Events of the past week are a powerful rebuke to those who assumed this fall’s presidential election would turn on domestic issues - and, presumably, redound to the benefit of the Democratic Party and its candidate since they have historically been viewed as better equipped to deal with such matters. Four recent developments remind us that national security must be Job One for our 44th president and should govern his selection.
First, the vulnerability associated with our dependence on foreign sources of oil - many of which are hostile - now arouses a substantial majority of Americans. As syndicated columnist Clifford May recently noted, a national poll by his Foundation for Defense of Democracies found that, “Depending on how the question was asked, between 57 and 64 percent say they believe that energy independence should be America’s primary goal - because our economic and national security depends on it.”
Many Republican members of the House of Representatives have taken the extraordinary step of spending the August recess in Washington in order to respond to this heightened public awareness and concern about our parlous energy situation. They are using a House floor populated by tourists and other visitors as a platform from which to challenge an increasingly despotic Speaker Nancy Pelosi to permit legislative initiatives that will reduce our dangerous dependency on foreign oil suppliers who wish us ill.
Among them should be adoption of the Open Fuel Standard, a bipartisan initiative that would require cars sold in America to be capable of using not only gasoline, but “freedom fuels” (notably, ethanol and methanol) that we can readily make here or acquire from people who are not trying to kill us. According to the FDD poll, fully 91 percent of the respondents quite sensibly recognize that fuel choice is the best way to reduce our oil addiction.
One particularly unreliable energy supplier is Russia, whose murderous aggression in the Caucasus nation of Georgia is not just about toppling a democratic government allied with the United States and the West. It is also designed to consolidate the Kremlin’s control over oil flows to Europe by seizing the one pipeline from the petroleum-rich Caspian not currently in its grasp or that of Islamofascist Iran.
Moscow has already demonstrated its serial willingness to use energy as a coercive weapon. Europe’s acquiescence to the Russian rape of Georgia is an ominous indicator - both of the prospects for freedom-loving, but relatively weak, nations that look to the West for security and of the risks of energy dependence.
If the Putin-Medvedev regime gets away unscathed with this violent reassertion of authority over what it euphemistically calls the “Near Abroad,” all of its once-enslaved neighbors will once again be at risk of Moscow’s predations. Accordingly, creative ways must be found to impose costs for such behavior. At the very least, as Sen. John McCain has long suggested, the once-and-future Soviets must not be allowed to behave so while enjoying the privileged status of a member in good standing of the elite club of leading industrial nations, the so-called Group of 8.
Two other episodes this week remind us that the next American president will also have to deal with challenges at home that have worrisome implications both for the character and security of this country: the Islamists’ inexorable efforts to insinuate incrementally the repressive theo-political program they call Shariah.
The first occurred when word of a contract negotiated by the union representing Somali and other workers at a plant in Shelbyville, Tenn., made national news. As reported initially by Brian Mosely, a quintessentially American and gutsy small-town journalist with the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union had negotiated a contract with Tysons Foods that would supplant Labor Day - yes, Labor Day! - with the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Fitr as a paid day off.
Mr. Mosely’s story was picked up by the Associated Press and quickly became a national sensation as talk radio, Michelle Malkin and other bloggers and editorialists took Tysons to task for accommodating this affront to American labor and example of creeping Shariah. Faced with cries for boycotts of its products, the company moved to defuse the furor by making both Labor Day and Eid paid holidays.
The episode has called attention, however, to a serious problem: an influx of what often prove to be quite radical Muslim immigrant populations as part of a State Department refugee-resettlement program dating back to the Clinton administration. At Tysons, they reportedly engage in unhygienic practices and possibly pose a threat to food safety. In Shelbyville and other towns they are populating across America, many of these Islamist refugees are demanding separate Shariah-based legal arrangements and privileges, rather than assimilating.
Finally, another manifestation of Shariah’s “soft” jihad in America touched Barack Obama’s own campaign last week. His Muslim outreach coordinator, Mazen Asbahi, was forced to resign following published reports of his association, as part of a Muslim Brotherhood front organization’s Shariah-Compliant Finance operation, with an unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged terrorism-funding conspiracy.
Each of these events underscore a point that cannot be overemphasized in the run-up to Nov. 4: The man we hire to be our next president will serve as our commander-in-chief in perilous times in which we confront rising threats to our interests abroad and to our Constitution and society at home. Let us pray we choose wisely.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.