Romney Versus The Muslim Brotherhood

While Mitt Romney impressed me and most other reporters with his presentation, it would be good for some to observe that he also put forward a completely insane policy idea on the leading issue of the day:

We’ll move everything to get him. But I don’t want to buy into the Democratic pitch, that this is all about one person, Osama bin Laden. Because after we get him, there’s going to be another and another. This is about Shi’a and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate.

To put it bluntly, the trouble here is that the Muslim Brotherhood just isn't a violent terrorist organization, and certainly doesn't commit acts of violence against the United States. It's an extremely traditionalist multinational civil society organization. It's true that a lot of violent types used to be in the Brotherhood and now they're in terrorist groups, but used to be is the key phrase here, they left the Brotherhood because the Brotherhood wouldn't sign on for their agenda. In one clause, Romney's just gone and broadened the war to include a huge new category of people who have no intention of waging war against the United States or even against Israel.

Note that even without the Muslim Brotherhood bit, this is a terrible idea. If you liked Iraq, you're going to love trying to root Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon and Hamas out of the West Bank. Check out Spencer's remarks on this as well. He notes that "it's hardly remarkable that Romney doesn't know what he's talking about." It isn't surprising, but then again this point needs to be driven home again and again -- Mitt Romney displayed zero understanding of political Islam or global terrorism, none of his Republican opponents called him on it, and as far as I know, nobody in the press (the same press, you'll recall, that's concerned with the Pursuit of Truth above all else) bothered to notice.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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