Nakhleh said not long ago, “political Islam is not a threat.” So obviously we must do nothing to impede its advance. “Muslim former CIA official details struggles,” by Susan Zalkind for the Daily Free Press, April 8 (thanks to CJK):
Former director of the CIA”s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Emile Nakhleh told an audience of about 25 people that though he is optimistic about the Obama administration, American understanding of Islam is still lacking.
Nakhleh spoke Tuesday at the Castle Tuesday evening to promote his book, “A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America’s Relations with the Muslim World.”
“We need to understand the Muslim world much better,” Nakhleh said. “It is a matter of national security.”
Nakhleh, who was born in Palestine
and served in the CIA for 16 years before retiring in 2006, said there was a tendency during the Bush administration “to paint the Islamic world with one broad brush.”
The CIA, on the other hand, made the distinction “between terrorism and the larger Islamic community,” he said.
Yes, Bush declared right after 9/11 that Islam was a Religion of Peaceâ„¢ and that was that as far as the Bush Administration was concerned: there was no examination of the doctrines of jihad and Islamic supremacism that fueled the attacks, and there was no response to the ideological and civilizational challenge that the jihadists presented to the West. The Bush Administration did indeed “paint the Islamic world with one broad brush”: it asserted without any evidence that the jihadists were a Tiny Minority of Extremistsâ„¢ who had twisted and hijacked Islam, and assumed, again without any evidence, that the overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide shared American values and would stand with the United States against Osama bin Laden and company. Nakhleh is right: a more nuanced analysis was desperately needed.
But of course, that isn’t what he meant at all. By saying that in contrast to the Bush Administration, the CIA made the distinction “between terrorism and the larger Islamic community,” Nakhleh is implying that efforts to impede the jihad in the United States — efforts that led to the thwarting of the Fort Dix plot, the JFK airport plot, the Sears Tower plot, and so many others — unfairly targeted the Muslim community, and thus must be scrapped. Better we be sitting ducks for the jihadists than that we be politically incorrect, eh?
For example, Nakhleh said the lack of communication between the Bush administration and the Muslim world was demonstrated when Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan could not teach at University of Notre Dame after he was denied a visa because of an intelligence file.
As it turns out, the only intelligence in existence against the scholar was newspaper clippings in his file, “but because it was an intelligence file, it had some sort of aura,” Nakhleh said.
Were the newspaper clippings inaccurate? Was the mere fact that they were newspaper clippings demonstrations of that inaccuracy?
“We need to talk to moderate thinkers, Muslim thinkers who try to synchronize faith and active citizenship in non-Muslim societies,” Nakhleh told The Daily Free Press during his book signing. “And that is what Tariq Ramadan has been doing in Europe, a new kind of reasoning.”
In Brother Tariq Caroline Fourest examines Ramadan’s positions and actions in immense detail, and concludes that he is “remaining scrupulously faithful to the strategy mapped out by his grandfather, a strategy of advance stage by stage” toward the imposition of Sharia in the West. Ramadan’s grandfather, of course, was Hasan Al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group dedicated in its own words to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.”
Nakhleh said even though the United States has a low standing in the Muslim world, it does not stem from differences in values or ideas, but in policies.
Of course, it couldn’t have anything to do with any core beliefs or assumptions in the Islamic world. It is solely the fault of American policies. The idea that one should fight against Jews and Christians simply because they are Jews and Christians (cf. Qur’an 9:29) — why, that couldn’t possibly have anything to do with negative attitudes toward the West among Muslims?
President Barack Obama’s decision to no longer call the American military action in the Middle East a “war on terror” is a wise one, he said.
Yes. If we call terrorism, or Islamic jihad, by another name, it will go away.
“The majority of Muslims, according to public opinion polls, support ideas that we consider relating to good governance, but they oppose our policies,” Nakhleh said. “We need to become more sophisticated about differentiating between those who oppose values, but support policies.”
Wait a minute. Is he saying that the U.S. should ally with those who oppose our values but support our policies? Wouldn’t such alliances only be alliances of convenience that would just postpone the inevitable clash of values, and make it worse when it does inevitably come?
In order to foster a positive relationship between the U.S. and Islam, tolerant Islamic academic institutions should be established in America, Nakhleh said.
“We need to engage Islamic organizations,” Nakhleh said.
BU international relations professor Augustus Norton said he enjoyed listening to Nakhleh, who has a “reputation for being someone who is very courageous and outspoken.”
“I thought the idea that was the most interesting was the idea of creating an Islamic university here in the U.S.,” Norton said.
Who would run it? How would they be vetted? With men like Nakhleh at the helm, how would jihadists be kept out?
BU graduate student Ishraq Ali, who is Muslim, said he was interested to hear Nakhleh say American governments must not remain passive in its relationship with the Muslim community.
“I was pleasantly surprised that he talked about engaging the American-Muslim community,” Ali said.
University Professors postgraduate student Alex Zito said Nakhleh was a “breath of fresh air.”
“Especially after coming from the past regime that was so afraid of Islam, just to hear someone say that it is ok to form a relationship with Islam,” Zito said.
The “past regime” was “so afraid of Islam”? What planet do these people live on?
Zito said he takes issue with how Islam is portrayed in the media.
“You get these shows that are like, “˜Why won’t Islam agree with democracy?” and that passes as discourse,” Zito said. “So to hear this guy not even bother to address that, but to talk about building a relationship instead was really refreshing.”
Nakhleh told The Daily Free Press that it is important not to confuse the totalitarianism in Islamic countries with the religion of Islam.
“It is not that Islam is inimical to democracy,” Nakhleh said. “It is that Islamic dictators are inimical to democracy.”
NOTE: Many have written me pointing out, correctly, that “Emile” is a Christian name, not a Muslim one. That in itself doesn’t tell us much, because after all, CAIR’s Board Chairman is named Larry Shaw. I don’t know if Nakhleh is a Muslim or a Christian — the Daily Free Press headline says he is a Muslim, and that is all I was going on.