NPR's Islam 101 Part 2
II. A Lesson From Humpty-Dumpty
Taqiyya and Tu-Quoque are handy defenses should Infidels show some interest in a critical scrutiny of Islam. But, strangely, the major press, radio, and television, have not shown such an interest in the more than 3 years since the attacks of September 11, 2001. There have not been any programs on what is taught in madrasas, or spoken in the khutbas (sermons) at Friday Prayers. There are allusions to "fundamentalist Muslims" and, of course, to "moderate Muslims," but no discussions of what these terms mean. Commentators have stayed well away from any discussion of what is actually contained in the Qur'an, the Hadith, and the Sira, the latter two of which, together, constitute the "Sunnah" or the customs and ways of 7th century Arabia that are held, by most Muslims, to be models for behavior today.
The Jihad that promoted and justified the conquest of vast territories in early Islam and subsequently led to the subjugation, by the Muslim Arab conquerors, of far more numerous, settled, and advanced populations of non-Muslims. In turn, this that led to the institution now known as “dhimmitude,” under which those non-Muslims, those who were not killed or forcibly converted, were treated as “dhimmis” (from “ahl al-dhimma” or “people of the Pact”). Their condition did not vary much either in time (over 1350 years), or in space (from Spain to East Asia). Yet when historians of the Middle East, manage to spare only a sentence or two, even in large books, for the dhimmis by reference just to the “jizya” or head-tax, or at most, by adding the phrase “and other disabilities,” one has reason to question the value of the entire work. The dhimmi is one of the most misunderstood and superficially treated of subjects, not just by Muslims themselves, but also by a certain kind of Western sentimentalist who refers to the wonders of the Abbasid court of Haroun al-Raschid, or to Cordoba as the “ornament of the world” where, as in the rest of Islamic Spain, a supposed “convivencia” among Christians, Jews, and Muslims is said to have flourished, or to the supposedly benign “pluralism” of the Ottoman Empire. What needs to be studied is the treatment of those once-vast non-Muslim populations that, over time, were largely converted as their own cultures and civilizations were subject to slow asphyxiation. Given the possible islamization of Western Europe, if forceful and systematic measures are not put in place, this matter has direct relevance today.
Islam is based on immutable texts. Muslims regard the Qur’an as the Word of God. The Hadith, those stories which purport to record the sayings, and deeds, and even silences, of Muhammad, are of great significance. For many Muslims, they serve as a kind of gloss on, and supplement to, the Qur’an, with almost equal significance. The Hadith number in the tens of thousands. To winnow the “strong” or most authentic Hadith, from the “weak” Hadith regarded as of less authoritative, or even doubtful authenticity, occupied many muhaddithin, or Hadith-scholars, in early Islam. They worked by studying the narration-chain, or isnad, by which these stories were related: A told to B told to C told to D. If A was one of the Prophet’s companions, and B and C and D were all known to be trustworthy, then the Hadith in question would be regarded as “strong.” If there were some problem along the way, the Hadith would be regarded as “weak,” and the size of the problem would determine the amount of the “weakness.” The collections of several of the mudaddithin, especially Bukhari and Muslim (a proper name), are believed to observe the greatest fidelity to the truth. The number, and “authenticity” of the Hadith, cannot now be tampered with.
And the Sira, or life of Muhammad, the man regarded by Muslims as the perfect model, al-insan al-kamil, simply cannot be rewritten to omit those unpleasant parts, in which he, as a successful military leader leading his troops against non-Muslims, behaved in a manner that would cause modern Infidels concern. Muhammad participated in 78 battles, he approved of the beheading of the prisoners taken among the Bani Qurayza, he ordered an attack on inoffensive Jewish farmers of the Khaybar Oasis in order to seize booty, he ordered the assassination of those who offended him, including a woman (Asma bint Marwan), and a 90-year-old man, he married Aisha, a 6-year-old girl, and consummated that marriage when she became 9. His behavior inspired the Ayatollah Khomeini to reduce the marriageable age of girls to nine.
When such contemporary would-be “reformers within Islam” as Irshad Manji (a flamboyant Canadian who, though born into Islam, does not by birthright possess a thorough grasp of Islamic tents, or the history of previous attempts at reform), are given attention, and the admiring interviewer does not bother to raise the awkward question – just how does one “reform” a religion when all of its canonical texts, Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira, are immutable – then the listener is left in the dark, or misled as to the likelihood, or even possibility, of “reform” within Islam. In the modern history of Islam, the heyday of supposed “reformers” was the period 1900-1930. This corresponded to the revelation, to the most advanced people in the Muslim world, of the weakness of Islamic countries and societies, and the understanding, not always expressed, that this weakness, these political and economic and intellectual and social failures, were attributable to the tenets of Islam itself, and the attitudes, the atmospherics, they engendered. But there is no such recognition today. Islam is cushioned from its failures by the accident of geology that provides the oil wealth to some, by the solicitousness with which Infidel countries hasten to supply foreign aid, including military aid, to others, and by the attitude of extreme deference toward Muslim sensibilities that, if continued, will have catastrophic consequences, for the Infidels themselves, and for those who, within Islam, would like to create the conditions where Muslims themselves, no longer able to avert their eyes from such failures, will have to do something about Islam, whether to interpret away its literalism, or to constrain its practice in the manner of Atatürk
When there is no grounding in Islam itself, all discussion, arguefying, opinion-making, about Islam and everything related to it (such as the Arab-Israeli matter, or the question of the future islamization of Europe, or the wisdom of the “Light-Unto-the-Muslim-Nations” Project that some in the American government have presented as a plausible, worthwhile, eminently doable undertaking in Iraq) becomes pointless. It is a waste of time, these words first uttered or written by an ignorant pundit for a trusting audience. If commentators, news broadcasters, columnists persist in presenting their views on Islam, full of clichés and slogans, and cannot be bothered to study either the tenets, or the history, of Islam, then the public, and the government as well, will persist in its ignorance, its naiveté, its negligent attitude about the most serious of matters – those upon which the fate of peoples, countries, and civilizations may well rest..
The media have a duty to discuss the attitudes toward Infidels that Islam encourages, by offering the real contents of Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira., not sanitized or expurgated versions (such as Michael Sells's Approaching the Qur'an) or carefully-crafted handouts of Qur'anic verses where, for example, Sura 9 is omitted entirely. Its audience should not be kept in the dark about the doctrine of “abrogation” (naskh), which will enable them to understand that Muslims do not receive all Qur'anic verses as equal. To do less or, as now, to do nothing, is intolerable. For neither the Iraq War, nor the likelihood of success for the Light-Unto-the-Muslim-Nations Project planned for Iraq (which for Infidels would result in their enhanced security), can be properly evaluated without understanding Islam.
The Arab-Israeli dispute, a topic obsessively discussed on every conceivable news program and guaranteed to receive sinisterly hypertrophied coverage around the world, is raised on every occasion by every Arab or Muslim spokesman whatever the ostensible matter at hand, and always discussed as if it had nothing to do with the promptings, or teachings, of Islam. But surely, in the Middle East, among Arabs who are almost entirely Muslims, the main subject to be analyzed is Islam. What does it teach? What are Muslims taught to think? Would it not be useful for listeners and readers, to come to understand that in Islam, no Infidel state, whatever its dimensions, can be permitted, for that would violate the essence of Islam. Islam, said Muhammad, is “to dominate and not to be dominated.” No land once part of dar al-Islam can ever fall under Infidel control again. The whole world belongs to Allah, and to his people, the Believers, but pride of place must go to the territories once conquered by the forces of Islam. The land on which Israel now sits, and other lands, including the Balkans, much of south-central Europe, much of Russia, most of India, and of course Spain, were once all part of dar al-Islam, and must be returned to it. But Israel, an Infidel sovereign state run by the despised Jews, and sitting smack in the middle of dar al-Islam, is particularly disturbing. If it remains a sovereign state, not only is land once Muslim not yet regained (as the whole world will eventually be either regained, or gained, for Islam), but the non-Muslims in it will not be living as dhimmis, subject to Muslim rule, and owing whatever rights they have to Muslims. And this is impossible under Islam. Infidels can be permitted to exist only as dhimmis, and in such a non-Muslim state as Israel they would no longer be dhimmis.
If the Islamic basis for Arab opposition to Israel were understood, then much that is otherwise undiscussed because it cannot be understood, and confuses and unsettles commentators with prefabricated and fixed narratives, would become clear. The hostility to Jews by the Arabs existed long before the state of Israel was declared. The Jews of Mandatory Palestine did not follow the script the Arabs both expected and demanded, and failed to recite their traditional lines as “dhimmis,” submissive to, and dependent on, Muslims in a world run by Muslims.
It was bad enough that the Christians of Lebanon in the post-Ottoman period did not always behave as dhimmis, for they were at least kept constantly on edge, especially when their traditional protector, France, showed it had thrown in its lot with the forces of Islam to curry petro-dollar favor. But the Jews declaring the state of Israel represented an even worse affront – for by inheriting the Ottoman state-owned domains, Israel possessed land that was supposed to remain Muslim land. Between dar al-Islam and dar al-harb a state of war exists until the final spread of Islam across the globe. In Israel’s case, it is irrelevant what its borders are; if it exists, it remains an affront, an outrage, a catastrophe, the greatest injustice in the history of the world (as Arab spokesmen routinely say). The very phrase a “final peace settlement” rings hollow to anyone familiar with the tenets of Islam. For there can be no “final peace settlement” between Muslims and non-Muslims, anywhere. The model for treaties between them is the agreement made between Muhammad and the Meccans in 628 A.D., the Treaty of al-Hudaibiyya. It was supposed to be a “truce” treaty that would last 10 years. It lasted scarcely 18 months, when Muhammad, feeling that his forces had grown sufficiently, breached the agreement on a pretext, and attacked the Meccans. As Majid Khadduri notes in War and Peace in Islam, this Treaty of al-Hudaibiyya became the model, and basis, for all future “treaties” with Infidel peoples and polities.
Public discussions about Arab-Israeli negotiations and assorted peace-processes, never devote attention to the long and grim history of agreements and treaties between Israel and the Arab states. The Arabs were not interested in any agreements with that Infidel state for, despite the Israeli victory in 1949, they thought they could, within a reasonable period, go in for the kill, this time with success. And so there were no "peace treaties" but, at Arab insistence, only agreements that did not recognize any final borders, just armistice lines. Despite the fact that those agreements included a cessation of hostile acts, more than 19,000 separate acts of terrorism against Israel took place between 1949 and 1956, from Egyptian-held territory alone. The Sinai Campaign was launched to end that terrorism; Israel won the entire Sinai. In the mid-1950s, the heyday of John Foster Dulles, Islam was seen not as a threat to the West, but only a much-touted “bulwark” against Communism. At the same time, it was believed that certain Arab Muslim states had to be bribed to keep from falling into the Communist camp. Both beliefs, though contradictory, led to American pressure on Israel to withdraw, for some flimsy guarantees, from the Sinai. It would have been perfectly appropriate for Israel not to have done so, for the aggression over 6 years certainly would have entitled any state to seize, and to keep, territory from which such aggression was launched.
Despite Egyptian propaganda, the Sinai was not historically part of Egypt. Even in the 19th century, the titles that Europeans gave to their books testify to the clear distinction between Egypt and the Sinai. The celebrated photographer Francis Frith produced a famous work of early photographs. It appeared, in 1862, significantly titled Egypt, Sinai, and Palestine. (Modern reprints of his book, just as significantly, bear the inaccurate title Egypt and Palestine – with the Sinai, apparently, swallowed up by Egypt). An Anglican cleric, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, published in 1881 his famous Sinai and Palestine. The conjunction in both cases is telling. In the time of the Ottoman Empire (as for thousands of years before) the Sinai had always been regarded as a corpus separatum, as desolate deserts so often were, and not as part of Egypt. When, after World War I, the British managed to arrange for the Sinai to be assigned to Egypt, at least one well-schooled British officer on Allenby's staff, Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, argued that, given its tenuous connections to Egypt, a good deal of the Sinai should have been assigned to Mandatory Palestine.
Nasser’s “good will” needed to be earned if he was to be kept out of the Soviet camp, and the Israelis were pressured by Washington when it should have urged the Israelis to keep the Sinai as a permanent buffer – for if it had, subsequent Arab-Israeli wars would have been far less likely. And had Islam been understood in 1956, the Sinai might even have been a place where permanent American bases might have been established, rather than where they have been positioned in the Muslim world. There was another chance in 1978-79, during the Sadat-Begin negotiations. Had Carter and Brzezinski any geopolitical sense, the United States might have pressured Israel to turn the Sinai over, not to Egypt, but to the United States for its permanent use, and billing it as a generous gesture of “peacekeeping.” The Egyptians might have protested, but only weakly, because they were desperate for American aid. American control of Israeli-built airbases in the Sinai, far from any population centers, smack in the middle of things, would have given the United States a permanent base for operations in the Middle East, North Africa, and even East Africa. Similarly, if the American government had understood Islam, it might have seized, during the past 21 years of genocide, the southern Sudan, set up a referendum on independence, and no doubt have been rewarded, by a newly-independent state in the south, with permanent bases. That could still be done.
When he was President of Egypt, Nasser broke every commitment he made to President Eisenhower about freedom of shipping in the Straits of Tiran, about allowing Israeli ships to pass through the Suez Canal, about terrorist attacks launched from Egypt. But this was not because Nasser was particularly untrustworthy or odious. No one who had bothered to study the rules set out for agreements with Infidels in Islamic jurisprudence should have been surprised. It should not have come as a surprise that Egypt broke its commitments under the Camp David Accords to end all hostile acts and hostile
propaganda (while quietly pocketing the entire Sinai, along with oilfields that the Israelis had discovered and developed, and airbases, and other infrastructure). That the Israelis continue to be surprised that the agreements they make with Muslim Arabs are eventually breached by the Arab side, testifies to their own remarkable insouciance, in failing to investigate what the law of war and peace in Islam expresses in such crystalline fashion. It should not have been a surprise that the Palestinian Authority, under Arafat, would fail to keep any of its promises in various agreements with Israel.
And today Israel prepares to make "peace" based on some “road map, ” in order, it is hoped, to arrive at something called a “two-state solution.” This time there is a more plausible, milder-mannered "Palestinian" leader than the late Arafat. Yet the doctrines of Islam remain, for they came 1350 years before Ahmed Shukairy or Yassir Arafat or Mahmoud Abbas arrived on the scene, and those doctrines will continue to exist, and to fashion the deepest impulses and beliefs of Muslims, and will, whatever “leader” of the “Palestinians” (i.e., the local Arabs) on whom so much breathless attention is lavished, determine the real durability of any “treaties” with any non-Muslim polities or peoples. Whatever Arafat or Abbas or anyone else claims or feigns, and whatever any war-weary Israeli hopes, or whatever any useful Western tools or fools Muslims may exploit or manipulate against the interests of other non-Muslims in order to buy time, or a temporary peace, no real and durable peace can be made with any Infidel sovereign state. It is the duty of Muslims, mandated by Islam and the example of Muhammad, to renew conflict, whatever agreement has been signed, as soon as the Muslim side is stronger. This means that deterrence, and only deterrence, can keep the peace. The doctrine of necessity, or “darura” – i.e., the fact of an Infidel enemy possessing, or seeming to possess, overwhelming power, is the only thing that Arab leaders, or at least those reluctant to make war, can use as an excuse not to do so. This is why, if one were genuinely interested in preserving peace between Israel and the Arabs, one would be looking at every possible way to preserve, and strengthen, the perception of Israel as impregnable – and to do nothing which, to Muslims looking at a map, might make them gain a different impression.
The attitude of Muslims toward non-Muslims, which derives from the Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira, has been studied in detail by many scholars, with its fullest expression the book-length compendium by the Lebanese scholar Antoine Fattal. The history of dhimmitude is laid out by Bat Ye'or in a succession of studies, a history which, in turn, has relied on a great many other students of the subject whose work lay, unrecognized, uncollected, and underused, until she came along, made memorable use of it and, with her comprehensive grasp of detail, and of the psychology both of dhimmitude and of dhimmis, created her own memorable body of scholarship.
After World War II, it became harder to subject Islam to critical scrutiny. The Cold War demanded that the Western world find allies among certain Muslim countries; they were even praised for their Islamic beliefs, for those beliefs were seen as stoutly anti-Communist. And so they were. But unstated, because not understood, was that Islam is just as strongly anti-Western, opposed to the idea of the individual citizen and liberal democracy that depends for its legitimacy on the support of those citizens. Islam was against Communism not because it was Communism, but because it was not Islam. The enmity and rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union led to a bidding war for the affections of many, including Muslim states and peoples. If there ever was a connection between the policy objectives of Western countries, and the study of Islam by Western scholars, it was not, as Edward Said charged, during the period of Western colonialism. It was, rather, during the Cold War, when candid analysis of Islam became impossible, for reasons of unrealistic realpolitik.
A second reason for the silencing of critical study of Islam, has been the “anti-colonial” movement – as opposed to anticolonialism itself, that allowed certain Arab states to pose as victims of the same colonialism that so much of sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia, had endured. It was not noted that, except for North Africa (and there, mainly in Algeria), the Arabs had suffered hardly at all from classic colonialism. In the Arabian Peninsula, save for the entrepôt of Aden, the small British garrisons along the coast were established for three reasons: to suppress the Arab slave trade with Africa; to prevent inter-tribal warfare (hence the "Trucial" states); and to guard the sea-route to India. There was no European colonialism in the entire Arabian peninsula; it was the British who freed the Arabs from the domination of the Ottoman Turks, in Arabia, in Mesopotamia, and throughout the Middle East. With the exception of the intrepid Captain Shakespear crossing the Rub al-Khali, or Empty Quarter, hardly an Englishman even set foot in the interior of Arabia before the 1930s.
Only in Algeria was there European colonialism, in the classic sense, for more than a few decades, with a settling of colons from the mainland, and the exploitation of the land. But there was no wholesale removal of gold and diamonds as in parts of sub-Saharan Africa; rather, this “colonialism” consisted in the revival of agriculture by the French on land that the local Arabs and Berbers had allowed to go to ruin. Nonetheless, beginning with the Bandung Conference in 1955 (when it was still the “Underdeveloped World” and had not yet become “The Third World”), and at every Third World get-together since, various plutocrats of Arabia show up, pretending, despite their fabulous unearned riches, to be fellow "Third Worlders." The farce is permitted to go on, because no one wants to spoil the game of those who are so free with bribes. When one could be rewarded so handsomely for keeping silent, why bother to speak the truth?
As a result of both the Cold War, and decolonization, the Arab and Muslim world entered a period when, as it happens, the Western world's scholars of Islam, one by one, were retiring or dying, and were not replaced. Who replaced C. Snouck Hurgronje, or Leone Caetani, or Charles-Emmanuel Dufourcq, or the Rev. W. St. Clair Tisdall, or Professor Arthur Jeffery or Joseph Schacht? The answer
is: those who, less well-schooled in relevant languages, and lacking the kind of self-assurance that broad cultivation would bring, were more willing to dance to the tune of Western governments that wanted studies of the "Cold War and Islam" that ignored every aspect of Islam except that it was stoutly anti-Communist. And even that assertion proved, in the case of the less fervent Muslims, such as Nasser, insufficient to keep quite a few Arabs from playing off East against West.
The hatred of Infidels, especially of the Infidel West throughout the Muslim world, is not a new phenomenon. If the Arabs supported one Infidel power, Nazi Germany, it was mainly because that power was the sworn enemy of the countries seen as the traditional leaders of Western Christendom in modern times, England and France (and besides, Nazi antisemitism in Arab eyes was an additional attractive feature). And if they supported the Soviet Union, it was because that country was seen as the chief enemy of the new head of Western Infidels, the United States. Hatred of Unbelievers, or Infidels, is not tangential but central to Islam, mentioned throughout the Qur’an, the Hadith, and acted upon, by Muhammad, in the Sira. Such Islam-inspired hatred is inculcated with special fervor among the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia. What has changed is that the propagandists of ARAMCO (the Arabian -American Oil Company, which enjoyed the Saudi oil concession for many years), who once hid from view the reality of Saudi Arabia, are no longer around to provide those rose-tinted sunglasses for Infidel viewing of the burning fanaticism of the Wahhabi sun.
Furthermore, the events of the past few years have led to a brand-new awareness of what was always there, but that Westerners, and especially Cold Warriors, willfully refused to see.. Some of those Cold Warriors, prematurely congratulating themselves on that victory, seem incapable of grasping that another equally dangerous enemy to Western civilization, including its art, its science, its emphasis on the rights of the individual. Communism, like Islam, emphasizes the collective – the proletariat instead of the umma al-islamiyya, the Community of Believers, and was not about mental freedom but rather, about questions of economics and power. Though crude Marxist interpretations of art and science, as epiphenomena of underlying economic realities, was officially encouraged, the Soviet Union nonetheless managed at least to preserve the high art of the pre-Communist past; Islam has no use for most art (sculpture, painting, music) and all real science, and whatever could be associated with pre-Islamic or non-Islamic civilizations – the lands, and times, of Ignorance (“Jahiliyya”). Only one Western achievement seems to interest the Muslim world, and that is weapons technology. Though Communism was a mortal threat to the Western world, it was still possible to engage in certain cultural activities, certain modes of expression, even to preserve the artifacts produced under what the Communists saw as a wicked ancien régime. Under Islam, there is, and has been, only Islam. When Arab Muslim intellectuals produced a report two years ago for the U.N., deploring the state of culture in Arab countries, they noted the tiny number of translations into Arabic. What they did not add was an explanation of why this should be so, what possible connection such lack of curiosity had with Islam itself. That is a subject that Muslims are understandably reticent about, but it is no reason why Infidels should ignore the Muslim contempt for all things non-Muslim, except when they can be of direct benefit in the contest with the Infidel world. Mahathir Mohamed, the former head of Malaysia, speaking a year ago to Muslim heads-of-state at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Countries, offered a view of Muslim “progress” that consisted almost entirely in calling for changes that would permit the acquisition of weapons of war sufficient to meet, and surpass, the armories of Infidel enemies.
When it comes to free and skeptical inquiry, Islam does a much better job than Communism did in suppressing it – there are no Muslim dissidents equivalent to those in Soviet Russia. A Muslim Sakharov cannot exist, for he would, by definition, be someone who rejected Islam altogether, and he would be executed for apostasy, or forced to flee the Muslim world. And even then he might not be safe. There is no mechanism, for real dissidents to remain unharmed within Islam, if they go so far as to criticize, as Sakharov and Russian dissidents did with Communism, the basic tenets of the belief. And there is one more difference. Communism collapsed because too many of those who lived under it, including party members (some influenced by their liberal offspring), could not avoid seeing that it had failed, and in the very areas where it had promised to succeed. But it is almost impossible to force Muslims to see the political, economic, intellectual, and moral failures of Islam, for the system is one of thorough brainwashing that causes Muslims to dismiss almost everything that preceded the coming of Islam, or to fail to appreciate anything in the non-Muslim world beyond the goods it produces and that, with oil money, are so readily available. Even for those who did not attend a madrasa, and who never or seldom attend a mosque, Islam pervades the society, fashions the attitudes, and the atmospherics, in which they live. The cushion of unmerited oil wealth is so plump, that Muslims will be protected from recognizing the failures of their system until the Infidel world ceases to prop it up.
Geopolitics makes strange bedfellows. During the Cold War, the world’s leading liberal democracy found itself exchanginging pillow talk with the primitive and fanatical Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia. They were not seen as either primitive or fanatical, but as fast friends, and stalwart anti-Communists, and what they did in mosque and madrasa was their own business. In the same way, the United States found itself offering all sorts of largesse to bribe Muslim states to permit the stationing of American troops at American bases. It happened everywhere, and everywhere it came to naught.
There was Morocco, whose king, a relatively enlightened despot, allowed the Americans to bribe him so that they might place an airbase or two. Rumor has it that the first nuclear weapons positioned abroad were at an American base in that country. The Moroccans not only received aid, but as happened so frequently, that American aid could be used to inveigle France into topping or at least matching the American offer. During the Six-Day War, when American bases all over the Muslim world were likely targets of attack (because Nasser concocted a story about American pilots being responsible for his losses rather than admit the Israelis had done it all by themselves), the King of Morocco announced with great sincerity to his own people that there were “no American bases” in his country, only “American instructors” training Moroccans at their own facilities. In the end, the American military were asked to leave.
In 1954, a year after Libya signed an agreement offering bases to Great Britain, it offered a similar deal to the Americans in return, of course, for economic aid. Wheelus Air Base just outside Tripoli became the most important American installation in Africa. But it was not to last. King Idris in 1968, on a trip to Europe for medical treatment, was deposed by Muammar Khaddafy, and the American bases were closed.
On the model of NATO, in 1955 a military alliance of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and initially Great Britain (the United States came later) was formed. It was funded, and supplied by Great Britain and, with still deeper pockets, the United States. This Baghdad Pact did not last long. It came to an end in July 1958, when the government of Iraq was overturned in a coup, led by Major General Abdul Karim Kassem. The young king, Faisal II, was killed, and so was the Crown Prince (his body hung outside the Defence Ministry), and so was the famous “strong man” of Iraq, Nuri es-Said. A practiced plotter, Nuri es-Said ceased to be that “strong man” when he tried to escape from Baghdad in women’s clothes, was caught, killed, and his mutilated body dragged through the city streets for the delight and edification of the populace. In Iraq the old order passed. One man managed to have served both the ancient regime and the new one, and indeed to serve in every subsequent Iraqi regime -- that Baghdadian Vicar of Bray, the clever and unscrupulous Adnan Pachachi, who is still in evidence, making sly trouble and looking, as always, after himself. [At the beginning of the 1970s, Pachachi found himself in exile, working for Sheik Zayed in Abu Dhabi town, assigned to help the British scholar J. B. Kelly, the great expert on the Frontier Question in Arabia, prepare Abu Dhabi’s case against the land-grabbing local bully, Saudi Arabia. Once Iraq withdrew from the Baghdad Pact, following the coup, that Pact looked very foolish indeed. It was quickly renamed the Central Asian Treaty Organization. Now its Muslim members were Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan.
In Iran, the Americans never understood the permanence and significance of Islam. How could they? They judged a country by the elite westernized members of the ruling class whom they met, and believed the assurances they received. Jimmy Carter toasted the Shah as “a pillar of stability” in January 1979, the very year the Shah fell, to be replaced by the Ayatollah Khomeini. And he, and Brzezinski, composed a letter to the Ayatollah, “from one man of faith to another.” For all his delusions of grandeur, and his role in OPEC’s quadrupling of prices, the Shah was the best Iran could manage, and certainly his attitude toward Infidels was benign. But he fell; Iran reverted to Muslim type, and the monstrous Islamic Republic of Iran was born. When that famous “pillar of stability” disappeared, other illusions went up in the smoke rising from the American Embassy, as secret files were being burned, in order to keep them out of the hands of the “students” who were in the process of their celebrated 444-day androlepsy at that same embassy in Teheran.
For decades Pakistan was the favored child of the Americans. The supercilious Indian prime minster, Jawaharlal Nehru, rumored to have been influenced, as a student in England, by all the wrong people (Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Bertrand Russell), and his intermittent anti-American foreign minister, Krishna Menon, left Americans cold. How much more likable were those straight-backed, straight-talking Pakistani generals, some of whom had even gone to Sandhurst, and who could be counted on to stand with America against Communism because, as everyone knew, Islam was incompatible with Communism. (Islam was incompatible with anything that was not Islam).
For a long time, in American eyes, Pakistan could do no wrong. It repeatedly abused American trust. In 1971, for example, it employed American military equipment to suppress the revolt in East Pakistan against the rule of West Pakistan. Pakistan has long supported terrorism, largely unreported in the West, against India. It did nothing to prevent the continued persecution of Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians throughout the country; Hindus fled.and the Hindu population sank steadily from its 1949 level. The Pakistanis helped create the Taliban, and through the Taliban, gave aid and comfort to Al-Qaeda, two groups that brought death and so much woe to Afghanistan. Though everyone from Musharraf on down now rolls his eyes in mock-innocence, Pakistani generals knew about, and fully supported the amazing adventures of A. Q. Khan.
And after September 11, 2001, instead of reading Pakistan the riot act for its support of the Taliban and therefore, of Al-Qaeda, and threatening to cut off aid, stop Pakistani imports, and arranging for the total collapse of Pakistan’s economy, the American government chose to bribe Pakistan further. There was debt relief in the billions, more aid (also in the billions), more military supplies, in exchange for Pakistan’s promise to do what it should have done anyway, hunt down members of Al-Qaeda. Even that seems not to have resulted mainly to a lot of ostentatious rounding-up of just a few more than the usual suspects, while the Pakistani press and television continue to rant about Infidels, and Infidel Americans. Muslim Pakistan can never be relied on. And in the end, we are not their friend, no matter how much of our largesse they are happy to pocket, and ask for more.
This leaves one last member of Cento: Turkey. Turkey was stable. Turkey was reliable. Turkey was permanently secular. Turkey could be counted on. The Turks had fought bravely in the Korean War (and even had time left over to conduct Da’wa among the Koreans). Turkish officers were fine fellows, and got along swimmingly with their American counterparts. Kemalism was here to stay. True, in 1955 there were attacks all over Istanbul on the Greek Orthodox, but that was an aberration. True, the Turks have never admitted to the Armenian genocide – but perhaps they were just embarrassed, and needed time to come up with the right phrasing. Turkey offered airbases and listening posts right on the border with the Soviet Union.
But the Cold War is over, and Turkey is not quite so indispensable as it may still think. Kemalism, we are learning, is not quite so much a given as we were once led to believe. It requires eternal vigilance, for otherwise it is temporary; Islam is forever. Though like all Muslim governments that of Erdogan is happy to extract what it can from its American connection, it takes a much more malevolent view of Infidels, and its threatening behavior with the E.U., as its candidacy for admission faced its first hurdle, was telling. Telling, too, was the important member of the Turkish political establishment who described American treatment of Iraqis as “worse than Hitler.”
When the invasion of Iraq was being planned, those doing the planning confidently asked Turkey for permission to use bases in Turkey from which to launch certain attacks. They were surprised to be turned down flat. They should not have been surprised. Turkey will not cooperate with the United States when the object of that cooperation is to be another Muslim state – not unless that Muslim state is a sworn enemy of Turkey. Turkey wants to enter Europe, and has already shown how bullying it can be to obtain that goal. The American government continues to see Turkey not as it is now, but as it was, or as it was imagined, fifty years ago, when Kemalism was unchallenged. Islam keeps coming back, and the “reforms” demanded by the E.U. only help Erdogan weaken the power of the Turkish army, and hence weaken the power of those who are prepared to defend Keamlism with force. If the United States is engaged only in a “war on terror” then of course it has no grounds for opposing Turkey’s entry into Europe. Nor does it have any grounds for opposing the future islamization of Europe, through Da’wa (the Call to Islam) and demography, as long as terrorism is not employed.