Courtesy Reuters

Fanning the Fear of Islam

From home and abroad voices have begun to counsel the Clinton administration that with communism's death, America must prepare for a new global threat--radical Islam. This specter is symbolized by the Middle Eastern Muslim fundamentalist, a Khomeini-like creature armed with a radical ideology and nuclear weapons, intent on launching a jihad against Western civilization.

In the search for new doctrines for a new world, this image of a worldwide threat from militant Islam could filter deep into the policymaking processes of the new administration. In the way that the perception of danger from Soviet communism helped to define U.S. foreign policy for more than four decades, the fear of Islam could embroil Washington in a second Cold War.

This policy, however, would rest on utterly fallacious assumptions: Islam is neither unified nor a threat to the United States. Were America to let these phobias drive its foreign policy it would be forced into long and costly battles with various, unrelated regional phenomena. In the Middle East, the principal battleground of this struggle, it would place America in the position of maintaining a corrupt, reactionary and unstable status quo. In short, such a policy would run against the long-term interests of the peoples of America and the Middle East.

Conjuring up a New Menace

Like the Red Menace of the Cold War era, the Green Peril--green being the color of Islam--is described as a cancer spreading around the globe, undermining the legitimacy of Western values and threatening the national security of the United States. Tehran is the center of this ideological subversion, the world's new Comintern. The goal of the Iranian-led global intifada is said to be support for anti-Western regimes stretching from North Africa across the Near East and the Persian Gulf to Central Asia. Tehran's aim is to control the oil-rich gulf, destroy Israel and threaten areas on the periphery of a new "arc of crisis"--the Horn of Africa, southern Europe, the Balkans

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