Middle East Myths and Facts

By Joel Gilbert

Myth: America and Islam have "shared hopes" and "common aspirations," as President Obama has stated many times.

Fact: Islamic religious values and goals are decidedly different from and mostly incompatible with the values and ideals of Western secular society.

In Islam, political authority is derived from religion. While "reform" from the Western point of view means secular democracy, "reform" in the Muslim world means removal of Western influences and return to religious governance.

Separation of Church and State

Myth: Western democracy and secular government are universal aspirations of all people.

Fact: Secularism and separation of Church and State were solutions to Christianity's problem of decay from the Dark Ages and internal strife between Protestants and Catholics. Islam succeeded in its first 1,200 years because of reliance on religion, and declined only due to invasion of the West starting in the 1800s. Islamic revival, or "Islamism," aspires to return to the roots of Islamic success – religious government and law. Therefore, Christianity's political solutions like "separation of church and state" don't fit into the Islamic historic experience or Islam's religious values, where loyalty can only be to God, the sovereign of the world and all mankind.

Future of Iraq and Afghanistan Governments

Myth: Iraqis and Afghans will support their elected, pro-Western secular governments after the U.S. departure.

Fact: In Islam, political authority is derived from religion. While "reform" from the Western point of view means secular democracy, "reform" in the Muslim world means removal of Western influences and return to religious governance. Therefore, secular government has no legitimacy and no basis for loyalty amongst Muslims. Meanwhile, Islamism is the only serious alternative form of government in the Islamic world and meets the aspirations of the vast majority of all Muslims. Islamists are eagerly waiting to fill the balance of power vacuum when the United States withdraws its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S.-sponsored governments will likely collapse within weeks of an American departure.

Two-State Solution for Israel

Myth: A two-state solution in the Middle East that creates a Palestinian Arab state alongside Israel will bring peace between Israel and Muslim states.

Fact: A Jewish state called Israel located upon former Muslim-conquered land in Palestine was opposed by Muslims on religious grounds from the beginning of Zionism in the early 1900s. Muslim states attempted to eradicate Israel for these reasons in 1948 and 1967, even when they held the territories now in question. In Islam, Jews (Dhimmi) must live under Islamic rule in a state of natural inequality. Therefore, a Jewish political state of any size is unacceptable to Muslims. Even if Israel helps create a Palestinian Arab state within its borders, Islamists will continue an unending jihad to eliminate Israel, which is considered to be the number one target and obstacle to Islamic revival.

9/11 Attacks

Myth: On 9/11, America was attacked by "evil" hijackers because they were "against freedom."

Fact: America was attacked by deeply religious people with the goal of changing U.S. foreign policy to advance the cause of Islamism, the movement for revival of Islamic society from 300 years of decline. Al Qaeda wanted the U.S. to withdraw support from secular autocrats in the Muslim world, in order for Islamists to take power through free elections. The U.S. government, in fact, changed its Middle East strategy from supporting secular Western allied governments to demanding free elections throughout the Muslim world. In the Palestinian territories this resulted in the HAMAS takeover, while the U.S. demand for free elections in Egypt and elsewhere brought Islamist gains. Finally, the Bush administration withdrew support from U.S. ally Pervez Musharaff in Pakistan – putting the country with nuclear arms in jeopardy of an Islamist takeover. This was reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's pushing aside U.S. ally, the Shah of Iran in 1979, as both Presidents mistakenly believed the removal of these autocrats would result in the break out of Western secular democracy. Thus, the 9/11 attacks were successful only because America played into the hands of the Islamists when the Bush administration adopted Al Qaeda's policy of "reform" in the Muslim world.

Iran's Nuclear Program

Myth: Iran wants nuclear energy for "peaceful purposes."

Fact: President Ahmadinejad has stated that nuclear technology is the key to Iran becoming "an invincible global power." Given Iran's Islamist agenda, this can only mean one thing – Iran will use its nuclear capabilities to shape the world according to the Islamist agenda. In addition, Iran is rich in oil and does not need nuclear energy. Most glaringly, Iran does not have sufficient facilities to convert nuclear fuel into electricity, while the clandestine nature of Iran's underground nuclear facilities at Natanz and Qom speaks volumes.

Myth: Iran can be convinced to give up or limit its nuclear program as a result of economic sanctions or in exchange for economic incentives.

Fact: Iranians of all ages consider the procurement of nuclear technology a national cause and a path to restore historic Islamic scientific and engineering prowess, while attempts by the West to suppress their progress are viewed as colonialism. Therefore, Iran will not give up nor make real compromise in its quest for nuclear capabilities.

Guantanamo Bay Detainment Center

Myth: By closing the detainment center at Guantanamo Bay, America's image among potential terrorists will improve, making them less likely to want to harm Americans.

Fact:Terrorist acts against America prior to the existence of "Gitmo" is why "Gitmo" was created, and that is what landed terrorists in Gitmo in the first place. The establishment of Gitmo was a defensive response to defeat terrorism by imprisoning terrorists and their leaders, not the root cause of terrorism.

Making America Safe from Terrorism

Myth: By replacing "tyranny" in Iraq (Saddam Hussein) and Afghanistan (the Taliban), with Western-backed secular governments, the United States will be safer because terrorists won't be able to use those countries as a base for hatching plots.

Fact: Even if a Western-backed government did take hold in Afghanistan, terrorists groups could still hatch plots in some parts of those countries, many regions of Pakistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Yemen, or from an apartment or internet chat room anywhere in the world.