Ayn Rand Institute’s warnings on the dangers of appeasement
Here we go again: More bloody violence from the Middle East, more angry threats from Islamists, more appeasing whimpers from the White House and the State Department—it’s like a movie on an endless loop, one that we’re condemned to watch over and over.
Except that we have a choice. There’s a way out of this theater of horrors—a way to win this supposedly unwinnable war—and the Ayn Rand Institute has been talking about it for many years now. In articles, op-eds, lectures, panel discussions, blog posts, letters to the editor, and press releases, we’ve been warning about how Western appeasement of Islamist aggression encourages further aggression.
Take a look at the list I’ve compiled, at the end of this post. It’s a track record of consistent commentary that explains current events overseas and offers practical, principled solutions. With the recent spike in attention to Ayn Rand’s ideas on domestic issues, fueled by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s admiration for some of her writings, perhaps there’s now a better opportunity for the Institute’s message on appeasement in foreign policy to gain a hearing.
What is that message? It’s indicated in an early passage from the 2009 book by the Institute’s foreign policy fellow Elan Journo, Winning the Unwinnable War:
Facing the Islamist onslaught, our policymakers aimed, at most, to manage crises with range-of-the-moment remedies—heedless of the genesis of a given crisis and the future consequences of today’s solution. Running through the varying policy responses of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton there is an unvarying motif. . . . Our leaders failed to recognize that war had been launched against us and that the enemy is Islamic totalitarianism. This cognitive failure rendered Washington impotent to defeat the enemy. Owing to myopic policy responses, our leaders managed only to appease and encourage the enemy’s aggression.
And no, the long-standing policy of appeasement didn’t stop with Bill Clinton. Here’s a passage from “Obama Whitewashes Iran” (op-ed, 2009):
Obama’s appeasing diplomacy re-enacts the disastrous policy of the past. Our policymakers evaded Iran’s character as an enemy, and by rewarding its aggression with bribes and conciliation, they encouraged a spiral of further attacks.
No, Bush was no exception to this trend. After 9/11 his administration invited Iran—the leading sponsor of Islamist terrorism—to join an anti-terrorism coalition (!). Talk of an axis of evil was quickly abandoned, and Washington backed the European scheme to bribe Iran to halt its nuclear program.
Our continuing appeasement of Islamist aggression has clear implications for America’s near future. If Washington declines to change its policies, we can expect (1) government intimidation and censorship of those who expose Islam’s evils, for the sake of appeasing Muslim sensibilities; (2) failure to protect American citizens, at home and abroad, against fatwas and other violent Islamist reprisals, and (3) more deaths of American soldiers, and more military expenditures, stemming from increased entanglement in the Middle East.
The Institute’s commentaries on this issue deserve to become part of the ongoing debate over Mideast foreign policy. Here are just a few:
1989 (re-released in 2006): Religious Terrorism vs. Free Speech (op-ed on the fatwa against Salman Rushdie)
1997: Iraq: The Wrong War (op-ed)
1998: Fanning the Flames of Terrorism (op-ed)
2001: “Peace” Process: Israel’s Path to Suicide (op-ed)
2001: End States Who Sponsor Terrorism (op-ed, published as a full page ad in the New York Times; an earlier version was published as an ad in the Washington Post)
2001: The Immorality of a “Compassionate War” on Terrorism (op-ed)
2002: America Is NOT Winning the War (article)
2003: 9/11—Two Years Later: Why America Is Still Losing the War (video lecture)
2003: America vs. Americans (video lecture)
2003: The Timid War on Terrorism (op-ed)
2005: “Muslim Opinion” Be Damned (op-ed)
2005: Neoconservatives vs. America: A Critique of U.S. Foreign Policy Since 9/11 (video lecture)
2006: The U.S.-Israeli Suicide Pact (op-ed)
2006: Free Speech and the Danish Cartoons (video panel discussion)
2006: The Fear To Speak Comes to America’s Shores (op-ed)
2006: America’s Foreign Policy: Self-Interest vs. Self-Sacrifice (video lecture)
2006: The Cartoon Jihad: Free Speech in the Balance (op-ed)
2006: The Twilight of Freedom of Speech (op-ed)
2006: Why We Are Losing Hearts and Minds (op-ed)
2007: The Road to 9/11: How America’s Selfless Policies Unleashed the Jihadists (video lecture)
2007: Totalitarian Islam’s Threat to the West (video panel discussion)
2007: The “Forward Strategy” for Failure (article)
2007: Washington’s Make-Believe Policy on Iran (op-ed)
2009: Iran’s fist, clenched tighter (blog post)
2009: Obama Whitewashes Iran (op-ed)
2009: Surrender in book on Mohammad cartoons (blog post)
2010: South Park and self-censorship (blog post)
2010: Draw Mohammad, risk your life? (blog post)