Review: “Spring Fever The Illusion of Islamic Democracy”


By on October 11th, 2012

The prosecutor of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing argues that Islamists use the trappings of democracy to deceive the West. Barton Swaim on Andrew McCarthy’s “Spring Fever.”

The central argument of Andrew McCarthy’s “Spring Fever” is an uncomplicated one: Mr. McCarthy, the former federal prosecutor who helped convict the plotters behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, believes that “Islamic democracy” isn’t democracy at all and that the “Arab Spring” lauded by Western elites is a dangerous hallucination. Islamic leaders in Libya, Turkey, Tunisia and elsewhere in the Muslim world, he writes, have become adept at gaining power through elections and using the language of democracy to fool the West into believing they have embraced reform when they in fact have only contempt for it. Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for example, uses secularist rhetoric any time the U.S. State Department might be listening but is wholly committed to the totalitarian worldview of Islamic supremacism. “Democracy,” Erdoğan once said, “is just the train we board to reach our destination,” the destination being a nation governed by sharia law.

Mr. McCarthy has no patience for “the dubious Bushian proposition that all human beings crave freedom”; those of us who supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq because we wanted the Muslim world to experience actual democracy may find Mr. McCarthy’s book unpleasant reading. He is probably correct that Western diplomats and intellectuals who take seriously the democratic rhetoric of “moderate Islamists” such as Mr. Erdoğan or Egypt’s president, Mohammed Morsi, are fooling themselves. But ideas can have consequences, though the consequences may not be immediately apparent: Even if leaders disingenuously accept the moral validity of democratic elections, they might in the future be held to their words. Mr. McCarthy may find such a scenario unduly optimistic, but he might have acknowledged it.

By far his most strident criticisms, however, are reserved for the American left. “Progressives,” he writes, “see no problem with the notion of ‘Islamic democracy,’ including its sharia framework, because its repressive nature aligns with their own conception of democracy: messianic mission, not the preservation of liberty.” Sentences like that will bring most readers up short, and limit the book’s audience. The typical State Department liberal, it’s fair to say, isn’t comfortable with the repressive nature of sharia and doesn’t embrace a “messianic” view of democracy. The author’s lack of interest in appealing to centrists is a disappointment in an otherwise powerful book. His contentions deserve debate, particularly at a moment when the Obama administration wants badly to avoid confrontations with increasingly brutal Islamic, allegedly “democratic” regimes.

—Barton Swaim

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This entry was posted in Ikhwan, Islam, ISRAEL, Liberal Agenda, Libya, Libya Lynching, Muslim Brotherhood, Palestinian Terrorists, Post America, Sharia Law, Terrorism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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