The destructive legacy of Arab liberals
30 March 2015
It has become commonplace to present Arab Islamists of all political stripes (liberals, conservatives, radicals, neoliberals, moderates, extremists, nonviolent, violent, etc.) as a most, if not the most, dangerous political force in the Arab world since the 1967 War.
In fact, and as the following will show, it has been a new brand of Arab liberals — secularists and Islamists (though the former have been far more dangerous) — who have been and continue to be a most dangerous and destructive political force in the post-1967 Arab world.
The Western, Israeli and Saudi war against Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and anti-imperialist Arab nationalism required the birth of a new liberal intelligentsia. Their emergence on the scene in the late 1950s and in the 1960s, before the war, was part of the American-sponsored “cultural Cold War,” which financed intellectuals across the world for the anti-communist and anti-socialist liberal imperial crusade that also targeted anti-imperialist Third World nationalisms.
This was part and parcel of the Eisenhower Doctrine, which the Americans inaugurated in 1957 to intervene militarily and in every other way in the Middle East to fend off Soviet influence. It was in this context that the US intervened in Lebanon in 1958 against Arab nationalism with Saudi- and US-funded Lebanese liberals cheering on in the liberal press.
Many of these liberal Arab intellectuals were lackeys of US intelligence and they and their newspapers were financed by the US and Gulf regimes, especially the Saudis. They would exalt the virtues of the liberal West against Soviet and non-Soviet forms of communism and socialism and would attack Nasserist Arab nationalism.
While some would argue that Arab liberals are not true to the liberal tradition, I am less concerned with how well they approximate an imaginary Western liberalism, or whether they are “true” or “false” liberals, than with the fact that they present themselves and are presented by others as adhering to “liberal” principles. These include free parliamentary and executive elections, freedom of expression and of the press, freedom of association, civilian control of government and the military, a capitalist economy and varying degrees of separation between government and religious authorities.
Meer op http://electronicintifada.net/content/destructive-legacy-arab-liberals/14385