Sunday, January 24, 2016

Obama just made Iran’s brutal regime stronger

“Evident victory!”

This is how Iranian President Hassan Rouhani describes the diplomatic swindle, known as the “Iran nuclear deal.”

The Koranic term (in Arabic Fatah al-Mobin) refers to one of Prophet Mohammed’s successful guerrilla raids on a Meccan caravan in the early days of Islam.

Rouhani claims the “deal” represents “the greatest diplomatic victory in Islamic history.” Leaving aside the hyperbole, a fixture of the mullahs’ rhetorical arsenal, Rouhani has reason to crow.

If not quite moribund as some analysts claim, the Islamic Republic had been in a rough patch for years.

For more than a year, the government was unable to pay some of the 5.2 million public sector employees, notably teachers, petrochemical workers and students on bursaries, triggering numerous strikes.

Deprived of urgently needed investment, the Iranian oil industry was pushed to the edge with its biggest oil fields, notably Bibi Hakimeh and Maroun, producing less than half their capacity.

Between 2012 and 2015, Iran lost 25% of its share in the global oil market.

Sanctions and lack of investment also meant that large chunks of Iranian industry, dependent on imported parts, went under. In 2015 Iran lost an average of 1,000 jobs a day.

Last month, the nation’s currency, the rial, fell to an all-time record low while negative economic growth was forecast for the third consecutive year.

Having increased the military budget by 21%, Rouhani was forced to delay presentation of his new budget for the Iranian New Year starting March 21.

Against that background that Obama rode to the rescue by pushing through a “deal” designed to ease pressure on Iran in exchange for nothing but verbal promises from Tehran. Here is some of what Obama did:

·         Dropped demands that Iran reshape its nuclear program to make sure it can never acquire a military dimension. As head of Iranian Atomic Energy Agency Ali Akbar Salehi has said: “Our nuclear project remains intact. The ‘deal’ does not prevent us from doing what we were doing.”

·         He suspended a raft of sanctions and pressured the European Union and the United Nations to do the same.

·         He injected a badly needed $1.7 billion into Iranian economy by releasing assets frozen under President Jimmy Carter and kept as possible compensation for Americans held hostage at different times. The cash enabled Rouhani to start paying some unpaid salaries in Iran while financing Hezbollah branches and helping the Assad regime in Syria.

·         Obama released another tranche of $30 billion, enabling Rouhani to present his new budget with a reduced deficit at 14% while increasing the military-security budget yet again, by 4.2%.

·         Banking sanctions were set aside to let Iran import 19,000 tons of American rice to meet shortages on the eve of Iranian New Year when consumption reaches its peak.

·         Obama’s lovefest with the mullahs helped mollify the Khomeinist regime’s image as a sponsor of international terror and a diplomatic pariah.

What is the rationale behind Obama’s dogged determination to help the mullahs out of the ditch they have dug?

Some cite Obama’s alleged belief that the US has been an “imperialist power,” bullying weaker nations and must make amends.

Others suggest a tactic to strengthen “moderates” within the Iranian regime who, if assured that the US does into seek regime change might lead the nation towards a change of behavior.

Whatever the reasons, what Obama has done could best described as appeasement-plus.

In classical appeasement you promise an adversary not to oppose some of his moves, for example the annexation of Czechoslovakia, but you do not offer him actual financial or diplomatic support.

Obama has gone beyond that.

In addition to saving Iran from running out of money, on the diplomatic front he has endorsed Tehran’s scenario for Syria, is campaigning to help Iran choose the next Lebanese president, and has given the mullahs an open field in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Secretary of State John Kerry talks of Iran as “the regional power,” to the chagrin of Washington’s Middle East allies.

What if the “deal” actually weakens the “moderates” that Obama wants to support, supposing they do exist?

Obama’s imaginary “moderates” are not in good shape. The Council of Guardians that decides who could run for election next month has disqualified 99% of the so-called “moderate” wannabes, ensuring the emergence of a new Islamic parliament and Assembly of Experts dominated by radicals as never before.

Meanwhile, the annual “End of America” festival, Feb. 1 to 10, is to be held with greater pomp.

With more resources at its disposal, Tehran is intensifying its “exporting the revolution” campaign. Last week it announced the creation of a new Hezbollah branch in Turkey and, for the first time, made the existence of a branch in Iraq public. Tajikistan was also publicly added to the markets where Khomeinist revolution should be exported.

There are no “moderates” in Tehran, and the Islamic Republic cannot be reformed out of its nature. For the remainder of Obama’s term least, expect a more aggressive Islamic Republic.

Did the mullahs deceive Obama? No, this was all his idea.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Against Trump


Donald Trump leads the polls nationally and in most states in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. There are understandable reasons for his eminence, and he has shown impressive gut-level skill as a campaigner. But he is not deserving of conservative support in the caucuses and primaries. Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.

Trump’s political opinions have wobbled all over the lot. The real-estate mogul and reality-TV star has supported abortion, gun control, single-payer health care à la Canada, and punitive taxes on the wealthy. (He and Bernie Sanders have shared more than funky outer-borough accents.) Since declaring his candidacy he has taken a more conservative line, yet there are great gaping holes in it.

His signature issue is concern over immigration — from Latin America but also, after Paris and San Bernardino, from the Middle East. He has exploited the yawning gap between elite opinion in both parties and the public on the issue, and feasted on the discontent over a government that can’t be bothered to enforce its own laws no matter how many times it says it will (President Obama has dispensed even with the pretense). But even on immigration, Trump often makes no sense and can’t be relied upon. A few short years ago, he was criticizing Mitt Romney for having the temerity to propose “self-deportation,” or the entirely reasonable policy of reducing the illegal population through attrition while enforcing the nation’s laws. Now, Trump is a hawk’s hawk.

He pledges to build a wall along the southern border and to make Mexico pay for it. We need more fencing at the border, but the promise to make Mexico pay for it is silly bluster. Trump says he will put a big door in his beautiful wall, an implicit endorsement of the dismayingly conventional view that current levels of legal immigration are fine. Trump seems unaware that a major contribution of his own written immigration plan is to question the economic impact of legal immigration and to call for reform of the H-1B–visa program. Indeed, in one Republican debate he clearly had no idea what’s in that plan and advocated increased legal immigration, which is completely at odds with it. These are not the meanderings of someone with well-informed, deeply held views on the topic.

As for illegal immigration, Trump pledges to deport the 11 million illegals here in the United States, a herculean administrative and logistical task beyond the capacity of the federal government. Trump piles on the absurdity by saying he would re-import many of the illegal immigrants once they had been deported, which makes his policy a poorly disguised amnesty (and a version of a similarly idiotic idea that appeared in one of Washington’s periodic “comprehensive” immigration reforms). This plan wouldn’t survive its first contact with reality.

On foreign policy, Trump is a nationalist at sea. Sometimes he wants to let Russia fight ISIS, and at others he wants to “bomb the sh**” out of it. He is fixated on stealing Iraq’s oil and casually suggested a few weeks ago a war crime — killing terrorists’ families — as a tactic in the war on terror. For someone who wants to project strength, he has an astonishing weakness for flattery, falling for Vladimir Putin after a few coquettish bats of the eyelashes from the Russian thug. All in all, Trump knows approximately as much about national security as he does about the nuclear triad — which is to say, almost nothing.

Indeed, Trump’s politics are those of an averagely well-informed businessman: Washington is full of problems; I am a problem-solver; let me at them. But if you have no familiarity with the relevant details and the levers of power, and no clear principles to guide you, you will, like most tenderfeet, get rolled. Especially if you are, at least by all outward indications, the most poll-obsessed politician in all of American history. Trump has shown no interest in limiting government, in reforming entitlements, or in the Constitution. He floats the idea of massive new taxes on imported goods and threatens to retaliate against companies that do too much manufacturing overseas for his taste. His obsession is with “winning,” regardless of the means — a spirit that is anathema to the ordered liberty that conservatives hold dear and that depends for its preservation on limits on government power. The Tea Party represented a revival of an understanding of American greatness in these terms, an understanding to which Trump is tone-deaf at best and implicitly hostile at worst. He appears to believe that the administrative state merely needs a new master, rather than a new dispensation that cuts it down to size and curtails its power.

It is unpopular to say in the year of the “outsider,” but it is not a recommendation that Trump has never held public office. Since 1984, when Jesse Jackson ran for president with no credential other than a great flow of words, both parties have been infested by candidates who have treated the presidency as an entry-level position. They are the excrescences of instant-hit media culture. The burdens and intricacies of leadership are special; experience in other fields is not transferable. That is why all American presidents have been politicians, or generals.

Any candidate can promise the moon. But politicians have records of success, failure, or plain backsliding by which their promises may be judged. Trump can try to make his blankness a virtue by calling it a kind of innocence. But he is like a man with no credit history applying for a mortgage — or, in this case, applying to manage a $3.8 trillion budget and the most fearsome military on earth.

Trump’s record as a businessman is hardly a recommendation for the highest office in the land. For all his success, Trump inherited a real-estate fortune from his father. Few of us will ever have the experience, as Trump did, of having Daddy-O bail out our struggling enterprise with an illegal loan in the form of casino chips. Trump’s primary work long ago became less about building anything than about branding himself and tending to his celebrity through a variety of entertainment ventures, from WWE to his reality-TV show, The Apprentice. His business record reflects the often dubious norms of the milieu: using eminent domain to condemn the property of others; buying the good graces of politicians — including many Democrats — with donations.

Trump has gotten far in the GOP race on a brash manner, buffed over decades in New York tabloid culture. His refusal to back down from any gaffe, no matter how grotesque, suggests a healthy impertinence in the face of postmodern PC (although the insults he hurls at anyone who crosses him also speak to a pettiness and lack of basic civility). His promise to make America great again recalls the populism of Andrew Jackson. But Jackson was an actual warrior; and President Jackson made many mistakes. Without Jackson’s scars, what is Trump’s rhetoric but show and strut?

If Trump were to become the president, the Republican nominee, or even a failed candidate with strong conservative support, what would that say about conservatives? The movement that ground down the Soviet Union and took the shine, at least temporarily, off socialism would have fallen in behind a huckster. The movement concerned with such “permanent things” as constitutional government, marriage, and the right to life would have become a claque for a Twitter feed.

Trump nevertheless offers a valuable warning for the Republican party. If responsible men irresponsibly ignore an issue as important as immigration, it will be taken up by the reckless. If they cannot explain their Beltway maneuvers — worse, if their maneuvering is indefensible — they will be rejected by their own voters. If they cannot advance a compelling working-class agenda, the legitimate anxieties and discontents of blue-collar voters will be exploited by demagogues. We sympathize with many of the complaints of Trump supporters about the GOP, but that doesn’t make the mogul any less flawed a vessel for them.

Some conservatives have made it their business to make excuses for Trump and duly get pats on the head from him. Count us out. Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as the Donald himself.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Time left until Obama leaves office

Counting Down To

President Obama’s appeasement of Iran through the Iran Deal and his support of the Muslim Brotherhood are disastrous policies the consequences of which neither he nor the P5+1 political elites are capable of predicting since they lack the intellectual courage to find the truth about Islamic ideology in general and Shia eschatology in particular.

We were in a similar situation in the 1930s.

 On November 12, 1936, Winston Churchill said:

“Two things, I confess, have staggered me, after a long Parliamentary experience, in these Debates. The first has been the dangers that have so swiftly come upon us in a few years, and have been transforming our position and the whole outlook of the world. Secondly, I have been staggered by the failure of the House of Commons to react effectively against those dangers. That, I am bound to say, I never expected. I never would have believed that we should have been allowed to go on getting into this plight, month by month and year by year, and that even the Government's own confessions of error have produced no concentration of Parliamentary opinion and force capable of lifting our efforts to the level of emergency. I say that unless the House resolves to find out the truth for itself, it will have committed an act of abdication of duty without parallel.”

Our political elites are in complete denial. One just has to look at the Cologne incident’s police  report  to understand what the consequences of refusing to find the truth for ourselves are. The surprise coming from Iran would be orders of magnitude worse.

What can we do? What we can do is send this Obama end of term countdown counter to our friends, and in so doing make a statement that we disagree with these absurd policies and give them a reminder that this nightmare will eventually end on January 20, 2017, 12:00 NOON EST (GMT-5) i.e. 07:00 p.m. Israel Time (GMT +02:00).

Krauthammer: The GOP gets the Iran prisoner swap wrong

Give President Obama credit. His Iran nuclear deal may be disastrous but the packaging was brilliant. The near-simultaneous prisoner exchange was meant to distract from last Saturday’s official implementation of the sanctions-lifting deal. And it did. The Republicans concentrated almost all their fire on the swap sideshow.

And in denouncing the swap, they were wrong. True, we should have made the prisoner release a precondition for negotiations. But that preemptive concession was made long ago (among many others, such as granting Iran in advance the right to enrich uranium). The remaining question was getting our prisoners released before we gave away all our leverage upon implementation of the nuclear accord. We did.

Republicans say: We shouldn’t negotiate with terror states. But we do and we should. How else do you get hostages back? And yes, of course negotiating encourages further hostage taking. But there is always something to be gained by kidnapping Americans. This swap does not affect that truth one way or the other.

And here, we didn’t give away much. The seven released Iranians, none of whom has blood on his hands, were sanctions busters (and a hacker), and sanctions are essentially over now. The slate is clean.

But how unfair, say the critics. We released prisoners duly convicted in a court of law. Iran released perfectly innocent, unjustly jailed hostages.

Yes, and so what? That’s just another way of saying we have the rule of law, they don’t. It doesn’t mean we abandon our hostages. Natan Sharansky was a prisoner of conscience who spent eight years in the gulag on totally phony charges. He was exchanged for two real Soviet spies. Does anyone think we should have said no?

The one valid criticism of the Iranian swap is that we left one, perhaps two, Americans behind and unaccounted for. True. But the swap itself was perfectly reasonable. And cleverly used by the administration to create a heartwarming human interest story to overshadow a rotten diplomatic deal, just as the Alan Gross release sweetened a Cuba deal that gave the store away to the Castro brothers.

The real story of Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 — “Implementation Day” of the Iran deal — was that it marked a historic inflection point in the geopolitics of the Middle East. In a stroke, Iran shed almost four decades of rogue-state status and was declared a citizen of good standing of the international community, open to trade, investment and diplomacy. This, without giving up, or even promising to change, its policy of subversion and aggression. This, without having forfeited its status as the world’s greatest purveyor of terrorism.

Overnight, it went not just from pariah to player but from pariah to dominant regional power, flush with $100 billion in unfrozen assets and virtually free of international sanctions. The oil trade alone will pump tens of billions of dollars into its economy. The day after Implementation Day, President Hassan Rouhani predicted 5 percent growth — versus the contracting, indeed hemorrhaging, economy in pre-negotiation 2012 and 2013.

On Saturday, the Iranian transport minister announced the purchase of 114 Airbuses from Europe. This inaugurates a rush of deals binding European companies to Iran, thoroughly undermining Obama’s pipe dream of “snapback sanctions” if Iran cheats.

Cash-rich, reconnected with global banking and commerce, and facing an Arab world collapsed into a miasma of raging civil wars, Iran has instantly become the dominant power of the Middle East. Not to worry, argued the administration. The nuclear opening will temper Iranian adventurism and empower Iranian moderates.

The opposite is happening. And it’s not just the ostentatious, illegal ballistic missile launches; not just Iran’s president reacting to the most puny retaliatory sanctions by ordering his military to accelerate the missile program; not just the videotaped and broadcast humiliation of seized U.S. sailors.

Look at what the mullahs are doing at home. Within hours of “implementation,” the regime disqualified 2,967 of roughly 3,000 moderate candidates from even running in parliamentary elections next month. And just to make sure we got the point, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reiterated that Iranian policy — aggressively interventionist and immutably anti-American — continues unchanged.

In 1938, the morning after Munich, Europe woke up to Germany as the continent’s dominant power. Last Sunday, the Middle East woke up to Iran as the regional hegemon, with a hand — often predominant — in the future of Syria, Yemen, Iraq, the Gulf Arab states and, in time, in the very survival of Israel.

And we’re arguing over an asymmetric hostage swap.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Putin and Cameron


Is there a guide for kuffars to distinguish the real from the feigning “moderate” Muslim?

 Hugh Fitzgerald

Note from Robert Spencer: The “moderate” Muslim never dies, and I thought that this 2004 Hugh Fitzgerald discussion of the “moderate Muslim” bears re-posting now. There are some references clearly reflecting the year of composition, but not a word has been changed, for it has stood, we think, the test of time — certainly compared to any comment by Tom Friedman or Nicholas Kristof, all of whose jejune columns are undone by reality about a week after they are published.

1. Not only Muslims, but “islamochristians” objectively promote and push the propagandistic line that disguises the Jihad (evidence of which can be found worldwide), and mislead as to both what prompts that Jihad (not “poverty” or “foreign policy” but the precepts of the belief-system of Islam) and what will sate it (not Kashmir, not Chechnya, not the absurd “two-state solution,” not continued appeasement in France and Holland — there is nothing that will sate or satisfy it, as long as part of the globe is as yet resistent to the rule of Islam). “Christians” such as Fawaz Gerges or Rami Khoury, or someone who was born a Christian, such as Edward Said, are Arabs whose views are colored by that self-perception. Their loyalty to the community and history of Arabs causes them to be as loyal to the Islamic view of things as if they had been born Muslim. They stoutly defend Islam against all of Western scholarship (in Orientalism), or divert attention away from Islam and constantly assert, in defiance of all the evidence, from Bali to Beslan to Madrid, that the “problem of Israel/Palestine” — the latest, and most sinister formulation of the Jihad against Israel — is the fons et origo of Muslim hostility and murderous aggression throughout the world. Save for the Copts and Maronites, who regard themselves not as Arabs but as “users” of the “Arabic language” (and reject the idea that such “users” therefore become “Arabs”), many Arab Christians have crazily embraced the Islamic agenda; the agenda, that is, of those who have made the lives of Christians in the Middle East so uncertain, difficult, and at times, imperilled. The attempt to be “plus islamiste que les islamistes” — the approach of Rami Khoury and Hanan Ashrawi — simply will not do, for it has not worked. It is Habib Malik and other Maronites in Lebanon who have analysed the problem of Islam in a clear-eyed fashion. Indeed, the best book on the legal status of non-Muslims under Islam is that of the Lebanese (Maronite) scholar Antoine Fattal.

Any “islamochristian” Arab who promotes the Islamic agenda, by participating in a campaign that can only mislead Infidels and put off their understanding of Jihad and its various instruments, is objectively as much part of the problem as the Muslim who knowingly practices taqiyya in order to turn aside the suspicions of non-Muslims. Whoever acts so as to keep the unwary Infidel unwary is helping the enemy.

Think, for a minute, of Oskar Schindler. A member of the Nazi Party, but hardly someone who followed the Nazi line. But what if Schindler had at some point met with Westerners — and had continued, himself, to deny that the Nazis were engaged in genocide, even if he himself deplored it and would later act against it? Would we think of him as a “moderate”? As someone who had helped the anti-Nazi coalition to understand what it was up against?

Or for another example, think of Ilya Ehrenburg, who in 1951 or so was sent abroad by Stalin to lie about the condition of Yiddish-speaking intellectuals whom Stalin had recently massacred. Ehrenburg went to France, went to Italy. He did as he was told. “Peretz? Markish? Oh, yes, saw Peretz at his dacha last month with his grandson. Such a jovial fellow. Markish — he was great last year in Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District — you should see how it comes across in zhargon, Yiddish…” And so it went. Eherenburg lied, and lied. He was not a Stalinist. He hated Stalin. He of course hated the destruction of Peretz, Markish, and many others who had been killed many months before — as Ehrenburg knew perfectly well. When he went abroad and lied to the editors of Nouvelle Revue Francaise, what was he? Objectively, he was promoting the interests of Joseph Stalin, and the Red Army, and the Politburo. We need not inquire into motives. We need only see what the results of such lying were. And the same is true of those Christian Arabs who lie on behalf of Islam — some out of fear, some out of an ethnocentric identification so strong that they end up defending Islam, the religion of those who persecuted the Christian Arabs of the Middle East, and some out of venality (if Western diplomats and journalists can be on the Arab take, why not Arabs themselves?), some out of careerism. If you want to rise in the academic ranks, and your field is the Middle East, unless you are a real scholar — Cook or Crone or Lewis — better to parrot the party line, which costs you nothing and gains you friends in tenure-awarding, grant-giving, reference-writing circles. There is at least one example, too, among those mentioned, in a situation where an Arabic-speaking Christian, attempting to find refuge from Muslim persecution, needed the testimony of an “expert” — which “expert,” instead of offering a pro-bono samaritan act, demanded so much money to be involved (in a fantastic display of greed) that the very idea of solidarity among Arab Christians was called by this act permanently into question.

2. The word “moderate” cannot be reasonably applied to any Muslim who continues to deny the contents — the real contents, not the sanitized or gussied-up contents — of Qur’an, hadith, and sira. Whether that denial is based on ignorance, or based on embarrassment, or based on filial piety (and an unwillingness to wash dirty ideological laundry before the Infidels) is irrelevant. Any Muslim who, while seeming to deplore every aspect of Muslim aggression, based on clear textual sources in Qur’an and hadith, or on the example of Muhammad as depicted in the accepted sira — Muhammad that “model” of behavior — is again, objectively, acting in a way that simply misleads the Infidels. And any Muslim who helps to mislead Infidels about the true nature of Islam cannot be called a “moderate.” That epithet is simply handed out a bit too quickly for sensible tastes.

3. What of a Muslim who says — there are terrible things in the sira and hadith, and we must find a way out, so that this belief-system can focus on the rituals of individual worship, and offer some sustenance as a simple faith for simple people? This would require admitting that a great many of Muhammad’s reported acts must either be denied, or given some kind of figurative interpretation, or otherwise removed as part of his “model” life. As for the hadith, somehow one would have to say that Bukhari, and Muslim, and the other respected muhaddithin had not examined those isnad-chains with quite the right meticulousness, and that many of the hadith regarded as “authentic” must be reduced to the status of “inauthentic.” And, following Goldziher, doubt would have to be cast on all of the hadith, as imaginative elaborations from the Qur’an, without any necessarily independent existence.

4. This leaves the Qur’an. Any “moderate” who wishes to prevent inquiry into the origins of the Qur’an — whether it may be the product of a Christian sect, or a Jewish sect, or of pagan Arabs who decided to construct a book, made up partly of Christian and Jewish material mixed with bits and pieces of pagan Arab lore from the time of the Jahiliya — or to prevent philological study (of, for example, Aramaic and other loan-words) — anyone who impedes the enterprise of subjecting the Qur’an to the kind of historical inquiry that the Christian and Jewish Bibles have undergone in the past 200 years of inquiry, is not a “moderate” but a fervent Defender of the Faith. One unwilling to encourage such study — which can only lead to a move away from literalness for at least some of the Believers — again is not “moderate.”

5. The conclusion one must reach is that there are, in truth, very few moderates. For if one sees the full meaning of Qur’an, hadith, and sira, and sees how they have affected the behavior of Muslims both over 1400 years of conquest and subjugation of non-Muslims, and in stunting the development — political, economic, moral, and intellectual — of Muslims everywhere, it is impossible not to conclude that this imposing edifice is not in any sense moderate or susceptible to moderation.

What must an intelligent Muslim, living through the hell of the Islamic Republic of Iran, start to think of Islam? Or that Kuwaiti billionaire, with houses in St. James Place and Avenue Foch and Vevey, as well as the family/company headquarters in Kuwait City, who sends his children to the American School in Kuwait, and boasts that they know English better than they know Arabic, helps host Fouad Ajami when he visits Kuwait, is truly heartsick to see Kuwait’s increasing islamization? Would he allow himself to say what he knows in public, or in front of half-brothers, or to friends — knowing that at any moment, they may be scandalized by his free-thinking views, and that he may run the risk of losing his place in the family’s pecking order and, what’s more, in the family business?

The mere fact that Muslim numbers may grow in the Western world represents a permanent threat to Infidels. This is true even if some, or many, of those Muslims are “moderates” — i.e. do not believe that Islam has some kind of divine right, and need, to expand until it covers the globe and swallows up dar al-harb. For if they are still to be counted in the Army of Islam, not as Deserters (Apostates) from that Army, their very existence in the Bilad al-kufr helps to swell Muslim ranks, and therefore perceived Muslim power. And even the “moderate” father may sire immoderate children or grandchildren — that was the theme of the Hanif Kureishi film, quasi-comic but politically acute, “My Son the Fanatic.” Whether through Da’wa or large families, any growth in the Muslim population will inhibit free expression (see the fates of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, and the threats made to Geert Wilders, Carl Hagen, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and many others), for politicians eager to court the Muslim vote will pooh-pooh Muslim outrages and strive to have the state yield to Muslim demands — for the sake of short-term individual gain. And Muslim numbers, even with “moderates,” increases the number of Muslim missionaries — for every Muslim is a missionary — whether conducting “Sharing Ramadan” Outreach in the schools (where a soft-voiced Pakistani woman is usually the soothing propagandist of choice), or Da’wa in a prison. The more Muslims there are, the more there will be — and no one knows which “moderate” will end up distinctly non-moderate in his views, and then in his acts.

And this brings up the most important problem: the impermanence of “moderate” attitudes. What makes anyone think that someone who this week or month has definitely turned his back on Jihad, who will have nothing to do with those he calls the “fanatics,” if he does not make a clean break with Islam, does not become a “renegade” or apostate, will at some point “revert” not to Islam, which he never left, but to a more devout form, in which he now subscribes to all of its tenets, and not merely to a few having to do with rites of individual worship?

6. The examples to the contrary are both those of individuals, and of whole societies. As for individual Muslims, some started out as mild-mannered and largely indifferent to Islam, and then underwent some kind of crisis and reverted to a much more fanatical brand of Islam. That was the case with urban planner Mohammad Atta, following his disorienting encounter with modern Western ways in Hamburg, Germany — Reeperbahn and all. That was also the case with “Mike” Hawash, the Internet engineer earning $360,000 a year, who seemed completely integrated (American wife, Little League for the children, friends among fellow executives at Intel who would swear up and down that he was innocent) — until one fine day, after the World Trade Center attacks, he made out his will, signed the house over to his wife, and set off to fight alongside the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan (he got as far as China) against his fellow Americans. In other words, if fanatical Muslims exist, it does not mean that they all start out as fanatics. Islam is the necessary starting place, and what sets off a “moderate” may have little to do with anything the Infidels do, any question of foreign policy — it may simply be a crisis in an individual Muslim’s life, to which he seeks an answer, not surprisingly, in … more Islam.

7. Much the same lesson can be drawn from the experience of whole societies. In passing, one can note that the position of Infidels under the Pahlavi regime was better than it had been for centuries — and under the regime that followed, that of the Islamic Republic of Iran, that position of Infidels became worse than it had been for centuries. “Secularism” in Islamic countries is never permanent; the weight and the threat of Islam is ever-present.

The best example of this is Turkey since 1924, when Ataturk began his reforms. He tried in every way he could — through the Hat Act (banishing the salat-friendly fez); commissioning a Turkish translation of the Qur’an and an accompanying tafsir (commentary) in Turkish; ending the use of Arabic script for Turkish; establishing government control of the mosques (even attacking recalcitrant imams and destroying their mosques); giving women the right to vote; establishing a system that discouraged the wearing of the hijab; encouraging Western dress; and discouraging, in the army, preferment of any soldier who showed too great an interest in religion. This attempt to constrain Islam was successful, and was reinforced by the national cult of Ataturk.

But the past few decades have shown that Islam does not die; it keeps coming back. In Turkey, it never went away, despite the creation of a secular stratum of society that amounts perhaps to 25% of the population, with another 25% wavering, and 50% still definitely traditional Muslims. Meanwhile, Turks in Germany become not less, but more fervent in their faith. And Turks in Turkey, of the kind who follow Erdogan, show that they may at any moment emerge and take power — and slowly (very slowly, as long as that EU application has not been acted on, one way or another) they can undo Ataturk. He was temporary; Islam is forever.

8. That is why even the designation of some Muslims as “moderates” in the end means almost nothing. They swell Muslim numbers and the perceived Muslim power; “moderates” may help to mislead, to be in fact even more effective practitioners of taqiyya/kitman, for their motive may simply be loyalty to ancestors or embarrassment, not a malign desire to fool Infidels in order to disarm and then ultimately to destroy them.

9. For this reason, one has to keep one’s eye always on the objective situation. What will make Infidels safer from a belief-system that is inimical to art, science, and all free inquiry, that stunts the mental growth, and that is based on a cruel Manichaean division of the world between Infidel and Believer? And the answer is: limiting the power — military, political, diplomatic, economic power — of all Muslim polities, and Muslim peoples, and diminishing, as much as possible, the Muslim presence, however amiable and plausible and seemingly untroubling a part of that presence may appear to be, in all the Lands of the Infidels. This is done not out of any spirit of enmity, but simply as an act of minimal self-protection — and out of loyalty and gratitude to those who produced the civilization which, however it has been recently debased by its own inheritors, would disappear altogether were Muslims to succeed in islamizing Europe — and then, possibly, other parts of the world as well.

10. “There are Muslim moderates. Islam itself is not moderate” is Ibn Warraq’s lapidary formulation. To this one must add: we Infidels have no sure way to distinguish the real from the feigning “moderate” Muslim. We cannot spend our time trying to perfect methods to make such distinctions. Furthermore, in the end such distinctions may be meaningless if even the “real” moderates hide from us what Islam is all about, not out of any deeply-felt sinister motive, but out of a humanly-understandable ignorance (especially among some second or third-generation Muslims in the West), or embarrassment, or filial piety. And finally, yesterday’s “moderate” can overnight be transformed into today’s fanatic — or tomorrow’s.

Shall we entrust our own safety to the dreamy consolations of the phrase “moderate Muslim” and the shapeshifting concept behind it that can be transformed into something else in a minute?

Dry Bones: Britain Debates Donald Trump

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Europe 2016: A study in Self-Cannibalization

Muslim migrants off the coast of Malta
Martin Sherman

As the massive influx of Muslim immigrants engulf the European Union and press against the gates of North America  today, bringing with them much of what they were attempting to flee, the appalling truth is becoming increasingly clear.
Across the Western world today, political liberalism is undergoing a process of self-cannibalization. It is being devoured by the very values which made it into arguably the most successful and influential socio-political doctrine in modern history.
At the very least, it is being complicit in actively facilitating its own demise through an unrestrained and undiscerning compulsion to apply these values universally – even when such application is not only inappropriate but detrimental to those values.
Devotees of political liberalism fervently advocate – quite correctly – the need to acknowledge the diversity of humanity and to accept the existence of those different from us, i.e., the “Other.”
However, they then go on to advocate – with equal fervor – something that in effect empties the previous acknowledgment of all significance, i.e., that we relate to all the diverse “Others” as equals.
For what is the point of acknowledging diversity if we are called upon to ignore the possible ramifications of that diversity and to relate to those discernibly different from us as if they were essentially the same as us? Prima facie, this is absurdly self-contradictory.
For surely the awareness of difference raises the possibility that different attitudes (and actions) toward the “Other” may well be called for.
Although acknowledging diversity necessarily negates equality, this does not a priori mean that “Ours” is morally superior to “Theirs” – although the plausible assumption is that “We” have a subjective preference for “Ours” over “Theirs.”
This, of course, might entail certain practical ramifications for the preservation of “Ours” lest it be consumed by “Theirs” – depending on “Their” appetites and aspirations.
As the foregoing citation from W.R. Inge underscores, it would be injudicious to relate to carnivores and herbivores with an undiscriminating sense of egalitarianism. Indeed, if one is not mindful of the differences between oneself and the “Other” (say with regard to dietary preferences or predatory predilections), disaster may well be unavoidable.
Note that making such a diagnosis of difference does not necessarily imply a value judgment as to the relative moral merits of devouring flesh or grazing grass. However, operationally, it is a distinction that is essential for the preservation of grass-grazers and – and no less pointedly – for the shepherd charged with their welfare.
For no matter how sympathetic to, or appreciative of, the untamed majesty of predators one might be, the fate of the flock is likely to be grim if it is left to graze in wolf-frequented territory with nothing more coercive to protect it than an appeal for understanding.
Now while I do not wish to push Inge’s ovine-lupine analogy too far, those who would dismiss it as overly facile would do well to recall that political liberalism has faced several challenges in the last century from adversaries which could plausibly be viewed as predatory.
It has had to contend with ideologies that were totalitarian, expansionary and irreconcilably inimical to its core values of socio-cultural tolerance and individual liberty.
There was, for example, the kinetic clash with Nazism and the ideological clash with Communism. Political liberalism withstood them and prevailed.
It is facing another fateful encounter in this century: The existential clash with Islamism – a foe no less totalitarian, no less expansionary and no less irreconcilably inimical to its core values.
It is far from certain that this time it will prevail.
The major source of peril today is the reluctance – indeed the resolute refusal – to acknowledge the emerging threat. True, there were sympathizers in the West for both the Nazi and Soviet causes, which both strove to eliminate our democratic freedoms and way of life.
However, the denial we are witnessing today seems qualitatively different. Leading liberal opinion-makers in mainstream intellectual establishment appear totally incapable of conceiving (or at least, totally unwilling to acknowledge that they are capable of conceiving) of the “Other” as anything but a darker skin-toned version of themselves – with perhaps somewhat more exotic tastes in dress and a greater penchant for spicy food, but with essentially the same value system as theirs, or at least one not significantly incompatible with it.
Indeed, there seems to be an overriding inability to admit the possibility that the “Other” is in fact fundamentally different – i.e. genuinely “Other” – and may hold entirely different beliefs as to what is good and bad, what is legitimate and what is not.
It is of little practical consequence whether this is the product of an overbearing intellectual arrogance, which precludes the possibility of any alternative value system, or of an underlying moral cowardice, which precludes the will to defend the validity of one’s own value system.
The result is the ongoing retreat from the defense of liberty and tolerance in the face of an ever-emboldened, intolerant Muslim militancy – not only across the Islamic world but within the urban heart of many Western nations as well.
Even more serious, it has undermined the capacity for honest debate, for accurate assessment of strategic geopolitical shifts… and for formulating timely and effective responses to deal with them.
Take the Arab Spring, for example, which much of the mainstream media heralded as the dawning of a new spirit of freedom and enlightenment from the Maghreb to the Persian Gulf. Yet over half a decade, this naïve optimism has been dashed to pieces on the hard rocks of recalcitrant reality.
Nothing that has occurred  has even remotely justified the rosy forecast  as to the prospective emergence of Arab regimes, founded on values /processes akin to those of Western democracy.
The politically correct endeavor to shy away from harsh truths has introduced an almost Orwellian atmosphere of 1984 mind control into the debate on the ramifications of Islam for political liberalism.
Pronouncements almost on a par with the “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery” and “Ignorance is Strength” employed by “The Party” to control the dystopian state of Oceania in George Orwell’s classic novel of pervasive dictatorship are emerging with disturbing frequency.
For example, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in effect pronounced that “religious fundamentalism is secular” when he characterized the radical Muslim Brotherhood as an organization that is “largely secular.”
A similar instance of convoluted, nonsensical gobbledygook came from current CIA Director   (then Obama-administration’s homeland security adviser)  James O. Brennan, when he made the astounding claim that accurately defining the threat would exacerbate it: “Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists, because jihad is a holy struggle. [C]haracterizing our adversaries this way would actually be counterproductive”.
So by reorganizing the rhetoric we will somehow dispel the misperceptions, from which the planners/perpetrators of wholesale carnage in the name of Islam apparently suffer, as to the sources of their beliefs and the nature of their motivations?
But perhaps the pinnacle of Orwellian endeavor came from then-British home secretary Jacqui Smith, in a 2009 Der Spiegel   interview, who took it upon herself to bring home to radicalized UK Muslims that they were not who they thought they were!

In a breathtaking stroke of self-contradictory double talk, she presumed to dub the acts of terrorism perpetrated by Islamists in the name of Islam as “anti-Islamic activity.”
All of this comprises the rhetorical context for the more recent sycophantic oxymoronic drivel from Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton that there in “nothing Islamic” about the atrocities committed in the name of Islam by incontrovertibly Islamic organizations.
Clearly, in an intellectual climate such as this – where truth is condemned and dismissed as politically incorrect hate-speech – no effective response can be marshaled against the gathering storm facing Western civilization and the values of political liberalism that underpin it.
Such reticence and evasion was not always prevalent. In an era long before political-correctness crippled the ability to articulate the truth in the public sphere, far-sighted men warned of the impending clash.
Thus seven decades ago, Hilaire Belloc, the prominent Anglo-French writer and historian, raised the trenchant question: “Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the menace of an armed Muhammadan world… reappear again as the prime enemy of our civilization?” (The Great Heresies, 1938)

He was not alone in his sense of foreboding.
In the first edition of his The River War, published in 1899, Winston Churchill set out a withering critique of the effect Islam has on its followers, its debilitating effect on economies of nations that embrace it, and the enslavement of its luckless women.

While he admits that “individual Muslims may show splendid qualities,” he contrasts this with realities on the collective level, where “the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.”
Few who page through a recent Arab Human Development Report sponsored by the United Nations and independently authored by intellectuals and scholars from Arab countries, would dispute this today.
Churchill goes on to warn: No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Muhammadanism is a militant and proselytizing faith… and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science… the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”

But how long will the West remain “cradled in the strong arms of science?”
This is surely a question that should concentrate minds in the West. It is undoubtedly one that is gathering accelerating urgency in the wake of its appalling capitulation last July to the Iranian theocracy, bent  on its thinly disguised pursuit of weaponized nuclear capabilities — and intercontinental reach for their delivery.
Allow me conclude with the observations of a gay intellectual regarding the propagation of Islam in Europe, where private Islamic academies – subsidized by European governments – “reinforce the Koran-based…morality learned at home that prescribes severe penalties for female adulterers and rape victims (though not necessarily for rapists), and that demands… that homosexuals be put to death.”
With some foreboding he remarks: “If fundamentalist Muslims in Europe do not carry out these punishments, it is not because they’ve advanced beyond such thinking, but because they don’t have the power.”
Not yet.
This article first appeared in The Jerusalem Post.

P5+1 imbeciles!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Normalizing Iran

Why are liberals campaigning to make this most illiberal regime acceptable?


In Syria, Bashar Assad is trying to bring his enemies to heel by blocking humanitarian convoys to desperate civilians living in besieged towns. The policy is called “starve or kneel,” and it is openly supported by Hezbollah and tacitly by Iran, which has deployed its elite Quds Force to aid Mr. Assad’s war effort.

So what better time for right-thinking liberals to ask: “Is Iran really so evil?”

That’s the title of a revealing essay in Politico by Stephen Kinzer, a former New York Times reporter now at Brown University. “The demonization of Iran is arguably the most bizarre and self-defeating of all U.S. foreign policies,” Mr. Kinzer begins. “Americans view Iran not simply as a country with interests that sometimes conflict with ours but as a relentless font of evil.”

Mr. Kinzer’s essay was published Sunday, as sanctions were lifted on Tehran and four of America’s hostages came home after lengthy imprisonments. The Obama administration publicly insists that the nuclear deal does not mean the U.S. should take a benign view of Iran, but the more enthusiastic backers of the agreement think otherwise. “Our perception of Iran as a threat to vital American interests is increasingly disconnected from reality,” Mr. Kinzer writes. “Events of the past week may slowly begin to erode the impulse that leads Americans to believe patriotism requires us to hate Iran.”

What a weird thought. My own patriotism has never been touched one way or another by my views of Iran. Nor do I hate Iran—if by “Iran” one means the millions of people who marched alongsideNeda Agha-Soltan when she was gunned down by regime thugs in the 2009 Green Revolution, or the fellow travelers of Hashem Shaabani,the Arab-Iranian poet executed two years ago for “waging war on God,” or the thousands of candidates who are routinely barred from running for Parliament for being insufficiently loyal to the Supreme Leader.

This is the Iran that liberals like Mr. Kinzer ought to support, not the theocratic usurpers who claim to speak in Iran’s name while stepping on Iranian necks. But we are long past the day when a liberal U.S. foreign policy meant shaping our interests around our values—not the other way around—much less supporting the liberal aspirations of people everywhere, especially if they live in anti-American dictatorships.

Today’s liberal foreign policy, to adapt Churchill, is appeasement wrapped in realism inside moral equivalency. When it comes to Iran policy, that means believing that we have sinned at least as much against the Iranians as they have sinned against us; that our national-security interests require us to come to terms with the Iranians; and that the best way to allay the suspicions—and, over time, diminish the influence—of Iranian hard-liners is by engaging the moderates ever more closely and demonstrating ever-greater diplomatic flexibility.

That’s a neat theory, proved wrong by experience at every turn. The Carter administration hailed the Ayatollah Khomeini as “a saint.” Our embassy was seized. Ronald Reagan sent Khomeini a birthday cake, along with secret arms, to facilitate the release of hostages in Lebanon. A few hostages were released, while others were taken in their place. The world welcomed the election of “moderate” President Mohammad Khatami in 1997. Iran’s illicit nuclear facilities were exposed during his second term.

In 2009, on the eve of presidential elections, the New York Times’sRoger Cohen celebrated “the vibrancy of a changing, highly educated society” that he had found on his visits to Tehran. “The equating of Iran with terror today is simplistic,” he wrote. After the election, he ran for his life from the terror of the same street militia that had murdered Agha-Soltan.

Now we’re supposed to believe that the change Mr. Cohen and others had hoped for has finally arrived. The proof, supposedly, is that the regime has so far kept to its nuclear promises (in exchange for a $100 billion windfall), that it swiftly released U.S. sailors (after scoring a small propaganda coup), and that it let the other hostages go (though only after very nearly taking the wife and mother of one of those hostages in his turn, and then after an additional $1.7 billion reward from the U.S.).

Are these signs of a new-and-improved regime? Or merely one that is again being given good reasons to believe that it can always extract a bribe for its bad behavior? The notion of moral hazard, fundamental to economics, has a foreign-policy dimension, too. Any country that believes it will never be made to pay the price for the risks it takes will take ever-greater risks. It’s bad enough when the country in question is Greece. This is Iran.

Iran will become a “normal” country only when it ceases to be an Islamic Republic. In the meantime, the only question is how far we are prepared to abase ourselves in our quest to normalize it.