There are realities in the Islamic world, very few of them attractive. Our Secretary of State seems not to understand any number of these realities. Commenting on Benghazi; “How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?” She has forgotten that the leaders of the ‘rebellion’ in Libya refused to meet with her back in the day. She fails to understand that U.S. ‘help’ in Libya ended up as no more than a means to an end anticipated by Islamic Jihadists, gathered from throughout the region. She simply does not get it, she makes the mistake that most of the media and the politically correct establishment make. She applies our manner of thinking to the Arab Islamic world. “How could this happen’ she asks? It happens because we suffer an intellectual disconnect between what we want to be the case in the Middle East as opposed to what IS the case. There is no question of what the meaning of is, is in the Middle East.
Not so long ago constant commentary related to the ‘Arab Street’ was present in the foreign policy media; not so much anymore. Why? We don’t have to founder about to get a sense of the ‘Arab Street’; it’s on full display in Benghazi, Yemen and Cairo. Protestors at the embassies are the Arab Street. The Arab Street has been unleashed and no one knows where that particular monster will go next.
The search for Islamic ‘moderates’ continues unabated. The most vocal of Islamic‘moderates’ aren’t in the Middle East and they are moderate only in comparison to fringe radicalism. They are commenting from the relative safety of the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The ‘moderates that are actually in the Middle East are keeping their mouths shut. Why? They’re hunkered down because the Salafists (radicalized Muslims) are the ones with the guns. Salafists are also taking the reins of Power. Egypt was a good example as ‘moderate’ and opposition media sites were shut down almost immediately. The simple fact is that the war of ideas in the Islamic world is not a war between moderates and radicals; it’s a war of ideas amongst radicals.
There is little we can do about anti Americanism in the Middle East absent a complete abandonment of alliances with Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Anti Americanism is baked in the cake. The omnipresent flogging of baseless conspiracy theories is taken as fact in the Middle East, especially on the Arab Street which is, to a large degree, illiterate. The mere presence of the U.S. in the Middle East is reason enough. The single most significant barrier to growing Islamic dominance is the U.S. White hot anti Americanism is a necessary platform to keep the ‘street’ riled up and distracted from the failures of their own leadership. In a June Global Attitudes poll done by Pew Research favorable attitudes toward the U.S. are lower than they were during the Bush administration. Polling in Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and Pakistan do not reach the 20% favorable level. There is no Arab Spring, there is no opportunity to ‘reset or reboot’ relations.
Daily, the evidence presents itself that Samuel Huntington’s prediction of an impending Clash of Civilizations is becoming our reality. The Brotherhood insists that legal action be taken against the film that supposedly stirred the recent violence. The film has been out since June but only on September 11th did the passions stir? The translation is that legal action must be taken against free speech in the United States. The Brotherhood statement; “Hurting the feelings of half a billion Muslims cannot be tolerated”. The statement continues with a veiled threat that ‘hurting the feelings of Muslims” could result in ……. well ……. Anything. That “peoples anger and passion for their faith is invariably predictable, often unstoppable!” One must wonder if hurting the feelings of the families that have suffered nearly 20,000 Islamist terror attacks over the past eleven years counts. My guess would be no, because there is always and in every way an Islamic justification for that violence. The pogrom against Egyptian Coptic Christians is OK, Jews even better. How about death to innocents? No problem. If ‘innocents’ so much as pay taxes to non Islamic governments they are no longer innocents. I’m not making this up, this is mainstream Islamic jurisprudence. In Israel the cry from Arab Israelis is for the U.N. to step in and stop such films or “Armageddon” will soon be on us.
Salafists, in general, are to the right of the Muslim Brotherhood. They are scary, they are true believers; they embrace the death cult in Islam. They will pull the Brotherhood in the direction of ever more strident militant conservatism. This is bad news for free peoples, bad news for those hoping to be free peoples and bad news for democratic institutions which Islamists believe to be unacceptable under Sharia. Islam and democracy are incompatible under mainstream Islamic thinking. Democracy is no more than a means to an end; that end being dictatorial Islamist control.
The movement toward Salafist principals began in the 1940’s. It was a patient strategy which, now, 70 years later is on the verge of controlling the Middle East. It was a classic Liberal strategy. What you can’t get in the short term at the ballot box, you get in the long term by controlling education, and the judiciary, which in the case of Islam is essentially one and the same. Throw in the media and the formula is complete. It’s what you do if you aspire to be a politically controlling minority. Vince Lombardi contended that if you executed to perfection, it did not matter if your opponent knew it was coming. Islamists know this to be true.
The Saudi’s are horrific; corrupt and in large measure responsible for the global Salafist movement that now threatens them. Saudi options are nearly all bad: close ranks with the West, continue to appease Salafist ideology, deal with a hegemonic Iran? A radicalized Yemen sits to their south, Iraq moves ever closer to political common cause with Iran on their northeast border, a fragile Jordan to the north, Sudan and perpetual rival Egypt just across the Red Sea. Saudi ‘stability’ is in question as they must also stem violent anti-monarchy movements in their own country. The Hobson’s choice related to Saudi Arabia is which poison shall we drink; corruption and malfeasance or chaos. In the event of chaos $200 a barrel oil will occur in an economic heartbeat. The Salafists know the West in on the edge of economic crisis and would like nothing more than to grease that wheel to the point of collapse. Saudi Arabia is the focal point of that perception.
What we’ve seen over the past three days does not occur if the fear of harsh retaliation exists. Luke warm condemnations by President Morsi in Egypt are not spoken in the context of fear of retaliation. The perception of U.S and generalized Western weakness is predominant. Define weakness, the little voice demands. Weakness is when you lose faith in your traditional values, when you ignore history in favor of ideology. Weakness is when your desires and aspirations overwhelm your ability to recognize factual and implied realities. That is exactly where we are.
There is conflict within Islam, centuries old conflict. Sunni and Shia are the dominant sects, driven together only in the context of standing up to ‘outside’ non Islamic forces and ideas.
The point here simply is; that we and the Islamists play by different rules. The context of their thinking is different as are their goals. The framework of their moral construct is different. We value life; they value death in service to Allah. We find value in all manner of faith, they do not. We see tolerance as a cornerstone of our society; they tolerate only those who ascribe to their belief system. We value ‘engaging’ the issues, they value domination of issues. We see free speech as a critical element of our political discourse; they value only a singular manner of speech. We accept dissent, they behead. We elevate women, they enslave them. We find slavery morally reprehensible; they justify it with the Koran.
They have been clear on their objectives. We refuse to believe it. They warn us. We ignore the warnings. They glorify their Imperialistic, expansionist past as a prelude for the future, we ignore that source of motivation.
They establish realities, we engage in willful blindness.