Another explanation for the low-balling, or outright ignoring, of national security is the influence of some of the more libertarian members of the conservative movement. Their sentiments are exemplified and aggressively advanced, mostly behind the scenes, by Grover Norquist. Norquist is best known for his anti-tax activism as president of Americans for Tax Reform but, over the past 12 years, he has become increasingly associated with policies and initiatives that are strikingly at odds with the national security convictions and practices of the man he - and virtually all other conservatives - so admire: Ronald Reagan.
For example, Norquist recently wrote an open letter that charged with "scaremongering" those who opposed the Obama administration's efforts to close Guantanamo Bay, move terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow 9/11 conspirators to trial in New York City and open a new Gitmo North in Illinois. He has inveighed for years against the Patriot Act, promoted "open borders" and sponsored a neo-isolationist organization called the American Conservative Defense Alliance. One of the Alliance's fellows, a disgruntled ex-CIA officer named Philip Giraldi, presented a paper at a 2010 CPAC panel entitled "Why Real Conservatives are Against the War on Terror." Giraldi told the audience that, "Fear has been the key to the door for expansion of government and government powers and the people in charge in Washington have seized the opportunity. It has also eroded the liberties that have defined us as a nation."
As bloggers Michelle Malkin and Pamela Geller, among others, have noted, Norquist has also been a sponsor of efforts to promote in the name of GOP "inclusion" individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. He seems indifferent to the Brotherhood's self-declared mission to "destroy Western civilization from within" or the close alignment between many of his policy recommendations and the interests of the Brothers and other Shariah adherents who seek such an outcome.
As it happens, Grover Norquist has lately taken to promoting more debates in American politics. He has done so together with such prominent Leftists as Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher of the Nation magazine and co-author of Taking Back America - and Taking Down the Radical Right. As he put it recently in a pas de deux with her on NPR, "In a debate, both sides make their case in real time. Debates are better than speeches; debates are competition....Debates are alive; arguments are tested and honed."
Well, it seems to me the Republican Party and the conservative movement urgently need a debate about whether the sorts of views Norquist espouses should be those adopted by the Right - or even simply allowed to suppress the adoption of more sensible, Reaganesque policies - rather than making the latters' pursuit Job #1. Therefore, I challenge Grover Norquist to engage in such a public debate, as soon as possible, in the interest of ensuring that the sorts of arguments about the common defense that he has made, both publicly and privately, about the direction of the GOP and America are tested and, if found wanting, repudiated before they do further, real harm to both.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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