It isn’t all that easy being a paleoconservative/libertarian as well as the editorial director of  I would estimate that more than half of my readers and financial supporters are from the left side of the political spectrum, although there is a substantial libertarian contingent.  The ideological overlap—a mutual opposition to our interventionist foreign policy, and a common desire to preserve the remnants of constitutional restraints on arbitrary government power—allows for peaceful coexistence in general terms, but occasionally the left-right alliance shows signs of fraying.  One such instance occurred following a recent column in which I speculated that Maj. Nidal Hasan just might possibly be an agent of Al Qaeda, that he may have been inspired by them or even that he might have carried out his murderous attack on their orders.

The response from some of my readers was, in short, demented.  Here it was, only a day or so after the Ft. Hood massacre, and already a Truther “explanation” was being floated.  The whole thing was a set-up, you see, an “inside job,” as the Truthers invariably phrase it.  There was more than one shooter; no one could have fired that many rounds.  The CIA was no doubt the real culprit, and it was all a plot to trigger a government round-up of Muslims and other supposed subversives.

I should say that these remarks came via the comment system on our web­site, which allows those who register to contribute their opinions to a “thread” attached to the main body of the article.  Only the most motivated bother to register, however, and so we invariably have a disproportionate number of comments from fanatics of one sort or another.  Most of my readers undoubtedly don’t agree with these cranks, but still the response was a bit startling.

One blogger compared me to Pat Robertson, I kid you not, and averred that, like the Christian fundamentalist minister who had once called down hellfire on my hometown of San Francisco, I was stirring up “Islamophobia.”  It didn’t matter that Major Hasan had been e-mailing Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical imam who had preached at a Virginia mosque frequented by two of the September 11 hijackers.  Nor did Hasan’s internet postings praising suicide bombers as heroes rather than terrorists, and his presentation to fellow officers railing against the injustice of what he sees as a war against Islam, seem to phase my critics in the least.  Nor did any of this phase the FBI, which had intercepted his e-mails, and no doubt had received reports of his odd behavior—odd, that is, for a U.S. military officer assigned to counsel other soldiers recovering from the trauma of war.

These readers had already constructed a comforting narrative in their heads and were unwilling and perhaps unable to process anything that contradicted their preconceived notion of a counselor who had, in effect, “caught” post-traumatic stress disorder, the very affliction it was his job to ameliorate.  According to this theory, the warfare-induced stress experienced by his patients had rubbed off on Hasan to such an extent that he went ballistic.  When his religious fanaticism and expressed beliefs were revealed, the advocates of this theory didn’t revise their opinion.  Instead, they reviled me for stating the facts.

And the facts are these: Major Hasan was perfectly correct in stating that the United States is embarked on a war against Islam, and that no one who is a practicing Muslim can consider taking up arms against his fellows in this fight.  All pieties to the effect that we’re on the side of the “good” Muslims notwithstanding, the United States has been fighting what is essentially a religious war.  Is it an accident that we’re currently occupying two Muslim countries, and are threatening to make war on a third?

Of course, the September 11 attacks didn’t have to be the first shot in a “clash of civilizations,” as the famous phrase goes.  We could have treated Osa­ma bin Laden and his crew the same way we treated the Mafia and other criminal gangs from the land of my ancestors: not by invading Italy, but by targeting their leaders, tracking them down, and pursuing them relentlessly until they were all captured or killed.

Instead of treating Al Qaeda as a transnational criminal conspiracy, we acted as if it were a state and immediately launched an invasion—first, of Afghanistan; later, of Iraq.  More than eight years later, Al Qaeda is still around, Bin Laden is sending us mocking messages, and the worldwide guerrilla insurgency aimed at humbling American power is bigger and deadlier than ever.

For years, opponents of endless military intervention in the Middle East have been warning that our actions will lead to “blowback,” a term used by the CIA to indicate the old aphorism that “actions have consequences.”  If you go and bomb someone’s village, killing his family members and coreligionists, he may someday pay you back in kind.  That this blowback is coming not from the “Arab street” overseas but from the one right here at home is a variation that wasn’t expected or predicted, specifically, but it is perfectly logical.  There are millions of Muslims who are U.S. citizens, and it was inevitable that a small minority would see themselves as a fifth column embedded in the belly of the beast.

It was never in our interest to take on over a billion Muslims: One third of the earth’s population is now our perceived enemy.  There are only two groups that benefit from this, and the first is Al Qaeda, whose adherents see their worldview confirmed every day on the battlefields of Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Pakistan.  The second is the neoconservatives, whose preferred policy of perpetual war is ensured for the next decade or so, and whose solidarity with Israel is faithfully reflected in America’s unconditional support for whatever course Tel Aviv deems desirable.  Like Israel, America is besieged by Muslims, and this suits the Israel Lobby just fine.

The horror of my left-liberal readers at the arrival of blowback in the form of Major Hasan is understandable, but the denial of reality is self-defeating and, as I have shown, self-contradictory.  You can’t say a “civilizational” war is a bad idea because we’re not prepared to accept the consequences, and then, when the war commences, refuse to accept the consequences.  We do indeed have a “Muslim problem” in this country as a direct result of our crazed foreign policy.  That is the lesson of the Ft. Hood massacre, and denial won’t get us anywhere.

Under these circumstances, it is perfectly logical to consider the proposal to ban all Muslims from the Armed Forces—and the police, and the National Guard, and, indeed, from any position in which the security of the nation’s essential infrastructure is at stake.  Access to nuclear-power plants, electrical grids, and vital computer networks—if we are going to continue to occupy Muslim countries and wage war from Iraq to Pakistan, then all these areas, where the possibility of sabotage is all too real, must be Muslim-free zones.

Massive surveillance, routine intrusions into our privacy, a religious test for military service and entry into security-sensitive jobs—all these outrageous violations of individual rights and common decency are the price of intervention.  Liberals worry about the loss of a multicultural society, but, in refusing to take their own rhetoric seriously, what they fail to see is the increasing likelihood of a totalitarian society.  They also routinely discount the effectiveness of Al Qaeda inside the United States at their peril: Another attack on the scale of September 11 would effectively lead to the de facto abolition of the Constitution, the disappearance of liberalism, and the end of any hope that we can rein in our rulers in their quest to dash the American ship of state on the rocky shoals of empire.