by Hugh Fitzgerald (May 2010)
Martin Indyk is a naturalized American, originally from Australia, whose field of greatest interest, and presumed expert knowledge, is the Arab-Israeli conflict. He was once the American Ambassador to Israel, famous for being free with advice which was delivered as if it were a command. One observer of how he behaved when he was the ambassador described him as a “strutting little viceroy.” That description came to mind when I read about his recent visit to Israel, where he gave not advice but dire warnings of what would happen to Israel if it did not, when America gave the command, heed or rather, as a dog obeying a master, heel.
Indyk’s warning was not original to him; he was merely parroting the party line. And the line – that Israel “must do” thus and so “because otherwise American interests will suffer” is the same one being offered by Hillary Clinton, by Barack Obama, and by others who are not thinking clearly as to exactly what American interests in the Middle East are damaged by weakening Israel, the only sure ally the Americans have between Europe and India, and letting Arabs and Muslims know that if they declare their unhappiness long enough, show long faces to Madeleine Albright or Hillary Clinton and look them in the eyes with deep, deeper, deepest sincerity and declare that “if only” Israel gives the “Palestinians” the little tiny state they so desire, no harm to anyone could possibly come of it, then of course the Muslim Arab states will be able – they are chomping at the bit, they can’t wait to help out – to join forces with the Americans, to collaborate with them, as natural allies do.
Does it not occur to any of these people how for decades well-practiced blague coming from various Arab leaders – and Pakistanis too, come to think of it – has inveigled and fooled generations of American policy-makers? And does it not occur to them that the Bush Administration was inveigled to invade Iraq not by Israel (pace Mearsheimer and Walt), for the Israelis kept advising the Americans not to do so, and were horrified at the decision to go ahead, because of the blague offered by Shi’a Iraqis in exile, beginning but not ending with Ahmad Chalabi?
And does it not occur to these makers of policy, with Martin Indyk, lower down the totem poll, being merely a usefully sedulous ape, that what people think of as “American national interests” in the Middle East have been misconstrued, over many generations, and that there is absolutely no need to kowtow to those who have oil. They will sell oil at the market price, and do so sell it, and that in fact we should be taxing oil and gasoline in order to recapture part of the oligopolistic rents that the Muslim states of OPEC have been receiving.
And does it not occur to all of these people of whom Martin Indyk is merely an obvious indykation, that those unattainable and even undesirable, from the Infidel point of view, will-o’-the-wisp goals -- of a stable and prosperous Iraq and possibly the same for Afghanistan (oops, sorry, must remember to use that phrase born overnight, the one about “the Greater Middle East” that was concocted so that in talking about Iraq, one might also include Afghanistan and Pakistan), are exactly the wrong goals, and that American and the larger Infidel interests are best served by allowing the sectarian and ethnic strife within these countries to simmer, or even boil over, and there may be a good case, too, for encouraging and promoting an independent Kurdistan as a symbol of non-Arab Muslims throwing off the yoke of Arab imperialism, because raising the issue of Islam as a vehicle for Arab supremacism can be a useful tool in raising doubts about Islam, as well as justified resentments, among the 80% of the world’s Muslims who are not Arabs?
And does it not occur to all of these people for whom Martin Indyk loyally toils, as he barks his orders and warnings to the Israelis in his insufferable little way, that the spectacle of America now pressuring a tiny country to take risks involving its own survival, in order that American idiocies in foreign policy (in Iraq, in Afghanistan) might not suffer any possible consequences (what exactly would those consequences be if Israel does not sign a “peace” treaty but merely, as at present, maintains the peace, the only peace that is possible given the endless Jihad that is being and always will be waged against it?)? Does he think that Muslims not only in the Middle East but elsewhere will calm down, because they will forget the duty of Jihad, forget that not just the “West Bank” but the whole world belongs to Allah and the “best of peoples,” and that it is an intolerable offense, above all, for an Infidel nation-state to exist, whatever its size, smack in the middle of the lands the Arabs call “Arab” and that are the heart of Dar al-Islam?
Does he think a forced Israeli surrender would sate, or whet, Arab appetites?
What does Martin Indyk know about the Middle East? He knows exactly as much, and no more, than he knows about Islam. And that is something that he can never allow himself to recognize or admit. And so, in this Administration that promises top-to-bottom “new thinking” where “all new ideas” are welcome, it turns out that when it comes to the Middle East, there is no “new thinking” that grasps that Islam is what counts, and that the war against Israel is a Jihad, and that there is also an unassuagable – but containable – onward march of Muslims fueled by the trillions of OPEC dollars and by the colossal error of European and North American lands having allowed into their midst millions of Muslim immigrant who, to the extent that they take Islam seriously, cannot possibly be loyal to the legal and political institutions of Infidel countries. For the Shari’a flatly contradicts in letter and spirit those institutions.
So Martin Indyk offers the complacent and self-assured insistence that the nature of the agreement to be made between Israel and the Arabs is in the nature of the obvious. The phrase used is “everyone knows what a settlement will look like” – as Lesley Stahl said with such comical self-assurance the other day on national television. No, that’s not true. No one who studies Islam and understands how without it the real attitudes and intentions of Muslims cannot be grasped – the masses of Muslims as well as their cruel and despotic and corrupt rulers – nor can they possibly agree to be part of that “everyone.” The next time someone repeats that phrase, ask them the following: does this “everyone knows” include those people who best understand the texts and tenets and attitudes and atmospherics of Islam, or does it include only “everyone” who does not have such an understanding?
And what Indyk was also parroting, is the amazing idea that America is conducting a difficult but thoughtful and winning strategy in the Middle East to gather support to be used – how, exactly? – to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and the Israelis, by refusing to give the “Arab leaders” what they assure the Americans they simply must, must, must obtain if they are to ally themselves, as they would so dearly like to, with America and other Infidel nation-states, and if they are to contemplate an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, because they have no independent grounds for being almost as worried, or perhaps just as much, or perhaps even more so, over a nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran than does Israel, must be bribed by the Americans, who are furthermore instructed in precisely the currency they are to use to do the bribing, and that is coin of Israeli rights, and Israeli security.
That the United States, not merely a Great Power but at present undisputedly the greatest military power on earth, would push around a tiny country, the most imperiled and permanently imperiled country in the world, and as it happens the country of people who constitute the most persecuted tribe in human history, that the United States would treat Israel not merely as bad as, but even worse than, Great Britain and France treated Czechoslovakia in 1938, is intolerable. That it does not understand that the Gulf Arabs, and Egypt, and Jordan, have their own independent reasons for fearing Iran and wanting its nuclear project stopped, and that they need not be bribed, least of all by throwing Israel to them as the very wolves they, in their sheeps’ clothing, pretend not to be, is not understood.
But even though such treatment, the treatment that if it had its druthers the Obama Administration would mete out to Israel – and will if it can get away with it – is morally unacceptable. What makes it “worse than a crime” because it is, in Talleyrand’s famous phrase, a “mistake,” is that it makes as little geopolitical sense as does the “strategy” or “stratergy” that supposedly requires Israel to make concessions. For it is claimed that the American “strategy” for dealing with the Muslim world is working. It is not. It is confused, it is idiotic, it is wasteful, it is wrongheaded, it is failing. It fails to alert Infidels to the meaning and menace of Islam. It ignores the instruments of Jihad that really count – the Money Weapon, Da’wa, and demographic conquest. It keeps minds fixated on a few Muslim countries, whose futures should be a matter largely of indifference, and keeps us from focusing on the Infidel lands that are in one way or another most immediately imperiled. Iraq and now Afghanistan, are part of, not a “strategy” so much as a kind of desperate casting-about for a way to deal with a problem it cannot properly define and so has proven incapable of arriving at tactics, or strategy, that make sense (and that problem is Islam). It has become expedient instead to blame our failures on Israel.
Islam is the ideology, religious, political, economic, the Total Belief-System of more than a billion people, some of whom do not take the texts and tenets quite as fanatically to heart as others, but you need not be the most fanatical of Muslims to be hostile to non-Muslims, even murderously so, as the behavior of a great many Muslims, supported or at least never opposed by a still larger number of Muslims, all over Muslim-dominated lands, has shown.
The Obama Administration thinks it is different from the Bush Administration in dealing with Islam, but its policy is based on the same ignorance – at this point, it must be wilful – of Islam. In that sense, this Administration’s failure to know what to do about Islam, its confusion and flailing, is merely a variation on a theme. That theme is: non-Muslim peoples and governments not think of the ideology of Islam, and the adherents of that ideology, as our enemy, but embrace those adherents, tell them how well we think of them, and of Islam, how we are not making “war on Islam” and, as Barack Obama has said, we “never would.” This policy, in other words, relies on a wilful ignorance of those texts and tenets. It relies on wilful ignorance of 1350 years of Muslim conquest of many non-Muslim lands, and the subsequent subjugation, and mistreatment, of many different non-Muslim peoples. This policy is based on ignoring the central duty of Muslims to participate, directly or indirectly, in Jihad – not always Jihad through violence, that is through qitaal and what we have no trouble identifying as terrorism, but Jihad that uses other instruments, the Money Weapon, propaganda, campaigns of Da’wa, and demographic conquest.
On April 19, 2010 Indyk published an article in the New York Times. He wrote a number of remarkable things, not one of them true, all of them based on an analysis that shows that Indyk himself, who has spent decades as a “Middle East expert,” has failed to grasp the central fact of life, the thing without which nothing in the Middle east can be understood – not the Arab war against Israel, that has no end, not the discontent of Berbers in the Kabylle and in Morocco, not the impossibility for the so-called “liberals” in Egypt or elsewhere to seize the mantle of opposition from the Ikhwan, not the acceptance of Ba’athism in both Syria and Iraq, where in each case it merely disguised a local despotism (Alawite in Syria, Sunni Arab in Iraq), not the near-impossibility of political change other than through military coup in any of the Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, not the permanently fractured state of Yemen, not the hopeless task of trying to encourage true economic development, instead of continued near-total reliance on the accident of geology that has thrown off oil and gas revenues, not the attitudes of permanent hostility and mistrust toward Americans and other Infidels, even by those who have gained the most from American military intervention, in Iraq and Afghanistan, that does not explain the meretriciousness of the Pakistani military and the zamindar-run civilian government, that does not explain the futility of the American efforts – messianic sentimentalism to a degree – in Iraq and Afghanistan. No, none of that, and a great deal more, can be understood unless one understands, has studied, has thoroughly assimilated, the texts and tenets of Islam, has understood the attitudes that naturally arise in Muslim minds, has understood the atmospherics of societies suffused with Islam.
And Martin Indyk has not done that. So he may, in fact, be a perfect example of the larger problem—an Obama Administration that, just like the Bush Administration before it, cannot possibly arrive at a strategy to divide and demoralize, that is to weaken, the Camp of Islam, unless the nature of Islam, that Total Belief-system that rests on the belief, inculcated in adherents, that humanity divides in one way: between Believers and Unbelievers, Muslims and Infidels, and between the two there exists a state of permanent war (though not always of open warfare), and it is the duty of Muslims everywhere to work to enlarge the size of Dar al-Islam, the House of Islam, and to diminish, until it finally disappears altogether, Dar al-Harb, the Domain of War, where Infidels who have not yet submitted to rule by Muslims still live. None of this is believed by Martin Indyk, because none of this is known to Martin Indyk, for all of his years in the corridors of power, years in which all kinds of papers, and meetings, and seminars, and solemn presentations, and peace-processing, and hectic travels hither and yon – went on, and Martin Indyk, a mediocre intellect but a compleat careerist, like so many in Washington, could never examine his own decades of missing-the-point pointlessness, could never see his striding or “strutting like a little viceroy” down the corridors of power as simply a long drawn out banana-peel slip-slide and pratfall, but that is what, in the end, it all amounts to: one slow-motion slip, slide, and pratfall.
Martin Indyk is happy to parrot – perhaps he even helped construct – the crazed world-view of the Obama Administration, one which requires averting one’s own mind from the fact of Islam, averting one’s eyes from reading any of the many great Western scholars of Islam (floriunt 1870-1970) and being satisfied with the obvious apologetics of assorted espositos and armstrongs and aslans and el-fadls. There are all kinds of excellent books by people who are now playing what defectors from the KGB played in the Cold War: bringing us the truth, or many unpleasant truths, about the ideological enemy. Such people as Ibn Warraq, Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nonie Darwish, Magdi Allam, and many others, who have written brilliantly on the subject of Islam, now that they exist within the atmosphere of mental freedom and also physical freedom, afforded by their being in the West. But one has no sense that those who make policy have been reading and learning from their accounts, just as one has no sense that the works of Joseph Schacht, or Antoine Fattal, or Snouck Hurgronje, or David Margoliouth, or Samuel Zwemer, or Henri Lammens, or many dozens of others, have been read.
And the main theatre of war, for Martin Indyk, a perfect example of Yesterday’s Man, is still the same old thing: the war against Israel. It has no end. It will go on forever. The Qur’an, the Hadith, the sira, the Islamic jurisconsults do not admit of allowing any non-Muslims to recapture, and hold in perpetuity, any part of Dar al-Islam. While it is true that the whole world, in the end, belongs to Allah and to the Muslims, the “best of peoples,” it is also true that on the To-Do List for Muslims, the recapture of lands once, however long ago, and forever long or short a time, takes mental precedence over the rest of the world. Israel, almost all of Spain and Portugal and part of southern France, Sicily, the Balkans, Greece, Bulgaria, Rumania, much of Hungary, all of what is present-day southern Russia and much of central Russia too, almost all of India – these are the places that, having once belonged to Muslims, by right should be the first places where Muslims should work – and to work with the trillions of dollars they have received from oil revenues, trillions that will keep on flowing, in part because agents of the Saudi lobby prevented, more than thirty years ago, the American government from sensibly taxing gasoline at the pump and oil at the wellhead, and to keep those taxes rising in predictable increments, so that those investing in other forms of energy would not have to worry about jerks downward on the price of oil.
Having never studied Islam, having never even noticed what has been going on in Western Europe – truly, the main theatre of war between Islam and the West, or Islam and the Rest, Martin Indyk continues to focus on one tiny little part of the problem. Oh, it’s a part of the problem that “Arab leaders” will always say “must be solved” if there is to be any real collaboration with the West. And there are people who are foolish enough to not comprehend, why those Arab leaders say what they do. I shall never forget a classic example of the kind of gullibility, now being exhibited by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and Martin Indyk too, when they take at face value what those Arab leaders – or more accurately, those now ruling Arab countries, say. Madeline Albright, on television a few years ago, was discussing Saddam Hussein, and what he had “done to his own people.” The very phrase “his own people” showed a failure to grasp the nature of Iraq, in two ways. First, there is not an “Iraqi people” but rather, in the state of Iraq, there are Sunni Arabs (who under Saddam Hussein held power), and Shi’a Arabs, and non-Arab Kurds, not to mention the Christians who, though only 3% of the population, constituted about one-third of the professional class, and whose exit would greatly damage Iraq. And “his people” suggests a connection to them, on the part of a murderous and megalomaniacal dictator, that simply does not, and could not, exist, and it is an inapt phrase to describe the relations of ruling regimes and those they rule over, and steal from, all over the Muslim Middle East and North Africa. But what was most amazing was the deeply sincere way that Madeline Albright went on, in all her globe-trotting innocence, to say that no one had realized what Saddam Hussein had done to the Kurds, the Shi’a, and others” and that when she, Madeline Albright, met with Arab leaders, they had told her that they, too, even they, had had “no idea” of what was going on in Iraq. This utterly fantastic tale – in Saudi, in the Emirates, in Jordan and Egypt and Syria, everyone knew perfectly well what Saddam Hussein was doing, knew that he was mass-murdering the Kurds (and as Kanan Makiya noted in “the Republic of Fear” they knew this and not a single Arab, outside or inside Iraq, uttered a syllable of protest). They knew Saddam was ruthlessly suppressing the Shi’a and killing hundreds of thousands of them during his reign. But Madeline Albright believed her Arab hosts and what they deeply, sincerely, truly told her. They wouldn’t lie, would they?
And that is how Hillary Clinton and others who formulated the policy and are relentlessly --now scowling, and now sweetly smiling, depending on how much they worry about domestic political repercussions – pushing it, that is the policy that says that unless and until Israel makes the “concessions” or, still worse, “takes the risks for peace” (it’s Israel that must take the risks, you see, and no one else, ever ever ever) that will allow that “peace” to come, and assorted lions in the Muslim Middle East to lie down with that one sweetly-hopeful little lamb, now shorn of many of its defenses (just like Czechoslovakia, when at Munich it was forced to give up the Sudetenland, which bristled with Czech fortifications and without which Czechoslovakia could not resist a German invasion).
And how do Hillary Clinton, and George Mitchell, and all the others know that this “peace” – that is this “Peace Treaty,” this “solution” the lineaments of which, as Lesley Stahl said, “everyone knows,” is essential to the attainment of American foreign policy aims – but what are those aims? How do they fit into the goal of preventing, for example, the Islamization of Western Europe? Or further attacks on India? Or the murder of Christians and Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia? Or the continuation of the disguised Jizyah of the Bumiputra system in Malaysia? Or the use, in North America, of such weapons of Jihad as have proven most effective in Western Europe – deployment of the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da’wa, and demographic conquest?
Well, George Mitchell, and Hillary Clinton, and others in the Obama Administration know that they must force Israel to make the concessions that will allow the “Palestinians” to deign to “make peace” and accept still further concessions, not to mention American aid without end, because….well, because the “Arab leaders” tell them so. That’s right, just the way those same “Arab leaders” assured Madeline Albright that they had had “no idea” what Saddam Hussein had been doing to “his own people,” and believe Madeline Albright, they were “just as surprised as we were.”
Yes, that’s the world of the permanently and terminally naïve, those who cannot distinguish between what “Arab leaders” say, in their world suffused with deception (“War is deception” Muhammad famously said), in which of course they will say exactly what they think will bring more and still more American pressure on Israel. They will do this no matter what. They will do this even if, in some ways, they understand that they may – as in the case of King Abdullah of Jordan – be endangering themselves, or in the case of the Lebanese coalition, making Hezbollah stronger and the other groups less able to count on Israel to hold Hezbollah in check, or prevent it from seizing total control of Lebanon. They will do this even if some of them recognize that Israel is not a threat to them but, rather, a possible unintended ally against an aggressive Shi’a Islamic Republic of Iran. What really would you expect “Arab rulers” to say or do differently? But intelligent people get used to, and become inured to, the constant blague and deception and protestations of friendship “if only” this and “if only” that, which come from Arabs and Muslims.
Now comes Martin Indyk, one more of those Middle East “experts” who, having spent decades, his entire professional life, on the matter of bringing “peace” – that is a “peace treaty” which will in turn provide the “solution” to what is so inaccurately and incompletely called the “Arab-Israeli conflict,” – and repeats the whole business, in a bullying key. He, who has not the slightest understanding of Islam, and thus cannot possibly understand the very subject – the Middle East – in which he is supposedly an expert, and about which he has spent a lifetime of reading and writing position papers, and attending meetings, and solemnly listening to the leaders of tribes with flags, and strutting about in Israel, taking himself, and perhaps being taken, very, very seriously, cannot grasp the nature of Islam and does not realize that there is no “solution” to the war that is made by Muslims on Israel, just as he, and many others, write about, promoting the Obama Administration’s Party Line on the Middle East, and the need for “peace” – which always means nothing more than a treaty, one that according to which Israel will be held, and will hold itself, to scrupulosity fulfill whatever promises it makes, and those promises always involve tangible assets, real things such as land, and water, concessions not to be undone, while on the other side the promises always involve such things as halting terrorist attacks, or other hostile activities such as warfare by other means, including participation in, support of, even deliberate promotion of, every conceivable anti-Israel activity short of war. In every single case when Israel has signed such agreements or treaties, the other side, the Arab Muslim side, has pocketed the Israeli concessions, and never observed even one of the solemn commitments that were undertaken. Sooner or later, they are broken or never observed in the first place. And that should surprise no one, for it is perfectly predictable. Muhammad’s agreement or treaty with the Meccans in 628 A.D. at Hudaibiyya was broken by him, on a pretext, after 18 months, though the “treaty” – not a “peace treaty” but like all such treaties between Muslims and non-Muslims, mean merely to be a “truce treaty” meant to be broken by the Muslim side when it becomes stronger, just like Muhammad, that Model of Conduct (uswa hasana), that Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil) did with the Meccans in 628, an agreement, and a breaking of the agreement by the Muslims, that has inspired great admiration by Muslims down the centuries, who have never hidden their gloating at this act of deception and trickery by Muhammad, and held it up as a model.
But does Martin Indyk know any of this? I don’t think so. I think he has spent the last twenty or thirty years involved with Arab-Israeli stuff and not bothered to learn what Islam is all about. It’s incredible. Or, rather, it would be incredible if the same thing could not be said of all the others – of Aaron Miller, with his breathless repeated “fourcoreissues: securityJerusalemrefugeessettlements” and Dennis Ross, with “settlementsJeruslamerefugeessecurity” as his fourcoreissues, and Richard Haass, with those fourcoreissuesa being “ Jerusalemsecuritysettlementsrefugees” –well, you get the idea, and you too can be a Middle East Expert For The American State Department, ignoring Islam and rearranging the order of those “fourcoreissues” as you will, so n choose k and do-si-do, and don’t step on your partner’s toe.
And Indyk, Ross, Miller, and Haass are just four of the best known, and not necessarily the most ill-informed, State Department peace-processing horseman of the claimed apocalypse, that is the apocalypse that will presumably happen if the Israelis do not make that “treaty” with the “Palestinians.” But Israel has the peace, the only peace that it can live with. Any further concessions, any further surrenders of control over territory now in its possession – territory to which it has a perfect right under the terms of the Mandate for Palestine, a Mandate the terms of which continued to be relevant and applicable to the part of Judea and Samaria seized by Jordanian army units in the 1948-49 war and won back, by force of arms, by the Israelis eighteen years later. And that claim is reinforced by other claims, once well understood and universally applicable, about the right not to be forced to give up territory to an aggressor state that has used that territory to launch attacks, especially if there is no reasonable belief that such attacks would never occur in the future. In fact, the ideology of Islam makes it a certainty that, absent an overwhelming, and overwhelmingly obvious, more powerful Israel, there will be open warfare against it. Islam demands it. It is intolerable that the Infidel nation-state of Israel, whatever its borders or armistice lines, should continue to exist, and it is time for Israelis and those outside of Israel who claim to grasp the nature of the problem, to recognize this, to express it, not to shy away from it.
Is Martin Indyk capable, at this late stage in his life, of recognizing that he missed the whole thing, missed Islam, never understood the Middle East, was focused on trivia, on the passing parade of peace-processing?
No, I don’t think so. He has given no signs of being capable of that.
But what do you think? Why don’t you look over all the works and days of Martin Indyk – I’m heartily sick of doing it, and of having to bother with such people – and tell me what you think.
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