April 17, 2007:
What if Islamic radical
movements won and took over? Actually,
we know what would happen. Rebels generally make bad rulers. That's an
observation based on the historical record. There are several current examples.
The Taliban took over in Afghanistan and ran the place for five years in the
1990s (through 2001). The Taliban made themselves very unpopular, not just
because of their attacks on lifestyles they didn't approve of, but because they
were incompetent when it came to running a country. Same thing in Iran, where
the religious establishment has been running the place since the 1980s. The
Iranian clergy won't allow a fair election, and are nervously waiting for the
population to get pissed off enough to start another revolution.
They there's Sudan, where hardly anyone noticed the
Islamic conservatives taking over in the 1990s. Sudan has several rebellions
going on at the moment, but the rulers believe they have God on their side and
have no intention of letting anyone else play. In Lebanon, Hizbollah
established a separate state within a state in the 1980s, and have survived on
handouts from Iran, and a lucrative drug business. But Hizbollah attempts to
increase their power have resulted in violent resistance from the rest of the
country. Hizbollah may have turned themselves into Islamic folk heroes, but no
one trusts their ability to run a country.
Hamas is the poster child of rebels who won an
election, and then find themselves unable to govern. Since Hamas got control of
the Palestinian government a years ago, the Palestinian economy had gone into
the toilet, and crime has skyrocketed. Hamas isn't claiming "God's Will" on
this one, and seems unable to figure out what to do now that they are in
charge. It was much easier being an outsider, and criticizing the government.
The Taliban in Pakistan are another group that
loves to criticize the powers-that-be, but makes a mess of things whenever they
try to show how it should be done. The Taliban have allied themselves with
Pakistani Islamic conservatives, who already have a lot of political power in
the tribal territories. But the preachers have proved notably inept when it
comes to solving non-religious problems. Actually, attempts to deal with
religious issues has proved disastrous as well. As is often the case, people
are willing to talk-the-talk when it comes to righteous living, but more
resistant when asked, or forced, to walk-the-walk. Try taking away the videos,
music, booze and drugs, and people vote with their feet or, as is the case in
Afghanistan and Pakistan, with their guns.
Unlike earlier revolutionary movements, the Islamic
radicals have not given much through to what they would do if they won. The
attitude seems to be that divine guidance will provide solutions as needed.
Inconvenient examples of how that has not worked, are ignored. While all this
makes the Islamic radicals easier to handle as enemies, it also eliminates the
possibility of negotiated settlements. It truly is a fight to the death, because
truth, for the Islamic true believers, is not based on fact, but faith.