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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 1, 2012.
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Terrorists admit plot to bomb London Stock Exchange and US Embassy

From the Telegraph

Four al-Qaeda inspired terrorists have pleaded guilty to plotting a Christmas bomb attack on the London Stock Exchange, the American embassy and the home of London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Two of the men conducted a surveillance trip around central London and also talked about launching a Mumbai-style attack on Parliament. A “target list” was found at the home of the ring-leader which listed the names and addresses of Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, as well as two Rabbis and the American Embassy. It had on it the letters ‘LXC’ for London Stock Exchange. Torn pieces of paper showed a sketch of what is believed to be a car bomb.

The men, from London, Stoke and Cardiff, were inspired by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) and used their English-language magazine Inspire as a guide. (In particular an article entitle "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom")

In Stoke the gang talked about attacking local pubs and clubs but decided to travel abroad to get more training. In East London, Mohammed Chowdhury, 21, the ring leader, and Shah Rahman, 29, were under surveillance as they toured central London sites for six hours between 3.30pm and 9.30pm on November 28 2010. In the bedroom at Chowdhury’s flat in the Isle of Dogs, police found a handwritten target list on a folded piece of A4 paper on the computer desk.

The Stoke group have their origins in Pakistan, while the London and Cardiff groups were originally from Bangladesh. The three groups were inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, one of the leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular, who died in a drone attack last year.

The defendants made contact with each other through dawah – proselytising - or by Paltalk or other internet messaging. Meetings took place in November and December 2010 at which the defendants planned to use explosive devices to attack significant locations in London and around the country.

The London and Cardiff groups were keen to act quickly, at first talking about sending mail bombs through the Royal Mail and then deciding on a plan to set off bombs in the toilets of the stock exchange. The Stoke group talked about persuading others to take bombs into pubs in their area so that they would explode.

The nine, all British nationals, were due to stand trial at Woolwich Crown Court but changed their pleas at the 11th hour. They admitted the crime after a Goodyear hearing was held to give them an indication of their maximum sentences. The judge, Mr Justice Wilkie told Chowdhury he would receive 18-and-a-half years and Rahman, 17 years. But the duo will only serve in the region of six years - because five are served on licence, prisoners only serve half their term as standard and they have already been behind bars for more than 12 months.

Abdul Miah, 25, said to be at the centre of the Cardiff gang, and his brother Omar Latif, 28, pleaded guilty to taking part in the Stock Exchange plot. Gurukanth Desai, 30 (is he a convert to Islam?), pleaded guilty to attending meetings. Mohibur Rahman, 27, from Stoke pleaded guilty to possession of a document containing information useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism. Usman Khan, 20, Mohammed Shahjahan, 27, and Nazam Hussain, 26, all from Stoke pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism.

Posted on 02/01/2012 5:12 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Yoram Ettinger: Attack Iran At All Costs

From Israel Hayom:

The discussion about the cost of a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities has added value only if it is intended to advance the attack and neutralize the potential response from Iran and its allies. The discussion becomes harmful, plays into Iran's hands and threatens Israel's existence if it reflects hesitancy, skepticism, aiming to preclude pre-emption, and if it assumes that Israel can co-exist with a nuclear-armed Iran.

On May 12, 1948, the People's Administration in pre-state Israel decided by a vote of six to four to declare independence and include Jerusalem within Israel’s boundaries, despite internal opposition and pressure by the U.S. and despite a terrible price: The U.S. withheld military aid, threatened economic sanctions and surmised that the declaration would result in a second Holocaust, this time at the hands of the Arabs. Then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion refused to abide by the American request to postpone the declaration of independence by a few years, knowing that such a delay would be tragic in the long run, and that independence exacts a painful price.

On Oct. 5, 1973, the eve of the Yom Kippur War, then Prime Minister Golda Meir rejected the option of a pre-emptive strike to repel the clear and present danger of a joint Egyptian-Syrian attack. She was concerned about the cost of such a strike – namely appearing as the aggressor and severely damaging ties with the U.S. – and preferred to be portrayed as the victim. However, the terrible, long-term cost of that war has been far greater than pre-emptive action would have been. As expected, Israel was not viewed as a victim, but rather as a country that lost the "spirit of the Six-Day War," eroding is own deterrent power and undermining its position as a strategic asset for the U.S.

In June 1981, on the eve of the destruction of the nuclear reactor in Iraq, then Prime Minister Menachem Begin weighed the cost of a pre-emptive strike versus the cost of inaction. The heads of the Mossad and Military Intelligence, former Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, opposition leader Shimon Peres, Deputy Prime Minister Yigael Yadin, Israel's national security adviser and the Head of the Atomic Energy Commission all opposed striking Iraq. They presented apocalyptic scenarios that would result from such action: an irreparable rift with the U.S., harsh sanctions, conflict with the Soviet Union and Western Europe, reconciliation between Muslim countries and a pan-Islamic attack, threats to the peace treaty with Egypt and other doomsday events. They underestimated the probability of a successful pre-emptive attack and overestimated Iraq's military capabilities. Some claimed there was a greater chance of seeing Israeli pilots being dragged through the streets of Baghdad than being welcomed back to their bases.

But Begin decided in favor of a pre-emptive strike, ultimately determining that the cost of restraint could be far greater than that of a pre-emptive strike; that a nuclear threat would subordinate Israel both politically and militarily; that a nuclear attack could not be ruled out considering the violent, unpredictable nature of regimes in the region, and that the ratio of Israeli territory to that of surrounding Arab states (0.2%) did not allow for a Mutual Assured Destruction. Begin understood that the window of opportunity for a strike against Iraq's nuclear reactor was about to close. The destruction of the reactor drew short-term isolation, which was promptly substituted by a long-term strategic esteem and cooperation.

In 2012, after a decade of failed attempts at engagement and sanctions, and in light of the assistance (in terms of development and acquisition) Iran has received from Pakistan, North Korea, Russia and China for its nuclear program, Israel must decide between launching a pre-emptive attack to eliminate that threat or withstanding it. Opponents of an attack warn that it could potentially result in a harsh response from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, international anger directed at Israel over higher oil prices, a wave of terror and Persian Gulf turbulence. Yet, these pale in comparison to the deadly cost of a nuclear threat, which includes a withdrawal of overseas and Israeli investors from the country, a record number of Israeli emigrants and a sharp decline of aliyah (Jewish immigration), dwindling tourism, intensified military-political-economic dependence on the U.S., a more powerful and influential Iranian regime that takes control of the Persian Gulf and the transformation of Israel from a strategic asset to a strategic liability. Israel would wither without even one nuclear warhead needing to be launched.

A pre-emptive attack against Iran would exact a non-lethal and short-term cost, but would boost Israel's long-term strategic image. It would also provide a tailwind for the opposition to the ayatollahs' regime. Will Israel embrace the legacy of Ben-Gurion and Begin, or that of their opponents?

Posted on 02/01/2012 6:18 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
A Comment On Yoram Ettinger


In his piece -- just posted here -- Yoram Ettinger mentions 1948, and the attempt by the American government to dissuade the Jews of Israel from declaring their independence, which attempt at dissuasion included an arms embargo. He mentions the Yom Kippur War, in which Golda Meir held back, which resulted in great peril, unnecessary losses, and subsequent strategic woes for Israel. He mentions the attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor, opposed by so many, but undertaken by Begin (who when he was not giving away the store, because of all the vicious undercutting of his position, and personal hectoring of him, by twoantisemites, Jimmy Carter and Zbiginiew Brzezinski, could act appropriately).

His case would be even stronger if he had adduced the evidence -- just made public in the astonishing article by Ronen Bergman -- about the attempt by the C.I.A. man in Israel, James Hadden, to pressure the Israelis into not launching their pre-emptive strike on Nasser (who had forced U Thant to remove U.N. peacekepping troops from the Sinai, and started mobilizing and sending his own troops into the Sinai, while promising hysterical Cairene crowds that he would within days destroy Israel). This meeting, and the transcription of what Hadden said, were unknown to me and, I believe, to the world  -- but that incident deserves to be marked.

In short, in 1948, and in 1956, and in 1967, and in 1973, and in the bombings of the Iraq reactor in 1981, and of the Syrian-Iranian-North Korean nuclear installation in Syria in 2007, there has been an unbroken record of American attempts to head off some Israeli action (Israel's Declaration of Independence by the Zionist pionerrs of the Jewish state, the pre-emptive strike that won the Six-Day War, the mobilization of Israeli forces when the coordinated Arab attack in October 1973 had been recognized and about to be launched, the attack on Saddam Hussein's reactor, the attack on the Syrian nuclear installation), and now -- the attempt by hook or by crook, to prevent Israel from attacking, not Iran, but rather, the nuclear project of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is much more limited and different thing. And despite the fact that even Israel's mortal enemies, the Sunni Arab states, especially those in the Gulf - the ones dearest to the heart of Amerian policy-makers, because the ones most likely to spell contracts and recycled oil-dollars and suchlike -- the Americans keep trying to stay Israel's hand, and the delays make it more and more difficult and dangerous for Israel, whether it finally decides to attack, or whether it does not.

And the American government, the greatest military power on earth, does not understand why it should be doing the attacking, because we want, after the attack, the intelligent and morally advanced people in Iran, those disgusted by the Islamic Republic, to be able to take over, and to find a local ally in Israel, and to be able to resurrect the pre-Islamic Iranian narrative, in which Persians and Jews were allies -- an aspect of the creation of a new consciousness among Iranians who want to discourage the appeal of Islam, as part of constraining it, as Ataturk did in Turkey, that is to take full and immediate advantage of the disaffection from Islam that the last one-third century of rule by fanatical Muslims has caused in Iran.

But this kind of calculation is one that is apparently beyond those who make policy in Washington. They appear unaware of this other narrative, which would allow Iran and Israel to again be quasi-allies (as under the Shah), and perhaps, after the Iranian experience with the Islamic Republic, even more than quasi, as allies.

It is the American government that should assume its responsibilites as a Great Power and attack Iran's nuclear project. Instead, it continues to find excuses, as it has for nearly a decade, not to do what it should, and still has failed to impose the kind of sanctions that might, ten years ago, have worked, but will not work now. Hasn't the experience with Pakistan -- its sinister and treacherous generals models of geopolitical restraint compared to the chiliastic Twelvers who run the Islamic Republic of Iran.

And worst of all, it keeps trying to prevent Israel -- which had a right to expect the Americans to assume their responsibilites, and after so many errors, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, and with the way it greeted the arrival of "democracy" -- that is of more and more Islam -- in Tunisia, in Egypt, in (your favorite Arab Spring country here) -- and the way American leaders publicize their own fatalism and passivity, the passivity of "getting with the program" of History, which is what that idiotic phrase so popular with this administration, that of "getting on the right side of History," really means.

The clear-minded do not "get on the Right Side of History." They know there is no such juggernaut. They help to create the conditions that will change, effect, create what some day, in the chronicles of future historians, will be described as "the history" of this time, or of that.

Posted on 02/01/2012 6:45 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Professor John Finnis On Islam And "The Free Exercise Of Religion"

Two years ago I posted here a remarkable passage, from an article first publiished in the American Journal of Jurisprudence  by Professor John Finnis.

You can read about Professor John Finnis here.

That article has been reprinted, I discovered yesterday,  in the fifth volume of the just-published collection of John Finnis's papers --- some 122 papers in all --a collection about which you can find out more here.

I don't think people go back and read around in the Archives as much as I think they should.

So i am reprinting, below, the passage from Finnis' Am.J. Jur. article that I posted in 2010. I hope that those who know members of a law faculty, especially those who teach American Constitutional Law, will email this NER entry to them. It could form the basis of a discussion when the First Amendment comes rolling into classroom view, on the proper definition of a "religion" and on the particular characteristics of one religion, so accurately described by John Finnis.

Here is that re-posting from Feb. 9, 2010:

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Excerpt from an article (2009) in the American Journal of Jurisprudence, published at the University of Notre Dame:

Two secondary, rather pragmatic reasons to judge religion deserving of constitutional protection come into view when we raise a final question. What if a religion rejects on principle the right to religious freedom as defined, for example, in the ECHR's reference to freedom to change one's religion, and rejects also other fundamental elements of our constitutional order? After all, it's only five or six years since the eighteen judges of the European Court of Human Rights held unanimously, in Refah Partisi (No.2) v Turkey, that: the Court considers that sharia, which faithfully reflects the dogmas and divine rules laid down by religion, is stable and invariable. Principles such as pluralism in the political sphere or the constant evolution of public freedoms have no
place in it. a regime based on sharia clearly diverges from Convention values, particularly with regard to its criminal law and criminal procedure, its rules on the legal status of women and the way it intervenes in all spheres of private and public life in accordance with religious precepts. .[A] political party whose actions seem to be aimed at introducing sharia can hardly be regarded as an association complying with the democratic ideal that underlies the whole of the Convention. n56
On that basis the ECtHR upheld the Turkish Supreme Court's dissolution of Turkey's elected Government and ofthe country's main party, on the grounds [*64] that the Government in which that party was dominant was, or might well be, preparing to introduce sharia either as law applicable to all or as part of a scheme in which every citizen would be subjected to the law of his or her own religion respectively.

Contemporary American constitutionalists are deeply suspicious of this sort of "militant democracy"-pre-emptive defense of democracy-even when practiced, as here, by a court (initially the supreme court in Turkey) They will tend to find it even more questionable when it asks you to focus steadily on the possibility that a particular religion-the private faith of fellow citizens or of hard-up immigrants- might be different from all other religions in its core beliefs about the
Constitution, and about the legitimacy of long-term deception and intimidation in the cause of overthrowing it or, much more immediately, in the cause of rendering certain constitutional guarantees, and related moral rights, inapplicable within the religion's zone of dominance. For I should not conceal the fact that it was part of Turkey's case before the ECtHR that "In order to attain its ultimate goal of replacing the existing legal order with sharia, political Islam use[s]
the method known as "takiyye", which consist[s] in hiding its beliefs until it ha[s] attained that goal."

The Court did not make any explicit finding about Islamic takiyye (a practice which had not, it seems, been denied by the applicant members of the dissolved government and party), but it did observe more broadly that political parties and movements may conceal their aims and profess their adherence to democracy and the rule of law until it is too late to prevent them overthrowing both. n57 Still, for present purposes we do not really need to speculate about the possible secret intentions of particular members of the Islamic religion. We can study the open public documents and declarations of states publicly holding themselves out, and cooperating with each other, precisely as Islamic states, such as the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, adopted by the governments of 45 states in August 1990 n58 as superior to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. This 1990 Islamic Declaration's article on religious freedom reads as follows: "(10) Islam is the religion of true unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise any form of pressure on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in order to force him to change his religion to another religion or to atheism." That's all. But articles 24 and 25 add, for good measure: "(24) All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari'ah. [*65] (25) The Islamic Shari'ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration."

These realities put a question-mark over more than one part of the orthodoxy of American free exercise doctrine. They raise a doubt about the part that says the law and the Court must make no investigation of a religion's doctrines, and over the part, treated as axiomatic by justices of every shade of opinion, that forbids any discrimination between religions. What if the "theological propositions of a religion" include political teachings "wholly at odds with premises of our liberal democracy" or, to speak like the ECtHR, "with the democratic ideal that underlies the whole of the [Constitution]" or, to speak I think more suitably, with the Constitution and other principles that we have taken as foundational for our law? Is it unconstitutional to discriminate between religions at the borders? Would doing so amount to a wrongful disparagement of adherents of the religion who are already citizens? Would it wrongfully impinge upon their free exercise of religion? Or violate the human right to religious liberty of those who would be kept out of the country in the interests of the nation's public order?

In thinking about the last question, we come across one of the secondary reasons for constitutionally acknowledging religious liberty: that that guarantee fittingly accompanies the appropriate principle of distinction between religion and state, the principle which the Constitution witnesses to, perhaps, by its exclusion of religious tests and prohibition of Congressional establishment of religion. n59 The distinction is, of course, of wide and fundamental importance. It is theme enough for another lecture. The only implication of it that I wish to touch on is its relevance to thinking about control of immigration. In that precise connection we can see it at work in one of the present Pope's first statements:

Single believers are called to open their arms and their hearts to every person, from whatever nation they come, allowing the Authorities responsible for public life to enforce the relevant laws held to be appropriate for a healthy coexistence.n60

Within a universal religious community such as the Pope's there is no distinction between citizen and foreigner. But, as his words make plain, it does not follow that such a distinction may not have decisive relevance to the common good, and indeed the public order, of political communities. So a nation state, if not this one, any time soon, then one or more of the European states more immediately affected, might judge it reasonable to limit or forbid further immigration by persons unwilling to credibly renounce their religion's core theologico-political and numbers-dependent drive to impose political and legal domination. n61 But then-and here is the other secondary reason I want to mention for constitutionally guaranteeing free exercise-it would be all the more important, you may agree, firmly to protect the right-a qualified right, of course n62 -of citizens to practice that religion (as well as the right, repudiated by their religion's law or doctrine, to renounce it).


[I have left in the footnote numbers but not the footnotes themselves]

I put the  cite for the original -- in such matters,  the Shepard is my lord, I shall not want   -- in the title above: 54 Am. J. Juris. 41.

Those with  Lexis/Nexis or something equivalent should have no trouble fishing this up from the McElligot's Pool. of legal literature.

Posted on 02/09/2010 7:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Posted on 02/01/2012 6:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Will India Make The Sensible Decision?

From The Wall Street Journal:

February 1, 2011

Weaning India Off Iran

Cooperating with U.S.-led sanctions against Tehran would bring New Delhi long-term dividends.

How should India respond to U.S.-led efforts to halt Iran's suspected rogue nuclear weapons program? An India that uses its oil purchases and diplomatic clout to create breathing room for Iran risks scuppering the notion New Delhi has benefited from for more than a decade: that India's rise is beneficial to the West. By contrast, should India throw its weight behind a powerful anti-Iran coalition, it stands to gain by halting the further nuclearization of its neighborhood, blunting the spread of radical Islam and bolstering its credentials as a force for stability.

You would think India would decisively choose the latter path, but it's unclear where it stands on this question as of now. On one hand, since 2005, New Delhi has voted against Tehran three times at the International Atomic Energy Agency. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has declared that India opposes the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran, and has also withdrawn from negotiations to build a gas pipeline linking India to Iran via Pakistan.

At the same time, New Delhi shows little appetite for stepping up sanctions against the Islamic Republic, especially the recent round of U.S.-EU ones. On Sunday, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee declared that "it is not possible for India to take any decision to reduce the imports from Iran drastically."

India has sound practical reasons to avoid messy relations with Iran. It relies on Iran for land access to Afghanistan and Central Asia denied to it by Pakistan. India has helped upgrade Chabahar port in Iranian Baluchistan and has begun to link it with Afghanistan through a web of roads and railways. And as the U.S. draws down troops from Afghanistan, India and Iran share fears of a Taliban comeback. Then there's oil: Iran supplies 11% of India's imports. Meager domestic production also makes the Indian economy particularly vulnerable to a spike in global oil prices.

There are less practical factors weighing on the minds of India's foreign policy mandarins, too. Many of them imbue resisting Western pressure on Iran with almost totemic significance—as a symbol of the country's vaunted strategic autonomy. Successive governments have also felt that good relations with Iran's mullahs keeps India's large Shia Muslim population in good humor.

Not all the reasons offered by pro-Iran boosters hold up to scrutiny. There's scant evidence, for instance, that India's Shia place faith above country. And as a percentage of oil imports, India's dependence on Iran has declined about two points over the past two years. Saudi Arabia is India's top supplier.

The bigger issue is that any Indian policy that privileges ties with Iran ahead of the U.S.-India relationship misses the forest for the trees. It would mean damaging India's long-term global aspirations in the pursuit of short-term regional ones.

Consider how Indian intransigence looks to America. Cutting across party lines, policy makers in Washington don't see Iran as an issue where friends can agree to disagree. They may be happy to give India a pass when it prefers to buy European fighter jets over American ones, as it did last year; or when the Indian parliament passes a nuclear liability bill that effectively freezes out American companies, as it did two years ago. But Iran's quest for nuclear weapons is America's single most pressing security concern, and as far as many in Washington are concerned, it ought to be non-negotiable for its partners too.

India's foreign policy makers, most of whom seek the transformation of India into a global power, should understand this perception. Opposing U.S. policy strengthens the hand of those in America who argue that India is an unreliable partner. It undercuts those making the case that shared democratic values and common concerns about the rise of an authoritarian China and the dangers of jihadist terrorism bind the two countries together.

If New Delhi does an end-run around Iranian sanctions, it risks falling into the company of Beijing (India is the world's second-largest importer of Iranian oil, behind China). It would be a breathtaking miscalculation to expect that India can undermine a core U.S. security concern and still be seen as a benign power worthy of unequivocal backing at the head table of global affairs.

Whatever the short term argument for closer India-Iran ties, diminishing the mullahs' theocratic regime actually helps India in the long run. Granted, terrorism fueled by the Sunni Saudi-Pakistani axis has hurt India more directly than Shia Iran, but in the long war against radicalism, India ought to welcome the weakening of a regime synonymous with Islam's revolutionary potential, the abuse of human rights and support for terrorism.

Nor, of course, does a nuclear arms race in the Middle East serve India's interests. An Iranian bomb could well force Saudi Arabia and Egypt to follow suit.

For the foreseeable future, India's quest for security and prosperity is most effectively pursued in a predictable and stable U.S.-led international order. This means disagreeing with Washington where India's concerns trump American ones—as, until recently, on Myanmar—but being sensitive to threats to global stability. In short, India ought to bolster U.S.-led sanctions on Iran instead of balking at them.

Mr. Dhume is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @dhume01.

Posted on 02/01/2012 7:13 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Hard Times Again
We live in hard times, and all the indications are that they may get much, even very much, harder. No one, at any rate, would take a bet that they won’t.

The number of children in America claiming subsidized meals in school has shot up; the homeless are increasing by the hour; the formerly prosperous are laid off without so much as a thank you; the young struggle to find any work at all; beggars are making a comeback on the streets of cities as if they had been hiding all these years, waiting for the right moment to emerge from their subterranean lairs into the world above.

The February bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, then, could hardly come at a more appropriate moment in economic history, for Dickens was the revealer, the scourge, the prose poet, of urban destitution—a destitution that, in our waking nightmares, we fear may yet return.

Dickens knew whereof he wrote. It was his habit to walk miles through the streets of London, and no man—except perhaps Henry Mayhew—was more observant than he. Often accused by his detractors of exaggerating reality, he claimed in the preface to Martin Chuzzlewit that he merely saw what others did not see, or chose not to see, and put it into plain words. What was caricature to some was to him no more than the unvarnished truth. He held up a mirror to his age.

The adjective “Dickensian” is more laden with connotation than the adjective that pertains to any other writer: Jamesian, for example, or Joycean, even Shakespearian. We think of workhouses, of shabby tenements with bedding of rags, of schools where sadistic and exploitative schoolmasters beat absurdities into the heads of hungry children, of heartless proponents of the cold charity, of crooked lawyers spinning out their cases in dusty, clerk-ridden chambers. We think of Oliver Twist asking for more, of Wackford Squeers exclaiming, “Here’s richness for you!”, as he tastes the thin slops his school doles out to his unfortunate pupils, of Mrs. Gamp looking at her patient and saying, “He’d make a lovely corpse!”

If he had been only a social commentator, though, Dickens would have been forgotten by all except specialist historians of his age. But he is not forgotten; he survives the notorious defects of his books—their sometimes grotesque sentimentality, their sprawling lack of construction, their frequent implausibility—to achieve whatever immortality literature can confer. Over and over again, in passage after passage, the sheer genius of his writing shines from the page and is the despair of all prose writers after him.

When Dickens called himself “the Inimitable,” he was speaking no more than the truth; he was the greatest comic writer in his, or perhaps in any other, language. And the comedy runs deep: it is not trivial, for while it depicts absurdity, pomposity, and even cruelty, it has the curious effect of reconciling us to life even as it lays human weaknesses out for our inspection.

Sairey Gamp, for example, the drunken, slatternly nurse in Martin Chuzzlewit, is as undesirable a creature as it is possible to be. Who would want to be nursed by her? She is, in effect, the exemplar of the need for the reform of an entire profession. Yet by a peculiar kind of alchemy Dickens makes us glad that there is a world in which a Mrs. Gamp can exist. A world without characters such as she would be the poorer for their absence.

When, gloriously, she says of the gin in the teapot, “Don’t ask me to take none, but put it on the chimbley piece, and let me put my lips to it when I feel so dispoged,” our hearts leap with an indefinable joy. The verbal genius of the simple replacement of the s in disposed by the g delights us. (Though no doubt Dickens would have told us that he actually had heard such a transposition rather than invented it, so that his genius was in noticing and remembering, not in inventing, which is a reproach to our own lack of observation.) The slattern’s ridiculous pretension to gentility and refinement, while maintaining her slovenliness, incites us to reflect upon our own pretensions—pretense being the permanent condition of mankind.

Continue reading here.

Posted on 02/01/2012 9:37 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Hillary Clinton Believes It Makes Sense To Talk About "The People Of Syria"

"We all know that change is coming to Syria. Despite its ruthless tactics, the Assad regime's reign of terror will end and the people of Syria will have a chance to chart their own destiny," she said. "The question for us is how many more innocent civilians will die before this country is able to move forward." 

Clinton said nations have a choice -- "stand with the people of Syria and the region or become complicit to the continuing violence there."

                                                          --- Hillary Clinton at the U.N.

You no doubt remember how George Bush used to talk about "the Iraqi people." The American army, and all those civilians, too, were in Iraq to help the "ordinary moms and dads" of Iraq, that is the "Iraqi people," attain and then enjoy the richly-deserved fruits of democracy, and freedom, and the market economy.

Those who knew just a little about Iraq also  knew that the phrase "the Iraqi people" made no sense. It did make sense to think of Arabs and Kurds, and of Sunni Arabs and Shi'a Arabs, and to not pverlook the Assyrians and Chaldeans -- that is the Christians -- nor to forget such smaller groups as the Turkmens, and even the  Mandeans and Yazidis, who have suffered even more, if such is possible, than the Christians, at the hands of the Muslims, or the Kurds at the hands of the Muslim Arabs. And in thinking, speaking, writing of "the Iraqi people" Bush and others obscured a reality that might have been useful, for those who think that a "unified Iraq" is a goal both quixotic and impossible of attainment, and that the goal of American policy, properly defined as weakening the Camp of Islam, could best be achieved by doing nothing to discourage the divisions, sectarian (Shi'a and Sunni) and ethnic (Arab and Kurd) within Iraq, but instead welcoming and, where possible, carefuly exploiting them.

Now Hillary Clinton appears at the U.N., apparently unaware of what the results so far -- and a great many results are in -- of the "Arab Spriing," and determined to bring the blessings of that "Arab Spring" to the one remaining Arab or semi-Arab country in the Middle East which, through the ruthlessness of its ruling Alawite minority, manages or managed to make the country safe for Christians (as Lebanon once was, before the Maronites lost control, first to the Sunnis aided by the PLO, and now to the goose-stepping Shi'a of Hezbollah) -- Syrian Orthodox and Maronite Arab speakers, Armenian Christians, and now Assyrians and Chaldeans who fled the Muslim terror directed at them in Iraq for what they believed would be the permanent safety - because Alawite-controlled  -- Syria.


Posted on 02/01/2012 7:18 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Sanctions On Iran Too Little, Too Late

The world was united and resolute on sanctions against Iraq - not so Iran

While the United States and Europe have been ratcheting up sanctions against Iran, they still pale in comparison to the draconian measures imposed on Iraq in 1991. It's worth remembering how the world reacted to the regime of Saddam Hussein, that however horrible it was, did not pose nearly the danger and evil to the Middle East region and the world that characterizes the words and actions of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Four days after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, the United Nations Security Council passed United Nations Security Council Resolution 661, which imposed a near-total financial and trade embargo designed to force Iraq to withdraw its forces, pay reparations and to disclose and eliminate any weapons of mass destruction.

The resolution was all-encompassing: it forbid the import of all Iraqi products and commodities; any activities related to the export of Iraqi products; the sale of weapons or other military equipment to Iraq; and prohibited making available funds or other financial or economic resources to any commercial, industrial or public utility operating within Iraq, except for medical or humanitarian purposes.

The vote passed 13-0 with only Cuba and Yemen abstaining. On April 3, 1991, following the end of the Gulf War, the Security Council passed in addition the even harsher Resolution 687, which in addition to sanctions called for the removal of weapons of mass destruction, including the demand that Iraq unconditionally remove and destroy all chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150km (93 miles).

The Council also demanded that Iraq submit within 15 days a report declaring all locations of these weapons and agree to urgent, on-site inspection. It established a special commission related to the inspection and set provisions for it, asking that Iraq abide by its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and agree not to develop nuclear weapons.

In Iraq's case, the world was resolute: the resolution was passed 12-1 with two abstentions. Previous sanctions, which led to hyperinflation, widespread poverty and malnutrition, brought Iraq to its knees and forced them to accept the provisions of Resolution 687 on April 6, 1991 - just three days after they were passed.

How times have changed! Sanctions in recent years on Iran have been in fits and starts at best. It's only in recent months that Europe and the United States have begun to impose sanctions that might impose real hardship on the Iranian economy, but most of the rest of the world has yet to join in.

To great fanfare, the European Union announced a few days ago an oil embargo on Iran and a freeze on the assets of its central bank (CBI); and in the U.S., Congress took the lead from a recalcitrant president and at the end of December passed the Kirk-Menendez Amendment. Specially, the law would forbid any U.S. financial institution to deal with the CBI, or to deal with any financial institution that does so. In other words, if you do business with Iran, you will lose access to the largest financial market on earth.

The Obama administration also last week imposed sanctions on Iran's Bank Tejerat, its third largest bank, closing off one of the last of Tehran's conduits for doing business in the west. The bank is the 23rd Iranian-linked financial institution to be blacklisted by the U.S. since 2006.

While initially heralded in Israel and the West, it turns out that the Congressional amendment and EU sanctions don't take effect until July 1, and the sanctions on Bank Tejerat are starting only in a couple months time. The Americans and Europeans are also still mired in their wishful thinking that somehow negotiations might be resumed, perhaps using Turkey as a back channel, though with Ankara's recent foreign policy failures across the Arab world and the growing threat of a possible Turkish economic debacle on the horizon, its ability to bridge gaps with Tehran is highly unlikely.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have made clear that these moves are insufficient and will not force Iran to abandon its nuclear weapon program.

Continued delays also provide the Iranians with more time to shift a greater portion of its uranium enrichment to a fortified site deep underground at Fordo, south of Tehran, designed to withstand possible air strikes.

An increase in sanctions over the past few months has not been without some effects, and in fact they have taken a particular toll on Iran's currency, the rial, which has devalued 70% against the dollar since September. As another indicator of the sanctions' effects, Iran's banks are offering 21% interest on local accounts as Iranians continue to switch out of the rial as quickly as possible.

But Asia and its four largest consumers (China, India, Japan and South Korea), to whom Iran exports approximately 70% of its crude oil, are hardly on board with the sanctions regime. While Japan has pledged to "start reducing…as soon as possible in an orderly manner," South Korea is dragging its feet and India has defiantly announced that it will not cut back on Iranian imports at all.

China has made it clear that it wants nothing of Iranian sanctions and together with India will likely purchase even more oil and benefit as well from somewhat lower prices, as the Iranians look to supplement sales lost because of sanctions made by the EU.

Iran has experienced some problems with oil payments, but already has had experience getting around those as well – with help from Asian countries and others. For example, the Reserve Bank of India halted last year a clearing mechanism due to sanctions, but then payments were cleared through Turkish and UAE banks, and through Gazprombank of Russia.

Regime change is also not an option: during Iran's 2009 "elections," there was no indication that any real opposition in Iran would be in favor of anything except continuing to develop nuclear capabilities.

Historically, sanctions can work. They worked in South Africa; they worked in Iraq. But they require a world that is resolute and united. While U.S. and the EU have somewhat upped the ante, much of the rest of the world is purposefully not joining in - most notably, Iran's intractable Asian customers, who import 70% of its crude oil, and Russia, who continues to oppose sanctions at every opportunity. The number of options left open to Israel is therefore extremely limited: Iran holding a nuclear weapon is not one of them.

Posted on 02/01/2012 10:32 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Making The Threat Credible

From Reuters:

Feb. 1, 2012

The United States should deploy ships, step up covert activities and sharpen its rhetoric to make more credible the threat of a U.S. military strike to stop Iran's nuclear program, a bipartisan group said on Wednesday.

Former U.S. politicians, generals and officials said in a report that the best chance of stopping Iran's suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons was to make clear American willingness to use force, although it stopped short of advocating military action.

The report by a Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) task force of Democrats, Republicans and independents is to be formally issued on Wednesday and comes amid speculation about the possibility of an Israeli military strike against Iran.

There is little evidence to suggest that U.S. President Barack Obama has any significant interest in the possibility of a military strike against Iran, though his administration has repeatedly said that all options are on the table.

To a lesser degree there has also been debate about a U.S. attack, an idea advocated by former Pentagon defense planner Matthew Kroenig in his recent Foreign Affairs Magazine article, "Time to Attack Iran: Why a Strike Is the Least Bad Option."

The BPC report's central thesis is that to persuade Iran to address questions about its nuclear program via negotiations, economic sanctions must be accompanied by a credible threat of military attack against Iran's nuclear facilities.

"The United States needs to make clear that Iran faces a choice: it can either abandon its nuclear program through a negotiated arrangement or have its program destroyed militarily by the United States or Israel," said the report, entitled "Meeting the Challenge: Stopping the Clock."


Tensions between Iran and the West have grown as the United States and its European allies have tightened economic sanctions by targeting the oil exports that drive the Iranian economy.

The United States, and many of its European allies, suspect that Iran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop the atomic bomb. Iran denies this, saying that its program is solely for civilian uses such as power generation.

The BPC is a nonprofit policy group founded by prominent Republicans and Democrats that seeks to promote policy-making that can draw support from both major U.S. political parties.

The task force members include Chuck Robb, a Democrat and former U.S. senator from Virginia; Mortimer Zuckerman, a real estate mogul, publisher and long-time Democratic Party backer; John Hannah, national security adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Eric Edelman, a career diplomat who served at the Pentagon under former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Among its specific recommendations, the report calls for:

- strengthening the United States "declaratory policy" to make clear its willingness to use force rather than permit Iran to acquire nuclear weapons;

- intensifying covert activities by U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies to disrupt Iran's nuclear program;

- bolstering the presence of the U.S. Fifth Fleet in the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman by deploying an additional carrier battle group and minesweepers off Iran, conducting broad military exercises in the region with allies, and prepositioning supplies for the possibility of military action against Iran;

- strengthening the ability of U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, to ship oil out of the region without using the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has threatened to close in retaliation for Western sanctions;

- and amplifying U.S. efforts to strengthen the militaries of countries in the region such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates through arms sales.

Should these steps fail to dissuade Iran from its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons, the report urges the United States to consider a "quarantine" to block refined petroleum imports by Iran, which is heavily dependent on gasoline refined abroad.

As a last resort, the group asserts that the U.S. military has the ability to launch "an effective surgical strike against Iran's nuclear program."


Obama's broader foreign policy has sought to disentangle the U.S. military from its commitments in the Muslim world. He decided to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq last year and aims to wind up the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014.

Obama opposed his predecessor George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq, a decision the Bush administration chiefly justified by citing intelligence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons were subsequently found.

Without explicitly calling for an attack on Iran, the report says such a strike would include an air campaign of several weeks to target key military and nuclear installations, accompanied by the U.S. special forces on the ground.

"A military strike would delay Iran's acquisition of nuclear capability but not eliminate it," the report said.

"Still, policymakers need to consider whether delaying Iran's program in the short term would allow Washington to take advantage of that space to stop Iran's nuclear program altogether," it added without explaining how this might happen.

"It is also possible that the delays and increased costs that a devastating strike would impose on Iran's nuclear program might be followed by a different set of dynamics that would cause or compel the Iranian leadership to change course," it said.

The report acknowledged a strike would carry many risks, including higher oil prices, possible Iranian retaliation against U.S. military installations, support of "terrorist" operations against U.S. interests and potential attacks on Iraq.

Robb, who co-chaired the task force, told Reuters the group chose not to explicitly advocate military action in part because it did not want to turn what he described as a "reasoned, thoughtful approach into, 'This is bombs away.'"

Having repeatedly said that a nuclear-armed Iran would be unacceptable to the United States, Robb said that to be unwilling to take military action would undercut U.S. credibility.

"Our credibility is very much on the line," he said. "We believe that we have to be credible with respect to the kinetic option. We need to provide evidence that we are preparing to take that option if necessary."

Posted on 02/01/2012 12:03 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to George Elphinstane of Glasgow, Scotland for completing our January crossword puzzle correctly. He will receive a copy of Emmet Scott's new book, Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy.

Good work, George and keep playing everybody!

Posted on 02/01/2012 3:19 PM by NER
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Deborah Scroggins Is Asked Two Questions
Here is Deborah Scroggins, the other night at an appearance at Porter Square Books, being asked two questions.
Posted on 02/01/2012 3:55 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Hamdane Ammar: Islam Is Hell On Earth For Women

From Riposte Laique:

L’islam : un enfer sur terre pour les femmes

Avant l’apparition de l’islam, la femme arabe était plus libre et prenait même part aux activités guerrières et pacifiques.Elle s’occupait aussi du culte public. D’ailleurs la poésie arabe païenne se souciait surtout de la beauté et de la grâce de la femme ( les poèmes D’Antar pour sa cousine bien-aimée, l’amour de sa vie, Abla en sont témoins). Elle pouvait aussi répudier sans difficulté son mari. Il était impensable qu’un homme dans la société arabe préislamique ait plus d’une épouse dans sa maison. La coutume arabe préislamique permettait les mariages matrilinéaires et aussi matrilocoles, qui donnaient plus de liberté et d’indépendance aux femmes en tant qu’êtres humains à part entière.
Il est vrai qu’une tribu de la Mecque enterrait ses filles nouvelles-nées vivantes pour échapper au déshonneur mais cela était dû essentiellement au mariage temporaire (de plaisir) imposé par le pèlerinage, car il ne faut pas oublier que celui-ci existait avant l’islam. Quand les pèlerins venaient à la Mecque accomplir le hadj qui s’apparentait à une grande foire et qui se déroulait en automne chaque année; il leur fallait des épouses et cette tribu était obligée de leur fournir mais qu’ils abondonnaient ensuite…
Mahomet avait interdit cette mise à mort des nouvelles-nées.
Il n’y avait pas de hijab, ni de voile pour les femmes de Médine. En effet le voile semi-transparent couvrant la moitié du visage était une ancienne coutume trouvant son origine dans la période assyrienne, c’était le symbole de statut de marque de distinction sociale pour les femmes libres. Les femmes arabes païennes préislamiques des villes portaient cet élégant voile semi-transparent, mais ce n’était jamais le cas des femmes tribales.
La première épouse de Mahomet Khadija jouissait d’une grande liberté. Elle avait un statut respectable dans la société mecquoise, mais à sa mort, Mahomet changea d’attitude envers les femmes. Il décréta le nikah qui réduisit le mariage à un simple contrat d’esclavage sexuel et social, sans portée humaine. La polygamie fut introduite par un verset coranique ( sourate 4 verset 3). C’est ainsi que les femmes devinrent de simples objets sexuels et surtout des machines à procréer pour augmenter le nombre des musulmans, dont le besoin était pressant pour conquérir le monde. Elles étaient devenues au fil du temps simplement des domestiques- de simples appendices sociaux de l’homme.
Mahomet commença par imposer le voile à ses épouses et à restreindre leurs relations sociales.
Sourate 33 les coalisés verset 59: » Ô Prophète! Dis à tes épouses, à tes filles, et aux femmes des croyants, de ramener sur elles leurs grands voiles: elles en seront plus vite reconnues et éviteront d’être offensées. Allah est Clément et Méséricordieux. »
Par contre, ses esclaves sexuelles ne connurent pas ces restrictions, au contraire elles étaient plus libres même dans leur façon de s’habiller. Elles cachaient leur corps uniquement du nombril aux genoux.Leurs seins étaient visibles. Elles priaient sans se couvrir la tête avec sa bénédiction.
La femme esclave sexuelle n’avait pas le droit de porter le voile.
L’imam Malik ( 711-795) fondateur de l’une des quatre écoles du sunnisme, rapporta ce qui suit: »Un jour le deuxième Calife bien guidé Omar aperçut une captive qui était voilée, il s’approcha d’elle et lui intima l’ordre de se dévoiler, elle refusa, alors il la frappa à la tête à coups de bâton et lui déchira le voile en lui disant: le hijab, c’est pour les croyantes libres. »
Quoi penser alors de cette croisade des musulmans pour voiler les croyantes quand on sait que les esclaves sexuelles de Mahomet s’habillaient d’une façon dénudée? Il y a matière à s’interroger sur leur emballement surtout en France concernant la loi sur la burqua. Ne s’agit-il pas d’une des nombreuses manifestations politiques pour islamiser la France et par extension l’Europe? Ne s’agit-il pas à nouveau de faire la conquête islamique du vieux continent quand on sait qu’une tentative de grande envergure échoua devant la capitale autrichienne Vienne en 1683 grâce à Charles V de Lorraine et au roi de Pologne Jean III Sobieski?

Mahomet, pour soit disant préserver la pudeur des femmes musulmanes, commença par les stigmatiser en décrétant qu’elles doivent baisser le regard en public, cacher leurs seins et les bijoux.
En lançant les razzias, il augmenta le nombre des esclaves femmes. D’ailleurs, il participa à plus de cent raids.
Pour contourner la limitation des épouses du prophète et surtout lui permettre de jouir sans limite de ses esclaves sexuelles, le coran lui apporta la réponse. Il est écrit dans la sourate 33 les coalisés verset 50: »Ô Prophète! Nous t’avons rendu licites tes épouses à qui tu as donné leur mahr (la dot), ce que tu as possédé légalement parmi tes captives ( esclaves) qu’Allah t’a destinées… les filles de ton oncle paternel, les filles de tes tantes paternelles, les filles de ton oncle maternel, et les filles de tes tantes maternelles, celles qui avaient émigré en ta compagnie,; ainsi que toute croyante si elle fait don de sa personne au prophète, pourvu que le prophète consente à se marier avec elle, c’est là un privilège pour toi, à l’exclusion des autres croyants. Nous avons certes, ce que Nous leur avons imposé au sujet de leurs épouses et des esclaves qu’ils possèdent, afin qu’il n’y eût point de blâme contre toi. Allah est Clément et Miséricordieux. »
Et dans la sourate 33 les coalisés verset 52: » Il ne t’est plus permis désormais de prendre d’autres femmes, ni d’échanger d’épouses, même si leur beauté te plait- à l’exception des esclaves que tu possèdes. Et Allah observe toute chose. »
Il faut savoir que Mahomet fit commerce avec Mariyah la Copte, l’esclave de sa femme Hafsa (la fille de Omar, le deuxième calife) sans l’avoir épousée. Il eût d’elle un fils qu’il appela Ibrahim en référence au patriache des Hébreux Abrahm et qui mourut à l’âge de deux ans.
Etant esclaves sexuelles, les femmes étaient librement achetées et vendues sur les marchés publics, louées ou offertes en cadeaux à des proches ou à des amis. Le prophète, lui-même, avait accordé des esclaves sexuelles à ses favoris. Il n’y avait aucune limite au nombre d’esclaves qu’un homme pouvait posséder; par exemple, un des compagnons de Mahomet nommé Hazrat Zubair Ibn El Arwan avait plus de mille(1000) esclaves femmes. Le Grand calife Haroun El R achid de Bagdad posséda plus de deux mille (2000) et le calife abbasside El Mutwakkal avait quatre mille(4000) escalves sexuelles dans son harem…

L’islam considère la femme comme le champ labouré où se répand la semence de l’homme. Il y a une similitude avec les propos d’Ammar Lasfar recteur de la mosquée de Lille grand ami d’un ténor d’un grand parti français mais surtout grand admirateur de Hassan El Bana créateur de la secte des frères musulmans qui voulait islamiser le monde,qui a dit, il y a de cela quelques années: »Nous avons semé nos grains en france » et le verset coranique suivant, sourate 2 la vache verset 223: » Vos épouses sont pour vous un champ de labour, allez à votre champ comme (et quand) vous le voulez et oeuvrez pour vous-mêmes à l’avance. Graignez Allah et sachez que vous le rencontrez. Et fais gracieuse annonce aux croyants. »
Selon l’imam Malik( 711-795), le prophète a dit: »Prenez n’importe quelle autre femme parmi vos prisonnières et mariez-vous avec elle, en lui donnant le mahr (la dot). »
L’islam n’a aucun respect pour la femme. Toute la littérature islamique qui prétend que l’islam a libéré la femme, n’est en fait que pur mensonge, que pure taquya, de la propagande pour cacher la haine qu’il lui nourrit. Bien au contraire, il l’a assimilée à une bête que l’homme peut vendre et acheter selon son bon vouloir…

L’islam a institué quatre mariages (nikah) différents.
Le nikah normal qui permet à chaque musulman d’avoir quatre épouses légalement.
Lee nikah misyar ( de voyage et ou d’amitié). Dans ce mariage, la femme renonce à ses droits, il est actuellement en expansion dans les pays du Golfe Arabique. Le mari n’a aucune obligation envers ses épouses. Il commence à se répandre discrètement dans certains milieux fortement islamisés des banlieues françaises.
Le nikah temporaire (de plaisir) sorte de prostitution légalisée religieusement, car ce type de mariage peut durer le temps d’un accouplement. Il se pratique chez les Chiites.
Le nikah urfi ( mariage caché à ses épouses et à son entourage). Avec ce type de mariage, l’époux peut avoir plus de quatre femmes. Il se pratique essentiellement en Egypte.

En considérant la femme comme un objet sexuel, qu’elle soit libre ou esclave, l’islam l’a réduite à un être inférieur sans possibilité d’épanouissement.
Le prophète, lui-même, avait considéré ses épouses comme ses biens matériels même après sa mort. Dans la sourate 33 les coalisés verset 33, il est écrit:’ Evitez d’offenser l’Envoyé d’Allah. N’épousez pas les femmes qui auront partagé sa couche. Ce serait un péché impardonnable aux yeux de Dieu. »
Dans la sourate 33 les coalisés, verset 50, le prophète peut disposer de n’importe quelle femme musulmane: »…Ainsi que toute femme croyante si elle fait don de sa personne au prophète, pourvu que le Prophète consente à se marier avec elle; c’est un privilège pour toi, à l’exclusion des autres croyants… »
Par ses conquêtes et les destructions qui s’en suivirent, l’islam a anéanti tout progrès de la femme pour des siècles. Et dans les pays où il s’est installé durablement, la vie des femmes est devenue un enfer sur terre. La haine que les musulmans nourrissent à leurs moitiés fut inscrite par la charia dans le marbre.
Les pays où la femme avait un statut enviable où elle était parvenue par moment à devenir même reine, à l’instar de l’Egypte, de la Perse, de l’Afrique du Nord, elle fut réduite au silence, elle n’est plus que l’ombre d’elle, telle une silhouette sans voix qu’on aperçoit au loin, après la conquête de l’islam.
L’islam ets une religion antiféministe. Pour preuve dans la sourate 15 al-hedjr verset 60, il est écrit: » sauf sa femme ( la femme de Lot) qui sera parmi les victimes. »
Pire encore, l’islam tolère l’inceste avec les captives.
Selon l’imam Malik Ibn Anas( 711-795): »Le croyant peut faire commerce avec sa mère de lait, sa soeur de lait, sa tante , sa grand-mère… quand elles sont ses captives et restées mécréantes- à condition qu’il assume la paternité de l’enfant qui naîtra de ce commerce et qu’il s’acquitte du mahr( la dot). »
Et l’imam Malik est une référence en sciences islamiques ( figh). Mahomet a dit à son sujet: » Les gens vont aller très loin avec leur monture et ils ne trouveront guère quelqu’un de plus savant que le savant de Médine. »

L’imam Abou hanifa (699-767) est plus explicite dans son ouvrage Mushad et pourtant, il est un des fondateurs des quatre écoles du sunnisme. Il a dit : » le croyant peut faire commerce avec sa propre mère (celle qui l’a porté dans son sein), sa propre soeur, sa propre tante, sa propre grand-mère, sa propre fille… quand elles deviennent ses captives mais demeurent mécréantes- à condition qu’il assume la paternité de l’enfant qui naîtra de ce commerce et qu’il s »acquitte du mahr ( dot)… »

Il ne faut pas perdre de vue que l’islam considère les esclaves hommes ou femmes comme des biens matériels dont le propriètaire peut en disposer à sa guise. D’ailleurs les hommes esclaves surtout noirs étaient castrés pour leur éviter qu’ils ne fassent souche.
D’après l’anthropologue Tidiane N’Diaye: » les grandes particularités de l’esclavage arabo-islamique est la castration généralisée des esclaves mâles; car dès les débuts de cette traite, les Arabes veulent empêcher qu’ils fassent souche. Comme cela n’a rien de métaphysique, la castration apparait comme une solution pratique. Si les Arabes destinent la plus part des femmes aux harems (comme captives sexuelles), ils mutilent les hommes par des procédés rudimentaires et qui causent une effroyable mortalité. Les chiffres de cette traite sont tout simplement effrayants. »
Pire racisme, il n’y en a pas de pareil!
Selon certains historiens cette traite se chiffre à plus de vingt millions d’êtres humains et comme les esclaves mâles n’ont pas laissé de descendance dans les pays arabo-islamiques, il n’y a aucun débat sur l’esclavage en terre d’islam… C’est l’omerta complète… Pour les musulmans, l’esclavage, c’est l’affaire des Européens! Officiellement, il n’a jamais existé chez eux et leurs intellectuels n’en soufflent pas un mot. Et pourtant, dès la naissance de l’islam, Mahomet a codifié l’esclavage et ses successeurs l’ont perfectionné.
Les énuques ont jalonné l’histoire de l’islam. D’ailleurs jusqu’à nos jours, ils sont présents à la Mecque et à Médine au service de la famille royale saoudienne et de ses innombrables courtisans.
Comme l’argent n’a pas d’odeur et que les pétrodollars coulent à flôt, les chantres des droits de l’homme sont muets comme des carpes. Pour eux, il n’y a aucune atteinte à la dignité humaine au pays des Al-Saoud où la tolérance et l’humanisme régnent sans partage…
Le refus de l’Occident d’affronter l’islam militant, l’islam conquérant, l’islam salafiste raciste encouragé par l’Arabie Saoudite, coûtera demain plus cher en vie et surtout détruira sa civilisation.
L’islam est au centre de l’arriération sociale, mentale, intellectuelle et culturelle des musulmans. Il est aussi la cause des brimades organisées contre les femmes et les pogroms contre les minorités. Aucune personne censée ne peut nier ces faits.

Les égocentristes médiatiques du passé et les trafiquants médiatiques du futur doivent ouvrir le coran, car peut-être en le lisant attentivement, ils vont saisir le vrai danger auquel le monde ferait face demain.

Hamdane Ammar

Posted on 02/01/2012 4:24 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Why Do The Winners Attack The Losers?

Here's the headline:

Los Angeles Times -
REPORTING FROM CAIRO -- The death toll rose to at least 73 people late Wednesday after hooligans from the winning team stormed onto the field after an Egyptian soccer match between two longtime rivals and attacked opposing players and fans.
In the West, violence after a soccer game is not unknown. But it is usually the distraught fans of the losing team who go on a rampage.
In Egypt, a Muslim land, it is the fans of the winning team who, exulting in their victory, decided to pay the losing team's fans a lesson in who was on top, who was the "Strong Horse" and who the "Weak Horse" -- to borrow the imagery of Bin Laden. What does this mean?
Does it mean that Muslims are meek and mild, or at least meeker and milder, when they are on the run, losing, but just watch what they do to their perceived enemies -- even "enemies" who are fellow Muslims but support a rival team -- when they sense that they are in power, that they are in top.
Just see what the triumphant militias, as from Misurata, have done in Tawergha, in Libya, or what the militia from Zandin has done in Tripoli.
See how the Shi'a, now firmly in power, are proposing to deal with the Sunnis, in Iraq.
See how the Sunnis, now firmly in power, deal with the Shi'a in Bahrain.
See how the Alawites deal with the Sunni Muslims in Syria, and just imagine what the Sunni Muslims in Syria would do, if they overturned the Alawites, to the Alawites and the Christians.
It's soccer hooliganism in good old louche Port Said, with nearly 80 dead and a thousand wounded.
But it was the winners running after and beating up, sometimes to death,  the losers.
Think about that.
Posted on 02/01/2012 4:27 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
All The Experts Agree: Assad Can't Last Much Longer

Let's see what happens in a month, or two months, or three, in Syria. Let's see if all those experts who have been confidently predicting -- unanimously confidently predicting -- the  imminent collapse of the Assad regime, understood the situation in Syria.

While waiting, here's one more of those positively-absolutely-Assad-will be-out-in-a-New-York-minute predictions, this time from David Ignatius in The Washington Post. Note that he is already using the word "endgame":


Endgame in Syria

As the showdown in Syria moves into a decisive phase, U.S. officials report sharply rising Syrian army defections, double-dealing by an anxious Iran and mounting Arab pressure for a transition plan to remove President Bashar al-Assad.

I am stunned at how fast this is moving, and how fast Assad is falling,” said one senior administration official who helps coordinate U.S. policy toward Syria. This official said the U.S. hopes that Russia — recognizing how quickly Assad’s position is deteriorating — won’t oppose a U.N. resolution this week calling for Assad to step down. 

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council, summed up the new developments Tuesday with this statement: “Assad’s fall is inevitable.  It’s clear his regime is no longer in full control of the country and only continues to take Syria toward a dangerous end.”

According to the latest U.S. intelligence reports, 300 Syrian army soldiers defected Monday in the Damascus suburb of Jisrine; 50 more defected in the town of Rsatan and dozens in other suburbs of Damascus. The defectors joined the opposition force known as Free Syrian Army, the administration official said, adding that the defections continued Tuesday.

The total number of defectors is now roughly 7,000 to 10,000, the official said — impressive but hardly a match for the 300,000-man Syrian army. In addition to the defectors, there are perhaps 15,000 Syrian soldiers who have fled their units and are taking refuge in Jordan, Turkey or Syrian hideouts.

As the Syrian army rushes to protect the newly embattled centers of Damascus and Aleppo, it is pulling some troops out of opposition hotbeds in central Syria such as Homs, Hama and Idlib — leaving those areas more vulnerable to the insurgents. These aren’t yet “liberated zones,” but government control is spotty and weakening by the day, the official said. Simply put, the Syrian army isn’t large enough to maintain control over all of the country.

 The deteriorating situation in Syria has frightened Iran, which sees Damascus as its only Arab ally. This worry promoted a rush visit to Damascus in mid-January by Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, according to Vietor. Suleimani is said to have offered money, arms and other assistance to Assad, in a sign of Iran’s support.

“Assad is running out of money to continue financing his crackdown and has turned to Syria’s only ally left, Iran, for help, as evidenced by Suleimani’s recent visit to Damascus,” Vietor said.

But at the same time, Iran has opened secret contacts with the opposition, the official said. The Iranians appear to be hedging their bets, and may even offer the opposition limited money and weapons. Such an effort to back two sides at once would be characteristic of Suleimani, who employed similar tactics in Iraq in his role as chief of Iranian covert action.        

The Arab League is pushing a transition plan for Syria that would transfer power initially to Farouk al-Sharaa, Syria’s vice president, who would designate a transition government and call for elections and a new constitution. This plan was presented at the United Nations this week by Nabil el-Araby, secretary-general of the Arab League, and Hamid bin Jassim, the foreign minister of Qatar.

U.S. officials have been encouraged by how aggressively Arab leaders have moved to force Assad’s ouster, after the failure of the Arab League observer mission to stem the violence in Syria.

     Russia’s position will be crucial in the success or failure of any diplomatic effort to settle the Syrian conflict short of civil war. U.S. officials argue that because of unified Arab support for a change of regime, Russia will harm its long-term interests in the region if it allows Assad to cling to power. The White House was encouraged Tuesday that Russia had slightly shifted its position from saying it would oppose the Arab League resolution to a milder statement saying that it wouldn’t offer support. 

Posted on 02/01/2012 7:55 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
American Soldiers Blamed For Attacks By Afghan Troops They Train -- It's Their "Cultural Misunderstanding," Their "Lack Of Emotional Intelligence"

From The Christian Science Monitor: 

February 1, 2012

Taliban infiltrators in Afghanistan? Pentagon warns of 'insider threat.'

Attacks by Afghan police and soldiers against US troops have caused friction and raised the threat that Taliban sympathizers could be joining the Afghan Army to attack or undermine NATO. 

By Anna Mulrine

Afghan National Army noncommissioned officer recruits march during a parade to mark a graduation ceremony at the Turkish-run Camp Ghazi in Kabul last year.

Mohammad Ismail/REUTERS/Files


The steady string of attacks against Western troops by rogue Afghan police and soldiers is not only undermining military cooperation at a crucial juncture but also raising the question of whether there is a growing threat of Taliban infiltration within US-trained Afghan units. 

So far, the majority of the attacks appear to be a tragic result of “simple insults,” combat stress, cultural misunderstanding, and “religious and ideological frictions,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen Townsend, director of the Pentagon’s Pakistan/Afghanistan Coordination Cell, at a congressional hearing Wednesday.

But the killings create “distrust between our forces and and their Afghan counterparts” just as NATO forces are hoping to gain greater confidence in Afghan forces' ability to remain cohesive and effective. NATO forces could be ending their combat mission by next year, Defense Secretary Panetta said Wednesday.

New Pentagon statistics that show that there have been 42 attacks on US and NATO troops by Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) since 2007. These attacks have resulted in the death of 70 coalition troops and the wounding of 110 others.

Pentagon officials warn of the potential “insider threat” from Taliban infiltrators, who are particularly difficult to detect. “A successful infiltrator is more likely [to be] competent and experienced,” warned Pentagon testimony submitted to the committee.

As a result, Taliban insurgents impersonating Afghan security forces may inadvertently be given important jobs within their unit. This, in turn, may allow them to facilitate “insurgent efforts by providing intelligence on coalition force tactics or movement, or by targeting high-profile ANSF or Afghan government officials.”  

They may also attack unsuspecting US troops. 

Pentagon officials vowed to step up biometric and “random” screenings of Afghan troops and contractors who work on US bases. They said in the future they would request two letters of recommendation from village elders, criminal records checks, drug tests, and a scan of insurgent “watch lists” of future hires.

One lawmaker suggested that perhaps more use should be made of polygraph tests. On this point, US military officials demurred. Unwieldy lie-detecting machines are “rarely used for this type of thing,” General Townsend explained. “It’s complex and just hard to do on a large scale.”

One of the most effective means of tackling the problem, Townsend said, will involve simply “reducing unnecessary frictions with our [Afghan] partners.”

This also involves being aware of the effects of combat stress combined with “cultural misunderstanding” or, say “a lack of appropriate emotional intelligence,” according to the Pentagon’s testimony.

Indeed, where there was “closer partnership and better mentoring and understanding” – as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia David Sedney put it – such attacks are far less likely to occur. [this is utter nonsense, one more attempt to avoid recognizing the power of Islam over the minds of its adherents, and the atttitudes toward Infidels that almost all Muslims who take Islam to heart must share, even if they sometimes prudently, in order to gain something from the Infidels, do not put that sometimes murderous hostility on display]

This involves, to a large degree, examining “our own conduct,” Townsend said, and “making sure our own soldiers” comport themselves “in the way we would expect them to.”

Posted on 02/01/2012 4:51 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
More Mots Justes From Flaubert

"Je demande, au nom de l'humanité, à ce qu'on broie la Pierre-Noire, pour en jeter les cendres au vent, à ce qu'on détruise La Mecque, et que l'on souille la tombe de Mahomet. Ce serait le moyen de démoraliser le Fanatisme."

(Gustave Flaubert / 1821-1880 / Lettre à Madame Roger des Genettes / 12 ou 19 janvier 1878)

Posted on 02/01/2012 5:10 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Wislawa Szymborska Has Died


Décès de la poétesse Szymborska


le 01/02/2012

La poétesse polonaise Wislawa Szymborska, prix Nobel de Littérature 1996, est morte ce soir à l'âge de 88 ans, a annoncé son assistant Michal Rusinek. Elle est morte dans sa maison à Cracovie "tranquillement, dans son sommeil", a-t-il déclaré à l'agence de presse polonaise PAP.

Née le 2 juillet 1923 à Bnin, dans la région de Poznan (ouest), Szymborska a fait ses études à la Faculté des lettres et de sociologie de l'Université Jagellonne de Cracovie. Elle a vécu ensuite dans cette ville historique du sud de la Pologne jusqu'à la fin de ses jours.

Elle est auteur d'une vingtaine de recueils de poèmes, marqués par une réflexion philosophique sur des questions morales de notre époque, coulée dans une forme poétique très soignée.

Wislawa Szymborska a aussi traduit des poèmes, surtout la poésie classique française, dont celle d'Agrippa d'Aubigné et de Théophile de Viau, et celle du poète juif Icyk Manger.

Indépendante d'esprit, elle est restée à l'écart de la vie politique, faisant partie de ces intellectuels polonais pour qui la dimension spirituelle de la vie passait avant toute chose.


From The New York Times:

Wislawa Szymborska, Nobel-Winning Polish Poet, Dies at 88

Wislawa Szymborska, a gentle and reclusive Polish poet who won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, died on Wednesday in Krakow, Poland. She was 88.

The cause was lung cancer, said David A. Goldfarb, the curator of literature and humanities at the Polish Cultural Institute in New York, a diplomatic mission of the Polish Embassy.

Ms. Szymborska (pronounced VEES-mah-vah shim-BOR-ska) had a relatively small body of work when she received the Nobel, the fifth Polish or Polish-born writer to have done so since the prize was created in 1901. Only about 200 of her poems had been published in periodicals and thin volumes over a half-century, and her lifetime total was something less than 400.

The Nobel announcement surprised Ms. Szymborska, who had lived an intensely private life. “She was kind of paralyzed by it,” said Clare Cavanagh, who, with Stanislaw Baranczak, translated much of Ms. Szymborska’s work into English.

“Her friends called it the ‘Nobel tragedy,’ ” Dr. Cavanagh, a professor of literature at Northwestern University, said in an interview on Wednesday. “It was a few years before she wrote another poem.”

Ms. Szymborska lived most of her life in modest conditions in the old university city of Krakow, working for the magazine Zycie Literackie (Literary Life). She published a thin volume of her verse every few years.

She was popular in Poland, which tends to make romantic heroes of poets, but she was little known abroad. Her poems were clear in topic and language, but her playfulness and tendency to invent words made her work hard to translate.

Much of her verse was contemplative, but she also addressed death, torture, war and, strikingly, Hitler, whose attack on Poland in 1939 started World War II in Europe. She depicted him as an innocent — “this little fellow in his itty-bitty robe” — being photographed on his first birthday.

Ms. Szymborska began writing in the Socialist Realist style. The first collection of what some have called her Stalinist period, “That’s What We Live For,” appeared in 1952, followed two years later by another ideological collection, “Questions Put to Myself.”

Years later she told the poet and critic Edward Hirsch: “When I was young I had a moment of believing in the Communist doctrine. I wanted to save the world through Communism. Quite soon I understood that it doesn’t work, but I’ve never pretended it didn’t happen to me.

“At the very beginning of my creative life I loved humanity. I wanted to do something good for mankind. Soon I understood that it isn’t possible to save mankind.”

By 1957, she had renounced both Communism and her early poetry. Decades later, she was active in the Solidarity movement’s struggle against Poland’s Communist government. During a period of martial law, imposed in 1981, she published poems under a pseudonym in the underground press.

She insisted that her poetry was personal rather than political. “Of course, life crosses politics,” she said in an interview with The New York Times after winning the Nobel in 1996. “But my poems are strictly not political. They are more about people and life.”

Ms. Szymborska “looks at things from an angle you would never think of looking at for yourself in a million years,” Dr. Cavanagh said on the day of the Nobel announcement. She pointed to “one stunning poem that’s a eulogy.”

“It’s about the death of someone close to her that’s done from the point of view of the person’s cat,” she said.

That poem, “Cat in an Empty Apartment,” as translated by Dr. Cavanagh and Mr. Baranczak, opens:

Die — You can’t do that to a cat.

Since what can a cat do

in an empty apartment?

Climb the walls?

Rub up against the furniture?

Nothing seems different here,

but nothing is the same.

Nothing has been moved,

but there’s more space.

And at nighttime no lamps are lit.

Footsteps on the staircase,

but they’re new ones.

The hand that puts fish on the saucer

has changed, too.

Something doesn’t start

at its usual time.

Something doesn’t happen

as it should. Someone was always, always here,

then suddenly disappeared

and stubbornly stays disappeared.

Wislawa Szymborska was born on July 2, 1923, near Poznan, in western Poland. When she was 8, her family moved to Krakow. During the Nazi occupation, she went to a clandestine school, risking German punishment, and later studied literature and sociology at the prestigious Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

Her marriage to the poet Adam Wlodek ended in divorce. Her companion, the writer Kornel Filipowicz, died in 1990. She had no children, and no immediate family members survive.

Czeslaw Milosz, the Polish exile who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980, said of Ms. Szymborska’s Nobel selection: “She’s a shy and modest person, and for her it will be a terrible burden, this prize. She is very reticent in her poetry also. This is not a poetry where she reveals her personal life.”

Her work did, however, reveal sympathy for others — even the biblical figure who looked back at Sodom and turned into a pillar of salt. Ms. Szymborska speculated in the opening lines of “Lot’s Wife” on why she looked back:

They say I looked back out of curiosity,

but I could have had other reasons.

I looked back mourning my silver bowl.

Carelessly, while tying my sandal strap.

So I wouldn’t have to keep staring at the righteous nape

Of my husband Lot’s neck.

From the sudden conviction that if I dropped dead

He wouldn’t so much as hesitate.

From the disobedience of the meek.

Checking for pursuers.

Struck by the silence, hoping God had changed his mind.

Her last book to be translated, “Here,” was published in the United States last year. Reviewing it for The New York Review of Books, the poet Charles Simic noted that Ms. Szymborska “often writes as if on an assigned subject,” examining it in depth. He added: “If this sounds like poetry’s equivalent of expository writing, it is. More than any poet I can think of, Szymborska not only wants to create a poetic state in her readers, but also to tell them things they didn’t know before or never got around to thinking about.”

In her Nobel lecture, Ms. Szymborska joked about the life of poets. Great films can be made of the lives of scientists and artists, she said, but poets offer far less promising material.

“Their work is hopelessly unphotogenic,” she said. “Someone sits at a table or lies on a sofa while staring motionless at a wall or ceiling. Once in a while this person writes down seven lines, only to cross out one of them 15 minutes later, and then another hour passes, during which nothing happens. Who could stand to watch this kind of thing?”
Posted on 02/01/2012 8:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
A Musical Interlude: Nevermore (Slawa Przybylska)
Listen here.
Posted on 02/01/2012 8:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Uh Oh
Read here.
Posted on 02/01/2012 9:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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