Friday, December 02, 2011

Libya, Western policy & the so called Islamists: when you cannot beat them, join them!

After spending part of the 20th Century funding and forging alliances with anyone with an 'Islamist' agenda to counter Communism, the US and the Western world in general decided Islamists were the bad guys. So then they spent the next decade fighting them all over the globe even if they were democratically elected. Post 9/11 it was even worse and there was total breakdown in communication. This attitude from the West has helped fuel hatred towards not only Islamists but really anything and anyone Muslim (at least that's my impression) which fell right into the lap of the extremists and helped further their plans thereby resulting in  a vicious cycle of violence that targeted not only western interests but ordinary Muslims and non- Muslim alike.

The horrible wars fought by proxy in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia etc.... are a witness to this  yet it was and has always been a loosing war for the western powers; with resounding defeats in my opinion in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia and  Sudan. Troops are pulling out steadily but surely, which means that they will have to come to accept these 'people' and negotiate some kind of  honourable retreat a la Iraq for example. The Taliban are still powerful in Afghanistan, the Iranian mullahs have gotten hold of Iraq, Pakistan? no comment and Somalia is run by those Shababs, Sudan ? they had to be pushed into partition, Palestine, into a civil war, Algeria are still reeling from their post election war in the 90s that seem to have put them  out of the 'Arab Spring ' loop  for the moment ....etc.....etc...

There is a saying which I oft repeat "when you cannot beat them, join them" and that is a wise advice :) but the US and the Western world cannot do this without looking like losers  and like all this money and the  lives lost were for nothing. So to save face the iconic figure of Islamic fundamentalists had to be demolished. Nothing  more cathartic then murdering Bin Ladin to send the right message, to  back home, to your average  Arab  and Muslim but also to your so called Islamist. The message was that if we get this 'victory' we bury the hatchet and you guys get the opportunity to for the first time of your life get on the political stage legally.

So when Arab countries started to revolt  I was sure that whatever I brought up here would  be kicking in fast along with the political machinery that goes with it. The other dimension is the involvement of ambitious GCC countries not exactly beacons of democracy and who fear Iran's domination and whose human rights record is appalling .

To prove my  conspiracy theory let's glance at the newspaper headlines for 2011 post 'Arab Spring' developments:

Islamist leader named Morocco PM [source]
Tunisia Islamist Party wins vote [source]
Islamist strong ahead of Egypt poll [source]
Fatah Hamas prepare to bury the hatchet [source]

Saudi Arabia is the bedrock of Wahhabism and yet is America's best ally, Qatar is forging a name for itself and funnily has been linked from the beginning in the Libyan uprising and other pots. The Bahrain revolution has been violently stymied down, Syria is heading towards civil war unless a miracle happens, Yemen we are in season two of the revolution and not sure what the world is waiting for, Lebanon is in such a mess that nothing needs to be done to make it worse, Oman saw a very short lived movement and Saudi Arabia pumped money to its people, Jordan is trying a balancing act, Kuwait had the daring movement of the storming of its parliament and  so many other examples all over the region

Even in Libya it seems that the US would give it's blessings to an Islamic government as long as its own interests are safeguarded check this headline. We need to remember that this cleric mentioned here is believed to be an American /Qatari stooge by a large number or Libyans....and he has ambitions of( or for his party) to lead in Libya.

Who would have thought this possible a mere year ago? the key word seems to be 'moderate' Islamist. Nevertheless it is a U turn for the US and others  and now it seems that  it has been decreed that the old dictators were no longer useful, they are ushering a new breed disguised under something that they believe will be acceptable to the people.

The fishy stink is can be smelled from kms away... I want to be optimistic for the freedom, but I don't dare lest my hopes are dashed to the ground. May I be wrong and just a crying Cassandra but in light of what is happening and what has happened in 2011, my words on Feb 28 of this year now seem almost prophetic:

I am terrified that when all the ashes from the uprisings that are consuming us settle down we become blinded by the celebratory mood and find ourselves having exchanged one agenda for another whose nature would be like an octopus: soft but with many slippery tentacles."

I'm not angry or bitter but simply realistic and accept the truths, I hope that in Libya we do not fall into this trap as I have nothing against Islamists on the contrary a lot of their ideas sound very valid and strike a vein but I do not want them with the blessings of America, it just means they are the new puppets. Libyans are not dumb but I hope that for the sake of peace they do not let themselves be played with like pieces on a chess board.

And finally as I said, the west  could not beat them and so decided  to embrace them and the choices of its regional allies and influence the democratic process.... sigh


programmer craig said...

Well, I agree with many of your points about the stupidity of western leadership. However, I don't see how it is that it can be characterized as a "loss" for the West when Muslims engage in behavior that is destructive to themselves and their societies. Take your case of Somalia for example: who has lost there? The West? Or Somalis? How about Afghanistan? If the Taliban takes over again when NATO pulls out, who has lost? The West? Or Afghans? And who lost in Iran in 1979? The West, or Iranians?

I'm sorry to say it, dear, but many more victories like that for Islamists and Muslims will find themselves living in the Stone Age and may not even have the internet to explain to westerners about how its all our fault. I do, however, agree that there is a movement in the West to find Islamists that we can coexist with. Personally, I don't see the point of that. There's no rule that says the US or anyone else has to be able to get along with foreign governments. The idea that the world is a global village that we're all responsible for is one of the brainfarts of the internationalists that really gets on my nerves as it's caused a lot of pain and misery the last few decades.

Highlander said...

Craig I understand your pov above I wanted to clarify that the Islamists have not taken over yet in Libya as there is a strong current against them but I'm angry that foreign governments will be happy to pump money if they think this is their best bet ... please they need to stop interfering, I'm grateful for the NATO help and the help of other countries but if more want to help then do so constructively and let Libya rebuild and find its own footing without fueling more internal fires we already have enough problems as it is...

Maya M said...

"I'm sorry to say it, dear, but many more victories like that for Islamists and Muslims will find themselves living in the Stone Age and may not even have the Internet to explain to Westerners about how it's all our fault."

My thoughts exactly!
I would, however, disagree with Craig about the stupidity of Western leaders. You are working within the material you have. And if the civilized countries combined don't matter much in terms of population and territory, then they cannot isolate themselves and are forced to interact with other countries. This means diplomatic and trade relationships with regimes we don't like. And in cases of conflict, it also means temporary coalitions with states that after a short time may become the next current enemy against which coalitions are formed.
Soviet Russia was ally against Nazi Germany, then it was The Enemy against which USA united with other Western countries, including West Germany, and some other entities such as the Afghan mujahedeens. Then, we had Sept. 11 and a new constellation of (current) enemies and (temporary) allies. It is inevitable.

"I want to be optimistic for the freedom..."
Unfortunately, I cannot be very optimistic for freedom in societies where the majority of people don't want or tolerate freedom and haven't even the minimum package of skills needed to build and maintain a free society. With the possible exclusion of Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo, where in the Muslim world do people even grasp the cornerstone idea of separating religion from state? And how many do support freedom of speech?

"I have nothing against Islamists, on the contrary, a lot of their ideas sound very valid and strike a vein..."
Could you be more specific - which ideas :) ?
"...but I do not want them with the blessings of America, it just means they are the new puppets."
I must admit I have a problem to figure out which non-Western rulers are considered US puppets and why. The only "criteria" I have found so far are - puppet is every ruler who doesn't openly support any sort of terrorism.

"Libyans are not dumb..."
Unfortunately, not being dumb means little in a country without historical roots and cultural disposition for democracy. Germans were not dumb in the 1930s, either. I guess they would score high if they were given IQ tests. This did not prevent them from behaving very stupidly at political level. Let's hope that Libyans will make smaller mistakes and will learn from them, though I suspect the latter is impossible as long as they blame their mistakes on the West.

KhadijaTeri said...

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paulo said...

As I see it, the raise of, the so called, Islamist parties to power in the wake of the Arab Spring is a reaction to 2 main causes, poorly organized secular parties and the people fear of chaos.
Most of the secular groups are very active online, most of the messages that pass to the West come from these groups, hence the Western surprise with the election results in Tunisia and Egypt.
When an Islamist party comes to say that secular means against God and that all morality comes from God, a secular group find very difficult to contravene this. The secular groups have a speech that is not understandable to the average people and are unable to create political awareness toward a secular regime. I still hear people saying that a country can’t be governed without a king or a president, a parliamentary democracy is unknown.
The fear of chaos is still a leftover from the old regimes. The rhetoric of the old regimes needs to be shattered by actions and not similar rhetoric.
Now we come to a question. How long until the people get disenchanted with the revolutions? The answer depends on what they expect and when they expect it. No one bothers to tell the people that any significant change, other than the freedom of speech, will not happen soon. A clear speech is imperative. It makes no sense to treat people like children.
They penalty for these actions is a door open to another dictator and the perpetuation of a system.
The best weapon to fight the foreign powers intervention is to prove that the people can manage themselves without foreign intervention. The Arab Spring proved that is possible to put the Western powers in the corner, in a position in which they have to alternative but to support or at least stay out of it.

I wish for all the Arab Springs a fruitful blossom in a democratic free society, especially Libya, which is so close to my heart.

smokey spice said...

I've always appreciated this 1787 quote by Thomas Jefferson:

And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Back then, much of the world was transitioning from monarchy to democracy...not to the liking of the governments or the churches at the time... but it was a wave that was happening none the less.

Libyans have paid very dearly, very much in the spirit of the above statement. I think that anyone and everyone taking a position will keep that in mind...