These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 27, 2014.
Thursday, 27 March 2014
Not The Vicar Of Dibley
Posted on 03/27/2014 11:33 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 27 March 2014
“A tale told by an idiot”
Say what you will about Vladimir Putin. Some of worst may be true. Say what you will about Kremlin policy. A totalitarian history might still have some traction in Moscow. And say what you will about the Russian majority. They still seem to prefer a strong man at the helm, chaps like Vladimir Putin. But whatever you believe or say about Putin or Russia, you also have to ask; compared to what?
"He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." –Winston Churchill
And don’t kid yourself about the Ukraine. The issue there is not right or wrong; legitimacy or illegitimacy. Neither side has a sovereignty argument. And the dispute isn’t about democracy or freedom either. The real danger in east Europe is nuclear chicken - a dangerous game with a short fuse. Ukraine has 15 active nuclear reactors.
The Ukraine dispute has no moral high ground either. US foreign policy folly has done much to undermine personal sovereignty, national sovereignty, and the good name of democracy worldwide. America has been slicing and dicing polities in East Europe, Africa, the Arab world, and elsewhere for decades pretending that the default setting is democracy. Distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate are now arbitrary, in the end, a function of power. And the first democratic election is often the last.
Ukrainian Nazi Oleh Tayhnybok (left) with Nuland
When US State Department sends Assistant Secretary of State Vicky Nuland to Kiev to stir the pot, posing with neo- Nazis, supporting a pro-EU coup; no one should be surprised when Lavrov gives Kerry and Kiev a bloody nose. Any US "diplomat" who flirts with fascists, or plays with nuclear matches, is looking for trouble.
Victoria Nuland is now the central figure in both the Libyan and Ukraine fiascos. Indeed, she was promoted to Assistant Secretary of State by Barack Obama after the Benghazi charade, a cover-up which tried to whitewash the Islamist role in the murder of diplomats. The irony doesn’t end there; Ms. Nuland claims to be a Jew of Russian descent. She and American foreign policy now enable a neo-Nazi coup and regime in Kiev. With Hillary Clinton in the presidential wings, American policy probably hasn’t heard the last from Nuland.
The American Right and Left now share common ground. Hillary Clinton and John McCain now occupy the same foreign policy turf, sod with more than a whiff of imperialism and anti-Semitism. Strange bedfellows indeed! One of the few sober voices on today’s crisis is Jack Matlock, former ambassador to the USSR. Matlock fingers NATO’s ham fisted interventions and expansion as the source of Kremlin angst. Progressive imperialism marches under a “humanitarian” flag these days.
The Ukraine, like Georgia, is a political cesspool cum economic basket case; civic train wrecks with ready nuclear potential. Loose lips in Kiev are already talking about banning the Russian language, “scorching” the ground under Russians, and rearming opportunists with nuclear weapons. With luck, the Ukraine no longer has any nuclear warheads on hand, but Kiev still has a very sophisticated nuclear infrastructure, a support system for 2000 weapons until a few years ago. Half of Ukraine’s electric power comes from nuclear plants.
John McCain with Tayhnybok (center) in Kiev
A dirty bomb might be had in six months or less. Putin and his colleagues, predictably, will not tolerate a hostile, unstable, nuclear armed border state. The possibility that NATO would rearm or fortify a regime sharing power with crypto-Nazis in Kiev is every Russian’s worst nightmare – indeed, an open invitation for Moscow to secure all of Ukraine’s infrastructure in the name of nuclear sanity.
Russian can no more live with a hostile nuclear border state than the United States could tolerate nuclear weapons in Cuban, Venezuelan, or Mexican cartel hands. The crucial distinction between Moscow and Washington at the moment is not policy, however. The difference at the moment is adult leadership.
Russia has been a relative success since the demise of the Soviet Union, because the Kremlin has had a modicum of political stability and just enough natural resources not to mortgage its national integrity to creditors. In the same two decades, America and the EU have done their best to flirt with cross-border chaos, default, and bankruptcy.
The chickens of proliferate social democracy are home to roost too. Political acedia, apathy, and incompetence are ever the ingredients for failure. Domestic malfunction is often the source of manufactured political distractions abroad.
All of this leads to a larger strategic question. Does the EU and America still have game?
If economic, military, and foreign policy performance of the past two decades is evidence, the answer is no! If progress with terror and associated Islamism is a measure, the answer is no! If courageous, moral, or innovative leadership is a metric, the answer is still no!
Does NATO really want to raise the ante with Obama, Kerry, Power, Hagel, Clapper, and Brennan at the helm? A chronically weak American politburo might not be the best team to field in a spat over Ukraine. And a government, nay an administration, which cannot manage a web site in the digital age, is not one likely to prosecute a successful economic or shooting war, one with atomic potential.
Also, remember that any US general who might be a tad independent or think for himself has been put out to pasture. There isn’t a serving Obama flag in the Pentagon with a winning record, won a war, anywhere.
The US may have had variety of military adventures globally since the Korean War, but America hasn’t prevailed since 1945. And with general officer honor, measures of military effectiveness, and quaint notions like victory off the table; who wants to double down? Or worse, hazard an economic or shooting war with Russia with team Obama at the helm – “leading from behind?” Remember any pain from a conflict over the Ukraine will be European; and there, Russia has a home field advantage.
Before the White House raises the stakes, or puts another "bailout" on the table, in East Europe; America might want to wait for regime change in Brussels and Washington. At the moment, Europe and the US are playing with bush league coaching and very little game.
Or as a doomed Scottish politician of another day might put it: “Something wicked this way comes ... It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” In the classic tale of regime change, a king literally loses his head. But in the end, Macbeth’s failure, like Barack Obama’s, is metaphorical; a self-inflicted wound. Hubris is a terrible thing to waste.
Kiev street scene
G Murphy Donovan is a former Intelligence officer with tours at USAF, NSA, DIA, and CIA. He now writes about the politics of national security
Posted on 03/27/2014 7:11 PM by G. Murphy Donovan
Thursday, 27 March 2014
Shiite Shrine Bombed In Raqqa By
It is comforting for the Shi'a -- in Iran, in Hezbollah -- to believe that "takfiri" Muslims, that is Sunnis who consider Shi'a to be Infidels, and among the worst of Infidels, are not representative, but are "only a small minority of Sunni extremists" to borrow the well-known lphrase. But they aren't. In Pakistan, Sipah-e-Sahaba is only one of several Sunni groups dedicated to attacking, and killing, Shi'a professionals, and Sunnis have been informally attacking Shi'a, for sport, for many decades (Ibn Warraq remembers boys doing it in his childhood). In Saudi Arabia, the Shi'a are kept down, and occasionally a Shi'a street demonstration is suppressed using well-known methods -- the kind used as well, by the minority ruling Sunnis in Bahrain, to keep the Shi'a in their place. In Lebanon, the old Sunni elite has discovered, to its horror, that the lower-class Shi'a have simply outbred them (as the Muslims in general have outbred the Christians in Lebanon), and are now the largest group in Lebanon, and Sunnis who formerly merely paid little attention to the Shi'a now have found their contempt replaced by hatred and fear. In Yemen, the Shi'a Houthis, supported by Iranian aid, are marching south; Sunni tribesmen are determined to stop them. The votaries of ISIL may have gone further in their latest attacks, on a Sunnni shrine to two of Muhammad's Companions, but the Sunni contempt for Shi'a shrines, saints, rites including the famous flagellation, is widely shared, and not confined to a handful of "Takfiris."
It will be interesting to see when Shi'a begin to see it is not "takfiris" but Sunnis in general who are hostile to them, and that there is nothing they can do about it, except to change their beliefs and their practices. And that they cannot do.
Posted on 03/27/2014 6:47 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 27 March 2014
Why are Feminists not Standing up for Israel?
T.S. Eliot was wrong. March, not April, is the cruelest month. Certainly it is at New York University. In the early days of the month a conference took place there on “Circuits of Influence: United State, Israel, and Palestine.” The conference was organized by Lisa Duggan, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, whose academic fields at NYU are listed as lesbian and gay studies, and the history of gender and sexuality.
Professor Duggan is a gender scholar rather than a political scientist renowned for expertise in Middle East history and politics. She is presently president-elect of the American Studies Association (ASA) that on December 4, 2013 disgraced itself and the academic world by its ignorance, its bias, and its bigotry in calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The resolution of the ASA, by 66 per cent of voters, endorsed the Palestinian call for a boycott because of alleged denial of Palestinian basic rights by Israel. The resolution said nothing about the denial of women’s basic rights by Palestinians and other Arabs.
Professor Duggan’s invitation to the conference was ironic. It was sent only to selected recipients, and said, “Please do not post or circulate the flyer (about the conference). We are trying to avoid press, protestors, and publication.” It was ironic appropriate because the conference avoided confrontation by inviting only those who were not known for their pro-Israeli views.
The NYU meeting was not exactly secret, but it was a closed-door conference. To no great surprise, it coincided with the celebration of Israel Apartheid Week. It may perhaps have been described as a meeting discussing the Protocols of the Learned Leaders of the boycotters or the New York friends of the ASA.
It is not clear, though one can guess the reasons, why leaders of an association created to deal with American studies, and especially if they are most interested in women’s issues, make declarations on Middle Eastern affairs or why they are primarily or solely concerned with the State of Israel. One would have thought that Professor Duggan and other members of the ASA might be more properly concerned with the problems that women encounter in Arab Middle East societies, including that of Palestinian.
The nature of those problems is detailed in reports of NGO Monitor and various think tanks. Women in all the Middle East countries, except Israel, have few rights, and do not enjoy equality with men. The gender gap in those countries is among the highest in the world. Women are discriminated against in almost all relationships and activities, in marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance. They are restricted in movement, expression, and work opportunities. Women suffer from being forced into child marriage, female genital mutilation, and “honor” crimes, which may be punished by death.
Professor Duggan and her ASA colleagues must know that there has been no significant improvement in women’s lives in spite of the “Arab spring.” In most Arab countries women are marginalized; in Islamic societies they are repressed. She should know that the lack of freedom for women in all Middle East countries, except Israel, is a major problem in the world today. Have she and her colleagues in the ASA, reported on this? Are they so concerned with their ideological attack on Israel that they have no time or thought for the political and social freedom of women? Even though they are supposedly interested in American studies, why do the members of ASA not state clearly and unequivocally that women in the Arab world including the Palestinians should enjoy the same rights and opportunities as women in Israel?
Let’s deliver a clear message from the 1993 UN Vienna Declaration to Duggan and the ignorant and biased boycotters of Israel. The Declaration called for the full and equal participation of women in political, civil, economic, social and cultural life, at all levels, and eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex.
It may well be, as the UN Arab Human Development report of 2005 said, that it is beyond the power and resources of women’s movements to affect the condition of women in the Middle East. But perhaps Duggan, with the support of other women in the ASA, might have organized a conference on the subject. She might have addressed the problem of why the 2011 departure of dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Libya has not led to fundamental reforms for women.
The UN Arab Human Development Reports (AHDR), written by Arab scholars about conditions in the 22 member states of the Arab League, have recognized the major problem: the oppression of women. Women suffer from inequality with men and are vulnerable to discrimination in law and in practice. The prevailing masculine culture and values view women as dependents of men. Those AHDR reports clearly state the need for change: Arab societies must provide for the complete empowerment of Arab women. Specifically, they should deal with illiteracy (more than half of Arab women are illiterate), the low rate of education of women, maternal mortality, and the low participation of women in politics.
The statistics in the Global Gender Gap Index, compiled by the World Economic Forum, which measures gender-based disparities, confirms the AHDR conclusions. Of the 136 countries analyzed in terms of the access of women to education, political participation, economic opportunity, and health, the Arab countries come last. Political empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia and Qatar is listed as zero. Gender-based discrimination exists in personal status laws which require permission of a male relative for marriage, favor husbands in divorce cases, give fathers the rights in child guardianship, restrict freedom of movement, make it difficult for women to get a passport, and deprive women of their proper inheritance. In the law courts the testimony of women is regarded as of less value than that of men in a number of countries. Dress codes for women are enforced by the religious police force.
Beyond all this legal and social inequality there is the matter of domestic violence against women. Rape is usually not seen as a criminal offense. Honor killings exist in many of the Arab societies, including that of the Palestinian Authority. It is legal for women to be beheaded, burnt alive, stoned, and tortured for “immoral” behavior such as adultery or having sexual relations with a non-Muslim man. They are also forbidden to marry non-Muslims. On the other hand, polygamy is legal in a number of Arab countries.
Given her scholarship on the history of sexuality, Professor Duggan must surely be familiar with the sad condition of women in all Middle East countries except Israel, where women have full social and political rights. Can we expect her as the leader of ASA, to organize a conference on that sad condition and to call for equality and justice for women in the Arab countries? If not, she may be judged guilty of indifference to the problems of women.
Michael Curtis is author of Jews, Antisemitism, ad the Middle East.
First published in the American Thinker.
Posted on 03/27/2014 7:36 AM by Michael Curtis
Thursday, 27 March 2014
Iran Demands That Sunnis Of Pakistan Return Their Border Guards
Posted on 03/27/2014 7:17 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald