Smith Statement on Defense Policy and Islam
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), made the following statement about Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s recorded views on U.S. defense policy and Islam:
“I am deeply disturbed by Steve Bannon’s long record of commentary on Islam and national security. In public interviews, Bannon has persistently argued that the United States and Western civilization are faced with a ‘global existential war’ against not just violent Islamist radicals such as Daesh, Al Qaeda, or Al Shabaab, but the religion of Islam itself, which he calls ‘the most radical religion.’ As part of this civilizational conflict, we will have ‘a major shooting war in the Middle East.’”
“That thinking is extremely dangerous. We are not at war with Islam. Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama made this clear. An approach of this type would make it incredibly difficult for us to defeat the violent Islamic radicals who want to kill Americans, because we simply cannot win without allies and partners in places like Iraq and the Horn of Africa.
“As General David Petraeus told the Armed Services Committee yesterday, ‘Our most important ally in this war is the overwhelming majority of Muslims who reject Al Qaeda, Daesh, and their fanatical barbaric worldview. … We must also remember that Islamic extremists want to portray this as a clash of civilizations with America at war against Islam. We must not let them do that. We must be very sensitive to actions that might give them ammunition in this effort.’
“It is inaccurate and immoral to condemn all Muslims as radicals and enemies of Western civilization. Other religions, including Christianity, have had checkered histories with examples of violent extremism. Great faiths have sometimes been twisted and put to evil ends. If we make it the policy of the United States to stoke a civilizational conflict against Islam itself, we will only feed our enemies’ narrative, generating far more enemies and jeopardizing our ability to effectively fight terrorism and protect the United States.”