Monday, July 23, 2012

The Lamps Are Going Out All Over the Islamic World

by Bill Schanefelt

As we watch, a large chunk of humanity is slipping backward, toward something very ominous for them, and for us, too. Paul Simon's lyrics set the stage:

Slip slidin' away, slip slidin' away, You know the nearer your destination, the more you're slip slidin' away....Believe we're gliding down the highway, when in fact we're slip slidin' away.

That is, on that stage, as we watch, the Islamic world, despite faltering steps towards democracy and modernization, is slip-slidin' ever faster into a chaos out of which, unless unchecked, will emerge a desolateness beyond imagination -- with deference to Sir Edward Grey, it is not unreasonable to say that "[t]he lamps are going out all over the Islamic World, and we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime." But will we see the lights in the entire Islamic world lit again in our lifetime, or ever?

Brigitte Gabriel spoke of that turmoil recently in an interview with Accuracy in Media:

There are 44 conflicts around the world between Muslims and non-Muslims, regardless of what nationality these non-Muslims are, or what language they speak, what passport they hold, or what region of the world they live in. 44 conflicts. Look what's happening in Djibouti. Look what's happening in Chad, what's happening in Mauritania. Americans don't even look at these countries. It's not even on our radar screen. So a war has been declared on the West by radical Islamists who want to bring back the Islamic Caliphate. They are empowered. The revolution started with Iran in 1979, with the coming of [Ruhollah] Khomeini, who birthed, basically, life into the Islamic radical movement worldwide. The sooner we wake up and identify the enemy we are fighting-how they think, what their goal is, what's their strategy, who are the key players in this war, who are the financiers of this war-that's when we're going to be able to make progress and come up with a plan where we can actually defeat our enemy.

She doesn't count the number of conflicts around the world between Muslims and other Muslims. This cartoon in the NY Post by Sean Delonas pictures the misogynistic brutality of it, and the inimitable Michael Ramirez of IBD captures the horror felt by one of the pharaohs over the latest abomination in Egypt regarding the Pyramids.

One can move the cursor over the links in this sentence, for each refers to one or another Muslim vs. non-Muslim or Muslim vs. other Muslim conflict.

However, Amir Taheri has a surprisingly upbeat take on the current situation.

With results from Libya's first free elections, we now have a snapshot of political opinion in almost all Arab Spring countries. (Only Yemen is yet to hold post-despot elections.) So what are the main features of that snapshot? The first is the remarkable diversity of opinion in countries where many saw a simple Islamists-vs.-military-despots division ... these elections puncture the myth of Arab societies as monolithic entities. These are potentially open societies that could develop a rich spectrum of ideas. The second feature is the uneven presence of Islamist parties ... nowhere was the Islamist bloc able to win the support of a majority of the electorate ... the overtly radical Islamist parties did worse than the relatively moderate ones[.] ... The Arab Spring elections also show that the Western strategy of supporting despotic regimes in the hope of achieving stability is no longer valid.

Yet, for some reason, Mr. Tahiri neglects to mention the increasing Muslim vs. non-Muslim or Muslim vs. other Muslim violence in those Arab Spring countries. He concentrates on election results rather than the actual political realities, as expressed here by Aaron David Miller:

The last 18 months witnessed not so much a revolution in Egypt as a regime reconstitution married to a historic opening up of the political system. The good news is that Egypt has competitive politics; the bad news is that the two forces that are competing - the military and the Muslim Brotherhood - are inherently undemocratic, perhaps even anti-democratic, both in structure and philosophy.

And Aaron Hirschi on these pages brilliantly and comprehensively demolished naïve notions "that these post revolutionary Arab societies [will] adopt democratic institutions that will moderate and liberalize these Arab countries." For those few who might have missed it, well, it may be the must-read of the week!

Yet here we have our secretary of state playing (to use another famous saying) "useful idiot" to the Ikhwan:

After her meeting with President Mohamed Morsy -- the first such visit by a U.S. Cabinet official -- Clinton stressed that it was up to Egypt's people to shape the country's political future. But she also noted that the United States would work "to support the military's return to a purely national security role." "The United States supports the full transition to civilian rule, with all that it entails," she said.

Presumably, we can expect her to soon proclaim, like Bashir Assad, President Morsi is a "reformer." (CNN can't make up its mind if it's "Morsy" or "Morsi").

He who would succeed Mrs. Clinton recently played that same role:

The inability of the Muslim Brotherhood to change its rhetoric, leads to questions about how Egyptian President-elect Mohamed Morsi will serve to moderate the Islamist group's beliefs and behavior. Much has been written about how the election of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate isn't a threat to U.S. and Israeli interests in the region, or even to Egyptian society. To take just one example, Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate foreign Relations Committee, warned against "prejudging" the Muslim Brotherhood [emphasis the author's] as it prepared to take power in Egypt. "In our discussions," declared Kerry on Sunday, "Mr. Morsi committed to protecting fundamental freedoms, including women's rights, minority rights, the right to free expression and assembly, and he said he understood the importance of Egypt's post-revolutionary relationships with America and Israel."

President Obama, Mrs. Clinton, Senator Kerry, those around them, and the fawning lame-stream media forget or do not understand that Mr. Morsi's vision is not that it is "... up to Egypt's people to shape the country's political future ...," nor can he be "... committed to protecting fundamental freedoms, including women's rights, minority rights, the right to free expression and assembly, and ... the importance of Egypt's post-revolutionary relationships with America and Israel."

Mr. Morsi's vision is that of the Muslim Brotherhood:

Founded in Egypt in 1928 as a Pan-Islamic, religious, political, and social movement ... [and] [i]ts most famous slogan, used worldwide, is "Islam is the solution." [And its] credo was and is, "Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations ... [and its] goal, as stated by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna was to reclaim Islam's manifest destiny, an empire, stretching from Spain to Indonesia.

Here's how Morsi's vision is stated:

Egypt's constitution should be based on the Quran and the Islamic Sharia law, presidential candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Morsi said. "The Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal," Morsi said in an election speech to Cairo University students. Today Egypt was close as never before to the triumph of Islam at all state levels, he said. "Today, we can establish Sharia law because our nation will acquire well-being only with Islam and Sharia. The Muslim Brothers and the Freedom and Justice Party will be the conductors of these goals," he said.

Democracy, freedom, and peace are, in the Islamic world, ephemeral fantasies -- particularly so with respect to Israel.

As Paul Mirengoff at Powerline, discussing a piece in the Washington Post, said, "... the president's hugely unsuccessful effort to bring about a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians ..." failed, and Obama's failure "... is a given. As the Post puts it: 'After a year and a half of politically costly pressure on Israel, Obama had nothing to show for it, except far less capital to work with at home and a damaged reputation among the Middle East veterans directly involved.'" And, in a later post, Mr. Mirengoff said: "Given Obama's willfully ignorant understanding of the Middle East, he was destined to make a fool of himself the minute he injected himself into this area of the world."

To be sure, the harsh dictatorships of Saddam, Assad, Mubarak, Gaddafi, Ben Ali, et al. were reprehensible, but they did hold down or prevent most Muslim vs. non-Muslim or Muslim vs. other Muslim conflict. And, while the despots essentially maintained or rendered their countries Judenrein, Christians were, by and large, not being persecuted. In fact, Tariq Aziz, a member of the Chaldean Catholic Church, was the deputy prime minister of Iraq under Saddam. That there will ever be another Christian in such a position is unimaginable there or in Turkey or Tunisia or Algeria.

In Egypt, Christian Copts were influential until the time of Nasser, but now there are few Christians in government, and their prospects for the future are as dismal:

Boutros Boutros-Ghali is a Copt who served as Egypt's acting foreign minister....(But) as an only acting foreign minister depicted Egypt's systematic elimination of Copts from all governmental influential positions. Today, only two Copts are on Egypt's governmental cabinet: Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali and Environment Minister Magued George. There is also currently one Coptic governor out of 25[.]

Should Mr. Morsi prevail, the future of the Copts will be bleak, and the relentless Brotherhood elsewhere will not be deterred, irrespective of the results of all of the recent elections.

But will there finally come a time when there will be "One Man, One Vote, One Time"? Bernard Lewis thinks not in this interview:

"I think that the tyrannies are doomed," Mr. Lewis says as we sit by the windows in his library, teeming with thousands of books in the dozen or so languages he's mastered. "The real question is what will come instead." ... "We have a much better chance of establishing-I hesitate to use the word democracy-but some sort of open, tolerant society, if it's done within their systems, according to their traditions. Why should we expect them to adopt a Western system? And why should we expect it to work?" he asks.

Of Grey's comment, it was asserted that "... the mistakes that have been committed in foreign policy are not, as a rule, apparent to the public until a generation afterwards."

The current turmoil is not the result of the war's mistakes or its aftermath. That may also be said of the current involvement of NATO in the Middle East. And it cannot now be known if the Arab Spring should have been encouraged and abetted.

Are we "slip-slidin' away" and destined not to stop in our time? Will a better Middle East emerge from the current turmoil? What will be the denouement of this current turmoil? Or is the turmoil itself the denouement of fourteen centuries of conflict between Islam and the rest of the world?

Hark! The echo rings!

Bill Schanefelt


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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