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Islamic Democracy Revisionism



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Mario, while I have great respect for Reuel, I did not find the op-ed “arresting.” I found it to be more of the same.

To leave Reuel out of it and just make a more general comment, in the height of the bipartisan democracy fetish, we heard all kinds of talk about how jihadism was caused by America’s embrace of dictators (as opposed to mainstream Islamic doctrine); how Islam and democracy were perfectly compatible; how the responsibility and accountability of governance would tame Islamists; and even how, as the second Bush inaugural insisted, freedom in American was somehow dependent on the spread of freedom in the Middle East. As some of us contended, none of this was sound and, predictably, things have not worked out as promised. So now the strategy, as I’ve said before with respect to the Obama administration’s airbrushing of the Muslim Brotherhood, is to prepare the ground so that failure can be spun as success: either by redefining what democracy is so enthusiasts can argue with a straight face that we are seeing it in the current transformation; by recasting what Islamists are so they can be portrayed as “largely secular” pragmatists, or democrats who just happen to be “socially conservative”; or by theorizing that the ugliness we’re now seeing is a regrettable but necessary transitional phase on the way to something truly democratic (as Westerners understand that term).

I have made myself scarce, and have to stay that way for a little while longer, because I’m finishing a book about the so-called Arab Spring. Obviously, I’ll have my say soon enough, so I’ll just leave it at that for now.



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