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

These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 24, 2012.
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Toulouse killer's brother 'may have met radicals in the UK'

Judging by the video I posted on Wednesday I would say it is an odds on racing certaintly that he knew our 'usual suspects'. From The Telegraph.

The brother of the terrorist who shot dead three French solders, a Rabbi and three children in Toulouse had visited Britain, it can be disclosed. Abdelkader Merah, 29, was arrested on Wednesday after his brother Mohamed was shot dead at the end of a 32-hour siege in Toulouse.

Scotland Yard and MI5 are trying to reconstruct Abdelkader's movements in Britain, but believe he crossed the Channel to meet British radicals. The brothers were known to the DCRI, the French domestic intelligence agency, as members of Forsane Alizza [Knights of Pride], an organisation associated with the group Sharia4UK and another called Sharia4Belgium. Sharia4UK is closely linked to the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun, formerly headed by Anjem Choudary.

Police reportedly found explosives in Abdelkader's car and can hold him for 96 hours before charges are brought.

In January, Forsane Alizza was banned in France for inciting racial hatred, but the group has reformed on the internet.

Mr Choudary said Merah's attacks – in which he who shot dead three soldiers, a Rabbi and three children – were "not verifiable". He said: "I'm not going to judge this individual", but added that "shooting someone in the head, it is completely unacceptable".

Sources told The Daily Telegraph that French investigators had not alerted them to concerns about the brothers or potential links between the French group and extremists in the UK.

Posted on 03/24/2012 2:14 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Toulouse siege: The 'white emir' who may have inspired Mohamed Merah

From The Telegraph

Mohamed Merah, the gunman who killed seven people France, may have drawn inspiration for his murderous rampage from a self-styled Islamist leader nicknamed “the white emir” by the French press.

Syrian-born Olivier Corel, 65, has admitted to The Daily Telegraph that he had been visited on at least one occasion by Merah’s older brother, Abdelkader. But he was evasive when asked if he knew Merah, who this week died in a blaze of gunfire after a 32-hour siege.

Wearing a chequered head scarf that he used to obscure the lower part of his face, and sporting a long beard, he said on Friday that Abdelkader Merah had visited him a few weeks ago to discuss a divorce and Islamist religious law.

Mr Corel, who emigrated to France in 1973 and became a citizen in 1983, was investigated by French police on suspicion of involvement in a circle of jihadists, based in the Ariege region south of Toulouse, and of encouraging them to fight in Iraq.

. . . he said: “If he (Abdelkader Merah) says he came by here, then he came by here. People come and go and I cannot tell you all their names.”

A judicial source told the French newspaper Le Parisienne: “It seems very credible that he had influence over Mohamed Merah. He could be an accomplice - that is someone who gives orders.”

Mr Corel, who is retired, spoke reluctantly to reporters outside a porch crowded with fire wood and plastic furniture. His wife Nadia, who wore a veil, repeatedly ordered The Daily Telegraph to stop taking notes of the conversation.

French investigators are trying to establish whether Merah was a self-radicalised “lone wolf” or whether he had accomplices and financial backing. The interior ministry insists that there is no evidence that he belonged formally to any jihadist group. But analysts and former intelligence officials have questioned how a young man with no steady job found enough money to buy the small arsenal of weapons that he used to battle police during the drawn-out siege.

Abdelkader Merah, who was also a radical Islamist, made several trips to Cairo, where he stayed in a religious school, according to the French media. There he developed contacts with Salafist groups. French investigators decided on Friday to keep him, his girlfriend and his mother in custody for another day for questioning.

Posted on 03/24/2012 2:23 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Toronto: Book tells Muslim men how to beat and control their wives

From 24 Hours Vancouver

TORONTO -- Eric Brazau was unmoved when flipping through a marriage guide he found in an Islamic bookstore a month ago. That was, until he reached the parts on how to control and beat your wife. Brazau bought A Gift For Muslim Couple out of curiosity but was taken aback when he found dozens of chapters and passages giving Muslim husbands advice around controlling, restraining, scolding and beating their wives.

"At first, I thought that it is incredible that this kind of thing can be found in Canada," said Brazau, who bought the book from Islamic Books and Souvenirs in the city's east end. "And then I thought, 'Radical Islam is not coming to Canada, it is already here.'"

The 160-page book, published by Idara Impex in New Delhi, India, is written by Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, who is described in the book's foreword as a "prolific writer on almost every topic of Islamic learning." In the book's beginning pages it is written that "it might be necessary to restrain her with strength or even to threaten her." Later on in the book, its author advises that "the husband should treat the wife with kindness and love even if she tends to be stupid and slow sometimes."

Page 45 contains the rights of the husband, which includes his wife's inability to leave "his house without his permission," and that his wife must "fulfill his desires" and "not allow herself to be untidy ... but should beautify herself for him..."  In terms of physical punishment, the book advises that a husband may scold, "beat by hand or stick," withhold money from her or "pull (her) by the ears," but should "refrain from beating her excessively."

The bookstore's manager, who did not give his name, said the book had been sold out for some time, and the store's owner, whom the manager identified as Shamim Ahmad, refused to comment for the story.

Moderate Muslim Tarek Fatah who identified the book's author as a prominent Islamic scholar (said) "This is new to you, but the Muslim community knows that this is widespread, that a woman can be beaten. Muslim leaders will deny this, but..."

Posted on 03/24/2012 3:03 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Malmö mayor in new row with Sweden's Jews

From the Swedish edition of The Local

Sweden's Jewish community has railed anew against Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu after comments suggesting the city's Jewish community had been "infiltrated" by Sweden Democrats to foment anti-Muslim sentiments.

"With this letter, we want to point out that Ilmar Reepalu no long has any credibility among us Jews in Sweden," reads a letter signed by the heads of the Jewish communities in Malmö, Stockholm, and Gothenburg. "Regardless of what he says and does from now on, we don't trust him."

According to the Jewish leaders, the Malmö mayor has "crossed all boundaries" with his comments, especially considering that Reepalu previously laid blame on Sweden's Jews for the threats, violence, and harassment to which they've been subjected. "We are more than upset when we today read the interview in the magazine NEO where he flagrantly accuses Jews for ties with the Sweden Democrats," they write. "We're all too familiar with these types of conspiracy theories."

The letter comes following an interview published on Thursday in the liberal-leaning magazine NEO in which Reepalu discussed the "strong ties" between the Jewish community and the Sweden Democrats, a political party with a clear anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim line which has its roots in Sweden's neo-Nazi movement. 

According to Reepalu, "Sweden Democrats have infiltrated the Jewish community in order to push their hate of Muslims".
The statements were immediately dismissed by Fred Kahn, chair of the Jewish Community in Malmö (Judiska församlingen) as "pure fantasy".

Posted on 03/24/2012 4:21 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Facebook removes Merah tribute page

From the French edition of The Local

Facebook on Thursday removed a page that paid homage to the young Frenchman who died in a shootout with police after killing seven people, officials said.

French interior ministry officials said the ministry had asked the social networking site to remove the page that went up shortly after Mohamed Merah was killed earlier Thursday in Toulouse. The page, which bore a picture of the self-proclaimed Al-Qaeda militant and was titled "Homage to Mohamed Merah", was consulted by more than 500 people before it was removed just hours after it appeared, they said.

Many visitors left comments that were hostile to the police or favourable to Islamic extremism.

Posted on 03/24/2012 4:39 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Are Obama Loyalists at the NSC Fomenting a US Israel Intel Crisis over Iran’s Nuclear Intentions?

Obama White House National Security

Adviser Thomas E. Donilon

When we reported on the New York Times fanning speculations about Iran nuclear program we concluded our analysis with this observation

If anything in the wake of the revelations in the Federal 9/11 links case in New York, you can be sure that Iran will attack US assets and Israel by proxy to cover its tracks in its nuclear program intentions. It’s all part of the alleged ancient chess game practiced by the Mullahs to confuse the West and the Obama Administration about its real intentions. Unlike the US intelligence community’s speculations in this Times article, the Netanyahu government in Jerusalem has no such delusions.

Geo-Strategy in a report released today,” Intel on the rocks: As Iran crisis looms, strains grow in U.S.-Israel ties”, confirmed our suspicions that Obama loyalists at the head of the National Security Council, specifically Adviser Thomas Donilon and Deputy Denis R. McDonough,   are fomenting the widening intelligence divide between the US and Israel. They appear to be assisted in this effort by CIA director General Petreaus and Director of National Intelligence Gen. James Clapper.   The Geo-Strategy report noted:

Officials said the intelligence communities of Israel and the United States have encountered increasing disagreement regarding Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities. They said U.S. intelligence officials have become much more careful in accepting Israeli assessments as well as reports of Iranian nuclear developments.

"These days everything is questioned, and the Israelis are being challenged on a large portion of its data," an official said.

The intelligence decline was said to have begun in late 2011 and intensified in 2012 amid concern that Israel was preparing an attack on Iran. Officials said the White House has ordered the chiefs of the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and other members of the community to significantly increase verification of Israeli data on Iran.

"The level of proof that is now being demanded is unprecedented, and frankly is beyond that which is sought in the U.S. community," the official said.

Evidence of the intelligence rift over Iran’s nuclear program and intentions is reflected in this comment in the Geo-Strategy report attributable to National Security Council Adviser Donilon:

The decline in the Israeli-U.S. intelligence exchange was said to have stemmed from National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon.

Congressional sources said Donilon, believed directed by President Barack Obama, has briefed leaders of the House and Senate on a yawning gap in credibility regarding Israeli intelligence assessments on Iran as well as that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Donilon is telling congressional leaders that Bibi is lying to Obama and saying that Israel won't strike Iran, when we know that this is what he’s preparing," a senior congressional aide, using the nickname of Netanyahu, said.

The Geo-strategy report goes on to discuss the nexus of the dispute:

A key factor in the decline has been the insistence of the U.S. intelligence community for evidence that Iran was actually building nuclear weapons.

In contrast, the Israeli community has determined that Teheran would develop all the elements of a nuclear weapons capability while avoiding the assembly of warheads or bombs.

Officials identified the most demanding of the U.S. intelligence chiefs as CIA director David Petreaus and National Intelligence director James Clapper.

They said the two chiefs were rejecting virtually every new piece of data on Iran that was not directly confirmed by U.S. intelligence

Donilon was a Deputy at the NSC under former Adviser Gen. James Jones.  He was heavily involved with the Obama White House decision making on the Afghanistan surge strategy and was reported in Bob Woodward’s book, Obama’s, as having been criticized by Jones for having little overseas experience and “no credibility with the Military”. Donilon was on the Obama Transition team at the State Department.   During the Clinton Administration he was an Assistant Secretary at State involved in the Bosnian Peace agreement and NATO expansion.  Following his stint with the Clinton Administration, he was Executive Vice President for Law and Policy and a registered lobbyist at controversial Fannie Mae from 1999 to 2005 and subsequently became a partner in the Washington Office of the law firm of O’Melveny and Meyers.  Donilon’s deputy, Denis McDonough was visibly prominent during the Obama White House Navy SEAL operation that resulted in the assassination of Osama bin Laden   last May.  McDonough worked as an aide during the mid 1990’s for the House International Relations Committee and moved over to become foreign policy adviser to Former Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle and in 2008 filled the same position for then Senator Obama.  McDonough was a Senior Fellow at the George Soros funded Center for American Progress.  Following Obama’s election in 2008, McDonough moved over to the NSC as first Director of Strategic Communications and later NSC Chief of Staff before becoming Deputy Adviser to Donilon.

The Geo-Strategy direct .com report  also cites a Begin Sadat  Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) at Bar Ilan University in Israel  analysis, “The Republican Primaries and the Israel Acid Test’. The implication of the BESA report drawn by Geo-strategy is that the rising intelligence divide between the US and Israel over Iran’s nuclear threat may contribute to an important national security wedge issue in the 2012 Presidential campaign.  The BESA analysis, while acknowledging the security concerns for Israel in the American Jewish community, cites overwhelming support by all Americans in polls placing Iran at the top of America’s enemies.   The BESA report concludes:

Israel has emerged as an important issue in the Republican primaries. In  fact, it has  become  an  important  issue  for  a  much wider  public than  just  American  Jews  and  evangelical  Christians – a  public that  views the  Jewish  state as  a  crucial  ally  confronting  common  threats, especially the  specter  of  a  nuclear  Iran.  Consequently,  support  for  Israel  in the  strategic  sphere has  become an  acid  test  of  presidential  credibility  on national  security.  As  such,  Israel  could  play  an  important  role  in  the Presidential  elections,  especially  in  the event  of  a  major confrontation between Israel and Iran before then.

The Obama West Wing National Security Council team is dangerously alienating deep American concerns over the nuclear threat of Iran   to this country and its special ally in the Middle East, Israel. In the words of GOP presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney:

President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.  He has violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends.

Posted on 03/24/2012 4:39 AM by Jerry Gordon
Saturday, 24 March 2012
No Representation without Taxation

The resentful define the rich as those who have more money than themselves; while the politicians who play to this resentment never consider themselves as members of the rich.

No one better illustrates this last principle than Kenneth Livingstone, erstwhile mayor of London, and perhaps soon again to be mayor. Mr Livingstone's company - presumably a sole-trader company - made £238,000 last year and £284,000 the year before. This puts him firmly in the upper one per cent of the population as far as income is concerned; he is, I think it fair to say, one of the rich.

He uses a company in order to avoid tax - not to evade it, nota bene. He can hardly be blamed for that: which of us wants to pay the maximum tax to which he might be liable if he takes no avoiding action? For every thousand people who in theory like the idea of increased taxation, there is probably less than one who likes it in practice, at least where that practice affects himself. Therefore I do not want to cast stones at Mr Livingstone on this account, because I too seek to reduce my tax bill, though I do not make the most strenuous efforts possible to do so: one does not, after all, want to be defined by one's enemies.

The former mayor is reported to have said:

I am in exactly the same position as everybody else who has a small business. I mean, I get loads of money, all from different sources, and I give it to an accountant and they manage it.
He is not alone in that.

Where, however, he is to blame is in his dangerously inflammatory language about "these rich bastards". Obviously, getting loads of money and being a rich bastard are not at all the same thing for him; and thus we see confirmed the theory of cognitive dissonance, the capacity of the human mind to hold within itself two contradictory facts or propositions and to reconcile them by means of not entirely honest mental legerdemain.

Again Mr Livingstone is reported as having said recently that

These rich bastards just don't get it. No one should be allowed to vote in a British election, let alone sit in Parliament, unless they pay their full share of tax. Cameron's problem is too many of his team have become super rich by exploiting every tax fiddle. Everybody should pay tax at the same rate on earnings and other earnings.

If we strip out the obvious resentment and hypocrisy of this statement, we see that Mr Livingstone is arguing for something that is well worth considering: a Reform Act in reverse, that is to say the establishment of a restricted franchise.

Let us disregard the question of what a "fair rate of tax" actually means. It is a purely metaphysical concept, after all. What is quite clear is that Mr Livingstone is arguing that at least 50 per cent of the British population should be deprived of the vote, for it is equally clear that some such percentage of it pays no tax at all, but on the contrary merely consumes it.

I do not mean only those whose principal means of support are benefits paid out of taxation; or prisoners (contrary to the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that so sickened Mr Cameron that he has done nothing about it since). No, I mean all those who are on the public payroll. In effect, they pay no tax, for such tax as they do pay is derived entirely from the tax paid by others who work for themselves or in the private sector, or from company taxation.

If you add the people in receipt of benefits to those who work in the public sector, you probably reach 50 per cent. Of course, there are ambiguous cases, and ever more of them as our economy becomes ever more that of a corporatist state in which many companies are as reliant on the state as any recipient of welfare; but hard cases make bad law and we have to draw the line somewhere. I would suggest that workers in companies that derive more than half their turnover from public funds be excluded from the vote also. I am sure Mr Livingstone would agree.

He is quite clear about the principle of his new constitution: no representation without taxation. He correctly points out the corrupting effect of paying no tax in a society such as ours, where so many are dependent upon taxation for their income; such that to give the vote to those who derive their income from taxation is to encourage them in effect to increase their efforts to parasitise the productive members of society who have actually to generate the taxes in the first place. Under the present constitutional arrangements, the turkeys have only the choice as to which butcher is to slaughter them.

Let me here make a confession: under Mr Livingstone's proposed constitution, I should not have had the vote for most of my adult life, since I too derived most of my income from the public purse. I do not want to be accused of hypocrisy or covering up my own past.

But, however sensible Mr Livingstone's proposals, one must regret his language, which is purest Hate Speech. (It is also inaccurate when construed literally: bastards are statistically more likely to be poor than rich.)

Now on his theory, the rich are a distinct, cohesive and identifiable group, albeit not one to which for some unexplained and mysterious reason he does not consider that he belongs. And to call a distinct group a lot of bastards is to bring them into hate. This is no laughing matter, for if the history of the Twentieth Century teaches anything, it is that hatred of the rich had led to millions of deaths, to untold misery, and is, from the point of murderousness, the equal of racial hatred.

It is quite clear, then, that in addition to a franchise restricted to those who derive their income from sources other than taxation, we need a new law outlawing derogatory remarks, such as Mr Livingstone's, about the rich. Only then shall we live in a truly civilised polity.

Fist published in Social Affairs Unit.

Posted on 03/24/2012 6:21 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Pseudsday Psaturday

Tariq "Taqiyya" Ramadan is not just a pseud -- he is a wolf in sheep's clothing, whose soft-spoken reassurances are far more dangerous than the honest dawah of an Anjem Choudry or an Abu Hamza. But he is also a pseud. From Ramadan's website, h/t Harry's Place:

Religion was not Mohamed Merah’s problem ; nor is politics. A French citizen frustrated at being unable to find his place, to give his life dignity and meaning in his own country, he would find two political causes through which he could articulate his distress : Afghanistan and Palestine. He attacks symbols : the army, and kills Jews, Christians and Muslims without distinction. His political thought is that of a young man adrift, imbued neither with the values of Islam, or driven by racism and anti-Semitism. Young, disoriented, he shoots at targets whose prominence and meaning seem to have been chosen based on little more than their visibility. A pathetic young man, guilty and condemnable beyond the shadow of a doubt, even though he himself was the victim of a social order that had already doomed him, and millions of others like him, to a marginal existence, and to the non-recognition of his status as a citizen equal in rights and opportunities.

Much will be said of integration, of Islamism, of Islam, of anti-Semitism, of security, of immigration, or the lost banlieues, of international relations—but it will not be the speech of democrats in tune with the people’s aspirations but populists exploiting events and mocking people’s emotions. The President plays at being the President, and his opponents seek only to prove that they are worthy pretenders. Where we might have hoped for a true debate on political issues, we must now be content with trapeze artists and jugglers, with illusionists, and with clever and cynical attempts to exploit a tragedy.

In Toulouse, France now beholds its own mirror image. The crisis has revealed that the candidates have long ago ceased to engage in politics, not simply for two days in tribute to the victims of a terrorist act, but for years. For years, in fact, real social and economic problems have been pushed aside; a substantial number of French citizens are treated as second-class citizens. Mohamed Merah was French (whose behavior was as remote from the Quranic message as it was from Voltaire’s texts). Is it so difficult to conceive and acknowledge this fact ? Is it hurting so much ? There indeed lies the French problem.

We are all Mohamed Merah now. Memo to self: look up the bit where Voltaire says "slay the Jews wherever you find them".
Posted on 03/24/2012 12:18 PM by Mary Jackson
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Fitzgerald: Mitigating Moussaoui And Merah

Never mind Mohammed Merah. These Muslim killers, or these Muslims who are not killers but make every effort to deceive non-Muslims about the role of Islam in promoting the kind of killing other Muslims do, are all the same. They rely on the same texts. No one has managed to come with a doctored version of the Qur'an or Hadith or Sira and to say -- "Aha, it was this false version, that X or Y or Z was reading." Not at all. It is always the same canonical texts. And none of those non-Muslims uttering pieties about the "extremist" or "radical" nature of these people has been able to produce a single paragraph, sentence, or phrase, on which these killers rely, which is not to be found in the same Qur'an, the same Hadith, the same Sira, that are read by all those "moderate" Muslms all over the world.

A few years ago I wrote about Moussaoui, the man who, like Merah and thousands of other Muslims caught just before, or just after, they have committted murders of non-Muslims (or those whom they assumed were non-Muslims, or those who, because they enrolled in the military of a non-Muslim state, could be treated as apostates and murdered -- no one yet knows, or perhaps will ever know, if Mohammed Merah was aware that the soldiers he killed were, apparently, of "North African background"). That piece made a point: about Muslims who become depressed, or resentful, and who, in their resentment or depression -- very common states of mind -- and viewing the world, as they do, through the prism of Islam, they always blame the non-Muslims for the fact that they have not received their due  (and their due as they see it includes all kinds of things -- jobs, money, sex, respect without having to earn that respect, status). This does not mean that Muslims who manage to have all of those things -- Bin Laden, for example, or Ayman al-Zawahiri  -- will therefore cease from desiring to promote the spread of Islam through violence, through killing, and terrorizing, the Infidels. But at least we should all be able to agree that the "depressed" Muslim is, in the West, a special worry. And there are so many potentially depressed Muslims, who do not automatically have conferred on them the status thtat they believe, as Muslims surrounded by inferior non-Muslims, they are entitled to. 

Here's what I wrote about Moussaoui. It all still fits. Not a word needs to be changed. Can you say that about a single pararaph that Tom Friedman has written -- ever?

Fitzgerald: Mitigating Moussaoui

The list of mitigating circumstances that apparently resulted in Moussaoui receiving a life sentence instead of the death penalty reads like a parody of everything that is most sentimental and silly in modern psychiatry (Karl Kraus: "Psychiatry is the disease for which it is supposed to be the cure").

What the prosecution should have done, but apparently felt it could not do, or possibly simply did not ever even think of doing, was to preempt both the "insanity" and the "on account of he's deprived" excuses, and set out clearly why Moussaoui did what he did with clear and uninhibited discussion of that book he was clutching -- the Qur'an -- and with the Qur'an, the Hadith. And with the Hadith, the figure of Muhammad, uswa hasana and al-insan al-kamil.

Did the psychiatrist Dr. Vogelsang (one more Upper-West-Side name out of Lillian Ross's comical period-piece "Vertical and Horizontal") give any sign of having studied the belief-system of Islam, without which no conceivable judgment can be made about the sanity, or lack of it, of a devout Muslim such as Moussaoui?

Why didn’t the Prosecution rebut the argument of the defense lawyer that Moussaoui is "crazy" because of his wretched childhood, etc. by pointing out that a large number of other people -- such as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawihiri and Mohammed Atta -- were children of great privilege in the case of the first two, and middle-class in the case of the third, and that furthermore studies of terrorists had found them to be far above average, in their societies, in the amount of education they had received, and in the degree of their economic wellbeing?

Lay it all out. Explain that yes, Moussaoui, like a few billion other people, may have had a "deprived" childhood. Yes, he was quick to sense any slight, and yes, he was quick to resent his treatment at the hands of Infidels, because, as a Muslim (one who grew to be more and more faithful and observant) he knew that Muslims should be on top -- not equal, but on top. Infidels lording it over him, or other Muslims, in France, were contra naturam, against the natural and just and right order of things, islamically speaking. The prosecutors should have explained that Moussaoui viewed the world through the prism of Islam, and the texts he read, the society he inhabited (both real, and virtual), taught him to blame, always and everywhere, Infidels.

Eventually this is going to have to be done. Eventually this is going to be unavoidable, if the United States and other Infidel countries are going to continue to use the criminal justice system as it is, and to continue to rely on untrained and inexpert juries who are the products of their age -- with all its sentimentality about mitigating circumstances because, you see, the blame for your behavior can always, always, be found in some part of your background, so that blame can be passed onto one's upbringing, say.

But this misses the point. There are always people who have had unhappy childhoods, unhappy adolescences, unhappy adulthoods. As noted many times before, we who are Infidels may lose status, a job, a spouse, a girlfriend or boyfriend, or suffer setbacks or perceived slights. Did not Moussaoui think he was entitled to more than he received? Yet his inshallah-fatalism prevented him from simply working hard and doing what he could to overcome, as his brother did, that same background. Why? The answer is that he took Islam far more seriously, was far more of a deep believer, than his brother.

Infidels have a thousand things to blame. They can blame their parents -- just as many on that Infidel jury wanted to blame, for Moussaoui, his treatment by his parents. They can blame their aggressive or unpleasant siblings, their ungrateful children, the System, Racism, The Man, Amerikkka, Kapitalism, Fate, the stars, their cholesterol level, their serotonin level, anything and everything at all -- even, just perhaps, themselves. But Muslim Believers have one thing to blame always at the ready. And to the extent that one takes that belief-system seriously, it is likely that one will, viewing the universe through the grid, the prism, of Islam, blame the Infidel. And that is exactly what Moussaoui did.

Unless this is going to be understood by the usual "experts" -- including those complacent psychiatrists who appear not to have thought it necessary for them to study the doctrines of Islam and what might follow and has naturally followed from them (starting with the perceived behavior of Muslims conducting Jihad over 1350 years, wherever they were able to conduct it because of local conditions or circumstances) -- then there will be more miscarriages, with justice stillborn, the result of those thanatotropic bromides and thalidomides, sentimentality and ignorance.

And what do we conclude? We have two possible conclusions:

1) Moussaoui was and is simply following the tenets of Islam faithfully, and putting into practice the requirement that at least some Muslims must engage in Jihad (in order that others may, temporarily, be relieved of the duty).


2) Moussaoui became depressed, as so many of us do, all over the Infidel world as well, but in the case of Muslims, the problem is that that depression, or any kind of emotional setback, can lead to blaming the Infidel. Viewing the universe through the prism of Islam makes one almost automatically ready to blame that Infidel, and to seek revenge.

Those are the two possible explanations.

And either one has immense implications for the Muslim presence all over Europe and North America. For the sake of the legal and social order and the physical wellbeing of the resident Infidels who created those societies and have no desire to see them islamized, these implications need to be faced.

Posted on 03/24/2012 3:42 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Musical interludes in memoriam

For  Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, Arieh Sandler, Gabriel Sandler and Miriam Monsonego, whose murder reminded one of the deaths of the Fogel family slaughtered almost a year ago to the day, Kaddish sung by Ofra Haza.


" For salvation - Kaddish, for all the world's victims - Kaddish..".

For Corporal Abel Chennouf, son of Albert, fiance of Caroline, whose funeral took place in the Catholic Cathedral of Mountauban,  In Paradisum from Gabriel Faure's Requiem.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te Martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.

Chorus Angelorum te suscipiant, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere aeternam habeas requiem. 

"May the angels lead thee into paradise, may the martyrs receive thee at thy coming, and accompany thee into the city,  holy Jerusalem.  May the chorus of angels receive thee, and with Lazarus - once a poor man - mayest thou enjoy everlasting rest".


President Sarkozy has given special permission for Caroline Monet, who is pregnant, to marry Cpl Chennouf posthumously, which is a rare event but permissible in French law.

Remember also the other two paratroopers Imad Ibn-Ziaten and Mohamed Legouard who were serving their country and whose families are mourning them, pray for the recovery of the fourth soldier  Corporal Loic Liber from Guadeloupe who is in a coma, and for the police officers injured in the final fire-fight. 

Posted on 03/24/2012 4:37 PM by Christina McIntosh
Saturday, 24 March 2012
That Stupid War, Those Hideous People In Afghanistan

From The New York Times:

March 17, 2012

Gulf Widens Between U.S. and a More Volatile Karzai

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Americans in Afghanistan are “demons.”

They claim they burned Korans by mistake, but really those were “Satanic acts that will never be forgiven by apologies.”

The massacre of 16 Afghan children, women and men by an American soldier “was not the first incident, indeed it was the 100th, the 200th and 500th incident.”

Such harsh talk may sound as if it comes from the Taliban, but those are all remarks either made personally by the United States’ increasingly hostile ally here, President Hamid Karzai, or issued by his office in recent days and weeks.

The strongest such outburst came Friday. “Let’s pray for God to rescue us from these two demons,” Mr. Karzai said, apparently holding back tears at a meeting with relatives of the massacre victims, and clearly referring to the United States and the Taliban in the same breath. “There are two demons in our country now.”

Ever since the Koran-burning episode on Feb. 20 and its violent aftermath, the relationship between the two governments has lurched from one crisis to another. American officials have scrambled to run damage control, with President Obama expressing a personal apology for the Koran burning, as well as regrets about the massacre, while calling Mr. Karzai twice in the past week.

The White House went to lengths last week to depict Mr. Karzai’s call for Americans to hand over control a year earlier, by 2013, as no change in policy — only to have Mr. Karzai pointedly insist the next day that it was. The Americans fret that Mr. Karzai is making a difficult job almost impossible, with demands they often see as unreasonable; Mr. Karzai worries that the Americans seek to undermine him, and may yet abandon his country and him, once again, to their fate.

The Koran burnings brought these differences into sharp relief, and led to a rupture in trust some view as irreparable. After an American unit at Bagram Air Base inadvertently burned Korans, embassy officials were deeply worried about an investigation conducted by the country’s Ulema Council, its highest religious body.

The council’s pronouncements, however, are closely controlled by Mr. Karzai’s office — they are even issued by the presidential palace — and American officials were assured by senior members on the president’s staff that the council’s report would be tough but not incendiary.

“We were ready to get knocked a bit,” said an American official who asked not to be identified to preserve his relationship with Afghan officials. “We messed up pretty badly.”

The original draft, in fact, was relatively moderate, American and Afghan officials said. But at the last minute more hard-line elements of Mr. Karzai’s staff weighed in, and the joint statement finally issued by the Ulema Council and the palace used language like “Satanic act” and “unforgivable, wild and inhuman” about the book burnings, and “justifiable emotion” in regard to the violent reaction, which claimed the lives of at least 29 Afghans and 6 Americans.

Western diplomats have often viewed Mr. Karzai’s outbursts as playing to the galleries, meant for consumption by his own people only, not as serious statements of policy. But the galleries also include the public in the United States and its NATO allies, where majorities in nearly every country oppose remaining in Afghanistan, and every new contretemps risks further eroding an already tenuous support.

“I think this is very serious because Mr. Karzai has always had a very ambivalent attitude toward the West and toward the war — he has never really believed violence is the answer,” said Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British ambassador to Afghanistan from 2007 through 2009. “He is also very conscious and very resentful that his political survival and even perhaps his personal safety depend on the Americans.”

The current American ambassador, the veteran diplomat Ryan C. Crocker, was brought out of semiretirement by President Obama last July at least in part because he had known Mr. Karzai since the beginning: Mr. Crocker was the first envoy to Afghanistan after the invasion that defeated the Taliban, when Mr. Karzai was appointed interim leader here.

Like many of his predecessors, Mr. Crocker began his latest tour on an optimistic note. “President Karzai has the toughest job in the world, and he has been doing it for the last 10 years,” Mr. Crocker said early on, and has repeated often since. “You have to give him credit.”

While the two men still have a working relationship and meet often, according to aides to both, there are many signs that the warmth has gone out of that relationship once again.

Mr. Crocker insisted in an interview with PBS on Friday that this was not the case.

“I think he is a committed Afghan nationalist, that at the end of the day he seeks the same goals we do,” the ambassador said. “And sometimes the rhetoric gets a little heated. Sometimes my rhetoric has been known to get a little bit heated in a few of these meetings, and then I go sit under a tree and think about the larger equities at stake, and we move on.”

From Mr. Karzai’s point of view, the Americans have repeatedly defied his demands to end commando night raids, and one civilian casualty after another has put him in the position of either criticizing the Americans and angering them, or not criticizing them and angering Afghans.

“In any relationship there are things that one party does that the other party doesn’t particularly care for, and that goes both ways,” said James Cunningham, the deputy ambassador to Afghanistan. “The question is not just whether President Karzai is a partner; we’re discussing and putting into place a partnership that is going to look forward a decade or so, and that’s a partnership with Afghanistan and its leaders, whoever they are.”

The relationship is so frayed, however, that Mr. Karzai often is quick to view everything through the prism of presumed American perfidy.

When American diplomats meet with his political opponents, he sees it as a sign that they are out to topple him from power — something that has reportedly obsessed him ever since the presidential election in 2009, which the international community saw as widely fraudulent. American officials pressured him into agreeing to a runoff, which in the end his opponents refused.
Posted on 03/24/2012 6:51 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Sohrab Ahmari: Can Iran Be Saved?

From Commentary:

Can Iran Be Saved?

After simmering in low-intensity form for more than three decades, tensions between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the international community are reaching their boiling point. The Iranian regime’s intransigence with respect to a number of hotly contested issues—above all, its nuclear-weapons program—is setting the stage for a military conflagration between Iran and the West. Such a confrontation may take the form of an all-out land invasion or, more likely, a limited intervention aimed at delaying the mullahs’ nuclearization drive. Either scenario could spell the fall of the clerical regime under the weight of far superior Western militaries. Even absent an outside intervention, a combination of domestic discontent and rapid economic deterioration resulting from crippling sanctions could precipitate regime collapse in Tehran in the coming months and years. (Senior members of the Obama administration have recently hinted that the latter may be their ultimate goal in imposing heavy sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors.)

Regime collapse in Iran represents a historic chance for advancing democratic development there and, by extension, the wider Middle East and North Africa. As the mass uprising that followed the country’s stolen 2009 presidential election demonstrated, the demand for representative government, individual rights, and gender equality among Iranians is high. Yet the emergence of a stable constitutional order after the demise of the Khomeinist regime is by no means guaranteed. Without sufficient planning in the West, a post-Islamic Republic order in Iran may be threatened for a generation or more by insurgents loyal to the former regime and by outbreaks of ethno-sectarian strife. 

The shape of such an order would depend on the nature of the events that bring it about, as well as on a range of complex developments impossible to predict with any certainty. At the current juncture, it is pertinent to assess the opportunities and hazards that will likely define any regime-collapse scenario and to consider steps that the international community can take to improve the odds for a future transition to democracy. Negative lessons can be drawn from the Western intervention in Iraq, where the U.S.-led Coalition’s failure to plan for post-invasion governance led to severe outbreaks of ethno-sectarian violence and a quasi-democratic order whose fragility is still felt today. Provided the correct measure of Western support, however, Iran’s unique societal dynamics and history can help stave off some of the pitfalls of Iraq.

The most difficult challenge faced in post-invasion Iraq will also exist under any post-collapse scenario in Iran: namely, rapidly rebuilding a coherent state capable of wielding national authority over a large and diverse population. Doing so will involve balancing, on the one hand, the need to neutralize the most hardcore ideological remnants of the ancien régime and, on the other, the imperative to preserve state apparatuses basic to governance after the fall. In Iran, the most important of these institutions are the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Basij paramilitary force. Dismantling each will be a daunting task for Iran’s post-Islamic Republic leaders and their allies. But without painful compromises and thoughtful planning, these forces will likely threaten the survival of an already vulnerable constitutional regime. In the case of a limited intervention or sanctions-induced regime collapse, these challenges will be further compounded by what is likely to be a minimal Western presence on the ground in Iran.  

The likelihood of an all-out Western land invasion aimed at toppling the mullahs is low. But a limited military intervention aimed at destroying their nuclear facilities may nevertheless precipitate regime collapse. Iran’s nuclear sites are spread out over a wide geographic area; an intervention aimed at disabling them must be wider in scope than the Israeli strikes that destroyed Iraq’s facilities in 1981 and Syria’s in 2007. A successful strike will require destroying much of the country’s national defense and security architecture. Having invested so much prestige, moreover, in one signature national project—the nuclear program—the regime stands to lose what little legitimacy it has left should a weeklong airstrike rubble its nuclear sites.  

Much has been made of Iranians’ rallying behind the mullahs in the event of a limited intervention or if a stringent international sanctions regime brings national life in Iran to a grinding halt. Such claims—and those to the contrary—are for the most part purely speculative. But whether or not nationalistic sentiment will overcome anger at a detested regime is a moot question: Simply put, even a fully united will against “foreign aggression” may not suffice to ensure regime survival in the face of overwhelming Western military might in a limited-intervention scenario. Thus, planning for post-collapse contingencies must be at the top of American and European policymakers’ agendas—even if precipitating regime collapse is not a primary or even secondary objective of such action.

Another regime-change scenario is the one reportedly favored by some members of the Obama administration. Under this view, a combination of fissures at the highest echelons of the regime and popular frustration with Iran’s growing economic isolation will weaken the Islamic Republic—perhaps to the point of collapse. “Another option here is that [sanctions] will create hate and discontent at the street level so that the Iranian leaders realize that they need to change their ways,” a senior intelligence official told the Washington Post in January. The plausibility of this scenario can be debated. Iranian society is a tinderbox; an explosive political incident—against a backdrop of economic hopelessness—could set it on fire. Even so, the opposition, including the establishment reform movement and the more radical elements on university campuses, lacks the strength to propel such a scenario to the point of regime change. But assuming the Obama administration’s vision pans out, the challenge of filling the resultant power vacuum will be as equally pressing as under an intervention scenario. 

In the aftermath of regime collapse, two key institutions and their broader constituencies could severely jeopardize democratic development in Iran: the IRGC and the Basij paramilitary. Each group is, to varying degrees and for slightly different reasons, invested in the preservation of the current regime; each has much to lose in a constitutional Iranian state founded on secular law and individual rights. To protect a nascent liberal order from these groups, emerging democratic elites and their Western allies must deploy a precisely calibrated combination of incentives and disincentives to neutralize the most irreconcilable members of these institutions while co-opting the more pragmatic and pliable ones. 

This is a lesson drawn in part from the Iraq experience. Soon after toppling Saddam’s regime in spring 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) expelled thousands of Ba’ath Party members—the vast majority belonging to Iraq’s Sunni minority—from government posts and banned them from future public service. A second CPA order immediately disbanded almost the entire state security apparatus, including the armed forces. The CPA’s de-Ba’athification policy has since been heavily criticized for having significantly contributed to post-invasion Iraq’s instability and spiraling violence. Part of that criticism is rooted in Iraq’s sectarian dynamics. “To Sunni Arabs, this [policy] signaled that Shia and Kurdish exile groups had the ear of the CPA and that a Shia power grab was in motion, with full American support,” the Hoover Institution’s Leif Eckholm has observed in an astute Policy Review article published last August.

In Iran, completely dismantling major state apparatuses may not necessarily backfire along sectarian lines. Iran has its share of unstable ethno-sectarian fault lines (in Kurdistan, Baluchistan, and along the border with Azerbaijan), but the country’s overall ethno-sectarian makeup is far less divided than Iraq’s. Nevertheless, the risk of creating a power vacuum remains. Just as, in Iraq, de-Ba’athification left Coalition and Iraqi authorities unable to guard the populace against insurgent Ba’athist remnants and foreign jihadists, so a careless purge of Iran’s state apparatuses could leave the new regime vulnerable to internal subversion by the most dangerous remnants of its predecessor. Any future regime must be prepared to make difficult political choices and to reintegrate cooperative members of these institutions into the fabric of national life. Some hardcore elements of the former regime will of course remain irreconcilable to any democratic order. Steeped in Khomeinist ideology, these true believers will not be dissuaded by any material incentives. But to strike this balancing act, each institution—its history and internal dynamics—must be examined separately.

The IRGC was founded shortly after the 1979 revolution to protect a then nascent clerical regime. Today, the Guards are estimated to number more than 150,000, including 125,000 land units, 20,000 in naval forces, and a 5,000-strong special-operations outfit known as the Quds (Jerusalem) Force. The Guards also have their own small air force. Since its founding, the IRGC has served as the tip of the Iranian regime’s spear abroad. “The Guards are…in charge of executing Iran’s strategy of asymmetric warfare in the event of a U.S. or Israeli attack,” Alireza Nader has explained in the Iran Primer published by the United States Institute of Peace. “The IRGC’s secretive Quds Force has trained and equipped proxy groups, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Iraqi Shiite insurgents, and even elements of the Taliban.” The IRGC is also a central component of the regime’s repressive apparatus, responsible for brutally crushing dissent throughout the regime’s three decades in power, most recently in response to the June 2009 post-election uprising.

Yet the Guards’ scope of action goes beyond external operations and internal security. The two decades since the end of the Iran-Iraq conflict have witnessed the steady rise of a second generation of IRGC members, some veterans of the war and some too young to have fought in it. By the early 1990s, these officers were determined to bypass the revolution’s clerical old guard and gain direct access to power. “Today, the IRGC functions as an expansive socio-political-economic conglomerate whose influence extends into virtually every corner of Iranian political life and society,” a 2009 RAND study concluded. “Bound together by the shared experience of [the Iran-Iraq] war and the socialization of military service, the [Guards] have articulated a populist, authoritarian, and assertive vision for the Islamic Republic of Iran that they maintain is a more faithful reflection of the revolution’s early ideals.” A major component of the Guards’ militarization of the Islamic Republic has been their domination of Iran’s economy. The extent of that influence cannot be overstated. Exerted through hundreds of companies run by IRGC alumni, it covers multiple industries, including construction and the critical oil and gas sector.

The Guards’ mission and history will render them a democratic Iran’s most formidable adversary. A combination of ideological beliefs and economic incentives ties them closely to the current regime. In the case of a Western land invasion, the Guards will probably attempt to bog down foreign militaries in a prolonged war of attrition. “Occupation forces in Iran would experience the greatest resistance from those with the most to lose—the [IRGC] loyal to the ruling clerics,” Eckholm has written. “Falling back behind an advancing army and attacking logistics and communication lines [are] representative of Iran’s national defense strategy of drawing out a campaign, inflicting high costs, and wearing out the invading forces by attrition.” Should the regime collapse of its own volition under the weight of a limited intervention or domestic turmoil, the Guards will likely reprise their revolutionary function and seek to topple the emerging order.

To mitigate these risks, a post-IRI regime and the international community must offer a compelling bargain to the Guards: Embrace the new order or face neutralization. Doing so will involve exploiting factional differences within the IRGC’s ranks. As RAND’s in-depth study of the organization observed:

The IRGC…is beset with political factionalism, which surfaced even in the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose real constituents were lower-ranking Basij rather than the IRGC writ large. Earlier incidents revealed fissures along different lines; for example, the 1994 Qazvin riots, in which locally garrisoned IRGC commanders refused to fire on protestors, revealed that the parochial identities of ethnicity and locale still pervade the IRGC’s institutional culture. The Khatami era highlighted the lack of ideological uniformity between the IRGC senior leadership, which supported the conservatives, and the rank-and-file, who were more sympathetic to the reformists.

Achieving a modus vivendi with some former Guards, particularly those who subscribe to the more apocalyptic strands of messianic Shi’ism, will be impossible. Other factions within the organization, however, may be susceptible to ideological or financial inducement. Some high-ranking Guardsmen, for example, defected once the organization was tasked with putting down the summer 2009 uprising. In their view, the Guards’ national prestige—gained after making enormous personal sacrifices during the Iran-Iraq war—was tainted by the gruesome work of torturing and killing their compatriots. Reassurances that they will not be excluded from national life altogether may persuade other low- and mid-ranking IRGC officers to make peace with a post-IRI order. But such a bargain can only be executed if there is a powerful coercive disincentive backing it up—something a weak post-IRI regime may be unable to provide without credible Western support.

 A similar analysis applies to the Basij (“Mobilization”) force. The organization was founded pursuant to Article 151 of the Islamic Republic Constitution, which requires the establishment of “a program of military training, with all requisite facilities, for all…citizens, in accordance with the Islamic criteria, in such a way that all citizens will always be able to engage in the armed defense of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Throughout the Iran-Iraq war, members of the Basij served as auxiliaries to the IRGC and the regular armed forces. Since the end of the war, the Basij have been regularly deployed to crack down on “immoral” behavior and political dissent, especially among students.

Iranian leaders have claimed that the Basij number more than 10 million members. But the number of uniformed members is probably closer to 90,000, supplemented by another 300,000 reservists and about a million or so nonactive members and alumni. The “Basij constituency,” however, is likely far larger when each individual member’s family ties are taken into consideration. Many Basijis come from working-class urban or rural backgrounds. Faced with Western firepower in an armed-intervention scenario, the Basij are unlikely to pose a serious conventional threat. “The material world, as much as heaven’s promise, motivates Basij involvement,” Eckholm writes. “Much like Ba’ath party membership brought access to higher pay and certain other perks, Basij training is an avenue to obtain loans, scholarships, subsidies, and other advantages. In the face of overwhelming American firepower, their resolve could fade.”

The challenge facing any post-IRI order, rather, involves preventing former Basijis from joining an IRGC-led insurgency. The Basijis, who for years have been stifling expressions of individuality and dissent across the country, are deeply hated by the urban and middle-class Iranians who are likely to form a new democratic regime’s core constituency. The temptation for revenge-seeking and retaliation will be great—and not without good reason. For more than three decades, thousands of students, women, freethinkers, and average Iranians have been harassed, beaten, and murdered at the hands of these vigilantes. Personal animosities and grievances, nurtured over the course of the regime’s life, will probably explode at the moment of the IRI’s collapse. Iranians have long memories. Yet the practical cost of a widespread anti-Basij purge would far outweigh its psychological benefits. Ideologically deprogrammed and financially co-opted, the Basijis could in fact serve as a powerful democratic mobilization force to protect a nascent post-IRI order.

While Basijis undergo heavy ideological-political training upon entering the organization, studies measuring the effectiveness of such training have yielded mixed results at best. “After a decade, the student-oriented velayat [“guardianship”] plan did not succeed in fully training Basij students to carry out their responsibilities in classrooms, dormitories, and universities,” one such study found. “Political doubts evidently still existed among Basij students.” Such doubts must be exploited to dismantle the Basij and reconstitute it as a positive social-mobilization force. Deprogramming former Basijis is an important first step. A political retraining program could, for example, draw on Iran’s pre-Islamic heritage—still a powerful social glue in Iran despite the mullahs’ repeated attempts to erase it—to counter Khomeinist ideology. Moreover, the country’s vibrant film industry, which did not have an equivalent in Ba’athist Iraq, can serve as an effective tool for developing and spreading a democratic, anti-Islamist consciousness. 

To be sure, there are limits to the long-term impact of such measures. The extent of the current regime’s ideological stranglehold on millions of Iranians, both inside and outside the Basij, cannot be overstated. No one should imagine that the Islamist grip on the Persian mind can be loosened within a matter of months or years. This will be a generational effort akin to the transition away from Nazism in West Germany and Apartheid in South Africa. 

Beyond the psychological pain imposed on their victims, co-opting the clerical regime’s supporters with financial and ideological inducements also involves a heavy moral cost. Absent a new national narrative that accounts for the crimes of the clerical era—without criminalizing a significant portion of Iran’s population—Iranian society as a whole will fail to find closure and stability. In the case of the Basij, neighborhood-by-neighborhood truth-and-reconciliation commissions, where victims of Basij crimes could air their grievances and receive apologies and restitution, may be the most effective structures for developing such a narrative. Further, as it did in postwar West Germany, the very process of confronting the moral abyss of the prior regime could serve as the basis for allegiance to a post-IRI constitutional order. Yet what is often forgotten about West Germany’s transitional period is the critical role played by a constitutional court and security services willing to crack down—sometimes very hard—on “anti-constitutional” activity by both the remnants of the German far-right and the new far-left. In a post-Islamic Republic of Iran, similarly robust legislation and institutions must be developed to provide buffers against resurgent Islamism and other totalitarian attitudes. A newborn democracy in Iran can eventually make peace with citizens who tried time and again to abort it—it cannot countenance a backslide to terror. 

The last decade has witnessed the fall of four entrenched regimes in the Middle East and North Africa. In Egypt and Tunisia, pro-American regimes collapsed under the weight of long-suppressed domestic discontent. In Libya, the Qaddafi regime was forced out by rebels benefiting from limited Western military support. Finally, in Iraq, Saddam’s regime was toppled directly by invading Western forces. In none of these cases, however, was sufficient thought given to shaping the post-collapse outcome along liberal and democratic lines. In dealing with Iran today, policymakers have an opportunity to take the long view and consider how a post-Islamic Republic of Iran may be constituted to ensure its stability and freedom. Dealing with the clerical regime’s repressive apparatuses in a way that is sensitive to the country’s social and historical realities should be the first item on the agenda of an Iran after the Islamic Republic.

Posted on 03/24/2012 10:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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