Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Muslim Students Association

The Muslim Students Association (MSA), with some 600 chapters, is the most visible and accessible Muslim organization at U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities. Two recent studies, one by Zeyno Baran of the Hudson Institute and the other, a booklet by Front Page Magazine entitled "The Muslim Students Association and the Jihad Network," provide details on the MSA's links to the Muslim Brotherhood and on its recent activities at various campuses.

As Baran points out: "Countless young American Muslims - whether converts, Muslims born into secular families, or those brought up in traditional households - that have entered college since 9/11 are curious about Islam and their identity both as a Muslim and an American. Too often these young men and women end up at the local MSA chapter looking for answers. Sadly, the MSA is still often the only option available for college students who wish to get involved in Muslim affairs. Perhaps it's no wonder that a Pew report released in May 2007 found a quarter of American Muslims aged 18 to 29 believe suicide bombings against civilians can sometimes be justified to defend Islam, while only 9 percent of those older than 30 agreed."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Appeasement and creeping sharia

For an update on how artists, journalists, police and other government officials are continuing to appease Islamists, see Bruce Bawer's article in City Journal. His conclusion: "We need to recognize that the cultural jihadists hate our freedoms because those freedoms defy sharia, which they're determined to impose on us. So far, they have been far less successful at rolling back freedom of speech and other liberties in the U.S. than in Europe, thanks in no small part to the First Amendment. Yet America is proving increasingly susceptible to their pressures."

As an excellent example of the intellectual fog that produces this susceptibility, see the front page article in today's New York Times by Andrea Elliott on the Khalil Gibran International Academy. Here's her explanation why people such as Daniel Pipes have opposed the opening this school: "In the aftermath of September 11, critics of radical Islam focused largely on terrorism, scrutinizing Muslim-American charities or asserting links between Muslim organizations and violent groups like Hamas. But as the authorities have stepped up the war on terror, those critics have shifted their gaze to a new frontier, what they describe as law-abiding Muslim-Americans who are imposing their religious values in the public domain." In other words, the only real problem is critics inventing new issues to make themselves important. Elsewhere she quotes Georgetown University's John Esposito as an expert, neglecting to point out the Saudi funding his university receives.

I don't know the details of the Khalil Gibran case. Unfortunately, reading Elliot's lengthy article brought no enlightenment - only fog.

More on pirates

Gee, the British seamen's union Nautilus must be reading my blog! Seriously, they are calling on the UK government to change its policy towards pirates, warning that ships, particularly off the coast of Somalia, are at risk of attack from terrorists as well as regular thugs. See this article from The Sun, thanks to Jihad Watch. As the article points out, this issue may be invisible right now, but the minute terrorists seize a cruise ship things will look very different.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Al Qaeda in Algeria

Those who are not shy about talking of jihad in the name of Allah and jihadis include the people who made this video of a suicide truck bomb attack in eastern Algeria. (Scroll down to the second video; the first one is on terrorist training.)

More on USG newspeak

The April 24 entry of the Counterterrorist Blog discusses the question covered in my previous entry of how U.S. officials should talk about Islamism. In addition to providing more details on this latest guidance, it also points out that much ground has already been conceded to the Islamists - oops, extremists.

The author, Jeffrey Imm, quotes George Weigel of the Ethics and Policy Center: "if the United States can't explain to the world why religious freedom, civility, tolerance and democratic persuasion are morally superior to coercion in religious and political matters, then America stands disarmed before those who believe it their duty to impose a starkly different view of the good society on us." Weigel is absolutely right.

Giant step backward

Jihad Watch first reported on April 22 that some type of document had been issued at the State Department instructing officials not to use such words as 'jihad' and 'jihadi' in discussing the threat of terrorism, presumably because they linked terrorism too closely to Islam. Now Jihad Watch lists a link to an AP story talking about a government-wide effort to that end. I still don't have confirmation of this story (I guess I won't until the text of the memo surfaces).

If true, this story marks a sad day indeed for the United States as well as for its government. It's hard enough to figure out what's going on and how to deal with it when you can talk frankly; once you start censoring your speech, it's truly hopeless. The government's goal appears to be to avoid offending and alienating moderate Muslims. But any Islamist is likely to interpret this new guidance as a first step toward dhimmi submission - toward adherence to the traditional submissive position of non-Muslims in an Islamic state. At a time when we've been so successful against al-Qaeda in Iraq and when public opinion polls in many Muslim countries show a sharp drop in support for the jihadi terrorists, such a policy move would be pathetic indeed.

A misunderstanding?

Way back in September 2002, then German Minister of Justice Herta Daeubler-Gmelin generated considerable controversy by comparing George W. to Adolf Hitler (this has since become a commonplace). She was not fired (after all, her boss, then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, was using anti-Americanism himself to win a tight re-election race), but has continued her career in politics. At the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, she is currently chairwoman of the Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

Daeubler-Gmelin's remarks were intended as an insult. However, it turns out that she has been less than forthcoming about her own past; her father, Hans Gmelin, was the principal deputy of the German envoy to Slovakia under Hitler. He was directly involved in the deportation of Slovakian Jews to the Nazi death camps. Some 70,000 of them, or over 75 percent of the pre-war Jewish population of Slovakia, died in the camps. These details and many others are contained in a very interesting article by John Rosenthal in World Politics Review.

So my question is: was she trying to insult Bush or to praise him?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Durban disgrace

The UN Human Rights Council is currently conducting a conference to prepare for a second conference, dubbed Durban II, on racism and xenophobia. The first was held in Durban, South Africa, just before September 11,2001; it was such an anti-Israel hate fest that the United States and Israel walked out. Since then, the situation regarding human rights at the UN has deteriorated even further. The recently-formed Human Rights Council, dominated by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and its allies, has spent most of its time condemning Israel. With countries like Libya at the helm, this is hardly surprising.

The website Eye on the UN provides copious material on the ongoing preparatory conference. Canada has already announced that it will boycott Durban II; the United States has not participated in the preparatory conference and has refused to fund either the Human Rights Council (to which it does not belong) or the Durban II preparatory conference. It has not, however, yet said that it will boycott Durban II. Click here for a speech at the preparatory committee by Anne Bayefsky of the Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, describing the shortcomings of the Durban II process. Click here for a sample of the difficulties she encountered.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Murdoch on Europe and the West

News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch, in comments made to the Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington, DC, highlighted the danger posed by a Europe that has lost the political will and social culture to maintain its military power. His comments were aimed at the weakness this creates in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; they also apply to many other issues in transatlantic relations.

Hamas and the Protocols

MEMRI TV has a clip translating an April 9 talk by the Hamas Culture Minister about the evil nature of the Jews and their desire for world domination, charges which he bases on quotations from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Protocols are a nineteenth-century forgery so crude that even the openly anti-semitic Tsar Nicholas II refused to associate himself with it. If you want a highly readable account of the twists and turns of this forgery, read The Lie That Wouldn't Die by Hadassa Ben-Itto.

Unfortunately, the tsar's standards of veracity no longer apply; the Protocols are widely available throughout the Middle East, where they appear to be accepted as gospel. Those with strong stomachs can click here to see the spot.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Turkish blasphemer in Saudi Arabia

See Dhimmi Watch for a report on the efforts by the Turkish president and prime minister to rescue a Turkish national who, while in Saudi Arabia, was accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death. His accuser, an Egyptian neighbor, has disappeared.

Women in the Muslim world

Pakistani columnist Dr. Farrukh Saleem, in reviewing the 2007 Global Gender Gap (GGG) report, noted that nine of the ten worst countries for women's rights are Muslim; at the opposite end of the spectrum, none of the top ten is a Muslim-majority state. The GGG Index is based on economic participation, educational attainment, political empowerment and health. Saleem speculates that Muslim-majority countries have failed to rise "to the height of glory" because they let half of their accumulated brainpower go to waste: as he notes, Muslims make up 22 percent of global population but produce less than 5 percent of global GDP. Read his full article here (thanks to Dhimmi Watch). As for the GGP report, which is put out by the World Economic Forum, you can find it here.

The dynamics of polygamy

For those curious about the psychological and social effects of polygamy, I recommend the chapter on marriage and family dynamics in Now They Call Me Infidel, by Nonie Darwish. Darwish makes a number of points:
  • Because men can have more than one wife, "the stage is set for women always to distrust their husbands. Nor can they trust women friends," because of the possibility that the friend might marry the husband. "The end result is an environment that sets women up as adversaries against one another, causing much unnecessary distrust and caution. Competitive relationships among women also deprive them of forming support groups ... Few Muslim women venture to form relationships outside the family or clan..."

  • Next, "fear of polygamy makes it impossible for a wife to form a bond of trust with her husband. When a husband starts earning more morney, a warning bell starts ringing in a woman's head, since he can now afford the second wife ... Women's financial insecurity can affect many areas of family life, such as the raising of children, since child support can be very difficult to collect when there are other wives and their children involved ... Under Islamic law, a second wife - and third and fourth - are legally equal to the first in every way, including inheritance." Muslim property laws reflect this situation. Women keep the property they inherit from their family, because the families do not want the wealth to go to other wives and their children. "If a Western man chooses to marry his mistress, he must first obtain a legal divorce from his first wife and settle any financial issues with her before he can marry a second time. That makes all the difference."

  • The result: "In order for Arab women to live and function around the social injustice and oppressive marriage laws, they had to develop elaborate manipulative behavior to get a modicum of respect and power."

  • Nor are the women and children the only ones to suffer; "men are negatively impacted as well. Just as his loyalty to his wife is secondary, so is her emotional loyalty to him. "If she cannot feel secure in their relationship, neither can he." If husbands are shortchanged, it is even worse for those who do not marry. "Poor Muslim men have to compete with older, wealthier married men for single women."

  • Finally, polygamy affects the structure of familial loyalty, as "the woman ends up shifting her loyalty to her firstborn son and her own blood relatives ... frequently, a woman's father or brother will step in to settle disputes with her husband, even after many years of marriage ... The end result is that family cohesion and structure is fragemented, and loyalties become tangled in endless complications."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

British views of immigration

Some 60 percent of BBC poll respondents said that there were too many immigrants (including those from Eastern Europe) in the UK. The BBC conducted the poll to mark the 40th anniversary of the "rivers of blood" speech by Enoch Powell warning of the dangers of uncontrolled immigration, a speech that resulted in his permanent ostracism. Enoch Powell had noted that people rarely address urgent issues before it is too late. The UK government has moved to introduce new controls on immigration in 2008; let's hope Enoch Powell was wrong. (Thanks to the Brussels Journal.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

A vocation with job security

The UK Foreign Office has told the Royal Navy not to arrest pirates on the high seas. The reason: once arrested, they could successfully resist deportation to countries like Somalia that are likely to violate their human rights by imposing sharia law penalties such as beheadings or amputations. So if you're thinking of taking a cruise off the coast of East Africa, you might want to consider a French rather than a British ship. See this article for details (thanks to Melanie Philips' blog).

Monday, April 14, 2008

UK terrorist threat

According to UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, there are 2,000 individuals being monitored for terrorist activity, 200 networks and 30 active plots. See details at Jihad Watch.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Qaradawi blasts Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI was on the receiving end of a blast from Islamic spiritual leader Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi (who heads up the European Council for Fatwa and Research, among other things). What bothered Qaradawi? The Pope's very public baptism of former Muslim and outspoken anti-Islamist Majdi Allam. See this report on Jihad Watch for details. It's getting harder and harder to classify Qaradawi as 'moderate.'

BBC sees error of its ways?

Director General of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Mark Thompson just urged BBC reporters to be more forthright in reporting on questions relating to Islam, for fear of offending Muslims (click here for a summary of his talk, thanks to Dhimmi Watch). That certainly would be a good thing; it would also be a good thing if the BBC took a more nonpartisan approach to coverage of Israeli-Palestinian affairs. For reports alleging substantial BBC bias on that subject, see the website of BBC Watch.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Iranian missiles and Europe

Here's a news item about a possible secret Iranian site for long-range missiles that could be launched against Europe.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I'm going to be out of town for the next 10 days and don't know if I'll be able to maintain my blog during that time. But I'll continue for sure when I return. Meanwhile, I welcome any comments from readers, either about existing posts or about issues you'd like to see covered.

Iraq, five years on

After Congressional testimony by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker unleashed innumerable articles lamenting the invasion of Iraq five years ago, decrying its cost and counting the days until the United States withdraws, you might be surprised to know that other views exist. MEMRI has excerpted several articles by Arab liberals that emphasize a new sense of hope in Baghdad, despite all the problems; acknowledge the value of liberalism and democracy; and express gratitude to the United States for toppling Saddam. If you don't believe me, read all about it here.

Weekend reading

For those of you who prefer doom-laden weekends, I recommend Jean Raspail's novel, The Camp of the Saints. Written in 1973, this book describes what happens when an armada of poor people from the Ganges sets sail for the West and makes landfall on the southern coast of France. The West is "empty", "has no soul left" and succumbs as a civilization in the space of three action-packed (and sometimes quite funny) days. Needless to say, politically correct multiculturalists are deftly skewered throughout. The Camp of the Saints, both praised for its vision and excoriated as 'racist,' has been reprinted several times. I couldn't put it down.

UK terrorist trial

If you've been irritated by the restrictions on carrying drinks through airport security, this may be the reason. Click here to see the whole CNN article (thanks to Jihad Watch). An excerpt: "Islam and seven others are charged with plotting to detonate bombs aboard airliners bound from London to the United States and Canada using explosives concealed in soft drink bottles. Prosecutors say they were close to carrying out their plan when they were arrested in August 2006. The men deny the charges.

And here's the suicide video made by Umar Islam, 29, one of the accused.

On one level, it's pathetic: he's clearly reading from a written text, and poorly at that. On the other hand, it doesn't take much brilliance to blow up a lot of people.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Terrorists and human rights in the UK

Many Europeans consider their high human rights standards as a symbol of their 'Western values.' Unfortunately, Islamists can easily exploit those values. In the latest case, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that the government could not deport Abu Qatada, considered to be Osama Bin Laden's 'ambassador' in Europe, back to Jordan. The Court's fear that he could be subject to torture there is not unfounded, despite an agreement between the governments of the UK and Jordan to the contrary. However, the result of this protection is that Abu Qatada remains free to propagate hatred, violence and death. Read here for more details, as provided by the Brussels Journal.

Antisemitism in Los Angeles

My main focus is on events in Europe, but I found this video so compelling that I am including it too. It's an interview by Pyjamas Media of Daphna Ziman, who left the stage at a ceremony in Los Angeles because of the virulent antisemitism of the keynote speaker, Reverend Lee of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She was there to receive an award from a national African-American fraternity. See it for yourself at http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/reverend-eric-lees-anti-semitism-a-personal-story-video/#comments. (Thanks to Libby for pointing it out to me.)

Western responses to Islamism

This link is to a March 23 op-ed in the New York Times by Paul Berman in which he describes how Western intellectuals have succumbed to Islamist ideology. "In today's Middle East, the various radical Islamists, basking in their success, paint their liberal rivals and opponents as traitors to Muslim civilization, stooges of crusader or Zionist agression. And, weirdly enough, all too many intellectuals in Western countries have lately assented to those preposterous accusations, in a sanitized version suitable for Western consumption." His analysis is, sadly, all too accurate. But I think the 'average American,' when s/he understands the challenge, will react very differently. Anyway, read it for yourself: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/23/opinion/23berman.html?_r=1&oref=slogin. (Berman is the author of Terror and Liberalism, which came out in 2003.)

Fitna the Movie - an Update

Robert Spencer has just written an excellent piece on FrontPage outlining what he thinks will be the strategy of Islamic governments (led by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which represents more than 50 of them): defining free speech at the United Nations to prohibit anything deemed critical of Islam. Both UN Secretary-General Ban ki-moon and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, have voiced their sympathy for this approach. Lest you dismiss the UN as completely toothless, may I point out that the United States turns to the UN for agreement on, for example, what constitutes terrorism. (See my April 5 entry for the EU's acquiescence on this issue.) Here's the link to his article; http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=E9ADC8C1-A7D1-4318-B36C-AA6AC5784BA8. And this link contains a copy of the movie itself: http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/020472.php. By the way, a Dutch judge recently declared that the movie had not incited hatred; here's that story, thanks to Jihad Watch.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

British and French justice

This article by Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal indirectly places the question of justice meted out to Muslims in the UK in a broader context. He describes a case in which a young Turkish man was brutally murdered by two thugs - who got off with light sentences as the judge essentially criticized their manners. http://www.city-journal.org/2008/eon0408td.html. If a justice system doesn't punish thuggery in general, it becomes very difficult indeed to crack down on thugs linked to radical Islam.

Theodore Dalyrymple, a British doctor who has worked in British prisons and hospitals, is also a political commentator. In his 2005 book, Our Culture, What's Left of It, he recounts the growing crime wave in Paris in a chapter entitled "The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris." The France he describes is one in which police do not investigate crimes, judges sympathize with the criminals, and official statistics show a sharply rising crime rate. Many of the perpetrators are permanently unemployed young men, immigrants or children or grandchildren of immigrants, from what he calls the "anti-society" of the high-rise slums that surround the big cities. Both Muslim and non-Muslim, they pose a huge challenge to French state and society.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Malmo, Sweden

Malmo, Sweden's third-largest city, is now nearly 40% non-Swedish, according to Bruce Bawer in While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within (pp. 205-6). He describes growing mayham, quoting a local reporter who asked a police investigator, "Do you have control over the situation in Malmo?" The answer: "No, I can't say we do." Another description can be found in the commentary to an entry in the Jihad Watch blog, where someone called Fredrik describes a growing tide of crime and violence. Scroll down on http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/020595.php, an April 7 post talking about Al Qaeda's drive to recruit Westerners. Fredrik describes in particular intimidating street-gang behavior by young Muslim males. A later commentator (dumbledoresarmy - long live Harry Potter!) suggests counteracting such behavior by organizing the local community.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The FBI and CAIR

According to a recent report on Insight (http://www.insight-report.com/2008/080318/cair.html), the FBI is now using the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to train its agents about Islam. This is, as the report notes, highly illogical. "On the one hand, federal prosecutors in Dallas accused CAIR of being a co-conspirator [in the Holy Land Foundation case, which ended in a mistrial last year and will be retried this summer], and cite FBI-gathered evidence. On the other hand, the FBI embraces CAIR."

CAIR, currently the most influential Muslim organization in America, has become embroiled in controversy. The Insight report provides a quick introduction to the dispute. It summarizes key accusations leveled by Steven Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) (see his website on the right under 'links') in a series of 10 reports: he charges that CAIR's "primary goals are to silence and de-legitimize its critics and redefine what it means to be a moderate Muslim," that it serves as the political lobbying arm for Hamas, and that it receives Saudi funding. The Insight report also carries CAIR's denial of all these charges (for those interested, CAIR's website is http://www.cair.com/).

Sharia-compliant financing

Recent months have seen a big expanion of sharia-compliant financing (SCF) - investment vehicles that, for example, pay no interest, as that is forbidden by the Koran. These new vehicles aim to attract Middle Eastern investors awash in oil income. However, they are not just financial tools: in an op-ed today in the Waterbury Republican-American, syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock argues that their aim is also to extend sharia law in general. He lists Muslim extremists, including Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who act or have acted as SCF advisers to Western financial institutions, and points out that SCF funds usually donate 2.5% of profits to Islamic charity "zakat," some of which may go to terrorists. Read all about it at http://www.rep-am.com/articles/2008/04/07/opinion/syndicated_columnists/331090.txt.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What is Tehran up to?

If you'd like to see a good, quick summary of what Iran's strategic ambitions are, and the importance of nuclear weapons in achieving its goals, read this report (http://www.fpri.org/enotes/200804.inbar.israeliviewiraniannuclearchallenge.html) of a talk given by Efraim Inbar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. He argues that nuclear weapons would give Iran tremendous regional and global clout, and allow it to dominate its regional neighbors as well as advance its Islamist objectives.

The light of day

Here's an account of someone who challenged a Saudi speaker to tell the truth about what goes on in Saudi Arabia, and about specific tenets of Islamic law.


Appeasement in the 1930s and now

In Lynne Olson's new book, Troublesome Young Men, I was particularly struck by a passage describing the intense political fight in Britain in the late 1930s as Tory dissidents sought to unseat their prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, over his policy of appeasing Hitler and Mussolini. Everyone expected the worst of any new war (for example, massive aerial bombing with poison gas); the only question was whether Britain could somehow avoid it.

Olson describes the bitter feuding among the Tories on pages 171-175. An excerpt, quoting Churchill: "Among Conservatives, families and friends in intimate contact were divided to a degree the like of which I have never seen. Men and women, long bound by party ties, social amenities, and family connections, glared upon one another in scorn and anger." Another source recalled at least a dozen married couples who were bitterly divided. Of course, some still conducted themselves with a certain style: "A debate over appeasement at the home of Kenneth Clark became so rancorous that one dinner guest, an eminent Oxford don, roared at another guest: 'I look forward to using your skull as an inkpot.'"

One source of the right-left divide in the US today is deep disagreement over the Islamist threat. The comparison with the Tories in Britain before World War II is not perfect. Some who say the 'war on terror' is overblown or counterproductive genuinely believe it, or are focusing on the many mistakes in executing that war. However, now it is quite clear that those who speak out against Islamism face the very real threat of physical violence and/or legal action. The inevitable question arises: how many downplay the Islamist threat because they fear what would happen if they opposed it? The appeasement-minded Tories were at least honest enough to acknowledge that they feared another cataclysmic war.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bigamy has its pressures

This item I found on the website of the Brussels Journal, quoting an article in The Daily Mail - I couldn't have made it up! See http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/3152 for the full entry.

[O]ne motorist offered what must be a unique reason why he should keep his
licence. Mohammed Anwar said a ban would make it difficult to commute
between his two wives and fulfil his matrimonial duties. His lawyer told a
Scottish court the Muslim restaurant owner has one wife in Motherwell and
another in Glasgow – he is allowed up to four under his religion – and
sleeps with them on alternate nights.

Airdrie Sheriff Court had heard that Anwar was caught driving at 64mph in a 30mph zone in Glasgow, fast enough to qualify for instant disqualification. Anwar admitted the offence, but Sheriff John C. Morris accepted his plea not to be banned and allowed him to keep his licence.

My article on post-Bush transatlantic relations

Last December I published an article in a Dutch journal, Atlantisch Perspectief, suggesting how transatlantic ties might look under the next US administration. In it, I argued that the Europeans would do well to set aside their Bush-hatred, while it would help if Americans paid more attention to the EU. I also suggested that European NATO allies should focus on the territorial defense of Europe rather than on tasks like the war in Afghanistan. Somehow, that article is not posted on my regular website, but here is the link to it: http://www.atlcom.nl/site/english/publicaties/index.php?p=15#more-15. On that page, you go down to the bottom and click, then scroll through the pdf file that comes up to get to my article, which begins on page 16.

The EU and the UN - and the US presidential campaign

All three U.S. presidential candidates say that they will promote closer and better relations with Europe, seeking to mend the rift created by President Bush and his policies. But how will this apply in practice to our relations with the EU at the United Nations?

The United States has sought for years to improve the UN's record with regard to human rights, supporting abolition of the former Human Rights Commission and refusing to join its successor, the Human Rights Council, when it became clear that the new organization would be no better.

As Caroline Glick reports in the Jerusalem Post (
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1207238156264), the Human Rights Council just voted March 28 to explore cases "in which individuals 'abuse' their freedom of speech by giving expression to racial or religious bias." This is a clear derogation of freedom of expression - yet the EU members of the Council abstained, rather than voting against it. The EU's position is, however, consistent with its recent condemnation of Geert Wilder's film Fitna, a movie which juxtaposes actual TV clips of Islamist leaders and the carnage they inspire with related passages of the Koran. It is also consistent with the failure of the EU, its member state governments or the EU political elite in general to stand up for Europeans who speak out against radical Islam.

So, to come back to my original question, what would Obama, Clinton or McCain do? Would any of them openly challenge the Europeans to defend the 'Western values' that everyone (in principle) rates so highly? Or would the more likely response be to duck this unpleasant issue, preferring the usual bromides about transatlantic ties and values?

If our next president does challenge the Europeans, s/he can expect a rough ride, and not just at the UN. But such an approach is vital if we are to defend our basic rights - rights that are currently under attack in many quarters around the globe.