The Mideast Multiple Choice Exam

Dr. Michael Widlanski is the author of  Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat  published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel's Ministry of Public Security, and he will be a visiting professor at University of California, Irvine.


Obama-Egypt-580Who should Western democrats support in the “new” Middle East?:

a.  Islamists elected to power who claim to be democrats (best example: the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the ayatollahs in Iran).

b.  Bloody-handed Arab nationalists who pretend to be moderate (best example: Bashar Assad in Syria).

c.  Would-be nationalist leaders who cannot be elected dog catcher and who pretend to be moderate while actually being extremist (best example: PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas who dresses nice but acts not nice).

d. Militarists who claim to be liberals but have suspended elected government (best example: the Egyptian generals who have ousted the Muslim Brotherhood).

If you are the Obama Administration, you answered this one question incorrectly—three different ways:

a. By choosing the Muslim Brotherhood (and you doubled the ante by not working hard to help foes of the ayatollahs).

b. By preferring Bashar Assad as a worthy ruler to whom you sent an ambassador against the express wishes of Congress, then dilly-dallied even as Assad slaughtered thousands, and further procrastinated as the rebel forces came to be dominated by Al-Qaeda.

c. By encouraging Palestinian intransigence and rewarding PLO chief Abbas, who has neither legal legitimacy nor any kind of popularity to represent Arabs in any area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.

Choice “d”—aiding Egypt’s generals is not a great choice, but Westerners need to distinguish between autocrats moving slowly for change and full-fledged despots who will never change. Some Mideast dictators exploit “democracy” in order to rub out democratic opponents.

Islamist leaders who gain power in Egypt, Turkey and Iran, will not give up power graciously or accept real elections where there is a real chance they will lose.

That is what Recep Erdogan has done in Turkey, muzzling the press and castrating the military. More journalists in Turkey  have been jailed than anywhere else in the world, and the army commander was jailed for treason, though the Turkish army was meant also to be the guardian of a secular republicanism  so that extreme clerics do not vanquish liberty.

Sadly, Turkey’s army was cleverly outmaneuvered by Erdogan, and Egypt’s army wanted to prevent that Turkish scenario in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood had moved strongly to impose Islamic law and veiling women.

Turkey’s Erdogan is Barack Obama’s favorite Mideast leader, and he has also frozen Israel out of NATO exercises. Obama and Hillary Clinton did nothing.

Turkey’s Islamist leader helped Hamas terrorists in Gaza, and he has tried to bully and extort Israel.  A very good sign from Egypt’s military leaders is that they did NOT let Erdogan visit Gaza, and another good sign was that they are working hard against Hamas and on Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in Sinai who just fired missiles again at Israel’s port city of Eilat this week.

So maybe the Obama team should be a bit kinder to the Egyptian generals, and let’s not forget that both Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak were Egyptian military men who, while not perfect democrats, worked hard for their people economically and also tried to preserve a fragile peace with Israel.

Just because someone calls himself a democrat or uses a parliamentary trick to gain and hold power does not mean real democracy.

We saw such “phony democracy” when Hitler came to power in 1933 Germany by manipulating the parliamentary process and then burying freedom.

No one claims the Muslim Brotherhood has reached Hitler’s level. However, the Iranians hold phony elections and are already the top terror exporters in the world, including active terror plots in North and South America, even as Iran makes no secret of its global ambitions.

Iran seeks the ultimate weapons of destruction—nuclear bombs atop long-range missiles. For years, Obama temporized on the issue, guided perhaps by Iranian-educated advisor Valerie Jarrett, who led a White House gala for Iranians the day after an Iran-aided terror attack in Bulgaria a year ago. Five Israelis were murdered in that attack, and a White House official said it was “tit for tat” for Israel allegedly attacking Iran’s atomic scientists. The quote appeared in The New York Times, but no one at its editorial board thought to chastise the unnamed senior Obama official for making light of terror and lumping Israel’s attempts to stop a nuclear Iran together with the fanatical terror of Iran and Hizballah.

The term “Islamic democrats” is an oxymoron meant for morons. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s ayatollahs will not peacefully relinquish power.

“They believe,” as Professor Bernard Lewis once quipped, “in one man, one vote, one time only.”

Abraham Lincoln showed that preserving democracy sometimes demands military power (The Civil War) and even temporarily limiting some liberties (suspending habeas corpus ). We do not need to go that far today, but Arab-Islamic terror and despotism are real dangers to world democracy. Standing piously on the sidelines is not what Abraham Lincoln would have done.

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  • objectivefactsmatter

    “No one claims the Muslim Brotherhood has reached Hitler’s level. However, the Iranians hold phony elections and are already the top terror exporters in the world, including active terror plots in North and South America, even as Iran makes no secret of its global ambitions.”

    Does anyone claim that Iran is democratic?

    • StanleyT

      Yes, plenty of people do. Just ask anyone who calls themselves “anti-Zionist” – the polite and acceptable way of being anti-Semitic.

  • tokoloshiman

    all choices are bad choices one way or the other in the middle east but the problem was exacerbated when obama gave his infamous cairo speech after he was elected to office of POTUS.
    From then on the arab world knew they were dealing with a man who thought his silky smooth words of appeasement could solve all the areas problems in a sort of kumbaya fashion where all hostilities would cease and the MB would immediately cease its role of leaders of jihad throughout the world.
    The arabs correctly evaluated as a buffoon who could not be trusted and in fact he is less popular in the mid east now than george bush was!
    By trying to friends with everyone , he is friends with no one, and top of this he
    antagonizes his allies and has revived russian antipathy as well.
    Obama is truly the worst president the USA has ever had to endure.
    His fondness of islam and his embracing of the MB and Erdogan is proof enough that his true self is an islam one with an inbuilt hatred of western values.
    His aim and claim to change America was prophetic , but not in a good way
    and he has reneged on various promises and utterances and achieved the dubious goal of populating the white house and other government institutions with his acolytes and sycophants who are equally unable to tell the truth and who equally hate Israel and who will do anything to diminish America.
    His achievement of excluding the words islamic terror from the official lexicon and the now laughable exclusion of this aspect in the trial of murderer and traitor major hassan is the most lamentable idiotic egregious event in the history of military juris prudence ever.
    What a travesty that this non american faker is in charge of the most powerful country in the world , flaunting its constitution and no one can do a thing about it.