SAULT SAINTE MARIE, MI -- "Islamic jihadists remain the most serious threat against America today, despite President Barack Obama's effort to improve U.S. relations with the Muslim world," observes Jim Jacobson, president of Christian Freedom International. Unfortunately, "Islamic radicals have not reciprocated the president's attempted outreach."
Earlier this year the president made a celebrated speech in Cairo to promote better relations with the Islamic world but, notes Jacobson, "the primary problem is the hostility of organized Islam to members of other faiths." That hostility starts with persecution against Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities in Muslim nations around the globe.
Now the administration has created a new and expensive technology fund for Islamic countries. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation is providing up to $150 million to "catalyze and facilitate private sector investments." Target industries include computers and telecommunications.
The objective is to promote education, health care, infrastructure, and jobs in the Muslim world. These all are good things, "but shouldn't Washington be focusing on promoting education, health care, infrastructure, and jobs in America," asks Jacobson? The U.S. deficit in Fiscal Year 2009 was $1.4 trillion. Uncle Sam will be running up at least another $10 trillion in red ink over the coming decade. "Why is the federal government borrowing money to subsidize education, health care, infrastructure, and jobs in other nations," he asks?
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U.S. officials want to believe that these initiatives will promote economic growth in Islamic countries, and thereby reduce radicalism. "Unfortunately, the record of foreign aid is one of failure," notes Jacobson. Washington has been giving away money to Third World countries for decades, with little result. "The OPIC initiative is not likely to do anything other than enrich already well-connected politicians and businessmen," Jacobson adds.
Unfortunately, some of them may be the people who have been funding Islamic radicals for years. "We know that much of the money for terrorism has come from individuals, businesses, and charities in supposedly friendly Muslim nations, such as Saudi Arabia," he explains. Any funds would have to be closely monitored to make sure the money is not recycled against Americans.
But Jacobson argues that there is a more important problem: "These sorts of programs will do nothing to confront the Islamic radicalism that results in religious persecution and terrorism." The administration also plans a summit for entrepreneurs in America and Muslim nations. "The people attending such a meeting will not be the ones attacking Americans here and Christians there," he observes.
In fact, programs like the OPIC fund risk disguising the true nature of the challenge facing the U.S. "The Obama administration apparently believes the problem of Islamic terrorism is one of underdevelopment in Muslim nations," notes Jacobson. And maybe more jobs would make a few angry young men less likely to turn to violence.
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However, "the people most likely to be impressed by a more prosperous economy are not the ones likely to attack Americans and other Westerners," Jacobson warns. The 9/11 terrorists were well-off, not poor, and Osama bin Laden was a millionaire businessman. Moreover, "prosperity and contact with the West are more likely to enrage many would-be terrorists," he explains.
Unfortunately, "the U.S. cannot buy the friendship of Islamic nations," Jacobson says. "Giving away the money of Americans to countries which persecute religious minorities and promote radical ideologies will not make Americans any safer," he adds.
While Washington should seek good relations with other governments, including Islamic ones, "it should not lose sight of the basic threat to America: fundamentalist Islamic doctrines which view non-Muslims as the enemy," says Jacobson. The Obama administration must learn that no amount of foreign aid will turn America's adversaries into friends. "Battling religious persecution and terrorism will be a long and difficult fight," but one in which we must persevere, he insists.