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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘revolution’

A Layman’s Guide to Revolutionary Sunni Islamism, the World’s Greatest Threat

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Visit Barry Rubin’s Blog Rubin Reports

It sure isn’t the age of Aquarius or of Multicultural, Politically Correct love-ins. It’s the age of revolutionary Islamism, especially Sunni Islamism. And you better learn to understand what this is all about real fast.

(Shia Islamism, important mainly because of Iran and especially due to its nuclear ambitions, is number two on the threat list. But that’s not our topic today.)

There are three types of the Sunni revolutionary Islamism and they are all bad, very bad. A lot of people are going to be misinforming you about this and getting others—never themselves, of course—killed.

Sometimes people ask me why I use the phrase “revolutionary” Sunni Islamism. The reason is to remind everyone that this is a revolutionary movement like those of the past that seek to use a variety of strategies and tactics–of which violence might only be one–to seize, hold, and use state power to transform societies.

Some ask why I use the word “Islamism” and the reason is because this is a specific, conscious set of organized political movements. However theology is related to this issue the problem is political, not theological. If you saw as I did over decades how the radicals had to work hard to sell the idea that “jihad” today meant picking up guns, cutting off people’s heads, overthrowing governments, and assembling mobs of thousands screaming for death and destruction, you’d have no illusion that they had an easy time of it.

This didn’t happen because somebody just pointed to some verses in the Koran and everyone said: Oh, now I get it! We must seize control of the world and kill everyone else. They murdered or intimidated into silence Muslims who disagreed with them. Even today hundreds of millions of Muslims oppose revolutionary Islamism. And if you don’t play it smart to have those people as allies–some out of mutually cynical self-interest and some as true brothers who want to live in freedom just like you do–and help them save their lives and countries you will never achieve anything.

The three types are the al-Qaida style groups; the Salafists, and the Muslim Brotherhood. They are all equally dangerous and some are more dangerous in different ways. Have no illusions.

UNDERSTANDING AL-QAIDA, which goes under many names and regional local groups, is simple. It has one strategy: kill! Its only tactic is terrorism. It is like those nineteenth-century revolutionary movements that always failed and for which the Marxists had so much contempt.

These small groups were always persuaded that if the workers would only be roused to a general strike or that enough officials would be assassinated the revolution would come like a nuclear explosion. Now, these movements always failed but sometimes they laid the basis for others to succeed. Remember, the People’s Will helped launch the Russian revolutionary movement; an anarchist assassinated an American president; the Serbian state-sponsored terrorist cell set off World War One in 1914, and of course al-Qaida created September 11.

Al-Qaida and its various versions in Morocco, Gaza (the Palestinian Resistance Committees), Iraq, Somalia, Europe, Yemen, and a dozen other places is dangerous in that it can stage terrorist attacks. In a place where no government exists—like Somalia—it might conceivably seize power. But al-Qaida is not the great threat of the twenty-first century. It is a problem for counter-terrorism and relatively lightweight counterinsurgency.

They may be the worst guys but they are not the West’s main global strategic problem. Everybody who isn’t basically a supporter of an al-Qaida group hates al-Qaida except for the Taliban which is really the same. Why? Because al-Qaida wants to overthrow every regime (they do play a little footsy with Iran but even that’s limited). Oh, and they also loathe Shia Muslims which makes for even more enemies and fewer potential allies.

It is “stupid” to have no friends because that means everyone has a motive to get you and nobody has a reason to help you or give you safe haven. Doesn’t sound like brilliant strategy, right? But there’s more.

Al-Qaida, although the name means in Arabic “base,” ironically, has no political base. It sets up no real mass organizations; it doesn’t do social welfare work capable of rallying whole countries behind it. There is no way that hundreds of thousands or millions of people will rally to its cause. Imagine someone in 1917 saying in Moscow, “Forget about those moderate Bolsheviks. It’s the anarchists we have to fear.”

Barry Rubin

Like Allah, Islamic Revolutions Devour Their Own Children

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/like-allah-islamic-revolutions-devour.html

When Muslim terrorists broke into a Egyptian Army checkpoint, stole an armored vehicle and a truck, loaded the latter with explosives and tried to launch an attack on Israel, before being blown away by Israeli forces; there was a general agreement on who was to blame.

While Morsi was somewhat more discreet, the Muslim Brotherhood announced, “this crime may well be the work of Israel’s Mossad” as part of an international conspiracy to destabilize their revolution. On the other side of the border, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh offered a more open-ended explanation. “Israel is responsible, one way or another.”

One way or another, Israel usually ends up being responsible for everything. Meanwhile Egypt has quietly asked Hamas to turn over a few of its terrorists who might have been involved. Because, while Israel is responsible for everything in the philosophical sense of being an omnipotent force of evil, when 16 Egyptian soldiers are killed, it becomes necessary to find the people who actually did it.

Turkey’s Islamist rulers who are facing the threat of an independent Kurdish nation rising out of the ruins in Syria and Iraq also have an explanation for the situation. Turkey’s Interior Minister stated that most Kurdish PKK guerrillas are not Turkish citizens and that quite a few are actually Israelis. So in between somehow recruiting multiple Egyptian Muslims willing to die for Israel, Avi and David took a trip to Kurdistan to take potshots at Turkish soldiers.

Western journalists try not to report on such embarrassing outbursts because it makes their favorite Islamists look like loony bigots who can’t deal with a problem without finding some byzantine way to blame it on their least favorite minority group. The Islamists in Cairo and Ankara know better, but their ideology makes it impossible to fight other Muslims without first declaring them to be heretics or pawns of heresy.

Israel and America are convenient justifications for Muslims to kill other Muslims in the name of Allah. When Bin Laden wanted to overthrow the Saudis, he made war on them as the pawns of America. When the Saudis had overthrown the Hashemites, they had accused them of being the pawns of Britain. Now that the Salafis are confronting the Muslim Brotherhood, they are also accusing them of being the pawns of America and Israel.

“Revolution is like Saturn, it devours its own children,” Danton says in Georg Buchner’s Danton’s Death, a controversial play about the French Revolution. In the modern context that line might be changed to read, “Revolution is like Allah, it devours its own children.” The Muslim Brotherhood has reacted to the attack with all the expected antics of revolutionaries eager to sup at the kiddie table.

One statement urges “the Egyptian people to face up to domestic forces of sabotage and subversion, beware of their sinister calls for strife and sedition.” Another calls on their own government “to implement the law firmly against the instigators of vandalism and subversion throughout the land and against their collaborators and agents involved in causing this deliberate confusion, chaos and mayhem across Egypt under the pretext of exercising freedom.”

Predictably enough, the attack is being used by Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to crack down on domestic dissent and replace top officials in the Egyptian military. Not to mention repeating calls for dispensing with the Camp David Accords and fully remilitarizing the Sinai. But cynicism will only take the revolution so far.

The Jihadists are the children of the Islamic Revolution. The brats of the upscale millionaire Islamists running networks of companies in Egypt and Turkey funded with Saudi and Qatari cash. But the vested interests that begin revolutions are not always the ones who benefit from them. Germany sent Lenin back in a sealed car under the protection of its soldiers for the short-term goal of taking Russia out of the war. Germany succeeded in toppling a moderate Russian government and replacing it with radical Bolsheviks, and, thirty years later Soviet troops were occupying Berlin.

The Gulf States are already quarreling with the Muslim Brotherhood and accusing it of wanting to take them over. Even while both groups are working together to take over Syria, neither trusts each other. But the real threat to them is the chaos that they have unleashed. The Muslim Brotherhood revolutionaries, like their Bolshevik spiritual ancestors, are returning from exile in the West to carry off their revolutions, but the revolution doesn’t end where they say it does.

Daniel Greenfield

Rubin Reports: Does Power Moderate Radicals? Where’s the Proof?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

http://rubinreports.blogspot.co.il/

Julius Caesar: “Let me have men about me that are fat; Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights: Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.”

Marc Antony: “Fear him not, Caesar; he’s not dangerous; He is a noble Roman and well given.”

–William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Caesar, of course, was right in being suspicious and Marc Antony was wrong. Result: Caesar murdered; civil war; tens of thousands killed; Marc Antony dead. Makes you think. Or at least it should.

An interesting and important question about the Middle East (and one can treat it on a global level, too) is whether being in power or running in an election inevitably moderates those who are radicals. It is automatically accepted by many people that this is so. Yet an examination of evidence makes such behavior more rare than common.

Let’s begin by pointing out that some of the problem is the unthinking transference of things that might be true in private and personal life into the political sphere. As individuals mature and have experience, they often become more moderate. There are many cases of individual politicians “selling out” and abandoning more militant ideas to become corrupt. Neither case necessarily applies to systems, movements, or ideologies.

Even more questionable is the view that the difficulties of having to make decisions in government forces leaders to become more responsible. For example, they learn that money is not unlimited and therefore priorities must be set.  Supposedly, they say to themselves: Hey, collecting the garbage and fixing the potholes is what’s important, forget about all this silly stuff about fundamentally transforming society, imposing the Sharia, destroying Israel, or chasing America out of the Middle East!

A problem with this argument is that it leaves out the political advantages for rulers of using demagoguery, incitement, and populism. To stay in power a politician—particularly in a non-democratic country—gains advantage from militancy, real or feigned.

Another simplistic argument is that anyone who runs in elections and wins is automatically moderate because they participated in a legalistic, democratic process. This argument is quite full of holes. One should not confuse tactical caution with moderation. For example, President Hafiz al-Assad of Syria knew after 1973 that a direct confrontation with Israel was a losing proposition so instead he backed terrorist groups and used Lebanon as a launching pad for the attacks. Being radical does not necessarily mean being suicidal.

Clearly, the most famous ideological dictatorships did not become more moderate. These include the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Communist Cuba, among many others.

But wait, there is an escape clause of sorts. The USSR arguably became more moderate but only with three caveats. That process took place only after 70 years in power. Structural changes were involved but there was an equally or larger accidental factor, that is the coming to power of one or two specific individuals. And after the start of a cautious moderation policy, the regime quickly collapsed, sending a warning to others who might have similar thoughts of loosening the reins. Indeed, the collapse of the Soviet bloc was taken as a lesson by Middle Eastern dictators to hang tough lest they simply hang.

One might make a stronger case with China having moderated. But again it took a very long time indeed, roughly a half-century and of course some old features remain. Waiting for 50 years, however, is not what people are talking about when they speak of the Muslim Brotherhood taking power in Egypt and quickly becoming teddy bears.

Turning to the Middle East, power does not bring about moderation. The Ba’thist regime in Syria remains radical after a half-century in power and the same would be true of Iraq if not for the U.S.-led invasion. What about the PLO? It did sign the Oslo accords after one-third of a century of terrorism but it did not keep the agreement as a result. The movement’s basic doctrine and strategy remains the same while its tactical shifts could be reversed in future.

Of course, it seems to be a stretch to say there has been no moderation in the PLO and Fatah. Yet let’s remember the original moderation thesis here. The argument made in the 1990s was that the responsibility of power (collecting garbage; fixing roads, educating the kiddies) would so moderate the group as to lead it into a compromise peace treaty with Israel and the end of the conflict.  That certainly did not happen and the moderation thesis was a failure regarding Yasir Arafat. As for education, radical movements in power tend to train the children to be radicals, preaching the horror of compromise and the glories of aggressive war.

Barry Rubin

Google Chief Eric Schmidt, Dr. Ruth, and Nobel Laureate Prof. Daniel Kahneman Offer Recipes for ‘Better Tomorrow’

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Nobel laureate Professor Daniel Kahneman headlined the first plenary session of the Israeli Presidential Conference, presenting their prescriptions for bringing about “a better tomorrow.”

The panel also featured world record-holding Paralympic swimmer Keren Leibovitch, Yuri Milner, a leading Internet entrepreneur and venture capitalist and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the renowned sex therapist.

Several of the panelists focused on the tremendous potential offered by technology, including social media, the rapid growth of smartphones and mobile devices and the widening of Internet access in the developing world.

“The smartphone revolution will be universal,” said Schmidt, emphasizing the need to increase Internet access in the developing world. “There are only one billion people with smartphones and two billion with access to the Internet. The World Wide Web has yet to live up to its name. Technology does not produce miracles, but connectivity, even in modest amounts, changes lives.”

Dr. Ruth spoke of her personal motivations and the lessons she would impart to the next generation.

“Young people need to get out there, stop complaining and do something productive,” said the 84-year old Dr. Ruth. “I survived the Holocaust, whereas 1.5 million children didn’t. I knew I needed to commit myself to Tikkun Olam (fixing the world).”

Jewish Press Staff

Rubin Reports: Bush and Obama Together At Last – In Misunderstanding the Middle East

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/2012/05/bush-and-obama-together-at-last-in.html

In one of his first statements since leaving office, former President George W. Bush remarked on Middle East developments in an article, “The Arab Spring and American Ideals,” in the Wall Street Journal, May 18. The former president reflects certain American misconceptions about the Middle East that are starting to blow up big-time in the region.

Bush writes: “We do not get to choose if a freedom revolution should begin or end in the Middle East or elsewhere. We only get to choose what side we are on.”

While one should not overestimate U.S. influence, one should also not underestimate it. Consider:

–In the Gaza Strip, by supporting the inclusion of Hamas in elections for which it was not qualified to run (since it had not accepted the Oslo accords), Bush’s own administration ensured that there would be a radical Islamist revolution in the Gaza Strip. This weakened the already dim prospects for any Israel-Palestinian peace process, has already brought one war, and will certainly bring others.

–In Lebanon, by refusing to give strong support to the moderate forces, the last two presidents ensured that the “freedom revolution” in that country would end in an Iran-Syria-Hizballah takeover.

–In Egypt, by taking the side not only of a total overthrow of the regime and even openly and unilaterally supporting the possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood government, the Obama Administration did help ensure that the fundamental transformation of Egypt began with the inevitable end of an anti-freedom Islamist regime.

–In Iran, by ignoring the upsurge of protest following the stolen election, the Obama Administration ensured that a “freedom revolution” didn’t get started there.

–In Syria, by refusing for all practical purposes to help the rebels, the U.S. government ensured that the “freedom revolution” would be defeated. Equally bad, by giving disproportionate help to the Islamists, the administration made it far more likely that if the rebellion succeeded it wouldn’t be a “freedom revolution.”

–And finally, in Libya, the United States and its European allies determined pretty much everything, overthrowing Muammar Qadhafi and determining who would rule the country.

Thus, a simple claim by Bush, which is also about the closest he and his successor would agree on any issue, is easily and can be demonstrably proven false. One hallmark of those favoring “neoconservative” positions is their lack of knowledge about the actual Middle East.

But that’s not all. The most important point of all is this one: “We only get to choose what side we are on.” The underlying assumption here is that there are two sides: evil dictatorship and noble democracy advocates.

In fact, there are three sides:

–Dictatorships of various levels of repressiveness, some of which are friendly and some that are sworn enemies of the United States.

–Moderate democracy advocates who want freedom in the Western sense of the word.

–Revolutionary Islamists who want a new, and anti-American, dictatorship run by themselves.

During the Cold War, American policymakers were very much aware of this three-part distinction (the third being Communists, in that case). They didn’t always choose correctly but they tried to evaluate each situation seriously. Sometimes they chose the dictators; sometimes they chose the democrats; and sometimes they even helped nudge the dictators (usually military juntas and especially in Latin America) into returning to the barracks and letting democracy resume.

No such careful process goes on now. In fact, the Obama Administration has repeatedly done the opposite of what a proper policy would be.

Bush also reflects Obama in using the be-on-the-right-side-of-history argument, a fatal flaw in a president of the United States who should be making choices based on U.S. interests.

Here is Bush’s argument annotated by me:

“The idea that Arab peoples are somehow content with oppression has been discredited forever.”

Again, the question, sadly, is not necessarily dispensing with oppression altogether but which kind of oppression we’re talking about. They are either willing, or can be forced, into getting rid of the old Arab nationalist oppression and then substituting Islamist oppression for it. Bush argues as if they are going to jump out of the frying pan with no danger of ending up in the fire.

He speaks critically about policymakers who “argue [that America] should be content with supporting the flawed leaders they know in the name of stability.”

Barry Rubin

Egyptian women to March Thursday Demanding Political Representation

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Al Ahram reports that a women’s demonstration has been planned for Thursday to coincide with International Women’s Day, in downtown Cairo. Organizers are expected to provide parliamentary leaders with 100 suggested names of prominent female Egyptian figures for inclusion in a constituent assembly that will be mandated with drawing up a new constitution.

Despite the notable female role in last year’s revolution, women have hardly been represented politically. They fear that the constituent assembly, members of which will be chosen by March 24, will lack adequate female representation.

After Mubarak’s ouster, a quota for female MPs was cancelled by Egypt’s ruling military council and replaced with a law obliging competing political parties to include at least one woman per electoral party list. This led to most parties including women at the very bottom of their electoral lists, however, which badly hurt their electoral prospects.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Why Don’t Israelis Revolt?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

The Middle East is ablaze with political revolution. Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Syria – the list of countries keeps growing. All is quiet, however, on the Israeli front. The question is: Why?

For 20 years, millions of Israelis have opposed “land for peace.” In 1996 they voted for Benjamin Netanyahu assuming he would abandon the policy; in 2001, they voted for Ariel Sharon for the same reason. But to no end. In the name of “peace,” one prime minister after another has continued shoving left-wing policies down the population’s collective throat.

And yet there is no peace. Terror? Yes. Shame? Yes. But certainly no peace.

Astonishingly, though, Israel’s leaders refuse to let go of their “land for peace” chimera. Netanyahu entrances many Jews with masterful speeches before Congress and the UN, but the fact is that he – just as much as President Obama – envisions a judenrein Palestinian state in most of the West Bank in the near future. This is the bitter truth and anyone who is honest with himself knows it.

Why, then, do Israelis tolerate it? What normal nation would continue to live under a government committed to surrendering the heartland of the country to its sworn enemy? What normal nation would continue to live under a government that has let 10,000 – 10,000! – rockets rain down on its cities in the past few years? What normal nation would sit passively as its government released 1,000 terrorists in exchange for one soldier?

Sure, Israelis protest. Some of them are currently protesting social and economic inequality, and for years some of them have protested ceding land to the Arabs. But peaceful protests in Israel generally accomplish nothing. Roughly three percent of Israel’s population – 200,000 Israelis – protested the Gaza Disengagement in 2005. Three percent of America’s population amounts to nine million people. Can you imagine what a nine-million man march on Washington would achieve? In Israel, its equivalent made no impression.

Despite their political failures, many right-wing Israelis declare, “It will be good,” and go on with their business. But as Rabbi Meir Kahane used to say, “It will not be good unless we make it good.”

Some Jews, based on their reading of certain biblical prophecies, believe Israel will survive forever – no matter what. But many Jews believed the Gaza Disengagement would never, for theological reasons, come to pass. Look where that belief got them.

Besides, is mere survival sufficient? Do Israelis really want to live in a country without the Temple Mount and the West Bank, which will almost certainly belong to the Arabs in a few decades’ time if current trends continue? Do they really want to live in a country where terrorism is accepted as an inevitable part of daily life – much like sunrise and sunset? Do they really want to live in a country that takes a structure like beautiful, modest Kever Rachel and converts it into a fortress?

Many Jews argue that revolt is unthinkable. But is it? Earlier this year, leftist columnist Merav Michaeli penned an article in Haaretz titled “Why There’s No Revolution in Israel” in which she argued that leftists are “yearning for a revolution.” Right-wing Israelis typically condemn radical leftists. But instead of denouncing them, why not appropriate their tactics and radicalism for their own ends?

When in Jewish history have Jews shied away from rising up in righteous wrath when the hour called for it? The Bible records many such incidents (see Joshua 22 and Judges 20 for just two examples), and the Chanukah saga began when Matityahu, the father of Judah the Maccabee, murdered a Jewish Hellenist in cold blood.

Elliot Resnick

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-don%e2%80%99t-israelis-revolt/2011/11/02/

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