How the United States Creates Terrorists

A string of recent attacks in Paris and Orlando have led to renewed calls for surveillance of American Muslim communities from both Republican and Democratic politicians. Donald Trump wants surveillance of “certain mosques.” Ted Cruz thinks mosques are only the beginning and law enforcement should “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods.” Liberal darling Barney Frank has similarly called for “significant surveillance” of Muslims who adopt “angry Islamic hate views,” regardless of whether there is any reasonable basis to believe they pose a threat.

Such misguided calls for surveillance have recently become far more common, along with an upsurge in violence against American Muslims. They also betray a complete ignorance of the ongoing surveillance efforts against American Muslims, a luxury not afforded to those who have been on the receiving end of such untoward government attention. Various law enforcement and intelligence agencies have pursued extensive surveillance of American Muslim communities since 9/11, a project which now includes the Obama administration’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program.

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The Longest War Gets Longer

A few days ago, the United States killed the leader of a militant group it does not consider to be a terrorist organization, with which it is attempting to engage in peace talks, as part of the longest war it has ever been engaged in.

So far the justifications offered for the killing of Taliban leader Mullah Mansour only reveal the myopic mindset and desperation which must have led to the decision to authorize the killing.

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Dyson against the Left

There is quite a lot to say on Micheal Eric Dyson’s 10,000 word article in the New Republic lambasting his old friend Cornel West. Much of the criticism he levies against West is personal and that’s unfortunate. It should be obvious that Cornel West is not beyond reproach. Nor is he above making needlessly personal charges against opponents. All that aside, what concerns me is Dyson’s pretence that he has maintained an independent, critical outlook on the Obama administration. “I expressed love for Obama and criticized him for not always loving us back,” Dyson writes, adding that “[t]hroughout his presidency I have offered what I consider principled support and sustained criticism of Obama.” In reality, he has long performed as a loyal Democratic party operative, tempering left-wing criticism of the Obama administration and defending its record regardless of the policies it pursues.

In 2010 the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs angrily denounced the “professional left” for what he deemed its unreasonable expectations of Obama. “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.” Admonishing this “professional left” for having a loose grip on reality–echoing Dyson’s own comments about Obama’s left-wing critics–Gibbs remarked that they will only be “satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon.” Long before Gibbs made those comments, Dyson had already established his vocation of shielding the Obama administration from left-wing criticism. That, above all else, has been Dyson’s political function since Obama announced his candidacy. Consider the following examples:

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A War of Ideas: Terrorism and Ideology

For those of us who have ever felt a serious lack of hackneyed and discredited ideas in our political culture, James K. Glassman has done us all a service by writing this article in Politico. Glassman was a former chairman of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors in the George W. Bush administration and is currently a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. With his recent article, he follows an illustrious pedigree on the right that has expressed effusive praise for Obama’s war efforts against The Terrorists.

Specifically, Glassman congratulates Obama for finally appreciating the importance of “ideas” in the War on Terror (as demonstrated by the recent Counter Violent Extremism Summit) and volunteers his own expertise to help the Obama administration formulate a strategy. After all, a “war of ideas” is not like other wars, you see. It relies less on blunt force and more on delicate diplomatic manoeuvring. Fortunately, Glassman is willing to guide us through it.

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Cyber Warfare and the State of the Union

There is a well-defined script to the State of the Union. It is typically filled with vague and platitudinous statements about the strengths of the nation and the challenges the country faces, culminating in an outline of policies the administration will pursue as it courageously rises to the occasion. To acknowledge the lack of its literary merit and its labored attempt at mass appeal is not to confuse it for being a vapid performance. The President proposes substantive policies—even if the details usually leave something to be desired.

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