Many years ago, when Europe was facing the problem of Islamist radicalization in its ghettos, the US stood out for how well integrated its Muslim population was. The US had set high barriers for non-family immigration and most of those coming to the US had to demonstrate a strong investment in living a responsible, contributing life, usually through the recommendations of American universities and employers that visas be given to those who had met the standards of being amongst the best. This contrasted with European immigration that was dedicated to protecting native white privilege in jobs but open to importing poorly paid labor to fill menial roles in society, with none of the dignity, respectability and opportunity that immigrants found in the US. What Europe got was Muslim ghettos that eventually became ripe for Saudi engineered radicalism. But now the US too is facing Islamist crazies within its population.

So what happened? It is a predicted consequence of the failure of the neoconservatives’ so called War on Terror. Instead of an end to radical jihad, we got ISIS, Syria, and continuing massacres of unarmed infidels who have offended, From Bombay to Charlie Hebdo to the recent attacks in Paris to the attack on homosexuals in Florida.  The cozy comfort that radical jihad had no traction amongst American Muslims is shattered. It is now a reality that many American and Canadian mosques are home to fanatical Wahabi preachers who are finding recruits for the global jihad amongst their flocks.

Radical Islamism has arrived in America.

This mess was created by the Republican Party and its rush to go to war in Iraq, but today, it’s the Democratic candidate who has to be put on the hot seat about it. The nomination of Donald Trump as the Republican party has flummoxed all, but it ought not have. Donald Trump was tearing down the Republican Party’s leaders and holy cows, and its voters approved. 

Hillary Clinton , however, is acting like it's 1992. Rather than display awareness of how America went wrong in the months between 9/11 and the launch of the Iraq War, and what the consequences have been, Ms. Clinton is seeking to become the president by peddling liberal platitudes that made so much sense in 1992. She must do this instead: avoid her own failure to do the right thing in those fateful days. 

Let’s go back to the weeks soon after 9/11.  War was coming to Afghanistan. There was talk of Americans doing well if they remembered that Afghanistan had been called the graveyard of empires. The Americans faced an enemy that had been resilient beyond the ability of other super powers to exhaust. If the US went to war in Afghanistan, it would have to see it through. Otherwise defeat at the hands of medieval tribals awaited. Most pre-Iraq War democrats did not oppose attacking the Taliban. Everyone agreed that the Taliban had to be evicted and Afghanistan rebuilt. This was before 15 years of GWB’s war created the Ben Affleck Left.

The start of the US bombing of the Taliban was met with grim satisfaction.  Afghanistan would be cleansed of the fanatical savages, and finally recover from the annihilation it suffered in the Cold War. Pakistan’s system of jihad-as-state-power would be taken apart. All it needed was for the US to stay to rebuild Afghanistan in the face of Pakistan seeking to retake control through a medieval statecraft of treachery and duplicity.

It was not to be.  Soon after the Taliban had been sent scurrying across the border into Pakistan, the neocons made their play. Afghanistan was to serve as the spring board for the neocons to implement their agenda of cleaning up and democratizing the Middle East. They wanted to take out Saddam Hussein and democratize Iraq. They imagined that democracy would ripple out from Iraq across the Middle East. Oil liberated from Saddam’s hands would pay for the cost of the war and the principles of free trade would be served neatly by a war of justice.

But they didn’t say that. They just started a drumbeat of supposed WMDs in Iraq, the nexus of Al Qaeda and Saddam, nightmare scenarios of suitcase nukes going off in Times Square, shady networks running Uranium across Africa, the centrality of Iraq to the Global Jihad. Week by week, the US escalated the tensions with Iraq and moved ever closer to war.

Those who understood the Taliban and larger religio-ideological crusade, were frantic. There was nothing in Iraq. Afghanistan had to be saved. Saudi Arabia had for years been spending money taking over the mosques and religious institutions in muslim societies beyond the Middle East, spreading Wahabi views and zeal to Muslims everywhere and bankrolling it all.  Pakistan was running dozens of organizations that were indoctrinating and training fighters for jihad in Afghanistan, India, and elsewhere. If that was not achieved, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would carry straight on while the US exhausted itself in Iraq.

The Pakistanis and the Saudis knew this. America’s European allies knew this. US Democrats knew this. The foolish, ignorant, arrogant, and dishonest neocons did not.

Rightly, the Democrat Party and progressives everywhere stood up against going to war in Iraq. They argued for limiting focus to Afghanistan. They correctly disputed the WMD claims. They affirmed the success of UN inspections and warned against war without UN sanction. They warned of the Sunni/Shia and tribal tensions that Saddam was suppressing. They asked why Saudi Arabia was immune. They disputed the supposed link between Iraq and the global jihad and warned that attacking Iraq would only radicalize Muslims, destabilize the Middle East, exhaust US moral authority, deplete American wealth and kill and maim a lot of people.

But the day it came for the Democrats to vote their opposition to war against Iraq, 29 out of 50 Democrats voted for the war.  Hillary Clinton was amongst them.   As were Joe Biden, John Edwards, John Kerry, Joseph Lieberman, Harry Reid, the Chuck Schumer. All sometime presidential ticket contenders, Congressional leaders or otherwise senior figures of the Democrat party.

The war happened. 25,000 coalition forces soldiers died. 110,000 civilians were killed. 35,000 enemy dead.  No WMDs were found in Iraq. No link between Saddam and Al Qaeda was established. ISIS has run rampant. Syria and Yemen are in flames.  The Arab Spring as faltered and died, killed when American ally Saudi Arabia sent its forces to the aid of its fellow despots. New unstable power arrangements are seething.

Taliban still stands strong, still poised to take over Afghanistan.  Pakistan’s entire jihad operations are intact. Islamist terrorism across Europe and now the US has escalated. The hydra of Saudi backed jihad has grown as many new heads as old ones were cut off, and more. Saudi involvement in jihad remains uninvestigated and unpunished.

The threat of Islamism and jihad remains as strong as ever. American ability and authority to police the world lies in tatters. Tens of thousands of Americans are now living with the trauma of war, missing limbs, and shattered minds.

All this cost $3,000 billion, a lot of it borrowed from China, cost generations of Americans will pay.

21 Democrat Senators did vote against the war, among them Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd, Jon Corzine, Carl Levin, Patrick Leahy, Edward Kennedy.  In the House of Representatives Independent Bernie Sanders and Republican Ron Paul also voted against the war.

So what did Hilary Clinton know that the towering Edward Kennedy didn’t? What gift of sound judgment did she possess that had evaded the unbendable libertarian Ron Paul? Why did she and the others who voted for the war do it?  Did they ultimately buy the neocon argument?  Or did some of them calculate that a run for the White House would benefit more from a vote for war than a vote of sound judgement and unimpeachable conscience?

When it came to Hillary Clinton to demonstrate uncommon awareness, judgment, and integrity at a most critical juncture for Modern America, she failed. Utterly.

That has not stopped her from popping up again, hungry for the White House, peddling a 1990s version of American liberalism, grotesquely out of place with the realities that the US has to deal with today in the aftermath of the incompetence and leadership failure of leaders such as herself.

With the Donald Trump nomination, Republican voters have expunged the moral and political authority of virtually the entire leadership of the Republican Party, particularly in regards to the Iraq war, national security, and the economy. Democrats however have returned, in Hillary Clinton , to the failure of leadership of those disastrous years. But not all Democrats. The probability that at least some Democrat voters will vote Republican this year is not insignificant. They ought to. Hillary Clinton ought not be President.