Tuesday, 1 February 2011
Cutting The Ties That Bind With Arab And Muslim States
Isn't it amazing how completely, innocently, unskeptically, thoughtlessly, enthusiastically without the slightest expression of any doubts as to what will happen in the future, the Western press has been reporting on events in Egypt. Couldn't they spare a few moments from their breathless reports from "Liberation" (Tahrir) Square, reports about how "young and old, rich and poor, men and women (but how few women!), Muslim and Christian (but how very very few Christians!)" have come together to demand...well, demand what, exactly, beyond the removal of Mubarak? What do they mean, these "young and old, rich and poor, men and a few women, Muslims and a handful of Christians," when they talk about how "we want democracy" and "we want freedom" -- what do these words mean to them? Do they mean something like what has been achieved in the advanced Western world, over centuries, after the Enlightenment, after political theories that gradually, by degrees, over centuries, gained favor?
No one reporting has discussed, or even hinted at, how Islam might explain the fact that everywhere in Muslim lands despots rule. What passes for "democracy" and "freedom" that bears some relation to those words as understood in the West, has occurred only in those countries where Islam has been constrained -- that is, for a time in Lebanon, because of its large, and for a time powerful Christian population, and in Turkey, where an enlightened despot, Ataturk, spent his entire waking life as ruler trying to systematically curtail the power of Islam, and its hold over the minds of men.
What will happen in Egypt? What, after all, can happen in Egypt? The many failures, political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral, of Muslim states and societies are, in the end, the result of Islam itself. And this is something that even the most secular of those who continue to call themselves Muslims cannot, save for that handful who jettison Islam altogether, dare to recognize.
No wonderful day is dawning, not in Egypt, not in Jordan, not in the Arab World where, we are excitedly told, a New Day Is Dawning.
And in tjhe only countries that matter to the outside world -- the oil kingdoms and sheiklets -- that money can be used to buy enough satisfaction to head off opposition to the ruling families.
What is likely to happen is that those rich Muslim lands -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar -- willl go their own way, for they have no intention of sharing their wealth with fellow members of the Umma.
Let that be the theme for the next few years in the Western world: no more transfer of wealth, beyond the trillions spent on oil, to Muslmi states from Infidel taxpayers. Nothing to Pakistan, Afghanistan, no more money to Iraq (it can pay for itself, thank you, and could all along, borrowing against future earnings when necessary). No more aid to Egypt -- after all, any aid will not result in gratitude but in the linking of America to the regime, and the regime will always be to the dissatisfaction of the Muslims who take Islam seriously, unless it is an all-out Islamic regime, in which case it should not be receiving any American aid in any case.
De-couple from these "staunch allies" Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the rest. Have as little to do with the Arabs and Muslims as possible. We have only gotten ourselves entangled, confused ourselves, squandered so much in such vain endeavors. Forget about them. Let them know that we in the advanced Western world know that the cause of their misfortunes is Islam, and let us speak openly about that. They will overhear, and their indignant responses will convince no one in the West, and even the more advanced members of Muslim societies will have to admit, if only to themselves, the truth of that proposition.
Posted on 02/01/2011 1:57 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
1 Feb 2011
1 Feb 2011
Our "advanced Western world" has its own ideological flaws. One such flaw is the idea that "democracies"--in the sense of systems of majority rule--are inherently good (there is a great deal more to genuine democracy than this). This flaw connects up to the flaw of cultural relativism on the left, and, on the right, to the flawed belief that all religions offer good moral foundations for societies. These flaws allow Islamists to make remarkably deep ideological alliances on the left and the right; in the Democratic party and in the Republican party.
I'm not convinced much coming out of the Mid. East could cause Westerners to repair these flaws. The failure to get a functional Iraq--and even the ethnic cleansing of the Iraqi Christians--doesn't seem to have had much of an impact on Western faith in theocratic mob rule (for evidence, see mainstream left-wing and right-wing commentary on the rise of the Brotherhood). "Intellectuals" all around the Western ideology ring have failed to learn the actual lessons of Iraq (as they had previously failed to notice the reasons Iraq would not be a "cakewalk"). And, regarding ordinary folks, compared to Muslims Western Christians don't identify much with their foreign coreligionists (granted, probably because Western Christians are invested more in their own valuable, productive lives than in deranged world domination games).
Maybe two examples of dismal failures will trigger pattern-recognition in Western viewers; maybe it won't. Maybe it will trigger pattern-recognition along the lines of racial categorization, such that Western policy makers quietly associate the failure with dark skin rather than Islam. (Surely it would have been harder for white-skinned Russians to pull off this duplicity on peacefulness with State than it has been for the Brotherhood--and despite leakage of the latter's internal documents!)
I expect continued Islamist pressure in both parties, working hard to keep up the flow of American wealth to Egypt, even as and after Egypt becomes an Islamist state. On account of Western flaws, I have concern this pressure may be successful.
Taking the anti-American line internally while posturing as necessary to win American support worked to bring the Brotherhood to this point, and I expect them to maintain the act to keep the wealth flowing as Egypt passes into their rule. I don't see the West shifting gears easily, provided the Brotherhood keeps playing things smoothly (their leadership is savvy; I expect them to keep it smooth enough).
The only realistic hope I have is that somehow Westerners who don't live in clouds and who value hard earned wealth and innocent human life--rank-and-file Christian Republicans, and/or supporters of Israel, and/or classical liberals (...unicorns, manticores...)--might somehow wrest control of an American political party from the various ideologues. (The dynamics of the 2010 elections offer some grounds for this hope.)
Regarding the oil producers: One and his cousin against the outsider. In the short term, the oil producers would rather see the Egyptians eating American bread than whining to them for the oil money. In the long term, a gaggle of poor, undereducated Muslims supported by infidels may have its uses. And the oil producers have the political connections they need to frequently get what they want in DC.
Not all rich men are satisfied with sports cars and harems. There is a reason many very rich men take up politics, spend millions on it, and risk what the public eye will do to their private sex lives. And in Islam, we are dealing with a political and mental domination program which works on scale of generations.
For people playing world power games, having a country of Muslims living on the brink of starvation, and expecting their bread to come from Infidels--who can be blamed in a heartbeat for any problems arising from this scenario--has advantages. Look, for example, at how the Levantine Arabs are used--horribly, bloodily, miserably used--to enforce the principle that even a tiny slice of land, once stolen into Dar al-Islam, must not be allowed to revert to rule of the original owners. (In contrast, consider what a fruitful, productive paradise their lives and land would constitute were they working as economic partners with the Israel.)
With the focus shifting increasingly from land consolidation to global spread, how valuable will the millions of pwned Egyptians be? And for whatever talk there might be of Egyptian pride in this demonstration business (the Brotherhood were meeting with State, which holds the purse-strings; where is the pride in having your fight for change ridden by left-wing Americans and Islamist fanatics?), the religious programme to which they have subscribed leaves them ultimately pwned by the real Arabs.
I don't have faith the Egyptians will realize how they are being played in this game, in this generation. Questioning religious allegiances is hard, as is facing that at the pride-point of one's youth, one was in actuality used as a tool. Pulling the US funding might pressure such realizations--if there aren't scapegoats available for tensions to be taken out on. But, such a thing happening at all is so very conditional on the US voters, and more: on how things which stink to the voters may nevertheless be tucked away into political programmes on account of the two-party system.