One civilization clashing

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On June 7 Hizbullah will likely take over Lebanon and formally bring the oldest Arab democracy into the Iranian axis.

Iran's stalking horse will not become the ruler of the largely pro-Western, non-Shi'ite majority country through a violent revolution. Lebanon will become yet another Iranian vassal state through ballots, not bullets. On June 7, Hizbullah and its allied parties are set to win a smashing popular victory in Lebanon's parliamentary elections.

Hizbullah's projected victory in these elections is of course not an isolated event. It is part of an Islamist electoral sweep in democratic elections throughout the region. Indeed, Islamists have won every free or partially free election in the region for the past six years.

Beginning with Turkey's Islamist AKP party's first electoral victory in 2003 – followed by its even more decisive reelection in last year's race; moving to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election in the relatively free, (although not open), presidential elections in his country in 2005, to the Muslim Brotherhood candidates' sweep of nearly all electoral races they were permitted to contest in Egypt's 2005 parliamentary elections, to Hamas's electoral victory in the Palestinian Authority's legislative elections in 2006, the Islamist candidates and parties have been victorious in state after state.

The only outlier in this pattern is Iraq. But then, Iraq is the only country in the region where the West overthrew an enemy regime and retained an empowered military force in the country in the years that followed. What will happen in Iraq once US forces are withdrawn is an open question.

Generally speaking, Western analysts have attributed the Islamists' victories to their well-run welfare programs for the poor, and to the fact that unlike their secular opponents, Islamist parties and politicians are perceived an honest.

No doubt, economic interests have played a role in their election. But the fact is that people who voted for the likes of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Ahmadinejad, and those who are poised to vote for Hizbullah are not blind and they are not disengaged from the ideological currents of their societies. They know full-well what these parties and their leaders represent and seek.

Turkish voters, for instance, know that Prime Minister Recep Erdogan wishes for Turkey to be an Islamic state and a leader in the Islamic world. Palestinian voters did not vote for Hamas just because it runs the best soup kitchens. They supported Hamas because they support its goal of destroying Israel.

Iranian voters chose Ahmadinejad over former president Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani not merely because Rafsanjani was corrupt, but because of Ahmadinejad's outspoken extremism. Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt know that the jihadist movement calls for the overthrow of the government and its replacement with a caliphate and that the group spawned both al-Qaida and Hamas. And in Lebanon, voters know that a vote for Hizbullah is a vote for war against Israel and the West and a vote for placing Lebanon under effective Iranian control.

They know all this, and still they vote for these parties and leaders. And once in office, these leaders do not disappoint them. In addition to expanding welfare benefits for their supporters, they have worked steadily and aggressively to Islamify their societies internally and to strengthen their alliances with likeminded governments against the West in foreign affairs. At home, through patronage, repression of political opponents, introduction of Islamic laws, and incitement against the West, these democratically elected regimes have been moving their people further and further away from secularism.

AS FOR the burgeoning alliances between and among these likeminded jihadist states, events of the past week alone make clear that backed by popular support at home, these governments are steadily expanding their military and commercial ties in a naked bid to challenge and defeat the West.

Buffeted by US President Barack Obama's warm embrace of Turkey earlier in the month, Erdogan has moved swiftly to consolidate his place as a central pillar in the new regional jihadist axis spearheaded by Iran, which includes Syria, Lebanon and the PA. Over the past week, his government signed a military pact with Lebanon committing Turkey to providing arms and training for the Lebanese army – a force which is already largely subservient to Hizbullah and will likely come under its complete control on June 7.

It signed a defense agreement with Syria's Ministry of Defense, and even more provocatively conducted a three-day joint land forces exercise with the Syrian military. This was the first joint exercise between Syria and a NATO member.

As for Iran, Turkey signed a trade agreement with the mullocracy that is slated to double bilateral trade between the two countries within five years. Even more significantly, Ankara gave a green light to Iranian gas exports to Europe through the Nabucco gas pipeline which runs from Turkey to Austria. The Nabucco pipeline was supposed to bypass both Iran and Russia and increase instead gas exports from the former Soviet republics to Europe. Iran's access to the pipeline will earn it billions of dollars annually and increase its political power as Europe increases it dependence on Iranian gas.

BOTH THE popularity of Islamist parties and their behavior after being popularly elected have confounded conventional Western reasoning – particularly in the US. Quite simply, successive administrations in Washington have been unable to provide an accurate explanation of what drives the populations of these countries, and increasingly of the Islamic world in general to support Islamist parties and movements.

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration came to the conclusion that it isn't that these parties and movements are popular. It is just that people are intimidated into supporting them. Were the people given the freedom to choose, they would choose to be led by liberal political forces interested in living at peace with the West. For former president George W. Bush and his advisers, the root of Islamic extremism was authoritarianism and the solution was Westernization through open elections.

When time after time the citizens of these countries or societies voluntarily elected jihadists, the Bush administration was confounded. Rather than seek an alternative explanation to understand what was happening, the administration alternatively denied reality – as in the case of Turkey where it pretended that the AKP was a moderate, pro-Western Islamist party in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. Or they claimed that the people were simply voting against corruption and showered them with money – as has been the case with the Hamas-supporting Palestinians. Or, as in the case of Egypt and Iran, they have simply ignored the fact that elections took place.

The same of course occurred after Hizbullah's violent coup last May. Rather than cut off ties with the Saniora government – which had been compelled to accept Hizbullah control over its affairs – the Bush administration continued to support Saniora and increased US military assistance to the Lebanese army – hoping that it could pretend away the problem.

SINCE HIS first moments in office, President Barack Obama has embarked on a policy course which rejects Bush's belief that the quest for freedom is universal as so much American chauvinism. For Obama, Islamic hostility towards the West is caused by American arrogance, not the absence of freedom. And because American arrogance is the root of the problem, the solution must be American contrition. It is this view that propels Obama from one international apology tour to the next and causes him to air the CIA's laundry in public. As far as he is concerned, the more apologetic he is, the more contrition he expresses for the actions of his pre
decessors, the greater the payoff will be.

And yet, as we see from the behavior of Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and Iran over the past week alone, Obama's apologetics are not winning them over, but emboldening them to take more aggressive positions against the West. How can this be explained?

There is an alternative explanation for the behavior of the peoples of the Islamic world that actually can explain events, and has successfully forecast them. It has even engendered policy recommendations that might have mitigated both the popularity of Islamist parties and deterred these parties, once elected, from taking provocative steps against Western states and interests. Unfortunately, every time this explanation is raised, Western policy-makers head for the hills.

This explanation is really nothing more than an observation. It observes that the populations of Islamic countries and societies support Islamist parties like the AKP and Hizbullah and Hamas because they support what they stand for. This explanation notes that tens and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, Lebanese, Iranians, Turks, Egyptians and others voluntarily congregate in public venues and swoon when Islamist leaders tell them that Islam will defeat the West and promise the death of America and the death of Israel.

The jihadist message resonates with them. Their hearts and minds have already been won over. Contrary to what Western leaders as distinct as Bush and Obama believe, the hearts and minds of the Islamic world are not presently in play. From Beirut to the Taliban-controlled Northwest Frontier Province in Pakistan, jihadists enjoy public support because the public supports their aim of defeating the West with bullets, with bombs, and with ballots.

It is too early to know how Obama will react when he like Bush is no longer able to deny that his strategy for winning over the hearts and minds of the Islamic world has failed. We don't know if like Bush before him, he will simply ignore reality and pretend that nothing has happened; if he will blame his political opponents or Israel for not joining him in his contrition; or if he will cast about for another central organizing principle that will explain hostile Islamic behavior.

What is clear is that in the absence of Western – and specifically American – willingness to consider the possibility that what is happening in the Islamic world has next to nothing to do with either what the West embodies or what it has done, and everything to do with the resonance of the Islamist message within the Islamic world, events like the expected loss of Lebanon in June will continue to be met with incoherent prattling and confusion.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

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  • Marc Handelsman, USA 05/01/2009 at 18:44

    Islamists use propaganda to cultivate dedicated followers. When young Muslims are continually fed lies that America is the “Great Satan” and Israel is “Little Satan”, they will blindly support totalitarian Islam. As long as jihadists control their media outlets, they will have an electorate that will support their message of hate. If there is no freedom of the press, Muslims will continue to be misled that the West and Israel are their true enemies. The true enemies of Muslims are jihadists and imams who brainwash young minds, and create murderers.

  • Marcel Cousineau 05/01/2009 at 19:08

    What is incredible in all of this is that Israel still runs to Washington and religiously drinks the Kool-Aid.
    Even after all the failures and false hopes,Israel contunies down this dead end road.
    Jonestown was a shabbat picnic compared to Israel’s self inflicted suicide for the no hope of peace Road Map.
    A people who stand for nothing fall for the Road Map farce,are always loyal to failed agendas and are easily betrayed.
    Israel can’t stop drinking the exilor of appeasment and surrender of land that will magically transform the Islamic world into lovers of infidel Israel.
    Can the Jewish people be this stupid,this blind ?
    Idolatry has robbed them of wisdom.

  • Pops in Vienna 05/01/2009 at 21:02

    Dear Capt. Glick,
    I hope you delivered the same message when you were training the US military. Perhaps a few of our military leaders will finally “get it”.
    I fully expect Pakistan to fall to the Taliban before the end of this summer; for precisely the reasons you have cited in your article. There might be a few western Pakistani types who don’t want to see it happen, just as there are secular Turks who are fearful. But, as you have so clearly expressed, the vast majority of their populations want these crazy regimes.
    Like the Germans and Austrians of the 1930’s their hearts and minds are already invested in an evil ideology.
    I hope Israel will at least go down swinging. I expect very little out of America, except more apologizing.

  • Bradford Stephen Kyle, Texas 05/01/2009 at 22:36

    Thank you, Ms Glick, for your lone voice of truth on this non-enigma. Similarly, there has been only one voice that has explained truly how an otherwise god-fearing people could have exterminated six million jews: Leonard Peikoff in his book The Ominous Parallels

  • Joshua 05/02/2009 at 5:53

    As a Israeli brother,I must say, you should be our prime minister! You are our watchman on the wall. Keep up the good work.

  • Mike Packer 05/02/2009 at 9:13

    An enlightening article and, unfortunately, Oh so true! We will see the new Caliphate in our lifetimes if it keeps going the way it is. EUrabia has already fallen what we consider as living there is just nerve twitch, the USA is on the fence with one leg over already. We will see what BHO will do with the Supreme Court to confirm our worst fears.
    Thank you, Caroline, I hope your tour of Fort Leavenworth convinced the military that they need to be prepared.

  • Ron Grandinetti, USA 05/02/2009 at 15:45

    Caroline as usual you recognize and can separate reality from fiction.
    Unfortunately the leaders of the free world are wearing blinders, with the hope that whatever is wrong out there will go away.
    What a worst time in history the US has to elect a Muslim president.
    He continues to apologize for America in the way we have treated the rest of the world.
    He slept during history classes and missed out on how the US liberated Japan, Germany, France, England, Korea and the likes all in the name of freedom and not as conquerors.
    He spent too much time in Rev. Wright’s church and with his Muslim background has embarked on dismantling our military and intelligence agencies.
    Couple this with a very liberal left House and Senate spells disaster.
    Can you imagine with all the problems the US is faced with at this time there is a House committee looking into college sports seeking to install a national playoff.
    It s time for Americans to tell the idiots they elected to get a life and find a new gig.
    Stay the hell out of the private sector.
    We have to hope and pray the Tea Party is only the beginning as Americans need to come together and rid the House and Senate of these knucklehead liberals.
    Caroline, Israel has to stand firm, with the likes of Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic terrorist on the rise things won’t get better overnight.
    PM Netanyahu must tell Obama Israel has no intentions of evacuating any territory and not interested in any other suggestions with regards to allowing the Palestinians to establish statehood in Israel.
    Obama, you are either with us or against us.

  • Robert Pave 05/02/2009 at 15:52

    Caroline B. Glick is a truly remarkable, excellent writer from whom I have learned much, and for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration. She has amazing insight and the ability to understand and digest and relay complex information spanning technology, geopolitics, sociology, philosophy and comparative religion. I find Ms. Glick to be right on in her views and it is extremely rare that I disagree with her in any manner.
    This piece, while excellent in its own right is but typical of Ms. Glick’s masterful reporting and sharing her opinions. Bravo, Ms. Glick, may you continue to see and to tell, to relate and to persuade in your brilliant style. I am forever your fan.

  • Ted Moran 05/02/2009 at 22:18

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Obama is following the path of Jimmy Carter wanting America to be contrite and believing the problem with the Middle East is Israel. Jimmy Carter did not get it then and Obama doesn’t get it now.
    Bush did not understand the role of America either, nor did he understand the need make history’s last stand on the side of Israel. America is not supposed to project her might to force democracy, but to protect her allies who share in her ideals. The US Constitution gives only one legitimate purpose for our federal government. Its purpose is to insure that the states provide the people with a republican form of government. And by extension on could say that strategic military alliances are to insure our allies have a republican form of government. Otherwise, we make treaties with either dictators or lunatic populations who change their minds and their laws as often as people change their underwear.
    It is not America or Israel that is the problem, nor as you say is the problem solely found in the fanatic fundamentalist Wahhabbi brand of Islam, it is Islam itself. Throughout recorded history Arabs have never had an independent democracy that existed beyond one election. Since the time of Mohammad until today Islam has been under autocratic control as its primary source of government. No one outside of the western nations has ever freely elected to join Islam. The middle east and eastern Asia’s Islamic history has been written in the blood of those who did not covert.
    I have studied scripture and I can tell you that the prophesies that many are waiting are not anti-Christian but anti-Semitic. In Europe the same anti-Semitism that fanned the flames of Auschwitz is being resurrected. The generation who betrayed other human beings into Nazi hands has not even fully passed away. The Palestinians should read Obadiah, for Obadiah prophesied these days when the Palestinians (Edomites) would betray the remnant of Jacob returning to take possession of the lands that haShem had given them.
    Because I studied scripture which gives me an insight into the nature of people and of the nations, I can also tell you what Obama will do when he is faced with the realization that Islam does not want our apologies but either our blood or our souls. He will blame Israel and his domestic opponents. When the American troops are isolated in Afghanistan because Iran will not honor any deal with Obama he will turn on America. Obama will leave these troops to die. America’s adversaries will attack, either with an EMP or first strike nuclear option. Americans will find themselves in a war for survival, Obama causing a civil war on one hand and our enemies seeking to use the puppet Obama for their own designs on the other. Combining all this with what natural calamities the earth will under go as the LORD of Lords prepares to set HIS foot upon the earth, it will be a dark day, this day of the LORD. Only G-D knows the fate of America, but I know Israel will survive because in the darkest hour her champion will arrive.

  • Marcel Cousineau 05/03/2009 at 13:02

    As you wrote,with Hizbollah in charge of Lebanon how is it that Israel must deliver ‘goodwill’ gestures and more land and more appeasment because the U.S. dictates so to Israel ?
    Netanyahu has not even arrived in Washington yet and he has already begun his role of loyal lap dog obedient to his masters.
    If the putz Netanyahu cannot even say no to the punk Obama about this than Israel is in for dark days very soon.
    The majority naive fools refuse to see how evil America has become in pushing Satans islamic agenda against Israel.
    This is one of many reasons why God is angry with decadent,perverted, utterly corrupted, America and why He will destroy this evil nation.
    A senior political source in Jerusalem said on Saturday that Netanyahu wants to respond to the American request(request ?, No ,it’s pressure from the bully ) on the matter; the move would also be a goodwill gesture to the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora ahead of Lebanese parliamentary elections in early June
    The Americans have been pressuring Israel over the past year to withdraw, arguing that this does not constitute a gesture but part of an Israeli commitment under Resolution 1701.
    The Americans say an Israeli withdrawal from Ghajar or a declaration of intent before the elections in Lebanon will bolster the moderate camp there.

  • Jeffrey D. Benton 05/04/2009 at 8:04

    Your article echoes a Wall Street Journal article I read a few years ago. The article described how, given the chance, voters in the Middle East would elect anti-Western, Islamic governments. So much for the George W. Bush nonsense about democratization being the best American strategy in the Middle East!
    I acknowledge that populations in Islamic countries are supporting Islamist parties but I question whether all the voters in those countries really understand the true nature of the Islamist agenda. After all, didn’t millions of Americans vote for Obama with misguided notions about who he was and what he would do for the country? Is there any less deception and propaganda in the Middle East? Of course, I am only speculating. Perhaps they really are all voting with eyes wide open.
    Brilliant article. Thanks for the clarity.

  • Nolanimrod 05/06/2009 at 17:45

    Caroline! Awesome exegesis! Amazing how plain it is when you stop saying, “Well, it COULD be an eagle, or it MIGHT be a swan” and just say, “Well, dang. You’re right. Hard as it is for us to believe, it IS a pterodactyl!”

  • William 05/08/2009 at 13:46

    I leave nice little comments focusing primarily on the fact that the state of Israel is in grave danger from Obama and needs if it hasn’t already to find an alternate source of military hardware support and to strike Iran hard and soon.. but they never appear ?


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