An Illustration from Heaven
Published on: August 13, 2013
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  • Pave Low John

    This reminds me of the warning I received when I was in advisor training. I was told by a fellow helicopter pilot with multiple trips to Middle Eastern and SW Asian countries that some pilots in Islamic countries had a nasty habit of stating “Inshallah” and letting go of the flight controls whenever they felt the situation was getting beyond their abilities. Apparently, they really believed that God controlled everything at all times and that if it was His will, he would reach down and save the helicopter crew. Or not, it was all up to him and there was nothing to be done except sit there and accept your fate.

    Any attempts to explain that God helped those who helped themselves fell on deaf ears. Needless to say, that attitude could also be found in their crew chiefs as well, which helped explain the slip-shod state of their helicopter maintenance programs…

  • WigWag

    As I was reading Adam’s recounting of the decision of Um Roqiya to put her five children in grave danger by forcing them to participate in a sit-in designed to restore “Uncle Morsi” to power, I couldn’t get the movie “Apocalypse Now” out of my mind

    Specifically I’m referring to the second to last scene of the movie where Willard, intent on assassinating Kurtz, confronts the seriously ill psychopath. You know the scene; its where Kurtz tells Willard, “you have the right to kill me, but not to judge me.”

    “I’ve seen the horror,” Kutz tells Willard. “Horror and mortal terror are your friends.”

    Kurtz goes on to tell Willard a story. Years before, when he was in the Special Forces, he witnessed American GIs inoculating Vietnamese children against smallpox. Later that evening, the Viet Cong came into the village and with machetes, hacked off the left arm of every inoculated child.

    Kurtz admits to Willard that he “cried like some grandmother” before a revelation hit him like a “diamond bullet.” “My God,” he exclaims, “the genius, the will to do that…it’s perfect and pure.” “They had the strength to do that,” he marvels.

    It was at this moment that Kurtz realized what Francis Ford Coppola’s audience already knew in 1979, that the Americans would be defeated as the French were defeated. Conventional force cannot triumph over an ideological and committed opposition. I suspect that we may be learning the same thing in Afghanistan.

    I think what distinguishes the Egyptian Generals (and their liberal and nationalist supporters), the Saudis, the Gulf Arabs and the Israelis from Obama, American neoconservatives, liberal internationalists and the Europeans, is that because they live in the Middle East, the former understand this reality only too well, while the later don’t get it at all.

    The Egyptian Generals, the Saudis and the Israelis understand with keen insight that when the Muslim Brothers proclaim that “…Jihad is our way and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations,” they mean it. To them its not a marketing slogan, it’s central to the way that they view the world.

    Obama and the dimwits in both the Democratic and Republican parties who believe that the West should promote democracy in the Muslim world, just can’t get their heads around the idea that hundreds of millions of Islamists just don’t see the world the way that they do. Their ambitions are different; the way they believe the universe operates is different.

    Walter Russell Mead, in a recent blog post, described the Obama’s thinking to a tee when he said Obama’s strategy was

    “…building ties to moderate and presumably democratic Islamists {to} cool the fires of passion and anti-Americanism firing up terrorism around the region.”

    What Professor Mead didn’t mention is that it wasn’t just Obama and his liberal internationalist advisors who were under this misapprehension, neoconservatives believed exactly the same thing.

    How foreign policy elites in the United States and Europe could ever have deluded themselves into thinking that an organization who’s central tenet was the aspiration to die for Allah, could be described as “moderate” or “democratic” is a mystery.

    Adam is right, it’s hard to miss the nihilism in Abdel-Latif Omran’s belief that trying to protect children is a waste of time because their fate has already been decided.

    But if it’s nihilism he’s looking for, there is no need to travel to the Middle East. All he has to do is look to Washington, D.C and the capitals of Western Europe. What he will find there is a group of credulous leaders who are simultaneously steeped in a multicultural outlook that denigrates the idea of western cultural superiority while at the same time refusing to understand that everyone in the world doesn’t think exactly the same way that westerners do.

    The Israelis would be well advised to not fall into the trap that Obama and the Europeans are laying for them (perhaps inadvertently.) The Israelis understand in their guts that the Arabs in general and the Islamists in particular seek nothing but their extinction. Obama and the Europeans keep trying to tell the Israelis that the Palestinians view the dispute the same way that they do; as little more than a dispute about boundaries that is subject to a fair compromise if only everyone would be reasonable. This is senseless. If there’s anything about compromise or a respect for pluralism in the credo of the Muslim Brothers, I missed it.

    Societies that abandon the idea that their civilization is worth fighting for (and killing for) see their civilizations wither and become extinct.

    People willing to put their children in harms way understand that, even if Barack Obama, John McCain, David Cameron, and Angela Merkel do not.

  • I agree with Adam’s article and Wig Wag’s commentary except perhaps where Kurtz says:“My God,” he exclaims, “the genius, the will to do that…it’s perfect and pure.” “They had the strength to do that,” he marvels.” Ruthlessness does not make me queasy, and it does, as a human strategy sometimes have qualities of purity and purity in the sense of completeness. But it also can be monstrous and more to the point such people are not undefeatable. However, you better be determined to fight them to the finish. Petraeus demonstrated that with the surge. He did not accept that defeat was inevitable and based his approach on what we did wrong in Vietnam. More specifically, in the battle of Fallujah, absolutist fanatics attempted to replicate the Battle of Grozny and failed. A more neutral (for the West) example is the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. The Sri Lankan government did the right thing in finishing the last of the Tigers because what is true about fanatics is that you have to finish them. In the West we failed to finish the Germans in WW1 and knew perfectly well that we had to push all the way through in WW2. The point is to recognize when you are up against a mentality like that and act accordingly, not unconsciously project more flexible values on such people and try to negotiate with them. George Keenan’s long memo from Moscow did exactly that when it cautioned Truman that he couldn’t do quid pro quo with that famous other uncle, Uncle Joe.

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