Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald discusses the moderate Muslims in general and the moderation of the Hashemite rulers of Jordan in particular:
In the aftermath of the Al-Qaeda bombings in Amman one hears, yet again, about the moderate rulers of Jordan, the Hashemites. In this case as in all others, the phrase “moderate Muslim” should not be used unless it is clearly defined. I suggest that any Muslim who misleads non-Muslims about the central tenets of Islam — whether or not he agrees with them — is objectively furthering the Jihad, by rendering non-Muslims unwary, and keeping them in a state of naive trustingness that can only cause them harm. So that even if one who is routinely thought of, and describes himself, as a “moderate Muslim,” does not subscribe fully to orthodox Islam, if he does not tell the truth about what Islam inculcates or what its canonical texts contains, to Infidels, the likely effect of his words is to further the Jihad.
And in any case, the mere presence in the Dar al-Harb even of “moderate Muslims” can swell the perceived political power of all Muslims, and especially of those who tend to be found in full-time Islam-related activities and as often “immoderate” Muslims quick to push Muslim demands for accommodation, and change in Infidel ways, on the larger society. These can reasonably be described not as “moderate” but as “immoderate” Muslims, but becuase the two kinds cannot readily be distinguished or such distinctions necessarily be relied on, the costs to Infidel taxpayers for increased monitoring of all Muslims, mosques, madrasas, meetings, rises as their number rises. This has been true throughout Western Europe, where security costs, including those of guarding all sorts of institutions that were never guarded before, keeps going up. And there is always the possibility that an ill-defined “moderate” or even “Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only” Muslim, who out of some inner prompting, perhaps filial piety, perhaps the perceived need to declare some kind of identity, perhaps the belief that calling oneself merely a “Muslim in the cultural sense” should be sufficient to indicate at the same time both unbelief (i.e., I don’t accept all that Islam teaches, I may even be a complete freethinker) and identification. But when someone who really no longer believes in Islam still cannot bring himself to declare, in the manner of Ibn Warraq or Ali Sina or Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Azam Kamguian or tens of thousands of others, that he is no longer a Muslim, and if he has children, and if those children are raised to be indifferent to Islamic belief but nonetheless are still taught to consider themselves Muslim, rather than as the non-Muslim children of an open ex-Muslim who is perfectly truthful with him in explaining what Islam is all about and why he is, therefore, an ex-Muslim, there remains available to them the temptation or need or desire to revert to Islam, not the “for-identification-purposes-only” Islam, nor in a form fruste, but rather Islam in its mainstream, orthodox, and therefore worrisome-to-Infidels form. As Infidels have no way of distinguishing those who are the true believers in Islam from those who are not, and individuals themselves may change in the fervency of their belief (Mike Hawash comes to mind, and others like him), it is hard to see what Infidels can do other than to regard anyone who insists on being considered a Muslim as a potential threat, no matter how unobservant he may be at present. Infidels who study the texts of Islam, and the history of Islamic conquest and mistreatment of the subjugated non-Muslims, may come to believe that the growth of Muslim populations in Infidel lands threatens the laws, customs, manners, understandings of the people in those lands, subjecting them to constant challenge and threat. The governments of the Western world have not helped; they have not dared to instruct their own citizens in the nature of Islam. Perhaps they have decided they do not dare to do so because Islam is called a “religion” and “religions” are never to be attacked unless that “religion” is sufficiently new, and small, and powerless to be called a “sect.” Since governments have so far been so ineffectual, it becomes the duty of others to assume the task that should rightly be assumed by the government. Many outside the government, and no doubt many in (but not those who presume to speak for all of us) realize that they are under no obligation to commit civilizational suicide, and they will work to avoid it.
There are many in Holland, in Italy, in France, in
Denmark, in England, in Sweden, in Germany, in Spain who today are just beginning to realize that they have been misled by their own elites into permitting the large-scale entry of Muslims who are bearers of an ideology that requires them to be implacably hostile to the un-Believers, to regard the lands of Dar al-Harb as Muslim by right, and to work, through the seemingly unopposed instruments of Da’wa and demography, to turn Dar al-Harb into dar al-Islam.
Among the most plausible of those charmers may be the Hashemites — whether it is the stolid current king, that American-accented graduate of Deerfield , or his late father (the “oily little king,” as Alan Clark cruelly dismissed King Hussein in his, celebrated political memoirs, the monarch conventionally described by his admirers in the West, from the Times columnist Anthony Lewis to Prince Charles, as the “plucky little king” — a phrase which evokes those Soglow cartoons in old New Yorkers), or — most soothing of all (but look online at the claims he makes for Islam when addressing Jordanian audiences) — Hasan bin Talal, he of the plummy Philippe-de-Montebello voice (should the latter get laryngitis, one can imagine the Prince could happily do those Met audiotapes in his stead).
In 2003, Prince Hasan bin Talal, though not named directly, was promoted, in a political advertisement in The Wall Street Journal pretending to be an Opinion Article, co-signed by that enthusiast, James Woolsey, and by the more reserved Bernard Lewis — who has been a guest of the Prince in Jordan — as a suitable candidate for being set on the throne of Iraq as a Hashemite (and therefore Sunni)monarch. Such a proposal offers some idea of how both Woolsey and Lewis gauged, or failed to, the depth of Shi’a and Kurdish resentment at the treatment they had received from Sunni Arabs, not only during the regime of Saddam Hussein, and throughout the history of modern Iraq, but in the case of the Shi’a, a resentment that goes back a long time, th a rift that began more than a thousand years before the United States was founded. An implausible notion, this putative Hashemite Sunni monarch, and in the course of their article Woolsey and Lewis offered other implausibilites. In their view “democracy” ws not “impossible” in Islam. This charge, which corresponded to the rhetoric by Bush about how it “all people want freedom” and the other charge coming from some in the Administation that is somehow “racist” (again, note this irrelevant word “racism” being used so often to deflect discussion of an ideology), has in fact never been made. The charge is different: that the principle of the Shari’a, that the Islamic ruler obtains his legitimacy from Allah and not from the will of the people, which is why all political discontent in Muslim lands is expressed in Muslim terms. If the Al-Saud are corrupt, then it is not their corruption that we charge them with, even if that is the cause of our discontent: we charge them with being “Infidels” who are too friendly to Western Infidels. The simple charge of mass theft of state funds will not do, is not enough. It is not his despotism, but rather his not being a true Muslim, that is the only cause to rise up against a despotic ruler. The social contract theorists, Hobbes and Rousseau and Locke, the limited powers theorist (Montesquieu), offred views that guided the Framers of the Constitution in the first great Western democracy. The next country in the West to express the democratic impulse, France, relied less on Locke’s conservative insistence on the right to “life, liberty, and property” and more on Rousseau’s General Will; still others had other emphases. But not one of the Western democracies would have said that the only languge in which one could express politicla discontent, the only grounds for opposing a despotism, was that “the Ruler” was insufficiently Christian. Democracy in the Western world was always far more, right from the Bill of Rights, than mere head-counting.
Having set up the straw man to be knocked down, Woolsey and Lewis insisted that far from being impossible in Islam (as noted, a charge never actually maintained) , had actually maintained), was part of Islam, had a long history within Islam. This Op/Ed, which for his own reputation Lewis no doubt wishes he had never agreed to co-sign, alluded to a piece by Amartya Sen that had appeared a week or two before in The New Republic, in which Sen maintained that democracy had never been a product solely of, or limited only to, the West, and that other versions and variants, of “democracy” had long existed elsewhere, and particularly, in the Islamic world. Woolsey (and Lewis) described the piece as “brilliant.” It wasn’t.
In this capacious, too-capacious, version of democracy, it is apparently not important to believe that government obtains its legitimacy from the people (and not, say, from Allah, or the Qur’an, or the Shari’a), not important that there be great attention to minorities and care as to how they are treated before the law, not important that there be great solicitiousness for individual rights, including at a minimum the right of freedom of conscience (which includes the right to free exercise of religion, the right to free speech, the right to embrace one belief, to change that original belief for another, or to embrace unbelief), which help to define and distinguish the kind of democracies one sees in the advanced Western world from those defined as mere head-counting. The notion that when Muslim rulers consulted with a few or many or none of their subjects, this natural arrangement should be promoted to being called a version or variant of “democracy,” was not far from that Aramco propaganda about the Saudi majlis, where ordinary citizens could come in and complain to the King or various princes, and these royal “office hours” somehow became transmogrified into Western-style democracy. One could see them practically holding a New England Town Meeting in a royal palace in Riyadh, but without the old-fashioned town moderator in shirtsleeves right out of some Frank Capra movie.
Lewis and Woolsey appeared to believe that the Hashemites in Iraq had overseen a relatively benign and smooth rule, with just a blip here and there. But they left out so much of that country’s blood-drenched history. In their version of Iraq, the one that would welcome a Hashemite monarch to guide this new “democracy” where Sunni lion would lie down with still-unwary Shi’a lamb, much was left out. There was no mention of the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Assyrian Christians by Muslims in 1933, a few months after the British left. They also forgot about the Farhud, of June 1-2, 1941, in which great fun was had all over Baghdad tying up hundreds of Jews and killing them, sometimes by throwing them under the wheels of passing buses and motorcars; the mass killings of Jews all over Iraq in 1948; the bloody coup of 1958, when Nuri al-Said’s body, still in the women’s clothes he had put on in his attempt to escape, but with masculine organs cut off and placed rather indecorously elsewhere on his corpse, was dragged through the Baghdad streets. And so on and so forth, including the coup against the 1958 plotter, Qassem, and then the resistible rise of Saddam, and of course, what has happened since during the American adventure in Iraq: the deposing of Saddam Hussein and, with him, of the despotic rule by the Sunnis and the inevitable seizure of power, through purple-thumbed democracy, of the Shi’a; the pocketing of as much American aid as possible, to be followed by a return, sooner or later, to Islam, and all that that ideology implies for the hopes and dreams and best-laid plans that already so obviously gang agley of those trusting, hopeful, hardworking and brave Americans. Those Americans are so ignorant of Islam, so miscomprehending of Iraq, that they persist in trying to make Iraq a quasi-decent nation-state, and at the moment expend, indeed squander, at a time when husbanding resources for a longer conflict would make more sense, men’s lives, and materiel, and money, and moral capital, and military and civilian morale, all on what has become an impossible task, and a pointless task, in Iraq.
For instead of this Light-Unto-the-Muslim-Nations Project, or Iraq the Model, we should be relieved to take the next obvious occasion to announce our departure, carefully phrased: “We have done what we can, we have removed a tyrant, we have seen Iraq through an election, and the formation of a Constitution, and a referendum on that Constitution, and now through a second election, and it is time for us to go, for Iraq needs to be able to stand on its own, to prove to its own people that there really is an Iraq, and we Americans can be proud of what we accomplished — list here of schools, hospitals, electicity grids, water-treatment plants, etec. — and wish Iraq well.” This will mean that no longer must Americans endure waiting for the Iraqis to signal when they — they! — are good and ready for American troops to return home.
The Shi’a would just as soon have the Americans stay as long as possible to fight the Sunnis for them, and not incidentally, pour in more money, and more know-how, and possibly leave some of that impressive military hardware behind for the “Iraqi” (i.e., Shi’a) army when they finally figure out what is going on, and leave without the permission of the Iraqi government.
If one consoles oneself with the dreamy idea that all that is going on is a “war on terror,” and that Islam itself, as a belief-system, is no threat to the countries of the Bilad al-kufr, the Lands of the Infidels, then of course it is more difficult to see that “victory” in Iraq — not “total” victory but some kind of gain to the Infidel side, can only come if the two countries which were the chief beneficiaries of Saddam Hussein being removed from power, Sunni (Wahhabi) Saudi Arabia, and Shi’a Iran, the two most dangerous Muslim states because of the kinds of power each possesses, are put back into the condition they would have been in “but for” the war in Iraq.
The best way to do this is to allow the natural sectarian and ethnic divisions in Iraq, which simply reflect larger divisions in Islam outside Iraq, to be fully expressed, and acted upon, and to hope that outside powers, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, will now be the ones to engage in a proxy war in Iraq. In so doing, it is they, and not the United States, that will be expending, or squandering, men, materiel, money, and morale. And while the Arabs in Iraq, Sunni and Shi’a, are occupied with one another, perhaps the Kurds will at long last manage to get that independent state they crave, and deserve, and which the Americans have discouraged them from attempting to establish. It is even possible that the Shi’a Arabs will not object, and might even welcome, a Kurdish attempt to undo the consequences of the forced arabization that took place over the past decades, and attempt to evict Arabs from Kirkuk or even Mosul.
The Americans have until now so discouraged the Kurds, because the dissolution of Iraq into the three Ottoman vilayets of which Iraq was originally constituted, by Sir Percy Cox, in the first place, is not part of Official Policy. That Policy is against Kurdish self-determination, and requires, for no good reason, that the state of Iraq remain exactly as it has been, despite the long history of despotism, persecution, discrimination, and mass-murder by the Arabs of the Kurds and Christians (no Jews are left to persecute), and of the Shi’a Arabs by the Sunni Arabs. Some, with diminishing enthusiasm, continue to repeat the slogans about Iraq the Model that were used initially, when all sorts of hopes were raised, based on two kinds of ignorance — general ignorance of Islam, its theory and practice, the attitudes and atmospherics to which it naturally gives rise, and ignorance of the specific history of Iraq, and the sectarian and ethnic conflicts within it. But there is not, and will not be, Iraq as a Model but as a new cause of Sunni Arab resentment, and there cannot possibly be Iraq as a Light Unto the Muslim Nations. Never mind the fallacy of believing that the territory of the Abbasid Caliphate could be lost by the Sunnis to the now-dominant Shi’a, who are for many Sunnis if not “Rafidite dogs” then something close to Infidels.
Of course, a state where the Sunnis lost their grip on power, and the Shi’a were now the “democratically-elected” rulers, could not possibly serve as a Light Unto the (Sunni) Muslim Nations. But who was thinking about that? And who took seriously the universal desire of the Kurds not for autonomy, which they are for the moment constrainted to accept, but for full independence? Of course, successive American administrations have become tongue-tied when it is time to read the riot act to the Turks. But the Arab riots in France surely have put paid to the slender chances of Turkey to enter the E.U. Turkey needs American support more than ever. Turkey did not permit that fourth American division to enter Iraq. Turkey is no longer needed as a place for listening-posts and airbases to be used against Russia. It should not be beyond the wit of the Administration to explain to the Turks that the Kurdish state will come into being, that the Turks will receive an American guarantee that no territorial demands will be made by that state on Turkey, and any Kurds who do not like that state of affairs in Turkey can simply move to the new Kurdish state, and that the only states that might suffer from this new state would be Iran and Syria. Turkey needs military supplies, training, cooperation, diplomatic support, favorable trade treatment, knowhow of all kinds, from the United States.
And Kurdistan, so dependent on the Americans, can be asked not only to drop any territorial ambitions in Anatolia, but also to provide within its borders a refuge for those Christians now in Iraq who are suffering from mistreatment by some of the Muslims who are no longer held in check by Saddam Hussein (who used Christians as his waiters, tasters, household staff, for he understood that they were perforce apolitical, and could not possibly threaten him). With the return of a more virulent form of Islam than that permitted expression under Ba’athist rule, Muslims of every kind have been showing their hostility to the local non-Muslims in all the expected and time-honored ways.
The sectarian and ethnic resentments and even hatreds that exist in Iraq were not created by the Americans. The Americans now in Iraq have been trying in every way they can to discourage Kurdish dreams of independence, to train military units that will be neither Sunni nor Shi’a but “Iraqi.” Both goals are not merely difficult, but impossible. What is most maddening about them is that they are the exact opposite of what the American policy should be. This deeply unpopular venture, if continued, will lower military morale, and hence both the number of new recruits, and those willing to re-enlist. The soldiers are not fools. Some may allow themselves to believe, still, despite all the evidence, that the current policy in Iraq — with those non-existent “Iraqis” being trained to “defend Iraq” — makes a kind of sense. But many, and more every day, are fed up with the self-evidently nonsensical policy that does not accord with what they have experienced in Iraq. Unless they are at the level of the highest officers, who must be good company men and stick with the program, and parrot, though with evident diminishing enthusiasm, the party line on Iraq policy, and more and more of them, especially those who are now out of the service, and running for office, will mince no words about the Iraq folly.
Why should the American forces leave Iraq promptly? They should leave because those ethnic and sectarian divisions within Iraq that they are apparently working so hard to overcome do not work to American, or Infidel disadvantage. Whatever “victory” is to be achieved in Iraq was achieved a while ago, and no further additional “victory” can come. It was achieved when Saddam Hussein’s rule was ended, and the ballot put in place, for that was the end of Sunni rule, and this “democracy” insured permanent Shi’a dominance. That will not change no matter how long the Americans stay. There is no possibility of the Sunnis in Iraq, convinced that they have a mandate to rule, for in their view the Shi’a are not full or complete or orthodox Muslims even if not all Sunnis would take the Wahhabi position that the Shi’a are “Rafidite dogs,” but they certainly have been terribly treated by the Sunnis (and not only in Iraq, but also in Pakistan, in eastern Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere), and the Sunnis are convinced that not only do they themselves deserve to retain their rule, but that even under this “democracy” they, the Sunni Arabs constitute not 20% of the population — the real figure — but rather 42%, and that anyone who says otherwise is lying. Ahd what’s more, when they include the largely-Sunni Kurds as part of the Sunni total, the Sunnis become the majority in Iraq. The Sunnis in and out of Iraq will never permanently reconcile themselves to this loss of power in what was the site of the Abbasid Caliphate. It will always rankle, always remain unacceptable. This permanent conflict between dispossessed Sunnis and newly-enfranchised Shi’a is not something to discourage, as some in Washington appear to think. Whatever encourages division and demoralization within Islam is not something that should alarm Infidels.
If the Sunni and Shi’a within Iraq are forced, in the absence of the generous, good-hearted, far-too-unmachiavellian Americans, to deal with each other civilly, they may surprise all of us and do so.Fine. In that case the effort may be declared a success, and Iraq the Model will be on display in time for the Fall Fashion Show, or the Midterm Elections. And if they succumb to violence? If the Shi’a began to fight back, when attacked, as the Americans would never have permitted themselves to fight> And if, further, aid comes from outside, from Iran and Saudi Arabia, to co-religioinists on both sides? And so what? Was the Iran-Iraq War a good thing from the Infidel point of view, or a bad thing? Suppose there is a low-level Sunni-Shi’a war that simmers along, here and there now hotter, now colder. No longer will it be American men, American money, American materiel, American morale, American attention, being squandered in Iraq. The American solders who have been fighting and dying to suppress both kinds of Sunni insurgency (the dispossessed Ba’athist kind, and the Al-Qaeda kind) would return, and the military, which will have many tasks in the future, by no means all of them limited to the Middle East or to Islam, will be able to come to its senses, to recover its morale, to raise the standards again for recruitment as recruitment again becomes possible, and to raise the re-enlistenment rate for the young officers, so many of whom, after repeated tours in Iraq, where they have seen with their own eyes the difference between the Official Policy Line and the reality in Iraq, have been leaving the army.
And then the Americans, military and civilian, can concentrate their own efforts on what will be a very long Cold — and from time to time possibly Hot — War of self-defense against the Jihad. The kind of remark that Bush made last week — that in Iraq “we will accepot nothing less than total victory” — shows how uncomprehending of the situation he is, and how he must be made to comprehend it. The statment means nothing unless one really believes that all we are fighitng is a “war on terror” and that the number of recruits on the other side is limited, and can be eliminated. In fact terror is merely one, and not the most effective, of the various instruments employed in the world-wide Jihad to spread Islam, by overwhelming, and cause to end their opposition to the spread of Islam, all those who can be overcome, from within, by the judicious use of money, or the “wealth weapon,” by propaganda conducted by a small army of apologists both Muslim and non-Muslim (the weapon of “pen, speech”), and by Da’wa (the Call to Islam), and in the last few decades, more and more openly, through demographic conquest. Neither the American army, nor any other army, can achieve a “total victory” over the permanent impulse to Jihad, prompted by the canonical texts — Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira — of Islam. The very invocation of “total victory” is telling; it is one more example of Bush’s failure to understand that this is not and never was solely a “war on terror” — a phrase that like its creator now invites, and receives, ridicule.
While in an Iraq without the Americans jockeying for power between groups will go on, here and there rising to the level of attacks and counter-attacks, or perhaps a bit more than just a small-scale attack here and antoher there, and these hostilities will likely preoccupy the two powers that gained the most from the removal of Saddam Hussein — Iran and Saudi Arabia. And as that occurs, the Americans and those Europeans coming to their senses can concentrate on Iran’s nuclear plans, and on consulting with one another about how the countries of Western Europe, where some are awakening from Abou Ben Adhem’s “deep dream of peace,” and from the slogans and assumptions and idols of the age, can together craft ways to head off, and reverse, what might otherwise be the inexorable islamization of Western Europe, with consequences for the very idea of the West, and for the survival of what makes the West the West, that one can hardly imagine. The sooner such measures are taken, the less drastic they will have to be. The Western world, with its laws, customs, manners, understandings, its wide variety of artistic expression, its encouragement of free and skeptical inquiry, its insistence on the equality of the sexes and on freedom of conscience and freedom of speech, finds this all being challenged. How did this state of affairs come to be? Infidels are now now menaced, right in the heart of Europe, because they were negligent. They remained ignorant as long as they could — and many are determined to remain so — about both the tenets of Islam, and the long history of Jihad-conquest and subjugation of the conquered non-Muslims. Millions of Muslim migrants were allowed to enter, and settle within, the Dar al-Harb, which is to say, within those lands which those aware of the permanent hostility between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb rightly regard as behind enemy lines. Damage has been self-inflicted. Now that damage, the result of a colossal oversight, must be repaired, and people educated so that the same mistake is not again repeated.
The United States and other Infidel countries able to cooperate should be attempting to create the conditions under which Muslims themselves will produce their own Ataturks as a response to a felt need. If Muslims themselves can be made to see the connection between say, Islamic ideas of government and the prevalence of despotism in the Muslim countries, or to point to jizya-dependence (including the disguised jizya of foreign aid) and inshallah-fatalism as the main cause of economic underperformance (an underperformance which, given the $10 trillion in unearned OPEC reveneus, can no longer be explained away), or to link, in their own minds, the scientific backwardness of Muslim societies with the habit of mental submission, and discouraging of free and skeptical inquiry, that is part of Islam as a Complete Regulation of Daily Life, and a Total Explanation of the Universe. Finally, if Muslims begin to see the mistreatment of women and of non-Muslims as the moral failure it is, then like Ataturk, more will come to realize that even within Muslim societies, in which, given the immutability of the canonical texts, Islam cannot be reformed, nor can the meaning of those immutable texts be interpreted away (no further “interpretation” is permitted in Islam; the gates of ijtihad swung shut long ago) then, just as Ataturk did, they may try to limit the social and political power of Islam, in order to improve the condition of their countries and the lives of their people, and relegate Islam which officiallly should regulate and determine everything, to a much narrower sphere in the lives of Muslims. The example of Turkey shows both that this is possible, and that at the same time, the force and appeal of Islam unchained will require the secularists to remain eternally vigilant, and at times, as ruthless as Ataturk could be but as many of his more recent beneficiaries have not been.
Otherwise, as Infidels realize what it is they are in danger of losing — that is to say, everything — and finally prove themselves unwilling to peacefully submit to the transformation of their own countries through unhindered Da’wa, and demographic trends, it is hard not to be full of all kinds of forebodings.