Lawrence Summers has served as president of Harvard University, Secretary of the Treasury, and economic adviser to Barack Obama. His Washington Post piece here is a manifestation of the panic that the political and media elites are feeling in the face of the popularity of Donald Trump, although whether he poses a genuine challenge to their hegemony remains an open question.
Summers writes: “A perception that the United States is at war with Islam rather than with radical elements within Islam is an invitation to terrorism.” This, of course, echoes numerous similar statements made by Barack Obama and others in the past. But there are several problems with it. One is that “the radical elements within Islam” are not easily separable from “Islam.” While Muslim organizations all over the world have issued condemnations of the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and other jihad groups, jihadis and jihad sympathizers move freely in Muslim communities. Few Muslim organizations have pronounced takfir upon, i.e. excommunicated, followers of bin Laden, al-Awlaki, al-Baghdadi, etc. Doctrines of warfare against and subjugation of unbelievers can be found among all mainstream Muslim sects. So how does Larry Summers, or Obama or anyone else, propose to distinguish “the radical elements within Islam” from the rest for the purposes of prosecuting this war properly?
This is the key question regarding Trump’s “suggestion” of a temporary moratorium on Muslim immigration: none of those who are denouncing him for it have come up with any effective alternate plan to keep jihadis out while admitting Muslims.
Also, the idea that “a perception that the United States is at war with Islam rather than with radical elements within Islam is an invitation to terrorism” rests upon the assumption that Muslims who otherwise would have been “moderate” will join jihad terror groups if they don’t like U.S. policies regarding Muslim immigration. This places the onus of terrorism upon us rather than on the jihadis themselves, and suggests that the way we can stop the jihad is to stop doing everything that Muslims dislike. In other words, it is a call for surrender and submission. No thank you, Dr. Summers.
“Trump is a much worse threat than Brexit,” by Lawrence Summers, Washington Post, June 5, 2016 (thanks to Darcy):
On June 23, Britain will vote on whether to remain in the European Union. On Nov. 8, the United States will vote on whether to elect Donald Trump as president. These elections have much in common. Both could yield outcomes that would have seemed inconceivable not long ago. Both pit angry populists and nationalists against the traditional establishment. And in both cases, polling indicates that the outcome is in doubt, with prediction markets suggesting a probability of between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 of the radical outcome occurring….
Yet, as great as the risks of Brexit are to the British economy, I believe the risks to the U.S. and global economies of Trump’s election as president of the United States are far greater. Indeed, if he were elected, I would expect a protracted recession to begin within 18 months. The damage would in all likelihood be felt far beyond the United States. Here’s why….
Third, prosperity depends on a secure geopolitical environment. Requiring Japan and Korea to defend themselves and scaling back NATO is a prescription for both emboldening China and Russia and promoting nuclear proliferation as our allies seek to become self-sufficient. A perception that the United States is at war with Islam rather than with radical elements within Islam is an invitation to terrorism. In such an environment, it is hardly likely that investment and trade would flourish….