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As John Maynard Keynes chronicles as a firsthand observer in “The Economic Consequences of the Peace,” the surrendering Germans had absolutely no idea what was in store for their defeated nation in 1918 when they wrote a letter to President Wilson accepting his Fourteen Points and the armistice proposed by the allies prior to a final peace treaty. But instead of reaching a reasonable agreement with the American president on the basis of the accepted proposal, the Germans found themselves being dictated impossible terms by the French prime minister, Georges Clemenceau, who was determined to prevent Germany from ever again being capable of challenging the economic and military might of France.

We all know how that turned out. Almost exactly 21 years later, Paris fell to the vengeful Germans.

In 1953, the Central Intelligence Agency executed Operation Ajax, which overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and Iran’s democratic political system in response to Mosaddegh’s decision to nationalize the Iranian oil industry and cut off diplomatic relations with Great Britain. Less than 40 years later, Iran had become an Islamic republic, exporting Shiite terrorism throughout the Middle East and Europe.

And we are all familiar with the way in which arming the mujahideen of Afghanistan against the Soviet Union led directly to the establishment of the Taliban. So, the following reports from the U.S.-backed protest movements in Egypt and Libya should come as little surprise to anyone who happens to be historically literate.

Before she was arrested, tortured, stripped and subjected to a “virginity exam” – all for her pro-democracy activities – Salwa al-Housiny Gouda admired the Egyptian Army. Her odyssey is a reminder that the Egyptian revolution that exhilarated so many around the world in January and February remains unfinished.

– “Freedom’s Painful Price,” New York Times, March 26, 2011

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited “around 25″ men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are “today are on the front lines in Adjabiya” … Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against “the foreign invasion” in Afghanistan, before being “captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan.” He was later handed over to the U.S., and then held in Libya before being released in 2008.”

– “Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaida links,” The Telegraph, March 27, 2011

It will not take 40 years to see that the “freedom” being violently pursued in sovereign states such as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Syria and Saudi Arabia has very little to do with the concept as it is understood by secular liberals in the West. It has not taken 40 days. For all that Moammar Gadhafi’s bellicose words about battling crusaders and imperialist invaders sound like typical Arab rhetoric, there is a kernel of deadly truth in them, and it is to that seed of truth that Gadhafi attempting, in crude and futile fashion, to appeal.

That grain is the historical fact that the current political structure of the Middle East is an artificial one, externally imposed upon the Arab nation by the French and the British toward the end of their colonial eras. The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 divided the Arab peninsula into various zones of control; as a look at the linked map will make clear, Egypt and Iran (Persia) were the only Middle Eastern “nations” that actually existed prior to the 20th century. The rest of Araby, as the region was sometimes known of old, had simply been provinces of the Ottoman empire, prior to which it had been the heart of the various Islamic Caliphates, beginning with the Rashidun.

Just as the grand strategic history of Europe can be best understood as various attempts by ambitious men to recreate the Roman empire, the “democratic” revolutions sweeping through the various Muslim nations should be viewed as aspects of a grand attempt to restore the unified and rightly guided Caliphate that was lost with the assassination of Ali and the subsequent division of the Muslim world into Sunni and Shiite. An Islamic hadith explains the idea that serves as the foundation for this pan-Islamic perspective.

A corrupt monarchy shall then follow and it shall remain as long as God wills. There shall then be a tyrannical despotism which shall remain as long as God wills. Then once again khilafat will emerge on the precept of prophethood.

The corrupt monarchy is generally considered to be the Ummayad dynasty and its successors, the imperial Abbasid, Fatimid and Ottoman dynasties. The tyrannical despotism is therefore interpreted to indicate the various kings, dictators, strong men and colonels who have ruled over the Arab world as tyrants since the last caliph, Abdülmecid II, was deposed by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the secular Turkish state, in 1924. And the next step is envisioned to be creation of an Islamic U.S., or EU, throughout the territories of the former caliphates.

Military intervention always comes with unexpected costs and unforeseen consequences. But in this case, Americans have received sufficient warning about the probable outcome of warring against dictators on behalf of the people of the Middle East that they will have little cause for complaint when they discover that the democracies they are helping establish have become governments that are much more similar to the Islamic Republic of Iran than to the United States of America.

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