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Friday, March 4, 2011

What Don't They Understand About Islamists?

In what will come as a shock to no one who lives in reality, the revolutions throughout the Middle East, while sparked in many instances by people who share western-style democratic values, are turning Islamist, and the Obama administration is dithering and accepting the outcome as a foregone conclusion:

Via The Washington Post:
The Obama administration is preparing for the prospect that Islamist governments will take hold in North Africa and the Middle East, acknowledging that the popular revolutions there will bring a more religious cast to the region's politics....
Since taking office, President Obama has argued for a "new beginning" with Islam, suggesting that Islamic belief and democratic politics are not incompatible. But in doing so, he has alarmed some foreign-policy pragmatists and allies such as Israel, who fear that governments based on religious law will inevitably undercut democratic reforms and other Western values.

Some within the U.S. intelligence community, foreign diplomatic circles and the Republican Party say Obama's readiness to accept Islamist movements, even ones that meet certain conditions, fails to take into consideration the methodical approach many such parties adopt toward gradually transforming secular nations into Islamic states at odds with U.S. policy goals.
Exactly.  The Islamist parties throughout the Middle East use democracy as the device to destroy democracy, even in nations such as Turkey which have a long secular democratic history.

Which makes the most recent column by Roger Cohen at The NY Times so laughably absurd:
The Arab awakening is not yet about Israel — I never heard the word “Israel” during two weeks in Cairo — but that could change if another skirmish erupts. Nothing would radicalize regional sentiment, now focused on building rather than destroying, as quickly.
I guess Cohen wasn't in Egypt when over a million Egyptians greeted the return an anti-Semitic cleric and chanted "To Jerusalem We go, for us to be the Martyrs of the Millions."

The Obama administration could have played a pivotal role in supporting more secular and less extremist forces in the Middle East.  Instead it has sat on the sidelines while commissioning studies, as if the experiences of Iran, Gaza and Lebanon were not lessons enough.

We are led by political and media elites who are so blinded by a desire not to be seen as anti-Islam, that they have increased the likelihood that tens of millions of Muslims will meet the fate of the people of Iran.

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  1. Commissioning studies is a standard political delaying tactic. It justifies putting off making a decision until the studies are done. Another way for Obama to vote "present".

  2. When I talk to young people, mostly at work, about this issue I get discouraged and disappointed. Most just don't get it.

    The day before yesterday, I talked to a man I used to work with who now works in the neighboring office. He was born in Lebanon but grew up in America. He's baffled by the administration also. His take? "These guys don't know what they're doing. They should be working closely with Israel."


  3. Commentators like Richard Cohen simply do not hear what they don't want to hear -- you know, the part that doesn't comport with the narrative? He never heard the word Israel in Egypt?

    Gee, did he not hear about the various mob groups attacking numerous news-gathering organizations? Fox News, CNN, CBSs Lara Logan, et al.? . . . and the consistent refrain throughout that they were all Israeli spies?

    Is it possible Richard Cohen also missed the Lara Logan incident . . . the one with the suddenly appearing mysterious "dangerous element" mob of 200, which occurred after Mubarak stepped down?

    Back in January, in The Long War Journal Bill Roggio wrote about a Jordanian al Qaeda operative, Mansur al Shami, a longtime jihadi whose real name is Mahmud Mahdi Zeidan, who had been killed in an airstrike in Pakistan. In the article, Roggio noted:

    "Shami served as an ideologue and as a bodyguard for senior al Qaeda leader Mustafa Abu Yazid, the group's commander in Afghanistan and chief financier. According to Shami's brother, he worked for Taliban Radio in Afghanistan in 2001. Shami's father is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that is a gateway to al Qaeda, and Shami's other brother Ibrahim was captured by US forces in Afghanistan in 2001 and spent five years at Guantanamo Bay before being released in 2006." (my emphasis added)

    The Muslim Brotherhood's English language site responded by trying to poke fun at Roggio's characterization, with a piece entitled, "The Muslim Brotherhood is the new marijuana".

    Perhaps Richard Cohen has been too busy inhaling deeply at a few of the sites whose predilections for pushing propaganda are quite manifest to the rest of us.

    A few things are very clear. The Muslim Brotherhood is itching for a way to renounce the ’79 Peace Treaty with Israel. Their current formulation is calling for an Egyptian "referendum" on the topic, which would very likely result in a repudiation of the treaty at this point in time. But in their English language website, the MB claims that is a “far cry” from calling for war with Israel. But of course there have been exceptions -- calls for war with Israel from MB officials! The MB also says on their English language website that they have no obligation to "protect" Israel from the Palestinians, coupled with their long history of backing the Palestinian cause.

    Dear Richard Cohen: What could possibly go wrong with a program like that? Please advise!

  4. Niall Ferguson, historian and author of "Civilization: The West and the Rest" and "The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World".

    "The least likely outcome is that this results in several North African and Middle Eastern democracies. Much more likely is more military rule or an Islamist takeover."

    UK Telegraph

  5. Just read Cohen's piece. So many things jump out.

    I find this particularly funny:

    "Israelis are doubly worried. They wonder, Mr. President, if you like them in a heart-to-heart way."

    Wow. Israelis must have some great capacity for giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Obama's unbelievably embarrassing treatment of Netanyahu as a guest--leaving him hanging while Obama went off to dinner--erased any doubt about his sentiments for me. He definitely does not feel any affinity for our ally. His treatment of our allies is an absolute disgrace.

    And the Queen got an iPOD. Rock on to those speeches, your majesty! Later you can trade with Gordon and watch those DVDs.

  6. I did a couple of posts about this issue. Is Obama on their side or just incredibly stupid. Remember he comes from a revolutionary background through is father's father. A little "getting even" shows not only here with he and his wife's excesses, but in foreign policy. Let's not over think it.



    Regardless, I am starting to feel like Lloyd Bridges in Airplane, I picked the wrong week to...


  7. As Charles Krauthammer noted today:

    "Also forgotten is the once proudly proclaimed "realism" of Years One and Two of President Obama's foreign policy – the "smart power" antidote to Bush's alleged misty-eyed idealism.

    It began on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first Asia trip when she publicly played down human rights concerns in China. The administration also cut aid for democracy promotion in Egypt by 50 percent. And cut civil society funds – money for precisely the organizations we now need to help Egyptian democracy – by 70 percent."

    Not to mention Obama turned his back on the 2009 Iranian democrats' effort to reassert secular politicians.

  8. It's not that they don't understand Islamists, it's that they're operating according to the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Who's the 'my enemy'? We Conservatives and the GOP are. Israel is.

  9. There's nothing left to prepare. They've made all their preparations. The Middle East situation is of Obama's making. We've had 2 Jihad presidents to date. The first, Carter. Carter's betrayal of the Shah released the beast of Islam on America. Major terrorist attacks qagainst America began coming out of Iran two years later, and every two years since. Fast forward to Obama. The radicals have learned much since Carter, and so the plan is much grander this time. The only preparations the WH is making is planning the party to celebrate it's achievement.

  10. Speaking of laughably absurd:

    "The Islamist parties throughout the Middle East use democracy as the device to destroy democracy, even in nations such as Turkey which have a long secular democratic history."

    This statement bears no semblance to reality whatsoever. The right seems to be fond of declaring Turkey a full-on Islamist state just because they don't approve of some of their foreign policy decisions. The fact is that Turkey is as much a secular democracy as it ever was, with a referendum last year (designed to bring the Turkish constitution more in line with EU standards) and a parliamentary election this year. When I asked my Turkish boyfriend if he thought that Turkey would ever become an Islamist state under Sharia law, he nearly spat out his tea in derision at the idea (and he comes from the conservative interior of the country no less). Turkey has one of the most successful economies in the region, and the Turkish government is hardly likely to jeapordize that success by turning back the clock and instituting Ottoman-style law.

    A little perspective: in this allegedly Islamist state women are still not allowed to wear the hijab at public universities or in government buildings.