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Sunday, March 06, 2011

5 Reasons why the Talibanization of the Middle East may not be a Bad Thing

The sweep of revolutions across the Middle East has optimists cheering and realists preparing for the worst. And the worst is generally a good thing to prepare for in the region.

The regimes targeted by the movement have invariably either been allied to or achieved a stalemate with Western countries, (a statement that applies to Libya despite how loosely it may be interpreted) and did not seek to build an Islamic republic and impose it across the region. This was not about the overthrow of tyranny. Turkey with its tens of thousands of political prisoners got a free pass, so did Syria and the Iranian revolution was once again left to go it alone. The countries targeted invariably were either opposed to Iran, or not aligned with it. Jordan, which might have otherwise been ripe for a protest movement, saw little action, perhaps due to its king's recent visit to Iran.

Whatever the media may squeak, this was a victory for Iran and for the Islamists. The course is set for the rise of Islamic republics, but these will not happen at the same time or in the same way. There will be a period of 'Weimar Republic' democracy, chaotic political rivalries and inept governments making way for the revolutionary regimes. In some countries this will occur violently and in others it will be a smooth transition orchestrated from within the system. But the final course is clear. It is no longer a matter of whether, but of when.

Yet the Talibanization of the Middle East may not be a wholly unrelieved evil. It will be ugly, but there is another side to it as well.


1. "You like cigarettes, go smoke three packs right now. You like Islam, go live under an Islamic republic."

When catching their child smoking, some parents have been known to force him to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes. And possibly the best way to cure the Muslim world of a hankering for an Islamic republic is to actually force them to live under one.

If Egypt, Libya and Tunisia turn into Islamic republics, then the odds are good that the children of the next generation will hate clerical rule, almost as much as Iranians do today. The Islamist pitch is as much about social welfare and corruption free government, as it is about be headings and the burka. And it is the social welfare and corruption free government that has the widest resonance.. Once in power, they will oversee the same corrupt government as before, with the clerics doing the stealing, and making everyone miserable in the bargain.

A generation of rule will do for the reformist image of the Muslim Brotherhood and the various Islamist groups, what rule in Iran did for their Shiite counterparts. They will lose their image as reformers and instead become the crooked bastards everyone hates. They will become viewed as corrupt and greedy, and it is that which will finally bring them down.

The Caliphate is so popular among European Muslims because they have the least experience living that way. After a generation of it, Arab Muslims will still read the Koran, but without the same enthusiasm for implementing its precepts to create paradise on earth. It may well be that the surest way to destroy the dream of the Caliphate is for the Islamists to get their chance to try and build one in the Middle East. The Soviet Union killed Communism and the Islamic Republics may well kill the Islamic revolution.


2. "An open enemy is better than a false friend. A foe is better than a false ally."

Our biggest handicap in the War on Terror has been the illusion of false allies, that majority of moderate Muslims. But the Talibanization of the Middle East will kill that illusion dead, just as the USSR made it clear that Communism could not be a viable participant in free world politics.

The governments of every Muslim country have been playing both sides, leading us around the nose, while providing safe harbor and funds to the terrorists. Western leaders have gone on pretending that we had friends in the Middle East and that we don't have to fight the war alone. But the Talibanization of the region will end those illusions. It will become painfully clear that we are alone and that we have to fight the war alone.

The death of equivocating states may well be the end of all illusions in the War on Terror. When most of the Middle East is as brutally anti-American as Iran, another Cold War will dawn. We will have no choice about it. Islamists feeling their oats will spend less time pandering to us and more time threatening us.

The Democrats did not want a post-war showdown with the USSR, they got one anyway. Western leaders will be in the same boat should the beginnings of a Caliphate take shape. The Islamists will need money to fund their social programs and wars to distract their people. A conflict will become open and inevitable.


3. "The Muslim Middle East will bleed itself dry."

The Islamists have grand ambitions and those cost money. The Middle East has only one major source of income and that's oil. Nazi Germany went on a looting campaign to pay for their plans. The Soviet Union bled itself dry. By the time they were done, Germany and the USSR had wrecked themselves in ways it would take decades to fix.

Iran could have given its own people a good life, but instead it is funding terror around the world and unrest in the Middle East. The opposition to the regime is connected to the money being funneled into Islamic terror and into the pockets of powerful and well-connected families.

If the Islamic Republics face off in a new Cold War, they will be fighting economies with deeper pockets, richer resources and more diverse economies. And like the Soviet Union, the confrontation will end up bleeding them dry. Their domestic social policies will fail and their warmongering will rack up a staggering toll. What will be left, will be unsustainable. A wasteland. A desert.


4. "Sometimes you have to hit bottom, before you can rise to the top."

Every time it seems like we have hit bottom, a new low opens up. But it would have looked that way in the Europe of the 20's and 30's as well. We may be coming to a catastrophic crisis and when the crisis reaches its moment, terrible evils will be unleashed, but also a chance for the nations of the free world to redeem themselves by standing up to evil. Even if that redemption is as belated and incomplete as it was then.

We have not yet reached the critical moment, but this may do it. And when it does, then this new generation will have the chance to be the Greatest Generation, to leave behind the dross and decay, and find their finest hour.

History may not repeat itself, or repeat itself only as farce, but if it does, then the time may be coming when another collision shakes the world. In the natural course of events, the free world will fade into senescence and be trampled by the invaders. But a premature conflict may change all that. Force the moment to its crisis and toss aside the politicians of today, for the leaders of tomorrow.

A Talibanized Middle East will shatter the existing status quo and consign the rubbish about a progressive united world order to the trash. The present understanding of the world that the political elites cling to will come apart like tissue paper in their hands, and like Chamberlain, they will be forced to step aside for new leaders whose worldview encompasses the nature of the truth and the need to fight it.


5. "Egypt may be the Iraq of the Liberals"

I have said before that Egypt may end up being the Iraq of the Liberals. Iraq and Afghanistan killed the idea that all we needed to do was invade, remove the dictators and hold open elections. Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are likely to do the same for the liberal idea that if the US just stopped backing the dictators and let the leftist groups hold their revolution, everything would work out.

The left failed to learn that lesson from Iran. Now they have gotten their regional revolution, and it is going the same way as Iraq and Afghanistan. The fall of the tyrant leading to looting, violence and instability, and ending in an Islamist takeover. And when it all plays out, they will be forced to contemplate the consequences of their folly, and the way forward. And the usual scapegoats of America and globalism will no longer apply.

Sometimes the only way to disabuse people of a bad idea is to let them play it out. That may apply to the Muslim world and it may apply to their leftist fellow travelers as well. When they lose the Muslim world, this time they will be the ones forced to soul search and question what went wrong. And they may be forced to accept that the problem lies in the Muslim world. That it always has.


Again no one would wish for an Islamist takeover of major countries in the region. The collateral from even a Cold War will be bad enough. A hot war, particularly played out with nuclear weapons, doesn't bear thinking about. Yet it is important to realize that in the complexities of history, there are many paths. And that the outcomes of events can often be paradoxical. Evil has a way of destroying itself, though not before inflicting great harm on the innocent. And it may be that in the moment of its greatest triumph, this evil in destroying itself.

19 comments:

Thurifer said...

Openly Islamist regimes would at least end the farce and make everyone put their cards on the table. Maybe an enemy, but at least an honest one.

mindRider said...

In this case Sultan, you have oversimplified your conclusions, omitting the main differences between the Soviet empire's mindset during the cold war and that of a possible Religiously based Caliphate.1) Be it that both where and would be bent on world domination, the first still had a leadership that cherished life and therefore was not totally self destructive while a Caliphate due to it's religious base and the Islam's adoration of death would have no moral brakes on invoking a nuclear war. So we shall have to fight the creation of this latter institution forcefully and not only ideological. 2) The west could also not afford this "talibanization" as the energy sources essential to OUR survival would be controlled by these moral Neanderthals something that would be unthinkable. So even if you would want the peoples of these countries to undergo the experience of total loss of liberty to learn t reject it, we would already be obliged to fight a Hot war against them to retain control of the oil fields which by it's absolute necessity unite them thereby undoing the essence of the "experiment".

HermitLion said...

A bit of realistic optimism from the Sultan. I like that.

May the enemy act prematurely, and alert the populations of the world to the grim reality, and may we get to see something better coming out from the worst of it.

gsw said...

Just as we once had an iron curtain - we now need a chrono curtain.
People may choose to be free - pachyderm - adults, living in the 21st. century - or they may cross over into the 7th. century and fulfil their dreams.

No choice will be given to those attempting to turn us back 14 centuries - they just get dumped back in time.

First though, we need more efficient forms of producing energy - solar electricity - electrical transport - better storage accumulators, in order to assure our own independence.

While Saudi insists that with the right technological help it can increase deliveries, we know better.
Oil is a stone-age (literally) commodity and extremely finite.
"Even the best technical improvements cannot produce oil which is no longer there" (AmEnergyExpert).

Anonymous said...

Another excellent piece and so true! One only has to look at the grumblings in Iran to know that Islamist regimes would be the West's ultimate weapon in destroying the cult of the Moon God once and for all. Evidence for such a trend is legion. A former Iranian contact of mine even recieved mass invitations (from her friends within Iran) to favourite Terry Jones' 'Burn a Koran' day page via facebook. So,give Libya, Egypt and Tunisia 25 years of Guardian Council Leadership and they'll be begging for Britney Spears CD's, Coca-Cola and Viagra.

Anonymous said...

You are well ahead of the times..... Love you!

Anonymous said...

Excellent appraisal of the Mideast, again. My only objection is a minor quibble: I smoke, but my own childhood punishment had nothing to do with smoking. At the age of ten, after taking a spoonful taste of rhubarb that my folks were preparing for a Christmas dinner, I was forced me to consume the whole bowl. To this day, I gag at the sight and smell of rhubarb. But your analogy is not only spot on but probably inevitable in the Mideast. They want Sharia and all the rest of what the Koran dictates? Let the "revolutionaries" get a full taste of Islam. Then perhaps some of them will actually have a glimmer of what freedom means. In the meantime, "there will be blood" and misery and heartbreak. Now, if only Americans would rediscover the meaning and value of freedom, and stop electing nascent totalitarians like Barack Obama.

John K said...

This is another column right on target. Afghanistan has gone the same route as polls show that only 6% of Afghans support the Taliban, and yet the Taliban clans or tribe constitute 8% of Afghanistan's population. The lesson learned here is that areas that have lived under the Taliban don't want them back. How to reconcile this with other poll data that shows high support for Sharia and execution of apostates and blasphemers, I don't know. One thing is for sure: The Talibanization of the Middle East may be good in the long run, but the people who live there will go through a lot of suffering before things get better, just as in Iran.

On the illusion of moderate Muslims, the West, or at least America, seems to have a disconnect between the Muslim behavior they see in the Middle East and what the Muslim Brotherhood taqiyyists say in the US about a religion of peace. It's like a form of American Exceptionalism taken to an extreme that America is so special that even Muslims who are Americans are not barbaric like their third-world cousins. While the Democrats got the post-war showdown anyway, their reactions to it still included a spectrum from denial to covert support for the ideologies of the enemy.

They will not only bleed themselves dry in terms of resources, but as they reach out to subjugate more external enemies, they are losing control of their internal populations, not just in political terms, but in defections from Islam. Ali Sina believes that access to mass communications will cause more and more Muslims to learn the facts about Muhammad and Islam. He says no Muslim can read his book, Understanding Muhammad, and remain a Muslim. Kamal Saleem reports large underground churches in Muslim countries, including Iran.

History does repeat itself because human nature is a constant, and the forces for good do not avail themselves of lessons learned from the past.

A nuclear hot war is truly a troubling thought, especially the way Iran jokes about Israel being a one-bomb state.

In troubling times, I like to see what the ex-Muslims say about Bible prophecy. Walid Shoebat has just done an interview on today's Middle East crisis here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVKS4aQ3_TY

ParaPacem said...

THIS is one of your best ever. Combining irrefutable logic with insight, these words give us reason to hope, during a time of thick, oily darkness.

Anonymous said...

Sophie here...I have great admiration for the many works of Hillaire Belloc, who wrote from the late 19th century and into the 20th..He wrote this in 1938...
"The political control of Islam by Europe cannot continue indefinitely; it is already shaken. Meanwhile the spiritual independence of Islam - upon which everything depends-is as strong as, or stronger than ever.'
In 1937 he wrote.."In the major thing of all, religion, we have fallen back and Islam has, in the main, preserved its soul."
He had many other remarkable things to say about Islam in his day.
AS bad as things are now in the Middle East, what happens when they run out of oil ? They will still have bullets and plenty of rage. Where's Joan of Arc when we need her ?

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

mindrider,

I did say the possibility was there. But keep in mind the leadership of any Islamic Republic still values its own lives. It's their people they don't value.

HermitLion, hopefully so

gsw, yes we have to push past the current setup and cut them off

Anonymous, yes the resentment among the educated classes within Islamic republics can't be underestimated.

anon 2, thanks

anon 3, rhubarb it is then. We do need to work on ourselves. Islam would not be a threat if our culture and sense of self-worth were healthy.

John K, some of those things are culturally embedded, it may be very hard to get out among the general population, but at the same time it dissuades them from putting the taliban in to implement those things

para pacem, thank you

DP111 said...

I'm satisfied that the ME will become Talebanised. And if Taleban Afghanistan is taken as a guide, we should stop all relations with them except the very essential.

One further advantage is that the Muslim world will be seen as the enemy that it is, and from there we can progress to giving attention to the problem within.

I think we need to invade just one more Muslim country - maybe not this time for taking democracy to a country and giving it freedom - thats been done, and the idea is now discredited.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that a Second Holocaust is included in this Experiment of Self Improvement.

jlevyellow said...

Sultan, I am afraid that you might have underestimated the possibility of a nuclear confrontation. Israel will not allow itself to be destroyed, no matter what. With the tacit agreement of the EU and America, our new Islamic friends may make another stab at Israel. I have relatives and friends in Israel. I do not want to lose them. Nor do they wish to be lost by accident of politics.

Anonymous said...

I doubt no matter how bad it gets in the ME or in the US with Islamic terrorism people like this will change their minds: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/raina-wallens/park51-election-season-is_b_832352.html#comments

Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

NY Young said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

yellow, neither do I. But a critical situation might also shake up Israeli leaders who are still relying on empty peace accords and hollow negotiations

young, obviously. That was my introductory statement

Anonymous said...

We need to stop talking about alternative energy as the only answer. We can easily wean ourselves from Middle East oil. Besides Canada and Mexico, the U.S. has plenty of oil, oil shale, and natural gas. There is no reason to buy their oil at all. Let's start using our natural resources, as every other country does. (Yes, I know, that is going to require getting Barack Obama out of office...the sooner the better.)

John K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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