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.)