Radical Islam and the Second Obama Administration
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
It appears that the new national security team for the second Obama Administration is going to face a series of challenges right from the start dealing radical Islam. Some of the Administration’s issues from the first term linger and fester, such as completing a successful U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan; the continuing unrest in Pakistan; and the intractable Israeli Palestinian peace process. There are, however, an array of emerging crises which are developing very rapidly throughout the Middle East, as well as within Africa, for which the Obama Administration does not appear to have a broad strategy or coherent view as to how to address them; only hopes and wishful thinking.
If the spread and aggressiveness of radical Islamists was not apparent beforehand, the events this week in Mali and now in Algeria speak legions as to what is evolving. It seems that what was erroneously viewed by the Obama Administration as the birth pangs of democracy in the Arab world following the Arab Spring three years ago, is now developing rapidly and dangerously not only into an anti-Israel rant or attack, but also into a widespread attack on the U.S. and the entire West.
The need to encourage and foster democratic change and the creation of democratic institutions in Egypt, Turkey, and North Africa is all well and good; but not if it is a delusional policy which will fail and may well place the West economically and politically in an increasingly vulnerable position. The growing role of extremist Muslims will not be contained with kind words nor with high powered aggressive military might. At the end of the day, the ouster of Qaddafi may end up being the real exceptional success.
SYRIA is in the throes of dealing with the likelihood that the Assad perpetrated slaughters will eventually be replaced by a radical Sunni regime in some combination or conflict with Iranian backed Shiites. Regardless, Al Qaeda is likely to have a major role in a new Syria.
LEBANON is already dealing with the Hezbollah terrorists who roam free, threaten Israel, and already have a place in the political process.
TURKEY’s democracy appears to be teetering with growing fears of a full Islamic take-over. In addition, the repressive action of the Government against the Kurdish minority already challenges Turkey’s ability to maintain a semblance of liberal democracy.
EGYPT is already being ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood. Any effort to paper over President Morsi’s attacks of only a few years ago against Jews as well as Israelis is laughable. So far, only single voices in Congress are suggesting that U.S. aid to Egypt should be conditioned on genuine democratic reform. The Morsi Government needs to demonstrate constructive steps in public– and in Arabic– to the Egyptian people and the world how democratic the new regime intends to be.
MALI has become the latest dramatic source of Islamic radicalism, although conditions have been moving in that direction for some time. The radicals want nothing more than to draw the French and the West into another Indo-China (Viet-Nam) type confrontation; with the freedom fighters running and shooting their way through the desert. Once again Mali is becoming a field day for Al Qaeda in the Maghreb.
NIGERIA has seen the Boko Harem, a radical Muslim group, terrorize the country, and attack Christians. This group is moving to overthrow the Government and install an Islamic state.
ALGERIA, where international workers were attacked over the past few days by Islamic terrorists, represents the latest hot spot. It produces almost the same amount of the world’s petroleum as does Nigeria, although its overall GDP is considerably lower.
For the U.S. in all these cases military action is unlikely to succeed; yet the only voice being heard is that of a radical Islam tone which is decidedly anti-West. The likelihood of democratic progress is bleak. This leaves the new wave arriving at Foggy Bottom and across the river at the Pentagon with an agenda that could stagger the most creative of diplomats and statesmen. All this is on his plate, as the President prepares for his second inauguration.