Muhammad was a great man, at least as history traditionally defines greatness. Sure, there are revisionist academics who suggest that he was, more or less, a created figure who arose out of the politics and culture of northern Arabia, but we can, and perforce must as a practical matter, accept the received picture of him as affirmed by Islamic history. As such, he reformed, rechanneled, and revolutionized the ancient and primitive culture of Arabia to set it on course to become one of the world’s great civilizations.
With the creation of a special congressional committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the three branches of government will soon head for a constitutional collision. Obama administration officials, past and present, will resist the call to testify. They will respond to congressional subpoenas by claiming executive privilege or asserting their right to avoid self-incrimination. To get answers to its questions, the committee may hold Obama officials in contempt. Under today’s misconceived system of judicial supremacy, the courts may decide the winner. If the original understanding of the Constitution prevailed, Congress would probably prevail. But investigations has become yet another matter where Washington, D.C.’s practices have strayed far from the Constitution.
The abandonment of the State Department-CIA mission in Benghazi that came under attack on September 11, 2012 marked the failure of the Obama administration’s foreign policy toward the Muslim world. That American generals and admirals raised no protest to the decision not to go to the American contingent’s defense dishonored our military and undercut its sense of duty, responsibility, and self-respect. The discredit brought upon the United States by foolish, dishonest foreign policies is dangerous and hard enough to live down. But history teaches that militaries whose moral qualities have been undermined court disaster, and that restoring those qualities is very hard.
Important as it is to fix responsibility for failure to protect America’s diplomatic contingent in Benghazi Libya, which led to the death of four Americans on September 11 2012, the effort to do so detracts from a question that goes to the heart of U.S. foreign policy: Why is it that so many U.S. embassies and outposts need protection by U.S. military forces, and even in civilized countries have had to wrap themselves in ever-heavier blankets of security? What has U.S. foreign policy done to raise the level of hate which millions of foreigners bear for us, while at the same time decreasing fear of American retribution? Addressing such questions requires re-assessing the fundamentals of U.S. foreign policy.
In our Books section this week, Alan Tarr, master scholar of state supreme courts, reviews James Gibson's book Electing Judges. An excerpt: Many of those concerned about the effects of campaign activity on judicial legitimacy have assumed that citizens share the legal profession’s view that politics undermines judicial independence and hence judicial legitimacy. Gibson’s research suggests, however, that public attitudes are more diverse and more complex. While some respondents shared the legal profession’s strong concern about judicial independence, many others favored judicial independence from the executive but were skeptical of judicial independence from the community and its values. . . . …