Saturday, June 30, 2007

Kennebunkport Loves Putin

At least according to The Moscow Times:
"We've been here 30 years, and I can't think of a visit that's created this much energy," said Brian Bartley, manager of Bartley's Dockside Restaurant, which has placed a blackboard outside reading, "Kennebunkport is Putin on the Ritz," a play on Irving Berlin's 1929 hit.

Bartley's mother, Dorothy, who owns the restaurant, eagerly showed off a collection of photographs and signed memorabilia from past presidential visits. For Putin's stay she ordered several bottles of the Russian vodka Imperia, which she said customers have called "very smooth."

Up the street, souvenir shop Saxony Imports placed a special order for miniature Russian flags for the visit. Several Russians had already been in the store buying magnets, T-shirts and postcards, employee Heather McVane said.
Local artist Kathryn Morris Trainor even created an impressionistic painting called "Friendly Flags," showing the two countries' flags matted side by side above a plaque commemorating the weekend talks. She said she hoped to give it to Walker's Point or perhaps even send it home with Putin.

Tourists, too, seemed caught up in the excitement. One couple stood along the road overlooking Walker's Point as their young son leaned over a fence to peer through binoculars at the compound. "We heard Putin was coming, but really our son made us come," said his mother, gesturing to a Bush action figure lying in their car's back seat. "He's a big fan," she added.

Ed Husain v Ken Livingstone on London Bombings

Just listened to a fascintating debate on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme Podcast between author Ed Husain and London Mayor Ken Livingstone on the role of Islamist ideology in the London bombing attempts (and probably Glasgow airport as well). Livingstone was well and truly routed, left muttering imprecations at the British Nationalist Party while refusing to make a distinction between Wahabi Islamism and more traditional forms of Muslim worship--playing right into Ed Husain's hands. Game, Set, Match for Ed Husain, who as author of The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left, seems to know what he is talking about.

One question from this side of the pond to the US publishing industry: How come Ed Husain's book on Islamism has not yet been published in the USA? For more background on the book, here's a link to a review on

Here's some video from Glasgow Airport today, via YouTube (ht lgf):

Friday, June 29, 2007

Michelle Malkin on the Death of the Immigration Bill

She's declaring victory.

Russia Shuts Down Internews on Smuggling Charges

Today's Washington Post reports that the Russian Government has shut down Internews--recently re-branded the Educated Media Foundation--after arresting an executive carrying some $12,000 in cash at a Moscow airport on smuggling charges:
Authorities targeted the Educated Media Foundation after its head was found with slightly more than $12,500 in undeclared currency at a Moscow airport, an offense that routinely would be settled with a fine, lawyers said.

Instead, Manana Aslamazyan, 55, is facing up to five years in prison on smuggling charges. Her organization, previously called Internews Russia, is accused of money laundering -- an allegation that Russian journalists and civic activists, as well as Western diplomats, dismissed as absurd.
But to me, the reported protests by Western diplomats appear as feeble as Vice President Cheney's claims that his office is not part of the Executive Branch. The Post admits, later in the same story, that there was indeed a great deal of funny-money, provided by US taxpayers, flowing through Internews:
According to Interior Ministry documents provided to The Washington Post, the investigation expanded to include suspected money laundering by the foundation.

"In order to reveal facts of legalizing (laundering) of money or other property obtained in a criminal way, financial and other accounting documents were taken from the offices," stated one report. "During the investigation it was revealed that the following money transfers by foreign organizations were made to the bank account of 'Educated Media' during the period of December 2006 to March 2007: 70,000 euros from Internews Europe Association (France) and $300,000 from Financial Service Center (USA). However, there is no data on spending those amounts."

Internews Europe is an organization affiliated with the Educated Media Foundation. The Financial Services Center is the U.S. State Department disbursing office that makes overseas payments for U.S. agencies with foreign operations, according to a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman.

The $300,000 was a scheduled disbursement from the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to U.S. officials and Aslamazyan.

Since 2004, USAID has given approximately $8 million to the Educated Media Foundation and its predecessor organization, Internews Russia. From 1998 to 2004, the United States provided almost $30 million to Internews U.S., some of which was sent to the organization's Russian arm.
I visited the Internews office in Tashkent, Uzbekistan while a Fulbright scholar in 2002-2003. That same year, there was a scandal when the new director of the office published her online diary--and insulted the Uzbek employees of her own organization, while airing dirty linen about sexual hijinks among American expatriates. Her website was eventually shut down and she left the country, but the snapshot of Internews lifestyles was not flattering to say the least. I was particularly struck by an anti-American tone among some of the Internews employees. One Internews executive later told me at a Harvard University conference that he did not consider Internews to be an American NGO--or required to promote American interests--because its office in Paris was funded by European and some non-govenmental sources. I asked him, then why should the US government pay for Internews at all? Eventually the debate became moot--after the Uzbek government shut down Internews.

Considering how Americans would react if an international journalism program paying cash to American reporters were discovered to employ staffers smuggling cash into the country, funded by the Russian government, one cannot be surprised at the hostility this Internews scandal has provoked from the Russians. Here's an interesting excerpt from a profile of Internews founder David Hoffman in the Johns Hopkins alumni magazine:
As he contemplates Internews' future, Hoffman confronts paradox. He believes that media need to be independent of government control. Yet 80 percent of his organization's money comes from the U.S. government. Hoffman insists that Internews turns down money from any source if it carries a requirement to promote an American geo-political agenda, but he knows perception can hurt Internews. "In the Middle East," he says, "training sessions often begin with discussion of whether Internews is really U.S. propaganda, or the CIA." As he looks at the increasing consolidation of media ownership in the U.S., and the Bush administration's efforts to influence and even package the news reported to the American public, he calls Internews' support for independent media in this country "the great undone." Yet while support for Internews has been bipartisan, Hoffman believes political conservatives have been stronger supporters than liberals. "Free media tends to be a libertarian concept," he says. "Liberals are more accommodating to state-run media and state institutions generally."
So, according to Hoffman's own testimony, the US taxpayer is getting the worst deal imaginable from Internews, the worst of both worlds--money spent without any support for the American geo-political agenda, yet generating a public perception of a CIA operation. Which is the situation I saw in Uzbekistan, and matches what the Central Asia executive for Internews told me at Harvard. In other words, it is the official party line at Internews.

In the end, Vladimir Putin may have done a big favor to the Bush administration by shutting down Internews in Russia.

Instead of wasting money on NGOs like Internews, that have harmed America's interests and contributed to the loss of Russia and the post-Soviet space, the US government will be forced to return to more traditional forms of government-to-government public diplomacy that have a better chance of genuinely improving America's standing among today's Russian general public and opinion leaders.

In fact, President Bush might consider using this scandal as a reason for closing down Internews entirely, including the lavish Paris a gift to the American taxpayer.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Melanie Phillips is Worried...

...About David Miliband as UK Foreign Secretary. But not about Gordon Brown's new chief foreign policy advisor, Simon McDonald:
So is Britain’s new Prime Minister Gordon Brown going to defend the free world or surrender it to its enemies? Will he cut through all the dissimulation and manipulation by jihadis and their western useful idiots and instead call the threat to the free world by its proper name? Will he ignore the ever-increasing defeatism and pressure for appeasement, or will he genuflect to the prevalent anti-Americanism and go along with the moral and intellectual inversion that supports genocidal aggressors and blames their victims? As the dust still settles today over the shape of his government, the signs are mixed and not a little alarming.

Simon McDonald, the UK’s former Ambassador to Israel, is a stalwart defender of Israel and is free of the Arabism that is the stock in trade of the Foreign Office. It is therefore a very positive sign that he is now Brown’s chief foreign policy adviser. However, the other signals are not so good. The new Foreign Secretary is David Miliband, who was reportedly opposed to war in Iraq and who attacked Israel’s action in Lebanon last year. He was reported to have joined other Cabinet colleagues in criticising Tony Blair for not breaking with President Bush by calling for an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon — ie, Israel’s surrender to Iran. His appointment is thus a clear signal that Britain is now distancing itself from America. At such a terrifying time for the free world with Iran racing towards the bomb, to give such a signal that the western alliance is weakening amounts to a treasonable boost to the enemy.
Here's a link to an online chat with then-Ambassador McDonald, hosted by Ha'aretz. A sample:
How can Israeli-British relations be improved? What does Israel need to do in order to have more sound relations with Europe?
Khaim Kalontarov
New York, U.S.A.

Simon McDonald: Well, I think that Israel and Britain already have close ties in a whole variety of areas - from diplomatic, to defense to business to science and technology. Our prime ministers have a good working relationship. I think the same can also be said about Israel and Europe.

European leaders admire Prime Minister Sharon for his bold decision to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, but are also very aware of what a difficult period it was for Israelis. I believe that the relationship between Israel and Britain and Israel and Europe will continue to grow and be strengthened in coming years.

Spokane Paper Drops Unethical NY Times "Ethicist" Columnist

The Spokane Spokesman-Review has dropped Randy Cohen's "Ethicist" column after the New York Times and NPR contributor admitting violating ethics rules in an MSNBC report detailing political contributions by journalists.

Here's the account from Stephen A. Smith's Spokesman-Review blog:
Bill Dedman, investigative reporter for MSNBC, is making big waves in the news industry today with an online report that more than 140 journalists – at the least – have contributed to political campaigns or organizations in recent years, often in violation of their news organization’s ethics policies and certainly in violation of commonly accepted journalistic standards.

His story includes some pretty big names.

Fortunately, no one from The Spokesman-Review is on the list. This newspaper long ago adopted very strict rules against any political involvement on the part of any news staffer, including such actions as signing petitions, displaying campaign signs or bumper stickers and contributing to political causes. There wasn’t much debate. Journalists here understand why such a ban is important.

Dedman’s report is having an impact on this paper, however.

After months of discussion, we were prepared to start this Saturday publishing Randy Cohen’s “The Ethicist” column from The New York Times. But, jeepers, turns out Cohen gave money to in 2004.

In Dedman’s story, this is how Cohen explains his actions: “…The former comedy writer gave $585 to in 2004 when it was organizing get-out-the-vote efforts to defeat Bush. Cohen said he understands the (New York) Times policy (against such donations) and won't make donations again, but he had thought of as no more out of bounds than the Boy Scouts. "We admire those colleagues who participate in their communities — help out at the local school, work with Little League, donate to charity," Cohen said in an e-mail. "But no such activity is or can be non-ideological. Few papers would object to a journalist donating to the Boy Scouts or joining the Catholic Church. But the former has an official policy of discriminating against gay children; the latter has views on reproductive rights far more restrictive than those of most Americans. Should reporters be forbidden to support those groups? I’d say not."

Features Editor Ken Paulman, who moved our popular Wheel Life column to the Sunday Travel section in part to make room for Cohen, spoke for the newsroom this morning when he said it would by hypocritical of us to run an ethics column by a journalist who is in violation of our own ethics policy. Had he been a Spokesman-Review staff member, he would have faced suspension, at least, for his misstep.

So, we’re dropping the column. We’ll look elsewhere for a publishable ethicist.
Still no word on this matter from the New York Times or NPR....

Ann Althouse on Paris Hilton & Larry King

From Althouse's blog:
It was mostly bland as hell, but there was one point in his interview with Paris Hilton where Larry King punctured her glossy veneer. She was all about how jail had transformed her and how she's going to devote herself to good causes -- children, homeless women, breast cancer, multiple sclerosis -- and she said she read a lot of books in jail. Really improving herself, you know. But then it seemed like the only thing she was reading was all the fan mail. Eventually, we hear about one book: the Bible. Did she read it every day? Yes! What's your favorite Bible passage? Uh, I don't really have a favorite....
You can read a transcript of Larry King's interview with Paris Hilton by clicking this link to the CNN website. An excerpt:
KING: Let's hear some of the things you -- what did you write in prison, in jail?

HILTON: Well, I had a lot of time alone, so I would write a lot. I actually have a journal with all the -- I left it at home...

KING: You kept a daily journal?

HILTON: Yes, I did.


This is one of the notes that I wrote: "They say when you reach a crossroad or a turning point in life, it really doesn't matter how we got there, but what we do next after we got there. Usually we arrive there by adversity, and then it is then, and only then, that we find out who we truly are and what we're truly made of. It's a process, a gift and a journey. And if we can travel it alone, although the road may be rough at the beginning, you find an ability to walk it, a way to start fresh again. It's neither a downfall nor a failure, but a new beginning."

And I also felt like this was a new beginning for me, just being in jail -- and I just used it as a journey to figure out myself and who I am and what I want to do. And there's -- there's just so much more to me than what people think.

KING: The writing helped?

HILTON: Yes. I have always loved to write. In school, I loved being in creative writing classes. I write scripts. I love to read.

KING: If you had to do it all over, you'd change a lot, wouldn't you?

HILTON: Yes. I definitely, you know, wish I knew now what, you know, back then. And so I definitely, when I have a daughter, I have a lot of good advice for her.

KING: You want a family?

HILTON: Definitely. Yes.

KING: You want to get married?

HILTON: Not right now. But within the next couple of years, I definitely -- I love kids and I can't wait, you know, to find someone and fall in love and have a big family.

KING: Do you think you'd be a load for someone now?

HILTON: It's hard -- I think someone just...

KING: I mean the guy is going to have to -- to come on...

HILTON: It's -- it's -- it's hard, you know, the media. Every time you're in a relationship, they all make up stories. And I think it just takes someone who doesn't care about that and someone who is just going to love me for me and not pay attention to all the other gossip.

KING: It would have to be a pretty strong guy.

HILTON: He's out there somewhere.

KING: Do you think you've found yourself?

HILTON: I -- I feel like I've started my journey and I'm going to continue every day to find out more and more about myself.

KING: What don't you like about Paris Hilton? What's a personality trait Paris Hilton would change?

HILTON: Something I, you know, when I get nervous or shy, my voice gets really high. I've been doing that ever since I was a little girl. And that's something that I don't like that I do. I like when I talk in my normal voice. But sometimes I go down and that's something I'm trying to change about myself.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Another British Mandate for Palestine?

ABC News reports Tony Blair will be special representative of the "Quartet" (USA, Russia, EU, & UN) to the Middle East. Hope Tony Blair can do a better job with this British Mandate than his Imperial predecessors did with theirs (if Britain had not restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine in the 1930s & 1940s, Hitler could not have managed to exterminate European Jewry during WWII).

NY Post: Don't Buy An iPhone Yet

Here's the first iPhone review I've seen, from Glenn Flesichmann in the New York Post.(ht Drudge) It's not too good:
It's the best iPod the company has ever made. The screen quality is fantastic, and the movies pivot automatically as you rotate the phone.

But it's not an iPod. It's a $500 or $600 communicator that requires a two-year calling commitment. Monthly charges haven't been announced, but judging by comparable offerings from AT&T and other carriers, it should run you at least $50 per month in voice service and $40 per month in data service. That adds more than $2,000 to the iPhone's price tag over two years even before buying music or movies!

Consider also that Apple engineers already are hard at work on iPhone 2.0.

Modern cell networks use third-generation (3G) standards that are five to 20 times faster than that in the iPhone. Jobs said the chips to make a 3G iPhone weren't available when they designed the iPhone; but they are now, and are in some competitors' less-featured but faster phones.

It also skimps on storage. The $600 iPhone comes with 8 gigabytes of storage, enough for 2,000 songs or 16 episodes of "Heroes." A $250 video iPod can handle 7,500 songs or about 25 hours of movies.

You can bet that iPhone 2.0, probably available within the next year, will be faster and have more storage - probably for the same price.

Tech geeks and some business travelers will wait in line Friday (or pay someone else). You should wait for the next version.

Camelia Entekhabifard

Speaking of Iran...I caught Camelia Entekhabifard on WYPR's Marc Steiner show, talking about her book Camelia: Save Yourself By Telling The Truth-A Memoir of Iran on Baltimore's 88.1 FM yesterday. Her story was extremely interesting and moving--basically how she survived prison and torture by seducing her interrogator, was accused of being a whore--and then served as a "maid" to an Iranian soccer player, finally escaping to the West after agreeing to spy for the Iranian mullahs on the son of the Shah. When she told him that she was a spy, he didn't believe her! It would make a great movie. Congratulations to Marc Steiner for having her on the air...for some reason, haven't heard Camelia Entekhabifard on any of the DC-based NPR shows. Makes me glad that I work in Baltimore--I can hear things that you don't get inside the Beltway...

You can buy the book from, here:

Nick Cohen on Sir Salman Rushdie's Knighthood

From The Guardian (UK) (ht Daniel Pipes):
What was Britain hoping to achieve? How did a country under a left-of-centre government expect to influence religious rightists? Did it hope that a conversation with Foreign Office ministers would persuade them to repent and become converts to the noble cause of the emancipation of women? Would an invitation to tea with a high commissioner be enough to shake them out of their hatred of homosexuals, Jews, free thinkers, liberals and secularists?

Get real, said Sir Derek: 'I suspect that there will be relatively few contexts in which we are able significantly to influence the Islamists' agenda.' Plumbly lost the power struggle against the pro-brotherhood faction in the Foreign Office, but the questions he raised then remain pertinent now, as the disgraceful reaction to Salman Rushdie's knighthood shows. Across the political spectrum, the ignorant and the terrified are arguing that if only Britain didn't provoke the zealots in Pakistan and Iran - and, indeed, in Sparkbrook and Tower Hamlets - by defending liberal values and honouring a great writer, their fury would pass and we would be safe.

In theory, they may have a case. We all appease in our daily lives and make concessions in order to get concessions in return. In practice, the Labour government has tested appeasement to destruction and, thankfully, turned back to principled politics

If you haven't read The Islamist, Ed Husain's memoir of his life on the religious right, it is worth doing so because he uses his inside knowledge to describe how Labour placated reactionaries who hated every progressive principle the centre-left holds. To take one of many examples, Husain tells how his journey into the wilds began when he joined the east London mosque, which was controlled by Jamat-e-Islami, the Muslim Brotherhood's south Asian sister organisation. After his disillusionment with far-right politics, he returned to the mosque bookshop and found Qutb's work on sale: '... with chapter headings such as "The virtues of killing a non-believer" and ideas such as "attacking the non-believers in their territories is a collective and individual duty". Just as I had done as a 16-year-old, hundreds of young Muslims are buying these books from Islamist mosques in Britain and imbibing the idea that killing non-believers is not only acceptable but the duty of a good Muslim.'

For all that, the mosque had received public subsidies and an apparent endorsement from Prince Charles. Labour ministers had flattered Jamat and Muslim Brotherhood sympathisers from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), invited them into Downing Street and put them on policy commissions, even though in Bangladesh, Jamat thugs terrorise Bengali leftists who have every right to expect the support of their European comrades.

Labour's indulging of Jamat and the Muslim Brotherhood is over. Engagement for engagement's sake led nowhere and ministers got nothing in return for going along with the Islamists. The MCB was too willing to blame the 7/7 attacks on Iraq, while its refusal to participate in Holocaust Memorial Day showed that it had no commitment to either multiculturalism or anti-fascism. In the end, Tony Blair, Ruth Kelly and Tony McNulty at the Home Office shrugged their shoulders and walked away. Government policy is now to support British Muslims who uphold liberal values and oppose those who do not. Rushdie's knighthood was a sign of the changing mood. Labour politicians might have tried to impose a veto a few years ago; instead, they said: 'Are we going to allow British policy to be decided by dictatorial bigots, who want to inflame religious passion to divert attention from their own corruption?'

There is only one possible answer to that question and it remains astonishing how many people who profess liberal sympathies refuse to grasp it. Watch the discussion about Rushdie on last week's Question Time on the BBC website. You will see Shirley Williams, the representative of the Lib Dems and member of the great and the good, fail to offer a word of protest against men who would murder authors. All she does is condemn the government for honouring a novelist, until Peter Hitchens, a Mail on Sunday columnist who is usually dismissed as a spittle-flecked loon, reminds her that she needs to clear her throat with a few words of criticism for his would-be assassins, if only for form's sake.

Labour should stop worrying about the baroness and her kind and relax. If a liberal intelligentsia that is neither liberal nor noticeably intelligent and a Liberal Democrat party that can't stand up for liberalism and democracy want to attack the government, let them. They will pay a price for their moral cowardice one day.

Daniel Pipes on Sir Salman Rushdie's Knighthood

These Islamist threats extend a drama begun on Valentine's Day, 1989 when Ayatollah Khomeini issued his death edict against Rushdie, stating 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 Qur'an 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."

That very day, I went on television and predicted that the novelist would never escape the edict. He, however, experimented with appeasement in 1990 and with self-delusion since 1998, when the Iranian foreign minister declared his government no longer intent on murdering him. Rushdie wishfully deemed this "a breakthrough," concluding that the Khomeini edict "will be left to wither on the vine."

I warned Rushdie in 1998 against his giddy insistence on being in the clear. For one, the edict remained in place; Iranian leaders do not believe themselves competent to undo it (a point reiterated by an ayatollah, Ahmad Khatami, just the other day). For another, freelancers around the globe could still nominate themselves to fulfill Khomeini's call to action.

But Rushdie and his friends ignored these apprehensions. Christopher Hitchens, for example, thought Rushdie had returned to normal life. That became conventional wisdom; such insouciance and naïveté – rather than "backbone" – best explains awarding the knighthood.

I welcome the knighting because, for all his political mistakes, Rushdie is indeed a fine novelist. I wish I could agree with Dhume that this recognition of him suggests "the pendulum has begun to swing" in Britain against appeasing radical Islam.

But I cannot. Instead, I draw two conclusions: First, Rushdie should plan around the fact of Khomeini's edict being permanent, to expire only when he does. Second, the British government should take seriously the official Pakistani threat of suicide terrorism, which amounts to a declaration of war and an operational endorsement. So far, it has not done that.

Other than an ambassadorial statement of "deep concern," Whitehall insists that the minister's threat will not harm a "very good relationship" with Pakistan. It has even indicated that Ijaz ul-Haq is welcome in Britain if on a private visit. (Are suicide bombers also welcome, so long as they are not guests of the government?) Until the Pakistani authorities retract and apologize for Ijaz ul-Haq's outrageous statement, London must not conduct business-as-usual with Islamabad.

Now that would constitute "British backbone."

Christopher Hitchens on Sir Salman Rushdie's Knighthood

From Slate (ht lgf):
Of course, this is not to say that there isn't a lot of generalized self-pity and self-righteousness (as well as a lot of self-hatred) in the Muslim world. A minister in Pakistan's government—the son of revolting late dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, as it happens—appeared to say that Rushdie's knighthood would justify suicide bombing. But our media regularly make the assumption that the book burners and fanatics really do represent the majority, and that assumption has by no means been tested. (If it is ever tested, and it turns out to be true, then can we hear a bit less about how one of the world's largest religions mustn't be confused with its lunatic fringe?)

The acceptance of an honor by a distinguished ex-Muslim writer, who exercised his freedom to abandon his faith and thus courts a death sentence for apostasy in any case, came shortly after the remaining minarets of the Askariya shrine in Samarra were brought down in shards. You will recall that the dome itself was devastated by an explosion more than a year ago—an outrage described in one leading newspaper as the work of "Sunni insurgents," the soft name for al-Qaida. But what does "Rage Boy" have to say about this appalling desecration of a Muslim holy place? What resolutions were introduced into the "parliament" of Pakistan, denouncing such shameful profanity? You already know the answer to those questions. The lives of Shiite Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Christians—to say nothing of atheists or secularists—are considered by Sunni militants to be of little or no account. And yet they accuse those who criticize them of bigotry! And many people are so anxious to pre-empt this accusation that they ventriloquize the reactions of Sunni mobs as if they were the vox populi, all the while muttering that we must take care not to offend such supersensitive people.

This mental and moral capitulation has a bearing on the argument about Iraq, as well. We are incessantly told that the removal of the Saddam Hussein despotism has inflamed the world's Muslims against us and made Iraq hospitable to terrorism, for all the world as if Baathism had not been pumping out jihadist rhetoric for the past decade (as it still does from Damascus, allied to Tehran). But how are we to know what will incite such rage? A caricature published in Copenhagen appears to do it. A crass remark from Josef Ratzinger (leader of an anti-war church) seems to have the same effect. A rumor from Guantanamo will convulse Peshawar, the Muslim press preaches that the Jews brought down the Twin Towers, and a single citation in a British honors list will cause the Iranian state-run press to repeat its claim that the British government—along with the Israelis, of course—paid Salman Rushdie to write The Satanic Verses to begin with. Exactly how is such a mentality to be placated?

We may have to put up with the Rage Boys of the world, but we ought not to do their work for them, and we must not cry before we have been hurt. In front of me is a copy of this week's Economist, which states that Rushdie's 1989 death warrant was "punishment for the book's unflattering depiction of the Prophet Muhammad." There is no direct depiction of the prophet in this work of fiction, and the reverie about his many wives occurs in the dream of a madman. Nobody in Ayatollah Khomeini's circle could possibly have read the book for him before he issued a fatwah, which made it dangerous to possess. Yet on that occasion, the bookstore chains of America pulled The Satanic Verses from their shelves, just as Borders shamefully pulled Free Inquiry (a magazine for which I write) after it reproduced the Danish cartoons. Rage Boy keenly looks forward to anger, while we worriedly anticipate trouble, and fret about etiquette, and prepare the next retreat. If taken to its logical conclusion, this would mean living at the pleasure of Rage Boy, and that I am not prepared to do.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Will Tony Blair Convert to Roman Catholicism?

Speculation was published on page one of yesterday's Washington Times, after Blair met with Pope Benedict in Rome. And there's more today on the possibility of Blair's "pope-ing" to "RC" in the Irish Independent:
Faith has always been part of Cherie's life, and when she and Tony met in 1976, she seems to have influenced him in the same direction. Although she is, of course, far from being that stereotype, the "right-wing Catholic".

She is, rather, a Left-wing Catholic, much concerned with prisoners' rights and with other social-justice issues. On sexual morality, Cherie is progressive on gay civil rights - she has acted, as a lawyer, for lesbian fiscal equality: but on issues touching abortion, she is quietly supportive of pro-life causes.

Tony's own mother, Hazel, had actually been an Irish Protestant from the Donegal region. In fact, the family left Ireland soon after Partition. This may have influenced Blair in his commitment to a settlement in Northern Ireland. In any case, Hazel Blair died when Tony was a young man, and after that, Cherie became his guiding light in matters spiritual.

They married in an Anglican church, but later, Tony took to accompanying his wife and growing family to Mass.

All four children have been baptised and all have been raised as Catholics.

Indeed, he was so enthusiastic about Mass-going that Cardinal Basil Hume had to ask him to refrain from publicly taking Catholic Communion: there was, and is, as yet no agreed arrangement on inter-communion between Catholics and Anglicans. (Wars, after all, have been fought over "transubstantiation" versus "consubstantiation".)

For at least the last five years, it is said, Blair has been a Roman Catholic in all but name. His final conversion experience is dated to the birth of his fourth child, Leo.

And yet, his religious convictions have remained a mystery to a broad swathe of British Catholics, who feel that Blair's value-system shows scant evidence of Catholic values. There are already jokes going around imagining Tony Blair's "First Confession" as a full member of the Catholic church.

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. Father, I killed 600,000 people in Iraq .."

Three Hail Marys and a firm purpose of amendment, for many British Catholics - who are in the majority anti-war, as is the Pope - is not a sufficient tariff of repentence.

Tony's voting record on specifically Catholic issues, such as abortion, embryo stem cell research, and adoption rights for gay couples have also been at odds with official Catholic doctrine.

Yet this perhaps explains why he has not felt free to "pope" until after he leaves office. Perhaps he felt it would be not politically wise for a British Prime Minister to vote the Catholic ticket when in office. And it mightn't run well in Belfast, either.

For all the airy talk of multi-culturalism, Britain is still a Protestant country. No Roman Catholic has ever held the highest political office in the UK: no Sovereign, nor member of the Sovereign's family, can marry an "RC" without forfeiting all privileges.

The Duchess of Cornwall's biographer, Christopher Wilson, now claims that Princess Anne would have married Camilla's husband, Andrew Parker-Bowles, in 1973 - that he was the love of Anne's life - but for the fact that Parker-Bowles was a Roman Catholic, and that put him beyond the Pale.

Commentators sometimes state that Ireland is a "theocracy", as it still retains such folklorique customs as the Angelus bell: but the Irish State has never practiced official and codified religious discrimination to the same degree as Britain has.

THERE is no office of state in the Republic, nor in the previous Irish Free state, closed to anyone on grounds of religion: and indeed, the first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, was a Protestant.

Tony Blair's decision to "pope" is, from now on, a personal one.

But the more significant political and constitutional question is - when will it be acceptable for a political personage in the UK to be a Roman Catholic while still inside 10, Downing Street? Still an untested question.

BBC Appeasement Yields More Terrorist Humiliation for Alan Johnston

(ht lgf) Running pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel propaganda 24/7 since Alan Johnston's kidnapping hasn't seemed to help the BBC correspondent's situation, according to this BBC report. A new video has been released by his Gaza kidnappers of the BBC reporter dressed in an explosive vest, warning against rescue attempts:
"The situation now is very serious. As you can see I have been dressed in what is an explosive belt, which the kidnappers say will be detonated if there was any attempt to storm this area," he says.

Mr Johnston appeals for a peaceful resolution to his situation, saying talks had reached an advanced stage.

"Captors tell me that very promising negotiations were ruined when the Hamas movement and the British government decided to press for a military solution to this kidnapping."

Earlier, the Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said Mr Johnston's captivity could not carry on.

"We will not allow the continuation of the abduction of the British journalist. The issue of Alan Johnston must end," he said in a speech to his supporters.
I watched the video and it is interesting that Johnston talks in a BBC-newscast style. My guess from his plea is that the BBC is involved in ransom negotiations with his captors. I wonder if they'll release the London bombing terrorists in exchange? How's that for appeasement? Does anyone think such a result will reduce incentives for further terrorist outrages? Hardly. Sends a strong message, all right: Kidnap an Englishman, get what you want.

What about trying another strategy? Perhaps blacking out all BBC news from Gaza and the West Bank until Johnston is released? If he's killed--never broadcast another word again from the Palestinians... Too much to expect gunboat diplomacy from the UK--a declaration of war, followed by the reduction of Gaza City to rubble. That's how protecting British subjects used to be done, I believe.

Putin Establishes Russian Cultural Foundation

Speaking to a conference of schoolteachers, the Russian president announced something that sounds like a Russian version of the British Council, Goethe Haus, Casa Italiana, the Alliance Francaise or our own Fulbright program:
Dear colleagues! Your conference is not an ordinary event. It is hard to act as if this meeting refers only to a given sector. The topics you raise really do affect Russian society as a whole. The education and upbringing of our children, and passing on the best traditions and values of Russian culture cannot leave anyone indifferent.

In connection with this I would like to tell you that today I signed a decree on creating a Russian World foundation designed to promote the study and popularity of Russian language in Russia and in the world, as well as disseminate and develop Russia’s cultural heritage, a field in which the humanities plays an important role.

I will repeat that this basis forms personalities and helps master other knowledge. It helps build effective public life and a democratic civil society. And I repeat that such education is crucial for our young people who are presently studying in secondary schools and universities.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

David Miliband Next UK Foreign Secretary?

According to an article in the Sunday Express, Gordon Brown is on the verge of naming Environment Minister David Miliband, 41, as UK Foreign Secretary. This might be as big a step as Bernard Kouchner's appointment in France. First, because Miliband's father was Marxist theoretician Ralph Miliband, a disciple of Harold Laski at the London School of Economics, who came to Britain as a refugee from Belgium in 1940, and represents the success of immigration. Second, because David Miliband himself was the major theoretician of Blairism, as a Third Way between Thatcherite capitalism and Marxist socialism. He was an author of Blair's Manifesto, head of his policy unit, and author of Reinventing the Left(1994). Miliband is clearly a thinker (I have heard him interviewed on BBC Radio Four podcasts, and he is thoughtful and articulate). Finally, it would not go un-remarked upon in capitals around the world that Miliband is Jewish (like Kouchner)--a signal to Bin Laden, Ahmadinejad, and others that EU nations will not be bullied into anti-semitism out of fear of Islamist extremist terrorism. So I hope Brown names Miliband...

Of course, Brown might pick someone else and name Miliband to the Home Office, as the article discusses. In which case, the above analysis will have proven moot, at least for the time being. Still, David Miliband is someone to watch. So, here's a link to his blog.

Sir Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Our late Chicago friend Bob Tashman edited Sir Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, not as well known as The Satanic Verses. It captues the dilemmas faced by an author under the Ayatolla's fatwa. Bob used to tell us about his job opening packages addressed to Rushdie, hoping that he wouldn't be blown up or lose any fingers. While Rushdie enjoyed police protection--thanks to Margaret Thatcher--our friend did not. Luckily, Bob and Rushdie survived, and the book stands as a memorial both to Rushdie's courage and a legacy from our dear departed friend Bob.

In the words of the description, it is an allegory: "a delightful tale about a storyteller who loses his skill and a struggle against mysterious forces attempting to block the seas of inspiration from which all stories are derived." You can buy a copy here:

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rafael Medoff: Time to Honor Peter Bergson

From the New York Jewish Press, this article published in connection with a meeting of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in New York argues that it is time to recognize Peter Bergson's work to save European Jewry from Hitler during World War II:
In 1985, Wyman’s The Abandonment of the Jews reached the New York Times best-seller list. Abandonment was the first book to tell the Bergson story in depth, and to document the Bergson Group’s key role in the creation of the U.S. government’s War Refugee Board. It was also the first book about America and the Holocaust to reach a large segment of the public rather than just academic circles.

As a Christian, Wyman could not be accused of having a vested interest in one version of Jewish history over another. As a scholar, his research was impeccable and the book was soon hailed as the definitive account of the American – and American-Jewish – response to the Nazi genocide.

Other factors also contributed to changing attitudes in the Jewish community. The creation, in 1981, of a short-lived American Jewish Commission on the Holocaust, chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and charged with studying American Jewry’s response to the Shoah, stirred widespread discussion of these issues.

Films such as Laurence Jarvik’s "Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die" (1982) and Martin Ostrow’s award-winning PBS documentary "America and the Holocaust: Deceit and Indifference" (1994) made a powerful impact. Just this spring, Bernard Weinraub’s off-Broadway play about the Bergson Group, FDR, and the Holocaust, "The Accomplices," set off a whole new round of public discussion of the subject.

Some surprising new research findings have further roused the public’s interest in the Bergson Group. Some of the research has revealed the previously unknown support given to the Bergson activists by such celebrities as Walt Disney, Bob Hope, boxing champion Barney Ross, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s father, Congressman Thomas D’Alesandro.

The Silence of the Librarians...

Protesters at the American Library Association convention here in Washington, DC today question the commitment of the organization's leadership to the principle of the freedom to read when it comes to Cuba, asking: "Why does the ALA refuse to join every major human rights group in the call for the release of jailed librarians in Cuba? Why is the ALA silent about book burning in Cuba?"
It has taken 18 months for the Intellectual Freedom officials at ALA to respond to questions about book burning in Cuba? How long to they need to discuss before they acknowledge the court-ordered torching of thousands of books and the destruction of library collections?
More here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Unethical "Ethicist" of The New York Times and NPR

According to MSNBC post listing political contributions by journalists (ht lgf), NY Times ethics columnist and NPR contributor Randy Cohen broke the newspaper's rules--and got away with it...
(D) The New York Times, Randy Cohen, ethics columnist, $585 in three donations in August 2004 to, which conducted get-out-the-vote drives to defeat President Bush. In addition to the syndicated column "The Ethicist" for the Times Magazine, Cohen answers ethics questions for listeners of NPR.

Freelancers like Cohen are covered by the Times policy, which says, "Times readers apply exacting standards to the entire paper. They do not distinguish between staff-written articles and those written by outsiders. Thus as far as possible, freelance contributors to The Times, while not its employees, will be held to the same standards as staff members when they are on Times assignments, including those for the Times Magazine. If they violate these guidelines, they will be denied further assignments."

Cohen said he thought of as nonpartisan and thought the donation would be allowed even under the strict rule at the Times.

"We admire those colleagues who participate in their communities — help out at the local school, work with Little League, donate to charity," Cohen said in an e-mail. "But no such activity is or can be non-ideological. Few papers would object to a journalist donating to the Boy Scouts or joining the Catholic Church. But the former has an official policy of discriminating against gay children; the latter has views on reproductive rights far more restrictive than those of most Americans. Should reporters be forbidden to support those groups? I’d say not. Unless a group’s activities impinge on a reporter’s beat, the reporter should be free to donate to a wide range of nonprofits. Make a journalist’s charitable giving transparent, and let the readers weigh it as they will.

"Those who do not cover anything, but write a column of opinion should have even more latitude. It is such a writer’s job to make his views explicit. Those donations to nonprofits will no doubt reflect the views he or she is hired to express. In evaluating such civic engagement, it is well to remember that to have an opinion is not to have a bias. To conceal one’s political opinions is not to be without them."

After checked the names of Times staff and contributors on this list with a spokesperson for the Times, Cohen sent this addendum:

"That said, Times policy does forbid my making such donations, and I will not do so in the future.""
BTW, in December, 1999 Reason Magazine published a critique of Cohen's "Ethicist" column by Jacob Levy titled The Ethicist Who Isn't. Apparently, he still isn't.

Richard Weitz: Make a Deal With Putin on Azeri Radar

From the Washington Post Think-Tank website, some advice for President Bush at the Kennebunkport summit:
Despite its concerns, the Bush administration should continue to engage the Russians on a possible joint use of the Gabala radar while keeping open the possibility of deploying BMD systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. The fact that the radar is technically inadequate is less important than the potential for Russian-American dialogue over the base to limit the negative spill-over from the BMD dispute and, ideally, expand to address other important security issues.

For example, the dialogue could generate creative thinking about how to address missile defense issues in the strategic arms accord that Russia and the United States have begun negotiating to replace the START and SORT agreements when they expire in a few years. It could also accelerate the two countries' interlocking efforts to develop more secure international civilian nuclear fuel arrangements. Moscow and Washington could thereby move from what has become a zero-sum dialogue over missile defenses to a beneficial engagement over limiting third-party nuclear proliferation threats.

In return, U.S. officials should underscore to the Russians that one way to avert the deployment of BMD systems in East Central Europe would be for Moscow to pressure Tehran more strongly to curb its nuclear and missile programs. If these and other efforts fail to change Iran's behavior, if U.S. ballistic missile technology makes much greater progress, and if the proposed host countries still want the systems, then the next U.S. administration can decide whether to deploy BMD systems in East Central Europe even at the cost of antagonizing whomever succeeds Putin as Russia's president in 2009.

CIA Declassifies "Family Jewels"

They've been posted on the web by George Washington University's National Security Archive:
Washington D.C., June 21, 2007 - The Central Intelligence Agency violated its charter for 25 years until revelations of illegal wiretapping, domestic surveillance, assassination plots, and human experimentation led to official investigations and reforms in the 1970s, according to declassified documents posted today on the Web by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden announced today that the Agency is declassifying the full 693-page file amassed on CIA's illegal activities by order of then-CIA director James Schlesinger in 1973--the so-called "family jewels." Only a few dozen heavily-censored pages of this file have previously been declassified, although multiple Freedom of Information Act requests have been filed over the years for the documents. Gen. Hayden called today's release "a glimpse of a very different time and a very different Agency."

"This is the first voluntary CIA declassification of controversial material since George Tenet in 1998 reneged on the 1990s promises of greater openness at the Agency," commented Thomas Blanton, the Archive's director.

Hayden also announced the declassification of some 11,000 pages of the so-called CAESAR, POLO and ESAU papers--hard-target analyses of Soviet and Chinese leadership internal politics and Sino-Soviet relations from 1953-1973, a collection of intelligence on Warsaw Pact military programs, and hundreds of pages on the A-12 spy plane.

The National Security Archive separately obtained (and posted today) a six-page summary of the illegal CIA activities, prepared by Justice Department lawyers after a CIA briefing in December 1974, and the memorandum of conversation when the CIA first briefed President Gerald Ford on the scandal on January 3, 1975.

Then-CIA director Schlesinger commissioned the "family jewels" compilation with a May 9, 1973 directive after finding out that Watergate burglars E. Howard Hunt and James McCord (both veteran CIA officers) had cooperation from the Agency as they carried out "dirty tricks" for President Nixon. The Schlesinger directive, drafted by deputy director for operations William Colby, commanded senior CIA officials to report immediately on any current or past Agency matters that might fall outside CIA authority. By the end of May, Colby had been named to succeed Schlesinger as DCI, and his loose-leaf notebook of memos totaled 693 pages [see John Prados, Lost Crusader: The Secret Wars of CIA Director William Colby (Oxford University Press, 2003, pp. 259-260.]

Seymour Hersh broke the story of CIA's illegal domestic operations with a front page story in the New York Times on December 22, 1974 ("Huge C.I.A. Operation Reported in U.S. Against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years"), writing that "a check of the CIA's domestic files ordered last year… produced evidence of dozens of other illegal activities… beginning in the nineteen fifties, including break-ins, wiretapping, and the surreptitious inspection of mail."

On December 31, 1974, CIA director Colby and the CIA general counsel John Warner met with the deputy attorney general, Lawrence Silberman, and his associate, James Wilderotter, to brief Justice "in connection with the recent New York Times articles" on CIA matters that "presented legal questions." Colby's list included 18 specifics:

1. Confinement of a Russian defector that "might be regarded as a violation of the kidnapping laws."
2. Wiretapping of two syndicated columnists, Robert Allen and Paul Scott.
3. Physical surveillance of muckraker Jack Anderson and his associates, including current Fox News anchor Britt Hume.
4. Physical surveillance of then Washington Post reporter Michael Getler.
5. Break-in at the home of a former CIA employee.
6. Break-in at the office of a former defector.
7. Warrantless entry into the apartment of a former CIA employee.
8. Mail opening from 1953 to 1973 of letters to and from the Soviet Union.
9. Mail opening from 1969 to 1972 of letters to and from China.
10. Behavior modification experiments on "unwitting" U.S. citizens.
11. Assassination plots against Castro, Lumumba, and Trujillo (on the latter, "no active part" but a "faint connection" to the killers).
12. Surveillance of dissident groups between 1967 and 1971.
13. Surveillance of a particular Latin American female and U.S. citizens in Detroit.
14. Surveillance of a CIA critic and former officer, Victor Marchetti.
15. Amassing of files on 9,900-plus Americans related to the antiwar movement.
16. Polygraph experiments with the San Mateo, California, sheriff.
17. Fake CIA identification documents that might violate state laws.
18. Testing of electronic equipment on US telephone circuits.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bob Tashman, 53

Our friend Bob Tashman passed away last Saturday. The blog will be offline while we attend the funeral in Chicago. Bob was a good friend, and I'm taking the liberty of republishing his obituary from today's Chicago Tribune:
Bob Tashman, age 53, loving cousin of Barbara (David ) Weinstock, Robert (Mary Kelly) Mindell, Benjamin (Delia O'Hara) Mindell; dear friend of Nina Brodsky, Larry Jarvik, Nancy Strickland, Doron Weber, Steven Wasserstein, Nancy Heneson, Elena Brunet, Gary Gerstle, Jacob Epstein, Catherine Tice and Claude Cazzulino. Services Wednesday, 11 a.m., at Chicago Jewish Funerals Chapel, 195 N. Buffalo Grove Rd. (one block North of Lake Cook Rd.), Buffalo Grove. Interment Sunset Memorial Lawns. Memorials in his name to Pan CAN, 2141 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245, or the charity of your choice would be appreciated. Arrangements by Chicago Jewish Funerals, 847-229-8822,
He had an illustrious early career after graduating from Brown (BA in History) and Columbia (MA in Philosophy). Bob had worked as Salman Rushdie's editor, an editor at the New York Review of Books, and an editor of Granta. He was a true "highbrow," a cultured intellectual and music lover, who took us to Shostakovich's late quartets at the Ravinia Festival, performed by the Emerson String Quartet, when we visited Chicago last year. Bob died from pancreatic cancer, a terrible disease with no known cure--I hope some readers of this blog might join in contributing to PanCan, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, in his memory.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Brief History of Women in Art

Someone I know sent me this fascinating animated history of Women in Art posted to YouTube by eggman913:

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Daniel Pearl Film Opens June 22nd

Angelina Jolie stars as Marianne Pearl, widow of the slain Wall Street Journal reporter. You can watch a preview of Michael Winterbottom's A Mighty Heart, here.

Number 12 With A Bullet?

That's where you can find my Orbis article "NGOs: A'New Class' in International Relations" on ScienceDirect's list of Top 25 Hottest Articles...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ali Allawi on Iraq

I heard an interview with Ali Allawi, former Iraqi defense minister, on NPR, as well as a National Press Club talk on C-Span. His new book, The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace, sounded interesting. You can read a sample chapter here, on the Yale University Press website.

And here's a link to Ali Allawi's blog.

From Hafez Barghouti's Lips, to God's Ears...

Ken Ellingwood reports in today's Los Angeles Times reports that Gaza fighting could mean an end to the idea of an independent Palestinian state :
RAMALLAH, WEST BANK — The deadly factional fighting in the Gaza Strip between the militant Hamas movement and Fatah could doom the long-held Palestinian vision of uniting Gaza and the West Bank into a single independent state.

The latest clashes highlight a growing schism between the two areas, raising the possibility that the power struggle will turn them into ministates, each ruled by its own faction: Hamas in the coastal strip and Fatah in the West Bank.

The violence has dimmed hopes that Palestinians and Israelis might someday reach an agreement for side-by-side nations and raised questions over how Israel responds to having Hamas, which calls for the Jewish state's destruction, indisputably in charge in Gaza.

The severity of the latest internecine fighting is driving a growing number of Palestinians to consider drastic scenarios, including dissolving the Palestinian Authority or allowing Hamas to manage Gaza more or less on its own.

"Hamas is working toward that. They want Gaza," Hafez Barghouti, a newspaper editor in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said bitterly. "They are destroying the Palestinian national project."

Richard Landes' Augean Stables

I received an email from Sliwa public relations plugging medieval historian Richard Landes' website about the Middle East, and took a look. It's interesting, so I thought I'd share the link:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Giuiliani 's 12-Step Program

As published in National Review, Hizzoner's 12-step recovery program for America:
I am making 12 Commitments to the American People. They are intended to lift our vision from the rearview mirror to the road ahead. If I am elected president, I want to be held accountable for the progress we make as a nation.

1) I will keep America on offense in the Terrorists’ War on Us.

Winning the terrorists’ war on us is the greatest responsibility of the 9/11 Generation. We need to continue taking the fight to the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists by increasing the size, strength, and support of our military — beginning with ten new Army combat brigades.

2) I will end illegal immigration, secure our borders and identify every non-citizen in our nation.

We can end illegal immigration with tough but realistic laws that put security first. We need to secure the border with a physical fence and a technological fence. We need to require a tamper-proof I.D. card for all non-citizens coming into the United States and tracking their entry and exit. And we need to encourage Americanization by requiring new citizens to read, write, and speak English.

3) I will restore fiscal discipline and cut wasteful Washington spending.

Over the next two presidential terms, 42 percent of the federal civilian workforce is due to retire. We should only hire back half, replacing non-essential workers with technology. I’ll ask agency heads to identify annual budget cuts of 5 to 20 percent. With entitlement costs scheduled to explode, we need fiscal discipline to avoid passing an unsupportable burden on to the next generation.

4) I will cut taxes and reform the tax code.

Pro-growth policies lead to broader prosperity. The next president needs to simplify the tax code and keep taxes low — including the personal income tax, the capital-gains tax and the corporate tax. And we can eliminate double taxation and protect family businesses by giving the Death Tax the death penalty.

5) I will impose accountability on Washington.

We need to restore Americans’ faith that government can work again. That’s why we’ll implement the first constant measurement of government effectiveness, known as “FedStat,” and put the results online so the public can hold agencies accountable.

6) I will lead America towards energy independence.

We must decrease America’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil. We can meet this challenge through diversification of our energy portfolio, innovation, and conservation. We must increase public and private investment in nuclear power, clean coal, and alternative-energy sources across the board. America must lead the world in energy-efficient, environmentally responsible, commercially viable innovation, including wind, solar, geo-thermal, ethanol, and biofuel technologies.

7) I will give Americans more control over their health care with affordable and portable free-market solutions.

We can improve the quality of health care while decreasing costs through increased competition. Solutions can include reforming the tax treatment of health care, expanding portable health-savings accounts, encouraging state-by-state innovations, and reforming the legal system.

8) I will increase adoptions, decrease abortions, and protect the quality of life for our children.

We need to take advantage of the common ground in America to reduce abortions by increasing adoptions and assuring that individual choice is well informed. We need to measure our progress toward these goals. We need to reduce the high costs of adoption. And we need to protect our children against sexual predators and online pornography.

9) I will reform the legal system and appoint strict constructionist judges.

America must reform its legal system. We need to eliminate nuisance lawsuits through “loser-pays” provisions. Tort reform can help us reduce costs passed on to the consumer, such as higher insurance premiums. Activist judges threaten to expand the power of the courts beyond the bounds established by the Constitution; we must reassert the proper balance.

10) I will ensure that every community in America is prepared for terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

Homeland security and national security are now inseparable. We need to ensure that local first responders are trained to meet natural disasters as well as terrorist attacks. We must improve information-sharing between local, state, and federal authorities. And we need to repair vulnerable infrastructure to minimize the impact of terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

11) I will provide access to a quality education to every child in America by giving real school choice to parents.

Education reform is a civil-rights struggle and the key to improving America’s competitiveness in the global economy. We need to empower parents and children by expanding school choice. We need to promote math and science, while ending the digital divide.

12) I will expand America's involvement in the global economy and strengthen our reputation around the world.

We need to strengthen our country by engaging aggressively the global economy. The mission of the State Department needs to be focused on acting first and foremost as an advocate for America. Fostering trade and educational and cultural exchange will promote the expansion of freedom.

These 12 Commitments offer an action plan to focus America on the future. Over the course of this campaign, I’m going to present each policy in greater detail. And when we get to Washington, we’re going to put these ideas into action. Guided by these 12 Commitments, we will hand our nation over to the next generation far better than it was handed to us.

An Iranian Solidarity Movement?

France gave the Ayatollah to Iran in the 1970s, and now, according to this article by Pooya Dayanim in National Review, may give Iran a movement to end Islamist Theocracy:
This week Paris will host the largest gathering of Iran’s pro-democracy forces ever assembled to overthrow the Islamic Regime through a nonviolent civil disobedience movement.

The Iran Solidarity Assembly (Hambastegi Melli in Persian) of Paris has been an enormous undertaking that has been three years in the making. Over 200 political luminaries will attend the invitation-only event. Millions of Iranians, however, will be following the proceedings with the help of Voice of America, Radio Farda, Radio Israel, BBC, and independent Iranian broadcasters such as Channel One, Pars TV, and Radio Sedaye Iran.

The Iran Solidarity Assembly includes representatives of virtually all of Iran’s various political, ethnic, social, and economic groups who have assembled together for the first time ever to ask the free world to stand in solidarity with them as they begin to coordinate the efforts of pro-democracy forces inside Iran to over throw the Islamic regime.

Robert Spencer on Immigration and Islamism

From JihadWatch:
With President Bush lobbying Congress to revive the defeated and disastrous immigration bill, authorities have a chance to recast the bill in a way that takes adequate measure of the national security implications of the immigration issue. And now, Lebanon, a nation currently under attack from al-Qaeda-linked terrorists, has shown the way with a measure that the President and Congress would do well to consider adapting for the United States. In an attempt to prevent jihadists from entering Lebanon from neighboring countries, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry and the General Security Department may stop giving entrants from Arab countries automatic entry visas; instead, they would have to apply at Lebanese missions in their native countries – allowing Lebanese officials time to scrutinize their applications and try to determine whether they are involved in jihad activity.

Such a proposal has a great deal to recommend it. Lebanon is treating immigration as a national security issue, as it manifestly is not only for Lebanon, but for the U.S. as well. With refreshing directness, Lebanese officials are considering heading off the problem at its source, or one of its sources, by restricting entry into the country from Arab countries from which jihadists come. Likewise the U.S. also could, and should, institute restrictions on immigration from Muslim countries. This issue has been clouded by national traumas about “racism,” but in fact it has nothing to do with racism, as jihadists with blonde hair and blue eyes are just as lethal, and should be just as unwelcome, as jihadists with dark skin, this is about taking prudent steps to protect ourselves and defend our nation. It is only a matter of common sense to recognize where the great majority of jihadists come from, and act accordingly.

Officials should proclaim a moratorium on all visa applications from Muslim countries, since there is no reliable way for American authorities to distinguish jihadists and potential jihadists from peaceful Muslims. Because this is not a racial issue, these restrictions should not apply to Christians and other non-Muslim citizens of those countries, although all should be subjected to reasonable scrutiny. Those who claim that such a measure is “Islamophobic” should be prepared to provide a workable way for immigration officials to distinguish jihadists from peaceful Muslims, or, if they cannot do so, should not impede basic steps the U.S. should take to protect itself. And Muslims entering from anywhere -- Britain, France -- should be questioned as to their adherence to Sharia and Islamic supremacism. This is not because anyone will expect honest answers, but so that answers proven false by the applicant’s subsequent activity can become grounds for deportation.

Meanwhile, this is not just an immigration problem. The Fort Dix and JFK Airport jihad terror plots uncovered in recent weeks not only underscore the need to fix our broken immigration policies, but they show the need also to deal with the fact that jihadists are already in the country. When twenty-six percent of Muslims in the United States who are under the age of thirty approve of suicide attacks in some circumstances, and two such attacks are uncovered in the last month, this is not an abstract problem. Islamic organizations in the U.S. who refuse to renounce and teach against political Islam should be reclassified as political organizations and made subject to all the controls and scrutiny to which political organizations are subject. And here again, words must be backed by deeds, or can justly be regarded with suspicion.

If national security were our priority, these proposals would not even be controversial. Nor would Islamic advocacy groups in the U.S., if national security were their priority, oppose them either. In fact, they might spur those groups to become more energetic in rooting out jihadists from among their ranks, and from among the Muslim community in America in general. Instead of the platitudes and half-measures we have seen up to now, along with active opposition to anti-terror efforts, we might see them take genuine steps to declare the ideology of jihad and Islamic supremacism beyond the pale of American Islam, and renounce political Islam and any intention, now or in the future, to replace the U.S. Constitution with Islamic Sharia law.

Melanie Phillips on Gaza Fighting

And meanwhile the elephant in the room remains Iran, which is funding and arming Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Syria, not to mention waging war against the west by proxy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Israel remains caught in a lethal trap, because it is trying to solve a problem that it cannot solve since it did not create it. The real architects of this impasse are the countries of the free world, which have failed utterly to grasp that the Israel/Palestine conflict is but one theatre of a global struggle; not a conflict over the division of a piece of land but rather one front in a global onslaught against the west. While trying vainly to solve Israel /Palestine in the hope this will calm everything else down, the free world fails to grasp that it is only by dealing with regional and global aggression that Israel/Palestine will ever be resolved. Backing the Big Lie of the justice of Palestinian statehood, which has meant in fact that a country that was victorious at its rebirth against forces that tried to wipe it out has uniquely been expected ever since to make reparations to its attackers who continue to try to destroy it and to provide them with a state from which they can finish the job, has been the biggest single incentive to terror and war in the Middle East. Only when this is acknowledged, and the free world locates the moral compass which has been absent from its dealings for decades, will there be any prospect of justice in the Middle East and peace for the world.

Amil Imani on the Islamist Threat

Islam with its rule of Sharia presents an imminent threat to subvert and replace the Constitution that governs our lives. Unlike Muslims who practice Taqiyya —lying or dissimulation—I proudly speak the truth. Truth should never be sacrificed at the altar of any goal. I firmly believe that truthfulness is indeed the foundation of all virtues.

Faithful Muslims believe that sovereignty belongs to Allah. They believe the only important “constitution” is the Quran, and before allegiance to a nation comes fidelity to Allah. Islam of all sects demands obedience to Islamic law, not the laws of men or political institutions. A Muslim will never abide by an oath of office when Islamic principles are at stake. When they swear an oath on the Quran, it is to show Islamic supremacy, not to prove they are telling the truth.

Please understand that Islamic principles cover every conceivable action and interaction of people living under Islamic law.
"It is not fitting for a Muslim man or woman to have any choice in their affairs when a matter has been decided for them by Allah and His Messenger. They have no option." Qur'an 33:36

So our Constitution and even State and local laws are essentially meaningless to a Muslim, and the Bill of Rights, once its usefulness as a means to perpetuate Islam in America is no longer necessary, will certainly be disparaged and ignored.
In fact, Islam is incompatible with democracy and subversive of the way of life that blesses this nation. It is fascist and evil by its very definition. Thus, it is imperative that we fight Islamofascisim with the same determination that we fought other enemies of freedom such as Nazism , Fascism, and Communism. And that imperative starts with our lawmakers constitutionally reevaluating the definition of religion. Islam must be curbed or it will curb us.

How are Islamists taking control?

They do it first by establishing Mosques in every town and city. These meeting places are perfect warehouses of not only indoctrination, but future terrorists, who are made to read and understand the principles of Jihad, martyrdom and Dar ul Harb (“land of war”—anyplace not Islamacized.) Mosques cost money, and the money for these warehouses of hate is coming straight from Saudi Arabia . These mosques are being infused with an activist strain of Islam, Wahabism. If you have to ask where the Saudis are getting their money, you are not paying attention...its coming from you. According to a National Portrait, a survey released in April 2001, there are at least 1,209 of mosques in the US and numbers are increasing.

Mosque elders tend to be sent to the US with one clear mission: Make Islamic religion, laws, and life supreme within the United States, using any and all tactics necessary. Next, from within the safety of their local mosques, they begin to use their revolting practices, riotous youth, and wild sermonizing to force the genteel Americans to relocate to safer, less threatening neighborhoods and cities. Of course, not all Americans will move or can afford to do so. And to take control of a town, Muslims will not need to evict everyone. They probably need about 25% in order to make life very unpleasant for those who do not go along with their demands.

They will elect Muslims to all positions of local influence, who will create and enforce policy according to the Quran. Once they have control over a town, they will begin to establish informal Sharia, and there’s nothing the government can (or will want to) do about it. Sharia is the brutal means by which Islam controls its populations by force, intimidation, and punishments for offenses to Allah. Already in many European countries, national governments have out of fear, given Islamic fascists the right to establish their own shadow governments within the borders of countries like Sweden and England, where they can control their own populations without accountability. Proposals for Sharia are being taken seriously by Canada.
This is an admission that Islam is not just a religion. It is a cult. It seeks total control over a person’s mind and body. And, as such, our Constitution is totally incompatible with it. They will push politicians for local control and self-determination of their own laws. In this way, America will become two nations; a weakened traditional one, and a growing, menacing Islamacized one.

At the same time, Muslims will ally with Leftist politicians who will gladly cede some of their power to this group of enforcers, so conservative politicians and Christians who advocate self defense and sane social policies are kept out of office. Money that was once used to build mosques will now be used to buy politicians. On university campuses, Islam will be portrayed as righteous and peaceful, while Christianity will be associated with evil Western and American values. The rebellious American youth will eat it up.

There will be increasing local and regional incidents of crimes and threats against Christians, Jews, and anybody who speaks out against the religion of hate. Terrorism is a completely legitimate tool of Islam, and was widely practiced and advocated by Muhammad. Remember, all words in the Quran are perfect, immutable laws defining an eternal ethic:

“Against them (the unbelievers) make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly.” Quran 8.06.

Leftist politicians will continue to hold the Bill of Rights over anyone who dares to accuse this religion of wrongdoing. While crime and threats skyrocket, Islamacized citizens will ignore the wrongdoing, just like in Iraq. They will look the other way for fear of retribution, honor killings, and punishments from those who uphold the Islamic requirement to seek revenge on anyone who dishonors or disagrees with Islam.

Eventually, America will become weakened and politicians will allow the Muslims to do whatever they want, as long as the infidels are allowed to be free of terrorist threats. As Christianity wanes, people will reject it as an anachronism that is irrelevant to modern trends. Islamic ethics will prevail and Muslim sects will gain members, money, and influence. As government policies lean toward Islamic ideals, the Bill of Rights will be seen as archaic and out of touch with contemporary values and the new direction of the country. It will be just a piece of parchment in a museum, lacking anyone who would so bold and revolutionary as to fight against a religion, even a religion of hate.

The first problem is that we don’t have centuries to wait for reform. But more to the point, Islam does not tolerate revisionism in its beliefs or practices over time. Reform is not at play, because one cannot point to Jihadists or terrorists and say Muhammad did not advocate it. He most certainly did, and he delighted in his evil thoughts.

Islam is a literal religion, taking unabrogated scripture as eternal and absolute. Moreover, there are no compensating scriptures that can be used to substitute for the barbaric avocations. There are no calls in Islam for compassion, forgiveness, non-violence, and brotherly love. Instead there are specific prescriptions for “an eye for an eye”, eternal warfare, religious hegemony, slavery, killing Jews, taxing nonbelievers, stoning, promulgating terror, establishing a caste social system, and the perpetuating discrimination against women. The only way to reform it is to censor vast sections of the Quran and Hadith, which would be absurd.

This is why there is truly no such thing as a “moderate” Muslim. Moderate Muslims or in other words “non-practicing Muslims”, like millions of Iranians, are Muslims by default, who were born into a faith they did not choose, a faith that was “inflicted” upon them by invaders of a foreign culture, a faith that forbids them to leave or revert to their pre-Islamic heritage and religions. Therefore, vast majority of Iranians remain Muslims in name only.

The other type of moderate Muslim is the “ignorant” Muslim who does not understand the Qur’anic “requirement” to wage war and submit to the Sharia, thereby “unknowingly” violating Qur’anic law. This latter type of Muslim is found in the rest of the Muslim countries. Hence, there is no such thing as “radical Islam”, since by its true definition Islam is nothing but radical. Those who espouse a “liberal” view of Islam should be forced to back up their nouveau interpretation with unabrogated scriptural facts. Unless such would-be “reformists” can categorically denounce Islamofascisim based on sound evidence from the Qur’an, they prove to be the true radicals, which is why we never see the Islamic apologists point to scriptural arguments against jihad. They simply cannot, because there is none, and they simply disguise and distort the truth.

The terrorists are not radicals from their interpretation of their doctrine--they are only doing exactly what Muhammad demanded of them, and his demands were not suggestions and they where not ephemeral. They were “perfect”, eternal ultimata. The terrorist are faithful and true to what is written in the holy Qur’an. A Muslim is forbidden to think critically about the Qur'an. He must blindly obey it and accept it passively and should memorize all of it. Being thus filled with the spirit of Islam (literally meaning “submission”), he instinctively walks in accordance with Allah's law in his daily life in a state of disempowered stupor.

It would be wonderful to believe that if only a quiet reform could mend the hearts of Muslims, and that much of their sacred writings could be overlooked and forgotten, or perhaps just re-interpreted, then all of the Islamic world could join the community of modern, civilized humankind. Unfortunately, this plan can never work. It might work for a while, but then some Muslims might take to reading, and the whole jihad, terror, coercion, Sharia trend would start over. You cannot reform that which is central to a religion.

Regretfully, a vast ignorance prevails in this sphere. Academic pundits, leftist journalists, and hired Islamic apologists, better known as “Useful Idiots”, proclaim that Islam is a religion of peace and that the great majority of Muslims are not party to any plans and actions of the radicals.

So how do we stop this sequence of events? How can our government, which has so effectively protected the rights of peaceful religions, protect us from an aggressive one?

America, with a long history of protecting religious freedom, still clings to the “hands off” practice of leaving alone any doctrine or practice billed as a religion. Deciding what constitutes a religion and who is to make that call is a thorny problem. The dictionary supplies a sociologically useless definition of religion: “The expression of man’s belief in and reverence for a superhuman power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe.” Just about anyone or any group under this definition can start a religion, and they indeed do—and some do so at a significant cost to others.

Perhaps it is time to realize that not all religions are the same. If a religion is evil, it must lose its right to exist under First Amendment protections. If it advocates that which is wrong and immoral, and it seeks to control all aspects of your life by force and fraud; if it seeks exemption from national laws protecting constitutional rights, then it must not be considered a religion.

It must be called something else, and it cannot be recognized as a protected ideology under the First Amendment. We have hate-crime laws. How about admitting that there is a hate religion, and its name is Islam, cult of fascism?

"O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guides not a people unjust." Quran 5:51

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Bible (Matthew 5:44)

Any religion that seeks to create its own “State” and its own legal system and seeks to mobilize its own militia is itself not interested in separation of church and State, and has no right to use that separation to create hegemony.

In fact, such a doctrine is not even a religion at all. It is a totalitarian regime, and must be considered the enemy of everything Americans believe in.

It’s time to shut down juggernaut Islam. This begins by removing First Amendment protections and revealing Islam’s beliefs to America, including its thoroughly anti-American ideology. It begins by admitting that no matter how many recruits it has acquired by force and fraud, that Islam is a cult, not a religion. I’d welcome an inspection of other religions to determine if they are truly peaceful, and I am confident all other doctrines will remain protected and unaffected, because religions are by definition peaceful. Cults are not. Let’s single out the cause of our problems. Let’s remove the tumor of Islam from our country before it is further metastasized.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Germany Protests Lantos' Schroeder Jibe

From the LA Times:
WASHINGTON -- A leading Democratic lawmaker lashed out at the former leaders of Germany and France, calling former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder a `political prostitute.'

Germany denounced the remarks by Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as an insult to its people.

Lantos' comments about Schroeder and former French President Jacques Chirac, both opponents of the Iraq war, came in a speech Tuesday at the dedication of a monument to victims of communism. President Bush spoke at the same event, but did not arrive until after Lantos spoke.

"I am so glad that the era of Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Schroeder in Germany is now gone," Lantos said to applause.

He said when the United States asked Schroeder to support its decision to go to war in Iraq "he told us where to go."

"I referred to him as a political prostitute, now that he's taking big checks from (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. But the sex workers in my district objected, so I will no longer use that phrase," Lantos said.

After leaving office in 2005 Schroeder became chairman of the North Europe Gas Pipeline, which is 51 percent owned by the Russian state natural gas company Gazprom.

Lantos' remark prompted scattered laughter and applause from the audience.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, once Schroeder's chief of staff, said Lantos' comments overstepped "the limits of political decency."

Christopher Hitchens on Paris Hilton

From Slate:
So now, a young woman knows that, everywhere she goes, this is what people are visualizing, and giggling about. She hasn't a rag of privacy to her name. But this turns out to be only a prelude. Purportedly unaware that her license was still suspended, a result of being found with a whiff of alcohol on her breath, she also discovers that the majesty of the law will not give her a break. Evidently as bewildered and aimless as she ever was, she is arbitrarily condemned to prison, released on an equally slight pretext and—here comes the beautiful bit—subjected to a cat-and-mouse routine that sends her back again. At this point, she cries aloud for her mother and exclaims that it "isn't right." And then the real pelting begins. In Toronto, where I happened to be on the relevant day, the Sun* filled its whole front page with a photograph of her tear-swollen face, under the stern headline "CRYBABY." I didn't at all want to see this, but what choice did I have? It was typical of a universal, inescapable coverage. Not content with seeing her undressed and variously penetrated, it seems to be assumed that we need to watch her being punished and humiliated as well. The supposedly "broad-minded" culture turns out to be as prurient and salacious as the elders in The Scarlet Letter. Hilton is legally an adult but the treatment she is receiving stinks—indeed it reeks—of whatever horrible, buried, vicarious impulse underlies kiddie porn and child abuse.

I cannot imagine what it might be like, while awaiting a prison sentence for a tiny infraction, to see dumb-ass TV-addicted crowds howling with easy, complicit laughter as Sarah Silverman (a culpably unfunny person) describes your cell bars being painted to look like penises and jokes heavily about your teeth being at risk because you might gnaw on them. And this on prime time, and unrebuked. Lynching parties used to be fiestas, as we have no right to forget, and the ugly coincidence of sexual nastiness—obscenity is the right name for it—and vengefulness is what seems to lend the savor to the Saturnalia. There must be more than one "gossip" writer who has already rehearsed for the day that Paris Hilton takes a despairing overdose. And what a glorious day of wall-to-wall coverage that will be!

Christopher Hitchens on Kurdistan

From Slate:
So, I posed the following question to my UNAMI comrade, who had said to me in so many words that things in his Iraqi bailiwick "could not be worse." Are you so sure that they could not be very much worse? In particular, what are you going to do about Kurdistan? In this region of Iraq, the local leadership has done almost everything that could have been asked of it by the United Nations or the United States. It maintains its own security, does not require foreign troops, has put an end to sectarian warfare among Kurds, fights against al-Qaida with some success, maintains a high regional standard for pluralism and democracy, and has enough left over to contribute soldiers to the policing of Baghdad and Fallujah. His response was to say, "The civil war will spread there, too." I didn't know whether to be more struck by his fatalism or his cynicism.

There's no doubt that he has a point. In two front-page stories last week, one read of attempts being made to drive the Kurds out of the northern city of Mosul and of the blowing-up of a major bridge that helps connect Baghdad to the Kurdish-majority city of Kirkuk. And this is only a dress rehearsal for what is to come as the people of Kirkuk get ready to vote on whether to affiliate themselves to the Kurdish autonomous region. Al-Qaida has made the sabotage of this vote a major effort and is sparing no atrocious tactic in its campaign of ethnic cleansing and clerical terror. So, what is all this idle babble about the conflict in Iraq being a "distraction" from the fight against Bin Laden? A very clear and bright line is being drawn in a country of vast strategic and economic importance. On one side of it stand the Iraqis who are willing to fight the common enemy of civilization, and on the other stands—what? Before we think about casting our own votes, we need to hear from every candidate whether he or she includes in their "withdrawal" package the abandonment of Kurdistan. And it would be nice to hear from the Bush administration, as well, a few crisp words on the identical subject. If we are not for ourselves, then who will be for us?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Martin Kramer v George W. Bush on Democracy in the Middle East

From the Jerusalem Post's BlogCentral, Martin Kramer's Prague speech (invited by Natan Scharansky himself):
Now in the Middle East, Saddam-style dictatorship, with mass graves and invasions of neighbors, is the exception, not the rule. So is Taliban-style puritanism, based on terrorism at home and abroad. The same is true of the genocidal regime in the Sudan, and the potentially genocidal regime in Iran. Democracy competes not against them, but against this consensual authoritarianism. And the reason democracy is losing that competition is that consensual authoritarianism produces security for its peoples, and exports security to its neighbors and the world.

We musn't be blind to these facts: these regimes cooperate with the world in combatting terrorism and containing an aggressive Iran, they have peace treaties with Israel or float peace initiatives, they don't threaten or intervene in the internal affairs of other countries, and they don't seek weapons of mass destruction. None of them has gone to war in the last thirty-plus years.

And who are the net exporters of insecurity? These are states that have multi-polar or pluralistic systems: Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and what some call Palestine. These systems aren't democracies, but in terms of formal practices like elections, they've actually gone the longer distance. Yet they don't provide security for their peoples, and they export insecurity, in the form of terrorism, refugees, radical Islam, and nuclear threats. What's discouraging is that this isn't true in only some of the cases, or only half of them. It's true, for now, in all if them.

Now it was also my teacher Bernard Lewis who said this: "Democracy is a strong medicine, which you have to give to the patient in small, gradually increasing doses. If you give too much too quickly, you kill the patient." This doesn't contradict his earlier statement, so much as it complements it. If they're not made free, they'll destroy us; but if they're made free too quickly, they might destroy themselves, and take us with them.

So how do we know whether the democracy dosage is too much, too fast? Security is the test. People around the world will look to this conference and say: solve this conundrum. Don't just cite precedents from other places and times. This is the Middle East, it looks different. Don't just offer lofty rhetoric. People are skeptical of it. Don't say that America will provide the security: it won't. And don't say that we have to think long-term: too much can go wrong in the short-term. The pro-democracy forces need to show how they'll make their peoples not only freer, but more secure--and how they'll make the rest of us safer.

Now unlike some others, I don't think this is an impossible mission. But it has to be acknowledged as the primary mission of dissidents today. It's a fact of life that the world's support for freedom isn't unconditional-- even for this US administration--and security is the condition. Meet that condition, even part way, and good people in the world won't just admire your courage. They might even take a chance and support you.