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Posts Tagged ‘middle east’

Quagmire in the making: understanding the Syria situation

Posted by Richard on July 3, 2017

NetRightDaily has posted an excellent Syria explainer by Printus LeBlanc. How did the Syrian civil war come about? What foreign powers are entangled in it and why? Well, it’s about the Arab Spring. And it’s about the Sunni-Shia conflict. And it’s about gas and oil pipelines. And it’s about Russia’s only naval base on the Mediterranean Sea.

LeBlanc’s conclusion:

Regardless if this is a religious conflict, a political conflict, pipeline politics, or more likely a combination of all three, President Donald Trump must weigh all options — and get authorization from Congress — before acting to get the U.S. involved with a civil war with so many possibilities to become a wider regional or even global conflict.

A student of history might look at the situation in Syria, and see Europe leading up to WWI. One misstep could trigger alliances and defense pacts that lead to all-out war.


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Obama administration promotes indefensible borders for Israel

Posted by Richard on March 21, 2013

President Obama is finally visiting Israel, and he’s made all the appropriate statements about what a great friend and ally that nation is. But the video promoting the visit and the President’s itinerary tell a different story, as noted by the Washington Free Beacon:

The map of the Middle East displayed in an Obama administration video released days before President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel shows the Jewish state dispossessed of substantial parts of its current territory, including its capital.

The map of Israel, displayed repeatedly during the video, shows the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, northern Israel, and areas surrounding what is currently the West Bank as non-Israeli territory. The Golan Heights is shown as part of Syria; Jerusalem is shown as part of the West Bank; and northern Israel is shown as part of Lebanon.

The itinerary on the White House website also implies that Jerusalem is neither Israel’s capital nor even part of Israel.

The president’s schedule lists two stops in “Tel Aviv, Israel” and one in “Amman, Jordan” but his activities in Israel’s capital city are identified as taking place only in “Jerusalem” — with no country name attached. This keeps with a reluctantly-acknowledged administration policy of denying that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital or even a part of Israel.

The map in the Obama administration video shows borders that are simply indefensible. And the exclusion of Jerusalem denies over 3000 years of history in favor of the claims of the 7th-century barbarians who control Egypt and Saudi Arabia and appear to be Obama’s real friends.

Disgusting and contemptible. But not a surprise from this administration, which recently sent the radical Islamists ruling Egypt, who call Jews “the descendants of apes and pigs,” more money, tanks, and F16s.

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The refugees nobody remembers

Posted by Richard on July 13, 2012

June 20 was World Refugee Day. Ron Prosor, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, pointed out that there was one group of refugees that never got the world’s sympathy or even attention (emphasis added):

At the end of World War II, 850,000 Jews lived in Arab countries. Just 8,500 remain today. Their departure was no accident. After Arab leaders failed to annihilate Israel militarily in 1948, they launched a war of terror, incitement, and expulsion to decimate their own ancient Jewish communities.

In Iraq Jewish businessman Shafiq Adas, then the country’s wealthiest citizen, was immediately arrested on trumped-up charges and publicly lynched. This was followed by bombings targeting Jewish institutions, arbitrary arrests of Jewish leaders, and massive government seizures of property. Within years virtually all of Iraq’s 2,500-year-old Jewish community had fled, emptying the country of many of its greatest artists, musicians, and businessmen.

Similar scenes played out across the region, from Egypt to Syria to Libya to Yemen. State-sanctioned pogroms descended on Jewish neighborhoods, killing innocents and destroying ancient synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. New, draconian laws prevented Jews from public worship, forced them to carry Jewish identity cards, and seized billions of dollars in their property and assets. The total area of land confiscated from Jews in Arab countries amounts to nearly 40,000 square miles — about five times the size of Israel’s entire land mass.

Jews once made up a third of the population of Baghdad. Now, only seven remain.

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Obama administration supporting Islamists in the Middle East

Posted by Richard on February 21, 2012

The Investigative Project on Terrorism has posted a disturbing essay by Dr. Essam Abdallah, an Egyptian liberal intellectual and college professor, outlining how the Islamist lobby in the U.S., led by the Muslim Brotherhood front group CAIR, has shaped the Obama administration’s policies regarding the Arab Spring (emphasis added):

The most dramatic oppression of the region’s civil societies and the Arab Spring is not by means of weapons, or in the Middle East. It is not led by Gaddafi, Mubarak, Bin Ali, Saleh, or Assad. It is led by the powerful Islamist lobbies in Washington DC. People may find my words curious if not provocative. But my arguments are sharp and well understood by many Arab and middle eastern liberals and freedom fighters. Indeed, we in the region, who are struggling for real democracy, not for the one time election type of democracy have been asking ourselves since January 2011 as the winds of Arab spring started blowing, why isn’t the West in general and the United States Administration in particular clearly and forcefully supporting our civil societies and particularly the secular democrats of the region? Why were the bureaucracies in Washington and in Brussels partnering with Islamists in the region and not with their natural allies the democracy promoting political forces?

Months into the Arab Spring, we realized that the Western powers, and the Obama Administration have put their support behind the new authoritarians, those who are claiming they will be brought to power via the votes of the people. Well, it is not quite so.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Nahda of Tunisia, the Justice Party of Morocco and the Islamist militias in Libya’s Transitional National Council have been systematically supported by Washington at the expense of real liberal and secular forces. We saw day by day how the White House guided carefully the statements and the actions of the US and the State Department followed through to give all the chances to the Islamists and almost no chances to the secular and revolutionary youth. We will come back to detail these diplomatic and financial maneuvers which are giving victory to the fundamentalists while the seculars and progressives are going to be smashed by the forthcoming regimes.

Read the whole thing.

To understand the disgusting behavior with regard to the Arab Spring by the Obama administration (and the left in general), take note of three things.

First, the old saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Second, Barack Obama’s 2001 remarks dissing the U.S. Constitution (emphasis added):

But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendancy to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.

Third, Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg’s recent advice to Egypt not to emulate the U.S. Constitution (and its “negative liberties”), but instead to emulate constitutions that are modeled after the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights — a collection of “positive rights” (to a decent job, a nice place to live, plenty of food, free health care, etc.) creating a powerful government capable of redistributing anything and everything “equitably.”

The enemies of the Obama administration and leftists in general are those who embrace Lockean “negative rights,” individualism, limited government, and free markets.

The enemies of the Islamofascists in the Middle East are those who embrace Lockean “negative rights,” individualism, limited government, and free markets.

Thus the enemies of the Obama administration and leftists in general are also the enemies of the Islamofascists. Ipso facto, the Islamofascists are friends of the Obama administration and the left in general.

Politically, the Islamofascists are both authoritarians and egalitarians. Members of the Obama administration and leftists in general are both authoritarians and egalitarians. Authoritarians and egalitarians are inevitably drawn to each other. This is not news to anyone who’s read David Horowitz’s Unholy Alliance.

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Making the UN look quick and decisive

Posted by Richard on March 18, 2011

You know the expression "a day late and a dollar short"? This is a month late and a couple of squadrons of F22s short:

The United Nations Security Council approved a resolution Thursday evening authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya and other military action against Libya, as the Obama administration worked to ready plans to enforce a no-fly zone with help from Arab and European allies.

Nice to know that the US is now working to ready plans. Only 31 days after President Obama declared that Gaddafi must go.

The United States, France and Britain pushed for speedy approval because Muammar al-Qaddafi's forces are advancing toward opposition-held Benghazi. The Libyan leader vowed Thursday night to oust the rebels from their eastern stronghold.

France and Britain have been pushing for some time. The US has been distracted by the President's need to attend fund-raisers, plan vacations, and fill his brackets.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said if the resolution was approved, France would support military action against Qaddafi within hours. The U.S. said it was preparing for action.

France is ready to act within hours. The US is still, after more than a month, "preparing."

In the last four weeks, compared to France, the US has looked weak, indecisive, and unprepared. Boy, the world sure has changed in the last two years. 

Last week, I said "Reasonable people can disagree over whether we should intervene, but this dithering is the worst of all possible responses." Let me amend that a bit: Dithering even longer — until the allies who used to look to the US for leadership decide to take the lead themselves — and then belatedly agreeing to act, apparently without having a plan in place for doing so, is the worst of all possible responses. 

Gaddafi's fighter jets and helicopter gunships have been pounding rebel forces and civilian populations in rebel-supporting regions for more than a month. No one knows how many have died. Now that the rebels have been decimated, Gaddafi's mercenaries are ready to drive them out of their last stronghold, Benghazi, and the defeat of the rebellion seems almost certain, the US is almost ready to act.

This is simply disgusting and shameful. It would have been better if the President had declared 31 days ago that what happens in Libya is none of our concern and had unequivocally pledged not to intervene in its internal affairs. 

This, as I said, was the worst of all possible responses. For weeks, it gave brave freedom fighters false hope. Now, when it's almost certainly too late, it lets us pretend to be concerned and engaged. While leaving in charge the same UN that put Libya on its Human Rights Council.

The rebels were right to cry out for help from Bush.

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Voting present on Libya

Posted by Richard on March 10, 2011

As the brutal Gaddafi regime, bolstered by growing numbers of mercenary troops, continues to bomb and strafe its citizens from the air unimpeded, and gradually gains the upper hand over those fighting for freedom, the Obama administration is still "considering a range of options." Reasonable people can disagree over whether we should intervene, but this dithering is the worst of all possible responses. It's reminiscent of how the U.N. has responded in the face of genocides.

US, NATO, and EU officials are still talking about an Iraq-like no-fly zone — but they've been doing that for more than a month. I think we should have imposed a no-fly zone weeks ago, but not like that endless nonsense that dragged on for years over Iraq.

We should do it the way a couple of my friends suggested last Saturday — by taking out the Libyan Air Force. They can't bomb their civilian population if their jets are turned into smoking piles of debris on the tarmac. With some half-way decent planning and execution, we could destroy virtually all their planes on the ground in a matter of hours, shoot down the few that get in the air, and then go home.

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Return of the Bush Doctrine

Posted by Richard on March 6, 2011

Charles Krauthammer nailed it on Friday, pointing out that some of the same people who denounced the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime are now clamoring for the West to do something about Moammar Gaddafi, a far less murderous and dangerous tyrant:

A strange moral inversion, considering that Hussein's evil was an order of magnitude beyond Gaddafi's. Gaddafi is a capricious killer; Hussein was systematic. Gaddafi was too unstable and crazy to begin to match the Baathist apparatus: a comprehensive national system of terror, torture and mass murder, gassing entire villages to create what author Kanan Makiya called a "Republic of Fear."

No matter the hypocritical double standard. Now that revolutions are sweeping the Middle East and everyone is a convert to George W. Bush's freedom agenda, it's not just Iraq that has slid into the memory hole. Also forgotten is the once proudly proclaimed "realism" of Years One and Two of President Obama's foreign policy – the "smart power" antidote to Bush's alleged misty-eyed idealism.

It began on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first Asia trip, when she publicly played down human rights concerns in China. The administration also cut aid for democracy promotion in Egypt by 50 percent. And cut civil society funds – money for precisely the organizations we now need to help Egyptian democracy – by 70 percent.

This new realism reached its apogee [I'd say its nadir] with Obama's reticence and tardiness in saying anything in support of the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran. On the contrary, Obama made clear that nuclear negotiations with the discredited and murderous regime (talks that a child could see would go nowhere) took precedence over the democratic revolutionaries in the street – to the point where demonstrators in Tehran chanted, "Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them."

There was a telling moment in Libya the other day, when rebels begged for Bush

Now that revolution has spread from Tunisia to Oman, however, the administration is rushing to keep up with the new dispensation, repeating the fundamental tenet of the Bush Doctrine that Arabs are no exception to the universal thirst for dignity and freedom.

Now, it can be argued that the price in blood and treasure that America paid to establish Iraq's democracy was too high. But whatever side you take on that question, what's unmistakable is that to the Middle Easterner, Iraq today is the only functioning Arab democracy, with multiparty elections and the freest press. Its democracy is fragile and imperfect – last week, security forces cracked down on demonstrators demanding better services – but were Egypt to be as politically developed in, say, a year as is Iraq today, we would think it a great success.

For Libyans, the effect of the Iraq war is even more concrete. However much bloodshed they face, they have been spared the threat of genocide. Gaddafi was so terrified by what we did to Saddam & Sons that he plea-bargained away his weapons of mass destruction. For a rebel in Benghazi, that is no small matter.

Yet we have been told incessantly how Iraq poisoned the Arab mind against America. Really? Where is the rampant anti-Americanism in any of these revolutions? …

It's Yemen's president and the delusional Gaddafi who are railing against American conspiracies to rule and enslave. The demonstrators in the streets of Egypt, Iran and Libya have been straining their eyes for America to help. …

Facebook and Twitter have surely mediated this pan-Arab (and Iranian) reach for dignity and freedom. But the Bush Doctrine set the premise.

While his critics were making sneering jokes about My Pet Goat, George W. Bush was reading Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy and embracing the transformational power of liberty. How many bloody Middle East dictatorships must fall before he's awarded a Nobel Peace Prize?

Who am I kidding? There aren't enough murderous dictatorships in the world for that to happen.

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Pipes is becoming optimistic!

Posted by Richard on March 1, 2011

When Natan Sharansky expressed cautious optimism about events in Egypt about a month ago, those of us who read The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror weren't exactly shocked. But when Daniel Pipes, of all people, writes a column entitled "My Optimism on the New Arab Revolt," that's a real surprise. And a must read. Here's the nut:

The revolts over the past two months have been largely constructive, patriotic, and open in spirit. Political extremism of any sort, leftist or Islamist, has been largely absent from the streets. Conspiracy theories have been the refuge of decayed rulers, not exuberant crowds. The United States, Great Britain, and Israel have been conspicuously absent from the sloganeering. (Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi blamed unrest in his country on al-Qaeda spreading hallucinogenic drugs.)

One has the sense that the past century’s extremism — tied to such figures as Amin al-Husseini, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ruhollah Khomeini, Yasser Arafat, and Saddam Hussein — has run its course, that populations seek something more mundane and consumable than rhetoric, rejectionism, and backwardness.

Pessimism serves as a career enhancer in Middle East studies and I am known for doom-and-gloom. But, with due hesitation, I see changes that could augur a new era, one in which infantilized Arabic speakers mature into adults. One rubs one’s eyes at this transformation, awaiting its reversal. So far, however, it has held.

Perhaps the most genial symbol of this maturation is the pattern of street demonstrators cleaning up after themselves. No longer are they wards of the state dependent on it for services; of a sudden, they are citizens with a sense of civic responsibility.

I, too, was struck by the demonstrators cleaning up Cairo's Tahrir Square. It reminded me of our Tea Party rallies. At every Tea Party rally I'm aware of, the attendees picked up all the trash afterward and left the place cleaner than before. Compare that to any leftist gathering (for example, see here and here).

When I saw a news clip of Egyptians cleaning up the square, I did a little fist pump and exclaimed "Yesss!" This is how people who see themselves as citizens, not subjects, behave. They embrace both freedom and personal responsibility. 

I share Pipes' and Sharansky's cautious optimism, and I consider these spontaneous, self-directed cleanup efforts as a very hopeful sign. Three cheers for "the transformational power of liberty"!

(Dare I say it again? I blame Bush! It was he who told the Washington press corps , "If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy read Natan Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy." It was he who talked about a "freedom deficit" in the Middle East and predicted that the example of a liberated and democratic Iraq could trigger change throughout the region. It seems that prediction is coming true. Who knew that Chimpy McBushitler was so prescient?)

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The “peace activists” fraud

Posted by Richard on June 3, 2010

Five of the six ships in the "humanitarian flotilla" that tried to break the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza were boarded peacefully by IDF soldiers. The blockade is necessary and justified under international law in order to prevent massive shipments of rockets and other munitions to Hamas for attacks on Israel. The ships were escorted to an Israeli port, where the passengers were allowed to disembark.

Their cargo, after inspection, will be forwarded into Gaza by land. Along with the hundred or so tractor-trailers that pass through Israeli checkpoints into Gaza every day — there is no "humanitarian crisis" or shortage of food, water, and other merchandise in Gaza; the store shelves are full. 

So what was different about the sixth ship, the Mavi Marmara, where all the violence occurred? This was the ship of a Turkish Islamofascist terrorist organization called IHH. It was full of self-described mujahideen eager to become shahid (martyrs) in the cause of annihilating the Jews. A number of them are reportedly al Qaeda members. They were armed, organized, and positioned for a battle before the Israelis boarded. The Israeli soldiers were set upon with knives, iron pipes, and concussion grenades the moment they set foot on deck. 

Most of the mainstream media — and shamefully, the U.S. and other Western governments — were too busy shedding tears for the poor "peace activists" and quickly rushing to condemn Israel to wait even a few hours for the true story to begin to come out. Most are still failing to report what really happened — that the Israelis were the victims, not the aggressors, and that this was a deliberate propaganda stunt. The jihadists know that they can always count on our media to abet them in such efforts. 

For more about these "peace activists," go here and here. And here, too. For tons of info, links, and videos, see Backspin's liveblogging parts one and two. And this HonestReporting alert. You can read about and watch video of Netanyahu's excellent response to this travesty here.

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The truth about Israel and the Palestinians

Posted by Richard on May 9, 2008

This, the 60th anniversary of Israel's Declaration of Independence, is an appropriate time to counter some of the falsehoods about how the current situation came to be — falsehoods that the Palestinians and their many sympathizers and apologists have so successfully promoted. The Terrorism Awareness Project has two excellent resources I commend to you wholeheartedly.

The first is a Flash movie entitled What Really Happened In the Middle East that's a terrific short history lesson (less than ten minutes). It refutes the most oft-repeated lies about Israel and the Palestinians, and it does so in a clear, direct, and riveting manner. Watch it. Then tell your friends to watch it.

The second is a fine essay by Steven Plaut, "How 'Nakba' Proves There's No Palestinian Nation." The enemies of Israel refer to its founding in 1948 as the "nakba" — or "catastrophe" — and tell a fable about the 1948 origin of the term. Plaut described a much earlier use of the term, citing a thoroughly biased source for his account — the 1938 book The Arab Awakening by George Antonius, a rabid anti-Zionist and Arab nationalist. The real origin of "nakba" had nothing to do with Jews, Israel, or Palestinian self-determination:

Before World War I, the entire Levant – including what is now Israel, the "occupied territories," Jordan, Lebanon and Syria – was comprised of Ottoman Turkish colonies. When Allied forces drove the Turks out of the Levant, the two main powers, Britain and France, divided the spoils between them. Britain got Palestine, including what is now Jordan, while France got Lebanon and Syria.

The problem was that the Palestinian Arabs saw themselves as Syrians and were seen as such by other Syrians. The Palestinian Arabs were enraged that an artificial barrier was being erected within their Syrian homeland by the infidel colonial powers – one that would divide northern Syrian Arabs from southern Syrian Arabs, the latter being those who were later misnamed "Palestinians."

The bulk of the Palestinian Arabs had in fact migrated to Palestine from Syria and Lebanon during the previous two generations, largely to benefit from the improving conditions and job opportunities afforded by Zionist immigration and capital flowing into the area. In 1920, both sets of Syrian Arabs, those in Syria and those in Palestine, rioted violently and murderously.

On page 312 of The Arab Awakening, Antonius writes, "The year 1920 has an evil name in Arab annals: it is referred to as the Year of the Catastrophe (Am al-Nakba). It saw the first armed risings that occurred in protest against the post-War settlement imposed by the Allies on the Arab countries. In that year, serious outbreaks took place in Syria, Palestine, and Iraq." 

So, rather than symbolizing the crushing of Palestinian aspirations for a state, the term "nakba" instead proves they never had such aspirations — until they wanted to justify their desire to wipe out the Jews. Read the whole thing. But I can't resist one more excerpt:

Speaking of Palestinians as Syrians, it is worth noting what one of the early Syrian nationalists had to say. The following quote comes from the great-grandfather of the current Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad:

"Those good Jews brought civilization and peace to the Arab Muslims, and they dispersed gold and prosperity over Palestine without damage to anyone or taking anything by force. Despite this, the Muslims declared holy war against them and did not hesitate to massacre their children and women…. Thus a black fate awaits the Jews and other minorities in case the Mandates are cancelled and Muslim Syria is united with Muslim Palestine."

That statement is from a letter sent to the French prime minister in June 1936 by six Syrian Alawi notables (the Alawis are the ruling class in Syria today) in support of Zionism. Bashar's great-grandfather was one of them.

I wonder what Assad would say today about his pro-Zionist great-grandpa. I wonder what the Middle East would be like if the views of the Alawis in 1936 had become more widely accepted, instead of the pro-Nazi views of men like Haj Amin al Husseini and Sami al Joundi.

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225 years of jihad against the U.S.

Posted by Richard on February 15, 2008

Practically since 9/12/01, people ranging from libertarians to moderate liberals to barking moonbats have argued that some Muslims wish to harm us because of our 50 years of interventionism in the Middle East. Anyone who actually bothered to learn about al Qaeda and other jihadist organizations soon realized that was nonsense. Nonetheless, this "grievance" theory remains quite popular.

An outstanding article by Melvin E. Lee in the latest Middle East Quarterly not only affirmed my thinking on this subject, but provided a wealth of historical infomation (heavily footnoted) that was new to me.

I studied U.S. history before most of the factual content was removed from the texts, so I knew a bit about the acts of piracy that began in the 1780s and eventually led to the Barbary Wars. But I had no idea that these "pirates" were actually the first jihadis to attack the United States, and that they made their goals as clear then as their successors do today: 

What Americans and Europeans saw as piracy, Barbary leaders justified as legitimate jihad. Jefferson related a conversation he had in Paris with Ambassador Abdrahaman of Tripoli who told him that all Christians are sinners in the context of the Qur'an and that it was a Muslim's "right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to enslave as many as they could take as prisoners."[11] Islam gave great incentive to fighting infidels, Abdrahaman explained, because the Qur'an promised that making war against infidels ensured a Muslim paradise after death.[12] Richard O'Brien, the imprisoned captain of the Philadelphia merchantman Dauphin and later the U.S. consul to Algiers, related similar conversations with ‘Ali Hasan, the ruler of Algiers.[13] Ottoman leaders used the same rationale to justify the enslavement and trading of captives from the Balkans, Caucasus, and Ukraine.[14]

The role that jihadi ideology played in the Barbary wars is documented with explicit references to jihad and holy war in the treaties that U.S. officials entered into with Muslim rulers. Tunis and Algiers, as the western outposts of the Ottoman Empire, even described themselves to American envoys as the "frontier posts of jihad against European Christianity."[15]

Even back then, Americans wouldn't take the Muslim rulers at their word, and tried hard to promote the Rodney King philosophy: "Can't we all just get along?"  

U.S. officials took a conciliatory attitude. Realizing that the North Africans were hypersensitive to the historic conflict between Islam and European Christianity, especially in the context of the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, U.S. officials bent over backwards to deny the religious and ideological nature of the conflict, especially to the Muslims themselves. They realized that religious conflict might jeopardize the commerce that the United States still hoped to find in the Mediterranean. In 1821, President John Quincy Adams was barely able to resist assisting the Greeks in their war of independence when both the American and European publics urged war with the Ottoman Empire.[16] The founders possessed a deep conviction for religious tolerance and proudly explained in the short-lived 1797 treaty with Tripoli that the U.S. was not a Christian state at all but rather one which had no official religion and maintained laws forbidding the prohibition of religion.[17] Perhaps their denial of the religious and ideological nature of the conflict foreshadowed the attitude many Washington policymakers adopt today. Then as now, it has become the basis of a fundamental misunderstanding of the root of the conflict.

From these 18th- and early-19th-century roots, Lee traces the history of relations between the U.S. and the Muslim Middle East to the present day. This essay is an eye-opener and simply a must read for anyone who wishes to think or talk intelligently about this issue. Highly recommended. 

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Palestinians aren’t that crazy

Posted by Richard on January 7, 2008

Reading news stories about Israel and the Palestinians, or looking at clips from Palestinian TV at MEMRI or LGF, it's easy to develop a very pessimistic attitude and to generalize that the people I've called "paleostinians" are almost universally Jew-hating, murderous, barbaric, and completely irrational.

Well, the belief that Jews are subhuman seems to be pretty universal, and there's certainly far too much murderousness and barbarism. But according to Daniel Pipes, most Israeli Arabs aren't all that irrational — they'd rather be governed by the Jewish "dogs and pigs" than by the Palestinian Authority. That's become especially clear since Ehud Olmert suggested in October that maybe parts of East Jerusalem could be transferred to the PA:

Indeed, Olmert's musings prompted some belligerent responses. As the title of a Globe and Mail news item puts it, "Some Palestinians prefer life in Israel: In East Jerusalem, residents say they would fight a handover to Abbas regime." The article offers the example of Nabil Gheit, who, with two stints in Israeli prisons and posters of "the martyr Saddam Hussein" over the cash register in his store, would be expected to cheer the prospect of parts of eastern Jerusalem coming under PA control.

Not so. As mukhtar of Ras Khamis, near Shuafat, Gheit dreads the PA and says he and others would fight a handover. "If there was a referendum here, no one would vote to join the Palestinian Authority. … There would be another intifada to defend ourselves from the PA."

Two polls released last week, from Keevoon Research, Strategy & Communications and the Arabic-language newspaper As-Sennara, survey representative samples of adult Israeli Arabs on the issue of joining the PA, and they corroborate what Gheit says. Asked, "Would you prefer to be a citizen of Israel or of a new Palestinian state?" 62 percent want to remain Israeli citizens and 14 percent want to join a future Palestinian state. Asked, "Do you support transferring the Triangle [an Arab-dominated area in northern Israel] to the Palestinian Authority?" 78 percent oppose the idea and 18 percent support it.

Read the whole thing.

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Where are the dead children this time?

Posted by Richard on July 13, 2007

Have you been following the news from Lebanon? For some time now, the Lebanese army has been slugging it out with Islamofascist militias. The recent fighting has involved Sunni jihadists associated with Hamas and/or al Qaeda, not the Shi’ite Iranian proxies of Hezbollah. Here’s the latest report and photo from the AP via Fox News:

AP: "Smoke rises from artillery shell landing in refugee camp."Islamic militants fired back volleys of rockets at the Lebanese army on Friday as troops pounded the remaining suspected hideouts of the Fatah Islam fighters holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon.

Regular artillery and tank fire could be seen falling on Nahr el-Bared, sending plumes of black smoke rising in the air over the refugee camp’s bullet-punctured buildings.

The story goes on to describe the rocket fire, the heavy bombardment of the “camp” on Thursday, the number of soldiers killed, and various tactical and other matters. Reuters has a similar story with similar pictures.

Reading these and other recent reports has made me wonder about some things.

The Lebanese army is fighting jihadists holed up in civilian neighborhoods, just as the Israelis did last year, and the Lebanese artillery and tank attacks seem much less restrained and precise. Why is the coverage so different? The AP story quoted above is 18 paragraphs long, and it isn’t until the 17th and 18th paragraphs that civilians are mentioned (emphasis added):

At least 60 militants and more than 20 civilians have been reported killed in the fighting, the country’s worst internal violence since the 1975-90 civil war. The camp housed more than 30,000 Palestinian refugees before the battles began.

Most of the camp’s residents already have fled, but a few thousand are thought to have stayed in their homes.

A few thousand civilians stayed? Look at the photo above and the others at the Reuters story linked above. That kind of bombardment of a densely-populated area has been going on for days. Don’t you suppose the “more than 20” reported killed is the tip of the iceberg? Why are the AP and Reuters not even bothering to provide an accurate count of the reported civilian casualties, much less an estimate of actual civilian casualties?

Why are civilian casualties barely worth noticing this summer? Last July, when Israel’s precision strikes against Hezbollah occasionally produced civilian casualties, AP and Reuters cranked out an endless series of breathless stories and photos documenting every last corpse and grieving woman. Where are the dead children and bloody shirts this time? Where is this summer’s equivalent of “green helmet man”? Why are AP and Reuters so much less interested in civilians killed by Lebanese than civilians killed by Israelis?

And one more question. Why are communities filled with 6- and 8-story apartment buildings called “refugee camps”?

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We’re not losing

Posted by Richard on March 14, 2007

The inimitable Col. Austin Bay's latest column, available at StrategyPage, RealClearPolitics, and TCS Daily, is just outstanding:

The chattering class nostrum that Free Iraq and its coalition allies have "lost the Iraq war" is so blatantly wrong it would be a source of laughter were human life and hope-inspiring liberty not at such terrible risk.

In terms of fundamental historical changes favoring 21st century freedom and peace, what Free Iraq and its Coalition allies have accomplished in four short years is nothing short of astonishing.

The Iraqi people are earning their victory and their liberty.

Read. The. Whole. Thing. Then go to his blog to read more thoughts about his Birmingham-Baghdad analogy. Marvelous!


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Family matters

Posted by Richard on February 16, 2007

Also from Solomonia: Stanley Kurtz has some terribly important information about an essential cultural difference that helps explain Islamic terrorism. It’s a theory that Kurtz began exploring in his review — and rejection — of Dinesh D’Souza’s The Enemy at Home. In fact, you should probably read that review first

You’ll also want to read Root Causes, Kurtz’s review of Bernard Lewis’ book, What Went Wrong? After all that prefatory material, you’re ready for Kurz’s initial essay about Islamic cousin marriage and its consequences:

In this first in a series of essays on Muslim cousin-marriage, I want to begin to make the case that Muslim kinship structure is an unexamined key to the war on terror. While the character of Islam itself is unquestionably one of the critical forces driving our global conflict, the nature of Islamic kinship and social structure is at least as important a factor — although this latter cluster of issues has received relatively little attention in public debate. Understanding the role of Middle Eastern kinship and social structure in driving the war not only throws light on the weaknesses of arguments like D’Souza’s, it may also help us devise a new long-term strategy for victory in the war on terror.

Read the whole thing. Please. As Sol said, it’s tough to excerpt, but it’s incredibly important information. It just blew me away.

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