The Middle East, the world, at a crossroads
By Frank Salvato
In 2008, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, was quoted as saying, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." As stunningly opportunistic as that statement was to many, it was, at least, a transparently honest statement that defined the tactics used by the White House during the first two years of the Obama Administration. And while those of us who are politically aware here in the United States came to see that tactic bring to fruition a sea-change of initiatives, our political and ideological trials and tribulations pale in comparison to what is happening in the Middle East today.
I bring up Mr. Emanuel's admission regarding crisis because it is cogent to the events happening in Tunisia, Jordan and, especially, Egypt. With pro-democracy and anti-dictatorial movements taking to the streets in protest of what they see as heavy-handed totalitarianism – albeit to a much lesser extent in Jordan than in the other locales, the world is witnessing a level of chaos that can only exist where there is a void in national cohesion; a void of accepted leadership. It is this void that serves as the opportunity for nefarious forces to exploit the "crisis."
Perhaps most notably in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is calculating its actions carefully; waiting in the wings but for their call to take to the streets in support of the protesters. The Muslim Brotherhood, one of the quintessential organizations within the realm of radical Islam, was the organization that gave birth to al-Qaida. In fact, al-Qaida's number two, Ayman al Zawahiri, was a high-level member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood before embarking on a reign of terror, murder and oppression with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.
As I wrote for our parent organization, BasicsProject.org, in 2007:
"The Muslim Brotherhood was conceived in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, a 22-year-old elementary school teacher, as a fundamentalist Islamic movement in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent ban of the caliphate system. Al-Banna believed that Islam was not only a religious dogma but an all-inclusive way of life. Al-Banna based his fundamentalism on the tenets of Wahhabism, supplementing the radically fundamentalist Islamic education for the Society's male students with jihadi training.
"As stated in the organization's charter and on its website, the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to install an Islamic empire ruled under Sharia Law and a Caliphate across the Muslim world and ultimately the entire world, through stages designed to 'Islamisize,' incrementally, targeted nations. We can witness this very action taking place in Europe today."
With that cursory understanding of what the Muslim Brotherhood's goals include – and with the understanding that they learn from their foes; how they operate, what tactics works, what tactics don't work – we can see that the notion that "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," applies here, and frighteningly so.
To be sure, the overwhelming majority of those taking part in the protests in Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan are doing so to affect pro-democratic change; to affect the removal of oppressive governments in favor of governments that afford them a voice in how they are governed. To that extent, even CNN, a normally Left-leaning mainstream cable news outlet, found itself acquiescing to the notion that President George W. Bush's vision of democracy taking hold in the Middle East was ahead of its time and that credit for having the vision was due.
But, along with the upheaval that intrinsically come with governmental change, comes a chaos that can – and will, to the extent that it is allowed to do so – be exploited by those far more evil than those serving as the change catalyst that brought the people to the streets in protest to begin with. The Muslim Brotherhood and their myriad minion groups serve as those forces of evil; those forces of oppression and totalitarianism.
So, with these juxtaposing forces in position, both at the point where violence has become a means for the achievement of their goals, the Middle East – and, in fact, the world, stands at a crossroads; a crossroads that can lead to either an escalation of freedom in a region starving for liberty, human rights and the inalienable rights recognized by Western culture, or an advancement of fundamentalist Islamic dogma that has delivered unto the world the oppression of its subjects (especially females), suicide bombings, and a violent quest for totalitarian rule under a fundamentalist Islamist caliphate where all things un-Islamic are punished, many by beatings, torture and execution.
It is because we are at these crossroads that we must proceed intelligently. We must make it clear to each and every person in the world – and especially in the Middle East – that the peace achieved between the people of Israel and the peoples of Egypt and Jordan is a peace between peoples and not between governments.
It is because we are at these crossroads that we must use the full force of our influence – both individually and through the voices of our governments here in the West – to support the advancement of freedom and liberty and not any one faction, group or individual.
Many learned individuals have been quick to warn that we must be wary of enjoining in an emotionally charged quest to replace an ipso facto dictator without a clear understanding of the goals being sought. They warn of doing this because all too often, the events of history – especially in the Middle East – tell of the dangers of empowering blind emotion in governmental upheavals; that all too often the quest for reform ushers in a new master whose hand is much more harsh in its treatment of those it rules than its predecessor.
It is for exactly this reason that we must focus on advancing freedom, human rights and liberty in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and the whole of the Middle East, and not the simple and dangerous scheme of regime change. Without the advancement of freedom in these countries, in this region, without the advancement of liberty and human dignity throughout the world, we simply set the stage for the next tyrant to rule.
"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood." – John Adams
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for BasicsProject.org a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network and has been a featured guest on al Jazeera's Listening Post. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain's America Radio Show, nationally syndicated by the Phoenix Broadcasting Network and on NetTalkWorld Global Talk Radio catering to the US Armed Forces around the world. Mr. Salvato is also heard weekly on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the USA Radio Network. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times & Human Events and are syndicated nationally. He is a featured political writer for EducationNews.org and is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.