Obama spells disaster for the ME

Now We Know: How the Obama Administration is Going to Bring Disaster to the Middle East and U.S. Interests

By Barry Rubin, GLORIA

In a moment, I’ll present you with what might be the most frightening paragraph in the modern history of U.S. Middle East policy. But first, here’s one that’s among the most deplorable. It’s from a Washington Post article:

    “The Obama administration is preparing for the prospect that Islamist governments will take hold in North Africa and the Middle East, acknowledging that the popular revolutions there will bring a more religious cast to the region’s politics.”

What? While people like me have been warning about the emergence of Islamist regimes, in contrast the Obama administration, European governments, mass media, and most academics have repeatedly assured us there’s no such danger! Those people doing the warning have been almost totally shut out of the mass media.

But now is the Obama administration realizing that those changes they’ve been cheering and even promoting could end by producing Islamist regimes? Is that the kind of regime that’s anti-American, promotes terrorism, subverts neighbors, and wants to wipe Israel off the map?

Now we come to the paragraph I warned about, the explanation for how the administration may be about to plunge into the biggest disaster in U.S. foreign policy of…well, of a very long time.

Here it is:

“The administration is already taking steps to distinguish between various movements in the region that promote Islamic law in government. An internal assessment, ordered by the White House last month, identified large ideological differences between such movements as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and al-Qaeda that will guide the U.S. approach to the region.”

Get it? Al-Qaeda is bad because it wants to attack U.S. embassies, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon.

BUT the Muslim Brotherhood is good! Because it merely wants to seize state power, transform Egypt into an Islamist state, rule almost 90 million people with an iron hand, back Hamas in trying to destroy Israel, overthrow the Palestinian Authority, help Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood overthrow the monarchy, and sponsor terrorism against Americans in the Middle East.

I’m sure you can see the difference. This is the nonsense that the administration has been working toward for two years. It is the doctrine pushed by the president’s advisor on terrorism, elements in the CIA, and White House ideologues. The State and Defense departments are probably horrified.

Here’s the next paragraph:

“`We shouldn’t be afraid of Islam in the politics of these countries,'” said a senior administration official….`It’s the behavior of political parties and governments that we will judge them on, not their relationship with Islam.'”

That first phrase is correct. We shouldn’t be afraid of Islam in the politics of these countries. Islam has always been present in Egypt and Jordan, Saudi Arabia or post-Saddam Iraq, and even Iran before its revolution and Afghanistan not under the Taliban. But we should be very afraid of Islamism in the politics of these countries.

And, yes, we should judge them on their relationship to Islam! Here’s how:

Are they merely pious Muslims who advocate conservative social policies and want to protect Islam’s institutional position in their countries?

Or are they revolutionary Islamists who want to fundamentally transform their societies and make Islam–in their strict, strident interpretation of it–dictator over every aspect of life?

In other words, are they the equivalent of Communists or Social Democrats, Fascists or right-wing nationalists. Both al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood are totalitarians in this sense.

Note, too, the dangerous idea of letting the genie out of the bottle to see if it devours us. We should already be able to tell right now this minute on the basis of the ideology, platform, and methods of these groups. Arguably, Western democracies didn’t do enough to keep Communists out of power in Russia in 1917 or the Nazis out of power in Germany in 1933.

But nobody accuses the Western democracies of helping them gain power on the false belief that this would be a good thing.

The problem here is not that the U.S. government is promoting democracy but that it isn’t simultaneously fighting against anti-democratic forces that want to take advantage of it to install even worse dictatorships profoundly dedicated to the destruction of all U.S. interests.

In short, the Obama Administration doesn’t care the least about keeping the Muslim Brotherhood out of the Egyptian government or Hizballah from running Lebanon’s government. Is it against the Muslim Brotherhood gaining power in Jordan or radical Islamists taking over Saudi Arabia or Morocco?

Why put the Islamists into power as an experiment? Then after a few wars, massive terrorism, bloody repression, and the destruction of the U.S. position in the Middle East, these great geniuses can say: Oops! Sorry for all you dead people but now we have a good basis for judging them: They really meant what they said! Who could have guessed?

If al-Qaida is the measure of all things, then everyone looks moderate in comparison. At least they aren’t attacking Manhattan! And this is why we’ve been subjected to the whitewashing of the Muslim Brotherhood, to make it acceptable to the American people and Congress. That’s why President Obama unilaterally welcomed the Brotherhood into Egypt’s government before anyone asked him to remark on that subject.

Then there’s Iran, which is not really viewed as too much of a threat. Just a little containment will make Tehran behave, right? And the bloody repressive regime in Syria is okay according to this worldview because it is against al-Qaida. The increasingly dictatorial regime in Turkey is positively wonderful to this viewpoint since its Islamist regime gives the appearance of being moderate. What a shining example!

Why object to Hizballah taking over Lebanon or the Muslim Brotherhood playing a major role in Egypt? After all, this gives Islamists a chance to show they are moderate and to be moderated by a taste of power. The administration’s definition of moderate is someone who is willing to participate in elections. If they knew any history they’d be aware that both Communists and Nazis participated in elections.

Yet we see this theme everywhere in terms of Obama policy: the attempt in Afghanistan to win over the “moderate” Taliban elements; the effort to get Syria to abandon its alliance with Iran in order to be a friend of the United States; the building and restoration of mosques with U.S. taxpayer money; the wooing of the Muslim Brotherhood; and so on.

There is also the view of Turkey’s regime as benign because it offers a “moderate” model to the Islamists and thus cannot be criticized. The only reason that Hamas is not included in this process, presumably, is because that would set off pro-Israel forces.

When Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says the United States is competing with Iran does she mean for leadership in the region or for the hearts and souls of Islamists? When she praises al-Jazira is it because she believes the United States needs to do a better job of offering an alternative version of Islamism? Remember Obama’s Cairo speech was not “pro-Arab” but rather endorsed Islam as the primary identity in the region, with invited Brotherhood guests seated in the front row.

U.S. policy, then, is deliberately helping the Islamists in order to show them America is their friend, to separate “radicals” (al-Qaida) from “moderates” (Hizballah and the Muslim Brotherhood!), and to get them in a situation where they will be “moderated” by having to exercise of power (the same strategy that failed miserably with Yasir Arafat and the 1990s’ peace process, leaving several thousand people dead).

This policy approach is irresponsible to say the least. Strategy and tactics are means to a goal. If the goal of an Islamist group is to seize state power and transform one’s country into a totalitarian nightmare, violence and elections are equally good means if you think they are going to work.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi has said it all in his critique of Bin Ladin: Of course, Islamists should participate in elections, he explained, because they will win. And so if Qaradawi openly advocates genocide against the Jews, imposing totalitarian regimes, and chasing the West out of the region these facts are censored out by much of the Western media. After all, he favors elections and that’s all that counts.

It is bad enough for U.S. and European policies to do nothing in the face of the greatest challenge of our time, but to assist actively in the coming to power and flourishing of enemies is incredibly foolish. The bottom line is that this goes beyond appeasement. It is a strategy of actively helping the enemy grow stronger in the belief that this is a brilliant idea.

There is some precedent here. Some State Department experts thought Mao Zedong was a harmless “agrarian reformer.” In 1952, U.S. policymakers thought military regimes in the Arab world would be legitimate, efficient, pro-American, and anti-Communist. Thus, they welcomed the Egyptian coup of that year (which produced the regime just overthrown recently). Within three years, however, they reversed course realizing that the Egyptian government was hostile and pro-Communist. Almost a decade later they figured that Fidel Castro was just an honest nationalist, not a Marxist-Leninist.

Another thing it makes me think of is British domestic policy on Islamism, in which radical groups are encouraged and even funded as long as they don’t advocate terrorist violence within the United Kingdom, i.e., they aren’t al-Qaida types. The Muslim Brotherhood was (and is) considered a very useful force for peace and moderation by British policymakers.

This is the tragic mistake being transferred onto the wider stage: turning the chicken coop over to the foxes just because they aren’t rabid foxes.

The article includes this claim:

“`If our policy can’t distinguish between al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, we won’t be able to adapt to this change,'” the senior administration official said. “`We’re also not going to allow ourselves to be driven by fear.”‘

I can distinguish between al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. They are very different but they are both very bad, too. The apparent alternative to being “driven by fear” is to be directed by ignorance and stupidity.

No doubt many who read this will think I’m being alarmist and presenting an exaggerated picture. I certainly hope so. But I don’t think so. My worry is that in a couple of years you won’t think so either.

Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His books include Islamic Fundamentalists in Egyptian Politics and The Muslim Brotherhood (Palgrave-Macmillan); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, a study of Arab reform movements (Wiley). GLORIA Center site: http://www.gloria-center.org His blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.

March 5, 2011 | 15 Comments »

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  1. My mom said the prevalent view in Montreal, watching Hitler’s rise to power, was that he was a just a paper tiger. Fascism was dismissed as an overreaction to post WWI conditions in Germany, not posing any danger. I remember at five, spending early Saturday mornings before my parents were up, practicing reading by reading the morning newspapers – and through those reports learning for the first time of the Holocaust.

    It was in the news this morning that Britain had sent in a top task force to “help” the Lybian insurgents – but were captured. Oil is powerful motivator for making fast political alliances with “paper” tigers.

    What will tomorrow’s five year olds read?

  2. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter what Obama does or doesn’t do at this point. Our electing such a weak President has already started the ball rolling, just as it did with the election of Carter. There just isn’t much that can be done now.

    Jimmy Carter – President from 1977 to 1981

    – Ayatollah Khomeini (Iran) gains control in 1979 through the Islamic Revolution
    – Saddamn Hussein (Iraq) murders his way to power in 1979
    – Hosni Mubarak (Egypt) gained control in 1981 after the assassination of President Anwar El Sadat by The Egyptian Islamic Jihad (formed in 1980)
    – Assassination of President Mohammad Daoud Khan during the “Saur Revolution” (Afghanistan) by Communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan in 1978 and the subsequent Soviet Invasion of 1979
    – Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq comes out of a coup d’etat (Pakistan) in 1977, suspending the Constitution
    – Gaddafi (Libya) creates The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in 1977 before starting the Libyan-Egyptian War
    – Brotherhood attacks eventually lead to the Hama Massacre – (Syria) 1979 to Feb 1982
    – The failed Coup by the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain in 1981; inspired by the ’79 Revolution of Iran

    So now we are stuck. If we intervene and it appears Islam is being suppressed, it ultimately means violence. If Islam continues to spread its control, it means violence. Its a damned if we do, damned if we don’t situation. We pretty much have to allow it to follow its course, hope Russia or China don’t interfere forcing our hand (like the Afghan mess) and just deal with the inevitable consequences down the road.

    Of course,
    “At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon (the three being in modern day Jordan) will be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushites (modern day Sudan, plus parts of Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea) in submission (Islam? It does mean “Submission to Allah”). But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.” Daniel 11:40-45

    And well, if thats what is going on, there is another reason Obama cant really do much to stop it (as he is anything but the Messiah)

  3. it looks like people around have severe mental problem, retardation at its last stage. How long people will debate, talk and discuss obama’s acts without mentioning well known obama’s agenda to promote islam and to shut down any voices of truth. Look at the very recent case of murdering two US servicemen at the Frankfurt AP. Up till now his administration didnot call this islamic thug as terrorist. Guess why?
    …………..You got it.

  4. Three Blind Mice (David G)
    From David G:

    John Brennan from Reuters:

    “There is certainly the elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern to us what they’re doing. And what we need to do is to find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements,” Brennan said.

    James Clapper at ABC News:

    “The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood,’” Clapper said, “is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam… They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera. … In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.”

    President Obama from NYT:

    “All the forces that we see building in Egypt are the forces that should be naturally aligned with us. Should be aligned with Israel,” Mr. Obama said, adding, “I told them we have to be sober, we can’t be naive about the changes that are taking place in the Middle East. Our commitment to Israel’s security is inviolable, is sacrosanct. But we should not be afraid,” of what is happening in the region.

    How clueless is this in the administration?

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton argued Wednesday for a continuation of military aid to Lebanon despite the recent government takeover by the Shiite Islamist group Hezbollah and its allies.

    In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mrs. Clinton said that after new Lebanese Prime Minister Nijab Mikati has formed a government, “we will review its composition, its policies, and its behavior to determine the extent of Hezbollah’s political influence over it.”

    “I believe still at this point that we should continue supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces,” she said, arguing that strong “military-to-military ties” with the LAF could pay dividends in the way similar bonds with Egypt did.

    Wish I hadn’t asked.

    h/t JoshuaPundit, Israel Matzav, Barry Rubin, David Kaufma

  5. Matthew 24 an Luke 21 just to name a few..read it !

    I like this better!

    “Kill them, O Lord, for you are compassionate” (paraphrasing) Psalm 137

    Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock

    Remember, O LORD, against the children of Edom

  6. .Matthew 24 an Luke 21 just to name a few…

    …charlatans.

    It was so obvious that this was coming. After all, christians must shove their pagan fairy tales in us Jews’ faces. More gospel nonsense.

  7. For those who are against Israel and the JEWISH people, G-d’s chosen, need to read the scriptures..you are cursed . Genesis 12:3 . They have given the world so much blessing and all they get is hatred. Read the scriptures and see what G-d has to say to you. It is better to believe G-d than man. the more you follow the evil wicked men who lie like dogs, all are fulfillment of Prophecy and has NEVER been wrong. Islam is not just out to rule the Middle East, but the world. Like they say..we smile at their faces and curse them in our hearts..go read some of their webs. For anyone to not see Obama is doing just what he is ,,HE is a Muslim and like the top rulers of Islam and their Iman’s..say their is NO such thing as moderate Islam. WE love life, they love death.that is the final thot of any of them. They infilerate our country acting nice and lie. They say they can lie for allah. I am sick of hearing how Obama doesn’t understand. Oh yes he does. Born a Muslim, he is a Muslim..Period. G-d tells us about the Islam spread around the world and said HE would send jihad to sons of disobedience..hello ! And tells us of those who steal, kill and destroy..Cut off forever. One thing for sure..HIS scripture is truth. and said: for those who refuse the truth, HE would send a lie. and many would believe it..When standing before HIM when HE comes..HE hears all the so called good guys say..L-rd, I did this and that..and HE says…Depart from Me , I never knew you ! According to scripture we see G-d destroy wickedness an causes them to error but leaves the promise in Psalms how HE will destroy men with the earth..This doesn’t have to be but men choose to believe men rather than G-d. One thing for sure is: When HE stands on the Mt of Olive , that those who believe in the Gentile world that they were adopted in, not replace Israel and never will, and Israel will stand forever ! And HE will bring up the dead, give them a new heart and take away all sin and for HIS NAME SAKE, they (Jews) will reign forever and ever . He is coming soon, and is shaking up the earth to get our attention..Matthew 24 an Luke 21 just to name a few..read it !!Never been wrong..HIS WORD IS TRUTH, HE IS THE WORD…

  8. Hey Ted,
    Who are these 2,Ackerman&Boersa.Are they perchance penguins with hats?Could they be hitmen (hit penguins?) for the universally loved & admired Sat Mar?If so which brother is paying them?

  9. In a sense it is about time for another global conflagration. This time it will be an Islamist World Order attempting to violently impose it’s will on a secular, fragmented, morally confused, culturally bankrupt, and demoralized West.
    The last time this happened was WWII and the West, after years of defeat, managed to find the will and the means to put an end to Nazism and Japanese militarism.
    The West still has the power to stop the next Islamic Jihad, it just has to find the will.

  10. In reality few if anyone in this region could give a flying petunia less about Mr. Soetoro’s open and hidden plans/agendas. It is likely that the moslem head of state may exert some pressure on Israeli leaders, but for the most even our rather mediocre leadership will manage to side step that.
    Ignorants abound in every corner of the world so it is not surprising that some find a way into this blog.
    For their information. Israel has found huge OIL and NATURAL GAS reserves to be on line in two years or less plus we post a formidable economy w/o any significant debt load.
    Employemnt is here at an all time high. Note that we speak of employment going up to record levels not unemployment going down to still extremely high levels.
    While we wish the people of the US the best as always, we consider, much as others do around the world, the Soetoro’s folk and those aligned with him a stain on the US history.

  11. That sounds about right Sid. The only thing I’d add is that economic destitution tends to lead to war. It exacerbates all the festering social, political, tribal, national and religious hatreds that are kept under the rug when folks have full bellies.

    The destitute Muslim masses will surely end up with more destitution. The European masses may wake up and chase the Muslims out….or, Muslims will emigrate to Europe in even larger numbers to escape starvation. Buckle up indeed!!!

  12. I keep complaining to the political guys to check out the financial side of these issues.Most of the political writers seem to brush off Global Economic issues as though they were sideline,not very important,influences on political events.I would like to tell some of these pundits that financial/economic facts are not sideline,they are the main deal!One huge financial fact dominates current events…….the Global Economy is going off of a cliff to be shattered on the rocks below.If you can’t believe the political shills at
    MSM stations,why should you believe their financial counterparts.Why should anyone believe the mainstream hacks who tell us that the economic recovery is right around the corner.
    Now you may say what this has to do with the Mid East…it means everything.Even now before the picture becomes clear there is a huge flight of money out of the Moslem nations.This money is rushing into commodities which are going up in price.Food is a commodity & food prices are sky rocketing(2)Helicopter Ben Bernanke is doing all he can to save his masters the central banksters,& all of the other global big money that regularly meets at Davos.These oligarchs are very heavily leveraged & need cheap money to hang in.Cheap money is another name for inflation.Bernanke will keep printing till the world is
    flushed with inflated dollars.Dollars are the reserve currency of the world & these Moslem nations have to pay for imported food with inflated dollars.The Moslem world has hundreds of millions of poor people who cannot pay higher prices,they will starve!Besides all of this there are huge food shortages due to bad harvests around the world.Add to this the diversion of corn
    to Ethanol for autos limits the corn available for food,this will also push world food prices up.(3)The EU,which is the Arabs partner in crime,may not survive this jolt.If they lose their Arab trading partners,along with their already enfeebled financial situation they may just go down the drain.$300.00 a barrel oil will also drive them onto the ropes.(4
    With Islamic governments installed most of the money will flee,along with the educated elites who ran the country.With the Elites & their wealth gone the only people left will be the semi literate,ignorant peons.They will not have the resources or the know how to keep the nation going(Moslem Brotherhood or no Moslem Brotherhood what is certain is chaos,anarchy & mass starvation!).(5)Back to Europe,there may be massive violence as the Welfare State(EU) goes under & the native Europeans launch a Holy war of their own.The native European street will chase the Moslems back to where they came from & reclaim there countries.
    So in conclusion I believe that there will be a paradign shift in the Moslem mid-east
    which will stand the nations on their heads.Buckle up & get ready for a wild ride!

  13. Good job of fearmongering. And I’d would call President Obama the best president since President Clinton. Every Republican president in my life time (Nixon, Reagan, Bush I and his evil spawn Dubya have deserved to be impeached and inprisoned. Dubya is a war criminal who deserves to be hung.

  14. It’s in America’s interest to befriend the Muslim world. Obama is a mitzvah for AMERICANS. Why should we align itself with Israel which couldn’t make a friend in the region to save its life, has no oil, and spits in our eye at every turn? With friends like Israel – who needs enemies? Isn’t 1 9\11 enough?

  15. Can we get over our surprise already? Obama wants an Islamist Middle East. He planned for it. I believe it was the primary foreign-policy goal of his post-mid-term-election presidency. He telegraphed it in his Cairo speech two years ago. Call it Carter’s revenge. Why would he want this?

    1) Because it’s a fist in the air for his ‘serfs arise against your colonial masters’ world-view.
    2) It weakens America, which is a colonial power in his mind that needs to be taken down several notches. A new pan-Muslim power-block can counter America (and Europe) which he despises.
    3) It weakens Israel which he hates. And if you don’t believe he hates Israel…well, have more milk and cookies and run off to bed, dear.
    4) Arabs throwing off secular dictators and installing Islamic dictators is an act of self-actualization – which all good liberals love. The Arabs are becoming who they would be – should be! – without outside interference.

    So what if it launches the Muslim world into violence and further cultural backwardness? So what if it leads to war down the road with non-caliphate-loving neighbors? So what if leads to war with Israel? So much the better! So what if it leads to a world-wide depression? That’s good too. It’s about time the bloody West takes its stinking hands off the serf’s resources.

    I read in another article how Obama told a group of ‘influential Jewish donors’ that his support for Israel was “inviolable, sacrosanct” and that the forces coming to power “should be aligned with Israel”.

    People called Bill Clinton a sociopath for his extraordinary ability to lie. How then would we describe Obama?