Friday, February 18, 2011

Maghreb Mutinies: Karl Marx Meet Sayid Qutb; Lenin Meet Osama bin Laden

Maghreb Mutinies: Karl Marx Meet Sayid Qutb; Lenin Meet Osama bin Laden

Originally appeared in BigPeace,; January 28, 2011

The Wikileaks revolutions sweeping the Arab world seem democratically promising. Tweeting twenty-somethings challenge iron-fisted dictators. Populist mutineers trash the ruling clique’s Mediterranean villas. Royal families (and wannabe royal families) pack up their gold and flee to Europe or a nearby sympathetic kingdom.

Popular sentiment in the North African countries (“the Maghreb,” the lands beyond the sunset) appears to support reform. But it is a broad-based support—with a wide range of flavors. All the reformers, in all the Maghreb, share a commonality—they are Muslim.

Recent history provides a parallel to guide our understanding, and response, to the Maghreb Mutiny—the Russian Revolution.

A broad-based coalition reflecting popular discontent, made up of a spectrum of loosely linked groups that shared a common philosophical base. In Russia, the common base was socialism. In the Maghreb the common base is Islam.

The majority of people in 1905 Russia supported government reform to relieve the oppression of the tsar’s royal dictates. A socialist coalition, ranging from the radical Marxists, to the more moderate Social Revolutionists, took control of the Russian government after the tsar fell to riots, strikes, and protests.

The majority of people in the Maghreb support government reforms to relieve the oppression of their leaders’ secular dictates. While details are sketchy in the Maghreb, it is very likely that the opposition is gathering a coalition, which will be formed around their common belief system—Islam. It is also sure that the Muslim coalition will represent a range of flavors—from modernist Islam, to Islamic extremists. The extremist Muslim Brotherhood, followers of the teachings of Sayid Qutb, and bin Laden followers are surely in the coalition.

If, as has happened in Tunisia, and as it seems increasingly likely elsewhere, the Maghreb Mutinies succeed in overthrowing dictators, the aftermath could continue the parallels to the Russian revolution. This will not be a good development, for America, or for the people involved.

After the broad-based Russian socialist revolution, a committed extremist minority, the communist Bolsheviks, out-maneuvered the majority. The communists were tireless in using political, military, and terror tactics to wear down their coalition partners. Finally, the Bolsheviks seized power from their coalition partners, in October 1917.

The immediate aftermath was a bloodbath—the Red Terror. The Red Terror was followed by several years of ruthless civil war. The communists wiped out their coalition partners and anyone else who resisted their rule. The next 70 years were miserable, bloody, soul-deadening proof of the bankruptcy of communism.

While we may cheer a seemingly democratic uprising in the Maghreb, to paraphrase the prophet Hosea, the sowers of the wind shall reap the whirlwind. The fall of secular oppressors could very likely lead to the rise of religious oppressors, even against the will of the majority. A Green Terror could very easily mimic the Red Terror.

Marxist extremists did it in Russia; Qutubist extremists could repeat the strategy and tactics in the Maghreb.

If ever America needed a self-interested, strong, clear voice in the realm of foreign affairs, now is the time. Unfortunately, we are saddled with the reed- thin, apologetic Obama foreign affairs crowd. Following Obama’s Cairo apology to the Muslim world, he withdrew to the golf course on Ft. Myers.

His Middle East representatives, czar George Mitchell, and foreign affairs neophyte (which part of first lady of Arkansas prepared her for international affairs?) Hillary Clinton, are doomed to disrespect in a region where face and power are requirements for effectiveness.

Will we sit back and watch the second coming of an extremist coup following a popular revolution, dooming to slavery the masses struggling for freedom? Or will we aid and abet the wrong side? The President’s shaky foundation--apologizing for America, and uncertain bows to kings—does not bode well for America’s interests. Prepare for the whirlwinds. article: Qutb Meet Lenin; El-Baradei Meet Kerensky

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