But I digress, sort of. What is noteworthy about the beef against Beck is the rock-hard certitude with which his critics, Right and Left, dismiss the caliphate concept as though it were a mythological beast, not a historical system of Islamic governance still revered and yearned for by most Muslims. Speaking of Tahrir Square, a 2007 University of Maryland/WorldOpinon poll indicated that 74 percent of Egyptians favor "strict Shariah," while 67 percent favor a "caliphate" uniting all of Islam.
But woe to anyone who takes notice. Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, for example, was recently accused on a noted blog of "(slinging) caliphate tripe" when Ferguson pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood "remains by far the best organized opposition force in the country, and wholly committed to the restoration of the caliphate and the strict application of Shariah." "Hilariously stupid" was the not-so-hilariously stupid comment.
But even if "Arab spring" should fail, Kristol writes, "there would be still be a case, for reasons of honor and duty ... to stand with the opponents of tyranny." Doing so, he continues, would not only "vindicate American principles and mean a gain for American interests but because we claim those American principles to be universal principles."
Here is what is "delusional": the belief that American principles -- freedom of religion, freedom of speech, equality before the law -- have a natural place as "universal principles" in a culture grounded in Shariah principles. This is the pure fantasy that has driven our foreign policy through a decade of "nation-building" wars. Meanwhile, the only way I know how to get to anything you might call "universal principles" into the Islamic world is through the establishment of ... a caliphate.
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