Minimal involvement in the Muslim world versus maximum involvement in the Muslim world
Andrew McCarthy, at the end of a short article at NRO, “No Intervention in Libya,” concludes:
We should be having as little to do with Islamic countries as practicality allows, not getting ourselves ever more entangled—at least absent compelling national-security reasons. Such reasons are not evident in Libya.It sounds as though McCarthy is becoming, at least in part, a separationist.
Meanwhile, the neoconservatives continue their campaign to get America entangled in the new, wonderful Libya that will follow the fall of Kaddafi, if only we have the courage to help bring that fall about. Writing at The Weekly Standard, Reuel Marc Gerecht argues that the U.S. should use its military forces to help the rebels overthrow the Kaddafi regime. Gerecht acknowledges the concern expressed by many that free elections in Muslim countries will result in the rise of “Islamist” regimes, but he dismisses that concern. His evidence is that, unlike in Iran in 1979 and Algeria in 1989, where “Islamism” was openly touted, the leaders in the recent uprisings, including the Muslim Brotherhood, all speak of their belief in elections and a pluralist system. That’s Gerecht’s sole factual argument in favor of his belief that elections will lead to something that we would call democracy.
Beyond that weak foundation, the rest of his argument for Islamic democracy consists of the usual Bushian projection of our beliefs into the heads of Muslims. Thus, after acknowledging that “democracy in the Middle East” will probably bring about many negative things, he continues:
But working against this history is the idea of America—a revolutionary bastion of the democratic common man where all have a chance for happiness—that still finds its way into the bloodstream of the Muslim Middle East. This is an abstract notion, often far less noticeable than the traditional animosity bred by Islam and the Islamist animosity bred by modernity’s (that is, America’s) unrelenting advance. But it is powerful nonetheless, which is why Egyptian protesters could be heard to complain vociferously about America’s diffidence in supporting their cause. The anger at Europeans was less because far less is expected of them.Gerecht is saying that Muslims carry an idea of America within themselves, and that this is what they really believe in and what they really long for. He actually thinks that Muslims want to be like Americans. He presents no evidence for this at all. He simply asserts it.
The truth, of course, is that Muslims want to be the opposite of Americans. For that conclusion, there is a lot of evidence.