“Our” Islamists

Defenders of current US policy in the Islamic world argue that it is sometimes necessary to choose the lesser of two evils, which is why, when it came to the Persian Gulf oil monarchies, America chose the status quo over the Arab Spring. But, as its history in Afghanistan shows, the US risks fomenting new and even greater dangers.

NEW DELHI – Following the death of Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi, Libya’s interim government announced the “liberation” of the country. It also declared that a system based on sharia (Islamic law), including polygamy, would replace the secular dictatorship that Qaddafi ran for 42 years. Swapping one form of authoritarianism for another seems a cruel letdown after seven months of NATO airstrikes in the name of democracy.

In fact, the Western powers that brought about regime change in Libya have made little effort to prevent its new rulers from establishing a theocracy. But this is the price that the West willingly pays in exchange for the privilege of choosing the new leadership. Indeed, the cloak of Islam helps to protect the credibility of leaders who might otherwise be seen as foreign puppets.

For the same reason, the West has condoned the rulers of the oil sheikhdoms for their longstanding alliance with radical clerics. For example, the decadent House of Saud, backed by the United States, not only practices Wahhabi Islam – the source of modern Islamic fundamentalism – but also exports this fringe form of the faith, gradually snuffing out more liberal Islamic traditions. Yet, when the Saudi Crown Prince died recently, the US stood by silently as the ruling family appointed its most reactionary Islamist as the new heir to the throne.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/TGyVXXT;
  1. Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

    The Brexit Surrender

    European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have given the go-ahead to talks with Britain on post-Brexit trade relations. But, as European Council President Donald Tusk has said, the most difficult challenge – forging a workable deal that secures broad political support on both sides – still lies ahead.

  2. The Great US Tax Debate

    ROBERT J. BARRO vs. JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS on the impact of the GOP tax  overhaul.


    • Congressional Republicans are finalizing a tax-reform package that will reshape the business environment by lowering the corporate-tax rate and overhauling deductions. 

    • But will the plan's far-reaching changes provide the boost to investment and growth that its backers promise?


    ROBERT J. BARRO | How US Corporate Tax Reform Will Boost Growth

    JASON FURMAN & LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS | Robert Barro's Tax Reform Advocacy: A Response

  3. Murdoch's Last Stand?

    Rupert Murdoch’s sale of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets to Disney for $66 billion may mark the end of the media mogul’s career, which will long be remembered for its corrosive effect on democratic discourse on both sides of the Atlantic. 

    From enabling the rise of Donald Trump to hacking the telephone of a murdered British schoolgirl, Murdoch’s media empire has staked its success on stoking populist rage.

  4. Bank of England Leon Neal/Getty Images

    The Dangerous Delusion of Price Stability

    Since the hyperinflation of the 1970s, which central banks were right to combat by whatever means necessary, maintaining positive but low inflation has become a monetary-policy obsession. But, because the world economy has changed dramatically since then, central bankers have started to miss the monetary-policy forest for the trees.

  5. Harvard’s Jeffrey Frankel Measures the GOP’s Tax Plan

    Jeffrey Frankel, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a former member of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, outlines the five criteria he uses to judge the efficacy of tax reform efforts. And in his view, the US Republicans’ most recent offering fails miserably.

  6. A box containing viles of human embryonic Stem Cell cultures Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

    The Holy Grail of Genetic Engineering

    CRISPR-Cas – a gene-editing technique that is far more precise and efficient than any that has come before it – is poised to change the world. But ensuring that those changes are positive – helping to fight tumors and mosquito-borne illnesses, for example – will require scientists to apply the utmost caution.

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now