Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day in the Middle East

For those unfamiliar with the term Groundhog Day, watch this first:


British MP Daniel Hannan made a point today on the Sean Hannity show. During the Cold War, the US supported dictators who opposed communism. Hannan explained that the argument during the Cold War was "He's may be a son of a b*tch, but he's our son of a b*tch. But now the cold war is over, so we can say 'he may be our son of a b*tch, but he's a son of a b*tch."

The first thought is basically why we were supporting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak's dictatorship provided some degree of stability, especially for US ally Israel. Mubarak's Egypt provided security for the Suez Canal, through which some 8% of the world's shipping flows.

The old logic was that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, provided he's not worse than your actual enemy. Ultimately compromising and supporting a very bad guy against an evil evil empire supported one's good principles. Makes sense. The new logic is that since the evil empire is gone, it's time to drop support for the very bad guy. Sorta makes sense.

The only failing is that without a transitional structure, there isn't just a smooth handoff from "very bad guy" to "good new guy". The people who almost invariably takeover in these situations are those that are prepared for it and have been working towards it. Very bad guy is replaced with different evil guy. If you don't want a son of a b*tch, you replace him on your terms to make sure you get a better guy, or you apply pressure to reform him. You don't go along with a mob that is at least in part incited by the evil guys - because that mob and those evil guys are often only kept in check because your guy is a son of a b*tch.

In the past, there are several examples of the people who take over after a nation collapses. The Leninist victory in Russia was a result of a fractured nation in a period of transition. The interim government of Kerensky may have promised a republic, but it lasted just long enough for Lenin to take over - which was his goal - Lenin was a professional revolutionary. The breakdown of China during WWII led to the Chinese Nationalists under Chiang Kai-Shek - a US ally, though with many faults - ultimately losing control of China to Mao, who was ready and working towards seizing power. Recently, this is the entire Beckian argument with regards to George Soros and his shadow government.

But it's Groundhog Day in the very easy, and very apt, comparison of the Shah of Iran to Mubarak. The Iranian Islamic Revolution was the result of a lot of factors, but not the least of which was Jimmy Carter not doing much of anything to shore up US interests in Iran by supporting the Shah.

Probably not the best leader in Iran's history, but far from the worst.

The loss of the Shah brought us the Iranian Hostage Crisis and a nuclear Iran that seeks out the ability to obliterate its neighbors. The loss of Mubarak is most likely going to bring us the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of Egypt, as they are the most powerful opposition group, and stand the most to gain. The Muslim Brotherhood has been referred to as "Al Qaeda before Al Qaeda was cool". They've also got a bit of history, going back to some other evil guys.

From the Council on Foreign Relations:

One reason the Brotherhood’s commitment to nonviolence is unclear: The original Egyptian organization has spawned branches in 70 countries. These organizations bear the Brotherhood name, but their connections to the founding group vary and some of them may provide financial, logistical, or other support to terrorist organizations. Some terrorist groups—including Hamas, Jamaat al-Islamiyya, and al-Qaeda—have historic and ideological affiliations with the Egyptian Brotherhood. In addition, some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists were once Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members, including Osama bin Laden’s top deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Zawahiri went more hardcore after Sayyid Qutb was hanged by Egyptian authorities. Who was Qutb? Just the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. And what is Qutbism? Just good old-fashioned infidel-killing Jihad.

From a story on the Muslim Brotherhood in CanadaFreePress, 2006:

Here's how the story began. In the 1920s there was a young Egyptian named al Bana. And al Bana formed this nationalist group called the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Bana was a devout admirer of Adolph Hitler and wrote to him frequently. So persistent was he in his admiration of the new Nazi Party that in the 1930s, al-Bana and the Muslim Brotherhood became a secret arm of Nazi intelligence.

The Arab Nazis had much in common with the new Nazi doctrines. They hated Jews; they hated democracy; and they hated the Western culture. It became the official policy of the Third Reich to secretly develop the Muslim Brotherhood as the fifth Parliament, an army inside Egypt.

More on Al Banna here:
And from Horowitz here:
Even CNN can't spin them into a good thing, though they try:

Considering Hitler and the Muslim Brotherhood liked each other, making Mubarak into Hitler really makes no sense, other than to support Orwell's claim that "fascist" just means "anything bad".

Weak, naiive democrat president with no foreign policy experience or understanding in charge of the US. An islamist group seizing power from a US ally. The US ally is a strongarm leader that the democrat's touchy-feely side rejects, rather than figure out why we'd ever support the guy - and what the repercussions of not supporting him will be... Yup. It's GROUNDHOG DAY!

But this time when we drive off the cliff, it'll be different!

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