Friday, December 30, 2005
REQUIEM FOR THE TORY PARTY
by Srdja Trifkovic
Before starting I need to declare a personal interest. In my 51 years I’ve belonged to a political party for a total of 22 months and 8 days, as a student in England in 1975-77. In those two academic years I was a card-carrying member of the Conservative and Unionist Party (to use its little known full name). I was also an officer of the Federation of Conservative Students at the University of Sussex, the editor of the FCS monthly newsletter, and a member of Enoch Powell’s last faithful bastion in the Tory Party, the Monday Club. The 70s were not an easy time for people like me a red brick university, but non, rien de rien, je ne regrette rien . Standing up to the Trots, Stalinists and dikey “wimmin” was the right thing to do, and it was often fun.
It is therefore in sorrow rather than anger that I have to announce the death of the Tory Party. Feeling panicky after a string of electoral defeats, and determined that out-Blairing Blair is the way to regain power, three weeks ago it elected a new leader – a horrible, plasticky homo novus by the name of David Cameron. Let’s have this former manager of a chain of drinking establishments speak for himself.
Cameron believes the party needs to change its look, feel and identity, and perhaps even its very name, but not if it’s a mere rebranding exercise. The Tories must change and “be in tune” with a “modern compassionate Conservatism.”
He is a “believer in meritocracy ,” but in the selection of his party’s candidates for members of parliament he will practice affirmative action. He will draw a “priority list of candidates drawn up for target and Conservative-held seats with equal numbers of men and women and a significant proportion of black and ethnic minority candidates, and candidates with disabilities ” and embark on an “Intensive programme of headhunting and mentoring to attract the brightest and best women and ethnic minorities to apply to become candidates.”
On religion, traditionally the cornerstone of the Tory world outlook,Cameron says “I try to get to church more than Christmas and Easter, but perhaps not as often as I should, but I don’t feel I have a direct line.”
On world affairs, Cameron is an internationalist who believes in the supremacy of the United Nations and in the validity and usefulness of “humanitarian interventions.” Specifically, he believes the Conservative party needs to say much more about Darfur than it does about the plight of white farmers in Zimbabwe victimized by Mugabe. Asked what he would have done about Darfur, Cameron replied : “We should have pressed for the situation to have been described as genocide by the UN, a decision which would have prompted a series of interventions.”
Some weeks before his election on December 6 there had been a bout of media frenzy over whether David Cameron had taken drugs, or, to be precise, not whether but when exactly he had last snorted cocaine .
The Tory establishment, now firmly in the hands of PR executives from Islimngton and systems analysts from the Home Counties, responded with “so what, we know that, let’s focus on his policies.” But there are no Cameron policies; his crew insist on calling his rehearsed themes, “challenges.” Among them one would search in vain for any Tory buzzword :
“No heading of tax, crime, immigration, or Europe . . . Crime, for instance, gets looked at through the prisms of security, quality of life and social action; Europe through those of trade/aid, security and competitiveness. The idea is to avoid confirming prejudices and to keep an open mind. Suppose it turns out, for example, that immigration improves economic competitiveness, but also increases the danger of terrorism: you will then have to decide your final policy by weighing the advantage against the threat. You won’t let the policy precede the facts.”
Talking of immigration, Cameron’s Party chairman Francis Maude told the BBC it was important to show Tories did not have an “antagonism” and that they were “decent people.” In his words , immigration had been “fantastically good” for the United Kingdom.
No commentary is needed. People like Cameron and Maude mark the end of the Tory Party as we’ve known it, and as its previous custodians would have recognized it. As for the “fantastical goodness” please cheack out my article on “Britain’s Road to Dhimmitude ” of two months ago.
When I wrote this article I was not aware of the widely acclaimed Old Vic production of Tamburlaine the Great, Christopher Marlowe’s 16th century classic. Amidst the glowing reviews few noticed, however, that several insufficiently reverential references to Muhammad had been deleted from the production. Worse still, an essential scene in the play in which the Kuran is burned was also censored beyond recognition. In the original, “Tamburlaine” (Tamerlane) asks his servant to bring “the Turkish Alcoran, and all the heaps of superstitious books found in the temples of that Mahomet whom I have thought a god? they shall be burnt.” As they light a fire Tamburlaine challenges Mahomet to send a whirlwind that would save the Kuran from burning, or else punish the perpetrator. Then he declares,
Well, soldiers, Mahomet remains in hell;
He cannot hear the voice of Tamburlaine:
Seek out another godhead to adore;
The God that sits in heaven, if any god,
For he is God alone, and none but he.
Director David Farr explained that he did not want to upset Muslims. Simon Reade, artistic director of the theater, agreed that if they had not altered the original it “would have unnecessarily raised the hackles of a significant proportion of one of the world’s great religions.” Worse still, he claimed that the censored version was better than the original: “The burning of the Koran was ‘smoothed over,’ he said, so that it became just the destruction of ‘a load of books’ relating to any culture or religion. That made it more powerful, they claimed .”
It’s the kind of empowerment Messrs. Cameron and Maude approve of. Pass the sick bag, Alice.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
THE FALSE DILEMMA OF DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE
by Srdja Trifkovic
In a long article published on December 15 , the New York Timesdisclosed that soon after the September 11 attacks, “President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying.” Quoting unnamed government officials the paper revealed that, under a presidential order signed in 2002, the NSA has monitored the international telephone calls and e-mail messages of potential terror suspects.
A remarkable feature of the 3,800-word article, which focused on the legal, constitutional and operational issues implicit in the case, was its failure to explore the identity of those “Americans and others inside the United States” who have been subjected to NSA’s surveillance. This failure created the impression that just about any “American” may be subjected to such unwarranted and possibly illegal intrusion. The context of the article implied the possibility that most or all of the targeted persons were Muslims, of course, but it that was not stated. The ensuing controversy was presented by the mass media to the nation through the inflammatory headline, “Bush authorized spying on Americans.”
The Times ‘ unwillingness to disclose the exact identity of the NSA eavesdropping subjects, although that information must have been readily available to the paper from its unnamed government sources, is reminiscent of its refusal to disclose the religious identity of tens of thousands of who wreaked havoc in dozens of French suburbs last month. It routinely referred to the “youths,” or “rioters,” or “angry immigrants.” The fact that the rioting immigrant youths were Muslims, overwhelmingly so, was either omitted or treated as incidental to the story. Even when the Times acknowledged that “a majority of the youths committing the acts [of violence] are Muslim,” that important piece of information was mentioned more than two-thirds into a 1,400-word report and immediately neutered with the assertion that “the mayhem has yet to take on any ideological or religious overtones.”
In both cases, the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media were guilty of misconstruing reality for reasons rooted in their ideological prejudices and political preferences.
Here at home, glossing over the surveillance targets’ identity has two objectives. First of all, it presents President George W. Bush as an out-of-control autocrat in the making whose hoods may be eavesdropping on any one of us at any time. “We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator,” opined Newsweek‘s Jonathan Alter . Secondly, it also implies that a Muslim who has become a naturalized American citizen is so thoroughly and irrevocably “American,” that no hyphenated designation or qualifier is called for.
Abroad, concealing the rioters’ identity fits in with the liberal world view that reject the notion that faith can be a prime motivating factor in human affairs, or that importing Muslim immigrants may be in any way disadvantageous for the host country. Having reduced religion, politics and art to “narratives” and “metaphors” which merely reflect prejudices based on the distribution of power, the elite class represented by theNew York Times saw the rioters’ shout of ” Allahu akbar! ” as a mere idiosyncrasy that would be cured if the French state gave those “youths” more jobs, dark-skinned TV anchors, and, of course, lots of “affirmative action” in employment and education.
The optimal strategy for the jihadist activists in the United States would have been to lay low and not to disturb the misperception that all Americans are potential NSA targets. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) did the opposite, however, by declaring that the spying, which included the surveillance of mosques and Muslim homes for radiation, may “lead to the perception that we are no longer a nation ruled by law, but instead one in which fear trumps constitutional rights.” “The message they are sending through these kinds of actions is that being Muslim is sufficient evidence to warrant scrutiny,” said CAIR’s spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.
Other “Americans” of the same persuasion were equally indignant. Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, director of outreach for Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, called the surveillance another example of unwarranted activity-“both unwarranted from the standpoint of spying on Muslims who are only trying to observe their rituals and unwarranted in terms of not having proper judicial review.” Mukit Hossain, trustee of the All Dulles Area Muslims Society in Sterling, said the government “is harassing the immigrants and citizens” but has not found one terrorist.
Mr. Hossain is wrong. Had it not been for what he calls “harrassment of immigrants and citizens,” BrooklynBridge may no longer be standing. Iyman Faris, the only named “American” target of the National Security Agency’s secret warrantless wiretap program, was sentenced in October 2003 to 20 years for providing material support and resources to Islamic terrorists. He pleaded guilty to helping plan al Qaeda attacks in the United States after meeting Usama bin Laden at an Afghanistan terror training camp. Faris planned to destroy BrooklynBridge by cutting its suspension cables and tried to buy equipment for the attack while appearing to be a law-abiding immigrant.
Faris was an “American,” all right, every bit as American as Messrs. Hossain and Abdul-Malik. Born in Pakistan in 1969, he came to the United States in 1994 and became a U.S. citizen in 1999. For many years he “appeared to be a hard-working, independent truck driver,” Attorney General John Ashcroft told a news conference, but he led a secret double life and “worked in concert with al Qaeda, our enemies, to plot potential attacks against America and our citizens here in his adopted homeland.” “Adopted” indeed: only months after becoming U.S. citizen Faris established links to al Qaeda. In 2000 he traveled from his native Pakistan to Afghanistan where he met bin Laden and senior operational leaders who gave him orders for when he returned to the United States. Emboldened by the controversy, Faris is now considering a lawsuit against President Bush for “illegally” obtaining information that was used to exact his confession and subsequent conviction.
The threat posed by Faris and his ilk today is different in degree to that America faced during the Cold War, but not in kind. It demands a similar response, and the involvement of the NSA-at home and abroad-is the right and proper part of that response.
The legal and constitutional dilemma, such as whether it should spy on “Americans” at home or not and whether a court warrant is needed or not, is worthy of debate in principle. It is both false and unnecessary under the circumstances. If and when all persons engaged in Islamic activism are excluded from America, there will be no need for any such domestic surveillance. We don’t need any legislation to protect CAIR’s clients’ privacy, we need the law that will treat any naturalized citizen’sm or resident alien’s known or suspected adherence to an Islamic world outlook as excludable -on political , rather than “religious” grounds.
All Americans-real Americans, that is, and not those who falsely take the oath but preach jihad and Sharia-will be spared the worry about Mr. Bush listening in to their phone conversations if Islamic activism is treated as grounds for the loss of acquired U.S. citizenship and deportation. The citizenship of any naturalized American who preaches jihad, inequality of “infidels” and women, the establishment of theShari’a law, etc ., should be revoked and that person promptly deported to the country of origin.
It is to be hoped that such measures would lead to a swift reduction in the number of mosques and Islamic centers in the United States. The remnant would have to be registered with the Attorney General and subjected to legal limitations and security supervision that applies to cults prone to violence and “hate groups.” All over the Western world Islamic centers have provided platforms for exhortations to the faithful to support causes and to engage in acts that are morally reprehensible, legally punishable, and detrimental to the host country’s national security. Their message is seditious, incompatible with the the U.S. Constitution and with common decency. Subjecting them to the 24/7, relentless supervision by every government agency needed for the task, and doing it right now, is both necessary and justified.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
PEARL HARBOR: WAS THERE A CONSPIRACY?
by Srdja Trifkovic
The name of Pearl Harbor, a naval base in the middle of the Pacific, was virtually unknown before December 7, 1941. Until that morning most Americans had favored staying out of “Europe’s war.” Two fateful hours changed that for ever.
Was America attacked “suddenly and deliberately,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt put it in his address on December 8? What did really happen? The war was still going on when the official version came under critical scrutiny. First John T. Flynn published his seminal essay, ” The Truth about Pearl Harbor ,” followed in early 1945 by William Neumann’s brochure, The Genesis of Pearl Harbor and in 1947 by George Morgenstern’s Pearl Harbor: The Story of the Secret War . Since then Pearl Harbor has become one of the most exhaustively reserached episodes in all of history, but the controversy about its causes and circumstances continues unabated. Harry Elmer Barnes wrote in 1968 that “only a small fraction of the American people are any better acquainted with the realities of the responsibility for the attack than they were when President Roosevelt delivered his ‘Day of Infamy’ oration.” If Barnes were still with us, there is no doubt that he would repeat that verdict.
The revisionist position can be summarized as follows: Roosevelt wanted to enter the war in Europe, especially after the fall of France (June 1940), because he believed that without American intervention the Nazis would conquer the Old Continent. In this striving he was supported by the old East Coast elite, which was traditionally Anglophile, and by the increasingly influential Jewish lobby. After Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union (June 22, 1941) the Left-deeply embedded in the Roosevelt administration-also became pro-war. After meeting the President at the Atlantic Conference (August 14, 1941) Churchill noted the “astonishing depth of Roosevelt’s intense desire for war.”
There was a problem, however: FDR could not overcome the isolationist resistance to “Europe’s war” felt by most Americans and their elected representatives. According to the revisionists, Roosevelt therefore resorted to subterfuge and maneuvred the Japanese into attacking the United States. His real target was Hitler: he expected the German dictator to abide by the Tripartite Pact and declare war on America, and hoped that Hitler’s decision would be facilitated by a display of America’s apparent vulnerability and unpreparedness. Accordingly, even though Roosevelt was well aware of the impending Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he let it happen, and was relieved and pleased when it did take place.
The evidence to support this interpretation is circumstantial but extensive. The more important elements of the scenario proceeded as follows:
On October 7, 1940, a Navy intelligence analyst, Lt.Cdr. Arthur McCollum, prepared a memorandum for Roosevelt on how to force Japan into war with U.S. “It is not believed that in the present state of political opinion the United States government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado,” McCollum wrote. He therefore suggested an eight-point action plan in pursuit of two strategic objectives: to cajole Japan into attacking preemptively; and to facilitate that attack by not interfering with Japanese preparations and by making the potential target vulnerable. Specific measures that McCollum recommended were:
A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore.
B. Make an arrangement with Holland for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies.
C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang Kai-Shek.
D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Philippines or Singapore.
E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient.
F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands.
G. Make the Dutch refuse to supply Japan with oil oil.
H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire.
“If by these means Japan could be led to commit an overt act of war,” McCollum concluded, “so much the better.” Over the ensuing months all of his recommendations were put into practice. Furthermore, the denial of oil from the Dutch East Indies was followed, on August 1, 1941, by the imposition of the U.S. oil embargo on Japan.
In January 1941 FDR’s closest advisor and fervent interventionist Harry Hopkins met Churchill in London and told him , “The President is determined that we shall win the war together. Make no mistake about it. He has sent me here to tell you that at all costs and by all means he will carry you through, no matter what happens to him-there is nothing he will not do so far as he has human power.” Ultra-secret U.S.-British military consultations that began later that month gave an added meaning to the word “we” used by Hopkins. Even a friendly biographer of FDR commented that “if the isolationists had known the full extent of the secret alliance between the United States and Britain, their demands for impeachment would have rumbled like thunder throughout the land.”
On 23 June 1941 -one day after Hitler’s attack on Russia-Secretary of the Interior and one of FDR’s closest advisors, Harold Ickes, wrote a memo for the President in which he pointed out that “there might develop from the embargoing of oil to Japan such a situation as would make it not only possible but easy to get into this war in an effective way. And if we should thus indirectly be brought in, we would avoid the criticism that we had gone in as an ally of communist Russia.”
The “situation” was developing so smoothly that less than four months later Ickes looked upon the forthcoming attack as a foregone conclusion and gloated over his wisdom in helping provoke it. On October 18 noted in his diary, “For a long time I have believed that our best entrance into the war would be by way of Japan.” By that time the U.S. had cracked key Japanese codes and FDR had translations of all key messages. On 24 September 1941 Washington deciphered a message from the Naval Intelligence Headquarters in Tokyo to Japan’s consul-general in Honolulu, requesting grid of exact locations of U.S. Navy ships in the harbor. Commanders in Hawaii were not warned .
Less than two weeks before the attack, on November 25, 1941,Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson wrote in his diary that FDR said a Japanese attack was likely within days, and stressed the need to “maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without too much danger to ourselves.” “In spite of the risk involved, however, in letting the Japanese fire the first shot, we realized that in order to have the full support of the American people it was desirable to make sure that the Japanese be the ones to do this so that there should remain no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who were the aggressors.”
On that same day FDR received a “positive war warning” from Churchill that the Japanese would strike against America at the end of the first week in December. This warning caused the President to do an abrupt about-face on plans for a time-buying modus vivendi with Japan, and it resulted in Secretary of State Hull’s provocative note of 26 November 1941 demanding full Japanese withdrawal from Indochina and all China. U.S. Ambassador to Japan called this “the document that touched the button that started the war.”
Also on November 26 Washington ordered both aircraft carriers, the Enterprise and the Lexington, out of Pearl Harbor “as soon as possible.” This order included stripping Pearl of 50 planes, or 40 percent of its already inadequate fighter protection.
On November 29 Hull told United Press reporter Joe Leib that Pearl Harbor would be attacked on December 7. The New York Times reported on December 8 (“Attack Was Expected,” p. 13) that the U.S. knew of the attack a week earlier.
On December 1 Office of Naval Intelligence, ONI, 12th Naval District in San Francisco found the missing Japanese fleet by correlating reports from the four wireless news services and several shipping companies that they were getting signals west of Hawaii. On 5 December FDR wrote to the Australian Prime Minister, “There is always the Japanese to consider. Perhaps the next four or five days will decide the matters.”
Particularly indicative is Roosevelt’s behavior on the day of the attack itself. Harry Hopkins, who was alone with FDR when he received the news, wrote that the President was unsurprised and expressed “great relief.” Later in the afternoon Harry Hopkins wrote that the war cabinet conference “met in not too tense an atmosphere because I think that all of us believed that in the last analysis the enemy was Hitler . . . and that Japan had given us an opportunity.” That same evening FDR said to his cabinet, “We have reason to believe that the Germans have told the Japanese that if Japan declares war, they will too. In other words, a declaration of war by Japan automatically brings . . . “-at which point he was interrupted, but his expectations were perfectly clear. CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow met Roosevelt at midnight and was surprised at FDR’s calm reaction.
The following morning Roosevelt admitted to his speechwriter Rosenman that “Hitler was still the first target, but he feared that a great many Americans would insist that we make the war in the Pacific at least equally important with the war against Hitler.” Jonathan Daniels, administrative assistant and press secretary to FDR, later said “the blow was heavier than he had hoped it would necessarily be . . . But the risks paid off; even the loss was worth the price.” Roosevelt confirmed this to Stalin at Tehran on November 30, 1943, by saying that “if the Japanese had not attacked the US he doubted very much if it would have been possible to send any American forces to Europe.”
Historian Jonathan Toland has made Pearl Harbor revisionism academically respectable with his book “Infamy: Pearl Harbor and its Aftermath “. “Was it possible to imagine a President who remarked, ‘This means war,’ after reading the message [of December 6],” Toland wrote, “not instantly summoning to the White House his Army and Navy commanders as well as his Secretaries of War and Navy?” Instead ,
Stimson, Marshall, Stark and Harry Hopkins had spent most of the night of December 6 at the White House with the President. All were waiting for what they knew was coming: an attack on Pearl Harbor. The comedy of errors on the sixth and seventh appears incredible. It only makes sense if it was a charade, and Roosevelt and the inner circle had known about the attack.
Churchill later wrote that FDR and his top advisors “knew the full and immediate purpose of their enemy” but allowed events to take their course because “Japanese attack upon the U.S. was a vast simplification of their problems and their duty. How can we wonder that they regarded the actual form of the attack, or even its scale, as incomparably less important than the fact that the whole American nation would be united?”
FDR’s real target, Adolf Hitler, duly declared war on the United States three days after Pearl Harbor, thus ensuring Germany’s defeat. The ensuing “Good War” gave birth first to a superpower, then to a global empire. It swept away doubters and America-Firsters, stigmatized “isolationists,” and legitimized a total war for unconditional surrender. It created nuclear weapons, the Cold War, the military-industrial complex, the “intelligence community.” It paved the way for Bill Clinton’s “humanitarian” intervention in Kosovo and George W. Bush’s Operation Iraqi Freedom. The proponents of America’s “benevolent global hegemony” deny the existence of a Pearl Harbor conspiracy as strenuously as their predecessors have been denying it for half a century; but in their hearts they’ll admit that, whether it was a setup or not, Pearl Harbor was a Very Good Thing.
Friday, December 02, 2005
“NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR VICTORY IN IRAQ”
by Srdja Trifkovic
In advance of President George W. Bush’s speech to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis on November 30 the White House released a 35-page brochure called “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” (NSVI). Like the Holy Roman Empire of yore, this document’s title has three misnomers in three words: it is not “national,” it is not a “strategy,” and it promises no meaningful “victory.”
The last time America achieved the degree of domestic consensus on a foreign issue that justified the notion of a “national strategy” was during World War II. Whether the attack on Pearl Harbor was hoped for by FDR (or even known to him in advance) is perhaps debatable. But that attack, and Hitler’s ultimate folly of declaring war on the United States on December 10, 1941, enabled Roosevelt to create an overwhelming national consensus for the war-including the notion that defeating Germany would have a priority in the overall strategic design.
The wisdom and honesty of political reasoning behind America’s strategy in 1941-1945 or 1917-1918 could be doubted, but not the existence of the strategy itself. In Iraq, by contrast, Mr. Bush and his team continue to confuse operational effectiveness with strategy. Both the White House document and Mr. Bush’s latest speech (and others preceding it) have failed to make this crucial distinction. The stated U.S. strategic objective is defined in the document as “Helping the Iraqi People Defeat the Terrorists and Build an Inclusive Democratic State.” This definition, its elaboration, and the President’s oft-repeated justifications, are all eerily reminiscent of Robert McNamara’s outline of American goals in Vietnam, stated in 1964 :
“The Vietnamese have asked our help. We have given it. We shall continue to give it. We do so in their interest; and we do so in our own clear self-interest . . . Our own security is strengthened by the determination of others to remain free, and by our commitment to assist them. We will not let this member of our family down, regardless of its distance from our shores. The ultimate goal of the United States . . . is to help maintain free and independent nations which can develop politically, economically, and socially and which can be responsible members of the world community. In this region and elsewhere many peoples share our sense of the value of such freedom and independence. They have taken the risks and made the sacrifices linked to the commitment to membership in the family of the free world . . . It is not right or even expedient-nor is it in our nature-to abandon them when the going is difficult. The U.S. role in South Vietnam [is] to answer the call of the South Vietnamese . . . to help them save their country for themselves.”
“The rest is history,” and it looks like repeating itself. The White House document and President Bush’s speech of November 30, 2005, rest on the same set of claims as McNamara’s statement from 1964:
We are intervening to help a willing ally (“we’re helping the Iraqis build a free society, with inclusive democratic institutions,” Mr. Bush said);
We do it not only for their sake but also because it is in our self-interest (“Victory in Iraq is a Vital U.S. Interest,” says NSVI), and
Our commitment is firm: “America will not abandon Iraq,” Mr. Bush said, repeating the same word used by McNamara.
But the most important similarity is the assertion that with our help our clients (Iraqis, Vietnamese) “will take more responsibility for their security and fewer U.S. forces will be needed to complete the mission” (Bush). This is also the weakest point in both arguments.
Mr. Bush’s figures on the number of Iraqi army and police combat battalions “fighting side by side with coalition forces” pale in comparison with the number and size of South Vietnamese army units (ARVN) fielded by the government in Saigon in the third year of U.S. intervention there. By 1972, with the U.S. forces effectively withdrawn, it had a million soldiers under arms. In the preceding three years it had suffered 22,000 killed in battle per annum without collapsing: “Vietnamization” appeared to be working. In 1975 it nevertheless succumbed to a massive assault from the north. Why? In the end ARVN’s problem was (1) uncertain loyalty of its troops, (2) incoherence of the government in Saigon, and (3) political impossibility of reintroducing American forces when the crisis came.
It is to be feared that similar pitfalls are present in Iraq. Mr. Bush praised the success of Iraqi forces in Tal Afar but failed to mentionthat the real conflict there was between Sunni Turkmen fighters native to the city (70 percent) and their old enemies, Kurds, wearing the uniform of the new Iraqi army. If push comes to shove there can be no doubt that those “Iraqi” soldiers who pacified Tal Afar will be loyal to their ethnic leaders Talabani and Barzani, or their successors, rather than to any central government in Baghdad.
The Shiites are also settling their own sectarian accounts under the “Iraqi” mask. The Badr Brigade, a pro-Iranian Shiite militia, has been given a free hand by Bayn Jabr, Iraq’s minister of the interior who is also a member of the Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), to terrorize Sunni Arabs The Supreme Council emerged as Iraq’s strongest political force at national elections in January and now effectively controls much of the government. Since then members of the Badr have spread out of their strongholds in the south and killed dozens of men in a sustained campaign of intimidation in Sunni neighborhoods. Last June media reports documented several instances in which Sunni men who had been detained by uniformed men in police vehicles were later found dead. Last month the U.S. forces discovered a secret dungeon in the basement of the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, operated by the Badr, with 173 mainly Sunni inmates who had been tortured. Oppressed for decades under Saddam, Iraq’s Shiites are using the American occupation to take revenge on the Sunni community as a whole.
The Iraqi operation is in deep trouble, and Mr. Bush’s “national strategy” will do little to rescue it or to reassure the nation that the effort is worth yet more blood and treasure. The notion of a “national” strategy implies the existence of an overall consensus that transcends party-political divisions. In reality no such consensus has ever existed on Iraq, and its emergence at this stage is impossible. The nation is deeply and ever more bitterly divided. The latest CNN-USA Today-Gallup pollindicates that 63 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s Iraq policy and only 35 percent approve. This represents an almost exact reversal of those ratios since May 2003. It replicates the shiftof popular opinion on Vietnam between 1965 and 1968, or on Korea between 1950 and 1953. It is notable, however, that the erosion of support has proceeded more quickly this time: already by the summer of 2004 over a half of all Americans thought the war was a mistake. The nation’s commitment is notably weaker because the reasons for war are far more dubious. North Korea was the blatant aggressor in 1950; the rationale for Vietnam could be argued on geopolitical grounds in the late 1960s, when Brezhnev ruled in Moscow and Mao in Peking.
In Iraq the real reasons for war remain obscure, and it may be some years before we find out what combination of interests and motives caused it. We do know, however, that those reasons are not the ones publically invoked by our leaders.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
by Srdja Trifkovic
On November 22 an Arab-American student was convicted of joining Al Qaeda and plotting to assassinate President Bush and hijack airplanes. The student, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali (24) is an American citizen who grew up in Northern Virginia. He faces the possibility of life in prison when he is sentenced next February.
This is the latest in a series of terrorist cases involving Muslim immigrants to the United States and American-born converts to Islam. It additionally confirms our considered opinion that the application of political criteria in determining the eligibility of prospective visitors or immigrants to the U.S. should become an essential ingredient of a long-term anti-terrorist strategy, whereby Islamic affiliations should be treated as political , rather than “religious” activity.
The evidence to support this conclusion is overwhelming. According to a detailed survey of the attitudes of British Muslims prepared for theDaily Telegraph in the immediate aftermath of the London bombings of July 7, 2005, one in four sympathizes with motives of terrorists, and six per cent insist that the bombings were “fully justified.” In absolute numbers this means there are over 100,000 Muslims in Great Britain who are either prepared to carry out terrorist acts, or ready to support those who do. And a substantial majority-56 percent-say that whether or not they sympathize with the bombers, they can at least understand why they behave in this way. The sheer scale of Muslim alienation from British society that the survey reveals is remarkable: nearly a third of them, 32 per cent, believe that “Western society is decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to bring it to an end.”
The image of America in the Muslim world is far more negative than that of Great Britain or any other European country. Over four-fifths, 81 percent, of Pakistanis “dislike” America while only 10 percent have a favorable image of it. Furthermore, large percentages in many countries with significant Muslim populations-73 percent in Lebanon-also believe that suicide bombings are justified . That is the baggage that all too many Muslim immigrants bring with them to America, and it is transmitted to their American-born children. The sense of hostile detachment from any recognizably American identity and values that breeds terrorist intent is not confined to any single group of Muslims. It transcends class and affects students, Ivy League-educated doctors, and criminals alike. The problem is not limited to those Muslims who come to the United States as adults: in December 2003 five U.S.-born Muslim youths from upstate New York were convicted of aiding Al-Qaeda and plotting attacks on Americans.
A similar mindset is endemic among American-born converts to Islam, both white and black. Last August two African-American converts to Islam , Gregory Vernon Patterson and Levar Haney Washington, were arrested on suspicion of planning terror attacks in the Los Angeles area. The two had joined Jam’iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh (JIS, Arabic for “Assembly of Authentic Islam”) while serving prison sentences for violent crimes in Sacramento. JIS advocates attacks on “infidels” including the United States government. Hammad Riaz Samana, a 21-year-old student at Santa Monica College with no prior criminal record, was also arrested as their associate.
The tone was set in 1996 by Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, an NBA player who refused to obey the League’s demand that players stand in a “dignified posture” when the national anthem is played. Beginning with the 1995-96 season, the 27-year-old former Baptist from Mississippi who had converted to Islam five years earlier had remained seated during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. He declared that as a Muslim he could not pay homage to the American flag, which he called a “symbol of oppression, of tyranny.”
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf openly admitted what many of his co-religionists know but deny: that a practicing Muslim cannot be loyal to the United States by definition. The basis of the social and legal order and source of all obligation in Islam is the Kuran, the final revelation of Allah’s will that is to be obeyed by all creation. His divine sovereignty is irreconcilable with popular sovereignty, the keystone of democracy. For a Muslim to declare that he accepts the Constitution of the United States as the highest law is an act of apostasy, punishable by death under Islamic law.
The sharia, to a Muslim, is not an addition to the “secular” legal code with which it coexists; it is the only true code, the only basis of obligation. To be legitimate, all political power therefore must rest exclusively with those who enjoy Allah’s authority on the basis of his revealed will. Politics is not “part of Islam,” as this would imply that, in origin, it is a distinctly separate sphere of existence that is then eventually amalgamated with Islam. Politics is the intrinsic core of the Islamic imperative of Allah’s sovereignty.
The result of that imperative is that among some three million Muslims in the United States of America there are sufficient numbers of terrorist sympathizers and active assets to necessitate expenditure of some $300 billion annually in direct and indirect homeland security costs, excluding military operations abroad. That money would not need to be spent if America had been prudent enough to devise a sane immigration policy back in the days of Lyndon Johnson. The tangible cost of the presence of each Muslim man, woman and child to the American taxpayer is at least $100,000 a year. The cost of the general unpleasantness associated with the terrorist threat and its impact on the quality of our lives is, of course, incalculable.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
THE RACIAL AND RELIGIOUS HATRED BILL: A MILESTONE ON BRITAIN’S ROAD TO DHIMMITUDE
by Srdja Trifkovic
The House of Lords is clashing with Tony Blair’s Labour government over its proposed Racial and Religious Hatred Bill . This is an Orwellian piece of legislation. Its real purpose of preventing any meaningful discussion of Islam. If passed it would enable authorities to charge people with “inciting religious hatred” even if they speak or write the truth about the Kuran, the hadith, the historical practice of jihad, or the long-term aspirations of the Muslim diaspora in the West.
The proposed measure has been denounced by human rights groups and prominent individuals as a new blasphemy law in a dangerous new guise. Stephen Fry, the actor, said the plans were unworkable : “Religion, surely, if it is worth anything, doesn’t need protection against anything I can say.” Rowan Atkinson, one of Britain’s best known comedians, has warned that the prime motivating energy for the Bill did not come from communities seeking protection from bullying, but from individuals with a more aggressive, fundamentalist agenda, those who have sought, from the very day of the publication in 1989 of Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses, to immunise religions against criticism and ridicule-or at least to promote legislation that is so sinister and intimidating, it can provide that immunity without even the need to prosecute anyone. In other words, to impose self-censorship.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the intended criminalization of “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” was hailed by Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, as a “long overdue” measure. Sher Khan, chairman of the group’s public affairs committee,criticized opponents of the bill , and particularly Mr. Atkinson, for having created “a media frenzy by claiming that the proposed law will ban criticism of religious beliefs; it certainly will not.”
The bill was rejected by the Lords just before last spring’s general election when the government tried to get it through as part of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act. Prime Minister Tony Blair subsequently included the passage of the Bill into his party’s election manifesto, and that was used by Labour’s candidates as a means of attracting Muslim votes during the campaign. The Tories and the Liberal Democrats, along with many Labour peers, believe the proposed law would undermine freedom of speech. A broad coalition led by Lord Lester, the Lib-Dem peer, has introduced a number of amendments to the bill aimed at protecting freedom of speech. “It would lead to the worst possible result if this defective legislation were pushed through,” he said, “so we need to present amendments which would protect groups like the Muslims, but also safeguard freedom of expression.”
Baroness Cox, a Tory peer, warns that “the proposed law may increase tensions between communities rather than reduce them.” She pointed out that a similar law introduced in Australia has led to the prosecution of two Christian pastors, Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot, who were charged under Victoria’s rather similar “Racial and Religious Vilification Act” with inciting hatred because they analyzed the nature of jihad, aspirations of Muslims in the west, and the connection between the laws of jihad and the treatment of non-Muslims under Islam. Cox also points out that under the proposed bill, people accused of inciting religious hatred could not rely on the defence of claiming they had simply been speaking the truth about a particular religion.
To understand what is going on in London today, we need to go to Teheran in February 1989, where Ayatollah Khomeini issued a remarkable pronouncement :
I inform all zealous Muslims of the world that the author of the book entitled The Satanic Verses-which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran-and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content are sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they may be found, so that no one else will dare to insult the Muslim sanctities. [W]hoever is killed on this path is a martyr.
Salman Rushdie was a British citizen born to a Muslim family in India but living in England. The mortal sin of this writer of secularist persuasion was his attempt to confront in fictional form what he calls “Actually Existing Islam”-“the political and priestly power structure that presently dominates and stifles Muslim societies”-with the uncertainties governing the circumstances under which the Kuran came into existence. Khomeini died a few months later but the edict stayed because, contrary to widespread belief, it was not a fatwa-valid only while the issuing authority is alive- but a hukm “which is permanent and it will stay in place until it is carried out,” according to the authoritative judgment of Ayatollah Abdallah Javadi-Amoli.
That the leader of the Iranian theocracy openly called for an act of terrorism-the murder of a British citizen on foreign soil-was the first extraordinary aspect of the Rushdie affair. The act was scandalous, and should have prompted not only Great Britain but also every other country that deems itself civilized to sever diplomatic relations with Iran, to demand an unconditional public retraction, an apology, and a compensation for the writer. That did not happen, and when European Community members shied away even from a common expression of disapproval towards the Iranian regime, a jubilant Khomeini gloated that Europe was “humiliated and disgraced.” That did not happen even in the summer of 1991, when the Italian translator of The Satanic Verses was badly wounded during an attempt on his life, and the Japanese translator of the novel, Hitoshi Igarashi, was stabbed to death near his university office in Tokyo. Khomeini’s verdict remained in force from beyond his grave.
Commenting on Khomeini’s announcement, prominent novelistAnthony Burgess wondered if “our British Muslims will be eager to read that great vindication of free speech, which is John Milton’s Areopagitica.” His hunch was right: “our” “British” Muslims appeared to agree enthusiastically with Khomeini’s verdict, and that was the second remarkable feature of the affair. They did so publically and en masse. “I think we should kill Salman Rushdie’s whole family,” Faruq Mughal screamed as he emerged from a West London mosque. Sayed Abdul Quddus, the Muslim leader in Bradford, declared that Rushdie deserved hanging: “It is Islamic law. He must die.” Pop star Yusuf Islam (a.k.a. Cat Stevens) agreed, repeatedly, on TV and elsewhere. An affluent London-based property developer told reporters, “If I see him, I will kill him straight away. Take my name and address. One day I will kill him.” The president of the mosque in the West Midlands city of Dudley opined that “ninety-nine per cent of Muslims would be prepared to kill him.” Parvez Akhtar, a financial advisor from Bradford, told a reporter that “if Salman Rushdie came here, he would be torn to pieces. He is a dead man.”
Open incitement to murder was given wide publicity, with impunity for the culprits: Mohammed Sidiqqi, president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Great Britain, said he would welcome an opportunity to kill the author himself. “His mind must be tormented for the rest of his life unless he asks forgiveness to almighty Allah,” said Iqbal Sacranie of the UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs, who was subsequently made a Knight of the Realm- he is now Sir Iqbal -and who is such an enthusiastic supporter of Blair’s Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.
Those British Muslims who were not in favor of killing Rushdie merely feared the consequences for their community of that deed, not its moral or theological soundness. Statements similar to those quoted came from all ends of the Muslim community’s social, educational, and ethnic spectrum. Those who did not approve of any threat against Rushdie as immoral and wicked may have been out there, but they chose to stay quiet.
The third symptomatic aspect of the affair was the widespread sentiment in the British elite class that-lip service to the freedom of speech notwithstanding-Mr. Rushdie really had it coming, or at least that Muslim anger is understandable even if Khomeini’s verdict is not, and that the anger should be appeased. Lord Dacre (previously known as Hugh Trevor-Roper, the historian of World War II) famously declared that he “would not shed a tear if some British Muslims, deploring his manners, should waylay him in a dark street and seek to improve them. If that should cause him thereafter to control his pen, society would benefit and literature would not suffer.” There was no outcry of the elites in defense of one of the fundamental principles of democracy, the freedom of speech.
The politicians unsurprisingly wanted to have it both ways. Deputy leader of the Labour Party Roy Hattersley defended “free speech” but went on to call for the paperback edition of the “Verses” not to be published because a real offence had been caused to Muslims: for Rushdie to hold on the paperback would signify his regret for the offence and assuage Muslim anger. In the Midlands city of Leicester the local Member of Parliament and a leading figure in the Asian community in Great Britain led thousands of Muslim demonstrators calling for Rushdie’s death-but then telephoned the author a week later to sympathize with his predicament . The deputy chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality declared that Britain could not afford to have “a large, proud and law-abiding minority withdrawing in a mood of deep sulk,” while the Crown Prosecution Service refused to authorize the bringing by the police of any charges of incitement to murder Rushdie against those calling for his death. British historian David Selbourne notes that the Muslims have made ample use of their realization that western liberal societies were fearful of the rise of Islamic self-confidence and strength, and ever more deeply divided over how to respond to it. The results were grim :
In 1989 and 1990 many Muslims in Britain made Rushdie the scapegoat for their troubles. In 2005, as the Islamic advance accelerates and anti-Americanism grows, Muslims throughout the world, now greatly strengthened by western liberal support, continue to blame everyone but themselves for Islamism’s violences and the angers that they arouse.
Almost 17 years later, Prime Minister Tony Blair is a major source of that “western liberal support” and a leading character witness for Islam in the West. “What happened in America was not the work of Islamic terrorists, it was not the work of Muslim terrorists,” he declared after meeting with a group of Muslim “community leaders” at 10 Downing Street in the immediate aftermath of 9-11. “It was the work of terrorists, pure and simple” who must not be honored “with any misguided religious justification,” because they “contravened all the tenets of Islam”:
It is . . . explicitly contrary to Islamic law to kill innocent civilians, to murder women and children and non-combatants. Islam is a peace-loving, tolerant, religion. Many of the world’s religions, indeed including Christianity, draw from the same spiritual heritage. We share the same values, and the same respect for the sanctity of human life . . . [W]e know of no specific threat in relation to this country and it is important that we are not alarmist about it. And I mean frankly some of the reports have been alarmist.
Echoing the Prime Minnister, his Home Office Minister John Denham pledged to cut out the “cancer of Islamophobia” infecting Britain, and declared that “the real Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and understanding.” He called on the media to avoid promoting “a distorted or caricatured or prejudiced” view of Muslims or the Islamic faith. Dr. Richard Stone, chairman of the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, criticized the Blair government for not addressing “in a deep way” the anti-Muslim prejudice in Britain: “There is now . . . mounting concern that the already fragile foothold gained by Muslim communities in Britain is threatened by ignorance and intolerance.” He added that the only area where there had been major improvement was “within Muslim communities themselves.” The key finding of his commission was that 9-11 had made life more difficult for Muslims. It castigated British public bodies for failing to address “institutional Islamophobia” and called for changes in the law to better protect Muslim communities (i.e., introduce censorship) and “a major effort” (i.e., affirmative action) to bring more Muslims into public life. The Director of Public Prosecutions expressed concern that the war on terror is “alienating whole communities” in Great Britain.
Collectively these and other members of London’s elite class have contributed to the creation of a culture of Muslim victimhood in which “Islamophobia,” defined both as a legal crime and a moral outrage, inhibited serious debate on the causes of terrorism. Since then thousands of people have been murdered in jihadist attacks, in Bali, Moscow, Casablanca, Istanbul, Madrid, Beslan, Sharm-el-Sheik, Nairobi, and dozens of other places. On July 7, 2005, London’s turn came. The suicide bombers were four young British citizens, Muslim by religion, but born and bred in England: they attended British state schools, traveled on British passports, and spoke with Yorkshire accents. They also hated England and its people with such intensity that they were prepared to sacrifice their own lives in order to kill as many of them as possible. They were coldly premeditated, practicing their attacks on a dry run on June 28, nine days before their bombs killed 52 people and wounded 200. Mohammad Sidique Khan, the lead suicide bomber, recorded a video in which he declared, “We are at war and I am a solider.”
It has been known for years that trained al-Qaeda terrorists were present in the United Kingdom and operated in classic small cell structures. In December 2002, only a day after the arrest of seven Muslims suspected of terrorism in London and Edinburgh, British government sources acknowledged the existence of terrorist cells in the country and predicted that the most likely threat would take the form of a “explosives left in a public place” and attacks on transport networksBut when asked if the 7/7 bombings were the work of Islamic terrorists, the deputy commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, Brian Paddick, responded that the culprits “certainly were not Islamic terrorists, because Islam and terrorism simply don’t go together.” He repeated, almost word for word, Tony Blair’s assurances on the subject given four years earlier.
Paddick’s boss, the Met’s Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, is out-Blairing his better known namesake. He takes pride in his force’s “cultural and community resources unit” that enables police to call in Somalian-born officers to a Somalian case, but admits that “we do have some trouble providing Inuits.” Six months before the London bombs he made the unbelievable statement that “there is nothing wrong with being an Islamic fundamentalist.” When a journalist suggested that the family of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film maker who was killed for questioning Islamic attitudes to women, could beg to differ on that one, Sir Ian replied ,
“There were lots of fundamentalist Muslims who didn’t shoot him.” So that’s okay? “Just wait,” he says sharply. “Look at Jerry Springer. Christian fundamentalists objected very strongly but they didn’t shoot the producer. And nor do 99.9 percent of Muslims want the sort of extremism that leads to violence. They know the consequences of terrorists claiming to be Muslim, so our job is to help. Bridges will be built.”
It is to be feared that if and when London’s “7/7” happens again, possibly on a far grander scale, the sleepwalking of those who are supposed to protect Britain will become more determined than ever before. With stern illiberalism that belies their self-professed respect for other cultures and belief systems, they will continue to deny respect to the bombers who sacrifice their lives for the sake of their faith by denying them the right to define themselves. Khan and his three associates died for Islam, but Blair, Blair & Co. insist that they could do no such thing.
Blairism is all-pervasive in the academia that informs the policy-makers. “The bombs that killed more than 50 people in the heart of London in July served only to reinforce the realisation across the EU that more effective action is needed to ensure the integration of migrants, and their children, into our diverse societies,” writes Sarah Spencer of the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society at Oxford University, in an European Union-sponsored publication. We need to move beyond security and the fear of radicalization, she asserts, which “set a narrow and potentially divisive context” (i.e., law and order) for an agenda that “has to embrace broader outcomes,” such as greater access by the Muslim community to jobs, housing, health, education, poverty and civic participation. Such measures should be regulated by “an EU-wide approach to the integration of migrants,” Ms. Spencer concludes.
Historian David Starkey, while addressing The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival in October 2005, warned that “Britain is in danger of sleepwalking into a new era of religious intolerance after the July 7 bombings” and that society needed to reconsider its attitute. He warned against anti-terrorism legislation that includes expressing any sympathy for suicide bombers. The key to present-day threats, Starkey concludes , is tolerance: “In the same way that a multitude of religious sects were allowed to continue without threat of being burnt at the stake after the Restoration, Britain today should tolerate Islam.”
The thought that British Muslims may be loath to integrate and accept being one among a multitude is inadmissible to the elite mindset. Even in the mundane Britain of commerce and banking, Islam has successfullyplanted the seeds of its acceptance as a legitimately parallel structure with the non-interest-based, sharia-compliant “Islamic mortgages” which every self-respecting High Street home loan provider now feels obliged to offer:
It was an unusual sight-hundreds of businessmen listening attentively while a small group of top-notch Islamic scholars instructed them on the intricacies of Muslim ethics. These were bankers, and what they wanted to know was how they could do better business with Muslims. The Islamic Real Estate Finance conference . . . came after The Bank of England’s request for high street banks to create financial solutions for Muslims . . . Islamic scholars were called in to advise on the Sharia-compliance of the new mortgages. On the whole they were happy, but some expressed concern that the banks may be using money in non-permissible activities, like financing breweries or non-halal meat companies.
This is but one manifestation of the ongoing legitimization of the sharia as a legal and moral code with a legitimate role in the public life of Great Britain. A key tenet of sharia is that non-Muslims cannot try Muslims or testify against them. A judge at London’s Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, may not be familiar with the Islamic law but he observed its commandments when he banned Jews and Hindus-and anyone married to one-from serving on the jury in the trial of Abdullah el-Faisal, accused of soliciting the murder of “unbelievers.” The judge reportedly announced, “For obvious reasons, members of the jury of the Jewish or Hindu faith should reveal themselves, even if they are married to Jewish or Hindu women, because they are not fit to arbitrate in this case.” One can only speculate what the reaction would be if equally “obvious reasons” were invoked in an attempt to exclude Muslims from a trial of an alleged Islamophobe.
For years Muslims have been getting halal meals in British schools and hospitals. The Commission for Racial Equality has ruled that businesses must provide prayer rooms for Muslims and pay them for their absences on Islam’s holidays. Public funds are used to build state-of-the-art housing in London’s East End reserved for Muslim “elders” from which white pensioners are excluded. But Sirajul Islam, in charge of social services at the borough of Tower Hamlets, responded that “one size fits all” approach to public services was no longer acceptable in 21st century Britain: “Tower Hamlets is fortunate to have a diverse mix of communities and the council strives to ensure that its services are responsive to the differing and changing needs of its residents.”
The bombings in London were a logical outcome of the Blairite forma mentis, the size of Muslim immigration into the country, and the dynamics of that growing community’s symbiotic interaction with the elite consensus. Even before the Rushdie affair allowed Muslims in Britain to flex their muscles in open opposition to the law of the land, a Declaration issued by the Islamic Foundation in Leicester stated, urbi et orbi, that its goal is to change the existing British society into “an Islamic society based on the Qur’an and the Sunna and make Islam, which is a code for entire life, supreme and dominant, especially in the socio-political spheres.
A generation later mosques and Islamic centers have multiplied all over Britain and provide the backbone to terrorist support network. The Home Office approved visas to Muslim clerics, primarily from Pakistan, sympathetic to the radicals. At least the British cannot complain that they had not have been warned :
[T]he Islamists don’t even bother going through the traditional rhetorical feints. They say what they mean and they mean what they say . . . Blow up the London Underground during a G8 summit and the world’s leaders twitter about how tragic and ironic it is that this should have happened just as they’re taking steps to deal with the issues, as though the terrorists are upset about poverty in Africa and global warming.
The British security services, exemplified by Sir Ian Blair, have followed their political masters into a state of denial regarding the Islamist threat. The courts, for their part, routinely interpret the criminal, asylum, and terrorism laws in the manner damaging to the security of the Realm and favorable to the Islamic underground. That underground thrives in mosques, state-supported educational institutions and community centers. There are hundreds of after-hours Islamic schools all over Britain in which Muslim children start formal indoctrination in their parents’ creed. That message, rooted in rock-hard certainties, very effectively overrides the tepid multiculturalist message of the state curriculum. Maintaining the loyalty of the Muslim diaspora in Britain has been the mullahs’ top priority, and the system has facilitated their task.
As Islam spreads its control over many inner cities in the industrial heartland, the culture of dhimmitude for the remaining whites is developing by default. The British Council, a taxpayer-funded organization that sponsors cross-cultural projects, fired one of its press officers, Harry Cummins, for publishing four articles in London’s Sunday Telegraph critical of Islam. British Muslims took exception to his observation that Muslims had rights to practice their religion in the UK which were not available to Christians in the Islamic world, and this “despite the fact that these Christians are the original inhabitants and rightful owners of almost every Muslim land.” He also wrote that Muslims had displayed a “bullying ingratitude that culminates in a terrorist threat.” His cardinal sin was to note that “it is the black heart of Islam, not its black face, to which millions object.” Abdul Bari, deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, welcomed Cummins’ firing but expressed “dismay” that the publishing company had not taken action against the editor of the Sunday Telegraph as well.
The new curriculum on religious education, backed by the Education Secretary Charles Clarke, will “help overcome barriers to how non-Muslims understand the faith” and “help strengthen a multi-faith, multi-cultural society.” Sir Iqbal’s Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is helping with the curriculum. It is only through understanding thus gained “that this country can move forward as a true multi-faith and multicultural society,” according to Mr Clarke: “We must ensure children grow up with a better understanding of their friends and neighbours. The Muslim Council of Britain’s initiative, books for schools, brings us much closer towards that goal.”
Submission or resistance is Britain’s choice. In Tony Blair’s and Charles Clarke’s scheme of things there is no doubt which path should be taken, and that is the real purpose of their cherished Racial and Religious Hatred Bill. Who they are and what they stand for is light years away from another British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who warned over a century ago that “no stronger retrograde force exists in the world” than Islam:
Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science-the science against which it had vainly struggled-the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
If Racial and Religious Hatred Bill is passed, we will be a step closer to the fulfilment of T.S. Eliot’s warning that the West would end, “not with a bang but a whimper.” In 1899, a 26 year old Winston Churchill expressed hope that if evil days should come upon our own country, and the last army which a collapsing Empire could interpose between London and the invader were dissolving in rout and ruin, that there would be some-even in these modern days-who would not care to accustom themselves to a new order of things and tamely survive the disaster.
Even Churchill’s prescience could not envisage the possibility that “the invader” would have his Quislings and abettors at No. 10, at the Old Bailey, and at London’s County Hall.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
WHAT TO DO WITH IRAN?
by Srdja Trifkovic
On September 24 the International Atomic Energy Agency voted 22 to 1 (with 12 abstentions, including Russia and China) to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council for violating its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The IAEA condemned Iran for pursuing uranium enrichment program that could help it manufacture nuclear weapons. The “EU-3” (Britain, France and Germany) initially intended to refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council immediately, but they are now seeking to defuse the dispute by offering Iran diplomatic and economic inducements to cooperate. President George W. Bush has said that he retains all options in dealing with Iran. A military strike is one of them, and in Washington some observers say that this is now a matter of “when,” not “if.”
Iran and the the United States appear to be on a collision course. This is what some strategists in Washington had wanted all along; but Iran’s recent intransigence has given them the opportunity to pursue their agenda. Until recently it could claim with some plausibility that what Washington was demanding of it was an abdication of all ability to make nuclear material by enriching uranium to produce electric power-an activity that the current nuclear-arms regime permits Iran to pursue. Now, however, “anger over Iran is growing even among those who have defended Tehran’s rights to technology,” as an Austrian commentator put it The fact that the European Union Troika-including Mr. Bush’s long-time critics over the war in Iraq, France and Germany-is now in substantial agreement with Washington is a measure of that intransigence. Some commentators are calling for an end to what they see as EU Troika’s excessively conciliatory posture. “Much too often they created the impression of appeasement and a willingness to make concessions after the Iranians acted in a very self-confident manner,” opined Nikolaus Busse in the Frankfurter Allgemeine (Sept. 26).
The IAEA had tried to postpone its censure of Iran for a long time, viewing it as the measure of last resort, but in recent months the negotiations between Tehran and the IAEA have reached an impasse. By violating agreements to suspend the uranium enrichment program and by refusing any restrictions on his country’s nuclear options, Iran’s president Mohammad Ahmadinejad has helped the advocates of the “Axis of Evil” paradigm in Washington. Even the traditionally anti-American Euro-left is indignant. Stefano Cingolani thus wrote inRome’s Il Riformista on September 27 that the United States has offered “many clues [that] lead to the rational conclusion that the Iranian nuclear program, it its advanced phase, has more than just civilian purposes.” Ahmadinejad’s defiant speech to the U.N. General Assembly on September 17 included the promise that sounded deliberately provocative, that Iran will share its nuclear technology with other Muslim countries. This statement was no mere rhetoric, however. It reflected Ahamdinejad’s core belief that “the Middle East can have either an American future, or an Islamic one led by Iran.”
Ahamdinejad is said to be contemptuous of Britain, France, and Germany. His advisor Muhammad-Javad Larijani said they were “among the most savage powers on earth” and should never have been allowed to meddle in what was not their business. According to Larijani the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is already dead and there is no reason why Iran should take more notice of it than anyone else: “We have bloodthirsty foes like the United States and Israel who could attack us with all they have. So, why should we deny ourselves any category of weapons just to please the savage European powers?” Even those Iranians usually deemed “moderate” are behind the government. Tehran’s English-language Kayhan International commented in the aftermath of the IAEA vote that Iran should now withdraw from the NPT: “It is wrong to commit suicide because of the fear of death [since] with a bit of resistance and resolve, UNSC referral could cause little or no serious damage to the country. Instead, it could, in the end, even bring with it some major accomplishments.” On September 26Tehran Times also advocated Iran’s withdrawal from the NPT: “If this happens, other NPT member states might follow Iran’s lead, this weakening international organizations. . . . The Iranian nation [may] serve as a model for all Third World states.”
The U.S. options in dealing with such intransigence appear limited. Going through the UN Security Council to try and enforce its cooperation with the IAEA is the likely first step. If Iran refuses to play along the Council could impose a wide range of sanctions. For diplomacy to work, however, Iran would need to be convinced that defiance would offend not just the EU or America, but the rest of the world too. Furthermore, an appeal to the Security Council would not yield any results if either or both Russia and China veto strong action. Russia does not wish to put its profitable nuclear business with Iran at risk; while China is an important consumer of Iranian oil. Both would be loath to go along with a Security Council resolution that would be seen as addressing primarily Western concerns, and both are likely to insist on a very narrow interpretation of the term “violation.”
On the other hand the prospect of another military confrontation in the Middle East is the last thing the rest of the world wants (with the unsurprising exception of Israel). Even as they grant the American point that Iran is being unreasonable and devious, European opponents of the war in Iraq are already warning that we are stumbling down the same path of confrontation. Even Mr. Bush’s staunch ally Britain rules out strikes against Iran’s nuclear program and seems ready to offer inducements for cooperation that smack of appeasement. “If Iran does come into compliance, the door will be thrown wide open to cooperation, economic, political and social” with the European Union, U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in a speech to the annual conference of Britain’s ruling Labour Party in Brighton. He said that “military action is not on anyone’s agenda” and that Britain was seeking “an international consensus” on how to resolve the problem by diplomatic means. “All U.S. presidents say all options are on the table,” he said, implying that Mr. Bush’s implied threat may not be too serious.
Last August Mr. Bush appeared pretty resolute, however, when he declared on Israeli television that he is prepared to use force to stop Iran and that the United States and Israel “are united in our objective to make sure that Iran does not have a weapon.” His unusually harsh language reflected an immediate concern and one underlying agenda. The concern is, of course, Washington’s suspicion that Iran’s nuclear energy program is clandestinely designed to produce nuclear weapons, which would be deemed injurious to the vital interests of the United States.
The agenda, set by the neoconservative establishment years ago andsummarized in Mr. Bush’s inclusion of Iran in his “Axis of Evil,” is to effect a regime change in Iran, or else to neutralize it by military force as a meaningful factor in the regional equation. It takes the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program for granted, and asserts that there are only two things that will stop it: revolution from below or an attack on its nuclear facilities. The revolution is not happening, however, which the promoters of this agenda take as proof that a pre-emptive strike is all the more urgent, or else “a fanatical terrorist regime openly dedicated to the destruction of the ‘Great Satan’ will have both nuclear weapons and the terrorists and missiles to deliver them. All that stands between us and that is either revolution or pre-emptive strike.”
The assertion that Iran is the road to acquiring nuclear weapons is not without merit. The first requirement for a nuclear program-peaceful or otherwise-is fissile material, composed of atoms that can be split by neutrons in a self-sustaining chain-reaction that releases enormous amounts of energy. Iran has three uranium mines with total reserves of 800m tonnes of ore, which means that its raw material needs may be covered from its own sources. Nuclear power plant uranium needs about 20 percent of fissile material, but weapons-grade goes up to 80-90 percent. Enrichment process is performed in gas centrifuges. IAEA scientists visiting Iranian facilities at Natanz in February 2003 reported a series of gas centrifuges in an underground complex that may be a pilot plant for a much bigger system.
Another requirement for a weapons program is heavy water, used for soaking up the excess neutrons. The existence of a heavy-water plant may be indicative of weapons-grade enrichment, and Iran does have one such plant at Arak. In addition, continued development of a reactor at Bushehr originally commissioned by the Shah in 1974 but suspended in 1979 and subsequently resurrected with Russian help, caused suspicion in Washington. Iran has five small reactors which the U.S. says is sufficient for its requirements. In any event, the United States has argued, Iran has ample oil and gas for power generation, whereas nuclear reactors are expensive, unnecessary, and could be used for military purposes.
The issue came to a head in August 2003, when experts from the IAEA found traces of weapons-grade uranium at Natanz. Iran denied the weapons charge and claims that its program is designed solely for the generation of electricity. It asserted that the samples taken by IAEA come from nuclear equipment that was contaminated when it was bought over a decade ago from Pakistan for civilian purposes. The International Atomic Energy Agency has issued a report that appeared to confirm this particular assertion.
When the assertive new leadership in Tehran resumed uranium conversion at Isfahan in early August, the IAEA initially responded by expressing “serious concern” about Iran’s intentions and hinting at the possibility of U.N. sanctions. On August 23 the IAEA softened its position, however, and its officials announced that traces of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium-detected on Iranian centrifuge parts in 2003-had entered the country on equipment it bought from Pakistan. Asenior U.S. official reportedly admitted that “the biggest smoking gun” was eliminated The EU said that it was ready to resume talks with Tehran that had been suspended in August, and the director general of the IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei declared that although Iran would not give up the right to a nuclear program, it would allow the agency to monitor it to assure it would not turn into a weapons program.
Ahmadinejad’s subsequent show of defiance over IAEA inspections and his openly provocative debut at the UN have given the advocates of tough course against Iran in the United States a strong card. Admittedly their agenda had never been dependent on a verifiable set of conditions, just as in Iraq-to quote Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s memorable dictum-the absence of proof that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction was no proof of their absence. Now they can claim with greater plausibility that Iran wants the bomb, or at least that it is actively seeking the ability to develop one. Furthermore, the earlier CIA 6-10 year estimate before Iran can develop a weapon may be too optimistic: Iran received the blueprints for bomb-making technology about ten years ago from Pakistan, and it has also obtainedforeign hard-to-find components such as specialised magnets.
It can be argued that a country awash with hydrocarbons does not really need nuclear energy, Iran’s response is that it is merely preparing for the day it runs out of fossil fuel, but that does not explain its decision to renege on the agreement with the EU-3 to freeze its activities and to resume work on the uranium conversion plant at Isfahan. It should be understood, however, that quite apart from security considerations or energy needs, in Iran’s current ideological climate, “nuclear identity is consistent with both the internal and external identification of Iran’s right of passage from technological adolescence, gaining symbolic value and significance built partly around the on-going bout with the West, the hostile other.”
In Saddam’s case two key arguments had been invoked to justify the war: his alleged links with terrorists, and his possession of, or intention to develop, weapons of mass destruction. The accusations proved to be at least insufficient to justify the war. Senior U.S. officials have made similar charges against Iran repeatedly over the past five years. In the aftermath of the war in Iraq, Tehran’s support for terrorists was treated as a given. In May 2003 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld thus asserted that “there was no question” al-Qaeda terrorists were present in Iran, and warned that “countries that are harboring those terrorist networks and providing a haven for them are behaving as terrorists by so doing.” Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Richard Myers echoed him when he said that the issue with Iran is pretty clear: “We have to eliminate the safe havens where the terrorists are, and Iran of course has some of the al-Qaeda members. The reports are that al-Qaeda has been in Iran off and on for some time, particularly after our actions in Afghanistan.” The State Department went one better , by stating that Iran was “the most active state sponsor of terrorism” in the world.
In reality Iran could not be linked to any direct attack on the U.S. since the 444 day hostage crisis (1979-1981). It supports the Hezbollah but over the years this Shi’ite group has evolved from an organization tainted by terrorism into a major political player and social movement in Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. The rulers of Iran take an interest in its co-religionists in Iraq, but there they are behaving with considerable restraint, no doubt trusting that the political process in Baghdad will be bound to strengthen the hand of their Shi’ite co-religionists who comprise the majority of the country’s population.
In the second term the Bush administration has maintained its pressure on Iran, but it has shifted its rhetorical focus from terrorism to the nuclear issue. American pressure has helped Iran’s hard-liners, however. Over the previous decade a reformist movement had taken root among the usual harbingers of change: students, middle classes, the Internet-connected young and educated. Mr. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” rhetoric made the reformers uneasy and vulnerable to the charge of treason. With every new threat from Washington, pro-government papers in Teheran, such as Jomhuri-ye Eslami , pointed the accusing finger at the reformers at home, suggesting that “the enemy is preparing the ground for its lackeys” and calling on Iran’s law enforcement and the judiciary “not to wait for their superiors before acting decisively.” The moderates within the ruling establishment were eventually marginalized, giving way to a new generation of Islamists pure and simple who had claimed all along that the Great Satan cannot be appeased.
This development was predictable. In May 2003 , I wrote that destabilization of the relatively moderate Khatami government “may result in a regime more reminiscent of the darkest days of Ayatollah Khomeini . . . more dangerous and unpredictable.” My view coincided with that of Iranian affairs specialists who held that threatening Iran was counterproductive and that it was necessary to distinguish the Iranian people from their clerical rulers. Thirty months later Iran has a rigid Islamist president , Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is a disciple of Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, a fiery Shiite cleric whoadvocates suicide operations against “the enemies of Islam.” After eight years of cautious liberalisation under Mohammed Khatami, Iranians have re-entered a period of austere Islamist leadership. Ahmadinejad is supported by the basij, a volunteer force that acts as a vigilante militia enforcing Islamic laws. His victory over Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a moderate by Iranian standards, was resounding and indicative of the nation’s mood.
Ahmadinejad appointed a cabinet dominated by religious conservatives. His views on the nuclear issue could be predicted from his description of nuclear technology as the “demand of the whole Iranian nation.” He accused Iran’s negotiators of allowing their EU interlocutors to intimidate them, and barely a month into his presidency he resumed work at the Isfahan uranium conversion facility, which- an enthusiastic Iranian commentator wrote -“indicates Iranians’ strong will to defend their inalienable right to access nuclear technology meant for peaceful purposes . . . Due to their neocolonialist attitude, the US and other western countries have always tried to monopolise nuclear technology and at the same time have been afraid that other countries would one day gain access to it.”
Faced with such determination, what can the United States do about Iran, and what should it do about Iran? “Operation Iranian Freedom” is not one of them. Even with its unsurpassed military capabilities, the United States would not be able to mount an Iraqi-style invasion. There is no doubt that “from the perspective of Bush and the neocons, the U.S. has been at war with Iran since 1979 and the time has come to settle the score in the same way that we did with Iraq” but Iran is much bigger than Iraq (1.65 million square miles) with three times the population (over 70 million). Its regime of Shiite clerics is authoritarian but it has a broad popular base; it is not a closed autocracy a la Saddam. When Iraq attacked in 1980, it was shown that the regime in Tehran could count on considerable popular support-on nationalist, as well as religious grounds. Most Iranians would resist an American attack, and it would have to be a strictly American undertaking: not even Britain would join in. With the ongoing imbroglio in Iraq, and with the chronic instability in Afghanistan unresolved, not even the Weekly Standard is audacious enough to advocate an “Operation Iranian Freedom” any time soon.
AIR ATTACKS . If all EU and UN attempts to deal with with Iran by diplomatic means aree deemed unsatisfactory, i.e. , if Tehran does not give up on uranium enrichment, a limited military action will find many advocates in Washington. Ever since President Bush named Iran as a member of the “Axis of Evil” in 2002 it has been on the cards. A sustained air campaign is possible regardless of the ongoing commitment of the ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan:
America’s devastating air power is not committed in Iraq. Just 120 B52, B1 and B2 bombers could hit 5,000 targets in a single mission. Thousands of other warplanes and missiles are available. The army and marines are heavily committed in Iraq, but enough forces could be found to secure coastal oilfields and to conduct raids into Iran.
A disabled Iran could be further crippled by internal dissent, especially if the U.S. were to support Azeri separatists in the north-west and in the Iranian part of Kurdistan. Iran’s oil production would be disrupted, but the silver lining is that much of its supplies are destined for China, which is increasingly perceived in Washington as America’s main long-term rival.
This scenario could be offset by short and long-term costs. Keeping Iraq’s Shi’ites cooperative is a key element in the U.S. strategy. A massive Shia insurgency in southern Iraq, triggered off by the attack on their co-religionists across the Euphrates, would be a major setback to the stabilization that is proving elusive anyway, making the country utterly unmanageable. If Iran’s output of 4 million barrels per day is not only disrupted but completely halted, the rise of crude oil prices to well beyond $100 a barrel could trigger off a world-wide recession. If in addition Iran blocks the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which most of oil from the Gulf passes on its way to the Far East and Europe, the resulting global energy crisis would make the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War pale by comparison. Tehran would also have an incentive to support or even sponsor terrorist attacks against the United States, and its proxy groups in Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority would resume their terror campaign against Israel. Last but not least, there would be a new crisis in trans-Atlantic relations, far deeper than the one over Iraq.
USING DIPLOMACY . Expressing strong opposition to Iran’s nuclear program but not opting for a policy of radical containment by force is the worst possible policy. It is far better to offer to Tehran U.S. security guarantees-no more “Axis of Evil” bravado!-in return for a clear “no nukes” commitment from Iran. Multilateral initiatives with Europeans and Russians will be long-drawn-out and futile without a direct American approach to Iran. That approach should bear in mind that the Iranian leaders are aptly playing the nationalist card with the nuclear issue, evoking Iran’s struggle to nationalize its oil industry in the early 1950s. Ignoring the national pride aspect would lead the U.S. to repeat the mistake the British made in 1951, when they turned a question of oil royalties into a groundswell of Iranian nationalism:
Washington may now be creating exactly such a reaction with its suggestion that Iran should be required to import fuel for its reactors rather than be allowed to have access to a nuclear fuel cycle of its own. Such a requirement would make Iran a consumer, completely dependent on the nuclear market. That’s not likely to sit well with the people of Iran, because they have learned the hard way not to trust foreign suppliers of essential resources.
It is not too late for solving the conflict by negotiation. Ahmadinejad says that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, but he has not renounced its ambition to independently enrich uranium that may yet lead to a military option. A reasonable deal would entail allowing Iran to enrich uranium partially, acknowledging its right to this technology, provided that it keeps the entire nuclear program under international oversight. That would clearly reduce Iran’s capacity to produce nuclear weapons. Europeans in particular have a number of tangible sanctions they could impose if Tehran refuses to play along, such as freezing Iran’s foreign accounts, tougher regulations on debts, lifting the currency’s convertibility, and not allowing Iranian leaders and aircraft to enter Europe.
The fundamental question is clear: why should the United States risk a new open-ended and risky commitment in the Middle East over Iran’s nuclear program? If Tehran seeks nuclear weapons, and there is reason to suspect that it does, is it not merely following in the footsteps of other regional powers, notably Israel, India, and Pakistan? Its security concerns are real. It sees U.S. bases in Turkmenistan to the north, U.S. troops in Iraq to the west, and in Afghanistan to the north-east. Its remaining neighbor Pakistan is armed with nuclear bombs, inherently unstable, and potentially hostile. The Arab world remained aloof when Iraq attacked in 1980. Under such circumstances , “Iran cannot afford to develop only conventional deterrence against such threats, and it will not rely on imported armaments again. Which may explain why Iran’s rulers would desire an alternative deterrent: limited nuclear weapons coupled with domestically manufactured missiles.” The notion that Iran would seek to threaten the United States with four, five or six bombs that it may build over the next decade (and no long-range delivery vehicles) is preposterous-and that is the kind of threat that should determine U.S. response. The mullahs are devious and dogmatic, but they are neither suicidal nor mad.
Israel may have every reason to feel threatened, but it should be up to Israel to consider its options and to act accordingly. It may well decide on a robust response reminiscent of its action in Iraq, with all the attendant risks and uncertainties. It should not expect the United States to do the job on its behalf, however. Rather than contemplate military action the United States would be well advised to look beyond the nuclear issue :
A viable resolution of the nuclear row depends very much on how the parties can come to terms with each other politically. If Washington recognized Tehran’s Islamic regime, stopped constantly threatening Iran, and agreed to controls on weapons of mass destruction across the region-including Israel’s-it would make considerable progress in dealing with the nuclear issue. But Washington has never wished Israel to become subject to the same constraints as the Arabs and Iranians.
Constructive American disengagement from the Middle East, coupled with an ever-greater reliance on alternatives to oil for our energy needs, is a sound alternative to the quest for regional hegemony and the resulting containments, deployments, passionate attachments and long-term commitments. Avoiding them in Iran is essential. It is dictated by common sense, experience, and a sober assessment of the American interest.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
JIHAD’S FELLOW TRAVELERS
by Srdja Trifkovic
[Excerpts from Dr. Trifkovic’s new book, Defeating Jihad , which will be published by Regina Orthodox Press later this year.]
Members of the West European and North American elite class approach the war on terrorism in a schizophrenic manner. Their world view rejects any possibility that religious faith can be a prime motivating factor in human affairs. Having reduced religion, literature and art to “narratives” and “metaphors” which merely reflect prejudices based on the distribution of power, the elite class treats the jihadist mindset as a pathology that should be treated by treating causes external to Islam itself.
The result is a plethora of proposed “cures” that are as likely to succeed in making us safe from terrorism as snake oil is likely to cure leukemia. Abroad, we are told, we need to address political and economic grievances of the impoverished masses, we need to spread democracy and free markets in the Muslim world, we need to invest more in public diplomacy. At home we need more tolerance, greater inclusiveness, less profiling, and a more determined outreach to the minorities that feel marginalized and threatened by the war on terror. The failure of such “cures” leads to ever more pathological self-examination and morbid self doubt. If the spread of jihad is not due to the ideology of jihad itself, which it cannot be, then it must be our own fault.
Already with the Rushdie affair 17 years ago an ominous pattern was set. It has been replicated on both sides of the Atlantic ever since. It has three key ingredients:
1. The Muslim diaspora in the Western world, while formally denouncing “terrorism,” will accept and condone religious justification for acts that effectively challenge the monopoly on violence of the non-Muslim host-state.
2. The Muslim diaspora will use a highly developed infrastructure of organized religion in the host-state-a network of mosques, Islamic centers and Muslim organizations-and deploy it either as a tool of direct political pressure in support of terrorist goals (e.g., British Muslims vis-a-vis Rushdie), or else as a means of deception and manipulation in order to diminish the ability of the host-society to defend itself (e.g., CAIR vis-a-vis post-9-11 America).
3. The non-Muslim establishment-public figures, politicians, journalists, academic analysts-will seek to appease the Muslim diaspora, or else it will shy away from confronting the problem of the immigrants’ attitudes and impact by pretending that it does not exist.
The issues of immigration, identity, loyalty, and common culture are accordingly not treated as an area of legitimate concern in the debate on terrorism. The result is a cloud-cuckoo land in which much of what is said or written about terrorism is not about relevant information that helps us know the enemy but about domestic political agendas, ideology, and psychology.
The New America Foundation Conference on Terrorism, Security, and America’s Purpose , which was held in Washington D.C. on September 6-7, 2005, provided an excellent illustration of the above mindset. It gathered over 70 politicians, top bureaucrats, policy analysts, nationally known journalists and top-tier academics. It was scary.
There was the billionaire “philanthropist” George Soros, insisting that the War on Terror has “done more harm than good.” It has alienated Muslims and diverted our attention from other vital missions, such as fostering “democratic development in order to provide legitimate avenues for dealing with grievances that otherwise might be exploited by terrorist movements.”
Francis Fukuyama saw the root problem in the Muslims’ “alienation from modernity.” The solution would be for young Muslims to learn how to choose a personal identity just like everybody else, rather than accept Osama’s prefabricated one.
Madeleine Albright, of all people, declared that it is “important to listen to what others are telling you” and to distinguish friends from foes. James Steinberg of Brookings urged America to ask itself how she can help provide better governance, better economic lives, better political contexts. Senator Joe Biden argued for debt relief and funding of education programs in Muslim countries. GOP ex-Senator Warren Rudman argued that “America and our allies must address global poverty, disease, and underdevelopment in a far more aggressive and comprehensive manner.” General Wesley Clark (he who helped make Kosovo safe for the KLA) now wants a new global security framework based on the United Nations. Charles Kupchan, former Director of European Affairs on the National Security Council, headed a working group on strategy that focused on “stepped up efforts to secure fissile materials in the former Soviet Union . . . and vigilant efforts to contain and shut down nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran.”
On the key issue of the identity of the enemy, on the scriptural message and historical record of Islam, the conference had nothing to say. On the role of the Muslim disapora in the West the conference’s Summary Report was brief and to the point: “The government must rebuild vital relationships with Muslim and Arab communities in the U.S. and around the world, that have been so severely strained by actions and policies undertaken in the name of homeland security.” Furthermore, “changes in visa policy and passport reform . . . have made America less attractive to students and visitors” from the Muslim world, which is allegedly detrimental to U.S. interests. Furthermore, privacy and due process must be protected so as to avoid “disproportionate law enforcement efforts against Muslim Americans.”
Are these people merely deluded, or malevolent, or perhaps both? It is worth examining the record of one of them, multibillionaire George Soros. A year before addressing the Washington conference Soros had already made his contribution of sorts to the war on terror by bankrolling Northeastern University’s project known as the Promising Practices Guide: Developing Partnerships Between Law Enforcement and American Muslim, Arab, and Sikh Communities . This self-styled “basic curriculum for future law enforcement and community training activities” claimed to offer ways to take advantage of the unique “linguistic skills, information, and cultural insights” of Arabs and Muslims in America (forget the Sikhs, they were added for diversity’s sake) in the war against terrorism.
The Guide ‘s three authors (one of them a Muslim) have an eccentric view of what are “most dangerous threats in this war.” They are to be found not in the ideology of jihad but “in the successful propagation of anger and fear directed at unfamiliar cultures and people” among us Americans. The problem is not with the Muslims who perpetrate terrorist crimes but in the bias against Muslims that is supposedly rampant in today’s America. Anti-terrorist measures therefore must not focus on religion or national origin, as “this creates an impression of unjust, religious, and/or national origin-based targeting.” The refusal of the Muslim diaspora to cooperate with our law enforcement agencies is explained by the immigrants’ mistrust of “unjust legislation from the highest levels of government and the American public’s acceptance of racial profiling.” Far from developing a counter-terrorism initiative, the guide helps terrorists in the United States avoid arrest. By funding the ” Guide ” Soros has confirmed yet again that he is a visionary who seesimmigration as an essential tool of revolutionary change. His metaphysical concept of Muslims’ victimhood based on their exclusion from the society demands the change of the society, not of the Muslim mindset. That is the meaning of his claim that the War on Terror “creates innocent victims and that helps the terrorists.” By encouraging the emergence of a subculture of hostile aliens within America, he promotes the growth of an alternative social and political structure of which the potential for further growth of Islamic terrorism is but one consequence.
In Great Britain this pathology has reached a fully mature form. The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone reacted to the bomb attacks on his city of July 7, 2005, by blaming Britain’s participation in the war in Iraq for the outrage. Two months later he compared an outspoken Muslim scholar who backs suicide bombings, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, to the late Pope John XXIII, because both believed that their faiths “must engage with the world.” While giving evidence to a House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the terrorist attacks in London, Livingston said that Sheik Qaradawi is “very similar to the position of Pope John XXIII. An absolutely sane Islamist . . . Of all the Muslim thinkers in the world today he is the most positive force for change.”
Al-Qaradawi’s “absolute sanity” is reflected in his reference to suicide bombings as “martyrdom operations”: indeed, no true “Islamist” could do otherwise. Far from being a moderate, however, the sheikh is a mainstream member of the Muslim Brotherhood. His Ikhwani affiliations led to his imprisonment in Egypt in 1949, then in 1954-1956, and again in 1962. And yet in 2004 he came to Britain’s capital and spoke at the “European Council of Fatwa and Research” in London’s City Hall, hosted by none other than the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.
The assumptions behind the “New America Foundation Conference on Terrorism, Security and America’s Purpose” and the activities of people like Soros and Livingstone have contributed to the fact that we are losing the war on terrorism. Bin Laden’s network may have been damaged and disrupted since 2001 and his cause may in many places be in the hands of self-starters and amateurs, but he could never have dreamed that the world, more than four years after 9-11, would look so favorable to his objectives.
A new strategy is needed to make it less so, the one that may give America and the West a clear edge in this war. It can never be “won” in the sense of eliminating the phenomenon of terrorism altogether, but it can be successfully pursued to the point where America (and the rest of the West, i.e. Europe, if it follows) can be made significantly safer than they are today by adopting measures-predominantly defensive measures-that would reduce the danger to as near zero as possible. The victory will come, to put it in simply, not by conquering Mecca for America but by disengaging America from Mecca and by excluding Mecca from America; not by eliminating the risk but by managing it wisely, resolutely, and permanently.
It is essential to define and understand the enemy. Are Muslim terrorists-the only variety that seriously threatens the United States and the Western world-true or false to the tenets of their faith? That they are indeed a minority of all one-billion-plus Muslims in the world is not disputable, but do they belong to the doctrinal and moral mainstream of their creed? The answer has to be based on the facts of Islam’s history and dogma, and not on an a priori judgment imposed by the inviolable blinkers of political correctitude. The straightjacket has to be discarded because it yields false results and because it serves an agenda inimical to the survival of our culture and civilization. It is essential to establish whether, and to what extent, the sacred texts of Islam, its record of interaction with other societies, and the behavior of its founder, Muhammad, provide the clue to the ambitions and methods of modern terrorists. The notion that terrorism is an aberration of Islam’s “peace” and “tolerance,” and not a predictable consequence of the ideology ofJihad , reflects an elite consensus that is ideological in nature and dogmatic in application. That consensus needs to be tested against evidence, not against the alleged norms of acceptable public discourse imposed by those who do not know Islam, or else do not want us to know the truth about it.
Better informed about the adversary, we may proceed with the second task: to develop more effective homeland defenses. Much has been done already but not nearly enough, because the focus has been on the institutional failures of the intelligence community and government agencies rather than the culture that makes failure inevitable. The impact of ongoing Muslim migratory influx onto the developed world is inseparable from the phenomenon of Islam itself, and in particular from Islam’s impact on its adherents as a political ideology and as a program of practical action. Controlling the borders should be only the first step in neutralizing this impact. The application of clearly defined criteria related to terrorism in deciding who will be admitted into the country, and in determining who should be allowed to stay from among those who are already here, is essential. To put it bluntly, carefully evaluating the profile of all prospective visitors to America and systematically re-examining the behavior of resident aliens and the bona-fides of naturalized citizens, is an essential ingredient of a serious anti-terrorist strategy. To that end Islamic activism needs to be treated as aneminently political , rather than “religious” activity. Swift and irreversible deportation needs to become a routine tool for dealing with the offenders.
An effective defense against terrorism demands a re-think of our foreign and military policies. American soldiers should patrol the border with Mexico, not the streets of Falluja. In an ever more globalized world that will also gradually become less Westernized, the United States may remain single most powerful actor economically, technologically, and militarily for many years, even decades. The shape and nature of international alignments are in a state of flux, however. Continued attempts by an America that will grow progressively weaker vis-a-vis its global competitors to continue projecting its power offensively-especially in the Middle East-will have the same reward reaped by the Soviet Union after Afghanistan. Pursuing the path of “benevolent global hegemony” is certain to take us the same way. That would be the greatest favor the terrorists could hope for.
Rediscovering who we are is the essential prerequisite for all of the above. The victory in the war on terror ultimately has to be won in the domain of morals and culture. It can be won only by an America ( andBritain, and France, and Italy . . . ) that has regained its awareness of its moral, spiritual, and civilizational roots.
Friday, September 16, 2005
BILL CLINTON IS BACK
by Srdja Trifkovic
Former president Bill Clinton has assembled “his own mini-General Assembly of presidents, prime ministers, kings and other pooh-bahs” to devise plans for “addressing poverty, global warming, religious conflict and better governance.”
The inaugural meeting of what the perjurer-in-chief modestly calls the Clinton Global Initiative has brought together 800 bigwigs who paid $15,000 each for a seat (which adds up to a neat $12 million in entrance fees alone).
Clinton also asked each attendee to “commit” to doing something to improve the world, by which he really means money. They’ve obliged and over 50 such pledges have been made so far totaling more than $300 million, including an Africa investment fund and a plan to fight HIV-AIDS. “What is happening here is the kind of intense dialogue between different people and cultures which should take place at the U.N. but can’t anymore because of highly ritualistic structures, protocol and conflict avoidance,” explained Richard C. Holbrooke, U.N. ambassador under Clinton and John Kerry’s former foreign affairs advisor.
So far so predictable: a failed President with no scruples and a flair for PR is fighting for his post-legacy and making a killing along the way. The bad news is that the circus was attended by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Her predecessor, Colin Powell, is reported to have cancelled an appearance at a conference on AIDS in Nigeria in April 2001 because Clinton decided to attend. For reasons mysterious the Bush administration has decided to re-legitimize Clinton.
That the administration is making a mistake is evident from the record and character of Clinton himself, of course; but it is also evident from the list of “Distinguished Panelists” given by the Initiative itself : With such illuminati in charge, it is bound to end in ignomy.
South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki is there, whose major contribution to the AIDS debate is his highly controversial assertion that there is no proven link between HIV and AIDS and that such “traditional attitudes” of African men as violence against women and promiscuity do not play a significant role in spreading the disease- for which he has been attacked , among others, by his predecessor Nelson Mandela. The position of South Africa’s doctors is clear : unless the president changes his views on the matter, “he will not be in the position to lead the country’s campaign against the virus.”
Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo is there, too. His experiences may be useful to the “better governance” panel as he is the head of what is arguably one of the most corrupt states in the world-certainly so in terms of the estimated amount of money directly stolen from its coffers ($420 billion!) by its leaders past and present-which is as much as the entire Western aid to Africa over the past four decades.
Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko is on board, which is appropriate in view of his almost-Clintonesque talent for not letting mere facts stand in the way of his creativity. Yushchenko’s claim that the former Ukrainian authorities tried to poison him using dioxin came very handy during the stage-managed presidential campaign last November, but it remains unproven more than a year later because Yushchenko has reneged on his pledge to undergo tests in Ukraine.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdo_an is also there, presumably as a specialist on “religious conflict.” Before re-inventing himself, this “post-Islamist” leader of his anything-but-post-Islamic country has declared that “the mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.” His party resisted legislation aimed at reducing violence against women, and last year its deputies were persuaded only with difficulty to remove jailing adulterers from the statute books.
The role of Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, who is also on board, will probably be to work in tandem with Obasanjo on “better governance.” To that task he can contribute his extensive experience , e.g. in managing the Oil for Food Program in Iraq.
The grim list goes on: that prominent humanitarian Madeleine Albright, Al Gore (remember him?), Paul Wolfowitz , Rupert Murdoch, and, of course, George Soros.
The last-named is probably the most deserving member of the Clinton Global Initiative. He has contributed tens of millions to America Coming Together and www.MoveOn.org and to the “Center for American Progress,” run by the “third way” Clintonites John Podesta (formerly of the Democratic Leadership Council, DLC), Morton Halperin, and Gene Sperling.
Soros wants to fight poverty in the Third World, having made a contribution to its spread . His major contribution to the AIDS epidemic has been a successful kick-start-through a network of his “Open Society Foundations”-to the previously non-existent homosexual activism all over Eastern Europe. The campaign for “LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Rights” is directed from Budapest, publishing lesbian and gay books in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia, and opening Gay and Lesbian Centers in Ukraine and Rumania.
Clinton’s and Soros’s brand of one-world transnationalism are one and the same. Their radical mindset dominates the Democratic Party, of course; but it is puzzling that their rabidly anti-traditionalist and deeply anti-Western worldview and political agenda should be legitimized and even implicitly supported by the Bush administration.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
LET THE UN DIE A QUIET DEATH
by Srdja Trifkovic
That the United Nations is an obnoxious institution worthy of speedy disappearance is not a matter of dispute among our readers. But at long last, thanks to the good work of the Volcker Commission, those among us who want to see the U.N. consigned to the dustbin of history have a viable blueprint for action.
On September 13 the U.N. General Assembly adopted yet another forgettable document on poverty, human rights and U.N. reform. The 35-page paper is supposed to launch a major reform of the United Nations and galvanize efforts to ease global poverty. It will do neither, however: the language of the document is abstract, its goals meaningless, and the machinery for its implementation irredeemably corrupt. Its absurdity is evident from the fact that the document says nations should “make all efforts” toward a convention against terrorism but fails to define “terrorism” itself.
Last March, when he initially unveiled his proposals, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan had urged world leaders to expand the size of the Security Council and come up with a definition of terrorism. He was being disingenuous. His real objective was to use the talk of reform as a means of covering up himself and his family members (a corrupt son, to be specific) from the consequences of the scandal-tainted U.N. oil-for-food program.
The cat is now out of the bag, however: an investigating committee, led by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, found the United Nations guilty of serious malpractices. As the Daily Telegraphremarked on September 8 , Annan cannot avoifresponsibility for his own shortcomings: “[G]iven the devastating criticism made of his leadership, it is difficult to see how the UN can embark with any confidence on reform while he remains in office. It would be best, now that the high-level panel and the inquiry have revealed the world body’s shortcomings, that he resign and allow a new, untainted successor to implement their proposals.” Even if we accept the possibility that Mr. Annan is not a venal or corrupt man; his failings of oversight and omission-as established by Mr Volcker-were truly devastating. “The criticism in the report is trenchant and personal,” opined the Times : “He must heed it and draw the honorable and only possible conclusion.”
Kofi Annan will do no such thing because he is a corrupt, smooth-talking, self-serving U.N. bureaucrat. John Bolton-the realist that he is-knows the score, and he should act accordingly. His 750 reportedamendments to Anan’s document look and sound promising in the extreme. The oil for food scandal should be exploited to the utmost. If the U.S. does not get the set of reforms demanded by Bolton, she should use the scandal as an excellent pretext to distance herself from the UN altogether.
Bolton’s demand to erase any trace of ambiguity between terrorist actions and armed resistance movements is fully justified and it must remain non-negotiable . Another American priority is the replacement of the long-discredited Human Rights Commission with permanent UNSC members. The commentary in Italy’s liberal daily Il Foglio(September 8) summed up the problem:
The oil-for-food scandal . . . is the biggest case ever of corruption concerning the United Nations. . . . The Volcker report has put it black in white that, apart from cases of personal corruption, the United Nations is not objectively capable of handling not only such extensive humanitarian projects . . . Kofi Annan’s reform proposal is a farce more than a reform . . . U.S. Ambassador John Bolton is a no-nonsense type: he has seen the bluff and instead of saying yes to a useless piece of paper, is producing a last-minute effort to really reform the United Nations. He is unlikely to succeed, but those who care about the U.N. should get rid of the unsuccessful and harmful Annan and yell ‘go Bolton’.
Get rid by all means, but in favor of whom? Annan is a pompous non-entity with no clothes, but would any feasible successor be any better? No decent person deserving of our support would want to head the United Nations. Like the Ptolomean astronomy and Marxist sociology, the “world organization” has long outlived its usefulness. It should be gently euthanized, by the means of an immediate, permanent, and comprehensive ban on the transfer of any U.S. funds to its insatiable and badly monitored coffers.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
CHINA, RUSSIA, AND THE NEW MULTIPOLARISM
by Srdja Trifkovic
China and Russia are overcoming their old hostility in order to forge a common front against what they perceive as Washington’s hegemony in Central Asia and the Far East. While the world needs to be multi-polar in order to be normal, and America needs to cease being the hegemon in order to recover her identity, the realignment brings uncertainties and potential dangers. The American interest demands a pragmatic acceptance of the emerging redistribution of power in Asia, and policies that will seek to manage, rather than resist, the emerging multipolar structure.
For about a decade now, the advocates of America’s indefinite and massive military build-up-unconnected to any identifiable military threat or to any traditionally “American” world outlook-have enjoyed a free run for their money. Their vision of Pax Americana was summarized in their exultation that we have never lived in a world more conducive to [our] fundamental interests in a liberal international order, the spread of freedom and democratic governance, [and] an international economic system of free-market capitalism and free trade. A power unlimited by itself breeds countervailing power, however, and the emerging partnership between Moscow and Beijing is the most significant sign that such process is under way. When Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov visited China last December it was agreed that those two countries would hold “substantial military exercises on Chinese territory in 2005.” This they did last week , and the significance of this display of strategic partnership between Moscow and Peking should not be lost on America’s under-informed public. The event was by itself unprecedented, the Chinese pointed out proudly , and it paves the way to an ever-closer military and strategic cooperation between two giants.
The change from the Soviet-era tension and even open military confrontation to global partnership in Chino-Russian relations is one of the most significant events of this decade. Potentially on the cards during the decade of unparalleled U.S. hegemony in the 1990s, it was accelerated by NATO’s war against Serbia in 1999: “The experience eroded the confidence each had in its ability to advance and protect its interests by using its veto at the United Nations Security Council.” That confidence suffered a further blow when the United States and Great Britain attacked Iraq without explicit Security Council approval.
“Peace Mission 2005,” the first joint military exercise launched by China and Russia , is the most visible fruit of that collaboration so far. It represents a deepening of the military relationship between a former superpower and the emerging one. Touted as “anti-terrorist” and “peacekeeping” exercises, they included forces, tactical scenarios and and weapons systems not usually associated with anti-terrorist operations: from mock amphibious assaults to attack submarines, and long-range strategic bombers. The signal sent by the joint exercise was not about military technology or training; it was “another sign of Washington’s waning political influence on the western shores of the Pacific.” As Die Welt of Berlin noted on August 19 , Euro-Asian heartland is in motion and “Peace Mission 2005” is the symbolic culmination of rapprochement between Beijing and Moscow:
“Russia is by far China’s most important arms supplier and is now using the joint military exercise as an advertisement action. China needs Russian oil; both countries have a problem with separatist Islamic movements, and both reject any international interference. Both China and Russia want to contain U.S. influence in Central Asia in the region action.and the historic military exercise should also be seen as a signal in the direction of Washington. Look, a new axis is forming.”
To both China and Russia, the area of immediate concern regarding American intentions is Iran, with North Korea a close second. A new military cooperation is developing which is a counter-model to NATO and a model for a multipolar world. In brief, the challenge that the rise of China presents to the United States is more pressing than any other global issue except for the ever-present threat of jihad. Beijing is rapidly becoming a regional power of the first order, the Asian superpower that will need to be contained, or in some way appeased.
There are two ways for the United States to react to China’s new assertiveness. One is to try and contain it by rhetoric, diplomacy, or even by force. Addressing a regional security conference in Singapore last June, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld thus said that China’s military buildup was a threat to Asian security. “Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment?” Rumsfeld said; “Why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases?” He also questioned China’s internal policies, saying that political freedom has not kept pace with economic freedom.
Those policies reflect the continuity of China’s political tradition. China’s ruling party still calls itself “communist” but the ethos of the nomenklatura is eminently traditional : nationalist, xenophobic, authoritarian and self-serving. The notion of an “international community” is treated in Beijing with studied derision, as a tool of furthering sacro egoismo that is and has been China’s guiding light in foreign affairs for over two millenia. In brief , “China may be the high church of realpolitik in the post-Cold War world. Its military and civilian elites regard other nations, alliances, and internationalism of any stripe with suspicion.”
The key bone of potential contention is the future status of Taiwan, a self-governing island that formally still goes by the name of the “Republic of China,” although many Taiwanesewould prefer to sever all links with the Mainland and become an independent state. China says that it will not allow that to happen , and earlier this year its government reiterated its intention to intervene militarily if Taiwan tries to declare independence. On this issue the leadership in Beijing counts on the nationalist sentiment of its 1.2 billion people that transcends ideology. With the demise of Maoism, Han nationalism is the only cement that binds the nation under the Communist Party rule, and grants legitimacy to that rule. Nurtured by the collective memory of invasions and massacres in the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century, it is a potent force. Taiwan epitomizes the legacy of past shame and humiliation. It was taken by force by Japan and ruled as a colony for fifty years (1895-1945). To condone its separation, under whatever name, would be tantamount to accepting the status of a second-class power. Furthermore, a soft line on Taiwan would have serious implications for the future status of Tibet and-even more significantly-for the restive Muslim-populated Sinkiang-Uigur province in the far west of the country.
The choice facing the United States vis-a-vis China is difficult but fairly clear. It is an ancient power, coldly hostile to outsiders, steeped in Ralpolitik, and indifferent to the notion that diplomacy is or should be guided by any motive other than self-interest. If it is to be treated as a rival and potential enemy, it is necessary to halt further American investment in the Chinese economy, to reverse outsourcingaccomplished thus far, to erect trade barriers against the continuing deluge of Chinese-made products in American stores. It is also necessary to provide Taiwan-and Japan, and South Korea-with top-notch defensive arsenals, including even nuclear weapons. Japan will need to become a regional military power, contrary to its current constitution and to the wishes of those countries in the region (primarily China) that were at the receiving end of Japanese expansionism in the first half of the 20th century.
The geopolitical equation of containing and confronting China would also demand an alliance , informal or otherwise, between the United States and India, which is in the long term China’s sole natural rival in Asia. The forging of a special relationship with Delhi is long-overdue quite apart from our relations with Peking-India is a neglected ally in the “war on terror”-but no such relationship can be effected for as long as Pakistan continues to be perceived in Washington as an essential ally. The regime of General Musharraf is unreliable. It is guilty of nuclear proliferation, its military establishment is hedging its bets between Washington and Muslim extremists, and its entire ethos remains steeped in the ideology of jihad.
If the Bush administration is not willing to apply these measures, the alternative is to accept the rise of China as a first-order power with the best possible grace. A reigning power is naturally disinclined to look on benignly as another rises, but the middle road would be based on the notion that a conflict between America and China is not inevitable. The relationship will need to be skillfully managed-with more reciprocity in the field of trade and exchange rates-but its essential ingredient will be the acceptance that Taiwan is part of China, that it will be eventually reintegrated (preferably will all kinds of safeguards and special-status provisions), and that it is in the American interest to facilitate peaceful reunification.
China is in no hurry. It is the fastest growing among the world’s major economies, and on per capita basis its growth over the past decade was among the highest in the world. It has been successfully transformed from a poor agricultural economy into a global manufacturing base. The Communist Party has the monopoly of political power, but its rule fits in with the country’s authoritarian tradition of the First Emperor. The result is a variety of authoritarian capitalism-successfully tested decades ago in Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore-under which a selective degree of economic freedom and private property rights is combined with unyielding control over political life by the ruling establishment. The CPC-devoid of Marxist ideological zeal or any serious attempt to indoctrinate “the masses”-provides conditions for a liberal capitalist economy, but does not allow its monopoly of power to be questioned or challenged. Its bottom-up approach to economic reform proved to be vastly more successful than the Soviet Union’s top-down shakeup of the perestroika. The crisis of Tienanmen Square proved temporary; sixteen years later China’s nouveau riche businessmen calmly comment that “democracy should not get in the way of making money.”
The notion that political freedom has not kept pace with increasing economic freedom in China is correct but it is unlikely to find much resonance in the Middle Kingdom. Harnessing market-based development to one-party control has worked very well in Spain under Franco, in Chile under Pinochet, in South Korea during many of its boom years, and-perhaps most pertinently-in Taiwan under Chiang Kai-shek and his successors. By the early 1960s Chiang’s Kuomintang (KMT) had ceased to be a Leninist party, just as the Chinese Communist Party is no longer “Marxist-Leninist” today. “Political freedom” is secondary to the imperatives of stability, prosperity, and continuity. Chiang’s KMT did not conceive of itself as representing the interest of any particular class and sought to represent the nation as a whole, just as CPC today neglect the “proletariat” while wooing the capitalists into its ranks. Both realize that a vibrant private sector is the key to prosperity. If the Communist Party of China continues to transform itself into a Red Kuomintang, a guided democracy will eventually emerge, social disparities will become less glaring, and economic growth will continue on a stable footing. In that case a peaceful reunification of the Mainland and Taiwan will be only a matter of time.
China’s phenomenal growth also begs the question of its future role in the world. On current form, by 2025 it will be a great power of the first order. Its population will reach 1.5 billion, its GDP will be in the $7 trillion range-on par with that of the United States or the European Union a decade ago-and it will have access to the most advanced technologies. In foreign affairs its leaders will continue to attach little importance to international organizations and alliances, trusting China’s wealth and power as a means of achieving diplomatic objectives and treating a strong defense as an outgrowth of a strong economy.
China’s wealth and power will make it the dominant power in Asia, and the nations of the region will be hard pressed to negotiate the terms and conditions of an acceptable relationship with Beijing that would fall short of China’s outright hegemony. The country’s growing energy needs, impossible to satisfy from its limited domestic resources, will turn it into a player of growing importance on the international stage. Its leaders see access to the reserves of oil and natural gas in Central Asia as a cornerstone of their economic policy for the next two decades. They also may harbor long-term geopolitical designs in Siberia, under-populated and rich in energy and minerals. On the other hand, China’s increasingly cooperative relationship with Russia could reshape the Asian architecture and turn China into a distribution hub for oil and gas exports to South Korea and Japan, two of the largest energy importing states in the world.
None of these long-term objectives and policies likely to be pursued by Beijing are necessarily detrimental to the interests of the United States, provided that China is contended with the status of a regional, Asian power. Its stake in the Panama Canal may provide a handy litmus test. If it cooperates, the underlying premise of Rumsfeld’s address-that any change of the status quo in Asia is detrimental to American interests-may be re-examined.
As China continues to transform itself into a global economic power, its interests, security concerns and aspirations will be asserted with ever-greater self-confidence. The task of U.S. policy in East Asia should be to consider whether, and to what extent, those aspirations are compatible with American interests. Contemplating the possibility of a consensual, carefully managed, and internationally condoned reunification of China with Taiwan would be a constructive first step.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
PAKISTAN : THE CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG
by Srdja Trifkovic
Last month’s bombing campaign in London, masterminded and executed by young British-born Pakistanis, and a long list of proven or suspected Pakistani links with numerous other terrorist attacks in recent years, have finally focused attention on the ambivalent and disturbing role of Pakistan and its leader, General Pervez Musharraf, in the “War on Terror.” His ability to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds has been an affront to all enemies of jihad for years. The myth of Pakistan as a staunch American ally is finally being subjected to critical scrutiny.
We have challenged this myth for years, e.g. , in November 2002 : “For as long as the country’s Islamic character is explicitly upheld, Pakistan cannot evolve into a democracy, or develop an efficient economy, or build a civilized polity . . . It will also remain one of the main international platforms for Muslim extremism, one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world.” In July 2003 we opined that “Mr. Bush’s continued pretense that Musharraf is an essential ally in the ‘war against terror’ is acceptable as a political expedient, but it would be very dangerous for the Administration to start believing its own propaganda.” Most recently, in February 2004 we concluded that Mr. Bush’s stated objective of seeing Pakistan develop into a “moderate” Islamic state cannot be advanced if Washington continues to turn a blind eye to the transgressions of the regime in Islamabad:
Its soft-pedaling over Pakistan’s role as a nuclear proliferator is counter-productive. Musharraf is a dangerous man, too deeply steeped in Pakistan’s version of Islamic ideology to change course. His army is commanded by officers whose loyalties are divided at best, and inimical to Western interests at all times. They have allowed countless Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters to slip across the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan and to stay out of the U.S. military’s reach. Musharraf’s government has ordered the release of many Islamic militants detained after September 11, and it has backtracked on its promise to control the Islamic schools that are breeding new terrorists.
Many foreign analysts are finally saying the same thing. Le Monde ‘s Jean-Marie Colombani thus warned on July 26 that Pakistan is the epicenter of global jihad, “a cauldron, a kind of big factory to produce combatants for the Holy War.” Across the Rhine Martina Doeringpointed out in the Berliner Zeitung (July 28) that Pakistan meets all the criteria for a slot on the Axis of Evil:
It has weapons of mass destruction, and its leading generals and political groups are known to identify with al Qaida. Some may even have links with members of the Islamist movement. And many terrorists, who operate across the world, have learned their murderous know-how in Pakistan, like some of the killers in London. But bombs will not fall on Islamabad, Karachi or Peshawar, because President Musharraf managed to become an indispensable U.S. ally in the war on terror . . . Extremists and radicals can live well in this country. Their ideologists may smugly refer to all the things the U.S. democracy exporter tolerates in Pakistan. The U.S. policy of ‘say nothing, hear nothing and see nothing’ is risky. The U.S. bases its plans and strategies on one man and ignores the fact that this country has everything a failing state needs.
Sergio Romano in Italy’s leading newsweekly Panorama noted that Iraq is the large training camp for Muslim fighters, but “Pakistan is a center of theological formation, an enormous campus in which ten thousand madrassas prepare one million students for the rigors of faith” In SpainEl Mundo called on Western governments to put pressure on Musharraf “so he puts an end to the fundamentalist safe havens that foster hatred and incite young people to the jihad.” La Vanguardia ‘s editorialist found the key to Washington’s support for Musharraf’s regime in his brand of Islamist ideology that does not question U.S. hegemony. Every time Islamist radicalism causes problems, “the general-president announces the closure of fanatic Qur’an schools where the eggs of the snake of terrorism are incubated,” only to let them re-open later: “In fact, the regime of Islamabad is also based on religious parties that clearly preach jihad.” Instead of looking for the alliance of democratic and lay groups, he prefers to work with religious extremists. “This is the paradox of a regime that leans on Washington and religious fundamentalism” and yet is expected to control Islamic terrorism. In Austria Salzburger Nachrichten ‘s senior editor Helmut L. Mueller warned that taking a closer look at the Islamic pillars of their anti-terror alliance ought to make the Americans tremble with fear: “However, the shock over such wayward charges as Saudi-Arabia and Pakistan has not yet led to a revision of American policy, because Washington is at a loss to find an alternative strategy to pragmatic pacts with unreliable allies.” In Vienna, Kurier ‘s foreign-affairs editor Livia Klingl noted that Pakistan’s borders with Afghanistan are beyond Musharraf’s control, while its religious schools teach Jihadism and “Usama is a hero there.”
The absence of similar commentary in the United States is both remarkable and baffling. It reflects the fact that this country’s links with some of the least pleasant regimes on earth continue to be clouded by establishmentarian denials and the feigned optimism that have characterized Washington’s relations with the “friendly” and “moderate” part of the Muslim world for decades. Decades of covert and overt support for allegedly moderate Islamic movements, countries, and regimes, whenever they were deemed useful to some short-term foreign policy objectives concocted in Washington, have been a moral and political disaster. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Pakistan continue to be valued as supposed bulwarks against “extremism.” Operationally, however, this demands not only overlooking the real proclivities and activities of those supposedly moderate regimes, but also a consistent American bias in favor of the Muslim party in virtually every conflict with a non-Muslim nation or group.
Pakistan shows that Islamist intolerance can flourish on the back of American support. Treating it as a strategic ally is as detrimental to peace and democracy in all affected regions as it is disadvantageous to the long-term security of North America and Europe. It does nothing to help the Muslim world come out of its state of deep denial about what it has done and is still doing to itself and the rest of the world-the denial that is as irrational as the culture that breeds it.
Friday, July 29, 2005
THE EU WILL NOT SUPPORT DJUKANOVIC
by Srdja Trifkovic
Serbia’s Prime Minister Dr. Vojislav Kostunica has one of the most unenviable jobs in the world of politics. This 61-year-old, grim-faced yet youthful-looking constitutional lawyer has more on his plate on an average day than a public figure of his stature in, say, Oslo, Bratislava, or Lisbon, has in a year. When we spoke in his office in Belgrade earlier this month, he struck me as a man who carries an intolerable burden but remains determined to keep a stiff upper lip.
The future of Serbia’s occupied southern province of Kosovo and Metohija, brutally cleansed of 90 percent of its Christian Serb inhabitants, is near the top of Kostunica’s agenda. Kosovo is a tragedy that has been in the making for the past three centuries, he says, but the ongoing final act of that tragedy-including the burning of over a hundred churches-is being enacted under the watchful eye of the “internatonal community.” His task is to devise a formula for Serbia’s continued stake in Kosovo’s affairs, and to reconcile it with the stated intention of foreign powers to “resolve” its status by granting it independence-under whatever name.
The future of Bosnia-Herzegovina is another major problem on Kostunica’s list. A decade after Dayton it is as unstable and as divided as it had been at the outset of the war in 1992. Its three constituent ethno-religious communities-Serbs, Croats, and Muslims (“Bosniaks”)-are as unable to run a harmonious polity as the nations of the former Yugoslavia had been unable to make the South Slav federation function. The evident ambition of unelected “High Representatives” of the “international community”-such as Lord “Paddy” Ashdown-to turn Bosnia-Herzegovina into a Muslim-dominated khalifate safe for Jihad, was given a major boost with the commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre on July 12, when Muslim speakers openly called for death to the Bosnian-Serb republic (Republika Srpska).
The relentless pressure on Belgrade from the kangarroo court at The Hague is another of Kostunica’s challenges. It is an ongoing nightmare, caused and continuously stage-managed by a quasi-legal monstrosity. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was mendaciously inserted into The Hague, a city long identified with the respect for international jurispridence. The “Tribunal” has been rocking the body-politic of Serbia for years by applying the concept of command responsibility that makes every senior official presumably guilty of everything done by anyone nominally under his chain of command.. The “Tribunal” appears designed not merely to destabilize a small and long-suffering Balkan country, but also to rewrite the region’s history.
Compared to such challenges, the future of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro may appear as an almost secundary issue. Serbia (7 million) and Montenegro (650,000) share common ethnic, religious, and spiritual roots. They have been partners and allies throughout their thousand-year history. They are two Serbian lands that have as much (if not more) in common as Tuscany has with Piedmont, Bavaria with Baden, or Burgundy with Picardy. Both Serbia and Montenegro had been imbued, until the communist victory in 1945, with one ideal of transcendent Serbdom embodied in the Christian sacrifice of Kosovo. For most of their history they have respected one code of ethics, derived from the same ideal of medieval chivalry (“cojstvo i junastvo”), and they have worshipped in the same Chirch.
Then came communism, following Tito’s victory in the civil war of 1941-1945, and the invention of the “Montenegrin” nation (for details check out Thomas Fleming’s “Montenegro, The Divided Land”). The overnight invention of ethnic “Montenegrinism” was a farce built upon the tragedy of the physical destruction of some 30,000 priests, teachers, lawyers, merchants, officers, and other members of Montenegro’s elite class by the communists and the Croatian Ustasha in the spring of 1945. Their murder made Djukanovic’s modern myth of Montenegrin ethno-religious and linguistic particularism possible.
Having initially come to power as a young communist apparatchik loyal to Slobodan Milosevic, Djukanovic turned his back on his mentor seven years ago. His government is now trying to separate from Serbia by means unfair and mostly foul. His motives are related to Djukanovic’s business activities over the past decade and a half. They have resulted in many legal problems he is facing with Italian state prosecutors in Rome, Bari, Naples, and elsewhere. To put it bluntly, he now needs to become the head of an independent state in order to enjoy immunity from prosecution for racketeering, smuggling, and money laundering.
The ruling establishment in Podgorica, composed of seasoned commie hoods and nouveau-riche Armani suits, is among the least democratic in today’s Europe. Its tabloids have accused me of threatening to kill Djukanovic because I dared organize a speaking tour by several foreign analysts who disagree with his policies. It has crudely and libelously maligned Messrs. Fleming, Bissett, Hatchett, Jatras, and many other upholders of truth. It has failed to find the killers of the editor of “Dan” (Day, the only opposition daily in Montenegro), Dusko Jovanovic. Having exhausted the potential for enormous profits from tobacco smuggling into the European Union, it has allowed teams of well-heeled “Russians” to take over large chunks of Montenegro’s economy and real estate.
Most of Montenegro’s denizens live at or below the poverty line ($250 per month is considered a decent salary), while Djukanovic’s cohorts run his Delaware-sized fiefdom as the boss deems fit. Could or should this Ruritanian “republic” designed around one man’s legal and personal needs become independent? The first question I put to Dr. Kostunica concerned the real motives behind the sovereignist campaign in Podgorica.
TRIFKOVIC: Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Djukanovic claims to be a born-again democrat, committed to the membership in the European Union and to the standards of democracy prevalent in the Western world. For several years his demand for independence had been based on the claim that Serbia and Montenegro would find it easier to be admitted into the EU separately rather than as a single state union. But Djukanovic’s aides are now saying that they’d prefer independence even to the membership in the EU, and at the same time they are trying to disenfranchise a third of their electorate by denying the right of the citizens of Montenegro who are resident in Serbia to vote in the referendum. On this issue they keep making statements to the effect that “neither Belgrade nor Brussels may dictate to us.” What is the real score with the referendum rules?
KOSTUNICA: The real score is that a referendum is an entirely different situation from a general election. In an election people decide which party will be in charge of government, and it is a far less important matter than the future of the state, of its constitutional status, which is the main issue at a referendum. Is a state going to exist or not, is it going to be divided into parts or is it going to stay together? Such questions have to be decide by all the citizens of the constituent polity in which the referendum is held. It is quite normal and in accordance with the international standards that all Montenegrin citizens should be given the right to decide and vote in a referendum on Montenegro’s secession, regardless of whether they live in Montenegro or Serbia. This has been easier to achieve after the changes made to the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro, effected with the support and blessing of the European Union in Brussels, which provides for the EU engagement in any referendum on the future status of Montenegro. This means that the European Union has to be consulted and has the right to monitor the referendum. So the EU will have to decide if Montenegrin citizens resident in Serbia have the right to vote on the future status of Montenegro and the State Union.
TRIFKOVIC: And do you have reason to believe that the EU verdict will be favorable to your view that all Montenegrin citizens should be given the right to vote?
KOSTUNICA: Yes, I am very sure about that. It is one of the usual international democratic standards. Let’s just have in mind the last few referendums in Europe, two of them dealing with the European Constitution, in France and the Netherlands, and one dealing with some specific issues in the case of Italy. In all of those cases, Italian, Dutch and French citizens had the right to vote regardless of where they are living. The standard is quite clear. One set of standards applies to elections, to a party political process that concerns the governance of an existing, clearly defined state. A different set of standards applies to a referendum to decide the dissolution of one state or the emergence of another.
TRIFKOVIC: Milo Djukanovic appears more specific on the commitment to the referendum next spring. Is he painting himself into a corner? Is he going to postpone it again if th European Union does not support his referendum rules?
KOSTUNICA: To us it is important that Europe should have a clear voice that will be articulated when it comes to this legal matter: do all citizens have the right to vote in a referendum on the future of their state? The answer from Brussels will largely determine the attitude of the leadership of Montenegro. There are many other details that one has to bear in mind when it comes to the referendum, such as the qualified majority vs. simple majority, referendum procedure, the question itself, but by far the most important issue is if all the citizens of Montenegro will be given the right to vote if their land will be an independent state or a member of the Union of Serbia and Montenegro.
TRIFKOVIC: Do you expect that the pressure on Serbia to accept the final status of Kosovo will be linked to the support of your position regarding Montenegro?
KOSTUNICA: Problems should be solved as they appear, chronologically and according to their weight. It is much easier to deal with the problem of the future of the state union. The issue of the referendum is relatively simple, especially with the presence and cooperation of the European Union. There are applicable precedents: one may have in mind the Canadian experience, although the Canadian rules are far more rigid. Nevertheless, something like this, a set of clear rules is essential. Montenegro’s status appears to be the fist problem to be solved. It is easier; the issue of Kosovo is far more complicated, and it is older than this one. I believe that the problem of Montenegro’s referendum will be resolved in favor of the future of the state union, and that once it is resolved it will be easier to deal with the issue of Kosovo, which needs more time.
TRIFKOVIC: Is it at all feasible for Djukanovic to try and do it his way, unilaterally, regardless of the pronouncement from Brussels?
KOSTUNICA: I think it is no longer possible. In some other cases Djukanovic had had an opportunity to interpret quite liberally, or to misinterpret, the constitutional provisions, and to do so regardless of what was provided for and what was the attitude of Brussels. It is quite clear that Brussels is engaged in this matter. What is more important is the interest of Brussels. After the positive Feasibility Study [on the eventual EU membership] that treated Serbia and Montenegro as a single state, it is in the interest of Brussels to prove that one state going through this process of qualifying for European membership as a whole is not going to be divided into two parts. If the State Union breaks, it will be also the failure-an additional failure-of the European Union. I am optimistic about the outcome of this eventual referendum. I do not believe that Djukanovic will have a chance, in this case, to act unilaterally by violating international rules and standards.
Monday, July 18, 2005
EUROPE’S FAILURE: A VIEW FROM GERMANY
by Srdja Trifkovic
For more than four decades, ever since De Gaulle and Adenauer forged their special relationship at the time of Harold Macmillan’s failed bid to join the European Economic Community (as it was then), the Franco-German axis” has provided the key dynamics to the European project. With the rejection of the European Union’s constitution at the French referendum last May and with the forthcoming general election in Germany-at which the CDU-CSU opposition is expected to win-the equation is likely to change, perhaps irreversibly so.
Juergen Elsaesser, editor of the Junge Welt of Berlin and former editor of the weekly Konkret, believes that the rest of Europe may soon be poisoned by the French virus.” In an extensive interview for Chronicles, recorded in Montenegro last week, Elsaesser predicted that Poland and the Czech Republic will also vote no,” and pointed out that even in Germany some Bundestag deputies have successfully sought the intervention of the country’s supreme court on the grounds that the EU constitution, accepted by a large majority of legislators without a referendum, contravenes the highest law of the Federal Republic. Furthermore, a few days after the French referendum the highest circulation paper in Germany, a tabloid called the Blitz-Zeitung (with the daily circulation of three-and-a-half million) carried a poll according to which 96 percent of 400,000 respondents were opposed to the EU constitution. What are the implications of such a wide gap between the people and their elected representatives? Does it imply that what passes for the democratic process is flawed?
ELSAESSER: There is a big deficit in democracy. People increasingly refuse to take part in elections. Below the surface there simmers a deep popular dissatisfaction, which was manifested at a local election in Hamburg a few years ago, when a small populist party modeled after the movement of the late Pim Fortuyn emerged out of nothing to gain 20 percent of the vote. Now we have a new party of the Left, composed of former Social Democrats, that is likely to gain over ten percent at the next election.
ST: In the short term even more important is the likely change at the helm next September. CDU-CSU leader Angela Merkel, who has a good chance of becoming the next Federal Chancellor, is an Atlanticist who supported the U.S. war in Iraq, in sharp contrast to Gerhard Schroeder, the current Chancellor. Elsaesser believes it is significant that she and her advisors have indicated that she would not pursue the current partnership of Germany with Paris and Moscow, which they regard as too close. On Europe she favors a free market, and in this respect she resembles Tony Blair:
ELSAESSER: People favor free markets, but they want national free markets. They do not trust the concept of open borders and unrestricted flow of goods and especially people within Europe. If she pulls Germany away from the current Franco-German concept of the European Union, as Tony Blair has done already in the case of Great Britain, she will have considerable popular support. At the same time, the big money-which is behind her-favors open borders and single markets, which will act as a check on her anti-integrationist position. She will inherit a problem that neither she nor Schroeder nor any other single politician can resolve. It is the fact that the EU has no budget. The Brussels summit a month ago ended in a failure and no compromise is on the horizon. Schroeder and Chirac are unwilling to grant Britain her rebate, but want to continue supporting French farmers. An additional blow to the Franco-German partnership would be Angela Merkel’s stated intention to stop supporting subsidies for the French peasants. If she comes to power, the end of the special relationship between Paris and Berlin may herald the end of the Union itself.
ST: Is it not possible that Blair’s vision of a leaner, meaner Union will be reinforced by Merkel and lead not to the end of the EU but rather to its evolution into a more competitive, more successful association of states that will be bound by economics rather than ideology? And is that not what some new members in the East would like to happen: less bureaucratic control, fewer subsidies, a healthier climate for competing in a globalized marketplace?
ELSAESSER: Yes, but that would turn the EU into something vastly different from what it is today. It would lead to a conglomerate of member-states, an empty shell of its former self, perhaps resembling the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in the former Soviet Union. Blair’s position is clear: he is strongly bound to the United States, and believes that the EU thus redefined would be more likely to support U.S. positions on various issues. That cannot be the position of the German business community, however, which is the key CDU-CSU constituency. They are in competition with the United States, currently exemplified by Boeing vs. Airbus.
ST: The unnamed elephant in the room, in the referendum debate, remains Turkey, and the fear of many Europeans that further enlargement would bring it into the Union, with all the attendant consequences for demography, unemployment, and cultural profile of the Union.
ELSAESSER: Ordinary people are totally against Turkey’s membership, not only in France but also in Germany and elsewhere. That much is clear. There is a paradox, however. The United States is exerting strong pressure on Europe to admit Turkey. Schroeder, who is normally critical of U.S. policies and Washington’s attempts to influence European policies, would be expected to be opposed to Turkey’s EU membership, but he supports it. Angela Merkel, who is much closer to Washington on many issues, opposes Ankara’s bid. On that issue she will win many votes. She is likely to win anyway, because of Scroeder’s many weaknesses, mainly on the economy, but opposition to Turkey’s entry will be an additional trump card.
ST: If the referendum results in France and the Netherlands herald the revival of the respect for sovereignty and the revival of national self-assertiveness, is this process likely to lead to the revival of national rivalries as well?
ELSAESSER: I do not believe so. I was in France during the referendum campaign, and noticed that the motives for voting no” were very mixed. On the Left the opposition was manly anti-globalist and anti-capitalist, based on social emotions and the desire to protect the welfare state. On the Right the emotions were not nationalist but sovereignist. There is also the spirit of implicit solidarity of common people all over Europe against the superstate and super-bureaucracy. It was the revolt of the Little Man, as we say in Germany, of the common man, with some elements of the class struggle. It is also noteworthy that the French, who have a strongly secular state and a lay society with the separation of the church and state of a very long standing, strongly oppose Turkey’s entry into the EU because they suspect that additional Muslim influx would undermine the cultural basis of the society. Even when they are not very religious, they have a strong sense of belonging to the European civilization. They are proud of their identity, their democracy, of their republican institutions.
ST: Is it possible for a similar process to take place in Germany without causing disturbing side effects? Is it possible for a modern German to reassert his own sense of cultural and historic identity without being suspected of slipping into the kind of old-fashioned nationalism that the Federal Republic has tried so hard to abandon, and even criminalize? Is there a formula for contemporary German patriotism that would not be accused of such tendencies?
ELSAESSER: Germany presents a more difficult case than other countries because of the baggage of the past, the ideas of supremacy, racism, anti-Semitism and so on. I believe that the only way Germany can develop a healthy sense of respect for its sovereignty that would not be tainted by such legacy is through a strong strategic partnership with France and Russia. Those two countries had been our main enemies in the past. If Germany rebels against Brussels but keeps and further develops its links with Paris and Moscow while doing so, that would be a barrier against the atavisms of the past. Such strategy will enjoy popular support: take note of the fact that Putin comes regularly ahead of Bush in all German polls. Schroeder has pursued his policy of friendship with Moscow against the advice of many influential figures within his own SPD and especially against the preferences of the Greens, who are his coalition partners.
ST: Is Germany rediscovering the wisdom of Bismarck’s attempt to engage Russia as a partner, which was abandoned after the Iron Chancellor was replaced by the Kaiser?
ELSAESSER: Yes, this policy is in the spirit of Bismarck as well as in the spirit of Rapallo. It is reassuring that Russia is very important to Germany, which depends on Russian oil and gas. That is a sound basis for real partnership.
ST: This is a surprising statement, in view of Russia’s geopolitical weakness displayed during the Ukrainian controversy last fall. It can be argued that today’s Russia is weaker than it has been at any time since Peter the Great, and that its inability to counter the Orange scenario in Kiev concocted in Washington but carried out in partnership with Europe” spells its deep crisis, perhaps even bringing into question its ability to hold together?
ELSAESSER: On the other hand its oil revenues are gigantic and rising. Ukraine was a lost game for Moscow but it acted more aptly in Kyrgyzistan, allowing the coup to happen but then bringing the new team into its orbit. In Poland we are likely to see a new, less anti-Russian government this autumn. The most important Schroeder-Putin project is the oil pipeline that bypasses Poland along the Baltic seabed-an answer to the Ceyhan pipeline that bypassed Russia by crossing from the Azeri oilfields into Georgia and Turkey. The importance of Kaliningrad (Koenigsberg) is obvious here, it is now a key bridge between Russia and Germany, and not a weak, vulnerable point in Russia’s strategic position. As for Belarus, Lukashenko is not as stupid as some other targets of color-coded revolutions have turned out to be. He threw out the NGOs,” won the elections handsomely, and does not appear to be in much danger. Under some circumstances Russia may be tempted to sell” Belarus, but I do not expect that to happen.
ST: In the longer term Elsaesser expresses concern over the ability of Europe to absorb the huge number of immigrants already there and still coming in. As he says, the rulers of the Empire” are deliberately destroying traditional nations, with their spontaneously evolving democratic institutions, because they want more pliant conglomerates that are no longer bound by the sense of kinship and historic solidarity:
ELSAESSER: The people who cannot speak to each other, who have no trust in each other, can be divided very easily and ruled very easily. With smaller numbers it would be possible to teach immigrants to learn from our culture, but those who prefer obedient subjects to responsible citizens do not want that to happen.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
MISSION TO PODGORICA
by Srdja Trifkovic
On July 11, I made the decision to go to Podgorica and hold a press conference about the accusations against me that were printed there over the weekend. In spite of many well-meaning friends and associates suggesting otherwise, I trusted the publicity surrounding the case to provide the needed protection. I knew that the slanderers did not expect me to turn up and would be caught flat-footed. I also knew that nothing short of my turning up in Podgorica and throwing down the gauntlet would get sufficient media coverage to shut them up, once and for all.
The invitation to the press conference was circulated by the Movement for the Common State between 1 and 2 P.M. on Monday. Between 3 and 4 P.M., while writing my previous News & Views posting at the Bishop’s office in Trebinje, I received a call on my cell phone (ID witheld, of course) with a short but clear message: “Trifkovic, you may come to Montenegro, but you won’t get out of it!” They were getting either desperate or desperately serious, but this call merely caused a surge of inat that made my decision to go irreversible.
The trip went without a hitch. At 10 A.M., before a room packed with the entire press corps of Podgorica, I read a statement that went as follows:
“I am addressing you today to refute scandalous allegations which we all know to be untrue. By printing what it has printed, the Weekly Journal ( Nedjeljni zurnal ) has earned for itself the distinction of being the most noxious publication in today’s Europe. There is nothing comparable to it; for similarities we’d need to look several decades back, to the Voelkische Beobachter or Zeri i Populit . Perhaps there is a paper equally bad to be found in Pyongyang, or Khartoum, or Riyyadh, I don’t know. “I am especially concerned that the Nedjeljni zurnal and the Pobjeda daily have had the audacity to accuse my homeland, America, of harboring would-be assassins and terrorists. If such plans to murder the Prime Minister of Montenegro emanate from Chicago, as the Nedjeljni zurnal alleges, if an elaborate conspiracy to cause destabilization and instigate violence in Montenegro are being hatched there, as Pobjeda claims, and the FBI and other services tolerate such behavior and fail to arrest the culprits, this is a serious accusation against the authorities of the United States, an accusation that must be supported by evidence or else admitted to be fabricated. “By slandering America, by accusing it of tolerating terrorism, those two publications have tried to bite more than they can chew. I sincerely pity those journalists who, to keep body and soul together, have to work for them. Theydeserve better, as well as the Montenegrin public, which is in dire need of media decontamination. I hope that the legal proceedings, which I am instigating against the Nedjeljni zurnal , will provide at least a modest contribution to this long overdue decontamination.”
I also read my letter to Prime Minister Djukanovic of July 11, inviting him to deny that the information on my alleged threat to him came from his cabinet. I pointed out to him that he would be tainted with the same brush as the Nedjeljni zurnal if he did not do so.
Reports of my press conference, including extensive video clips of the statement, were carried by all three main TV channels in Montenegro in their evening news broadcasts on Tuesday-even by the state-run TVCG1, which had viciously attacked me and my colleagues Ron Hatchett and Joe Bissett only a week earlier. The dailies reported the statement prominently on Wednesday; with the notable exception of the rabidly separatist Vijesti . Even the semi-official Pobjeda did so without any attempt to soften the blow through editorial creativity.
After the press conference, I went to the Security Center of Podgorica to report the threat I received on Monday. The chief of uniformed police, Milos Radulovic, was friendly and helpful; so was Det. Djuro Maras, who took my statement. They both indicated that it was highly unlikely they’d be able to trace the source, however. They also thanked me for making the report and assured me that they take such threats seriously.
The last item of the day was to sign the power of attorney for Milorad Ivanovic, Podgorica’s foremost lawyer and former Secretary-General (i.e ., chief legal counsel) of the Yugoslav federal government. He will sue the Nedjeljni zurnal for slander, defamation, and all the rest of what the Montenegrin penal code provides for in these circumstances. I have a good mind to take them to the cleaners, or close them for good.
I returned to Trebinje just in time for the SS Peter & Paul evening liturgy at a cave church in the hills above Trebinje. A six-mile hike there and back, crowned by a spectacular sunset, was followed by a dinner with Bishops Grigorije and Atanasije at the nearby monastery. The evening was fresh, after a hot but dry day. The air was fragrant with lavender and rosemary. The wine was deep ruby red, the food simple but hearty, the life was good. The first good night’s sleep in days was ahead of me.
Monday, July 11, 2005
MILO’S MONTENEGRO : A FARCE AND PERHAPS A TRAGEDY IN THE MAKING
by Srdja Trifkovic
When Ambassador James Bissett, Professor Ronald Hatchett, and I accepted an invitation to give public lectures in Montenegro as guests of the Movement for the Common State of Serbia and Montenegro, we knew that what we had to say would not be welcomed by the separatist government of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. Knowing that passions are running high in this deeply divided land, we were careful to make sure that what we say is reasonable and true.
Arriving in the wake of countless foreign “experts” who had supported the cause of Montenegrin separatism, we believed that it was both proper and necessary to present an alternative point of view. In four hectic days (July 3-6), we and our colleagues from Greece and Russia presented a total of seven panels, in Podgorica (twice), Niksic, Budva, Bar, Kotor, and Herceg Novi.
Ambassador Bissett’s focus was on the Canadian legislation for any future referendum on the independence of Quebec. In a normal place, and within a normal debate, his detailed account of Canada’s Clarity Act would have been welcomed by all parties as a valuable contribution to the issue of who should have the right to vote in a referendum, what exact question should be asked, and what constitutes a “clear majority.”
Professor Hatchett’s parallel between various dangers facing an independent Montenegro, and the sobering experience of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the first decade of its independence, was based on an informed and insightful analysis of the dynamics that are at work in both places. In particular Dr. Hatchett pointed out that the threat of greater Albanian chauvinism-which has already turned one-third of Macedonia into an area effectively ungovernable from Skopje-would not spare Montenegro. If the state of Texas, with its 24 million people, a powerful economy, and the legal right to secede, realized the peril of independent statehood in an uncertain world-Dr. Hatchett concluded-then it would be advisable for the tiny Montenegro, with its 650,000 people earning $200 a month on average, to think twice before separating.
My own presentation was focused on the experience of two small but culturally and historically important European nations that inhabit clearly defined countries but do not enjoy sovereign statehood. Neither Catalonia nor Scotland is deprived of any element of meaningful nationhood by virtue of being in a common state with other nations that share similar geopolitical and economic interests. The dynamics of their social, economic, and political development are not impeded from Madrid or London, which is proven by the failure of separatists to capture a significant segment of the vote in either country. I was also careful to point out that the intention of the Montenegrin government to exclude its citizens resident in Serbia for the referendum-one third of the electorate!-was unacceptable under international democratic standards, most recently exemplified by the participation of French and Dutch citizens resident abroad in the referendum on the European Union’s constitution last May.
The reaction of the controlled media in Podgorica to our efforts was depressingly predictable. To give you some flavor of the place, on only one day (July 6) the leading pro-government daily “Vijesti” compared us to a bunch of Mein Kampf-reading thugs in a Munich beer hall in the early 1930s; the semi-official “Pobjeda” daily accused us of performing for a small fistful of dollars; while Prime Minister Djukanovic himself stated that he did not mind our visit because, in his view, our musings would only strengthen the cause of independence.
Someone did mind, however, and the scandalous article described by Tom Fleming in his post was published only one day after our departure from Podgorica.
Contrary to Tom’s advice, however, and that of many other friends and associates, I am going back to Podgorica tomorrow (July 12) to hold a press conference and challenge the authorities to arrest me, or else to admit that the allegations are false. I have already sent a letter to Djukanovic inviting him to denounce the allegations, especially since he is now implicated thanks to the incriminated article claiming his Cabinet as the source of the forged letter. A more stringent demand was made in a letter sent to Djukanovic by Ambassador Bissett:
“If it is true that the existence of this forged letter was leaked to the media by members of your Cabinet-as claimed by the paper that has published it-then I would further respectfully ask that you order an immediate investigation to uncover those of your subordinates responsible for such an outrage. Your reputation and that of your Government stands to be condemned by Western governments, institutions and media if your personal intervention is not forthcoming.”
Dr. Trifkovic opposes the separation of Montenegro from Serbia, Bissett wrote, “but he has always been forthright and honest in his opposition and has done so through reasoned argument and peaceful discourse”:
“The accusation contained in the forged letter is not only monstrous, it is ridiculous. That any responsible newspaper would publish such unadulterated and vicious fiction reflects poorly not only on the newspaper concerned but also on Montenegro itself. As Prime Minister, and since you have become personally implicated, it is only proper that you take steps to publicly condemn this forgery and bring those responsible for its publication to justice.”
In view of another paranoid article that appeared in the semi-official “Pobjeda” daily on Saturday, July 9, claiming that a detailed plan to instigate violence in Montenegro is being masterminded from Chicago, it is obvious that the accusations against me are not a red herring: they reflect a sustained campaign the like of which does not exist anywhere in Europe, and even world-wide may find a rival only in Pyongyang.
Hell-bent as I am now to get this matter sorted out once and for all, I have engaged a foremost Podgorica lawyer, Milorad Ivanovic, to sue the paper. I have also spoken to the American Embassy in Belgrade and to the U.S. Consulate in Podgorica, pointing out that the Montenegrin press is effectively accusing the United States of harboring terrorists and would-be assassins. An official at the Consulate, T.J. Grubisha, told me that the U.S. will not comment on the affair at this stage, but he has reiterated the view of the State Department that my colleagues and I have engaged in a legitimate public debate on certain issues that are of interest beyond the borders of Serbia and Montenegro.
The debate is sorely needed, and the government of Montenegro is doing its best to stifle it by means that reflect its nervousness, even panic. On this form it is not fit to be accepted into “Europe,” or any other institution that claims to uphold democracy and human rights. I would still welcome a frank but respectful debate with the proponents of Montenegrin separatism. So far I have not encountered any willing interlocutors, however. Perhaps they do exist, but for as long as they allow the upholders of thuggery, muggery, and buggery to dominate the public discourse in Podgorica, their cause will remain tainted by lies and criminality.
If you have any useful thoughts or insightful comments on this matter, perhaps Prime Minister Djukanovic would welcome a word from you:
Friday, July 01, 2005
SREBRENICA: THE PURPOSE OF THE GAME
Interview with Dr. Srdja Trifkovic on CKCU 93.1 FM
Ottawa – June 28, 2005
“A crime is a crime, regardless who is a culprit and who is the victim. We should follow a natural morality that forbids war crimes and crimes against humanity regardless of the identity of the culprit and the victim.”
On The Hague ‘s “release” of a video depicting Serbian gunmen shooting Muslims.
The video prove that war crimes and crimes against humanity have taken place in the former Yugoslavia , and that such crimes have been committed by all sides. That we have known for a long time. The Serbs need to come to terms with the dark chapters in their own past and with their transgressions that were in violation of what Patriarch Pavle had said way back in 1992, that it is important to remain true to our Christian heritage.
The video does not prove, however, that there was a “genocide” in Srebrenica, or that seven, eight or ten thousands Muslims were murdered. It proves that six Muslims were murdered by a Serbian paramilitary formation. It is uncertain whether it was under the command of the Serbian interior ministry or not. The way in which the video was used and abused by the “international community” indicates that the purpose of the proceedings is to attach collective guilt to the Serbian nation as a whole, to make the Serbs feel guilty for all that has to come to pass in the Balkans over the past decade and a half.
In December 2004 the OSCE office in Belgrade criticized the Serbian media for publishing some graphic pictures of the crimes committed by Ramush Haradinaj in Metohija in 1998-99. At that time some representatives of the so called international community complained that by publishing such vivid reminders of crimes committed against the Serbs, the media was guilty for perpetrating hate and intolerance, whereas its task is to look ahead towards peace and reconciliation. But when this video shows some Serbs as culprits, and Muslims as victims, all that is forgotten. It is played and replayed 24 hours a day on B92, published in “Danas” newspaper and other Soros affiliated media such the weekly “Vreme,” and all over the Western world.
A crime is a crime; regardless who is a culprit and who is the victim. We should follow a natural morality that forbids war crimes and crimes against humanity regardless of the identity of the culprit and the victim. When the Serbs are culprit the news the item is amplified to the n-th degree. When the Serbs are victims, it is censored. The shots of decapitated Serbian heads on the Ozren mountain in 1993, the shots of Serbian exhumed bodies in Kosovo and Bosnia , and the victims of Croatian “lightening” offensive in 1995 are censored and not fit to print.
That indicates that the Srebrenica video has a specific political usage: to attach the collective guilt to the Serbian nation as a whole; to use the 10th anniversary of Srebrenica as a means of “denacification,” that is to say de-Serbianization of Serbia – and to revise the Dayton agreement, with the objective of liquidating the Republika Srpska and creating a more or less centralized, unified Bosnia. The Republika Srpska made the admission of its guilt for Srebrnica under duress. It was done under the threat of the replacement of elected officials, along the lines of what we’ve seen with Paddy Ashdown, when he simply removed 56 top officials of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) last year. He still continues to rule Bosnia as his fiefdom.
The Serbian government would be ill advised to make any such apology. Let’s face it, for as long as Mesic does not apologize for the murder of five or six thousand Serbs in the process of ethnic cleansing of the Krajina; for as long as untold thousands of Serbs, victims of the Muslim misrule in Sarajevo in the early 1990s, remain unnamed, unknown and unacknowledged, the Serbian side does not need to apologize to anyone. By acknowledging its unique guilt, it would be playing right into the hands of the scenario reflected at The Hague Tribunal. It exist solely in order to proclaim the Serbs, collectively, as the guilty party for everything that has happened in the Balkans. Its purpose is to retroactively justify western policy. They’d love to be able to say, “Well the Serbs themselves are now admitting that they were the bad guys. All that we have done – the sanctions, the bombing of Republika Srpska, the bombing of Serbia , the occupation of Kosovo – was the inevitable consequence of their own actions.”
If the Serbs resist such scenario, at least they’ll have an opportunity in the long run to reverse the tragic outcome of the 1990s. But if the Serbian government accepts the stigma of guilt, it will also open the door for demands for monetary payments that will greatly exceed any benefits of joining the so called international community. Those demands for reparations will exceed billions of dollars.
On the US Undersecretary for State Nicholas Burns threats that Serbia will never join NATO if it does not condemn the Srebrenica “genocide”.
There are no benefits for Serbia in joining NATO. There are only costs. Serbia would be joining a criminal organization that was guilty of premeditated aggression against itself in 1999. If Serbia enters NATO, it would be joining a gang that carried out an aggression that remains to this date unacknowledged and unatoned. Serbia needs to come to terms with all that came to pass under Milosevic, but not at cost of losing it soul; not at the cost of admitting that aggression was right and that the defense of its sovereign territory was wrong. The terms that Mr. Burns is suggesting is the following: You admit that you are guilty of genocide and we will let you join the organization that carried an aggressive war against you, that occupied one part of your sovereign territory, and that ensured the 150 of your shrines will be burned down and 250.000 of your fellow Serbs will be expelled. Mr. Burns should be told in no uncertain terms by the government of Serbia , hat Serbia is not interested in joining such an organization.
After the referendum in Holland and France there will be no extension of the European Union for years to come. Mr. Burns is now desperately trying to pull out an alternative carrot, the promise of NATO as a lure that supposedly has some benefit for Serbia . The only “benefit” for Serbia will be to pay untold billions, which it does not have, in order to update its military and send its kids to join the US-led interventions to “spread democracy” in the Middle-East. NATO is an organization tainted with criminality that has outlived its purpose.
Dr Srdja Trifkovic , director of the Institute For International Affairs at Rockford Institute, Rockford Illinois and the author of the book : The Sword of the Prophet: Islam-History, Theology, Impact on the World.
Friday, July 01, 2005
BRITAIN ASSUMES EU PRESIDENCY
by Srdja Trifkovic
On July 1, Great Britain assumed the Presidency of the European Union. For the next six months Tony Blair and his ministers will preside over the EU as it faces the gravest crisis in its history.
That crisis has three key aspects. The rejection of the Constitution by the voters in France and the Netherlands has marked a decisive defeat for the proponents of a single European super-state. The EU’s budget crisis was not resolved at a rancorous summit in Brussels ten days ago, with Britain’s own rebate providing a major bone of contention. TheSueddeutsche Zeitung saw that summit as “the nervous breakdown of an overstretched political system”:
“The budget only played a superficial role. In reality, a political debate about the future poisoned the atmosphere. Beyond the rows over checks and rebates was the principle question of whether the European Union should become a dynamic market or a political union in order to succeed in the globalization process. . . . In practice, Europe’s democracy is in a bad state. The political elite is burnt out. Neither is it brave nor powerful enough to lead.”
Under Britain’s presidency we’ll see the ideological clash between the spirit of “old Europe” epitomized by France and Germany that seeks to uphold the 1960s dirigiste “social model,” and the demand for a meaner, leaner, more flexible and more competitive EU. Blair believes that the “reality check” initiated by the defeat of the Constitution will help him prevail. The British presidency will be marked by the demand for reduced interference from Brussels and the insistence that increased competitiveness is the only way for the Old Continent to avoid being left behind in the global economy. Blair has a rare opportunity to use the moment of weakness and dismay in Paris and London to induce long-overdue change. As France’s Liberation has noted, the proponents of the old “social model” have neither a plan nor a strategy to resist Blair’s intention “to reduce Brussels to the role of a bursar serving the states.”
Blair’s advocacy of an essentially liberal-capitalist model indicates just how far his “New Labour” has moved from its Socialist roots. He is now hoping for the defeat of Germany’s Social-Democratic government next September, as Angela Merkel’s CDU-CSU of government in Germany would be likely to support his agenda. Germany’s conservatives are not Euro-skeptics but they are in favor of reform. Die Welt of Berlin thus noted on June 20 that the EU is not just in turmoil, we see cracks in its construction:
“A pragmatic economic community has turned into an opaque and complex edifice . . . The solution will not be to pursue more and more integration policies. On contrary, Europe consists of functioning states, which are interested in the rule of law, peace, trade and growth. Why should they be dissolved into an overstretched structure? Those who call for a deeper integration are wrong. Europe’s goal must be a free trade area of sovereign states, not a completely harmonized giant region.”
This view is light years away from the federalist rhetoric that had prevailed in Brussels, Paris, and Berlin until but a few weeks ago. It is now echoed all over Europe. Italy’s pro-government, center-right Il Foglio thus editorialized (June 17) that Tony Blair can now seize the opportunity of the constitutional stalemate to offer a clear prospect to Europeans on what interests them the most: employment, economy, globalization, organized crime and immigration: “Blair defeated Brussels’ Eurocrats, who wanted to pretend that nothing happened the day after the French and Dutch referendums.”
In a brilliant analysis in the Times (June 30), Anatole Kaletsky insists that Blair should now do something unthinkable to Europe’s political classes, but blindingly obvious to voters: demanding the return of powers to nation governments from Brussels:
“In diplomatic jargon, he must start to unravel the acquis communautaire. The acquis is a convention that asserts that any responsibility transferred to Brussels can never be renationalised. It guarantees an irreversible accretion of power to the EU. Mr Blair should, as a matter of principle, announce his opposition to this anti-democratic juggernaut. He should show what he means in practice by proposing repatriation of specific policies, starting with issues such as regulations on working time and consumer protection, but aiming eventually for the biggest and most expensive policy-agriculture.”
He should also emphasize the diversity of Europe, Kaletsky insists, by rejecting the concept of a single economic model to be followed by every EU country, because Europe is not a single economy. It is a single market; a community of democratic nations, whose citizens choose different economic and social priorities:
“Exhortations from Brussels will not make European nations more efficient. Far more effective is national policy independence, reinforced by competition and awareness of what works or fails in other countries. Britain cannot force France or Germany to adopt an Anglo-Saxon model, but it can teach them about privatisation and financial reform. Britain, in turn, has much to learn from France on health, energy and transport or from Germany on training, export-promotion and research. In other areas, such as labour law and taxes, the nations of Europe can agree to differ, continuing to follow the different social traditions their voters want to preserve.”
In the aftermath of yet another election victory at home, Blair’s self-reinvention as the exponent of revived national identity and Euro-diversity would drive the Tories even deeper into despair. Ineptly led by William Hague, Iain Duncan-Smith and Michael Howard, and demoralized by an uninterrupted string of electoral defeats starting with the general election of 1997, the Conservatives would be left with no ideas and no policies that are distinguishable from Blair’s.
A year ago I noted that a sustained Tory recovery is possible, but it would have required Howard to develop a message more openly critical of Brussels, to rekindle the patriotic spirit traditionally associated with Toryism. His failure to do so is indicative of the continuing crisis of British conservatism, which is the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. She won in 1979, proclaiming that the Conservative Party was no longer a non-ideological national institution-in the tradition of One-Nation Toryism-but a force for radical change. From the upholders of understated respect for the limits of human reason the Tories were to become the New Model Army of the Right.
In the end she was all smoke and little fire. Far from reasserting national sovereignty and re-defining Britain’s role in the European Community (as it was then)-or, failing that, leaving it altogether-one year after another Mrs. Thatcher went through the embarrassing ritual of haggling and horse-trading with the assorted Eurocrats and continental political leaders. They did not argue over Westminster’s role in matters constitutional, or over sovereignty or identity. They quarreled over the Common Agricultural Policy, and Britain’s contributions, and the subsidies it was getting back. Mrs. Thatcher’s failure to understand and defend true conservative principles two decades ago made it possible for millions of her supporters to vote for Blair without blinking in the 1990s. The possibility that Tony Blair has over the next six months to present himself as the rescuer of the politics of identity and national diversity may provide a further proof of his shrewdness and his political opponents’ lack of vision and energy.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
THE ENEMY INSIDE THE GATES
by Srdja Trifkovic
The story is by now grimly familiar. Some members of a Muslim community somewhere in the United States are arrested. They are suspected of links with Islamic terrorists. The local Muslim community responds with a mix,of indignation and denial, with the assurances of the suspects’ impeccable character and accusations of anti-Muslim bias.
Non-Muslim civic leaders then respond by reassuring the Muslim community that it is loved and appreciated in spite of this “isolated incident” and by calling on their fellow-citizens to be warm and supportive to their Muslim neighbors. The media report heart-rendering stories of the Muslim sense of sadness, rejection and alienation. The “experts” say that the domestic threat is exaggerated. CAIR screams “Islamophobia!” Nobody mentions immigration, or loyalty, or identity, or abuse of hospitality.
The latest replay of this, by now boringly predictable scenario comes from Lodi, California, situated in the fertile San Joaquin Valley some 30 miles south of Sacramento. It is now home to about a thousand Muslims, predominantly from Pakistan. Most of them came over the past two decades as grape pickers and fruit packers. One of them is 22-year-old Hamid Hayat, who was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday of last week.
According to a federal affidavit, young Hamid has admitted spending six months in 2003-2004 at a terrorist training camp near the Pakistani capital Islamabad, and attending classes that included instructions on “how to kill Americans.” The agents also arrested his father, Umer Hayat (47). Both are U.S. citizens. Three other men, including two clerics from the local mosque, were also taken into custody, for now only on suspicion of immigration violations. The FBI said the arrests were part of a long inquiry into possible Islamist activities in the area. Agents indicated that fresh arrests were possible as the bureau expands its investigation into the San Francisco Bay Area.
The media played on cue. “The two men had seemed to fit in well in the community, which to some observers raises anew the prospect of innocent Muslims arousing suspicion and fear among their neighbors,”agonized the CSM . The faithful at the mosque in Lodi-the place “where many in the Muslim community sought solace from the intrusion of agents and the swarm of news media,” according to theBoston Globe (June 12)-did not agonize. They reacted with indignation : It’s making everybody upset. People are pointing fingers at us. I just want people to stop using the word ‘Muslim.’ This ain’t anything to do with being Muslim,’ said Mashin Mohammad, 22, as he and friends gathered in a park across from the mosque. ‘I’m tired of people blaming Middle Eastern people for everything,’ said Mohammad, who was born in Afghanistan. ‘We don’t know what the truth is. But all we’ve been hearing is lies. People talk about terrorists and Al Qaeda being here. Why would they come to Lodi?’
“It’s a question that has pervaded this city of 62,000, including a sizable Muslim community,” the paper commented, betraying either its stupidity or its mendacity. The answer is simple: Islamic terrorists and their sympathizers did not need to “come to Lodi” because they are there already. In any group of 1,000-plus Muslim immigrants centered around a mosque, it can be predicted with near-certainty (1) that some percentage will sympathize with the objectives of Al-Qaeda and its ilk, if not quite with all of their methods; and (2) that some smaller percentage of that group, especially among the Western-born young, will support those methods as well, and prove willing to apply them in practice.
This assertion is supported by substantial evidence. We shall mention but a few typical cases.
1. In Florida and New York, two U.S. citizens-Tarik Shah and Rafiq Abdus Sabir-were arrested in late May, just before Lodi hit the news. They stand accused of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. The pair belongs to the “second wave”: Sabir is an Ivy League-educated medical doctor who lived in an upscale gated community in Boca Raton-and yet he pledged his loyalty to al-Qaida by offering to treat terrorists. Shah, a jazz musician who often traveled with his base to divert suspicion, offered to use his skills in martial artsto train terrorists . A spokesman for the Islamic Center of Boca Raton called Sabir “a good Muslim,” the charges against him “absurd, absolutely unfounded,” and pledged the support of the Muslim community.
2. In Falls Church, VA, Maher Amin Jaradat was arrested on June 6 for fraudulently procuring U.S. citizenship, with federal agents alleging he failed to disclose ties to militant groups. The indictment said Mr. Jaradat failed to disclose he had been a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP); that he had studied bomb making and the use of small arms at a training camp in Syria; and that he had engaged in security duties in Lebanon.
3. American-born Yahiye Gadahn (25) a.k.a. Abu Suhayb Al-Amriki, Abu Suhayb, Yihya Majadin Adams, was named last year as a suspected al-Qaida operative sought by the FBI. Yahiye Gadahn, son of a halal butcher born and raised in California, has written of his religious experiences. His article can be found on the “Islamic Server” of the University of Southern California, courtesy of the taxpayers of the Golden State.
4. In March 2004 Indian-born U.S. citizen Ilyas Ali and his co-conspirator Muhamed Abid Afridi pleaded guilty to plotting to sell shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles to al Qaeda. It is noteworthy that when a reporter visited Ali in a Hong Kong jail in January 2003, he claimed he was a victim of Attorney General John Ashcroft and his over-zealous Justice Department. American law enforcement “screwed up 9/11 and now they’re arresting innocent people for political purposes. I’m very, very sad that they got an innocent person and they don’t care . . . Ashcroft just used me.”
5. In December 2003 Mukhtar al-Bakri, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and five U.S.-born youths from upstate New York-Shafal Mosed, Faysal Galab, Yayha Goba, Yasein Taher, and Sahim Alwan-convicted of aiding Al-Qaeda and plotting attacks on Americans. The seven, known as the Lackawanna Cell, lived in a tight-knit Arab community, but to an outside observer, PBS claimed , “most were all-American teenagers who played soccer together and enjoyed going to parties.” All seven went to the Al Farooq training camp in Afghanistan in the summer of 2001; six returned to the U.S. When questioned after their return, four of them said they had attended religious seminars in Pakistan. Not one mentioned the trip to Afghanistan until Mukhtar al-Bakri was picked up by Bahraini police and questioned by FBI agents in Bahrain on September 11, 2002. They received sentences of between seven and 10 years in prison.
6. In 2003 “The Portland Seven,” including six Muslim U.S. citizens-Maher Hawash, Jeffrey Leon Battle, Patrice Lumumba Ford, Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal, Muhammad Ibrahim Bilal, Habis Abdulla al Saoub and Martinique Lewis- were convicted of plotting attacks against Americans. The cell called itself “Katibat Al-Mawt,” loosely translates to “Squad of Death.”
The list goes on and on. In 2003 U.S. Army Sergeant Asan Akbar went way beyond plotting when he threw a grenade into a tent with fellow soldiers in Kuwait, killing an officer and wounding 13. In 2001-2002, John Walker Lindh, Yaser Esam Hamdi and dozens of other U.S. citizens were captured in Afghanistan where they went to support the Taliban.
That there is a correlation between the presence of a Muslim population in a country and the danger that its citizens will be subjected to a terrorist attack is a demonstrable fact. A significant minority of Muslim immigrants and their American-born offspring wishes to transform the host-society by converting it, or else to inflict some harm on it. They are unsurprisingly the immigrant group least likely to identify with America: in response to a survey of newly naturalized citizens, 90 percent of Muslim immigrants said that if there were a conflict between the United States and their country of origin, they would be inclined to support their country of origin. In Detroit 81 percent of Muslims “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that Shari’a should be the law of the land.
This internal threat to America is increasing. In the aftermath of 9-11 various estimates of the Muslim population of United States have been made, ranging from two to nine million. According to the Census Bureau, in 1987-1997 8 percent of all immigrants-two million-came from Muslim countries. There were 10.6 million naturalized citizens in 2000, of which over one million were Muslims. Growth of overall immigration (legal and illegal) since 1970 has been 300 percent, but growth of immigration from the Middle East over the same period has been 700 percent-from under 200,000 in 1970 to 1.5 million in 2000. In 2010 the expected number of immigrants from the Middle East will be 2,500,000.
Well-financed by Saudi oil money, the jihadist infrastructure has come into being to cater to this large and growing community. The number of mosques and Islamic centers stands at around two thousand and keeps growing. The total number of mosques increased 42 percent between 1990 and 2000, compared with a 12 percent average increase for the evangelical Protestant denominations, and a two percent average increase among old-line Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox groups.
The figures for immigration from the Middle East are matched and likely to be exceeded by the number of Muslim immigrants from the Indian Sub-Continent (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh). Currently Muslims account for close to one-tenth of all naturalizations, and their birth rates exceed those of any other significant immigrant group. Even a conservative estimate of their number of three million, or one-percent of the population, has alarming security implications and the potential for disproportionate growth.
This is madness that needs to be stopped before it is too late. A coherent long-term counter-terrorist strategy therefore must entail denying Islam the foothold inside the United States. The application of ideological and political criteria in determining the eligibility of prospective visitors or immigrants has been and remains an essential ingredient of any anti-terrorist strategy, whereby Islamic activism would be treated as eminently political rather than “religious” activity.
“We want people to know that Lodi is more than what the investigation is about” said Blair King , the city manager, following the arrests in California last week. “It doesn’t seem to me that we have a terrorist cell working out of Lodi. I don’t see any evidence of that,” opined the mayor, John Beckman. Appealing for calm, he warned against “inflamed passions.”
Such inanities indicate that ultimately the outcome of the war against terrorists will depend on our ability to define ourselves and to understand the nature of the threat. The idiotic would-be dhimmis inside the gates are as dangerous as the jihadist enemy.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
DMITRY ROGOZIN: RUSSIA ‘S MAN OF THE FUTURE?
by Srdja Trifkovic
The 5th congress of the Rodina (Motherland) party was held in Moscow on June 11. Some 1,000 delegates and guests heard the leader of this rising Russian political force, Dmitry Olegovich Rogozin, deliver the rousing keynote address-“To Slay a Dragon”-in which he offered the Russian equivalent of a Buchananite political, economic, and national program . Having followed his career with some interest over the past decade, I believe that Rogozin has now matured into a serious contender for Russia’s presidency in 2008.
Rogozin accused Putin’s Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and the Kremlin’s economic liberals of corruption, of being insufficiently resolute in dealing with the hated oligarchs, and of economic incompetence. “A social government should represent the interests of the majority of the people-and the majority is against those in power,”Rogozin declared . “If the president pursued the same policy, we would say no to him, too.”
Seeking to pre-empt those Russians hoping to repeat the scenario of Ukraine’s stage-managed “orange revolution” in the streets of Moscow,Rogozin claimed any such regime change would be “ginger” in color-an obvious allusion to the hair color of Anatoly Chubais, the hugely unpopular “pro-Western, reformist liberal.”
James George Jatras, a Washington D.C.-based attorney and occasional Chronicles contributor, was for many years a senior policy analyst with the U.S. Senate Republican Leadership. He was in Moscow last weekend as a guest at the Rodina congress. In his opinion,
No one should take lightly Dmitriy Olegovich Rogozin’s prospects for becoming the next president of Russia. To start with, as a politician, he is an extremely attractive and personable candidate. His manner in private is indistinguishable from his appeal to a mass audience, connecting in both contexts as genuine and capable. More importantly, as a statesman, his political persona seems to have real substance behind it. Mr. Rogozin has his hand on the pulse of a broad segment of the Russian population, which, while not wishing to see a return of Marxist-Leninist ideology, are thoroughly disgusted with “democracy” and the “free market” as they have been marketed in debased form in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet system.
Rodina’s leftward economic platform should be taken less as an endorsement of dogmatic Soviet collectivism, says Jatras, than a rejection of the oligarchs’ looting of Russia’s national patrimony and the sink-or-swim economic Hobbesianism into which most Russians were plunged without benefit of either property or legal protection.
Rogozin and his party take great pains to insist that their Russian patriotic appeal is not chauvinist nor even “nationalist,” and that respect for the identities and traditions of all of Russia’s many ethnic groups is itself part of what makes Russia what it is. The fact the most of the party’s leadership-including Rogozin himself and a large portion of the Party’s public following-are practicing Orthodox Christians, Jatras sees as conclusive evidence that Rodina is not a throwback to communism:
At the same time, Mr. Rogozin’s and Rodina’s desire to see the restoration of a strong Russian national state, and his seeking common ground with both Europe and China, points to a troublesome potential development for proponents of U.S.-led “benevolent global hegemony” and architects of the so-called “color revolutions” that are progressively transforming Russia’s strategic space into one dominated by Washington.
Following successful U.S- Soros-supported efforts in Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004, speculation is rife as to who is next, with the leading guesses being Belarus and Kazakhstan. Most observers believe Belarus will be a tough nut to crack, however, with the Lukashenko government having imposed severe restrictions on the NGOs that serve as the essential transmission belts for mobilization of the “pro-Western, reformist, democratic” forces. Kazakhstan seemed to be a more likely bet for the next upheaval, with President Nazerbayev’s government having been relatively open to outside influences. In early June, however, the Kazakh parliament-with an eye to events in Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan, and their own upcoming presidential election in 2006-enacted tight new restrictions on foreign-funded organizations.
In foreign affairs Rogozin laments Russia’s effective abdication of its status as a great power in the post-communist period as dangerous not only for Russia but also for the whole of Europe. He thinks that Putin’s failure to revive Russia’s ability to articulate and defend its national interests is even less forgivable than his failure to revive the economy. He believes that Russia’s place should be as a partner with Germany and France in a post-Brussels united Europe from the Atlantic to Alaska. In the aftermath of the failed E.U. Constitution referenda in France and Holland Rogozin has suggested that the EU should be replaced with a “Greater Europe” that would include Russia. Jatras sees this as sufficient to subject Rogozin to systematic vilification by our own media machine:
As Americans from various points on the political spectrum consider how our own country can manage to get itself out of the empire business-while adopting instead a realistic strategy against the jihad terror that threatens American and Russia alike-an accession to power by Mr. Rogozin and Rodina would be welcome indeed. Conversely, we can expect the Washington political and media establishment and their oligarch-funded allies to hit Mr. Rogozin and Rodina with a well-orchestrated and amply-funded smear campaign in anticipation of Russia’s 2007 elections to the Duma and the 2008 election to succeed Mr. Putin.
Ironically, Jatras concludes, those efforts may fail precisely because there is indeed some real democracy in Russia-hopefully enough that the most popular party and candidate can win.
When we first met in Moscow in the summer of 1996, courtesy of our friend Dr. Elena Guskova, Rogozin struck me as a dynamic young Russian patriot whose obvious energy and personal charm could not compensate for the many obstacles he was facing at that time-from the corrupt but powerful Yeltsin establishment to the fact that my late friend General Aleksandr Lebed was seeking support from the same target-audience as Rogozin’s Congress of Russian Communities. At the end of our long conversation Rogozin gave me a magnificent folio edition of the Palekh New Testament adorned with Russian icons, and an assurance that when he becomes President I’ll be invited to his inauguration. After almost a decade it looks like the rain check may yet be cashed after all.
Friday, May 27, 2005
WAR IN IRAQ IS FAR FROM OVER
by Srdja Trifkovic
As the violence in Iraq intensifies, I am tempted to start recycling my old articles, like this one from two years ago: “From the realist perspective the cost of Iraqi occupation would be lamentable but necessary and therefore tolerable, if the purpose of blood and money thus expended was spelled out with clarity, honesty, and coherence.”
Six months later, at the time of Saddam’s capture, I opined that Mr. Bush “should declare a glorious victory and leave Iraq.” “The U.S. mission is in serious trouble and needs to be terminated as soon as possible,” I wrote a year ago . “‘Staying the course’ is self-defeating if the destination and timetable remain unclear . . . As we enter what promises to be a long, hot summer of Arab discontent, the mission in Iraq must not be subjected-yet again-to the manipulative shinengigans by special-interest groups within and around the Bush Administration.” And last August I concluded that “the optimal solution for the United States is to stop insisting on a united Iraq. It should promote extensive decentralization based on three self-governing entities-Kurdish in the north, Shiite in the south, Sunni in the middle-within a loose framework of Iraq’s external borders.”
Since I stand by all those statements today, and since I don’t have much of significance to add to them, let’s see what foreigners are saying. We’ll focus on the centrist and right-of-center sources, as they are not tainted by an instinctive Bushophobia so predictably present in the pages of London’s Guardian or France’s Liberation .
Pascal Boniface, Le Figaro , May 19 : “The theory that the war in Iraq has helped promote democracy in the region needs to be seriously questioned. While the war has had some positive effects, such as getting rid of Saddam, overall the balance sheet remains negative.” And those who think this can be reduced to the French and their anti-American feelings are wrong. (There are those who share this analysis in the U.S.) At best America’s policy in Iraq has helped to promote a little more democracy but much terrorism.”
Financial Times Deutschland , May 20 : “Bush’s democracy corps will be late for Iraq, that much is clear. The country, which plunged into terrorism and chaos, would have needed experts for rebuilding state structures months ago. The people need security, but also water pipelines and a functioning administration.”
Handelsblatt (5/20) : “America’s debacle in Iraq.”
Die Zeit (5/19) : “The Pentagon does not appear to have an exit strategy from the Iraqi nightmare, not to mention a strategy for victory.”
Andrea Nusse in Handelsblatt (May 13): “As soon as the political process in Iraq makes progress, violence will let up. Many politicians in Iraq and elsewhere had this hope and pronounced it, but thus far, this calculation has not come true. On the contrary, since the new government has sworn its oath of allegiance, violence has reached a new culmination. . . . [N]o one can hope for more than a containment of violence in very small steps, if it can be stopped at all.”
Dietrich Alexander in Die Welt (May 12) : “The Iraqi society is threatening to break up because of this duel that is jeopardizing its existence.”
Abendzeitung editorial of May 12 : “[T]he insurgents took advantage of the power vacuum. The remaining authority of the state eroded. Iraqi security forces are entrenching themselves in police stations or leave them voluntarily. And a short-term solution is not in sight.”
Markische Oder-Zeitung (May 12) : “It is very likely that the United States will have to spend many more billions in Iraq. And many U.S. soldiers will not return home.”
Giampaolo Pioli in Il Giorno (May 16): “Washington has its back against the wall. It doesn’t know when it will be able to bring home the 140,000 soldiers . . . but above all it doesn’t know when the Iraqi forces will have the capacity to maintain an acceptable level of security.”
Il Sole-24 Ore (5/12): “The rebels’ offensive appears inexorable. We wonder how many aspiring suicide bombers are out there, and above all, where they all come from . . . The latest allocation of 82 billion dollars, which the Senate will approve this week, will cover war costs only until September 30. But the campaign in Iraq is destined to drag on far beyond that date.”
Lorenzo Cremonesi in Corriere della Sera (May 12) : “It will be very difficult for Jaafari to restore faith to the country.”
Marianna Grishina in Russia’s Krasnaya Zvezda (May 18) : “Reports from Iraq are an unending chain of nightmares.”
Aleksey Andreyev and Yelena in Novyye Izvestiya (May 12): “Iraq has become a political dead end for the Americans. The Italians are going to leave, and the Poles are sure to do so, too. But there is no end to the war in sight.”
Livia Klingl in Vienna’s Kurier (5/19) : “‘Shiitistan’ is what pessimists have called what has emerged in parts of Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. A region where religion dominates everyday life and where women have little or nothing to say. We’ve all seen it before in Iran.”
Austria’s Der Standard of May 13: “In Iraq, it is not just the security situation that is depressing. Apart from the human toll, there are other facts of which little is heard. Due to the security situation, infrastructure reconstruction and rehabilitation of the economy are delayed further. . . . It is a vicious circle: The degree of violence makes reconstruction impossible, and non-functioning reconstruction, in turn, generates more violence.”
Belgium’s De Tijd (May 20) : “Since the free elections in Iraq the country seems to have been engulfed by an orgy of violence. The religious and ethnic divisions are peaking. The American generals in the field are very pessimistic . . . Day after day the invasion of Iraq shows that an occupier cannot impose democracy because he lacks all credibility. That is how Bush’s democratic missionary drive is surpassed by the bitter reality in the field.”
And so on . . . and that’s from the friendly conservative Europeans. But if you dislike being depressed, the much needed assurance that “we” know what “we” are doing can be found on the pages of the Weekly Standard or National Review .
Monday, May 23, 2005
TROUBLE IN CENTRAL ASIA
by Srdja Trifkovic
The government of Uzbekistan has rejected calls from U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan for an international investigation into a government crackdown on protesters in the town of Andijon that witnesses say left hundreds of people dead. The Uzbek president, Islam Karimov, told Mr. Annan that he was opposed to any foreign involvement in the aftermath of his country’s worst bloodshed since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. He has blamed Islamic militants for the unrest, and denies that his troops fired on unarmed civilians.
While Mr. Karimov is right to reject meddling by the odious and corrupt U.N., the trouble is that he is odious and corrupt himself: Left to his own devices he will preside over a rising tide of unrest that may result in an Islamist-led revolution in the heart of Central Asia. Karimov’s overreaction “will immeasurably boost support for radical groups across Central Asia.” By using the threat of Islamist extremism as a cover to cow all opposition, he has alienated moderates and bolstered support for real extremists such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
In Washington, he is viewed as an important ally in the war against terrorism, however, which makes him “our S.O.B.” and immune to the kind of operation conducted in Georgia in 2003 or in Kiev last year. In 2001 he offered the U.S. the use of the Karshi-Khanabad air base close to the Afghan border. That base now houses over a thousand American servicemen. The U.S. ambivalence was apparent last year, when the State Department cut off $18 million in aid to Karimov because of human rights violations, but he continued to receive “non-lethal” aid from the Pentagon. As the Daily Telegraph noted , the Americans sponsored opposition movements in Georgia and Ukraine, and Congress recently voted a grant for pro-democracy activists in Belarus-but when it comes to Uzbekistan, Washington is equivocal: “The Administration is calling for restraint on both sides, even though there is ample evidence that the security forces have been firing into unarmed crowds.”
The United States should exert pressure on Karimov to soften his rule and establish dialogue with his non-Islamist opposition. It should do so not because Mr. Bush has a divinely-ordained mission to spread democracy around the world, but because Karimov is becoming a danger to himself and to regional stability.
Such pressure should be coordinated with Moscow. It is essential to reassure Putin that the U.S. is not preparing yet another “color-coded” revolution but simply advocating changes in Tashkent that make geopolitical sense for all. Moscow may be receptive to such approach. Writing in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta on May 17, Vladimir Bogdanov warned that the Uzbeks, “a tolerant and moderately religious people, felt they couldn’t take any more of corruption, repression, and poverty.” In a similar vein Izvestiya noted that “relying on regimes that never change rulers does not mean relying on stability” and that “Russia lacks an effective CIS doctrine,” while Vremya-Novostey warned that every regime change in a post-Soviet republic catches Moscow by surprise: “This stems from attempts to substitute a stable and dominant position of the ruling clan for a stable development of the country.” It will be difficult to reassure Moscow, however, after all that has come to pass in Georgia and the Ukraine.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
THE KINGDOM OF SELF-HATE
by Srdja Trifkovic
Kingdom of Heaven is spectacular, silly, historically inaccurate, unwittingly funny, badly scripted, and pretentious. So far, so conventional, you may say: just another Hollywood big-budget yarn a la DeMille and Troy . What makes Ridley Scott’s epic about the Crusades different is a political message more insidious than the standard leftist-revisionist pap we’ve been fed by Tinseltown for decades. That message is that, in a conflict between Christians and Muslims, the former attack, the latter react. The true hero of the movie is Saladin, a wise warrior-king sans peur et sans reproche ; its villains, the coarse and bloodthirsty Knights Templar.
The soap-opera storyline (go and see it for details) has the potential for great movie-making. What we get instead is Orlando Bloom rallying the defenders of Jerusalem with an oration in which he asserts that the holy city belongs to all three faiths equally. Saladin’s captured sister is killed by Christians (a historical falsehood), but upon entering Jerusalem he nevertheless respectfully picks up a fallen cross (another fantasy). On such form, it is unsurprising that the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee praised the film as a “balanced” portrayal of the Crusades. Even the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a pro-terrorist front group based in Washington D.C., liked the movie. A spokesman for CAIR who remains unindicted as of this writing (unlike several of his colleagues) has said that “Muslims are shown as dignified and proud people whose lives are based on ethics and morality.” A French actress whose contribution to the epic consists of flashing her sensual eyes in a dozen ways, boasted that the film will make all Muslims “extremely proud and happy, because they are seen as noble, chivalrous characters . . . [T]he Arab people behaved in a more noble way than the Christian people. Saladin was such a great character. He was the hero of his time.”
Kingdom of Heaven does not tell you that the Crusades were defensive in nature, a reaction to the Muslim conquest, pillage, and enslavement of two thirds of Christendom. It does not even hint at the fact that, a few generations earlier, Christianity had covered, outside Europe, the ancient Roman province of Asia, extending across the Caucasus to the Caspian Sea, Syria with the Holy Land, and a wide belt of North Africa all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, most of the early medieval Christians lived not in Europe but in Asia Minor and Africa, which gave us countless fathers and martyrs. Unleashed on this world as the militant faith of a nomadic war band, Islam turned its boundary with the outside world into a perpetual war zone. The early attack on Christendom almost captured Constantinople when that city was still the most important center of the Christian world. But the Muslims also conquered Spain, and, had they not been stopped at Tours, the Koran-in Gibbon’s memorable phrase-might have been “taught in the schools of Oxford” to a circumcised people.
The Crusades were but a temporary setback to Islamic expansion. But they have provided the source of endless arguments within the Western academia that sought to establish some moral equivalence between Muslims and Christians at first, and eventually to use the Crusades as a tool to elevate the former to victimhood and condemn the latter as aggressors. This is a spectacular role-reversal to which Kingdom of Heaven makes an enthusiastic contribution. Historically, the aggressors were Muslims, coarse fighting men, accustomed to living by pillage and the exploitation of settled populations. Heaping loot and jizya(Koranically ordained poll tax from conquered non-Muslims) was the only means of making a living known to them. Theirs was an “expansionism denuded of any concrete objective, brutal, and born of a necessity in its past” (Ibn Warraq).
Islam provided a powerful ideological justification for such expansionism. The view of modern Islamic activists , that “Islam must rule the world and until Islam does rule the world we will continue to sacrifice our lives” is in perfect tune with traditional Islam. “O Prophet! Rouse the Believers to the fight,” the Koran orders, and promises that 20 Muslims, “patient and persevering,” would vanquish 200 unbelievers; if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand (Koran, 8:65). Allah further orders the faithful to fight the unbelievers, and be firm with them: “And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter” (Koran, 2:191). The end of the fight is possible only when “there prevail justice and faith in Allah” (Koran, 2:193).Muhammad assured his flock that Allah guarantees to all jihadiwarriors instant paradise in case of martyrdom, or “reward or booty he has earned”: “Jihad is the best method of earning, both spiritual and temporal. If victory is won, there is enormous booty and conquest of a country, which cannot be equaled to any other source of earning. If there is defeat or death, there is everlasting Paradise and a great spiritual benefit.”
Far from being wars of aggression, the Crusades were a belated military response of Christian Europe to over three centuries of Muslim aggression against Christian lands, the systemic mistreatment of the indigenous Christian population of those lands, and harassment of Christian pilgrims. The modern myth, so comprehensively propagated by the Kingdom of Heaven , has been promoted by Islamic propagandists for centuries and supported by their Western allies and apologists for decades. It claims that the peaceful Muslims, allegedly native to the Holy Land, were forced to take up arms in defense against European-Christian aggression. This myth takes A.D. 1095 as its starting point, but it ignores the preceding centuries, starting with the early caliphs, when Muslim armies swept through the Byzantine Empire, conquering about two thirds of the Christian world of that time.
The Muslim record of the preceding century was grim. In 1009, Hakem, the Fatimite Caliph of Egypt, ordered the destruction of the Holy Sepulchre and all the Christian establishments in Jerusalem. For years thereafter, Christians were persecuted even more cruelly than in the early period of Muslim rule. In 1065, thousands of Christian pilgrims who had crossed Europe under the leadership of Gunther, Bishop of Bamberg, while on their way through Palestine, had to seek shelter in a ruined fortress where they defended themselves against Muslim attackers, in violation of earlier pledges that they would enjoy safe access to the holy sites. The rise of the Seljuk Turks compromised even the tenuous safety of Christian pilgrims. They conquered Armenia and Asia Minor, where their descendants still live. In 1070 they took Jerusalem, and in 1071 Diogenes, the Greek emperor, was defeated and made captive at Mantzikert. Syria was the next to become the prey of the Turks. Antioch succumbed in 1084, and by 1092 not one of the great metropolitan sees of Asia remained in the possession of the Christians.
In spite of the Great Schism of 1054, the Byzantine emperors deemed the renewed threat from the east serious enough to seek help from Rome. The battle of Manzikert was the indirect cause of the Crusades, heralding Byzantium’s loss of control in Asia Minor. In 1073, letters were exchanged between Emperor Michael VII and Pope Gregory VII, who planned to send an army of 50,000 men to repulse the Turks. Gregory’s successor, Urban II, took up those plans and convened a council at Clermont-Ferrand. A great number of knights and men of all conditions came and encamped on the plain of Chantoin, outside the city. On November 27, 1095, the Pope himself addressed the assembled multitudes, exhorting them to go forth and rescue the Holy Sepulchre. Amid cries of Deus hoc vult !-God wills it!-all pledged themselves by vow to depart for the Holy Land and received the cross of red cloth to be worn on the shoulder. The Pope sent letters to various courts, and the movement made rapid headway throughout Europe. The first detachments to leave Europe were poorly led, however, undisciplined, under-funded, destitute of equipment, prone to plunder of Christian lands they were crossing, and they ultimately met with disaster :
One of these bands, headed by Folkmar, a German cleric, was slaughtered by the Hungarians. Peter the Hermit, however, and the German knight, Walter the Pennyless (Gautier Sans Avoir), finally reached Constantinople with their disorganized troops. To save the city from plunder, Alexius Comnenus ordered them to be conveyed across the Bosphorus (August 1096); in Asia Minor they turned to pillage and were nearly all slain by the Turks. Meanwhile, the regular crusade was being organized in the West and, according to a well-conceived plan, the four principal armies were to meet at Constantinople.
Peter the Hermit was the most effective of preachers, and the lines of battle were clearly drawn: It was us against them, Christendom against the “Evil Empire of Mahound.” The driving impulse was not that of conquest and aggression, but of recovery and defense, and liberation of the Christians who still in many places constituted the majority of the population. The Crusades were not Christendom’s answer to Caliph Umar, they were a reaction to what he and his successors had done to Christians.
By May 1097, the armies were assembled, but many misunderstandings between the Greeks and the Latin Christians soon emerged. After an early victory over the Turks at the battle of Dorylaum on July 1, 1097, the Crusaders advanced through Asia Minor, constantly harassed by Muslims, suffering from heat, and sinking under the weight of their armor. They rested and recuperated among the Armenians of the Taurus region, made their way into Syria, and on October 20, 1097, laid siege to the fortified city of Antioch. On the night of June 2, 1098, they took the city by storm, but subsequent plague and famine decimated their ranks.
Rest, replenishment of men and supplies, and recuperation of worn-out survivors continued through the winter. It was not until April 1099 that the Crusader army marched on to Jerusalem, and on June 7 besieged the city. The attack began July 14, 1099 and the next day the Crusaders entered Jerusalem from all sides and slew its inhabitants. The soldiers of the Church Militant on this occasion proved that they could not only outfight but also out-massacre their Mohammedan foes. Further victories soon followed: In 1112, with the aid of Norwegians and the support of Genoese, Pisan, and Venetian fleets, Crusaders began the conquest of the ports of Syria, which was completed in 1124 by the capture of Tyre. Ascalon alone kept an Egyptian Muslim garrison until its fall in 1153.
The Crusades were initially successful because Islam was by no means a monolithic body-politic. The caliphate’s authority was purely notional: Egypt was under the rule of the Fatimids, a Shi’ite sect, while the Sunni Turks from central Asia were gaining the upper hand in Shi’ite Persia, as well as Iraq, Syria, and Palestine. By the beginning of the “Glorious Twelfth,” the Christian states-the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Countship of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, and the Countship of Edessa-controlled an unbroken but tenuously held belt of territory roughly corresponding to the Fertile Crescent between the Euphrates and the Sinai. It was long and thin: the preoccupation with the holy places and ports precluded any serious attempt to develop strategic depth, or to create a viable local economic and demographic base for the new Christian states.
The necessity of defending these fragile Outremer domains, coupled with the lack of reliable local recruits, resulted in the creation of the religious orders of knighthood: the Hospitallers and the Templars. They attracted the younger sons of feudal houses and acquired both in Palestine and in Europe considerable property. Their bravery and discipline-allegedly but unprovenly cemented by certain unspeakable practices within the Templar brotherhood-could not compensate for the Crusader states’ lack of cohesion and discipline, however. The help they received from the West was too scattered and intermittent. The Principality of Edessa was the first to succumb to the Muslim counteroffensive on Christmas Day 1144, and Damascus fell in 1154.
In 1169, an energetic and able prince of Kurdish blood and Sunni religious allegiance, Salah-ed-Din (Saladin), succeeded his uncle as the Grand Vizier of Egypt and in 1171 helped overthrow the Shi’ite Fatimid dynasty. This seemed of intra-Muslim significance at first, but the tide was about to be turned against the Christians. The Muslim response to the early success of the Crusades was a call for jihad, but until Saladin’s rise their internal divisions precluded and delayed concerted action. Appealing to the religious fervor of Egyptian and Syrian Muslims in subsequent years, Saladin was able to take possession of Damascus and to conquer all of Mesopotamia except Mosul, threatening the Kingdom of Jerusalem from all sides. On July 4, 1187, his army defeated the Christians on the shores of Lake Tiberias, and he entered Jerusalem on September 17. The fortified ports of Tyre, Antioch, and Tripoli were the only remaining Christian strongholds.
The news of Jerusalem’s fall caused consternation in Europe, and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa led the next Christian assault in 1189-the Third Crusade, the most brutal of all-at the head of an army of 100,000. He was drowned while trying to cross a river in Asia Minor on horseback, however, and many German princes returned home. Others, under the emperor’s son, Frederick of Swabia, reached Antioch and proceeded to Acre, where finally all the crusading troops assembled. The siege of the city had already lasted two years when Philip August, King of France, and Richard the Lionheart, King of England, arrived on the scene, and Acre surrendered on July 13, 1191. Soon, however, the old quarrel between the French and English kings broke out again, and the former left Palestine. Richard was now leader of the Crusade, but he failed to take Jerusalem and “compensated himself for these reverses by brilliant but useless exploits which made his name legendary among the Mohammedans.”
After Saladin’s death, his possessions were divided among his lesser successors, who lost Jerusalem again to the Crusaders in 1229, but the Christians’ strength and unity was waning. By 1244 the city fell again to the Muslims, this time continuously until 1918. The deathblow to the Crusaders was given by al-Malik al-Zahir Baybars, a Mamluke who previously had stopped the Mongols. He destroyed the venerated Church of Nativity in Nazareth. Caesarea capitulated under the condition that its 2,000 knights would be spared, but once inside the city, the Muslims murdered them all anyway. When Antioch fell to the Muslims, 16,000 Christians were put to the sword, and 100,000 are recorded to have been sold as slaves.
It is possible to make a great movie out of this bloody history; Kingdom of Heaven makes the task mandatory, in fact, and it is to be hoped that Mel Gibson will see some potential here. While the Crusades lasted the warriors on both sides had developed a degree of grudging respect for each other. They believed, and by the tenets of their religions they were justified in believing, that they were doing God’s work. They fought each other, but there were long periods of truce when they traded, met, talked, and learned from each other. The Crusaders discarded their heavy armor and adopted the flowing robes better suited to the local climate, while Saladin’s warriors grasped and willingly accepted something of the knightly code and mystique that had been quite alien to the early followers of the Prophet.
Saladin was a brave and capable soldier. Richard the Lionheart was the noblest knight of his time. Saladin repeatedly expressed admiration for the piety of Christian pilgrims, and, a generation or so later, Joinville refers approvingly to Saladin’s interesting observation that a bad Muslim could never make a good Christian. The lords of Outremer were often far lesser men than those two. Some had found it convenient to strike all kinds of unseemly bargains with their foes, and allied themselves with Muslim rulers against both Constantinople and new groups of Crusaders who were threatening to upset the balance of power. By the early 13th century the Crusades had acquired the character of Western Europe’s first colonial adventure; in the Fourth Crusade the soldiers who besieged and sacked first Zara, then the Orthodox Constantinople, should have had some difficulty in maintaining the fiction of a religious enterprise.
One can be critical of the Crusades, but primarily because of the great damage they have inflicted on the Christian East. As for the slaughters, what the Crusaders did to the Muslim inhabitants of Jerusalem in 1099 was as bad as what the Muslims had done to countless Christian cities before and after that time. From the distance of almost a millennium, it is time to see the Crusades as Christendom’s reaction to Muslim aggression, a reconquest of something taken by force from its rightful owners. By the end of the 13th century, the last Crusader remnants in Palestine and Syria were wiped out. That was the end of the real Crusades but it was by no means the end of jihad . That same jihadthat had conquered and reconquered the Holy Land continues in earnest today. With his Kingdom of Heaven , Ridley Scott has joined the ranks of its abettors.
Friday, April 15, 2005
“OUR” IKHWANIS: THE QUEST FOR USER-FRIENDLY ISLAMISTS CONTINUES
by Srdja Trifkovic
According to a recent report published by Intelligence Online , France’s equivalent of Jane’s , the U.S. government has been putting out feelers to a number of Islamist activists who are opposed to the Syrian regime (” The United States wants opposition forces in Syria to march under the Moslem Brotherhood banner ,” April 1). American diplomats are also cultivating contacts with the famous TV-preacher Yusuf al Qaradawi , known for his links to the Brotherhood, “with whom they frequently discuss the Syrian question.” The Americans are said to be supported in this endeavor by the British, as evidenced by the Blair government approving of the Sheikh’s visit to London last July. “The Americans are counting on Qaradawi to help them bring together the moderate elements of the Moslem Brotherhood in Syria,” the report concludes, while the Saudi and Jordanian governments would be happy to see a Sunni regime come to power in Syria as a counter to the growing Shi’ite influence in Iraq and the Lebanon.
The veracity of this report needs to be confirmed (its dateline was April 1, after all!) but, as Middle East specialist Leon Hadar points out, “it doesn’t sound crazy if you take into consideration the current U.S. alliance with the pro-Iran Shiite fundamentalist parties in Iraq.” The Iraqi scenario entailed replacing an unpleasant secularist autocratdisliked by most “real” Muslims with Ayatollah Sistani’s people . In a similar vein, to bring down Bashar al-Assad-another secularist autocrat who presents no threat to America-we are now cultivating some presumably “moderate elements” of the Muslim Brotherhood.
One does not know whether to cry or to laugh. It does not take a specialist on the Middle East, or a student of Islam, to grasp that an Islamist alternative to Assad-or to any other secularist regime in the region, e.g. in Algiers- would prove far more detrimental to American interests than the status quo. Furthermore, today’s Syriapresents a diplomatic realist with many creative possibilities. Assad and the useless old guard he has inherited from his late father are both nervous and keen to make a deal with Washington if they are left in peace. The Syrians have removed most of their soldiers from Lebanon and will complete their withdrawal soon, although even that move-far from enhancing American interests-may play right into the hands of various Lebanese Islamist factions . They have signalled repeatedly that they are ready for a dialogue with Washington that may entail significant Syrian concessions, most recently when Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer came to Damascus on April 13. Rumor has it that Assad Jr. may even accept a peace treaty with Israel, and let it keep some parts of Golan “on lease,” if Syria is removed from Mr. Bush’s list of rogue states.
As for “the War on Terror,” Syrian diplomats point out that their country had never been guilty of a terrorist outrage comparable to Lockerby, and yet Libya’s Gaddafi-having done his penance- has been allowed back into polite society. By contrast, Syria’s post-September 11 gift to the United States of hundreds of files on Al Qaeda and other anti-Western terrorist individuals and movements throughout the Middle East, many of which targeted Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and others besides the United States, remains unaknowledged . Furthermore, in 2002, Syria reportedly tipped off the CIA to a planned attack against U.S. personnel in an undisclosed Persian Gulf country, but that has not earned her any brownie points in Washington. In addition Syria has passed on to the U.S. intelligence on other Islamic groups and individuals linked to al-Qaida. In an interview with the New York Timeslast fall, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said Syrian officials“gave me some information with respect to financial activities (of insurgents in Iraq) and how we can cooperate more fully on that.” In brief, Syria has been America’s more reliable partner in the “War on Terror” than Saudi Arabia is ever likely to be.
On the internal front, in the last years of his father’s life Assad had emerged as an advocate of modernization and economic reform, while stressing continuity and stability to his core constituency . After coming to power in June 2000 he has released hundreds of political prisoners and “wanted us to start evangelizing the Internet at a time when it was unthinkable,” according to Amr Salem, co-founder of the Syrian Computer Society . He invited officials to discussions with intellectuals and technocrats, who shocked the guests by openly criticizing government performance. He allowed the first independent newspapers for more than three decades to begin publishing. Syria’s previously strictly dirigiste economy is being opened up and there are plans for private banks for the first time in decades. In brief, Syria seems much better poised for the sort of domestic transformation that would be in line with Mr. Bush’s vision of a democratic Middle East than, say, Saudi Arabia.
By contrast, the quest for a “moderate” variety of the Muslim Brotherhood is as absurd as the hunt for the unicorn. It is an organization based on a credo that would be as easily recognized by Muhammad’s contemporaries as it is by their heirs today : “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” The Brotherhoodwas founded in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, a young Egyptian school teacher nurtured on Wahhabism, as an Islamic revivalist movement that opposed the ascendancy of secular and Western ideas in the Middle East. The Brotherhood advocated a return to integral Islam as a solution to the ills that had befallen Muslim societies; this program was embodied in the Party of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimoon. It blamed the Egyptian government for being too soft on Israel and started performing terrorist acts in Egypt, which led to a ban on its activities. An Ikhwani tried to assassinate Egyptian President Nasser in 1954 and four others succeeded in killing his successor Anwar al-Sadat in September 1981.
Today the Brotherhood has branches in every traditionally Muslim country and all over the world , including the United States. Some minor regional differences notwithstanding, they all share the same long-term goal: the establishment of a world-wide Islamic state. They all believe that the Koran justifies violence to overthrow un-Islamic governments, they all call for the destruction of Israel and see America as a sworn enemy.
Sheikh al-Qaradawi, far from being a “moderate,” is a mainstream Brother. His Ikhwani affiliations led to his imprisonment in Egypt in 1949, then in 1954-1956, and again in 1962. For some years Al-Qaradawi has been a media superstar in the Arab world, thanks mainly to his regular program called Al-Shariaa wa Al-Haya (Islamic Law and Life) on Al-Jazeera satellite television network. His verdicts on a wide range of social, political, moral, and sexual issues enjoy a popularity and authority that could be replicated here only by blending Oprah and Billy Graham in one person. For that reason his call on Muslims to fight Americans in Iraq-whether troops or civilians-because they are occupiers and fighting them is a religious duty, carries special weightin the Arab “street.”
Any experiment with al-Qaradawi will end up the way previous similar experiments have eneded. During the Cold War Washington routinely pandered to various Islamists as a means of weakening secular Arab nationalist regimes. In the mid 1950s the Americans even promoted the idea of forming an Islamic bloc, led by Saudi Arabia, to counter the Nasserist movement. To his peril Sadat freed dozens of Ikhwanis to help him deal with opposition in his own ranks (and in that same period Israel backed Islamists, including Hamas in the West Bank, to challenge Arafat and the PLO). As Leon Hadar points out, “All of that may have made some sense during the Cold War-but not at this stage, unless you are the Bushies trying to demonstrate to the world that you are indeed leading a democratic revolution in the Middle East. They hope that the Islamists be co-opted into the system and ‘tamed.’ Some of them use the analogy of Christian Democrats in Europe-Islamic Democrats.”
Such policies reflect either an impressive degree of stupidity or a naivete not normally associated with the policy-making community. To any sane person the lesson of American involvement in Afghanistan after 1979 should have been that militant Islam cannot be turned into a tool of policy. “Blowback” is the apt metaphor: the strategy of effective support for Islamic ambitions in pursuit of short-term political or military objectives of the United States has helped turn Islamic radicalism into a truly global phenomenon detrimental to U.S. ideals and interests.
If those brilliant minds that continue advocating Chechnya’s independence, Bosnia’s centralization under Izetbegovic’s heirs, Kosovo “sovereign” under the KLA, and al-Qaradawi’s disciples at the helm in Damascus are neither idiots nor innocents, the only reasonable conclusion is that they want to create new hotbeds of Islamic radicalism in order to justify their quest for global hegemony and to speed up the destruction of Christianity. The fact that they are giving Mohammedans the rope for free does not mean that in the end they will not be strangled by it.
CAVING IN TO JIHAD: NATIONAL REVIEW, CAIR, AND MY BOOK
by Srdja Trifkovic
Stalin’s purged comrades were routinely airbrushed from photographs and replaced with vases, chairs, or shrubs. Last week I had an inkling of how it feels: a flattering review of my book The Sword of the Prophet was abruptly removed from the National Review Onlinebookstore, under pressure from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
I first became aware of the problem when Robert Spencer’s article “CAIR’s War on National Review” was published on March 30 byFrontpageMagazine . Apparently CAIR had launched a campaign against National Review , seeking the removal of my book and The Life and Religion of Mohammed by the late Fr. J.L. Menezes, a Roman Catholic priest, from sale by the NR Book Service. CAIR’s Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper accompanied the demandwith the warning that “The National Review must clarify its position on Islamophobic hate speech and offer a public apology,” and warned that “anti-Muslim rhetoric” could lead to violence.
Not quite believing that NR had actually caved in I performed a Google search for “trifkovic nrbookservice sword of the prophet,” and got what looked like the right link:
What Serge Trifkovic argues in “The Sword of the Prophet,” however, is that the raw stuff from which Islam is made is particularly dangerous and unpromising
But when I clicked on the link all I got was a blank page with the following message: “Record not found for product code C6077-This is probably a function of the database not having pricing information or other data about this book. About the only thing you can do now is go back or contact customer support.”
It looked like a first-class scandal was staring me in the face. The plot thickened the following day, March 31, when WorldNetDaily revealed that CAIR’s success in imposing its will on NR may have been due to the pressure the Muslims exerted on one of its advertisers, Boeing:
The Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations-which has seen three of its former employees indicted on federal terrorism charges-said National Review’s decision to stop selling The Life and Religion of Mohammed and The Sword of the Prophet came after hundreds of concerned Muslims contacted the magazine and the Boeing Co., one of the magazine’s advertisers. “We would like to thank all those who took the time to contact both National Review and Boeing to defend Islam and the Prophet Muhammad from defamation,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
The fact that Boeing announced delivery of the first two Boeing 777-300ER airplanes to the Emirates on March 28-with more sales in the pipeline-provided what looked like a revealing context to the story. (A correspondent of mine, whose good taste is not always on par with his wit, duly remarked that the protesters should promise not to fly Boeings into buildings if their demands are met.)
Immediately I called Boeing’s Vice President for Communications, Larry McCracken, to find out what was going on. He did acknowledge that the company had received many messages demanding Boeing’s pressure on NR to drop the ads, but he insisted that his company had not done anything of the kind. He said that Boeing was not in any kind of communication with NR over this issue and gave me specific assurances that it had not made any attempt to influence NR’s decision one way or another, and had no intention of doing so in the future. Such clear-cut statements, I must say, rang true: A seasoned professional could have chosen more ambiguous words had he wanted to secure a fallback position.
My next call was to Jay Nordlinger, NR’s managing editor. He had just returned from a trip, he said, and wasn’t familiar with the details. When I expressed my dismay at what appeared to be going on, he said that his silence should not be construed as approval or agreement. I gave him my phone number, but nobody called me back.
On April 1, as I mused gloomily on how easy it was for those effette laptop bombardiers to submit to the culture of dhimmitude, some comfort came with the news that The Sword had jumped to a three-digit position on Amazon.com , and that my book and The Life and Religion of Mohammed were No. 1 and No. 2 best-sellers onhttp://www.humaneventsonline.com . The pleasing thought that the Muslims were doing for me what Abe Foxman had done for Mel Gibson was soon offset by e-mails informing me of Islamist gloating around the world. From Moscow Egor Engelhardt sent me the link to a Muslim site in Russia that celebrated CAIR’s feat .
On April 3, I learned from Robert Spencer’s Jihadwatch that my book was back on NR’s site [http://www.nrbookservice.com/BookPage.asp?prod_cd=C6077] but that by Fr. Menezes was not. This does not change the substance of the problem: A nasty hate group, CAIR, tainted with terrorist links and steeped in the ideology of jihad , has succeeded in forcing a prominent American institution to practice self-censorship. Once the precedent is established, and the model accepted as legitimate, it will only whet Islamist appetites and encourage their hope that the end-result will be a crescent on the Capitol a generation or two from now.
The proper way to react to CAIR’s veiled threat of violence if its demands are not met is not to meet them half-way but to call the Department of Homeland Security. It claims to be “just another civil-rights group,” devoted to protecting the rights of Muslims and promoting a better understanding of Islam in America, but there is much more than meets the eye:
1. CAIR has called the guilty verdict in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case “a travesty of justice” and decreed that it “represents the degree to which an anti-Muslim venom has penetrated into society.”
2. CAIR condemned the conviction of Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh, for conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks including two tunnels in 1995, as a “hate crime.”
3. CAIR advisory-board member Siraj Wahhaj was named by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White in 1995 as one of the unindicted co-conspirators in the attempt to blow up New York City sites in 1993.
4. In August 1998, CAIR condemned the targeting of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.
5. In October 1998, CAIR demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama as “the sworn enemy.”
6. In 1999, CAIR objected to the premiere of Touched by an Angel, which featured a story line about slavery in Sudan and forced conversions of Christians in the south of the country ( “Muslims asked to monitor ‘Touched by an angel’ for stereotypes” )
7. CAIR’s 1999 annual report criticized American public schools for “the lack of religious accommodation” and singled out for praise Paterson, New Jersey-the scene of much public rejoicing by Muslim immigrants on September 11-where the school district cancels classes on two Muslim holidays.
8. In April 2001 CAIR issued a press release criticizing Khalid Duran’s then-forthcoming book it had not seen, Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Islam for Jews . Its attack grew into an international campaign, with some Arab religious leaders calling the author an apostate ( murtadd )-an invitation to a compulsory death sentence under Islam. Duran, a Muslim, complained that the seal of approval given to CAIR by American politicians of both parties gave it an altogether undeserved credibility and emboldened it to become aggressive and oppressive. This is because non-Muslims do not know who speaks for whom in the Muslim community, he says:
CAIR and its fellow extremist organizations have had surprising success in being accepted at the highest levels of the U.S. government. The picture of Awad and Hooper in the company of then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a festive Ramadan dinner in the State Department’s elegant diplomatic rooms (at which, to top things off, she urged them to find recruits to apply for government jobs) gave rise to consternation among many American Muslims. It also aroused suspicions, with some suggesting that CAIR is valued at Foggy Bottom as a back channel to Islamists in the Middle East and others concluding that the State Department is simply ignorant. In either case, there is legitimate cause for alarm.
Duran’s fears were confirmed when, in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, CAIR’s leading duet-Palestinian-born Nihad Awad and Ibrahim (“Dougie”) Hooper-were invited twice to the White House to meet President Bush, as part of his campaign to assure the public that the majority of Arabs and Muslims in the country do not support terrorism. When receiving them Mr. Bush may have been unaware that CAIR’s condemnation of the attacks was delayed-until December of that year. Until that time it had referred to the “alleged attackers,” implying that someone other than the named 19 were the real culprits.
Some days after the attacks CAIR also called on its supporters to send donations, which was seemingly nice: under a picture of the World Trade Center in flames the message said simply, “Donate to the NY/DC Emergency Relief Fund.” Yet the hyperling took would-be donors to the website of the Holy Land Foundation, an Islamic “charity” whose assets were frozen soon thereafter by the U.S. Government because it had given millions of dollars to Hamas! A week later CAIR called on people to donate to the Global Relief Foundation, another Islamic charity based in suburban Chicago, whose assets were also frozen in December 2001. According to the Treasury Department, “The Global Relief Foundation has connections to, has provided support for, and has provided assistance to Usama Bin Ladin, the al-Qaeda Network, and other known terrorist groups.” To direct donations for the victims of 9-11 to an Islamic charity accused of helping terrorists is scandalous in itself. To do so twice within a week should have attracted attention to CAIR of law-enforcement agencies. In the best Stalinist tradition, however, CAIR has tried to airbrush its past record. It used to keep archives of all its public statements and activists’ speeches on the web, but after 9-11 many have mysteriously disappeared. Since that date materials subsequently proven embarrassing to CAIR were routinely removed, too.
In 2002, CAIR embarked on a library campaign is to help Americans learn about Islam “as a religion of peace and justice,” to counter what it saw as “a rising tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric.” The goal was to place a package of books, videos, and audio cassettes in as many of the country’s 16,000 libraries as possible. As Nihad Awad put it, “the lack of timely and accurate books in libraries . . . [creates a] knowledge gap that leads to increased misunderstanding and produces unnecessary divisions.” CAIR claimed that the program was not subsidized by any foreign government. It kept quiet about a half-million donation for the program from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, however. This effectively gave the endeavor a solid Wahabi seal of approval on the materials included in the library package, in addition to the imprimatur that CAIR already enjoys from the closely related Egyptian Ikhwanis.
By 2003 CAIR felt emboldened to complain about the FBI surveillance of mosques, but remained mute when it was revealed soon thereafter that the Al-Farooq mosque in New York was complicit in collecting funds for al-Qaeda. Undeterred, it has continued to demand amendments to the USA PATRIOT Act to protect the Muslims from eavesdropping. It did not comment on last year’s spate of bombings, from Casablanca to Istanbul; the search of its archived press releases for “Madrid” give zero results; but it never misses an opportunity to attack the slightest sign of “disrespect” for Islam in America.
CAIR’s longer-term agenda became apparent in May 2004, when it issued a report claiming that anti-Muslim incidents in the United States had increased by almost 70 percent in 2003. The study “outlined” (euphemism for superficial or fraudulent research) over a thousand “incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment” last year, “the highest number of Muslim civil rights cases ever recorded.” (The word experience is another coded term: It denotes an entirely subjective view of a situation or event that could not be pumped up into an “incident.”) According to CAIR’s reckoning, hate crimes alone jumped by an unprecedented 121 percent. On the basis of this report CAIR demanded a public inquiry to post-9/11 policies impacting the Muslim community, legislative actions to curb the use of profiling by law enforcement agencies, strengthening of hate crime prosecutions, and “modifications” to the PATRIOT Act to end “abuses” of the Muslim community.
With that “report” and the associated demands, reflected in the campaign to censor books uncomfortable to jihad , the real agenda of CAIR is finally clear. CAIR is a hate group that is not interested in promoting anyone’s “rights,” let alone increasing any “understanding” on anything. It does not want to change the nature of discourse on Islam in America, it wants to transform America into a barren wasteland of mind-numbing uniformity of thought and feeling on par with Saudi Arabia and Mauritania. Messrs. Awad and Hooper are not Islamic community activists seeking to better the lot of their co-religionists, they are political visionaries.
If CAIR sees itself as the acceptable face of Islam presented to the public and the media, one is led to wonder what “extremist” Islam must be like. It is probably correct that CAIR does not represent the majority of Muslims in America, who are said to be mostly moderates who wish a quiet life. This may be so, but it is irrelevant-not because such moderates are rare, but because they are unimportant. Religions, like political ideologies, are pushed along by money, power, and tiny vocal minorities. Those minorities must not be appeased. If and when you get a call from “Dougie” Hooper warning you that “Islamophobia” may lead to violence, tell him what he can do with his threats and call the law.
Monday, April 04, 2005
UNPRECEDENTED CHALLENGES FACING THE NEW POPE
by Srdja Trifkovic
In an era of lapsed faith and rampant heterodoxy all over the Western world, the trials facing the successor to John Paul II will be greater than those experienced by Pius IX . In an era of resurgent jihad , collapsing birthrates and migratory deluge, the geopolitical threat to traditionally Christian nations and societies is graver today than at the time of Pius V . All Christians, regardless of denomination, should pray that the new pontiff will understand, name, and confront the unprecedented twin peril of disbelief from within and conquest from without.
On the domestic, Western front, the late John Paul II upheld the concept of “the Steadfast Church” that should not compromise its teachings to appease those who have strayed and will not repent. In November 2002, he told the Italian parliament that if there is no ultimate truth to guide and orientate political action, “democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.” A decade earlier, while visiting his native Poland, the Pope warned that secular liberalism was an enemy more pernicious than communism itself. “Entering Europe,” he said, was equated with “giving in to desire, to sex, to consumption” by “those who claim exclusive rights to Europeanism.” He condemned their concept of “freedom” that entailed taking the life of an unborn child: “I protest against this concept of Europe held by the West. And this message must be shouted loudly from this land of martyrs. Europe is waiting for redemption. The world needs a redeemed Europe.”
Far from redeeming itself, today’s Europe seems hell-bent on aborting, birth-controlling, and multiculturalizing itself to death. The late Pope’s broad diagnosis of secular modernity was right, even if his therapy was not always equal to the task. That diagnosis itself is under attack by the proponents of “the Engaged Church,” such as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin who wants a “humble, listening church”:
The radical newness of the gospel may lead us along paths that we may not have expected to tread. It may lead us away from traditional ways. It may lead to appreciate methods of evangelisation which we had earlier found not always to our liking. It will lead to overcome prejudices. The radical newness of the Gospel must be brought into dialogue with the culture in which we live. At times that radical newness will lead us to appreciate the signs of the times, as they can be discerned through the major currents of thought of contemporary humanity and its searching.
Such sentiments are echoed by Cardinal Hummes of Sao Paolo, a leading Latin American contender for papacy, who espouses the “Social Justice” school. He wants a church that is in the world not to judge but to love it and save it. It reflects his abiding embrace of Gaudium et Spes-the pastoral constitution on the church and the modern world issued by the Second Vatican Council-which upheld the human rights tradition of modernity, including “liberty/autonomy, equality, fraternity, dignity and the inviolable authority of the intimacy of the moral conscience.” That, to Hummes, remains the blueprint for the church that needs to be “inserted in the world” and “at the service of the human person” without seeking “to dominate humanity.” The specific agenda of the “Engaged Church” advocates will focus on four areas of reform:
1. The continued opposition of the Church to artificial birth control (starting with the demand to approve the use of condoms as a means of countering HIV/AIDS).
2. The role of women in the Church, with their ordination as the final goal.
3. The need to be “in touch” and “relevant” to the needs of lapsed congregants.
4. Priestly celibacy.
5. Democratization and a less “authoritarian” Vatican.
John Paul II’s successor is unlikely to be someone overtly sympathetic to this agenda. Until not too long ago, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger would have been considered the front-runner. He has been head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for almost a quarter-century and one of Wojtyla’s closest aides. Two factors work against him now. At 78, he is considered too old. More importantly, perhaps, after almost three decades of a Polish pope, the Italians want one of their own back at St. Peter’s see and the consensus is fast developing that this time round they should be accommodated. Ratzinger will be hugely influential in ensuring that the “right” Italian is selected, however.
According to our sources in Rome, the next pope will be an Italian, a non-curial cardinal in his late 60’s or early 70’s who speaks fluent English and Spanish and whose views reflect his predecessor’s position on social, moral and doctrinal issues. In other words, it is likely to be Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan, the “papabile” 70-year-old described as “short, pudgy, quick to smile,” a grandfatherly figure He is said to have few enemies-“a miraculous accomplishment in Vatican circles”-and friends on different sides of the ideological spectrum. Some say that he is too obviously eager to get elected but a touch of enthusiasm is preferable to a feigned reluctance.
Tettamanzi seems unwilling to confront the “external,” geopolitical challenge that will face the new pontiff. It is noteworthy that he did not support Giacomo Cardinal Biffi of Bologna when he stated that Italy should favor Catholic immigrants over those of other beliefs. Biffi’s statement was “relevant” in that it expressed what most Italians think, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and it was morally and doctrinally correct. It nevertheless caused a storm and sent Biffi into the ranks of non-papabiles. Tettamanzi, by contrast, takes a soft line on the issue of immigration with touchy-feely platitudes and avoids any statements that could mark him as a culture warrior.
It seems that the only popable Italian contender who can respond adequately not only to Pius IX’s dilemmas but also to Pius V’s challenges is Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Patriarch of Venice. Like the former he is a conservative who laments the artificial break between faith and reason and insists that the Church can offer an antidote to that error. Echoing the steadfastness of the latter, Scola does not conceal his concern about the demographic decline of Europe, especially in comparison with the rise of Islam, which, in his view “could have grave implications for Europe’s future.” While formally rejecting the notion that Islam is seeking to dominate Europe (“it is imprudent to make blanket generalizations about the faith of a religion that claims one billion adherents”) he advocates imposing legal restraints on levels of immigration.
February 7, 2005
U.S. PAID SCRIBES FOR BALKAN WEBSITE
by Srdja Trifkovic
During the Cold War the U.S. Government subsidized cultural institutions, activities, and publications that were deemed useful to its objectives. The Central Intelligence Agency thus ran the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) that published the Encounter. The cloak-and-dagger stories of spooks dropping brown envelopes filled with cashon Melvin Lasky’s cluttered desk seems almost endearingly quaint in these post-modern times of ours, however, with literally hundreds of “NGOs” of all shapes and sizes eager to do their paymasters’ bidding in Kiev, Tbilisi and Belgrade.
It is therefore with some surprise that we learn that the Pentagon’s chief investigator is looking into the U.S. military’s practice of paying journalists to write articles and commentary for a website aimed atinfluencing public opinion in the Balkans . According to the AP, the Pentagon’s inspector general, Joseph Schmitz, is reviewing the case at the request of Lawrence T. Di Rita, chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. He is also looking more broadly at Pentagon activities that might involve inappropriate payments to journalists.Pentagon sources say that the Web project was developed in close coordination with the State Department.
The Balkans Web site, called Southeast European Times has no immediately obvious connection to the U.S. government but contains a linked disclaimer that says that it is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense “in support of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244” which ostensibly ended the Kosovo war in 1999. It has articles and commentary by some fifty journalists and commentators who are paid by European Command through a private contractor, Anteon Corp., an information technology company based in Fairfax, VA.
The Web site is theoretically an example of what the military calls “information operations”-programs designed to influence public opinion by countering what the Pentagon considers to be misinformation or lies that circulate in the target country’s news media. Balkantimes.com grew out of the Clinton-led NATO air war against Serbia in 1999, and sought to counter what the clintonites called a “Serb propaganda machine” that made effective use of the Internet. Pentagon sourced say that “information warfare experts” at European Command do not edit the articles written by contributing journalists for Southeast European Times , but they review the articles after they are processed by Anteon editors, and they sometimes change the headlines.
The trouble with this Southeast European Times is not that it is government propaganda, but that it is (a) unbelievably bad propaganda, and (b) totally unnecessary. It is bad (intrinsically, as well as from the standpoint of its originators’ presumed objectives) because it is bland, unimaginative, boring, predictable, devoid of a single interesting or original idea, mostly reliant on wire report compilations, and (judging by the Serbian/Croatian “original” output), poorly written to the point of being semi-literate.
The Pentagon effort is also quite unnecessary because the “pro-Western” view of post-Yugoslav politics is now largely dominant in the domestic media of the successor states. In Serbia it is eagerly purveyed by the Soros-financed or controlled dailies such as Danas (” Today “) , the weekly news-magazine Vreme (” Times “) and the radio-TV conglomerate B-92 . This view rests on one basic and several secondary assumptions. The basic assumption of all is that the Serbs are the chief culprits for everything bad that happened in the Balkans since at least 1991. The secondary ones are that every ex-Yugoslav entity must cooperate unconditionally with The Hague War Crimes Tribunal, that a “multi-ethnic” Bosnia is one of the crowning glories of the “international community,” that Kosovo is on the way to achieving similar standards, etc, etc, ad nauseam. As has been noted in these pages some months ago ,
“These new janissaries, just like those of the Ottoman army of old, have to prove their credentials by being more zealous than the master himself; as the Balkan proverb has it, ‘a convert is worse than a Turk.’ Nobody is more insanely vehement in his insults against the Serbian people and their history, religion, art, and suffering than a dozen Serb-born columnists who are on [their] payroll . . . ”
They invariably parrot the post-modern “Western” views and ambitions. Those media outlets have a tough job of selling The Hague Tribunal and other bad and inherently absurd notions to the Serbian public, but they have to try in order to earn their upkeep. They are doing their propaganda work professionally and, thanks to an abundance of funds, they have attracted a number of journalists and other media professional ready to sell their body and soul to the highest bidder. The Pentagon’s Southeast European Times looks, reads and feels ridiculously amateurish, or, worse still, diletante-ish by comparison.
Back in the Encounter days the CIA set editorial policy, presumably excluding articles inconvenient to its political agenda. Direct intervention was infrequent, however, because it had its “trusties” in the editorial saddle, and, in any case, the non-communist intelligentsia shared the political and cultural assumptions of “the West” and operated unbidden within the boundaries of “Western” opinion. Today, however, the post-national intelligentsia of the post-communist East needs no tight supervision as it knows what is required. The recent engineering of Viktor Yushchenko’s victory in the Ukraine illustrates the point: the U.S.-sponsored “Community of Democracies” was an effective conveyor-belt for a multi-million-dollar campaign of propaganda and disinformation underwritten and supported by the State Department. It has a symbiotic relationship with dozens of NGOs through which Washington promotes “democracy” in foreign countries-meaning people, parties and causes favored by the leftist foreign policy bureaucracy inherited from Clinton. These NGOs (see this list) include the Open Society Institute , a few creatures of the National Endowment for Democracy (e.g., http://www.wmd.org ) and numerous Soros spin-offs (e.g., http://www.demcoalition.org/html/home.html ) . CD is itself handing out U.S. taxpayers’ money to these NGOs, and even had advertized a solicitation in the run-up to the show in Kiev.
The Pentagon’s silly and wasteful Southeast European Times shows yet again that governments are invariably worse than the private sector in delivering a professional service at a reasonable price, when it comes to disseminating propaganda to the Balkans no less than, say, assassinating Castro, maintaining a viable Social Security program, or providing a decent education to American children.
January 11, 2005
MR. BUSH AND THE LURE OF PSEUDO-REALITY
by Srdja Trifkovic
Germany’s defeat in World War II was greatly accelerated by Hitler’s refusal-especially in the final two years-to accept any bad news, and to accuse those trying to present such news of disloyalty, defeatism, or stupidity. Enemy forces were invariably underrated, own strength overestimated, and self-deceptions believed with such firmness that, by mid-1944, Field Marshal Rommel felt compelled to conclude that the Fuehrer was living in a Wolkenkuckucksheim (“cloud cuckoo land”).
Is it conceivable that the atmosphere in the White House is beginning to resemble that at Rastenburg? One of the best informed political commentators in Washington, Chris Nelson, thinks so. His influential newsletter, The Nelson Report, has been keenly read inside the Beltway for the past 20 years because his information is usually reliable. In its January 3 issue Nelson wrote of the rising concern amongst senior officials that President Bush “does not grasp the increasingly grim reality of the security situation in Iraq because he refuses to listen to that type of information”:
Our sources say that attempts to brief Bush on various grim realities have been personally rebuffed by the President, who actually says that he does not want to hear “bad news.” Rather, Bush makes clear that all he wants are progress reports, where they exist, and those facts which seem to support his declared mission in Iraq . . . building democracy. “That’s all he wants to hear about,” we have been told. So “in” are the latest totals on school openings, and “out” are reports from senior US military commanders (and those intelligence experts still on the job) that they see an insurgency becoming increasingly effective, and their projection that “it will just get worse.”
Especially alarming is the insistence of Nelson’s sources that this “good news only” directive comes from Bush himself, and that it is not the result of senior officials around him trying to mislead or insulate him. Nelson concludes that “whether self-imposed, or due to manipulation by irresponsible subordinates, the information/intelligence vacuum at the highest levels of the White House increasingly frightens those officials interested in objective assessment, and not just selling a political message.”
Similar warnings about Mr. Bush have been heard before, and the disturbing signs-such as his tendency to a messianic outlook-have been apparent for years. His belief that “history has called America and our allies to action” was stated with great firmness in his first State of the Union address three years ago. The conclusion, that he sees himself as an anointed agent of divine providence, seems inescapable.
The notion that one is on the right side of “history” is dangerous in a President, however, not only because it breeds irrational belief in the correctness of one’s own intuitive judgment, but also because it prompts megalomaniacal decisions and policies inimical to the political and constitutional tradition of the United States. Abraham Lincoln waged his war against the South with similar convictions as Mr. Bush wages his current global crusade, and with similar consequences. As Eric Foner has noted in his review of two recent books on Lincoln, both Presidents assumed powers that went well beyond what the Constitution seems to allow; in both cases, thousands of people suspected of assisting the enemy were arrested and held without charge and military tribunals were established to circumvent civilian courts:
Leading members of both Administrations described the military conflict as an epic struggle between good and evil, inspired by the country’s divinely ordained mission to spread freedom and democracy throughout the world. The Bush Administration’s cavalier disregard for civil liberties has directed attention to the permissible limits on the rule of law in wartime.
The historicist fallacy that “history” is an entity on a linear march has bred gnostic ideologies that find it easy to murder those who are deemed to be on its “wrong” side. Sooner or later this mindset results in the destruction of the over-expanded, over-extended bearer of the divinely appointed task. IBD’s Washington bureau chief Brian Mitchell has diagnosed the “twin faults” of this mindset leading in the same self-destroying direction. The first is “a gnostic belief in our own anointing as a nation, a belief without any foundation in scripture or tradition, chosen merely because it flatters us.” The second is an undeserved confidence in our ability to know and reason, which makes it easy
to pass judgment on others and bear the sword against them, accounting ourselves blameless for the destruction we cause . . . We all know how well men rationalize their nonrational preferences, yet after doing our just-war calculations and obtaining an answer in favor of war, we then proceed with a clear conscience to commit ghastly acts.
Reality is always more complicated than we imagine, he warns, and the farther the reality is from our own experience the less we can understand it. This is the moral basis for nonintervention, for the original refusal of the American Republic to get involved in arranging other peoples’ lives.
To deal with the terrorist threat effectively and on the basis of leadership willingly accepted by those who are led, the United States should discard the pernicious notion of its exceptionalism. But instead of realizing that the threat to America is enhanced by the policy of global hegemony, President Bush is turning that hegemony into a divinely-ordained, morally mandated, open-ended and self-justifying mission of this country for decades to come. The winners are the neoconservatives, of course, who can easily tailor their long-term scenarios to fit into Mr. Bush’s universe. Their mendacity-apparent in the misrepresentation of the Iraqi crisis to the American people-is now coupled with the chief executive’s propensity to hear only “those facts which seem to support his declared mission.” It will make the job easier for those around him who subscribe to the Straussian dictum that deception is justified, that there is no morality, and that there is only one natural right, the right of the superior to rule over the inferior.
January 3, 2005
ISLAM AND WOMEN: THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR’S DISTORTION AND THE REALITY
by Srdja Trifkovic
“US Latinas seek answers in Islam,” heralds a recent feature article in The Christian Science Monitor (December 27). “Some young US Latinas say Islam offers women more respect,” reports the paper’s contributor Christine Armario. She quotes a head-scarved immigrant convert as saying that Muslim men “don’t look at you like a sex object.” According to Ms. Armario’s account, “Many of the Latina converts say that their belief that women are treated better in Islam was a significant factor in converting.”
The report mentions in passing the skepticism that these conversions sometimes elicit in the Latino community, but then goes on to quote in extenso one Leila Ahmed, “a professor of women’s studies and religion at Harvard University,” who discounts any doubts as misplaced. “It astounds me, the extent to which people think Afghanistan and the Taliban represent women and Islam,” Professor Ahmed is quoted as saying;
“What’s really going on, she says, is a reshaping of the relationship between women and Islam. ‘We’re in the early stages of a major rethinking of Islam that will open Islam for women. [Muslim scholars] are rereading the core texts of Islam—from the Koran to legal texts—in every possible way.’ New views of women and Islam may be more prevalent in countries like the US, where women read the Koran themselves and rely less on patriarchal interpretations.
“What is really going on” is nothing of the kind. To start with, no mainstream “Muslim scholar” is allowed to “re-read” the Kuran “in every possible” or any other way. As Allah’s direct and unadulterated word, the Kuran cannot be subjected to textual analysis and critical evaluation. (Professor Ahmed is well aware of this, of course, but as a Muslim she is not only justified but also expected to lie to the infidel; they call this practice taqiyya, and have perfected the art over the past 13 centuries.) Muhammad’s followers believe that Allah’s revelation is complete, untainted by human intervention, and not open to critical “re-reading” when it declares that “Men are in charge of women because Allah has made the one of them excel the other” (Kuran, 4:34). Those Muslims who dare “re-read the Koran,” like Sudanese theologian Mahmud Muhammad Taha, risk death. Taha’s attempts at “re-reading” made him guilty of apostasy; he was publicly hanged in Khartoum in 1985 at the age of 76. His death confirmed that, like all totalitarian ideologies, Islam has an inherent tendency to the closing of the mind. The spirit of critical inquiry essential to the growth of knowledge has always been and still is completely alien to it.
Professor Ahmed’s stated astonishment at “the extent to which people think Afghanistan and the Taliban represent women and Islam” is equally disingenuous. It is contradicted by this official U.S. government account of the contemporary life in one of the most affluent Muslim countries in the world and a presumed ally of the United States:
“The testimony of one man equals that of two women . . . Female parties to court proceedings such as divorce and family law cases generally must deputize male relatives to speak on their behalf . . . Women play no formal role in government and politics and are actively discouraged from doing so . . . The government does not keep statistics on spousal abuse or other forms of violence against women, [which] appear to be common problems. Hospital workers report that many women are admitted for treatment of injuries that apparently result from spousal violence . . . Women are not admitted to a hospital for medical treatment without the consent of a male relative. By law and custom, women may not undertake domestic or foreign travel alone . . . In public a woman is expected to wear an abaya (a black garment that covers the entire body) and to cover her head and face? Daughters receive half the inheritance awarded to their brothers? Women must demonstrate legally specified grounds for divorce, but men may divorce without giving cause? If divorced or widowed, a woman may keep her children until the age of 7 for boys, 9 for girls.”
The above is not a quote from a history book describing conditions in medieval Arabia; it comes from the U.S. Department of State, and concerns daily life in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Country Report on Human Rights Practices in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 2000). It also tells us that women must not drive cars, and must not be driven, except by an employee, or husband, or a close relative—and even then must not occupy the front seat. In addition, the Report says, divorced or widowed foreign women are prevented from visiting their children. The authorities monitor any gathering of persons, especially women, and disperse women found in public places, such as restaurants. Women may not accept jobs if there are no adult male relatives present with whom they may reside and who agree to take responsibility for them. Once they do get to work, all contact with male supervisors or client is generally allowed only by telephone or fax machine.
With the exception of the reference to cars, phones, and faxes, all these stipulations are legally and therefore morally impeccable in Islam. Apologetics and propaganda notwithstanding, the original sources—the Kuran and Hadith—provide ample and detailed evidence on Islamic ideology, theory, and subsequent Shari’a practice regarding the role and rights of women. That practice is the norm in most of the Islamic world today. A judge in Pakistan thus sentenced a young woman to death for “adultery” by stoning after she had been raped by her husband’s brother (New York Times (May 17, 2002). The woman had accused her brother-in-law of raping her and this was a confession to her “having intercourse outside of marriage,” which is punishable by death (4:15).
In the Kuran the men are superior (2:228). “Your wives are as a soil to be cultivated unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will” (2:223). Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more strength than the other, and “the righteous women are devoutly obedient.” Those that are not inhabit the nether regions of hell, because “they are not thankful to their husbands” (Sahih of Al-Bukhari, Vol. 7, p. 96). In this life the disobedient wives are to be beaten (4:34). No “re-reading:” is taking place in any authoritative circles: the most respected contemporary body of Islamic scholars, at Cairo’s Azhar University, insist that if “the woman is of a cold and stubborn type, the Qur’an bestows on man the right to straighten her out by way of punishment and beating, provided he does not break her bones nor shed blood.” Many a wife belongs to “this querulous type,” Azhar scholars add, “and requires this sort of punishment to bring her to her senses.” The College of Law at the University of Qatar concurs: a husband faced with a rebellious wife “hastens to bring mutual understanding . . . by the scourging which deters (Ahmad Ahmad, The Individual Guarantee in the Islamic Law, p. 63).
Physical violence against wives, far from being a crime, remains divinely ordained and routinely advised in modern Islam. Muslim activists in the West “explain” that the Islamic teaching and practice on beating wives is in line with the latest achievements of clinical psychology. It is positively beneficial to them because “women’s rebelliousness (nushuz) is a medical condition” based either on her masochistic delight in being beaten and tortured, or sadistic desire to hurt and dominate her husband. Either way,
“such a woman has no remedy except removing her spikes and destroying her weapon by which she dominates. This weapon of the woman is her femininity. But the other woman who delights in submission and being beaten, then beating is her remedy. So the Qur’anic command: ‘banish them to their couches, and beat them’ agrees with the latest psychological findings in understanding the rebellious woman. This is one of the scientific miracles of the Qur’an, because it sums up volumes of the science of psychology about rebellious women” (The Australian Minaret, Australian Federation of the Islamic Councils, November 1980, p.10).
One can only feel pity for the young Latinas who convert to Islam partly because they think that Muslim men “don’t look at you like a sex object.” In fact violence against women and rape as the ultimate form of their sexual objectivization are inherent to Islam, and remain endemic in Islamic societies. Perhaps the most degrading image of women conjured by Muhammad is that of lovely girls in afterlife, submissive slaves (“restrained,” i.e. chained) “whom no man has touched,” whose sole purpose is to provide physical gratification of men: “In Paradise there is a pavilion made of a single hollow pearl sixty miles wide, in each corner there are wives who will not see those in the other corners; and the believers will visit and enjoy them” (55:70,72,74).
While condemning the pagan Arab practice of burying unwanted newborn girls alive, the Kuran also acknowledges the lesser worth of daughters:
“And when any of them is given the good tidings of a girl, his face is darkened and he chokes inwardly, as he hides him from the people because of the evil of the good tidings that have been given unto him, whether he shall preserve it in humiliation, or trample it into the dust” (16:48, 59).
Adjusted people would value all children equally, regardless of gender, and Allah’s preference for sons cannot portend anything good. The boys’ special status and codified superiority indicate that their purpose is in the fulfillment of the needs of the father, which explicitly denies an attitude of nurturing towards the child. The Law of Inheritance accordingly dictates that a son gets double the inheritance of a daughter; and in Islamic courts a man’s witness is worth twice that of a woman’s (2:282). Al-Ghazali, to this day regarded as one of the greatest Muslim scholars of all time, states that Allah has punished women in eighteen ways, including physical functions (menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth) and divinely ordained handicaps: lesser share in inheritances, liability for divorce but inability to initiate divorce, seclusion, exclusion from many religious rituals and ceremonies, and disqualification for positions as rulers and judges.
Islamic marriage does not envisage any consent from the bride if she is still under paternal control: Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s friend, thus wed him to his daughter, Aisha, when she was six; the actual consummation of that “marriage” took place when she was nine, and Muhammad 54. Islamic marriage does not produce any community of property between husband and wife, and the wife is permanently dependent on the support of her husband. That support may be withdrawn in case of disobedience.
To the outright divine command of every wife’s obedience to her husband, Muhammad has added a few comments of his own. When asked who among women is the best, he replied: “She who gives pleasure to him (husband) when he looks, obeys him when he bids, and who does not oppose him regarding herself and her riches fearing his displeasure” (Mishkat I, p. 216). As for the “rights” of women, even in basic necessities the needs of the husband take precedence: “You shall give her food when you have taken your food, you shall clothe her when you have clothed yourself, you shall not slap her on the face, nor revile (her), nor leave (her) alone, except within the house” (Mishkat I, p. 212).
The husband’s sexual needs have to be satisfied immediately and unquestioningly: “When a man calls his wife to his bed, and she does not respond, the One Who is in the heaven is displeased with her until he is pleased with her . . . When a man invites his wife to his bed and she does not come, and he (the husband) spends the night being angry with her, the angels curse her until morning” (Sahih Muslim II, p. 723). This is consistent with the consensus of Islamic scholars that “sexual intercourse is an action, and the woman does not act,” and that her pleasure in the sexual act is to give pleasure to her husband.
In our own time, General Zia ul-Haq, the military dictator of Pakistan for many years, had reintroduced discriminatory legislation reducing women’s rights to one-half those of men when they sign business contracts. Some women’s groups protested that the new law “insulted women and debased their dignity.” Dr. Aly Farrukha, Director of Islamic Studies in Chicago, replied: “The issue of a woman’s testimony in court is a divine order which necessitates that a woman who is a witness should be accompanied by another woman in order to remind her if she forgets (some details) and to correct her if she makes an error. This verdict does not intend to insult women, but rather to help them” (The League of the Islamic World, February/March, 1985, p. 17).
In addition to all other deficiencies, the woman has no fewer than ten ‘awrat, shameful orifices including, or resembling, her external genitals: “Ali reported to the Prophet, saying: ‘Women have ten ‘awrat. When she gets married, the husband covers one, and when she dies the grave covers the ten” (Kanz-el-‘Ummal, Vol. 22, Hadith No. 858). Furthermore, according to a “faultless” hadith, not only does the woman have ten ‘awrat, she is seen as one herself: “The woman is ‘awrat. When she goes outside (the house), the devil welcomes her” (Ihy’a ‘Uloum ed-Din by Ghazali, Beirut, Vol II, Kitab Adab al-Nikah, p. 65). Covering all orifices with a veil is not meant to preserve the chastity of women, but that of men prone to be scandalized by the spectacle. Muhammad accordingly forbade women to talk except by leave of their husbands, to go out except in emergency (and on Bairam), to use the middle of the road, to be greeted, or to greet. The fire-worshipper, the Jew, and the pig are listed alongside the woman as things that corrupt prayer.
The volumes of the Hadith mention violent scenes between Ali and Fatima, Muhammad’s daughter. At times he forgot himself to the point of ill-treating this ailing woman, forcing her to take refuge in her father’s house. When faced with these delicate situations, whether Ali or Uthman, Fatima or Ruqayya were concerned, he ordered his daughters “to comply with their husbands’ moods.” He declared, “If I were to order anybody to make a prostration to anybody, I would have ordered a woman to prostrate before her husband” (Mishkat I, p. 210). This adage goes beyond a slave acknowledging her master; it resembles that of creator and creature, and borders on heresy on the Kuran’s own terms, since worship belongs to God alone. Nevertheless, a mortal man is elevated to an almost divine plane when the destiny of his wife is at stake: her disobedience to him is unlawful, while her obedience is the key to eternal bliss: “Whosoever female dies while her husband is pleased with her will enter Paradise” (Mishkat I, “Duties of husband and wife,” Hadith No. ii, 60). Muhammad also warned women: “Watch how you treat your husband, for he is your Paradise and your Hell.”
Small wonder then that, in Muhammad’s view, it is a noble sacrifice for men to share his life with women, creatures utterly deficient in mind, religion, and gratitude, and unable to repay the favor. Muhammad’s example was followed by the early caliphs. The second, Umar, ordered Muslims to prevent the women from learning to write. Ali, Muhammad’s devoted son-in-law and the fourth caliph, said that women are evil: “Men, never ever obey your women. Never let them advise you on any matter concerning your daily life.” According to Ali, they have three qualities worthy of an unbeliever: they complain of being oppressed when in fact it is they who oppress; they take solemn oaths and at the same time lie; they make a show of refusing the advances of men when, in fact, they long for them ardently.
In short, the woman is not a worthy and equal companion of man. Her deficiency in intelligence and religion render her unable to engage in discussion of lofty ideas, even if her husband were foolish enough to approve of any such attempt. One of Muhammad’s widows, his favorite, A’isha, complained to the caliphs and companions: “You have put us on the same level with a donkey and a dog.” Her words were prompted by Muhammad’s verdict that if a man’s prayer was disrupted by the passing of a donkey, a dog, or a woman in front of him, his prayer was not acceptable, and he had to perform ablution again and repeat his prayer.
In Islam, divorce is undesirable but lawful and easy to obtain. The husband can divorce his wife by simply saying so three times, but a woman cannot divorce her husband unless she has his permission to do so. She can get a judicial dissolution of marriage for neglect, ill-treatment, or positive cruelty (A. Guillaume, Islam, p. 174). A man may divorce his wife without any misbehavior on her part, or without assigning any cause, and it is valid even if a man is acting under compulsion, if his words are uttered in sport or jest, or by a mere slip of the tongue (T.P. Hughes, Dictionary of Islam). The husband may even say to himself, without announcing his intent to the wife: “If this thing does not happen, my wife is divorced by three”—and if “the thing” comes to pass, the wife finds herself divorced for reasons entirely unknown to her.
In our own time Arab press is full of family tragedies caused by the frivolous treatment of divorce in Islam, and the courts are overloaded with thousands of divorce suits that mean the eviction of children and wives who are helpless and dependent on their former husbands. By contrast, they may not seek divorce but only judicial annulment, on the grounds of the husband’s physical sexual deficiency, mutilation, or malfunction prior to marriage; of evident madness and leprosy; impotence, for which a year of probation can be granted by the judge; or a husband’s “vow” not to have intercourse with his wife for four months.
No marriage is valid without the payment of a dowry. The significance of its payment—sometimes in the form of a mere token—for the sexual use of the woman is rooted in the Kuran (4:24). This is confirmed by Muhammad’s ruling that a man who wanted to divorce his new bride, who turned out not to be a virgin but pregnant from previous adultery, still owed her the dowry: “He separated the two, commanded that the woman be flogged, and said to the man, ‘The baby will be your slave'” (Encyclopaedia of Islam, “Nikah”). Since the implications of the sexual rights secured by the payment of dowry extend to children of a previous marriage, the husband has the right to prevent his wife from looking after children, including infants, from her former husband. In any event, man is the privileged party in all cases of custody of the children. Their mother may be awarded temporary custody until the age of seven (for boys) or nine (for girls), provided she is of good character and does not leave the abode of the husband, does not remarry, and preserves sound morals.
“The wife,” of course, designates any one of up to four of them (a limitation to which the Prophet himself was not subjected), as the Kuran sanctions polygamy: “If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four. But if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly [with them], then only one, or [a captive] that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing unjustly” (4:3). Ghazali’s justification for polygamy is simple: “Some men have such a compelling sexual desire that one woman is not sufficient to protect them [from adultery]. Such men therefore preferably marry more than one woman and may have up to four wives.”
If they want to get rid of them, the Kuran does not present a problem: “If you wish to exchange one wife for another and you have given unto one of them a sum of money, take nothing from it.” The rule was practiced by Muhammad’s successors and companions. Muhammad’s second successor, Umar, married seven women in the course of his life, in addition to having two maid-slaves, Fakhiyya and Lahiyya, as concubines. Uthman was wed to eight women. Once he was widowed, Ali ibn Abi Talib—to whom Muhammad denied permission to marry a second wife beside his own daughter Fatima—married 10 wives and permanently maintained 19 concubines and maid-slaves for a total of 29 women. Muhammad’s grandson Hasan ibn Ali, of whom Muhammad said that he is the master of the youth of paradise, during the course of his life married up to 70 women and had at least 31 children. Sometimes he used to divorce two women in a day. Even his father urged the residents of Iraq not to marry their daughters to him because he was a man who constantly divorced his wives, but the Kufa’s people continued to marry their daughters to him, hoping that they would bear children descended from the Prophet. “It is no sin for you if you divorce women,” the Kuran says, provided the dowry is repaid and suitable parting gifts presented (2:236). Tedium of matrimony or simple carnal desire for another woman necessitated divorcing one to marry the other if the family budget could not accommodate both. The revered companions and the rightly guided caliphs provided the example.
If multi-matrimonial bliss provides insufficient diversity, Muslim men are free to have sex with their slave girls to their heart’s content. According to Bukhari, Muhammad sometimes had sex with all his wives in one night, and at that time he had nine wives, and he once said of himself that he had been given the power of forty men (Sahih of Al-Bukhari, vol. 7, Hadith No. 142. Also vol. 1, Hadith No.268). Nevertheless, he enjoyed the obligatory services of his Coptic slave Mary better than the charms and favors of all his wives.
Modern Islamic scholars argue for the practice of polygamy on scriptural grounds as well as for practical reasons. Sheikh Taysir Al-Tamimi, former acting head of the Palestinian Authority’s Shari’a Judicial System, had this to say, “To those who demand equality and whine about women’s rights: By permitting polygamy, Islam protects the woman’s humanity and emotions, secures her right to marry, and gain honor and esteem, instead of becoming a professional paramour lacking in rights, whose children are thrown onto the garbage heap” (Al-Quds, March 8, 2001). Qatari Sheikh Walid bin Hadi set out the different rationales for polygamy—barrenness, demographic inequality, preventing adultery, and increasing the birth rate—but, as he explained, in the final analysis every man has his own reasons: “The Prophet said: Do not ask a husband why he beats his wife . . . Do not ask a husband why he takes a second wife” (Al-Rai (Qatar), January 5, 2002, quoted by www.memri.com). Dr. Muhammad Al-Masir, a cleric from Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, defends polygamy in the name of women’s rights: “In the days of the Prophet, not even one woman remained without a husband—not a spinster, nor a widow, nor a divorcee . . . I ask our women and daughters not to be egotistical” (This remark seems to presume the needs of a society engaged in eternal jihad, both in terms of caring for widows and for keeping as many women as possible in the production of future fighting men).
“The wife” could also be a concubine, or legally paid prostitute. The institution of temporary, contractual marriage—degrading to women no less than to the institution of “marriage”—was proclaimed lawful by Muhammad “for three nights” or more. It could be contracted for money, or a dress. The “husband” could desert the “wife,” leaving her without any rights or obligations vis-а-vis any possible offspring. The soldiers of Islam in the field welcomed the revelation:
“We used to participate in holy battles led by Allah’s Apostle and we had no wives with us. At that time, he allowed us to marry women with a temporary contract and recited to us this verse, ‘Oh you who believe, make not unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you'” (5:87).
By approving polygamy or temporary “marriage,” Islam denies the value of true marriage, based on exclusive, devoted love and rooted in the natural (and scriptural) notion of family. Monogamy alone gives recognition, status, and value to a woman, as well as to the husband and their offspring. In a polygamist society there is no centralized family nucleus. There are many children, and every group of children rotates not around the father but around the mother. When a Muslim man takes another woman, she does not live with the former wife and her husband but in another house or tent, and there she raises her children. The husband may visit her once a week or once a month. If she is out of favor, her children will seldom meet, let alone play with, their father. In the polygamist society, the father is perceived as an absence. Instead of the father figure essential to normal development, there is a void, from Ishmael to Muhammad to Bin Laden, who was one of fifteen children by one of his father’s ten wives.
Islamic dogma, tradition, and practice are the foundation of a coherent and consistent outlook that has generated its own reality, visible in each and every traditionally Muslim country and in the transplanted centers of the Islamic diaspora in the West. Khaled Fouad Allam of the University of Trieste calls that “schizophrenia of the contemporary Muslim society, with signs of modernization in externals, with women doctors and lawyers, and, at the same time, deep-rooted structures that seek to apply Islamic law to civil rights in Muslim countries.” The latter are self-congratulatory about Islam’s treatment of women, even in their pitch to the West, claiming that “the Islamic system has achieved the right mixture of freedom and security that women seek and that is in the interest of the society as a whole”:
“The regulations for the protection of women which were revealed in the seventh century can be easily verified by anyone in the twentieth century . . . [and] contain certain fundamental truths which will benefit whoever applies them. The present time of widespread rethinking of the role and rights of women is perhaps the appropriate time to look with fresh eyes at the Islamic point of view, which has contributed to the formation of stable societies in both sophisticated and underdeveloped peoples in vast areas of the world over the past fourteen centuries, which has retained the continuity of its principles, and from which the Western world may have something to learn” (www.jamaat.org/islam/WomanIslam.html).
For one-half of all Muslims living in those “stable societies,” a tenth of the humanity, in early puberty Purdah falls and “the rest of her life was going to be spent in that void where time was without meaning” (V.S. Naipaul, Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples, N.Y., Random House, 1998). For those unwilling to submit, the punishment may be death, even if they are of royal blood: that was the fate of a Saudi princess and her boyfriend. Both were executed for adultery when they returned to their native land from Britain, where they had a romantic liaison as students. (When ATV in Britain and PBS in the US were about to air a documentary based on this tragedy, “Death of a Princess,” the British Foreign Office, the State Department, the Saudi royal family, and the oil interests jointly exerted pressure to cancel the show (www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/us)).
The relegation of women to such an inferior position deprives Islamic societies of the talents and energies of half its people. As Bernard Lewis has warned, it also entrusts the other half’s crucial early years of upbringing to undereducated and downtrodden mothers. The idea of “love” is removed from those men’s understanding of sexuality, which is too often reduced to hurting others by violence. Gross mutilation of little girls, known as clitorectomy and rampant in Muslim Africa, and to a lesser extent in Arabia, is the direct result of a culture that deems female orgasm as indecent and threatening, because it implies mutuality. It reflects a gigantic rupture that Islam develops between men and women, where no harmony, affection, or equality is allowed to exist:
“In relationships between men, meanwhile, affection, solidarity, and empathy are left out of the picture. They threaten the hyper-masculine order. It is excruciating to imagine the sexual confusion, humiliation, and repression that evolve in the mindsets of males in this culture. But it is no surprise that many of these males find their only avenue for gratification in the act of humiliating the foreign “enemy,” whose masculinity must be violated at all costs as theirs once was. Violating the masculinity of the enemy necessitates the dishing out of severe violence against him. In the recent terrorist strikes, therefore, violence against Americans served as a much-needed release of the terrorists’ bottled-up sexual rage. Moreover, it served as a desperate and pathological testament of the re-masculinization of their emasculated selves” (J. Glazov, “The Sexual Rage Behind Islamic Terror,”www.frontpagemag.com/columnists/glazov/glazov10-04-01.htm).
Mass murderers are often found to have histories of sexual abuse as children; Muslim terrorists are no exception. Unlike their lone Western counterparts, however, the abuse of which they are the victims is systemic, and inherent to their societies. They are victimized by virtue of growing up and living in a dysfunctional culture of sexual repression and misogyny, where “love” is reduced to violent domination and its rejection reflects a deep-seated fear of individuality.
The treatment of women might be expected to disqualify Islam from the contemporary post-Christian establishment’s point of view, to which The Christian Science Monitor belongs, but this has not happened. There is a reason for this. It is the failure of Islam to recognize, let alone support, the wife as her husband’s closest and inseparable lover and partner, his life-long companion. Islam challenges Christian marriage in principle and in practice, and Muslim teaching on marriage and the family, though conservative about “patriarchy,” undermines the traditional Western concept of matrimony. Paradoxically, Islam thus comes close to the contemporary, post-Christian ideology that relativizes “marriage” and “family.”
By subjecting themselves to Islam in ever growing numbers, Amero-Indian women (“Latinas”) are proving their assimilability into the post-Christian, post-civilized milieu to which they have migrated. Their souls would have been in a much better shape had they remained in their native villages. It is for their sake, too, that the ongoing migratory deluge across our southern border should be first halted and then reversed.