Skip to comments.Why Obama can't tame the Islamists
Posted on 10/31/2011 5:21:35 AM PDT by SJackson
Western leaders fail to understand the radical nature of Islamism.
Many people find it hard to comprehend what the Obama administration thinks its doing in the Middle East. One liberal friend of mine has called my analysis mind reading. But its really very simple if you know the history of the arguments, read the speeches and documents of Obama administration officials carefully and observe their actions.
Leaving aside a number of points Ive made in previous articles (which would be good to read in conjunction with this one), I want to focus on the idea that the US government has outsmarted the Islamists.
After all, it has lured them into sharing power openly by participating in elections and a share of power, so now, it is argued, the Islamists have to play by the rules of the electoral and democratic game. They must produce policies that please and benefit the people if they want to remain in power, since if they fail to do so, they will just lose the next election.
Having accepted democratic norms, the US administrations expectation is that the Islamists will be locked into the system and have no choice but to compromise ideologically or hand over power with a show of good sportsmanship.
Western officials and experts generally and genuinely believe radical Islam cannot produce material results.
They believe the Islamists will have to water down their impractical beliefs to be effective in government. To remain in power they will gradually abandon their radical ideologies. In short, the Obama administration believes its got the Islamists where it wants them.
THERE ARE just a few problems with that view.
1. No Arab nationalist regime (even those pretending to be democratic) or monarchy in the Middle East has ever let itself be voted out of office. There are ways of persuading the masses to keep supporting a regime even if in Western eyes that government has failed. There are also many ways to win elections by manipulation, selective repression, media control, using patronage to buy votes, etc.
Together, instead of one man, one vote, one time you can get one man, one vote, one result.
For example, consider Turkey, where the regime has steadily increased its base of support among voters; or Egypt and Jordan, where the regime always wins the election.
Once in office, there is no reason to think the Islamists cant last as long as the Arab nationalists in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Iraq and Syria that is, for decades.
In addition, as a last resort elections can always be canceled, as they were in Algeria, or results can be repressed if the incumbents think theyll lose. Another example is the Islamist regime in Iran, which finally lost popularity after three decades of mismanagement but remained in power by simply quashing internal resistance, and faced no external costs due to the stolen election.
2. Dont underestimate the power of ideology and demagoguery, which can be more powerful than material pay-offs. The history of the modern Arab world is full of examples where ideology and demagoguery trumped material political achievement. Look at the history of the PLO and of Yasser Arafats leadership.
(Yes, I know Hamas won the 2006 elections and rules in Gaza, but Fatah still runs the more important West Bank to this day).
And lets not forget the use of foreign scapegoats, which will be as important for the Islamists as it was for the nationalists. Consider how the Turkish Islamist regime has made Israel and the West into an enemy in order to mobilize both nationalist and religious fervor at home. This can also lead to foreign adventures wars and terrorism that are popular at home, even if they are lost.
3. The elected regimes can use the educational system, religious institutions and media to indoctrinate the public and ensure continued support. They can use jobs and the economy to control patronage and votes; create or control trade unions and professional associations.
By controlling the religious institutions, Islamists can get rid of traditionalist Islam and entrench their own interpretations.
And lets not forget the greatest prize of all: control over the military, a plan that might include creating separate elite units (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran, Revolutionary Guards in Iraq, Republican Guards in Syria, etc.)
4. The intrinsically radical nature of the Islamists themselves: if youre taking your orders directly from the Supreme Being and in accord with the most sacred religion, youre unlikely to change your views. Western materialist cynicism goes too far in thinking Islamists will sell out for luxury and power. Besides, they can enjoy luxury and power (see Iran) without having to throw away their principles.
Moreover, we are not dealing with Communism in the era of Leonid Brezhnev here. The Islamists are a relatively young movement, unbowed by failure and not jaded by long possession of power. They genuinely believe the future belongs to them. Maybe they will become tired and lose their confidence in 30 or 40 years, but not now.
5. Knowing that they confront such idiots in the West, the Islamists can use the credulity of their enemies to play moderate when necessary and get lots of benefits and concessions. How about the idea of massive US aid to Islamist regimes? Thats about to happen, isnt it? Played on by Middle Eastern con men and eager to avoid confrontation, its easy to understand how those with no real understanding of the region make the mistake of believing they can tame radical Islam.
Yet they will surely fail in this endeavor. Those who are wise will avoid paying the price for this foolishness.
If youd like to be on or off, please FR mail me.
He is one of them.
Is the author writing about Middle East or American elections?
“There are also many ways to win elections by manipulation, selective repression, media control, using patronage to buy votes, etc. “
Just like here in America!!
Obama doesn’t want to “tame” the savages -
He is the one who has been ecouraging them.
Post #4 has the answer.
Democracy is totally dependent on the morality of the people & their leadership.
The Middle East is devoid of morality, except perhaps, Israel. Immoral democracy will only add to the chaos.
Bumpity, Bumpity, BUMP!
“Western officials and experts generally and genuinely believe radical Islam cannot produce material results.
They believe the Islamists will have to water down their impractical beliefs to be effective in government. To remain in power they will gradually abandon their radical ideologies. In short, the Obama administration believes its got the Islamists where it wants them.”
Just like Hitler became milder and less ideological as he gained more and more power, finally becoming a benevolent old father who just loved everybody.
This administration’s pretty smart, aren’t they?
can't won't tame the Islamists
What did the bartender say when an illegal black islamo fascist walked into the bar?
What kind of beer do you want today Mr President.
Uh, no Lion-tamer can deal with feral boars?
I guess that Liberals don't study history very well. But somehow, college history department faculties are rife with them.
End time list ping at Quix’s request.
BTW you don't happen to know what's become of bro' Quix do you? Haven't seen him post for a while.
Thanks for the ping!
Thanks for standing in for Quix!
Not really standing in, just pinging his requests. As best as I can. Alamo-Girl, this is the thread Quix asked to have pinged, not the one you thanked me on. My mistake
No problem. Thanks for this ping as well.
Thank you for the ping!