Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The "Rageboy" of British Media

Robert Fisk is the "rageboy" of British media. When I read Fisk's writings, it is easy to envision him all blue in the face, choking over his anger and sputtering spit all over the place. His latest expostulation is no different:

Fisk:

"The West may have a short memory. The Arabs, who happen to live in the piece of real estate that we call the Middle East and who are not stupid, have not. They understand all too well what George W. Bush now stands for. After advocating "democracy" in the region -- a policy that gained electoral victories for Shiites in Iraq, for Hamas in Gaza and a substantial gain in political power for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt --"

What is Fisk saying? Bush thought democracy was a viable option for the Middle East. He found out that he may have been over optimistic about it.

Why over optimistic?

Because, we are told, here, by the Economist,

"Whether or not they condone violence, many of the most strident advocates of “political Islam” still take their cue from Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian thinker, executed in 1966, who regarded secular democracy (and all other secular forms of government, including socialism) as blasphemy pure and simple. In places ranging from British campuses to the jails and torture chambers of Uzbekistan, there are zealous ideologues who follow the Qutbist line that all human agencies of power are a violation of the sovereignty of God. Neatly converging with the anti-democratic zeal of these malcontents is an increasingly respectable argument, among sceptical Western observers of Islam, which holds that the Muslim faith, by its very nature, cannot be other than theocratic. If that is true, then encouraging moderate—in the sense of apolitical—versions of Islam can only be a waste of time.

So Bush is,(according to Fisk) crawling back to the arms of dictators and totalitarian regimes. Fisk was outraged by Bush's efforts to bring democracy to the Middle East and he is even more outraged that Bush (seems to have) failed.

Fouad Ajami explains the pathology in Fiskian incongruity better than anybody can:

The conventional wisdom of this moment assumes that the Arab-Muslim world has been poisoned by America's military campaigns. But in these lands, anti-Americanism is at once a condition that can never be healed and a pose. It is claimed that America under George W. Bush has made its own poor bed among the Arabs by taking up the cause of freedom in Arab lands; we are damned for this interventionism. But America had been denounced the day before for befriending autocrats. Such sentiments about America are not amenable to reason. So we are hated in Turkey, what of it? It could be that we sinned against the Turks; conversely, it could be that Turkey today is an unhappy land, that the cultural war between the secularists and the Islamists has become fierce and intolerable and that the Turks are looking for a scapegoat. There is no way of conciliating anti-Americanism in Cairo; it infects even the men and women standing in line at the U.S. Embassy, dreaming of visas and green cards.

So it would seem that apart from spitting out a lot of anti-American, anti-Israeli resentments, with his usual charming, but useless, bombast, Fisk is really saying absolutely nothing. But spending a lot of words and rage in the process of doing so.

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