There are two national leaders in today's world who are conducting conflict operations against the forces of repression and obscurantism. They are both waging this war with minimal help from the very institutions that should be enthusiastically supporting them--the countries and organizations representing what is still called Western civilization.
President al-Sisi of Egypt is one of the most courageous leaders ever to emerge from the Islamic world. His ongoing battle against the forces of reaction, especially from the bastion of Sunni orthodoxy, Al-Azhar University, is found nowhere else in modern Islam, with the partial exception of the current leadership in Tunisia. His single-minded effort to bring Islam into the modern world as a moderate, civilized movement instead of a fanatical reactionary onslaught on all that the West stands for is remarkable. New texts in the schools, new sermons sent out to the mosques, women appointed governors, judges and preachers, steadfast support of the Gulf states against Qatar and Iran and much else. The Western reaction? Mostly criticism of the measures he has taken against the political opposition. Perhaps that can be justified, but only if balanced against praise and support for his lonely battle against Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism..
President Poroshenko of Ukraine is also waging a lonely battle, this time against an immensely more powerful state--Russia--led by a man dedicated heart and soul to the aggrandizement of his country against all and sundry, but especially neighboring countries: Estonia, target of a devastating cyber-attack; Georgia, which lost two portions of its territory, and now Ukraine, with the Crimean peninsula detached from its sovereignty, the Donbas region in the east of the country invaded and now its naval vessels attacked and seized in the Sea of Azov and its sailors taken prisoner. Yes, after Crimea and Donbas some economic sanctions were applied to Russia, Russian organizations and individuals and some NATO forces repositioned in countries neighboring on Russia but the kind of significant military aid to Ukraine that would be clearly justified by Russian aggression has not been forthcoming.
If the so-called "West" cannot discern its vital interests in countries such as Egypt and Ukraine then where can it? It would behoove all the forces of civilized society to examine their behavior in these two instances and others that may arise and decide what is truly important in the world and what is not.
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Professor of Economics and National Security, The National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, and Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft, The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC. He was formerly with the US National Security Council and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The views he expresses are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of "Globes."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 4, 2018
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