Democratic and Republican Blindness on Islamist Politics
The White House led by American President Barack Obama has given political cover to Islamists in the Middle East. Sadly, it's not clear that the Republicans offer an alternative.
Obama has encouraged those reactionary elements by suggesting that Islamists who try to achieve sharia states through the political system rather than through suicide bombs are legitimate and worthy diplomatic partners. The Arab Spring has been spun as a positive development in Middle Eastern democracy, rather than a catastrophe for democracy and human rights. Islamists are scrambling to sieze power through corrupt elections (and plan to hold on to power by even more corrupt elections).
.For the record, these sharia-inspired politicians include the Islamists in Egypt who are aiming to implement the "serial rape for 14-year old girls" law or the "screw your dead wife" law, or the thugs now in charge of Libya who have no compunction about using Gaddafi's methods of torture, rape and executions. The masks have come off and the Islamists are well on their way to sending the Middle East back to the stone age in terms of respect for women and ethnic and religious minorities -- not to mention the tiny secular demographic.
An editorial in the Washington Post pulls no punches on Obama's approach:
Last year, the White House began peddling the line that the uprisings in the Middle East were a repudiation of the al Qaeda model of seeking change through terrorism. The argument was that while America opposed violent extremism, the rise of nonviolent radical movements was just fine, and even commendable. Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri quickly dismissed this claim, saying that from the terrorists’ point of view, it didn’t matter whether an Islamist victory came through violence or not. The means were unimportant except as they related to the end state: the imposition of hard-line Shariah-based laws and policies.
From Zawahri’s point of view, it makes no difference whether the caliphate is born of the ballot, bomb or bullet. The important thing is the victory of Islamism, which the White House also seems to endorse.
Would a Republican in the White House offer an alternative to this "intellectual failing"? That's doubtful. It was the George Bush Jr. administration which did not object to Afghanistan's new constitution that says that no law may contradict the beliefs and provisions of Islam -- sharia by default. Afghanistan has been utterly dependent on the USA for aid and military backing to avoid a situation in which President Karzai finds himself backed up against a wall in front of a Taliban firing squad. The Bush administration barely questioned this poisonous constitutional defect or the grotesque de facto implementation of elements of sharia even in the absence of Taliban control.
The same kind of thing happened in Iraq, another country where George W.'s people did little to discourage yet another sharia state from emerging from the ashes of Saddam's regime. Today, the Iraqi parliament faces political gridlock along sectarian lines and faces the prospect of domination by theocratic Iran.
This is not to say that American diplomatic advisors could have forced sharia-free constitutions and secular politics upon their ungrateful client states. But it does not seem that any American administration -- Obama, Bush Jr. or any of their predecessors -- have ever tried.
This deplorable habit of trying to work with varying groups of theocratic fascists has only continued under Obama. The new President didn't create these conditions. That said, perhaps this could finally become an issue worthy of discussion in the forthcoming general election.
It may be unfair that Bush Jr. didn't have to face this issue in front of voters in 2008, but that's only because Democrats failed to hold his feet to the fire. Republicans are under no obligation to hold back this time around. It would be nice for the American voting public to be offered a genuine choice in these matters.
Jonathon Narvey is the Editor of The Propagandist