To address the other issues that Michelle Bachmann brings up in her letter to House Representative Keith Ellison, it is important to clarify a couple of things.
First, it has to do with the idea that it is illegal for the US Government to have meetings or negotiate with the Muslim Brotherhood. Which is interesting because according to the list that determines that, the Foreign Terrorist Organization List, the Muslim Brotherhood is not on that list. (REF: http://1.usa.gov/PX11oc). Before one says, “of course it’s not on it, the State Department (DoS) is the one that maintains it”, the DoS does not do it alone but consults the Attorney General, Secretary of the Treasury, and Congress. So, there is no legal issue here.
The main point that needs to be clarified: the Obama Administration is not the only administration to conduct dialogue or negotiate with unseemly groups, terror list or not. There is a historical precedent for this:
- Nixon Administration: Henry Kissinger was sent to China to establish warmer relations with them. Bear in mind that China was still communist at this point and this was at the height of the Cold War. The objective here was to split the two communist giants: the Soviet Union and China.
- Reagan Administration: Donald Rumsfeld was sent to meet with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War. The details of the discussions are up for debate so I will not speculate here. It is known is that Saddam Hussein did support a Palestinian terrorist organization during that time period.
- Reagan Administration: the Iran-Contra affair with Oliver North. The short of this is that the US was facilitating the purchase of weapons from Iran to be delivered to the Contras in Nicaragua, paid for by narcotics produced in Nicaragua. By the way, this was not during Shah Reza Pahlavi’s rule. This is after the 1979 Revolution and the Ayatollah is in charge. Also, take a wild guess where those drugs were sold.
- Reagan Administration: working through Pakistan, the US helped the Mujahedeen fight against the Soviet Union and its client in Afghanistan. Of course, it was done through then President Zia Ul-Haq who along with the ISI made sure that the Mujahedeen that got the lion’s share of the arms and support went to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani. Those names should be familiar to everyone who is paying attention to Afghanistan. The both are some of the biggest names in the insurgency.
- Bush Jr. Administration: the US worked with Pakistan, which was led by President Pervez Musharraf, in the Global War on Terror. Except that there is mounting evidence that the tradition continues, with elements of the ISI supporting extremists and terror groups not just in Afghanistan, but also in the Jammu-Kashmir region. Also I don’t think I am alone in this, but I just didn’t believe it when former President Musharraf denied not knowing that Osama Bin Laden was where he was.
The point is that the US government and previous administrations do this all the time, for better of for worse. This is just a short list too and does not include US relationships with groups and governments who commit grave human rights abuses, ethnic cleansing, genocide, or are dictatorships suppressing democratic values that most people, if not all in the US believe in. The US engages in dialogue and negotiates with unseemly groups and people to pursue foreign policy interests. In some cases it works out in US favor (Kissinger in China), and sometimes it bites us in the ass (Afghanistan and the Mujahedeen).
If Michelle Bachmann were raising concerns over the relationship between the US government and the Muslim Brotherhood because of the potential for blowback to US foreign policy interests, then it would be a reasonable concern. If she was facing criticism for this, then I too would #IStandwithBachmann.
But this is not why Bachmann was writing this letter. That is not the argument she is making.
Bachmann is making the argument that this relationship will destroy the US from within, and lead to the establishment of Sharia Law. I am not going to argue whether or not these organizations are actually seeking to do so. Some of them might be taken out of context, and she may be right about some of them, truth be told I do not know.
Regardless of that, what Bachmann is doing is a huge leap, a slippery slope argument if you will, that to have a dialogue and negotiate with certain groups will automatically lead to supplanting our laws, our Constitution, with Sharia Law. This argument demonstrates an incredible lack of faith in not just the Obama Administration, but also almost all Administrations before it. It also demonstrates a belief that our institutions and systems cannot stand before the rigors of open discussion and the competition of ideas, and that the American people will accept such a change without protest.
I find that to be an incredulous accusation on the character of the American people. This is a condemnation to the faculties of the American people and reducing us to timid, submissive, and fearful beings.
This is fear mongering.
I will continue this tomorrow or the day after and close my arguments to show that this is an abuse of the intelligence profession for a political performance piece.
Filed under: Conflict, Diplomacy, Governance, Afghanistan, China, Constitution, Donald Rumsfeld, Foreign Terrorist Organization List, FTO, George Bush Jr, Henry Kissinger, Huma Abedin, Iran, Iran-Contra, Iraq, ISI, Keith Ellison, Michelle Bachmann, Muslim Brotherhood, Oliver North, Pakistan, Palestine, Pervez Musharraf, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Zia Ul-Haq