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Why Obama can't tame the Islamists
Jerusalem Post ^ | 10/30/2011 | BARRY RUBIN

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 it’s doing in the Middle East. One liberal friend of mine has called my analysis “mind reading.” But it’s 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 I’ve 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 administration’s 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 it’s 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 can’t 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 they’ll 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. Don’t 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 Arafat’s 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 let’s 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 let’s 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 you’re taking your orders directly from the Supreme Being and in accord with the most sacred religion, you’re 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? That’s about to happen, isn’t it? Played on by Middle Eastern con men and eager to avoid confrontation, it’s 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.


TOPICS: Editorial; Israel; War on Terror
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 10/31/2011 5:21:36 AM PDT by SJackson
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To: SJackson
This POV comes as no surprise when you consider Obama thinks he can ‘do Socialism’ better than other Socialists have.
2 posted on 10/31/2011 5:26:25 AM PDT by liberalh8ter
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; Lent; GregB; ..
Middle East and terrorism, occasional political and Jewish issues Ping List. High Volume

If you’d like to be on or off, please FR mail me.

..................

3 posted on 10/31/2011 5:41:29 AM PDT by SJackson (Haven't changed the environment, just take a bath. Eat a piece of chocolate. You need one. Michelle)
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To: SJackson

He is one of them.


4 posted on 10/31/2011 5:43:39 AM PDT by sport
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To: SJackson
There are also many ways to win “elections” – by manipulation, selective repression, media control, using patronage to buy votes, etc.

Is the author writing about Middle East or American elections?

5 posted on 10/31/2011 5:53:42 AM PDT by Fresh Wind ('People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook.' Richard M. Nixon)
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To: SJackson

“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!!


6 posted on 10/31/2011 6:01:03 AM PDT by SMARTY ("The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." Edmund Burke)
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To: SJackson

Obama doesn’t want to “tame” the savages -
He is the one who has been ecouraging them.

Post #4 has the answer.


7 posted on 10/31/2011 6:15:16 AM PDT by Iron Munro ('We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts; I support them.' -- Mitt Romney)
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To: SJackson

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.


8 posted on 10/31/2011 6:15:41 AM PDT by Mister Da (The mark of a wise man is not what he knows, but what he knows he doesn't know!)
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To: sport

Bumpity, Bumpity, BUMP!


9 posted on 10/31/2011 6:18:28 AM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: SJackson

“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 it’s 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?


10 posted on 10/31/2011 6:30:33 AM PDT by RoadTest (For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.)
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To: SJackson; All
Excuse me but I honestly believe author 'mistitled' his article. I really should read...

"Why Obama can't won't tame the Islamists

11 posted on 10/31/2011 6:52:24 AM PDT by harpu ( "...it's better to be hated for who you are than loved for someone you're not!")
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To: SJackson

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.


12 posted on 10/31/2011 7:00:17 AM PDT by Tigen (I shall raise you one .)
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Support Free Republic

13 posted on 10/31/2011 10:00:15 AM PDT by DJ MacWoW (America! The wolves are here! What will you do?)
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To: SJackson

Uh, no Lion-tamer can deal with feral boars?


14 posted on 10/31/2011 1:18:32 PM PDT by Paladin2
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To: SJackson
Uh, well the Nazis managed to get Hitler chosen as Chancellor of Germany when they won a plurality of legislative seats. The Bolsheviks participated in the legislature of Russia before their coup.

I guess that Liberals don't study history very well. But somehow, college history department faculties are rife with them.

15 posted on 10/31/2011 3:03:20 PM PDT by Lysandru
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To: SJackson
Answer: He doesn't want to. The alliance between Radical Islam and the far Left is nothing new.


AL QAIDA FLAG FLIES OVER LIBYA


16 posted on 10/31/2011 4:17:53 PM PDT by Cincinna ( *** NOBAMA 2012 ***)
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To: Alamo-Girl; Amityschild; AngieGal; AnimalLover; Ann de IL; aposiopetic; aragorn; auggy; ...

End time list ping at Quix’s request.


17 posted on 11/01/2011 5:32:25 AM PDT by SJackson (Haven't changed the environment, just take a bath. Eat a piece of chocolate. You need one. Michelle)
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To: SJackson
Thanks for the ping,a good read.

BTW you don't happen to know what's become of bro' Quix do you? Haven't seen him post for a while.

18 posted on 11/01/2011 5:52:20 AM PDT by mitch5501 (My guitar wants to kill your momma!)
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To: SJackson

Thanks for the ping!


19 posted on 11/01/2011 9:59:37 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: SJackson

Thanks for standing in for Quix!


20 posted on 11/01/2011 11:58:05 AM PDT by .30Carbine
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To: .30Carbine; Alamo-Girl

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


21 posted on 11/01/2011 5:00:08 PM PDT by SJackson (Haven't changed the environment, just take a bath. Eat a piece of chocolate. You need one. Michelle)
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To: SJackson

No problem. Thanks for this ping as well.


22 posted on 11/01/2011 9:02:36 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: SJackson

Thank you for the ping!


23 posted on 11/02/2011 12:55:15 AM PDT by GiovannaNicoletta ("....in the last days, mockers will come with their mocking... (2 Peter 3:3))
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