No sooner was Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi elected president of Egypt than he announced his determination to work for the freedom of an enemy of the United States: blind sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life term for his role in planning the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Not since Jimmy Carter helped usher in the Iranian Revolution has an American president done so much to aid those who are determined to destroy the United States.
In fact, the parallels are numerous. Carter betrayed the shah of Iran, a longtime U.S. ally who had a dismal human rights record but was generally loyal, and paved the way for the ascent to power of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian mullahcracy that quickly showed its gratitude to Carter by taking U.S. Embassy personnel hostage, and has maintained a war footing against the United States ever since.
Obama, for his part, betrayed Hosni Mubarak, another longtime U.S. ally with a record of repressive rule, paving the way for the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power. And now President Morsi has shown his gratitude to Obama by announcing his determination to free from prison a man who plotted to murder hundreds of thousands of Americans.
It is said that history repeats itself, but it doesn’t do so by means of some automatic, inexorable, deterministic process. History repeats itself because people refuse to study and learn its lessons, and to face the unpleasant facts it presents. Thus, they make the same mistakes their predecessors did. The Obama administration didn’t have to be Carter’s second term, but both Carter and Obama are the products of a political culture that consistently discounts the importance of religious motivations. Informed sources have noted that at the time of the Iranian Revolution, only one book by the Ayatollah Khomeini could be found in the State Department, and no one had read it: no one thought the rantings of an obscure fanatic exiled to far-off France were important. That was the manifestation of a willful blindness to rival that of James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, who famously labeled the Muslim Brotherhood “largely secular.” In fact, it is the same willful blindness, and it has characterized the Washington establishment’s views on Islam and jihad from Carter’s day until now.
So secular is the Brotherhood that Morsi recently repeated its guiding motto to an enthusiastic crowd: “The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal.” Last week, Yasser Borhamy, a Salafi leader, declared that the Muslim Brotherhood was planning to implement Sharia as the main source for Egyptian law. Noting opposition to Sharia in Egypt, Borhamy said: “What is disturbing in the Islamic Sharia law, is Sharia bothering anyone? We do not say ‘our views on Sharia,’ but we say that we want the Sharia law revealed by God. Would anyone be afraid of the Sharia that establishes justice, [public] interest and wisdom? This is very strange. How is it said that people are afraid of Sharia?”
By “Sharia law revealed by God,” Borhamy meant the Sharia that stones adulterers, amputates thieves’ hands, mandates death for apostates from Islam, and institutionalizes subjugation of women and non-Muslims. If the Brotherhood does succeed in implementing this in Egypt, it will have Barack Obama to thank: his applause for the “Arab Spring” uprisings, coupled with the universal misrepresentation of them in the Western media as outpourings of a longing for democracy and pluralism, has brought us to the inception of an Egyptian regime that is almost certain to go to war with Israel and pursue a path of unrelenting hostility toward its erstwhile patrons in Washington.
Yet even the likelihood that Egypt, long a recipient of American largesse, will become an enemy of America is unlikely to shake those entrenched core assumptions in Washington that got us into this fix. The Obama administration rejects, as a matter of repeatedly stated policy, the idea that Islam has anything to do with terrorism, or warfare against unbelievers, or the legal subjugation of non-Muslims. An Obama official who opined that a Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt would likely be an enemy of the United States because of Islam’s core doctrines regarding the evil of the society of unbelievers would be reprimanded or fired outright for “Islamophobia.”
And so what was old is new again: a man who owes his seat of power to the United States demonstrates his hostility to the ones who put him in place. Then it was Khomeini, now it is Morsi, but in both cases it is the same. One wonders how many times Washington will have the luxury of making this same mistake before the consequences become too terrible to bear.