Having never seen the musical onstage, I can only compare the new movie version to the book and was surprised at how true it was to Hugo's masterpiece (with the exception of the Thénardiers as comic relief, which works perfectly in this form, however). Unlike another excellent movie musical, Evita, which was unfairly and seemingly maliciously overlooked at the Oscars, Les Misérables is sure to win many nominations and many awards. Although, apparently the critics hate it too - all the more reason to go.
Les Misérables and Lincoln - two great movies in one year. That hasn't happened since....answers in the comment box please.
We live in an irreligious age but that does not mean that we hold nothing sacred. We have many sacred cows, whole herds of them in fact; and one of them is equality of opportunity. To question the sanctity of this notion – as I have found if not exactly to my cost, at least at the cost of some disapproval of me – is a social faux pas worse than eating peas with your knife.
Recently I spoke to some pupils at a school in Geneva. They were highly privileged children who, as a result of their privileges, were almost certain to remain privileged for the rest of their lives. I mean this as no criticism of them or to arouse any hostility towards them; for among their privileges, or perhaps I should say advantages, was an early appreciation of the necessity to work hard. And in the modern world even the privileged have to work hard in order to maintain their privileges.
Be this all as it may, the question of equality of opportunity came up. Needless to say, all the privileged children were in favor of it; they had absorbed the indisputability of its desirability with their mother’s milk, as it were.
It did not occur to them, of course, that a reduction in their own privileges might conduce to equality of opportunity; or that, if equality were important as a goal in itself, the equal denial of opportunity of some would do as well as the expansion of opportunity to others. Indeed, a complete absence of opportunity for anyone would be equality of opportunity, but it would hardly be desirable.
I said that of all the notions known to me, equality of opportunity was the most totalitarian. One of the pupils, rather surprised, asked whether I believed in the level playing field, a cliché I detest but which is nevertheless useful (explaining, I suppose, why it became a cliché in the first place).
If by level playing field is meant purely formal (and never quite realized) equality before the law, I was indeed in favor of it. But if what was meant by a level playing field was that everyone should be born with precisely the same opportunities in life I was not merely against it, but I was deeply opposed to it. One could almost hear the gasps of surprise.
If one took the goal of equality of opportunity seriously, as in fact nobody does, it would soon lead to Brave New World. Babies and children would have to be brought up in hatcheries to avoid the inevitable influence of parents on a child’s destiny. It does not matter precisely what proportion of a child’s destiny is attributable to heredity and how much to environment; so long as it is conceded that his environment plays some part in it, the necessity for hatcheries, or at least of an utterly uniform environment, would hold. Only the most utopian of totalitarians would find this attractive or desirable.
But the genetic lottery would also have to be fixed: it would be no good having equality of environmental circumstances if the dice were heavily loaded in some children’s favor, or against others, from the moment of conception. Cloning and absolute identity of upbringing are the only way of bringing about equality of opportunity.
Again, are we speaking of equality of opportunity within societies or between societies? If equality of opportunity is sought in the name of justice, it is difficult to see why a geographical accident of birth, according to which a child born in one country had more opportunity than a child born in another, should be permissible. Equality of opportunity means world government, as Aldous Huxley understood.
In fact, no one really believes in equality of opportunity; it is a slogan uttered more to vaunt the political virtue or bona fides of the person uttering it than it is a consummation deeply desired. But just because a slogan is not really believed in or meant to be believed in does not mean that it can do no harm, quite the contrary.
It should be possible in a modern society to provide everyone with opportunity, if not equality of opportunity. But the slogan of equality of opportunity is a very useful way of disguising the fact that our society denies many of its children opportunities that it should be perfectly possible to open up to them.
Let me illustrate what I mean by reference to my own country, Great Britain. Torrents of crocodile tears are spilt over the inequality of chances between the best off and worst off in the country, an inequality that may actually have increased in late years – precisely at a time when immense expenditures supposedly intended to decrease the inequalities have been undertaken by the government, to the swift ruination of the economy. At the same time, practically no notice is taken of the fact that a very significant proportion of children emerge from state school after eleven years of compulsory attendance hardly able to read or to perform simple arithmetical calculations, despite the fact that about $80,000 has been spent on their education, so called, and that it has been almost conclusively established that the overwhelming majority of children can be taught these things, whatever their social circumstances. This is a scandal of gargantuan proportions, yet it is hardly noticed.
Why? Why a fixation on an impossible chimera, equality of opportunity, and a complete disregard of a perfectly achievable end conducing to more opportunity for millions of actual people, namely teaching them to read and reckon with facility? The answer, I think, is that chasing chimeras is a source of endless job opportunities and bureaucratic expansion; trying to achieve limited, but achievable and invaluable, goals would demand painful change (and possibly even admissions of guilt). There is every reason why a child born to ignorant parents of degraded habits should not have the same life chances as a child born to wealthy and cultivated parents; but there is no reason why he should not learn – that is to say, be taught – to read and write.
Equality of opportunity is not a cry of the people; it is the perpetual alibi of a bureaucracy.
Jews and the Hagel Nomination: Chelm on the Potomac
Hagel, Obama and Brennan
Source: USA Today
A friend of mine up in Connecticut, Judy Block had sent me an email earlier today triggered by a column on The Daily Beast by arch J Streeter, Peter Beinert, entitled, "Why AIPAC Won't Fight Hagel".
Beinert's rationale is:
It’s easy to exaggerate how big a defeat all this is for AIPAC. The Hagel nomination isn’t a good test of AIPAC’s strength precisely because it’s a cabinet nomination—a topic on which president’s usually get their way. It’s much easier for AIPAC to rally members of Congress behind resolutions that limit the Obama administration’s room to maneuver on actual policy questions, where opposing the president doesn’t look like such a direct slap in the face. (It’s also easier for the Israeli government to lobby Congress on policy questions like settlement growth and Iran sanctions than on cabinet appointments.) Furthermore, the Hagel struggle hasn’t been a complete loss for hawkish Jewish groups. His political near-death experience may leave Hagel more cautious when it comes to U.S.-Israel relations than he would have been otherwise (though I doubt that means he’ll turn hawkish on Iran).
Still, the Hagel nomination is a reminder that when the President of the United States decides he really cares about something, political realities change, especially for members of Congress in his own party. Democrats in Congress may want to stay on good terms with AIPAC, but AIPAC also badly needs to stay on good terms with Democrats in Congress. Nothing is worse for AIPAC, and better for J Street, than being perceived as a partisan Republican organization. And AIPAC’s leaders are smart enough to know that given the cultural shifts inside the organization—the increased presence of right-wing Christian evangelicals and Orthodox Jews—it needs to work especially hard to counteract that perception. I suspect that played a role in AIPAC’s initial decision not to make a fuss about the Jerusalem language in the Democratic platform this summer, and its apparent decision to punt on Hagel now. It’s possible that some right-wing AIPAC lay leaders will go rogue and lobby against Hagel on their own accord.
Here was my response.
The JTA's star journalist Ron Kampeas had a similar story yesterday, "Jewish Groups Softening Resistence to Hagel Nomination", about 'good' Jewish groups like J Street, Peace Now , Rabbis for Human Rights and the Israel Policy Forum rallying to the support of the Hagel nomination. As to AIPAC's silence and Abe Foxman's 'soft ball' objection, what can you expect from the leftist shtadtlanim in America who do the bidding of the current President of the United States, without question.
Kampeas' position was virtually synonymous with Beinert's:
A range of rightist pro-Israel groups remains committed to upending the nomination, among them the Zionist Organization of America, the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Emergency Committee for Israel, which on Monday launched a website headlined “Chuck Hagel is not a responsible option.”
Also opposed was Christians United for Israel. "While we admire his past service to our country, his record concerning Iran and Hezbollah indicates an unacceptable blindness to the greatest security threat of our day," it said in a statement.
Among centrist Jewish groups, the American Jewish Committee has written to Democratic senators urging them to oppose the nomination.
“AJC has shared our concerns with members of the U.S. Senate, who have the responsibility to ask the probing questions about Hagel’s record and vision,” AJC said in a statement.
For their part, Hagel’s Jewish allies have pushed back hard. J Street, Americans for Peace Now and Israel Policy Forum all have endorsed him.
“It is particularly troubling that some claiming to represent the pro-Israel community have tried to impugn Sen. Hagel’s commitment to the U.S.-Israel special relationship and our countries’ shared security interests,” J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a letter sent to all senators."
In an email to newly-minted Tweeter Dan Friedman in Manhattan yesterday, I reminded him of the questioning of then Senator Obama by a Chicago buddy, Ali Abunimah, the editor of The Electronic Intifada (EI) as to whether Obama had abandoned his pro-Palestinian (anti-Israel) colleagues he had cultivated as a young Illinois State Senator, when he decided to run for the US Senate where he served for all of a year and a half before seeking the Presidential nomination of the Democrat party. A nomination funded with Chicago liberal Jewish mogul money from the largess of the Pritzker and Crowns Families as well as Sam Zell. I mean these are supposed to be smart Jewish business folks, right? Wrong! They got taken like the radical chic east side liberals portrayed in the John Guare play and film Six Degrees of Separation who were duped by an con artist who alleged he was the son of Malcolm X.
Here is what the nefarious Abunimah had to say from an EI piece, "How Barack Obama Learned to Love Israel" he wrote back in March 2007 about Obama, a former supporter of the Arab American Action Network in his Woods Foundation days:
Over the years since I first saw Obama speak I met him about half a dozen times, often at Palestinian and Arab-American community events in Chicago including a May 1998 community fundraiser at which Edward Said was the keynote speaker. In 2000, when Obama unsuccessfully ran for Congress I heard him speak at a campaign fundraiser hosted by a University of Chicago professor. On that occasion and others Obama was forthright in his criticism of US policy and his call for an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He was in the midst of a primary campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing.
As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.” He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, “Keep up the good work!”
But Obama’s gradual shift into the AIPAC camp had begun as early as 2002 as he planned his move from small time Illinois politics to the national scene. In 2003, Forward reported on how he had “been courting the pro-Israel constituency.” He co-sponsored an amendment to the Illinois Pension Code allowing the state of Illinois to lend money to the Israeli government. Among his early backers was Penny Pritzker — now his national campaign finance chair — scion of the liberal but staunchly Zionist family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain. (The Hyatt Regency hotel on Mount Scopus was built on land forcibly expropriated from Palestinian owners after Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967). He has also appointed several prominent pro-Israel advisers."
Now in his second term in office, President Obama appears to have returned to his Chicago days consorting with the likes of Ali Abunimah and Bill Ayres at the Woods Foundation giving grants to the Arab American Action Network prior to his run for the US Senate. President Obama knows he has liberal Jews in his back pocket and can appoint anti-Israel (some like Power line blog questioned might also be anti-Semitic) Chuck Hagel and arch Wahhabist fellow traveler and ex-CIA"shadow warrior', John Brennan.
What's the expression: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Or its corollary: "a fool and his money are soon parted". Especially wealthy liberal Jews who look increasing like the Wise Men of Chelm in the humorous stories by yiddishists, among them Y. L. Peretz, Leyb Kvitko, and Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Back in September 2009, I made this comment to an article on the Israel National News website:
"Where else but in "Chelm on the Potomac " would we find foolish shatdlanim Jews out to destroy Israel's security and future."
JAMMU, India (Reuters) - India denounced Pakistan on Wednesday over a firefight in the disputed territory of Kashmir in which two Indian soldiers were killed, but the nuclear-armed rivals both appeared determined to prevent the clash escalating into a full diplomatic crisis.
India summoned Pakistan's envoy in New Delhi to lodge a "strong protest", accusing a group of Pakistani soldiers it said had crossed the heavily militarized Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir of "barbaric and inhuman" behavior.
The body of one of the soldiers was found mutilated in a forested area on the side controlled by India, Rajesh K. Kalia, spokesman for the Indian army's Northern Command, said. However, he denied Indian media reports that one body had been decapitated and another had its throat slit.
"Regular Pakistan troops crossed the Line of Control ... and engaged the Indian troops who were patrolling the sector," India's Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement after Pakistan's high commissioner to India had been called in.
"Two Indian soldiers were killed in the attack and their bodies subjected to barbaric and inhuman mutilation."
India's foreign minister sought to cool tensions, however, saying that exhaustive efforts to improve relations could be squandered if the situation was not contained.
"I think it is important in the long term that what has happened should not be escalated," Salman Khurshid told a news conference. "We cannot and must not allow the escalation of any unwholesome event like this."
"We have to be careful that forces ... attempting to derail all the good work that's been done towards normalization (of relations) should not be successful," he added, without elaborating on who such forces might be.
MOST SERIOUS INCIDENT IN 10 YEARS
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, and both are now nuclear-armed powers.
Away from the border, ties had appeared to be improving of late. Pakistan's cricket team completed a two-week tour of India on Sunday, its first visit in five years.
Firing and small skirmishes are common along the 740-km (460-mile) LoC despite a ceasefire that was agreed in 2003.
However, incursions by troops from either side are rare. Retired Indian army Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal, who previously commanded a brigade on the LoC, said Tuesday's incident - about 600 meters from the de facto border - marked the most serious infiltration since the ceasefire was put in place.
Indian army officials said cross-border firing broke out hours after the clash but, on Wednesday, the LoC was quiet.
Naveed Chand, a shopkeeper in Chatar village just 2 km from the LoC on the Pakistani side told Reuters by telephone that there had been a pick-up in cross-border firing recently, unusual movements of army trucks and reinforcement of bunkers.
"We think something is up. People in the area are very alarmed," he said.
It was not possible to independently verify events in the remote area, which is closed to journalists on both sides.
Pakistan's foreign ministry denied India's allegations of an incursion as "baseless and unfounded" and said in a statement that it was prepared for an investigation by a U.N. military observer group into recent ceasefire violations.
Like New Delhi, it stressed the need to pursue better relations, adding: "Pakistan is committed to a constructive, sustained and result-oriented process of engagement with India."
Nevertheless, a Pakistani army spokesman described India's charges as "propaganda" aimed at diverting attention away from an Indian incursion two days earlier in which one Pakistani soldier was killed. India denies that its troops crossed over the line during last weekend's incident.
Mushahid Hussain, a Pakistani senator and member of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, said the Indian government - dogged by corruption scandals and facing a tough election as early as this year - was returning to "the war-like language of the past" for domestic political reasons.
"Pakistan has its hands full with a full-blown insurgency inside its borders. It doesn't suit Pakistani interests at all to raise the temperature along the LoC," Hussain said.
There was little coverage of the skirmish in Pakistani media, but a succession of commentators voiced fury on Indian news channels and the main opposition party urged the government to expose Pakistan's actions to the international community.
"Pakistan can be named and shamed for this brutal attack," Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley told reporters.
India considers the entire Kashmir region of snow-capped mountains and fertile valleys an integral part of its territory. Muslim Pakistan contests that and demands implementation of a 1948 U.N. Security Council resolution for a plebiscite to determine the wishes of the mostly Muslim people of Kashmir.
Some commentators drew parallels between Tuesday's clash and a conflict in 1999 when Pakistan-backed Islamist infiltrators occupied the heights in Kargil, in the north of Indian Kashmir. India lost hundreds of troops before re-occupying the mountains after fighting that almost triggered a fourth war.
"India's response will be measured but, as a former soldier, I do not rule out a measured military response to teach them a lesson," said retired Brigadier Kanwal. "You cannot tinker with bodies."
CAIRO (Reuters) - Many Egyptian viewers were horrified when preacher Hisham el-Ashry recently popped up on primetime television to say women must cover up for their own protection and advocated the introduction of religious police.
That an obscure preacher could get publicity for such views was seen as another example of the confused political scene in Egypt since the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak gave birth to a cacophony of feuding voices.
"I was once asked: If I came to power, would I let Christian women remain unveiled? And I said: If they want to get raped on the streets, then they can," Ashry told Nahar TV last week.
Introducing a Saudi-style anti-vice police force to enforce Islamic law was "not a bad thing", he said, and added: "In order for Egypt to become fully Islamic, alcohol must be banned and all women must be covered."
Few take Ashry, who admits he flew to the United States dreaming of a Western lifestyle and romance but instead found truth in preaching, seriously. But his views have stirred emotions.
With the economic downturn and rising food prices putting pressure on the government, moderate Muslims, Christians and others worry their new-found political freedom is at risk of being exploited by hard-line Islamists bent on imposing their values on a society that has been traditionally moderate.
Watching a recent television interview in which Ashry expounded his ideas on women and sharia law, members of one family jumped to their feet in outrage.
"Look at this crazy man! Where do you think we live! In a jungle? Or are all men like you, animals, unable to control their instincts?" Mona Ahmed, 65, shouted at the television screen in her living room.
"If I see him annoying any unveiled woman on the street I would punch him in the face. Wake up, man, this is Egypt, not Saudi Arabia," she yelled as her children tried to console her.
Ahmed, like many women in Egypt, has chosen on her own to cover her hair with the Islamic headscarf.
Egypt's top Islamic institutions, such as al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, and Dar al Ifta, the central authority for issuing religious rulings, have long said religious practices should not be imposed on people.
Egypt's Grand Mufti, the country's most senior Islamic legal official, has dismissed the self-styled preacher's views.
"This sort of idiotic thinking is one that seeks to further destabilize what is already a tense situation," Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said in a statement to Reuters.
"Egypt's religious scholars have long guided the people to act in ways that conform to their religious commitments, but have never thought this required any type of invasive policing."
The Muslim Brotherhood of President Mohamed Mursi, who was brought to power in an election last year, has also distanced itself, if somewhat cryptically.
"The case of promotion of virtue and prevention of vice is within the jurisdiction of the authorities and not individuals or groups," said Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan. "It is not anyone's right to intervene."
Mursi has pledged not to impose Islamic codes of behavior and to protect adherents of all religions equally. But he has also enacted a new constitution that has more Islamic references than its predecessor and that critics say fails to protect freedoms and the rights of Christians and other minorities.
Activists say although Mursi's camp is not keen on religious austerity, stronger condemnation is required at this sensitive time.
"As long as such actions are not seriously condemned by the officials in public speeches, it leaves room for radicals to freely act and impose things on people," said human rights activist Gamal Eid.
The image of Egypt's bearded leadership flanked by their fully veiled wives sends a powerful psychological message that may belie their official words, they say.
"Islamist officials need to take a clearer stand on their views about rights and freedoms and act strictly if those rights and freedoms were threatened."
Ashry left Egypt for New York in the 1990s, when the country was still firmly under Mubarak's rule, in search of a better life.
"I went there with a dream to get a blonde girl and a big car," he said in one of his televised interviews. "(But) I was advised on the plane to cherish my religion and not get taken by the USA or risk being spoiled and losing my faith."
His religious convictions grew stronger over the next 15 years in the United States, he said.
"I had, thanks to God, guided many Christians to Islam. I can't tell how many as I stopped counting when their number exceeded 100," he said.
It was when he was working at a men's clothing factory in New York that he became convinced that Egypt needed a Saudi-style anti-vice force.
"(My goal was) to make all Egyptians love it," he said.
A few find him inspiring.
"He advocates what I believe is right," said Ahmed Mahmoud, 18, in Cairo. "It is about time to enforce God's law in order to be rescued from all the corruption we live in."
Ashry is just one conservative influence among many. In the six months since Mursi came to power, preachers and vigilante groups have been flexing their muscles on the streets.
In July, a young man holding hands with his fiancé was stabbed to death in Suez, and in October, a face-veiled teacher cut the hair of two 12-year-old girls who were not wearing scarves. Just last month, an Islamist group in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula threatened to launch a campaign against cigarette smoking and drug use in the lawless desert region.
Radical Salafi figures called for Muslims not to greet Christians at Christmas, celebrated by Egypt's Copts on January 7. Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 84 million population, which is majority Sunni-Muslim.
"Such comments scare us to death of course," said Christian activist Peter el-Naggar.
"But we don't think such people are right or will have any strong grassroots support. Egypt has always been home to moderate and tolerant Islam. By God's will it will remain so."
Those who rely on the tourism industry in Cairo and at the luxury beaches of the Red Sea are defiant and anxious at the same time.
"Only we can control ourselves," said taxi driver Waleed Mahmoud, 36. "No human being can force another to pray or beat them to pray. It doesn't work."
A Former Hagel Staffer, Spencer Warren, Describing Hagel Years Ago
At the website of Lawrence Auster (www.amnation.com):
At one time I worked in Senator Chuck Hagel’s office. I believe readers may be interested in my observations of Senator Hagel.
He has a limited educational background, and worked as a local broadcaster in Nebraska before getting his start as an aide to a Nebraska congressman in the 1970s. Before that, he fought in Vietnam, where he was seriously wounded. With his Capitol Hill background and war record, he obtained a high position in the Reagan administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs. Then he had some friends who were investing in the new cellular phone field; he sold his car to raise the funds to invest with them. That’s how he became a millionaire. And in a small state like Nebraska, that’s how a person possessed of the requisite ego, regardless of other qualifications, including intelligence, becomes a United States Senator.
He is not an active legislator. (In fact, I did not see him take much part in the floor debate last year on the traitorous immigration bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Martinez.) Once I saw him at a committee mark-up of a bill complain about the amendments process as “minutiae.” Of course, that is the blood and guts of legislating, requiring a good deal of attention to detail and effort, as the impressive Senator Jeff Sessions resolutely demonstrated during the immigration debate. It is much easier to promote oneself by appearing frequently on television, acting “senatorial” and speaking in generalities, which is how Hagel has made his name. His staff calls his tv appearances “face time.” Alas, it seems the “face time” figures like Hagel, John Kerry and John Edwards get more attention as presidential prospects than the serious legislators like Sessions.
Senator Hagel used to hold periodic meetings, perhaps monthly, with his campaign consultants and quite possibly big contributors—off government property. (This is speculation, but maybe at one of these meetings he was asked by his Nebraska agri-business contributors to front for the treasonous immigration and amnesty bill.) He also conducted a weekly telephone interview with the local press back home. The entire staff heard these interviews as a conference call. Sadly, the reporters never seemed to have an idea of the pow-wows he held with the people who really count in our “democracy,” and the interviews were largely a waste of time, although the reporters, typically, did not understand this. To be fair, I am sure Senator Hagel is no different from many of his colleagues in this regard.
He used to send his Nebraska schedule to the staff before his trips back home. I noted that the meetings with campaign contributors were scheduled for a lot more time than meetings with citizen groups. Again, he likely is no different than many if not most of his colleagues in this practice.
One prominent conservative I knew said Senator Hagel was known as the “butterfly.” That is, he makes loud pronouncements on issues, such as Iraq, gaining attention as an independent, but without actually coming to grips with the issues or accomplishing anything. He just flutters around issues. His anticlimactic announcement yesterday that he is not running for president is the latest example of his butterfly approach to serious political matters.
Another demonstration of his judgment on great moral issues was Hagel’s support of the forced repatriation of little Elian Gonzalez back to Castro’s communist Cuba. (Recall the police-state armed assault by Clinton’s federal thugs on the home of Elian’s relatives, in defiance of a court order, when Elian had an automatic weapon pointed almost in his crying face before being seized.)
I observed Senator Hagel to be something of a poseur, a man who, like many politicians, is skilled mainly at affecting a serious and commanding demeanor without actually achieving anything of substance as a legislator. It may not be appropriate to get into personalities in this way. But in view of the catastrophic mis-government that is leading our nation to ruin, I believe I should offer my observations for the consideration of VFR readers.
Asked to comment on Mr. Brahimi's statement, the hereditary rulers of Kuwait (the Al Sabah royal family that has ruled Kuwait for 250 years), the Al-Nahyan (the ruling family of Abu Dhabi for 260 years), the Al-Maktoum who have ruled over Kuwait for 180 years, the Hashemite king of Jordan, whose family has ruled over Jordan, originally the Emirate of Transjordan, for the past 90 years, the Al-Saud who have ruled over most of the land that they renamed after themselves as Saudi Arabia, for 279 years, the Alouite dynastic family in Morocco that has held power for 350 years, were all apparently either away from their desks or travelling. The only ruler who -- through his newly-expanded instrument of propaganda, Al Jazeera -- was available for comment was the current ruler of Qatar, a member of the Al-Thani family that has ruled over Qatar for 188 years. And all he offered, as a cryptic response, was "Mr. Brahimi will be glad to know Al Jazeera will be doing a story on his private finances, including his dealings with Jacques Chirac, quite soon."
Syrian Muslim With Australian Passport Disappears in Syria
His Australian passport seems to have been a mere matter of convenience, for he has been living in Syria for the past five years.
His wife, of course, who has now brought their three children back to Australia - though she will never ask herself why it is that a non-Muslim country is a safer place for children than a Muslim country, and would probably react with fury to any suggestion that the rapidly swelling Muslim fifth column has already made Australia a good deal less safe and pleasant than it would be without their disruptive presence - expects the Australian government to move heaven and earth to rescue her be-bearded swivel-eyed husband - here's his picture, just take a look
from the consequences of Islam. He's an 'Australian citizen'. Except, of course, that his membership of the Ummah, or Mohammedan Mob, among whom he chose to reside even after having acquired that convenient Australian passport, was clearly the only thing that mattered to him.
Stephanie Small of the ABC's 'PM' program relates what we are supposed to see as a heart-rending story...
'The wife of an Australian man (that is: 'of a Sunni Muslim from Syria who holds an Australian passport' - CM) who was abducted in Syria last year has grave concerns for his safety.
'Muhammad Yusuf Al-Kalkuni disappeared in the country six months ago and his wife Saphia (Saphia? - was she named after Mohammed's Jewish 'wife', the 17 year old girl he raped on the same day that he had attacked the Jewish community of the Khaybar Oasis, killing many of them, among them that same girl's Jewish husband who was captured and tortured to death in the attempt to make him reveal where some 'treasure' was supposedly hidden? - CM)
says he has not been heard from since.
'The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) has confirmed a Syrian-Australian man was abducted in June.
I said it before and I'll say it again: A Sunni Muslim from Syria who holds an Australian passport. - CM
'Mr Al-Kalkuni's name has now appeared on a list of 108 foreigners arrested by the Syrian government for allegedly engaging in terrorist activities.
'Ms Al-Kalkuni says her husband was running a business in Syria when he disappeared.
"The Syrian police surround, say for example a suburb, they surround it and they just grab all the guys there, whoever they want to grab they just grab them and take them, and you don't know where they go", she told PM.
But, madam, if the jihad-minded Sunni Muslims, with whom your husband is aligned, gain power in Syria they will do exactly the same to the Shiites and the Alawites and the Christians. - CM
"I've tried his mobile number, I've tried asking people. No-one seems to know at all for the past six months now.
"I [am] extremely worried. The last piece of information I heard was...he's been injured in his legs. There's some sort of injuries."
'Ms Al-Kalkuni and her husband are both Australian citizens, but they had been living in Syria for five years before the conflict started.
I would like to know whether either of them was born in Australia, and if not, when precisely they - together or individually - migrated to Australia, and how long it was before they acquired citizenship; and how long it was, after that, that they went straight back to Syria to live and do 'business', now carrying that handy escape-hatch, the Australian passport. It has not been as useful to Mr Al-Kalkuni as he presumably thought it might, but it is allowing his wife to escape Syria in order to raise their three Muslim children in a country relatively undamaged by Islam but which Mr and Mrs Al-Kuni both doubtless devoutly hoped to see Islamoformed in due time. Which would of course mean that it would become something like Syria, or Egypt, or any number of other Mohammedan hell-pits, the same hell-pit she is now fleeing. - CM
'She says he returned to Australia briefly during that time for business.
I wonder what the business was, exactly? - CM
'Mr Al-kalkuni's name has now appeared on an Assad government list of 108 foreigners (that is, 'Muslims - including Muslims of Syrian background like Mr Al-Kalkuni - carrying foreign passports' - CM) it claims has been arrested for terrorism.
That is, for waging a jihad terror campaign in the name of Sunni Islam against the deemed-heretical Alawites and Shiites. - CM
'According to the Assad government's list of arrested foreigners, Mr Al-Kalkuni was associated with a terrorist group (that is, a Sunni jihad terror gang - CM) in the city of Daara, where the couple lived.
'The list was sent to the United Nations general assembly in October.
'Dead or Alive?'
'Ms Al-Kalkuni says she has tried to get information from DFAT but has not had much luck.
"He's an Australian citizen (no, my dear lady, his decisions about where to live and his probable involvement in the Sunni jihad to topple the Alawites make it clear that his primary and sole loyalty is and always was to the Ummah, or Mohammedan Mob, Sunni division; that dirty Infidel state, Australia, in the depths of Dar al Harb, was a mere temporary and tactical convenience for him, and for you - CM)...I actually spoke to the Department of Foreign Affairs today and they said we can't get any information from there", she said.
"It's like, two governments talking to each other, why isn't there any information being passed over, why can't we know if he's dead or alive?
"I mean that's the issue now. We just want to know, is he alive, where is he, why can't we bring him back? He didn't do anything".
"He didn't do anything". So she says. She might be telling the truth. He might be an innocuous businessman (why doesn't the report tell us what the business was?). But again, he might not. - CM
'Foreign Minister Bob Carr says the Federal Government has made a number of attempts to track down Mr Al-Kalkuni.
"Our interests are being represented in Syria by the Hungarian embassy there and they've made representations on at least two occasions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Syria, but they've provided no information", he said.
'He says he will follow up on Ms Al-Kalkuni's claims that she is not getting enough help to find her husband.
"I'm happy to check with the department that they're keeping her informed but I must say it's very difficult to get information in Syria", he said.
Understatement of the year. I would add that getting hold of accurate information out of any part of the dar al Islam, or for that matter, from any card-carrying Muslim or Muslim entity, is very difficult, because of the extent to which Islam permits deception. - CM
"We've been advising Australians since April 2011 that the situation there is extremely dangerous and that Australians should not stay there, should not go there".
I would second that advice for Australian non-Muslims, whether of Syrian background or not. But as for Muslims who have managed to acquire and now hold Australian passports, my policy would be entirely different. If they are already in Syria, as Mr Al-Kalkuni was and had been for five years, I would not be advising or encouraging them to come to Australia; and if they are leaving Australia to go to Syria, as some have already done (and at least one has met a sticky end) I would not lift a finger to stop them...I would, rather, concentrate on making sure that once they had gone - to immerse themselves in a maelstrom of murderous Jihad - they were not permitted back into Australia. - CM
'DFAT says there are 67 Australian passport-holders (all Muslims? probably - CM) currently in Syria and they have been urged to leave on multiple occasions.
But it appears they have chosen to remain. If they are Muslims, who have most likely stayed in order to engage in the Jihad from one side or the other of the Sunni-Shiite divide, then the proper response of any sensible Infidel government should be as follows: Bed. Made. Lie. - CM
'It is believed at least three Australians (that is, Aussie-passport-holding Sunni Muslims - CM) have died in the conflict, which the United Nations says has killed at least 60,000 people.
That means that Australia is now well rid of at least three jihad-minded Sunni Muslims. - CM
'Ms Al-Kalkuni has now returned to Australia with her three children.
Whom she will, alas, most likely bring up as good little Muslims, to despise the najis kuffar and to dream of and work toward the absorption of Australia into the Ummah, into the Empire of Islam. - CM
"It's very, very stressful. Sometimes you just don't know if you want to wake up in the morning and actually move on with your life", she said. "But you've got to do something for these kids, because that's the most important thing now".
that appeared in 'The Age', Mr Al-Kalkuni's business supposedly was 'making dips'.
The same article in 'The Age' says that the Al-Kalkuni children comprise a 14 year old daughter and two sons aged 11 and 5. I have not been able to find a picture of the mother and the children, to ascertain whether the two females wear the Slave Rag and if so, just how heavily covered-up they are.
The Age article also says that the ubiquitous 'Sydney Muslim community leader' Keysar Trad (whom an Australian judge once described as 'a disgraceful individual' because of, among other things, his virulent antisemitism, and who seems to have a finger in just about every Islamic pie in Australia) 'had known Mr Al-Kalkouni and has been trying to help his family since the arrest'. And Mr Trad is quoted, lamenting: "I'm shocked they [the Syrian government - CM] would do something like this to a person like him, such a good person..". 'Such a good person'. They always are...these Muslims who vanish, as Mr Al-Kalkuni has done, in this or that theatre of Jihad; and, too, those Muslims who from time to time are caught by the Infidel police, plotting murderous mayhem inside the lands of the Infidels. One must always, always remember, whenver one hears the likes of Keysar Trad lamenting the suffering of 'innocent people' or of 'such a good person', that the Muslim definitions of 'innocence' and 'goodness' are not the same as those used by us kuffar. - CM
Al Jazeera every week airs its superstar, Muslim Brotherhood leader Yousuf al-Qaradawi, who is barred from entering the US and other Western countries. He has repeatedly called for the Muslim world to damage the U.S. economy by boycotting American products, as well as often rendering opinions such as, "Oh Allah, kill them [Jews] down to the very last one." One can see why Qatar's leadership would like to propagate "a Qatari sponsored narrative of events, and shape that narrative and how it is seen." Most moving is to hear that Al Gore finds these opinions as "aligned with our point of view."
Most disturbing about the sale of Al Gore and Joel Hyatt's Current TV to Al Jazeera are the reported sanctimonious remarks about the character of the Current Network and the comparable frame of mind of Al Jazeera.Qatar's leadership, according to Gulf analyst Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, would like to propagate "a Qatari sponsored narrative of events in the Middle East and elsewhere," and be "able to shape that narrative and and how it is seen." Al Jazeera regularly promotes its superstar, Muslim Brotherhood leader Yousuf al Qaradawi, who is barred from entering the US and other Western countries. He has for years said such things as : "The last punishment [against the Jews] was carried out by Hitler. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hands of the believers," and "Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them [Jews]. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one". Given Al Jazeera's record of backing the Islamist revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, one can see why Qatar's leadership would "like to be able to shape that narrative and how it is seen." Al-Qaradawi has also said, according to the peerless MEMRI.org, that Islam's "conquest of Rome" will save Europe from its subjugation to materialism and promiscuity, and that Islam will return to Europe as a conquerer.
Al Jazeera has also, according to MEMRI, "continued to call for the Muslim world to to damage the U.S. economy by boycotting American products." In justifying the sale, Gore apparently explained to the The Blaze: "the legacy of who the network goes to is important to us and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with out point of view." His partner, Joel Hyatt, added: "Al-Jazeera was founded with the same goals we had for Current," and that the Qatari network intends to "invest heavily" in new programming. Got it. Most moving is to hear that Al Gore finds these statements as "aligned with our point of view."
In a withering article, Amin Farouk disposed of the benign view of the activity of the Doha network and chronicled its Islamist agenda. Others, apparently already aware of it, responded accordingly: Time Warner, the second-largest cable company in the U.S., immediately refused to carry either Current or Al Jazeera.
Qatar, the country and the political system which founded and controls Al Jazeera, has been dominated by the al-Thani family for almost 150 years, and is now ruled by Sheikh Hamad bin Khaalifa al-Thani, an absolute monarch who deposed his father in 1995 to become Emir. In 1995, Emir al-Thani established The Qatar Foundation, currently headed by his second wife, Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, "to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world," according to a report by MEMRI's Steven Stalinsky. The Qatar Foundation's "Education City", which the Qatar Foundation calls its "flagship project," brings students to Qatar from Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, Northwestern, Texas A&M, Virginia Commonwealth and Cornell to meet leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Partners of the Qatar Foundation include, among others, institutions from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Mexico, and institutions such as Microsoft, Cisco, Conoco-Phillis, Exxon Mobil, Rolls-Royce, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, Gartner Lee (Canada), as well as several additional universities in the U.S., Canada, Spain, France, and the U.K. Students who are U.S. citizens from American universities are eligible for federal student aid through the U.S. Department of Education, as well as scholarships "for prospective students" from the Qatar Foundation. In article in Texas A&M's newspaper, April 24, 2009, the university's assistant dean for Finance and Administration states, "Essentially all costs of A&M [at Education City] are covered by the Qatar Foundation" and suggests that "professors are given significant financial and U.S. Taxation incentives for working at A&M Qatar."
Meanwhile, Al-Qaradawi, head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research and the International Council of Muslim Scholars, and who was voted number three on the list of the 100 Top Intellectuals worldwide by Foreign Policy magazine (July/August 2008), inaugurated the Islamic Studies program and also maintains a significant presence partly through the Al-Qaradawi Center for Research and Modern Thought, and the Sheikh Al-Qaradawi Scholarship program . Meanwhile, as he receives awards, he calls on television for boycotts of products from the U.S., for the "conquest of Rome," and for another genocide against the Jews, this time at the hands of the Muslims.
Qatar was once a center of pearl fishing, as well as a British protectorate until 1971, when it became independent and refused to join the United Arab Emirates. Now it is one of the world's richest countries, and its leader evidently wishes to to be influential. With a population of about 1.7 million, of whom only 300,000 are citizens, Qatar, which produces about 850,000 barrels of crude oil a day and has more than 15% of the world's proven gas resources, and is one of the world's fastest growing economies. Thanks to the increase in oil prices, its GDP is currently about $175 billion, and per capita income is $100,000 -- the highest in the Arab world, and almost double that of the U.S.
Emir al-Thani has not been slow in exerting the role of his country in world economic and political affairs. The small land of pearl divers has now become a global energy power, and al-Thani appears an ambitious political leader, playing a major role in enflaming, steering and then resolving regional conflicts, as well as being an important investor in European economies. In October 2012, the Emir visited Gaza, where he and made a pledge of $400 million to the terrorist group Hamas. Qatar's international role can only be enhanced by its selection to be the host of the 2022 FIFA world soccer competition, the first of any Middle East country.
In regional affairs, Qatar helped broker peace arrangements between rival factions in Lebanon in 2008, and attempted similar efforts in the Sudan, Yemen, and Eritrea. It sent planes to Libya to join NATO operations that ended the regimeof Gaddafi. It has supplied weapons to some of the Islamist forces fighting the Assad regime in Syria. It has close ties with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and it also hosts the U.S. military in the Al Udeid Air base, which must seem to the al-Thanis a convenient form of protection.
Qatar exerts economic clout in the world, particularly in European countries. In Germany, Qatar owns 17% of Volkswagen, 10% of Porsche, and a significant part of the Hochtief construction company, the largest in Germany. In France, Qatar has bought the Paris Saint-Germain (P.S.G.) soccer club, valued at $130 million, and the accompanying handball team. It owns luxury properties in Paris valued at $4 billion; part of the French group running Louis Vuitton, and it has invested in French television, where it controls three channels under the name of beIN Sport, operated by Al-Jazeera. BeIN Sport also operates two channels in the U.S. In Italy, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is reported to be interested in selling to Qatar, for a considerable amount of money, 30% of the football club AC Milan, which he has owned for 26 years.
Qatar has invested even more heavily in Britain. It owns the famous Harrods store in London. It has bought part of Canary Wharf in London, the site of the 2012 Olympic village, and is expanding its holdings of London commercial property. In the heart of London, it owns Shard, Europe's tallest building. It also owns No. 1 Hyde Park, said to be the world's most expensive block of apartments, as well as 20% of the London Stock Exchange, and 20% of the enormous market in Camden in north London. It has shares in Barclay's Bank, in the large Sainsbury grocery store chain, and in the Shell Center headquarters on the South Bank of the River Thames. It intends to revitalize the area around Shell, and has invested about £1 billion in the UK gas sector.
Among other properties around the world, Qatar has bought into luxury houses, including Valentino's fashion house in Italy, and about 5% of Tiffany & Co.. It has also established relations with a number of Western universities, which now have branches in Qatar. These include Carnegie Mellon University, Texas A&M University, Northwestern University, and University College, London.
The Al-Jazeera TV network was founded by Emir al-Thani presumably to enhance the regional and international influence of his country. With the expanding political, economic, and academic of the role of Qatar in the world, the larger place of Al-Jazeera in TV news and programming as a result of its acquisition of Current TV should probably be subjected to more scrutiny to ensure that Current's "speaking truth to power" -- as its objective was reported -- does not devolve into skillful and genocidal propaganda.
Michael Curtis is author of Should Israel Exist? A Sovereign Nation under Attack by the International Community.
Fitzgerald: How the Failure to Understand Jihad is Costing Americans Trillions
[Re-posted from July 10, 2010]
Note: This is an example -- I will be posting dozens of the many hundreds of comments I have put up -- critical early on, precisely from the very beginning of 2004 -- of the war in Iraq (and by extension, Afghanistan), which put me in a better position than the defenders of those twin follies to attack the choice of Chuck Hagel, a careerist whose resistible rise was based not on any intrinsic merit but on his calculated exploitation of having been, like hundreds of thousands of others, a wounded veteran, and whose opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are for the wrong, not the right, reasons, for he has no understanding of Islam, and is, very likely because of his animus to israel, permanently blinded to the meaning, and the menace, of Islam.
Economic failure is all about us. Manufacturing jobs move, because capital is fluid and labor is immobile, from the United States to China, to India, to places where workers do not have the salaries and the benefits that workers acquired through slow time in this country. Bailouts of the undeserving, if they are powerful, and cruel indifference to the deserving, if they are unpowerful, are part of a larger problem. The stock market goes up, or goes down, but the economic degringolade continues.
But in all the discussion of economic difficulties, editorialists, columnists, talking heads on television, speak and write about the success or failure of Keynesian economics, the need for spending or for austerity, the need to do this and the need not to do that. They talk and write about the costs of the health care legislation, this year, next year, five years hence. They write and talk about the Looming Crisis in Social Security. They talk about the extension, or failure to extend, unemployment benefits. They talk, and write, and lament, the inability of many recent college graduates to obtain employment. They note the changes in middle-class life, and how shrunken are the chances of those graduating today from those of their parents or their grandparents. They note that the states are now $140 billion in the hole, with the largest states - especially California and Illinois - having to fire hundreds of thousands of teachers, and reduce the salaries of government workers, and how the slashing of state budgets leads to a slashing of aid to cities and towns, and how ineffective have been the measures taken to right things.
But what surely needs to be focused on is the colossal financial drain, the demoralizing drain, caused by the squandering of trillions of dollars in those wars that have been waged to attain exactly the wrong goals (which in any case are unattainable) in Iraq and Afghanistan. We hear different figures for the costs of those wars. The real cost of both wars, leaving out nothing, was estimated by the Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and his fellow author Linda Blimes a few years ago. They had to make assumptions about when the Americans would withdraw from Iraq, and from Afghanistan. They figured on 2010 for Iraq, 2011 or so for Afghanistan - very close to what has turned out to be, or is scheduled to be. They had to make guesses as to indirect costs associated with both wars, including the rise in the price of oil, and the cost for lifetime care for tens of thousands of severely wounded veterans. Their title proclaims their book-length estimate: The Three-Trillion Dollar War.
That seems a reasonable figure to come up with. What is not reasonable at all is that such amounts should have been spent without holy hell having been raised, raised every day, every hour, by everyone who cares about the future of the United States. The folly of that expense will soon be seen in Iraq to have been largely a waste, and - with a little lapse, a little decalage - it will then be understood to have been equally idiotic in Afghanistan.
And to those three trillion dollars we can add all the other sums that have been given to Muslim nations in addition to the more than thirteen trillion dollars in oil revenues that have been transferred from the oil-consuming nations to the Muslim members of OPEC since 1973 alone. There is the $75 billion that has been given to Egypt by the American government -- for what, exactly? For continuing to give lip service to its "Peace Treaty" with Israel, while Egypt has steadfastly refused, once it had recovered the entire Sinai, to observe its solemn undertakings to end hostile propaganda and acts against the Jewish state. In fact, the government-controlled media in Egypt broadcast programs based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as well as non-stop anti-Israel and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. Egyptian public opinion is as anti-Israel, and in addition as anti-American, as any country could be - despite those $75 billion.
There is also the nearly $35 billion that is the true amount sent, as economic and military aid and debt forgiveness, to meretricious Pakistan. Pakistan for decades has been playing the Americans, since the heady days of the Dulles brothers who believed that Islam was "a bulwark against Communism." Then there are the billions that have gone to Eastern Palestine, that is, Jordan, and to those Arab-occupied parts of Judea and Samaria, renamed by the Jordanians as "the West Bank." There the IDF helps maintain Arafat's successors, formerly his henchman, in pretend-power, so that they can continue to help themselves to a goodly portion of the billions in aid that the Americans and the Europeans continue to give, for some reason that is difficult to understand, to the most spoiled set of fake "refugees" in the world, the "West Bank" Arabs. And other moneys have gone in the past to the Gazan Arabs, the other wing of the "Palestinians" who form the shock troops of the Jihad against Israel.
If one were to add up the amounts that have been received from the sale of oil and natural gas, that alone would make the Muslim Arabs, or a great many of them, the beneficiaries of the largest transfer of wealth in human history - more than thirteen trillion dollars since 1973 alone (and hundreds of billions before that). Yet not a single oil-or-gas-rich Arab state has created a modern economy; not one can afford to exist without vast armies of foreign workers, with the most important ones being non-Muslims, who in some of the smaller sheiklets outnumber the natives by 2-1 or 3-1 or 4-1. No Arab Muslim land can do without access to Western medical care and Western education and Western technology - not one. And they rely completely on their revenues from oil (and to a much lesser extent, natural gas). None of them, and certainly none of the ruling houses or tribes, can even defend themselves adequately. Why then do we continue to believe what a small army of Western hirelings who are in the pay of the Saudis, or profiting from business and other dealings with them, have succeeded in establishing as the dominant belief in the chanceries of the West: that we "need" Saudi Arabia's goodwill, or that we "need" the goodwill of the U.A.E. (threatened in a territorial dispute with Iran) or of Kuwait or Qatar or of any of the other tiny statelets that, like frogs, puff themselves up to appear much bigger than they are, in order to ward off predators.
We are not predators, but we need not be patsies, either, and a policy or policies can be constructed that save money, not least by demanding that these rich oil states pay for the keeping of the peace in their area. They were made to pay, or did pay, for a large part of the Gulf War, for there their interests were immediately threatened. They won't want to pay the Americans for having made possible Shi'a rule in Iraq, or for keeping the Taliban down in Afghanistan, but they can certainly be asked to pay for all the other expenses, including those in Pakistan, a state that exists only because of, and for, Islam.
And it is the rich Arabs, with their trillions still coming in, who should be expected to pay - if anyone is to do so - for Egypt, for Jordan, for the "Palestinians." As a matter of finance, and of psychology, it is important for the Infidels, in North America and Western Europe, to stop paying for Muslims, and above all to end the growing conviction, on both sides, that somehow this further transfer of wealth (beyond the sums that go for oil and gas) is actually somehow coming to the Muslim Arabs, that they are "owed" it -- and that if we stop, they will be angry with us (they will) and things will go hard with us (they won't). That is the classic attitude of both Infidel giver and Muslim taker. It accompanies the yielding-up to Muslim masters by non-Muslims of the Jizyah in the classic Islamic polity.
Because we don't want to take the time to think clearly about the meaning and therefore of the menace of Islam, we have undertaken in the last decade or two to attempt to temporarily buy Muslim goodwill by lavishing vast amounts of aid on many of the Muslim lands that do not have the riches of other Muslim lands, and feel that they somehow are not only entitled to support from American (and other) Infidels, but offer no gratitude in return. Instead, they appear to think that such aid is theirs by right, a kind of Jizyah that the Infidels should offer and continue to offer them. And we, the donors, make matters far worse by acting as if somehow it is right, it is just, that we, and the Europeans, should give that $75 billion to Egypt, a country whose people are virulently anti-American and full of conspiracy theories about Israel and Jews that receive a hearing on the government-controlled television and radio and newspapers. We act as if it is fitting and proper that those tens of billions more should go to meretricious Pakistan, and billions to Jordan, and billions to the shock troops of the without-end Jihad against the Infidel nation-state of Israel, that is the Slow Jiahdists of the "Palestinian" Authority. There are even those in high places who are just itching to extend that aid to the Fast Jihadists of Hamas, that is, to the Gazan Arabs, if only one or two of the right and transparently meaningless phrases were to be uttered with some demihemisemi quaver of pretend-sincerity -- just enough to satisfy, say, the ludicrous likes of Tom Friedman or Nicholas Kristof.
It is difficult to understand why, when the day's news is always about more economic difficulties for Americans and further financial catastrophes looming, that more attention is not paid to the costs of those wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the reasons for these wars. Once you have seen with your own eyes, as so many American soldiers have (and more than a million have served in Iraq and Afghanistan), have seen the pallets of American cash off-loaded by Iraqis, have seen or heard about the local contractors who were paid for doing no or little work, or who destroyed what they had done in order to be hired to do it all again, once you have heard or seen or read about all the ways that Iraqis managed to inveigle more and still more money out of the ever-compliant Americans, then you might begin to think. It was only monopoly money, money that didn't matter to those handing it out, money that seemed not to be real or to have value. And you come home, and you realize, because you were there, what a waste it all had been. If you can avoid that business of telling yourself it was not a waste because you had been part of it and who wants to think he had been sent on and participated in a fool's errand, then you might indeed begin to think very hard.
And if you are following things, and trying to determine where all that money went, nothing will madden you as much as the reports of all the Iraqis who made off with millions or tens of millions, and are now having a high old time in Paris or London on money that came from Americans who are not having a high old time.
As I wrote at the beginning of this article, this endless largesse, these lavishments from Infidels to Muslims take place, and keep being renewed without a squawk -- as when, the other day, Barack Obama simply told Mahmoud Abbas that the Slow Jihadists of Fatah would be getting another $400 million from the American government. There was no consultation with Congress, no discussion, no nothing - just $400 million, poof!, like that, signed over to those who are every bit as dangerous to the survival of Israel, and because more cunning, possibly more dangerous than the Fast Jihadists of Hamas who are now dominant among the Gazan Arabs and, were the IDF not around to prop Abbas up, would likely win favor, being less corrupt than Fatah, in the "West Bank" too.
But why? Why are we spending all this money? Why did we spend all this money, these three trillion dollars and more in Iraq, if not because no one in the Bush Administration wanted to face up to, or was well-prepared to think about, the threat posed by the ideology of Islam? The entire effort in Iraq was based on messianic sentimentalism, the belief that advanced Western democracy could be transplanted - just add Miracle-Gro, and water with American money and blood daily - to a primitive and violent place, its people made violent and kept primitive by Islam itself. For many who call themselves "Republicans" or "conservatives," it was their leader's policy, right or wrong. They were determined to support Bush in Iraq, because.... Well, because it was the "lefties" (the surpassing vulgarity of the discussion needs to be remembered) who were for pulling out, and therefore, pulling out must necessarily be opposed, must necessarily be the wrong thing. It was a crazy quilt, a topsy-turvy world, where objectively a pullout would in fact have left us to see that once the Infidel troops were removed, the sectarian and ethnic fissures in Iraq would not disappear. The inability to compromise (that comes from the atmospherics of Islam) would reveal itself, and the aggression and violence of those fighting over money and power would continue, since aggression and violence are natural to societies suffused with Islam. But it would continue without the Infidel Americans to blame or to take as targets.
The goals sought by the Bush Administration were absurd. Those goals were not only to "bring freedom" to "ordinary moms and dads" in Iraq, but, so it was hoped, to then have Iraq serve as a Light Unto the Muslim nations, or rather to the other Arab states. But all the Arab states, including Iraq until recently, are run by Sunnis, whose views on the Shi'a range from mild dislike to murderous hatred. Why in the world would those in Washington think that any Sunni Arabs would be pleased by the inevitable result in Iraq - a Shi'a-run state? Why would they take inspiration from such a model? The spectacle of such a state merely enrages, and possibly, with Iran's growing threat seemingly unstoppable, it also fills them with fear.
The Bush Administration had been impressed by, even inveigled by, Iraqi Shi'a in exile who gave their American interlocutors the assurances they knew they wanted, in order to make sure that the American army would do what those exiles wanted. All of the exiles who were listened to were Shi'a - Chalabi, Makiya, Rend al-Rahim Francke - but that was not remarked upon. That made no difference to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz. They were snookered to help transfer power from Sunni Arabs to Shi'a Arabs, but it was all done under the guise of "helping bring freedom to Iraq."
Everywhere you look in the United States, the signs of economic distress and misery are obvious. Look at recent graduates of colleges, and the trouble they have finding jobs. Look at the recent graduates of law schools, of business schools. The problem does not lessen as you go higher up the professional-training food chain, where the amounts borrowed to pay for such schooling mount and mount. We read the human interest stories about the people in their 20s, or 30s, or 40s, or 50s, who have to move back in with parents, or with in-laws, who have to sell this and have to sell that, as they try to figure out how to survive when the unemployment benefits run out.
But in all the talk and chatter about that economic degringolade, it maddens not to hear howls of protest about the vast sums that have been spent and are being spent, and if many in power have their way, will continue to be spent in order to "deal with the problem of Islam" in all the wrong ways - by bringing "freedom" to "ordinary moms and dads" in Iraq, which was supposed to serve as some kind of model for other Arab countries. But what Arab country, all of them ruled by Sunnis, would take any comfort, much less model itself on, Iraq, where the Sunnis have been stripped of their power, which is now firmly in the hands of Shi'a Arabs? And in Afghanistan, the theme is one of "reconstruction," which is certainly an odd word to use about one of the poorest, least accessible, most remote, and least developed countries on earth, a place where whatever is spent is likely to be diverted into the pockets of the endlessly corrupt. For in Afghanistan there is hardly any understanding of the concept of citizenship, of good government, of true patriotism. In Muslim countries, political power has always been the way to seize wealth as well, and then to distribute it to one's family, one's tribe, fellow members of one's village or city or sect.
In America, the very rich, having acquired their wealth, want the glamor and glory of entering politics, and are willing to spend large sums - even hundreds of millions of dollars - to obtain high office. In Arab and Muslim lands, high office is ordinarily obtained by violence and guile and sometimes both. The point of acquiring political power is to acquire wealth for oneself and one's closest associates -- the Family-and-Friends Plan is very popular in the Middle East.
The failure to be well prepared has had many disturbing consequences. The failure, that is, to learn about the doctrines of Islam has had many disturbing consequences. Those doctrines are immutable because they are based primarily on the Qur'an and on the Sunnah. The Sunnah consists primarily of the attitudes and practices derived from the sayings and acts and details of the life of Muhammad, believed by Muslims to have been preserved in written form in the Hadith (the record of his sayings and deeds) and the Sira (his biography, as written for Believers). The people in charge in our political system, and the people who are in charge of our media - that is, the two groups of people who presume to protect and instruct us - have singularly failed to take on the task of learning about Islam. They have not read and reread the relevant texts. They have not read, much less reread, the scholarly material available that has been compiled by dedicated Western scholars from dozens of different lands, in the century of Western scholarship that came to an end round about 1970. At that time, Arab money began buying up, or even helping to open, "academic" centers where only those who toed the apologist's line were hired or promoted.
Hired and promoted were Muslims who were quick to defend the faith, and as part of defending it, to misrepresent it in ways not always detected by the unwary. The membership, for example, of MESA, the Middle East Studies Association, has gone from 7% to over 70% Muslim. Even this figure does not tell the full story, for those non-Muslims who enter the field and expect to survive consist often of those who are self-selected admirers of, say, what they take to be a milder form of Islam (such as Sufism). Others have found a vocationally and socially acceptable outlet for their own otherwise-unacceptable mental pathologies (i.e., antisemitism). Still others may be working out their resentments toward Christianity. The ex-nun Karen Armstrong, though not in academic life, has found a well-paid niche where she can indulge her dislike of Christianity, as well as other antipathies, in her "neutral" treatment of what she keeps telling us are the "three abrahamic faiths." She also provides a sanitized version of the life of Muhammad, and of the tenets of Islam, that at this point appears so grotesque that the need to rebut her may not be as pressing as it once was (see "The Coherence of Her Incoherence").
But just as ideas have consequences, the lack of ideas, or the lack of knowledge, has had consequences. The doctrines of Islam have not changed in 1350 years. While there are certainly differences of sect (Sunni, Shi'a, Ibadi) and differences of approach to God (the Sufis, for example) and differences in emphasis, it cannot be said that the essential irreducible doctrines of Islam vary, even if Muslims themselves may vary in the degree to which they fully accept, or fully apply in their own lives, the doctrines that are inculcated.
The doctrine of Jihad did not disappear between the time Europe entered the Middle East in 1798, with Napoleon's entry into Egypt, and the latter half of the twentieth century. And it did not suddenly reappear in the last few decades. Rather, it was always present, but in a period of perceived Muslim weakness and Western strength, was not, in the West, acted upon. All that has changed, and changed for three reasons. The first is that I have already mentioned - the trillions of dollars in OPEC revenues that the recipients of that colossal wealth did nothing to deserve. But with that money, they have bought trillions in arms, bought the ability to spread Islam through mosques, madrasas, propaganda, Westerners on the payroll. The second are the millions of Muslims who have been allowed to settle deep within the countries of Western Europe, without any thought being given as to whether or not Islam itself, the ideology of Islam, might make it impossible for all but a handful to truly integrate into Western societies.
Those immigrants came not to be loyal and grateful to the Infidels for saving them from the hellholes of their own countries but, rather, came to enjoy what the Western world had created and could not have created had that Western world been Muslim. Yet failing to understand this, these Muslim immigrants held fast to their contempt for Infidel laws and institutions and social arrangements. A great many supported the same goals as the many Muslim terrorist groups, even if they did not participate in terrorism, or indeed in violent acts, directly. The third change that helped to bring about the "return of Jihad" was the exploitation by Muslim propagandists of Western technology - audiocassettes, videocassettes, satellite television, the Internet - to spread the full message of Islam both to those who were always Muslims but knew very little about the faith beyond the Five Pillars. So many illiterate villagers have now, alas, been made more aware of what is required of them as Muslims, and more aware, too, of just how wicked are the Infidels.
Jihad never went away, but the ability to engage in Jihad, and to dream that it might be possible to conquer the hereditary enemy, "Western Christendom," not through military means but through demographic conquest, has been discussed by several Muslim leaders (Boumedienne, Qaddafy) in public, and by others, no doubt more prudent and clever, in private. And the theme is never far from Muslim websites, produced by and for Muslims, but which you may eavesdrop on at any time.
What maddens about the failure to grasp all this is that it has led directly to the squandering of three trillion dollars. Had the American government under Bush, or under Obama, been filled with people who had taken it upon themselves to spend the time to study Islam, then the irrelevance of the outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan to the real goals and the important theatres of war, and the instruments of war or rather Jihad that matter, would have been seen. Yet Islam is not hieratic, it's not obscure or abstruse, it's not particularly difficult. Almost anyone of moderate intelligence could do it, and in a few weeks learn enough to at least not be fooled so readily.
What result can be achieved for the Americans and other Infidels in Iraq by creating a state that remains relatively free of internecine strife, and able to use its vast oil wealth wisely? What good does that do us? If we build up Iraqi forces by 600,000 men (army and police) how does that help us? If we do everything we can to prevent Shi'a and Sunnis from warring with each other in Iraq and possibly causing similar strife between Sunnis and Shi'a in Bahrain, Pakistan, Lebanon, Yemen, Kuwait, Al-Haza province of eastern Saudi Arabia, how does this help to divide and weaken the Camp of Islam and Jihad? And will this strife not happen inevitably, because the atmospherics of Islam encourage violence and aggression? We'll soon find out, and I am convinced that many Americans will suffer pangs of remorse for having been so foolish as to indulge their nation-making polypragmonic impulse, rather than to follow and even happily embrace the wisdom of exploiting, by doing nothing, the pre-existing fissures, sectarian, ethnic, and economic, within that Camp of Islam.
And the same squandering of resources can be seen in Afghanistan. What is the outcome desired? That the Taliban will cease to exist? That it will allow itself to make peace with the government? That the government of Afghanistan will be, could ever be, a true friend of the Infidel Americans, even though every Muslim in Afghanistan learns that the permanent enemy of Muslims are Infidels, and that no matter how seemingly generous those Infidels may be, it is only to promote their own, Infidel, and therefore unacceptable, interests? And if we supply Afghans with electricity grids so that every village can now be hooked up to the outside world, doesn't that mean that every village will now be able to receive Islamic propaganda, which is far more likely to be listened to and accepted than anything else on offer, because the audience already consists of people who think of themselves as Muslims and, as Muslims, are ready to do whatever they find out that Muslims are expected or required to do? How many Muslims have you heard of who, ignorant of much of Islam, upon finding out more about it, and what it says about the treatment of non-Muslims, recoiled in horror and decided to drop Islam? There are remarkable exceptions, people who did jettison Islam. But how many? Can policies be constructed on the hope that the numbers of the remarkable exceptions will magically increase? Does that make sense? Is that wise?
In Iraq, we will be blamed, we are being blamed, on all sides, for whatever outcome they do not like. If the Sunnis do not acquiesce, the Shi'a will blame us for trying to "foist Allawi" on them. If the Shi'a do not surrender some of their power, the Sunnis will blame us for having given power to "the turbans" and not having supported Allawi (whose party had two more seats than Maliki's slate), whom they claim was "the winner" even though the Shi'a outnumber the Sunni Arabs by 3 to 1, and have shown they will make deals in order to preserve Shi'a dominance. The Arabs will blame us for encouraging Kurdish dreams of independence. The Kurds will blame us for "abandoning them" if we try to force them to accept the Arabs in Mosul or Kirkuk and to abandon dreams of independence, and so on. And the same blame-the-infidels scenario will occur and is already occurring in Afghanistan, where the oily Karzai has turned into the slippery Karzai, threatening to "join the Taliban myself" if the Americans don't watch it - and now he has turned on the charm again, in order to keep the American men and money there.
But we don't have to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in one of the most remote and inaccessible parts of the world in order to do the impossible, to give Afghanistan a central government that works and whose writ runs far beyond Kabul. Or rather, we might be able to do it if we are willing to stay for five or ten or twenty years, and to spend another few trillion dollars to make that our little project for the first quarter of the twenty-first century. But should we? Does it make sense? If we refuse to do this, if we leave, are we then forever prevented from vigilantly monitoring the territory of Afghanistan lest "Al Qaeda come back"? And can't we, intermittently, using Special Forces, drones, and missiles from afar, from time to time disrupt any attempt to return Al Qaeda or any of a dozen terrorist groups to Afghanistan? Wouldn't that make better sense? And why should we build up yet another Muslim country, when it is impossible for its Muslim inhabitants to abandon Islam and what it teaches them? And what it teaches them requires them to view us with permanent, deep, if occasionally hidden, malevolence. Even if there are sincere examples of Afghan Muslims who do not feel this way, that is, who ignore a central feature and duty of the ideology of Islam, what comfort should that bring us? Why should we base a policy in Afghanistan on a handful of touchingly charming women trying to be educated, or a seductive warlord, or a Gunga-Dinnish army commander who truly, deeply, madly, wants to be on our side? Such exceptions can, given American sentimentality, cloud the mind. Those who make policy have to sober up.
Why should money be the theme of this article? Because not everyone thrills to the subject of what Islam inculcates. Not everyone quite wants to go through learning about Jizyah, or dhimmis, or naskh, or isnad-chains, or any of the rest. But everyone in the United States knows that we have been having a terrible time economically, and that we are talking about losses of tens or possibly hundreds of billions of dollars, and are regarding these losses with horror - just look at the State of California. Yet we have not focused on the greatest (continuing) expenditure of them all - the wars to protect ourselves against jihad by refusing to see it as primarily an ideological war, and by continuing to fool ourselves into thinking that if we create better (by our lights) societies in Iraq and Afghanistan, that will somehow - no one has ever explained how, or even thought he had an obligation to explain how - dampen the enthusiasm of Muslims worldwide for Jihad. That Jihad, however, is based, let it be emphasized, not on an "interpretation" of Islam that can be changed, but on the immutable text of the Qur'an, and the Hadith that more than a millennium ago were studied, and winnowed. What remained was assigned different ranks of "authenticity" by those deemed to be the most authoritative muhaddithin, such as Al-Bukhari and Muslim. This can't be undone, not by Bright Young Muslim Reformers who keep getting grants from the American government and the Carnegie Foundation, or who keep getting hired and promoted on the basis of their entirely factitious achievements in this line.
Three trillion dollars have been wasted on a misguided policy that is a result of a failure to study, and then grasp the nature of, Islam.
Three trillion dollars is surely enough in squandered and desperately needed wealth to cause some to think, or rethink, about the folly of policies based on confusion, ignorance, wishful thinking -- that is, on a refusal to understand the ideology of Islam.