The big story in Niger has nothing to do with loafer-clad unappealing Joseph Wilson or his outwardly attractive trophy wife, but rather with the Saudi money that has helped to transform the practice of Islam in formerly easygoing, syncretistic Niger. This has been reported on by students from Niger who have in recent years returned home from living abroad (in France, for example) and have been horrified at the transformations in the mosques and in the practice and attitudes of the Muslims of Niger.
Someone of my acquaintance, a black African, raised as a Muslim and now a Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only Muslim, recently returned to his home in Niger after having lived in France for the past five years. He came back to France shaken, for everywhere, he said, Saudi money had transformed the mosques. Women who had never paid any attention to rules about dress were now burkaed; a new spirit had infected the mosques, with their Saudi-supported imams. Whatever easygoing, syncretistic religion, marabouts and all, he had experienced, had been definitely transformed out of all recognition.
Why such attention to Niger from the Saudis, one wonders? Perhaps it is going on everywhere. Or perhaps Niger, as the most important source of uranium available, is especially dear to certain hearts? Forget about Joseph Wilson’s lightning expedition. Who — French, American — is minding the store, and keeping track, of what is going on in Niger, in West Africa (where even a putatively Christian ruler, like the despot who runs Togo, or Obasanjo in Nigeria, can do the bidding of Muslims who are able to manipulate them, through bribery, threats, or other means)? One would like to know how Saudi money is pouring into Niger. Niger produces uranium. And even if it was not supplying Saddam Hussein, the idea that uranium from Niger is not coveted by assorted Muslims with mayhem on the their mind is ridiculous.
Meanwhile, in several African states Muslims openly enslave blacks — Mali, Mauritania, Niger — and in others the practice goes on a bit more discreetly.
Good God. Is there no end to the stupidity — on our side? Who is looking into this? Who thinks it is important? Who is minding the uranium store? Is there any limit on the fecklessness of the Western world? Are these developments being monitored in the Pentagon? Is anyone watching, like those famous hawks they are so often said to be, what is happening with the wahhabization of the last remaining outposts of marabout-diluted Islam in sub-Saharan Africa?
Why not a whole department of anti-Jihad, jointly supported by the Pentagon and the State Department, and devoted to “non-Arab Islam” — with a subdepartment devoted specifically to West Africa? Would that be too much to ask? Would that be too expensive, given the half-trillion that goes for Baby-Huey boots-on-the-ground to “fight them over there so we won’t have to fight them over here”?
Round about 1900, Alfred Thayer Mahan wrote a book entitled “The Influence of Sea Power on History.” In 1942 the Russian emigre, then a proud American citizen, De Seversky, wrote “Victory Through Air Power.” Sea Power. Air Power.
Here’s an idea for a book: Victory Through Brain Power. There are plenty of brains all over America, that could figure out all kinds of things to weaken the force, the appeal, the strength, of the Jihad and of Islam. Those brains are not being picked. They are being ignored. No one, or no one in a position of power, in Washington is seeing the world through Muslim eyes. It’s a zero-sum game with two sides: the Believers and the Infidels. Anything that strengthens the Believers — it could be a Pakistani or Iranian bomb fueled by uranium from Niger, or it could be a few trillion dollars in OPEC oil revenues used to support mosques and madrasas worldwide, or it could be new converts to Islam — is morally acceptable. In Niger, and everywhere else.
Is anyone in the C.I.A. doing its own study of what is going on in Niger? Or will there be a big surprise for everyone when they finally discover what they could find out right now simply by sending a student back to Niger to get the goods?
Enough surprises for the C.I.A. and the rest of the Western world’s security services.