Tuesday, February 15, 2005

What to make of the Red-Green alliance 

(Updated, see below) An interesting discussion is currently underway about the growing alliance of the far left and Islamofascism. Writes Nelson Ascher at Europundits:
"[The] Western left, not only in Europe, but in Latin America and even in the US itself, has a clear goal: the destruction of the country and society that vanquished its dreams fifteen years ago. But it does not have, as in the old days of the Soviet Union, the hard power to accomplish this by itself. Thanks to this, all our leftist friends' bets are now on radical Islam. What can they do to help it? Answer: tie down America's superior strength with a million Liliputian ropes: legal ones, political ones, with propaganda and disinformation etc. Anything and everything will do."
And Wretchard at Belmont Club comments:
"Islam is 1000 years older than the Left; its population burgeoning while the Left is aborting itself into demographic extinction. More fundamentally, any honest Leftist must realize that his movement and its aspirations are rooted in the very West it seeks to destroy. Communist totalitarianism is the doppelganger of secular freedom; and the serpent in the garden must know that the desert, so hospitable to Islam, can only be a place of death for it. The Left may have embarked upon a journey of revenge. They will find suicide."
I remain skeptical. Clearly, no commentator out there thinks that some among the Western left find Islamism an attractive political partner because they hate their own society so much they would rather see it replaced by a Muslim theocracy (although Ascher comes very close to suggesting that since the revenge against the triumphant West is now the moving force behind the left, it doesn't really care what comes after, as long as it can destroy the enemy). But I think that "Islamofascism as a battering ram" theory espoused above, while not as far-fetched as "Socialists for sharia", also misses the mark. I don't believe that the far left are the ultimate realists who would support the Islamist assault on their own societies in order to weaken the domestic political, economic and social structures to a sufficient degree so as to allow a painless takeover by the left to complete the revolution.

Islamofascism is irrelevant to the left's designs because the left doesn't believe that Islamofascism matters per se. It is not a problem, but a symptom of a problem. The problem is the West, and when it gets fixed, the symptoms will vanish, too. For the left, Islamism is an understandable reaction to Western (or more specifically, American) policies and actions: the support for Israel, the thirst for oil, support for Muslim autocrats, economic exploitation, cultural imperialism, militarism and interventionist foreign policy, unilateralism and political hegemony. Eliminate all of these and reduce the United States to a status of an appendage of the United Nations, a sort of an American Union, and Islamism will disappear, too. Because there is such a huge overlap between the grievances of the left and grievances of Islamofascists, and because the critique of the Western society is so often indistinguishable between Berkeley and Beirut, for the left, therefore, Islamofascism is not a weapon or a tool as much as a propaganda exhibit and a debating point.

All this may sound like semantics, but I believe therein lies the major difference between the Cold War and today: in the past, the left supported international communism and liberation movements because they were its ideological keen and the left was hoping for the worldwide victory of its idea. Nowadays, the left supports Islamism (to the extent it can be said to "support" Islamism) not because it hopes for Islamism's triumph but, quite the contrary, because it expects Islamism's eventual demise.

Update: Thanks for the great discussion. One more very obvious point: this is precisely the reason why the left doesn't have a plan for fighting the war on terror - because, after all, why would you want to fight the symptoms when you can fight the cause? And this is also why the left's plan for the Middle East consists almost solely of the Palestinian statehood, at best in addition to, at worst to the exclusion of the Jewish state. How many other left-wing policies for the region can you name?


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