Tuesday, December 30, 2008
So how are American Muslims reacting to this decision? Well, it depends on who you ask. If you ask Zuhdi Jasser, his American Islamic Forum for Democracy gave a clear response: it 'hailed the verdicts which brought the criminals to justice and will hopefully deter others like them from ever contemplating similar plots in the future.'
On the other hand, the New Jersey representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), as reported in the New York Times, said that the defendants had been egged on by a government informant; while not innocent, they were not so very guilty.
So who speaks for American Muslims? I suspect that American Muslims have a range of views; some feel represented by one organization, some by the other. The problem is that CAIR gets the lion's share of media attention; it's not easy to hear Jasser's voice.
Monday, December 29, 2008
The EU's common position will likely be more nuanced, as the Germans have said that Israel has a right to protect itself. But it's highly unlikely that the Europeans will agree with Geert Wilders, who argues that Israel is only taking the brunt of the jihad assault that will sooner or later reach Europe.
Europeans may defend Hamas, but the Egyptian foreign minister does not. Here he is, in a Dec. 27 press conference, laying the blame for the latest hostilities clearly at the feet of Hamas. Most likely other Arab League governments agree, even if they don't want to say so out loud. Incidentally, as for 'disproportionate use of force,' Egyptian border guards have fired on Palestinians seeking to leave Gaza. The Egyptians don't want an increased Palestinian presence that Hamas could exploit to destabilize Egypt.
Roy and Vaisse argue that the Muslim world is not monolithic, and should not be treated as such. Nor do they see Islam as a primary source of conflict in the world. Instead, "There are as many bloody conflicts outside of regions where Islam has a role as inside them." They question who the Islamic 'leaders' are to whom Obama would speak, and argue that linking by Islam and terrorism, Obama would reinforce the potential for alienation among Western Muslims. Rather than convene a meeting, Obama should close down the prison on Guantanamo, withdraw from Iraq, ban torture, and push for peace in the Middle East.
The points Roy and Vaisse raise are mostly true - but irrelevant. Radical Islam has declared war on the United States, Europe, Israel, and many Muslim countries and is doing its very best to destroy them. President Bush has spent 7 years telling anyone who would listen (admittedly a small group) that he does not/not accept the 'clash of civilizations' concept; that the United States is not waging war on Muslims; and that Islam is a religion of peace.
Roy and Vaisse completely ignore Bush's effort, thereby dodging the need to explain why it hasn't worked. Instead, they recommend that Obama satisfy the standard laundry list of European demands, although they fail to say why doing so will reconcile the United States with the Muslim world. (Will the Saudis really be happier if we withdraw completely and immediately from Iraq, to the benefit of Iran? Why will leaning on the Israelis to go easy on Hamas impress Egypt, which is busy shooting Palestinian civilians trying to escape from Gaza into Egypt?)
So, as Nancy asked me, where should Obama give his speech to the Muslim world? I think that's a difficult question, but less important than the question of what it is he wants to say. The governments in most Muslim countries have encouraged hatred and resentment of the United States and Israel as a way of deflecting popular anger from their own regimes. That anger has also benefited radical Islam, which in many places is the most obvious alternative to corrupt local rulers.
In this situation, Obama might as well stand up for American values. He cannot win by denigrating the United States - especially by apologizing to a part of the world that views apologies as weakness. Nor will Obama benefit from whitewashing the threat we face. If it were to become clear that his speech would follow those lines, the question of venue would probably resolve itself into a very short list.
Friday, December 26, 2008
My title to the contrary, it wasn't just Swedish banks that helped fence these treasures. Most Western governments took part. According to reviewer Adam Kirsch, "...the real value of this book is that it shows just how well the West lived up to Lenin's cynical prophecy: 'The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them.'"
Monday, December 22, 2008
An AIG subsidiary, AIG Takaful Enaya headquartered in Bahrain, provides a range of sharia-compliant insurance products for the Islamic world. However, these products are not exotic and remote. On December 1, another AIG subsidiary announced that it was introducing a 'Takaful Homeowners Policy', aimed at the U.S. market, in conjunction with AIG Takaful Enaya.
It's not clear whether this lawsuit will succeed, or whether it will be rejected due to the principle of sovereign immunity, which protects the U.S. government from U.S. taxpayer challenges over how it uses its funds.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Let's hope the Obama Administration takes note of Europe's failure to meet its targets under Kyoto. This failure occurred in large part because of the economic pain meeting those targets would cause; if the United States embarks on a similar path, it is likely to face the same prospect. Indeed, the United States has reduced its emissions more in recent years than have a number of EU member states - without Kyoto. Add to that the growing uncertainty over whether the earth is in fact warming or cooling, and it's definitely time to proceed with caution.
-- Issam Fares, a former deputy prime minister of Lebanon, is an outspoken advocate of Hizbollah. He has denied that Hizbollah was responsible for the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beurut; his pro-Syrian tilt has won him a decoration from the Syrian government.
-- The Saudis have been the biggest donors, contributing between $10 and $25 million. In addition, a pro-Saudi advocacy group, Friends of Saudi Arabia, contributed between $1 and $5 million. Note that the Saudis typically give only to charities for Muslims - not to those that also help non-Muslims.
-- The Dubai Foundation gave between $1 and $5 million; other grants of theirs have gone to pay off the families of Palestinian and Hezbollah suicide bombers.
Laksin concludes: "...given [Clinton's] foundation's declared mission to promote 'racial, ethnic and religious reconciliation,' how can he justify his willing association with governments that routinely abuse himan rights and fuel sectarian violence? Further, in light of the Clinton foundation's dependency on such donors, what assurances will Hillary Clinton provide that her husband's philanthropic interests will not stand in the way of the nation's diplomatic priorities?"
At least we now know details about the funding - details Bill Clinton had refused to divulge.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Meanwhile, 24 prominent Americans signed a statement published as a full-page ad in the Washington Times urging the United States to boycott the meeting as well. In 2001, the Durban I conference in South Africa was such a hate fest that Secretary of State Colin Powell walked out. Let's hope the Obama administration will decide to stay away.
The UK minister of justice and Members of Parliament have attacked the British libel law which allows people like Khalid Bin Mafouz, who lives in Saudi Arabia, to sue American authors like Rachel Ehrenfeld, to suppress allegations that he finances Islamist terrorism. The current law, according to Labour MP Denis MacShane, 'shames Britain and makes a mockery of the idea that Britain is a protector of core democratic freedoms'. Let's hope he and others can fix the problem.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Adams appears to suggest - although I'm not clear on this - that it's a shame to risk offending others with such a low-brow production. She applauds the international writers association PEN for remaining silent on the issue. So if your prose or storytelling abilities fall short you should, to paraphrase French President Jacques Chirac, not lose an opportunity to remain silent? I would argue that such a position is cowardly. Such books should be published; let readers chose what they wish to read.
-- we're not in a war against terrorism, but in a war against militant Islam.
-- Muslim extremists aren't just a tiny minority of all Muslims: "It's a dominant strain of evil that runs rampant in a population of well over 1 billion."
-- They hate us not because of what we do but because of who we are, and because we don't want to surrender to them.
-- The terrorists will only quit when they are dead: "It is our job to make them so."
I'm curious to know what you think - just for the record, I agree with him.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Meanwhile, Scotland Yard employs as senior advisor on Muslim extremism a Tunisian wanted by Interpol for his links to an alleged terrorist organization. The individual was convicted in absentia in Tunisia and sentenced to 56 years in prison. What's more, looks like Scotland Yard knew all about this when they hired him. Read this article by Melanie Phillips and weep.
The UK authorities will never solve their problem unless and until they figure out who the enemy is.
-- women can be divorced without being either informed or present in the court.
-- judges often won't listen to a woman's pleading in a divorce case unless she is accompanied by a male relative.
-- the Saudi divorce rate is officially quoted as being 30%, but could be as high as 60%. Some women argue that the rate has increased because young men are now raised to believe that they should totally control their wives.
Meanwhile, an article in the Jerusalem Post paints a grim picture of polygamy as practiced by Israel's Bedouins. Even the husbands apparently suffer, according to an expert: 'With all the trouble, the feuds, the envy, the financial responsibilities - a man with more than one wife typically regrets it.' Which begs the question...but I'm clearly projecting my Western views onto another society, so I'll stop there. (Thanks to Dhimmi Watch.)
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Wilders is scathing about the failure of the European governments and political elite to understand the threat posed by the Islamicization of Europe, let alone to defend the rights of people like him to exercise rights such as freedom of speech. Read the whole speech here, thanks to Andrew Bostom.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Elsewhere, prominent Islamist Anjem Choudhary warns Muslims that Christmas is the 'pathway to hell' and urges his followers to boycott it. This sounds a bit odd, if one assumes that Muslims by definition don't celebrate Christmas, but perhaps Choudhary is feeling pressure from the competition. I propose a campaign against 'Christianophobia' - after all, anyone making similar accusations against Islam would have been denounced for 'Islamophobia.'
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
"No other group has ever been blamed for such a welter of 'evils' - capitalism, communism, liberalism and humanism. None of these anti-Semitic accusations are used against Muslims today. In fact, Islamic terrorists use these very canards in an attempt to justify their anti-Jewish actions...Furthermore, there are some Islamicists who openly advocate the takeover of Europe, the West and the world...[T]he Jews have never had or claimed such a goal."
French also demolishes all the media apologists for the terrorists, the commentators who by blaming the massacres on American foreign policy, India or whatever other excuse was handy are seeking to relieve the terrorists of any personal responsibility for their actions.
Monday, December 8, 2008
It turns out that the resolution is actually watered down from the text that was submitted last year. However, this time it would then be sent to the second World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance - Durban II, the anticipated antisemitic hate fest. (If you want more information on Durban II, go here.)
A growing number of legal scholars argue that the decisions of international conferences like Durban II can be incorporated into international law, which then can be enforced by the International Criminal Court (where the United States is not/not a member). 'Stand-up comics and philosophers might find they're unable to cross international borders for fear of being arrested and remanded for trial in Jordan or Malaysia.' (Dutch parlementarian Geert Wilders is already facing this problem for his film Fitna.)
Will it actually come to this? Optimists argue that the vote in favor of the resolution is weaker than it was last year. It would also be nice if the United States (which has refused to participate in the planning meetings) and other Western countries would follow Canada's example and refuse to attend Durban II, thus for once sending a clear message about support for free speech and freedom of religion, and against incitement to hatred and mayhem.
For a witty, incisive blast in favor of free speech and exposing politically-correct and mind-numbing speech codes from one of the 'stand up comics and philosophers' who has already been put in front of Human Rights Commissions in Canada, see columnist Mark Steyn's latest piece here.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Mohammed Ayatollahi Tabaar, an adjunct lecturer at George Washington University, argues that '[i]n a deeply religious society, whose leaders have justified their hold on power as a divine duty, it may take a religious counterargument to push the society toward pluralism and democracy. Soroush challenges those who claim to speak for Islam, and does so on their own terms.' Just think: this was actually published in the New York Times Magazine!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Radu suggests that those countries who want to fight pirates should take the offense, instead of trying to defend ships in the huge Indian Ocean. He recommends a blockade of certain waters, and the destruction of pirates' ships, villas and other ill-gotten gains.
As usual, the French are at least willing to do something to fight the pirates, while the British Navy avoids them because it doesn't want to grant any prisoners all kinds of human rights protections rather than prosecute them. The entire international community, as represented by the United Nations, has as usual fallen down on the job.
Friday, December 5, 2008
I don't disagree, but I would note that we made a costly error by allowing both Iraq and Afghanistan to base their constitutions on Islamic law. Iraq's Christian community will probably cease to exist; potentially fatal attacks on it have been launched since the U.S. occupation in 2003.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
To quote Stephens: "...it's worth wondering why a media that treats nearly every word uttered by the U.S., British or Israeli governments as inherently suspect has proved so consistently credulous when it comes to every dubious or defamatory claim made against these governments." Good question, to which I'd like to add one of my own: Will the media treat Obama with the same suspicion and contempt, once's he's sworn in?
Hillary: oddly enough, this may be a good appointment (especially if the alternative might have been Dick Holbrooke or Wes Clark - heaven knows they've wanted the job for years). She demonstrated toughness during the campaign, and that's a very good quality in a Secretary of State. The irony, of course, is that her two biggest campaign lies were about Bosnia and Northern Ireland. I would hope that her record of veracity will improve once she's dealing full time with faraway places. She will have 'Bill eruptions' from time to time, just as she did on the campaign trail, leaving the rest of us respond with either embarrassment or sick humor. However, on the bright side, Bill's ability to lobby and accept money from unsavory sources may be hampered by the increased limelight.
Obama and terrorism: oddly enough, there may be a little sliver of silver on the bottom of the very dark cloud in Mumbai. I remember a tape of Obama, early in the campaign, saying that the root cause of terrorism was poverty. The Mumbai attacks certainly do not support that assessment. Also, friends and acquaintances like Rashid Khalili, former PLO spokesman and now Middle East expert at Columbia, have presumably told Obama that the root cause of terrorism is Israel; again, the events in Mumbai should poke a large hole in that theory. Finally, Obama has been forced to take sides; not between Pakistan and India, but between terrorists and everyone else. Hopefully, he understands that U.S. interests lie with helping democrats in India, not excusing terrorist thugs and killers.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Meanwhile, the FBI in Minneapolis kept a local imam and his youth coordinator from boarding a plane to Saudi Arabia. Observers speculate that their inclusion on the 'no-fly' list may be linked to the disappearance of some 20 Somali youths, reportedly to pursue jihad in Somalia. (See here.)
Monday, December 1, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Plain speaking about the nature of the attackers would be a big improvement.
Last summer, Obama wanted the Iraqis to postpone any agreement until he was in the White House; on balance, he should be very, very pleased that the Iraqis did not follow his advice. Obama will have plenty of foreign crises to deal with; no need to keep this issue open and festering. Using the Iraq war as a weapon to attack Bush was fine as a campaign tactic, but when you're sitting in the Oval Office, it's nice to have victories to celebrate.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
While Pipes does not report any legal changes in the United States, he estimates that some 50-100,000 polygamists live here.
For more information on how polygamy degrades family ties, see my earlier entry quoting Nonie Darwish's Now They Call Me Infidel.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
-- when Secretary of State Condi Rice offered to negotiate, Iranian President Ahmedinejad dismissed her initiative as a propaganda move;
-- when Undersecretary of State Bill Burns sat down with his Iranian counterpart, a senior Iranian military official remarked that this showed that America had no choice but to leave the Middle East "beaten and humiliated"; and
-- as a former Iranian government spokesman noted, looking back over past negotiations: "We had one overt policy, which was one of negotiation and confidence building, and a covert policy, which was continuation of the [nuclear weapons] activities."
In Rubin's view, Bush's efforts to negotiate with Tehran have been unfairly misrepresented. Most American commentators also fail to note that the Europeans have been negotiating for years with the Iranians, to no avail. Expect to see articles in the next weeks and months pointing out the difficulties of talking to Iran, articles similar to those now appearing about the difficulty of closing the Guantanamo detention center, as the media seeks to provide cover for President-elect Obama.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The prosecution introduced a number of documents to demonstrate that the Holy Land Foundation was connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, including a 1991 memorandum that states that the Brotherhood's work in America is "a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands ... " For more details on the various documents presented at the first trial, see the NEFA Foundation's website here.
The jury also determined that the Holy Land Foundation should forfeit $12.4 million in defendants' assets because of convictions on several money laundering charges related to the case.
Prisons in Europe and the United States are prime locales for Islamist recruiting and radicalization; if you search this blog for 'prisons' you'll find several earlier entries with more details on this problem.
Recent archaelogical finds dispute this assertion, in one case uncovering Herod's tomb, in the other what may be King David's palace. Take a look at the evidence and decide for yourself. What I found most intriguing was the discovery of seals belonging to high officials named in the Bible at the time when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Presumably Medvedev was pleased; the Czechs and Poles were not. They reminded Sarkozy that (1) the agreement is between them and the United States; neither France nor the EU is a signatory; and (2) as recently as last spring, France had joined a NATO consensus in favor of the system.
In August the Russians threatened to use nuclear weapons against Poland if it deployed the system; later they announced they were installing missiles aimed at Poland in Kaliningrad. The Russian pressure at the Russia-EU summit seems to be aimed at Europe, but it is also directed at President-elect Obama, who in the past has expressed doubts about the technical capabilities of the new missile defense system.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Paul Goble, a veteran Russia-watcher, reports here that the Putin government is making things worse by bailing out the state enterprises, leaving the rest to sink or swim on their own. Nor are the energy companies immune; for decades they have squandered their revenues rather than invest in developing new fields, so that they operate at a loss as soon as prices fall.
Several Russian commentators have warned that this could 'create a revolutionary situation.' While, as Goble points out, apocalyptic turns of speech are common in Russia, the situation is nevertheless quite serious, including even reports of tensions between the government and the military. (Thanks to Ken.)
Nevertheless, British authorities still want to make London the world capital of...sharia financing. As Phillips points out, not only is sharia financing designed to feed required Muslim charitable donations to various jihadi activities, but it is profoundly subversive: "The key point is that sharia law does not recognize the superior authority of the secular law of the land." A breathtaking example of how Islamists can subvert key Western institutions.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
-- Abd al-Bari 'Atwan, editor of the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, calls Arabs 'the epitome of racism,' saying Saudi Arabia or the Gulf States would never have allowed a black man to become president. He urges Obama to 'impose the American model of equality, rights and opportunities on all Arab countries.' (Thanks to MEMRI.)
-- The Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance issued an open letter to Obama, urging him to withdraw from Iraq. They told him not to make security agreements with other countries in the region, and called on him to release all prisoners in Iraq. These steps, they argue, will constitute the change from Bush's policies that Obama has been saying he wanted. (Thanks to the NEFA Foundation.)
I guess we'll have to wait and see which advice Obama takes.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
As Kyle Schindler of the Endowment for Middle East Truth noted at the press conference: "it is supremely ironic that the Treasury Department, [the] government agency responsible for prosecuting charities which fund Islamic terrorism is now considering a financial system which will mandate banks and investment products [to] donate to those charities."
As Treasury is now directly engaged in much of what Wall Street does, its openness to sharia financing can be extremely harmful.
According to earlier estimates, some 200 terrorist networks in the UK are now involved in at least 30 plots. According to Patrick Mercer, Tory MP for Newark, "We know that subversion and support for al-Qaeda is taking place in campuses and prisons all over the UK. The fact that we have not been attacked for over two years should not be taken by anyone as evidence that the threat has gone away, in fact it is just the contrary."
Monday, November 10, 2008
Spiegel is not the only source to describe this problem. Turkish-German authors Necla Kelek and Ahmet Toprak have written books analyzing the distressing situation of young men forced to submit to the tribal laws of their community. Marrying against their will is only one part of the problem; others end up with criminal careers as they follow the orders of their elders. Kelek, for example, argues that adolescent circumcision, performed as part of a public ceremony, serves to subjugate the teenagers and teach them that violence and pain are an integral part of community life.
Subjugating the individual to the group may be necessary for survival in the remote outposts of the Middle East and Central Asia, but it is in direct opposition to Western concepts of individual rights and equality before the law. And the damage done to the young people involved is undeniable.
Unfortunately, I don't think either Kelek or Toprak has been translated into English.
His observations match my recollections of U.S. troops in Bosnia - smart, hard-working, tough, and very focused on the task at hand. But in Afghanistan they are operating at considerable disadvantage, with a resurgent Taliban smarter and quicker at propaganda and more than happy to ambush them.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
If you scroll down, you'll find a video clip of Crichton explaining why he considers environmentalism to be a religion - and why science, rather than religion, is the only way to solve our environmental problems. He died this week and will be sorely missed. (Hint - if you're interested in this topic and haven't yet done so, read his State of Fear.)
Unfortunately, the government wants to replace the old law with anti-discrimination legislation that is even more likely to stifle freedom of speech and religion. The proposed legislation introduces the concept of 'indirect insult' and expands an existing law which protects people on the basis of race, age, disability and sexual orientation to include protection on the basis of religion or 'conviction.' People could be sentenced for up to 12 months under this proposed law, as opposed to 3 months under the scrapped blasphemy law.
This situation is a perfect demonstration of the danger of 'demopathy": when people twist and abuse Western rights until those rights are completely subverted.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
-- The UK minister for race relations, a Muslim, sharply criticized the move, saying sharia courts would only exacerbate the unfair treatment of women.
-- Jack Straw, the Secretary of State for Justice, said of course the UK courts would uphold British law...but it turns out that these same courts often just rubber-stamp the decisions submitted to them.
-- Britain's highest court called sharia law 'arbitrary and discriminatory.' Yet it appears that sharia courts are already handling child custody cases.
So will British authorities uphold British law? Let's hope so - but they'd better get a move on.
I submit that there is one really big condition that must be met for such a partnership: the EU must prove itself. U.S. policy, in my experience, is usually pragmatic if not reactive. We tend to respond to what comes our way. If China becomes more assertive, we respond. If India transforms itself, we respond. (Just for the record, the Bush Administration has done pretty well in both cases.)
If the EU becomes more powerful and speaks more often with one voice, believe me, we'll respond to that too. If it doesn't, the new administration may try to 'make nice', but that will only last until the first major crisis in which the EU lets us down.
Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri provides an excellent overview of what happened in the Middle East during the Bush years. He argues that the concept of democracy has gained a foothold there, although it has a long way to go. However, many serious problems remain throughout the region; he cites Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen and North Africa as places where Islamist power is growing.
A bipartisan report by the Search for Common Ground and the Consensus Building Institute now circulating in Washington makes quite a different argument: They assign primary blame to Bush policies, rather than Muslim religious or cultural beliefs, and argue that, if the policies change, perceptions will change. The group included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America, among others.
To save you from unbearable tension as you try to devine my opinion, let me quote a passage from Taheri's article:
"...as in the cold war between Western liberal democracy and Soviet totalitarianism, the fight in the Middle East is ultimately an ideological one...No amount of material aid and commercial cooperation can, on its own, defeat that ideology, although both economic aid and trade can be powerful tools in the struggle. It is on the political field of battle that Islamism, like its predecessor Soviet Communism, must eventually experience its strategic defeat."
Taheri argues that, to succeed, America will have to win the battle at home first. "For nothing could so cripple the successful prosecution of the struggle abroad as continued dissention at home..."
I wish I were more optimistic about that outcome.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The parliaments in those two countries have yet to approve the installations. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama indicated to him two months ago that he had doubts about the technical capabilities of the system and whether it was directed at Russia.
Sikorski says that Poland expects the new administration to go ahead with the missile shield. If Obama pulls back, U.S. prestige will plummet in Central and Eastern Europe.
I assume that Russia has plenty of missiles that can already target Poland, without any need to station some just over the border in Kaliningrad, so the Russian announcement is probably intended primarily to exert political pressure.
Meanwhile, Russia continues to suffer from its financial crisis which, while linked to international events, was precipitated by the invasion of Georgia. Russians are rushing to exchange rubles for dollars; the government is trying to stem the rush by circulating a false rumor that the United States is planning to remove $50 and $100 banknotes from circulation.
Russia had $600 billion in currency reserves last August, when the crisis began. The reserves have now fallen below $500 billion, which includes a drop of $31 billion last week alone. Indeed, the government may have fueled the rush to dollars by injecting $200 billion worth of rubles into its financial sector without adequate controls - speculators are using these rubles to purchase dollars and other foreign currencies.
Reserves of $500 billion are still quite substantial (imagine if the U.S. government had a war chest like that), but they won't last forever in such an environment. (Thanks to Radio Free Europe.)
This isn't a new trend; in the 'good old days' before the first Gulf War, Iraqi scientists infiltrated UK labs prior to the first Gulf War. (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
-- higher profile for the UN;
-- more attention to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict;
-- better civilian-military coordination in Afghanistan; and
-- closer ties with Russia.
A proven cynic, I interpret these goals as follows: the UN, where several EU member states are on the Security Council, two of them (France and the UK) permanent members with veto rights, is of course congenial to the EU. Plus, the United States will usually be outvoted in the General Assembly. In addition, there are two other benefits: (1) like the EU itself, the UN makes collective decisions, so individual countries need shoulder no responsibility; and (2) there's little risk of the UN actually accomplishing anything. Messy moments, as when Russia keeps the Security Council from approving Kosovo's independence, can be airbrushed out of the picture.
Since we've now had at least 30 years of U.S. presidents trying - and failing - to solve the Mideast problem, the only way to interpret the second goal is that it reflects the hope that Obama will force Israel to make concessions. Heaven forbid that the European governments would acknowledge that the real threat is from radical Islam, not Israel.
Better civil-military coordination in Afghanistan is indeed a worthy goal...especially when it diverts attention from the fact that quite a number of European countries don't want their soldiers to actually get shot at.
As for better ties with Russia: France, Germany and Italy will find it easier to squelch the Central and East Europeans, Brits and Scandinavians, in their efforts to curry favor with Putin, if the U.S. government provides cover.
Don't get me wrong; I think transatlantic ties are very important, and need to be cultivated. But when I think of the real problems that both Europe and the United States face, this is pretty thin gruel.
I suspect, however, that most American Muslims will vote.
U.S. Lt. Gen. Henry Obering III, testifying before the Czech parliament (which must approve a radar installation as part of the system), estimated tht the Iranians will probably have nuclear missiles within the next five years. Last February the Iranians tested a missile that, when ready, will have a 2,500-mile or more range. With additional boosters, it would be able to reach Western Europe or the United States.
Monday, November 3, 2008
I can't help thinking, when I read accounts like this one, that the difference between Pakistan and Iraq is that, in Iraq, the tribes that wanted to oust Al Qaeda have the benefit of support from the U.S. and Iraqi military. External governmental support is not apparently an attractive option for the villagers of Buner. They claim that the Pakistani military would create even greater havoc if it intervened.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
A 13-year old girl who said she was raped by three men was stoned to death after being accused of adultery by Islamic militants, according to Dhimmi Watch. Dozens of men killed her in a stadium containing a thousand spectators. The strong of stomach can get a feel for the flavor of such an event by clicking on this earlier entry, which links to a video of a stoning in 2007 in Iraq of a young woman attracted to the wrong man.
I guess bestiality exists to some degree in all human beings. What is wrong is a legal system that encourages it. A crowd of young men enjoying the slow, group murder of a defenseless girl or young woman is a horrible sight.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
A MEMRI analysis reports that, according to the IMF, the Iranians may need a minimum oil price of $95 per barrel to balance their national budget. While Iran has a stabilization fund to protect against a rainy day, President Ahmedinejad has apparently drawn it down for various reasons to a level of approximately $7 billion. That would just about cover gasoline imports (Iran produces a lot of oil but lacks refineries to produce gasoline) for a year at most.
Ahmedinejad's revenue-raising options are limited. His attempt to get OPEC to reduce production failed to meet his expectations, while domestic fiscal measures are risky. His recent attempt to increase domestic taxes met with such resistance that it had to be abandoned. Other alternatives, such as restricting consumer imports, aren't likely to be popular.
Meanwhile, the Saudis can balance their budget at around $50 per barrel. In addition, they have much heftier funds in reserve. Other Gulf States can live with even lower oil prices. Thus, they are well positioned to push back Iranian influence in the region.
The cloud that accompanies this silver lining: the report cautions that Iranians could seek to provoke a regional crisis as a means of jacking up oil prices.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
In principle the punishment for apostasy, for leaving Islam, is death. This is hardly ancient history. Jihad Watch reports here the recent beheading in Somalia of a Muslim apostate. If Obama is elected President, he'll have a very fine security detail, so the risk of beheading is presumably nil. But will Muslim leaders bring up his apostasy if Obama backs some policy that they don't like?
Monday, October 27, 2008
Daniel Pipes summarizes recent similar cases in the United States and Europe. He saves the best for last: a father and son who were excluded from a pool in East London during a male-only session because they were not Muslims. The authorities subsequently apologized, saying they had no right to make assumptions about anyone's religion, and assuring them they wouldn't be denied admitance simply on the basis of a non-Muslim appearance. Guess that solved that problem!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The first one is to a study by Gary Tobin and Dennis Ybarra that draws some disturbing conclusions from a survey of the 28 most widely used textbooks in U.S. public schools. Among their findings: "The textbooks tend to be critical of Jews and Israel, and sometimes disrespectful of Christianity. Moreover textbooks tend to glorify Islam rather than represent it in an objective way... the Muslim groups who insisted that their religion be presented in an uncritical fashion seem to have their narrative included without modification."
Robert Spencer provides a specific example of such a presentation in a recent blog entry. Here, Christians are described as those who believe in Jesus, while the Koran is simply described as the word of Allah. This may not seem, in and of itself, to be such a big thing. But when it's linked to other themes, such as denying any historical link between Jews and Israel, you have to wonder what's going on.
Tobin and Ybarra don't argue that the textbook publishers are even aware of these problems. Rather, they describe shortcomings in how textbooks are produced that leave them vulnerable to distortions.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
While that is good news, Steyn notes that the court may have been influenced by the fact that he is well-known. Also, had Maclean's lost the case, according to columnist Andrew Coyne, they could have appealed it to a regular court, and sought to change the law.
It is no victory to be told by a shadowy government agency that you will be permitted to publish. This ruling … also prevents Maclean's from appealing the tribunal's decision to an actual court, wherein it might have had the relevant section of the B.C. human rights laws thrown out on constitutional grounds.(My comment) This may not yet be the end of the story; the Canadian Islamic Congress, which lodged the complaint, may appeal the decision.
Friday, October 10, 2008
But is that true - are the right-wing extremists really on the side of opposing the Islamists? Certainly, it was not true in the past, as shown by the links between the Nazis and the Muslim Brotherhood and the Mufti of Jerusalem documented in books like Matthias Kuentzel's Jihad and Jew Hatred.
And it turns out not to be true now, according to a report issued by the domestic intelligence service in Hamburg. The neo-Nazi groups rail against foreigners, apparently, but are careful to avoid criticizing Islam - and they have been openly hostile to the group that sought to organize the Anti-Islamization Congress. For more details about this sordid scene, read John Rosenthal's piece at Pajamas Media.
Next time someone is tarred as a neo-Nazi or right-wing extremist, please ask for details. Could be completely the opposite case - and, if so, why should you fall for the smear?
Here's a short piece I wrote arguing that, if Obama wins, all those who want change in the form of offshore drilling and mortgage financing reform will most surely be disappointed. Please be sure to send it to all your friends, relatives, acquaintances, enemies, etc.!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
One interesting thing to watch will be the euro-dollar exchange rate. It's been extremely unfavorable toward the dollar for an extended period; with the financial crisis, the euro has weakened. This is probably just a short term response, but time will tell.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funded a study of this practice that has just been published. The study was conducted by a privacy and terrorism committee created in 2005 by the National Research Council. Its findings, according to the press report: "The government should not be building predictive data mining systems that attempt to figure out who among millions is a terrorist...The commission found that the technology would not work and that the inevitable mistakes would be un-American."
Those strong statements made me curious to read the report itself. Unfortunately, it looks as if it's not available on the internet - unless you pay for a hard copy. For something like this, I think at least the executive summary should be widely available. (Thanks to Stefaan.)
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Apparently, in the 24 hours it was posted, the video had 40,000 viewers; more than 4,000 people have signed the petition (for British residents only). Condell has been threatened with losing all his access to YouTube if he commits any more infractions. Meanwhile, his fans are posting the video elsewhere on YouTube.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
-- The first concerns a conviction for sending hate email which, while laudable, came two years late, apparently because of resistance from, among others, the U.S. Department of Justice.
-- The second shows the strong negative response to the distribution of the film Obsession as an ad insert in many newspapers. Critics say that a film showing the hate-filled statements and actions of Islamists is, in itself, somehow as bad as promoting the Ku Klux Klan.
-- And the third links to a New York Times article about a dispute over whether a Hindu-Muslim family can cremate rather than bury one of its members.
How many more incidents are going unreported?
Saturday, October 4, 2008
The mainstream media on both sides of the Atlantic ignore or obfuscate the problem of radical Islam, but Europeans are more aware of it "because they can see with their own eyes what's going on around them." The only positive point in Americans' favor is that, when they resist radical Islam, they tend to be "consciously fighting for freedom". In contrast, Europeans on the right are more likely to oppose radical Islam on the grounds of ethnic identity, cultural tradition or religion. Those on the left, he argues, are anyway more interested in the welfare state than individual liberty.
If anyone has any ideas about how to alert Americans to the danger posed by radical Islam, I'd love to hear them.
Friday, October 3, 2008
For 'violent' jihad: UK authorities report that the terror threat is approaching critical levels. They are tracking some 200 networks in the UK. Why just now? Well, there are many links between the British Muslims of Pakistani descent and Pakistan whose territory the United States, Britain's ally, just attacked in hot pursuit of terrorists. Also, there are a number of Somali immigrants who may have links to Al Qaeda.
For 'non-violent' jihad: Here's one UK citizen who has had enough. Pat Condell, in a video on YouTube, condemns the introduction of sharia law in the UK and its acceptance by British courts. He argues that this undercuts the principle of equality before the law, particularly for women, and asks British citizens to sign a petition of protest. He clearly feels that time is running out.
Thanks to Jihad Watch for both items.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Wafa argues that the 'clash of civilizations' began 1,400 years ago when Muslims differentiated between themselves and non-Muslims, not when Samuel Huntingdon wrote his article of that name. She urges Muslims to stop killing people and start working and gaining knowledge.
One recommendation caught my eye: "Governments need to tackle the problem posed by gateway organizations, and to be clear and consistent in doing so." By 'gateway organizations', they mean 'non-violent' Islamist groups like Hizb-ut-Tahrir that act as a conveyor belt for potential terrorist recruits. That's true, but I predict governments will have to a step beyond that, and 'tackle the problem' - whatever that means - of the entire network of organizations related to the Muslim Brotherhood.
In France, there are an estimated 80-100 hard-core extremists among about 64,000 prison inmates. The goal of the authorities is to keep them from influencing others. Needless to say, the manual (whose contents are not being made public), has already drawn fire for potentially stigmatizing Muslim inmates.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Note also Wilders' view of Israel: like the Philippines, Southern Thailand and Darfur, it suffers because it is on the 'front line of jihad.' Israel's destruction, he says, will only embolden Islamists to wage jihad more fiercely elsewhere in the world. He wants American support for a new Alliance of European Patriots he is helping to organize to combat the Islamist threat.
Her conclusion: "Barack Obama appears to sit on a nexus between Marxist revolutionary activists, unrepentant former terrorists, Black Power racists, Chicago mobsters - oh, and a Saudi who is trying to buy up America...despite all this, virtually no-one in the mainstream media is asking any questions. Has there ever been a more staggering, surreal and scary race to the White House?"
The UK Ministry of Justice efforts to combat Al Qaeda include, according to this report (thanks to Jihad Watch), restricting communal prayers and the reading of the Koran during work breaks, and trying to protect criminals from violent extremists. I'm no expert on prisons, but would note that the U.S. military has dealt with this problem in Iraq by simply separating the two categories of prisoner.
There's also the question of what inmates read in prison. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons has just completed an inventory of books and videos in Muslim chapel libraries in 105 U.S. prisons. The survey found a preponderance of Wahhabi and other fundamentalist materials. See details in this article by Stephen Schwartz.
It's been known for years that prisons are one of the key Islamist recruiting grounds. What's truly amazing is how little is being done to change that.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Of the original eighteen, seven had their charges withdrawn or stayed. Ten are still scheduled to be tried. Other alleged plots of theirs: truck-bombing nuclear power plants and a building housing Canada's spy service.
According to this article (thanks to sanman in a comment on Jihad Watch), the daughter got her start after Bakri paid for a breast-enhancement operation. Not that the money for the operation came out of his own pocket; he received generous social benefits for years from the British government. (As does his daughter, a single mother.) There is poetic justice in this world!
Friday, September 26, 2008
As Ahmedinejad's speech was essentially a reprise of themes from the czarist, anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, this is a disgusting spectacle. It make me wonder why the United States remains a member of the United Nations. Yes, the UN does some good work - but allowing it to become the global center for the spread of anti-Semitism is a high price to pay for that work. U.S. and Israeli representatives boycotted the session, but that really and truly doesn't mean much.
Ahmedinejad came last year to New York and was feted; ditto for this year. I see absolutely no evidence of any improvement in his behavior during this period; rather, the opposite. We should restrict such treatment to rock stars; they do less damage.
Note her 1998 quote of Turkish prime minister Erdogan: "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers." Ten years old, you say? Well, earlier this year he told a crowd of Turkish expatriates in Cologne that "assimilation is a crime against humanity." Eurabia, here we come!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
France2, the television channel that broadcast the story and then sued the blogger, has now agreed to an independent investigation into the Muhammed al-Dura affair. (Thanks to Richard Landes for this update.) If the investigators find that the video of the incident is a fake, their findings probably won't change many minds in the European political elite and the Muslim world. Nevertheless, any honest search for the truth is valuable.
At the same time, the PLO became a leader in money-laundering, drug running, terrorism and corruption. Very little of the money trickled down to the average Palestinian; rather s/he has remained oppressed and disenfranchised. For details on how the Palestinian authorities have used the funds they received, see this report by Rachel Ehrenfeld, as well as another by the UK TaxPayers' Alliance. The latter points out, despite claims to have reformed their finances, the Palestinian Authority is still using UK monies for such things as hate-filled Palestinian schoolbooks.
In November 2001, the Swiss seized an anonymous document entitled "The Project" during a raid on the villa of Youssef Nada, a banker proud of his long association with the Muslim Brotherhood. "The Project" lists as goals: to establish an Islamic State; to build social, economic, scientific and health institutions as a means of establishing contact with the people, and to work through parliamentary and other mechanisms but not to participate in decision-making contrary to sharia law; to support jihad movements throughout the world, including in Palestine; to push for the total liberation of Palestine; and "to nourish a sentiment of rancor with respect to the Jews and refuse all coexistence." (For the full text, click at the bottom of the page of the link.)
As for the American organization, the FBI found a memorandum dating from 1991 that they believe describes the goals of the U.S. branch. (The first half is in Arabic, the second in English.) It describes the Brotherhood's work as a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and "'sabotaging' its miserable house."
Needless to say, Muslim Brotherhood representatives either claim that these are outdated documents or otherwise irrelevant.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Once all the EU member states complete their approval procedures (most are done), and the EU, its member states and the United States exchange the instruments of ratification, we will have substantially enhanced capabilities for combating terrorism as well as organized transnational crime. Police and prosecutors on both sides of the Atlantic will have a range of quicker, better tools for pursuing the bad guys.
So now you can go back to contemplating the $700 billion rescue package.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I doubt the bill has much of a future in this session of Congress, so should be seen as a political statement. I don't like its approach, because I don't think it would 'separate the sheep from the goats.' Rather, I think it would affect most if not all Muslims seeking to enter the United States.
Here's why I think so. An in-depth poll (thanks to Andy Bostom) of over 4,000 people conducted in late 2006-07 in Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan and Egypt, had the following findings: "Most respondents express strong support for expanding the role of Islam in their countries ... but also express an openness to outside cultural influences. Large majorities in most countries support the goals of requiring a strict application of sharia, keeping out Western values, and even unifying all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state. On the other hand, majorities in all countries regard the increasing interconnection of the world through trade and communication as positive and strongly support democracy and religious freedom..."
So according to this poll, in their home countries many Muslims support the goals of extending sharia law and restoring the caliphate while embracing globalization, democracy and religious freedom (whatever that means - turns out, the respondents didn't mean allowing other religions to proselytize). But it doesn't mean that Muslims from those countries emigrate with the intent of subverting Western civilization. Sharia law and a caliphate of all Islamic lands are traditional parts of Islam. An important current of traditional Islam also says, however, that Muslims living in non-Muslim lands should abide by the laws of those countries.
I think the solution lies in Western authorities and citizens standing up for their civilization and their legal system. Then it becomes much clearer who is willing to live according to Western laws and who is not. I think it would also make sense to outlaw organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood who are dedicated to overthrowing Western civilization. That might not have much practical impact, as the Brotherhood is a secret organization, but it would leave no doubt about what a majority of Americans thought of its teachings.