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16 November 2005

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J i O

Pat, you wrote: "In Egypt the masses have a different idea of what would be a "just" society. We are beginning to see it now in these election results."

Blowback is a shape-shifter. It's not limited to just home-grown weaponry used against us.

It seems our exporting of "freedom and democracy" carries cultural assumptions that don't quite fit other locales and populations.

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

nykrindc

True, but what would you suggest Col. Lang? If 9/11 demonstrated anything, it was that the status quo in the Middle East was no longer tenable.

Al Qaeda is a revolutionary power bent on overthrowing the corrupt, delegitimized dictatorships in the region. To defeat it, and make it irrelevant in the future, we have to change the status quo we previsouly defended, hence we also become a revolutionary power. In this way the region changes but al Qaeda does not have the final say as to what the region ultimately changes to.

Serving Patriot

COL,

Yes, Egypt is most definately changing...despite the famous dictum of Moses to leave it all as it was until he came back to town!

Nonetheless, the rise (again) of the MB is not just due to the inteference of US into internal Egyptian politics (we are witness Pres Bush SOTU comments and Sec Rice's tit-for-tats with FM AboulGheit). I think the rise has much more to do with (1) the growing disatisfaction ordinary Egyptians have with the current regime, (2) the "street smarts" they are exhibiting in getting Uncle Sam behind them (even if Uncle does not really want to be there), and (3) the rising age of the senior NDP/national leadership.

The succession issue is a serious one and both the incumbents and challengers seem to view this nascent electoral process as putting thier foot in the door of the next regime. Mubarek is trapped by his own admission that there will not be a "Pharonic" succession "like Syria," yet the senior leadership of NDP and his son are moving together (as strange bedfellows perhaps) to quash any other political challengers. MB has popular support (evidenced in the elections ongoing), but are having a hard time escaping thier violent history and connection to Islamist extremism in the recent past (kind of like what will happen to Moral Majority when they are directly linked to abortion clinic bombers).

It all makes for exciting politics. I hope the US will resist the urge to become more directly involved (or use its considerable assistance leverage). Like Algeria, we have to have some faith in letting the process play out, and I'd prefer to see the Egyptians work through this challenge themselves. Egypt's geo-strategic position (its biggest resource) makes it very hard for our policymakers to keep their hands off.

The Egyptian people have great respect and friendship for the American people (not our current government); if our government becomes more than neutral in Egyptian politics (as some would have it), the blowback will be very serious and long lasting.

SP

praktike

I find the MB to be pragmatic despite their ideology. I've been to couple of their demos and they seem very mainstream relative to the general population here.

Curious

Hee Hee, Mr. Pat is all worked up, getting poetic and all. :p

yeah. The dems are pathetic, they need to grow some spine. But at least they start to respond to public out cry however lethargic. Let's hope they still remember that they are elected by the people instead of by the corporation and the status quo. GOP on the otherhand is a lost cause.

nykrindc

I concur with Praktike on the pragmatism of the Brotherhood. One of the main things that we will have to accept and understand is that change will come to the whole region. Yes, the governments that come to power may be far more religious than what we would like, but as long as they are accountable to the people, they will adapt and evolve.
One of the main problems in the ME is that they have had governments which either implement a state religion and persecute anyone who does not follow it, or they implement secularism and ban all religious activity. The movement in the region will have to be to letting Muslims work out the formula between how much religion and politics should mix. There are those like bin Laden, Kameini, and Sadr who believe that religion cannot be separated from the state, and there are those like Sistani who believe that it can. The war will be fought and won from within Muslim civilization (I here include both Sunnis and Shias), we are involved but only in so far as we keep the extremists at bay and establish enough security that people are allowed to disagree with one another without fearing death. Can the process lead to civil war? Yes. But the status quo will not hold for long, and it is up to us to decide whether we want to affect the direction in which change will proceed.

Curious

PS.

sorry I posted in the wrong thread. that post above is for "Watch it now on GOP.com"

W. Patrick Lang

nykrindc et al

I don't claim to know everything but this argument for the "moderation" of the Muslim Brothers sounds a bit on the academic side.

All Islamist movements, including the MB have one basic goal and that is to create Sharia states. pl

W. Patrick Lang

New Yorker

"True, but what would you suggest Col. Lang?"

Your question and the general "drift" of your writing indicates to me that you believe that it is possible for us to re-design the societies of the Arab and Islamic countries.

I do not believe that to be possible. If I did I would be "with" you and those who believe this sort of engineering to be possible.

These societies are not teetering on the brink of modernity as we know it and Rice is mistaken when she thinks that Jihadism results from political oppression. pl

nykrindc

you believe that it is possible for us to re-design the societies of the Arab and Islamic countries.

No, not redesign, because that would imply that our system is better. Rather, I believe that Muslim societies can redesign themselves if only given the chance. Currently two things impede that process, one the one hand are the dictators, theocrats, etc. that prevent any type of legitimate opposition to their rule to emerge in their countries which leads to people expressing their dissatisfaction, or to protest in the only place that they can, the mosque. This leads into the second group that is impeding change (and ironically bringing it about), the Islamist. Most follow an absolutist ideology which prevents them from embracing an open society where everyone can have their say. Through the repression of their societies, the dictators strengthen the Islamists and the cycle of radicalism is reinforced. If you remove them both from the picture, allowing Muslims to decide their own future without the dictators or Islamists (i.e. terrorists) killing, maiming or striking fear into their heart, they are more likely to create societies which although more religious than anything we know in the West, can in time adapt to this globalized world and better cope with the changes that accepting globalization give you. In short, I'm an optimist.

As to Jihadism (Islamism) it is true that political repression is not the only cause. It is rather a symptom of disconnectedness from the world, from economic opportunity which drives to desperation. The disease is disconnectedness, Jihadism is but a symptom.

nykrindc

this argument for the "moderation" of the Muslim Brothers sounds a bit on the academic side.

No fair. You are using the same argument that the conservative right uses whenever we criticize the way Bush is implementing the policies or vision we believe necessary to win the current struggle against Islamic Fundamentalism. If they don't agree we on the center or left are always called Ivory tower academics. That does little to further debate and understanding.

Eric

@NYK:

Interesting but complex, and not to be trusted to the Bush group of incompetent canines who can only concentrate on one bone at a time.

I don't think a dog with real talent (think Lassie multitasking, Timmy in a well; father under a rolled over tractor) could bring off what you suggest in a short time. It would take a long time of gradual dipolomatic work to effect meaningful change--like 50 years, and being really about it.

And just forget the military option.

Eric

And are we assuming, sola fides, that globalization will "benefit" the Muslim world to the extent that it has benefitted the average American.

If this is the case I might choose to join the Muslim Brotherhood, on the evidence.

W. Patrick Lang

Eric,

You start with "La illaha illa lah..." pl

W. Patrick Lang

New Yorker

Any practical experience on the ground? pl

W. Patrick Lang

New Yorker

see previous comment. pl

Curious

Wait, MB is nasty. no doubt about it. They are violent wackos in tradition of early days of PLO.

but to say all Islamic movement with their shariah goals are inherently bad/evil, I think is misguided.

That's like saying, Amish culture are inherently bad because they reject modernity.

for eg. is Shariah inherently violent and destructive? Hey, they've been around much longer than modernity. So obviously the system has inherent flexibility and able to deal with change without being self destructive.

Modernity? as far as I know it's not all rosy, we almost blow the planet several time because of the entire enlightening/modernity idea.

So I am a bit dubious in saying that one or another is inherently less violent.

One crude sample: It's not MB who is dropping bombs, destroying city and killing civilians in Iraq (torturing even)

So, I don't know. when we are talking about strickly raw number of violent. I think we better worry about modernity instead.

Of course the dicotomy of 'it's either the old believe' or 'modernity' is downright idiotic, if you ask me. It's the type of thinking that lead us to all these mess. Rigid ideology and narrow perspective. It's the very stuff that perpetuate conflics

nykrindc

\\\\Eric: and not to be trusted to the Bush group of incompetent canines who can only concentrate on one bone at a time.////

Agreed, but unfortunately in this country we are currently suffering from a deficit of leadership, on both sides of the isle.

\\\\I don't think a dog with real talent (think Lassie multitasking, Timmy in a well; father under a rolled over tractor) could bring off what you suggest in a short time. It would take a long time of gradual dipolomatic work to effect meaningful change--like 50 years, and being really about it.////

Yes, yes. Correct. The boys are never coming home! The effort is multigenerational, we won't shrink the gap in a day, or a month or a year or even a decade, and it certainly won't go away on its own. Yes, this will be a task that will take alot of work, not only from the US but also from other Core powers (EU, Japan, China, India, Brazil, etc.)
As Tom Barnett argues, "America has created many new rules since 9/11, but the only ones that matter in the end are those recognized by other nations and taken up as their own. Globalization comes with rules but not a ruler. We may propose but never impose, because the difference between the leader and the led is not merely their competing visions of power but the power of their competing visions."

\\\are we assuming, sola fides, that globalization will "benefit" the Muslim world to the extent that it has benefitted the average American.///

No, it will benefit us all. The Middle East is at the crossroads of Eurasia, it is important strategically and economically to the World. Billions of potential consumers and innovators just waiting to be tapped. For the doubtful, see China, the Asian Tigers and Japan, India, and all the places that have totally integrated into the globalized economy. Is there work to do and problems that remain to be tackled? Yes. But as connectivity spreads, so does economic opportunity and with it the tools for a people to succeed.

nykrindc

>>>Col. Lang-Any practical experience on the ground?<<<

Col. Lang your misdirecting from the issues we are discussing. Be that as it may I will answer your question. No, I have never been in the military. I'm a student of IR and National Security, and everything related; nothing more. But what does that have to do with the issues at hand? Does it mean that just because I haven't served in the armed forces that I have no right to opine or debate on how to safeguard the future of our country and the security of the world we live in? I hope not, because again that's the same argument I hear from right wingers everytime I criticize Bush and the conduct of the war.

I admire you for your service and respect you as such. But that does not mean that I can't disagree with you from time to time.

Curious

Posted by: W. Patrick Lang | 17 November 2005 at 04:21 PM

Credo in Unum Deum.

what's the difference?

nykrindc

++++Curious-to say all Islamic movement with their shariah goals are inherently bad/evil, I think is misguided.+++++

Agreed.

+++Shariah inherently violent and destructive? Hey, they've been around much longer than modernity. So obviously the system has inherent flexibility and able to deal with change without being self destructive.+++

It has been able to adapt to change but is now stymied by a political leadership void of any legitimacy, authority or imagination to move the people forward or to provide them with a vision of a future worth creating, where their children can live in peace and coexist with others from other sects or cultures. As I stated earlier, they are caught in the proverbial rock and a hard place. On the one side are the dictators and theocrats, on the other the absolutist terrorists and jihadists.

+++modernity+++Rigid ideology and narrow perspective. It's the very stuff that perpetuate conflics+++++

Modernity is not the problem, absolutism is, yes. The US is not all good, or all bad, neither is the EU, or India, or even China. The task we have at hand is to recognize as JFK once said, "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." (1962) We have to internalize that process into our foreign relations and propose it as a rule set for global leadership, that is we need to find a way to spread the benefits of globalization to all in the planet, and find a way to ameliorate the bad things that come with it. Because as everyone's lot improves, so does the pie grow, and the more a win-win outcome is possible in the long run.

Sure it is a hard, and an almost insurmountable challenge, but all the things worth doing are.

RJJ

Doris Lessing wrote a book about people intoxicated with rhetoric. Wish I could remember the title.

Ah. Google provides:

'Documents Relating to the Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire. Canopus in Argos: Archives.' (1983)

"Language has become so grotesquely distended in Lessing's fictional realm that citizens suffer from a condition known as Undulant Rhetoric. Their eyes glaze, their breathing becomes heavy, and out of their mouths come symptoms of political intoxication . . ."

RJJ

Remember that term: Undulant Rhetoric.

RJJ

correction: for "book" in the next to the above, read "novel."

praktike

"Wait, MB is nasty. no doubt about it. They are violent wackos in tradition of early days of PLO."

"I don't claim to know everything but this argument for the "moderation" of the Muslim Brothers sounds a bit on the academic side.

All Islamist movements, including the MB have one basic goal and that is to create Sharia states. pl"

I hate to sound like an MB advocate, but I have a couple points to make here.

One, the MB isn't violent, it often coordinates with the NDP and state security services. When they have demos, for instance, they coordinate with the security people and establish certain ground rules. Their candidates are vetted by state security.

Pragmatic.

The MB does support (at least rhetorically), Hamas and its literature says things like "Our position on Palestine is to oppose America and the Jews" and stuff like that. However, the MB leaders you meet here are slick, educated, professionals, i.e. people with a lot of stuff to lose. They strike me as quite within mainstream currents in Egyptian society.

As for Sharia, why can't we just call it "social conservatism?" I understand that certain of its provisions are anathema to the liberal tradition, but at some point we have to admit that there is, in fact, very little such liberal tradition in places like Egypt.

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