President Obama, leaders in his administration, and most Democrats in Congress would have us believe that the Arab Spring is good for Arabs in the Middle East and for the rest of the world because it is a prelude to democracy. They fail to recognize these simple facts:
- A sizeable minority of Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa are Islamists.
- Islamists are terrorists in their home countries and elsewhere.
- Islamists intimidate and brutalize until they get what they want. At home they don't win elections so much as they take them by force.
- Islamists as a group believe that their mission on earth is to subjugate the world and bring it under Sharia law.
As Islamists take control of countries in the Middle East, they will use the resources of those countries to advance their agenda. That's what the Taliban did in Afghanistan, for instance, before we kicked them out, and that's what they will do again if/when they regain control. Our bargaining with them and offering to buy them off as we prepare to withdraw our troops doesn't impress them with our kindness and generosity. It convinces them that we are ignorant, foolish, and afraid. They are biding their time until we leave so they can return to their barbarous ways.
Islamism is on the rise in Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt - the three countries most closely associated with the Arab Spring. It's gaining strength in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and other countries as well. Throughout the world, Islamists see what's happening in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and North Africa as their opportunity to engage in global jihad, and Iran is leading the way with their efforts to obtain nuclear weapons over objections from the West and their immediate neighbors. We suspect that once Iran has those weapons, they will become a frightening menace to mankind because unlike Israel and other nations that have built nuclear arsenals for defensive purposes, Iran will have no compunction about using them offensively. Are we correct? The answer is probably "yes," but given the risk involved, does it make any sense to wait and find out?
This much we do know: the Arab Spring and the Islamist awakening that it is helping to inspire is leading people in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Yemen to feel less safe today than they felt before the uprising began. That's what a recent Gallup poll revealed, and it's reasonable to assume that those countries aren't anomalies. From Indonesia to the Philippines to Pakistan to Europe to the United States, Islamism is growing threat to safety and security despite what President Obama and his appointees would have us believe. Will the global Islamist threat become a critical issue in the 2012 presidential campaign? I hope so, but time will tell.
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.