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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 Thursday, 3, 2008.
Thursday, 3 January 2008
How the unspeakable practice of female circumcision is destroying the lives of young women in 21st century Britain
The strongest article I have seen yet in a mainstream British newspaper about the evils of Female Genital Mutilation. I have edited it considerably, please read it all. Some of it is heartrending. From The Daily Mail
The girl is 15 years old but looks much younger. Her face has the fine-boned elegance typical of her native Somalia, but her accent belongs to the streets of East London. She is plainly terrified. That much is clear from the way she avoids eye contact and constantly fidgets in her chair.
With great courage, this British-Somali girl - she asks that we call her "Lali" - is about to describe a barbaric act of ritualised cruelty which has been perpetrated against her. Knowing the danger to which she is exposing herself, her anxiety is entirely understandable.
For by speaking about it, Lali will break the ultimate taboo among Britain's 600,000 ethnic Africans. In Norway, where this brutal act is also prevalent, a young Somali woman was recently beaten, almost to death, for talking to TV documentary programme-makers.
It is known by a variety of names, the most common of which are female genital mutilation (FGM), female circumcision, or simply "cutting" - a word which somehow conveys the raw pain its prepubescent victims suffer.
Most people will be unfamiliar with this practice, which involves removing part or all of the clitoris, the surrounding labia (the outer part of the vagina) and sometimes the sewing up of the vagina, leaving only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood.
It is carried out for a variety of cultural reasons. Such is the secrecy that surrounds the practice that even those aware that it occurs in large swathes of Africa and Asia will be shocked to learn that it is prevalent in Britain.
During a highly disturbing, four-month investigation, however, we uncovered evidence that thousands of British-African girls, in towns and cities throughout the country, have been forcibly "cut".
By conservative estimates, 66,000 women and girls living in Britain have been mutilated. This figure, accepted by the Metropolitan Police, came in a report by a volunteer organisation funded by the Department of Health and carried out with academics from the London School of Tropical Hygiene and the City University.
And thousands more girls are at imminent risk as families club together to fly professional "cutters" from Africa to Britain.
These women "elders" perform the crude operation for up to £40 a time, often on kitchen tables or floors, without anaesthetic, using filthy, blunt knives, razor blades or scalpels.
Many readers will be distressed by our report, but this practice is an abomination which has no place anywhere, let alone in a civilised society, and if it is to be expunged then this is a story that must be told.
There is no way of escaping the unpalatable terminology, just as there is no way for girls like Lali to escape the unsterile knife which cuts them as they are held down and which will result in a lifetime of physical and psychological pain.
Attempts are also made to justify this iniquitous practice on religious grounds. Some hard-line Muslims insist that women must undergo genital cutting to remain faithful to the purest teachings of Islam - although, in truth, it is not even mentioned in the Koran, and only ambiguously in the Hadith (a collection of oral traditions about the life of the prophet Mohammed).  The first time I have seen this assessment stated in a mainstream newspaper.
Several leadings Imams have openly condemned the practice. This, though, does not deter its proponents, who maintain that it is their inalienable right to live according to their traditional beliefs and customs, rather than conform to British values. Indeed, some argue that the freedom to carry out FGM is a fundamental principle of our multi-cultural society.
Whatever the arguments, the fact is that genital mutilation is a reality, and the Metropolitan police is so concerned that it recently set up a special unit to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators. Heading the unit is Detective Inspector Carol Hamilton, herself a mother, who was horrified when she discovered what was happening to other people's daughters.
The Met team also educates regional police forces about FGM, and speaks to mosques, community groups and local authorities.
Usually their visits are well-received, but we found that at least one London council declined to publish material highlighting the suffering and danger the practice causes - for fear of offending ethnic African residents.
This kind of attitude incenses Detective Inspector Hamilton. "We are all becoming very culturally sensitive," she says. "People are a bit frightened of saying 'You can't do this here' because people shoot back with 'But it's our culture'.  But it's not: this is just plain cruel. I won't be put off by the politically correct argument. We have to be seen to be strong on this. I don't care about human rights - I care about the rights of the child. Everything else has to go out of the window.  We have one rule in child protection: the child is of paramount importance. I stick by that firmly."
Together with the Waris Dirie Foundation, an international campaign group formed by the Somali-born supermodel who suffered genital mutilation as a five-year-old child, the Met announced a £20,000 reward last July for information leading to the conviction of anyone who performs or abets cutting.
It is the most traumatic rite of passage," says Comfort Mohmoh, a doctor who runs a Well Woman Clinic at London's St Thomas' Hospital and has performed a number of successful operations to reverse genital mutilation - a procedure possible only in less severe cases. She sees from 400 to 500 cases a year.
"These women get abdominal pains, backache, extremely painful periods, recurring urinary infections and, inevitably, a great deal of pain during intercourse."
Lali is already encountering some of these physical problems, yet in some ways the emotional and psychological damage is even worse.
"What happened to me has totally broken my trust in the women I loved," she told us. "I didn't believe my mother could let this happen. My love for her has changed.  It hurt so much. I would never let my children suffer this. I don't believe this is right. It's a stupid, old-fashioned custom. Why can't we forget it?"
This alienation between mothers and daughters, of course, is another subtle way in which the practice subjects African women to male authority. Among the many otherwise educated and reasonable British-African men we spoke to, however, few were willing to call a halt.
With breathtaking sadism, their attitude was summed up by one man during an internet chat forum for Somalis living in Britain. "They should get their kintirs [Somalian for clitoris] cut off if they can't control their passions," was his message to liberated female compatriots.
Detective Inspector Hamilton has discovered . . . "I met one group of Somalis and got the message that cutting was even stronger here than in Somalia," she says. "Here, it seems, they feel the need to keep their traditions going.
Perhaps we should take a lead from France, whose methods of prevention have been strengthened following a landmark case in 1999, when a woman of West African origins was jailed for eight years for cutting 48 young children.
Now all French children of African background are closely scrutinised by social workers and doctors during infancy, and any abnormal behaviour or prolonged absence from school is immediately investigated.
It is also considered a duty of French doctors to examine any ethnic African girls they suspect have been mutilated and, waiving usual patient confidentiality rules, report their parents to the police if their suspicions are confirmed.
In this age of political correctness, no doubt, factions in Britain will argue that such interventionist activity is discriminatory and a breach of human rights. There will also be those who believe female genital mutilation to be an issue for the African community to resolve, arguing that our overstretched police and health professionals have more pressing matters to address.
Detective Inspector Hamilton was persuaded otherwise when she sat through a graphic video showing a cutter at work. With its haunting screams and bloodied instruments, this real-life horror film changed her life.
"These little girls shouldn't have to live in that other world," she says. "They go to school here. Their homes and friends are here. They are our little girls. They are British. What is happening to them is barbaric - and it must be stopped." 
Posted on 01/03/2008 4:16 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Search strings of 2008

It has been a while since I looked at the "search strings" in New English Review's usage statistics. Last time I looked, our readers were obsessed with jammy dodgers and bird-eating spiders, especially the latter. Well perhaps the bird-eating spiders have eaten the jammy dodgers - or eaten the birds who ate the jammy dodgers. Mysteriously there are no bird-eating-spider-lovers reading NER at the moment. 

Old Peculier Mary was a regular search string, and I'm pleased to see Mary Jackson in the current list. What that reader - or is it readers? - wanted, I don't know, and it is possible they meant Mary Jackson the dead actress who played whoever it was in The Waltons. Other items include:

Karen Armstrong
Cartoon comment
Gharkad tree
Great courses consciousness implementations review
Burkha
Texas honor killing
Theodore Dalrymple you are enjoying this.

That's right: "Theodore Dalrymple you are enjoying this." 

I hope the reader enjoyed it too.

By the way, I'm not sure "bird-eating-spider-lover" is right, but it's better than "bird-eating spider-lover", which is an arachnaphile who eats birds, or bird eating spider-lover, which is some kind of winged, sexually perverted preying mantis. Bird-eating-spider-lovers have the whole web, as it were, so it will always be a mystery to me why they homed in on NER. But now, by writing "bird-eating-spider" repeatedly, I'll probably draw a few more in. If so, hello, bird-eating-spider-lover, and welcome to the site.

Posted on 01/03/2008 6:53 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 3 January 2008
No Music, No Dancing

The last time I posted on music in Islam, I was challenged by readers who said music is widespread in Muslim countries. I'm sure this is true, but here are two letters in pdf form the Nashville Islamic Center sent to Nashville public schools requesting Muslim students be excused from both music and dance classes:

Date: August 7, 2007

Subject: Music Class

Dear Sir or Madam:

This letter is a request for Muslim children in schools who wish to be excused from music class. In the Islamic faith, music is strongly discouraged and in many cases prohibited. I would like to request the class teacher and the principal to accommodate this basic religious need of our children by giving them alternative activities, such as computer classes, reading or other assignments....

Subject: Dancing Class

Dear Sir or Madam:

This letter is a request for Muslim children in schools who wish to be excused from dancing class. In the Islamic faith, dancing in a mixed (co-ed) group is not allowed. I would like to request the class teacher and the principal to accommodate this basic religious need of our children by giving them alternative activities, such as computer classes, reading or other assignments.

Please allow for these accommodations. If you have any questions, please contact any of the Mosques or myself (480-6146).

On behalf of the Muslim community in Nashville, Salahadeen Center of Nashville, Al-Farooq Islamic Center, Masjid Al-Islam and Islamic Center of Nashville, thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Rashed Fakhruddin,

Islamic Center of Nashville, Director of Education

Posted on 01/03/2008 7:54 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 3 January 2008
All American Girls

Jihadwatch has more evidence that the murder of the Said sisters, Sarah and Amina, was an honor killing here. One friend in particular is very outspoken about their fear of their father.

Posted on 01/03/2008 8:41 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Another Former CIA Official Goes Native

Following in the footsteps of Michael Scheuer, who now advises the Paul campaign, the author of the following article entitled, A World Without Islam, published at Foreign Policy magazine is Graham E. Fuller a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA in charge of long-range strategic forecasting, completely absolves the enemy ideology from any responsibility for terrorism. He is currently adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He argues that the existence of Islam has made no appreciable impact on world history except as a positive "uniting" force that made things more difficult for Western imperialism. I have excerpted the ending (thanks to Jerry Gordon):

...It is, of course, absurd to argue that the existence of Islam has had no independent impact on the Middle East or East-West relations. Islam has been a unifying force of a high order across a wide region. As a global universal faith, it has created a broad civilization that shares many common principles of philosophy, the arts, and society; a vision of the moral life; a sense of justice, jurisprudence, and good governance—all in a deeply rooted high culture. As a cultural and moral force, Islam has helped bridge ethnic differences among diverse Muslim peoples, encouraging them to feel part of a broader Muslim civilizational project. That alone furnishes it with great weight. Islam affected political geography as well: If there had been no Islam, the Muslim countries of South Asia and Southeast Asia today—particularly Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia—would be rooted instead in the Hindu world.

Islamic civilization provided a common ideal to which all Muslims could appeal in the name of resistance against Western encroachment. Even if that appeal failed to stem the Western imperial tide, it created a cultural memory of a commonly shared fate that did not go away. Europeans were able to divide and conquer numerous African, Asian, and Latin American peoples who then fell singly before Western power. A united, transnational resistance among those peoples was hard to achieve in the absence of any common ethnic or cultural symbol of resistance.

In a world without Islam, Western imperialism would have found the task of dividing, conquering, and dominating the Middle East and Asia much easier. There would not have remained a shared cultural memory of humiliation and defeat across a vast area. That is a key reason why the United States now finds itself breaking its teeth in the Muslim world. Today, global intercommunications and shared satellite images have created a strong self-consciousness among Muslims and a sense of a broader Western imperial siege against a common Islamic culture. This siege is not about modernity; it is about the unceasing Western quest for domination of the strategic space, resources, and even culture of the Muslim world—the drive to create a “pro-American” Middle East. Unfortunately, the United States naively assumes that Islam is all that stands between it and the prize.

But what of terrorism—the most urgent issue the West most immediately associates with Islam today? In the bluntest of terms, would there have been a 9/11 without Islam? If the grievances of the Middle East, rooted in years of political and emotional anger at U.S. policies and actions, had been wrapped up in a different banner, would things have been vastly different? Again, it’s important to remember how easily religion can be invoked even when other long-standing grievances are to blame. Sept. 11, 2001, was not the beginning of history. To the al Qaeda hijackers, Islam functioned as a magnifying glass in the sun, collecting these widespread shared common grievances and focusing them into an intense ray, a moment of clarity of action against the foreign invader.

In the West’s focus on terrorism in the name of Islam, memories are short. Jewish guerrillas used terrorism against the British in Palestine. Sri Lankan Hindu Tamil “Tigers” invented the art of the suicide vest and for more than a decade led the world in the use of suicide bombings—including the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Greek terrorists carried out assassination operations against U.S. officials in Athens. Organized Sikh terrorism killed Indira Gandhi, spread havoc in India, established an overseas base in Canada, and brought down an Air India flight over the Atlantic. Macedonian terrorists were widely feared all across the Balkans on the eve of World War I. Dozens of major assassinations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were carried out by European and American “anarchists,” sowing collective fear. The Irish Republican Army employed brutally effective terrorism against the British for decades, as did communist guerrillas and terrorists in Vietnam against Americans, communist Malayans against British soldiers in the 1950s, Mau Mau terrorists against British officers in Kenya—the list goes on. It doesn’t take a Muslim to commit terrorism.

Even the recent history of terrorist activity doesn’t look much different. According to Europol, 498 terrorist attacks took place in the European Union in 2006. Of these, 424 were perpetrated by separatist groups, 55 by left-wing extremists, and 18 by various other terrorists. Only 1 was carried out by Islamists. To be sure, there were a number of foiled attempts in a highly surveilled Muslim community. But these figures reveal the broad ideological range of potential terrorists in the world.

Is it so hard to imagine then, Arabs—Christian or Muslim—angered at Israel or imperialism’s constant invasions, overthrows, and interventions, employing similar acts of terrorism and guerrilla warfare? The question might be instead, why didn’t it happen sooner? As radical groups articulate grievances in our globalized age, why should we not expect them to carry their struggle into the heart of the West?

If Islam hates modernity, why did it wait until 9/11 to launch its assault? And why did key Islamic thinkers in the early 20th century speak of the need to embrace modernity even while protecting Islamic culture? Osama bin Laden’s cause in his early days was not modernity at all—he talked of Palestine, American boots on the ground in Saudi Arabia, Saudi rulers under U.S. control, and modern “Crusaders.” It is striking that it was not until as late as 2001 that we saw the first major boiling over of Muslim anger onto U.S. soil itself, in reaction to historical as well as accumulated recent events and U.S. policies. If not 9/11, some similar event like it was destined to come.

And even if Islam as a vehicle of resistance had never existed, Marxism did. It is an ideology that has spawned countless terrorist, guerrilla, and national liberation movements. It has informed the Basque ETA, the FARC in Colombia, the Shining Path in Peru, and the Red Army Faction in Europe, to name only a few in the West. George Habash, the founder of the deadly Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was a Greek Orthodox Christian and Marxist who studied at the American University of Beirut. In an era when angry Arab nationalism flirted with violent Marxism, many Christian Palestinians lent Habash their support.

Peoples who resist foreign oppressors seek banners to propagate and glorify the cause of their struggle. The international class struggle for justice provides a good rallying point. Nationalism is even better. But religion provides the best one of all, appealing to the highest powers in prosecuting its cause. And religion everywhere can still serve to bolster ethnicity and nationalism even as it transcends it—especially when the enemy is of a different religion. In such cases, religion ceases to be primarily the source of clash and confrontation, but rather its vehicle. The banner of the moment may go away, but the grievances remain.

We live in an era when terrorism is often the chosen instrument of the weak. It already stymies the unprecedented might of U.S. armies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. And thus bin Laden in many non-Muslim societies has been called the “next Che Guevara.” It’s nothing less than the appeal of successful resistance against dominant American power, the weak striking back—an appeal that transcends Islam or Middle Eastern culture.


MORE OF THE SAME

But the question remains, if Islam didn’t exist, would the world be more peaceful? In the face of these tensions between East and West, Islam unquestionably adds yet one more emotive element, one more layer of complications to finding solutions. Islam is not the cause of such problems. It may seem sophisticated to seek out passages in the Koran that seem to explain “why they hate us.” But that blindly misses the nature of the phenomenon. How comfortable to identify Islam as the source of “the problem”; it’s certainly much easier than exploring the impact of the massive global footprint of the world’s sole superpower.

A world without Islam would still see most of the enduring bloody rivalries whose wars and tribulations dominate the geopolitical landscape. If it were not religion, all of these groups would have found some other banner under which to express nationalism and a quest for independence. Sure, history would not have followed the exact same path as it has. But, at rock bottom, conflict between East and West remains all about the grand historical and geopolitical issues of human history: ethnicity, nationalism, ambition, greed, resources, local leaders, turf, financial gain, power, interventions, and hatred of outsiders, invaders, and imperialists. Faced with timeless issues like these, how could the power of religion not be invoked?

Remember too, that virtually every one of the principle horrors of the 20th century came almost exclusively from strictly secular regimes: Leopold II of Belgium in the Congo, Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin and Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. It was Europeans who visited their “world wars” twice upon the rest of the world—two devastating global conflicts with no remote parallels in Islamic history.

Some today might wish for a “world without Islam” in which these problems presumably had never come to be. But, in truth, the conflicts, rivalries, and crises of such a world might not look so vastly different than the ones we know today.

Posted on 01/03/2008 8:59 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Muslim group backs Ken as 'best mayoral candidate'
Leading Muslims have backed Ken Livingstone to win a third term as London Mayor.
They issued a statement hailing him for supporting multi-cultural society, fighting Islamophobia and racism, and protecting Muslim communities.
The signatories said it was in Muslims' "best interest" for Mr Livingstone to be re-elected on 1 May.
Tory mayoral challenger Boris Johnson today insisted he was "not remotely worried" by the show of support for Mr Livingstone. He said: "When anything is signed by so-called community leaders I take it with a big pinch of salt.
"My grandfather was a Muslim and so was my great-grandfather. I am proud of my Muslim ancestry. (which is why he has no illlusions about Islam) But I want to talk about the interests of Londoners. I don't care what religion they are."
The statement, published on the Guardian website, is signed by 63 individuals or groups . . . Praising Mr Livingstone, it states: "His stands and policies have constantly championed justice in the Middle East ... freedom for the Palestinians and withdrawal of occupying troops from Iraq; a rare trait of modern day public figures."
Ihtisham Hibatullah of the British Muslim Initiative, which is behind the statement, argued that Mr Livingstone was doing more to help Muslim communities than Mr Johnson or Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick. He claimed that the Muslim leaders involved could mobilise many voters to back Mr Livingstone.
The Mayor welcomed the statement.
Posted on 01/03/2008 11:05 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Graham Fuller's Selective Historical Memory

This article by Graham Fuller bespeaks an attempt to identify with the enemy that goes beyond all reason. Graham Fuller's selective historic memory astonishes. He writes about European imperialism, but European "imperialism," such as it was, did not exist until two, or at most three centuries ago, and by that time, Islamic imperialism (and within it Arab imperialism) had been going strong for a millennium, subduing vast lands, transforming peoples, first through cultural and linguistic imperialism, with the adoption of Arabic names, the Arabic language, the need to adopt Arab mores and customs or at least look to Arabs as the ideal, and second, with the indifference, or hostility, toward any pre-Islamic past (how many Pakistanis visit, or care about, Mohenjo-Daro? how many Muslims in Pakistan or Bangladesh or India  or Indonesia have the slightest interest in the Buddhist and Hindu monuments, statuary, legacy of the pre-islamic histories of their own lands -- akin to the interest  in Western Christendom, in pre-Christian pagan antiquity, an interest always present but cultivated especially since the Renaissance) . What did Islam bring, or what did Islam destroy, by way of artistic expression, the encouragement of music, the encouragement of literature of all kinds, and not merely the literature of Belief, or the panegyrics (and denunciations) of rulers, in the Mutannabi-style, with the real literary achievements being, as in the case of Persian poetry (Hafiz, Sa'adi, Firdowsi, Khayyam), being because the poets ignored or violated the rules of Islam, were not good Muslims, in the strict sense, and thank god for their poetry, and for the survival of Persian literature, that they were not.

Fuller's historical sense, and knowledge, judging only by this remarkable (in a bad sense) article, is thin. His sympathy-for-the-devil approach appears based on a misunderstanding, or ignorance, of history.

And he overlooks not only how the Islamic conquests did such damage to the individual cultures being effaced or erased, and to the narrowing of possibilities for artistic expression. There is also the development, or the failure  to develop, science, and before science, the attitude of mind that makes science possible. The habit of mental submission that Islam encourages does not stop at the madrassa or mosque, but affects all of life. The Allah of Islam is not subject to rules or laws; he is a whimsical god, and it is the duty of the Believer to be the "slave of Allah" and not to reason why, but just to accept his whims. The Christian god is different, for He sets in motion the universe, according to laws that may be studied without doing violence to Christian doctrine. Newton was a great revealer of those laws, and a devout Christian, who never saw a conflict between his work in discovering those laws and in his beliefs as that devout Christian. (See the studies of Father Jaki, see Tim Huff's comparative study of the development of science in the West and its lack of development in Islam -- a study the mere existence of which provoked the hysteria of George Saliba, who teaches "the history of Arabic [sic] science" at Columbia, and doesn't like such questions even being raised.

Nor does Fuller mention what happened to the tens of millions, or hundreds of millions, of non-Muslims who lived in the lands conquered by Islam. He's so hell-bent on praising Islam for its sheer wonderfulness in allowing so many to resist the terrible European imperialists (those imperialists who brought, inter alia, hospitals and schools, languages that were the languages of science and modernity, the very idea of the individual) that he ignores, doesn't have a word to say, about the 60 to 70 million Hindus killed by Muslim rulers, has nothing to say about the destruction of tens of thousands of Hindu and Buddhist  temples and temple complexes, the complete elimination of Greco-Bactrian civilization in Afghanistan, the forcible conversion -- on pain of death -- of so many, and then the subsequent subjugation of all non-Muslims, those who were not killed or did not convert, as either members of Ahl al-Kitab ("People of the Book"), or as honorary members (those Zoroastrians in Persia, those Hindus in India, who were too numerous to kill, and too useful as Jizyah-paying dhimmis not to keep alive, indeed to keep for a while from converting to Islam so that they would, as dhimmis, continue to pay the Jizyah, on which payments, the Islamic state so heavily depended).

Not a word about the "dhimmi" nor about the collectivism of Islam. A thoroughly modern guilt-ridden Western man, apparently, is Graham Fuller, whose views on "European imperialism" (one half expects him to come out with phrases about "post-colonial hegemony") are comically one-sided, and who appears not to realize that for a thousand years before the European powers had begun their colonial efforts, the forces of Islam had been colonizing in a much more thorough-going and ruthless way, and had set about, in most places with considerable success, in destroying the non-Islamic cultures, civilizations, histories, of all those whose lands they conquered.

But Graham Fuller is not much of a historian. Nor does he appear to think that there is something called "civilization" -- with its art, its science, its history, its modes of thought -- one that the Western Imperialists, at their very worst, never sought deliberately to destroy the way the Muslim supremacists did, and do. Not a historian, and not a cultivated man. What is he? Oh, I almost forgot. He's a former bigshot in the C.I.A. Someone who not only is not alarmed by the resurgence of Islam under Erdogan, and the slow relentless undoing of the Kemalist constraints, but he regards it as "Turkey's return to normalcy." A Healthy Thing. A Good Thing. Maybe he's been talking to Mustafa Akyol. He certainly has not been convinced by the best people, the secularists, in Turkey, nor does he realize that what makes Turkey "vibrant, strong, dynamic, etc." is  not Islam, but the constraints on Islam that Ataturk systematically put in place.

He's impressed, is Graham Fuller, with Rend al-Rahim, with whom he co-wrote a book, just as Paul Wolfowitz was so impressed with other charming, westernized, thoroughly secular Shi'a-in-exile, such as Ahmad Chalabi, and Kanan Makiya. In his career (where a lot of mileage was gotten out of those two Harvard degrees -- but so what? lots of mediocrities get two or even three degrees from Harvard --  and knowing "Russian, Chinese, Turkish, Persian, Arabic" -- but at what levels for each?).

He's gone native. He's come to identify with the Islamic view of history.  Oh, not the view of Khomeini and the good doctors of Qom. Not the view of the Saudi imams. But the view of those mustafa-akyolish people who pretend that there is nothing wrong with Islam, that compared to the history of European imperialism the conquests of Islam were happy ones, uniting peoples, and later making them strong enough to resist European imperialism. That Islam itself has been a vehicle for Arab supremacism, that Islam itself has led to the destrurction of so much art, so many monuments, so much "diversity" of the kind that should count, has led to the discouragement of interest by so many in their own pre-Islamic pasts -- all this is not part of what Graham Fuller sees. He is now "in academic life" (amazing, how these people, former politicians or intelligence agents, it hardly matters, somehow  always manage to find posts, when so many solid scholars are left in the lurch), and no doubt is serving as a "consultant" to all kinds of groups, including those that no doubt welcome his islamisant views.

Well, his "great" and "guiltless" civilization of Islam business is pure Saidism. Possibly Graham Fuller has been so busy with his deeds of derring-do, and keeping up his Russian, and his Chinese,and his Turkish, and his Persian,and his Arabic, that he hasn't noticed that Said has been systematically dismembered, beginning with Bernard Lewis (see "The Question of 'Orientalism'")  and ending, for the final nail in the coffin,with Ibn Warraq's "Defending the West." But Graham Fuller is not very interested in defending the West. He's interested in Defending Islam. 

It doesn't surprise me that  he has so much contempt for the secularists in modern Turkey, now under assault by Erdogan and his followers and collaborators (including Fethullah Gulen). It doesn't surprise me that in 1988 he was insisting on the need for a "Palestinian state" because in Graham Fuller's world, Islam is a benign force, and no doubt, in any case, his palpable lack of sympathy for the West extends to, or for all I know begins with, a palpable lack of sympathy for Israel's attempts to resist, as best it can, the Lesser Jihad being conducted against it, and that has no end, and will not be appeased by the creation of a "Palestinian" state but, rather, will have the appetite for Jihad whetted rather than sated, by this "two-state solution" (we know it must be a solution, because otherwise why would so many people call it a "solution"?)

One of the complaints about the C.I.A. is the mediocrity of its personnel. We who were raised on tales of clever spies, such as Sidney Reilly (see the biography written by the son of Bruce Lockhart, or, on other side, Richard Sorge, keep wishing for men of that caliber and hoping that behind the scenes, they are in fact there, on our side. But  it is not the stealing of secrets that is now most necessary, but analysis. And in the C.I.A., the very minimum one can require is that the employees have a good sense of, two things. The first is knowledge of what it is they are defending and protecting. I don't have the feeling, in reading this Apologia pro Vita Islamica, with its bits of Said, and bits of Frantz Fanon, and bits of every two-bit anti-"Imperialist" and pro-Islamic propaganda of the last half-century, that Fuller grasps that meaning, and feels keenly the superiority of that West to the lands of Islam. And the second thing, also palpably lacking in Fuller's article and in other material by him, is an understanding -- the kind that Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ali Sina, Ibn Warraq, have, not from going native but from being born and raised within Islam, and then being able, in the West, to compare and contrast -- of the full meaning of Islam for artistic expression, free and skeptical inquiry, solicitude for the individual and the free exercise of conscience -- which escape Fuller, which are apparently beyond his narrow ken. He does not feel, along the pulse, does not see, in his mind, the full meaning, and therefore the full menace, of Islam.

How many more such people as the melodramatically man-in-black (shades of Tony Judt)  outfitted two-harvard-degrees knows-Russian-Chinese-Arabic-Turkish-Persian Graham Fuller are there still in the C.I.A.?

Find them. Fire them. They are security risks.  

Posted on 01/03/2008 10:59 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Can Egypt Please Explain?

"'Unclear how, if at all, Egypt can explain this'," by Roni Sofer for Israel News"

How, since the Camp David Accords were signed, can Egypt explain the following:

Despite its solemn commitment to end all hostile propaganda and to encourage friendly relations with Israel, the following acts, of commission, and omission, by the Egyptian government:

1) The preventing of Israeli participation in international book and film festivals in Cairo

2) The discouragement, including repeated monitoring, and hounding directed at a few brave Egyptians, of Egyptian tourists visiting Israel.

3) The refusal to invite the Israeli ambassador to any events, and indeed the years of virtual solitary confinement of successive Israeli ambassadors, at a time when the Egyptian ambassador was lionized by Israelis, so touchingly and naively eager to make much of their "peace with Egypt."

4) The continued enthusiastic support by Egypt at the U.N., and at all of the sub-organizations of the U.N. and meetings (i.e., at Durban), for every conceivable anti-Israel resolution, of every conceivable viciousness.

5) The refusal of the Egyptian government to prevent an anti-Israel and antisemitic campaign in the Egyptian media, that at times reaches Der Stuermer-like proportions, and when repeatedly asked why it does nothing, primly replies that "it can do nothing because we have a free press" - which "free press," however, is immediately shut down should a single word be uttered about anything that annoys Egypt's rulers, above all any discussion of Gamal Mubarak, the slick outwardly westernized son of the thick-necked and clumsy father.

6) The past efforts of Egypt, ostensibly at "peace" with Israel, and certainly not threatened by the "might" of the Sudan or of Libya, to acquire major weaponry, including secret collaboration between Egyptian and Iraqi scientists -- which collaboration ended only because of the American invasion of Iraq.

7) The continued efforts of Egypt to acquire such weaponry, and to receive tens of billions in military aid from the United States, with no explanation as to why such aid is needed, in a country that has an impoverished, and ill-ruled populace.

8) The general atmosphere of a revived Islam, that might have been dampened had Egypt done what it had promised to do to encourage a different attitude toward Israel, and had a sustained campaign of "encouraging friendly relations" -- publicizing the real behavior of the Israelis (say, about that free medical care, at the highest Western level, unstintingly offered Arabs at Israeli hospitals, and so much else that is carefully suppressed by the Arab media, as they paint Israel in the darkest colors) -- which will have long-term consequences for the possibility of avoiding open warfare with Israel.

The refusal of Egypt to meet its commitment to encourage friendly relations between the people of Egypt and Israel, and the apparent unwillingness of Israel and of the United States, (that under Carter had constantly pressured Israel into accepting every one of the demands -- some of them suggested by the Americans -- of Egypt, or rather of Saint Sadat) to take note of the continued violations.

9) Despite Egypt being obligated to end all hostilities, and to encourage friendly relations with Israel, and despite the eagerness of Israel to invite and host Egypt's ruler, Mubarak has been steadfast in one thing: he has steadfastly refused even to step on the soil of Israel, save once (for the funeral of Rabin), so intent is he on making this "peace" a cold peace, a mere formality, the absence of open warfare only because Egypt, for now, like the other Arab states, has more to lose from such a war, and not because there has been any undertaking, as there was to have been, by the Egyptian government to slowly change Egyptian hearts, Egyptian minds.

10) Just as Egypt is the sly supporter, behind the coulisses, of the vicious regime in the Sudan (pretending to play the good-faith interlocutor, or even to be putting pressure on that regime, when in fact Egypt, working on behalf of the Arab League, has prevented or delayed any effective, i.e., Western, intervention in either Darfur or the southern Sudan), so Egypt is a tireless supporter of the "Palestinians" who are the shock troops in the Lesser Jihad against Israel. It has allowed thousands of tons of weapons, and of material for bomb-making, to be smuggled all the way through the Sinai, into Gaza. For some reason the Egyptian army and police, despite being given repeated evidence of such smuggling, simply can do nothing. In fact, they have no intention of doing anything more than the intermittent minimum, designed to placate not so much the Israelis, as the Americans who supply all that aid that the Egyptian government can't quite believe it can hold onto, no matter what it does. Indeed, only once in the last decades has there even been a threat to withhold a tiny amount -- some $30 million -- of that aid, and for a reason having nothing to do with Israel, but with the attempt by an Egyptian kangaroo-court to railroad Said Eddin Ibrahim, and the threat, by the way, worked -- the sentence was undone. But there has never been a threat to cut aid because Egypt's television, for example, ran a series that was based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which clearly was a violation of Egypt's commitments -- does anyone in the American government, or for that matter in the Israeli government, actually remember that Egypt had some commitments under the Camp David Accords? Can anyone, can Rice, can Bush, spell them out? No? It's easy to recall that Israel had foolishly obligated itself to hand over something tangible, which is to say the entire Sinai, with its oilfields, and its Israeli-built infrastructure, including roads, and tourist accommodations, but what about Egypt?

Oh, yes, "Peace." I almost forgot. Egypt made "peace." But did it? The Egyptian army has not attacked Israel. But the armies of Syria, of Jordan, of Saudi Arabia, of Libya and Algeria and Iraq and all the other members of the Arab League, jointly or separately, have not attacked Israel either. What does the failure of Egypt's army to make direct and open warfare on Israel tell us? It does not tell us that "the Camp David Accords are being scrupulously observed by Egypt." Not at all. It tells us only that Egypt, like every other Arab state, isn't yet ready to take on Israel directly, and as a charter member of the Slow Jihadist Group, will do what it can to keep up efforts to isolate Israel diplomatically, to weaken it economically through boycotts, and to do whatever it can to undermine the Israelis so that, little by little, the country can, over time, be undone, but meanwhile, having pocketed $60 billion so far in American Jizyah-aid ("Jizyah" because the Americans give it with a cringing attitude, as if they must, as if they are fearful of the consequences if such aid were to cease, and "Jizyah" because the Egyptians are not one whit grateful for it, but take it as by right, under Mubarak as under any conceivable successor).

Let us remember that Israel scrupulously complied with what it undertook to do. It gave to Egypt the entire Sinai. Under customary international law, under even Resolution 242, it had no obligation to give up the entire Sinai. Under that customary international law, the successful defender of a war brought by an aggressor is not required to give up the territory that was used as the launching pad for such aggression. In May 1967 Nasser noisily declared that he would go to war against Israel. He demanded, and got, the removal of the U.N. troops in the Sinai. He blockaded the Straits of Tiran, throttling Israeli trade with Asia. He put the Egyptian army and navy and air force on a war footing, and moved troops up into the Sinai. He repeatedly and publicly described the coming war with Israel, sometimes to hysterical Cairene crowds of hundreds of thousands. Israel, by all the rules that have been observed in the aftermath to other wars -- to World War I and World War II, for example -- was perfectly entitled to hold onto some, or even all of the Sinai. And even under the "secure and defensible borders" requirement of Resolution 242, it might have made a good case for holding onto much of the Sinai (which, one needs to be reminded, only became part of Egypt in the 1920s -- it was always, before that, regarded as a corpus separatum, and the very titles of the books written by European travellers, with such titles as "Palestine and Sinai" or "Egypt and the Sinai" demonstrated this).

Now, in 2008, having ignored for nearly thirty years the long history of Egypt's systematic violation of its obligations toward Israel under the Camp David Accords, and having ignored, or not brought to the attention of Washington, Egypt's ever-compliant sugar-daddy and defender, suddenly now not about all those other systematic violations, but about why Egypt would allow Hamas members to enter Gaza, without subjecting them to searches for either money (reputedly some were carrying vast sums) or weapons, if indeed Egypt is so interested in promoting, at least, the Slow Jihadists of Fatah rather than the Fast Jihadists of Hamas.

Perhaps it is Israel's government, or rather this one, and the one before this, and the one before that and the one before that, that should ask itself how and why they continually overlooked or failed to communicate, to their own people, to Washington, the real nature of Egypt, of its regime, and of what prompts it -- beginning with, and virtually ending with, the immutable texts of Islam.

Posted on 01/03/2008 11:28 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Don't criticise Islam, says UN

We should take no notice of the UN. It is nothing more than a Jew-hating Muslim club. Damian Thompson is not pleased at their latest piece of nonsense (h/t Nancy Morgan):

It didn’t attract much notice, but the General Assembly of the United Nations ended the year by passing a disgusting resolution protecting Islam from criticism of its human rights violations.

Lots of non-Muslims voted for it – a sign that more and more corrupt Third World governments are identifying with the ideology of Islam, even if they don't accept its doctrines.

The resolution goes under the innocuous title "Combating defamation of religions" – but the text singles out "Islam and Muslims in particular". It expresses "deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism".

Wrongly associated? As of today, terrorists have carried out 10,277 separate attacks since September 11, 2001. They all belong to the same religion, and it ain’t Methodism.

The resolution (which of course makes no mention of the vicious persecution of Christians) was pushed through by the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which has been agitating for it for years. Naturally every Muslim country was among the 108 supporters, but it’s interesting to note how other countries lined up.

Cuba, China, North Korea and Zimbabwe all voted the same way. I’ll give you one guess.

Posted on 01/03/2008 1:25 PM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Feel my rebellion

David Thompson has a keen eye for campus craziness. He it was who first introduced me to the delights of Carolyn G. Guertin. You must remember this:

“Agency, noise, flow, différance , interface, objects, events, duration, intervallic space, topology, complexity, ecstasy, incorporation, inscription, translation, heterotopic space, hierophanies, hysteria, hybridity…chora, translation, transformance, interference, entanglement, chaos, Hilbert space, speed, resonance, rupture, rapture, wanderlust, subjectivities...” 

 

Quick memory test - cover up the list and see how many you can remember. I got as far as "rupture rapture", which I think is some kind of cocktail.

Another of Thompson's discoveries was Dr Caprice Hollins with her "invisible weightless knapsacks" of white privilege. In his latest piece, Thompson makes some perceptive general observations about academic rebellion:

The idea of academic administrators and professors picturing themselves as Luke Skywalker figures - pitted against an evil empire of oppressive bourgeois vales - is rather quaint and not without comic potential....Speaking of her appointment in 2004, Hollins announced,

“Now I’ll be part of a system that some people see as an oppressive system. So it’s kind of this dual role - on one hand I’m part of the system and on the other, I have the role of dismantling that institutional racism… They wouldn't have hired me if there wasn't a need. I just need to find out what that need is.”

Some three years later, Hollins admitted to the Seattle Times that she had, in fact, managed to find no evidence of institutional racism in Seattle’s public schools. Dr Hollins is, of course, still employed and still claiming her $86,000 salary. Without a flicker of irony or concession, Hollins has subsequently extended her mission beyond the school gates. In order to find unspeakable wickedness “within the school system”, she is now reduced to turning over stones in children’s summer holidays, which, she claims, constitute “an example of systemic problems.” Dr Hollins is, alas, one of many Witchfinders General, whose sensitivity to oppression is apparently paranormal and whose mission to purge improper thought is unimpeded by reality.

And here’s the thing. Adversarial role-play of this kind has very little to do with how the world actually is. It does, however, have a great deal to do with how those concerned wish to seem. In order to maintain a self-image of heroic radicalism - and in order to justify funding, influence and status - great leaps of imagination, or paranoia, may be required. Hence the goal posts of persecution tend to move and new and rarer forms of oppression have to be discovered, many of which are curiously invisible to the untrained eye. The rebel academic tends towards extremism, intolerance and absurdity, not because the mainstream of society is becoming more racist, prejudiced, patriarchal or oppressive – but precisely because it isn’t.

Posted on 01/03/2008 2:06 PM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Back Boris and beat Ken

Leading Muslims are backing Ken Livingstone in his fight to be Mayor of London. So Londoners should vote for Boris Johnson, if only because the ludicrous site Islamophobia Watch would rather you didn't:

This would be the same Boris Johnson who described Islam as "the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers" and asserted that "to any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia – fear of Islam – seems a natural reaction". Opposing the illegalisation of incitement to religious hatred Johnson stated that such a law "makes no sense unless it involves a ban on the Koran itself".

When he was editor of the Spectator Johnson regularly published appalling examples of anti-Muslim bigotry by the likes of Rod Liddle and Anthony Browne, while the magazine's front cover featured headlines such as "Eurabian Nightmare" and "The Muslims are Coming".

The same. Not only that, he makes jokes and coined the word "bemerded". He gets my vote.

Posted on 01/03/2008 2:37 PM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Reason Not Revelation

by Ibn Warraq

What we need, of course, is not a Reformation in Islam but an Enlightenment. For me Reformation implies dishonest, piece-meal tinkering with this or that aspect of Islam which really leaves the whole unsavory edifice essentially intact. But we are not going to be able to do away with or extirpate the religion of one billion people, nor is it necessary. We need to bring about the secularization of the habits, attitudes and thoughts of Muslim people whether in the Islamic world or the West. We need to separate the mosque from the state but we need to achieve this formidable feat in the minds of Muslims, and not just politically. This secularization was accomplished slowly in Western civilization but the entire process was, perhaps, put into motion during the Greek Ionian Enlightenment during the fifth century Before Christ, but finally gathered crucial momentum during the early Enlightenment, that is the late 17 century though we usually associate the Age of Reason, or L' Age des Lumières.  Aufklarung, De Verlichting, with the Eighteenth Century.  Here, at The Hague, I think, it would be entirely appropriate to mention and pay a tribute to the Dutch contribution to the European Enlightenment, a contribution often neglected but which has now been magnificently vindicated by Jonathan Israel in his truly great historical work Radical Enlightenment.[1]  The latter work reassesses not only the equally neglected importance of Spinoza, the Dutch Jewish philosopher and Biblical Critic, to whom I shall return later, but also Van den Enden [1602-74], the Dutch radical thinker, and the Dutch Spinozists like Adriaen Koerbagh [1632-69], and his brother Johannes Koerbagh [d.1672], and Pieter Balling [d.1669], Petrus van Balen [1643-90], Balthasar Bekker [1634-98], Adriaen Beverland [1650-1716], Anthonie van Dale [1638- 1708], Arnold Geulincx [1624-69], Willem Goeree [1635-1711], Frederik van Leenhof [1647-1713], and Lodewijk Meyer [1629-81], to name some of the most important thinkers. Then there is of course the role played by the free presses and bookshops of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other Dutch cities, which, furthermore, gave shelter to such pre-Enlightenment figures as Pierre Bayle, known as the Philosopher of Rotterdam. There was even a group of French-speaking revolutionary thinkers, inspired by Spinoza, particularly his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, based here, known as the Hague Coterie.  As I said earlier, I shall return in a minute, to the significance of Spinoza's work for us today.  more...

Posted on 01/03/2008 5:40 PM by NER
Thursday, 3 January 2008
30 Muslim Mayors by 2015?

No doubt Nashville is on the list. From the Washington Times (with thanks to Bill Warner):

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Muslims are steadily improving their position in U.S. society, contrary to the image of a community besieged by suspicions of links to militants, a leading U.S. Muslim cleric said yesterday.

Yahya Hendi, a prayer leader who teaches at Georgetown University, said the September 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. cities spurred Americans to learn more about Islam and Muslims to affirm their U.S. identity.

"I think the future is bright, because of our wisdom in dealing with the reality," Mr. Hendi, a Palestinian by birth, said at a gathering of Saudi academics on a visit to Saudi Arabia.

"There are serious efforts being made among the second and third generation to become part of the political establishment. The challenge we face is in the media and from some Christian extremists who don't want an Islamic presence in America." ...

"Last year, we elected the first Muslim to Congress, and I expect that by 2015, there will be three or four, as well as at least 30 mayors," he said, adding that the number of Muslim lawyers in the United States has multiplied since September 11...

Posted on 01/03/2008 5:58 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 3 January 2008
"Occupied" Land

"All your claims that Muslims consider non Muslim land as occupied is just crap! Muslims don't think like this! Except maybe for a bunch of idoits like the ones you are!
Regarding Israel, yes it has been established on occupied Palestinian lands."
-- from a "conservative Muslim Arab"

No one here has claimed that Muslims consider all "non-Muslim land" (that is, land that is not part of Dar al-Islam but part, still, of Dar al-Harb) is "occupied." What has been claimed is quite other. That is, that on the To-Do List of Muslims, the first lands that must be taken by Muslims, made subject to the dominance of Islam and to rule by Muslims, are those which were once under such rule. Israel is one example, but hardly the only one. Spain is another, Sicily another. Greece, and the Balkans, and Rumania, and Bulgaria, and much of Hungary, are another. Much of Russia, almost all of India, are still other lands once ruled by Muslims, that by rights must revert to Muslim rule. The word "occupied" is not used; that word is used, for obvious political purposes, by Muslim Arabs in speaking of Israel, because they have found that the Western audience responds to this sly elision, whereby the descriptive and neutral word "occupied" (as in "Israeli forces now occupy the 'West Bank'") has been given a new and sinister meaning, that of an "occupied land" to which the occupier has no legitimate title, save that of military conquest. But of course Israel, even if it had not won the 1967 war pushed on it by Nasser, even if it did not now possess the "West Bank," would still have a legal, moral, and historic claim, based mainly (but not solely) on the precise terms of the League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine. And that claim would prevail among the fairminded, but would not ever be accepted by Muslim Arabs, who take the relentless view that in the Middle East and North Africa, so wrongly called now "the Arab world," no non-Muslims, not the Jews, nor the Copts, nor the Maronites, nor the Assyrians, and not any of the non-Arab Muslims, not the Berbers, and not the Kurds, are entitled to be independent, or at least to be entitled to a large measure of autonomy. On the contrary, they are certainly entitled to be free of the Arab supremacism of which Islam is such an obvious vehicle, beginning with Arab cultural and linguistic imperialism.

No, Arab Muslims do not regard the Lands of the Infidels as "occupied" in an immediate sense. But in another sense, everywhere that Muslims do not yet rule, and Islam does not yet dominate, is merely a land that is being illegitimately "occupied" by non-Muslims who dominate it, and have no right, in the end, to do so. Because, in the end, the entire world belongs, by right, to Allah, to Islam, and to the Muslims, the Believers who should everywhere rule as Islam should everywhere dominate. That is what is right, in the Muslim view. That is what, in the Muslim view, should come to pass.

Posted on 01/03/2008 7:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Fearful, Insufficiently Ruthless, And A Double-Dealer -- Well, Nobody's Perfect

"if we keep Musharraf in power, his unpopularity will be a boon to Al-Queda. If we remove Musharraf, moderate forces will prevail. Bhutto has said this consistently, and it's still true."
-- from a reader

Bhutto said all kinds of things, all of them self-serving. Of course Benazir Bhutto would say that if Musharraf were removed, to be replaced by none other than Benazir Bhutto, "moderate forces" would prevail. But is her self-serving prediction the end of the matter? Didn't all kinds of suave Shi'a in exile predict that once Saddam Hussein was removed, that secular westernized forces, with themselves in the lead, would prevail in Iraq, which was very much in their own interests to claim, and to be believed by credulous American policy-makers, when anyone of sense knew that could not possibly happen.

Benazir Bhutto is dead. The new head of her party is her husband, who has none of Bhutto's good qualities, and has many more of her bad ones -- i.e., that corruption we are supposed to overlook. In order to retain or obtain power, and therefore money (power=money in such countries as Pakistan) Zardari is perfectly capable of making an alliance with Sharif, and Sharif is in bed with those who want even more, not less, Islam.

Musharraf is not to be trusted. Musharraf is afraid of the "Islamists" (i.e., those who want still more Islam). Musharraf is awful. But at this point it may be that the others are even worse.

It is in some respects akin to the problem with Iran in 1978-79. The Shah was vainglorious, corrupt, insufficiently ruthless, a would-be Ataturk but without Ataturk's intelligence. He predicted in the late 1970s that Iran would become "the second industrial power in Asia after Japan." He had no idea that oil revenues are not the same thing as a modern economy. But compared to what followed, the Shah of Iran was like Winston Churchill, and should have been supported to the hilt, not abandoned as Carter, Brzezinski, and the ignorant "Iran expert" Gary Sick allowed to happen, on the theory that Khomeini was a "man of faith" (Carter) and "could be dealt with."

Mubarak has been fearful, insufficiently ruthless, and a double-dealer. And the American government has been fearful, and insufficiently ruthless in dealing with his double-dealing. But it can start now, and force him nolens-volens to do what he keeps pretending he has been doing all along. And if he doesn't go along, cut off all aid, send his son from Clinton, Massachusetts back to Pakistan, and make Musharraf understand that all hell will break lose for Pakistan's always teeter-tottering economy.

But Musharraf may still be better than Sharif or Zardari. In any case, pieties about "democracy" have no place here, unless it can be demonstrated that a "democratic" Pakistan would be more likely to succumb to Western economic pressure to give up those nuclear weapons.

Posted on 01/03/2008 7:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 January 2008
Polling The Muslim World

"It seems like a lot of people do not trust the U.S.'s intentions. I wonder why so many people feel that way? Could it be because of attitudes at the highest echelons of American power, that match the Jihad Watch mindset?"
-- from a reader

But the poll figures you are referring to are not about the "intentions" of the United States. They are about something quite different -- what primitive and credulous people, with a habit of mental submission encouraged by Islam, easily believing any number of conspiracy theories, choose to ascribe to the American government.

Here is what Elric's poll is about:

"Large majorities across all four countries believe the United States seeks to “weaken and divide the Islamic world.” On average 79 percent say they perceive this as a US goal, ranging from 73 percent in Indonesia and Pakistan to 92 percent in Egypt. Equally large numbers perceive that the United States is trying to maintain “control over the oil resources of the Middle East” (average 79%). Strong majorities (average 64%) even believe it is a US goal to “spread Christianity in the region.”

Notice that the first goal, to "weaken and divide the Islamic world" -- while perfectly sensible, and indeed desirable, as a goal of Americans and of other Infidels -- is in fact not the goal. The idiotic goal is to help the Islamic world by encouraging democracy, without realizing how nearly impossible of attainment is such a goal, and without further realizing that instead of helping Muslim states and peoples to avoid the worst consequences of their own political, economic, social, moral, and intellectual failures, we should not bail them out, not attempt to help them directly, but only by forcing them to recognize, dimly at first, that those very failures (political, economic, social, etc.) are a direct result of Islam itself. The "control over oil resources" is a similarly baseless fear. Oil is sold at market prices, and bought, at market prices, by the United States as by other consumers. Even though the American government has been the assumed guarantor of Saudi security, Saudi Arabia does not now, and never has, sold oil at preferential prices to the Americans, and there is no "control over oil resources" by anyone save the countries in which those resources are to be found. And finally, the belief that the Americans are attempting to "spread Christianity in the region" -- would that it were so -- is merely Muslim projection, particularly amazing when one realizes that all over the Infidel lands the fabulously well-financed campaigns of Da'wa proceed, so far almost entirely unopposed, by any Infidel groups or states.

The reason why in Egypt 92% of the population, in a supposed "ally" that the Americans have been helping, so far to the tune of more than $60 billion dollars, despite the obvious malevolence and meretriciousness of the Egyptian government, believes that the American government is waging a war on Islam is because the Egyptian Muslims are expressing the hostility that Muslims everywhere feel for Infidels, especially those Infidels who appear to be fighting back, and the money received from those Infidels does not win favor but actually makes it seem as if, in supporting the corrupt regime (Mubarak and his Family-and-Friends Plan), the Americans must surely be working to "weaken and divide the Muslim world" because why else would they support such a corrupt and demoralizing regime? That the Americans are surpassing ignorant, and those who make policy remarkably stupid, cannot possibly be understood by those Egyptians, who pocket the money and spit at the American donors of the money.

You ask "I wonder why so many people feel that way"? Well, I'll tell you. Because they are Muslims. Because they are, therefore, in Dar al-islam, inculcated with the idea that they must be hostile to Infidels, that the world is essentially divided between Believers and Infidels, and that Believers are in a permanent state of war -- though not necessarily of open warfare -- with Infidels, and will be until all barriers to the spread, and then the dominance of Islam, are removed. And it does not matter if the Infidels give you money; it does not matter if the Infidels squander a trillion dollars and 4,000 American lives, and huge amounts of war matériel, trying to remove a despot, and bring democracy, and build and hold together, despite ethnic and sectarian fissures, a country called Iraq. No, none of that really matters. What in the end matters is that Americans are Infidels, and whatever good they do must be done for a sinister ulterior motive (bringing Christianity to Iraq or the rest of the Middle East fits right into this world-view). What explains the attitudes of Muslims toward the United States has far less to do with American policy, or American this or American that. It has nothing to do with Bush's inane "they hate us for our freedoms." No. They hate us because we are not Muslims. That is the point, the only point.


Finally, would you mind telling me what you mean when you refer to the "Jihad Watch mindset"? What are the shared elements of that "mindset" you have detected? Tell me. I'm all ears.

Posted on 01/03/2008 7:36 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 3 January 2008
A Musical Interlude: Only You (Adam Aston)
Posted on 01/03/2008 8:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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