Sunday, June 28, 2009

Iran: The Beginning Of Radical Islam--And Its End?

In For Radical Islam, the End Begins, Joshua Muravchik finds that current events were foreshadowed by a poll taken last year:
Last year, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that from 2002 to 2008, the proportion of respondents saying that suicide bombing was sometimes or often justified dropped from 74 percent to 32 percent in Lebanon, from 33 percent to 5 percent in Pakistan, from 43 percent to 25 percent in Jordan and from 26 percent to 11 percent in Indonesia. As a food stand operator in Jakarta put it: "People are less supportive of terrorist attacks because we know what terrorism does, we're afraid of attacks."
Muravchik sees the results of the poll reflected in events that even predate the poll--starting with Morocco and Jordan in 2007, Pakistan in 2008 and then this year in the elections in Indonesia, Kuwait and of course Lebanon.

So how does Iran compare--especially in light of the increasing control that the Iranian regime has been able to exercise over the protests? Muravchik writes that success is not measured only in terms of continued protests:
Even if the Iranian regime succeeds in suppressing the protests and imposes the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by force of bullets, mass arrests and hired thugs, it will have forfeited its legitimacy, which has always rested on an element of consent as well as coercion. Most Iranians revered Ayatollah Khomeini, but when his successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, declared the election results settled, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets, deriding his anointed candidate with chants of "Death to the dictator!"

"Even if they manage to hang on for a month or a couple of years, they've shed the blood of their people," says Egyptian publisher and columnist Hisham Kassem. "It's over."

The downfall or discrediting of the regime in Tehran would deal a body blow to global Islamism which, despite its deep intellectual roots, first achieved real influence politically with the Iranian revolution of 1979. And it would also represent just the most recent -- and most dramatic -- in a string of setbacks for radical Islam. Election outcomes over the past two years have completely undone the momentum that Islamists had achieved with their strong showing at the polls in Egypt in 2005 and Palestine in 2006.
Read the whole thing.

That of course is an ambitious goal, and one that is not even close to being achieved. Nevertheless, it is a goal that is worth the attention of the West--more so than how many children Israelis are allowed to have in the settlements.

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