Strong stuff yesterday from Andy McCarthy on our doings in Libya. Excerpt:
[A] throng of seething Islamists stripped, beat, paraded, and finally shot Qaddafi execution-style, all the while screaming the signature “Allahu Akbar!” battle cry with a fervor that would have made Mohamed Atta blush. They then shoved the despot’s corpse into a refrigerator — to maintain it for further triumphant display before thousands of gawking spectators. Too bad there was no official from the Obama administration’s Islamic Thought Police on hand to remind the mob of the Koran’s oft-quoted (but oftener ignored) teaching that to slay a single person is to slay all of mankind.
The murder was facilitated by NATO forces operating under false pretenses: Claiming they were merely protecting civilians, they set about hunting down Qaddafi, only to help usher in a new era of Islamist governance. The bill for NATO’s services was willfully footed by the Obama administration — which had previously funded the Libyan regime on the oft-repeated grounds that Qaddafi was a valuable counterterrorism ally, but which then initiated a war against Qaddafi in the absence of any provocation or American national-security interests. NATO’s war of aggression is already inuring to the benefit of America’s Islamist enemies. What’s not to celebrate?
It would be interesting to get Mr. McCarthy in a room with James Taranto, who a couple of days ago wrote this:
Writing on Commentary’s website, Max Boot has a useful corrective to some of the distraught commentary you’ve probably been hearing of late about the rise of Shariah in North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring:
“Saying a country’s legal system will be based on sharia law is about as descriptive as saying it will be based on the Ten Commandants [sic] or the teachings of Christ. Like Christianity, Judaism or any other religion, Islam is subject to countless interpretations. Sharia law has meant many different things in many different countries across the ages. Even Islamic fundamentalists are not all alike. Wahhabis rule in both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, yet liquor is readily available in the latter but not the former.
Islamist parties do not necessarily take their inspiration from the Taliban, Hamas, or the Iranian mullahs. In fact, the failure of all three of those Islamist regimes–in Afghanistan, Gaza and Iran–to deliver economic or social progress has done much to discredit them in the Muslim world. That doesn’t mean most Muslims are ready to embrace a strictly secular regime; but then even in Europe, Christian Democratic parties are common, and in the United States many political candidates claim to take their marching orders from the Almighty.”
It’s also worth noting that a regime can be “strictly secular” and also horrifically oppressive, as Justice Antonin Scalia noted earlier this month in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
” “I ask [law students], “Why do you think America is such a free country? What is it in our Constitution that makes us what we are?” And I guarantee you that the response I will get–and you will get this from almost any American . . . the answer would be: freedom of speech; freedom of the press; no unreasonable searches and seizures; no quartering of troops in homes . . . those marvelous provisions of the Bill of Rights.
But then I tell them, “If you think a bill of rights is what sets us apart, you’re crazy.” Every banana republic in the world has a bill of rights. Every president for life has a bill of rights. The bill of rights of the former evil empire, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was much better than ours. I mean it. Literally, it was much better. We guarantee freedom of speech and of the press. Big deal. They guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press, of street demonstrations and protests, and anyone who is caught trying to suppress criticism of the government will be called to account. Whoa, that is wonderful stuff!
Of course, it’s just words on paper, what our Framers would have called a “parchment guarantee.” “
We are far from confident that the democratic experiment in the Arab world is going to work out well. But if you start telling us that Libya is sure to be worse off than it was under Moammar Gadhafi, merely because he was “secular,” we will take you about as seriously as we took people who said the same about Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
While I certainly share Mr. Taranto’s lack of confidence that the democratic experiment in the Arab world is going to work out well, he misses the point here, I think. First, nobody is suggesting that secular regimes can’t be authoritarian. This is a non sequitur; of course they can. (I wonder also exactly what argument he seeks to advance by citing Justice Scalia’s remarks, which seem clearly to say that a nation’s freedom depends on the nature and temperament of its people — certainly true, but the precedent in the Maghreb, then, is not encouraging.) The point is that there is every reason to worry that a new Islamist regime in Libya will be a far worse problem for Western interests in the region (and, in particular, for Israel) than the continuation of a Qaddafi regime would have been. Mr. Qaddafi was despicable, and in his day fought actively against us, but in recent years he had been brought to heel, and had been given our assurances that as long as he behaved, he needn’t worry about U.S. interference.
As for Mr. Boot, the same applies: that he can buy a drink in Bahrain is no cause for optimism about the emerging Islamist powers in the area. They have replaced durable autocracies with whom we had stable working relationships, are tied to al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, and will almost certainly become hothouses for all manner of anti-Western, anti-Israeli perfidy. Already Libyan weapons are flooding toward Israel through Egypt (where their safe passage is possible once again thanks to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, also with U.S. support). It isn’t necessary for Islamist regimes to “take their inspiration from the Taliban, Hamas, or the Iranian mullahs” to be antipathetic to our interests in the region and the world, though some of the new ones likely will. For them to take their inspiration from the core traditions and historical example of Islam itself, and from the prevailing sentiments of the regional ummah, will be amply sufficient.
People tell me I’m too pessimistic about all of this. I hope they’re right. We’ll soon see.