The “Arab Spring” and “moderate Islam”

Two very worthwhile posts regarding foreign affairs. First, an excerpt from a fascinating interview with the always interesting Michael Totten:

QUESTION: I know you were conflicted about the Egyptian revolution. If I remember correctly, you feared an Islamist takeover but couldn’t find yourself siding with Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak against some of your liberal friends in the country who were protesting in Tahrir. If there was a way to implant Mubarak back in power today, would you pull the trigger seeing what has happened so far and could very well happen in the near future?

ANSWER: You’re right; I was conflicted about the Egyptian revolution, and I still am. I want to see the end of every dictatorship in the world. But at the same time, the idea that it’s springtime in Egypt right now is absurd. Cairo is not Budapest, and it is not Prague. It has more in common with Tehran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, although it’s not as bad as that yet. At least Egypt has a national army, while the Brotherhood has nothing like Ayatollah Khomeini’s Revolutionary Guard. Still, I would not put Mubarak back in power today if I could.

The biggest reason I wouldn’t restore Mubarak isn’t because I think the Muslim Brotherhood is the lesser of evils. In all likelihood, a Muslim Brotherhood government is the greater of evils. The reason I wouldn’t put Mubarak back in the saddle is because it has been apparent to me for years that Egypt was sooner or later going to pass through a period of Islamist government. Keeping someone like Mubarak around was only going to prolong the inevitable.

The only way Egypt will stand a chance at having anything like a liberal democratic government at peace with itself and with its neighbors is if it experiences an anti-Islamist revolution like the one that that has been brewing in Iran. I don’t like what happening in Egypt at all, but it’s a gate through which the Egyptians must pass and it’s probably best to just get it over with.

Read the entire interview

And a good analysis titled “The Mirage of Moderate Islam” by Daniel Greenfield:

Travelers across the vast stretches of the Arabian Desert have been known to get lost and, in their thirst and exhaustion, hallucinate oases with palm trees and flowing water. Western policymakers lost in the vast stretches of madness that define the Muslim world are even more wont to hallucinate the oasis of a moderate Islam to take refuge in. Whether you’re dying for a drink or a way to reaffirm your reality, a mirage is sometimes the only way you can find it.

Moderate Islam is a mirage, a projection by desperate Westerners of their own values and culture onto an entirely different religion and culture. It is a mirage that many Muslims are eager to uphold, in the same way that desert merchants might sell goblets and bowls of sand to passing travelers foolish enough to confuse water with dust. And, like travelers who think they are drinking water, when they are actually swallowing sand, it is a deception that will eventually kill the deceived.

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