Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Don't Glorify the Arab Winter

I don't despair that the Arab Spring offers hope that democracy and rule of law can eventually tame the Islamist impulse that motivates some to violence, lulls too many to tolerate that violence, and inspires fear in way too many to stop the Islamist hatred. But there is a freedom problem caused by the Arab Spring that helps Islamists.

The Arab Spring has not caused our problem with jihadis and singing the praises of dictators from the prior Arab Winter who suppressed jihadis as our saviors from jihadis neglects the role dictators had in making their people think Islamism was an alternative to autocracy and in also promoting Islamism as a prop of the dictators. That was no Golden Age of Stability as too many want to believe, in their urge to wash our hands of the region and pretend we don't have a problem to face.

The Arab Spring was not a switch that was flipped to create regional democratic waves. We have to work at it. And there is hope of positive change. But it will take time.

Yet there was a problem in the Arab Spring that has contributed to the Islamist surge in the Arab world:

A major reason for the renewed vigor of Islamic terror organizations in the last year is the success of the Arab Spring revolution. Egyptian, Libyan, Syrian, and Tunisian jails were emptied of political prisoners after the rebels replaced the dictators. The freed prisoners included thousands of Islamic radicals, many of them Islamic terrorists who have gone back to the business of being bad. Most of the imprisoned Islamic terrorists were those who had experience, especially management skills. In the last decade the U.S. and Israel have put thousands of skilled Islamic terrorists out of action (dead or imprisoned). Arab dictatorships were particularly effective at finding and killing to imprisoning Islamic radicals and have been doing this vigorously since the 1990s. All this led to a steady decline in the number of Islamic terrorist attacks over the last decade. But with so many jailed Islamic terrorists freed, the mayhem is on the increase again.

Freedom didn't cause the Islamist surge. Freeing Islamists from prison is a major part of the Islamist surge.

Which is why I don't feel guilty for holding jihadis in prison for the duration of the War on Terror. It isn't our fault if the jihadis keep waging war on us.

Work the problem.