I hope the reader will forgive my soft spot for Dr. Ben Carson.
In 1972, when I was just five, I underwent open-heart surgery to correct an atrial septal defect, commonly called a “hole in the heart.” Brilliant pediatric surgeons like Carson (mine was Johns Hopkins’ wonderful Dr. J. Alex Haller) who dedicate their extraordinary skills to the care of children perform a true good in the world. For this reason alone, Carson deserves a level of respect denied to him by a spiteful left.
So now that my personal bias is out there: I don’t think Carson is quite presidential material—although still a far better choice than Hillary Clinton.
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks at a news conference Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Henderson, Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher)
I do think he has much to offer in public service, and follows in the footsteps of great patriot-physicians like Benjamin Rush, Joseph Warren, and Hugh Mercer among others (the latter two were slain by British bayonets). And among the candidates on the stage Tuesday, Carson for all his short-comings, was the one who most closely captured the true historical depth of the existential struggle the West faces vis-à-vis radical Islam.
The conflict between Christendom and the Islamic world did not begin with the Iraq war, or 9/11, or Balfour, or even the Crusades. It is a conflict as old as Islam itself. And the reason, as I explained in another TheBlaze article, is its founder Mohammed built his kingdom not by changing hearts as Jesus did, but rather coercion, conquest, plunder, enslavement and murder.
On Oct. 10, 732 one of the most significant battles in history was fought at Tours, just 200 miles south of Paris. It was here that the Christian Franks led by Charles Martel defeated the invading Muslim army of Emir Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi Abd al Rahman.
Consider the date: This is just 122 years after Islam’s founding. The movement was already spreading across Arabia, Africa and into southern Europe like wildfire. A common misconception holds that Muslim resentment stems from the first Crusade. President Barack Obama himself recently proffered the falsehood that there is little moral difference between Islamic State and the Crusaders. The calendar belies this notion. The first campaign was launched in 1095 by Pope Urban II—not as a conquest but rather a re-conquest of holy lands lost a full three and a half centuries after the last Muslim was driven away from the approaches to Paris. What does that tell us?
It tells a man like Carson, whose brain, like his heart, is perhaps the biggest of all the candidates, that this is a conflict far too complex and deep-seeded in history to be solved with a dose of high explosives followed by Western-style democracy. There is a compelling case for pounding into dust such a well-funded, organized and psychotic movement as Islamic State, old school Arthur Harris and Curtis LeMay style. If the most enduring justification for our entering World War II and burning out Nazism and Japanese Imperialism can be found in places like Treblinka, Auschwitz, Nanking and Manila, then surely there exists moral imperative to protect what is left of the some of the oldest Christian communities on the planet from being hunted down with a ruthless abandon not seen since the emperor Nero.
This undated image made available in the Islamic State's English-language magazine Dabiq, shows Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Abaaoud, the child of Moroccan immigrants who grew up in the Belgian capital’s Molenbeek-Saint-Jean neighborhood, was identified by French authorities on Monday Nov. 16, 2015, as the presumed mastermind of the terror attacks last Friday in Paris that killed over a hundred people and injured hundreds more. (Militant Photo via AP)
Deploying overwhelming military force to wipe out Islamic State and protect innocents is within the realm of possibility of a super power. Beyond that we get into trouble. Why?
During the debate Tuesday Carson made this point:
“The fact of the matter is that the Middle East has been in turmoil for thousands of years. For us to think that we’re going to go in there and fix that with a couple of little bombs and a few little declarations is relatively foolish.”
Any future president should heed his warning. George W. Bush et. al. suffered the neocon delusion that liberal, enlightened political reform imposed at gunpoint begets Jeffersonian democracies sprouting in the heart of the most backwards, primitive places wherein exists a pathological cocktail of religious fanaticism, xenophobic tribalism, and the ethos of blood feud.
There is a limit to what hard power and classically liberal ideals can achieve in the squalid backwaters of the world. This does not mean America should exercise cultural relativism by tolerating misogyny, murdering homosexuals and “infidels” and other repugnant traditions as just “their thing” when confronted with it within its sphere of influence, at home or abroad. That is cultural condescension.
But what Carson and other candidates revealed was a refreshing grasp of what the West faces at a time when future generations look demographically weak when juxtaposed against the growing Muslim populations who insist there is only Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet. Their shrill cries of “Allahu Akhbar!” have been heard throughout the European continent since their first march on Paris ... a time conveniently forgotten by many Muslim apologists from media to academia to politics. History was also tragically disregarded by the Bush administration; in their desire to convert the goat herding, opium-growing, pedophilic, and impoverished region of Afghanistan from a theater of war to a liberal, Westernized oasis, they ignored its sinister sobriquet “graveyard of empires.”
So Carson’s historical observation represents a sea change in how the GOP views the hostile world: not isolationism, but cautious realism based on historical context. Barack Obama’s naiveté stems from his belief that harmony is the natural state among nations and if we can just talk out our differences, all will be well.
But his Republican predecessors were also naïve to think that our unique national experience--the culmination of 500 years of cultural inheritance, an isolated continent to serve as a political laboratory, a uniting figure in Washington who nonetheless scorned power, and the common brainchild of some of the most brilliant visionaries to ever grace one era--could be replicated in the folds of the Hindu Kush or the swamps of Mesopotamia.
A belief in the power of ideas is wonderful. In the end, as Carson so astutely observed, it is history that matters.
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