Barry Rubin, who writes many blog posts and articles, believes that this is the most important post he has written in a long time. According to Barry, the Obama administration is pursuing a disastrous policy by trying to distinguish between the ‘bad Islamists’ from al-Qaeda and the ‘good Islamists’ from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Now we come to the paragraph I warned about, the explanation for how the administration may be about to plunge into the biggest disaster in U.S. foreign policy of…well, of a very long time.
Here it is:
“The administration is already taking steps to distinguish between various movements in the region that promote Islamic law in government. An internal assessment, ordered by the White House last month, identified large ideological differences between such movements as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and al-Qaeda that will guide the U.S. approach to the region.”
Get it? Al-Qaeda is bad because it wants to attack U.S. embassies, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon.
BUT the Muslim Brotherhood is good! Because it merely wants to seize state power, transform Egypt into an Islamist state, rule almost 90 million people with an iron hand, back Hamas in trying to destroy Israel, overthrow the Palestinian Authority, help Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood overthrow the monarchy, and sponsor terrorism against Americans in the Middle East.
I’m sure you can see the difference. This is the nonsense that the administration has been working toward for two years. It is the doctrine pushed by the president’s advisor on terrorism, elements in the CIA, and White House ideologues. The State and Defense departments are probably horrified.
Not everyone agrees with Obama. Jennifer Rubin (no relation) urges the Obama administration to condition good relations with Egypt on keeping the Muslim Brotherhood out of the government.
The degree to which the U.S. can influence events is unclear, but we might at least start by articulating that good relations with the U.S. are dependent upon movement toward a democratic government, respect for human rights, and maintenance of the peace treaty with Israel. All of that, we should make clear, is put into question by the sort of Islamic regime that the Muslim Brotherhood would dearly love to establish.
That’s also the view of Representative Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), the new Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.
The US should condition aid to Egypt – now at around $1.5 billion a year – on whether the Muslim Brotherhood ends up in the government, Chabot said.
“They’re about Shari’a law, they’re about suppressing women’s rights, and I don’t think that we ought to condone that, I don’t think that ought to be any part of the future of Egypt,” he said. “We might not have the power to implement the US program, but I think with our support – financial and otherwise – that we can maybe encourage things that would ultimately be in their best long-term interests, and Israel’s and the United States’.”
That’s obviously not the view of the Obama administration, which is urging Israel not to ‘fear changes’ in the Middle East.
US President Barack Obama told Jewish donors in Miami on Friday that Israel and the United States should not be afraid of changes taking place in the Middle East.
Obama said that the world needs to be “sober” about the current transformation in the region but stressed that the West shouldn’t fear the future.
Speaking at a fund-raising dinner in Miami on Friday night, Obama said he told a group of Jewish leaders at the White House Tuesday: “We can’t be naïve about the changes that are taking place in the Middle East,” but “we should not be afraid of the possibilities of the future.”
Obama acknowledged Friday that when it comes to changes in the region, “there are going to be some bumps along the road,” and charting a path forward will mean US participation and a will “to seize that moment.”
“We’re going to have to be engaged and we’re going to have to be involved and we’re going to have to reach out,” he said. “But I’m actually confident that 10 years from now we’re going to be able to look back potentially and say this was the dawning of an entirely new and better era.”
Curiously, John Hinderaker apparently saw an earlier version of the article quoted above, in which Obama goes further and says
All the forces that we see building in Egypt are the forces that should be naturally aligned with the US, [and] should be aligned with Israel.
John says that claim is “far from self-evident.”
Was Obama talking about the Egyptian protesters who shouted “Jew, Jew” as they stripped Lara Logan naked and beat her with poles? Regardless of whether the “building forces” in Egypt “should be” aligned with the U.S. and Israel, I am not confident that they are. Not “all” of them, anyway.
John goes on to cite former CIA analyst Paul Pillar, who reflects the Obama administration’s optimism:
“Not everyone will find it reassuring that the gamut of prospective regimes runs all the way from the Muslim Brotherhood to al Qaeda, a Brotherhood spin-off. But our old friend Paul Pillar, now retired from the CIA, reinforces the Obama administration’s optimism:”
Paul Pillar, a longtime CIA analyst who now teaches at Georgetown University, said, “Most of the people in the intelligence community would see things on this topic very similarly to the president — that is, political Islam as a very diverse series of ideologies, all of which use a similar vocabulary, but all quite different.”
“The main challenge President Obama will face is a political challenge from across the aisle, and one reinforced by Israel,” said Pillar, whose portfolio included the Middle East.
One is left speechless. Turmoil in the Middle East promises a set of new regimes; the optimistic scenario, apparently, is that they will be dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood rather than al Qaeda. And the main problem this will pose for the President will come from the Republicans! And, of course–but why?–those pesky Israelis. We can describe this charitably as a remarkably Washington-centric view.
It’s also an Israel-centric view. The problem with potentially Islamist governments – according to the CIA and the Obama administration — is Israel and the Jews. Why didn’t I think of that?