If you believe that money is power, then history tells us that the Islamic threat is real . . . but are we to blame?

Robert Tuttle, the former U.S. Ambassador to London who is now a millionaire businessman, warned in a cable to his bosses at the U.S. Treasury that Britain was getting the jump on the United States at a crucial time.

“Should London successfully position itself as a leading Islamic finance center, it could gain an edge on New York, when the global financial markets recover,” Tuttle said in a 2009 cable obtained by the Wikileaks website and published in The Telegraph this month.

from the February 23rd, 2010 article “London gets jump on New York in Islamic finance” by Jane Wardell, The Associated Press

For those of you who may have been around during the Watergate Scandal and the subsequent release of the movie based on the Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein book All The President’s Men, you will likely remember one of the most notable lines from the picture where in a shadowed underground parking lot Deep Throat admonishes Woodward to “follow the money.”

Although a seemingly simplistic direction, it’s core veracity carries a powerful message that transcends time, circumstances and yes, even ideologies.  Follow the money spells out what has been at the heart of the majority of conflicts both around and within the world, including the current controversy behind the Ground Zero Mosque.  And, if you believe the old adage that money is power, then history tells us that the Islamic threat is potentially real.

It also goes a long ways towards explaining one of the more contentious allegations leveled at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg by individuals such as Pamela Geller, and 911 Hard Hat Pledge Founder Andy Sullivan involving the Mayor’s launch of the Islamic Sahri’ah Finance Platform.

Unfortunately the Pamela Gellers and Andy Sullivans fail to offer the depth of insight beyond the headline grabbing rhetoric that inflames more than it explains.

For example the problems I have with Mr. Sullivan, is that he far to often espouses a position without digging deep enough to get the facts to support what he is saying.  This makes it somewhat difficult for those less passionate about his cause to understand his concerns by logically connecting the proverbial dots that lead to a reasonable conclusion.

He further undermines his creditability by going on unrelated tirades that smack more of bigotry than they do actual concern – the latter of which I have no doubt is genuine.  However, and this is a big however, his fears may very well be justified.  Or to put it another way, he may be right – to a degree, but going about it in the wrong way that ultimately hurts his cause more than it helps.

The benefit of a Sullivan, is that like a faulty smoke detector, he will go off from time-to-time without smoke actually being present.  Despite this somewhat irritating tendency, you would rather have that problem versus not having a smoke detector at all.

This means that he should not make references to  Bloomberg’s activities surrounding the New York Mayor’s role in the establishment of the Islamic Sahri’ah Finance Platform based on conjecture and attention grabbing headlines.  If he did his homework, he would know that the real issues come down to two key questions; why is Bloomberg doing it and, how is said reason or reasons linked to the building of the Ground Zero Mosque.  These are the two pivotal points that opens the door to not only understanding the reasons behind the Mayor’s position on the Mosque, but why the potential dependence on Islamic wealth and the global influence it affords might be a cause for alarm.

By focusing on the former, without recognizing the other beyond the vague gut instinct to which Sullivan repeatedly credits to his growing up in a tough New York City neighborhood, means that he may not be missing the big picture in its entirety but is certainly limiting his ability to formulate the proper response to what is potentially a very real threat.  The real threat to which I am referring is the growing global influence of Islamic wealth.

In a post credit-crisis world, Islamic banking is tipped to be a major growth area for international financing. It currently represents around just 2 percent to 3 percent of global financial assets, or almost $1 trillion, but it is growing at an average of 25 percent each year.

Referencing the traditional London-New York financial rivalry, there is concerns within the American business community that British capital is already streets ahead in terms of the race to become the global center for tapping into the wealth of Muslim investors who are as the article puts it “sitting on piles of oil-generated cash that needs a home.”  Besides eying Western countries that are mired in debt for potential investments, the Islamic banking apparatus is also looking to service the rising global Muslim population.

By following the money, we can now understand the driving forces behind New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “launching” as Pamela Geller put it, of the Islamic Sahri’ah Finance Platform, which is based in large part on the desire to maintain New York’s leadership position in the world of global finance.

This of course is not a minor side story or adjunct to the Ground Zero Mosque debate.  In fact, I would be inclined to conclude that it is this financial race to become the global money exchange for Islamic wealth that is the far bigger story in that it also poses the greatest threat to America’s position in terms of the balance of power in the emerging global economy.

The stakes of course in this global game of finance are incredibly high, so much so that an elected official is willing to take a significant amount of political heat from a growing number of his constituents to support an unpopular and questionable position.  That should be a clue as to the power of the forces that are at work here because by supporting the building of the Mosque, Bloomberg may potentially lose the next election.  This revelation alone is the most telling in terms of the potential influence that Islamic wealth can wield over a global marketplace that is desperate to access its seemingly inexhaustible cache of funds.

Understanding they key aspects of the above paragraphs also paints another disturbing picture.  Our true enemy may not be Islam (at least not directly), but ourselves.

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Reminiscent of the famous line from the Pogo cartoon on Earth Day 1971, the reference to Western countries mired in debt is ominously telling.

In my December 6th, 2010 post titled “Government fiscal policies show telltale signs of subprime 2008 meltdown,” I discuss how for the first time since the Great Depression US States and municipalities are on the verge of going bankrupt due to poor fiscal policies.

The true seriousness of the situation can be demonstrated by the recent decision by Detroit City Council to offer virtually free homes to anyone, and I mean anyone, if they relocate to Michigan’s largest urban center.  The deal has been sweetened further by the promise on the part of the municipality to provide up to $150K for renovations to those who take the city up on their offer.

In the January 27th, 2011 49th Parallel Forum post “The State takes over Nassau County’s Finances . . . So what’s happening to government in America?,” I examined how the State of New York had to move in to take over the finances for one of the wealthiest and most heavily taxed counties in America.

This propensity towards the mismanagement of funds is nothing new as outlined in Mark Baldassare’s 1998 book When Government Fails, which discusses amongst other things the 1994 bankruptcy proceedings for Orange County, California.  It is worth noting that both the Orange County bankruptcy and the book itself show that this financial meltdown has been a long time coming, fueled I might add by irresponsible spending habits of everyday Americans.

Add into the equation the unmitigated greed of the Wall Street crowd, as well as our nation’s continuing dependence on oil, and it is not unreasonable to conclude that we are in reality the ones who have created the financial dependence that is now making our country vulnerable to the enticing call of Islamic wealth.

An even better way to put it, is that due to irresponsible spending habits throughout all levels of society and government we have no one to blame for this vulnerability but ourselves.

As you chew on this immutable truth for awhile, ask yourself this question . . . if we did not require Islamic funds to keep our economic engine running would the Ground Zero Mosque debate have ever come up?  Even if the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf would have been inclined to try and erect a Mosque or Friendship Center, I doubt that Bloomberg and the other city officials (in the absence of financial need and greed) would have been willing to endure the wrath of its angry and vociferous citizens to approve its construction.

Unfortunately, it is us and us alone who have corrupted our own financial strength, and in the process have quite possibly and irreversibly made America the new Oliver Twists in a shifting global marketplace.

Part 2 of this post . . . Are the seeds for World War 3 ready to be sowed?


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