Remember last year’s giddy bipartisan enthusiasm over the “Arab Spring”? President Obama claimed that Egyptians merely wanted “a government that is fair and just and responsive,” Senator John McCain asserted that Libyans were aiming for “lasting peace, dignity, and justice,” while Senator Joseph Lieberman wrote in Foreign Affairs that the Arab Spring was a struggle for “democracy, dignity, economic opportunity, and involvement in the modern world.” Every day that passes shows these assessments to be not just delusional, but dangerous to America’s interests and security.
The most recent repudiation of the “democracy delusion” is the arrogant threat made by a member of the Muslim Brothers, who control almost 50% of the new Egyptian parliament, to abrogate their treaty with Israel if the U.S. cuts off $1.5 billion in annual aid over the indictment of 16 American NGO workers, and the detention of 6 of them. In this the Brothers are in accord with the interim military government, whose prime minister Kamal el- Ganzouri told reporters last week that the Egyptians “won’t change course because of some aid.”
These are the same Muslim Brothers, remember, anointed as “moderates” and “largely secular” by Obama’s director of intelligence, foreign policy wonks, andNew York Times columnists, an opinion based solely on propaganda and wishful thinking. Ignored are the many mosque sermons that vow to “kill all the Jews,” or that assert, as Muslim Brothers spiritual leader Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb has, “In order to build Egypt, we must be one. Politics is insufficient. Faith in Allah is the basis for everything.” This advice is seconded by Brothers’ Supreme Guide Muhammad al-Badi’, who finds “a practical role model in Allah’s Messenger, [the Prophet Muhammad] . . . who clarified how to implement the values of the [Koran] and the Sunna at every time and in every place,” and who advises that the “improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.” If you want more specifics about what sort of Egypt the Muslim Brothers will build, consult the speeches of the Brothers’ Grand Mufti Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who commands a global audience of millions. Qaradawi has approved of suicide bombing, wife-beating, death for homosexuals, support for Hezbollah, and the righteousness of the Holocaust.
Not much here, pace President Obama, that one can call “fair and just and responsive,” or that can justify the opinion of the New York Times that the Muslim Brothers “want to build a modern democracy that will respect individual freedoms, free markets and international commitments, including Egypt’s treaty with Israel.” And why would they? As their spectacular electoral success has shown––the Brothers and the Salafists won almost 75% of the recent voting–– the Brothers merely reflect the beliefs and goals of most Egyptians. In Pew surveys from the last few years, 84% of Egyptians support the death penalty for apostates, 82% support stoning adulterers, 85% said Islam’s influence on politics is positive, 95% said that it is good that Islam plays a large role in politics, 59% identified with Islamic fundamentalists, 54% favored gender segregation in the workplace, 82% favored stoning adulterers, 77% favored whippings and cutting off the hands of thieves and robbers, 84% favored death for those leaving Islam, and 60% said that laws should strictly follow the teachings of the Koran. Those views don’t sound like a people yearning for liberal democracy.
It’s not hard, then, to see why the Brothers would want to follow the Iranian playbook from 1979 and proclaim its Islamist bona fides by publicly humiliating the infidel global hegemon, the “Great Satan” whose dominance stands in the way of Muslims’ regaining their rightful global preeminence. As Muslim Brother founder Hassan al-Banna wrote, “It is the nature of Islam to dominate not to be dominated, to impose it laws on all nations, extend its power to the entire planet.” Confronting America also will help unify the nation around shari’a law, anti-Semitism, and anti-Americanism, not to mention marginalizing whatever moderate remnants are left in Egypt and rallying other factions around hatred of America. The Islamist revival has always made fidelity to the creed and Muslim chauvinism the centerpiece of jihadist violence and propaganda, the ties that can bind Muslims into a powerful community.
Less clear is the appeasing behavior of the Obama administration. It seems oblivious to the damaging effects on our prestige that can follow when we allow such threats to go unpunished, particularly when our citizens have in effect been kidnapped. And such craven behavior is especially dangerous when the aggressor has been the recipient of $60 billion in U.S aid. Now the message is not only you can attack American prestige with impunity, but also get paid to do so. What is equally unclear is why Obama would pursue this tack given the utter failure of his earlier solicitous “outreach” to various regimes in the Middle East, especially Iran and Syria. Obama entered office offering to talk with the mullahs in Iran “without preconditions,” sent a letter to Khamenei calling for “co-operation in regional and bilateral relations,” and assured the regime that it “remain committed to serious, meaningful engagement.” What it got in response was contempt, insults, genocidal threats against Israel, terrorist plots in our own country, more support for the terrorists killing our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an intensified effort to acquire nuclear weapons. At some point Obama should realize that the Islamists see flattery, appeasement, foreign aid, and offers to parley as signs of weakness and fear, the expected behavior of infidels whose spiritual poverty makes them vulnerable to the spiritual strength of the faithful. And this perception of weakness is increasingly being shared not just by our enemies, but by many of our friends.
Finally, the administration’s refusal to punish the new regime in Egypt for their arrogance in kidnapping our citizens and threatening us not to stop giving them money endangers our key ally Israel. The border to the south is already more open and dangerous, even with the peace treaty supposedly still in effect. Weapons like surface-to-air missiles–– looted from Gaddafi’s arsenals in Libya by other “peace, dignity, and justice” -loving democrats––have been pouring into Gaza. Barry Rubin has drawn the obvious conclusion from such fecklessness: “If an Egyptian government is willing to risk U.S. aid and have a confrontation on this small issue, what are they going to do regarding big issues? What happens when the Egyptian government moves toward Islamism or helps Hamas fight Israel on some level? We have been told that fear of losing U.S. aid will constrain Egypt. But we are now seeing that this simply isn’t true.” Indeed, we could very soon see another war against Israel, this time fought by an Egyptian army trained and armed by the United States, its ally a Palestinian Authority force likewise trained and funded by us. Such would be the wages of this administration’s penchant for indulging delusional wishful thinking rather than facing reality.