In 1848, the new Communist movement issued a manifesto. It began with the opening line: “A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of Communism.”
In 1848, the new Communist movement issued a manifesto. It began with the opening line: “A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of Communism.” For our purposes today, this might be reworded as: “A specter is haunting the Middle East—the specter of America.”
For example, about a year ago Dubai’s police chief addressed a major international Gulf Arab security conference. He said that there were about three dozen security threats to the Gulf Arab countries. But this well-respected security expert said the number-one threat was the United States.
Since that time, this American specter has become vivid. For instance, The New York Times ran a recent editorial which stated that the only protection for Egypt’s democracy — meaning Muslim Brotherhood participation in the next Egyptian government — was the United States and Europe. The Egyptian regime, Israel and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states were bad for wanting to protect their societies from Islamic ideology, revolution and anti-Western Shari’a states! Might the United States and its allies rather be expected to battle Turkey, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, Tunisia, Bahrain and Hamas? But what if a crazy notion seizes policymakers, blessed with the mush of ignorance about the Middle East: that they can take control of the troublemakers.
Perhaps Germany (World War I and II jihads), or the Soviet control of radical nationalist regimes in the 1950s and 1960, or the French rescue of the Palestinian leadership in the late 1940s, or Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran during the 1970s, or America in the 1950s (Arab nationalism), or the 2010 Muslim Brotherhood would turn nominal extremists into friends? Imagine, dunderheads in Washington, London, Paris and so on thinking they are masterfully preserving stability, making peace, and harnessing Shari’a in the cause of boosting democracy! How smug would be the smiles when those who perpetrated the September 11, 2001, attacks were supposedly defeated by those mentored into power a decade later by the West in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, or in the Arab Spring or the Syrian revolution! Look at it through the eyes of the Arabs, Iranians, Turks, Kurds and Israelis who think they will try to impose a new order in the region.
Consider a famous speech by Winston Churchill at Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946. In contrast to the Communist Manifesto, 100 years later Churchill began with: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain is descended across the continent.” It might be strange that to compare these two statements to the current situation in the Middle East. But such a comparison actually makes sense.
The intention of great powers seemed to be to impose one (European) system on the region. In the first case, it was Communism. In Churchill’s case, it was anti-Communism he advocated, which in parallel would be anti-Islamism.