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?