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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
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The Impact of Islam
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Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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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
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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 Thursday, 20, 2012.
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Silence of the Feminists

The British courts recently asked me to prepare a report on a young Muslim woman of Pakistani descent, and to do so I had to visit her at home. I spoke to her in a room in which a television screen as large as a cinema vied for predominance with embroidered pictures of Mecca and framed quotations from the Koran.

She told me a story with which I was only too familiar. One of eight brothers and sisters, she soon discovered that, while her brothers could do anything they pleased, including crime, she and her sisters were expected to lead spotless lives of infinite tedium and absolutely no choice. At 16, without her consent, she was betrothed to be married to a first cousin in Pakistan, whom she had never met and did not wish to meet. She ran away to avoid being taken back “home” and married off under duress; but in need of companionship and protection (having been until then a virtual prisoner in her parental home), she soon married a young man of Pakistani descent who turned out to be neither a companion nor protective, but criminal and violent. Eventually, she returned to her parents, who gave a less than warm welcome to the prodigal daughter.

She begged to be allowed to go to work, but at first her family said that this would heighten the shame she had brought on them by running away and refusing to marry her cousin. Her brothers in particular accused her of thinking that she was a Western woman, than which (in their eyes) there could be no worse insult. Eventually, however, they gave way; the money might be useful. She had been working ever since, for about ten years.

When she described her work, her manner changed. She became animated, almost passionate, having been subdued before. Though her work was only in a clerical capacity (she had been promoted once or twice), she spoke of it with love. It was her daily release from prison, the only time she was allowed out; it was her window on the world; it was the entirety of her social life; it was air after suffocation.

It occurred to me that if I were an employer, I would want otherwise oppressed Muslim women to work for me. An attitude toward work such as theirs is not common, at least not in Britain. For them, work represents freedom and happiness, not drudgery and exploitation.

But the attitude of her brothers—born, after all, in Britain—stuck in my mind. They were integrated enough to want Westernized lives for themselves but not integrated enough to want such lives for their sisters. It is not difficult to see the reasons for this. But where are our feminists, fearlessly fighting for speech codes and the use of the impersonal she in academic books, when women such as this suffer such severe oppression? Hardly a peep is heard from them.

First published in City Journal.

Posted on 12/20/2012 5:21 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Fitzgerald: The Effects Of French Rule In Algeria

[Re-posted from November 8, 2008]

The semblance of sense that some Algerians, of the French-speaking elite, can exhibit, in very small numbers, is due to the influence of the French, in two ways.

First, there are the continuing effects of French rule and French civilising tendencies, however diminished by Arab Muslim Lords of Misrule. The FLN effectively continues in power, with military-allied corrupt rulers, similar to the stratokleptocrats who have ruled Egypt since the Coup of the Colonels undid Farouk and the ancien regime. It was France that entered Algeria to put permanently paid to the Muslims who attacked Christian shipping and kidnapped and enslaved Christian seamen, in 1830. Over 132 years, until 1962, they brought hospitals, higher education (and even schools), laid out cities with beautiful boulevards instead of the rabbit-warrens of the Pepe-le-Moko casbahs, modern agricultural methods, and so much else, to Algeria (as they did, beginning later and ending earlier, and on a much smaller scale, in Tunisia and Morocco). And they brought the French language, and with it the ideas embedded in the French texts.

Now that the French are gone, and the hideousness of Muslim rule has been imposed, and so many Algerian Arabs have been permitted to move to, and live in France, at least some of them, particularly women, have been able to compare the advanced society that non-Muslims can create with the dullness and cruelty of the one that remains in Algeria. Algerian society has descended since 1962 steadily into darkness. If it did not have the French connection, and the manna from natural gas and oil deposits, it would descend even more quickly, as would Morocco without a semi-enlightened Sherifian monarchy prepared to use force against "Islamists," and as would Tunisia if Ben Ali were not as ruthless as Bourguiba had been against those threatening a "secular" state. Constraints on Islam are enforced by police-state methods.

There are some Algerians who accurately depict the awfulness of their own country, but they too often attribute that awfulness to a monstrous state instead of asking a further question: what is it about Islam that makes people naturally submissive to such a state? What is it that causes them not to question but to obey? What is it that prevents subjects from turning into citizens, in every Islamic country?

And then there are the Berbers, whose own national consciousness has been rising because of decades of Arab oppression. The protests and riots in Tizi-Ouzou more than a decade ago received no attention in the Western world, save for a handful of articles in the French press. The ban imposed by an Arab-dominated government on Amazigh or Tamazight, the Berber language, forbidden in the schools and even for use at home, finally has been undone. And it is among the Berbers that the most advanced, and secular elements are to be found. Kateb Yacine, the celebrated writer and a Berber, refused to write in Arabic, though he knew it perfectly, regarding it as the language of the oppressor; he wrote only in French.

Arabness, Uruba, always and everywhere reinforces Islam, and indeed, the phenomenon of the "islamochristian" (search this site for further discussion) is limited to Arabs. Christian Pakistanis, Christian Indonesians, do not further the Islamic agenda. Christians who speak Arabic, or use Arabic, and even have Arab names, but are keenly aware that their presence predates the Arab invasion -- the Maronites in Lebanon, the Copts in Egypt, the Assyrians in Iraq -- either do not succumb to the "islamochristian" temptation, or do so only while in the Middle East. While there they internalize an attitude prompted by fear of the Muslim sea in which they must swim and always be keenly aware of and worried about. But outside, they can sometimes work through and jettison that "islamochristian" attitude. The most obvious manifestation of the "islamochristian" phenomenon is to be found among the shock troops in the Jihad against Israel, that is, the local Arabs renamed after the Six-Day War as the "Palestinians" -- think of Michel Sabbah, Naim Ateek, Hanan Ashrawi.

It is not possible for Arabs to acknowledge that Islam is and always has been a vehicle for Arab supremacism. But Berbers can do so, and do so readily, for the evidence is all around them, and they have been victims of that supremacism.

In Algeria, the main force for secularism comes from the example of France (and even, among the tiniest and most advanced, an intelligent nostalgia for Algeria under the French, that can never be spoken of). It comes from the back-and-forthing of Arabs by ferry between Marseilles and Algeria. This, while dangerous to France, is also dangerous in another way to the power of unchained Islam. For some -- a small some or sum -- of those who have experienced freedom in France may influence the ruling elite in Algeria who may be silently concluding, without Ataturkian rhetoric, that they will have to tame Islam, even if they do not openly state it that way. For if they do not, then Islam, on the march, will destroy them, and what's left of Algeria (see the novels of "Yasmina Khadra").

No Arab or Muslim rulers would at this point dare to allow themselves to recognize, much less express to others, their recognition of the source of their political failures -- a despotism that comes naturally to Islam, where men are "slaves to Allah" trained in the habit of mental, and other kinds, of submission, and where inshallah-fatalism limits productive economic activity. No Arab or Muslim rulers dare to recognize the social, moral, and intellectual failures of their societies that are directly attributable to Islam.

And they will not do so, until such time as they are forced to because many of the world's non-Muslims will have come to understand that connection. Without screaming it from the rooftops, they will be quietly firm and indomitable in that understanding, that conviction -- which is not only the best thing that non-Muslims can do to save themselves but, in the end, to help those who, through no fault of their own, were born into Islam and somehow would like to find a way to tame this force, as Ataturk did, and then to work to create a layer of society that is determinedly secular -- as happened, over 80 years, in Turkey, though that secular class is always in danger and must always be vigilant.

If Sarkozy could sit still for a minute, and think clearly, and if his associates -- Kouchner and company -- could do the same, and try to learn about Islam without being bewitched by a charming Muslimah working on their staffs, they would realize what Islam does and what its effects naturally are, and how it explains the vast civilisational gulf between the two littorals, north and south, of the Mediterranean, that mer blanche du midi, which deux-rivistes (about which see here) appear to believe is merely a minor matter, but is not. For the Total Belief-System of Islam, and its hold over the minds of men, explains what makes Europe Europe, and what makes the Maghreb the Maghreb. The division is not merely a matter of a sea that can be crossed by mental ferries.

Sarkozy and others who believe in "integration" of Muslims into France never explain how this can happen, if the texts and tenets of Islam are immutable, and continue to have the same effects on the minds of adherents as they have had, demonstrably, over the past 1350 years. They don't want to face it, because there are now millions of Muslims in France. But they have to do so. The problem will only worsen. And they can console themselves with the thought that what they are doing is also the very best thing they could be doing, the kindest thing, the most liberating thing, for those born into Islam, and seemingly stuck, as slaves of Allah, or in the case of Muslim women, slaves of the slaves of Allah, with no hope within Islam itself for rescue.

The rescue does not come from boots on the ground.

The rescue comes from changes in the minds of men, and in the first place, changes in the minds of non-Muslims who finally, at long last, grasp the nature of Islam.

Posted on 12/20/2012 6:41 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 20 December 2012
I'm a Sap For These Things...

Posted on 12/20/2012 6:42 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 20 December 2012
"Drogheda Man" Dies From Effects Of Overdose Of The Drug Islam

Drogheda man dies fighting in Syria

Hudhaifa ElSayed (22), from Drogheda, was shot dead on Tuesday during a skirmish between rebels and forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.Hudhaifa ElSayed (22), from Drogheda, was shot dead on Tuesday during a skirmish between rebels and forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

MARY FITZGERALD, Foreign Affairs Correspondent

A 22-year-old man from Drogheda who earlier this year joined rebels battling to oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has been killed by regime forces in the northern province of Idlib.

Hudhaifa ElSayed was shot dead on Tuesday during a skirmish between rebels and forces loyal to Assad. Syrian state media reported he had been killed but the exact circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear. He was one of an estimated 10-20 men from Ireland who have joined the Syrian uprising as rebels.

Mr ElSayed was born in Egypt but his family moved to Ireland when he was a young boy after his surgeon father, Abdelbaset, secured a job here. He attended St Mary’s diocesan school in Drogheda before working as a coach and trainer. Mr ElSayed, a naturalised Irish citizen, was well-known within the Muslim community for his involvement in youth projects.

He and other men from Ireland joined the Syrian rebels as part of Liwa al-Umma, a brigade founded by a Libyan-Irish man named Mehdi al-Harati, who also commanded a rebel unit during the Libyan revolution last year.

Mr ElSayed told The Irish Times in Idlib in July that he was driven to join the Syrian uprising out of idealism. “I see my life as being about three things: searching for the truth, defending the weak against injustice and the oppressors, and helping to build peace in the world,” he said. “The battle here in Syria combines all three.” [what he means is this: Defending The Faith of Islam against those who, in his view, limit the power of Muslims. And Assad's despotism limited the power of Muslims, not least by protecting the non-Muslims in Syria from Muslim depredations].

Irish-born Housam Najjair, who also fought with Liwa al-Umma, paid tribute to Mr ElSayed. “He died a brave man just the way he lived. It is never easy for a parent to lose their child. The sooner Bashar is removed from power the sooner this bloodshed will stop.”

Mr ElSayed’s friends flooded Facebook pages with tributes yesterday. “Hudhaifa left us for a great purpose. He was a man with a message. And I hope his legacy continues with us. Driven by a passion to make an impact on the world. He was a dreamer. A perfectionist. A friend,” wrote one.

Mourners gathered at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Clonskeagh, Dublin last night to offer condolences to the ElSayed family.

Posted on 12/20/2012 6:48 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Les Champs Des Morts En Syrie

Given the panem quotidianum offered by the world's press you are no doubt expecting, from the title, some heartfelt deploring of "the killing-fields of Syria." Surprise!

"Les plus avenantes, les seules promenades souvent des grands villes (en Syrie) sont leurs champs des morts; on y cause, on y mange, on y fume, on y flirte." (Melchior de Vogüé, 1875, in Littré).

Posted on 12/20/2012 8:10 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 20 December 2012
A Musical Interlude: Time On My Hands (Lee Wiley)
Listen here.
Posted on 12/20/2012 8:26 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Alex Joffe: Innocents Abroad, Or America And The Muslim Brotherhood

From Jewish Ideas Daily:

America and the Muslim Brotherhood: A Romance



One of the most consistent and depressing aspects of U.S.-Middle Eastern relations is the determination of our intellectuals and officials to defend Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.  When Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made his recent power grab, for example, immunizing his decrees from judicial review, Yale law professor Noah Feldman, said that Morsi merely “overreached”—and did so “in the service of preserving electoral democracy.”  State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland lamely characterized Morsi’s actions as a “far cry from an autocrat just saying my way or the highway.”

This indulgence, though, is merely the culmination of a more-than-60-year relationship, mostly hidden from view.  There has long been an on-again-off-again American romance with the Brotherhood.    

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna as a puritanical, reactionary pan-Islamic movement.  It developed as a state within a state, including a network of social welfare organs like hospitals, and an underground party apparatus that quickly spread to other countries.  Al-Banna had already met with the Mufti of Jerusalem in 1927; in 1945, he sent his son-in-law, Sa’id Ramadan, to set up a branch of the Brotherhood in Palestine.  Hamas, established in 1987, is the Brotherhood’s most recent Palestinian branch.

The Brotherhood collaborated with the Nazis before and during World War II.  In 1948 it murdered an Egyptian Prime Minister and in 1954 tried but failed to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser.  There followed a violent Egyptian crackdown on the organization.  The Brotherhood went underground, spawning more radical groups.  In the 1970s, while those groups picked up guns, the Brotherhood disavowed violence and, despite periodic bouts of suppression, re-entered Egyptian politics and, more important, Egyptian society.  When Mubarak was overthrown, it was well-positioned as the only organized and funded opposition group.  Little of this was foreseen or correctly understood in the West.

This lack of understanding has a history.  In the wake of World War II, the U.S. government’s perceptions of the Middle East were filtered through a single lens: the threat of Communism.  The threat was hardly just theoretical.  Moving into the vacuum created by Britain’s retreat from its colonies, the Soviet Union abrogated a treaty with Turkey in 1945 and demanded large chunks of Turkish territory.  It continued its wartime occupation of northern Iran until 1946 and attempted to set up puppet regimes in Azerbaijan and Kurdistan.  The entire “Northern Tier” seemed poised to fall to Communism, taking oil supplies with it.

The United States countered with proposals for NATO-like security alliances and ever-larger development schemes, like the Aswan Dam, designed to revolutionize standards of living across vast swaths of the Middle East and lessen the appeal of Communism.  The U.S. government also tried to make Islam itself into an American partner.  During the 1940s American officials met regularly with the Brotherhood, seeing it as a perfectly useful anti-communist tool.  What they knew about the Brotherhood’s violently anti-modern, anti-Semitic ideology is uncertain.

In 1953, the American Embassy in Cairo asked the State Department to invite Sa’id Ramadan, son-in-law of the Brotherhood’s founder, at U.S. government expense, to a “Colloquium on Islamic Culture” organized by Princeton University and the Library of Congress.  The colloquium was a cover for American efforts to enlist the aid of Muslim scholars and notables.  During the colloquium, Ramadan even met President Eisenhower.  When Egypt cracked down on the Brotherhood in 1954, Ramadan escaped, fleeing to Switzerland.  In Geneva he founded an Islamic Center and Al Taqwa Bank, both of which, with ample Saudi funding, have spread the Brotherhood throughout Europe and beyond.  Ramadan traveled widely, in part at American expense and perhaps on a CIA-supplied official Jordanian passport.  He spoke out against Communism—and promoted the Brotherhood.

Today, one of Ramadan’s sons, Hani, runs the Geneva center.  Another, Tariq, is a public intellectual who, as Paul Berman and others have noted, has mastered the art of appearing to be a liberal Islamic modernizer when in fact he is steadfast Islamist.  He is, of course, widely lauded in academia.

But U.S. involvement in the Brotherhood during the 1950s was more than anti-Communism.  As Ian Johnson shows in A Mosque in Munich, it also appealed, with its overtones of an “authentically” Arab and Muslim Middle East, to State Department Arabists and their academic counterparts who regarded Israel as an impediment to American friendship with the Arabs and an aberration that ruined an otherwise romantically pristine region.

The Cold War was a bonanza for Middle Eastern studies—which, as Martin Kramer has shown, rapidly moved away from analysis of history, religion, and texts toward models of “modernization” and “development” aimed at providing practical, relevant knowledge.  Study of religion and ideology played reduced roles.  Thus prepared, the field’s academics and the policy-makers they trained failed to predict the rise and fall of Arab nationalism, the emergence of Islamic fundamentalisms, and various revolutions from Iran to Egypt.  One might do better to examine what these experts confidently predict, then expect the opposite.

America’s fundamental inability to take religion and ideology seriously persists.  Senator John Kerry, likely the next Secretary of State, stated confidently after meeting Morsi in Cairo in June, 2012 that the Egyptian president was “committed to protecting fundamental freedoms” and “said he understood the importance of Egypt’s post-revolutionary relationships with America and Israel.”

The delusional quality of such thinking was exposed by Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in a recent piece tartly titled “Shame on Anyone Who Ever Though Mohammad Morsi was a Moderate.”  Trager, who has had first-hand experience with the Brotherhood, details its rigid ideological worldview and cell-like structure and laments the fact that such religious totalitarians could ever be mistaken for democrats.  But Trager’s remains a minority view inside and outside government. Believing what people say about the religious foundations of their politics cuts against the grain for overwhelmingly secular and politically liberal academics, who believe that materialism must be the true prime mover.  In this view, radical-sounding leaders, once in power, become “responsible” and “pragmatic;” “moderates” can be separated from “extremists” and “military wings” from “political wings.”  Suggestions to the contrary are crude prejudice.

For its part, the U.S. government has long displayed what historian Fawaz Gerges approvingly called an “accomodationist” approach, predicated on the belief that Islamic groups like the Brotherhood have sworn off violence.  But the Obama administration has shown even more willingness than its predecessors to look the other way in the face of Brotherhood abuses of power—and of women and religious minorities—in pursuit of an “authentic” Egyptian democracy.  It has not taken the Brotherhood’s credo to heart: “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

For Israel the situation has become especially grave.  Morsi, who can barely bring himself to utter its name, was lauded by the U.S. government, shortly before his coup, for his handling of the Israel-Gaza conflict.  He may face hundreds of thousands of internal protestors, but there is little to restrain him while there is no American financial pressure or Egyptian army opposition.  The Brotherhood’s Islamization of Egypt continues, transforming schools, courts, and mosques down to the local level.  When Mohammad Badie, “Supreme Guide” of the Brotherhood states that “jihad is obligatory” for Muslims and calls peace agreements with Israel a “game of grand deception,” it behooves all parties to listen.

Posted on 12/20/2012 8:38 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Did Israel’s Air Force Strike Hezbollah Chemical Weapons Sites?

Israel Air Force chief, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel

Source:  Israel Hayom

The  control of Syria’s unconventional  Chemical and Biological weapons of mass destruction  are  of vital concern  in a troubled Middle East should the Assad regime fall to Sunni supremacist  opposition forces .   An Algemeiner article  on this threat had a comment by former Israeli Mossad director, Danny Yatom:


The conventional wisdom should be that we cannot exclude an un-conventional attack on Israel. We would have to pre-empt in order to prevent it. We need to be prepared to launch even military attacks… and military attacks mean maybe a deterioration to war.


Syria’s bio- weapons are a potential threat to Israel because of Syria’s avowed support of the Lebanese Islamist movement Hezbollah. The fear is that the Syrian government under president Bashar al-Assad has supplied terrorist groups with unconventional chemical and biological weapons that can be used against Israel. Israeli officials are also concerned because of Syria’s political upheaval; a collapse like that of Libyan dictator Muamar Qaddafi last year could allow Syrian rebels to obtain these unconventional weapons.


According to a recent Algemeiner report,  in both October and late December 2012, there were mysterious explosions at Hezbollah arms depots in Baalbek and South Lebanon. The Kuwaiti website al Jaridi reported that Israel may have bombed the Southern Lebanon site because “Syria had transferred missiles there that were capable of being equipped with chemical warheads. The missiles had been moved into Lebanon from Syria in the last several months.”  David Ignatius writing in the Washington Post earlier this week  noted the threat of these unconventional weapons transfers from Syria to Iranian proxy Hezbollah:


What should we make of these reports? First, the Syrian chemical-warfare capability may be even more dangerous than people had thought, because the weapons can be moved to other locations and mixed en route. And, second, there’s a significant risk of proliferation to other groups, such as Hezbollah, which could pose a global terrorist threat.


Israel Hayom today had this comment from the chief of Israel’s Air Force, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel:


The IDF has been closely monitoring chemical weapons in Syria, remaining alert to the possibility that the dangerous weapons may end up in the hands of Hezbollah.


"We are called upon to prepare for any possible scenario or threat, even in dealing with non-conventional weapons," Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said Wednesday. "This decision is for the country's decision makers to deliberate. But we provide the relevant capabilities so that if it is decided to use them, we are prepared."
Eshel said Syria's disintegration was "a known fact" and pointed out that Syria was in Israel's backyard.
"We need to prepare a response, and the IAF has a central role in this," Eshel said. "Chemical weapons is one area in which we are planning a response."

The forthcoming January 2013 New English Review   will feature an interview with Dr. Jill Bellamy van Aalst; CEO of Warfare Technology Analytics on the dangers of Syrian bio-warfare Complex should the Assad regime fall.  Dr. Bellamy van Aalst advises private business as well as government clients on biological warfare and bio-defense within the EU.  She gave this assessment of the danger of Syria’s bio-warfare to Israel and the Jewish state’s reaction that parallels IAF chief, Maj. Gen Eshel’s Israel Hayom comments:



Gordon: How much of a threat is the Syrian Bio-warfare capability to Israel and US forces in the Middle East, e.g., the Persian Gulf region?


Bellamy – Van Aalst:  I think it is a very real threat.  However, I think that threat will substantially increase if we can’t secure those programs and if they fall into the hands of Hezbollah, Al Qaeda or the Qods Force.  I actually believe transfers have already occurred. If so, then we are really in serious trouble.  Unlike chemical weapons where you have a stockpile and missiles that you can track you just don’t have biological weapon caches that you can watch in real time 24/7. I would say that back in 2007 during our interview I cautioned that we needed to increase our HUMINT and access to scientific teams in order to maintain any kind of surveillance of those programs.  The media is focused on Assad’s chemical weapons because those are relatively easy to understand and count. Assad’s BW Complex is not. It’s multi-layered, compartmentalized, and very difficult to assess in actual quality which is the hallmark of biological weapons not the quantity as is the case with his chemical arsenal.


[. . . ]


Gordon:  Given reports of IDF Sayeret (Commando) tracking of CBW caches, what means does the IDF have at its disposal to intercept and destroy them?


Bellamy – Van Aalst:  I think at this point, given the sensitivity of the on-going situation it is probably an area which should not be detailed or discussed. I’m fairly confident Israel has the capability to cope with any loss of command and control per the Assad regime’s BW Complex.

Posted on 12/20/2012 10:17 AM by Jerry Gordon
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Potential Miscalculations That Could Result From Iron Dome's Success

From David Isaac at Shmuel Katz website:

Iron Dome: Strategic Threat to Israel?

By David Isaac

Israelis watched in awe as their Iron Dome missile-defense system blasted Hamas rockets out of the sky last month. But while Israel rightly takes pride in this achievement, it should be careful of being seduced by technology. Hidden within Iron Dome's success lies a strategic threat  that the Iron Dome will lull Israel into a false sense of security, leading it to make dangerous concessions.

Think such a threat is overblown? It has already materialized. Israel called up 75,000 reserves for a ground war that never came. Instead Israel accepted a cease-fire brokered by, of all people, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Hamas celebrated as Israel's reserves were sent home, recasting the cease-fire as a victory. And they were right. While materiel was destroyed and one commander had been killed, their leadership was untouched, their control of the Gaza Strip remained intact, and they had gained their own Iron Dome of sorts in the form of the protective embrace of Morsi. They will re-arm and fight again.

Worth noting is that the cease-fire had also wrung from Israel the promise that it would not engage in any more targeted attacks  the same kind of attacks America's president brags about doing every Tuesday with his 'kill lists'.

If it had been the terrorists who had the 86.3 percent kill rate, and not the Iron Dome, Israel would have had no choice but to go into the Gaza Strip. This isn't to say Israel should forgo an Iron Dome, but it shows how this new technology can do more than protect against missiles. It can be used as a defensive shield for Israeli politicians who seek to avoid 'escalation'.

Most dangerous is that the Iron Dome plays into U.S. plans for Israel, what Shmuel Katz rightly termed, "the American-Arab objective." That is, to reduce Israel to the indefensible 1949 Armistice lines. Successive U.S. administrations seeking to coax Israel into territorial retreat have first sought to calm Israeli fears. This usually found expression in talk of 'guarantees'. Czechoslovakia learned about guarantees first-hand in World War II, which is why the Czech Republic was the only European country to vote against granting the Palestinian authority semi-statehood status in the recent U.N. vote.

In "Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine" (Bantam Books, 1973), Shmuel cites a number of examples of how guarantees proved to be worth less than the paper they were written on. After 1948, for instance, he describes how Israel was coaxed into leaving Egypt in control of Gaza for an "Armistice Agreement that turned out to be worthless." This happened again in 1956-1957 and in 1967.

"The United Nations force in Sinai and Gaza established as an international "guarantee" for Israel in 1957  was immediately withdrawn at a word of command from Cairo. The American President could not find in the state archives the record of promises made ten years earlier to insure Israel's freedom of navigation.

"The American President and the British Prime Minister together were unable to get the United Nations Security Council (including the members who had joined in that promise) to consider the Egyptians' demonstrative flouting of that freedom. Overnight, the gossamer safeguards by which Israel had been deluded were blown away." 

The Obama administration sees the Iron Dome as serving the same purpose as a guarantee. As the Wall Street Journal reports (Nov. 26), "Despite initial Pentagon misgivings, President Barack Obama has given $275 million to the project since 2010 with the aim of reducing the rocket threat and eventually bolstering chances of a peace deal by making Israel feel more secure to agree to territorial concessions."

For Obama then, the Iron Dome is a means to making Israel believe it is safe so it will more readily retreat to a position where it will not be safe. Obama supporters like to point to the president's declaration of his "unshakeable commitment" to Israel. Even clear-eyed supporters of Israel were impressed by Obama's comments when Hamas rockets began to fall: "[T]here is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes."

But while Obama 'fully supports' shooting a missile coming out of the sky using the Iron Dome, he does not support an Israeli ground operation into Gaza to root out the terrorists shooting those missiles. Obama defines 'defend itself' very narrowly indeed.

Traditionally Israel has been wary of a defensive-minded strategy. Those Israelis who pushed the Iron Dome's development needed to sidestep red tape and official channels. "As a rule, Israeli politicians and commanders do not like to spend precious budgetary resources on defensive programs; this simply does not fit the Israeli mind-set or strategic culture," explains an AEI report. "As a small country with no strategic depth, Israel's doctrine has traditionally rested on the idea that it must go on the offensive, to take fighting into enemy territory as quickly as possible. Tanks and fighter jets are perfect platforms for this doctrine and fit the aggressive, brash Israeli persona." The AEI report quotes Dan Meridor, Israel Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, "There is a serious strategic change here, years ago, it was not simple to incorporate into Israeli military doctrine the great importance of defense.'"

It may well be that Israel overdid it in ignoring defensive technologies. The risk now is the pendulum will swing too far the other way. Such is the Obama administration's hope, which is why it was so quick to support the Iron Dome. In the spring, the administration announced its intention to seek an additional $70 million, on top of the $205 million already appropriated for fiscal 2012. It may be confusing to the uninformed how Obama could be pursuing a strategy of weakening Israel at the same time he approves millions for a defense system, but the tactic fits the overall strategy.

If anyone doubts where Obama stands, less than 10 days after the cease-fire, his administration condemned Israel for its decision to build apartments in its own capital. What Shmuel wrote of the Carter administration in his 1978 op-ed "To Talk Turkey to Mr. Mondale," could be said of the Obama administration today:

"There are many reasons and many factors inhibiting any American administration from 'abandoning' Israel, and every administration would feel compelled to continue giving aid to Israel. The present administration however, more than any of its predecessors, behaves as though the interest is not mutual — and together with the aid it gives, it is conducting a campaign to weaken Israel as much as possible, and to blacken the name of its government. It thus facilitates the execution of a policy whose implications cannot be described except as most damaging to Israel."
Posted on 12/20/2012 7:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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