If it's OK for Muslims to burn Bibles and it's just fine for the Pentagon to burn Bibles, then why was there such uproar about some preacher at a tiny church in Florida who wanted to burn a Koran?
Why have we become so used to an absurd double standard -- that it's fine to kick around Christians, but everyone must treat Muslims with awe and respect -- or else they be offended?
For example, an Obama Administration spokesman at the Pentagon recently defended the U.S. Army's seizure and destruction of Bibles owned by American soldiers serving in Afghanistan. The fear was that Muslims would retaliate against U.S. soldiers.
When the U.S. was helping in the retaking Kuwait, U.S. chaplains stationed in Saudi Arabia were ordered to remove the crosses on their collars -- so no Muslims would be offended. Chaplains were officially called "morale officers."
When a Pentagon report was issued on last year's Fort Hood shootings -- in which 12 were killed and 31 were wounded when U.S. Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly opened fire at an awards ceremony -- all mention was deleted that he is a Muslim or that he yelled "Allah is Great" as he opened fire. Why? Because we certainly don't want to offend any Muslims.
But why doesn't our government care about offending Christians?
At the Congressional Hispanic Caucus meeting September 15, Barack Obama didn't give a second thought to Christians' sensibilities wen he quoted from the Declaration of Independence. He declared, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; endowed with certain unalienable rights: life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
What he left out is highly offensive to Christians. The Declaration proclaims: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Obama omitted any reference to God. This is America's president who in a speech in Turkey declared: "Whatever we once were, we're no longer a Christian nation." Is that true? According to the American Religious Identification Survey by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 76.5 percent or 159 million Americans identify themselves as Christian and 1.3 percent are Jewish.
Only 0.5 percent are Muslim, followers of Islam. That's one-half of one percent.
So, why does political correctness demand that we walk on eggshells, taking enormous care not to offend Muslims, one-half of one percent of Americans -- but ignore the feelings of more than the three-fourths of our population who are Christian?
When the North Carolina legislature asked Pastor Ron Baity to serve as a guest chaplain at the state house, the minister of Berean Baptist Church was honored to agree. What he didn't know was how short-lived that honor would be. During the last week of May, when Pastor Baity was scheduled to open the session in prayer, a House clerk asked to first review the text.
When she noticed the last line, she said, "We would prefer that you not use the name of Jesus. We have some people here that can be offended."
But it was Pastor Baity who was most offended. When the clerk raised the issue with House Speaker Joe Hackney, Pastor Baity said plainly, "My faith requires that I pray in His name. The Bible is very clear."
In the end, Hackney decided that the pastor could offer his prayer -- but that it would be his last one. After that, Baity's services would "no longer be needed."
"When the state tells you how to pray, that you cannot use the name of Jesus -- that's mandating a state religion," says Baity. "They talk about not offending other people but at the same time, if they are telling me how to pray -- that's the very thing our forefathers left England for."
What if it was the other way around?
Imagine the international uproar if an Islamic cleric had been told he could not mention the name of Allah.
"The media storm over an obscure Christian pastor in Gainesville, Florida, who decided to have a 'Burn the Koran' day on September 11 has raised some serious questions," writes journalist Alisa Craddock.
"What happens when a Muslim cleric calls for the beheading of a Dutch politician? Not much," notes journalist Larry Elder. "What happens when an American pastor no one ever heard of threatens to burn a Koran? It ignites an international outcry.
"Terry Jones, pastor of a 50-member church in Gainesville, Florida, threatened to burn the Koran as a protest against the proposed construction of a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center. Democrats and Republicans denounced Jones. General David Petraeus, U.S. commander in Afghanistan, warned that Jones' action would put American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan at risk, and he personally telephoned the pastor to dissuade him."
Yet, notes Elder, we do not act like anything is wrong or even out of the ordinary when Muslim officials call for the murder of "those who would desecrate the Koran or who would draw a cartoon of Muhammad or who would otherwise 'disrespect' Islam."
He cites the case of one of Australia's foremost Muslim clergymen, who recently called for the beheading of Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
In the past, the Sydney-based Feiz Muhammad has challenged Muslim parents to ensure that their young children become violent radicals. He has publicly blamed female non-Muslim victims of rape by Muslim males as being to blame for wearing immodest clothing -- they went in public without head coverings.
De Telegraaf, the Netherlands' largest newspaper, posted an audio clip in which the cleric refers to Wilders as "this Satan, this devil, this politician in Holland" and proclaims that anyone who talks disrespectfully about Islam should be killed by faithful Muslims.
We are all used to civil libertarian groups such as the ACLU vigorously defending vile speech -- such as entertainers' rights to use profanity on television. So, asks Elders, "where are the free-speech groups" defending Wilders, who has dared to speak out against Islam's abuse of women?
"If a proposed Koran burning generates international news and condemnation, isn't the call by an Australian Muslim cleric for the beheading of a democratically elected politician worthy of a few moments on the network nightly news?"
After all, the media went ballistic over Jones' call to burn the Koran, notes Elders.
"'How dare this pastor of some church nobody ever heard of show insufficient respect for Islam?' they demanded. Then," notes Elders, "the same media ignores proclamations of jihad or religious war on non-Muslims that demands replacement of all non-Islamic governments, as well as the conversion of all to Islam, by force if necessary."
Offensive acts by Christians are denounced on the evening news and on the front pages of the New York Times. Offensive acts by Muslims are ignored. Excuses are offered for such incidents as the Fort Hood shootings or the fact that the Beltway Sniper a few years ago was a Muslim.
Why such a double standard?
Dr. Fred Gottheil is an economics professor at the University of Illinois. He calls himself a "Keynesian-type economist" who is "not afraid of deficit spending" -- not exactly Reaganesque. In January 2009, some 900 academics signed a four-page petition calling for a U.S. abandonment of the support of Israel. Gottheil learned that many of the petition signatories belonged to faculty from women's and gender studies departments. He decided to conduct an experiment.
Would the same professors sign a "Statement of Concern" over the anti-human rights, anti-gay, anti-woman practices in the Muslim Middle East? Gottheil composed a four-page document citing evidence of atrocities, along with the names of Muslim clerics and scholars defending these violations of human decency. He e-mailed his statement to 675 signers of the anti-Israel petition.
What happened? "The results were surprising," Gottheil said, "even though I thought the responses would be few. They were almost nonexistent."
His colleagues would not denounce Islamic atrocities -- although they clamored to denounce Israel.
"Why?" asks Elders. "A denunciation of Muslim practices suggests a superiority of American values and culture. The left finds this objectionable."
Gottheil put it this way: "If leftist 'progressives' really cared about women, gays and lesbians, then they would be fighting for their rights in places where such rights are really violated -- like under Hamas in Gaza and under the mullahs in Iran. But doing so would legitimize their own society and its values and therefore completely cripple their entire identity and life purpose, and so their purported concern for women, gays and lesbians has to go out the window."
"It is a bizarre and dangerous double standard," writes Elders, "that allows a Pastor Jones to become more notorious than a Feiz Muhammad."
Why did Jones want to burn a Koran?
"His motivation," according to Craddock, "is, according to his own words, to raise awareness among the people of this country that Islam is not what it is pretending to be. He wanted to send a message to radical Islam that we don't want them to do here what they are doing in Europe -- namely impose shari'a law."
Jones noted that when Muslims are a tiny minority, they are peaceful, but as their numbers grow, they begin asserting themselves and imposing their beliefs and culture on the country in which they've settled.
"In addition," writes Craddock, "Jones points out quite correctly the countless offenses against Christians in Muslim countries, of the murder of Christians, burning of Churches, and desecration of our holy books and objects around the world."
Jones "has challenged the Islamic world that if they wish Americans to be sensitive to their religious sensibilities, then he wants the Imam responsible for the so-called 'Ground Zero Mosque' to show like sensitivity to the people of this country who lost loved ones in an Islamist Terror attack on the World Trade Center, and not construct two blocks away what is essentially a monument to Islamic Jihad's victory."
Yes. Several hundred Bibles had been printed up in the local Pashto and Dari languages, and sent by private donors to American Christian soldiers and chaplains who requested them -- for distribution to American troops on overseas military bases.
According to military regulations, such Bibles can be given by soldiers as gifts during their off-duty time, handed out to Afghani citizens who welcome servicemen into their homes. The Bible can be given out as an expression of American gratitude for Afghani hospitality, promoting the democratic ideals of freedom of religion and freedom of the press. The new Afghani Constitution specifically allows the freedom to print and distribute Bibles or any other religious material.
However, the Obama Administration ordered the Bibles gathered up and burned.
The order came after the Muslim controlled al-Jazeera television network had obtained video footage of the Bibles, held by American soldiers while listening to a chaplain on the Bagram Air Base -- inside the base chapel. The sermon encouraged evangelistic outreach and personal witnessing.
The Obama Administration was embarrassed. Such values of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are offensive to extremist Muslim groups. The footage also angered a small group of American atheists, who demanded the chaplain be punished for "proselytizing" because he simply repeated Jesus' words to "Go and make disciples of all nations" in church.
Imagine if they had burned Korans!
Incredibly, the al-Jazeera video shows the chaplain properly explaining U.S. Central Command's General Order Number One, which prohibits forcing religious conversions by threats or weapons, but fully permits soldiers of any religion to engage in non-threatening, voluntary conversations about their faith.
It also allows giving private gifts, including books, to Afghani citizens during off-duty hours in their unofficial capacity.
The Afghani Constitution specifically protects freedom of the press and religion, so no laws were broken by our troops.
Al-Jazeera even admitted the Bibles could have been useful in helping soldiers learn the Pashto and Dari languages of the Afghan people.
Instead, these privately owned Bibles were confiscated and burned. U.S. military spokesman Major Jennifer Willis told Reuters reporters, "I can now confirm that the Bibles shown on al-Jazeera's clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed."
After World War II, General Douglas MacArthur pleaded with Christians to send missionaries to Japan -- a land that was devastated and dispirited. The divinity of the Emperor had been discredited and the people were distraught. McArthur told Christian leaders that they had a rare window of opportunity to transform Japan.
"We must have 10,000 Christian missionaries and a million Bibles," said McArthur, according to Rodger R. Venzke, author of Confidence In Battle -- Inspiration In Peace.
But now, things have changed
"The speed with which our President is working to dismantle and collapse this government and its Judeo-Christian culture," writes Craddock, "and given his Muslim roots, it is no wonder people suspect him.
"He has shown preferential treatment to Muslims, including halting the prosecution of the accused bombers of the USS Cole.
"If you are familiar with the 12th Imam prophecies, the world must be brought to utter ruin before the 12th Imam can return. Is our president, who has shown disdain for our Judeo-Christian heritage, our history and achievements, and shown outright contempt for our allies, working with Islam to collapse our economic system and de-develop our country?"
Does that explain the preferential treatment given to the sensibilities of one-half of one percent of America's population -- at the expense of 72 percent? Or what is going on in Europe?
There, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel says that Germans have failed to grasp how Muslim immigration has transformed their country and will have to come to terms with more mosques than churches throughout the countryside, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily newspaper.
"Our country is going to carry on changing, and integration is also a task for the society taking up the task of dealing with immigrants," Merkel said. "For years we've been deceiving ourselves about this. Mosques, for example, are going to be a more prominent part of our cities than they were before."
Germany, with a population of 4-5 million Muslims, has been divided by a debate over remarks by the Bundesbank official Thilo Sarrazin, who says Turkish and Arab immigrants are failing to integrate and are swamping Germany with a higher birth rate.
No one dares to speak out
However, Merkel's remarks represent the first official acknowledgment of concerns that Germany, like other European countries, is destined to become a stronghold of Islam.
In France, 30 percent of children age 20 years and below are Muslims. The ratio in Paris and Marseille has soared to 45 percent. In southern France, there are more mosques than churches.
The situation within the United Kingdom is not much different. In the last 30 years, the Muslim population there has climbed from 82,000 to 2.5 million. Presently, there are over 1,000 mosques throughout Great Britain -- many of which were formerly churches.
In Belgium, 50 percent of the newborns are Muslims and the Islamic population hovers around 25 percent. A similar statistic holds true for the Netherlands.
In Russia, one in five inhabitants is a Muslim.
And the Muslim world is fully aware of what is going on. Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi recently stated that "There are signs that Allah will grant victory to Islam in Europe without sword, without gun, without conquest. We don't need terrorists; we don't need homicide bombers. The 50 plus million Muslims in Europe will turn it into the Muslim continent within a few decades."
In each country, officials are coming under political pressure to institute shari'a, Islamic law, which makes it legal for a husband to brutalize his wife or wives, puts the blame in cases of rape on the victim and allows "honor killings" in which someone who converts to Christianity may be murdered by family members.
Under shari'a, Muslim men have more rights than Muslim women, who have more rights than Christian or Jewish men. Even lower on the scale are Christian and Jewish women, then Hindus, New Agers and atheists. Muslim men are permitted to own and sell non-Muslims as slaves. They are prohibited from engaging in friendships with non-Muslims. Lying and cheating non-Muslims is permitted if it advances the spread of Islam.
So, what do we do?
"What do we do about a religion that wants to conquer and dominate us?" asks Craddock. "The only real remedy is a robust and publicly endorsed Christianity: a code of freedom in Christ, not the slavery of Islam. Our God gave us free will. We must submit to Him voluntarily, or we will eventually submit to Allah forcefully. It's our choice. Only a return to faith and family values will preserve our country."
"I have watched with a great deal of curiosity the feeding frenzy created by the White House regarding the burning of the Koran by a pastor in Florida," writes conservative columnist Dave Daubenmire. "I am always leery of where it is the media is trying to take me.
"First of all, they want us to know that Pastor Terry Jones shepherds a 'small congregation' in Gainesville, Florida, as if behavior is validated by the number of followers that one has. Evidently Joel Osteen's version of the Gospel is better than Pastor Jones' because he has such a large following.
"You certainly realize that this whole event was driven by the White House, don't you? Don't you find it troubling that the President, Hillary, Eric Holder, General Petreaus and Robert Gates weighed in on this insignificant Pastor's behavior? Why would they choose to blow oxygen on that small fire? The President ignores appeals for his birth certificate but speaks out on a small-potatoes pastor? Tell me you are not that stupid.
"It didn't happen by accident. I would say that there is a direct connection to the Ground Zero Mosque and the White House's attempt to show us how intolerant Christianity is: 'You see now don't you? Christians can be radical too ... but they don't represent all of Christianity. It is a 'fringe' group. Most Christians are moderate and tolerant.'" -- that's the message, says Daubenmire.
"Do me a favor. Reread that last sentence and substitute 'Muslim' everywhere you see 'Christian.' That is the agenda. Except they fail to point out that a radical Christian is willing to die for his faith, while a radial Muslim wants to kill for his.
"The actions of sacrificial Christians and the actions of radical Muslims bear no resemblance.
"Of course, 'moderate' Christians always jump into the media trap. They fall all over each other to let the world know that 'lunatic' Pastor Terry Jones does not represent 'their' Christianity. Whatever that means!
"But that is the heart of the problem: 'their' Christianity. Too many have remade God in their image. " writes Daubenmire, "Sadly, there are many different versions of Christianity in the world today, and each one claims to speak for God -- most a figment of their imagination.
"Let me ask you a troubling question that perhaps you haven't had the courage to ask yourself. What if God really did tell Pastor Jones to burn the Koran? As I listened to a 'moderate Christian' talk show host this morning speak for Christianity and its virtues, among the most important was 'respect' and 'tolerance' for 'other religions' and especially their 'holy books.' I couldn't help but ask myself a piecing question.
What would Jesus do?
"Does Jesus respect and tolerate other religions?" asks Daubenmire. "Did Jesus die to merely share the platform with the other religious headliners? Are His followers supposed to put Muhammad, Buddha and the boys on equal footing with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
"Does Jesus respect Islam? Would a follower of Jesus ever burn a book? Most Christians say no. Ever wonder what the Bible says?
"In Acts 19, Paul orchestrated the burning of books on witchcraft which 'mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.'
"Would you object to the burning of the Satanic Bible, or are Christians supposed to 'respect' and 'tolerate' it as well? Which 'holy' book has led more people to hell, the Satanic Bible or the Koran?
"Standing up for Jesus in the public square has become 'intolerant.' But Acts 4 tells us: 'Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.' John 14:6 is clear: 'Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.'"
Indeed, in the Ten Commandments, God proclaims: "I am the Lord thy God which has brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
"No other gods," writes Daubenmire. "Here is the point. If 'religion' is merely to be used as a set of values by which we live our lives, then I suppose it doesn't matter which one you choose. But if heaven and hell are real, and there really is life beyond this world, then 'religion' takes on a whole new perspective.
"Christianity is not a popularity contest.
"If the Bible is true, then all other roads lead to hell."
"I think it is time Christians stopped worrying so much about being nice and started being honest. Does Jesus respect Islam or is He jealous? It would behoove us to know the correct answer.
On the other hand, writes San Ramon Valley (California) Herald newspaper reporter Lisa Gardiner, "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
She noted how Americans have been intimidated into silence. She cited lawsuits filed against the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, the National Post, National Review, various talk radio hosts, and even several college newspapers.
"It is really impossible to know how many people have been intimidated with these lawsuits," agrees columnist Andrew Whitehead, who was sued in 2004 for writing a column denouncing Islam.
According to Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, Muslim leaders frequently meet with members of Congress and the administration on an unofficial basis.
Their goal is to ban all criticism of Islam
"With the threat of Islamaphobia in their back pocket," he notes, Muslim lawyers "have been able to steer the media's narrative" as well -- branding anything negative about Islam as "hate speech."
It would be as if the White House succeeded in banning any criticism of Barack Obama as threatening national security.
"The struggle for civil rights forged a national commitment to preserving free speech in the face of hostile audiences," writes Daniel Huff. "It is alarming how quickly the Koran controversy has melted that resolve."
Huff is the Director of the Legal Project at the Middle East Forum. A lawyer, he previously served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"Initially," he writes, "everyone from Mayor Bloomberg to the White House affirmed a right to burn the book even as they condemned the act. Then General David Petraeus got involved, followed by the FBI, and now Supreme Court.
"Justice Stephen Breyer says Koran burning may not be protected speech after all. The key to this rapid reversal was General Petraeus' warning that Koran burning 'could endanger troops' and the war effort. Although styled as a request not a demand, his comments laid the legal foundation for compelled government censorship.
"The reason is that the Constitution permits the government to censor speech if necessary to achieve a compelling government interest," notes Huff. "This is a very high standard, but the fact that the nation's top commander made a rare public appeal for restraint will be cited as strong evidence that avoiding offense to Muslims is essential to the national interest.
"Once this dangerous premise is accepted, the door is open to court injunctions against speech that inflames Muslim sentiment in strategically important locations."
That has already started. The New Jersey Transit Authority recently fired an 11-year veteran employee for burning the Koran at a 9/11 rally.
How can this be?
Ordinarily," notes Huff, "a government employee cannot be dismissed for expressing personal views on a matter of public concern unless it interferes with the orderly functioning of the workplace.
"In a series of cases arising out of civil rights demonstrations, the Supreme Court explicitly held that free expression cannot be limited 'simply because it might offend a hostile mob.'"
The Supreme Court knew that they couldn't create "the heckler's veto." They couldn't ban any free speech that might offend somebody.
So, how is burning the Koran different? Years ago in a famous case, the Supreme Court ruled that Nazis had the right to march through a Jewish neighborhood in Skokie, Illinois. In another cased, "Dunlap v. City of Chicago," officials had denied demonstrators a permit to march in a predominantly white area because every prior similar protest in the vicinity had resulted in violence.
"When they sued," writes Huff, "the district court not only ordered the city to permit the parade, it also demanded officials provide policemen 'in such numbers as are required to afford adequate protection' to the marchers.
"When the violence officials feared materialized, the court allowed a suit against the city for providing insufficient police protection.
"The argument that speech should be censored to prevent violence was rejected in the civil rights context and it should not be accepted now.
"That is what made it so frustrating," writes Huff , to hear Obama "denounce Koran burning for fear of offending Muslims, but insist the First Amendment rights of the Ground Zero Mosque planners trump the 'extraordinary sensitivities around 9/11.'"
Basically, the non-Muslims opposing the Ground Zero Mosque "are being punished for not being violent," writes Huff.
"Insisting Americans curb their First Amendment rights in deference to Muslims, but not asking Muslims to do the same when Americans are offended creates a privileged status for Islam," he adds.
That's what the extremists want
"Their goal is to impose a radical brand of Islamic law on society at large," writes Huff. "Censoring speech that insults or critiques Islam is the first step in this process and the U.S. government should not be doing it for them.
"Curbing free speech rights buys only temporary appeasement and comes at a high cost. Not only do we compromise our principles, but it emboldens extremists who will conclude the Administration is fearful of retaliation."
An enormous problem is that American and European officials do not understand the Muslim worldview, says author Bruce S. Thornton. "The great historian of Soviet Russia, Robert Conquest, once wrote something about the dangers of naive diplomacy that I'm reminded of daily.
Conquest wrote: "We are still faced with the absolutely crucial problem of making the intellectual and imaginative effort not to project our ideas of common sense or natural motivation" onto the Soviets.
In other words, just because an American or a British general makes a decision based on facts, did not mean that a Soviet general would do the same. His motivation might be politics -- particularly when he was given no choice but to follow party policy by a political officer who had veto power over his every decision.
Not everybody does it like we do
During World War II, American leaders did not know that Japanese chain-of-command was fractured by zealots. A general might announce a course of action, only to be undermined by colonels or even lieutenants who defied him because they believed he was being cowardly. In the Allied command structure, such actions would be mutiny. In the Japanese system, it was just something commanders had to handle -- fighting not only the enemy, but their own ambitious staff members.
People from different cultures misunderstand their opponents, wrote Conquest. Cultures misunderstand other cultures. They assume that the light of their own parochial common sense is enough.
"They frame policies based on illusions."
America's 30-year struggle with Islamic jihad has been defined by just this sort of failure of imagination, says Thornton. He is the author of the Decline and Fall: Europe's Slow-Motion Suicide.
"The diplomatic pathology has much deeper roots," he warns, "and reflects a larger set of assumptions about human and state behavior going back to the Enlightenment -- what we can call utopian universalism. In this view, all peoples are essentially rational and want the same political and social goods, particularly personal freedom and material prosperity."
But that's not true, he says
"If they behave irrationally or destructively, blame this on the fact that they have not yet been educated to their true interests. They remain mired in ancient superstitions, particularly those of religion, ethnic loyalties, and nationalism. Yet in time," Western diplomats believe, "the progress of knowledge, technology, and global trade will sweep away these impediments to happiness."
This is not true at all when dealing with Islam, he writes. Nevertheless, American policy pretends it is.
U.S. diplomats fervently believe that "the same global progress that has led to international law, international courts of justice, and transnational institutions like the United Nations will, eventually liberate people from irrational loyalties and violence."
American policy makers are convinced that "diplomatic discussion and engagement, predicated on a global 'harmony of interests' and mediated by transnational organizations, will replace violence as the means for resolving conflict," writes Thornton.
That's a serious mistake, he says
"These ideals reflect a particular history -- that of the West -- beginning in ancient Greece and Jerusalem and developed further by the Romans and Christianity.
"Within the West itself," writes Thornton, "this 'moralizing internationalism,' as historian Corelli Barnett calls it, was exploded by the carnage of the twentieth century, in which nationalist and ethnic loyalties, incoherent political religions like fascism and Communism, and finally a renewed religious fanaticism have created mountains of corpses.
"The critical intellectual error in this utopian view is the assumption that because all peoples are capable of desiring goods such as freedom and prosperity, then these will trump all others."
Christian philosopher Michael Novak has written that there is "universal hunger for freedom," one that all peoples can satisfy with the right political values and institutions.
"But," notes Thornton, "people and nations have other 'hungers' as well: to follow God's will, to get rich, to acquire power and prestige, or to take revenge on an enemy. If we dismiss these, then we will construct policies based on illusions, policies doomed to fail and thus compromise our security and interests.
"Diplomatic engagement demands an effort of imagination." Policymakers must recognize these motivations, writes Thornton, "no matter how strange or repellent."
It is a mistake to "dismiss them or subordinate them to our own" way of thinking.
Remember the Third Reich
"This failure of imagination in international relations was apparent long before our current conflict with modern jihadism," he continues. "The Allies created the League of Nations, the ineffectuality of which was clear long before the rise of Adolf Hitler. Hitler manipulated masterfully these delusions, especially the desire for peace, and used the diplomatic "engagement" at Munich to take another step toward his aim of an Aryan empire.
"Expansionist Soviet Communism was abetted by the delusions of Cold War diplomacy predicated on false assumptions about Soviet motives.
"British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain failed to imagine that Hitler and the Germans, fired by fascist passions and the lust for recovering lost prestige and power, were eager for conflict and had spent most of the interwar period preparing for it," writes Thornton. "Worse yet, this ignorance of true motives puts one at a disadvantage when dealing with an aggressor, who can conceal his aims under the pretext of diplomatic negotiation (as Hitler did), thus buying time and misdirecting his adversary by the duplicitous endorsement of ideals he knows are important to the West."
Now, we are making these same mistakes all over again as we deal with the Muslim world, he advises.
"Despite the examples of these historical failures, we have made the same mistakes in our conflict with Islamic jihad, starting with the Iranian Revolution in 1979," writes Thornton. "Rather than attempting to understand the religious motives of Islamic jihadists, which they clearly articulate and link to their reading of traditional Islam, we reduce them instead to our own secularized, materialist beliefs.
"In the West today, religious faith is often dismissed as a Marxist 'opiate' or a Freudian 'illusion,' a mere compensation for more significant material causes such as education, economic advancement, or political freedom.
"Religion is trivialized into a mere lifestyle choice or source of private therapeutic solace. Shaped by these prejudices, we assume that Islam functions similarly for Islamists as Christianity does for today's Christians, and so cannot be the prime mover of their murderous deeds."
Policies based on illusions
Thus we refuse to believe that, in the 21st century, a major world religion could serve as the primary motivating force for jihadists around the world.
"Such has been the failure of imagination plaguing our encounter with violent jihad," advises Thornton. "Armed with these reductions of the Islamist cause to our own prejudices and ideals, President Obama has attempted to 'engage' the Islamic world with a diplomatic outreach predicated on American guilt -- as if sufficient American penance will dissuade jihadists from their religious fanaticism.
"Yet for all of the efforts at a new beginning he made during his speech last year in Cairo, for all the 'extended hands' and solicitous letters to Iranian leaders touting their religion and civilization, Obama has reaped little but contempt. Iran continues its march toward nuclear weapons. As it has in the past, the failure of diplomatic imagination has blinded us to our enemy's motives, leading us to policies based on illusions -- and putting our national security at risk."