"What is absolutely clear is we are witnessing history unfold," Obama told students at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich. "It's a moment of transformation."
Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Of course, Barry naturally failed to fill in the blanks for the eager young minds assembled before him. I, LibertyAtStake, shall step up and correct this egregious error of omission.
What hangs in the balance is no less than this: whether the Middle East shall continue the slow roll toward western modernity started by a guy named Ataturk in the 20th Century; or slip back into the barbaric 7th Century theocratic state envisioned by a guy named Mohammed.
If it breaks the wrong way, consequences could include a world-wide collapse of the energy economy and/or the elimination of Israel, the only truly modern democratic state in the region right now. Your current administration has little influence over which way it will break, and in fact has done everything over the past few weeks to cause it to break the wrong way. At this point, you might as well consult your Ouija board for the answer.
As one might expect, Wikipedia provides a decent biography for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (b. 1881, d. 1938), intentionally constructed to aim for objectivity and to present non-controversial facts. This biography makes him out, more less, to be a Turkish George Washington. Substitute “American” for “Turkish” in the lead summary, and you’ll see what I mean.
“[Ataturk] was a Turkish army officer, revolutionary statesman, writer, and founder of the Republic of Turkey, as well as the first Turkish President.”
For the purpose of this post, we shall focus on his policies as “the first Turkish President,” which included the following:
- “…establish[ing] the separation of governmental and religious affairs…”
- “…chang[ing] the classical Islamic education for a vigorously promoted reconstruction of educational institutions.”
- “…personally promot[ing] modern dress for women…”
- “Islamic law [being] separated from secular law, and restricted to matters of religion.”
- “…the education of girls and was establish[ing] the unification of education.”
- “…greater access to a wide variety of artistic activities, sports, and other cultural events.”
- “…commission[ing] the first Turkish operatic work …”
- “…mov[ing] to grant full political rights to women, before several other European nations.”
In short, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was determined to lead his fellow Turks away from the oppressive, closed society run by caliphate in the Ottoman Empire of his youth - toward a civilized, open society modeled on his European neighbors.
In this blog space, I’ve alluded often to a principle tying Newtonian physics to the grand ebbs and tides of history – in particular Newton’s principle stating that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The Wikipedia article on Ataturk, perhaps bound by its tenants of pure non-controversial objectivity, whitewashes the equal and opposite reaction of Mohammed’s Islamists to Ataturk’s reform program. That would be the founding of an interesting little organization that has been in the news a lot lately – The Muslim Brotherhood. But, we can turn to the capable journalists at Breitbart’s Big Peace to correct the omission.
The aftermath of World War I, with the defeat of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, saw the destruction of the Islamic political authority called the “caliphate.” Mustapha Kemal Ataturk established post-Ottoman Turkey as a secular westernized state and abolished the caliphate. Among his reforms to dismantle the shariah system, Ataturk banned the tradition of growing beards by men and wearing headscarves by women, banned the call to prayer from the mosques, abolished the Turkish language’s script and replaced it with the Latin alphabet, and made the Turkish military the custodians of a new secular tradition.
This did not sit well with Islamic traditionalists. Some became determined to restore the caliphate, if not in Turkey, then somewhere else. One such individual was Hassan al Banna, the son of a Muslim imam who lived outside Cairo, Egypt. In 1928, al Banna founded an organization called the al-Ikhwan al-Musilmin, known in English as the Society of Muslim Brothers or the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).
The Big Peace article draws on a scholarly work known as “Shariah: The Threat to America,” put out by a panel calling itself “Team B II” and sponsored by the Center For Strategic Policy.
The bottom line conclusion of this panel’s research is basically that the 1928 founding of the Muslim Brotherhood has grown over the years into a world-wide movement to impose Shariah Law as the supreme law – by force when possible, by stealth and deceit where necessary.
In the eighty years or so since the Cairo founding of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ataturk’s vision has had more visible success in the Middle East’s battle of ideas. Now - this being the Middle East, with zero prior experience in modern civilization, and the progress only having eighty years to unfold, the disciples of Ataturk have mostly been secular despots.
Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran was such despot with visions of modernizing his country. In 1979, the Islamists scored their first major success by seizing the government of Iran and instilling religious rule.
In 1996, the Taliban wing of the Islamist movement took control of Afghanistan, eventually playing host to fellow Islamists AlQaeda (of 2001 World Trade Tower fame).
Since 2002, Ataturk’s own Turkey has experienced a profound shift in its government’s balance of power, away from the secular military and toward Islamist sympathies.
Also since 2002, the neoconservative interventionist policy of Bush 43 has had some debatable success with modernization, and even democratization, in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, particularly, it is still quite possible all the hard-won gains could be lost with the withdrawal of our military forces.
The Bushies were handed an embarrassing foreign policy loss in 2006, when the Palestinian elections they pushed for yielded Islamist terrorist group Hamas as the winner. There have been no elections since. More recently, the Islamist terrorist group Hezzbollah has seized effective control of Lebanon.
And now we have a secular despot who has fallen in Egypt. Pursuant to this development we have a strange coalition of American Progressives and Neoconservatives who already see a dawning of democracy in that most populous of Arab nations. Some of us see instead the grave risk of a replay to Iran, 1979.
History unfolding, indeed.