When President Anwar Al Sadat of Egypt came to power in 1970, he was hell-bent on erasing the memory of his powerful predecessor, Ghamel Abdel Nasser. This desire, combined with Sadat’s feelings of insecurity and inferiority, drove him to coddle the Jihadists, thinking that they would be good to him if he released them from prison and recognized them as major players in his new structure.
Tragically Sadat underestimated—or conveniently ignored—an overriding characteristic of Jihadists: their respect of power and decisiveness. They detest weakness and compromise. They view anyone who is anxious to ingratiate himself to them as weak and, more importantly, confusing—especially if they believe they are being used as pawns in a political scheme.
And so, for Anwar Sadat, the “tiger” he thought he could unleash on his enemies to serve his own political purposes turned out to be the very tiger that devoured him.
If Barack Obama thinks that he can domesticate Jihadists by throwing them a bone or two—such as closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp and ceasing to call them “enemy combatants”—he will wake up one day and realize that he, too, has committed Sadat’s fatal mistake.
Endeavoring to domesticate and coddle the sworn enemies of the United States could completely backfire on the current American Administration. And, since these radical extremists do not distinguish between the Americans and their elected officials, it is the American people who will fall victim to their terroristic plots.
In Sadat’s case, his former-allies-turned-foes understood that he was not democratically elected and was personally the object of their fury. But in a democratic society, the electorate and the elected officials are seen as equal and therefore fair game. This mindset becomes particularly dangerous when the elected official sends the Jihadists confusing signals, namely: standing by their arch enemy Israel, while trying to appease them. And that is why Barak Obama needs to learn from Anwar Sadat if he truly wants to protect the American people from what could be the unleashing of the fury of the caged tiger.
It has been said that, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,”—often with dire consequences. President Obama, receive this friendly advice: put your plans for the future on hold today and take a look backward. The past may just hold the key to America’s only hope for peace and safety.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Youssef: Fatherly advice to Obama
Michael Youssef hopes Obama pauses to reflect on the lessons of history.