Far from a function of its unhappy interaction with the West, the story of Islam has been the story of the rise and fall of an often-astonishing imperial aggressiveness and, no less important, of never quiescent imperialist dreams that have survived the fall of the Ottoman Empire to haunt Islamic and Middle Eastern politics into the 21st century. Even as these dreams have repeatedly frustrated any possibility for the peaceful social and political development of the Arab-Muslim world, they have given rise to no less repeated fantasies of revenge and restoration and to murderous efforts to transform fantasy into fact. If, today, America is reviled in the Muslim world, it is not because of its specific policies but because, as the preeminent world power, it blocks the final realization of this same ageold dream of regaining the lost glory of the caliphate.
This in turn means that, contrary to Obama's wishful thinking, in the historical imagination of many Arabs and Muslims, bin Laden is not a "mass murderer" but the new incarnation of Saladin, defeater of the Crusaders and conqueror of Jerusalem – a true believer who courageously stood up to today's neo-Crusaders.
That much is clear from the overwhelming support for the 9/11 attacks throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds, the admiring evocations of these murderous acts during the 2006 crisis over the Danish cartoons, and the glaring lack of enthusiasm about bin Laden's demise. In the words of the-then Palestinian prime minister [in Hamas-held Gaza] Ismail Haniyeh: "We condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs. We regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood."
Nor has IS's extroverted brutality detracted one iota from its religious credentials, as evidenced by the influx of thousands of young Muslim men (and women) from all over the world to participate in its self-proclaimed jihad. With far more Muslims killed throughout history by their co-religionists than by non-Muslims these volunteers can see no doctrinal or moral impediments to fighting their "deviant" co-religionists, not least since the group's bloodletting has thus far been insignificant by regional standards (suffice it to mention the 250,000 fatalities of the ongoing Syrian civil war, where most of the killing has been done by Bashar Assad's "infidel" Alawite regime).It is the refusal to recognize this state of affairs that accounts for the total breakdown of Obama's Islamic and Arab policies – from the failure to curb the dogged quest for nuclear weapons by the Islamist regime in Tehran, to the reassertion of Ankara's neo-Ottoman imperialism, to the disruption of Washington's relations with key regional allies, to the surge of Islamist terrorism, to the fragmentation of the Iraqi, Libyan and Yemenite states, to the collapse of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations – that plunged America's regional standing to its lowest ebb in decades, even in comparison to the George W. Bush administration's darkest moments...In these darkest of days, how can anyone deny that Barack Hussein Obama, with his "best practices" and his crummy summit, is little more than the jihad's useful idiot?