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February 28, 2007


Nur al-Cubicle

I'll never forget what a Jordanian MB said to l'Orient-Le Jour a couple of years ago: "Empower us, because we are the only ones who can monitor and control the radicals"

Marion Delgado

You know, I disliked "The Power of Nightmares" for many, many reasons:

It pretended to be contrasting the neoconservatives with the Islamists, especially the MB, and it interviewed a few of the former, one of them throughout the film, and in a polite manner, and repeatedly pointed out a falsehood, that the neoconservatives were public-spirited people with the best intentions.* As far as I could notice, it interviewed precisely none of the latter, and summed up Qutb, the Brotherhood, etc. With Qutb being a Puritanical nut who went into a frenzy on encountering American female and sexual freedom.

On the other end of the stick, when talking about how Nasser dealt with Qutb, it completely glossed over precisely what Qutb was doing. In a modern Middle Eastern state I doubt a group as initally weak as Qutb's and yet as violently ambitious would get the chances Nasser gave Qutb. They also dwelled on how brutally Nasser's administration treated Qutb, but never mentioned the parallel - the neocon-assisted Star Chamber figure of Alberto Gonzales as the United States' top law enforcer.

More shockingly, it pretended to cover the neocons without mentioning Israel, Zionism or the Israeli Lobby in the US and elsewhere. It criticized Nasser and did not mention Israel. And again, it was downright friendly and flattering to neocons (they make a LOT of mistakes, and Leo Strauss' theories were probably wrong, but come on, they're good guys!! Look how nice Bill Kristol is!). It had, in other words, an obvious and off-putting Zionist agenda. Indeed, I regard "The Power of Nightmares" as worthless from several angles. It doesn't even talk about Wahabism, leaving the clear impression that Bin Laden and his allies were simply a continuation of Qutb's work, instead of allying with Islamists for mutual aid in their campaigns. It downplays too much "Al Qaeda" - a shorthand for the many mujaheddin Bin Laden patiently put in the database. If the US had not needed to upgrade his menace, that would have slowed him down, but he was going somewhere sometime, beyond embassy and ship bombings.

But all of this is prologue.

I just read a great translation of Mugawwimat al-tasawwaral-Islami by Rami David, with a great preface by Hamid Algar. I must say, honestly, it's better thinking than Irving Kristol exhibited in "Two Cheers for Capitalism." I was shocked, because against my better judgment I had internalized that Sayyid Qutb was JUST a mysterious demagogue, a lunatic with no substance. In fact, his critique of where he thought Western rationality and the science community went off the rails is plausible, if conservative. Burke might have agreed with it. As a critique, the book is not as good as Jacques Ellul's work, but it's way better than, say, the Unibomber Manifesto, which idiots - read Green Anarchists - take as a bible because Mullah Zerzan told them to. Despite the fact that Ted Kozinski is just Rush Limbaugh with a wood stove and bomb-making skills. Qutb criticizes much the same things - runaway technology fetishes, the way both Marxists and imperialists tie into it, an aversion to values on the part of science-oriented people as a lingering reaction to the Catholic Church and its policies in the Middle Ages, etc. - but does so way better than the Berkeley math professor could manage.

It didn't convince me Islam was saving or could save the world, but the man could put one sentence in front of another. Clearly, it should be called "Basic Principles of the ISLAMIST World View," but if it were more widely circulated it would reveal something of what draws people to the Ikhwaan and to Islamism.

*Instead of what they are, genteel mobsters, Iagos, race-baiters, liars, spies, manipulators, war profiteers, power-hungry totalitarians, etc. A man can smile and smile and smile and be a villain.


What a shock to find the disreputable Robert Leiken now a "scholar" of Islamic terrorism. I'd have thought his Central American adventures would have discredited him, but apparently his usefulness goes on and on.


Oh Neil, please do tell more. I am unfamiliar with Leiken's Central American misadventures.

Are there any articles? If so, please tell us where to find them


Oooh, pick me, pick me!

I recently completed an essay contemplating how the Egyptian MB might behave in power (perhaps in a coalition government). It's not an essay that veers significantly from the Abu Aardvark line, but I have tried to address the issues that Egyptian liberals have with them, which I think are fair enough (and Egyptians are the ones who would have to live with the day to day consequences of the MB in government). I've posted it at my blog, or you can view it direct at http://yoyo.its.monash.edu.au/~baker/Kerr-EgyptianMB.pdf. It would be great if you could leave some intelligent criticism on the blog. It's an Honours coursework essay, so please be gentle!

I'm also planning some downloads of Middle Eastern music in various genres, so keep looking back to see if your favourite Beirut free-jazz ensemble shows up.

Charles Smith

A good blog on the Muslim Brothers that might interest you:


Thanks for the serious blog post. I was wondering if you could quickly answer the following question.


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