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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
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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by J. E. G. Dixon
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by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
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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:
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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 Tuesday, 13, 2011.
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Radical Muslim group banned overseas coming to Melbourne

From the Herald Sun

VICTORIA'S Jewish community wants police to monitor a seminar being held by a radical Muslim group in Melbourne next month.  Victorian Jewish Community Council president John Searle said he was concerned about what sort of messages would be spread and the type of people being influenced. "This is a group that's spread anti-semitism and racist sentiments - its values are the opposite to those of most Australians," 

The Hizb ut-Tahrir group, which is banned in several Middle Eastern countries, is opposed to Israel's existence and to Australia's involvement in Afghanistan. The seminar scheduled for Docklands on October 14 will debate issues such as "Australian blood for an American war?" and "29 troops dead . . . how many more to come?"

Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia spokesman Uthman Badar yesterday denied the group had singled out Australian soldiers as fair game for attack. "Of course, we do uphold the right of any people who are invaded unjustly to resist," Mr Badar said. Mr Badar said he could understand why Jewish groups did not like his organisation."Our position on Israel is quite strong in that we don't afford it any legitimacy and we take it to be an invasion that has to be repelled,"

Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Nazeem Hussain said the ideas on Afghanistan were not new and deserved debate 

Posted on 09/13/2011 2:17 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
'Several' Dutch nationals are involved in jihad abroad

From Dutch News

'Several' Dutch nationals are involved in a jihad or holy war in foreign countries, the acting head of the AIVD security services has told Nos television, without giving further details. Over the past years, several dozen Dutch men had gone or attempted to visit countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia and several of them are still active, Jan-Kees Goet told the broadcaster.

This weekend VPRO radio quoted a UN report which said one Dutch Somali is active in the al-Shabaab terrorist movement in Somalia.

The danger these people present is either that they attack Dutch or Nato operations in risky countries or return home with concrete plans to attack their home base, Goet said. And because they have seen 'active service' overseas, their status rises at home, he said.

Posted on 09/13/2011 2:34 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Cliché corner

Daphna Berman in Moment Magazine:

Bernard Lewis has just moved to a small apartment in the manicured suburbs on Philadelphia’s Main Line. At 95, it was time for the man the Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing calls the “most influential postwar historian of Islam and the Middle East” to leave Princeton—his home for more than 35 years—for a senior living facility known for attracting retired academics.

In England, where Bernard Lewis comes from, lawns are manicured, but suburbs are leafy.

Posted on 09/13/2011 4:56 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Nato headquarters and US embassy under attack in Kabul

From The Telegraph

Nato's headquarters and the US embassy have come under attack in the centre of Kabul in what appears to be a coordinated attack across the Afghan capital.  Blasts and gunfire echoed through the city, as the Taliban said several attackers armed with rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests were targeting government buildings near the embassy district.

Several Taliban attackers armed with rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47s and suicide vests have taken up positions in Kabul, near the embassy district, to attack government buildings, a spokesman for the insurgents said."The primary targets of the attackers are the intelligence agency building and a ministry," Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by phone.  He said he could not comment on how many attackers there were while the operation was going on.

Posted on 09/13/2011 6:30 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Possible Effects Of Qaddafy's Fall In Central And West Africa
From Global Post at cbs news:
September 11, 2011

Post-Qaddafi West and Central Africa a "powder keg"

The article from GlobalPost was written by Tristan McConnell, senior correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is also currently East Africa Correspondent for The Times of London.

 

(Credit: CBS/AP)

NIAMEY, Niger -- The defeat of Muammar Gaddafi will lead to a proliferation of arms and fighters in the desert areas of West and Central Africa turning the region into a "powder keg," according to regional experts who met to discuss the growing security threat this week.

"The repercussion of the Libyan crisis on the ... region has become palpable, particularly with the arrival of large amounts of weapons and four-wheel drive vehicles and the return of armed individuals involved in the Libyan crisis," Mohamed Bazoum, the foreign minister of Niger, told a two-day conference in Algiers that ended late on Thursday.

Top of the list of concerns is that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a resurgent Islamist militant group, will get its hands on surface-to-air missiles that have disappeared from Libyan stockpiles raising the threat of passenger planes being shot down over the Sahara Desert.

Thousands of shoulder-launched heat-seeking missiles were found to have disappeared from looted warehouses in Tripoli this week, according to Human Rights Watch.

"If these fall into the wrong hands they could turn all of North Africa into a no-fly zone," Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at the New York-based pressure group, told reporters after discovering the missing munitions.

AQIM has kidnapped Westerners in recent years executing some and extracting hefty ransoms for others. A year ago this month AQIM abducted seven foreigners from a French-run uranium mine in Arlit, northern Niger.

Originally an anti-government insurgency limited to Algeria, AQIM now operates in Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal and has stated its ambitions to expand its operations across the Sahel, the name given to the thick strip of arid land that stretches across Africa along the southern fringe of the Sahara.

Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union counterterrorism coordinator, echoed other observers when he warned the Algiers meeting that AQIM was building closer ties with Islamist militants in Nigeria and Somalia.

"This is something that the intelligence services are following very closely. There is still nothing structural [but] there are efforts at contacts, and some small transfers of money," Kerchove said.

"It seems that some members of Boko Haram and Al Shabaab were trained by AQIM," he said.

AQIM pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in 2006 and Al Shabaab followed suit in 2010.

In recent months Boko Haram, an Islamist group in northern Nigeria whose name means "Western education is forbidden," has stepped up its campaign of deadly bombings and has launched its first suicide attacks.

In August a suicide bomber crashed his car through barriers outside the United Nations headquarters in the capital Abuja before detonating his explosives, bringing down part of the building and killing at least 23 people and injuring around 80 more.

Suspects arrested in the days after the attack have been linked to both Al Shabaab and AQIM by Nigeria's security services.

Easing the increased flow of arms from Libya's stockpiles and battlefields will be the return of perhaps thousands of mercenaries and Tuareg desert nomads who fought on behalf of Gaddafi but have now lost their paymaster.

Gaddafi backed Tuareg rebellions against the governments in Mali and Niger so their return is thought to pose a threat to the shaky stability of these impoverished nations.

A convoy that arrived here in Niamey from Libya this week was led by Gaddafi's security chief as well as a prominent Tuareg leader, Rissa ag Boula. Mansour Dao, the head of security, is now under house arrest in a well-guarded mansion on the banks of the Niger River.

The Tuaregs are adept desert-dwellers and command the traditional caravan trade routes across the Sahara that are nowadays used to smuggle arms, cigarettes, cocaine and people.

Analysts worry that these unemployed guns-for-hire will become a ready pool of recruits for AQIM which has boosted its coffers with ransom money and has in the past outsourced abductions to other mercenary armed groups in the desert.

"Immediately Gaddafi's defeat leaves the region less secure because of the increased flow of weapons and fighters," said J. Peter Pham, Africa director at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank.

But Pham told GlobalPost that, despite the serious immediate concerns, so long as regional governments can keep a lid on things in the coming months the region will, in the end, be safer without Gaddafi.

"There is no one else who aspires to Gaddafi's role as a regional hegemon and troublemaker which means in the longer term security will improve," he said.


Posted on 09/13/2011 7:04 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
If There Is Nothing Wrong With Islam, Why Do We All Agree We Can Stomach It Only In "Moderation"?

We are now told, and Jibril himself, the National Transition Council's zebab-foreheaded head, has promised everyone that the new government would practice a "Moderate Islam."

That may be for the West alone, but still, the fact that he felt compelled to say it is a small victory, of sorts, for those who have educated themselves enough to begin to recognize the meaning, and therefore the full menace, of Islam.

But why don't we ask this?

If there is no difference in the texts relied on by those who practice "moderate Islam" and those who practice "immoderate" Islam, no difference in the versions of the Qur'an or the Sunnah they rely on, no difference in their reverence for Muhammad as the Model of Conduct (uswa hasana) and Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil), then the "moderate" Muslim is different only in the less intense qualtiy -- for the moment -- of the very same doctrine, the very same things. He may dislike or hate Infidels, but for various reasons understands he cannot show it (and this would certainly be true of most Muslims living as small minorities in Western countries) but must keep distracting those Infidels, keep up a steady "moderate" patter that will confuwe them, or keep them in a state of permanent unwary naive hopefulness that somehow things will turn out alright, despite the texts, despite the tenets, despite the 1350-year history of Muslim conquest and subjugation of non-Muslims and destruction or at least great impoverishment of those non-Muslims (those who remain, in ever diminishing numbers, non-Muslims) and those who are forcibly converted, or prudentially decide to convert, to Islam, and thus deprive themselves and their offspring of so much that is not obvious --  in artistic expression, in free and skeptical inquiry, in intellectual and moral development, or the possibity of such development, of all kinds , and despite the aggressive, violent, at times nearly hysterical, behavior of Muslims toward non-Muslims, observable today all over the world.

What does it mean to promise a "moderate Islam"? What does it mean, that the speaker himself does not appear to realize, when such things are said? It means at least this: we all understand that Islam, the more it remains the faith alone, undiluted, not on the rocks, is dangerous -- that is, we understand, but do not say, do not admit in many cases to ourselves, that we now recognize that Islam itself is dangerous.

What, in some places, has made it possible to dilute that Islam, was that in the circumstances of real life, with its trials and distractions, and the ignorance of many Muslims, such as illiterate villagers whose Islam might, for many centuries, have consisted only of a knowledge of the Five Pillars and the assurance that they were superior to all non-Muslims, that non-Muslims were evil in rejecting the True Faith and, as a religious duty, had to be subdued -- but there were no non-Muslims around, or the few who were, behaved and fulfilled their humiliating role as dhimmis. 

Islam then, can only be kept from being dangerous, even fatal,  only when diluted -- and Islam is diluted, I'm afraid, only when Muslims are not powerful and their numbers in non-Muslim countries kept small.

Think of it this way. Islam may be prevented from being toxic to our Infidel systems only when Muslims are on the rocks.

 

 

Posted on 09/13/2011 7:09 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Barnett on the Tennessee Refugee Resettlement Bill

Don Barnett writes in The Tennessean:

Refugee resettlement in America has traditionally been the responsibility of sponsors — families who housed the refugees, charitable organizations which provided assistance and employers with jobs.

Until the federal Refugee Act of 1980, refugees were explicitly barred from accessing public welfare. Sponsors had to provide at least a year of lodging and support including medical coverage.

This is not the system we have today.

Today, refugee resettlement is almost entirely the responsibility of the taxpayer — both state and federal; the sponsors have become federal contractors. One of the main tasks of the contractors — misleadingly called Voluntary Agencies or Volags — is to link refugees with social services programs. The contractor/sponsor responsibility ends after just three months in most cases. Needless to say, with such a short period of engagement, assimilation is not on the agenda, even when assimilation is the desire of the refugees themselves.

Thirty days after arrival, refugees are eligible for all forms of public assistance on the same basis as a U.S. citizen. This has resulted in staggering welfare dependency rates, despite laughable statements about refugee “self-sufficiency” found in official Volag reports.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R.-Ind., commissioned a report in 2010 entitled “Abandoned Upon Arrival: Implications for Refugees and Local Communities Burdened by a U.S. Resettlement System That Is Not Working.”

The report concludes that the federal government too often brings refugees to U.S. communities with inadequate resources and little planning who “place demands, sometimes significant, on local schools, police, hospitals and social services. Local governments are often burdened with the weight of addressing the unique assistance refugees require, yet they rarely have an official role in influencing how many refugees are resettled by local voluntary agencies and often are not even informed in advance that new residents will be arriving.”

The report recommends modifications to “Enhance formal consultations with state and local leaders, improve accountability and promote community engagement which improves chances of assimilation.”

Likewise, the National Governors Association (NGA) regularly pleads for more state involvement “in the congressional consultation process through which new refugee admissions levels are determined to ensure that program funding is provided to support the level of refugee admissions.”

On its website, the NGA speaks of “a major federal policy change that shifts fiscal responsibility for meeting the basic needs of refugees and entrants from the federal government to states and localities.”

Further, “governors continue to be concerned about the lack of adequate consultation on the part of the voluntary agencies (Volags) and their local affiliates in the initial placement of refugees and on the part of the federal government in the equitable distribution of refugees.

States have continually urged the federal government to establish a mechanism to ensure appropriate coordination and consultation. However, significant progress has not been made. …”

Tennessee is the first state in the nation to pass a bill which will address this issue. The Refugee Absorption Capacity Act (RACA) provides common-sense guidelines which promote consultation between Volags and the U.S. State Department on one hand and local communities on the other.

The law also provides a mechanism for localities to request a slowdown or a moratorium in resettlement based on the capacity limits of social service providers, public schools, public housing, public health services and so on. The law is very modest in that a community may merely make a request, not assert a right, to refuse resettlement. Hopefully, it is the beginning of a process where affected communities are granted a say in the resettlement program.

Don Barnett is an information technology professional and free-lance writer in Brentwood.

Posted on 09/13/2011 9:06 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
A Musical Interlude: True Blue Lou (Ben Pollack Orch., voc. Scrappy Lambert)

Listen here.

Posted on 09/13/2011 11:12 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Erdogan The Vainglorious: бей жидов и �па�ай Ро��ию!

Erdogan, the malignant Turk who reminds one most of Mussolini -- a Mussolini without the jutting jaw but with the same kind of populist appeal to the most debased sentiments --- and among Muslim Arabs, including those misleadingly described, in the West, as "secular" (they can't get away from the mental substrate to be found among those who grow up in societies suffused with Islam), the most debased of sentiments center always around Israel. That tiny land is seen as an outrage, contra-naturam, an offense against nature or, more exactly, Islam and Allah and Muslims, the "best of peoples," for Israel as an Infidel nation-state reverses the natural order of things, that is the takeover, of non-Muslim lands, by Muslims, and it is particularly galling that the Jews, despised always for their weakness (Christians always had a powerful Western Christendom in the background, possibly to be called on in time of need), should not have defeated much larger Arab Muslim armies, and done so repeatedly. And while the entire world should ultimately come under the domination of Islam, think of how maddening how wounding to the amour-propre of Arab Muslims and of those non-Arab Muslims who take Islam most to heart (and Erdogan is certainly one of those), the existence of israel, its flourishing, must be.

So Erdgoan visits Egypt, where Turkish dynasties, beginning with the Mamluk takeover in 1517, ruled for centuries. Mehemet Ali himself, who essentially freed Egypt from Ottoman rule, and even took his army north, all the way through the Sinai, and Palestine, to the confines of Syria, battling the Ottomans. And he showers crowds with the easy and obvious coin of hatred, hatred for Israel, that is hatred for the Jews, when they are uppity enough to dare to think they have a right to an independent state, have a right to defend, as they see fit, that state, have a right even to such things as exploring for gas in their own territorial waters.

Erdogan can do nothing to solve Egypt's overpopulation problem. A country that might survive, just, if it had a population of 20 million, now has 80 million mostly wretched and underemployed souls, and within 20 years will have 120 million. What help, what solutions, can the likes of Erdogan bring? His own belief in the upward thrust of Turkey reminds one of the late Shah of Iran, who back in the late 1970s was vaingloriously predicting that Iran would soon become "the second industrial power of Asia." These assorted Ozymandiases, with their vivid Oriental imaginations, are comical.

And Erdogan thinks -- thinks! -- that Turkey is a model for the Arabs. But he fails to grasp the nature of his own, Turkish, reality. He is living, Turkey is living, on the results of what Ataturk wrought. Even those industrialists who are pious Muslims, and who have convinced themselves that Islam and "modernity," Islam and economic development, Islam and democracy, get along swimmingly, as "the example of Turkey proves," fail to understand that the example of Turkey proves no such thing. It is Kemalist Turkey, and not Turkey, that is not Erdogan's Turkey, that has created the political, economic, and intellectual conditions for development and progress. Erdogan has been undoing Kemalism and its systematic constraints on Islam. So far the effect of that undoing has been felt by individuals -- army officers, university rectors, journalists (in a society where media freedom is now considered to be less than in Iraq, less even than in Egypt), and others.

But Erdogan knows what ails the Arabs. It's Israel. It's the curse of Israel.

As all educated people know, in Russia, in the last decades of the 19th and first decades of the twentieth century, there flourished groups of black reactionaries who were known as the "chyornosotentsy" or "Black Hundreds." They found the source of Russia's woes in the Jews, as Hitler would later: "Die Juden Sind Unser Ungluck." They attacked, robbed, and killed Jews, in those pogroms that we all know about, everywhere in the Pale of Settlement.

Their slogan went as follows: бей жидов и �па�ай Ро��ию!" That is, Beat The Jews, Save Russia.

It might as well be -- no, it is -- Erdogan's slogan. Beat the Jews, Save the Muslim lands!

There is no longer any reason to pretend that the Turkey that Ataturk created, the one that in an excess of gratitude to the Turks for providing 5,000 soldiers to the Korean conflict, led to the Dulles brothers allowing Turkey to be offered membershp in NATO. If NATO now has a mission, it is to protect its members from the forces, inside as well as outside of Western Europe, from the Camp of Islam, the forces of Islam. Erdogan has not only punished those in Turkey who would like to continue the Kemalist dispensation, in order to keep Islam constrained, but has gone on a veritable rampage against Israel, which is in every way more a natural and obvious candidate for NATO than Turkey. For Israel is not only an immutable part of the West, but the West would not exist, as it came to exist, had it not been for Israel. Morally, and geopolitically, the Western world cannot allow itself to abandon Israel, or even to continue the kind of appeasement of the Arabs, and of their Jihad against Israel -- whether it is the Slow Jihad of Fatah or the Fast Jihad of Hamas and Hezbollah -- for not only will Israel suffer, but the Western world itself, in the end possibly fatally.

Posted on 09/13/2011 11:15 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Geert Wilders And The High And Mighty In The Netherlands

[re-posted from March 9, 2010]

Geert Wilders Takes On The High and Mighty Dutch Lords (Den Hooge Ende Moogende Heeren) Of Misrule

Isn't it amusing how the press will cover a story, and so often, when it comes to anything having to do with "Islam, Responses To," fail to grasp the most important thing. The papers have been full, the last weeks, of various stories. In Afghanistan, it has been about the war in Marja, the war being conducted by the Marines with almost no useful help from the "Afghan Army" that everyone was so counting on, the Afghan Army that, just like the Iraqi Army, has had American training and money and weapons lavished upon it, and high hopes placed in it. But as one Marine said, at least the Afghans, disappointing as their performance has been, are not as utterly hopeless "as the Iraqis."

In Pakistan, we have learned that Ms. Siddiqui, the aider and abettor of Muslim terrorists who was tried and sentenced by the Americans, has become a national heroine, a cause celebre, the person everyone -- everyone -- supports against the perfidious Infidels, the Americans, the same perfidious Infidels who have spent tens of billions, perhaps hundreds of billions, on Pakistan, in both economic and military aid, over the past fifty years, while Pakistani generals have smiled, and flicked their imaginary fly-whisks, and put on a great show of Sandhurst-educated rectitude and straight-talking, even as they assured, one after the other, generations of American generals as to the true-blue steadfastness of that "staunch ally" of America, Pakistan.

And along the edges of the Marja offensive in Afghanistan, and stories about what is going on with the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan, comes another story, from seemingly far-off, quaint old teeny-tiny Europe. Europe! Where is it, anyway, this Europe we used to hear so much about? And why should it matter? I mean, who cares, anyway? What matters is that we are making things better, with our Army Of Social Workers, for all the people in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and maybe Yemen too, and just possibly add Somalia to that lucky list, and who knows where else in the Muslim lands whose peoples have become so very near, and so very dear, to us, ever since 9/11/2001, and their well-being so very important to us (far more important than the well-being of impoverished Christians in sub-Saharan Africa, or South America, who get none of our largesse and concern and support).

And why is their well-being so important to us? Well, if Iraqis aren't happy, and Afghans aren't happy, and Pakistanis aren't happy, and Yemenis aren't happy, and Somalis aren't happy, then maybe some of those unhappy Iraqis and Afghans and Pakistanis and Yemenis and Somalis will turn to Al Qaeda, or some such, and then where will we be? So we've got to keep the wars-as-social-work going, we've got to make sure that while fighting these wars we don't do anything to antagonize any of the Muslim locals, don't fight the way we fought in World War II, for example, where the Europeans we were liberating, or the Filipinos for that matter, from the Nazi or Japanese yoke understood that war necessarily entailed civilian casualties, but did not turn on us or become our enemies. When the RAF bombed Copenhagen in 1944, and instead of hitting Gestapo headquarters hit a children's hospital, killing 88 children and four nuns, what did the Danish Resistance do? Did it denounce the RAF, and tell it to change its ways, and never to use bombs (as the Americans are hardly using planes and airpower in Afghanistan) because it might cause "civilian deaths that are always unacceptable"? No, of course not. The Danes said: "We know you are sorry, but keep on coming. Don't stop, keep it up."

That is because the Danes were on our side. But in Afghanistan, the corrupt Karzai is quick to attack the Americans for, ludicrously, the kind of accidents that always and everywhere occur, and occur especially if the enemy never wears uniforms, and insists on fighting with civilians all around, civilians even gathered up or held as hostages in order to make it harder for an opposing force determined to scrupulously try to avoid civilian casualties (the Americans in Afghanistan, the Israelis in Gaza) to perform as effectively, with as little threat to its own forces as possible. Should the lives of Afghan civilians be rated higher than those of American soldiers? Why? That scrupulousness means little or no use of air power, and firing only when one is absolutely one thousand percent sure there are no civilians who could be hurt, and if it means not firing on an enemy who has just fired on you (you saw him) because he has also just dropped his weapon and looks defiantly at you, daring you to fire on him and knowing you won't - well, that's all part of the Grand Strategy of Winning Muslim Hearts and Minds. And those hearts and minds obviously count for so much more than those of non-Muslims, and especially of those non-Muslims in Europe now struggling to deal with their grim recognition of the reality they have created for themselves by so foolishly, in a moment of civilisational heedlessness, admitting into their midst millions of Muslims who have bred and bred, and are still out-breeding, and by far, the native non-Muslims, and whose aggression and violence and outrageous demands for changes in the legal and political institutions of Europe grow and grow pari passu with the growth in the Muslim population, which is supported by, even made possible by, advanced Western medicine and family subsidies of every kind that Muslims in Europe have taken advantage of in every possible way, and then some.

But clearly Europe doesn't matter to American ruling elites any more, or at least not nearly as much as Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Pakistan, countries where we have poured in more money than was poured into all the many countries of Europe that were beneficiaries of the Marshall Plan.

Now, from Europe, or rather from the Netherlands, recently came news having to do with Afghanistan. And the news is this: Dutch government falls. That's what the Times tells you. That's what the Post tells you. But they don't go into details, other than to tell you that the second most important political party in the ruling coalition, one headed by the Christian Democrats of Balkenende, is the Labor Party, and the Labor Party insists that when the commitment for Dutch troops to be in Afghanistan ends this coming August, it should not be renewed, the Dutch soldiers should be removed.

So far, so unremarkable. Everything fits. Just as it is people "to the left" who "wanted us out of Iraq," and now "want us out of Afghanistan," the Labor Party, famously soft on Islam, and full of people who made life difficult for Pim Fortuyn and who may in their campaign of vilification have encouraged his murderer (he certainly thought they were creating a dangerous climate), is the Party now pulling out of the ruling coalition. And here are the Christian Democrats, with Mr. Balkenende at their head, stoutly supporting - so the American press would have it - the American-directed effort of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

But that's only part of the story. Mr. Balkenende is the leader of what the outspoken Geert Wilders describes as "the worst government in Dutch history." And the fall of the government leads now to new elections, and a chance for the Freedom Party to increase the number of its seats. Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party are not in the ruling coalition now, but stand to gain many seats, both in the municipal elections to be held in early March, and in the Parliamentary elections now fixed for June 9. We are used to a narrative, and in this narrative, in Europe as here, it is only those who are "tough" on Islam who support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with all their attendant expense and attention-getting. The American press doesn't tell you why one of the parties in the ruling coalition is pulling out, and they certainly don't tell you what that tells you about the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders. It simply is not mentioned. Our journalist, our editors, our columnists, our pundits, or think-tankers, are so very lazy, and so very incurious. They wait to hear from someone who fills them in. Okay, that's what I'll do right here for them. I'll fill them in.

The government of Bakenende - the "worst government in the history of the Netherlands" according to Geert Widers -- has been willing to send Dutch troops to Afghanistan and is perfectly willing to renew their mandate. In American terms, in General-Petraeus and My-Weekly-Standard terms, that makes Jan Peter Balkenende a swell fellow, a true-blue ally. But is he? He is willing to send 1500 Dutch troops to help in this Afghanistan business, for two reasons. One, it doesn't cost him very much to show that he's not "soft on Islam." Two, it is six thousand miles away, and has nothing to do with, in the end, what happens with Muslims in the Netherlands. The outcome in Afghanistan, whatever it may be, will have no effect on the power, and aggressive demands, and the expense of monitoring, and the threats to the physical security of non-Muslim Dutch citizens (most obviously Dutch Jews, but that is only because they are an obvious, and most seemingly vulnerable, target), and unsettlements of all kinds caused by the large-scale unchecked presence of Muslims in the Netherlands and the appeasement-minded response, so far, of many in the Dutch government.

The Huffington Post tells you that Geert Wilders is a "neo-fascist." Why? What does the writer in the Huffington Post know about the Freedom Party and Geert Wilders that permits him to get away with such a characterization? If anything, Geert Wilders is someone who cares deeply about the treatment of the Dutch elderly, and the Dutch poor. It is Jan Peter Balkenende who wants to raise the age of retirement, the age at which the Dutch can receive their version of Social Security. It is the "neo-fascist" (in Huffingtonpostlect) Geert Wilders who wants to keep the age of retirement at 60, because it is he who worries most about the Dutch elderly, the people who lived through the War and then the aftermath, the rebuilding, after the War, and lived through the time of scarcity. Wilders knows that, among its many drains on Dutch society, the Muslim population uses up enormous amounts of the resources provided by Dutch taxpayers for benefits that were intended to help support not those who suddenly appeared with plural wives who do not work, and vast numbers of children, and husbands who also work at a rate far lower than non-Muslims, and engage in criminal activities of every kind at far higher rates than any non-Muslim group, whether Dutch or other recent immigrants. This is something he, Geert Wilders, knows, and the Dutch do too, and it is not "neo-fascist" to note this, nor to be particularly solicitous for the Dutch aged.

This won't stop the newspapers from calling him and his Party "far-right." Extreme Droite. Ultraderechista. Und so weiter, endlessly, the papers, the radio, the television controlled and staffed by those who will do everything they can to prevent the matter of Islam from being subject to serious scrutiny, along with their own role in the criminal negligence all over the Western world that led to the arrival in Western Europe by so many Muslims, who have created a situation for the indigenes that is more and more unpleasant, difficult, expensive, physically dangerous.

No, in these newspaper accounts, and on radio and television, it is never simply "Geert Wilders and the Freedom Party." Or, if a placing adjective were deemed important, never the simple, and untendentious "Geert Wilders of the center-right Freedom Party," though "center-right" is exactly what the Freedom Party is. Indeed, in some of its positions, such as the support for increased aid for the elderly and the lack of enthusiasm for Dutch military involvement in Afghanistan, it would by most detached observers to be seen as deserving the adjective "center-left." (Wilders knows that what happens in Iraq and Afghanistan will not, given the stated American and NATO goals, lessen the threat to Infidels in the real theatre of war - that in Western Europe - and constitutes a confusing and very expensive distraction.)


But since we are going to have to endure many examples of this Homeric epithet being affixed to Wilders and his Party, let's immunize ourselves in advance, shall we? Here goes:

Far-right, far-right, far-right, far-right, far-right.

Far-right Geert Wilders. Far-right Theo van Gogh. Far-right Pim Fortuyn. Far-right Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Far-right Magdi Allam. Far-right Oriana Fallaci. Far-right Robert Redeker. Far-right Maurice Dantec. Far-right Jacques Ellul. Far-right Henryk Broder. Far-right Pia Kjersgaard. Far-right Kurt Westergaard. Far-right Pat Condell. Far-right, far-right, far-right, far-right.

Far-right Winston Churchill. Far-right Andre Malraux. Far-right Alexis de Tocqueville. Far-right John Quincy Adams. Far-right John Wesley. Far-right, far-right, far-right, far-right.

Far-right, far-right, far-right, far-right, far-right, far-right, far-right.

Am I right? And am I, in this case, using these epithets to mock the way so much of the Western press mechanically uses them, very very very far from the far-right but -- both relatively and absolutely -- right?

In any case, I feel much better now, now that I've gotten that goddam "far-right" right out of my hair. You too, I suspect.

Now, where were we?

Yes, Geert Wilders, and the present Minister for European Affairs, a member of the Labor Party, a Mr. Timmermans. Timmermans is hysterically afraid, but is couching his hysteria in an ostentatious "reasonable and calm" tone, but one which reduces the justified fear, all over the Netherlands, all over Europe, all over the Infidel world, of Islam and those who take Islam to heart, as merely a matter of our psychic neediness, our requirement that we create, and then hate, the "Other." Timmermans simply refuses to look around the world, for if he did, he would see that this need to "create the Other" is not limited to the Western world. For some reason Buddhists who saw the Bamiyan Buddhas destroyed, who know what Islam meant for tens of thousands of Buddhist temples and stupas throughout Asia, who know what Muslims have done to Buddhists in Bangladesh (where some remain in the Chittagong Hills area), and to Buddhists in Southern Thailand, also in their fear of Islam apparently have had to create "the Other."

And Hindus, too, have had to create "the Other." For they have been on the receiving end of Muslim murderousness and terrorism, in Afghanistan (where the Taliban made them wear, as dhimmis, identifying garb "for their own protection"), and in Pakistan, and in Bangladesh (where Hindus have been beaten to death by Muslim crowds for the sin of having been in the vicinity of a mosque when Friday Prayers let out), and in Indian-held Kashmir, and in India itself, where Muslim terrorism has never let up, but only now is being recognized not as a mutation of Islam, but an inevitable part of Islam, when Muslims feel they can get away with it. For violence is the original method of Jihad, the one that Muhammad used, and the other instruments of Jihad - the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, and demographic conquest - were later additions to the Muslim armory. For more than a thousand years, violence - called qitaal - was the main weapon of Jihad. And those who have been on the receiving end of this, including many black Africans, and many Asians, would laugh at Frans Timmermans and his Eurocentric view of things - Eurocentric in the sense that matters, that he sees only what is happening in Europe, where he can construct a case against the local white West for reducing Muslim immigrants to "the Other." Passing strange, is it not, that he doesn't ask himself why so many other, but non-Muslim immigrants, are welcomed, and eventually integrated perfectly well into Dutch society? Don't they, too, qualify to be regarded as "the Other" by the Dutch, in Frans Timmermans' view? But they seem not to pose the same permanent, intractable problems as Muslims do. Might that have anything to do with the ideology of Islam? Or is Frans Timmermans, Man of the Left, as deeply respectful of something called, faute de mieux, a "religion" - as deeply respectful as was, in his day, George Bush? They would laugh even more bitterly in hearing Timmermans insist that the increasing dismay and distrust of the famously-tolerant Dutch for the Muslims in their midst is not based on reality, but only reflects the need of the Dutch, the need of the White West (fons et origo of everything that, in the view of the frans-timmermans of this world, needs to be changed) to create this "Other" and fill it with their own fears, their own baseless dread.

It is all so absurd. You can see for yourself the clever but vacuous Frans Timmerman at Youtube, where his message comes down to this: Who Are You Going To Believe, Me, Or Your Lying Eyes? Are you going to believe what you actually see, every day, if you live in Rotterdam or Amsterdam, or another Dutch city, or for that matter if you live in Malmo, or in Marseilles, or near the banlieues of Paris, or in Bradford or Leeds or a dozen other English cities? Are you going to believe what you read, with those same Lying Eyes, if what you read was written by a defector from the Army of Islam - say Wafa Sultan or Ayaan Hirsi Ali - or by a great Western scholar of Islam, and the greatest of all happens to have been a Dutchman, C. Snouck Hurgronje?

You think I'm being unfair to Frans Timmermans? Well, watch him in sly action, right here.

Go ahead. Let him be your psychoanalyst, telling you that you must "Confront Your Fears" and you must "embrace your fears" and stop, for god's sake stop, making up all these stories about Muslims that reflect only your deep and unhappy psychic need to create an "Other." Get over it. And note, please, that Islam is, top to bottom, and every which way including up, based on the strict division of the world between Believer and Unbeliever, Muslim and Infidel. And between the two there exists, Muslims are taught (in Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira), a state of permanent war (though not always of permanent warfare) between the two, until such time as Dar al-Islam expands and swallows up what remains of Dar al-Harb, and the whole world is gloriously submissive to Islam, and non-Muslims, those who may remain, are dhimmis, submissive to the rule of Muslims. In other words, Islam is based on the idea of "the Other."

Maybe you don't quite agree with the general view of all right-thinking people. Maybe you refuse to burn incense on the altar of various Idols of the Age, including those who simply invoke, and exploit, unopposed untouchable desiderata such as "Diversity" (unexamined, unanalysed, with no distinctions made as to the kind, the amount, the effect, of such "Diversity"). Maybe you think that there are a thousand reasons to worry about the large-scale Muslim presence in the tolerant, advanced, imperiled countries of Western Europe. Maybe you think that the Shari'a, in letter and spirit, flatly contradicts the principles that underlay the legal and political institutions that over the past four hundred years have been created in the Netherlands. Maybe you think that the Enlightenment, that had its beginnings not in France with Voltaire, Diderot, and d'Alembert, but much earlier, with Baruch Spinoza in the Netherlands, and which could never for one minute have occurred in lands where Islam dominates and Muslims rule, is worth defending. Maybe you think that art, that sculpture and the painting of living creatures that is forbidden in Islam, is worth protecting (Vermeer, Rembrandt, Hooch). Maybe you think that the free and skeptical inquiry that Islam discourages everywhere, and that is essential for the enterprise of science (and without science it will be impossible to ameliorate the mess we have made), needs to be protected. Maybe you cannot bear the collectivism of Islam, according to which individual Believers are not allowed to leave Islam because that would bring it, the Faith, into disrepute, and the true object of worship in Islam is Islam itself. Maybe you have learned something of what Muhammad said and did, and are horrified that Muslims regard Muhammad as the Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil.

And if you are those things, you will have to support Geert Wilders and the Freedom Party. You may agree more on one matter with another party or another candidate, or on another matter with another party. You may agree with another party or candidate on everything, except on the meaning and menace of Islam, where you agree with Geert Wilders. And that means you have to ignore that preposterous epithet "far-right" and that absurd "xenophobia." You have to see through all the desperate attempts to blacken his name, including the latest transparent attempt to trick unwary voters into believing that they can retain their moral sense only by voting against Geert Wilders. This attempt consists of publicizing some twelve-year-old Dutch girl's sentimental screed about how "the Netherlands that Geert Wilders says he wants is not the Netherlands I recognize, because the Netherlands I recognize does not distinguish among people on the basis of their ideas, their religion, their race." Really? Are these quite the same thing? Are "ideas" the same as "religion" and "race"? If that "idea" is the idea of Nazism, or Soviet Communism, is it impermissible to wish to prevent the adherents of those ideas from taking over, especially if they come from outside, and settle without so much as a by-your-leave in one's own small and now imperiled country? Not so fast, please, with what is simply sentimental tosh when it comes from a twelve-year-child, but when it is deliberately exploited by adults who know exactly what they are doing, is not sentimental tosh but something far more sinister. Given what is at stake, you have to vote for the Freedom Party candidates. His party ran last week in two of nearly 400 districts, and came in first in Amere and second in the Hague. Now come the elections of June 9. If you are Dutch, reading this, you know whom to vote for. You can do no other. And if you are not Dutch, and did not know before whom the Dutch should vote for, and why, I hope that now, by this last phrase in the last sentence in the last paragraph, you too, know what they should do.

 
Posted on 09/13/2011 12:49 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Interfaith Mush From Some Wimps At Harvard

The Indecency of Harvard’s 9/11 Commemoration

Posted on 09/13/2011 12:57 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Songwriter Don Wayne Has Died

One of the last great old style country songwriters has passed away at age 78. Robert K. Oermann writes in Music Row:

In 1953, Don Wayne had his first major-label cut as a songwriter when George Morgan recorded his “Lonesome Waltz” for Columbia. The songwriter was also a recording artist, himself. He recorded for Look Records and released several albums on his own in later years.

Don Wayne signed with Tree Publishing in 1963. The following year, Lefty Frizzell took his “Saginaw, Michigan” to the top of the country charts. Wayne went through a somewhat fallow spell as a songwriter, then bounced back with “Country Bumpkin” in 1974. As recorded by Cal Smith, the tune earned Song and/or Single of the Year honors from the CMA, ACM and NSAI.

Other notable Don Wayne copyrights include “The Belles of Southern Bell” (Del Reeves, 1965), “It’s Time to Pay the Fiddler” (Cal Smith, 1975), “What In Her World Did I Do” (Eddy Arnold, 1979), “If Teardrops Were Silver” (Jean Shepard, 1966), “She Talked a Lot About Texas” (Cal Smith, 1975), “Nashville” (David Houston, 1971), “The Marriage Bit” (Lefty Frizzell, 1968) and “Hank” (Hank Williams Jr., 1973).

 

Don Wayne was part of the 1978 class of the Nashville Songwriters Association Hall of Fame. Pictured (L-R): Joe Allison, Danny Dill, Don Wayne, Zeke Clements, Curly Putman, Cindy Walker (center), Don Robertson, Marijohn Wilkin, John Loudermilk, Hank Snow, Harlan Howard, Boudleaux Bryant, Jack Clement, standing in for Tom T. Hall - Mrs. Hall.

Here is "Country Bumpkin" performed by Cal Smith.

Posted on 09/13/2011 3:03 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
The World Council of Churches Made Durban Worse

On September 22, 2011, the United Nations will host a “commemoration” of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance that took place in Durban South Africa in 2001.

The fact that the UN's General Assembly would choose to commemorate this conference, which has gone down in the annals of history as an anti-Semitic hate-fest is frankly, shocking.

At this conference, Arab and Muslim extremists from the Middle East and their allies from the radical left in Europe and the U.S. were able to convince the gathered assembly to affirm an amalgam of ritualistic charges of genocide, racism and ethnic cleansing targeted at Israel.

Jews were singularly denied the right to participate in proceedings at the conference because they could not be "objective." Security officials told representatives of Jewish groups that their safety could not be guaranteed. Protesters carried signs stating that if Hitler had finished the job there were would be no state of Israel and no Palestinian suffering. During the conference a Jewish doctor was beaten by people wearing checkered keffiyehs – the symbol of the Palestinian cause – who said Jews were the cause of all the problems in the Middle East. One local Jewish leader attributed the attack to the atmosphere at the UN Conference.

In light of this, one would think that the international diplomatic community would regard the 2001 Durban as an embarrassment and not worthy of “commemoration.”

In fact, a number of countries have decided to boycott the event for fear that it will provide anti-Semites yet another platform to assail the Jewish state. It is what happened at a follow up to the 2001 Durban conference held in 2009. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a man who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map used the 2009 event as a platform to assail Israel.

Nevertheless, if one is going to have a commemoration of the 2001 conference, it is appropriate to bring to mind those decisions that helped turn the event into a hate-fest where Israel was demonized and where leaders of Jewish organizations were told their safety could not be guaranteed.

In particular, it is important to note the role the World Council of Churches played in turning Durban I into a hate-fest.

What the WCC Did

The World Council of Churches sent a 35-member delegation to the Durban Conference which began on Aug. 26, 2001 and ended on Sept. 7, 2001.

At the conference attendees from non-governmental organizations from throughout the world deliberated on a draft document that condemned racism but made no reference to the oppression of religious and ethnic minorities in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East. The document also singled Israel out as guilty of ethnic cleansing and genocide, prompting diplomats from a number of countries to walk out.

There were three paragraphs dealing with the issue of anti-Semitism, the last of which read as follows:

We are concerned with the prevalence of antizionism and attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel through wildly inaccurate charges of genocide, war crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and apartheid, as a virulent contemporary form of anti-Semitism leading to firebombing of synagogues, armed assaults against Jews, incitements to killing, and the murder of innocent Jews, for their support for the existence of the State of Israel, the assertion of the right to self-determination of the Jewish people and the attempts, through the State of Israel, to preserve their cultural and religious identity.

This paragraph was spot on in its assessment of how false accusations of genocide against Israel (which ironically were leveled at the UN conference) generated racist hostility toward Jews throughout the world.

 

Nevertheless, the WCC's delegation recommended that this paragraph be deleted.

An report on the Durban Conference published by B'Nai Brith Canada describes what happened:

… the World Council of Churches speaking for the Ecumenical Caucus, proposed the deletion from the text on antisemitism the paragraph protesting anti-Zionism. Their reason was that this clause contradicted the pro-Palestinian clauses elsewhere in the document. The chair called a vote on this proposed deletion, without giving the Jewish Caucus, or, indeed, anyone, an opportunity to speak to it.
 
Several caucuses abstained, but only four, the Jewish, European Caucus, Roma and Eastern and Central European Caucuses, voted against. After this vote, the Jewish Caucus and the Eastern and Central European Caucus walked out. The Asian Descendants Caucus subsequently told the Jewish Caucus that they were so confused by what was going on that they voted in favour even though they intended to voted against.

A report written by the WCC's delegation to Durban reports that it called for the deletion of this paragraph because it “was of the opinion that the clause added little strength of the previous two paragraphs.” The report continues:

But more importantly, the text was confusing in its structure in that it mixed the Jewish people with the State of Israel and implied whatever criticism was made of the State of Israel was to be regarded as anti-Semitic. This opinion was shared by every other Caucus except on and its deletion was greeted with applause.

This justification is remarkable in its evasiveness. The paragraph that was deleted was quite explicit in condemning “wildly inaccurate charges of genocide, war crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing an apartheid” and pointing out that these accusations led to violence against Jews throughout the world. It did not imply that "criticism" of Israel was anti-Semitic. The point this paragraph was trying to make was confirmed in a number of subsequent events, such as:

1. The murder of a French Jew, Ilan Halimi in Paris in 2005. Halimi, a 23-year-old French Jew, was kidnapped, tortured for three weeks, stabbed and left to die at a train station on the outskirts of Paris by Muslims who had anti-Israel literature in their apartments. His torture took place in the basement of a public housing project. People knew of his suffering and did not call the police.

2. The murder of Pamela Waechter, an employee of the Jewish Federation in Seattle in 2006. Waechter was shot to death at the height of the Hezbollah War by a man describing himself as a Muslim-American “angry at Israel.” The killer was later discovered to be suffering from mental illness, but just as John Salvi who killed two women at an abortion clinic in Boston in 1994, was encouraged by the highly-charged atmosphere surrounding the debate over abortion in the U.S., the anti-Jewish fringe is energized by hostile rhetoric coming out of the Middle East.

3. The plight of Jews in Malmo, Sweden. Jews are fleeing Malmo in droves as anti-Semitic attacks, perpetrated mostly by Muslim immigrants have increased substantially. Malmo's mayor stated these are merely a consequence of Israeli policies in the Middle East.

4. The display of anti-Semitic imagery at anti-Israel rallies in the U.S. during Israel's fight with Hamas in the Gaza Strip during the winter of 2008-09. Protesters carried signs equating the Start of David with the Nazi Swastika, a clear expression of anti-Semitism. At one rally, a woman called for Jews to “go back to the oven.”

By calling for the deletion of the paragraph quoted above from the draft document at Durban I, the WCC's delegation gave churchly cover to the process by which anti-Zionism has been used to generate hostility toward Jews throughout the world.

The WCC delegation also failed to respond to the anti-Semitic hate that was so evident at the conference and in the document that was approved by the assembly. In response to the controversy over what happened at Durban, the WCC's delegation merely stated “there are some statements in the NGO forum document which are outside the WCC's policy framework, and which the WCC cannot support, such as: equating Zionism with racism, describing Israel as an apartheid state, and the call for a general boycott of Israeli goods. This does not detract from the WCC's support for the document as a whole.”

The Durban Conference turned into an anti-Jewish hatefest, and the best the WCC's delegation could do was say it disapproved some statements that were “outside the WCC's policy framework.”

The WCC's actions at Durban in 2001 were shameful and should not be forgotten.

Posted on 09/13/2011 3:19 PM by Dexter Van Zile
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Jackie Kennedy Had Her Points

From the New York Times, summarizing and quoting from the soon-to-be-released, Memoirs:

"Charles DeGaulle, the French president, is “that egomaniac.” The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is “a phony” whom electronic eavesdropping has found arranging encounters with women. Indira Gandhi, the future prime minister of India, is “a real prune — bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman.”

Posted on 09/13/2011 6:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Pseudsday Tuesday

Chronotopes are not to be confused with monotropes, isotopes, isoglosses, allotropes or - if you remember - Adlestrop. There's a time and space for everything, according to Mikhail Bakhtin:

The nature of a given place does not figure as a component in the event…All adventures in the Greek romance are thus governed by an interchangeability in space…The adventure chronotope is thus characterized by a technical, abstract connection between space and time, by the reversibility of moments in a temporal sequence, and by their interchangeability in space”

[...]

The mark of cyclicity, and consequently of cyclical repetitiveness, is imprinted on all events occurring in this type of time. Time’s forward impulse is limited by the cycle. For this reason even growth does not achieve an authentic ‘becoming’

[..]

Metaphors, comparisons and in general tropes in the style of Homer have not yet utterly lost their unmediated meaning, they do not yet serve the purposes of sublimation. Thus an image selected for comparison is worth just as much as the other member of the comparison, it has its own independently viable significance and reality; thus a comparison becomes almost a dual episode, a digression

Posted on 09/13/2011 6:07 PM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
A Musical Interlude: Were You Foolin'? (Richard Himber Orch., voc. Joey Nash)

Listen here.

Posted on 09/13/2011 10:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
How The Muslim Student Union Plotted In Advance To Shut Down A Speech

From The Investigative Project:


 
Posted on 09/13/2011 10:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Erdogan's Threats Over Israel's Natural Gas
Turkey's Threat to Israel's New Gas Riches

By Simon Henderson
September 13, 2011

Ankara's warning that Turkey will stop Israel from unilaterally exploiting gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean poses a direct challenge to U.S. policy.

On September 8, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Aljazeera that his government had taken steps to prevent Israel from unilaterally exploiting natural resources in the Mediterranean Sea. "Israel has begun to declare that it has the right to act in exclusive economic areas in the Mediterranean," he stated, apparently citing Israeli plans to tap newly discovered offshore gas reserves. Israel "will not be the owner of this right," he warned.

In other remarks, Erdogan declared that the Turkish navy would protect future aid ships bound for Gaza in order to prevent a repetition of the 2010 flotilla incident, in which Israeli commandos killed nine activists attempting to break the blockade. These comments came just days after the release of a UN report condemning the deaths but justifying Israel's blockade -- a judgment that prompted Ankara to drastically reduce diplomatic relations between the two countries and freeze their substantial military cooperation and trade.

By September 9, both governments seemed to be stepping back from a confrontation over any future humanitarian convoy. One Turkish official reportedly said that Erdogan had been "misquoted" and taken "out of context," while Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office countered a media report attributed to the office of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman about potentially supporting the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in its conflict with Turkey. Even so, the potentially more problematic issue of offshore natural gas rights looms large.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea gives each country the right to exploit resources in an "exclusive economic zone" up to 200 nautical miles from its coastline, but maritime border agreements with neighboring states (including offshore neighbors located less than 400 nautical miles away) still need to be negotiated. In the eastern Mediterranean, this issue came to the forefront after Israel discovered substantial offshore gas reserves estimated to exceed current consumption levels several times over. Such large-scale findings offer the probability of substantial energy independence and likely surpluses for export.

Neighboring Egypt is already a key player in the international natural gas market, while Lebanon and Cyprus are considered geologically likely to have significant offshore reserves of their own. The first exploratory drilling off Cyprus is set to begin next month -- a development that could result in even more threatening rhetoric from Ankara.

Role of the Cyprus Dispute

Although Erdogan's September 8 comments conflated the gas and Gaza blockade issues, the real key to understanding Turkey's current squabbles with Israel is the unresolved dispute over Cyprus. In the 1960s and 1970s, tensions between the island's Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking communities -- backed, respectively, by Athens and Ankara -- often seemed a greater danger to regional peace than differences between Israelis and Palestinians. Since 1974, when Turkey sent troops to the island to support the Turkish Cypriot community and block any union between the majority Greek Cypriots and Greece, the island has been divided, with UN forces interposed between the two sides.

Frequent attempts at reconciliation have failed. With Ankara's backing, Turkish Cypriots have established the notionally independent Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is bolstered by the presence of more than 30,000 Turkish soldiers. Yet no country other than Turkey has recognized the TRNC -- a fact that continues to infuriate Ankara. Meanwhile, the Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus has become a member of the European Union and is considered to represent the entire island.

The recent discoveries of natural gas under the eastern Mediterranean seabed have seemingly prompted Ankara to renew its diplomatic campaign on behalf of Turkish Cypriots. Erdogan reportedly stated last week: "Turkey, as a guarantor of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, has taken steps in the area [of the offshore resources], and it will decisively pursue its right to monitor international waters in the east Mediterranean." Such a policy could put Turkey at odds with all the littoral governments of the area, from the Republic of Cyprus to Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria:

 

  • Cyprus. Ankara is annoyed that the Republic of Cyprus signed a maritime border agreement with Lebanon and another with Israel. In 2008, the Turkish navy reportedly came dangerously close to ships carrying out seismic surveys in Cypriot waters, alarming Washington. On September 8, the Greek Cypriot government issued a statement protesting Ankara's claim that the island's plans to explore and exploit offshore reserves are not in line with international law and do not facilitate resolution of the Cyprus problem. "The Cyprus problem cannot be solved with threats," the spokesman noted.

    Ankara's anger with Cyprus will likely grow after July 2012, when the island holds the EU presidency for six months. Although Turkey has already cooled its enthusiasm for joining the union, it may well become irritated by the prestige and enhanced diplomatic influence that EU leadership will confer upon Cyprus. Indeed, Ankara has said it will freeze ties with the union during this period.

  • Israel. The discovery of the huge Leviathan gas field in 2010, close to the Israel-Cyprus maritime border, has generated optimism that similar abundance might be found in nearby Block 12, which lies in Cypriot waters. One way of exploiting such reserves would be to establish an export-oriented liquefied natural gas facility on Cyprus, to be operated jointly with Israel. Yet Turkey has already condemned the idea.
  • Lebanon. The Lebanese parliament has yet to ratify the signed maritime border agreement with Cyprus, in part because Beirut disagrees with the Cyprus-Israel accord and the Israel-Lebanon maritime border it implies. Iran and its Hizballah surrogate have accused Israel of seizing Lebanese offshore gas fields, even though none of the Israeli discoveries made thus far are anywhere near the disputed line. Ankara, already sympathetic to Hizballah, may be tempted to take sides in this dispute despite concern about Lebanon exploiting its own offshore resources.
  • Egypt. Cairo already has a maritime border accord with Cyprus, signed in 2003 and ratified in 2004, as well as a framework agreement for resolving ownership of resources that cross the median line. Ankara's desire for good relations with Egypt probably trumps any concern it might have about this accord, and Erdogan gave no sign of raising the issue during his trip to Cairo yesterday.
  • Syria. As an oil and gas producer, Syria is expected to look offshore for reserves at some point in the future. In addition to a maritime agreement with Cyprus, Damascus will also need to draw an offshore line with Turkey. This will be problematic because of the Turkish province of Hatay, a finger of coastal territory that Damascus has regarded as Syrian land in the past. Although President Bashar al-Asad declared the issue resolved during a 2004 visit to Turkey, no details were given, and Syrian television continues to give the weather forecast for the area as if it is a part of Syria.

U.S. Policy

Washington has a strong interest in eastern Mediterranean countries finding and exploiting offshore reserves. For example, Houston-based Noble Energy is leading the drilling in both Israeli and Cypriot waters. U.S. policy would also be well served by peaceful resolution of the Cyprus dispute, which is fast becoming yet another hindrance to Turkey's EU aspirations.

Accordingly, U.S. officials must emphasize to Ankara that its recent rhetoric is incompatible with being recognized as an important diplomatic partner of the United States and Europe. Erdogan's latest comments came shortly after Turkey accepted Washington's request to host a radar station intended to warn of potential Iranian missile launches against Europe and, in the future, the United States. Ankara cannot be permitted to enjoy the benefits of a strong relationship with Washington while undermining U.S. objectives in the eastern Mediterranean.

Simon Henderson is the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute.

Posted on 09/13/2011 11:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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