Here comes deja vu, the default mindset of the naive West, all over again. Learn nothing, remember nothing.
The “people power” that has the Middle East in panic and Egypt in chaos is no less thrilling to millions in the West — who, like Pavlov’s dogs, cheer the eminent toppling of any foreign dictator, despot or routine bad guy without thinking about the consequences.
The Shah was bad, “anyone would be better.” So Iran, with American and British connivance, sent him packing, and soon got government by ayatollahs, who seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and eventually bequeathed us Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who aspires to be the world’s first certifiable madman with nuclear missiles. Some trade.
President Obama for once is trying to do the right thing in his dealing with the Muslims, keeping cool, his options open, his mouth shut and letting Hosni Mubarak twist slowly, slowly in a cold wind. The mobs in Cairo and the noisy collective of pundits elsewhere are eager to ride off in several directions to enlist in the revolution. This leaves Mr. Obama in a true dilemma, having to choose between two equally unhappy alternatives, either taking sides with the protesters (ah, the romance of revolution) or sticking with an old ally who should have got the hook years ago. Nobody likes Hosni Mubarak, with good reasons. Even Jimmy Carter, who you might think would keep his silence in the shadows since it was his ghastly presidency that made much of the current chaos in the Middle East probable, thinks regime change might be a good idea. But he likes Omar Suleiman, Mr. Mubarak’s newly appointed vice president. “He’s an intelligent man whom I like very much,” Mr. Jimmy told his Sunday school class in Plains, Ga.
Nevertheless, the grim outlines of lethal reality are emerging in Cairo. Just as in Iran three decades ago, “the people” seem ready to trade a despot for a merciless theological tyranny.
Everyone wants “an orderly transition to democratic rule” in Egypt, in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s artful phrasing, but a transition to what? The Muslims have no tradition of democracy, as our “nation-building” experience in Iraq is teaching us. But opportunists abound.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the one-time director of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, who used his office to shield the Iranian quest for nuclear weapons from nosy outsiders, has teamed up with the Muslim Brotherhood, which dreams of a worldwide Islamic caliphate, to impose “order” in Egypt. We can expect the girly men in the West to open a propaganda campaign to present the Muslim Brotherhood as reformed, peaceful and mellow, eager to get along with its neighbors once in power. The Brotherhood, which the New York Times will no doubt tell us is just like the Knights of Columbus or the Men’s Tuesday Night Brotherhood Chili Supper at the Methodist church, was founded 80 years ago to implement Shariah law across the globe, by any means necessary. The Brotherhood’s goals haven’t changed.
A mission statement, included in a memorandum outlining the “general strategic goal for North America,” says the Muslim Brotherhood “must understand that their work in North America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and [Allah’s] religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
Such plain speech is difficult for the elites in the West to understand. The elites do not understand the power of belief, such as it is among the Islamic radicals, because the elites rarely believe in anything but themselves. But the Muslim Brotherhood is ready and willing to make evil mischief with the likes of Mohamed ElBaradei. As the U.N.’s chief inspector, he consistently ignored the accumulating evidence that Iran’s nuclear-weapons program was what it obviously was, and peddled the story that the nuclear research in Iran is merely for nuclear energy for civilian purposes. He and the Muslim Brotherhood make a good fit.
The new regime in Cairo, if there is to be one, is not likely to nurture peace with Israel, but it would have lots with which to nurture radical ambitions. Egypt’s military is now equipped with 300 F-16 fighters, powerful M1A1 battle tanks, the largest navy in the region, an army twice the size of Israel’s and an inventory of ballistic missiles and chemical weapons purchased from North Korea and China.
Difficult it may be for him, but Mr. Obama has so far resisted the temptation to deal with the nightmare in Cairo with another speech. We can hope that he is learning that there’s no bow deep enough to appease evil men determined to let loose the dogs of war.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.
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