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The Bro Code

A lot of people are mocking Director of Intelligence James Clapper's statement before Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is largely a "secular" organization, and not really an Islamist group.

When it comes to such groups, there are many ways of evaluating them. I've found one of the simplest ways is to simply look at their own words, and judge them accordingly.

For example, the Muslim Brotherhood's credo, unchanged since its founding, is this:

"Allah is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations."
Pretty simple, pretty clear, pretty damned Islamist. Add in their logo -- crossed swords and a Koran -- and it's case closed.

This works remarkably well -- a lot of Islamist groups are exceptionally proud of their aspirations and ideals. For example, Hezbollah -- the "Party Of Allah" based in Lebanon and backed quite thoroughly by Syria and Iran -- is also quite forthright. From Wikipedia:

Hezbollah's 1985 manifesto listed its four main goals as "Israel's final departure from Lebanon as a prelude to its final obliteration," ending "any imperialist power in Lebanon," submission of the Phalangists to "just rule" and bringing them to trial for their crimes, and giving the people the chance to choose "with full freedom the system of government they want," while not hiding its commitment to the rule of Islam.

Further, their flag makes it even clearer. It features the Arabic word "Hezbollah," with the first letter in "Allah" forming an arm holding high a stylized AK-47.

Then there's Hamas. They're even more blatant. Their charter is overflowing with proclamations of the military supremacy of Islam and calls for the absolute genocide of all Jews.

We're often told that we can't judge these groups, these cultures by our standards. That they don't really mean their overblown, heated rhetoric; that it's just a product of their culture; that they really don't believe those things, they're just to keep the masses happy.

Bullshit. That is some of the purest form of bigotry around. It's saying that they really don't understand what they're saying, and we shouldn't hold them responsible and accountable for their words and deeds.


Me, I've long believed in the wisdom of the military's aphorism: "honor the threat." If someone makes a threat, presume that they have the will and the means to carry it out until proven otherwise. Show them the respect in assuming they say what they mean and mean what they say.

On that basis, and on that basis alone, the Muslim Brotherhood should be treated as they present themselves: a fiercely militant Islamist group. And while their overt role in the recent departure of Hosni Mubarak was minimal, they are still the best-organized opposition force in Egypt.

Remember the Iranian revolution? The anti-Shah forces included a lot of secular folk -- people who believed in equality of the sexes, democracy, and a secular state. They were in the forefront of the people who overthrew the Shah.

And they were among the first up against the wall (quite often literally) when the Revolution turned towards militant Islam.

How things will play out in Egypt is still unknown. But it is in no way guaranteed to be better than it was under Mubarak.

But that's a topic for another posting.

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Comments (19)

The 1979 Iranian Revolution... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

The 1979 Iranian Revolution was always about Islam. Or, more accurately, fundamentalist Shiism versus the perception of forced Westernization under the American puppet Reza Pahlavi. Khomeini was the face of the opposition since at least 1963, 10 years after the US and Britain got rid of Mossadegh and (re)installed the Shah.

The "secular folk" you refer to were "in the forefront" of the anti-Shah opposition only in the wishful thinking of the West.

This is in contrast to what's happening today in Egypt, where if the revolution is hijacked, it will be the Islamists attempting the hijack, not the other way around.

This is not to say that there is no danger that Egypt could wind up in the hands of Islamist extremists - it could. But there is little resemblance to the Iranian experience of 32 years ago, despite the fervent fear-mongering of some writers on the Right side of the spectrum, and raving lunatics like John Bolton.

The worst-case scenario guys like you are so afraid of doesn't have to be. Calm down. Don't panic.

Bruce, once again you betra... (Below threshold)

Bruce, once again you betray your ignorance. I was referring to 1979, and the roles played by Bakhtiar and Bazargan and their followers in the time from the Shah's departure to Khomeini's assertion of absolute authority.

J.

The bottom line conclusion ... (Below threshold)
recovered liberal democrat:

The bottom line conclusion that can be drawn from the Obamalala foreign policy or, non-policy, is that the U.S. under this regime will leave you twisting in the wind. It doesn't seem to matter if you have been a good ally and helped the U.S. or not. Obamalala won't be taking your call at 3am. This is a bad message to our friends and a good message to our enemies.

Sorry, Mr. Henry, but I dis... (Below threshold)
Walter Cronanty:

Sorry, Mr. Henry, but I disagree. To say that there is "little resemblance" to Iran 32 years ago is stretching it a bit. While not authoritative, Wiki's statements regarding the Iran revolution agree with my memories of that era. These quotes demonstrate that there were several opposition groups, many led by "liberal" pro-democracy figures, including many popular Islamic clergy. But the most organized, and most able to fill the vacuum left by the Shah's being forced out of power, was, like the MB today, Khomeini's group. Many thought that Khomeini would not be an extreme Islamist, and Khomeini hid his agenda, believing that the majority of Iranians would not follow it - sort of like the MB today:

"Other opposition groups[50] included constitutionalist liberals — the democratic, reformist Islamic Freedom Movement of Iran, headed by Mehdi Bazargan, and the more secular National Front. They were based in the urban middle class, and wanted the Shah to adhere to the Iranian Constitution of 1906 rather than to replace him with a theocracy,[51] but lacked the cohesion and organization of Khomeini's forces.[52]

Marxists groups — primarily the communist Tudeh Party of Iran and the Fedaian guerillas[53] — had been weakened considerably by government repression. Despite this the guerillas did help play an important part in the final February 1979 overthrow[54] delivering "the regime its coup de grace."[55] The most powerful guerilla group — the People's Mujahedin — was leftist Islamist and opposed the influence of the clergy as reactionary.

Many clergy did not follow Khomeini's lead. Popular ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani supported the left, while perhaps the most senior and influential ayatollah in Iran — Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari — first remained aloof from politics and then came out in support of a democratic revolution.

Khomeini worked to unite this opposition behind him (with the exception of the unwanted `atheistic Marxists`),[56][57] focusing on the socio-economic problems of the Shah's regime (corruption and unequal income and development),[56][58] while avoiding specifics among the general public that might divide the factions,[59] — particularly his plan for clerical rule which he believed most Iranians had become prejudiced against as a result of propaganda campaign by Western imperialists.[60][61]In the post-Shah era, some revolutionaries who clashed with his theocracy and were suppressed by his movement complained of deception,[62] but in the meantime anti-Shah unity was maintained.[63]"

Those like me who do not profess to know how this will turn out, have a healthy skepticism of this transforming Egypt into a true democracy. First, there is no history of democracy in the area, let alone Egypt, save Israel and the nascent Iraqi government. Second, contrary to your beliefs, there are similarities between Egypt and Iran. We won't panic, but the spectre of a MB led Egypt does not bode well for Israel, the US, the Mid-East, or the world in general. To not discuss this is lunacy.

While you may call us "fear-mongers", I choose to label us realists. You, on the other hand, are somewhat reminiscent of Jimmah, with his head stuck where it doesn't belong. I hope you're right this time - as the old saw goes, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile.

Bruce has yet to crack the ... (Below threshold)
914:

Bruce has yet to crack the ignorant denial code.

Let's see Bolton is a "ravi... (Below threshold)
John:

Let's see Bolton is a "raving lunatic" but at least he understands that the brotherhood isn't secular, I'll take his assessment of the situation over Crappers any day. Better to be safe than stupid.

I seem to recall a certain ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

I seem to recall a certain ex-army corporal who wrote a book.

And the intellectual elite said 'he doesn't really believe all that stuff. He's just saying it to placate the masses.'

Best to take people at their word when their avowed intent is to cut your head off. It will eliminate the dumb, stupid, surprised look on your face when they do.

The MB didn't ne... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:

The MB didn't need, or require, a high profile during the runup to the present situation in Egypt.

Watch carefully now, as the Egyptians attempt to institute a working government.

The MB WILL gain ascendancy.

"The worst-case scenario gu... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

"The worst-case scenario guys like you are so afraid of doesn't have to be. Calm down. Don't panic."

Bruce, I think the scenario you spelled out in your post is reasonable but just like any other prediction made during this volatile period in Egyptian history, it is speculation. I just don't get your condescending tone in the quote I lifted from your post. Why is it wrong to contemplate alternative or worse case scenarios and by extension be prepared for them?

Jay Tea, I really appreciat... (Below threshold)
Grace:

Jay Tea, I really appreciate the short, concise, in-their-own-words description of these three groups. It is seldom that we find their professed desires so clearly spelled out in any media.

Putting all three together may help those who continue to believe the oft heard refrains that these groups really aren't that bad/dangerous.

Like most of the posters above, I think we should believe exactly what they say. We should not shade it with our own goodness or kindness or wish for something better or nicer. These groups are dangerous. There should be no doubt about that. We would all (including our government officials) be wise to believe and fear what they say, too.

"Why is it wrong to contemp... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"Why is it wrong to contemplate alternative or worse case scenarios and by extension be prepared for them?"

Because that would require some intellectual effort on the part of Bruce's Obamassiah. Something The One has yet to do.

The Muslim Brotherhood will... (Below threshold)
davidt:

The Muslim Brotherhood will not let this crisis go to waste.

Hope for the best, but iden... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Hope for the best, but identify and prepare for the worst. You hope for a class 1 hurricane, but prep for a class 5. A fire department hopes for a minimal fire if they roll out - but they train and prep for the worst they expect to encounter.

Why do we keep doing otherwise in the case of political upheavals in other countries? It's like some people go "If we don't MENTION worst-case scenarios, they aren't going to happen!"

I betrayed nothing of the s... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

I betrayed nothing of the sort, Jay Tea. And I know what you were referring to. What I'm telling you is that, in 1979 Iran, it was Bakhtiar and Bazargan and their ilk who were attempting to hijack a revolution that was clearly led by Khomeini. And in 2011 Egypt, the danger is that the Muslim Brotherhood will attempt to hijack a revolt led by more secular youth and the bourgeoisie.

And Mr Cronanty, perhaps "little resemblance" is too strong a phrase, but I think the differences outweigh the similarities.

The "nascent Iraqi government" has about as much chance of becoming a true democracy (or, alternatively, a theocratic ally of Iran) as Egypt does. The difference is, we didn't lose 4100 American soldiers and $2 trillion in Egypt, at least not yet. Although that might change if nutjobs like Bolton have their way.

Ah Bruce! Always coming up ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Ah Bruce! Always coming up short. What happened shortly after Kohmeni came into power? What was that? Oh yea! The Iranians trespassed on American soil, took hostages with the full backing of the Theocracy. And for more then a year, Carter did nothing. That is when radical Islam starting thinking we were weak children. Thanks Carter. Now when this situation heads South, which I hope it won't but probably will, we can thank Obama. The great appeasers. ww

And how tough did Reagan lo... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

And how tough did Reagan look in the 1980s to Iran, turning tail and running from Beirut when Iran's proxy, Hizbollah, blew up 241 Marines? That really skeered 'em, huh?

And how about when we spent the rest of that decade ransoming one hostage after another from Hizbollah kidnappers? Is that what you call "not emboldening extremists?"

If radical Islamists "started thinking" we were weak children when Carter handled the hostage crisis as he did, Reagan PROVED it when he kowtowed to Hizbollah the rest of the 1980s.

You guys and your Carter Derangement Syndrome kill me. Hey, you DO remember it was Carter who brokered the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, right? You know, the one Mubarak honored all these years? The one you're afraid WON'T be honored now that Mubarak is gone?

I'm afraid, Willie, your understanding of the history of that period is colored by your man-crush on the Gipper. That goes for most of the 30- and 40-somethings who comment here, too. Your devotion to the ghost of Reagan is more embarrassingly pathetic than the worst of the imaginary Obamessiah-worshippers you seem to think exist somewhere out there.

Bruce, let me know when you... (Below threshold)

Bruce, let me know when you come up with something original or worthwhile.

It is INDISPUTABLE that Carter empowered militant Islam. And you won't find many who will cite Reagan's actions in Lebanon as an example of great foreign policy.

And Bruce, you're once again out of the memo loop. Dear Leader Obama is now "the Gipper," so Comrade Reagan has been posthumously rehabilitated. Criticism of him is now Politically Incorrect, and past denunciations are inoperative. Correct your behavior or report to the nearest Re-Education Camp.

J.

.... Cartah and Buraq Hussa... (Below threshold)

.... Cartah and Buraq Hussayn) ... the great appeasers ....

What's this "great" crap, WildWillie?

Here's the original bro cod... (Below threshold)
Andy:



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