Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. ... As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”
Putin thanked King Abdullah for his greetings and Bandar for his exposition, but then he said to Bandar, “We know that you have supported the Chechen terrorist groups for a decade. And that support, which you have frankly talked about just now, is completely incompatible with the common objectives of fighting global terrorism that you mentioned. We are interested in developing friendly relations according to clear and strong principles.”
Friday, August 30, 2013
Monday, August 26, 2013
Mark my words, if our policy "succeeds," that is to say, it leads to the downfall of Assad, we soon will enter a world of hurt. Assad will be replaced by extremistjihadi psychopaths who will turn on us in a flash. If we don't "succeed," and we just wound the bear, what's left of our reputation is gone, and we will have one bloody-minded, revenge seeking pencil-necked dictator--backed by Iran and Russia--gunning for us and our interests. Some choice, eh?
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
For example, about a year ago Dubai’s police chief addressed a major international Gulf Arab security conference. He said that there were about three dozen security threats to the Gulf Arab countries. But this well-respected security expert said the number-one threat was the United States.
Since that time, this American specter has become vivid. For instance, The New York Times had a recent editorial which stated that the only protection for Egypt’s democracy--meaning Muslim Brotherhood participation in the next Egyptian government--was the United States and Europe. The Egyptian regime, Israel, and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states were bad for wanting to protect their societies from Islamic ideology, revolution, and anti-Western Sharia states!
Might the United States and its allies rather be expected to battle Turkey, Iran, Hamas, Hizballah, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Hamas or otherwise might it support Islamists while Saudi Arabia fought Europe’s and America’s response as too soft on Hizballah?
But what if a crazy notion seizes policymakers, blessed with the mush of ignorance about the Middle East, that they can take control of the troublemakers? Perhaps Germany (World War One and Two jihads), or the Soviet control of radical nationalist regimes in the 1950s and 1960, or the French rescue of the Palestinian leadership in the late 1940s, or Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran during the 1970s, or America in the 1950s (Arab nationalism), or the 2010 Muslim Brotherhood would turn nominal extremists into friends?
Imagine, dunderheads in Washington, London, Paris, and so on thinking they are masterfully preserving stability, making peace, and harnessing Sharia in the cause of boosting democracy!
How smug would be the smiles when those who perpetrated September 11, 2001, were supposedly defeated by those mentored into power a decade later by the West in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, or in the Arab Spring or the Syrian revolution!
Look at it through the eyes of the Arabs, Iranians, Turks, Kurds, and Israelis who think they will try to impose a new order the region.
Consider a famous speech by Winston Churchill at Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946. In contrast to the Communist Manifesto,100 years later, Churchill began, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain is descended across the continent.” It might be strange that these two statements are compared to the current situation in the Middle East. But actually, they make a lot of sense.
The intention of great powers seemed to impose one (European) system on the region. In the first case, it was Communism. In Churchill’s case, it was anti-Communism he advocated, which in parallel would be Anti-Islamism.
But today, what is the system that Arabs, Iranians, Turks, and Israelis think they will try to impose on the region? The answer for those who have been watching in recent years is revolutionary Islamism.
It might seem strange that this is the thinking, but it isn’t. The question is whether there is a system that Western Europeans want to impose. And the answer is that to the Arabs and others in the region--although this does not mean it has to be true--since the 1979 Iranian revolution, they have supported radical Islamism. In fact, it should be understood that after the Arab Spring, Arabs did not generally identify Western interests with support for moderate democracy, but with support for Islamism.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Perhaps the most baffling element to the U.S. government’s Muslim outreach since the 1990s is the steadfast refusal by its supporters to acknowledge the mountain of evidence that testifies to its catastrophic failure. What pathology can explain how prosecutors can identify Muslim leaders and organizations as supporters of terrorism in federal court, and at the same time high-ranking government officials embrace these same leaders and groups as moderates and heatedly defend their inclusion as outreach partners? The answer might only lie in the realm of theology and not psychology.
After al-Qa’ida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was teaching on Islam in the Executive Dining Room of the Pentagon just weeks after three of his disciples had flown a plane into the same building; when the government had to admit that the State Department’s Muslim goodwill ambassador to the Middle East and frequent White House visitor, Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, had been one of the top al-Qa’ida fundraisers at the same time he was certifying the Pentagon’s Muslim chaplains; and even when attorneys for Sami al-Arian went into federal court demanding discovery documents showing their client’s outreach meetings at the White House, the Department of Justice, FBI headquarters, and the House of Representatives Speakers’ Office; there was not even a moment of pause before the government picked up right where it left off. This continues in the cases of ISNA, MPAC, CAIR, Mohamed Majid, Salam al-Marayati, Louay Safi, Mohamed Elibiary, Yasir Qadhi, Nihad Awad, and many others.
Take, for example, the case of Kifah Mustapha. At the same time that the FBI Chicago field office was telling the Illinois State Police of Mustapha’s extensive history of supporting Hamas, even providing a videotape of him singing exhortations to violence and racial hatred, that same FBI office was processing and approving the imam’s security clearance to participate in the FBI’s Citizen Academy program, complete with tours of the FBI Academy at Quantico and the top-secret National Counterterrorism Center. When asked about the bureau’s contradictory messages on Mustapha by the media, the only response FBI Director Mueller could muster was, “I’m not going to talk about any particular individual.” No longer do these Muslim leaders have to shout down their critics; they now have cabinet-level officials, White House aides, and some members of Congress to do it for them.
The net result of the U.S. government’s Muslim outreach has not just been the empowerment of extremists at the expense of marginalizing authentic moderates. Now the Obama administration has institutionalized these relationships where the very extremists they have empowered and embraced are now dictating inherently dangerous public policy. Demands by their outreach partners now include purges, blacklists, book bans, star chambers, speech codes, mandatory reeducation and official retaliation against federal employees, with the White House standing up a task force authorized to enforce these measures across the federal government.
Without the slightest bit of irony these are all invoked in the name of the First Amendment. To prevent further embarrassment, terror-related investigations are being scuttled by the Department of Justice to protect the senior leadership of their official outreach partners, ignoring entirely what has already been said about them in court filings by DOJ attorneys and even rulings by federal judges. This “compulsory blindness” applied to our intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement agencies are precisely why investigations into identified terror threats are being stopped in their tracks (Boston, Fort Hood, et al.) at the expense of American lives.
Equally as troubling are the doors that the White House has thrown open to members of terrorist organizations and international war criminals. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has cheered, if not actively encouraged, the “largely secular” Muslim Brotherhood takeover in many countries throughout the Middle East. Leaders of groups identified by the federal government as fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood are given top seating for presidential speeches and are welcomed into the Oval Office to offer their advice prior to presidential trips to the Middle East.
The legacy of the U.S. government’s Muslim outreach programs since the 1990s is a monument of failure by any measure. With more American lives and body parts strewn across American streets once again in Boston, these outreach partners threatening the health and legitimacy of our constitutional republic with their demands. It is clearly past time for Congress to ask whether this long since failed experiment should come to an immediate end.
I don't want to get into a huge pompous discussion On The Nature of Liberty, with lots of citations of erudite philosophers, but I have come around to Buchanan's view. Our obsession with democracy keeps getting us into trouble all over the world, and it ties our hands when trouble hits. At the risk of sounding like a neo-Marxist or a neo-Darwinist, I would argue that democracy might be the highest form of liberty, but that over time time, democracy can become a threat to liberty--a Jupiter chopping up his father Saturn sort of affair.
England, the birthplace of modern democracy, became one (yes, yes, officially a monarchy, but let's not get pedantic) after liberty became well established, e.g., limitations on the political reach of government as exemplified in the Magna Carta, the development of an economy in which that government could have only a limited "taste," to use some Sopranos language, and of a society with many centers of influence and power quite apart and independent from the state. In more modern times, we have seen liberty lead to democracy in Pinochet's Chile. Under the old and, as it turns out to the chagrin of leftists everywhere, enlightened dictator, a deliberate economic policy was set in motion that created a vibrant capitalist economy that led to today's amazing Chile--a country from which we have much to learn. We saw a similar process take place in Spain. Whether by design or "just because" the Franco regime fomented or at least allowed the emergence of a society with considerable liberty. Spaniards could get a passport with little trouble, set up businesses, buy and sell property, invest in stocks, bonds, etc., and rely on a fairly honest legal system to protect their property rights.
In places such as Egypt, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Honduras, all over Africa, we tie ourselves up in knots, often times huge complicated legal knots with lots of lawyers tugging on the ends of the twine over whether a regime is democratic, whether a particular act is in "keeping with democratic principles," or, believe it or not, whether some act by a government in another nation is in accord with that other nation's constitution. You don't know how many absurd meetings I attended while wise men debated whether the manner in which leftist pro-Chavez plutocrat Mel Zelaya had been removed from power in Honduras was in keeping with article this and paragraph that of the Honduran constitution. There we were, lots of highly paid American bureaucrats, crammed into an office at the NSC, arguing over the Honduran constitution--ignoring, of course, that the Honduran Supreme Court had ruled Zelaya's removal constitutional. We now see similar arguments over whether the removal of the repellant and tyrannical anti-Western jihadist Morsi in Egypt is or is not a coup, and whether we should or should not cut off assistance to the pro-Western and moderate Egyptian military.
We should, of course, be focused primarily on our real interests in the region and secondly on whether the new regime, be it in Tegucigalpa or Cairo, will benefit liberty more than the old one. In Cairo, I think there can be no doubt that whatever the flaws of the Egyptian military, a government under the control of that organization is better for the West, and better for the Egyptian people as it is better for liberty.
Now, of course, our advocacy for liberty overseas would be considerably stronger if we stopped destroying it at home first.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Note: The Aug.5-12, 2013 issue of the political weekly The Nation features a 3,000-word article denouncing those who have questioned President Franklin Roosevelt's response to the Holocaust. However, the editors of The Nation have declined to publish the following 900-word reply.
In early 1943, at the very height of the Holocaust, one of America's most prominent journalists denounced President Franklin Roosevelt's response to the Nazi genocide in remarkably harsh terms.
"You and I and the President and the Congress and the State Department are accessories to the crime and share Hitler’s guilt," she wrote. "If we had behaved like humane and generous people instead of complacent, cowardly ones, the two million Jews lying today in the earth of Poland and Hitler’s other crowded graveyards would be alive and safe. And other millions yet to die would have found sanctuary. We had it in our power to rescue this doomed people and we did not lift a hand to do it - or perhaps it would be fairer to say that we lifted just one cautious hand, encased in a tight-fitting glove of quotas and visas and affidavits, and a thick layer of prejudice."
This stunning critique of FDR's Jewish refugee policy was authored by none other than Freda Kirchwey--a staunch New Dealer, Roosevelt supporter, and editor in chief of the liberal political newsweeklyÂ The Nation. What Kirchwey wrote in 1943 is particularly relevant in view ofÂ The Nation's publication, this month, of an essay zealously defending Roosevelt's response to the Holocaust and claiming that criticism of FDR is all a plot by political conservatives and rightwing Zionists to drum up support for Israel. ("FDR's Jewish Problem," August 5-12, 2013)
Evidently the essay's author, journalist Laurence Zuckerman, was not aware of the Holocaust record of the magazine for which he was writing. It is a record that is admirable--and that completely refutes Zuckerman's thesis.
The Nation spoke out early and vociferously for U.S. action to rescue Europe's Jews. After the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom in Germany, the journal called for admission to the U.S. of at least 15,000 German Jewish refugee children. (The administration declined to endorse the proposal.)
The Roosevelt administration’s refugee policy “is one which must sicken any person of ordinarily humane instinct,” Kirchwey wrote in 1940. “It is as if we were to examine laboriously the curriculum vitae of flood victims clinging to a piece of floating wreckage and finally to decide that no matter what their virtues, all but a few had better be allowed to drown.”
In 1941, FDR's administration devised a harsh new immigration regulation that barred the admission of anyone with close relatives in Europe--on the grounds that the Nazis might compel them to spy for Hitler by threatening their relatives. The Nation's editors denounced that theory as “reckless and ridiculous." Nation editor Kirchwey blasted the espionage claim as “an excuse concocted by the [State Department]” to keep refugees out and “a good story with which to win popular support for a brutal and unjust restriction.”
In 1944, Kirchwey authored a particularly insightful and moving appeal for U.S. action against the deportation of Hungary’s Jews to Auschwitz. The millions of European Jews already killed were victims of both “Nazi ferocity and Allied indifference,” she wrote. “It is untrue to say that little could have been done, once the war was started, to save the Jews of Europe. Much could have been done. At most stages Hitler was willing to permit his Jewish victims to substitute migration for deportation and death. But the other countries refused to take in refugees in sufficient numbers to reduce by more than a fraction the roll of those destined to die.” The Roosevelt administration's claims that it was impossible to rescue the Jews was just a flimsy excuse, Kirchwey emphasized. "[U.S.] troopships which have delivered their loads at Mediterranean ports could be diverted for a single errand of mercy. Transport planes returning from India or the Eastern Mediterranean could carry out of Hungary the 10,000 children to whom Sweden has offered shelter....The last opportunity to save half a million more lives cannot be treated as a matter of minor concern... [W]e must hurry, hurry!"
In the years since the Holocaust, numerous prominent progressives have followed in the footsteps of Kirchwey and The Nation, by frankly acknowledging FDR's failings in this regard.
For example, then-Vice President Walter Mondale, in a 1979 speech, called President Roosevelt's 1938 refugee conference in Evian, France, a "legacy of shame." He said the U.S. and other participants in the conference, by refusing to open their doors to Jews fleeingÂ Hitler, "failed the test of civilization."
At the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1993, then-President Bill Clinton pointed out that under the Roosevelt administration, "doors to liberty were shut and even after the United States and the Allies attacked Germany, rail lines to the [death] camps within miles of militarily significant targets were left undisturbed." He has also called FDR's rejection of the refugee ship St. Louis "one of the darkest chapters in United States history."
Then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, in her recent autobiography, recalled how she broke with a Democratic president over human rights (in China) and described with pride how her father,Â Â Democratic congressman Thomas D'Alesandro, broke with FDR over the Holocaust: "Although he was a New Deal Democrat and followed Franklin D. Roosevelt's lead, there was one area in which he disagreed with the administration. Daddy supported an organization called the Bergson Group, which had rallies, pageants, and parades focusing attention on the plight of European Jews during World War II and calling for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, which was not yet the administration's policy." (p.97)
Former presidential nominee George McGovern, in a 2004 interview, discussed the missions he flew near Auschwitz as a young bomber pilot in 1944: “Franklin Roosevelt was a great man and he was my political hero. But I think he made two great mistakes in World War Two" -- the mass internment of Japanese-Americans without due cause, and the decision “not to go after Auschwitz...God forgive us for that tragic miscalculation.” McGovern said: “There is no question we should have attempted...to go after Auschwitz. There was a pretty good chance we could have blasted those rail lines off the face of the earth, which would have interrupted the flow of people to those death chambers, and we had a pretty good chance of knocking out those gas ovens.”
Prominent progressives have a long and admirable record of honestly acknowledging FDR's failings alongside his achievements. President Roosevelt's response to the Holocaust is no more defensible than his internment of Japanese-Americans or his troubling record concerning the rights of African-Americans. Recognizing that fact does not endanger the legacy of the New Deal or diminish FDR's accomplishments in bringing America out of the Depression or his leadership to victory in World War II. It merely acknowledges Roosevelt's flaws as well. (Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, and author of 14 books about Jewish history and the Holocaust. His latest is FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith.)
Today’s Islamist terrorists live physically, usually financially, and above all psychologically, in Muslim countries. When their ties are sub-national, they are nevertheless to well-known groups such as Hizbullah or the PLO or to ancestral tribes. None of these regimes, groups, or tribes is what anyone might call permissive. Their rulers rule with bloody iron hands and claim to be unique sources of authority. They make no distinction between society and regime, between state and Mosque. This is a sword one of whose handles the US could grasp.
The US government could use drones effectively to face these rulers with the stark choice between seeing to it that no one, but no one, who lives in or under their orbit shall have any involvement with anti American terrorism and being killed by a US drone. No excuses, no exceptions. Indeed the prospect of sudden death could cause such potentates positively to encourage educational and religious practices leading to peace rather than terrorism. Or they could choose to die, personifying anti-Americanism’s deadly futility.
On the other hand, the US government could continue to use drones as it has, against an uncertain mixture of insignificants and innocents. Who would argue that a decade from now Americans will be safer thereby?