Monday, February 21, 2011

Sad but true

Here, thanks to Rachel, is an article by Ian Johnson recounting decades of vain U.S. efforts to woo the Muslim Brotherhood. The pattern began in the 1950s, when President Eisenhower hoped he could recruit the Brotherhood to fight the communists in the Middle East and keep European Muslims happy. Subsequently, as is better known, U.S. officials worked with Islamists to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan.

More recently, our flirtation with the Muslim Brotherhood resumed during the second Bush administration - despite concerns voiced by our allies - and continues under President Obama. Yet again, we apparently hope that they want what we want: a free and democratic society, with freedom of speech, press and religion.

As Johnson concludes: "Half a century ago, the West chose to make use of the Brotherhood for short-term tactical gain, later backing many of the authoritarian governments that were trying to wipe it out. Now, with those governments tottering, the West has no choice; after decades of oppression one of the few actors left standing is the Brotherhood, with its potent mixture of fundamentalism and modern political methods."

Initially President Bush concluded that, for decades, the United States had sacrificed support for Mideast democracy in order to get stability, but ended up with neither. I wish he had stuck to that thought, since it's the correct one. And I fear that Obama actually thinks the Brotherhood is our friend.

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