Don’t Know Much About History–or Reality

A dogmatist, “quite exceptionally impenetrable by facts.”


Michael Totten. is the classic uninformed roving Middle East reporter who consistently (and tediously) displays his profound historical and doctrinal ignorance of Islam as a badge of honor, or more aptly hubris. But now even his tenuous grasp of daily unfolding events (what he’s supposed to be “good” at understanding, or even just describing accurately), and the contemporary trends they reveal, must be called into serious question.


My colleagues Diana West and Robert Spencer—Bob directly—but each in their own way, attempt to educate the triumphantly denialist Totten whose views on the “success” of democratization—as epitomized by the behavior of Nouri al-Maliki, this part loyal Shiite Iranian ally, part traditional Oriental Despot—remind one of Robert Conquest’s description of the stubborn adherents to failed Communist ideology, as “..dogmatists, quite exceptionally impenetrable by facts.”


Read Diana’s blog from Sunday July 12, 2009, and Bob’s from today, July 14, 2009 and then ponder how Totten’s roseate view comports with a reality essentially no different from what I described three years ago, as seen through the prism of the British experience in the 1930s:


“Despite great expense of British blood and treasure, more than a decade of military occupation, and even after the Assyrian massacres (by Arab and Kurdish Muslims) of 1933-34, shortly after Britain’s withdrawal, Morrison wrote, (in “Religious Liberty in Iraq”, Moslem World, 1935, p. 128):


Iraq is moving steadily forward towards the modern conception of the State, with a single judicial and administrative system, unaffected by considerations of religion or nationality. The Millet system [i.e., dhimmitude—not reflected by this euphemism] still survives, but its scope is definitely limited. Even the Assyrian tragedy of 1933 does not shake our faith in the essential progress that has been made. The Government is endeavoring to carry out faithfully the undertakings it has given, even when these run directly counter to the long-cherished provisions of the Shari’a Law. But it is not easy; it cannot be easy in the very nature of the case, for the common people quickly to adjust their minds to the new legal situation, and to eradicate from their outlook the results covering many centuries of a system which implies the superiority of Islam over the non-Moslem minority groups. The legal guarantees of liberty and equality represent the goal towards which the country is moving, rather than the expression of the present thoughts and wishes of the population. The movement, however, is in the right direction, and it may yet prove possible for Islam to disentangle religious faith from political status and privilege.


Over seven decades later, the goals of true “liberty and equality” for Iraq remain just as elusive after yet another Western power has committed great blood and treasure toward that end. More ominously, Iraq’s newly empowered Shi’ites and their leaders appear to have forged an unholy alliance with Iran which is more likely to promote Sharia despotism, than liberal democracy.”

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