Back in June 2009, in an article entitled Democracy Not An Instant Panacea For The Islamic World, I wrote that “…there is an extremely dangerous fallacy gaining strength in intellectual circles. It is the fallacy that democracy can save the Islamic World from its tyrants and deprivations and, in turn, save the non Islamic World from Islamic terrorism.”
I further wrote that “…all the push for democracy will accomplish in Egypt is to potentially cause the same catastrophe to occur in Egypt as occurred in Iran. I see great similarities between pre-revolutionary Iran and modern Egypt. Hosni Mubarak exhibits many of the same qualities as the Shah of Iran - both good and bad. Both men allied themselves with the United States and both men tried to modernize their countries. They both experienced their strongest opposition from Islamist elements. Some of their tyrannical behavior is or was necessitated by the ruthless nature of their Islamist opponents.”
I ultimately opined in June 2009 that “I suspect that Egypt will eventually be lost to Islamic fundamentalists anyway unless something dramatic, such as Kemalist reforms, are imposed to change the course the country is on. Democratic elections will hasten Egypt's demise and preclude any possibility of a strong military keeping the Islamists at bay while reforms, many of which would be initially unpopular, are imposed that will decrease Islam's influence on the culture.”
Finally, on September 11, 2008, in an article entitled, Why 9/11 Occurred on September 11, I wrote that “…equally as alarming, much of the Islamic world seems to be sliding deeper and deeper into Islamic extremism and I see no signs of anything occurring to stop the decline or the trend. For example, Lebanon, Egypt, and Pakistan will be lost to Islamic extremists within the next half century.”
The recent events in Lebanon, Tunisia, and Egypt overwhelmingly suggest that I was downright prescient. Current events in Egypt make my comparison of the Shah and Mubarak seems pseudo-clairvoyant. Mubarak has already said he will not seek re-election and he may well yet flee the country. I suspect that he will eventually flee to either the United States or Saudi Arabia. Other Egyptian government ministers and high-level businessmen have already fled the county.
While it is possible that some new strongman similar to Mubarak will take his place - at least temporarily - the current events in Egypt already reveal that my predictions are more likely to come true. A new leader, even if not an open Islamist, will be even weaker than Mubarak. That means that the Muslim Brotherhood will be further emboldened and stronger than ever. The only winner in Egypt right now is the Muslim Brotherhood and those that support the movement and share its Islam-based ideology. I am stunned by the sheer volume of ignorance exhibited by most of the media about the events taking place in Egypt. Most of the mainstream media seems delighted that democracy may come to Egypt under the belief that conditions will improve for its inhabitants. There will be no long-term improvement and, in fact, the millions of Coptic Christians best get prepared for martyrdom, even worsening conditions (Mubarak was bad for the Coptic Christians but they have no hope of anyone better seizing control in the long run), or exile at best.
The belief that democracy is an instant panacea for all that ails the Islamic World is specious at best. Most of the Islamic World is not ready for democracy and the call for and push for democracy or increased popular control over governments via the election process will further destabilize many countries that are already at risk of being lost to Islamists. Democratization will not advance peace efforts or freedom in Egypt. Democracy would most likely result in more Islamist control in Egypt and will do nothing to further peace with Israel. Consider that Anwar Sadat, for example, made a cold peace with Israel despite the strong opposition of most of Egyptian society. If he faced popular elections, he never could have or would have been able to make peace.
It is pointless to free people to elect their leaders when they remain enslaved in their minds to an ideology and belief system that will simply mean that instead of Islamists gaining control through subversive means, they will simply gain control via elections. Democracy and elections will no more bring improved conditions to most of the Islamic World and peace than it did to the Gaza Strip where Hamas, a violent terrorist group, won elections in 2006 and then proceeded to shell Israel with hundreds of rockets.
It is unrealistic to expect democracy to bring any better results in those parts of the Islamic World, like Egypt, wherein autocratic governments maintain some control over well established and deeply entrenched Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. Democracy will no more bring peace and social justice to Egypt than it would to a maximum security prison.
There is a strong belief in Western democracies that the principle of "one person one vote" should control the selection of governments. However, in Egypt that principle would probably translate to "one man one vote" and it would be a literal application in the sense that once an Islamist party gained control, any further elections would occur solely to give a veneer of legitimacy to Islamist control and, thereafter, the election process would have no real chance of removing Islamists from power. Consequently, "one vote" would literally mean, at best, one true vote and, thereafter, relatively meaningless elections of the type seen in Iran.
The word "democracy" derives from Greek words meaning "government of the people." In Greek, "demos" means people, and "cratos" means government. It follows that democracy will accomplish nothing more than to make the will of the people the dominant force in the land. If the will of the people is controlled by Islam, that means that Islam will control. It is that simple.
Before democracy can be successfully implemented in places like Egypt, the influence of Islam on the Egyptian people must be considerably diminished and firmly held in check. That will only occur by complete domination and control of Egyptian society and the slow dampening and reduction of the influence of Islam over time. That process would require control of the media, entertainment industry, education system, and Mosques until decades of education eliminated pervasive Islamic control over the beliefs and cultural values of the people. However, such an approach is presently beyond even the power or will of the Egyptian government and will certainly be beyond the capability and desire of any new replacement government.
Not only has no progress been made against Islam's influence in Egypt equivalent to the type of progress Kemal Ataturk once imposed on Turkey, the opposite is true. The flow of money from Saudi Arabia has allowed Islamic orthodoxy to spread and Egypt has been losing ground, not gaining ground against Islamic influence. Do not be fooled. Islamic fundamentalists are very involved in the current uprising. They have just borrowed from the Ayatollah’s play book and know they must hide their involvement and agenda as long as need to secure power.
I am now even more strongly convinced than ever that Egypt will eventually be lost to Islamic fundamentalists. Democratic elections will hasten Egypt's demise and preclude any possibility of a strong military keeping the Islamists at bay while reforms, many of which would be initially unpopular, are imposed that would decrease Islam's influence on the culture.
The Muslim Brotherhood, albeit its members running for election as "independents," and pretending to be more moderate than they are, has already made inroads into Egypt's government via elections and expanding democracy will simply hasten the Brotherhood's advances. This current uprising will no doubt advance the Muslim Brotherhood’s position in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood simply acts more moderate to gain ground, but it has no intention of abandoning its true agenda when it has the power to openly impose it.
One of the most important principles about Islam that non Muslims need to understand is that Muhammad said that war is deception. That is hardly a startling statement as most cultures have understood that warfare involves the use of deception. However, Muhammad's adoption of the principle has far greater implications in Islamic culture. In Islamic doctrine, war has a much broader meaning than in Western culture. Islamic doctrine and belief divides humanity into two opposing spheres: Dar al-Islam, House of Islam where Islam rules and Dar el Harb, the House of War against non-Muslims. Islam teaches that it is Muslims' duty to spread the influence of Islam by almost any means. It follows that Islamic fundamentalists use deception as a matter of course to advance their Islamist agenda whenever and wherever they can. The principle is instilled into them as a result of their religious belief. They are taught from birth that Muhammad must be obeyed and that his life set a beautiful pattern of conduct for anyone to follow. For Islamists, deception utilized to advance their cause is not only pragmatic, but a way to show their devotion to Muhammad and Allah and to fight so that Islam will be superior. Muhammad himself used deception to great advantage and it is beyond foolish to not expect any Muslim who, since birth, has repeatedly said and heard that "there is no God but Allah and Muhammad was his Prophet" to try and follow Muhammad's example to the extent of his or her knowledge about Muhammad's life.
The Ayatollah Khomeini skillfully used deception to gain power in Iran by fraudulently promising democracy and initially working in concert with non-Muslim groups, but he ultimately delivered far worse tyranny than the Shah as soon as his grip on power allowed him to do so. Because they were ignorant about Islam, gullible Westerners accepted Ayatollah Khomeini's false claims. His efforts were supported by ignorant Westerners that failed to realize that while the Shah was terribly flawed, working with the Shah to reform Iranian society was the answer and supporting his overthrow simply brought even greater tyranny to both Iran and the World.
I see the same mistake or tactic developing all over again. It is true that history repeats itself. I see President Obama, moderate and highly educated Middle East experts like Bernard Lewis, and left-wing Islamic apologists like Reza Aslan all calling for democracy in the Middle East. A philosopher once said "beware the desires of thy youth for you may acquire it with age." President Obama and these experts better be careful for they may well get what they advocate for; however, they may well regret it.
It is understandable that people that live in functional democracies want to see the benefits of democracy spread to the rest of the World. However, with respect to the Islamic World, we need to have the wisdom and courage to understand just how pernicious of an influence Islam is and to mitigate that influence before trying to implement democracy in places like Egypt. I fear that false perceptions of and ignorance about the true nature of Islam will cause many to inadvertently advance radical Islam's grip on the Middle East with devastating consequences throughout the World.
The only way we can protect ourselves in the long-run and protect those moderate Muslims who truly want to live in peace with non-Muslims is to slowly erase Islam's influence. Nothing else will work. I have yet to see any other model successfully used to ease Islam's grip on a culture other than the approach utilized by Kemal Ataturk in Turkey. However, the Turks are increasingly losing their way as the memory of Kemal Ataturk fades over time and the revival of fundamentalist Islam has overtaken Turkey and Turkey will continue to slide backwards until there is a revival of the Caliphate.
Even in Islamic countries like Turkey that have in the past gained ground toward modernity and freedom, the influence of Islam continues to cause problems and hinder advancement and wherever Islam holds sway over people's minds they remain enslaved to one degree or another and they will never know true freedom, true democracy, or peace until they free themselves from Islam's pernicious grip.
It follows that we will never be completely safe from Islamic terrorism and Muslims will never be free until, as Winston Churchill phrased it, "the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men." Current events in Egypt endanger us all and anyone that is rejoicing or sees opportunity for advancement is dangerously in error.
One final prediction. Eventually a new Egyptian Government will become hostile toward Israel in order to divert attention from domestic problems and to gain public support. The current events in Egypt have placed us one step closer to what I previously predicted in August 2007 regarding the Arab/Islamic-Israeli Conflict: “I believe that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons. Western culture has become too unsure of its own moral right to exist to take the hard steps and to maintain the long-term resolve needed to stop Iranian nuclear development. How can those who do not respect their culture ever decide to sacrifice themselves or even their comfort to preserve that culture? Increasing oil prices will raise the amount of money the Mullahs of Iran can spend preparing for war and decrease the relative power of Western economies.
Increasing European political and economic power, as well as shifting domestic politics within the United States, will lessen military aid to Israel from the United States. Israel will become increasingly isolated [i.e. No More Cold Peace with Egypt] and may well find itself facing the Islamic World alone. Iran and several other Islamic states will eventually attack Israel after a decline in Israel's relative regional military supremacy. The conflict will eventually result in the exchange of nuclear weapons or some other type of weapons of mass destruction.”
How can we stop such dramatic events? Sadly, we can do nothing. We have for so long misunderstood Islam and made so many mistakes that have compounded based upon a false perception of Islam that we now face complete perplexity. While we may engage in short-term crisis management, the Islamic world is rising and we will all eventually feel its terrible wrath in one way or another.