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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
As Far As The Eye Can See
by Moshe Dann
Threats of Pain and Ruin
by Theodore Dalrymple
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














Monday, 31 October 2011
Canada’s Misadventure in Libya
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David B. Harris is a Canadian lawyer, a 30 year veteran of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. He is currently director of the International Intelligence program of INSIGNIS Strategic Research, Inc. He is a widely published intelligence commentator whose work frequently appears in the opinion columns of The Ottawa Citizen and The Calgary Herald. His advices have also been sought by US Congressional  and intelligence committees and forums. We count Harris as a close friend and colleague on these matters. Harris is not afraid to take his government to task for international faux pas in the area of counterterrorism. Given rapidly emerging troubling developments in the wake of the toppling of the late Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddaffi, Harris is concerned about the untoward security effects from Canada’s participation in this North African regime change. He makes it out as an object lesson of that adage be careful what you wish for. His warnings to Canada’s Harper Government in Ottawa about the Libyan misadventure can also be leveled at the leaders of the UK , France, and most certainly at President Obama, who has done a victory lap after leading from behind and letting NATO carry the ball across the goal line.

In this Canadian HuffPO column, “Canada’s Misadventure in Libya,” Harris issues a warning that the ‘victory’ in Libya may unleash an Islamic terrorism threat against the very same NATO forces that liberated the country.

Here are some telling excerpts:

We launched a regime-change operation without any idea who would replace Gaddafi. In an orgy of post facto fact-finding, Foreign Minister John Baird raced into Libya with the foregone political conclusion: the rebels are our pals. French President Sarkozy achieved something similar by sending philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy -- "God is dead but my hair is perfect," goes the current jibe -- to Libya to rubber stamp comparably rash declarations.

Such people were oblivious to the Sinjar Records. These captured documents pinpoint origins of foreign terrorists in Iraq, and give evidence of the kinds of Islamists who might replace Gaddafi. West Point's Combating Terrorism Center concluded from these papers that Libya supplied roughly double per capita the terrorists provided by that 9/11 terrorist launch-pad, Saudi Arabia.

As one news source reported, "of the half of Libyans who listed their "work" in Iraq, more than 85 per cent volunteered to be suicide bombers." Nice work if you can get it.

As an illustration of the possibilities, consider that today's garrison-commander of the all-important Tripoli area is Abdul Hakim Belhadj, an apparent extremist. A veteran of the 1980s' Afghan jihad, he is reportedly a former head of the Islamist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Belhadj led the country's al-Qaeda underground, and was targeted by the CIA's renditions' program.

Then there were people like Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu, veteran of the Afghan jihad who was released from Guantanamo prison. Now a significant rebel leader, Qumu was declared by U.S. authorities "a probable member of al-Qaeda," according to the New York Times.

Add to this, reports that Sudan's army -- the sharp end of Khartoum's genocidal Islamist regime -- may have fought in Libya on the side of our National Transitional Council 'allies,' and be ready to shape the new Libyan leadership -- with Iran's help.

Then there is the draft Libyan constitution, imposing Sharia Islamic law. Such systems in other countries commonly manifest themselves in various forms of religious and gender apartheid. In Saudi Arabia, Iran and -- increasingly -- 'Arab Spring' Egypt, for example, non-Muslims are debased as second-class citizens, or worse, and women valued in fractional terms of men. As though to demonstrate the threat, the new post-Gaddafi acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril announced as a first act of "liberation" the quashing of Gaddafi laws banning polygamy.

Now that the possibility of a radical-Islamic Libya is finally dawning on western leaders, the White House and its allies have something further to fear: obtuse war-planning may have caused about 20,000 portable Libyan surface-to-air (SAM) missiles to go missing. Missiles like this eat airliners for breakfast.

Our political commanders ignored facts, especially this one: without enough boots on the ground, you cannot guard the arms depots of the state you've R2Ped into chaos. Guns and bombs -- and 20,000 missiles -- can go loose, be used by enemies to kill our forces and, eventually, average citizens here at home.

So what is the result of all this R2P adventuring?

Canada charged into a military mission with no guarantee about which of our enemies might ultimately run Libya as a base targeting Canadians. Muslim Brotherhood? Al-Qaeda? Iran? Sudan? Some combination?

And to reinforce the risks, we supported international funding of Libya's new jumble of leadership, a leadership that is proving sympathetic to Sharia impositions.

Meanwhile, North Korea tells Britain's ambassador that the Libyan intervention taught Kim Jong-Il never to give up his nukes. Gaddafi did, they said, and look what happened to him. Has Canada helped save thousands in Libya only to hazard the future of millions of potential nuclear victims, including those West Coast Canadians within Pyongyang's ballistic missile range?

 

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Posted on 10/31/2011 11:16 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Vali Nasr Opposes The Iranian Regime But Wants To Protect It From Military Attack At All Costs, And Tries To Convince Americans To Leave Iran Alone
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As an adviser to the American government, and now at Tufts, Vali Nasr continues his career as a Defender of the Faith - the Faith being Shi'a Islam. He's worried that there may be either an attack by the West (America, Israel, or both in tandem) or by the Sunnis, and can foresee what the latter would mean for the world's Shi'a.

Here he is attempting to convince an American audience, through his column at Bloomberg News, that Iran will self-destruct so there is no need to make a move. But the Islamic Republic of Iran will never be dislodged if it acquires nuclear weapons. The primitive Iranian masses will rally round forever. The West cannot tolerate that. But it can tolerate what would happen after an attack to destroy that nuclear project. The Iranian masses would rally round -- for a few months. And then the spectacle of the humiliation, and the impotence (for the Islamic Republic will be too fearful to retaliate, knowing what might follow), and the recognition of the colossal waste of the whole project, will weaken the Islamic Republic of Iran, and make it possible for it to be, at long last, brought down. This Vali Nasr cannot allow himself to recognize.

Here's his piece:

From Bloomberg News:

Nasr: Why Contain Iran When Its Own Aims Will Do That?

 

In both exercises, there is room for misjudgment. In fact, Iran has not become more ambitious of late; rather, its aspirations have been underestimated. As for attempting to rein in Iran, that could prove both counterproductive and unnecessary. [no convincing vidence is offered to support either, assertion for the "attempt to rein in" through military means has not been tried, and the past decade of trying through other means suggests, pace Vali Nasr, that it will be necessary]

Until recently, the U.S. government regarded Iran as subdued, weakened and relatively isolated. There was considerable evidence for this view. Iran’s leadership is deeply divided. Its economy is reeling as a result of economic sanctions, which have reduced trade and therefore contact with the Arab world.

What’s more, Iran’s standing in the Middle East appeared to be declining after the Arab Spring. The “Arab street,” once enamored with Iran’s bluster, is now turned off by the country’s suppression of dissent at home and its support for the oppressive Syrian regime. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad put down a growing uprising. The possibility of a collapse of the Assad regime threatens to confound Iran’s plans for regional domination. Syria is Iran’s main Arab ally and its conduit for aid to Hezbollah, the militant, Islamist Lebanese group that Iran has used as a proxy to menace Israel, the U.S., Lebanon itself and others.

From Tehran, however, the situation looks quite different. For one thing, Iran is not as worried about losing sway in a post-Assad Syria as many in the West think. Iran calculates that until Syria gets back the Golan Heights, a plateau captured by Israel in the 1967 war, any government in Damascus will need Hezbollah as a force to pressure Israel. And with Hezbollah comes Iranian influence.

Iran’s leaders are clearly preparing for the possibility of Assad’s fall. Even while claiming nefarious outsiders are fomenting the unrest in Syria, they have begun to add veiled criticisms of the regime’s brutal crackdown, an obvious means of pandering to the street.

What’s more, Iran’s leaders perceive that it is the U.S. position, not theirs, that has weakened in the region. They see U.S. troops withdrawing precipitously from both Iraq and Afghanistan; U.S. relations with Pakistan turning ever more sour; and Arab dictators who have been propped up by America for years under threat or already gone. The brazen nature of the Washington assassination plot supports the idea that Iran sees the U.S. as soft.

Given this perception, Iran is asserting itself. In the past two years, it has eschewed serious engagement with the U.S. on the Iranian nuclear program, Afghanistan or anything else. Rebuffing the U.S. idea of a hot line to avoid conflict in the Persian Gulf, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, Iran’s navy commander said, “The presence of the U.S. in the Persian Gulf is illegitimate and makes no sense.”

Iran’s goals are to hasten the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq and fill the void left behind. Iran has increased its outreach to the Taliban and is pushing to complete a project to supply natural gas to Pakistan through a pipeline connecting the two countries. In Iraq, it has supported stepped-up attacks by the Iranian-backed Shiite resistance and is talking about having an expanded role after the Americans leave, for instance by volunteering to train the military. Iran is also exploring diplomatic relations with Egypt, which it has not had in years.

In this U.S. election season, presidential candidates will be tempted to propose strategies to contain Iran’s aspirations. To be seriously effective, such plans would require Arab countries as well as Russia and China, major trading partners of Iran, to sign on to a concerted policy of isolating the country. That’s unlikely to happen, given the Arab world’s preoccupation with Libya and Syria and the eagerness of Russia and China to do business with Iran.

Moreover, if the U.S. confronts Iran directly, it would probably work to the advantage of Iranian leaders, allowing them to divert attention from domestic woes such as inflation, unemployment and the embarrassing alienation between Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The U.S. should not hand them that opportunity. [see comments above for a rebuttal]

The alternative is to let Iran’s ambitious regional strategy play out. So far, it hasn’t gone so well. Iran has clashed over Syria with Turkey, which is hosting anti-Assad forces. And Iran’s strained relations with the other big Mideast power, Saudi Arabia, have been tested anew by the Washington plot and by the suspicious assassination in May of a Saudi diplomat in Karachi, Pakistan.

Iran expects greater influence in Iraq and Afghanistan once U.S. troops leave, but with that will come greater burdens. Once absent, America can no longer be the focus of opposition in both places. Instead, Iran may replace the U.S. as the target of popular anger, blamed for the failure of government to meet people’s needs. Iran may prove no more able to pacify Iraq and Afghanistan than the U.S. has been. Iran is adept at causing security headaches in the region but is untested when it comes to resolving them.

Failure on that front would leave Iran, rather than the U.S., in the middle of renewed civil conflict in Iraq or Afghanistan. It also would have direct implications for Iran domestically. Renewed chaos in either country would send refugees flooding into Iran and increase drug trafficking and violence in the border areas. [the West cannot wait for this to happen, because the nuclear project is going full-steam ahead; even if this "renewed civil conflict in Iraq or Afghanistan" happens, as it likely will, and such conflict will be good, it won't stop that nuclear project -- only military force will do so, and that is the whole point of Vali Nasr's piece -- to head off that use of force]

Iran may come to remember fondly the period when the U.S. military absorbed resentments in the region.

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Posted on 10/31/2011 10:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Monday, 31 October 2011
A Musical Interlude: Love Me Tonight (Annette Hanshaw)
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Listen here.

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Posted on 10/31/2011 10:05 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Is Europe being
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Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Vienna Courtroom, November, 2010

Earlier today, we published a review of a new book by Paul Marshall and Nina Shea of the Washington, DC –based Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom, Silenced: How Apostasy & Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide.  

The title of our review now appears to be prescient: Warning! The OIC Wants to Silence Free Speech Around the Globe.

Our bottom line review comment about the Marshall Shea volume was:

It is a powerful indictment of the Saudi-based OIC that strives, as the authors say “ostensibly to protect Islam from criticism but also serves the purpose of shielding from criticism those who claim the right to rule in the name of Islam. [It is] intended to demand that Western governments punish all those within their borders who have purportedly insulted Islam.” 

In our review we discussed the OIC agenda and the complicity of the EU and the Obama Administration. We noted:

Silenced contains important documentation of the agenda of the OIC and its prominent members - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan. That agenda, as the title conveys, is to impose Islamic Sharia doctrine on Western freedom of speech.   

[. . .]

The OIC's anti- blasphemy agenda has been presented in the EU, obsessed with multiculturalism until recent declarations of failure by major leaders in the UK, France and Germany. The authors note the adoption in 2008 of new hate speech guidelines by the Council of Europe (CoE):

. . . [would make individuals] subject to prosecution, offending authors, artists, and including those who have directly or indirectly contributed to the circulation of such statement or work of art; publishers, editors, broadcasters, journalists, art dealers, artistic directors or museum managers.

They point out that the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe used operative terms like “gratuitously offensive speech,” “no right to offend” and the new language of “religious freedom of citizens and their religious feelings not to be insulted.”

Prior to finishing the review we had received notice from Elizabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff of Vienna, Austria about an upcoming OSCE Meeting in Vienna on November 10-11th on “The Prevention of Racism, Xenophobia and Hate Crimes through Educational and Awareness-Raising Initiatives.”

We cited Ms. Wolff in our NER book review as one of the brave free thinkers in the EU convicted for criticizing Islam, a religion she  learned about first hand from her episodes of living in the Muslim Ummah as the daughter of diplomats and later as a translator. During our interview with her –see here - she provided insights into her background and why she considers free speech imperiled in the EU. She told us how important our First Amendment is in protecting free speech both here and abroad. She learned that through a ‘boring’ middle school civics class in Chicago when her parents were posted there. Her conviction and fines handed down by a Viennese court were the results of a hearing brought by a leftist Austrian news weekly. The court decision was indicative that criticism of Islam is verboten under laws in Ms. Wolff’s Austria.

This evening, we received evidence of how far the OIC agenda of silencing free speech has gone in the EU. We received a forthcoming article from Adam Savit of the Center for Security Policy (CSP) containing the comments of Wolff about the release on October 28th of new guidelines for teachers on Islamophobia produced by the ODIHR, the Council of Europe and UNESCO and the presence of OIC representatives. The CSP is endeavoring, in response to Ms. Wolff’s request, to solicit representatives of US NGOs concerned about these developments in the EU to send representatives to the supplementary OSCE meeting in Vienna on November 10-11thth.

What follows is the CSP release with comments from Wolff of Pax Europa:

 On 28 October the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) held a conference in Vienna on “confronting intolerance and discrimination against Muslims in public discourse.” Among the featured speakers was Special Adviser to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Ömür Orhun. The OIC has been persistent in its efforts to combat any free and open debate about Islam and Shariah.

Free speech advocate Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff represented Pax Europa at the conference insisting that:

…criticism of a religion, including Islam, must remain legitimate. This is echoed by the OSCE: “Criticisms of religious practices . . . are legitimate speech.” We believe, however, that while Muslims are not a monolithic group, for those Muslims who accept Islam as an ideology, there are elements of Islamic law that are monolithic, in that all Muslims worldwide, whether they live in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America, consider the Koran and the Hadith (authentic sayings of Mohammed) as the basis of their legal system. Certainly groups like the Muslim Brotherhood profess this! How are groups like Pax Europa to discuss such issues if not allowed to speak to the language and doctrines that define them?

Despite this the OSCE released a 72-page document entitled Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims: Addressing Islamophobia through Education co-published by ODIHR, the Council of Europe and UNESCO. It is interesting to note that UNESCO today recognized and admitted “Palestine” as a member state despite the governance of the annihilationist Islamic movement Hamas in Gaza and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority which continues to incite violence against Jews in media and textbooks.

“The first of its kind, this document addresses the specific characteristics of intolerance against Muslims and provides practical guidance to educators on how to address this issue in the classroom,” said Janez Lenarčič, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

The OSCE is holding a similar meeting on November 10-11 in Vienna entitled “Prevention of Racism, Xenophobia and Hate Crimes through Educational and Awareness-Raising Initiatives.” Unfortunately due to the dominance at the OSCE of bad actors such as the Turkish organization Council for Justice, Equality and Peace (COJEP), these meetings focus inordinate attention on “Islamophobia” and essentially advocate for enforcing Shariah blasphemy codes on non-Muslim nation-states that infringe upon basic free speech rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Any non-governmental organization (NGO) can register, and your base of operations need not be Europe. The OSCE describes itself as “the world's largest regional security organization” whose membership includes “56 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America,” including the United States. We encourage all free-speech minded NGO’s to register here for the next conference starting on November 10. The registration deadline is technically tomorrow, but the OSCE regularly allows late registrations.

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Posted on 10/31/2011 9:23 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Monday, 31 October 2011
John F. Burns Still Can't Envisage A Victory In Iraq Defined As Internecine Warfare
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October 31, 2011

A Complicated Close for U.S. in Iraq

John F. Burns, The New York Times’s senior foreign correspondent, covered the months leading up to the war in Iraq in 2002 and 2003 from inside Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, then served as Baghdad bureau chief from 2004 to 2007.

LONDON — Nine weeks left, and common sense at last, after nearly nine years of agony and misgiving: that, assuredly, has been the reaction of many Americans to President Obama’s announcement this month that the last American troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by Dec. 31. Polls have long shown that a majority of Americans considered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 to have been a major mistake, the costs in lost American and Iraqi lives too high, the burden of at least three-quarters of a trillion dollars in American military spending too heavy for American taxpayers to bear, the damage to America’s standing in the world likely to take long years to repair.

History will render its own judgment on the ways that America’s war was brought to an end, and those negatives, incontrovertible as they seem now, may in time be weighed against other factors still in the balance, including the price to be paid for pulling out in terms of the consequences for Iraq’s tortured course to a post-Saddam Hussein political settlement. At the worst, as some high-ranking Iraqi officials and American military commanders warned in the course of the negotiations that preceded Mr. Obama’s Oct. 21 announcement, the removal of the tripwire that a residual American force of some size would have represented could open the way for a new fracturing of Iraq’s fragile and fractious political center.

Down that road, in the darkest reckonings, lie the possibility of worsening violence by Sunni and Shiite militias; [why is this a bad thing? Why is this not a good thing? Does John F. Burns, senior correspondent for the New York Times, not think the Iran-Iraq War was, for the world's non-Muslims, a good thing? Does he not agree it should ideally have gone on forever?] a resurgence of al Qaeda as a murderous wild card; an intensification of covert Iranian meddling and offsetting manipulations by Iran’s enemies among the region’s Sunni-majority states; and heightened factional strains within the Iraqi security forces, even their gradual disintegration.[the list of horribles is a list of desiderata if the goal is understood to be the weakening of the Camp of Islam. This is something that is apparently as impossible for John F. Burns to conceive as it is for any of those who have been making policy in Washington in the last decade. Why?] With American troops gone, and with them the role they have played as the ultimate guarantor of the new constitutional rules adopted under American occupation, all bets, at least potentially, will be off.

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Interactive Feature Drawing Down, Moving Ahead

The end of the combat mission in Iraq will open a precarious new chapter in the Iraqi-American post-invasion relationship.

Could there be a return to the incipient civil war of 2005 to 2007? A military coup in Baghdad, and the rise of a new Iraqi strongman (if not, all would hope, in the brutal tradition of Saddam)? Yes, to both questions — though the argument that has prevailed in American deliberations is that both outcomes are unlikely, and in any case ultimately unavoidable, if American troops are not to be held hostage interminably to the insolubles of Iraqi politics. Optimists in the White House and State Department, and proud office-holders in the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, insist that the new Iraqi institutions, including the armed forces and the supremacy of parliament, are sufficiently rooted now, and the resolve of most Iraqis not to allow a return to chaos so firm, that there can be no going back.

In any case, Mr. Maliki was unable to muster the political backing he needed, particularly from the powerful political bloc headed by the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, for giving the Pentagon the guarantees it wanted of indemnity from Iraqi courts, a condition that has been a staple of all American deployments overseas, including Germany, where American forces have been based continuously since 1945. Those blocking the indemnity surely knew what they were doing in placing an effective veto on any continued American troop presence. In the case of Mr. Sadr — the perennial American nemesis in Iraq, a man who twice led uprisings against American troops and the mentor of a street politics that turned on seething demonstrations calling for an American withdrawal — he may well see the Obama announcement as his greatest triumph, removing the ultimate impediment to his own vaunting political ambitions.

But Mr. Sadr is only a symbol of a much wider concern. The unremitting reality of the new Iraq is that America will be leaving behind a country that has failed to resolve any of the deep fissures that lay hidden, and suppressed, under the carapace of Saddam’s tyranny. Over the best part of a decade since America set out to engender the attitudes fundamental to the building of a civil society, perilously little has been achieved that promises to survive the American era: no abiding level of trust between rival sectarian, regional and political groups, rooted in the recognition of an overriding common interest; no ingrained willingness to compromise, on the division of power, and, in Iraq, on disputes over territory, division of the nation’s oil wealth, and other spoils; and no convincing commitment to forsake retribution and vengeance for past ills, real or imagined.

These are Iraqi, not American, failures, and it may yet be that Iraqis, in their own reckoning of the best and the worst that the American invasion brought them, will, over the years, come to a more balanced ledger than seemed likely during the most tumultuous years of the occupation. Anybody watching the terrible, bloodied end of Muammar el-Qaddafi in the heat and dust of Libya this month — his summary execution by the rebels, and all the foreboding that carried for Libya as it sets out to construct its own future — could pause to reflect on the more orderly, or at least less barbaric, capture of Saddam Hussein by American troops in December 2003.

There was no lynching then, but a prolonged interrogation in American custody that guaranteed Saddam’s safety; and, ultimately a trial, flawed as it was, as was a court-approved execution, touched by elements of mob justice. The dissimilarities were instructive, but so, too, the similarities, in the popular rejoicing that came with both dictators’ ends. That, on balance, will surely be counted among the positives of the American war, to be set against the chaos, and the loss of more than 100,000 civilian lives, that Iraq has endured as the price of the war.

Mr. Obama left room in his announcement for an agreement in future negotiations with the Iraqi government on basing a modest-size American training mission in Iraq, or perhaps in neighboring Kuwait, after the last main force troops have left. But even at the thicker end of the numbers that have been under discussion in recent months — 3,000 to 5,000, based in Iraq — the force levels, and their limited combat capabilities, might not have been a sufficient tripwire to inhibit the extremes of political mayhem. To achieve that would have required the much larger American residual force, up to 50,000, that was under discussion since the Dec. 31, 201,1 withdrawal date was affirmed by Mr. Obama last year.

That was an option that won strong favor among some powerful Iraqis, including some in Mr. Maliki’s inner circle, who had been in the forefront of those demanding an end to the American occupation in the years when the demagogic rewards of playing to the Iraqi gallery came at no practical risk, since there was no prospect, then, of that happening. In the past year, in particular, with the prospect of facing the future without the steadying presence of American troops pressing in, an increasing band of Iraqis in the new establishment in Baghdad have been saying, some publicly and many more privately, that it is too soon for the American hand to be removed. One of the most powerful of these voices was that of Babakir Zebari, Iraq’s army chief of staff — a Kurd, incidentally, and thus by nature sensitive to changes that could make the Kurds hostage again to an aggressive, winner-takes-all government in Baghdad — who has said that Iraq’s forces will not be ready to guarantee the country’s security on their own until 2020.

As would be expected, none of the worst-case possibilities found voice in Mr. Obama’s announcement about the withdrawal. For anybody who experienced the war at its worst, there was a sense of deep relief for America, and a reaffirmation of the workings of American democracy, in hearing Mr. Obama’s resonant words: “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.” And: “The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in support of our troops. This is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.”

No cut-and-run here, but the fulfillment of a pledge Mr. Obama made in his 2008 campaign, and of a political and military plan going back well before that, which was hinged to a progressive winding down of the American military involvement. While the mechanics of the drawdown were often argued over bitterly, among American commanders as much as among American politicians, the basic aim of handing the security of Iraq back to its own forces — “We stand down, they stand up” — has been unwavering since Gen. George W. Casey was the American commander in Baghdad from 2004 to 2007. General Casey, of course, gave way to Gen. David H. Petraeus, who emerged as the dominant American commander of the war after President George W. Bush chose him to replace General Casey and to oversee the 30,000-strong “surge” of 2007-9 that saw such a rapid turnaround of America’s fortunes in the conflict.

General Casey argued against the surge, and paid with his command for his persistence, but his arguments then are worth recalling as the American war approaches its end. A few weeks before the surge was announced, and at a time when the arguments over the surge were being fought out in tense teleconferences between the White House and General Casey and his command staff in Baghdad, the general explained his views as we flew over the Iraqi desert in a Black Hawk helicopter after visiting an Iraqi police training base 100 miles south of Baghdad.

His voice barely audible in my headset over the roar of the rotors, he said that he agreed that military gains, particularly in Baghdad, could be won with the five additional combat brigades that Mr. Bush — and General Petraeus — favored. But without progress among Iraqi leaders to a broad political “reconciliation,” he said, any gains would be temporary, and vulnerable to being reversed when the course toward withdrawal resumed. The net of it, he said, was that the expenditure of more American lives, and more American money, as well as further strains on America’s already depleted fighting capability, could end with the country back where it was at the outset, dependent on recalcitrant Iraqi politicians (not the word he used) for the exit from Iraq that Americans so clearly wanted. “At some point,” he said, “they have to understand that we’re going.”

That point, barring some last-minute reversal by Mr. Maliki and his colleagues, appears now to have been reached. It may be too soon for their political agenda, and it may risk America having to watch from afar as the sands of Iraq bury all it had hoped to bequeath, in terms of a stable, sustainable government and at least the foundations of a civil society. But America, for all its mistakes — including, as so many believe, the decision to invade in the first place — will at least have the comfort of knowing that it did pretty much all it could do, within the limits of popular acceptance in blood and treasure, to open the way for a better Iraqi future. ["blood and treasure" -- if anyone writes that phrase, or uses it, thinking he is hitting a high churchillian note, he's wrong -- for many decades it has been a comical phrase, used by the careless, and those who use it deserve ridicule]]

 

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Posted on 10/31/2011 3:27 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Monday, 31 October 2011
One for the Rat
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by Esmerelda Weatherwax (November 2011)


I made a visit to what is left of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire last week. 

Sherwood Forest was one of the King’s largest hunting properties, many miles of deer park which was not all thick woodland. Some was open heath and grassland. At its largest it covered one fifth of the county of Nottinghamshire. The name Sherwood is first recorded in 958AD in the form Sciryuda meaning Woodland belonging to the Shire. more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2011 3:23 PM by NER
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Why? What do you mean, why?
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by Mary Jackson (November 2011)


When he was five, my nephew’s idea of a joke was:

“Two girls walking down the street.  Which one has the blue dress on?”  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2011 3:08 PM by NER
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Monday, 31 October 2011
The Bee and the Lamb
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(Part 1)

by Takuan Seiyo (November 2011)


The bee in its host

On a freezing day in late November 1913, an indigent with a sorrow-etched face and no topcoat was ejected in a wilderness area from a train headed from Estonia to Warsaw. He had no ticket, for he could not afford one. An eighth child of a dirt-poor Estonian peasant, the outcast was on his way to claim the throne of Poland to which he was convinced he was the rightful heir. more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2011 2:58 PM by NER
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Monday, 31 October 2011
In Libya, Where Amuraths An Amurath Succeeds
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From The Guardian:

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

October 31, 2011

Libya after Gaddafi: new freedoms and songs of revolution bring same old fears

In his second dispatch from Tripoli, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad follows the victors of the country's civil war and finds that the new militias are motivated by vengeance and rivalry in equal measure

Libya
In post-Gaddafi Libya, patrols by fighters from rebel military councils have led to clashes with residents in districts around Tripoli. Photograph: Marco Longari/AFP

The military council of the Freemen of Libya Brigade sat around a table in an abandoned compound in Tripoli. Sunk deep into leather chairs designed for more prosperous times, they were contemplating the fate of a load of "cargo" they were about to receive.

"We have a big cargo coming. We need a big car," said Essam, jovial with a shaved head and a long goatee.

He was the only proper "revolutionary" on the council, having smuggled weapons into Tripoli by sea during the uprising, fought in the western mountains and led a small unit in the battle to liberate Tripoli in the final days before the collapse of the regime.

"Take the pick-up truck," said a man with crinkly hair and a thin moustache. He was a former general in the internal security police. He had defected to the rebel cause in June, he said.

"It's a lot of cargo, effendi," objected Essam. "Why don't they take the prison truck?" suggested the third man, a former intelligence officer.

"Take the prison truck but make sure to send a car filled with guards," said the fourth, a former security officer who always carried a pile of papers that gave him the look of a maths teacher. The big prison truck wasn't ready, so the men finally agreed on the pick-up truck.

The four were members of one of the many rebel military councils that have sprung all over Tripoli since it fell.

They were busying themselves with detaining former members of the Gaddafi regime, collecting weapons from his sympathisers, providing security and running their own jail and justice system. The council members spent hours every day meeting people who came with grievances against former militiamen or security officers.

They issued warrants and dispatched teams to apprehend the wanted men, and ran a well-stocked jail. There was also a resident prosecutor whose job was to question suspects, order their release or extend the detention time.

"Of course, if they are regime criminals, when you ask them about their crimes, they will deny them," said the man who looked like a maths teacher. "We have to use some pressure on them to make them confess." After the meeting, Essam briefed his soldiers.

Among them were experienced fighters, a driver, a mechanical engineer, an oil engineer. The rest consisted of young men in brand new fatigues and bandanas. They climbed into two pick-up trucks, one mounted with a heavy machine gun. I sat next to Essam in a truck that was mounted with an iron box with only a small grille for ventilation. This truck was for the "cargo".

We drove to Abu Salim in southern Tripoli, a poor neighbourhood of low-rise, state housing apartment buildings, painted in beige and revolutionary green, which the rebels accuse of being pro-Gaddafi. Almost every other building was pockmarked with heavy machine gun bullets. Some of the apartments were burnt and gutted, charred furniture jutting out of the windows. When we arrived rebels had sealed off the area by parking their war wagons in the middle of streets. A rebel car with two loudspeakers passed up and down the main street broadcasting revolutionary songs. The plan was simple, Essam said. Gaddafi had distributed a lot of guns to the people of this neighbourhood. The rebels would go from house to house, search for weapons and detain wanted fugitives.

Three units were to conduct this operation, one from Misrata, one from Essam's Freemen of Libya unit, and the local rebel military council of Abu Salim. The Misratans, experienced and well-equipped, had a reputation as ruthless fighters who didn't trust anyone else. Essam's unit respected them but didn't really like them, and both the Misratans and the Freemen mistrusted the local rebels of Abu Salim. "They became rebels after Tripoli was liberated," said one of Essam's men, smirking.

There was a commotion among the fighters when we arrived after a fighter from the Freemen of Libya had attacked a Misratan fighter. The Misratan, thin, bearded and missing his front teeth, was wearing a military jacket with the rank of colonel.

The Freeman said it was the rank of Gaddafi, and as such it was an insult to the revolution. The Misratan insisted on wearing it and more fighters were joining the fray. Essam stopped the possible brawl by thrusting his massive belly between the factions. He shouted at his men to gather under a faraway building. They stood around him like ducklings, filled with awe and admiration.

"I want you to split into three groups: each group take a separate building," he said.

The fighters shouted a rebel war cry and ran with their guns. Essam followed with his pistol drawn, leading three teenage fighters into one of the buildings. In the dark and filthy entrance of the building, one fighter stood behind the door pointing his gun at the hostile neighbourhood outside, while Essam and the others climbed the stairs. There was a smell of burnt cooking oil.

The fighters banged on the door of the first apartment. A teenage boy opened it. The fighters did not look much older than him. "Do you have weapons?" shouted the fighters at the same time.

"No."

"How's that possible? You all took weapons from the brigades."

"No, we didn't," replied the boy.

"You did. You'd better bring out the weapons and no one will harm you. If we get in then we'll rip up the house." A frail old woman in a white headscarf that covered her shoulders came to the door to ask what was happening. "They want to search the house for weapons," she was told.

"My boys," said the woman. "We couldn't believe it when we got rid of Gaddafi, who used to send his men knocking at doors to terrorise us. Now you are doing the same."

"We are not the same," thundered Essam. "We are not Gaddafi's men. We don't kill and torture, we ask politely. If you have no weapons then who is shooting at us? You people of Abu Salim are all pro-Gaddafi. Your sons, where are they? Why are they hiding?"

The young fighters searched the flat but found nothing. They took the boy's mobile from him "to look for suspicious numbers" and moved on to the second flat. Here two men opened the door. The same conversation took place. A search turned up a bayonet sheath.

"Where is the gun?" asked Essam.

"No gun," replied one of the flat's occupants. "Just this. A friend gave me the knife. I threw it away." The fighters grabbed the man and dragged him downstairs, pushing him with the muzzle of a gun. They put him in the metal box in the back of the pickup and shot the bolt.

Then someone fired into the air.

Like cats hearing the sound of a bird, the fighters stood tensely, straining their ears. Then one by one, they started firing their guns, a staccato at first then cascading into a monsoon of bullets. The teenage fighters ran to hide behind the buildings, sticking their guns from around a corner and firing. The more experienced fighters stood in the middle of the street and fired.

Everyone was shooting in the direction of an imagined enemy somewhere in the near distance. The Freemen were squeezed between the Misratans and Abu Salim rebels, the Misratan bullets were whizzing close by, while both Misratans and the Freemen bullets were landing near the Abu Salim lot.

Essam knew it was just a matter of time before a real battle between the three groups started. He walked in the middle of the street and raised his arms, shouting: "Stop, stop". His voice was lost in the cacophony of bullets but his big body did the work and gradually the firing subsided.

Someone shouted "sniper" and pointed at the first building in the street. A dozen men ran towards it.

A few minutes later they emerged dragging a boy. Two men squeezed his neck in a head lock while the rest kicked and punched him. More men joined the frenzy. They dragged him into a car and the fighters pushed and shoved each other to squeeze through the door and attack the boy, shouting insults. "Gaddafi dog", "son of a whore" ... The boy lay there taking the punishment. He didn't cry or shout. Someone put a small video camera in front of his face and asked him why he fought for Gaddafi.

The father of the boy, a short, fat man, emerged panting from the building. "Take me with him," he pleaded. He tried to get into the car but the fighters were still crowding around the door trying to land blows on the boy. No one paid him any attention. Eventually he was allowed to go into the metal box on the back of Essam's pickup.

The fighters resumed the search for suspects. First they brought three black men. They were apparently all Libyans but the rebels said they might be mercenaries with fake ID cards.

Then a half-blind Tunisian was brought in. They had found the sights of a mortar at his house. "I was trying to sell it," said the Tunisian meekly. "I can't even see."

"We will make you see when we get you to jail," said a fighter. The box was filling up. It stood in the hot sun and the prisoners were making faint complaining noises. As we drove around the neighbourhood, the "cargo" banged against the hot metal shell of the box in the back every time Essam swerved violently around the narrow streets.

Almost all of Essam's men had spent time in Gaddafi's prisons. Many of them had told me harrowing stories about tiny airless cells and the torture inflicted on them.

We parked at another street. A woman in a black headscarf and a black dress shouted at Essam and his men from her first floor window: "You are not different from that dog Gaddafi. You are all the same. We are tired of this."

A girl dragged her inside and shut the window. A hostile crowd of people was gathering now. It was 4pm.

Thirteen men piled into the iron box were knocking at its sides, saying they couldn't breathe. There were confiscated weapons stashed in the rebel pickup, along with mobile phones. A whole neighbourhood that might have been sympathetic to Gaddafi had now become entrenched in its hostility to the rebels. We drove back to the company compound where the "cargo" was locked up in a cell.

"The people of Abu Salim were not terrorised by the gunmen sweeping through the neighbourhood or because there was shooting," a doctor who worked in Abu Saleem hospital later told me. "It was because of the arbitrary nature of the arrest. You don't know who or when you will be arrested. You can be arrested any time for any reason or even without a reason.

"This is what created the fear in Gaddafi's Libya, Saddam's Iraq and in Syria now. It is sad to see this happening in our revolutionary Libya." A few days later I stood next to a Abu Baker, a rebel commander in Tajoura. He was fat and long bearded and very funny and energetic, he jumped from one leg to other all the time.

He was the neighbourhood football cheerleader, he used his network of football contacts to organise the resistance to Qaddafi's police and security forces.

He stood manning a checkpoint at the main street in Tajoura that was also an exit point from Tripoli on the coastal road.

He stopped the small mini vans and looked inside, and randomly picked people for questioning.

"you, and you amd you." He pinted at three men, one sitting in the first seat and two in the back row.

One of the back row guys produced a rebel card, the other two were pulled out of the car.

Surrounded by his gunmen he took the two men to a nearby prefabricated (room caravan the thing used in construction sights.)

"I know you both were soldiers for Gaddafy, hand your weapons and you are free to go."

One quickly agreed, he called his family to bring him a gun so he can hand it to Abu Baker to get released.

The other, said he had no gun, though he admitted that he was a conscripted soldier few years ago.

He was handcuffed and pushed down on his knees Abu Baker towering over him, a setting sun filled the room with warm orange light.

"My son give me your weapon."

"I don't have one." replied the young man.

Abu baker slapped him hard on his cheek, his eyes filled with tears.

"See what happens when you say no? Now stay here and think you have half an hour."

I asked Abu Baker, how did he know the fighters from the civilians. "From their eyes, look at him, the white of his eyes is red, that's because Qaddafi gave them pills to fight us."

The boy's eyes were crimson red, he lay on the floor crying softly.

 

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Posted on 10/31/2011 2:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Quantum Infinities Spinning on the Head of a Pin
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by Mark Goldblatt (November 2011)


If you like intellectual satire, and don’t mind shooting fish in a barrel, the last four decades in the humanities have been a hunter’s paradise. The advent of postmodern gibberish has given rise to a new and exceptionally preposterous species: the bluff academic. Literature professors, art historians and gender scholars now scatter their conference papers with howlingly nonsensical references to Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity or Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in order to wow their gullible peers. more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2011 2:52 PM by NER
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Uruguay’s Bilingual Heritage and Portuñol
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by Norman Berdichevsky (November 2011)


Like Belgium, Uruguay was established as a buffer state between two major nations (Brazil and Argentina), near the strategic mouth of the La Plata River, where the Rio Parana and the Rio Uruguay join. At the beginning of Uruguayan independence in 1828, the country had a scarce population of only 75,000. Only one major city, the capitol, Montevideo existed. The rest of the population was scattered in a northwestern, Portuguese speaking region and Spanish speaking South. more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2011 2:44 PM by NER
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Monday, 31 October 2011
After Fifty Years, Atticus Finch Shows Some Wear
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by Scott Herring (November 2011)


Would intellectuals ever be apt to think of themselves as bigots? Except for sociopaths, surely the answer is no. The desire to believe oneself virtuous is too strong. Yet we engage in bigotry all the time. I see it regularly, right out in the open, here on my California university campus. The bigotry, of course, is directed at groups that, by unspoken agreement, are fair game—white Southerners, for instance, who have been a source of both fun and fear since before the Civil War.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2011 2:24 PM by NER
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Monday, 31 October 2011
European Parliament On Christian Communities In Egypt, Syria
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European Parliament stands up for Christians in Egypt and Syria

31-10-2011



Members of the European Parliament have strongly condemned the killing of peaceful protesters in Egypt and Syria and call on both countries’ authorities to protect Christian communities, in a resolution passed on Thursday 27 October.
 
Egypt
 
A press release said the European Parliament (EP) strongly condemns the killing of protestors in Egypt, and stresses the importance of an independent and transparent investigation. The EP calls on the authorities to ensure that Copts “do not fall victim to violent attacks and can live in peace and freely express their beliefs throughout the country”, the resolution says. MEPs also call for protection of churches, to put an end to their destruction and to continuous aggression by Islamic extremists.
 
MEPs also expressed their concern about the kidnapping of Coptic girls who have been forced to convert to Islam. They add that Egyptian authorities must end discrimination against Coptic Christians. Parliament considers that the EU should take measures if serious human rights violations occur in Egypt.
 
They call upon Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to put an end to the emergency law and to military trials of civilians immediately, as it violates the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, MEPs underline.
 
Syria
 
MEPs are also expressed deep concern about the situation of Christians in Syria. The resolution notes that thousands of Iraqi Christians went to Syria to escape targeted violence in Iraq. Nevertheless, the Christian population in Syria may have dropped from 10% to 8% of the total.
 
The European Parliament has condemned actions inciting inter-confessional conflict, and urges Syrian authorities to provide reliable and efficient protection for the Christian communities, and expresses support for Christians in the country.
 
It also condemns the brutal use of force by Syrian authorities against protesters, pro-democracy activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and medical personnel, and reiterates that President Bashar al-Assad and his regime must relinquish power immediately.
 
MEPs believe that the EU should further encourage and support the emergence of organised Syrian democratic opposition forces both within and outside the country. (ENPI Info Centre)
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Posted on 10/31/2011 2:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Crown of Horns: Male Self-Betrayal in Shakespeare
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by David P. Gontar (November 2011)


Tell me where is cuckold bred -
Or in the heart, or in the head?
Is it merely fantasy,
Or what we truly want to be?


 I.  The Self-Cuckolding of a Trojan

There are passages in Shakespeare that seem to leap off the page as though composed yesterday. A good example occurs in Troilus and Cressida, where two lovers, about to launch an affair, cynically take the measure of male potency in relation to female desire. The results are revealing, and not particularly reassuring. more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2011 2:18 PM by NER
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Wine, Women and Song
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by Geoffrey Clarfield (November 2011)

As they approached the city, which filled the strangers with astonishment, “This” said Imlac to the prince, "is the place where travellers and merchants assemble from all the corners of the earth. You will find here men of every character, and every occupation. Commerce here is honorable; I will act as a merchant , and you shall live as strangers who have no other end of travel than curiosity. It will soon be observed that we are rich: our reputation will procure us access to all whom we shall desire to know; you will see all the conditions of humantiy, and enable yourself at leasure to make your choice of life." They now entered the town, stunned by the noise and offended by the crowds...

They Enter Cairo and Find Every Man Happy
-- Rasselas, Samuel Johnson 1759

An unimaginable number of people walk the streets of Cairo. It is as if a river of humanity is in a continuous state of flow. There is never a moment’s stillness.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2011 2:12 PM by NER
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Monday, 31 October 2011
The Irish on Israel: Why Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore Lambasted the Jewish State
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by Robert Harris (November 2011)


For a long time Ireland has had a relatively antagonistic relationship with Israel, which can at times be more keenly felt than diplomatic tensions with many other Western nations. It is not unusual to see articles and letters by Israelis expressing bafflement at this hostility. Most visibly perhaps, the Irish element in the international pro-Palestinian movement, for example in the flotillas to Gaza, is surprisingly large for a nation with a small populace. Last year an Israeli ambassador expressed the view that officials in Israel’s Foreign Ministry thought of Ireland as a "lost cause". more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2011 2:07 PM by NER
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Warning! The OIC Wants to Silence Free Speech Around the Globe
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by Jerry Gordon (November 2011)


Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide
by Nina Shea and Paul Marshall
Oxford University Press (2011)

480 pp.

 

Next to my desk is a framed autographed lithograph of the Muhammad cartoon with a bomb–shaped turban drawn by Kurt Westergaard in 2005 and published along with 11 others in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. It was a gift for an interview I did with the feisty Westergaard when he was in North America in the fall of 2009.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2011 1:53 PM by NER
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Monday, 31 October 2011
A Severed Wasp: Orwell - Woolf - Kierkegaard
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by David Wemyss  (November 2011)


Speech and thought fast as the wind and the moods that give order to a city he has taught himself, and how to flee the arrows of the inhospitable frost under clear skies and the arrows of the storming rain. He has resource for everything. Lacking resource in nothing he strides towards what must come. From Death alone he shall procure no escape, but from baffling diseases he has devised flights. - Sophocles (the "Ode To Man" from Antigone).


George Orwell once wrote about “a rather cruel trick I once played on a wasp. He was sucking jam on my plate, and I cut him in half. He paid no attention, merely went on with his meal, while a tiny stream of jam trickled out of his severed œsophagus. Only when he tried to fly away did he grasp the dreadful thing that had happened to him”.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2011 1:45 PM by NER
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Knowledge Without Knowledge
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by Theodore Dalrymple (November 2011)


Recently I reviewed a short book by David Horowitz, a man who has changed his political and philosophical outlook somewhat down the years, to put it no stronger. He has mellowed with age, a process that seems perfectly normal, indeed almost biological, until one remembers than not everyone does mellow with age. Some remain mired in the swamp of their youthful convictions.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2011 1:35 PM by NER
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Mark Steyn On Le Rideau De Mahomet
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Posted on 10/31/2011 11:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Forget Those UNICEF Trick or Treat Boxes This Halloween. Palestinians Get UNESCO Membership in Paris Vote
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Round one in the Palestinian Authority (PA) – PLO/Fatah quest for full UN Membership occurred in Paris, today. The New York Times reported  that the PA was granted full membership in UNESCO by a vote of 107 in favor, with 14 against with 52 abstentions. According to Reuters, US, Canada, Germany vote against, Britain abstained, while Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France voted in favor of Palestinian membership. Under US law, this would mean withdrawal of UNESCO funding. The biennial budget for UNESCO is $640 million. Loss of the US share, approximately 22%, could mean a shortfall of $70 million for 2011 operations.

Note these comments from the striped pants brigade of US diplomats at UNESCO and Secretary of State Clinton:

After the vote, David T. Killion, the American ambassador, said that the United States “remains deeply committed” to UNESCO. But he said that Monday’s decision, which he repeatedly called premature, “will complicate our ability to support UNESCO.” The United States will seek other means to support the agency, Mr. Killion said, although he did not offer specifics about any avenues under consideration.

[. . .]

The Obama administration and UNESCO had tried to avert the approval and diplomats had desperately negotiated with Congress, the Palestinians and other UNESCO member states to find a resolution that would preserve the agency’s budget.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to head off a vote and avoid a cutoff in aid. “We’ve made the point that there are very clear redlines in U.S. legislation and that if those are crossed in UNESCO, that the legislation is triggered,” the department’s spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said last week.

Today’s UNESCO vote will doubtless embolden the PA in its quest for full membership at the UN General Assembly. A vote on its admittance to the international body is scheduled for next Friday, November 11th.  At issue is whether the PA can get a majority of the UN Security and whether the Obama Administration will cast its veto on Palestinian statehood.

Meanwhile, back in the US, if those cute gremlins and goblins tonight on Halloween bring those UNESCO  World Children’s’ Fund boxes; politely tell their big sisters and brothers, moms and dads, “no thanks.”

                        

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Posted on 10/31/2011 11:04 AM by Jerry Gordon
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Le Radeau De Mahomet: An Interview With Jean-Pierre Peroncel-Hugoz
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From 2006, and not one whit less relevant  -- pure gold, in fact -- today:

From islamiquement incorrecte:

 

jeudi 16 mars 2006

Analyse du phénomène : Entretien avec Jean-Pierre Péroncel-Hugoz(a)


Jean-Pierre Perconcel-Hugoz est un vétéran des grands-reporters du Monde où il travailla dès 1969. Il a notamment été correspondant permanent en Algérie, puis en Egypte. Il a publié septs essais ou récits de voyage du Radeau de Mahomet, à Traversées de la France, via Assassinat d'un Poète ou Villes du Sud, sans oublier Une croix sur le Liban. Il dirige chez Eddif, à Casablanca, la collection " Bibliothèque arabo-berbère".
Dans cet entretien accordé à la revue Cités sous le titre " Est-il encore temps de combattre l’islamiquement correct ? " il revient sur le phénomène qu'il avait contribué à dénoncer il y a plus de vingt ans : "l'islamiquement correct ".

Extraits :


[...]

Pourquoi les médias reprennent-ils cette accusation d’islamophobie contre les Français et la brandissent-ils comme réelle, appelant à un devoir de vigilance envers le racisme ?

Les médias, et les classes intellectuelles en général, professeurs, prêtres, politiciens, etc. vivent dans la terreur d’être traités de racistes. Cette hantise les paralyse et leur interdit de formuler la moindre réserve sur l’islam, sur l’islamisme, les musulmans, les Arabes et jusque sur le sujet de l’entrée de la Turquie dans l’Union européenne. On accuse d’islamophobie quiconque ose poser un regard critique sur cette religion, alors même qu’on peut librement s’en prendre au pape et aux papistes. C’est à se taper la tête contre les murs ! Une confusion est savamment entretenue entre les différents concepts de racisme, xénophobie, discrimination, islamophobie, pour obliger le Français à aimer quiconque est différent de lui, ce qui est absurde puisque l’amour, l’affection ne se décrètent pas. Et surtout, pour aimer les autres, il faut d’abord s’aimer soi-même. Or, les Français, à force d’entendre tous les matins, à la radio qu’ils sont de sales gens, ont fini par ne plus s’aimer, par mépriser leur passé, leur culture, le rôle immense qu’ils ont joué et, sans le savoir, continuent à jouer dans la marche du monde par leurs idées, leurs inventions, leur diplomatie, leur littérature, etc. Vous verrez qu’un de ces jours on va nous pondre une loi rendant obligatoire la xénophilie, ce qui sera aussi grotesque que de vouloir contraindre les gens à aimer le chocolat ou le chou-fleur. Il serait à craindre alors que, par réaction, naisse un véritable racisme français, nouveau, inédit. (...)



La tolérance des Français semble toutefois s’émousser singulièrement sur la question du voile. De quoi est-ce le signe ?

Depuis un ou deux générations, les Français se sont habitués à identifier la femme libérées avec les images de créatures nues qui occupent leurs murs ou leur presse, sous forme de publicités hyper-érotisées. Du coup, la présence de dames ou demoiselles voilées les désarçonne, et ils s’interrogent : n’a-t-on pas fait le bonheur des femmes en leur permettant de se dénuder ? Je suis islamophobe, paraît-il, mais dans Le Radeau de Mahomet, j’ai tenu à mentionner à quel point le voile pouvait embellir ou ennoblir les femme et créer une attirance pour elles que les Orientales vêtues à l’occidentale perdent souvent, étant donné ce que sont leurs corps, leur démarches, etc. Il en va de même des Japonaises ou des Hindoues. Que dire d’une Hindoue sans son sari ? Pour ce qui est des musulmanes, je parle du voile traditionnel, et non pas du voile, utilisé comme ostentation, provocation, test de notre patience de Français laïques à tolérer l’intolérable, à savoir ces empiétements chaque jour grandissants que sont ces comportements contraires à nos lois et coutumes. Dans les écoles, dans les services publics, pour les photos d’identité, etc., l’Etat français(et, somme toute, ce devrait être aussi le rôle de Bruxelles, qui légifère sur tout, d’édicter des normes proscrivant les symboles religieux et/ou politiques déplacés dans la vie en société, en fonction des normes européennes) doit y mettre bon ordre et l’interdire, non pas par des lois spectaculaires, mais par de simples arrêtés-comme en Syrie d’ailleurs où les filles, musulmanes ou pas, retirent tout couvre-chef à l’intérieur des écoles. Pour une fois, prenons modèle sur une dictature, celle de Damas, et confectionnons une circulaire ne visant aucune religion en particulier mais prohibant tout couvre-chef, quel qu’il soit, voile, foulard, capuche, casquette de Brooklyn, kippa ou bob. Une loi proscrivant spectaculairement le seul voile des mahométanes dans l’enseignement et les autres services publics blesserait inutilement l’islam et créerait des « martyres ». Quant au voile dans toutes les autres circonstances de la vie, du moment qu’on a accepté que les musulmans fassent souche ici, il faut l’accepter avec les mosquées, le Mecca Cola et les boucheries halal.



Le catholicisme dans ses formes les plus anciennes contient un certain nombre de prescriptions aujourd’hui caduques. Ne peut-on imaginer l’équivalent d’un Vatican II pour l’islam ?

On ne le voit pas venir. L’islam est les musulmans, comme tout ce qui est humain, sont certes capables d’évoluer mais pourquoi cela irait-il dans le sens d’une occidentalisation ? Alors là, pour une fois, quelle superbe de notre part ! En parallèle avec le grand autodénigrement que pratiquent les Français, ils font preuve d’un complexe de supériorité déconcertant : la France, une chance pour l’islam ? Je ne crois pas qu’on puisse inventer une religion sur mesure, un islam à l’eau de rose, plaisant à Mimi Pinson. Cette civilisation de près de mille cinq cents ans, de plus de 1 milliard d’homme, sûre et fière d’elle, comment la changerions-nous à nous seuls et selon nos idées ? C’est impensable, irréalisable : Atatürk, les chahs d’Afghanistan et les Phlavi, qui travaillaient pourtant de l’intérieur, s’y sont cassés les dents. Tout ce que nous pouvons faire, en Europe, c’est imposer aux musulmans qui veulent s’installer définitivement chez nous de renoncer non pas à leur foi, leurs croyances, leurs superstitions, leurs pratiques culinaires ou vestimentaires, mais à la part de leurs obligations ou traditions qui, je le souligne, ne pas forcément mauvaises en soi, mais constituent un « scandale » dans nos sociétés ; je nomme en tout premier lieu l’interdiction du mariage d’une musulmane avec un non-musulman ; l’interdiction, si on est mahométan, de changer de confession ou de ne plus en avoir ; la polygamie ; la répudiation, l’héritage double pour les garçons ; la minoration du témoignage juridique des femmes ; le refus de l’adoption juridique ; l’égorgement des bêtes, ou, sans être Brigitte Bardot, j’y tiens, l’égorgement des bêtes, sans étourdissement préalable.
La grande erreur de nos peu courageux politiques, type Chevènement ou Sarkozy, qui pensent surtout à la prochaine échéance électorale, a été de ne pas imposer des engagements clairs sur ces divers points aux associations musulmanes et de reconnaître l’islam sans contrepartie. Du coup, nous allons vers des drames quotidiens, car les musulmans se croient sans doute autorisés, maintenant, à vivre chez nous exactement comme chez eux ; les heurts vont donc se multiplier, je le crains, entre eux et nous. Sauf si un homme d’Etat d’envergure, un nouveau de Gaulle, se lève et impose aux mahométans de nous respecter-ou de retourner dans leur pays d’origine pour ceux qui le refuseraient. Et si ce sont les musulmans qui l’emportent, nos descendants seront des dhimmis, c’est-à-dire des citoyens minuto jure, rasant les murs, comme les Coptes d’Egypte ou les chaldéens d’Irak-ou comme les juifs et chrétiens de la fameuse Andalousie médiévale, « terre idéale de métissage », fabriquée au XX siècle par la propagande islamomane, mais belle civilisation, il est vrai, car les grandes cultures peuvent très bien prospérer sur inégalités et injustices.
A propos d’Andalousie, il y a aussi de quoi être exaspéré par cette élucubration sortie sans doute au XIX siècle du cerveau masochiste des romantiques et reprise à notre époque, élucubration selon laquelle la sagesse grecque nous aurait été transmise par l’Islam !
C’est bien entendu par Byzance, tombée seulement en 1453, que l’essentiel est passé. Certains penseurs arabes médiévaux, dont Ibn Taymiyya, aujourd’hui référence reconnue des islamistes, n’ont d’ailleurs eu de cesse jeter l’anathème sur la pensée grecque. Les médias européens relayent ce genre de mythes, sans prendre la peine de vérifier les affirmations de tel auteur ou tel idéologue, au reste la plupart du temps non musulman. Ces mythes valorisants sont du pain bénit pour les mahométans : cela fait avancer leurs affaires, et ils auraient bien tort de ne pas en profiter : le Coran ne dit-il pas de nous que nous sommes « stupides » ?



Certains prédicateurs islamiques instrumentalisent la notion de droits de l’homme ? S’il faut mettre en évidence leur pratique du double discours, est –il cependant inconcevable qu’un musulman soit accessible à des notions universelles comme les droits de l’homme ?

Le problème, c’est que je ne sais pas si les droits de l’homme conçus par les Occidentaux sont universels. Cette notion n’a eu tout cas aucun sens en islam, qui ne connaît que les droits de Dieu, d’où le fameux cri qu’on entend maintenant en plein Paris : « Le Coran est notre constitution ! ». Pour l’homme musulman, il existe seulement la notion de liberté juridique : on est libre ou esclave-puisque la charia, sans encourager l’esclavage, reconnaît qu’il est licite, et il continue d’ailleurs à être pratiquée au XXI siècle, au Soudan, au Tchad, et même à La Mecque, où, selon le journaliste algérien établi à Paris, Slimane Zeghidour, il y des enuques dans telle mosquée qu’ils gardent ; et qui dit eunuchat dit en principe esclavage. La chance pour l’islam, si j’ose dire, c’est que le tempérament national français est marqué de toute éternité par une immense naïveté. Les Français ont vu jusqu’ici l’islam comme une religion semblable aux autres, et qui peu à peu s’édulcorerait comme la leur et entrerait dans le moule hexagonal. Il se trouve que ce n’est pas le cas, et que l’islam se caractérise par son autonomie et sa vigueur. ; sentant cette naïveté, il l’utilise pour s’imposer sans s’adapter à la France. Il aurait tort de laisser passer un telle aubaine. Regardez à quel point la situation est, en Europe occidentale, favorable à l’islam qui, sans l’adopter, exploite la démocratie, en utilise à fond tous les droits qui lui sont octroyés, la liberté de conscience, certes, mais aussi les facilités financières : des myriades d’associations musulmanes, la plupart financées par les deniers publics, travaillent sous notre nez contre la francisation des Kabyles, Arabes, Kurdes et autres Comoriens.



Faut-il imputer ce rejet de la France à un traumatisme lié au passé colonial ?

Le traumatisme est dans la tête des Français qu’on a persuadés que la colonisation, notamment des peuples musulmans, fut l’abomination de la désolation. Prenez pourtant un pays comme l’Algérie, qui n’avait pas trois millions d’habitants en 1830, et pour la plupart minés par la malaria, la tuberculose, la pelade ou la syphilis : il s’et retrouvé un gros siècle après avec 9 millions d’habitants, et en bonne santé s’il vous plaît, parce que le premier souci des Français fut non pas de massacrer les indigènes, d’enlever les Sabines ou d’instaurer l’apartheid, mais de créer des dispensaires, d’administrer des vaccins, de fonder des « gouttes de laité, bref de soigner la population. D’où d’ailleurs, l’adage nord-africain : « La France blesse mais elle soigne. » Où est la honte ? On nous oppose le modèle anglo-saxon ; mais aux Etats-Unis, en Australie ou en Nouvelle-Zélande, les colons ont tout bonnement éliminé ou quasiment les autochtones. Les Français se culpabilisent pour leur colonisation, mais les Arabes, eux, ne regrettent pas, au contraire, et ils ont raison, d’avoir conquis et colonisé le Maghreb, l’Andalousie ou les Balkans ; ils ont pour eux, il est vrai, ce que l’écrivain Nicolas Saudray a appelé « l’immense bonne conscience de l’Islam ». On le voit bien d’ailleurs aujourd’hui avec ce qui se passe en France sous nos yeux : aucun musulman ne se pose la question de sa légitimité d’être ici, même s’il y est arrivé avec un visa de tourisme ou un contrat de travail temporaire et y est resté ensuite en ne souciant que de son propre intérêt et jamais de notre avis.



Vous refusez de distinguer entre islam et islamisme ?

Bien sûr, puisque les musulmans entre eux, sauf exception encore une fois, ne font pas cette distinction. Je ne suis pas plus royaliste que le roi. L’islamisme dont j’ai observé vers 1970-1980 les prémices et les premiers développements en Egypte, en Arabie Séoudite, au Soudan, en Perse, au Pakistan, au Sénégal, etc., est la forme conquérante, dynamique de l’islam contemporain. J’ai noté partout chez les musulmans la conviction qu’Allah les a dotés à dessein de la foi, de la force démographique et du pétrole. La volonté d’expansion est en quelque sorte naturelle à l’Islam, qui a toujours voulu prendre Alexandrie, Byzance, Athènes, Rome, Vienne devant les murs de laquelle il a campé à deux reprises et pour la dernière fois en 1683. Le Coran répète aux fidèles de Mahomet qu’ils forment « la meilleure des communautés ». Ainsi croient-ils avoir droit un jour à la maîtrise du monde, pour le bonheur et le salut de celui-ci. Le musulman n’existe pas comme personne, mais seulement comme membre de sa communauté ; hors d’elle il est perdu, comme le poisson éloigné de son banc.



La notion de personne, qui caractérise l’Occident chrétien, n’est-elle pas à même de transformer les musulmans qui vivent en minorité ici ?

-Le musulman type ne peut-être à l’aise que dans une société où l’islam est majoritaire, où en tout cas les règles de la vie musulmane sont respectées, où le temps est rythmé par les prières ou le jeûne, où la viande est halal et les femmes voilées. C’est toute la différence avec les catholiques, les juifs, les bouddhistes ou les shintoïstes qui, nolens volens, s’accomodent de vivre dans d’autres sociétés que la leur. En revanche, il est vrai que, partout où ils la rencontrent, les musulmans s’adaptent à la modernité technique américaine ou européenne, tout en conservant leur mentalité islamique intacte. C’est une de leur forces. On le voit ici dans nos banlieues où les mahométans sont habités par une intime conviction de leur supériorité sur les Gaulois et autres gaouri et mange-cochon. C’est peut-être une des raisons de la fascination d’une partie de l’Occident pour un islam qui, lui, ne propose ni repentance, ni remord, ni doute.
Le notion chrétienne de personne, de sublime en soi, mais qui s’est pervertie ici en individualisme forcené, avec dislocation des liens familiaux et des solidarités sociales, est peu à même de séduire le musulman, dont le système a au moins le mérite de maintenir une très forte solidarité communautaire, par le canal de la religion. C’est ce qui explique d’ailleurs que quelle que soit la violence de leurs dissensions intestines, il suffit qu’on les agresse de l’extérieur pour que les « vrais croyants », comme ils se définissent entre eux, forment aussitôt le « carré », allant s’il le faut jusqu’à couvrir le crime d’un frère en religion. Jamais un musulman ne critique l’islam, car il devient alors un traître : ainsi le notable égyptien Farag Fodda, qui avait osé mentionner publiquement le traitement souvent discriminatoire réservé aux chrétiens autochtones, a-t-il été immédiatement assassiné. Il y a omerta intermusulmanes sur les travers de l’islam. On est d’ailleurs incomplet quand on parle de la dhimmitude réservée aux gens du Livre, chrétiens, israélites ou zoroastriens, qui sont traités en citoyen de seconde zone ; car pour tous ceux qui adhèrent à d’autres religions, ou qui n’en veulent pas, aux athées, l’alternative est en principe entre la conversion et la mort.
Prenez le cas de l’Inde du XXI siècle et des violences antimusulmanes des hindouistes qu’on a même accusés de pratiquer « un fascisme safran ». Lisez L’Inde de l’Islam de Louis Frédéric et vous comprendrez les drames actuels à la lumière de l’incroyable cruauté, sur fond encore une fois de grandiose culture, de la conquête islamique d’un pays, « païen » selon les normes laissées par Mahomet. Nous avons la chance, en France, de figurer parmi les gens du Livre que le dogme coranique oblige à « tolérer ».


Toute modernité politique, c’est-à-dire séparation de la religion et de l’Etat, séparation entre le public et le privé, neutralité de l’adresse de la loi, est-elle impossible pour l’islam ?

En islam tout est lié dans la même gerbe. S’il la délie, et on n’en voit d’ailleurs pas les prémices, ne risque-t-il pas de perdre son âme ? Pour ma part, souffrant de la déchristianisation, puis-je souhaiter une désislamisation aux musulmans ? Encore que cela pourrait sans doute régler chez nous un certain nombre de problèmes présents et à venir.



Il semble que pour vous les valeurs laïques ne soient pas de taille à résister. Croyez-vous aux guerres de religions comme unique horizons politique ?

N’y est-on pas déjà, dans ce schéma guerrier ? De Sarcelles aux Philippines, via le Caucase, il y a une ligne de feu où l’islam, partout, cherche à s’imposer. On peut voir aussi cela comme une compétition entre les religions, les nations, les systèmes, avec des formes militaires ouvertes ici et là, quand il ne s’agit pas d’un « djihad de proximité » à Pau ou à Roubaix. Il n’y a pas besoin d’émirs ou de califes clandestins pour organiser cette « conquête » qui se fait spontanément, sans chef d’orchestre. C’est une pulsion humaine, qui appartient sans doute au mystère du monde, comme jadis les Portugais soumettant l’océan Indien, Colomb franchissant l’Atlantique, Caillé ou Brazza pénétrant au coeur de l’Afrique. Tout les civilisations ont des cycles de colonisation et décolonisation, d’avancée et de recul. A moins d’un colossal revirement politique, avant un siècle l’Europe occidentale devrait être à dominante musulmane, avec des minorités qui souffriront. (..)Tout cela, à moins d’un miracle, d’un sursaut des peuples ou d’un sauveur providentiel, paraît bien révolu. Les civilisations sont mortelles, mais elles ne veulent jamais croire à leur propre mort.



Votre livre, Le radeau de Mahomet, garde donc toute son actualité. Pouvez-vous revenir sur les réactions violentes qu’il suscita lors de sa parution en 1983 et alors qu’aucun livre n’avait encore levé le lièvre islamiste ?

J’eus d’abord le chagrin de recevoir des lettres horribles d’amis musulmans, y compris de personnes vivant tout à fait à l’occidentale, qui se sont fâchés avec moi : j’avais omis de prendre en compte ce qui est à mes yeux la plus terrible sourate du Coran où Allah s’adressant aux musulmans par la voix de l’archange Gabriel et la mémoire de Mahomet ordonne : « Ne prenez pas pour amis des juifs ou des chrétiens ! » J’ai appris là que l ‘ « être croyant inférieur » que je suis aux yeux des musulmans n’a pas le droit de poser un regard critique sur l’islam, fût-il assorti, ce qui est mon cas, d’une bonne part d’admiration (voir le chapitre « Les plumes de dessous » de mon Radeau )
J’eus en revanche le soutien d’une partie de la rédaction du Monde, notamment André Laurens, Michel Tatu et surtout André Fontaine, lequel intervint en première page pour me soutenir ; mais une autre partie de l’équipe dirigeante m’attaqua comme islamophobe(déjà !) et obtint finalement que je sois écarté de la couverture du Proche-Orient. Sans que j’aie vraiment résisté. Car au fond je ne voulais surtout pas devenir « islamologue » et ne traiter toujours que du même sujet. Je voulais rester pleinement journaliste et voir le reste de la planète, ce que j’ai fait. Après Le Radeau de Mahomet, j’écrivis tout de même encore deux ou trois livres pour défendre ce que je croyais être des causes progressistes, face à l’islamisme, par exemple le sort des chrétiens d’Orient ou encore l’assassinat du poète pied-noir islamophile et algérophile Jean Sénac ? éliminé par des islamistes proches du régime algérien.


Il y eut aussi contre moi l’offensive des « Turcs de Profession », complaisants par intérêt ou convertis par fascination pour le soufisme, mystique musulmane persécutée pourtant encore de nos jours sur ses terres d’origine : ils envoyèrent des lettres assassines au Monde, comme par exemple l’éditeur Chodkiewicz, qui m’accusa de pousser les musulmans vers l’alcoolisme parce que j’avais rapporté que Mahomet buvait du jus de palme fermenté.


Ou bien le Père blanc Lelong, islamomane catholique et qui passe son temps à écrire aux journaux.
A la longue, qu’on le veuille ou non, ces pratiques minables nuisent, sapant la nécessaire confiance entre un journaliste et son journal. Pis que tout, les faits-hélas !- me donnèrent raison, et ceux qui m’avaient contré transformèrent leur confusion envers eux-mêmes en aversion à mon endroit, réaction très courante.


Vingt après, je regarde ces comportements avec une certaine ironie : mes confrères, et d’une manière générale les intellos parisiens, se sont trompés sur l’islamisme, comme eux ou leurs pareils s’étaient déjà trompés sur Staline, Mao, Castro, Soekarno, Nkurmah, Ben Bella, Pol Pot, etc. S’il y a bien une repentance intellectuelle à prononcer, elle est bien là ! Mentionnons quand même que l’actuel patron du Monde, Jean-Marie Colombani, le 12 septembre, m’a fait demander de me remettre immédiatement sur les affaires islamiques et de partir illico pour la péninsule Arabique. J’ai bouclé ma valise et puis, dans un sursaut de fierté et d’aquoibonisme, je lui ai écrit un mot narquois sur le ton : « C’est quand il en était encore temps qu’il fallait me laisser combattre dans nos colonnes l’islamiquement correct ! »


Le moment le plus curieux de l’épisode Radeau, ce fut lorsque Le Monde reçut une condamnation à mort contre moi, prononcée par « un tribunal islamique » : le ministère de l’Intérieur prit l’affaire au sérieux, et pendant des mois je vécus sous la garde de policiers. Je dus signer certaines articles sous pseudonyme, et jusqu’à aujourd’hui mon nom ne doit figurer ni sur ma porte ni sur ma boite aux lettres.

Jean-Pierre Péroncel-Hugoz
Propos recueillis par Sylvie Taussig
"L’islam en France", Revue hors série Cités, Paris, Puf p. 301-311

 

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Posted on 10/31/2011 10:28 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Ersin Kalaycioglu: Erdogan's Big Plans Coming Apart
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From bitterlemons.com:

October 27, 2011

Turkey: rising tensions and loss of direction
 

Ersin Kalaycioglu

When asked what the most demanding challenge is for a seasoned politician, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was reported to have said, "events, my dear boy, events". The events of the last nine months in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria have shattered the game of politics that the elites played in the Arab countries along with the political dreams of many, including those of Turkish foreign policy-makers.

Turkey has in recent years followed a policy of peaceful mediation between the parties of conflict in the Middle East/North Africa region, further accentuated since 2007 with a wish to achieve "zero problems" with neighbors. Such a foreign policy posture seemed to have depended on the assumption that Turkey had the capacity to sustain dialogue with all of the countries of the MENA region, while its geostrategic location and capabilities were at such a significant level that Turkey could project sufficient soft power to make a difference in the region as well.

It was also assumed that Turkey "mattered" to such an extent that unless Ankara participated, no peace settlement could take place. Turkey's membership in the G-20, the Organization of Islamic Conference and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, its strategic relations with the United States and Russia, and its good relations with China, Brazil and Iran meant that states of the MENA region had to take Turkish soft power projection into perspective. Neglecting to do so would bring risks to them but not to Turkey.

Accordingly, the AKP government moved to reciprocally abolish visas with Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen. On October 14, 2009, the Turkish and Syrian councils of ministers held a joint meeting with great fanfare, as if they were fused into one single government. As the human rights award accorded to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan by Muammar Gaddafi's government indicated, relations between Turkey and Libya were quiet amiable in 2010. A high-level Turkish entourage that visited Yemen in January 2011 received red carpet treatment from President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government. The AKP government seemed to have developed intimate relations with all the authoritarian Arab governments, from Syria in the north to Yemen and Libya in the south and west of the MENA region.

Then the "Arab spring" arrived in early 2011.

From February to October 2011, relations between Turkey and Syria went from intimacy and integration to hostility and confrontation. Relations between the Mubarak and Erdogan governments were less than cordial. The Arab spring created a rapprochement with Egypt, yet Erdogan's visit to Egypt in September 2011 was stymied when his request to visit Gaza received a cold shoulder. Relations with the Muslim Brotherhood also cooled when Erdogan suggested that Egypt should adopt "laiklik" (laicite; state secularism) in regulating relations between the state and religions of Egypt.

As Egypt began to move to the center stage, Turkey's only contribution to the hostage exchange between Gilad Shalit and 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in Israel was the hosting of 11 Palestinians in Turkey. It seems as if relations between Palestine and Israel can move forward mainly with Egyptian mediation, with Turkey playing a marginal role.

As the Egyptian government has favorably addressed prospects of joint oil exploration in the eastern Mediterranean with the Greek Cypriot government, Turkey seems to be left to its alliance with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkey now seems to be facing Israeli, Egyptian, Greek Cypriot and US collusion in eastern Mediterranean energy politics, where neither Lebanon nor Syria appears to have a pro-Turkish stance. It appears as if Turkey's current policies have not only failed to materialize zero problems with these countries, but have also managed to generate the immaculate isolation of Turkey herself in the energy politics of the eastern Mediterranean.

The Turkish performance with democracy and "laiklik" seems not to have impressed the elites of the Arab countries, who are looking elsewhere for inspiration for their multi-party systems. The only performance that led the Turkish government to gain plaudits from Arab voters and elites alike has been Erdogan's criticism of the Olmert and Netanyahu governments' policies toward the Gaza Strip. In the meantime, Turkey seems to have lost its ability to play the role of trusted and honest broker with the parties to conflict in the Middle East--a role it played for so many decades in the past.

Ankara's policies of promoting zero problems with neighbors and peace through mediation have become ever farther goals to reach. Turkey is now perceived with suspicion by some countries of the MENA region. Problems have begun to mount with all of its southern neighbors, from northern Iraq through Syria, Israel, Egypt, and the Greek Cypriots. Thus far the Arab spring appears to have led mainly to unfulfilled expectations, falling trade figures, rising tensions and loss of direction in Turkish foreign policy.-Published 27/10/2011 © bitterlemons-international.org

 


Ersin Kalaycioglu, former rector at Isik University in Istanbul, is currently at Sabanci University in Istanbul.

 

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Posted on 10/31/2011 8:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Oslo rocked by wave of rapes - alert has been put out for a “non-Western-looking” suspect after the most recent attack.
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From the Norwegian edition of The Local

Norway's capital Oslo has seen a sharp increase in cases of outdoor rape, with the number of attacks in 2011 already double the total for the previous year, according to figures compiled by newspaper Aftenposten. Police in Oslo registered 24 such cases in 2010 compared to 48 so far this year, Aftenposten said.

An alert has been put out for a “non-Western-looking” suspect after the most recent attack. “It can not be denied that many of the culprits have an ethnic background with a critical view of women,” Conservative party justice critic Andre Oktay Dahl told TV2. “We need more visible policing,” he said.

One of Saturday night’s two assaults happened just metres from the pristine palace residence of Norway’s royal family.A 20-year-old woman was attacked by two men after leaving the company of friends to walk home through Slottsparken palace park. One of her two assailants was described as “dark-skinned and round in the face”.

The same night a 17-year-old girl victim ran nude into the street in a desperate run from her attacker in an Oslo flat.

Comments include

  • Not quite all, but in the last year 94% of rape suspects were “non-Western-looking”: http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/45-av-48-voldtektsmistenkte-av-utenlandsk-opprinnelse--6681203.html             
  • Well, this is not a racial issue but an ideological issue. Sadly, the majority of people trying to impose the Sharia law on the Western society are Muslim men, hence 94% of the perpetrators are dark-skinned. Why? Because in the Sharia law the punishment for a woman not covering her body and face is rape. Therefore there are rape squads in the UK, in Sweden and in Norway. Those people think it is okay for them to teach Western women a lesson. Thieir skin colour is irrelevant, what is relevant is that they are dangerous ideological extremists and misoginists.
  • Muslim males are indoctrinated to believe that normal, healthy, beautiful western women are "fair game", simply because they are allowed out without a bag over their head. . . They are filled with hatred and contempt for those women and girls who are enjoying their lives instead of being hidden under black cloth and made pregnant by a man chosen by others. . . As for the racist and sexist "undernorwaysky" and his remarks about "drunken Norwegians": what on earth has that got to do with you? No European, and no native of any other "western" country, has to justify themselves to you or any minority weirdo. If you are too backward to understand western culture, then you have a very simple option: choose one of many dirty, violent, barbaric, medieval muslim sandpits, and crawl into it. Comparing the practices of Christian countries, with the practices of Islamic ones, we can all agree that getting drunk is a lot more fun than female circumcision!              
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Posted on 10/31/2011 5:45 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Monday, 31 October 2011
Berdichevsky Interviewed at Frontpage
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Jamie Glazov interviews Norman Berdichevsky in this morning's Frontpagemag.

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Norman Berdichevsky, a contributing editor for New English Review and the author of more than 200 articles and book reviews that have appeared in a variety of American, British, Danish, Israeli and Spanish periodicals. He is the author of the new book, The Left is Seldom Right.

FP: Norman Berdichevsky, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Berdichevsky: Thank you so much. It is both and honor and a pleasure to reach FrontPage readers.

FP: Tell us what inspired you to write this book.

Berdichevsky: I wrote this book and chose its title to primarily reach those, who like myself, grew up in an ultra liberal environment, assuming that the “left is always right”. As I grew older, I discovered that many of my assumptions that I received as “conventional wisdom” in the area of politics from my family, neighbors, and friends in the Bronx proved to be faulty, misleading or wrong. This discovery was further illuminated by my experiences in doing research at graduate school and many years residence abroad in Israel, Denmark, Spain and the U.K.

FP: What are the central themes of your book?

Berdichevsky: Although no older than the French Revolution , the political terms “Right” and “Left” have largely become stale clichés and often reveal little about the intentions, motivations, conflicting policy choices and the platforms of political parties that change with circumstances. Nevertheless, many people continue to use them as synonyms for the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. We all know that “politics make strange bedfellows – this is apparent in every election for those who look more closely than instant soundbites. Take Dennis Kucinic on the Left and Ron Paul on the right and you cannot distinguish between their views on American foreign policy although they may offer different explanations and propose different solutions.

Due to the tremendous influence of the past three generations of most of our intellectuals, academics, writers, artists and Hollywood film producers, the term “Left” has come to be identified in the public mind with the unconventional, radical, daring, adventurous, generous, tolerant, and “liberal” (in the old sense of respect for individual liberties) while “Right” rather than conservative has been the favorite target of every critic of American society who has attacked it as narrow minded, provincial, intolerant, conformist, retrograde, timid, bigoted, racist and “anti-Semitic” (explaining why so many American Jews have an inherited gut reaction against the Republican Party as if this were still 1931).

I argue that:

1. This current worldview inherited from so many of our intellectuals and reinforced by many pundits and political commentators in the media reinforces an erroneous analysis of political events and personalities. Jonah Goldberg first made this seminal point in his best seller Liberal Fascism, the title of which shocked so many readers with his massive and accurate research and documentation demonstrating that the two administrations of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt , the two 20th century icons of the Democrat Party, witnessed the most outrageous violations of the rights of American citizens (wholesale deportation of unwanted “reds”, critics of American entry into world War I and other “radicals” in 1917-1920 and the internment of Japanese-Americans on the U.S. mainland by executive order, 1942).

2. To demonstrate that it is primarily the political Left that has a vested interest in the continued use of this Left-Right terminology owing to their assumptions that all other cultures are somehow more authentic, holistic, integral and devoted to a sense of solidarity and community. They portray the United States as the epitome of alienation, greed, hypocrisy and crass materialism and therefore somehow deserving of constant condemnation.

3. To show that anti-Semitism was not inherently part of many nationalist or “rightwing” movements and that it is generated today overwhelmingly from the Far Left under the encouragement of the wealth and power of a militant Islam.

Several chapters in the book take a close look at the regimes of General Franco in Spain, Filed Marshall Mannerheim in Finland, “reactionary” Bulgarian leader King Boris III, Greek national leader Iannos Metaxas, Austrian Facist leaders, Chancellor Englebert Dollfuss and his successor Kurt von Schussnig, and the ‘Far Right” Dansk Samling (Danish Unity) Party were all ultra-conservative and took steps to protect their Jewish citizens, afford them refuge or actively oppose the Nazis.

FP: Share with us your own intellectual journey since your youth and how it led you to seeing the falsehood of the Left.

Berdichevsky: The book reflects my own thinking on diverse political issues as it evolved from my years of  graduate study (1069-74) at the University of Wisconsin in Madison . My five years there brought me into close contact with the serene landscape of a beautiful nature transformed by several generations of pioneers from Central and Northern Europe, many of them of Scandinavian, German and Polish ancestry with family names of ten or more letters like mine who played such a formative role in the development of the American Midwest and American character.

It was here that I came to realize not only the beauty of America but the basic goodness and generosity of its people in the heartland (a fly-over zone for so many “liberals”) – not the superficial and trite caricature of leftwing propaganda displayed so often by unthinking critics on both coasts who were as mindless then of the inhumanity of the Vietcong as they are today towards Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah or the Taliban.

My views were further shaped by the career I chose and research done in the field of cultural geography where I developed my fondness for foreign languages, an important tool in research and so often neglected by so many Americans whose knowledge of the world is totally limited by what they are able to read in English.

Lastly, the time I spent in Israel as a graduate student doing my Ph.D. research and subsequent visits put into relief the crass and ignorant drift of much of the Left from its position in 1948 when Israel was its darling to the situation today where the country has become a pariah state and the most inhuman, brutal and reactionary forces in dozens of Muslim majority states (all of which fail to provide essential services or liberties to their own citizens) are regarded by many on the Left as a natural ally in their crusade to “reform” American society.

Continue reading here.

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Posted on 10/31/2011 5:45 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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