Since September 11, our friend Scott McConnell, like most Americans,  has been confused.  Writing in his column, Ground Zero, he describes his puzzled disappointment with the talks and conversation at the recent John Randolph Club.  He came to Rockford, apparently expecting Chronicles’ editors to deliver a neatly packaged response to the U.S. government’s policy since September 11.  Although he has not said so, the response he seems to desire is unequivocal opposition to the U.S. attack on Afghanistan coupled with a denunciation of Israeli aggression against the Palestinians.  Instead, he was treated to a bewildering series of learned talks on Islamic aggression, Russian strategy, the evils of business monopolies, and America’s cultural failure of nerve.

Some libertarians have privately expressed dissatisfaction with Chronicles’ failure to speak out against war and our emphasis on the evils of Islamic terrorism.  “Conservative” Republicans, on the other hand, have gleefully undertaken the task of demonizing all Muslims and have called for airstrikes against Baghdad, Damascus, and any other Arab capital that might pose a threat to Israeli expansion.  So how can the editors of Chronicles simultaneously warn against Islam while opposing the expansion of Israel, or insist upon an “isolationist” foreign policy without declaring ourselves pacifists?  I know it may be a hopeless task, but we are asking our readers to perform the mental equivalent of walking and chewing gum at the same time.

If Mr. McConnell had taken the time to ask, I would have explained to him what I think is the consensus of our editors.  I will list our concerns in ascending order of importance.  

The United States must work toward a just settlement of the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.  We wish nothing but good to the peoples of Israel and Palestine, and we believe that the survival of both nations depends upon the creation of a real Palestinian state with defensible borders guaranteed by the United States, Russia, and the other countries of the Middle East.  There is no doubt that the U.S. government’s one-sided policy in the region has contributed to the hatred toward America that has boiled up out of the Islamic world.

The United States must end its drive for global hegemony.  U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War has been based on the conviction that, as the world’s only remaining superpower, we can go it alone—flexing our muscles around the globe; breaking nations; starting insurrections; aiding Islamic terrorism in Europe, the Philippines, and Asia; and abusing and humiliating the Russians in their own sphere of interest.  The attack on Afghanistan, which most of us regard as misconceived, excessive, and dangerous, is nonetheless different from U.S. campaigns against Iraq, Panama, and Yugoslavia.  Two American cities were attacked by foreign terrorists, and although the case against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban has never been made convincingly, there is no doubt of their involvement in previous terrorist attacks against the United States.  The war against the Taliban is not a simple case of U.S. imperialism, and although many of us deplore the conduct of the war and the immoral infliction of civilian casualties, we believe that it is foolish to equate our response to foreign aggression with unprovoked attacks on nations that have done little or nothing to harm the United States.

Our willingness to look clearly at the reality of an exceptional case does not mean that we have changed our general position.  Quite apart from our disastrous policy in the Middle East, America’s global strategy is making the world a more dangerous place for Americans, and in place of the neo-imperialism promoted by neoconservative Republican strategists, America should pursue a policy based on the American interest, which is something quite distinct from (indeed, opposed to) “benevolent global hegemony.”

America must wake up to the real threat of Islam.  Islam is not simply another non-Christian religion like Hinduism or Judaism.  It is a religion that has defined itself, from its inception, as the enemy of Christianity, and for over a thousand years, Islamic states have aggressively attacked the Christian West on every front.  Although the brilliant successes of the Western world during the past several centuries might have made it seem that the struggle with Islam is over, that opinion is not shared by many Muslims.  Even if the United States arranged a just settlement of the Palestinian question, we would accomplish no more than a détente with Islam, not a lasting peace.  Still, that détente is a goal to be pursued, both as just in itself and for the security of the American people, though it will not end the struggle.  

In saying that we recognize Islam as the ancient and enduring enemy of our civilization, we are nonetheless opposed to any attempt to deprive Muslims of their human dignity or even to interfere with them in their traditional lands.  While we do think it is time to begin limiting entrance into the United States of visitors and immigrants who come from cultural traditions openly hostile to our own, we wish only to live on terms of peace and justice with Muslim peoples.  We want nothing more than for the United States to adopt its own equivalent of the wise Saudi policy that preserves the rights of Arabia’s traditional religion.

There can be no talk of a “crusade” against Islam, because the elite classes of Europe and North America are completely unfit to take up the Cross.  If we are asked to take part in a campaign of cultural genocide waged by the post-Christian, post-human anti-culture of the consumerist West against the traditional religious culture of Islam, we will adamantly refuse.

We must work toward the recreation of Christendom in North America and Europe.  This has been and continues to be the primary goal of both Chronicles and The Rockford Institute.  A people that thinks that dinner consists of eating a deli sandwich from Arby’s while watching Friends is neither Christian nor civilized.  A public that pays top dollar for tickets to see Barbra Streisand or Michael Jackson should probably have its collective eardrums punctured, and the business and political leaders who are spotted reading Tom Clancy on airplanes should not be allowed to vote in school-board elections or contribute money to their alma maters.  The official America of TV, public schools, and pop culture is no longer part of Western civilization; it has become something more like a cultural concentration camp designed to produce servile consumers whose highest ambition is early retirement and escape from responsibility.  Pacifists, political junkies, and activists who refuse to take part in the admittedly feeble efforts being made to restore civilization will remain part of the problem.  They will be free to enjoy their saccharine-sweetened, artificially flavored gum, but they will never learn to walk.