by Keith Preston
One of the more interesting aspects of the affect of the current imperial assault on Afghanistan and Iraq on American political culture has been the emergence of so-called “liberal hawks”, that is, persons of a generally liberal, or even left-wing outlook, who have been vocal supporters of the regime’s endeavors against Muslim countries. The names are familiar to those who follow such matters. They include Thomas Friedman, Christopher Hitchens, Paul Berman and a good number of others. I frequently encounter ordinary people with similar views. Typically, the argument goes something like this: While it may be true that the Bush regime’s claims about Iraqi WMDs were bogus, and that there was no alliance between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, the fact remains that Saddam was a “bad guy” who repressed dissent, ruled dictatorially, engaged in torture and the mass killing of dissidents, possibly as many as 300,000 victims. Therefore, invasion of Iraq and the toppling of its government was acceptable on humanitarian, moralistic or libertarian grounds.
The actual record of Iraqi atrocities has been disputed. For example, it is widely claimed that Saddam eliminated entire villages of Kurds with posionous gases during the Iran-Iraq war. The Army War College argues against this claim, believing the casualties to have been inflicted either by the Iranians or as “collateral damage” resulting from combat between Iranian and Iraqi forces. The figure of 300,000 killed by the regime of Saddam comes from a report on the matter by Human Rights Watch, but CIA analysts have claimed that these numbers are widely exaggerated. Whatever the truth may be, claims of this type provide powerful emotional ammunition to those arguing for a war of liberation, though that is obviously not the US regime’s actual motivation. Some have argued that “evil” regimes are not entitled to the principles of sovereignty enmanating from the Treaty of Westphalia. Christopher Hitchens has applauded the US regime for “bombing Afghanistan out of the stone age”.
One of the most immediately apparent problems with these sorts of arguments is the hypocrisy and double standards involved. If it is okay to invade Afghanistan because of the Taliban’s oppression of women and religious minorities, then why not invade Israel over its oppression of the Palestinians? If it is okay to invade Iraq because of Saddam’s dictatorial rule and pursuit of nuclear weaponry, then why not deal with Pakistan in a similar manner? Considerations of this type aside, however, there remains the question of whether those particular Islamic nations and other Third World countries labeled as “rogue states” are guilty of any special sins requiring that the “international community” mete out its own arbitrarily decided upon punishment.
Iraq under Saddam Hussein was one of the most liberal states in the Middle East, if not the entire Islamic world. Taxes were low, restrictions on entrepreneurship were minimal, private ownership of firearms was permitted as were alcoholic beverages and gambling casinos, Christians and other religious minorities were typically allowed freedom of worship, women were integrated into society and allowed education and career opportunities, “Islamo-Fascists” were repressed and kept out of power. Health and literacy levels were high by regional standards and Iraq was in the process of modernization. All of that changed during Gulf War One when the US/UN forces bombed Iraq back into a pre-industrial state. Subsequent sanctions led to dramatic increases in death from preventable diseases, particularly among children, severe economic regression and increased repression. The invasion of Gulf War Two pushed Iraq still further over the abyss and now Islamic fundamentalists are slowly but steadily coming to power, destroying the modernization and economic and educational advances of the Baathist regime, persecuting women and religious minorities and pushing Iraq towards an Afghanistan-like religious civil war. Many Iraqis now wish for the good old days of Saddam.
After Iraq, the most liberal Muslim nation has typically been Syria. Iraqi Christians have been fleeing to Syria to escape persecution in “liberated” Iraq. Yet, Syria is widely believed to be a likely target of the Bush regime at some point in the future. Why? Because of Syrian support for the Palestinian resistance. Syria also provides protection to Lebanon from Israeli incursions, a vital necessity if further Israeli atrocities in Lebanon, such as those that occurred following the 1982 invasion, are to be prevented. Like Iraq under Saddam, Syria is ruled by a Baathist party, which has traditionally been the party of secularism and liberalization in the region. For those who fear the fall of Islamic nations to fundamentalists, the best thing to hope for would be a Baathist regime in every Muslim country.
In 1953, the American CIA assisted in the overthrow of the social-democratic regime in Iran, replacing it with the monarchy of the shah. This regime was widely unpopular, and it maintained a secret police force trained by the CIA that frequently engaged in torture and the murder of dissidents. Shiite fundamentalists objected to the efforts of the shah to impose Western values on the country, and to his conversion of Iran into an American puppet state, and the shah was eventually deposed in 1979. The fundamentalist regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini that followed was notorious for its puritanical repression, but the Iranian regime has continued to liberalize since the Ayatollah’s death fifteen years ago. A writer for “The American Conservative” describes Tehran as remarkably similar to any major American city, complete with gay cruisers soliciting sex in public parks and prostitutes inhabiting the seedy areas of the city. American aggression has hampered the liberalization process in Iran, as fears of foreign aggression have resulted in electoral victories by conservative Islamic hardliners. Iran and America are similar in many ways, as both have democratic governments with a quasi-fascist ruling party that maintains much repressive legislation in the moral or cultural realm. For example, a few years ago I did a study comparing the treatment of drug users and prostitutes in different countries and under different types of regimes. I found that the treatment of these groups by the American and Iranian regimes were relatively similar, with America by far holding the lead in incarceration rates.
The Sudan has been much in the news lately because of the problems in Darfur. That nation has endured years of brutal civil war, primarily ethnic and religious in nature. The Sudan is a rather large country and events in one region often have little bearing on other regions. I know a fellow from the Sudan who describes his home area as rather peaceful, while civil war rages in other areas. In some spots, radical Islamic fundamentalists have taken power and implemented repressive rule similar to that of the Taliban. In some areas, power-sharing arrangements have been established based on autonomy for Christian and Muslim populations and joint control over oil revenues. In other places, Muslims (primarily Arabs) have subjected Christians (primarily blacks) to severe religious persecution, ethnic cleansing and even chattel slavery. To be sure, such things are undesirable, but a little bit of context is required. An American invasion of the Sudan would no doubt receive support from a number of sources from across the American political spectrum, including conservative Christians, Zionists, blacks, liberal humanitarians, terrorism hawks (remember that bin Laden was once headquartered in the Sudan) and, of course, the oil industry. But it should be remembered that, in the years leading up to its independence from Britain and afterward, America also engaged in chattel slavery, ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population and, in some cases, religious persecution, particularly against Quakers and “witches” during the colonial period and against Mormons much later. Should France have invaded the US in 1840 and demanded an end to southern slavery and Indian massacres? Indeed, the development of a federalist system in the Sudan that included slavery and ethnic cleansing would put that nation on par with the US circa 1789.
Somalia is widely regarded as being outside the realm of civilized nations. This picture fails to recognize interesting and significant efforts at social development that are taking place there. Somalia’s central government collapsed in the early 1990s. Since then, a type of “kritarchy” has emerged, whereby rule is conducted through village and clan leaders by means of indigenous customary law. Social peace and economic prosperity have increased enormously to the dismay of both UN democratists and Islamic theocrats. Indeed, some in the libertarian milieu regard Somalia as a proto-anarchy, and a model for the sovereignty, stabilization and development of continental African societies.
Lebanon is a relatively free country, with a large Christian population. An Egyptian once told me that in the Middle East the Lebanese have a reputation among Muslims for having slipped into Western decadence and hedonism. The days of the bitter civil war of the 1980s are over and stability has returned to Lebanon. A major sticking point for Anglo-Zionist imperialists is the fact that Lebanon is an active supporter of the Palestinian resistance and that a major resistance organization, Hezbollah, holds a good number of seats in the Lebanese parliament.
What about Libya? Colonel Qadaffi has certainly developed a personality cult during his reign, yet even his enemies do not accuse him of overt political or financial corruption. Those who are familiar with Libya prior to the 1969 revolution that brought Qadaffi to power recognize the enduring nature of the authentic economic and cultural reforms he has introduced, including greater economic opportunity and political freedom for women, the development of industrial enterprises partially owned by the workers and vastly improved infrastructure. Libya has worked out a deal whereby it has agreed to abandon efforts to develop nuclear weapons and has agreed to pay reparations to victims of its previous acts of state terrorism.
Now, what about the allegedly “moderate” or “pro-American” Muslim nations? There is no greater degree of civil liberty, social tolerance or popular participation in government in these nations than there is in anti-American regimes. If anything, the opposite is true. Kuwait has a lengthy history of religious persecution, although this has thawed a bit since the first Gulf War. The American protectorate in Saudi Arabia is the one state in the region that most closely resembles the arch-reactionary Taliban regime. Still, an acquaintance of mine of many years, an anarchist with leftwing cultural views, lived and worked there for a number of years, and did not find the country outrageously repressive. Egypt and Pakistan are one-man dictatorships similar to those in Syria, Libya and the former regime of Saddam Hussein. Morocco is a feudal oligarchy similar to those traditionally found in Latin America. The Central Asian nations are still ruled mostly by Communist strongmen leftover from the Soviet era. A number of years ago, elections were held in Algeria. Islamic fundamentalists campaigned on a platform of establishing an Islamic state and abolishing further elections-and won! The oil monarchies of the Gulf States are little more than family fiefdoms. And with the Taliban out of power, Afghanistan has returned to its former warlord system with the US puppet, Hamid Karzai, holding power only in Kabul.
Much is made in the West of gender discrimination against women in Islamic nations. No doubt this occurs and is often quite tyrannical. I have discussed this issue with women from Middle Eastern countries, and the general consensus seems to be that while women enjoy more political rights in the West, they are also much more in danger of falling victim to violent sex crimes, particularly in America (interestingly, I’ve heard women from Europe say the same thing). Indeed, the rationale behind the Taliban’s imposition of the purdah (requiring women to be completely veiled publicly) was to protect women from the roving thugs of groups like the Northern Alliance. This may just be cynical posturing used to justify exploitation, but no doubt one with some basis in fact.
Some anti-Islamic commentators have focused on the alleged “backwardness” of certain Islamic cultural practices. For example, the neoconservative nut case Ann Coulter ardently opposes Islamic immigration into European countries. Why? Because of their practice of clitoridectomy, arranged marriages and polygamy. Here, we see the staunch conservative Coulter using arguments one would expect from a liberal feminist. Similarly, Jamie Glazov, a columnist for the psycho-Zionist “Front Page Magazine”, in a discussion of the “lack of personal choice and democratic rights” to be found in Islamic culture, goes into a lengthy defense of the right of a woman in an Islamic society to engage in unlimited sexual promiscuity. When a Muslim woman objects that Western societies typically ban prostitution, gambling, drug use and other activities regarded culturally as “immoral”, Glavoz dismisses this objection as irrelevant. Apparently, Glazov believes that the persecution of prostitutes and drug users by liberal states is perfectly acceptable, while the persection of ordinary, non-commercial sluts by Islamic states is not.
Even ordinarily cogent thinkers are prone to using similar arguments in their critiques of Islam. For example, Paul Gottfried remarks: “What makes Muslim communities hard for Western Christians to deal with is…the fact that they behave unpleasantly. Thus in the Italian town of Eboli Muslim residents are walking around without hands because of the attempt of other Muslims to apply Koranic punishments for theft. Even more ghastly incidents have occurred when Muslims decided to punish women who were thought to be unfaithful to their spouses.”
So physical mutilation as a punishment for economic and cultural crimes is a symbol of Islamic “backwardness” but the American practice of consigning persons accused of similar crimes to the dehumanizing prison system, complete with brutal guards, slave labor, psychological experimentation and homosexual rape is a model of enlightenment and progress.
So that there is no misunderstanding, I will point out that anyone familiar with the full body of my published writing knows that I am an uncompromising defender of civil liberties and cultural freedom. Not only do I defend the rights of racial and religious minorities, women, homosexuals and the handicapped as is the style with modern liberalism, but I also defend the rights of groups the liberal elites and their Official Left stooges want nothing to do with including religious fundamentalists, social conservatives, cultural traditionalists, ethnic preservationists, gun owners, smokers, the “politically incorrect”, poor whites and the white working class. I am also known for “defending the undefendable”, that is, groups that no one likes including drug addicts, prostitutes, prisoners, criminals, gang members, truants, runaways, the mentally ill, the homeless, indigenous people and others in this category. Indeed, I am more “liberal” than most liberals are. I am a “liberal” in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson rather than Woodrow Wilson. I do this not so much out of conventional humanitarian sentiment as much as a high regard for Nietzschean-Stirnerite individualism and a contempt for the state and ruling elites.
Though the demonization of Islamic nations and Islamic culture by the proponents of liberal imperialism is to be fervently resisted, and Islamists may indeed by valuable tactical allies in the struggle against the New World Order, it should also be recognized that Islamic Fundamentalists are a rising force and offer a uniquely Islamic imperialism as a polar opposite to the liberal imperialism of the West. This issue, and not the alleged cultural “backwardness” or political authoritarianism of Islam, is properly the principal source of concern for Westerners with regards to Islam. Troy Southgate notes:
“…we are fully aware of the immense problems that an internationalist creed such as Islam can pose in the long-term. Islam, just like its capitalist and Marxist counterparts, seeks…a global caliphate: the Islamic equivalent of a one-world government…Islamic militants have no time for the traditional culture and heritage of the British Isles and clearly intend to exert their own alien rule over the country as a whole. (Islamic Fundamentalists) ‘will not rest until the green flag of Islam is fluttering over every town hall in England.”
Indeed, it would appear that most of continental Europe is destined to fall to Islam at some point in the future. Current birthrates are such that Muslims will come to outnumber indigenous Europeans within the next century. Islam is also the fastest growing religion in North America. Thirty-five years ago, Lawrence Dennis warned that the Third World would eventually overrun the West. He attributed this to the then-rising revolutionary nationalist zeal to be found within the Third World and the likely backlash to result from Western imperialism. More recently, Patrick Buchanan has documented how the Western nations will be eventually be destroyed as a result of Third World population growth combined with declining birthrates in the West, massive immigration, and the economic leveling to accompany corporate globalization.
Thus far, the responses to this phenomenon from the political factions of the First World have been, predictably, inadequate. The Left, save certain ecologists and trade unionists, refuses to recognize any problem at all. To the modern multicultural left, any and all opposition to mass immigration is synonymous with fascism and ethnic cleansing. Indeed, the Left has dogmatized this position to the point of blithely accepting its own self-destruction. Core tenants of the ideology of modern leftism include secularism, feminism and gay rights. How well will these ideals fare when traditionalist Muslims become a majority within European polities? Thus far, the only European political figure to confront this issue has been the late Pim Fortuyn, whose efforts were rewarded with his assassination.
The response of the traditional right has been to substitute militancy for apathy and calls have been issued for an end to future immigration and the repatriation of current immigrants. But this approach fails to recognize that the point of no return has already been breached. What rightists of this sort offer is nothing more than a recipe for ethnic civil war of the type that has transpired in the former Yugoslavia. Instead, any constructive or realistic approach to this matter must take into account the fact that the civilization of the West is destined to fall in the same manner as the Greco-Roman civilization of antiquity. The barbarians have already crashed the gates and the liberal elites have welcomed them with open arms. As an Islamic leader once remarked to Turkey’s Catholic Archbishop Giuseppe Bernardini:
“Thanks to your democratic laws, we will invade you. Thanks to our religious laws, we will dominate you.”
Lawrence Dennis emphasized the importance of “operational” thinking, whereby the world and current events should be interpreted as they actually are and pragmatic, real-world solutions to issues should be sought as opposed to looking at things through narrow ideological prisms and pursuing fantastic utopianisms. It is possible to identify certain contemporary political, economic and demographic trends which serve as indicators of what the world of a century or so from now might look like. The nations of Asia, particularly China and India, with their huge populations and rapidly expanding economies, are likely to replace the West as the centers of economic and political power. Most of the rest of the world is likely to fall under the influence of Islam, as previously noted, or Christianity, due to the rapid growth of that religion in the southern hemisphere.
An indispensible task of contemporary radical intellectuals is the development of a philosophical foundation that can serve as a bulwark against the universalist presumptions of the two parties now engaged in what Huntington has called a “clash of civilizations”. Essentially, the “clash of civilizations” involves a showdown between two rival forms of universalist imperialism: liberal humanist imperialism emanating from the West and Islamic imperialism emanating from the East. The therapeutic state versus the theocratic state. There can be little doubt that it is Islam that will eventually triumph in this struggle. Of course, the idea of a military conquest of the West by Islam is laughable and Islam would likely pose little danger to the nations of the West were it not for the combined self-destructive tendencies of imperial ambition and liberal ideology exhibited by the West.
The “clash of civilizations” is, in a very literal sense, a clash of God and Mammon. The Islamic revolutionaries are driven by a fanatical devotion to their god and the promises they believe he has made to them if only they take up arms on his behalf. The nations of the West are driven by an almost as fanatical devotion to Mammon, that is, to wealth, luxury, power, pleasure and privilege. Further, the culture of the West combines this unabashedly materialist ethos with rejection of strength and discipline in favor of a maternalistic emphasis on health, safety, “sensitivity”, “self-esteem”, “potential”, “personal growth”, “getting in touch with one’s inner child”, “feelings” and other concepts common to pop culture psychobabble. Of course, the socio-cultural ramifications of this is to create a society of weaklings, mediocrities and crybabies. When this is contrasted with the warrior spirit of the Islamic jihadists, there can be no doubt as to who has the upper hand psychologically and spiritually. Radical Islam does pose a danger to those of us in the West, primarily in the form of private terrorism and demographic aggression, but this scenario has been brought about through the recklessness of our own ruling classes. It is they, and not Islam, who are our primary enemies. Until we recognize this the entirely avoidable “threats” posed by Islamic militancy will not go away.
Copyright 2004. American Revolutionary Vanguard. All rights reserved.