THE PINACLE OF INCOMPETENCE
By Efraim Karsh
This presumption, however, is not only wrong, but is often the inverse of the truth. Given bureaucracy's predilection for conformity, it is rarely the best and brightest who reach the top, but rather the yes-men sycophants – whether by rising to their level of incompetence, as the Peter Principle famously asserts, or by stumbling upward through successive failures, or by simply "being there" long enough.
Thus, we have England's national soccer team manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, putting Wayne Rooney on a par with soccer's best-ever player, the legendary Pele. Yet, rather than have his professional judgment questioned, the overpaid manager was allowed to lead his underperforming team for three more trophy-less years.
Or take U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's astounding description of the Muslim Brotherhood as a "largely secular" organization.
Shouldn't he know what countless newspaper readers know full well – that the Brotherhood is probably the world's foremost Islamist organization, committed to the establishment of a worldwide caliphate. How else is one to interpret its motto:
Now Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, former Director of MI5 (Britain's FBI equivalent), has joined the march of folly. In her first television interview since leaving her job four years ago, she argued that the "war on terror" is unwinnable, and urged the British government to "reach out" to al-Qa'ida. "It's always better to talk to the people who are attacking you than attacking them, if you can," she explained.
This gives the idea of appeasement a whole new meaning. Even the most notorious incident – the Anglo-French surrender of Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler in the 1938 Munich agreement – took place prior to any German military aggression. Once the Nazis invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, London and Paris attempted no further talks, but declared war on Germany.
In contrast, by the time Manningham-Buller made her startling suggestion, al-Qa'ida had massacred tens of thousands in the name of Islam – from the 9/11 attacks, to the ongoing slaughter in Iraq, to bombings in Yemen, Bali, Sharm e-Sheikh, and Madrid. Yet, neither these atrocities nor the July, 2005, London bombing, which took place under her watch, seem to have shaken the former Director's belief that outreach to the Islamist group would curb its murderous zeal:
This judgement of al-Qa'ida's worldview is as delusional as Clapper's take on the Muslim Brotherhood. It is true that, during the 1970s, Western Europeans bought partial immunity from Palestinian terrorism by indulging the PLO. But, then, the PLO's goal has always been limited to the "liberation of Palestine" (that is, the destruction of Israel), while al-Qa'ida seeks nothing short of worldwide triumph. As such, the idea that Israeli-Palestinian peace will take away one of Islam's primary gripes against the West totally misreads history and present-day politics.
It is not out of concern for a Palestinian right to self determination, but as part of a holy war to prevent the loss of part of the "House of Islam" that Islamists inveigh against Israel. In the words of the covenant of Hamas, the Palestinian offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood:
In this respect, there is no difference between Palestine and other parts of the world conquered by Islam throughout history. To this day, for example, many Muslims unabashedly pine for the restoration of Spain, and look upon their expulsion in 1492 as a grave historical injustice, as if they were Spain's rightful owners. Small wonder that Osama bin Laden evoked "the tragedy of Andalusia" after the 9/11 attacks, and the perpetrators of the March, 2004, Madrid bombings, in which hundreds of people were murdered, mentioned revenge for the loss of Spain as one of the atrocity's "root causes."
Indeed, even countries that have never been under Islamic rule have become legitimate targets of Islamist fervor. Since the late 1980s, various Islamist movements have looked on the growing number of French Muslims as a sign that France, too, has become a potential part of Dar al-Islam, the House of Islam.
In Britain, even the more moderate elements of the Muslim community are candid about their aims. As the late Zaki Badawi, a doyen of interfaith dialogue, put it:
This goal need not necessarily be pursued by the sword; it can be achieved through demographic growth and steady conversion to Islam. But, should peaceful means prove insufficient, physical force can be brought to bear.
Nor is this vision confined to an extremist fringe. This has been starkly demonstrated by the overwhelming support for the 9/11 attacks throughout the Islamic world, in the admiring evocations of bin Laden's murderous acts during the 2006 crisis over the Danish cartoons, and in the poll indicating significant sympathy among British Muslims for the "feelings and motives" of the London suicide bombers.
To deny this reality is the height of folly, and to imagine that it can be appeased or deflected is to play into the Islamists' hands.
The Islamist Fifth Column -- Internal Enemies of America & the West:
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Islamist Lawfare & the "Legal" Jihad Against America & the West
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Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
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Dr. Efraim Karsh, Editor of the Middle East Quarterly and author most recently of the book, Islamic Imperialism: A History (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2007), is Professor and Head of the Department of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College, University of London, U.K. A graduate in Arabic and Modern Middle East History from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and holding the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in International Relations from Tel Aviv University, Dr. Karsh has held academic posts at Harvard University, Columbia University, the Sorbonne, the London School of Economics, Helsinki University, the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in Washington, D.C., and the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.
Founder and Editor of the scholarly journal Israel Affairs, Dr. Karsh has written extensively on Middle East politics, Soviet foreign policy, and European affairs. A regular media commentator, he has appeared on U.K. and U.S. television and radio and contributed articles to leading newspapers in Britain and the U.S.A., among them the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Telegraph, and The Times (of London).
The foregoing article by Dr. Efraim Karsh was originally published in the Jerusalem Post, March 23, 2011, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (URL: http://www.meforum.org/2856/pinnacle-of-incompetence)
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