Before Barack Obama, Woodrow Wilson was the last sitting American president to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama shares with Wilson a utopian passion for peace and a determination to yield American sovereignty and subordinate the nation’s security to toothless international organizations.
The Ground Zero mosque controversy should remind us of President Wilson’s failed diplomacy before America’s entry into World War I. Desperate to play the role of world peacemaker, Wilson fell into a carefully-laid German trap. The Germans appealed to him to act as an intermediary. They wanted to submit their peace proposals to him, they said, but they could not do so in confidence. That’s because they suspected the British had tapped into their trans-Atlantic cable. The British had indeed intercepted the Germans’ transmissions—and were de-coding their ciphered messages.
Woodrow Wilson readily agreed to let the Germans use our own State Department cable to send their peace proposals to Washington. What they actually sent in their coded messages was the Zimmermann Telegram. Named for Germany’s deceitful foreign minister, the Zimmermann Telegram was addressed to Germany’s ambassador in Mexico City.
Zimmermann wanted his man in Mexico City to know that Germany fully intended to tear up its Sussex guarantees and resume unrestricted submarine warfare against neutral American shipping. When that happened, Zimmermann confided, the U.S. would doubtless declare war. Zimmermann wanted to offer the Mexicans the return of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico if they would come over to Germany’s side in the expanded world war.
So, the cable traffic that Wilson naively permitted the Germans was actually used against our country by a deadly enemy determined to destroy us.
Now, President Obama is sending Imam Rauf on a “goodwill tour” of the Mideast, allowing him to travel as a representative of our own U.S. State Department. There, he will establish contacts with the Saudis and other oil-rich Arab despots whom he can later tap for the estimated $100 million he will need for his mosque near Ground Zero.
President Obama, like Wilson, is desperate to be seen as a world peacemaker. He has great confidence that he is the only honest broker who can bring about peace in the Mideast. He has swallowed the bait that Imam Rauf has offered—that the provocative mosque will be a monument to inter-faith understanding.
In truth, such a mosque would convince millions throughout those lands with Muslim majorities that the United States is weak, that we are gullible, and that we won’t even resist when faced with the greatest of provocations.
If Imam Rauf were truly a moderate Muslim, he would not dream of putting an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. His willingness to stick his finger in America’s eye proves that he is bent on erecting an Islamic dawa—Arabic for call or summons—in the heart of America’s greatest city. It will be a call for what?
The Germans greatly underestimated America and Americans. Even the invertebrate Wilson was forced to go to war when confronted with irrefutable evidence of German duplicity.
The leader of the Imperial German Navy boasted that his U-boats would sink all our troop ships. He promised the Kaiser that America would not land a single soldier in France. In fact, we landed more than two million—with virtually no disruption by the German submarine force.
If Imam Rauf’s mosquerade succeeds, we can expect the war on terror to enter a new and even more dangerous phase. A mosque at Ground Zero would be a powerful recruiting poster for Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It would give aid and comfort to proponents of shariah worldwide. The mosque would strengthen the Iranians’ determination to develop nuclear weapons. Every Islamist on earth would think jihad is irresistible if we allow this mosque to be built.
President Obama has not done enough to protect us from this grave threat. Like Wilson, he won his peace prize too soon. Despite the prize displayed with such awe at Wilson’s house on S Street, NW, in Washington, D.C., the reality is that Wilson’s foggy ideas led to the disastrous conclusion of World War I. And, as FDR believed, Wilson’s failed policies led to the rise of Hitler.
What dangers is President Obama’s weak and irresolute diplomacy courting?
We know he rejects the wisdom of Winston Churchill. But might we persuade him to emulate our other Peace Prize president? Let’s encourage him to pursue peace through strength as Theodore Roosevelt did.
Robert Morrison is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.