Friday, May 1, 2009

One civilization clashing

Here is Caroline Glick's always penetrating and accurate analysis of current events in the Middle East. The core of her article is:

"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."


One civilization clashing
By Caroline B. Glick

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-Shiite 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 What will happen in Iraq once US forces are withdrawn is an open question.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.