What if jihadists took over the the Muslim world?

As readers of this site are aware, I consistently oppose the immoral notion, beloved of old-style leftists and many new-style rightists: “The worse, the better.” I think we should always hope for the better, not the worse. However, as I’ve also said, if the worse does occur, then it becomes legitimate to think about what positive outcomes may result from it.

Suppose that the wave of “freedom” sweeping Muslim North Africa and the Muslim Mideast leads to the takeover of that part of the world by Koranic, jihadist regimes. Is it not a reasonable possibility that such an event, cataclysmic in itself, might also have the world-historically positive effect of finally jolting us Westerners out of our Panglossian illusions regarding the nature of Islam, and make us realize that Islam is the deadly enemy of everything we cherish? And might not that realization bring about a complete reversal of current Western policy vis à vis Islam, so that instead of spreading “democracy” to the Islamic lands while importing Muslims to the West, we isolate the Islamic lands and remove Muslims from the West?

To repeat: I do not hope for a jihadist takeover of the Muslim lands; I fear it. That is why I have been warning against the West’s celebration of Muslim “freedom”—because I believe that such “freedom” will mean the victory of jihadism. But if that terrible event were to occur, then I would look for a silver lining.

These thoughts were triggered by an editorial in today’s Washington Times which informs us that al Qaeda has claimed sovereignty over part of Libya:

Al Qaeda’s Sputnik Moment
Mideast uprisings not likely to bring western-style democracy

Al Qaeda fighters have declared an Islamic emirate in northeast Libya and the leader of that North African nation, Muammar Gadhafi, is reportedly on the run. It might soon be time for the Marines to revisit the shores of Tripoli.

A group of al Qaeda fighters in the eastern Libyan port city of Derna has declared the Islamic Emirate of Barqa, recalling the ancient name for the area. Derna was famous as one of the havens of the Barbary Pirates, and was captured by U.S. Marines in 1805—the first victory of American arms abroad. While this new al Qaeda conquest may prove to be short-lived, the incident underscores what’s at stake in the chaos erupting in the region. The people in the streets protesting against tyrants are not necessarily fighting for freedom.

In some respects the wave of revolution sweeping the Middle East is reminiscent of the stirring events of 1989 in Eastern Europe, when “people power” overwhelmed communist dictatorships, replacing an oppressive regime with systems based on a respect for freedom. In those heady days there was reasonable hope that as country after country fell, the new governing authorities would be dedicated to securing and promoting the same kind of fundamental rights that Americans enjoy.

The situation in the Middle East today is as different as the vast cultural divide that separates their civilization from our own. It is a division rooted in history, custom, religion and politics. The rights that Americans regard as sacred are of little importance in the Mideast. Some rights, like equality between the races and sexes, are considered inconvenient. Others, like the democratic process and free speech, are unfamiliar. Still others, like freedom of worship, are considered heresy.

The Obama administration avoids the issue by refusing to state that it would be preferable if the Mideast revolutions ended with the establishment of western-style governments. The thinking apparently is that if the United States presses for a particular outcome it will be called “imperialism” and strengthen the hand of the Muslim extremists. There’s no doubt that the radical factions will accuse those with more secular, pro-western orientation of being in the service of the imperialists, regardless of what the United States does. By consciously adopting a disinterested posture, the president abrogates leadership and underscores American weakness. Mr. Obama brags about having “calibrated” the American response just right, but he is undercutting the secular forces that could lead the region to a better future.

The president of the United States has a duty to promote the principles of an open society dedicated to the prosperity of its people, especially when it means standing against the erection of Islamist states dominated by hard-line Shariah law. Instead, the administration seems more interested in accommodating hard-line groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, than lending moral support to secular parties. Others question whether a fully Islamist Middle East is even a bad thing. PBS host Tavis Smiley argued Friday on “Real Time with Bill Maher” that Americans have no basis for criticizing the culture of the Middle East because “when we have these conversations about how they treat women, as if somehow we treat women better in this country, it demonizes Muslims.” Mr. Maher rightly called this cultural relativism, and added, “I’m judging. They’re worse. What’s wrong with just saying that?”

There is nothing wrong with the United States helping the people of the region realize a future free of oppression from either mosque or state. Unless Mr. Obama believes otherwise, he ought to have no problem in stating clearly that our system of government is better for the people of the Middle East.

- end of initial entry -

February 22

N. writes:

The toppling of the Tunisian regime was followed by a mass of Tunisians setting out for an island controlled by Italy. Albanians keep showing up in Italy.

So I fear that if, say, the jihad takes over Libya, there will be an exodus of some number of Libyans into Italian waters. If a jihad take over of Algeria occurs, look for an exodus of Algerians toward France. Morocco? Spain.

Any collapse of a gendarmerie state in North Africa will immediately create a wave of refugees in the direction of southern Europe, although not necessarily a “Camp of the Saints” moment. Thus from the perspective of the West, a continuation of the army-controlled regimes in those states would be preferable.

Call me Henry Kissinger if you wish, but frankly I would prefer that Moslems remain where they are.

Ken Hechtman writes:

I suggest we wait and see on this one. It might not check out. Every story on the “Net sources back to a single AFP article which itself sources to a single anonymous “Libyan security official.” Even the jihadi forums don’t have any confirmation, just the AFP article.

Regarding about the Libyan uprising in general, the left really got caught on the wrong side of history. Compared to Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Bahrain, we were completely blindsided by Libya. We bought into the idea that the Libyans were happy with their local direct democracy because Qaddafi said they were. Even I did. I remember seven or eight years ago getting invited to join a “fact-finding” delegation that would go study the Libyan local governance model and then promote it back here. I turned the invitation down but really only because I thought the delegation’s approach was a waste of time, not because I knew the model itself was a dictator’s transparent fraud. My only objection was that this group intended to promote the model as a specifically Libyan idea, complete with the original Libyan names for the various assemblies—“popular committees” instead of “block associations,” “revolutionary committees” instead of “neighborhood councils” and so on.

Another reason why it was unfashionable to look at the underside of the Libyan regime was all the people, probably a few thousand of them all over the world, who went to the international anarchist conferences in Libya 25 to 30 years ago. Before the Internet, when North American anarchists wanted to talk to their European or Asian counterparts, they did it in Tripoli. Those people are in their late 40s or older today and more likely than not have moved into the respectable mainstream left but they’re going to have good memories of that time and a soft spot for the man who made it all possible. As an example, the Montreal Mirror where I used to work had taken an invitation to Libya back in the 1980s. Even if I’d wanted to write up that “direct democracy” story with an anti-Qaddafi spin, I would have had a very hard time pitching it to the editors.

N. writes:

I was fascinated in a somewhat morbid way to read Ken Hechtman admit that the left generally was “blindsided” by conditions in Libya, and even more interested to see him admit he was as well. Because the details of his admission—that leftists had fond memories of Libya from the past, that they didn’t know what ordinary Libyans actually believed, and so forth—are eerily similar to those I have seen or heard from leftists in the past.

What Hechtman is saying has been said before. It was said by some earnest leftists about Mao’s China after Tienanmen Square. It was said by some older ones about Stalin’s USSR.

In fact, the most frustrating aspect of Hechtman’s admission, is it bears a resemblance to what George Orwell wrote in part of his book, “Homage to Catalonia.” So leftists have been fooled, or fooled themselves, about the nature of left-wing, top-down, tyrannical regimes consistently since the 1930s, in country after country. And with minor variations, many of the details, and terms used, are the same.

These are the people who insist they are smarter than any of the bourgeois, and much more so than any “reactionary.” …

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 21, 2011 08:40 PM | Send

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