web analytics
July 28, 2014 / 1 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Better Dictators than Elected Islamists

Ideologues are dictators on steroids who don't moderate upon reaching power but dig themselves in.
many nassers

Who is worse, President Mohamed Morsi, the elected Islamist seeking to apply Islamic law in Egypt, or President Husni Mubarak, the former dictator ousted for trying to start a dynasty? More broadly will a liberal, democratic order more likely emerge under Islamist ideologues who prevail through the ballot box or from greedy dictators with no particular agenda beyond their own survival and power?

Morsi’s recent actions provide an answer, establishing that Islamists are yet worse than dictators.

This issue came up in an interesting debate for Intelligence Squared U.S. in early October when Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress argued “Better elected Islamists than dictators,” while Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and I argued the counter-argument. Well, no one really argued “for” anyone. The other team did not endorse Islamists, we certainly did not celebrate dictators. The issue, rather, was which sort of ruler is the lesser of two evils, and can be cudgeled to democracy.

Katulis blamed dictatorships for fostering “the sorts of ideologies” that led to 9/11 and Gerecht insisted that military juntas, not Islamists, generally are “the real danger. … The only way you’re going to get a more liberal order in the Middle East is through people of faith” who vote Islamists into office. Katulis argued that elected Islamists change and morph, becoming less ideological and more practical; they evolve in response to the rough and tumble of politics to focus on “basic needs” such as security and jobs.

Jasser and I replied to this catalogue of inaccuracies (military juntas led to 9/11?) and wishful thinking (true believers will compromise on their goals? a tidal wave of Iraqi Islamists became liberals?) by stating first that ideologues are “dictators on steroids” who don’t moderate upon reaching power but dig themselves in, building foundations to remain indefinitely in office. Second, ideologues neglect the very issues that our opponents stressed – security and jobs – in favor of implementing Islamic laws.

Greedy dictators, in contrast, short on ideology and vision, do not have a vision of society and so can be convinced to move toward economic development, personal freedoms, an open political process, and rule of law (for example, South Korea).In Iraq, Gerecht professed to find that “a tidal wave of people who were once hard core Islamists who … have become pretty profound democrats, if not liberals.” As for Egypt, he noted approvingly but inaccurately that “The Muslim Brotherhood is having serious internal debates because they haven’t figured out how to handle [their success]. That’s what we want. We want them to fight it out.”

Lo and behold, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have followed exactly our script. Since taking power in August, Morsi (1) sidelined the military, then focused on entrenching and expanding their supremacy, most notably by issuing a series of orders on Nov. 22 that arrogated autocratic powers to him and spreading Zionist conspiracy theories about his opponents. He then (2) rammed through an Islamist-oriented constitution on Nov. 30 and called a snap referendum on it Dec. 15. Consumed with these two tasks, he virtually ignored the myriad issues afflicting Egypt, especially the looming economic crisis and the lack of funds to pay for imported food.

Morsi’s power grab stimulated anti-Islamist Egyptians to join forces as the “National Salvation Front” and confront Islamists in the most violent street clashes in six decades, forcing him partially to retreat from his Nov.22 orders. Ironically, after deftly sidelining the military in August, Morsi’s overreach created circumstances that returned ultimate authority to the generals, who can intervene for or against him. By choosing Islamist sympathizers as top officers and offering the military enhanced privileges in the proposed constitution, he has in all likelihood won their supportMartial law appears likely next.

In just three months, Morsi has shown that he aspires to dictatorial powers greater than Mubarak’s and that his rule portends to be an even greater calamity for Egypt than was Mubarak’s. He has neatly vindicated Jasser’s and my point: better dictators than elected Islamists. As I noted in the debate, Westerners should slam the door hard on ideological dictators like Islamists while pressuring greedy dictators to allow civil society. That offers the only exit from the false choice of two forms of tyranny.

About the Author: Daniel Pipes is a world-renowned Middle East and Islam expert. He is President of the Middle East Forum. His articles appear in many newspapers. He received his A.B. (1971) and Ph.D. (1978) from Harvard University and has taught at Harvard, Pepperdine, the U.S. Naval War College, and the University of Chicago. He is a board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace and other institutions. His website is DanielPipes.org.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

3 Responses to “Better Dictators than Elected Islamists”

  1. best is the islamist.

  2. no good dictator when not islamist.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
The United Nations Security Council
UN Security Council Demands Gaza Cease Fire
Latest Indepth Stories
kerry clown

Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring .

journalism

With no shortage of leftist media that seek to distort the news, what should our Torah response be?

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett

Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.

More Articles from Daniel Pipes
The British Library

Daniel Pipes’s websites cannot be accessed through the British Library’s system. Why? Intolerance.

Daniel Pipes,
Apr. 22, 2013

Special Ops used to be about capturing or killing enemies; now it’s about shaping public opinion.

I do not want Barack Obama to pardon Pollard.

As U.S. credibility and stature diminish, the president and his secretaries of state and defense engage in eloquent denial.

BBC: Gaza militants launch missiles at Tel Aviv in 1st rocket attack on Israeli capital since 1991 Gulf War.

In general, the regions these days hosts unchanging, repetitious and dreary news.

Oman will grant Iran a strategic location on a mountain overlooking the whole gulf region.

White racists invented the idea that accomplished black Americans are not Africans but “Moors.”

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/better-dictators-than-elected-islamists/2012/12/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: