The victory of Mohamed Morsi as the new president of Egypt has not merely been greeted with equanimity in the West. It has been welcomed.
Typical is the view expressed by a Reuters columnist: "There is little to fear from the rise of Islamists to power. For more than four decades, the Muslim Brothers laboured to enter politics and gain legal status. They learned the art of compromise and pragmatism through hardship and persecution. On balance, ideology takes a back seat to the interests and political well-being of their movements."
It is difficult to overstate how wrong this is. The Muslim Brotherhood is not a moderate, pragmatic party but a fanatical organisation committed to the Islamification of the planet, which has spawned lethal terrorist groups, but which operates under the cover of mainstream politics.
Now it leads the largest, most important Arab nation. As a pan-regional force that is either in or close to power across the Middle East, its ability to implement its agenda of a sharia-governed Islamic region is growing ever greater. And if it gains power in Pakistan, as many think is likely, it will have nuclear weapons.
The Brotherhood is its ideology. Its credo makes this clear: "Allah is our objective; the Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations." The Brotherhood believes in Islamic rule. Its purpose is the establishment of a theocracy across the region and, ultimately, the world.
The argument that, in power, an organisation defined by extremism will see the value of pragmatism is dangerous wishful thinking. Why would the Brotherhood abandon its raison d'etre at the very moment it achieves power after decades of opposition and suppression? Its pragmatism will only ever be found in the tactics it adopts for achieving and holding on to power in order to advance the triumph of sharia.
Certainly, it behaves differently according to the social and political realities of the countries in which it operates. In Jordan, the monarchy allowed it to exist legally and it formed its own party, the Islamic Action Front; it now has the largest number of seats in the Jordanian Parliament. Elsewhere, it had to operate in hiding.
But whatever tactics it has adopted, as an Islamist - that is to say, political - organisation, it works to achieve a Muslim world order, in increments. Its publicly proclaimed method is to win secular power and then use that to turn states to Islamic law. From that, false national boundaries will be swept way into one Islamic entity, with the liberal, cancerous West a relic of history.
Its success is already daunting. Hamas, its terrorist branch, controls Gaza. In Tunisia, the Al-Nahda ("Revival") Party is now in control. The Moroccan Justice and Development Party won power last year. In the Libyan elections, due next month, the Brotherhood offshoot, the Justice and Construction Party, may be the largest party.
It has recently been reported that CIA officers in Turkey are using Syrian Brotherhood members to funnel arms to the opposition in Syria. No one can predict with certainty what will happen next. But at the very least we know that the Brotherhood comprises a large proportion of the opposition and is well placed to take power.
It wields considerable influence in Sudan. In Qatar it is supported by the government and it is represented in the Kuwait parliament. It is also strong in the rest of the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, where it is given political asylum, Yemen, Oman and Bahrain). It has a serious presence in Lebanon and Iraq and in Algeria is part of President Bouteflika's government.
The significance of this catalogue is that the Brotherhood does not recognise national borders, and is developing precisely as the regional force anticipated by Hassan al-Banna when he founded the organisation in Egypt in 1928.
Add to this mix Pakistan, one of the most unstable states in the world - and one with nuclear weapons - and the potency of the Brotherhood's Islamist threat becomes even starker.
Islamism is increasing its hold. And because it recognises no secularly drawn boundaries, it will, in all essential matters, operate as one entity - all working to the same common goal. Pakistan under Islamist control could soon make the threat posed by Iran seem relatively easy to deal with. Iran is one country, and is economically weak. The Brotherhood shows the potency of pan-regional movements driven by fanaticism.