February 17, 2011
Prompted by Harlech's question, I want to offer some thoughts about why we're having a serious debate in America now about the Muslim Brotherhood's aptitude for "moderation."
I should say that his comment seems to have annoyed quite some number of Ricochet members, but I appreciated it. I have a better sense now of what many outside of the small community of American Ikhwan-watchers must be thinking: "Surely the people who are calling the Muslim Brotherhood moderate, or otherwise benign, couldn't be that wrong? They are, after all, experts, no?"
Those of us who follow the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood closely keep smacking our foreheads in bewilderment at these blithe pronouncements, unable to comprehend how this could be a matter of debate at all. There are serious debates to be had about the Ikhwan, but they're not debates about whether they're moderate. They are debates about how powerful they really are--in Egypt, for example--and what their strategy is apt to be at a moment like this, which appears to have caught them by surprise as much as it has everyone else. These are questions worthy of debate and difficult to answer.
That we're having a serious discussion, however, at high levels of our foreign policy establishment, about whether the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate should be seen not as a sign that those who say they are might be right, but as a symptom of a pathology in our foreign policy apparatus. It's important to recognize just what has happened to our intelligentsia--our experts, in other words--and to evaluate what they're saying in this light.