accept Jews as individuals in the 20th century, constitutes a moral challenge to Europe. And since Europe has refused to discard its moral relativism for moral choice, Europeans project their own moral blindness and weakness on Israel.
Lopez: Has it betrayed itself even more?
Glick: Pope Benedict XVI seems to think that Europe is betraying itself. And I daresay that he is correct. When Europe attacks Israel in diplomatic forums and in its media for defending itself against jihadist aggression, Europe is really saying that it is capitulating to Islamic pressure. In other words, the upshot of European attacks on Israel for targeting would-be murderers of innocents is an acceptance of the justness of aggression in the name of jihad. When Europe attacks Israel, it is saying that it prefers the same aggressors who are burning cars every night in Paris suburbs to their victims – whether they are Israeli or French.
It is notable that what we are seeing in European countries like Italy and France is that there is a direct correlation between a state’s willingness to defend itself against jihadists and its willingness to support Israel, (and the U.S.). In Italy for instance Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced that his first trip abroad will be to Israel. At the same time, he is changing the rules of engagement for Italian forces in Afghanistan to allow them to actually fight.
Lopez: How did a gal from the Midwest wind up in Jerusalem fighting jihad with her laptop?
Glick: I was inspired by Zionism when I was a young girl and decided to make aliyah – or move to Israel – when I was 12 and never changed my mind or regretted my decision.
As to fighting jihad, well, this is a war about defending everything that I believe in and care about. It seems to me that everyone who values freedom has a duty to fight it in any way he or she can.
Lopez: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hit Israel hard this weekend. Was it fair? What would you have preferred to hear?
Glick: I have been so discouraged by Secretary Rice’s policies that I cannot say I am the least bit surprised by her obnoxious statements ordering the Israeli government not to build homes for Jews in Jerusalem, our capital city. I am similarly not surprised by her insistence that Israel give the Fatah terror organization control over the West Bank. It has long been clear that Rice thinks that making things “convenient” for Palestinians by curtailing IDF counter-terror operations in the West Bank is more important than safeguarding the lives of Israel’s citizenry. It is also clear that Rice finds it perfectly acceptable for the Palestinians — who she wants to give a state — to base their nationalism on the negation of Israel’s right to exist. Hence she accepts their racist lies about Jerusalem not belonging to the Jews and embraces the notion that a Palestinian state must be ethnically cleansed of all Jews before it will be acceptable to the Palestinians.
It doesn’t matter to Rice that IDF military commanders are warning that taking down roadblocks in the West Bank will just enable the Palestinians to begin attacking Jerusalem and Israel’s coastal plane with mortars and rockets. It doesn’t matter to Rice that Fatah — which through her good offices the U.S. is training, arming and funding — has taken no action against Hamas since she forced Israel to transfer security control over the towns of Jenin and Nablus to Fatah control last month. Indeed, since she last pressed Israel for dangerous and unreciprocated “confidence building measures” towards the Palestinians, Fatah has begun to negotiate uniting its terror forces with Hamas. And she has nothing to say about this
I would have preferred that Rice stop advancing the establishment of a jihadist state in the West Bank to add to the jihadist state in Gaza which was established under her good offices in 2006. I would have preferred that Rice — and President Bush — stop placing the establishment of yet another Palestinian jihadist state at the top of their “To do before leaving office” list. But then, given her policies toward North Korea and Iran, I am not the least surprised that she is acting as obnoxiously as she is.
Lopez: How bad would a President Obama be for Israel? Why should that question matter to Americans?
Glick: Senator Barack Obama would be bad for Israel most of all because he refuses to acknowledge that there is a jihad being waged against the free world. Indeed, he refuses to acknowledge that there is such a thing as an “enemy” in international affairs. And as a consequence, he is unable to understand what an ally is. As the U.S.’s most stalwart ally in the Middle East, and as the frontline state in the global jihad, Israel will likely suffer greatly if Senator Obama is elected to the White House.
There are several reasons that Americans should care about the fact that an Obama White House will be hostile towards Israel. First, when Islamists perceive Israel as weak they become emboldened. And when they become emboldened, they tend to attack not only Israel but the U.S. as well. Indeed, some of the largest attacks against the U.S. — like the Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon in 1983 — came when the U.S. was most hostile towards Israel.
Second, when the U.S. places pressure on Israel, Israel is perceived as weak by the Muslim world. And when this happens, the tendency for wars to break out is increased. So when the U.S. has in the past blamed Israel for regional instability — the Arabs and Iran — which are the actual sources of that instability — exploit the situation by attacking Israel and sending the region into a tailspin. One can for instance attribute Yassir Arafat’s decision to attack Israel in 1996 — an attack which left 15 Israelis dead — to the Clinton administration’s massive pressure on the new Netanyahu government to accept the PLO as its “peace partner.”
Finally, U.S. pressure on Israel tends to weaken Israel and as I have argued, Israel is perceived by the jihadists as the frontline state in their war, the ultimate aim of which is global domination and the destruction of the U.S. So when the U.S. weakens Israel, the U.S. appears weak. Jihadists are then emboldened to attack not only Israel, but also the U.S. This is why, for instance, Shiite violence in Iraq rose steeply after Israel was perceived as having lost the war in Lebanon with Hezbollah in 2006. And Israel ended the war when it was under tremendous pressure from Secretary Rice to accept a ceasefire that left Hezbollah fully intact and free to rebuild its forces with Iranian and Syrian assistance.
All of this happened under U.S. administrations which in their day
were considered friendly towards Israel. If Sen. Obama, who is perceived as sympathetic to the jihadists, is elected, the consequences of U.S. appeasement of Iran and others at Israel’s expense will likely be more profound — both for Israel and for the U.S.