The Obama administration’s handling of Egypt reveals a level of incompetence that renders the U.S. – and the entire world – a more dangerous place. In the early days of the protests in Egypt, the terrorist group Muslim Brotherhood stayed on the sidelines. This was out of fear that Mubarak would come for them, and well he should have considering the Brotherhood has tried to assassinate him in the past. The moment Obama turned on Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood officially joined the protests and began organizing the opposition.
Meanwhile, Leftist groups in the U.S., which are allied with Obama, were already angling to help the Muslim Brotherhood in its quest for at least a share of the power in Egypt. In the days before Mubarak stepped down, the White House and other administration officials gave confused and conflicting accounts about Mubarak’s intentions and the timing of events. Indications were that the Obama administration was taking its cues from the news media – our intelligence community was forced to admit that it had relied upon cable television for the “analysis” the CIA chief offered in Congressional hearings – and did not have an open diplomatic channel to the Egyptian leadership. Deep chagrin aside, it’s alarming that Mubarak – a longtime U.S. ally – was not listening to, or talking with Washington, but the Muslim Brotherhood was.
Now the power vacuum in Egypt creates a deeper, more complex problem for the West; how do we handle the resurgence of radical Islam with Egypt in play? If the “democratic” movement slides into chaos, gives birth to factions, and leads finally to extremist Islamist government – the Sunni version of the Iran-ruling mullahs – then the Israeli-Palestinian problem will soon seem trivial in the shadow of the new threats Israel and the U.S. would likely face.
Mubarak’s departure represents the loss of a strategic ally and the end of a stabilizing force in the Middle East. The U.S. now has the opportunity – and the obligation – to transform the way in which we deal with Islam. And deal we must. I propose something straightforward, totally unambiguous: treating the global culture of Islam as a nation in and of itself.
Islamists, or what I call political Islam, already behaves as a nation. The Muslim Brotherhood serves as the executive branch, while non-violent Islamist activists that campaign for “Muslim rights” are its department of state, and violent jihadists are its military.
Islamists will hate this idea because as they have spread out around the world they have strived mightily to cloak themselves in the protections of their host country even while refusing to assimilate to its customs, and in many cases, actively undermining the security of those nations. European leaders have recently become sharply aware of the consequences. British Prime Minister David Cameron called the UK’s accommodating of Muslim extremists a mistake. “The idea that we should respect different cultures within Britain to the point of allowing them – indeed encouraging them – to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream…is wrong headed” Cameron said to a European commission.
While working under-cover, I have sat in Islamist training sessions (run in some cases by Muslim leaders that many in the West might call “the moderate voices”) and been lectured on how Muslims “must blend in.” Not for the purposes of assimilation, but for the purpose of deception; “call yourself American, call yourself Canadian,” we were instructed. It is the logical way to acquire political power to advance the Islamist agenda.
The Islamists have been practicing Fourth Generation Warfare against the West for years. They have waged war as an organization rather than as a nation, thus making counter-measures extremely difficult. It is a strategy designed specifically to obscure who is an enemy and who isn’t.
We are constantly admonished by the news media – and the administration – not to “indict a whole religion based on a few fanatics” who carry out deadly terrorist attacks. But when the military of a nation-state attacks U.S. interests, isn’t that what we do? When Iraq merely posed a threat to stability by attempting a weapons-of-mass-destruction-program, coalition nations fought a war that not only devastated Iraq’s military, but also killed civilians and eliminated civilian infrastructure. Those are the unintended consequences of wars to preserve liberty and Western Civilization. Stated crassly, that is the cost to Iraqis of not overthrowing their maniacal tyrant, Saddam Hussein, who was not only terrorizing their country, but also threatening other nations.
Wars waged by Islamic organizations, such as al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah are in essence the same as wars waged by nation-states. Non-violent members of the organization may pay a price for the crimes of other members of the organization who use them as human shields. As harsh as that seems, perhaps we in the U.S. have made life too easy for Muslims who allow themselves to be used in that way. Do those who simply ignore violent jihadists and say, “well, I am not one of them,” while never divorcing themselves from the violent community as a whole, not earn some culpability?
Allowing the global Islamic community to remain intact hampers our ability to distinguish between those with a violent or anti-West agenda from those who respect freedom and religious liberty. How can we tolerate it?