On Egypt et al. let us be very clear.
Joy at the expansion of liberty -- maybe even of democracy -- is the only defensible sentiment. Any policy based on regime stability alone (as American foreign policy has been based too long) and thereby sanctioning tyranny, autocracy, one-party rule -- is based on a premise not only indefensible but false.
The American left went bonkers over George W. Bush's "Freedom Agenda," which morphed into a "Freedom Doctrine." Much of the left never accepted Bush as a legitimate president following the Supreme Court's ruling about the Florida count in the 2000 election -- and so the left could not accept anything he did. Yet it was he who insisted on encouraging democracy to germinate and grow in Iraq, in the hope democracy might spread throughout the Middle East.
So here we are, with freedom demonstrations from the southern Mediterranean littoral to beyond the Persian Gulf in, even, Iran. Is this apparent contagion a consequence -- in a paradigmatic Internet hour -- of infectious liberty, and correspondingly eloquent testimony to the fragility of autocratic regimes both Arab and Persian? At almost light-speed, the Internet may have disassembled fascist mullah rule across the Muslim world. Can you not hear -- in the streets from Algiers to Tehran -- liberty's alluring song?
AND maybe not.
Islamofascism is our century's Soviet communism. It seeks worldwide rule (a global caliphate) achieved and sustained through terror. In Iran, during the Carter administration, the shah fell. Freedom was thick in the air. Then Khomeini took over. Today, freedom lies crushed, al-Qaeda and the Taliban have sprouted, and Iran has satellized first Gaza (through Hamas) and now Lebanon (through Hezbollah). Syria remains in Iran's orbit, and Turkey nudges seemingly ever closer.
Now in Egypt, during an Obama administration boasting a foreign policy no less befuddled, ideological, and incompetent than Carter's, Mubarak is out. Were the Tahrir Square demonstrations and his departure genuinely spontaneous? Did his fall just happen, the demonstrators emboldened and enabled by the Internet? Or were those at Tahrir mere marionettes manipulated by an Islamofascist Muslim Brotherhood?
The 'Hood traces back to a late 1920s founding and to early training by Nazi goons. Many of its alumni are -- or were -- al-Qaeda stars. It helped establish Hamas, which it and Iran still sustain. The 'Hood's Supreme Guide, one Mohamed Badi, insists his group will "continue to raise the banner of jihad" against Jews -- in his words the 'Hood's "first and foremost enemies." He hates America, signifies for targeting U.S. troops, deplores "Zio-American arrogance and tyranny," and seeks for Egypt creation of an Islamist state.
Such lovelies could have arranged the demonstrations in Cairo and across the Muslim world. Or they may have been as surprised by those demonstrations as the Obamians were. In either case, as Egypt's most efficient, disciplined, and stabilizing (there's that word again) force besides the military, the Muslim Brotherhood may be perfectly positioned to satellize Egypt -- thereby advancing the Islamist territorial imperative, not to mention the Iranian dream.
Perhaps it's true: The Internet may be a liberating tool unimagined just a generation ago. In its face, possibly not even the most ruthless of regimes can survive. Or perhaps in liberating a people subjugated in poverty (at $6,200 per year, per-capita Egyptian income ranks behind Bosnia, Jamaica, and Cuba), the Internet liberates only to invite more terrifying subjugation by Islamist cut-throats -- as with Communist cadres -- waiting to rush from the shadows into the corridors of power.
Liberty is, of course, the ultimate cause. Always. Before our eyes, we may be seeing it blossom -- so greatly fertilized by the Internet -- throughout the Muslim world. Then again, terrorizing Islamists may move in and capture these revolutions, converting them at the muzzles of guns, Maoist-like, into perversions of democracy that allow one man one vote -- once.
That would be the worst sort of outcome. Still, it would enable a blame-mongering American left to unload once again on George Bush, its perceived illegitimate president who planted freedom in the Muslim world, for the perverted, illegitimate democracy his "Freedom Agenda" ultimately wrought.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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