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Volume XIV, Issue # 113, June 3, 2012
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TWENTY YEARS OF ILLUSION ABOUT ISLAMISM
By Dr. Daniel Pipes

AMERICAN FOREIGN & NATIONAL-SECURITY POLICY VIS-A-VIS THE ISLAMIC WORLD:  THE U.S.A. & THE MIDDLE EAST IN A CHANGING WORLD -- THE BROAD LINES OF U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY TOWARD ISLAM & THE ISLAMIST MOVEMENT WHICH WERE LAID DOWN TWENTY YEARS AGO &, SINCE THAT TIME, HAVE BEEN ADHERED TO WITH REMARKABLE CONSISTENCY -- A FUNDAMENTALLY FAULTY ASSUMPTION AS THE ABIDING HOPE OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE & NEARLY THE WHOLE ESTABLISHMENT:  BELIEF THAT ISLAMISTS CAN BE AGENTS TO "BROADEN POLITICAL PARTICIPATION" -- THE REALITY:  A DEEPLY ANTI-CONSTITUTIONAL & ANTI-DEMOCRATIC IDEOLOGY SUCH AS ISLAMISM CANNOT BRING ON DEMOCRATIZATION. SUCH AN IDEOLOGY SUPPORTS DICTATORSHIP, NOT CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY.
FULL STORY:   The broad lines of U.S. government, other government, and generally establishment policy toward Islamism were laid down on June 2, 1992, when Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Edward P. Djerejian, delivered a major speech, "The U.S. and the Middle East In a Changing World," at Meridian House International, in Washington, D.C. After some throat clearing about the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Kuwait War and the Arab-Israeli conflict, Djerejian gave what has been called "the first major U.S. government statement on fundamentalist Islam" and, in just over 400 words, sketched out a policy that has been held to with remarkable consistency over the subsequent 20 years.

Djerejian started by noting that "the role of religion [in the Middle East] has become more manifest, and much attention is being paid to a phenomenon variously labeled political Islam, the Islamic revival, or Islamic fundamentalism." He praised Islam "as one of the world's great faiths," while noting that its cultural legacy "is a rich one in the sciences, arts, and culture and in tolerance of Judaism and Christianity." Djerejian then analyzed the Islamist movement:

    "In countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, we see groups or movements seeking to reform their societies in keeping with Islamic ideals. There is considerable diversity in how these ideals are expressed. We detect no monolithic or coordinated international effort behind these movements.

That diversity is fine, he went on, so long as there is

    ". . . real political dialogue between government, on the one hand, and the people and parties and other institutions, on the other. Those who are prepared to take specific steps toward free elections, creating independent judiciaries, promoting the rule of law, reducing restrictions on the press, respecting the rights of minorities, and guaranteeing individual rights will find us ready to recognize and support their efforts, just as those moving in the opposite direction will find us ready to speak candidly and act accordingly. Those who seek to broaden political participation in the Middle East will, therefore, find us supportive, as we have been elsewhere in the world."

Indeed, Washington ". . . has good, productive relations with countries and peoples of all religions throughout the world, including many whose systems of government are firmly grounded in Islamic principles." But the U.S. government is "suspect of those who would use the democratic process to come to power, only to destroy that very process in order to retain power and political dominance. While we believe in the principle of 'one person, one vote,' we do not support 'one person, one vote, one time'."

Djerejian then adduced the general rule, that the concern is political, not religious. In his words:

    ". . . religion is not a determinant -- positive or negative -- in the nature or quality of our relations with other countries. Our quarrel is with extremism and the violence, denial, intolerance, intimidation, coercion, and terror which too often accompany it."

Which leads to the take-away quote of the speech:

    ". . . the U.S. government does not view Islam as the next 'ism' confronting the West or threatening world peace. That is an overly simplistic response to a complex reality. The Cold War is not being replaced with a new competition between Islam and the West."

Comment: Djerejian makes a fundamentally faulty assumption here, namely, that Islamists can be agents to "broaden political participation." That illusion remains, two decades later, the abiding hope of the U.S. State Department and nearly the whole of the establishment. No, simply put, a deeply anti-constitutional and anti-democratic ideology cannot bring on democratization. Islamists have picked up on this hope and, invariably, including right now in the campaign for the run-off presidential elections in Egypt, present themselves as constitutional democrats.

But they never are.


Daniel Pipes 2012
Originally Published inNational Review Online, June 2, 2012
Republished with the Permission of Daniel Pipes
Reprinted from the DanielPipes.org, June 3, 2012
URL: http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2012/06/twenty-years-of-illusion-about-islamism


LINKS TO RELATED TOPICS:
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three    Page Two    Page One

Egypt, Arabs, & the Middle East

Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
& Their Middle Eastern Neighbors

American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East

International Politics & World Disorder:
War, Peace, & Geopolitics in the Real World:
Foreign Affairs & U.S. National Security

   Page Two    Page One

Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.

Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization

Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies

Counterterrorism & U.S. National Security

U.S. National Security Strategy



Dr. Daniel Pipes, a Ph.D. in Islamic History (Harvard University, 1978), is Founder and President of the Middle East Forum, Publisher of Middle East Quarterly, Founder of Campus Watch, Taube Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, a signatory of the Project for the New American Century, a former board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace, a former adjunct scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Golden Circle supporter of the U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon, a former member of the U.S. Department of Defense Special Task Force on Terrorism and Technology, and a former lecturer at the U.S. Naval War College, Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Pipes was the Director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute from 1986 to 1993.

Author or co-author of eighteen books, Dr. Pipes is a regular columnist for National Review Online, Front Page Magazine, the New York Sun, and the Jerusalem Post. His analyses of world trends and of forces and developments in the Middle East have appeared in numerous North American newspapers, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He frequently appears on American network television, as well as at universities and think tanks, to discuss the Middle East, Islam, and the Islamist threat to the U.S.A. and the West. He also has appeared on BBC and Al Jazeera, and has lectured in approximately twenty-five countries.

Dr. Pipes is a Polish-American Jew whose parents fled Poland in 1939, immigrated to the U.S.A., and assimilated well into American society and culture. His father is Richard Pipes, an American historian specializing in Russian and Soviet history and serving as Professor of History at Harvard University from 1950 until his retirement in 1996. During the Cold War, the worldview of Richard Pipes was strongly anti-Soviet and anti-Communist.




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