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Rubin Reports

There is a long history of Western powers believing that they could manipulate or work with radical Arabic-speaking states or movements to redo the regional order. All have ended badly.

– During the 1880s and 1890s, Germany became convinced that it could turn the forces of jihad against British, French, and Russian rivals. The kaiser presented himself as the Muslim world’s friend, and German propaganda even hinted that their ruler had converted to Islam.

– In World War One, the Germans launched a jihad, complete with the Ottoman caliph’s proclamation. Wiser heads warned that the Ottoman ruler didn’t have real authority to do so, or that the raising of the jihad spirit could cause massacres of Christians in the empire. They were ignored.

As a result, few responded to this jihad; Armenians were massacred, at times with at least the passive complicity of the German government.

– Nevertheless, Adolf Hitler, whose close comrades included many veterans of the earlier jihad strategy, tried the same approach in World War Two. This time, the Jews in the Middle East were to be the massacred scapegoats. Yet despite close collaboration by the leader of the Palestine Arabs Haj Amin al-Husseini and the Muslim Brotherhood, among others, the defeat of the German armies along with other factors (incompetence, unkept Arab promises, and German priorities) prevented this alliance from succeeding.

By the way: the Nazi collaborators were the same Muslim Brotherhood to which the United States is allied today. There are huge amounts of archival evidence, including documents showing not only Nazi payments to the Brotherhood but also that the Nazis provided them with arms for a rebellion to kill Christians and Jews in Egypt.

There is no evidence that the Brotherhood has changed its positions. The story above is told in a new book I wrote with the brilliant scholar Wolfgang G. Schwanitz — Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East – which will be published by Yale University Press in January 2014. It will be an explosive rethinking of Middle Eastern history which could not be more timely.

Incidentally, might one think that the Western mass media should mention that the chief U.S. ally in the Arab world — one of whose branches is now receiving American weapons — were Nazi collaborators who have never abandoned their anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish views? How much has the Brotherhood visibly reconsidered its ideology since the man who is still its leader, Muhammad al-Badi, explained in October 2010 that the Egyptian regime would be overthrown and then the Brotherhood would wage jihad on a weak and retreating America?

– In 1939 the British offered to sell out the Balfour Declaration and the promise of a Jewish homeland in order to gain Arab support in the coming war. The Islamist-radical nationalist faction rejected these offers, though moderate Arabs wanted to accept them. After World War Two, the British decided to try to secure their interests in the region. Most students are probably being taught today that this was through Israel’s creation. In fact, of course, the British were opposed to this outcome. They believed, understandably, that it would be better to court the Arabs. The result was the creation of the Arab League, a body that the British thought they could control. Of course, the Arab League would become a vehicle for anti-Western radicalism.

– During the early 1950s, the United States thought that it could do something both good and in its interests. It would support the takeover by moderate elements who would modernize their countries. No more would America be held responsible for corrupt dictators but would receive gratitude from liberated people living in prosperity.

The first case was encouragement for the Egyptian coup of 1952, the one which brought Gamal Abdel Nasser to power ultimately.

The result of the British and American efforts to harness radical Arab nationalism — which led to decades of violence and war in the region — is told by me in The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict, which you can read online or download for free. A variation of this U.S. strategy took place in Iran, which you can read online or download for free in my Paved with Good Intentions: The American Experience and Iran.

– Next, the Soviets tried and poured in a lot of money and weapons, believing that perhaps the radicalism of its allies would mean a long-term, beneficial partnership. That effort failed, too. Remember: it was not so long ago that Egypt, Syria, and Iraq were Soviet allies. Now all that Russian investment is gone.

One of the forces the Soviets backed to gain influence was the PLO. While well-intentioned people initiated the “peace process” of the 1990s, arguing that power would moderate radicals and stabilize the region, that didn’t work out really well, either.

–France policy was to help Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (like it helped the Palestine Arab Nazi collaborator Amin al-Husaini decades earlier), thinking that this was a way to extend French influence in the Middle East.

– While it was an understandable policy at the time, the United States backed a jihad in Afghanistan against the invading Soviets. It is not true that the United States backed Osama bin Laden at any point. But after all, indirectly and unintentionally, didn’t the Taliban and al-Qaeda and thus the September 11 attack on America grow out of these events? Remember, that was siding with the lesser of two evils — the Afghan jihadis — against the then-equivalent of America’s Great Satan, the USSR. Might there be some parallels with the situation in Syria today? Iran is so bad that Sunni jihadis must be helped into power?

– Let’s not forget the arguably correct policy at the time of backing Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. I supported that policy at the time, but let’s remember that Iraq’s defeat also brought us two U.S. wars in Iraq, and ultimately September 11.

Is there no one who remembers this recent history involved with today’s new, bright idea of the Obama Doctrine? What will history make of this American jihad? It is different from the previous situations in that it is completely clear the United States is backing people who hate it. At least its predecessors could delude themselves easily that this would work.

I take my stand with the brilliant Dutch area expert C. Snouck Hurgronje. In 1914 — almost exactly 100 years ago, as World War One began — he was horrified by what he called this “jihad made in Germany.” Unleashing a plague of religious hatred, he warned, would bring violence and massacres beyond anyone’s control. Once the genie was not only let out of the bottle but funded and given small arms and perhaps anti-aircraft missiles, it was very dangerous.

Hurgronje, however, offered hope, explaining in his 1915 book:

The jihad program assumes that the Mohammedans, just as at their first appearance in the world, continuously form a compact unity. … But this situation has in reality endured so short a time [in the few years after its founding], the realm of Islam has so quickly disintegrated into an increasingly large number of principalities, the supreme power of the so-called caliph, after flourishing for a short period, has become a mere word.

As we are already seeing, the Sunni-Shia conflict, increasingly a war, has divided the Muslim-majority world. There are ideological differences, ethnic ones, the ambitions of different nation-states to rule the empire, and the extremism that alienates potential Muslim and Western allies. Yet this is the main hope of the world at present because Western leaders have clearly not learned anything much about the Middle East in the last century.

Backing radicals has never worked. Only backing moderates, or at least those who believe that their interests require stability and have gone through a real change of heart, could. Over and over again history has shown that backing radicals merely gets you more powerful radicals.

Have there been no successes? Of course there have, albeit in a different way, with resulting containment, patience, and struggle against the radical forces. In Russia’s case that took 70 years; in China’s only about 50; and in Egypt (from the radical free officers to its moderation under Anwar al-Sadat) merely 25, though now Egypt has reverted since its society wasn’t fundamentally changed.

Thirty-four years ago — my, time flies when you’re having violent revolution, wars, and terrorism — I wrote a few months after Iran’s Islamist revolution that an entire generation would pass before the United States and Iran might reconcile. So far that prediction still holds. The same might well be true for the newer Islamist states.

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All Comments   (23)
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good summary Mr Rubin- would be so wonderful if any of our CONgress people knew any history or facts about the past disasters in Middle East- by BOTH parties- embracing these failed adventures as if they are NEW, CHANGE, or fundamentally transforming is to deny reality- insanity to do over and over the same errors-

when I speak of ISLAMOFASCISM I tell people I am not saying Muslims are like NAZIS- they are Nazis- the seeds of Hitler buried under rubble in EU never died in Middle East- they have cultivated their crops and voila ARAB SPRING, blooms in their hearts and minds.

I have one small quibble with :"One of the forces the Soviets backed to gain influence was the PLO." The Soviets did not just back the PLO- they created it, with help of the Egyptian, nephew of the NAZI loving Mufti, Arafat. It was created MYTH - after all the Soviets wrote another myth calls Protocols that is still taken as reality by most Muslims and Nazi fanboys
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Soviets didn't write the Protocols, it was the Russian czarist secret service. The goal was to prevent a revolution, of any kind. They felt a revolution in the air, but there were all kinds of revolutionary ideas, so they tried to preempt it by attributing ALL revolutions and ALL revolutionary ideas to a nefarious, multi generational and all-encompassing Jewish conspiracy to rule the world and destroy Christianity. The Jews invented capitalism and the Jews invented socialism, the Jews invented concepts like human rights and equality, all as part of the plan. The Jews were behind the French revolution and all other revolutions, as well as every war. The only things that now stood between the Jews and world domination were the papacy, the czar and the privileges of the aristocracy, so, I suppose, whenever the Russain vassal hear such words as 'equality' or 'human rights' or any agitation against the czar and the aristocracy, he would stand firm and support the old order with all his might to defend himself against the Jewish menace. Didn't work so well for the czar and the aristocracy. Still, in spite of the abysmal failure, the Mid East dictators use exactly the same method. Qadafi, in between telling the truth (for a change) that Al Qaida is invloved in the revolt, blamed it on a Zionist conspiracy. Now Assad blames it on a Zionist conspiracy.

The Soviets did use The Protocols to incite the Arabs against America (the Jews from the The Protocols control America as everyone knows), but they didn't invent it and don't think they were the first to introduce it to the Middle East.

The Protocols is widely regarded a genuine historical document in the Middle East. It's mentioned by name in Hamas charter as one of the prime sources of their "knowledge" about the Jews alongside the Islamic scriptures.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I love Rubin's work, but there are some dis-honest sleights of hand here in terms of the Imperial German Army and the Armenian genocide.

The Germans were not complicit in the Armenian massacres. Indeed, arguably the best eye-witness account of the massacres comes from Rafael de Nogales, a mercenary officer who commanded the Turkish Gendarmes division at the siege of Van. In his book "Four Years Beneath the Crescent", de Nogales describes a network of German officers who collected photographic evidence of the massacres and smuggled them past the Ottoman secret police. Those officers were horrified at what they saw.

According to Nogales, most of the actual killing was handled by Kurdish irregulars in very remote areas. Now, of course, the Kurds are our best buddies.

The main German military expert on the Islamic jihad, who subsequently went on to work with the Wehrmacht, was Oskar von Niedermayer. Niedermayer did not work in the Ottoman Empire until late in the war, but instead was sent to Afghanistan, so he had no exposure to the Armenian massacres until they were largely over (and as Nogales explains, the Turks went to great lengths to keep German officers away from the scenes of the massacres). Nor, indeed, did he have any role in the Holocaust. In World War Two, he was employed in forming combat units from Muslims living in the Soviet Union. He rose to commanded the 162nd (Turcoman) Infantry Division. He was ultimately faced court-martial in 1944 for his opposition to the regime.

Otherwise, you're absolutely right about the Nazis and the Islamicists.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Based on obama's actions there is no reason to believe he is anything else but a closet muslim. Google 'taqiyyah'.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
When Schwanitz's comes out, I shall purchase a copy. For anyone who can read German, Matthias Küntzel (a German) has written a book entitled "Djihad und Judenhaß", In some 160+ pages Küntzel traces the mighty influence of nazis on the Palesitian leader Husseini during WW II, the founders of the PLO and the evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood. Küntzel book adds a new dimention to the "islamic" hatred, often genocidal, of Jews. I have generally accepted the fact that Islamists can find anti-Jewish quotes in the Koran and Hadith and that motivation derives from such sources. Holy texts can not be the sole reason because, as Bernhard Lewish, has shown mideval Islam had a dhimis place for Jews in the empire, a certain legal place not would in Christianty. That would suggestion that Islam does not necessarily entail genocidal attitudes towards Jews. In the light of Künstler I suspect that the nazi influence was instrumental in exponentially raising said hate shown today.

The influence of nazis in the Middle East was seemingly limited the territories invaded by Rommel from, say, Tunnis eastward and Huseinni and his followers certainly agitated against the British Palisttine and Jerusalem. A question occurs to me. If the virulent hate of Jews shown by Hamas, Brotherhood, etc. has been especially stimulated by nazi influence, would it not be logical to hold that Muslims outside this realm have been spared such intensification. If so, would not a strategy to deal with Muslims and Islamist be different than one aimed at Hamas, for instance? Just a thought.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
It looks like Obama refuses to believe that Muslims on any side of an internal conflict are still Muslims.
The one common factor is that both sides hate America and the rest of the Western civilization and are united in their religious war against us.
Let both sides fight and destroy each other. Muslims are not our Friends and this type conflict reduces the number of our enemies
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Will this book be available on kindle?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
The entire Middle East would be completely different had Dear Leader not stupidly bolted out of Iraq over phony issues about the status of forces agreement. He thus lost a strategic base in a friendly country with a functioning national society. Instead, he chose to concentrate on an irrelevant exercise in the tribal waste land of Afghanistan.

The problem is that Dear Leader favors the Sunni (and Saudi) side of the conflict against the Shia. Staying with a Shiite Iraq between Shiite Iran and Alawite Shia Assad would have provided an immensely influential position in the present area of conflict. Mere presence of the US in Iraq would frustrate Iran in infiltrating Iraq and establishing a bloc of dominance from Afghanistan through the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.

The likely prospect now is either that very Iranian hegemony, if Assad wins, or a strengthened Sunni Islamist base, if the rebels win (or both if Syria splinters). And because of his earlier blunders, Dear Leader has little control over the outcome. Given his record and the Kerry/Clinton clown car act, I would expect the worst or horrors yet unimagined.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Is there no one who remembers this recent history involved with today’s new, bright idea of the Obama Doctrine?"

Why should there be?
Was there anyone who understood that history, recent or otherwise, involved with the "new, bright idea(s)" of the Bush Doctrine?
How about the Clinton Initiative?
The Reagan Doctrine?
The Kissinger Plan?
Johnson?
Kennedy?
Eisenhower?
Truman?
FDR?
McKinley and TR? (the Moro Rebellion and the Perdicardis-Raisuli Incident)

Perhaps if we go back to Filmore and Buchanan (demonstrations against the Ottoman Empire following attacks on Americans in Jaffa in 1851 and 1858), Jackson and Van Buren (reprisals in Indonesia for attacks on American ships in 1832 and 1838), or Madison (2nd Barbary War that we won) (although Jefferson and the 1st Barbary War that we wimped out on because of fear of the "military-industrial complex" and all that).

Seriously, what in all that history makes you so shocked that the current plan is blindly oblivious of all the past failures?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
We want to back the "rebels" in order to screw Iran. How about this- bomb Iran and back Assad. Iran is de-fanged and Assad has no friends that can help him other than the Russians who just want a port. Let the Jews take care of the rest of the problems- which they are willing and able to do.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama spent his early years in Indonesia forming his first 'political understandings'- at that time his stepfather and mother as well as his Kenyan father were so -called reds (Soviet style). Then Communism became 'forbidden' in Indonesia as well as in Kenya affecting state workers. During WWII (and prior) Japanese elite/military were instructed by none other than Egyptian University Al Ahzar in Islam and jihad to use in Mohammedan countries (Walter Piehl- Wetterzonen der Weltpolitik).Jihad doctrine was used by Japanese in Indonesia against the Dutch (who were the most lenient-marrying natives colonists- 'Doctor's Odyssey')The step family's influence on Obama left him to be 'a Bandung Baby'. When a Dutch airline passenger saved everybody in the plane by extinguishing the 'Underwear Bomber- before x-mas- Obama did not even thank him . Reading contemporary books of WWI- and getting leads from 'David Fromkin's A Peace to End All Peace'- the Ottoman Empire- Balfour Declaration- Paris Peace Conference- Czarist Russia and 1917- Armenian Genocide-the Mandates in ME- Law-rence of Arabia and the Hashemites- Kaiser Wilhelm II and Herzl.After WWII- Nazis in Egypt and Syria- Eli Cohen. Looking forward for your 2014 book of getting additional tidbits of history. A book is always worth reading if one gets one item not known previously.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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