Robert Reilly: Deciphering the Middle East: Why the U.S. Usually Gets it Wrong

Robert Reilly: Deciphering the Middle East: Why the U.S. Usually Gets it Wrong


I find this director than West business
too he’s written for Wall Street Journal the Washington Post that additional
Reader’s Digest National Review many other publications he was former
director of The Voice of America he’s taught at the National Defense
University served in the White House and the Office of the Secretary of Defense
and he was also participated in operation correct entry yesterday
welcome Jeff thank you very much ladies and gentlemen it’s a great pleasure to
be with you this evening you may have seen that the lecture topic was switched
Chuck actually came to the Westminster Institute for a talk on the subject and
then our email exchanges that topic has stayed at the title and my topic title
was in the text message oi do you know what I’m talking about I think you know it’s deciphering the
middle-east why the United States usually gets it wrong but I will touch
upon the subject of jihad and you may notice that this is such a disgusting
subject but I will have an adult beverage with me up here while that are
discussing it it’s also kind of body language to let you know that I am NOT a
Muslim now you may have noticed in the news that when the president of the
Islamic Republic of Iran went through Italy and France at the state dinners
which he attended no wine was served I’ve been to France Italy many times
I’ve never seen a meal without wine and that was done so president rouhani said
Islamic faith would not be offended by the presence of alcoholic beverages
which brought to mind a memory of Winston Churchill when he was Prime
Minister and King Assad was visiting him at 10 Downing Street Kings now its
emissary arrived at 10 Downing Street to go over the requirements for the dinner
with Churchill and he said to the prime minister for religious reasons no
alcoholic beverages will be served in His Majesty’s presence to which
Churchill responded champagne will be served before dinner
Gordo will be served with dinner and cognac will be served after dinner also
for religious reasoning and so it was so now I better move on didn’t address our
subject of deciphering the Middle East why the United States usually gets it
wrong so I think we need to pull back and consider a little history and the
relationships between the United States in the Middle East and first of all
we’ll notice that there wasn’t much of one and one at all for a major part of
the history of the United States why because the United States didn’t have
any vital strategic and prosperity the feeling was apparently mutual as no
Middle Eastern country opened an embassy in Washington until the Ottomans in 1873 it was not until 1909 that the US State
Department created its Near Eastern affairs division in 1913 Assistant
Secretary of State Francis Huntington Wilson announced quote it’s no place to
waste ammunition now the United States as is obvious from our origin has
consistently been an anti colonial power and this has given us a certain
perspective on the world so when they began noticing the Middle East and
considering our relationship to it the first thing we noticed was it was the
object of imperial powers and at the time of our first Association serious
Association within it it was subject to Ottoman imperialism
and so the notion of rose should only the air peoples be given their freedom
if the shackles of Ottoman imperialism could be lifted from them the Arabs
would naturally assume the blessings of liberty and self-government because of
our perspective was you don’t have the exercise of these rights it’s because
someone has taken it from him the Ottomans insisted on entering World War
one as you know Churchill had promised them that they stayed out of it he would
the British Empire would guarantee the integrity of the Ottoman Empire
foolishly they entered it the Empire collapsed
to the end of the war and but took the place of Ottoman imperialism was British
and French imperialism so the story within the United States changed a
little bit if only the air people’s could be freed from Western French and
British imperialism their peoples would assume upon themselves the blessings of
liberty self-government right in the United
States was known as an anti-imperialist the conclusion of the war we pressured
both the French and British to attend at their colonial possessions and then in
1956 in the Suez Crisis Eisenhower cemented this reputation by opposing
Israelis the French of the British when they repossessed the Suez Canal after
Nasser had expropriated it from them and Eisenhower told them to get out so
understandably we were popular the United States was admire and so we
thought now that the British and French imperial powers have withdrawn their
peoples will take upon themselves self-government the blessings of liberty
the British and the French exhausted from the war and their imperial
endeavors eventually withdrew and the United States because of the strategic
interest that had there principally obviously oiled and to fill in in their
shoes and we made an amazing discovery that the problems in the Middle East or
the deal of them were not a product of Ottoman imperialism or Western
imperialism imperialism they were indigenous to the region only
now they were our problems the United States formulated that a
foreign policy in respect to the Middle East from Truman on because of the vital
strategic asset of oil there that we would not allow any and tagging istic
hegemonic power to gain control of those supplies this policy was reiterated this
was a bipartisan policy was reiterated by every president you may recall Jimmy
Carter hardly known it’s a hard core President on foreign policy repeating
this after the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan and worries persisted that
this may be a lurch toward the Middle Eastern oil resources through the salon
tunnel into Iran that he made the announcement repeating this policy
saying that if any hostile power attempted to become the hegemon in the
Middle East and control these that would be a cause of a lie for the United
States consistently articulated now of course the westernization of Soviet
Union fell apart but this policy persisted and slightly we formulated
fashion since we were no longer worried about an antagonistic hegemonic power
from outside the Middle East would be been concentrated on and the local
hegemon us whose ambitions would imperil the strategic interest in the United
States and so it was that when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait took a covert
made several military in Saudi Arabia the president george
bush senior created the coalition to throw saddam out this was consistent
with u.s. foreign policy since the end of the war now I was a supporter of that
policy at the time two things that I got to that much rougher I meditated as I
was and the subsequent war Operation Iraqi Freedom is desolate I participated
in a minor way internet now the problem with the first Gulf War as
the President Bush didn’t finish it he thought that the defeat of the Iraqi
armed forces was sufficient to generate internal forces within Iraq that would
have overthrown Saddam Hussein meaning he didn’t have a sufficient
understanding of the bath party apparatus or the Volkhov Iraq or
military intelligence in Iraq that wasn’t going to happen I was doing a
weekly he television radio show at the voice of America world that TV on an
anniversary of that war and I had in the studio Richard Haass is now the head of
media Hornet what’s it called with no foreign affairs council he had been the
principal National Security Council advisor during the first Gulf War we
were off camera and off mic and I said to him why didn’t you call the defeated
generals to the 10th because the rap on this is what we would have had to go
back dead that we would them why didn’t you call the defeated generals to the
10th and simply say gentlemen you have 48 hours to reconstitute through a
regime without Saddam Hussein and after 48 hours if you haven’t done that we’re
not coming for Saddam we’re coming for you so let’s all we set our watches and
good luck to you so I said to mr. Hoge why why why didn’t
you do that since his answer was startling
he said the generals who could have done that wouldn’t have come to the tent but
the generals of a defeated army won’t come to the tent that means you haven’t
defeated the army and so it was the United States consciously allowed the
Republican Guard to escape its grasp before imposing terms upon it thus
necessitating another war more than a decade later in the tremendous criticism
than this Iraq policy has come under particularly the fiasco that Operation
Iraqi Freedom eventually became I always say yes I know this runs out with is a
terrible mistake but how would you have ended the war so
she said what it would mean I said the war was still going on if you
remember the northern no-fly zone the southern no-fly zone if you remember the
American and now I the aircraft were being fired upon by Iraqi anti-aircraft
guns of weekly tell me how you would have ended that war how would you have
sustained the effort the no-fly zones in the humanitarian effort when I went was
in Baghdad in the spring of 2003 I was living in Saddam’s Republican palace I
can’t tell you how these are an experience that was
but on the the marble entrance was an Arabic inscription which I asked my
Kurdish friend to read and it said this palace was rebuilt in honor of Saddam
Hussein’s victory over the United States in 1991 laughs but it was more than a
decade later he was still there and he was still there in defiance of the
provisions of the ceasefire agreement so if you win war and you don’t enforce the
provisions of the ceasefire agreement you haven’t won the war and everyone
throughout the Middle East believe me could read that inscription
and the Republican palace so I think it behooves president george w bush to
finally bring him into compliance and then that war but not the way we did that involves some major
misunderstandings here’s one of us which a former israeli intelligence agent said
to me before Operation Iraqi Freedom I hope you understand that no one there
wishes you well no one there wishes you well what did he mean by that he meant
that none of the countries none of the air
the middle-east wished us success it was not in their interest that we succeed in
the terms in which we define success so if you’re going go knowing that no one
there wishes you well because the terms in which you define success which is a
free a constitutional rule of law market economy in Iraq was a nibble to the
interest of the Baptist regime in Syria because it would D legitimize it and it
was certainly against the interest of Iran for reasons we never seem to
articulate or completely understand under Saddam Hussein the Shia population
in Iraq was severely repressed in the job in Karbala those two cities together
are the wrong of Shia Islam because of the terrible suppression by Saddam the
temporary headquarters the sort of Avignon papacy of the Shia world was
culminated in Iran so the scene right I told us were in corn or London the the
promise the promise that the second theorem or held out after liberating
Iraq was that the theological center of gravity would move from Coleman back to
the job and Karbala where indeed Ayatollah Sistani went and where
Ayatollah I’d have told Ali tried to return and he was murdered they are in
the spring of 2000 when that happened my heart sank
Ayatollah Ali and Sistani represented the traditional Shia theological
orthodoxy of quietest Shia Islam where you endure whatever you have to in the
current political order because what we’re really waiting for is the return
of the commodities and so it doesn’t have an activist revolutionary program
now the Iranians understood this and therefore they wanted to get in Iran and
come into a rock and co-opt the theological center of gravity moving
back there that was the greatest threat to their legitimacy because traditional
shiism does not include the valley at the Fakih doctrine of the rule of the
jurisprudence in Iran that Ayatollah Khomeini instigated so this was a
question of theological legitimacy which was life and death for Iran and also for
the Baths receive in Syria for Mossad so the first thing we should have been
prepared for in invading that country was in preventing those powers from
interfering in the internal affairs of garroted
and I can tell you that we failed miserably there was massive internal
interference from both Syria and Iraq the only first they tested as we were
going or preparing to go into Iraq the Iranians were very worried because we
were already in Afghanistan and they knew we weren’t going to be able to take
out Saddam so we had Iran flanked so the Iranians were all
cooperation contacting the United States saying in your military operations
should any of their pilots be shot down and come into Iranian airspace we want
to ever tell you what will guarantee their safety return them safely to you
his Iran was afraid but when they began probing in Iraq and met with no
resistance but they’re pure disappear and when Assad started penetrating from
the West he found the same thing when they set up the ratlines to send in
great numbers of jihadists to attack US troops and the Iraqi government massive
internal interference in the fledgling media operation of which I was in part I
can tell you before we had anything on the air Iran had to 24 by 7 TV stations
in the Arabic operating they had transmitters inside Iraq general Sanchez
Encino was one of the ground commanders in Iran and the day after he retired I
had a chance to ask him a question and I said general Sanchez knowing that
successes we defined it was an interest of Iran and Syria why were we not
prepared to stop the massive interference from both of those
countries the internal affairs of the rock two-word answer from general Sanchez significant neglect significant and black anyone who
understood the middle-east like my Israeli friend would know that no one
wished us well anyone who understood what was it stayed for Syria and Iran
would know what they would attempt to do and yet we failed to we anticipate that
and take any action to it of course as you know we dissolved the Iraqi army
instead of immediately reconstituting and instead I am to guard the borders or
our guard the installations well that’s all I have so many mistakes we made the
Middle East I have to keep going along here now the next mistake of significant
magnitude was our misunderstanding of the Arab Spring here again finally perhaps the American
vision was coming true that the dead hand of the local despots was being
removed by the people themselves and what would replace it self-government
lessons of Liberty as this is what these people wish for and of course when one’s
heart went out to the people involved in Tahrir Square and elsewhere hoping then
finally some kind of decent rule of law constitutional government could come out
of this that was a completely unrealistic expectation there were only three possible
beneficiaries of the outcome of Arab Spring as they were the only organized
entities in the Arab world which could take advantage of the mayhem that was
developing number one the military Mukhabarat king or quasi king that
apparatus the Islamist apparatus and the Muslim Brotherhood as it had monopolized
the Islamic education system and monopolized the monsters they’ve been
preparing for this moment for our 80 year food they were organized highly
disciplined they were in a position to benefit from it and the other on the
other institution that would would be the tribes so it would be one of those
three well of course one of those three was and already been running things so
if it was an overthrow of one of the other three would take over from it and
it would depend on what part of the Middle East we’re talking about because
in some areas of it the tribes are strong like Somalia or Libya in some
places the tribes aren’t so strong and it’s other you know affiliations through
the ruler or the Islamists and so it was the hopes of the Arab Spring were dashed
and we saw that in the largest Arab country an Islamist Muslim Brotherhood
take over the nightmare for the States the Muslim Brotherhood began in
1928 four years after the dissolution of the last Caliphate the Muslim
Brotherhood began precisely with the mission of restoring the Caliphate
that’s been its purpose since its beginning
now almost every Islamist in terrorist group in the Sunni world is an offshoot
of the Muslim Brotherhood including Hamas including Al Qaeda including
al-nusra they’re all offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood in some way or
another share in the ideology of the Brotherhood
perhaps in a more radical way or with different tactical understanding of the
situation yet what should the United States do under President Obama but
celebrate but welcome the Muslim Brotherhood Egyptian presidency under
Mohammed Morsi it had been the policy of the Obama
administration from the beginning to embrace the Muslim Brotherhood when
Obama made his famous speech in Cairo in 2009 he arranged for Muslim benefit
figures to be in the first row as a consequence of which of course president
can bargain and didn’t go and member senior members of his administration
didn’t go that was the Obama signal that the Muslim Brotherhood is finding with
the United States now a year afterwards the largest apparel appears to be have
been the largest demonstrations in human history in Egypt overflew overthrew
president Morsi who had assumed powers beyond the dreams of the Pharaohs he had
done exactly what anyone who understood the Muslim Brotherhood would – which is
to create an authoritarian leading to a totalitarian regime and thank heavens
the Egyptian military stepped in and the behest of this piece enormous civilian
demonstrations against that of course a presidency as a consequence of which of
course the Obama administration suspended military relationships and aid
to Egypt because al Sisi had just saved America’s strategic interests in the
Middle East but has to be punished this attitude toward the muscle
Brotherhood by the way could be manifest in Obama’s visit to the local mosque in
Baltimore the other week and all of these talks about Islam he has never
found about Muslims who reject the Muslim Brotherhood who in fact are the
intellectual reform wing of this one it’s small but it’s there and there are
any number of people who don’t want to be co-opted by the Muslim Brotherhood
well unfortunately more or less are because of the focus of this
administration now I what I should do is go over a some
fundamental theological and philosophical issues that are embedded
in the Middle East to an extent that is beyond the comprehension of most
Americans because they haven’t acquainted themselves with this theology there was a huge battle in the Muslim
world in the ninth century over the status of reason the caliphate at that
point was located in Baghdad it was a it was absorbing the impact of Greek
philosophy and clinic thinking it had set up the House of Wisdom it had set up
an enormous translation effort to have these Greek test texts translated first
they were in Syria and then into Arabic the first Arab Muslim philosopher al
Kindi appeared this was the efflorescence this was when
people talked about the Golden Age of Islam
it’s Baghdad first half of the ninth century a tremendously promising period now the nature of the theological
struggle that took place at that time on the status of reason was whether God
himself was recent or whether he was pure will and power and the matazo light
side sponsored by the Caliph said Jabez reason he’s given us our reason to
understand the rational order of his creation through which to come to know
him and through which to come to know the difference between right and wrong
or he’s given us freewill so that we may choose that right and we can understand
what he wants us to do through our reason simply by examining his creation
not just Muslims anyone all men can do this in addition of course we find that
God has spoken to us he’s given us and we are to understand that revelation
in terms of reason if there’s anything unreasonable in it
we’re not understanding it correctly because it must be brought into a court
of Reason primacy of reason held place in Islam at that time the opposition
rose the extra rights to say God isn’t reason he’s pure well in power he can do
anything he’s not bound by anything there is no natural law
everything happens is the direct result of God’s will no one has any power but
God and all things are determined by them an example oops
what happened there bill got it straight the rest of you have committed the sin
of shirt which is blasphemy in this lawn it was God’s will that made the pen fall
not gravity otherwise you would be associating something with God I’m
saying there is some rule outside of him that orders or determines things so it’s
God was the first and only cause there are no subsidiary laws
there’s no causality there’s no cause and effect in the world
whew fire doesn’t burn cotton God does gravity doesn’t make the rock fall God
does as you might imagine the embrace of this extraordinary metaphysics and
theology brought that efflorescence of culture under the Lata’s alight
bailiffs to a clothes or at least it’s beaten began dying out and if you are
wondering why today in the arab world it comes in next to last
except for sub-saharan africa and this is important to the UN un de
reports written all by Arabs next-to-last in every category of human
development education health care GDP number of patents South Korea produces
more patents in a year than the entire Arab Muslim world Spain in a single year
a to Spain because my wife is Spanish impatiently in the back of the room
translates more books in a year than the Airbus of world has done in the last
thousand years so you see what was a once great civilization fall into this
state of dysfunction and the thesis of the book that Jeff was founded up to
attention the closing of the muscle mind is the story of how a deformed theology
led to a dysfunctional culture and that’s what we are faced with in Spanish
today I want to give you just a little sample of how this so plays out the word
mind in Arabic is etymologically derived from the name of the process of tying
together cattle legs so that they cannot move or stand so it’s a binding thing
prevents you it doesn’t allow you now the greatest theologian of the
azure-eyed movement on the primacy of power the Democrat
reason had this to say that’s by the way Muhammad Allah gazali
whoever the mind once it testifies to the truthfulness of the Prophet must
cease to act the mind once it testifies to the truth of the Prophet must cease
to act now King Hussein of Jordan in the last interview he gave before he died to
an American journalist he was asked this would you agree that the Muslim decline
can be dated from the ninth century when Islam missed the chance to become a
religion of reason and moderation by crushing the Lata’s alike movement
people Hussein answers that is essentially correct and we must do what
we can to change that now well I actually work with Muslims who are
trying to change that now but they are exactly the Muslims to which this
administration does not turn to in either acknowledgment or support and
they’re not alone in doing that I I have to say I served in the Bush
administration do it either not through any antagonism too much of simply
through ignorance I know we’re running out of time to cook
daycares we’re still doing all right I’ve okay I want to give you another
sample so the synth of antagonism to reason seeps in so you understand it’s
death my friend dr. Tao phenom he was a member of the most violent terrorist
organization in Egypt Altamont Islamia the ones who attack the Western tourists
at the was the site he loves work it looks the slaughters those people who
looks ahead that’s how Kings grew our model is Lamia
now he was recruited in medical school and his recruiter and handler was named
Luke tartar so Tommy who relates that this experience with with wound are well
on the way to the mosque look tower emphasize the central importance in
Islam of the concept about Peter Cooper the idea that the very act of thinking
deeper makes one become an infidel Cooper so they’re a great act of
thinking makes you an infinitely he told me quote your brain is just like a
donkey that you can that can get you only to the palace floor of the king a
lot to enter the palace once you have reached the door you should leave the
donkey your interior mind outside unquote
by this parable look tark meant for the truly dedicated Muslim the longer thinks
but automatically obeys the teachings of Islam unquote and so if you go to Saudi
websites and so forth you’ll read abandon reason and submit to the text
and they have and look what they have now I want to quickly go a little bit
since jihad was in the title of this talk something about the ideology of
Muslim Brotherhood teachings as presented in the ideology put forth by
said cook them say it cook them is perhaps the most prominent Islamist
ideologue hanged by Nasser so he died some your girlfriend but if you examine
the jihadi literature of a 20th century’s thinker gets cuddly that would
be quoted to most frequently now here is what’s here’s what’s wrong with Islamism
and it’s the same thing that’s wrong with any totalitarian ideology what does
let’s take a brief look at that the worldview of monotheism as expressed in
Judaism and Christianity and is it goes something like this here we have the
universe of which we’re inside and transcending the universe is God he
created the universe from nothing he holds it into existence which and he
has spoken to his creatures in it and in this revelation this transcendent God
tells us how to behave what to do and what not to do and if we obey if we do
what he tells us to do and the point doing what he tells us not to do after
we die we will appear before the seat of judgment and either go to paradise or
down the to Guyana to help both of which take place outside of time of side of
history in this transcendent ultimate judgment by just come sep 15 or of the
monotheistic God I think so now this is what is transformed by
coming and the other Islamists that will help us see it as a totalitarian
enterprise I’m quoting from cousin Pierre
his mom chose to unite earth in heaven in a single system so now we don’t have
the utterly transcendent God and this imminent earth this now a single citizen
it’s a single system this means of quoting from him that the patent purpose
of establishing God’s law on earth is not merely an action for the sake of the
next world for this world and the next world are but two complementary stages
harmonizing with the divine law does not mean that
happiness is postponed to the next life rather it makes real and attainable it
makes it real and attainable in the first of the two stages in other words
transcendent ends will be achieved by earthly needs as Canuck says quote to
reestablish the kingdom of God upon earth or to create a new world elsewhere
he says Universal adoption of the divine law would automatically mean man’s
complete emancipation from all forms of enslavement what does that sound like
emancipation from all forms of the slightest Marxism so he’s saying that the transcendent and
the earthly the distinction between them our market has been eliminated and we
can do here what we thought only God could do there so we need to wait for
the final justice before his seat of judgment we can do that here guess what
that requires however it requires two things omniscience and omnipotence the
omniscience will be at the totalitarian state Mukhabarat and the omnipotence
will be in the all-powerful state or caliphate
which is now justified by having erase the distinction between the transcendent
and the terrestrial this makes Islamism an ideology exactly like Nazism and
communism although they weren’t religious they were quasi religious if
it were substitute religions this is turning a religion into an ideology and
so it is must tell you that this idea that these people are just some kind of
ruffians or criminals displays the determined misunderstanding or refusal
to understand exactly what they are they are millenarian ideologues and in the
case of the current Caliphate the Islamic state apocalyptic millenarian we
are going to precipitate and bring the end of history and thus the ultimate
type of Islam in guess where copied and dubby syria their their monthly
magazine is called Goffe it’s the town in northern syria that they occupy and
its significance comes from Islamic apocalyptic literature in the hadith
which foretells the beak as being the final battle between the Romans over
they are you the Romans and the Muslims and then of course the Romans of the
Jews fighting together in which this will precipitate the
arrival of Dajjal Dajjal is this the great deceiver the kind of Antichrist in
Islam and at that point Christ returns Christ you know Jesus crisis of his
significant figure in the Quran and then the hadith literature it shows Jesus
comes back to defeat the Dajjal and to break all the crosses and kill all the
pigs that’s in the hadith so that this idea that you keep hearing
two Western leaders and from Obama but that these people have no ideas they’re
just thugs they’re a criminal organization and we really this is for
law enforcement and that that’s not what they are if anyone had described to Nazi
Party this way or the poor the Communist Party this way come to think of it out
they actually did they so misunderstood the nature of Soviet Union that some
people did mistaken and so we are misunderstanding these people in this
way now there’s another very serious problem in trying to defeat these people they are
responding to a yearning in the Muslim population in general
to the humiliation in which they have been living for hundreds of years this
one is the religion of power and success and yet Muslims have no success and very
little power and unlike the 19th century ever since the revolution and
communications satellite television has pushed us in their face on a daily basis
that that inferiority can be seen in addition to which they’re being infected
by Western secular values and pornography and the rest of the story so
when someone else such as alpha Donny the new Calif promises a kind of
Redemption from this position of humiliation and the restoration of
Islamic pride in power this reverberates this calls Muslim says you know what
people from sixty countries have gone into the Islamic state to fight on their
behalf so the potential danger from this and it’s apocalyptic conventions it’s
huge now why doesn’t why doesn’t his lawn clean up clean up its own backyard
on this one and here we have a very big problem and and the problem is that all
about Dottie’s not making anything up Osama bin Laden wasn’t making anything
up they pull almost exclusively from Islamic sources so it’s very hard to do
legitimate them Islamically in fact the head of all Azhar has not done it oh I forgot to tell you that Obama did
it at the Baltimore mosque he said that Islamic state there are apostates now
that really impresses Muslims because they know Obama is a mullah or Ayatollah
or a copy and we wonder what are the borders and what could he be thinking of
yeah what would he be thinking of that anyone would listen to her that he has
the authority of saying who’s a real Muslim and who isn’t
that’s for Muslims to do not for him he’s he’s not confusing any Muslims
regarding this he’s only confusing us and of course he’s confusing our
strategy because if Josie doesn’t understand some essential things I’ve
missed I talked for a year at National Defense University in the
counterterrorism Fellows Program and a third of my students were Muslim
officers from around the Middle East and South Asia and the smartest one I had
was handing out the most pious Muslim at my class very wonderful student and he
said to me one day bin Laden is right 95 percent of what he says is this one and
you can’t say that’s not Islam that 95 percent right so I said Colonel okay
where does he get the other five percent let’s find that out and see if it
doesn’t create an opportunity for us now one of the problems however in deal it
advising them is this mystery dude this short statement from a wonderful
Egyptian scholar since deceased Nasser Hamidah who said he was a Muslim
intellectual reformer which is why he had to flee the country
never but he said this quote if we followed the rules of interpretation
developed from the classical science of quranic interpretation it is not
possible to condemn terrorism and religious terms
it remains completely true to the classical rules in its evolution of
sanctity for its own justification this is where the secret of its theological
strength lies period pom pom did you get the significance of that statement
that’s the problem that doesn’t mean that all Muslims are terrorists are
attracted to cut its ideology the problem is that there is a kind of
continuity from the most liberal Muslim all the way over to the most radical
violent Muslim and there are no breakwaters in there where you can say
well you’re the Muslim you’re not you’re not because it’s kind of seamless and it
goes across the entire spectrum this leads to a kind of desperation and then
was expressed better than by President al-sisi in Egypt but I’ll close by
reading you his passionate plea to the mullahs at all Azhar the most prestigious institution of
learning in the Muslim world fellows are so here is about CC talking to them and
he says quote it is inconceivable that the ideology we sanctify should make our
entire nation a source of concern danger killing and destruction all over the
world it has reached the point that this ideology is hostile to the entire world
is it conceivable that 1.6 billion Muslims would kill the world’s
population of 7 billion so that they could live on their own this is
inconceivable I say these things here at al-azhar before religious clerics and
scholars may Allah bear witness unjust mundane to the truth of your intentions
regarding what I say to you today you cannot see things clearly when you are
locked in this ideology you must emerge from it and look from our side in order
to get closer to a truly enlightened ideology you must oppose it with resolve
let me say it again we need to revolutionize our religion honorable
even on the grand Sheikh of al-azhar you bear responsibility before Allah the
world in its entirety awaits your words because the Islamic nation is being torn
apart destroyed and is heading to perdition we ourselves are bringing it
to Perdition unquote president el-sisi of Egypt
have you heard any Western leader have you heard President Obama echoed this
statement point to the fact that the leader of the largest Arab country in
the world has made such a statement spoken to the veracity of this statement
of analysis or rather going to visit a Muslim Brotherhood mosque and tell them
that everything is fine so this is this is how deep this problem runs this is
how deep these misunderstandings are and they are going to cause tremendous
trouble I want to close with other one other thing about Iran and this
agreement we remember the consistent foreign policy of the United States in
the Middle East was not to allow a hegemonic Powell and the federal to our
interest that would have control over those oil resources and what have we
done now in our agreement with Iran invited the rise of such a hegemonic
power and ethical interests now toward the end of World War two President
Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins made a strategic blunder of catastrophic
proportions they decided that the post-war order would rest upon the good
intentions of Uncle Joe Stalin and Harry Hopkins said what everything we’re
arranging here all our hopes of course they’re only good so long as Uncle Joe
is okay over so long as he doesn’t die then what our dreams can come true here
a strategic miscalculation of terrific portions but at least at least Roosevelt
and Harry Hopkins had the excuse that the Soviet Union was our wartime ally so
you think well a misperception could arise from that association and having
fought Nazi Germany together president Obama has no such excuse for
the strategic blunder of similar magnitude that he is making toward Iran
today it is simply staggering into the vacuum that he helped create he is
inviting us power and nimma chol to our strategic interest to become the hegemon
which of course has alarmed all our former Sunni allies in the area and we
go upset if they’re providing support to the Islamic state these long stays in
listening group fighting the Shia did you shoot yourself in the head
simultaneously both ways because that’s basically what we’re approaching here so
I hope today I have lightly touched upon the problem of deciphering the Middle
East and why we so often get it wrong and I hope we have time for some
questions Jeff thank you very much in other countries when they have their
counterterrorism programs their key stakeholders are trained to receive
money and protection and they routinely surveillance these people to go to the
prison to go into varying places as laws in the United States you you suggested
several stakeholders they would have more sway than several politico’s that
you mentioned do you see the United States a good counter-narrative program
that would support such stakeholders no I don’t see has given the field in which
I work most often and actively is public to phone
and that comfort happened so damaged and misconceived
I would think it would be better for we to simply stop everything we’re doing
because it’s calling causing more damage it’s inciting problems but in dealing
with this larger issue of recruitment and how it is you see people in Western
societies where supposedly all their dreams come true
and who are living rather well why they would go to Syria or Iraq or why they’d
strap bombs on themselves and I don’t think the answer is quite so mysterious
as to why they do this they do it to gain identity purpose and meaning in Europe with which I’m very familiar and
have spent considerable time but there’s a vacuum now we lead through our foreign
policy have created very dangerous vacuums in the Middle East
which is why we’re facing some of the problems we have but there’s a spiritual
vacuum that is even more dangerous and there’s also a theological Saint hater
that’s far more dangerous than a physical state in which we have given to
the Islamists which President Obama has generously afforded them but he’s not
the only voices of a partisan problem and once you you
approach this problem at the level of which it exists which is the provision
of identity meaning and purpose you know the rapper who went over I think I’ll
forget whether he’s the one who executed it James Foley ahead of song you know
rap the Great Britain is that who’s going to give me meaning well theta is
meaning on offer from anywhere else today and that’s part of the problem is
the spiritual moment and no one’s going to get offer any kind of counter
narrative that’s going to have an effect that isn’t dealing with things of a
spiritual level sorry if that’s too long enhancer yes ma’am when cities they look big no Somali
population and I was trying to go after a team I think that would be said is the
appropriate Oaks that makes me feel good but my question is more a lot of times I
heard Muslims say that you know they understand why terrorists say that
they’re doing what they’re doing because what they’re reading in the Quran for
Allah like I just read the book I am Malala she said from there none of you
know they say they’re standing for this but none of that is in so I’m just
curious why she says that you can read the old Arabic is in there’s a lot of
them can none of its statement there so I’m serious why they save like this is
it’s it’s in the Quran and the hadith with our peace peaceful center sections
of the cross because I say this one is religion of peace except when it isn’t so you can find images is 1 million said
he got a lot of trouble in Egypt for saying this he said the crimes later
shocking you just go in there and put whatever
you want that’s what you can get out of business but that but I’ll tell you what
embarked me upon a a intense ten-year study of this law you know some of the
Laden’s first video after 9/11 back he quoted his spiritual mentor the
Palestinian thinker of dilemma zone and the quote from Abdullah Azzam is quote
terrorism is an obligation in our laws of religion
terrorism is an obligation I think I better study Muslim TM would you and
that’s what I did the whole point of benedict xvi Regensburg lecture on the
status of reason was to say unless if God is not reasonable then behaving
unreasonably isn’t wrong because reason there’s no longer a standard of right
and wrong and if you remove reason or logos from your conception of God’s
essence then there’s no barrier to this terrorism there’s no point of what you
could say well this is wrong because God is reason then behaving unreasonably is
wrong and therefore forced conversion to your religion is wrong because that’s
behaving unreasonably you see the slate has been wiped clean here with the
defeat of the idea that God has reason which was one of the central teachings
of the mutasa life theology that was forcibly suppressed in the ninth century
with the theology of God or whether the power which replaced it
and that’s why they’re up there and there’s there’s there’s nowhere in there
where you can say stop I mean most people aren’t disposed to behave most
Muslims are not disposed to be hit that violently but there’s no where you can
say well it’s wrong for you to go over there where they do and certainly I mean
in the hadith and the Quran didn’t have ample justification for this big or
unfortunately and the other one last thing I want to say to you is that these
Islamists aren’t doing something differently there is a tradition of
Islamic jurisprudence which limits what Muslims until and war terror that was
developed in the Middle Ages and so forth what the Islamists have said is
there to said no no no we are going back to the Quran and the hadith and we’re
going to wipe out centuries of Islamic jurisprudence which would otherwise
prevent us from doing what we wish to they are the Islamic performance so
people who say well what does not exists at Reformation I said well what about be
careful what you wish for because that is the Islamic referent it’s already
taken place that is the Islamic referential sorry first that you tell me
why will you talk about the Islamic Reformation I Romanian this at the Naval
War College that Wahhabism was the Reformation but as a sidebar Calvinism
did a lot to destroy European art but moving
moving forward a bit of course or going actually back to the war business first
dozen war should be looked at as an 18th century thousand power war we checked
the Iraqis so that you check the Iranian the second one ignored every guideline
of how to run a war Klaus fits sunsuit etc what I encountered out there was the
profound ignorance and hostility of our own people to the historical situation
and when some of us at Army’s Civil Affairs suggested that the Hashemites be
restored to Iraq because there was a great sentiment for it the hostility I
ran into was incredible only the ignorance of other people the place
superseded it so we ended up with this absolute mess out there
a lot of which goes right back to the tremor and disbanding the Iraqi army
which had given up when the promises that they would reorganize things and
run right along there no take care of you don’t define us and we’ll take care
of you the Imam said Mike my source is Michael is Adi was the advisor that
special operations school teaches up at the forum the Imams had said don’t fight
the Americans don’t resist them because the Veii of resistant had been done a
bloody mess no I can’t agree with you more remember
when someone I knew was going over to Iraq as a civilian contractor to work in
decided worried about his side of things he said do you think do you have any
books to recommend and I said well how about a history of the rock he said hey
that’s a great idea what I told the Iraqis that I’d study
under Sidney Fisher in Ohio State oh you know Fisher come we must talk this book
was throughout the east they know more about it than our own people they just
wonder if you can make some comment on the similarity between this idea of an
eternal struggle of Marxism that there was no rest everything is a political or
everything that’s a struggle over and the idea that Ghazi Warrior the
continual struggle between Islam and the infidels that’s exactly the same in
Marxism and Islamism that the struggled is eternal well not exactly eternal
because history comes to an end as it will supposedly prepared a beat when his
love will be triumphant but until then it’s it’s a state of constant hostility
and hatred and as say Tut that makes clear I have quoted extensively from him
in my book that hatred is the essence and that one must never stop hated this
reminded me so much of Lenin who said when quoting hatred is the base so these our friends the Saudis and
renames the Syrians and just about everybody else but the Iraqis told us to
stop at the border and leave him along Georgia HW Bush he did his friends were
drunk and stopped at the border leave it alone
keep the bulwarks left on solving incremental yourself down the tree the
son decided that he knew better I’m not going to people like don’t pretend to speak particularly I signed a lot of papers we
get on their visa they don’t believe it company or they don’t live in the
caliphate they don’t live in this this dominance or Allah or whatever they like
do my very conservative friends who is in Israel very sympathetic to all and
the humiliations of the last 200 years the Chinese are the same thing by the
way well sure you’d better go they are these
it will exhaust itself you have young people who are believing in the kingdom
of heaven on earth which is where our and – comes from this animal exhaust
itself does not accept the existential threat
it’s an annoyance it took us 15 years to kill 5,000 American soldiers my brother
but also this pocket change prepared for what they want to do eventually their
own people will turn I’ve already turned up the southern
Afghanistan self opium to anybody there’s nothing but corruption
everywhere so much for Islamic Puritanism autism doesn’t exist anywhere
it’s just these these features and the occasional young people will follow and
realize this if someone disappointed it is not it is simply another irritant in
their current spending process of civilization in the 20 years this whole
thing a little bit disappeared just like socialism it will take this generation
is something that themselves killed and many of them end up coming back from
Syria and Iran totally disillusioned from what they see this is our fault for
not letting them solve their own problem well no no there’s a good reason for
everybody oh there’s a lot of wisdom Jenna because
it’s embraced aversion of unreality Braille and reality is always implement
that people are resistant to unreality reality is unresisting to unreality so
it will exhaust itself the question is how much damage will it do in the
interim and you know the analogy that Muslims often use to the current
situations when they’re trying to come up with bad news for either al-qaeda
aboard de Guiche is the courage eyes and the
context were a 7th century they were the first top fury branch of Islam
puritanical branch of Islam and I have read content
accounts of how these car jets behaved and it’s hair-raising material and the
only thing you would have to change to apply it today is instead of the
Scimitar and so it’s an explosive belt or grenade it’s just the weapons have
changed but the car Jets would go into a Muslim village and that just looks
slaughter everyone because they weren’t following the terror pure Islam as no no
as they continue but it and this of course appalled more Orthodox Muslims
but it took them more than a century to take care of the carnage on so it’s not
a little problem now there’s one other thing I’d like for you to consider
appreciating the great wisdom that you would have gained from your extensive
experience here’s the problem okay the approach to all tied up was of
course we kill the leadership and you know don’t fade away and everything will
be restored to normal now that line has changed or what so new surah now its
Islamic state and if we wipe them out then everything will go go back to
normal normal al-qaeda the Islamic state are simply
manifestations of the far deeper cultural problem that if you whack Amole
here it’s going to manifest itself in another way and the reason is because
Islamic civilization and you could still even speak of it in those terms or in
the culture particularly in the Arab world is in the state of collapse
because it’s on a collision course with the modern world they have no means
with which to enter the modern world and the majority conception of Sunni Islam
it’s not available to them doesn’t mean that the normal person doesn’t go about
life they realize in a way that we can recognize it as you know I have many
Muslim friends my work with but the profundity of the fundamental
theological problem means that it’s not going to be solved with a social problem
a social program an economic program a psychological program it needs to be
solved at the theological level up to Kareem suroosh was an Iranian
Revolutionary supporter of the regime in 79 he became disillusioned he now lives
in Canada or Germany he’s a great thinker and writer
I just wanted finish my answer to you in this way when he’s talking about the
possibility of having a decent ruled law constitutional life in the Muslim world
quote without a different theology can one have democracy you need some
philosophical underpinning even theology theological under pending in order to
have a real democratic system your God cannot be a despotic god anymore a
despotic God would not be compatible with a democratic rule with the idea of
rice so you have to change your idea of God unquote now a Syrian
Muslim intellectual reformer told me he said I felt I went in a theological
prison and Arabic was part of that prison and until I learned French I
couldn’t escape from the prison and do exactly what general al-sisi said you
see the problem from the outside now and this closing of the most of mine by the
ways but it’s it’s the Arabic translation that’s ready to go so I need
to upgrade my home security system work well just fly that the point is think the person at
the Westminster Institute we published a book called reforming Islam already eyes
on some intellectual performers and the value of this wonderful part is when
people get angry at what I have said about Islam and say O’Reilly he must be
an islamaphobe I’d say oh look at chapter fools in reforming Islam is
Mohammed our clone this is wonderful oh he’s a Muslim how many me but what about
that we’ll look at chapter 14 the Muslim intellectuals rigorously recognized by
saying the very same thing man I’m sorry a lot more my question is sort of love
whatever question in 2008 Islamist extremism was on the
rise but movements for free of gravity surveys of such a large percentage of
our people retired so the stagnation and comes from socialist government’s
depression looking for an alternative so my question is what if in 2008 at that
sort of turning point rather than nurture the one we had nurtured the
other what if we had reached out to the pro-democracy movements and for example
in Egypt Redmond based our outreach to the balanced policy to the street beside
our you witness responded silence the world has ever seen that Syrian regime
we has got a lot of Russian and Iranian clients for the Syrians which made its
situation so much worse but it actually show some compassion all the Russian
that not even a veteran even Shiite regime in Iraq and the way they work
with a plan but it’s more than it’s an excellent
question it’s more than one question no no because of the situation’s are
fundamentally differently in Iran I thought it was an enormous mistake on
the part of Obama to do what he did or more accurately to do what he didn’t
problem in Iran is not be wanting the people as the Iranian regime but he made
his calculation that if he said nothing about that then give those enormous
street demonstrations that the ayatollahs would difficulty or deal very
bad miscalculation and if anyone is ready for a constitutional Democratic
regime it is the Iranians because she am Islam is fundamentally different in this
attitude both toward reason and philosophy than the Sunni Islam so it’s
one Iranian said to me hey you evaded the wrong country should have agreed us
am I ready for this candidate just quick quit I’ll get you Dixon but
now the events are on the air Middle East is different I know about the
service that they’re all through democracy and freedom but when you
scratch the surface and you go underneath there to see what does that
mean you ask them a question such as you believe that all presidents the
fundamental principle of democratic constitutional rule do you believe that
all people are created equal of course that men and women are
critical no to believe Muslims and non-muslims not to say Jews are created
equal no in Egypt do you believe people should be executed for apostasy 84% of
the population yes yes they would like to be freed they’d like to see their
side in the ascendant but when you see what does freedom mean it doesn’t mean
what we think pieces and the fact that there were no there was no side and
Tahrir Square with whom to side on the Democratic that would they have no
organizations they have no institutions there was no part of civic society to
could’ve possibly carry them and the young Twitter guys had turned out
so it’s not quite what it appears to be now
Tunisia is a different story because it was a secular state and it had in the
traditional curriculum for many many decades that laid the foundation for
something like this one hopes that they can continue on their path without
succumbing to Islamism the rest of the Arab Middle East in Sweden
but the place is falling apart the post Ottoman order imposed by the imperial
powers is unglued I mean nations like Egypt which have
their you know an identity going back millennia they’re both hold on
Iran and other agents of this until the hold on Turkey at least parts of it well
then the rest of it is absolutely up for grabs and we can stand back and it’s
going to be very violent for very long times because of the denigration of
reason in their culture there was no way to adjudicate disagreements except by
violence and force and that’s the way they’re going to settle it and they’re
going to it’s going to be a vicious fight and the problem is with this
vicious fight is that the outside powers are taking proxy forces to preserve
their interests in there as we know I’m sorry this gentleman’s get in the back and forth three
operations time what about some other really tangible things we’re doing
I mean basically what we’re doing now is a lot of money into the area we’re
showing them our latest weapons it’s not playing out very well all right I don’t I don’t there’s no
evidence that we has any idea what we’re doing now I don’t see any coherent
policy until we have one I would not be in favor of putting American boots on
the ground there sir no wait we have to go to somebody we will give you like 130
second question in the 15 seconds the plot right
said you clarify something for me a site where I understand the spiritual insight
from it you got L white aside which was paused
with Shiite Iran yet who had Sunni Saddam who was a Baathist person which I
understand assigns also Alex we’ve got two BOTS politicals for one understand
secular bashes secular government that I understood the you AR was once Iraq
Syria and Egypt I think that’s her at one time wasn’t he abacus yes okay I’m
just the conjecture reconcile that for me I mean y-you know are the badness
still I mean Assad has you know he has Baptist the reason why solar power lot
has to do with this because fascist authoritarian control of the country is
that a my speculative request is that may be an alternative to having a
reconstituted out of an empire or a Persian Empire to have any secular
government in the Middle East the Arab Middle East the kind of a super you AR
will that work no it’s already been tried in jail you know that’s a thison
was just an emanation of air secular nationalism but with a dose of socialism and Marxism
pumped in there well they didn’t have a piece of lover they had work well but it
also failed and it’s exactly the failure of Arab nationalism a hair of national
socialism that has led to the resurgence in Islamism because they said you tried
to stop this damn ideology from the West this is national socialism and that
didn’t work some of you kneel Marxism in our arses that didn’t work the West
doesn’t work we need to return to our roots in his lawn and that’s me as long
as perspectives and that’s what they’re trying to do

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