The Radical Legacy Of 1979
By Edward. P. Djerejian
If ever one year in recent times was a catalyst for change in the broader Middle East and Muslim world, it was 1979. One ray of bright light in that year of darkness was the signing of the historic Camp David peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Conversely, three events had dire consequences with which we live today.
First, there was the overthrow of the shah of Iran by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Second, there was the takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, by a group of Islamic extremists. And third, there was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Each event fostered the forces of radicalization with implications far beyond the region’s borders.
Iran becomes a theocracy.
Saudi Arabia embraces the Wahhabis.
The Soviets invade Afghanistan.
Phi Beta Iota: Suggested by MILNET, highly recommended. In 1988 we missed the start of neighborhood-level madrasses around the world because the secret world does not do religion, neighborhoods, culture, or schools. Only Al Gray, then Commandant of the Marine Corps, “got it.” In 1998 we missed our own internal alerts on the importance of creating capabilities to deal with asymmetric threats, but back then we did not realize Whole of Government mattered. Now we are at a turning point where our Industrial-Era stovepipe and partisan form of governance has clearly failed, but there is a reluctance to consider the obvious alternative, in part because the gap between those in power and those with knowledge had grown catastrophically wide.