Leading voices on the Right have denounced the photo and its meme as weak and pointless. They have no idea how wrong they are. Napoleon Bonaparte said it best: "The moral is to the physical as three to one." He meant that claiming the moral high ground is an absolute advantage in fighting a conflict. It clarifies strategic goals to allies and gives domestic morale a boost. The West is in a multi-decade struggle with radical Islam. Every time we demonstrate the moral clarity of Western Civilization, we rally neutral people in the developing world to our cause and force jihadis to explain their atrocities.
The anti-female rhetoric I've heard from my conservative colleagues on this photo is disgusting. They sound pathetic by trotting out old misogynistic stereotypes that working women have tried hard to banish. The language some Americans have used to describe the Senators is the kind of verbiage a Salafist sheikh might use to describe his harem. That is not the face America should present to the world.
These hashtags aren't just photo ops anymore. Social media that goes viral now drives strategic decision making. This is the power of "information operations" and I assure you that plenty of people in the US national security establishment take crafting these narratives very seriously. If you disagree, consider how the US will benefit once we share credit for the girls' safe return.
I'd like to know if any of my fellow conservatives see the irony in all of these anti-hashtag comments in light of the Democratic Party's charge that the GOP engages in a "war on women." I've seen a bunch of comments criticizing women for wanting girls to be safe. Meanwhile, the US is doing what it can to help Nigerians bring them back. Do any of you see how getting behind this message sends a powerful signal to Africans who wonder whether the US stands with their hopes? Seriously, I'd like some answers.
Do any of you conservatives know what millions of Africans are saying right now? They are openly questioning the radical Islamic groups that have grown throughout the continent. They do that specifically because of this incident's notoriety. Getting Americans on the right side of that message is a powerful adjunct to our diplomacy. Do you people really not see this?
This isn't about Benghazi. I'm less interested in placing blame for past oversights than in solving a present problem. American leaders made plenty of missteps in the Cold War but our bipartisan foreign policy won in the end partly because our messaging to the world was based on a morally sound foundation. Messages of freedom, dignity, and prosperity matter, just as Ronald Reagan taught us with "Morning in America." Ronald Reagan also taught us that America would not tolerate Islamic terrorists getting away with the Achille Lauro hijacking; he told other would-be murderers, "You can run, but you can't hide." I believe the Gipper would be totally on board with hunting down Boko Haram fighters and rescuing their captive girls.
I'm throwing it down right now, people. Anyone who disagrees with what these women Senators have to say in their hashtag should put up a photo of themselves with a #Don'tBringBackTheGirls tag. I dare you to do something that stupid. See how well that plays in 2016 when Hillary's operatives run the "GOP anti-women" canard all over again. I am amazed that Republicans are willing to cede the moral high ground to both Democrats and Boko Haram out of pure spite. Conservatives should be better than this if they are to convince Americans that the GOP is fit to govern.
It is true that US foreign assistance programs are sometimes messy. It is difficult to advance a freedom agenda in authoritarian countries. We succeeded in countries like South Korea and Thailand even though they had military governments for part of their modern history. Engagement is hard. The alternative is to cede contested countries to powers that have clear anti-West agendas. I'll take the 50% solution if I think it can get to 100% with continued US involvement.
Republicans can't seem to say anything positive about Administration figures who have this crisis on their radar. Hmmm, the Democrats are doing nothing but tweeting? I guess the Democratic President who directed our national security team to work with the Nigerians doesn't count. I know exactly how capable the US can be and that's why all of the partisan criticism I'm seeing here is handcuffing the GOP.
Partisanship during the Cold War stopped at the water's edge, and our bipartisan foreign policy won that competition with the Soviet Union. Today's conservatives (thanks to some Tea Party nutcases) have so little positive news to offer America that they can't resist harassing our own female political leaders. American conservatives have done a whole lot more than make themselves look like fools. They have missed a golden opportunity to demonstrate American resolve in the face of the violent jihadi movements they claim to hate so much. The conservative loudmouths criticizing the #BringBackOurGirls meme have a profoundly immature understanding of information operations. They have in fact aligned themselves in support of Boko Haram.