Realities In The Islamic World, Part Deux

The critical danger in foreign policy, especially true in the Islamic world, is strategic thinking based on false premises. We can identify the falsities, to a significant degree, in the Bush administration; they have taken center stage in the Obama administration.

The premise that democratic elections yield democratic systems has been given lie in the Middle East. Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2006 by way of democratic elections. There has not been another election since; there is no anticipation of another any time soon. Turkey has used democratic institutions to dismantle the Kemalist secular culture, secularism being replaced, step by step, with Islamism. Turkish leadership utilized democratic freedoms to remove those freedoms. It is a core strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Iraq’s election deposed al Malaki, he’s still there. Iran’s Presidential election deposed Ahmadinejad, he’s still there. The democratically elected Egyptian Parliament was dissolved by the newly elected President Morsi. In Iran candidates must be ‘approved’ by the Clerical infrastructure guaranteeing elections with a predetermined outcome. Look for the same thing in Egypt, sooner as opposed to later.

The overriding false premise is the contention that democracy and individual freedoms represent the goals of the vast majority of Muslims. The goal is not freedoms, by way of our definitions, it is Sharia. Islam teaches that submission to God is the only freedom. This submission demands an essential state of slavery to the tenets of Sharia. The very word Islam translates in English to submission. Muslim cleric Ibn Arabi; “Let it be known to you that the real meaning of freedom lies in the perfection of slavery. If slavery of a human being in relation to God is a true one, his freedom is relieved from the yoke of change.”

Pew polling illustrates vast majorities in Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt want “laws that strictly follow the Koran”. That is already the case in Saudi Arabia, Gaza, Iran and portions of East Africa. Those populations are not asking for Western style freedoms, systems and accountability; that are asking for the ‘freedom’ of total submission to the Islamic legal code. Democracy and individual freedoms have absolutely nothing to do with their desires. Democracy is scorned by most mainstream Islamic scholars. Islamic democracy is the ultimate oxymoron.

The dominance of the Koran over all other possible intellectual justifications is nothing new in American history. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams encountered it as they attempted to engage the Barbary Pirates. When asked by Jefferson and Adams why the assaults on American shipping; the justification was the Koran. Adams and Jefferson were told that the Koran empowered the Pirates to take what they could from non believers; it was their “right and duty” to make war on non Muslims. Entire sections of the Koran are dedicated to how to distribute the spoils of war. Nothing has changed. Basic interpretation of the Koran has not and will not change anytime soon. Islamic scholars ‘froze’ fundamental interpretation of the Koran as perfected a thousand years ago. Jefferson reacted then with the only thing they understand to this day; confrontation and strength. It became not worth it to attach American shipping.

In the West, the basic idea is that leadership serves its citizens; no such idea exists in Islam. The very idea that there is any point of accountability beyond Islam and Sharia is apostasy. In fact the Koran addresses the believer’s duty to obey the ‘ruler’. Mubarak was not Muslim enough, nor was Gaddafi. Recent uprisings may have been motivated initially by dictatorial excess but the mass of the movement soon became the fact that those rulers were not Islamic enough. The same can be said of Anwar Sadat, murdered by the Brotherhood. Jordan is in jeopardy for the same reason. The rise of Brotherhood supported Hamas was a reaction to and the creation of a counterweight based on the belief that Arafat was not Islamic enough.

There is no significant mass movement for Western style freedoms in the Islamic world. What movements existed has been put down, in some cases violently. Whatever desire for Western freedoms exists is dominated by the Islamist power structure which controls both the educational process and the clerical population. The dominant movement in the Islamic world is aimed at the expansion of fundamental Islam. Tactics vary but the strategic goal is exceptionally consistent.

The failure to understand and accept the motivations and goals of Middle Eastern leadership and theology is to guarantee failed policy. To base policy on the premise that they want what we want is not only flawed but potentially tragic.

  • Mike

    I agree with everything you say here with one caveat. You say at the end, “to base policy on the premise that they want what we want is not only flawed but potentially tragic”. If by ‘they’ you mean the religious leaders you are absolutely right. If you mean the majority of the population you are also right. But I contend that there is a third ‘they’, a ‘they’ potentially more important than the other two combined.

    As I said in response to your last post on this subject, the Islamic world today is comparable to Europe at the end of the middle ages. Our ancestors there were in thrall to a theocratic elite just like the majority of muslims today. It was a heroic minority that began to break that hold in the 16th century. The great majority of Europeans couldn’t imagine a society not ruled by religious ideas, and those who began to suggest that it could faced vicious retaliation, just like they do in Islam today. It took two and a half centuries for the west to finally produce a nation founded in religious toleration. But we did it.

    We did it because there was an intelligent minority capable of seeing and fighting for a new and better way of doing things. Such a minority exists in the islamic world today, like our heroic ancestors despised and threatened.

    That tiny minority in Europe turned out to be more important than the popes, their kingly allies, and the ignorant masses. In the light of history, that minority won. That minority is the deepest root of the all the freedoms we enjoy and hold sacred today.

    Now imagine you lead a society, advanced and free, which lives in contact with that late medieval European culture. How should you deal with it? Of course you would be foolish to put your head in the sand and pretend that the popes and kings and ignorant peasant masses shared your values. You would also be foolish to wage war on that society unless absolutely necessary in self defense, because to do so would be to unify the masses around their leaders and make the job of the heroic minority impossible.

    If you were smart, you’d maintain a strong defensive posture and do everything in your power to advance the cause of that minority.

    If, as you seem to be saying, the president has his head in the sand, that is a problem. I think the left wing in general has failed to face the facts about Islam. I hope thats changing, and I do every little bit I can to further that change.

    If the right is being excessively bellicose, that’s also a problem. In the short time I have been visiting this site, I have seen nuclear war on the islamic world advocated twice. We all need to call that kind of talk what it is.

    Last, and most importantly, we should recognize that the heroic minority exists and has the potential to change that part of the world. We should support them any way we can, and try to avoid making their job harder, by suggesting nuclear holocaust for example.

    If this sounds pollyannish to you, I understand. But history shows me that a weak and despised minority that believes in freedom can become a majority. What are the alternatives to my proposal?There seem to me to be only two — submission to Islam or centuries of war.

  • Mike,

    Excellent post. For a sense of the minority you’re speaking of I recommend Robin Wright’s book Dreams and Shadows.

    The problem on the left is that they feel they can make common cause with Islamists and not end up being consumed by them. They’re wrong!!

  • Amnd

    Islamic world population is not following democratic principles at all! Whether it is state or any individual. All Islamic states are governed by Islamic principles and there is no religious freedom for non Islamic people. All non Islamic people have to understand One fact is that almost whole of the Islamic population of the entire world have been rejoiced by this fundamental approach of Islamic nations and they are also not in favor of giving religious freedom to Non Islamic people in any of the Islamic nations. The same people when settle in democratic countries like U.K,USA or Canada are demanding all kinds of rights for themselves as well as special privileges for Islamic people being a minority population. The very Islamic people want to see whole world converted to Islam and for that reason each and every Islamic person become fundamentalist! Only solution is to change their beliefs and behavior!
    World Non Islamic population needs to be vocal and asking world organizations including UNO to;
    1. Dismantle Islamic nations and make them real democratic ones. or
    3. No religious freedom or rights for Islamic people in all democratic nations of the world!

  • Mike


    I think that’s a little off the mark. I don’t think either side wants to make common cause with the islamists. The left has been way too slow to understand the threat of islamism. Leftists believe that people should respect cultures other than their own. That’s why you don’t find liberals calling muslims ragheads or calling for their nuclear incineration. That’s a good thing. Unfortunately they sometimes fail to understand that respecting a culture doesn’t entail ignoring it’s faults.

    Liberals are good at understanding what was wrong with the medieval word and decrying it’s backwardness, but when confronted with that same backwardness in a contemporary culture, they tend to back off for fear of giving offense. That’s a serious mistake. I don’t want to offend you, but when I think you’re wrong, I’ll find a way to tell you about it as politely as possible without pulling any punches. That’s what we should be doing with Islam. We can’t support the progressive minority among them without doing it.

    But Landreaux, I think you know as well as I do that there are also problems on the right. I don’t adhere to a political ideology. I think conservatism and liberalism are both necessary components of modern society. But that’s another discussion.

    The biggest problem with adherence to either ideology is that it makes you virtually incapable of publicly criticising it. Doing so seems like betraying the team. I don’t have a team.

    I can tell you without reservation that I find plenty wrong with today’s liberalism. It has undervalued personal responsibility and wrecked our educational system by trying to turn our schools into democratic institutions, for a start. I want liberalism to get it’s act together about these things and about it’s approach to Islam.

    Now, you are obviously a student of Islamic culture. I know from long experience that no one can seriously study a culture and hate it’s people. I know you don’t hate them. Your response to my post indicates that, like me, you respect and admire their ‘heroic minority’ and wish them well. I don’t think you’re infected with unreflecting ethnocentrism or rabid xenophobia. But I think you know in your heart that many on the right are. This destructive nonsense is liberally scattered around this site.

    There are brave people sitting in prisons all across the islamic world for advocating principles that you and I hold sacred. Each time an American burns a Koran, makes a semi-pornographic film about Muhammud or calls for nuclear war on Islam,their cause is set back and they become more isolated within their culture. These things are not products of liberalism—they are coming out of the conservative movement.

    I’m not asking you to back down from Islam one inch. I’m asking you, as a voice in the conservative world, to ask your fellow conservatives to stop hating a billion people and start helping the best and bravest among that billion to win freedom.

  • Mike

    P.S…..I’ll get the book. Thanks.

  • Shirley Freeman

    The one exception to the rule of intolerant, repressive Islamists in power via the ‘Arab Spring’…Should we say expansionist, imperialist radical Islam under Ahab’s leadership…the one exception is the elected government of Libya, still supported by moderate Libyans, and the heroic moderates of Benghazi who forced Benghazi insurgents to ‘get out of town.’

  • Landreaux


    Keep your eye on Libya. Some of the reporting coming our of there indicates that the Islamists will soon turn their eyes to Libya. The transition President in Libya has sent some messages of an orientation to the West and that will be intolerable to the Islamists. Lots and lots of unaccounted for weapons are suspected to be in Islamist hands.

  • Mike

    I’m sure the islamists have already turned their eyes to Libya. The pro-american demonstrations there surely infuriated them. They are undoubtably eager to kill everyone involved.

    What should we do about it?

  • Mike


    Lets talk reality and principles.

    Reality: Historically, nations don’t submit to being dismantled without a fight. How do you propose to dismantle them?

    Principle: I think the rights guaranteed in our costitution are more than just important; they are sacred. I feel as strongly about them as any muslim feels about the Koran. When I see European governments tampering with free speech to placate muslim sensibilities I get pissed. When I hear someone suggesting we deny religious freedom to muslims (or christians or hindus or wiccans) I feel the same way. If freedm of religion, speech and assembly are just not that important to you, you need to learn how important they are.

  • Mike

    Meant to write constitutions. Sorry.

  • It is called Jihad” and it is becoming obvious that there is one underway against western civilization. Jihad has been underway for 1300 years and it is time to wake up.

    Anyone who thought that the Arab spring would result I’m “american style” democracy is a fool.

    The task for western nations is to accept the reality of Islam. Political correctness is not an option. The enemy of the free world is not a few Muslim terrorists, it is Islam itself. This sounds harsh, but if you study the growth of Islam and the current practice, that is the conclusion you reach.

    War need not be the answer, education is. The west has all the cards. But for oil, Muslim nations are poor. They have no understanding of democracy or the benefits of individual freedom, human rights and their place in bringing prosperity to our people. We need to stop apologizing to Islamists and promote real democracy.

    There are a very few “moderate Muslims” and they must be supported while at the same time we must stop our support for any Muslim nation that does not have a real democratic political system and denies its citizens the basic freedoms of religion, speech, and others in a traditional democracy.

    Some time ago, Tom freedman said that Islam needs a civil war much like ours I’m order to emerge as a free nation that respects human rights and wants to bring opportunity and prosperity to its people.

  • Mike

    Landreaux and Shirley:

    I didn’t mean “What should we do about it” as a rhetorical question. I’d really like to hear your ideas. I’m on the road and haven’t kept up with developments there. I’m saddened by the fact that we will probably have to abandon many good people in Afghanistan to a terrible fate. I think we need to support friends of freedom everywhere. How should we do that in Libya? Money and arms? Boots on the ground?

  • Steve

    Hey Mike. This might help you. If I was a hard core bad ass Big Brother of the Muslim Brotherhood, I would not need to spend much time asking myself, What would Mohammed do? He would solidify his control of Egypts armed forces and go for the gold-OIL. Libya. Mohommed would kill/castrate most all of their men and divvy up the coochie. Wait!, you might say. Wouldn’t they invade Libya without a minor armed stuggle. No, because it’s not Koranable to be sissy aggressive. They are not Mexicans or the Beatles. So, Mike, where and at what point does the war begin? China to the left of me Muslims to the right, where are you? Stuck in the middle with the guy I called “The Indonesian Candidate” four years ago. If Gibralter stays British would the war start there? My English cousins are all Leftist Effeminites. Also, who do you think will be on our side when the tanks roll and gas is $10 a gallon? One more thing. “…probably have to abandon many good people in Afghanistan…? Mike,,,they are dead!
    I would also like to say, that it seems strange to type like this, now that I’m to old to wear my boots and attempt to liberate the Pathan women. When I found out we were letting them keep the Poppy, I new we had lost. How are you not understanding this? What are you shooting up? We as a people don’t understand the limitations of our goodness.