Once upon a time a mad Caliph demanded of an old servant of his that he teach a donkey to talk for his amusement. If he refused, he would be put to death. If he failed he would be put to death as well. The old servant shrugged and asked for a year's time in which to complete the task. When other servants asked him why he had accepted, he answered. "A year is a long time. Either the Caliph will die, the donkey will die, or the donkey will learn to speak."
The posse of "Islamist Whisperers" in the press, lead among them Thomas Friedman, are busy looking for fallback positions. In his latest column he explains that the Islamist victories only came about because the dictators prevented "independent, secular, democratic parties" from developing. What he fails to understand is that the dictators were the only force maintaining a modicum of secularism, not because they were freethinking atheists, but because many of them had come out of the military and wanted a functioning state, instead of a theocracy.
In Turkey the military was the guarantor of secularism until the European Friedmans decided that it was much better to back the Islamist AKP and its democratic commitment to turning Turkey into an Islamist state. Now the generals are locked up and a sneering imbecile who bankrupted his country to funnel money to his associates and create a temporary economic boom is threatening Europe.
The Shah of Iran, Ben Ali and Mubarak are just a few of the badly flawed rulers who nevertheless maintained some measure of social freedom, rather than democracy, and paid the price when the idiots that we elected decided that the region would be better off if it were in the hands of the Islamists.
Secular and democratic are a contradiction in terms where the majority of the population supports the Islamists. The secular activists that Friedman and the Western media embraced are an out of touch elite that is more familiar with Twitter than with the ordinary Egyptian. They have more in common with the dictators they are campaigning to overthrow, and in many cases have familial connections to the ruling class. Had the West succeeded in shoving El-Baradei into the top spot sans election, then they might have taken power, otherwise they are going to remain in the Islamist shadow.
But never fear, Friedman promises that once the liberal independent secularists get some time to learn how the whole elections thing works, then the Islamists will have to "compete with legitimate secular parties".
Reading Friedman is like arguing with the proponent of a completely discredited theory who keeps asserting that given time it will finally stand up to the test. But does the mustached wonder of the Times really believe that the Islamists will wait around for the secularists to compete with them? Friedman and the rest of the gang dismissed the idea that Egypt would follow Iran, but now he might want to take a second look at the history of Iran. Islamist democracy begins when the old regime falls and ends when they take power.
In FriedmanLand (TM) if the Islamists rig elections then the people will rise up and overthrow them. But how well did that work out in Iran? The difference between the Islamists and Mubarak is that the jolly bearded boys don't care how many bodies they stack up and the only people they answer to are even more extreme than they are.
Financial analysts have popped up to inform us that the Muslim Brotherhood is pro-business, which it true is in the same way that Iran's leaders are pro-business, and Mubarak was pro-business and Vladimir Putin and the rulers of the People's Republic of China are pro-business. Meaning that they like money and running an oligarchy which will control much of the country's industry or solicit bribes from those businesses it doesn't control. To a financial analyst this is good news, but he might want to take a closer look at what the GDP of Persian might have been today if it wasn't overrun by black robed parasites and their pet thugs.
Saudi Arabia and the rest of the tribal oil states are good examples of pro-business Islamists, but the profits that don't get funneled into palaces, prostitutes and bread and circuses for their people, are invested into terrorism and buying up Western useful idiots to do their bidding. A financial analysis might begin by taking a look at the economic cost of their terrorist investments to the free world, not to mention the demographic Jihad with its attendant rapes, murders and social services costs.
Most of the new acquisitions for the Caliphate are not in the same financial position as Saudi Arabia. Turkey at least had its proximity to Europe, Egypt doesn't have a whole lot to offer. Some of its most lucrative financial interactions were with Israel and the country benefited from American aid. No matter how softly the Brotherhood starts out and even if we're saddled with Obama for another four years, that money is going to stop coming.
For Israel the death of the donkey is a mixture of good and bad news. Bad news because it's likely to have a war on its hands, but good news because there's going to be a drop in interest in trying to force the Jewish state to make the donkey talk. Ever since Oslo, Israel has been expected to soothe the savage beast with the music of appeasement and if the donkey kept refusing to speak, that was still Israel's fault. But it's hard to expect anyone to make a dead donkey talk and the Brotherhood, which doesn't recognize Israel, is not going to be willing to talk anything but temporary truce.
A sign of the times is that even Friedman is forced to concede that he understands "Israel not ceding territory in this uncertain period to a divided Palestinian movement". This is one of the rare occasions where anyone in the New York Times has acknowledged that negotiating with half a wannabe state makes absolutely no sense. But Friedman being himself quickly spoils it by holding up PA PM Salam Fayyad as a pinata full of wonderful possibilities like peace, joy and sunshine.
"Israel has an Arab awakening in its own backyard in the person of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad," Friedman insists. "He’s been the most radical Arab leader of all." If being an appointed leader who has never run for office or done much of anything besides reorganize the Authority under the supervision of Western governments makes you a one man awakening then Tom is setting the barrier rather low.
Fayyad didn't rise to power through popular acclaim and he hasn't won an election. The PA isn't holding any elections at all, which is the kind of behavior that Friedman denounces from some Arab rulers, but praises in others. Fayyadism isn't some national movement as the Times would like you to believe, it's the foolish fetishism of a few columnists desperate to pretend that the same broken PA is about to cast off its cocoon and fly away as a beautiful Brussels Blue butterfly.
Two years ago I wrote an article suggesting that Netanyahu was playing the Caliph's game, waiting out the demands of the Obama Administration and hoping that the clock would run out on its plans for peace. While the Friedmans hoped that the donkey would learn to speak, and many American Jews hoped that the Caliph would be forced off the throne, instead the donkey appears to be dying.
The dead donkey has implications for more than just Israel. The facade of normalcy kept the myth of a moderate Muslim world going. A world in which Iran and Saudi Arabia were the exceptions not the rule. But if sizable portions of the Muslim world were to turn into open theocracies with the attendant treatment of women, the game might well be up.
(Spanish language translation at Reflexiones Sobre Y Medio Oriente El Mundo)