Reported plans by the Trump administration to designate the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s IRGC as terrorists has set off a panic among the media and the usual “anonymous career officials”.
Obama had opposed designating the IRGC as terrorists even when they were actively involved in murdering American soldiers. The Muslim Brotherhood was a non-issue. Aside from Cruz, Bachmann and a handful of others, the subject simply wasn’t even discussed. Not when McCain and Graham actively backed the Brotherhood.
But there’s a new sheriff in town.
Human Rights Watch has an impassioned defense of the Muslim Brotherhood. A terror designation would impede the Brotherhood’s participation in democracy, criminalize associations in this country and really the Brotherhood isn’t violent at all.
The Washington Post, which has somehow turned into the new Huffington Post as a collection of screeds posted by radical left-wing cranks, has the expected warnings and pleas.
None of these represent much of an argument. Defenses of the Brotherhood usually stop with the lie that it’s a moderate organization. Once there’s a debate, that argument is childishly easy to dispose of. And the left isn’t used to having to debate the issue. SOP is to dismiss it as a crazy conspiracy theory. That doesn’t work once there’s an executive order.
So the current argument making the rounds is that it would be illegal to designate the Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist organization because…
1. It’s not a single unified organization
2. It’s non-violent
All you can do with the second argument is roll your eyes. Branches of the Brotherhood are already classified on the FTO list and other lists of not very nice people. Hamas in Gaza and Sudan are both the Brotherhood. Al Qaeda is currently run by a supposed splinter group of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood extensively used violence in its struggle for power in Egypt.
Furthermore, the criteria is capability. The Brotherhood has been pretty free with its threats of violence.
The first argument is more lawyerly and fits with the Brotherhood’s natural strengths. The Brotherhood operates much like the Communist Party. It sets up front groups on top of front groups. It funnels money covertly to them. The front groups deny membership in the Brotherhood. Even though previous raids had actually turned up evidence otherwise.
This is where things will get messy because the Brotherhood is built as a covert organization and the left made its bones defending Communist groups that functioned exactly like it.
So let’s get this out of the way. The harder part will be the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act designation.
The easy thing will be International Emergency Economic Powers Act sanctions. The left’s pro-terror lobby will have much more trouble stopping President Trump if he moves on IEEPA sanctions. They will fight him in court. And as Judge Robart showed, Trump Derangement Syndrome will lead to utterly illegal judicial activism. But it’s AEDPA where the real legal battles will happen. And they will take a lot of years.
The argument that the pro-terror left will bet its marbles on is that the Brotherhood is not a single organization and that, in particular, its terror branches operate independently. And that criminalizing it will also criminalize freedom of association.
This is a winnable battle. And it’s not one that the pro-terror lobby really wants to have.
The average leftist knows nothing about the Brotherhood except what they’re told by the pro-terror lobby. It’s a peaceful moderate group that seeks democracy. And a bunch of crazy right wing nuts hate it because they hate Muslims.
The pro-terror lobby, and we’re talking about experts in foreign policy, know a lot more about the Brotherhood. As do the domestic Islamists. And they really don’t want to have this conversation because it will bring in the links between the Brotherhood branches and its various front groups.
Suddenly we’re talking about Green Quest and laying out all the material from the Bush era that was suppressed under Obama.
In some ways this will be very much like the battle that was waged against the Communist party. The American side will present evidence, materials and witnesses. The left will pound the table and try to turn terrorists into victims of government abuse.
This has been going on for a while now in every terror debate. But it will suddenly be a national debate. And the Counterjihadist camp is far more prepared to have that debate.
Liberals were repeatedly humiliated when the Communists they defended proved to be indeed… Communists. Liberals are equally unprepared for a defense of the Brotherhood.