In 1979 Afghanistan was in the middle of a civil war when it was invaded by the Soviet Union. The Russians found a most formidable adversary in the Mujahideen. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan referred to the Mujahideen as “freedom fighters” and both Presidents covertly supplied the Mujahideen with arms and aid in effort to help them defeat the Red Menace. The Russians were unable to conquer the Afghans and finally withdrew in 1989. Most of us applauded the defeat of the Russians. During the war, the best of the Afghan fighters- the Taliban- gained control of the country and instituted strict Islam in the wake of the war. One of the Mujahideen-Taliban was named Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden got around to thanking the US for its efforts in liberating Afghanistan in September of 2001.
A great many people in this country seemed pleased to see Hosni Mubarak step down from power recently in Egypt. Barack Obama said “Egypt Will Never Be the Same.”
Pew conducted a poll in the Middle East in 2010 and came away with some intriguing findings. Although 59% of Egyptians claimed to prefer democracy, 22% said a non-democratic form of government could be preferable with 16% not really caring either way. Nearly all polled said Islam played a role in government with about half saying that Islam played a large role. Islam’s role in politics was seen as positive by an 85%-2% margin among Muslims and by similar margins in Indonesia, Nigeria, Jordan and Pakistan. The role of Islam in politics in Turkey is growing.
The preferred method of punishment for crimes is telling:
About eight-in-ten Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan (82% each) endorse the stoning of people who commit adultery; 70% of Muslims in Jordan and 56% of Nigerian Muslims share this view. Muslims in Pakistan and Egypt are also the most supportive of whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery; 82% in Pakistan and 77% in Egypt favor making this type of punishment the law in their countries, as do 65% of Muslims in Nigeria and 58% in Jordan.
Following the “democratic” revolution in Egypt, a vote shows a disturbing trend. From Matt Bradley in the WSJ:
Egyptians’ embrace of a set of proposed constitutional amendments in this weekend’s referendum is the clearest sign yet that leadership of the country’s revolution may be passing from youthful activists to Islamist religious leaders, according to analysts.
…The results from Saturday’s referendum signal a shift in Egypt’s continuing revolution: The protest leaders, once celebrated as heroes and martyrs, are no longer the leading voice in Egypt’s transition to democracy.
In their place are popular religious leaders, whose strong backing of the amendments held sway. These leaders see approval of the amendments as an avenue to political power and a means of preserving the country’s Islamic identity. With their influence in what appeared to be Egypt’s first free and fair election, these political playmakers show how they are positioned to help define Egypt’s democratic future.
Iran experienced a revolution in 1979. A ruler was thrown out and replaced with a repressive Islamic rule. There does seem to be a pattern to all these events.
A Yemeni recently described the protesters in his country:
Some protesters dream of an Islamic caliphate, while the socialists believe they can achieve social justice. Others hope this revolution is the beginning of an Arab unity.
The question is- will we see a new Egypt or the next Afghanistan? Among those who see a struggle between Islamic fundamentalists and modernizers, 59% percent favor the fundamentalists. I am concerned that democracy will survive only long enough for the installation of Islamic fundamentalism and then it’s lights out. And the precedents are in favor of that outcome.
At RCP, David Warren writes:
As the days pass, and the intervention in Libya grows longer, my alarm also grows. The West digs itself into a position that is contrary to western interests, and can only advance the interests of our worst enemies in the Middle East. If I were to characterize the effect of the intervention – the actual as opposed to the stated effect – it would be, “Making the world safe for Islamism.”
Now we are trying to bomb Muammar Gaddafi out of Libya and replace him with- what? Warren opines:
But it is Gadhafi’s enemies that disturb me more. As Niall Ferguson points out, when the allied intervention was announced, it was proclaimed from the minarets of Benghazi. And the cry throughout the city was not “God bless America,” but rather, “Allahu Akhbar!”
The devil you know might be better than the devil you don’t know.