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Qatar, North Korea, and the Dangers of American Gullibility

March 12 2018

Americans leaders and statesmen, argues Yigal Carmon, have long suffered from a “syndrome” that presumes the trustworthiness of their foreign counterparts even in the absence of evidence. Reviewing numerous instances of such naïveté—from Franklin D. Roosevelt to the present—Carmon focuses on current dealings with North Korea and Qatar: two countries that have proved themselves to be anything but trustworthy:

This syndrome, which stubbornly denies reality, compounds other cultural differences between democracies and dictatorships and renders the West almost unable to contend with evil. Only a few days ago, when the North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un invited the United States to “a heartfelt dialogue,” the Western media swallowed it whole and celebrated it with great fanfare. . . . When the American syndrome meets Arab, Muslim, and other authoritarian regimes, the American side stands no chance, despite the disparity of power. . . .

Qatar is an unelected, family-run authoritarian regime that stamps out domestic freedom of expression. For years, it has been the unapologetic breeding ground of anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel incitement, as well as a major promoter of Islamic extremism and terrorism. . . . [I]t has promoted al-Qaeda and its various offshoots, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and its branches, especially Hamas. For decades, it has sheltered the notorious spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi, who advocates a second Holocaust “at the hands of the believers, God willing.” . . .

Qatar is allied militarily with Turkey’s extreme Islamist president Recep Tayyip Erdogan [and] has also come out of the closet as a staunch ally of Iran. . . . Like other authoritarian regimes, it has weaponized its totally state-controlled media, [Al Jazeera], to fight its enemies and to support its allies. Qatar rebuilt southern Lebanon on Hizballah’s behalf after the 2006 war, and did the same for Hamas in Gaza after its wars with Israel. . . . [Furthermore], virulent incitement against America and its allies continues to dominate Al Jazeera’s broadcasts to the entire Arabic-speaking world. . . .

[Most recently, taking its inspiration from the claims about hidden Jewish influence found in] the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, [Qatar] extended invitations to the leader of the Zionist Organization of America, Orthodox rabbis, and the vice-president of the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations to come visit. However, . . . it prepared a standby: a documentary by Al Jazeera TV targeting Jewish organizations in America that can be broadcast if and when necessary. As an Arabic saying regarding Americans goes: screw them, collaborate with them, and double-cross them all at once.

Read more at JNS

More about: American Jewry, Muslim Brotherhood, North Korea, Politics & Current Affairs, Qatar, U.S. Foreign policy

The Future of a Free Iran May Lie with a Restoration of the Shah

June 25 2018

Examining the recent waves of protest and political unrest in the Islamic Republic—from women shunning the hijab to truckers going out on strike—Sohrab Ahmari considers what would happen in the event of an actual collapse of the regime. Through an analysis of Iranian history, he concludes that the country would best be served by placing Reza Pahlavi, the son and heir of its last shah, at the head of a constitutional monarchy:

The end of Islamist rule in Iran would be a world-historical event and an unalloyed good for the country and its neighbors, marking a return to normalcy four decades after the Ayatollah Khomeini founded his regime. . . . But what exactly is that normalcy? . . .

First, Iranian political culture demands a living source of authority to embody the will of the nation and stand above a fractious and ethnically heterogenous society. Put another way, Iranians need a “shah” of some sort. They have never lived collectively without one, and their political imagination has always been directed toward a throne. The constitutionalist experiment of the early 20th century coexisted (badly) with monarchic authority, and the current Islamic Republic has a supreme leader—which is to say, a shah by another name. It is the height of utopianism to imagine that a 2,500-year-old tradition can be wiped away. The presence of a shah, [however], needn’t mean the absence of rule of law, deliberative politics, or any of the other elements of ordered liberty that the West cherishes in its own systems. . . .

Second, Iranian political culture demands a source of continuity with Persian history. The anxieties associated with modernity and centuries of historical discontinuity drove Iranians into the arms of Khomeini and his bearded minions, who promised a connection to Shiite tradition. Khomeinism turned out to be a bloody failure, but there is scant reason to imagine the thirst for continuity has been quenched. . . . Iranian nationalism . . . could be the answer, and, to judge by the nationalist tone of the current upheaval, it is the one the people have already hit upon.

When protestors chant “We Will Die to Get Iran Back,” “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, My Life Only for Iran,” and “Let Syria Be, Do Something for Me,” they are expressing a positive vision of Iranian nationhood: no longer do they wish to pay the price for the regime’s Shiite hegemonic ambitions. Iranian blood should be spilled for Iran, not Gaza, which for most Iranians is little more than a geographical abstraction. It is precisely its nationalist dimension that makes the current revolt the most potent the mullahs have yet faced. Nationalism, after all, is a much stronger force and in Iran the longing for historical continuity runs much deeper than liberal-democratic aspiration. Westerners who wish to see a replay of Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 in today’s Iran will find the lessons of Iranian history hard and distasteful, but Iranians and their friends who wish to see past the Islamic Republic must pay heed.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Iran, Nationalism, Politics & Current Affairs, Shah