Re-Analyzing the "World Saving" Arab Spring... That Wasn't!
by JOHN BERNARD
August 17, 2011
Nothing bloomed in the Arab Spring.
The "Islam is a religion of peace" and the "world peace" crowds have been spouting about the beauty and hope of the "Arab Spring" phenomenon for months now. Even after the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt went back on their word not to get involved in the political process there, the nauseatingly effervescent, supporters of all things Islam refused to accept the possibility that they might not have the religion, the Arab angst or the likely outcome of these uprisings, right.
"The standard analysis of the situation was that oppressive regimes had been sitting on a volcano of liberal democratic discontent. The belief was that the Arab Spring was a political uprising by masses demanding liberal democratic reform and that this uprising, supported by Western democracies, would generate sweeping political change across the Arab world.
It is now more than six months since the beginning of the Arab Spring, and it is important to take stock of what has happened and what has not happened… However, the belief in an Arab Spring helped shape European and American policies in the region and the world. If the assumptions of this past January and February prove insufficient or even wrong, then there will be regional and global consequences…(and hasn't that been the problem all along? Our collective belief/hope that the Ummah will somehow magically throw off core doctrines of the religion and govern and act for the protection of individual rights to self-determination? jb).
It is important to begin with the fact that, to this point, no regime has fallen in the Arab world. Individuals such as Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have been replaced, but the regimes themselves, which represent the manner of governing, have not changed… what regime changes that might come of the civil wars in Libya and Syria are not going to be clearly victorious, those that are victorious are not going to be clearly democratic and those that are democratic are obviously not going to be liberal…(and why would anyone ever have believed they could be democratic or liberal or western or at least not bound in Sharia to begin with? jb) The myth that beneath every Libyan is a French republican yearning to breathe free is dubious in the extreme… (no kidding? jb)
Egypt… Elections are coming, but the opposition is deeply divided between Islamists and secularists, and personalities and ideological divisions in turn divide these factions…and the Egyptian military junta is already acting to suppress elements that are too radical and too unpredictable.
The important question is why these regimes have been able to survive…(no, the important question is upon what historical facts did we feel confident to place such faith in an Islamic people - anywhere, to act in a way that was inconsistent with Sharia? jb)
Why analysts like those at Stratfor and other like agencies are so unwilling to identify the religion or its goals as the likely winner in these uprisings is troubling and counter-productive. It's counter-productive because their very reason for existing is to provide those with a need for intelligence and analysis a clear understanding of the players and organizations they claim to have some insight into. If you are unwilling to at a minimum, clearly identify the people, agencies, ideologies or nations as they see themselves, your analysis is then based on wishful thinking rather than fact. If this is true, then your analysis is likely detrimental to the safe conduct of those using your work as guidance.
Years ago I had a history professor who told us there were four classic revolutions; the English, American, French and Russian. He refused to consider the "Latin" revolutions, discounting them as poor excuses for elections. In many ways, what we are witnessing in the Mediterranean, Middle East and South Asian regions amount to the very same thing. In the end, their single act as "free agents" in a "democratic society" will be the one vote they cast placing them back into slavery to Islam under theocratic governance.
What this story does do is suggest a fracture in the stalwart vision of a world with peaceful Islamic followers. Could it be that the visionaries are beginning to question their own abilities to accurately judge the motivations of a billion adherents to a religious ideology without the benefit of even a modest education in its doctrines? If so, there may be a little hope for western civilization yet. Of course we must not expect too much, too soon; we are still stubbornly in support of bombing Ghaddafi into the stone age even though the people we are supporting by extension are infiltrated with the same ideologically motivated Al Qaida agents we are presumably battling along the Durand line in Afghanistan!?
And speaking of that; my friend Herschel Smith at the Captain's Journal released a story today that drives a knife into the heart of yet one more troubling government analysis we have heard over, and over, again; the Taliban and Al Qaida are not the same. While there are differences in personnel, size and scope of their individual Areas of Operation, their world-wide goals are never-the-less the same. Let's not forget that it was the Taliban that gave training space, cover, food , protection and therefore the ability to plan and carry out the attacks of 9/11.
In addition, the original Commander's Intent statement clearly stated we were in this war to destroy Al Qaida and hold all those who gave them health and comfort accountable.
Can you say Taliban?
And if the Taliban are an enemy is it not prudent to discuss where they are from and who gives "aid and comfort" to them?
Can you say, the "innocent Afghan population"?
Parsing the organizational "initiatives" of both groups became a tool to support COIN and it's limited warfare concepts while unintentionally giving over control of the battle space to the "lesser problematic" Taliban. By marginalizing the Taliban's "vision", and therefore it's danger to this nation, we lost sight of who they truly were, where they got their recruits from and then placed our own forces at undue risk. The story at the Captain's Journal clearly, again, tells us who the Taliban say they are and who they believe they are in league with. Why is it and has it been so difficult to take this enemy at their word?
Why do we believe we know who the enemy is and what he desires, better than what they tell us of themselves?
At some point, the strategic geniuses of this war will have to explain themselves and their amorous if not downright perverted, affair with COIN and it's murderous ROE because, having gotten everything else wrong to date, it appears all efforts are in defense of the selection of COIN.
And in defense of the careers and legacies of those who selected it.