HH: Joined now by Andrew McCarthy, contributor to National Review, a fellow at the National Review Foundation, author of two wonderful books on point in our discussion about Egypt. One is The Grand Jihad, the other, Willful Blindness. Andrew, welcome back, happy new year to you.
AM: Hugh, how are you? Happy New Year to you, too.
HH: I’m great, but I’m very, very alarmed over what is going on in Egypt, and especially by the state of the American media discussing the possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood being involved in the government of Egypt. Would you explain your reaction to that possibility, Andrew McCarthy?
AM: I think it’s just absolutely phenomenal after all this time, and after all we’ve seen, and all history has taught us that anyone could with a straight face suggest number one, that the Muslim Brotherhood was moderate and friendly toward democracy, and that it would be acceptable to have a government with what is in fact the font of modern Islamist terror, and the broader Islamist threat to the West as not only part of the government, but probably the prime mover of the government, the way the conversation’s going. So you know, look, all you need to do is look at Gaza. I’ve heard people, Hugh, over the weekend, talking about how Hamas seems to be now working with the Muslim Brotherhood. And I’ve had to remind them that no, Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood. If you look at Hamas’ charter, it says that it is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. So if you want to get a load of what Egypt will look like after a democracy ushers in the Muslim Brotherhood, have a look at Hamas. It’s not like we don’t have an example right in front of us.
HH: Now I don’t want to steal the title of your book, but it is willfully blind for the American media not to get this. I have been reading from Robin Wright’s 2008 book, Dreams And Shadows. Robin Wright, of course, a woman of the center-left, Washington Post correspondent. And she quotes Habib, the second in command of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as saying, refusing to agree that Israel has a right to exist.
HH: …because they don’t. they don’t believe it.
AM: Exactly right. You know, look, it’s only a few months ago, as our friend Steve Emerson reported today, that the head of the Muslim, the current head of the Muslim Brotherhood, said that the history of freedom is written in blood, not in ink, and that jihad is the only way to bring that about. And nevertheless, we still have people in America writing that the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate organization that’s willing to participate in a political process. And yes, they’re willing to participate in the political process and get whatever they can get out of that, and then they’ll move on to the other tactics.
HH: Sure, this is again, from Robin Wright’s book, quoting the number two from Muslim Brotherhood, “I consider the Zionist entity as an occupier of Muslim land. There has to be a formula where people live in peace. I don’t know what that formula is now, but know for us, they live in our country.” So Andy McCarthy, I don’t know how anyone could expect a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egypt to be other than an enemy of Israel, and an enemy of the United States. I just don’t understand how anyone can come to that conclusion.
AM: No, it’s impossible unless you want to just imagine things to be different from what they are. This isn’t something that’s going to evolve into something bad for Israel of for the United States. These people tell us flat out that they are our enemies. And you were good enough to mention one of my books, Willful Blindness. The other one, The Grand Jihad, that’s not something that I came up with. That’s the Muslim Brotherhood’s own words. That’s their internal memorandum from 1991, where the Brotherhood’s leadership in the United States reports to the headquarters of the Brotherhood in Egypt that they see their work in the United States as a grand jihad aimed at eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within by sabotage. I don’t know how much clearer they could be.
HH: It can’t be, and it’s very well detailed in The Grand Jihad. So Andy, here’s the $64,000 dollar question. Why is American media so blind or unwilling? There are two alternatives. Either they’re stupid, or they’re lying. Which is it and why?
AM: Well, I would like to think that it probably breaks down into two groups, Hugh. I think some people are lying. There’s some people in the media who are people of the hard left, they’re ideologues, and you know, they’re simply trying to move the society in a particular direction, and they say what they have to say in order to move it that way. I think you also have well-meaning people who think that if we acknowledge the reality of these Islamist groups, and the nexus between Koranic scripture and their belief system, that we are on a slippery slope to condemning every single Muslim of being a terrorist. And they don’t think that we’re sophisticated enough to sort out who the authentic moderates are. They think we can’t tell the difference between, you know, Zuhdi Jasser and Osama bin Laden. And as a result, I think they do it as sort of a defense mechanism against what they take to be our worst nature.
HH: Now what do you expect to be seeing out of…you know, the Obama administration is befuddled, confused, indecisive, on the fence, and they are simply captives of whatever is happening. But the Republicans in the Senate, the Republicans in the House, and the Republicans running for president in 2012, have the opportunity to speak to this issue. What do you think they should be saying, Andrew McCarthy?
AM: Well, what I think they should be…they should take two positions, I think, strongly, Hugh. One of them is that it would be unacceptable, particularly after what we’ve seen in Gaza, to have any political settlement in Egypt in which the Muslim Brotherhood is part of the “democratic” solution. Now I realize that ultimately, the Egyptians are going to decide their own fate. This is not something that we can choreograph. But the United States cannot support a government in which the Muslim Brotherhood has any role. And I would expect that Republicans should be strong about that. Secondly, it’s understandable that people should be tepid in their support of Mubarak, who after all, you know, look, it looks like he is not going to hang on. If you had to bet on that now, I think you’d bet against it. The most important institution in Egypt remains the military. But the most important short term mission here is that we have to do everything we can to promote the development of civil society. We can’t delude ourselves into thinking we can get it done between now and elections in September or whatever. But it’s very important that when we say we want to promote democracy, we’re not just promoting procedural democracy, not constitution writing and elections like they have in the third grade. The real culture of freedom, that’s the only thing we should back.
HH: Now Andy, in terms of being very blunt, if we have the choice between a military dictatorship, which is authoritarian and only has partial human rights, but protects the Copts and things like that, allows women to be full participants in society without their political rights, or a government that involves the Muslim Brotherhood. Which one do we want?
AM: We want the former.
AM: You know, look. Hugh. If the Muslim Brotherhood had been running Egypt instead of Mubarak since 1981 when the Muslim Brotherhood killed the last president of Egypt, there would not be an Arab, Egyptian-Israel peace agreement. There wouldn’t have been a cold peace for the last three decades. There would be, it would be a debacle. So you know, it’s fair enough to say that Mubarak has an awful lot of downsides, that he’s ruled in many ways like a dictator. But the other thing is he’s been a pro-American dictator who has promoted peace in the Middle East. And you are not going to get that out of the Muslim Brotherhood. And pretending that they’re a bunch of democrats isn’t going to change that.
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HH: Andrew, moments ago, Farid Zacharia was on with Eliot Spitzer on CNN. I want you to hear what he has to say about the Muslim Brotherhood.
FZ: I think it’s not Iran. There does not seem to be a theocracy in the making here. The Brotherhood, even the Muslim Brotherhood, does not have the aspirations of the Iranians to create a kind of Islamic state. And it’s not Eastern Europe, because you don’t have these societies that are essentially Western liberal societies that have been clamped down on. Look, this is a messy Arab society which will have many, many difficulties. Look at Iraq and Iraq’s democracy. I do think, though, it is the center of the Arab world. It is the place that everybody in the Arab world looks to. So what happens in Egypt will have an impact.
ES: You said the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t have the aspirations to create a theocracy. Do they not have the aspirations? Or do they not have the power to do it at this point?
FZ: For the last thirty years or so, the Muslim Brotherhood seems to have moved in the direction of wanting to be a conservative, socially religious organization that wants to institute some greater element of Sharia. Now to understand what that means, a lot of that is social welfare stuff. Some of it is things like the veil. Some of it is court procedures in which unfortunately, women would have fewer voices. But it’s not some kind of totalitarian dictatorship. They seem to have accommodated themselves to the idea of democracy, and they have done so for decades now.
HH: Andrew McCarthy, your reaction to that?
AM: I just think that is willfully closing your eyes and your ears to what they say and what they write. I mean, look, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, just a few months ago, gave a raging speech calling for jihad. I think Mr. Zacharia is paying attention to what the Brotherhood says to their rapt, English audience, and not a whole lot of attention to what they say, either when they think no one’s listening to them, or in the Arabic press, which tends to be virulently anti-American and anti-Israeli, and does aspire to the creation of a theocracy. What more do you need to know than that their slogan, their motto remains to this day the same. The Koran is our law, jihad is our way, dying in the way of Allah is our highest aspiration.
HH: I find it almost criminal that a leading intellectual, and Zacharia is very smart and very influential, would dismiss as a lot of that is the veil, unfortunate for women that they want Sharia law, and not even mention their hostility to Israel and the Copts, and the kind of oppression that will follow in their wake.
AM: And not only that, the things that they stand for are completely antithetical to any conception of Western democracy, even to the point of the fundamental concede that the governed, the people have a right to make rules for themselves, irrespective of any religious code. They reject that. They reject freedom of conscience. Apostasy is a capital offense. They reject equality not only between men and women, but between Muslims and non-Muslims. They reject privacy. You know, homosexuality and adultery and a sundry other things are capital offenses. I mean, the laundry list goes on and on. What I think people need to understand is that all this talk about democracy is not about democracy as you and I understand it, which is the Western conception, the Western culture of liberty and freedom. What they’re talking about is procedural democracy in order to get their hands on the reins of power through popular elections. And if you don’t believe me, have a look at what’s gone on in Gaza where the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood, acceded to power by means of a democratic election. And look what we’ve got there.
HH: Let’s conclude by emphasizing that, Andrew McCarthy. Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is Hamas. And I don’t think there is an argument for anyone to make that the Egyptian branch is somehow a different party.
AM: No, it’s…the American branch is the same party. The Islamist groups in the United States that were shown in the Justice Department’s Holy Land Foundation terrorism prosecution to be branches, tentacles of the Muslim Brotherhood, their number one job in the United States was to raise money and support for Hamas. I mean, that’s what we’re dealing with, Hugh.
HH: Yeah. Andrew McCarthy, I appreciate the time. We’ll continue to read your work at www.nationalreview.com. The books by Andrew McCarthy, The Grand Jihad and Willful Blindness, both more important than ever.
End of interview.