KUWAIT CITY – Kuwait’s parliament voted Tuesday to sever diplomatic ties with Denmark over the controversial cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad and to spend about $50 million to defend the prophet’s image in the West. — from this article
This is Kuwait.
Plucky little Kuwait, brave little Kuwait, Kuwait the Soft, Kuwait the Victim, Kuwait the So-Much-More-Moderate-Than-Saudi-Arabia, brave little plucky little Kuwait, was saved from the rapaciousness of Saddam Hussein by its age-old friends the Americans who came in in 1991. In so doing those Americans earned gratitude so eternal that it lasted as long as it took the first President Bush to come and collect, when out of office, a million dollar speaker’s fee, and a few other well-placed Americans (was Clinton one of them? James Baker? I forget) to pocket similar sums for a half-day’s work. That must have been at least three or four years.
But Kuwait, not the Kuwait represented by a handful of members of this or that family (Fouad Ajami visiting them from time to time) that sends its children to the American School of Kuwait, but all the other Kuwaitis, reverted to type — to the type of all societies and peoples suffused with Islam. Policies made for this or that Muslim state based on the smiling representatives who know just what to say to the eternally gullible or willfully gullible Americans are bound to be the wrong policies. “Experts” on the Middle East who solemnly read tea-leaves and pontificate — including the James Baker Commission which will at best give Bush the Obstinate a face-saving (for him, for the face of his administration is the only face he cares about saving) — like to avoid altogether the subject of Islam, as if it is just an afterthought, or a general worry for the “good guys” in places like plucky little, brave little, Kuwait (or Qatar, or Jordan, or true-blue Egypt).
It is Islam, Islam, Islam that explains the deep and un-uprootable attitudes of Muslim peoples, that offers tenets that many of them believe they must scrupulously fulfill. Others believe that it is enough if they support those others who believe they must scrupulously fulfill them, and still others do neither, but do nothing to stop the first two groups. Instead, they do everything to pretend to Infidels that the first two groups are “extremists” without any organic connection to Islam. In any case, the tenets of Islam explain the natural attitudes of hostility, which are demonstrated in this case by the call to cut diplomatic relations with Denmark. This is hysterical hostility at a country for continuing to think and act as if its own system of individual rights — including the most important, the right of free speech — is an outrage, ultragium, that must be jettisoned or the country punished in order to stand up for Islam, Islam, Islam.
Islam is not only its tenets, to be cited by Qur’anic sura and ayat, nor the specific contents of this or that or five hundred other Hadith. Nor is it only the figure of Muhammad, and the precise and disturbing, or rather horrifying, details of his life.
No, Islam is also the attitudes that naturally arise from this welter of Qur’anic passages and Hadith stories, and from the life of Muhammad, the Perfect Man, the man to be emulated in all respects, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil. And those attitudes are on display in Kuwait when it votes to cut off diplomatic relations with Denmark.
Kuwait, tiny little, plucky little, brave little Kuwait — that’s the story we were all told in 1991, and that’s the story we are supposed to keep believing as we set up in our minds a little drama, in which over here are the “bad” or “extremist” Muslim countries, and over there the “good” ones that we must listen to. It’s nonsense. The “good” Muslim countries are those which, like Turkey or Tunisia, have managed to constrain or limit or tie down Islam as a political or social force. And they are “good” only to the extent, and precisely to the extent, that they have managed to do so.
No, Kuwait is not a “tiny little” and “plucky little” and “brave little” country, the country that having been saved by American soldiers would never, ever forget us. Now that Saddam Hussein is gone, the Kuwaitis don’t need us quite in the same way, now do they? It is one more malevolent Muslim country, that appears by an optical illusion — its proximity to the even more malevolent and hideous Saudi Arabia — to be “moderate.”
Will the United States and the other Western powers now stand with Denmark and make clear that if diplomatic relations with Denmark are cut, then diplomatic relations with Kuwait will be cut by all decent members of the West, of the Western alliance? Or will the United States, possibly now being pushed Baker-Commission-like back into the clutches of the old pro-Sunni Arab policy (throw Israel to the wolves by renewing pressure on it, save the Sunnis of Iraq, and above all, heed what our “friends in the Gulf” have to tell us), do nothing to express solidarity with Denmark?
Denmark? Yes, remember that country?
That’s the real country that deserves to put on those lendings in which Kuwait was permitted, so inaccurately, to bedeck itself. That’s the country that has a right to call itself plucky little, brave little, decent little — Denmark.
And Denmark is not alone. There is one other country, right in the same Middle East, that will be forever in the Western camp, just as Kuwait will as a Muslim country be forever outside that camp. And no matter how grotesquely it is reported on, no matter how much it is subject to a palpable want of sympathy and even deliberate vilification in the Western press, no matter how crudely or cruelly successive Western efforts aim at dealing with the problem of Islam by ignoring or minimizing them and pretending to believe that only if that country’s vital interests are defined as non-vital and then betrayed will peace come, no matter how great a display of pusillanimity and meretriciousness is put on by the larger Western powers that should be standing by it, that country, with its still-unrecognized-by-Washington capital, Jerusalem, deserves those epithets “brave little” and “plucky little” and a whole lot more besides.