| 22 December 2016
Libya is another example of how hearsay substitutes for evidence in the minds of so many Americans. Practically all of the Americans I have spoken with about the end of the Qaddafi regime were certain that he had been single-handedly overthrown by the United States. They had absolutely no idea that since the outcome of wars is determined by boots on the ground, it was principally the Libyans who deposed Qaddafi, backed up mainly by French and British aerial support (which is a point once made by the United Kingdom’s secretary of state at that time, William Hague.) To add insult to injury, Americans by and large do not seem to be aware that the only two major contributions made by their country to Libya’s modern history are ones of which they cannot justifiably be proud: Nixon’s support of Qaddafi in 1969 when he successfully overthrew the constitutional government of King Idris, and Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya following the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime, in spite of the fact that it was the Muslim Brotherhood, in alliance with other Islamists and various unruly militias, who started the current raging civil war that is tearing the country apart after they had failed to win more than 16% of popular votes in Libya’s 2014 democratic elections. That is why many Libyans were joyful when Trump won the elections; it wasn’t so much that they cared about Trump, but rather that the “serpent” (as Hillary Clinton is called in Libya) had lost.
This brings us to another puzzling aspect of America’s policy in the Middle East: Its reluctance to support constitutional governments and its backing of military regimes (especially in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s), as well as its more recent wholehearted embrace of what the United States erroneously deems “moderate” Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1949, the United States helped Syria’s military overthrow a constitutional government in that country; in 1952, the United States assisted Egypt’s military in the dethronement of King Farouk’s constitutional government; in 1958, the United States aided the military in Iraq in the removal of the constitutional government of King Faisal II; and in 1969, the United States made it possible for the Libyan military to depose King Idris’s constitutional government. The rationale, since provided, for all of those nefarious instances of interference in other countries’ internal affairs was that military governments in the Middle East would be stable, progressive, and modern forms of government. God only knows the kind of evidence Americans had for justifying that ludicrous viewpoint, itself probably the confused product of some muddle-headed “experts.” Here again, we see no evidence; only speculation, hearsay, and (not very bright) guesswork. It is no coincidence that the four above-mentioned Middle Eastern countries are now in such a mess. Events in the Middle East over the past several decades have indisputably shown that American perspective to be laughable, to say the least.
Having miserably failed to promote constitutionalism in the Middle East, the United States then set about lending credence to yet another of its idle dreams, a new chimera: “moderate” Islamism. To begin with, America had strongly believed in the reasonableness and integrity of Islamists, especially those who were fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The United States had lionized them as great heroes, and had later supported the Taleban in Afghanistan’s subsequent civil war. Many of those Afghan mujahidin later made up the bulk of Al-Qaeda. Pairing with their Taleban hosts, they launched the attacks of 9/11. So much for the heroic mujahidin!
Downgraded and humiliated by the more radical Islamists, the United States now turned to embrace “moderate” Islamism, again probably under the influence of some befuddled “scholars”. The Muslim Brotherhood and others of their ilk became the Middle Eastern darlings of what Libyans pejoratively referred to later as “Mama Amrika” (Mummy America.) Here, too, we see American proclivity for idle speculation and hearsay: Just on the basis of what evidence did the United States believe that the Muslim Brotherhood would provide good governance in Middle Eastern countries? There is certainly no historical record even suggesting the veracity of such a fatuous proposition, let alone proving it; on the contrary, more recent events in both Libya and Egypt have disproved it: In Libya’s fair and free national democratic elections of 2014, the Islamists- including the Muslim Brotherhood- won only 16% of the votes; 84% of voters supported secular parties. Feeling intensely angry and exasperated at their abysmal failure to win the trust of their fellow countrymen and countrywomen, the Islamists, in alliance with unruly and corrupt militias, resorted to extreme violence and started a civil war that has been raging with a vengeance since then. The result has been murders, beheadings, kidnappings, assassinations, plunders, and destruction. So much for Islamist moderation! American policymakers and so-called Middle East experts did not appear to comprehend that ideologies which are based on the principle of infallibility- such as Islam and its perfect, flawless God- cannot govern any country without wreaking havoc on the governed. There is, therefore, no such thing as moderate Islamists; Islamism by definition is extremist, violent, and intolerant. After all, no sane person ever speaks of moderate rapists, moderate child molesters, or moderate serial killers; those are, by definition, extremists.
All of the above-mentioned examples point to a serious defect in American culture that permeates the whole gamut of opinions and beliefs in that country: The acceptance and espousal, with breath-taking alacrity, of unproven claims and allegations, based on nothing more than mere hearsay, speculation, and personal or collective prejudice. The United States and its entire culture could learn a tremendous deal of wisdom, level-headedness, and sound common sense from one of the most insightful of Libyan proverbs: “He who has no evidence is a liar.”
About the Author
Husam Dughman comes from a family that is historically descended from Europeans on his father’s side and Middle Easterners on his mother’s side. He was born in Libya and educated in Libya and the United Kingdom. Before Qaddafi came to power, Husam Dughman’s father had been the president of the University of Libya and his maternal grandfather had been a prime minister. Immediately following Qaddafi’s military coup d’état in 1969, both stood up to the Qaddafi regime and were consequently imprisoned: Husam Dughman’s father was incarcerated for a period of 10 years, during which he was subjected to regular torture by the Qaddafi regime, and his grandfather was incarcerated for five years.
In the 1990s, Husam Dughman returned to Libya and worked as a university professor of political science. Due to conflicts with the Qaddafi regime, he resigned from his university position in 1997 and subsequently worked in legal translation. Years later, Husam Dughman left Libya for North America, where he has been working as a newcomer specialist, helping new immigrants and refugees with their settlement. He currently resides in the United States.
Husam Dughman has published a book, Tête-à-tête with Muhammad, and he has also published various articles about the Middle East. He is currently working on a new book on the Abrahamic religions and scepticism. You can find out more by visiting his website at http://www.husamdughman.com