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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Nation Building or Islam Building

Nation-building has become a very controversial term. And with good reason. Our conviction that we can reconstruct any society into another America is unrealistic. It ignores our own exceptionalism and overlooks the cultural causes of many conflicts. It assumes that a change of government and open elections can transform a tribal Islamic society into America. They can’t and won’t.

But it’s also important to recognize that what we have been doing isn’t nation-building, but Islam-
building.

Nation-building in Germany and Japan meant identifying a totalitarian ideology, isolating its proponents from political power and recreating a formerly totalitarian state as an open society. That is the opposite of what we did in Afghanistan and Iraq, never mind Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and all the rest.

We did temporarily pursue de-Baathification in Iraq. But the Baathists were just Saddam’s cult of personality. Saddam was a problem in Iraq. But he wasn’t the problem in Iraq. His rule was a symptom of the real problem which was the divide between Sunnis and Shiites. The real problem was Islam.

Because we failed to recognize that, de-Baathification failed. The Baathists just folded themselves into ISIS. The Sunni-Shiite war went on even without Saddam. Today Sunnis and Shiites are still killing each other in Iraq much as they had for a long time. We have boiled this war down to ISIS, but ISIS, like Saddam is just another symptom of the political violence and divisiveness inherent in Islam.

Instead of secularizing Iraq, our efforts at democracy only heightened divisions along religious lines. The “Lebanon” model for Iraq with power sharing arrangements between Sunnis and Shiites was doomed.

Iraq’s first election was dominated by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. If that name rings a bell, it should. It came out of Iran. You know, the original Islamic Revolution. The “free” election had given a boost to an Islamic terror group whose goal was the creation of an Islamic State in Iraq.

The bloodiest days of the Iraq War actually came when two sets of Islamic terror groups fighting to create an Islamic State began killing each other… and us. We know one of those groups today as ISIS. The other group is the Iraqi government. And a decade later, they’re still killing each other.

Instead of nation-building in Iraq, we practiced Islam-building. Iraq’s constitution made Islam the official religion and the fundamental source of legislation. Its first real law was that, “No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.” The new Iraq we had built was an Islamic State.

We did no better in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan whose constitution declared much the same thing. Its first parliamentary elections saw victories for the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan and the Islamic Society. As in Iraq and Syria, the distinctions between the bad Islamists and the good Islamists were often fuzzy at best. We had replaced the bad Islamist warlords who raped and murdered their enemies with the good Islamist warlords who raped and murdered their enemies.

Our nation-building had created an Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and an Islamic State in Iraq. It was no wonder that the fighting never stopped.

Matters grew much worse with the Arab Spring when Obama and Hillary’s Islam-building project flipped countries that had been democratic and secular in the loosest sense into the tar pit of political Islam.

Coptic Christians were massacred and churches were burned in Egypt. The Christian communities in Iraq and Syria were threatened with annihilation. The Jewish community in Yemen may be close to disappearing entirely. The Yazidis were raped and murdered on a genocidal scale by the Islamic State.

But in many cases they were just collateral damage from fighting between Sunni and Shiite Islamists, and among Sunni Islamists battling each other for dominance.

The ugliest part of Islam-building was that the resulting conflicts between Islamists and secularists in Egypt and Tunisia highlighted starkly just how wrong our policy was. Instead of backing secular and democratic forces, Obama had thrown in with Islamists. And even after the Muslim Brotherhood was overthrown in Egypt, his administration continued advocating on behalf of its Islamic reign of terror.

If we had practiced actual nation-building, then we would have identified Islamic tribalism as the central corrosive force in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Islamic political movements as the totalitarian threat in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Our efforts would have been directed at isolating them and keeping them out of power while working to democratize and secularize these countries on the old Turkish model. It might not have worked, but at least it would have been nation-building, not Islam-building.

Nation-building might very well have failed. America doesn’t have infinite resources and the lives of our soldiers are precious. Assuming that we can upend radically different societies is excessively optimistic.

But we didn’t even try.

What we have been doing in this century isn’t nation building. Instead we’ve been empowering our enemies. We’ve been sticking our hands into Islamist snake pits and playing, “Find the Muslim moderate” and refusing to learn any better no matter how many times we get bitten.

We have been perfectly happy to help the Islamic terrorists that our soldiers were shooting at last week so long as their leader signed some sort of accord paying lip service to equality yesterday. We didn’t just get into bed with the Muslim Brotherhood, but with former affiliates of Al Qaeda and current proxies of Iran. We allied with the Sunni and Shiite Islamist murderers of American soldiers in Iraq.

And all we got for it was more violence, chaos and death.

Even without Islam, ethnic and tribal divisions would have made nation-building into a difficult challenge. But Islam-building didn't just leave wrecked societies, but terror threats. Tensions between Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds wouldn’t have led to massacres in Paris and Nice. Only Islam could do that.

Islam takes local conflicts and makes them global. That’s why disputes over the authority of the House of Saud led to the mass murder of thousands of people in New York or why Arab attacks on Israel became a burning international issue. Or why Sunni and Shiite feuds in Iraq and Syria led to a massacre of attendees at a rock concert in Paris.

That is also why the combination of Islam and politics in any form is an existential threat to us.

Not only should we not be subsidizing it in any way, shape or form, but we should be doing our best to stamp it out. If we must have any form of nation-building, it should be the building of secular nations in which Islam is isolated and detached from any political involvement.

We have two options for preventing the spread of Islamic political violence into our countries. The first is a ban on Muslim immigration. The second is a ban on Muslim politics. The former has been dubbed isolationism and the latter nation-building. Neither term is truly accurate, but they capture the essence of the choice.

We however have chosen a choice that is far worse than either. We have opened our doors to Muslim migration while opening Muslim countries to further Islamic political involvement. We have Islamized terror states and ourselves. Is it any wonder that we suffer from a severe Islamic terror threat?

Open borders for Islamic terror and Islam-building have led to our current state of national insecurity. We have made the world more dangerous by backing Islamic politics and we have made our countries more dangerous by welcoming in Muslim migrants to be indoctrinated into terror by Islamist organizations. The more we build up Islam, the more we destroy ourselves.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finally, a simple and logical explanation and solution. If only our leaders would read this and follow your advice. As you said, it may not work, but at least we can give it a try.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant as usual. Terrific stuff Daniel. The Irishman.

Anonymous said...

Obama took the total domestic and geopolitical situation of 2009, and with stunning brilliance, wrought horrendous devastation on Western Civilization, especially the U.S.A. and Israel. Legions of fellow travelers in elected and appointed office, the media, unions administered the thousand cuts. Obama's intentional ruin exceeds that of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. Not bad for eight years, excluding golf.

Trump knows; and will employ triage. Stop Muslim invasion, expel subversives and criminals. Control infectious disease. Stop the Fed issuing toilet paper money, and on and on.

As for dysfunctional countries, starvation, refugees; do we think we can go around rescuing baby birds? We have to save ourselves first at home and with our remaining allies. Aggression from hostile entities brings our prompt massive retaliation. If they get brutal dictators and fight each other, let them.

Seriously, with divided Republicans and a brainwashed citizenry, the nation most in need of building is right here. It won't be easy to save her.

ABSJ1136

Infidel said...

Thanks. Brilliant analysis. Nation Building has been one of my pet peeves for many years.

Infidel said...

"flipped countries ... into the tar pit of political Islam."

Too good to let this pass. One of the best lines I've ever seen.

Empress Trudy said...

The concept of nation building is, on its face badly flawed and badly limited. When we speak of this we're talking about western industrialized nations rebuilding other western industrialized nations in the wake of purposeful destruction of their buildings, plants, infrastructure and social and civic institutions. As a concept, nation building is only about a hundred years old. It's only after the shock of WW1 that anyone considered this something to accomplish. The British didn't nation build South Africa after the Boer War, the US didn't nation build the Philippines after the Spanish American War. The Germans didn't nation build France after the Franco Prussian war. And to be fair, not even Reconstruction in the South was an effort to nation build. It was an effort to suppress the south and keep them weak with an imposed order from the Federal government. It was political not institutional.

Be that as it may, in the wake of WW1 our efforts to nation build were only aimed at countries that more or less were at the same level as us and resembled us before the need to rebuild them. These are countries that already had institutions, laws, values, mores, know how, technology to achieve this rebuilding and, if they were successful they would resemble US, not something they themselves were before.

The Mideast has none of that. No history of nationhood, only tribalism and sectarian violence. Little education, few civic institutions and little in the way of rule of law. Baksheesh and family connections are the only way things get done. You can't hold up a contract in the Mideast and have it honored. There is no history of participatory pluralism, no notion that losers form a loyal opposition who sticks to the rules in defeat and little if any culture where power transfers w/o tanks in the streets.

We can't nation build because there's no nation TO build. After all in the Mideast you have two mutually exclusive options: totalitarianism and anarchy. Pick one and hold on because it's inevitably going to swing to the other extreme. The British realized the hopelessness of remaking the Mideast as Britain a long time ago. Their post colonial plan consisted of a holding strategy to impose each new 'nation' they carved out of these squabbling tribes. That holding strategy was built on a few premises: 1) put an ethnic minority in charge, that way they won't attempt rampant genocide and will at least put a happy face on the delicate balance of power. This is why the Alawites in Syria exist. 2) if possible make the ethnic minority leadership foreign so that there are no local tribal alliances. The Jordanian monarchy is Saudi and the Saudi monarchy is Jordanian as evidence. This is also the case in Qatar and Yemen to some extent with the leadership splitting on Islamic grounds, Sunni vs Shiite. 3) since there is no history of this made up nation, the ties that hold it together have to be along some other axis. It could be anything; pan Arabism, Islamic fundamentalism, antisemitism, Third World-ism, etc. It really doesn't matter the specifics are immaterial. With most of the population ignorant and illiterate they will believe whatever you tell them. 4) importantly don't disrupt the in place tribal and family relationships and power. Let them sort that out on their own. It's the only thing keeping the 'nation' from descending into wars of tribal extermination.

This is why nation building will always fail. Because THIS is the nation they have. This is as far as they can take it.

Anonymous said...

It's not massive failure; it's massive CORRUPTION of US policymakers (from foreign policy bureaucrats all the way to the top) by Arab/Islamic petrodollars.

Based on agendas set by such corruption, the policies were a remarkable success!

Only useful idiots like the US public are made to think that these carefully crafted policies resulted in "failure" (i.e., something other than the intended outcome)...

DenisO said...

"...We have two options for preventing the spread of Islamic political violence into our countries..."
There is a third. What worked in the past? Dictators, like Assad and Saddam, the Saudi Kings, and the other tyrants who rule most of the "stable" Countries in the Gulf, and in fact, most of Africa. Left alone, Assad would have destroyed his internal enemies, and Russia gladly remain an ally, not part ruler, and we would have our "Greens and Leftists" wringing their hands over the injustice and violence, but what we see, here and over there, would have been unthinkable. "Stamping out" Islam is crazy "holy-man" logic!
Our policy should be to back rulers who will keep their religious violence at home where it traditionally belongs. We can't fence them in, and let them kill one another, but we can bribe their rulers to do their duty to keep the wackos at home. Our efforts to fix an irreparable society in Iraq were stupid. Bad Intelligence gave us no alternative but to go after Saddam, but staying there was a mistake. I think we understand, now, and it looks like I'm not the only "commenter" to grasp this.

Anonymous said...

Great article! While the examples of recent conflicts are evidence of very wrong policies, the U.S. has been deliberately "building Islam" for a long time and nobody has questioned Dept. of State where a deep rooted Islamist/Arabist cabal has carried on with the Islamization project, no matter which party or president came to rule. US efforts of Islamization began in 1950s in the form of building a "green/Islamic belt" against spread of USSR/communism, and long after the end of the Cold War, incomprehensively it remained unchanged! Real (Arab) Spring was initiated, rather launched by the U.S. with the role it played and assistance it provided for bringing Turkish Islamist Erdogan and his party AKP to power in Turkey. It was the rehearsal before the Arab Spring and it "succeeded"! Succeeded not in nation building, but in destroying a nation. Ataturk's Turkey, the only secular, modern, parliamentary democracy (even if not perfect) in the Islamic world was sacrificed to political Islam. Along with all its institutions, liberties, and its rule of law, Turkey is LOST! And no one asks "Who Lost Turkey?"; no one and no policy were held accountable. Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria followed where the US partnered with the bad, Islamist actors. These policies turned the already problematic region to an inferno, all with the pretext of finding moderate Islamists, who would "build democracies". As Erdogan of Turkey had said countless times: "There is no moderate Islam! There is one Islam!"; "Democracy is not a goal but a vehicle"; "Sovereignty does not belong to the people, but only to Allah"; "Democracy is like a tram car that you take to get to your desired destination where you get off of it". Words that the reckless policy makers in the US chose to not hear. Now Islamism that we helped build threatens the world! And most are still surprised? After many decades of wrong policies that brought this threat to our shores, to our allies - especially to Israel - our country desperately needs a fundamental change. We need to replace the old foreign policy makers who are stuck in the Cold War era and rebuild all our institutions for the benefit (and in defense) of our country, our allies, and our civilization!

Edward Cline said...

What "nation-building" has done is essentially legitimize Islam as an "alternative" ideology. The U.S. has done is tantamount to legitimizing Nazism.

Stacey Gordon said...

Empress Trudy...
wow. yes.

Anonymous said...

Great article! The examples of recent conflicts are evidence of very wrong policies, but the U.S. has been deliberately "building Islam" for many decades and nobody has questioned Dept. of State where a deep rooted Islamist/Arabist cabal has carried on with the Islamization project, no matter which party or president came to rule. US efforts of Islamization began in 1950s in the form of building a "green/Islamic belt" against spread of USSR/communism. Long after the end of the Cold War, those policies remained unchanged, defying all logic! "Arab Spring" was initiated, rather launched by the U.S. with the role it played and support it provided to bring Turkish Islamist Erdogan and his party AKP to power in Turkey. It was the rehearsal before the Arab Spring and it "succeeded"! Succeeded not in nation building, but in destroying a nation. Ataturk's Turkey, the only secular, modern, parliamentary democracy (if not perfect) in the entire Islamic world was sacrificed to political Islam. Along with all its institutions, liberties, and its rule of law, Turkey now is LOST! No one asks "Who Lost Turkey?"; no one and no policies are held accountable. Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria followed where the US partnered with the bad, Islamist actors. As we speak, our so-called ally Islamist Erdogan's military, along with their jihadi friends in Syria are pounding our real allies the (secular) Kurds, who the US is selling out!
These policies turned the already problematic region into an inferno, all with the pretext of finding "moderate Islamists" to "build democracies".
As Erdogan of Turkey had said countless times: "There is no moderate Islam! There is one Islam!"; "Democracy is not a goal but a tool to reach a goal"; "Sovereignty does not belong to the people, but only to Allah, the ultimate ruler"; "Democracy is like a tram car that you take to get to your desired destination - where you get off of it". Words that the reckless policy makers in the US chose to not hear.
Now political Islam that we helped build threatens the world! And most of us are still surprised? After many decades of wrong policies that brought this threat to our shores, to our allies - and especially to Israel - our country desperately needs a fundamental change. We need to replace all of the old foreign-policy makers in all our institutions, especially in Dept. of State and some in CIA, whose tired minds are stuck in the Cold War era. This much needed change cannot come with Hillary, who is the very person who brought a cold winter, (along with ISIS and bloodshed) to Middle East, and called it "spring".

Frau Katze said...

Great article. Very little discussion of the tribalism in the Middle East, even in the so-called right wing press.

I guess it sounds vaguely insulting. Whatever. Also: Muslim immigrants are bringing their tribalism with them.

Sammish said...

Finally, the idea that the Bath party politics of yester- years Irak and Syria molded into ISIS cast of permanent war under the banner of Islam.

This is one dimension that was completelly overlooked (I might say completely disregarded). The fascist (Neo-nazi) Bath ideology of Arabism. Thanks Daniel for bringing it up. What happened to it? Well my theory is that the new chapter of fascism that was about to rise, could not have been allowed to do so in the intellectual culture of the 1960's, 70's and 80's drenched to the bones with cultural Marxism and Thirld World revolutions and quasi-permanent intifadas. Now, this new Arabo-fascism has come to mastisize into ISIS and the proxy-movements of Houties, Bokoharam, Eshabab and other Sunnis Saudi controlled Islamic groups. In a sense, the true of face of Islam is for all to see which is a permanent war against Western values. A post-modern type of nightmarish fascism that could not escape its true nature. Let us beware of even so-called non-fundamentalist Islam, because it is only one degree away from tyranny and submission.
Thanks again for bringing forth the Bath ideology of the yester-years.

Anonymous said...

It's not "massive failure"; it's massive CORRUPTION of US policymakers (from foreign policy bureaucrats all the way to top leaders) by Arab/Islamic petrodollars.

Based on agendas set by such corruption, the policies were a remarkable success!

Only the clueless US public IS made to think that these carefully crafted policies resulted in "failure" (i.e., something other than intended results)...

The results were nothing but a great success for the Islamists and their paid proxies in the West!

It was not an easy battle for them -- on the contrary, it was a gargantuan effort across the US and Europe, that took many years of planning and execution, and cost untold billions of oil money (money we the West gave them!).

Jibsy said...

Thanks for tackling this nation-building question and, as usual, describing everything more simply and clearly than most other people writing about the subject. Of the two choices, banning Muslim immigration definitely seems like the easier and quicker option. There are plenty of countries out there already doing this to some degree (like Japan), and guess what? No Islamic terrorism! - Jamie

Anonymous said...

Could someone define for me the term "islamist". Could someone point out to me any muslim, muslim state or mosque that defines itself as "islamist"?

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