Georgetown Professor Debates Self

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment


In the May 2011 issue of The American Conservative, a Georgetown professor debates himself and both sides of the debate lose. “The Arab world’s unrest has brought forth gushing, rather adolescent analysis about what the region will look like a year or more hence,” Michael Scheuer writes. “Americans have decided that these upheavals have everything to do with the advent of liberalism, secularism, and Westernization in the region and that Islamist militant groups like al-Queada have been sidelined by the historically inevitable triumph of democracy—a belief that sounds a bit like the old Marxist-Leninist claptrap about iron laws of history and communism’s inexorable triumph.”

Scheuer, the author of a book on Osama bin Laden, is an adjunct professor of security studies at Georgetown. “How has this judgment been reached?” he asks of the Western elite’s view of Arab revolts. “Primarily by disregarding facts, logic, and history, and instead relying on (a) the thin veneer of young, educated, pro-democracy, and English-speaking Muslims who can be found on Facebook and Twitter and (b) the employees of the BBC, CNN, and most other media networks, who have suspended genuine journalism in favor of cheerleading for secularism and democracy on the basis of a non-representative sample of English-speaking street demonstrators and users of social networking sites.”

This is not an indefensible view. Unfortunately, Scheuer offers no evidence to support it. Before he can, his is off to the races in a different direction.

“No regime run by the Muslim Brotherhood would look like Canada, but it would be significantly less oppressive that those run by the al-Sauds and Mubarak,” Scheuer asserts. “This is not to say it would be similar to or more friendly to the West—neither will be the case—but in terms of respecting and addressing basic human concerns they will be less monstrous.”

Here too Scheuer avoids data overload, and is on even shakier ground. He has to contend with decades of human rights reports on the type of regime he describes that emanate from the State Department, Amnesty International and Freedom House.

For example, in Iran in 2009, “The government’s poor human rights record degenerated during the year, particularly after the disputed June presidential elections,” the State Department reported. “The government severely limited citizens’ right to peacefully change their government through free and fair elections.”

“The government executed numerous persons for criminal convictions as juveniles and after unfair trials. Security forces were implicated in custodial deaths and the killings of election protesters and committed other acts of politically motivated violence, including torture, beatings, and rape. The government administered severe officially sanctioned punishments, including death by stoning, amputation, and flogging. Vigilante groups with ties to the government committed acts of violence. Prison conditions remained poor. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals, often holding them incommunicado. Authorities held political prisoners and intensified a crackdown against women’s rights reformers, ethnic minority rights activists, student activists, and religious minorities.”

Scheuer addresses allegations such as theses quite simply in his Am Con narrative: He doesn’t mention them. Instead he makes a vicious reference to one of radical Islam’s victims.

“Worldwide, the West’s extravagant—not to say mindless—praise for the once Muslim but now anti-Islamic feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a further example of its ignorance about the depth of anti-secularism in the Muslim world,” Scheuer argues. Not to put too fine a point on it, but what Ali did was escape an arranged marriage in one Islamic dictatorship and death threats in Europe to come further West and warn us of the dangers of the excesses of radical Islam with greater experience and authority than Scheuer can offer.

Apparently, reality is for those who can’t face academia. The isolation from the former helps to characterize both Scheuer’s present employer—Georgetown—and his former place of employment—the CIA.

From rosy predictions about the Soviet economy in the 1970s and 1980s to assertions about the certainty of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the agency has a startling record of jumping to the wrong conclusions about the world in which we live. As it happens, Mr. Slam Dunk himself—former CIA director George Tenet—is also a professor at Georgetown.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

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