Doctor McCarthy Is In
Curing a case of bad foreign policy

Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, by Andrew C. McCarthy


On progressives versus the Constitution, Spring Fever explicates the concept of “totalitarian democracy,” which was developed by the much underappreciated political scientist Jacob Leib Talmon. Very much like Islamists, progressives believe they possess an exclusive truth and that the task of the state is to socialize citizens to accept that truth. Freedom, nonsensically, lies in accepting that truth — i.e., you can, as Rousseau put it, be “forced to be free” by the state. Meaning, capitulate and all will be well. Again, this is antithetical to the Constitution’s conception of freedom as the necessary requirement of individual liberty that the Constitution safeguards by limiting, not empowering, government. The Framers understood that government was necessary in some ways but had a propensity to devour liberty; the Left is seduced by this propensity, which rationalizes its seizure of your liberty as being for your own good.


LOPEZ: Did anything that happened over the last couple of weeks — the attacks on our diplomatic missions and the violent protests across the Muslim world — surprise you?

McCARTHY: No. As the book explains, this was inevitable. The point of being an Islamic supremacist is to achieve supremacy.

LOPEZ: Is the anti-Islamic YouTube video that supposedly provoked the violence just an excuse?

McCARTHY: Yes. So are the cartoons, the burning Korans, the teddy bears, Gitmo, our incarceration of the Blind Sheikh, Israeli “occupation,” and whatever they’ll be marauding about tomorrow. These are all just pretexts. The proximate cause is Islamic supremacist ideology. If you really want to find another material cause, it is American appeasement and fecklessness. When your main adversary, the obstacle to your ambitions, is desperate for you to love him rather than determined to show that there are red lines that can’t be crossed, you cause mayhem. We now have mayhem.

LOPEZ: Why is Turkey’s Erdogan such a bad actor by your account?

McCARTHY: Because I am a pro-democracy — real democracy — Westerner and he is a highly effective Islamist enemy of the West. Using the Muslim Brotherhood’s ingenious, duplicitous tactics, he has — under the guise of democracy — taken a country that was a reasonably democratic ally of the West and flipped it back into the Islamist column, which is already having dire consequences for us.

LOPEZ: How is Erdogan the “power-politics soulmate” of Barack Obama?

McCARTHY: Well, as far as “soulmate” is concerned, that’s based on the two men’s expressed affection for each other — Obama says they find themselves in agreement on most things, which Americans ought to find frightening. On power politics, Obama and Erdogan are extraordinarily similar — and so, as Spring Fever observes, are Alinskyites and the Brotherhood. They are both seeking “to fundamentally transform” their societies, to borrow Obama’s famous phrase, and they seek to do it by acquiring, using, and maintaining power in a very raw and often lawless way — “direct action,” as the community organizers put it. They use benign rhetoric and sleight-of-hand to appear unthreatening, to keep themselves politically viable, and to camouflage the radical nature of their agendas. Once in command of the levers of power, particularly the metastasizing bureaucracy, which is where the state’s real power in a society is brought to bear, they aggressively advance their ideologies in a way that ignores constitutions, statutes, and courts — it’s basically “I’ve got more power than you do, just try to stop me.” And, sadly, it works.

LOPEZ: How is freedom regressing in Turkey?

McCARTHY: Erdogan has systematically eroded the military and internal security apparatus, which was Ataturk’s guardian of the secular order, and he has seeded the courts and the bureaucracy with Islamist appointees. That has given Islamist supremacists a green light to impose sharia standards over large areas without Erdogan’s having to impose those standards formally. There was a big controversy over women’s wearing the veil, for example, which the Kemalists did not permit in the public square. The matter is still moving through the courts, but the legal outcome doesn’t matter any longer — women are wearing the veil in great numbers, some because they wish to, others because they are afraid not to. It’s a terrible time for women in Turkey: Employment is way down, while violence (including “honor killings”), sexual abuse, and illiteracy surge. Business people and government bureaucrats are adopting Islamist modes of dress and behavior because they know that, in Erdogan’s Turkey, if you want to advance, that’s what you must do. Increasingly, there is violence against religious minorities. And most obviously, Erdogan has exploited the executive’s police and prosecution powers to persecute dissenters, particularly in the press and the military.

LOPEZ: What’s the “democracy fetish” you refer to?

McCARTHY: My contention is that the Islamic democracy project, which has been a feature of the last three presidential administrations even though it is popularly associated with Bush 43, has not so much promoted as fetishized democracy. It substitutes procedural aspects of democracy — most notably, elections — for real democratic culture. If we really wanted to promote democracy, we’d cut off assistance and minimize relations with the Saudis until they repealed repressive sharia; halted persecution of women, homosexuals, and religious minorities; stopped making it criminal to practice religions other than Islam; opened Mecca and Medina, which are generally closed to non-Muslims; and ceased the proselytism of Wahhabism and the funding of Islamists, particularly violent Islamists. That would be democracy promotion worth having, and if we had it, I’d be its biggest supporter. But instead, we consider the mere holding of elections and writing of constitutions to be democracy — even when the elections install anti-liberty Islamists and terrorists in power, and even when the constitutions enshrine sharia as fundamental law.


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