The Islamic Vortex (Part 3)

The cartoon would look something like this:

An Egyptian (or it could be a Pakistani) walks into the Bank of America, with a hand-grenade daubed ‘Radical Islam’ taped to his ear, and shouts out: “Hand over the money or my head gets it!”

The teller looks up and says: “You don’t have to keep doing this. There’s a standing order to pay you $1,500,000,000 a year.”

Offended, the Egyptian replies: “But the grenade is the only reason you respect me!”

We could try to update the joke (… “then the black lesbian bank teller says: ‘Why are you repressing that grenade?’”) but there’s going to be more than enough torture in this story already. It suffices to note that in the Egyptian version of the cartoon, the grenade was provided by the bank, and its inscription read: ‘Democracy’. We can fast-forward straight through the explosion stage, and begin on the far side of the ‘Arab Spring’.

So to start over, with a serious question (even if it doesn’t sound like one): How did the first comprehensively Cathedralist administration in American history get to implement a ruthlessly cunning neoreactionary Middle East strategy? In the Crescent, it sleazed a situation in which Hizbollah and Al Qaeda are engaging in reciprocal suicide attacks – even a hyper-hawk with liquid nitrogen blood would have been hard-pressed to envisage such a scenario. And in Egypt? There the dysfunctional ‘realist’ status quo – America’s multi-decade hand-grenade cartoon of a foreign policy – has given way to something quite different.

Assume, hypothetically, that in Middle Eastern affairs the Obama Administration is by far the most mind-melting example of transcendental strategic genius the Anglophone world has ever known. (Are you with me so far?) Now add one straightforward corollary: In respect to Egypt, the goal was to replace a parasitic, dysfunctional, passive-aggressive PITA state, breeding Mohammed Attas like hogs in a factory farm, with a hard, Islamophobic, neoreactionary security state, fundamentally immunized against all democratic temptation, serving as a pole of attraction for counter-Jihad tendencies throughout the region, and machine-gunning even more Muslim Brothers in the streets than you really feel it needs to. Then, if it all works out, as a bonus you even get to threaten the $1.5 billion standing order, whilst tut-tutting disapprovingly about the naughty coup business.

To pull off this kind of unbelievable ju-jitsu requires a very special skill set, starting with a mastery of deception. A Sahara-dry, perfectly dead-pan sense of humor is not strictly necessary, but it adds to the sense of panache.

You probably remember Dark-Lord Obama’s 2009 Cairo Speech, in very approximate outline, but do you recall the title? Here it is (seriously): A New Beginning. You’re forgiven a tingly ‘this is beyond awesome’ moment. (Probably Now for Neoreaction, or Hard Reboot to the Future were considered too blunt even for this Grand Imperial Wizard.) In an interview with Al Arabiya, Obama explained with his signature stylistic felicity: “My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.” From now on you’ll be killing your own damn people.

The bottom-line problem isn’t difficult to see: the passably civilized fraction of the Egyptian population is far too small to dominate their society, unless tightly compressed by bonds of fear, thoroughly disillusioned about the degraded state of their culture, invigorated by an urgent sense of responsibility to secure their own existence, and terminally freed of all democratic sentiment. Similarly, the regime itself needed to be quickened by existential terror, and driven into nakedly elitist alignment with a newly integrated, overtly anti-populist constituency. For all this to happen, Egypt had to be locked in a cage with itself, hardened by what it found there, until it had learned a lesson as old as the pharoahs. The state had to cease being a pandering platform and pan-handling operation, tailored to domestic populism and correct international opinion, and begin ensuring security, unapologetically, for the residue of civilization that still remained. But we already know what was required: A New Beginning.

Mubarak was grenade-guy. He had to go. The fact that he was using the Muslim Brotherhood in a groove-locked game of chicken with America was far from the most serious problem. He was also playing grenade-guy chicken with the local — uncondensed — non-Islamist demographic. By sheltering Egypt’s educated elite from their own bearded brethren, he was sustaining its most hopelessly sentimental illusions about the nature of the national demos, perpetuating democratic teleology, giving credence to the ‘international’ reform agenda, and deferring to the country’s radically corrupted (Islamo-populist) cultural template. Breaking with all this was something far beyond the Mubarak-circle’s political imagination. The country had to be sprung.

Of course, the Obama master-plan remains far from complete (even without consideration of its application to Pakistan). The Egyptian economy is still skewed towards ruin by a deep structure of populist subsidies, and the recently installed order of neoreactionary legitimation has yet to be overtly proclaimed, or constitutionally formalized.

It is nevertheless important to recognize how far things have come. The Obamazing feint-revolutionary double-flip-back maneuver has, in rapid succession, obliterated the accumulated credibility of the old (‘grenade-guy’) regime, ‘moderate’ Islamist governance, and democratic inclusion. A New Beginning already has the educated middle classes clamoring for a harsher clampdown on the bearded mob, and the security apparatus reaching out for robust political integration with the country’s civilized minority (the ‘Tamarrod’).

In The Weekly Standard, surreptitious Obamanist  Reuel Marc Gerecht captures the situation adeptly:

The driving force behind the Tamarrod may be just too far removed culturally from the Egyptian faithful. One thing is certain after the coup: Secular liberals will want to be protected from vengeful Islamists. And for that they will need the army. The ballot box will not do.

August 1, 2013admin 24 Comments »
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24 Responses to this entry

  • Dan Says:

    “In The Weekly Standard, surreptitious Obamanist Reuel Marc Gerecht captures the situation adeptly:”

    All your sources on this sort of stuff seem to be from hardcore neocons e.g. The Weekly Standard, National Review, PJMedia, etc.


    admin Reply:

    If you’re not reading Kevin Williamson, Richard Fernandez, and ‘Spengler’, you’re missing out. (As for the Weekly Standard — I think your irony meter might be in need of adjustment.)


    Suisse Reply:

    Serious question: what’s the appeal of those writers? I’ve read all three. I’m surprised anyone non-mainstream can even tolerate their writing. Williamson and Fernandez serve up fairly standard, Republican boilerplate. And Spengler is perpetually mendacious:


    admin Reply:

    If you’re familiar with these writers, and get nothing out of them, there’s nothing more to be said. They are mainstream writers, of course. Williamson’s ultra-flinty defense of capitalism always makes me smile (in a good way), Fernandez is probably the most intelligent popular blogger in the world — even if he keeps himself on a tight moral-religious leash — and Spengler, whilst slippery, is a flawed prophet, who finds ways to say things that are normally way beyond the crime-think limits of political discussion. But if you don’t like these guys, just ignore them — I’m not interested in doing a promotion exercise.

    Posted on August 1st, 2013 at 6:05 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dan Says:

    Are you sure you’re not a liberal?

    I don’t understand the point of using the terms “neoreactionary” and “civilized” to refer to fundamentally liberal concerns such as protecting minorities, commerce, licentiousness, etc.

    I realize that “liberal” has become a bad word that people want to run away from, but let’s not kid ourselves, this is liberalism.


    admin Reply:

    “… let’s not kid ourselves, this is liberalism.” … Ummmm — OK.


    Bill Reply:

    Liberals are utopians. They believe they can create paradise. Paradise is always in the future.

    Neoreaction accepts reality. Reality is not anthropocentric and it has rules. Accepting these is accepting order. Within the scope of human events it is not absolute, it just places an emphasis on order. Order is something that happens now.

    A utopian fantasy about the future justifies any means in the present. A group focused on order uses means that conserve order in the present, they may be creative but they don’t do crazy things.


    anonymous Reply:

    the function of government is the same regardless of what type of govenment we have. neorecation is about the fact that democracy does not provide good government. it does not say that we should have a bad government that does things opposite to what liberals wanted.

    we like good governments that uphold the rule of law and institutions that safeguard civilization and cultivate virtue.


    Posted on August 1st, 2013 at 6:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    Obama’s a Townie. I suspect it’s unwise to even jokingly suggest he’s in fact done anything.


    fotrkd Reply:

    No. So ask yourself: what’s admin getting at?


    admin Reply:



    fotrkd Reply:

    Yeah, flattery will get you nowhere (nor Egypt button pressing either).

    Alrenous Reply:

    Straussian readings, eh? Okay, let’s test: what am I getting at?


    admin Reply:

    Oh come on, it’s not that cryptic. Obviously it’s absurd to think that Obama has ‘done’ anything to make any of this happen, except through negligence, incompetence, dithering, and — more positively — massive strategic disinvestment from the entire region. Therefore, (since the USA has never faced such a favorable ME environment in its entire history) subsequent events make the anti-‘neocon’ case, except from the anarcho-isolationist right, rather than the Wilsonian left. If USG was entirely paralyzed, both domestically and internationally, it’s hard to even begin to imagine how favorable the situation might become.

    admin Reply:

    “Obama’s a Townie.” — when he’s not creeping among the pyramids in his ninja outfit.


    Posted on August 1st, 2013 at 7:58 pm Reply | Quote
  • vimothy Says:



    Posted on August 1st, 2013 at 10:02 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    If two sergeants in Iraq in the mid aughts could see a 30 years War coming, and discern that nothing will get solved as far as the faith/reason dichotomy Islam has until they have it out, and that it might just be in our best interests, then perhaps someone of greater office could as well.

    Obama doesn’t run things. The Vogons do. The Vogons are quite smart enough to discern the potential. Zarquarwi discerned the potential, that was his central war aim and he achieved it. He died too late.

    Perhaps the Vogons sung him a dirge. They killed him, but they’re not stupid. They just run things.


    Posted on August 2nd, 2013 at 2:32 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    Those two sergeants made the right call, and if ‘the Vogons’ are indeed equally clear-sighted, then things will get interesting, in (for e.g.) Af-Pak, where creative destruction has not yet seriously begun. It’s odd, though, to see things unfolding as if they were being ‘run’ intelligently.That has not exactly been the historical norm.


    VXXC Reply:

    I can’t decide whether it’s Vogon plodding or gravity. The Muslim world has it out every once in awhile.

    I’m out. I was never at Vogon Senior Service level. I do glean from say SOFREP blog and elsewhere that none of we trigger pullers want anything to do with it, certainly not regular all in forces.

    And also the sneaky special silent types are quite on the ground and involved. This in itself doesn’t mean much, if there’s conflict *usually* they’re around if even tangential to our interests.

    I see what you mean about it changing the world order. At least theirs. Mind you AF-PAK and MENA can be as creative about their own destruction as they like.


    Posted on August 2nd, 2013 at 3:22 am Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    In related news, John Kerry’s capacity for doublethink continues to dazzle:

    Mr Kerry told Pakistan’s Geo television: “The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descendance into chaos, into violence.”

    “And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgment – so far. To run the country, there’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy,” he added.

    Does this restoration blow a hole in your Ninja Obama theory (or is Kerry just not in on the Plan)? It would have been amusing if someone had asked him when the fear of “descendance” might abate – presumably after a few more years of democratically-approved culls.


    admin Reply:

    “In effect, they were restoring democracy” — That quote is a treasure (not to be squandered on a glib response).


    Posted on August 2nd, 2013 at 12:09 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dan Says:

    @ Bill, anonymous

    I think you’re describing liberalism, with good government meaning government effective in promoting liberal ends or a certain liberal order. Democracy fails to deliver the goods, so to speak, so non-democratic government is necessary.

    This is quite different from many of the disparate groups that fall under the heading “neo-reaction” such as the nationalists, fascists, theocrats, etc. who differ completely in terms of both means and ends. I’m not sure how sensible it is to group all these together.

    Furthermore, this liberalism clearly has more in common with prominent elements of the current order, such as Mayor Bloomberg of New York and his administration, than it does with certain elements classed under “neo-reaction”, such as ethno-nationalists or traditionalist Catholics.

    I think authoritarian liberalism, or non-democratic liberalism, or just Classical Liberalism/libertarianism seems more accurate.


    Posted on August 2nd, 2013 at 7:19 pm Reply | Quote
  • A reader Says:

    I hear the term “cathedralist” around here often and nowhere else. What exactly does it mean?


    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    I take “cathedralist” as meaning gleichgeschaltet, as explained in Open Letter part 4:

    Essentially, this is the same thing as “politically correct” or “in bed with the fashion sheep / mainstream media”.


    Posted on August 5th, 2013 at 9:50 pm Reply | Quote

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