Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald discusses the example of Turkey to show how democracy was established there, and how it might be established in Iraq and Afghanistan, were different perspectives prevailing in Washington:
Beginning in the early 1920s, Kemal Ataturk did everything he could to constrain Islam as a political and social force in Turkey. He abolished the Caliphate. He gave women the right to vote. He forbade the promotion of the religious Muslims within the army. He outlawed the wearing of the hijab for those employed by the government. He abandoned the Ottoman (Arabic) script for the Roman alphabet. He commissioned a Qur’an in Turkish and a commentary (tafsir) in Turkish as well. He required imams to vet, or later to read, sermons (khutbas) prepared by a central office, that would carefully limit the contents. He passed the Hat Act, to end the wearing of fezzes (which made praying easier) and to require the wearing of Western-style caps and dress. He did everything he could to destroy the power and influence of the Muslim clergy, even going so far as to attack some mosques and hang some clerics.
And he did this systematically until his death in 1938. After his death, Inonu and others continued the same line. And they constructed an entire mythology around the figure of Ataturk — the kult lichnosti. That cult of personality was a clear attempt to replace the cult of Muhammad, as uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil. And with the cult of Ataturk, the Great Man, came the history of the Turks, the Sun-People, who had always been in Anatolia, and who managed to include almost everyone who had ever been in the region, right back to the Hittites.
Yet what has been, after 80 years, the result? Erbakan, now Erdogan. The majority in Parliament of the so-called “Islamists.” The slow undoing of Kemalism, halted here and there only by threats from the army.
Islam turns out to be permanent. Why does anyone think that what has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan will make those countries less Islamic, when in the first, Islam has reappeared with a vengeance among both the Shi’a and the Sunnis (not that it ever went away, but was merely hidden) and in the second, the Taliban have reappeared because whatever memory there is of their miserable rule fades quickly?
And why do so many think that the Americans should remain in both places, spending hundreds of billions of dollars, squandering the lives of soldiers and the morale of the armed services (where standards for new recruits have been lowered, where young officers are quitting, where fewer now join the citizen-army of Reserves and National Guard)? All in the doubtful hope that somehow, despite the experience with the sole Muslim country to have democracy and to have a systematic attempt to curb Islam, Islam yet remains, and comes back, like Rasputin. But unlike Rasputin, who finally succumbed to Yusupov, Sharia cannot be killed.
Concentrating on Muslim states, attempting to make them “better,” will do very little to protect Infidels from the Da’wa campaigns and demographic conquests being made right now in the Lands of the Infidels, above all in Western Europe. Iraq and Afghanistan are expensive and exhausting distractions; the game is not worth the candle.
Many say that the example of Communism should be kept in mind. I agree. To me, Communism fell not because of one person or one thing, but because of everything that was done by the Western alliance, and above all by the United States, from the late 1940s on. Some part of it involved military alliances — the founding and funding of NATO. Some of it involved military campaigns, as in Greece, and later in Korea. Some of it involved propaganda, everything from Wladimir Weidle on Russian emigre poetry on Radio Liberty, to Willis Conover on American jazz on Voice of America (“O Sen Lui/O gorod moy/O Sen Lui/Kogda proshchayus’ ya s toboy/O Sen Lui/Na sto vtoroj etazh/Ne khochesh’ stoya, tak lyozha sdash’….), to the Congress for Cultural Freedom, publishing houses that were CIA fronts (Editions de la Seine), Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe — the works. And then there was all the money spent to help De Gasperi fight Togliatti and his consort Nilde Jotti in Italy, and to help the non-Communist left fight Maurice Thorez in France. And by the mid-1980s, the most intelligent members of the Nomenklatura saw that on its own terms Communism had failed.
Islamic jihad must be constrained, right now, and we cannot wait for decades. But the situation in Iraq can be exploited so that the camp of Islam is divided and demoralized, and the camp of the Infidels does not squander, but husbands its resources. And that is important, because every effort must be made to undermine the role and presence of proponents of Sharia in the West. That requires that America and Europe not be divided, that the American and other Infidel publics remain convinced that an anti-Jihad effort will make sense (as the war in Iraq does not, to many, make sense), and to see, sooner rather than later, that the most effective instruments of Jihad are not “terror” (and it is supposedly to fight “the terrorists” that the Americans are in Iraq, when the main opposition to them consists of local Sunnis unwilling to relinquish political, and therefore all other kinds of power) but rather Da’wa and demographic conquest.
The “victory” to be achieved in Iraq in Bush’s view consists of the establishment of a functioning nation-state, and in my view would consist of continued and growing hostility between Sunni Arabs and Shi’a Arabs, in the best outcome drawing in, and using up, money, men, materiel, and attention from the two greatest beneficiaries of the removal of Saddam Hussein — the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The American President once had an idea, and now the idea has him. If he does not seize the opportunity presented on a platter in Iraq to exploit ethnic and sectarian fissures within the dar al-Islam in order to constrain the Jihad, that will be a very great mistake. Two parallels come immediately to mind: the failure of the French to reoccupy the Rhineland when the Germans violated the Treaty of Versailles and remilitarized that area, and in 1919, the limiting of the British, American, and Czech expeditionary forces to 19,000 men, when a hundred thousand of them, well-armed by the Americans, might have made all the difference in the Civil War, and avoided 70 years of Soviet Communism.
But he is caught in a web of his own making. He cannot see this.