Obama and the Will of Allah
Much of the reasoning that Neville Chamberlain used to arrive at his policy for dealing with the Third Reich is eerily similar to the Obama administration's reasoning about Islamism.
No, Islamism is not Nazism. Islamism is the belief in the religious and cultural superiority of Islam, and Nazism is the belief in the racial and cultural superiority of Aryans. Both believe in the right of domination. The parallel between Islamism and Nazism unfortunately fails in another important respect: Islamism is a hydra-headed monster. Islamism has no identifiable or centralized leadership like Hitler and the Nazi Party for Nazism.
The unfortunate aspect of a lack of a centralized and locatable center of Islamism is that Islamism does not present a consistent geographic or leadership target. The Islamic world is a Petri dish for Islamists and Islamism.
Are they equally threatening? Certainly not, militarily. That is not the point here. The point here is that Chamberlain's reasons for appeasing Nazis and Obama's reasons for accommodating Islamism are quite similar -- at least initially. But Obama takes the reasoning a significant step farther.
Neville Chamberlain, who became prime minister of Britain in 1937, believed that Germany had been badly treated by the Allies after it was defeated in the First World War. He therefore thought that the German government had genuine grievances and that these needed to be addressed. He also thought that by agreeing to some of the demands being made by Adolf Hitler of Germany and Benito Mussolini of Italy, he could avoid a European war. However, two years later, when the German army seized the rest of Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain realized that Hitler could not be trusted. He did not double down on appeasement, instead admitting that his appeasement policy had failed.
Just as Chamberlain believed that Germany had gotten a raw deal after WWI, Obama clearly buys into the Edward Said/Rashid Khalidi version of Islam and the West that Muslims generally have been badly treated by the West throughout the 20th century. Their lands have been carved up, dictators propped up, and their great contributions to civilization ignored. They have not been given their rightful place in the world. In short, we (the West) have much to atone for. And just as Chamberlain believed that once Germany's legitimate grievances were redressed, there would be peace, Obama seems to hold the position that once we restore the Muslim world, or Ummah, to its rightful position in the world and show proper respect, there will be peaceful relations, and Islamism will wither away.
The most comical version of this was the Obama administration's charge to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to "find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering[.]"
From bowing to the Saudi king to the error-filled paean to the Muslim world in his Cairo speech to purging government security agency pamphlets of any reference to Muslim terrorism to the sharia-correct burial of Osama bin Laden to making sure that Guantánamo guards wear white gloves when handling the Koran to forcing American troops in Afghanistan to burn translations of the Bible, the Obama administration is operating under the quaint belief that patting the Ummah on the head will attrit Islamism and dampen its righteous imperative to dominate the world.
The problem is that Islamism is a latent imperative imbedded in Islam. Accommodation is a catalyst for Islamism. The failure of the Obama policy of accommodation in dealing not only with Iran and Syria, but with Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea, and even "allies" such as Turkey, is thoroughly documented in a treatise by Colin Duek, "The Accommodator: Obama's Foreign Policy," published by the Hoover Institute of Stanford University:
Specifically, the president believes that international rivalries can be accommodated by American example and by his own integrative personal leadership. The problem is not that Obama has no grand strategy. The problem is that it is not working.
And yes, there is a distinction between accommodation and appeasement. Unfortunately, the distinction is based on the perception of the character of the accommodated party. Friend or foe? One accommodates one's friends. The same action becomes a feeble attempt of appeasement if the accommodated party demands more and more and is intent on the destruction of the accommodator. Had Chamberlain's policy succeeded, it would be called accommodation. Obama's policy of accommodation and engagement is increasingly looking like appeasement.
But Obama does Chamberlain one step better. The Obama administration buys into the Friedman doctrine that once Islamist elements in the Islamic world are actually in the driver's seat, they will moderate their actions and beliefs. The realities of dealing with the real problems of governing -- from establishing a stable growing economy to forming an inclusive social order that ameliorates the tension and strife among interest groups that would tear the economy apart -- the Islamists will become like any other responsible governing body that must place social order and economic growth at the center of their policy.
It doesn't matter whether the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is Islamist or harbors Islamist elements or is crypto-Islamist (which to this author is obviously the case); the realities of governing will ameliorate and trump ideology. As a NYT January 3 article states, the Obama administration has a "growing acceptance of the Brotherhood's repeated assurances that its lawmakers want to build a modern democracy that will respect individual freedoms, free markets and international commitments, including Egypt's treaty with Israel." Ibn Warraq also maintains that the Obama administration naively believes that "once in power[,] the Islamists will moderate their tone and demands."
Is history on their side? After Castro took power, did he give up his ideological rants and rule as a moderate democratic humanist? And consider Khomeini. After he took the reins of government from the shah of Iran, did he give up his theocratic fascist stance and ruled as a ecumenical democratic humanist? The list goes on. From clowns like Chávez in Venezuela to mass murderers like Mao in China, the realities of governing failed to rein in ideological posturing and ideologically generated policies. That is certainly what happened to Hitler, Stalin...you name it. And let us not forget Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge or Hamas in Gaza.
Chamberlain eventually recognized the failure of his policy of appeasement. Obama and Secretary Clinton have doubled down by insisting that taking accommodation one step farther to empowerment -- the experience of governance itself together with the transformational dialogue unique to the Obama administration -- will exorcise the Islamist elements in the Ummah.
A fatal conceit. It is not about the price of watermelons -- it is about following the will of Allah.