Monday, May 19, 2003
I haven't blogged Martin Kramer's Sandstorm often enough (probably because Stanley Kurtz doesn't tell me to often enough). He warns us about the nice Jewish boy who's been assigned to write Iraq's new constitution. Apparently, the kid has a soft spot for Islamists, having bought into the notion that they are the Muslim world's version of civil society - a thousand Arabian points of light and all that.
On the one hand, I understand where the Espositos and Feldmans are coming from. They've read their Tocqueville, and they know that democracy requires this thing called civil society, and that religion plays a vital role in that regard. But they seem oblivious - probably due to political correctness - to the downside risks that are readily apparent. Anyone who knows anything about the Algerian GIA and allied terrorist groups knows that, had they taken power, we would have seen a Taliban-like orgy of horror in that country, fully equal to the civil war that followed their exclusion from power, but with no prospect for ultimate reconciliation. Even Gilles Kepel, another optimist about the trajectory of the Islamic world, doesn't have such thick rose-colored glasses to wish that the Islamists had won in Algeria.
But my big question for the Martin Kramers is: what is to be done? We now "own" one of the core Arab-Muslim countries: Iraq. How are we to build a functioning nation there? How are we to encourage those Muslim clerics who maintain a more traditional, "prophetic" stance towards authority - criticizing it for moral and religious lapses from out of power, while declining to seize power themselves - without undermining their legitimacy? Kramer himself knows that the "moderates" we want to encourage have little and declining credibility on the "street." So what's the strategy for changing that?
I wish I knew.