Thursday, December 31, 2009

A simple solution

You can try to solve the question of airline security using U.S. government methods: keeping people in their seats for the last hour of the flight, and not letting them have anything in their laps during that time. (Gee, what if the next terrorist hears about these requirements and decides to blow himself up two hours before the flight lands?)

Or you can take some fraction of the billions we've spent on intelligence gathering and security systems and replace TSA with African Union peacekeepers. Last month, they stopped a Somali man trying to board a flight with a syringe, liquid and powdered chemicals. Why? Because the materials could have caused an explosion. Those are the kind of security folks we need - and maybe there are enough to share them with the Dutch as well.

Thug Putin

Libby brought to my attention this incredible footage of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin responding like a common street thug to French criticism of Russia's war in Chechnya. Putin has made similarly crude comments in the past, usually to a Russian audience. Now he appears to feel comfortable speaking that way to foreigners in public.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Feeling frustrated?

If you're feeling frustrated and disgusted with our stupidity in (1) allowing an Al Qaeda operative to do his best to blow up an aircraft and then (2) tormenting innocent travelers even more after the fact, this commentary by Christopher Hitchens is for you.

Or, if you really want to get mad, you might reflect on the fact that two of the leaders of Al Qaeda in Yemen - the group that apparently planned the attack - were released from Guantanamo in 2007. This Bush era decision seems to have found favor with the new administration, because it plans to repatriate at least six more Gitmo Yemenites. (This plan is really puzzling, since Defense Secretary Bob Gates is sensible and ought to know better.)

Just remember: no matter how frustrated you get, don't call Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab a 'Muslim extremist' or talk about 'radical Islam' - wouldn't want to muddy the waters with the truth!

Carter's apology

You may have noticed that former President Jimmy Carter, well-known for his outspoken criticism and defamation of Israel, has apologized for any damage he may have done to Israel's image (such as, for example, the impact of his 2007 book accusing Israel of apartheid).

Forgiveness is a virtue, but probably more of a virtue when the repentance is sincere. The element of doubt here is Carter's timing. Turns out his grandson Jason is running for a Georgia state senate seat in a district with a small Jewish population that is politically significant.

Perhaps the best way to judge Carter's sincerity is, as Jacob Laksin suggests, to see if he moderates his love affair with Hamas.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Iranian protests heat up

According to this Reuters report, some Iranian police refused orders to shoot protestors, firing instead into the air. That, combined with video of people stopping police cars in order to free demonstrators, or setting the motorcycles of the basiji thugs on fire, suggests that the regime is coming under increasing pressure.

What's more, even the New York Times and the White House seem to have noticed the existence of an Iranian opposition! Now, if someone could just get the message to Sen. John Kerry before he begins his trip to Tehran... (Thanks to Daily Alert.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rifqa and Noor

Thanks to Jihad Watch, here's an update on Rifqa Bary, the Ohio girl who ran away from home because she feared for her life after converting to Christianity. She isn't out of the woods yet. If you want to send her a Christmas card, just click on the links as indicated and you can get her address.

And, if you think she was exaggerating, here's another story, also from Jihad Watch, about an Iraqi immigrant in Arizona who ran over and killed his daughter Noor because she was becoming too Westernized.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The ayatollah who said no

As this article in The New Republic puts it, Ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri, the Iranian dissident cleric whose funeral was the occasion for further anti-regime demonstrations, "recently issued a fatwa saying more clearly and more categorically than any other ayatollah that the development, deployment, or investment towards acquiring a nuclear bomb is against Islam and humanity--making him the most prominent domestic opponent of a nuclear bomb. He openly apologized for the fact that the regime, while he was a leading member of it, sanctioned the occupation of the American embassy in Tehran."

What a tremendous opportunity we're passing up. Just think: the U.S. government could be trying to connect with Iranians who want to get along with the outside world rather than threaten it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Trading in carbon credits

The 'trade' portion of the cap-and-trade bill that passed the House and is now somewhere in the Senate would establish a carbon emissions trading scheme compatible with the existing European one. In this scheme, companies trade the rights to emit carbon dioxide, while the total amount of carbon dioxide diminishes.

There's a fly in the ointment, however. The EU has touted its sytem as a great success, citing its high turnover, yet the EU's own European Police Agency, or Europol, is investigating fraudulent transactions that may account for up to 90% of the total.

Don't hold your breath, though, for the liberal proponents of cap and trade or the MSM (is there a difference?) to report this item. (Thanks to

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Assault on free speech

I've reported before on efforts to pass the Free Speech Protection Act to protect American authors and publishers against foreign libel suits. In this article, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld describes the kind of libel suits now popping up.

In addition to the British one against her - which she lost in absentia - for alleging that a Saudi billionaire was financing Islamist terrorism, there a Brazilian one against a fellow who criticized Brazilian air traffic control (after he nearly died in a crash there), and a Canadian one against a New-Jersey-based writer who revealed that Al Qaeda members - designated as terrorists - who attended the McMaster's College of Engineering in Hamilton, Ontario, apparently left the school in 2004 with 180 pounds of nuclear waste.

Meanwhile, this column from the Wall Street Journal lists other cases: A Boston company that sued a British cardiologist in London for criticism he made about the clinical trials of a device used in heart surgery; or an Icelandic businessman who used London courts to sue an Icelandic academic for comments on the University of Iceland's website.

The British are talking about changing their libel law, which is all to the good. However, as these examples show, the problem has already spread to other countries. It would help if Congress just did the obvious - if it passed the Free Speech Protection Act (which to my knowledge has NO budgetary implications). It's not just the individual writers and publishers who would benefit; free speech is the vital element that keeps our system honest.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

British law

The British government is scrambling to control the damage from a law that allows private citizens (in this case, Palestinian groups) to sue foreign leaders for war crimes in British court. The British want to be players in mediating the Mideast conflict but cannot do so if Israeli officials face arrest warrants if they travel to England.

The British will probably 'fix' this problem by requiring Foreign Office approval of any warrants against foreign leaders. But the government probably won't tackle the underlying problem: that people are increasingly using the legal system for political purposes - and then, when someone tries to stop them, screaming bloody murder about how politicians shouldn't interfere in the legal process.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Self-promotion break

The quarterly journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) has just published an article on radical Islam in Europe I wrote in its Winter 2010 issue. Editor Mackubin Owens refers to it as "a provocative and sure-to-be controversial article" - we shall see!

The beauties of lawfare

Here's a little mind game for all of you, my faithful readers: Former Israeli foreign minister Tsipi Livni just cancelled a trip to the UK, her office said because of schedule conflicts, other sources because of a warrant for her arrest for war crimes during the recent Gaza conflict. And, indeed, there was such a warrant, although it has since been dismissed.

Now here's an item from Palestinian TV, courtesy of MEMRI, in which a PA union official charges that Hamas leaders "used these martyrs [civilians] as sandbags, while they hid in tunnels. They would place a missile, cover it with a tent, amid buildings with 200 children and old people, and they would launch the missile and hide."

Can you, in the wildest flight of fancy, imagine a UK court issuing a warrant for the arrest of Hamas leaders? I didn't think so. Welcome to Eurabia! (Thanks to Daily Alert.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

In case you had any doubt

The Times of London has just released secret documents that it obtained (from who knows where) which apparently demonstrate that the Iranians have been testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb. And they've been at it for some time, despite the best efforts of the U.S. intelligence community to obfuscate exactly that point.

As an irate taxpayer, I'd like to close down the CIA. I'd also like the adminstration to 'get real' on Iran. If we haven't got the guts to do anything, we should at least stop threatening to punish the Israelis if they take matters into their own hands. (Thanks to Daily Alert.)

Obama and the Brits

Did you ever wonder why President Obama sent the bust of Winston Churchill back to England, and why he seems to have slighted the British in many other ways? Well, Con Coughlin, executive foreign editor of the London Daily Telegraph, has a theory.

Coughlin thinks Obama bears a personal grudge, based on his grandfather's alleged torture at the hands of the British during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. In addition, Coughlin perceives an Obama administration slant in favor of greater European integration. He thinks key administration officials like Michele Flournoy at Defense and Philip Gordon at State are cold-shouldering the UK because it traditionally opposes more power for the EU.

I don't know if Coughlin's theory is correct, but his conclusion - that it makes no sense for the United States to snub the one ally most likely to fight with us - is spot-on.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sharia law in Wales

The BBC reports that an Islamic group hopes to have a sharia tribunal operating in Wales next year. What's interesting about the BBC video and print reports is that nowhere do they clearly state that sharia law, no matter whether the type practiced in Saudi Arabia or in Jordan, always gives women far fewer rights than men have. Period. Whether it's marriage, inheritance, divorce, testifying in court, that is the law.

Ditto for the rights of non-Muslims, although that dimension would presumably only become evident later, when the sharia courts extend their reach outside the Muslim community. (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Iranian dissent increases

Amir Taheri reports that the dissidents in Iran are becoming more outspoken, despite the hundreds killed and thousands arrested. The demonstrators turn out on the same holidays that the regime traditionally uses for its 'Death to America' rallies. The demonstrators shout 'Death to the dictators' instead; Taheri recounts that they have added calls for an 'Iranian republic' instead of the current 'Islamic republic'.

Where will this all end? Sounds to me like a truly revolutionary situation. Unfortunately, the Iranian regime has been putting ever more power into the hands of the Revolutionary Guards. The pressure inside Iran must be tremendous, and the outcome is very uncertain.

Wouldn't it be nice, though, if President Obama expressed his support for the dissidents? Since he's already been accused (falsely) of doing so, he really doesn't have that much to lose. He doesn't have to do anything heroic - just reversing the State Department's recent decision to defund an Iranian human rights NGO would be a good start.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

UK honor killings on the rise

Some time ago I reported that the British government was taking steps to stop honor killings. Well, according to this story, they'd better hurry; unspecified 'fundamentalists' have committed 40% more honor crimes this year than last. Reports of forced marriages have jumped 60%; incidents of female genital mutilation and polygamy have also risen.

Some of the increase may because women are coming forward as they realize that such acts violate British law, but the rise also seems to reflect increased Islamist fundamentalism. (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

So are the Swiss bigots?

Here are three excellent articles analyzing the Swiss referendum against minarets.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali argues that working-class and 'regular' Swiss understood the threat from political Islam, and that their vote represented "a rejection of political Islam, not a rejection of Muslims. In this sense it was a vote for tolerance and inclusion, which political Islam rejects."

Anne Appelbaum thinks the Swiss saw the destructive impact of radical Islam in Western Europe and made it clear they didn't want any of same in Switzerland.

And Daniel Pipes cites informal newspaper surveys in France, Germany and Spain in support of the Swiss referendum, suggesting grassroots support in other European countries.

Let me put it another way: can any measure that Libyan leader Qaddafi attacks be all wrong?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Climate change in Copenhagen

The group Americans for Prosperity has prepared this short video showing the line of limos ferrying diplomats to the climate change conference in Copenhagen. Someone has estimated that the conference will generate as much carbon dioxide emissions as the country of Morocco did in 2006. Ah, ya gotta love it!

Treaties and minarets

Ross Douchat, in the New York Times (of all places) writes that the EU's new Lisbon Treaty, which went into effect December 1, and its problems with unassimilated Muslim minorities both stem from the European elite's undemocratic behavior.

As he puts it: the elite "forge[s] a consensus among the establishment, and assume[s] you can contain any backlash that develops". Had European leaders consulted their voters, "The rate of immigration might have been slower, and the efforts to integrate the new arrivals more strenuous. Instead, Europe’s leaders ended up creating a clash of civilizations inside their own frontiers." Well put! (Thanks to Libby.)

The game is for real

Sometimes fiction tells you more than does reality. Last week Harvard University hosted a game about the challenge posed by Iran. Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of State, played President Obama; Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, played President Netanyahu; and Gary Sick, former NSC official, played President Ahmedinejad. So how did the scenario play out?

-- The United States tried to get Israel to agree to seek permission before it attacked Iran, and threatened a rupture of ties if Israel went ahead on its own;

-- The United States wanted at all costs to avoid a military conflict. It focused almost exclusively on sanctions, fraying ties with allies while not upsetting the Iranians in the least.

-- Gary Sick saw the situation as 'win-win' for Iran. Nothing the United States proposed had any impact on the Iranian regime's two primary goals: developing nuclear weapons while repressing internal dissent.

So now you don't have to bother keeping up with the news on this item. For the most part, you know how it will turn out. The only questions: will the Israelis actually attack Iran and, if so, will they succeed? And how did the United States let its policy get into such a dead-end? It would be easy to blame this on President Obama, but he's only continuing policies set by his predecessors. (Thanks to Daily Alert.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Renouncing jihad

British Muslims who renounced jihadism - you can read this fascinating article, writen by a fellow British Muslim trying to understand (1) what made them decide to pursue violent jihad to establish a fantasy caliphate under one-size-fits-all sharia law; and (2) what made them stop. And, no, I'm not going to give you a summary; this is worth reading in its entirety! (Thanks to Barry Rubin.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Graham v. Holder

Here, thanks to Libby, is a highly-revealing exchange between Senator Lindsey Graham and Attorney General Eric Holder about the decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian rather than military court. The exchange makes it crystal-clear that Holder has absolutely NO legal explanation for his decision.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Major Hasan's motivation

Barry Rubin suggests that, to understand Major Hasan's thought process and motivation prior to the Fort Hood massacre, the best place to start is the slide show he presented as part of his 'grand round,' or lecture, when he was a medical resident at Walter Reed Hospital.

The grand round is supposed to be on a medical topic. Instead, Hasan instead lectured on the morality (or lack thereof) of serving as a Muslim in the U.S. military when it is fighting other Muslims in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rubin's analysis, which contains the link to the slide show, is sobering and should be required reading for anyone trying to understand Hasan.

Monday, November 16, 2009

More on Mumbai

Turns out there's an American angle at the center of the Islamist attacks in Mumbai last year. Daood Gilani, a Pakistani-American posing as American Jew David Coleman Headley, reconnoitered every target site in Mumbai, including the Chabad center, in July 2008. See this article for more details. (Thanks to Daily Alert.)


No, this has nothing to do with foreign policy, but it is a very informative and alarming article about vaccines, how they're made and why they're not. A cautionary tale of government intervention, and a most timely one as the Congress considers gargantuan bills to take over the health care sector.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

An isolated incident?

So was Major Hasan's action 'an isolated incident'? Not according to this article:

"Hasan's attack was the third incident this year in which US military installations were targeted by radicals. In September, two North Carolina men were charged for allegedly conspiring to kill US personnel at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, home of the Marines' officer training school and the FBI Academy. In June, Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad, an American Muslim convert, allegedly fired at two soldiers taking a cigarette break outside a recruiting center in Little Rock, Ark., killing one and injuring the other. Authorities say the alleged shooter said the attack was retaliation for US military actions overseas."

(Thanks to Daily Alert.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's either Iran or Israel

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has come up with his own version of 'you're with us or against us.' In a speech in Istanbul, he said the United States must choose between Iran and Israel. (See here for the version offered by Iranian dissidents.)

Put another way, Ahmedinejad's signaling that our current groveling, as evidenced in this excerpt from a speech by William Burns, a senior State Department official, is far from sufficient: "[The United States seeks] a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. We do not seek regime change. We have condemned terrorist attacks against Iran. We have recognized Iran’s international right to peaceful nuclear power." Here's the rest of his speech; read it and wince.

Child bride in Kansas City

Here's a slightly confusing story about a mother and stepfather who 'married off' a 14-year-old girl to a 23-year-old man. The man is now charged with statutory rape. The article doesn't mention until the 7th paragraph that it was Muslim family, of course - no one could possibly want to appear Islamophobic, after all.

There is one useful quote, from Mahnaz Shabbir of Stilwell, a past president of the Heartland Muslim Council who says that Islam says followers should live by the laws of the land. That is indeed the crux of the matter - and this 'marriage' was anything but legal. (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Islamists and Fort Hood

One of the (dubious) advantages of an awful crime like the Fort Hood shooting is that it does reveal reality. We'll be hearing lots about Major Hasan and his motivations in the days and weeks to come, but here's a clear indication of how Islamist groups like the Islamic Society of North America see the problem.

ISNA president Ingrid Mattson said: "I don't understand why the Muslim-American community has to take responsibility for him. The Army has had at least as much time and opportunity to form and shape this person as the Muslim community." (Thanks to Islamist Watch.)

As is usual for her, it's a red herring. Hasan spent years denouncing U.S. policy in violent terms and was trying to contact Al Qaeda; people are focusing on those specifics, not his membership in the Muslim-American community. Her true goal is to obscure those facts by using the bludgeon of political correctness - the same tool that let Hasan get as far as he did.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sorry I missed it

In a debate at Brandeis University, former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold asked South African judge Richard Goldstone, author of the new UN report accusing Israel of war crimes during the Gaza conflict, what Israel should have done differently to protect itself.

Goldstone responded that that was a decision for Israel to make, although he thought they perhaps should have conducted undercover commando raids. He then suggested someone at Brandeis write a research paper on the topic. No, I'm not making this up.

If you want to see Gold's excellent presentation, here's the video. At least he got to give his side of the story; when Eye of the UN's Anne Bayefsky criticized the Goldstone report at a UN media event, UN officials cut the mike and escorted her off the premises. Just think: our taxpayer dollars support those guys!

The Iranian expert at State

According to this recent blog entry from American Thinker, John Limbert has been named the State Department's chief expert on Iran. And he definitely has expertise - among other things, from his time on the advisory board of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). NIAC is considered by many to be the de facto Iranian lobby in Washington.

Just think: in his new job, Limbert will get to see all those classified memos, cables and reports that he only heard about before. Plus, he'll be in all discussions of any significance on Iranian policy. At least there won't be any more ambiguity in State's policy on Iran: it'll be consistently pro-Iranian.

Islamophobia and all that

Andy Bostom has drawn up a chart of all the terrorist attacks carried out by Muslim extremists on U.S. soil. He comes up with a total of 3,308 Americans killed in 65 attacks over the last 35 years.

In retaliation for these attacks, Bostom found exactly one case: a convicted felon gunned down a Muslim four days after 9/11. The felon has since been convicted and sentenced to death.

The next time someone tells you that Muslims in America are under threat of violence from Americans, show that someone the chart.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Remember the Syrian reactor?

The German news magazine Der Spiegel has published a fascinating article about the Israeli attack on a Syrian nuclear reactor in September 2007. If you ignore some of the gratuitous slams ("as is always the case with these strikes, the bombs were far more destructive than necessary. For the Israelis, it made little difference whether a few guards were killed or a larger number of people."), it has lots of details - some of which must be true.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

As for that cargo ship

The cargo ship Francop just seized by the Israelis turns out to have been carrying, in addition to hand grenades, mortars and ammunition, some 3,000 missiles from Iran which the Israelis believe were intended for Hezbollah. By way of comparison, this is 10 times as many weapons as the infamous Karine A was carrying when it was intercepted in January 2002 with 50 tons of missiles, mortars, rifles and ammunition from Iran to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

An interesting note: "[Israeli] Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said the crew, led by a Polish captain, was not aware of the Francop's contents and cooperated fully."

Missing in action

Iranian dissidents celebrated the 30th anniversary of the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran with counter-demonstrations. At considerable risk to themselves, they shouted "Death to the dictators" instead of "Death to America." And, according to the Los Angeles Times, they also challenged President Obama, saying "Obama! Obama! Either you're with them or with us!" (Thanks to Investor's Business Daily.)

The White House, to mark the anniversary, issued a statement by Obama saying America “wants to move beyond this past, and seeks a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect.” It then reassured the Iranian regime that the United States has no intention of interfering in Iran’s internal affairs.

Barry Rubin recounts here the Bronx cheer that Iranian supreme leader Khamenei gave Obama's attempts to make friends: "Whenever [the Americans] smile at the officials of the Islamic revolution, when we carefully look at the situation, we notice that they are hiding a dagger behind their back," he said. "They have not changed their intentions."

Conclusion: studiously ignoring the people in Iran who want to be our friends, while courting those who prefer to be our enemies, is not 'realistic' foreign policy; it's foolish, shortsighted - and just plain wrong.

Monday, November 2, 2009

More on honor killings

Here's a link to an article from the New York Post, with, as Jihad Watch notes, the first reasonably accurate discussion in a mainstream publication about Muslim honor killings in the United States. It notes: "Over the past two years, there have been about a dozen attempted or successful honor killings committed in the US."

And here, from the comment section of that blog entry, is a German website that lists the known honor killings in Germany. Even if you can't read German, you can easily get the idea just by scrolling through it.

Bottom line: honor killings may be more common in Europe, but they're happening here too.

Climate change

When historians write the definitive account of our times, I suspect they'll describe 'imminent catastrophic climate change' as the peculiar topic that distracted Western leaders precisely at the time when they needed to focus on real existential threats.

According to EU Observer, climate change will top the list of subjects to be discussed at the November 3 U.S.-EU summit - Afghanistan-Pakistan and Iran are further down the list. The Europeans want to avert a train wreck at the UN climate change conference scheduled for this December in Copenhagen and to that end will pressure President Obama to adopt a carbon dioxide emissions trading system compatible with theirs.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The perils of foreign elections

It's always risky to subordinate U.S. foreign policy decisions to the procedures or outcomes of foreign elections. Two recent cases come to mind: Afghanistan and Honduras.

In Afghanistan, opposition presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has now bowed out of the November 7 runoff. Since much of the discussion about whether President Obama should increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan has centered around the legitimacy of the Afghan government, this move leaves the U.S. government with both feet firmly midair.

In Honduras, the United States has brokered a murky compromise to allow former president Manual Zelaya to return home, and to proceed with November 29 elections to choose a new president to go forward. What if, as one Honduran source suggested, Zelaya can't return to Honduras until the Supreme Court rules on the issue - and it doesn't do so until after November 29? It was smart for the U.S. government to negotiate a way around its ridiculous insistence that Zelaya be reinstated, but what a dumb position to be in in the first place.

Hint to the Obama administration: try focusing primarily on U.S. national security interests. In Honduras, there were none of which I'm aware, so we should have kept our distance rather than meddling. In Afghanistan, the government's legitimacy is important, but more important is the overall security situation in the country. Both American and Afghan lives are currently at risk, and protecting them should be the main focus.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Who's our ally?

Columnist Diana West, in this article, compares U.S. support for Pakistan, where "[a]n overwhelming 78 percent of Pakistanis believe those who leave Islam should be killed, 80 percent favor whippings and cutting off hands for crimes like theft and robbery, and 83 percent favor stoning adulterers."

At the same time, the U.S. government says not a word of support for Denmark, the small, democratic ally which has had the courage to defend press freedom in the face of Islamist pressure - and a recently-thwarted terrorist attack.

Just blaming this absurdity on Obama is too easy; the Bush administration did no better. Why? Because our foreign policy elite is willfully ignoring the ideological threat posed by the terrorists and their 'non-violent' Islamist brethren: "The point of Islamic terror is to assert Islamic law. Period." It sure would help if policymakers in Washington understood this.

Friday, October 30, 2009

'Free' press

The countries that belong to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are electing a representative on freedom of the media. The two frontrunners are Russians, according to this article from Radio Free Europe. One, Oleg Panfilov, is likely to be voted down by the governments whose policies he has criticized in the past; the other, Mikhail Fedotov, has helped to defend Russian policies that have destroyed the free press.

So how will the OSCE's West European members vote? For Fedotov, "as a small compromise to make in order to secure a good gas deal or get a pipeline built"?

And, more generally, how did the OSCE get so far down the wrong road? During the Cold War, it actually stood for something; now it's hard to tell. Since the United States is also a member, this isn't just an idle question.

We dodged a bullet

Not because we're smart, but because Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad ran out of room to maneuver. The deal to ship Iranian uranium out of the country and to process it for use in medical applications seemed full of holes to me. If you don't know how many nuclear installations Iran has, how do you know what amount of uranium shipped out of the country is significant, and what is not?

Ahmedinejad has sworn that nothing would deter him from acquiring nuclear capabilities, and from his statements it's clear those include weapons as well as power plants. Nothing in recent weeks has been a big enough threat to his regime to force him to revisit that fundamental goal.
By refusing the deal, Ahmedinejad has removed an excuse for even more Western dithering and appeasement, and for that we should be grateful.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mark and the MLAT

Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder and his EU counterparts Gilles De Kerkove and Hans Nillson exchanged instruments between the European Union and the United States for two essential treaties on mutual legal assistance and extradition.

This is the result of years of work, led on our side by my dear friend Mark Richard who passed away last spring. The two treaties represent a big step forward in transatlantic cooperation to combat terrorism and transnational crime.

It is such a shame that Mark couldn't have been there to see the culmination of his efforts - but if he had, he would have spent the whole time explaining that he really didn't have much to do with it, or some similar nonsense. He was a brilliant guy with a very big heart and a very small ego.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A win for the Muslim Brotherhood

The win in question is a big one - the radicalization of Turkey. The ruling party there, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), came to power swearing that it was a 'moderate' Islamist party. In the intervening years it has moved to silence domestic opposition, and to ally itself with radical, not moderate, Islamic countries.

As Soner Cagaptay writes here, "Islamism in Turkey, though traditionally non-violent, possesses six virulent characteristics; it is anti-western, anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli, anti-European, anti-democratic and holds anti-secular sentiments, all of which are adopted from the Muslim Brotherhood."

The government's latest steps have been to exclude Israel from joint military exercises (a decision praised by Iranian president Ahmedinejad) and the broadcast of a television series depicting Israelis as cold-blooded and evil. Levels of anti-Americanism are already at record highs. The film, as described by Barry Rubin, is powerful propaganda much closer to the lies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion than to reality.

So what has the response of the U.S. government been to these developments? Nothing, as near as I can tell.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pollution in China

Here, thanks to a tip from Joe, is a horrifying set of pictures showing the poisonous underpinnings of China's industrial development. As he noted, the problem isn't carbon dioxide emissions, which are not pollutants - but actual filth and poisons pumped into the atmosphere, dumped on the ground, or pumped into the water. Next time you see a 'Made in China' stamp, think of these pictures.

Copenhagen summit

Success at the upcoming UN climate change summit in Copenhagen in December depends in large part on the positions taken by developing countries, particularly China and India. Thus far, those two countries have wisely refused to consider restricting their economic growth in order to meet carbon dioxide emission targets.

So the next step is to bribe them with assistance funds to "mitigate the effects of climate change and limit their CO2 emissions". The EU estimates a total of €100 billion a year by 2020 needs to be transferred to developing countries, with the EU contribution in the range of €2-15 billion.

However, a recent high-level EU meeting failed to reach agreement on how much individual EU member states would pay, making the Copenhagen meeting all the more problematic. (Thanks to EU Observer.)

I can't help wondering how much the United States is supposed to poney up for this futile effort. The idea of limiting economic growth for artificial emissions limits is ridiculous. Nor are large financial transfers of taxpayers' money likely to benefit developing countries - they usually just line the pockets of the elite. But no need to worry: if we do participate in this exercise, the sums involved, along with the costs to our economy, will likely be lost in our sea of red ink.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

La belle France

Here, thanks to Jihad Watch, is a sobering video and commentary about what goes on in France today. Sobering: if you want to see the France that everyone knows so well, you'd better not wait too long with your travel plans.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tellin' it like it is

Here's another piece by Barry Rubin that pretty well sums up what can be expected from the Mideast peace process in the coming months: nada.

Essentially, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has no incentive to make concessions regarding Israel; he fears hardline opponents in Fatah, Hamas, and his own people much more than he fears President Obama or the United States.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Success in the Mideast

As historian Barry Rubin of the GLORIA Center points out here, President Obama may soon be be confronted with a bitter truth previously learned by his two predecessors, Presidents Clinton and Bush. To wit: it's hard to make Mideast peace when one party, the Palestinians, prefers to hold out for the hope of eventual victory, defined as the elimination of the state of Israel.

The issue in dispute this time is the UN's Goldstone Report which the Palestinians hope will lead to international sanctions against Israel. The United States has come out against the report, as it is biased and unfair. Rubin predicts that, "within a month or two, Obama is going to be denounced in the Palestinian media--with the Syrians and others picking this up--that he is just another George W. Bush."

The only real question is: how will Obama react to future criticism by Palestinians or their supporters? Will he simply ignore it, as he has other criticism from foreign sources?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Anniversaries to celebrate

Matt Welch raises a very interesting question here: why is it that only one journalist remarked on the 20th anniversary, on August 23, of the breaching of the Iron Curtain? Or, for that matter, any of the other anniversaries this fall of events that led to the end of the Cold War?

Welch quotes historian Timothy Garton Ash, who wrote that 1989 "ended communism in Europe, the Soviet empire, the division of Germany, and an ideological and geopolitical struggle…that had shaped world politics for half a century. It was, in its geopolitical results, as big as 1945 or 1914. By comparison, ’68 was a molehill."

Some of this may come from Western self-absorption. Welch asked a student leader of Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution why he thought 1968 still gets all the headlines. He gave a typically Czech shrug: "Probably 1968 happened to more people in the West."

I suggest two other reasons:

-- First, we didn't win the war; the Soviets lost it. Perhaps the lack of interest reflects the lack of effort on our part 20 years ago.

-- Second, many of our elite opinionmakers place more value on government control than on individual liberty. Perhaps they don't view the fall of the Soviet Union as something to celebrate.

(Thanks to Rachel.)

The true Taliban

In case you missed it, David Rohde, the New York Times correspondent who was kidnapped by the Taliban and held for 7 months, is publishing a series of articles about his experience. The first one appeared on Sunday, October 18, the second one today. I think there are three more on the way.

Rohde found a Taliban more extreme than he had expected - and living fairly well in its own corner of Pakistan. Among them are groups that, influenced by the foreign fighters in their midst, wants to work with Al Qaeda to re-establish the caliphate in Muslim lands.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Round two

Remember the fabricated Swedish story accusing Israeli soldiers of harvesting the organs of Palestinian prisoners? Well, as this article from the Wall Street Journal points out, the story has legs.

It has inspired newspaper cartoons in Syria, Qatar, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, as well as new and better fantasies, such as the Algerian one that claimed Jewish-directed gangs round up Algerian children, transport them to Morocco and then to Israel so that their body parts can be harvested and sold. Indeed, Iranian TV has announced that "an international Jewish conspiracy to kidnap children and harvest their organs is gathering momentum."

Nor does the story stop there. The Swedish editor alleges that Israeli doctors are grossly 'unethical' and many engage in illegal organ harvesting. The journalist who produced the original story alleging one case (unproven) now says there are 1,000.

It's hard to know where this will stop, but one thing is sure: it is already doing untold damage.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

CAIRing for you

P. David Gaubatz and Paul Sperry have just written a book, Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America (WND Books) based on an undercover investigation of the Washington, DC headquarters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The information was collected by Gaubatz' son Chris, who worked at the headquarters as an intern.

Daniel Pipes highlights several key findings of the book:

-- rather than 50,000 members, CAIR actually has only 5,133.

-- 97% of its income comes from abroad, from various Islamic sources, and only 3% from membership dues.

CAIR has spent years advising the U.S. government on the views of American Muslims. Instead, as Pipes suggests, CAIR should be forced to register as an agent of a foreign power, with no tax-exempt status.

Pipes speculates that this book will lead to CAIR's demise; he expects, though, that the next Islamist front organization "will be a more savvy, honest, respectable institution that continues its work of bringing Islamic law to the United States and Canada while avoiding the mistakes and apparent illegalities that render CAIR vulnerable."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wilders vindicated

The UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal has overturned the Home Office decision of last February to ban Dutch politician Geert Wilders from the country. The Home Office had ruled that Wilders represented "a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society."

The Islamists who threatened violence, should he be allowed to enter the country, were not included in that category. As commentator Jacob Laksin notes: "the simple fact that British authorities felt forced to ban a critic of radical Islam rather than risk a confrontation with its adherents served as powerful proof of Wilders’s longtime charge that Europe no longer had the will to defend its laws and culture against Islamic extremists."

Wilders' legal team included a British Muslim attorney, Arfan Khan - there's a guy with guts!

(Thanks to Front Page Magazine.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Obama and his European allies

John Rosenthal, in this article, notes the irony of history: by the time Barack Obama was elected U.S. president, having achieved prominence in large part by opposing the Iraq war, European leaders (Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Shroeder) who opposed the war most strenuously have been voted out of office, and others who supported it (Angela Merkel and Sylvio Berlusconi) have been voted in.

As Rosenthal notes: "... notwithstanding the Nobel committee’s condescending pat on the back for their disciple, Obama’s European role models are all gone. He is on his own now and should his pursuit of 'peaceful dialogue' give rise to a nuclear Iran and threats of greater and more terrible wars, this will be his responsibility."

Monday, October 12, 2009

A parting shot

Clemens Heni and I, in this piece, disagree with the conventional wisdom that says that President Obama did nothing to deserve the Nobel Prize. Instead, we identify several of his policies that may have earned the approbation of the Norwegian Nobel Prize committee:

"courting the Muslim world in general and the Saudi king in particular; displaying hostility to Israel, to the point that [Obama's] public support there has plummeted from 70% to 5%; negotiating with Iran regardless of Iran’s human rights violations or its documented progress in developing nuclear weapons and their ballistic missile delivery systems; dithering about the war in Afghanistan; and crushing Hondurans who don’t want a president for life."

And there's more - so read it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Goldstone Report

Late last month, a group headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone presented its report to the UN Human Rights Council on human rights violations committed during the recent Gaza conflict. From the outset, the exercise assumed that the lion's share of these violations were committed by the Israelis.

Lo and behold, that was indeed the conclusion of the report. Max Boot summarizes the report here, (no, I haven't read it myself, since it is almost 600 pages long). In his view, if the investigation had been conducted during World War II, the group would either have recommended that Franklin Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler be put in the dock together, or, more likely it would have put Roosevelt in the dock alone.

As you can imagine, most Israelis were outraged. Here, thanks to Caroline Glick, is a video that pretty much sums up their response.

So what is the impact? The original plan was to forward the report to the UN Security Council for action - presumably to punish Israel. The United States condemned the report strongly, perhaps because U.S. soldiers could be accused of the same war crimes as the Israelis, since they too face jihadists hiding among civilian populations. The EU, on the other hand, described the report as 'worthy of consideration.'

The United States also pressured the Palestinians not to lobby for referral to the Security Council. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas caved then, under strong domestic criticism for giving in to U.S. pressure, reversed himself.

Human rights in Iran

According to Radio Free Europe, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, which has received about $3 million over the past 5 years from the U.S. Agency for International Development (part of the State Department) has just learned no more such funding will be forthcoming.

The apparent reason: the U.S. government wants to create a favorable atmosphere for the talks with Iran on its nuclear ambitions.

This decision is wrong on many accounts, but I'll just mention two. First, documenting the human rights abuses of the Iranian regime is key to addressing them, as knowledge is power and totalitarian regimes rely on keeping the truth hidden. Second, why anyone in the Adminstration would imagine, even for a moment, that such a step would make the Iranians more amenable to compromise on nuclear issues, is beyond my comprehension.

It's simple appeasement. And it won't even work, so it's really, really dumb.

What our leaders don't know

Jeff drew my attention to this article on the Political Islam blog which points out how little our senior leaders, whether it is Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Sara Palin, or the minister of the local church, know about political Islam.

The article argues that repeated avoidance of any clear thinking on ideological or religious issues leaves our leadership essentially disarmed for the fundamental clash, which is the war of ideas between Islamists and the West.

And, indeed, how can anyone (Gen. McChrystal in this case) argue that our opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan are 'insurgents'? 'Insurgents' are people who live in the country. Yet, as Michael Noonan points out in an FPRI e-note (not yet posted on the FPRI website), in Iraq foreign fighters accounted for less than 5 percent of opposition forces but were likely responsible for over 90 percent of high lethality attacks.

These fighters are not 'insurgents'. They are 'jihadists', and not calling them by their proper name in no way diminishes their lethality. Nor does refusing to probe and understand their motivation make it easier to combat them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another book bites the dust

This time, it's a German mass-market crime novel about honor killings, in which one of the characters makes a crude reference to the Koran. For fear that this reference might offend Muslims and lead to violence, the Droste publishing house in Dusseldorf has cancelled its contract. The book had been scheduled to appear in September. (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

What's in a phrase?

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has for years been trying to gain international acceptance for the concept of 'religious defamation': that freedom of speech cannot be used to scrutinize or criticize a religion (Islam).

Having joined the UN Human Rights Council, the United States sponsored a resolution on freedom of speech that aimed to find a compromise between the Islamic nations and the West. That resolution just passed unanimously. Egypt, a country notorious for suppressing free speech, was the co-sponsor.

According to the CNS News report: "The resolution drops the phrase 'religious defamation' but refers to “negative racial and religious stereotyping,” and condemns any advocacy of “religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” It urges governments to “address and combat such incidents,” in line with their obligations under international law.

Anne Bayefsky, in her analysis, criticizes the Obama administration for 'backing calls for limits on freedom of expression.' She says that 'other Western governments ... watched the weeks of negotiation with dismay as it became clear that American negotiators wanted consensus at all costs.'

Indeed, the 'compromise' language looks like it creates the proverbial hole big enough to drive a truck through. Such an outcome is definitely not in the U.S. interest.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Honor killings

The British government is finally getting serious about 'honor crimes' - usually the murder of young women (usually Muslims) whose behavior, or alleged behavior, is deemed to besmirch the honor of their families. Islamist Watch outlines the steps the British will take, and provides a list of some recent 'honor crimes' committed in Europe and the United States.

U.S. policy on Iran

As usual, Charles Krauthammer says it better than I can. Here's his take on the speeches by President Obama and President Sarkozy at the Security Council, as well as U.S. policy toward Iran.

In the coming weeks and months, I think we can expect a dribble of news in the pattern that's just been set: the United States or the International Atomic Energy Agency will be forced to reveal some intelligence proving that Iran is working as hard as it can to get nuclear weapons. Iran will refuse to discuss anything of significance, offering instead meaningless 'concessions' that buy it some more time. And Obama will claim victory for his diplomacy and personal charisma.

Then, when Iran has the bomb, we'll urge Israel to dismantle its nuclear weapons so that the Mideast can pursue disarmament. If Israel attacks Iran to try to stop or at least damage its nuclear program, we'll apply sanctions - to Israel.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The good news

The good news is that I'm not going to share with you my opinion of the talks that just opened with Iran. Why don't you try to guess?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A great speech?

Here's a speech, short and to the point, that calls for the international community to focus on the dangerous actions of Iran and North Korea and, for once, do something about them. The speech was made by French president Nicholas Sarkozy, to the UN Security Council.

There is a problem, of course: Sarko says now is the time to decide what to do; that if we want a world without nuclear weapons, we can't let the international rules be violated. But all he's talking about is sanctions.

Why anyone would think sanctions would dissuade the Iranians and North Koreans from pursuing nuclear weapons is a mystery to me. Yet that's the only thing the international community, led by the United States, can come up with.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Liberal fascism

I finally read Jonah Goldberg's 2007 book, Liberal Fascism, and recommend it to anyone who is curious about where ideas come from and how history can be distorted for political and philosophical reasons.

As I recall, I learned in high school that the American Progressive movement flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, then petered out. Goldberg shows that this was far from the case. The Progressives instead became an important current in the Democratic party.

Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama come from this tradition which, as Goldberg points out, has ideals, goals and techniques in common with fascist movements. No, he doesn't argue that these or other Americans were fascists - but he points out similarities and links which were in fact noted at the time.

This is a history book, not a polemic, and Goldberg has done his research.

Crush Honduras

Yup, there's a serious threat to U.S. national security. You might name Iran, or the war in Afghanistan, or maybe North Korea - but you would be SOOO wrong. It's none of the above.

It's the current regime in Honduras. The United States has been consistently hostile to it; has called publicly for its demise; and has applied all kinds of sanctions, from withdrawing U.S. funds to denying U.S. visas to prominent Hondurans, including all members of the Supreme Court.

Now, the latest: the United States, along with the Organization of American States, will not accept the outcome of presidential elections in November unless former President Manuel Zelaya gets his job back. As Zelaya was thrown out of office since he wanted to be President for Life, this arrangement might seem a bit odd. The OAS, however, says he would only have limited authority.

I'm looking forward to the bestseller that explains how we got into this mess. Particularly since we so proud of not 'meddling' in Iran. I hope it names names!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nazis and the Mideast

The pro-Nazi past of key Arab leaders like the Mufti of Jerusalem remains a hot topic. A recent exhibition in Berlin was cancelled because it detailed the links between the Nazis and the Mufti, who led the opposition to the return of Jews to Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish state, as well as to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Nor were those links purely pragmatic: rather, the Mufti and the Brotherhood shared the goal of exterminating the Jews.

So why is this ancient history so explosive? Because it reverses the narrative of why there was so much resistance to establishing the State of Israel.

As the exhibition's author, Mr. Rössel, said "I wonder why the people who so one-sidedly regard Israel as the region's main problem never consider how the Mideast conflict would have developed had it not been influenced by fascists, anti-Semites and people who had just returned from their Nazi exile."

When, did you say?

Matthew and I were just talking about the latest revelation of a 'secret' Iranian nuclear facility in the city of Qom. Secret is indeed a term of art; it means secret from the public, not from the U.S. government, which has known about it since 2002.

There are two aspects to this puzzling announcement. First, it does make you wonder about our intelligence estimates. In 2007, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and kept it frozen. In 2007, we had known for five years about the 'secret' facility - so how could we have reached such a conclusion?

As for the second aspect: why is the Obama administration so confident that it can persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program by using diplomacy perhaps backed by sanctions? Wouldn't you think that the existence of at least one 'secret' undeclared nuclear facility would suggest otherwise?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Betrayal with a capital 'B'

Well, like a slow-motion crash, the Obama Administration finally dumped the missile defense system that was to be installed in Poland and the Czech Republic. The reason: we don't need it, because Iran's long-range missile program isn't on track. Instead, we're going to concentrate on short- and medium-range missile defense systems.

This news broke the same day that the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) announced it now believes Iran can build a nuclear weapon and is likely to 'overcome problems' on developing a delivery system.

I don't know whether our technical assessment of the threat is accurate. (Remember how good our intelligence has been on other threats? But I digress.) If the more immediate threat is the shorter-range missiles, then by all means we should protect against them. But to dismiss the other threat strikes me as short-sighted in the extreme.

I also don't know if the Russians will deliver a quid pro quo for this obvious concession. They're unlikely to support sanctions against Iran; as recently as last week Russian prime minister Putin's spokesman said sanctions were out of the question, especially since there were "no grounds to doubt" that Iran's nuclear program was purely peaceful - dazzling mendacity, especially given the IAEA report.

I also have no idea if there's any way to regain the trust of the Poles and Czechs, our good allies in both Iraq and Afghanistan, now we've pulled the rug out from under their feet so unceremoniously (we did, after all, sign agreements with them, for what the word of the United States is worth). In particular, it's a great way to celebrate the anniversary of the Soviet invasion and partition of Poland in 1939.

When we 'betrayed' Poland at Yalta, at least we had the reasonable excuse of not wanting to take on the Red Army which had already occupied Poland. There's absolutely no excuse this time around.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The international literary circuit

The prestigious Berlin Literature Festival kicked off on September 9 with a speech by Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy. Here, if you have the stomach for it, is a brief analysis of her remarks by Clemens Heni and myself. It's the latest of the anti-capitalist, anti-American, anti-Zionist rants that pass for wisdom in many intellectual circles. Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Talks with Iran

It all depends on what the meaning of 'is' is ... or, in this case, 'unconditional'. The Obama administration said it would hold talks with Iran without preconditions. Guess that just meant preconditions on our side, since Iran has made clear its precondition of no negotiations over the future of its nuclear program.

So the United States will join France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia in talks with Iran. Our rationale: we need to make this effort in order to justify sanctions. Since the Bush administration already participated in similar talks, and since Russia has just said no to any sanctions, that excuse is particularly pathetic.

The lack of courage on our part is sickening.

Be careful what you wish for

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Joe points out that the explanation in my previous blog entry about the mysterious Russian cargo ship doesn't make much sense. Inasmuch as the Russians have made no secret about their sales of anti-aircraft missiles to Iran and Syria, what leverage would the Israelis have to make them stop the shipment allegedly contained in the Arctic Sea?

Unfortunately, he does have a point; apologies for the confusion, and I'll have to wait for a better explanation.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Arctic Sea yet again

Remember the Russian cargo ship that disappeared for three weeks, reportedly the target of pirates operating in European waters? The latest speculation, which is linked to a secret trip Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu just made to Moscow, is that the Mossad found out the ship was carrying S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. (Thanks to Daily Alert.)

The Mossad reportedly gave the Kremlin "time and space to stop the delivery and cover it up in order to save face." In my earlier entry, I had reported the rumor that the Israelis had intercepted the ship themselves.

The Iranians presumably want the missiles in order to protect themselves from an Israeli strike against their nuclear facilities.

Human rights travesty

On September 29, the UN Human Rights Council will launch itself into another paroxysm of anti-Israeli venom, with the presentation of Richard Goldstone's investigation of "all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people" during the recent Gaza conflict.

Goldstone's report will be followed by one the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Navi Pillay, also on Gaza. As Anne Bayefsky of Eye on the UN reports, "Pillay's 80 paragraph report devotes 66 paragraphs to Israel and 8 paragraphs to Hamas. Her recommendations mention only Israel and never name 'Hamas.' In fact, she suggests that ... 'Hamas has also made public statements that it is committed to respect international human rights and humanitarian law.'"

The United States just joined the Human Rights Council, which in true UN Orwellian style is dominated by some of the world's worst human rights offenders. Just what will the U.S. representative will say in response to these reports? I'm sure most of the MSM won't tell us, but Eye on the UN will.

A new way to observe 9/11

It looks as if someone has found a way to disrupt jihadist websites, and has done so on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. MEMRI reports that the two most important ones, Al-Falluja and Shumukh Al-Islam, are not working. A third one, al-Ekhlaas, which was taken down a year ago, has reappeared but is suspected of being a front operated by an intelligence agency.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Good news from Canada

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal just ruled that a clause granting the Canadian Human Rights Commission the legal grounds to pursue such people as Mark Steyn for indulging in 'hate speech' is unconstitutional. This is great news - hate speech restrictions may be well-intentioned, but they end up restricting free speech.

As for Mark Steyn, he remarks that similar challenges to free speech lie in wait in the United States, in the form of Obama administration proposals to reimpose Fairness Doctrine restrictions and otherwise muzzle its political opponents.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Out of touch

According to NewsReal blog, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton were kept informed by the UK government on the process leading to the release and repatriation to Libya of PanAm bomber al-Megrahi.

That was indeed my assumption all along; I would find it absolutely incredible if the Brits had kept U.S. authorities in the dark on something like this. Apparently, neither Obama nor Clinton expected the U.S. public to have strong feelings about al-Megrahi's release. Speaking of out of touch politicians!


Yup, I've strayed yet again. This time, Libby and I co-wrote a piece on the American Thinker blog trying to guess what President Obama will way in his address to Congress on Wednesday on health care reform. We drew up a check-list of points we think he'll make; it'll be fun to see how it compares with the actual speech.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rifqa to stay in Florida

Good news - the Florida court ruled that Rifqa Bary may remain there as a ward of the state.

U.S. isolated on Honduras

The Obama administration is digging itself in ever deeper on policy toward Honduras. It is continuing to punish the Hondurans for not allowing former president Manuel Zelaya to resume his post, while the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of American States, and the European Union are going back to business as usual. Even Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez appears to have accepted that Zelaya will not be reinstated.

I assume Obama is doing this because (a) he thinks it's the right policy and/or (b) he's feeding one victory to the restive left wing of his party. He certainly isn't doing it because it's in the U.S. interest. (Thanks to Investor's Business Daily.)

Chemical weapons against Israel?

You may or may not remember it, but last July there was an explosion in a village near the Lebanese border. The explosion was apparently blew up an arms cache being stored there for use against Israel. Now there's a report that it was in fact chemical weapons, supplied to Hezbollah by Iran, via Syria, that blew up, and three Hezbollah terrorists died from the toxins, in addition to eight who died in the blast. (Thanks to Daily Alert.)

If you add this to the earlier report of some 40,000 Hezbollah rockets stocked in southern Lebanon, it seems pretty clear that Iran is serious about making Hezbollah even more of a threat to Israel than it was before the 2006 war. It also reveals the true impact of UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force, led by France, that was supposed to keep Hezbollah out of the border areas.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

German support for Afghan fight

John Rosenthal provides a needed correction here to a New York Times article stating that the German Free Democratic Party (FDP) has called for a withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan. The question is of importance, as the FDP is a potential coalition partner for Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, which at the moment is the expected winner in Germany's upcoming elections.

In fact, late last month FDP party chair Guido Westerwelle strongly defended the German presence in the country: "Nobody likes to send soldiers on foreign deployments. … So every reasonable politician wants to end foreign Bundeswehr missions as soon as possible. But Afghanistan cannot be permitted to become a base for terrorists again. [Our presence] in Afghanistan is, above all, about defending our security here in Germany. … It would be wrong to withdraw now, since tomorrow Kabul would then be the capital of world terrorism yet again."

That is also Angela Merkel's position, as stated in a newspaper interview August 21. It turns out that the German politician calling for a pullout is Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the head of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which is currently trailing in the polls. By coincidence, the New York Times wrongly reported Steinmeier as supporting the Afghan mission.

Why does this matter? Well, the mission in Afghanistan is a NATO one, and decisions must be made jointly. The United States spent years trying to persuade NATO allies to step up their involvement in Afghanistan. If President Obama now starts to waffle, it will really churn up the waters at NATO - in addition to any impact on Afghanistan, the Taliban or Al Qaeda.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Help Rifqa

Here, courtesy of Jihad Watch, is contact info for Florida Governor Charlie Christ and the Florida Department of Children and Family. Florida has granted Rifqa Bary 90-day temporary protection from her parents, who have threatened to kill her for converting to Christianity. If you want to urge the Florida authorities to make that decision permanent, please write to them. I'm not a great letter-writer but I have written to both.

If you want more info on the Noor Islamic Center in Columbus, Ohio, attended by Rifqa's parents, here it is - makes for chilling reading. The Center is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as Al Qaeda, and propagates values antithetical to our freedom of religion, among other things.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Missiles, anyone?

Here's an interesting piece on the mysterious Russian cargo ship, purportedly carrying some $2 million worth of timber from Finland to Algeria, that disappeared in European waters and re-emerged off the coast of West Africa.

Admiral Tarmo Kouts, the European Union's rapporteur on piracy and a former commander of the Estonian armed forces, speculated that the ship could have been intercepted by the Israelis as it took a cargo of weapons, most likely missiles, to the Mideast. And, indeed, Israeli President Shimon Perez apparently made a surprise visit to Moscow the day after the Russians recovered the ship.

Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin denied this story, saying Kouts should stop 'running his mouth.' I'd take that as confirmation! (Thanks to Daily Alert.)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Shame on us!

The U.S. government continues to apply strong pressure on the government of Honduras to permit former President Manuel Zelaya to return. The Wall Streeet Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady reports that U.S. visa services for Hondurans have been suspended indefinitely and that some $135 million in bilateral aid might be cut. And that's just what's in the public domain; what else, she wonders, is going on behind closed doors?

I suspect that many Americans, if they had any idea this was going on, would identify with the Hondurans who are simply trying to defend their democracy - after all, Zelaya wanted to make himself president-for-life just like his mentor and buddy, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Yup, it was the oil

Well, now we know: the next time there's a dispute and you have to choose between the verison offered by Saif Ghaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader, and UK prime minister Gordon Brown, go with Saif. He said that the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, was released in exchange for an oil deal. Indeed, that appears to have been the case according to this news report about leaked ministerial letters. Way to go, Gordie!

Hitler redux

This clever video offers a hilarious commentary on today's all-too-prevalent tendency for people to dub anyone whose politics they don't like 'Hitler'. In case you're wondering, the clip itself is from the recent movie Downfall, about Hitler's last days in the bunker in Berlin. (Thanks to Libby.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A big mistake

This news report alleges that U.S. officials have decided not to install a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, preferring instead other sites, perhaps in Turkey and Israel.

The missile defense system had become increasingly unpopular in both Poland and the Czech Republic by the end of the Bush Administration. It was also described, wrongly, as being technically deficient. However, it remained a symbol of U.S commitment to the region - a region increasingly under pressure from Russia.

A number of prominent Central and East European leaders recently wrote an open letter to the Obama administration asking it for a genuine commitment to the defense of NATO's eastern borders. Watch for a serious deterioration in our relations with those countries if we don't step up to the plate.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chinese organ transplants

Since the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet is - rightly - outraged at the thought that governments would harvest the organs of involuntary victims, I thought I'd volunteer data on cases that do exist. The Chinese government just acknowledged that it has been selling the organs of executed prisoners; here's a BBC undercover video describing how the system works.

I realize that there's no clear link, as yet, between the Chinese government and the Israeli Defense Forces, but I'm sure some enterprising Swede will find one.

Health care alternatives

Here I go again ... but this article is so interesting I couldn't leave it out. Journalist William Tate describes how Texas got medical costs down while significantly increasing the number of doctors and health care available to poorer segments of society.

-- It capped the non-economic damages from medical liability suits at $25,000 per defendant, or up to $750,000 per incident (actual costs are not capped).

-- It also stopped baseless but expensive lawsuits by requiring plaintiffs to provide expert-witness reports to support their claims within four months of filing.

-- The results: insurance rates down 27%, number of doctors applying to practice up 57%. The number of obstetricians practicing in rural Texas up 27%, etc.

Admittedly, this one step wouldn't fix everything; for example, we still need health insurance portability. But it sure would help.

Remember how Obama was booed when he refused to consider tort reform? Tate cites $178 million in lawyers' campaign donations to the Democrats in the 2008 election cycle, of which $43 million went to the Obama campaign. You do the math!

Rifqa Bary's parents

In case you watched the video of Rifqa Bary saying that her father wanted to murder her and you didn't quite believe it, here's some confirming evidence.

According to Pamela Geller, Rifqa's father sold his (apparently thriving) business on July 29 - after Rifqa had been discovered in Florida, and when it looked like she might be placed in a foster home in Ohio for 30 days. His action makes sense if you figure, as Rifqa said, that the family would return to Sri Lanka with her - and that she would either be murdered or put in an insane asylum.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Swedish influence

The saga of allegations that the Israeli military shoot Palestinians for their body parts continues with two new tidbits.

First, the Jerusalem Post reports that the family of the boy whose 1992 death was cited had never talked to foreign journalists, although someone remembered a Swedish photographer being present when the body was buried. More and more, this looks like a story of Swedish as much as of Palestinian origin.

Second, the Swedish Chancellor of Justice has been asked (by whom I don't know) to investigate whether the articles constituted 'racial agitation.' That is, of course, ridiculous. The question is whether the articles were libelous - "a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression" (Webster's Dictionary).

Inasmuch as the journalist said he had no proof the rumor he reported was true, it would be interesting to see him defend his work in court. At least it would be in the United States; I don't know the Swedish libel laws.

"You guys don't understand!"

No, that's not just a typical adolescent response, it's Rifqa Bary trying to make her interviewer understand that Islam is different from Christianity: that her father will killed her for converting to Christianity if she returns home; and that for her and others like her, religious freedom in America is a sham.

This piece by Frank Gaffney includes a video clip of Rifqa explaining her plight. Note that her family lives near the Noor Islamic Cultural Center, described as the 'premier source of Islamic extremism' in central Ohio. Rifqa has a 90-day stay of execution (literally) in Florida; look for this story to resurface just before Thanksgiving. (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

The UK bans an Islamist preacher

While revulsion against Guantanamo is mainstream in Europe, history will tell how much it was shaped by Islamist pressures. Here's a curious tale: UK authorities banned a video presentation by a radical Islamist preacher to a meeting in a public town hall. The purpose of the meeting: to raise funds for Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo. Of course, what I find curious is that the authorities actually banned the talk. (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

EU and Guantanamo

Reportedly, six EU member states have now publicly agreed to take Guantanamo inmates; another four said privately that they would do so, and five are mulling over the possibility. (There are 27 EU member states in total.) The U.S. government has identified 80 inmates as ready to be released, but there is no data available yet on how many each European country would accept.

Given that the EU has been one of the most vociferous critics of Guantanamo, it is only fitting that these countries help the Obama Administration close it down. This, however, is probably not what the Europeans envisioned when they dreamed of a post-Bush transformation in transatlantic relations.

Ducking and weaving

The Swedish government, which for now has the Presidency of the EU, has refused to condemn the 'blood libel' article that recently appeared in a major Swedish daily. The Swedes used the same argument as the Danish government when, despite strong pressure from Islamic governments and groups, it refused to condemn the cartoons of Mohammed.

So are the two situations comparable? I would argue that they are in one important sense complete opposites. Both the article and the cartoons were considered dangerous due to a connection to violence.

In the case of the cartoons, it was Muslim violence, which indeed was soon unleashed in many spots around the world and apparently, even today intimidates places like Yale University Press. (Although, as several commentators have pointed out, YUP may have been guided equally by hopes of getting Saudi or Gulf funding.)

In the case of the 'blood libel' article alleging that Israeli military killed Palestinians to harvest their organs, the most likely result will be increased hatred and violence against Israelis and Jews.

Seen in that light, the Swedish government's position is considerably less principled and noble. Meanwhile, the Swedish paper has published a second article, this time alleging that the IDF stole organs from a Palestinian teenager killed ... in 1992. Gee, recycling a 17-year-old rumor - sounds like the bottom of the barrel to me!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Discriminating banks

As you navigate your way through the gyrations of the U.S. banking industry with its welter of new and different charges on bank deposits and credit cards, you can comfort yourself. At least you're not dealing with Lloyds TSB in London, which charges its Muslim customers 15 pounds for an overdraft, and the non-Muslim ones 200 pounds.

Of course, any non-Muslim wishing to protect himself or herself against such overdraft charges could sign up for sharia-compliant financing ... now, where did I leave my headscarf?

Health care guide

The American Thinker blog has one of the best pieces I've seen about the health care reform proposals. Dr. Frank Rosenblum addresses 10 points made by President Obama with which he strongly disagrees. Most analyze the problems caused by the government's current interference in the health insurance system.

I had always thought that the fundamental problem with our system was that a third party, aside from doctor and patient, was involved in deciding how much to do and what it would cost. I thought that third party was the insurance company; now I realize it's the federal government.

One or two of the comments appended to this article are also extremely thoughtful. Enjoy!

Islamic human rights

In past entries, I've mentioned the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights, adopted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) that guts Western human rights standards by requiring them to be sharia-compliant.

Here's an example of how that works in practice: King Abdullah II of Jordan unleashed a firestorm by lifting the reservation Jordan had placed, years ago, on the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Jordan's Board of Fatwas denounced the decision.

As a Muslim Brotherhood leader noted: "Anything that contradicts the Sharia in the Convention (UN) is prohibited. A woman should not live and work as she wants because this would eliminate the sense of the word family, according to the Sharia." (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bye Bye Bin Mafouz

Saudi financier and king of libel tourism Khalid Bin Mafouz has just died at the age of 60. Here's a list of his various connections and nefarious activities, in case you're curious. Unfortunately, unless the United Kingdom changes its law, foreigners will still be able to bring suit there against American authors publishing uncomfortable facts. Nor has the U.S. Congress yet passed a comprehensive law to protect U.S. citizens from such judgments.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More from burkini watch

This London council musta been reading my blog...or else listening to its own outraged citizenry. Turns out that it has retracted its ruling requiring non-Muslims to swathe themselves in Muslim swimming attire when using the public pool at certain 'Muslim' hours. (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

Now, what other wrong can I right through the tremendous power of my blog???

Obama's Saudi policy

Michael Crowley analyzes here President Obama's reasons for courting Saudi king Abdullah, and his results thus far. The bottom line: Obama's program, especially his promises to close Guantanamo and to focus on the Mideast peace process, has made him dependent on the Saudis to a greater degree than President Bush was. Thus far he has very little to show for this approach.

Never a dull moment

A French-Israeli dual national is suing the EU at the European Court of Justice for failing to provide protection for its citizens from Hamas rockets. He argues that the EU is treaty-bound to 'offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers.' He further requests that the EU desist from funding the Palestinian Authority government in Gaza or other organizations likely to use the money for terrorism.

According to one of his lawyers, “There are about 300,000 European citizens living in Israel, and thousands of them are estimated to be living in range of terrorist rockets. The EU grants hundreds of millions of euros a year in aid to Gaza, and it is inconceivable that European citizens should be harmed by money supplied by the EU. It's time that the EU takes responsibility."

Eyal Katorza, the person who filed the suit, has lost his job and family business due to rocket attacks from Gaza. Something tells me this lawsuit won't fix those problems - but it will be very interesting nevertheless. For decades, the EU has gotten off scot free for funding Palestinian terrorism; maybe that will finally change.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Swedes pass on a 'blood libel'

Sweden's largest circulation daily has published an article suggesting that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians and harvested their organs. Essentially, the story is a modern reprise of the medieval 'blood libel' in which Jews were accused of killing Gentiles in order to use their blood to make matzos. It also builds on the recent arrest by the FBI of Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, a New York resident who allegedly sought to buy a kidney from an Israeli and sell it to an American patient for $160,000.

The article was strongly criticized by another major Swedish newspaper, as well as by Swedish and Israeli officials. As to the story's veracity, its author said he was worried by the allegations but could not vouch for their accuracy. "It concerns me, to the extent that I want it to be investigated, that's true. But whether it's true or not -- I have no idea, I have no clue." Nothing like hard-hitting investigative journalism! (Thanks to CNS News.)

Rotterdam fires Ramadan

Two years ago, the Dutch city of Rotterdam hired Tariq Ramadan, a controversial so-called 'moderate' Muslim, to advise it on relations with the city's Muslim minority. Now it wants to fire him. The reason is not that he has made alleged misogynistic or homophobic remarks; that charge caused a flap a year ago, but he rode it out. Nor is it that he couldn't bring himself to say that adulteresses shouldn't be stoned to death; he made that statement before he got the job in Rotterdam. Rather, it is that he hosts a weekly talk show on an Iranian, government-controlled TV channel.

Ramadan's defense is characteristic of him: "The present controversy says far more about the alarming state of politics in the Netherlands than about my person." (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

The Rotterdam city government is also funding Ramadan's appointment at Erasmus University, where he is a visiting professor of 'Citizenship and Identity'. I wonder what will happen to that arrangement.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Who fits in and who doesn't

German blogger Thomas Landen contrasts the way in which the German government treats Baptists and Muslims. Baptists who wish to homeschool their children are forbidden to do so (the government is enforcing a Nazi-era law); children have been forcibly separated from their parents, who were considered a bad influence on them.

On the other hand, the government allows Muslims to engage a wide range of overtly political behavior designed either to segregate Muslims from Germans and German society, or to assert the dominance of Islam.

Landen's explanation: the Baptists pose absolutely no threat of violence, which cannot be said of the Muslim minority. The government is simply allowing itself to be intimidated.

Next steps on Iran

Both the EU and the United States are considering sanctions against Iran for its failure to budge on the question of developing nuclear weapons. Germany, a critical trading partner of Iran, and the EU are considering such measures as stopping all exports of gasoline to Iran, or banning Iranian ships or aircraft from docking or landing in the EU.

So far, there is no joint EU-U.S. list; nor is it likely that China or Russia, two veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council, will be enthusiastic. If the Security Council refused to approve sanctions, the United States and the EU would then have to decide to do it on their own - definitely a less valuable step, but probably worth trying anyway.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dressing made hard

Here's a news item about a dispute in the UK: should non-Muslims be required to wear Islamic swimwear during certain hours in public swimming pools in order to meet Muslim requirements? A number of municipal pools in the UK have adopted such a requirement. French authorities are doing the opposite; a woman was told last week she could not wear a 'burkini' in a public pool. To find out just what a burkini is, you have to click on the link! (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

The U.S. Committee on Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent bipartisan committee mandated by Congress, recently weighed in on the subject of religious dress. It criticized the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which had upheld a French prohibition on the wearing of religious dress in schools.

USCIRF does good work, but in this case I think it confused religious garb with political/ideological symbols. It's not that big a step to go from allowing Muslims to wear identifying garments to helping them force non-Muslims do the same, as British swimmers are learning.


Last May, two Scud missiles fired by the Syrians reportedly went off course. Part of one landed in a village along the Syrian border with Turkey, killing 20 people in a market. Syrian military officials covered up by calling it a gas explosion. The missiles are being developed jointly by Syria, Iran and North Korea. (Thanks to Daily Alert.)

Islamist battle in Gaza

According to news reports, some 28 Palestinians were killed and more than 120 were wounded in Gaza last weekend as Hamas attacked a rival Islamist group, Jund Ansar Allah. On Friday, the group's leader, who had been told to turn over his mosque to Hamas' control, instead declared the establishment of an Islamic emirate in Palestine. In retrospect, he seems to have spoken too soon.

There are a number of other Islamist groups in Gaza; for an in-depth analysis of the currents and counter-currents, see this MEMRI analysis. Palestinians in Gaza who simply yearn for a normal life are in big trouble as long as these guys are competing for control.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A silver lining

Now that we have a 'salaries czar' to decide what corporate executives deserve to get, I'm hopeful that U.S. corporations are learning that taking the government's money is not without peril - extreme peril. Let's hope we're reaching the natural limit of government interventions.

Love that recession

The Wall Street Journal reported a day or two ago that France and Germany, the motors for Europe, are coming out of the recession. According to a piece by Rick Moran in the American Thinker, they are not alone: China and India are recovering as well. Among the most developed economies, only the United Kingdom and the United States are lagging behind.

Some of this is probably due to the huge overhang of U.S. consumer debt; Americans today are paying down their debts before running out to buy new stuff. This is an essential correction, but in the short term it means that consumer spending won't boost a recovery.

However, government policies also make a big difference. If you remember, France and Germany resisted pressure from President Obama and from the UK government to increase deficit spending. They argued that creating more government debt was not the answer - and looks like they were right.

Nor did either of these governments jump with both feet into the business of saving some big corporations by taking them over, while letting others fail. Nor has either of them, to the best of my knowledge, appointed a 'salaries czar' to decree how much corporate executives deserve. If you want to write a primer on how to destabilize an economy, be sure to include these techniques.