The Justice Department wrote a secret memorandum authorizing the lethal targeting of Anwar al-Aulaqi, the American-born radical cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike Friday, according to administration officials.
The document was produced following a review of the legal issues raised by striking a U.S. citizen and involved senior lawyers from across the administration. There was no dissent about the legality of killing Aulaqi, the officials said.
“What constitutes due process in this case is a due process in war,” said one of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closely held deliberations within the administration.
The administration has faced a legal challenge and public criticism for targeting Aulaqi, who was born in New Mexico, because of constitutional protections afforded U.S. citizens. The memorandum may represent an attempt to resolve, at least internally, a legal debate over whether a president can order the killing of U.S. citizens overseas as a counterterrorism measure.
The operation to kill Aulaqi involved CIA and military assets under CIA control. A former senior intelligence official said that the CIA would not have killed an American without such a written opinion.
A second American killed in Friday’s attack was Samir Khan, a driving force behind Inspire, the English-language magazine produced by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. An administration official said the CIA did not know Khan was with Aulaqi, but they also considered Khan a belligerent whose presence near the target would not have stopped the attack.
The circumstances of Khan’s death were reminiscent of a 2002 U.S. drone strike in Yemen that targeted Abu Ali al-Harithi, a Yemeni al-Qaeda operative accused of planning the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. That strike also killed a U.S. citizen who the CIA knew was in Harithi’s vehicle but who was a target of the attack.
The Obama administration has spoken in broad terms about its authority to use military and paramilitary force against al-Qaeda and associated forces beyond “hot,” or traditional, battlefields such as Iraq or Afghanistan. Officials said that certain belligerents aren’t shielded because of their citizenship.
“As a general matter, it would be entirely lawful for the United States to target high-level leaders of enemy forces, regardless of their nationality, who are plotting to kill Americans both under the authority provided by Congress in its use of military force in the armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces as well as established international law that recognizes our right of self-defense,” an administration official said in a statement Friday.
President Obama and various administration officials referred to Aulaqi publicly for the first time Friday as the “external operations” chief for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a label that may be intended to underscore his status as an operational leader who posed an imminent threat.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. The administration officials refused to disclose the exact legal analysis used to authorize targeting Aulaqi, or how they considered any Fifth Amendment right to due process.
Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin who specializes in national security law, said the government likely reviewed Aulaqi’s constitutional rights, but concluded that he was an imminent threat and was deliberately hiding in a place where neither the United States nor Yemen could realistically capture him.
Last year, the Obama administration invoked the state secrets privilege to argue successfully for the dismissal of a lawsuit brought in U.S. District Court in Washington by Aulaqi’s father, Nasser, seeking to block the targeting of his son. Judge John Bates found that in Aulaqi’s case, targeting was a “political question” to be decided by the executive branch.
The decision to place Aulaqi on a capture or kill list was made in early 2010, after intelligence officials concluded that he played a direct role in the plot to blow up a jet over Detroit and had become an operational figure within al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.
“If you are a dual national high in the Japanese operational group responsible for Pearl Harbor, you’re not exempt, and neither was” Aulaqi, the administration official said.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights argued on behalf of Aulaqi’s father last year that there is no “battlefield” in Yemen and that the administration should be forced to articulate publicly its legal standards for killing any citizen outside the United States who is suspected of terrorism.
Otherwise, the groups argued, such a killing would amount to an extrajudicial execution and would violate U.S. and international law.
“International human rights law dictates that you can’t unilaterally target someone and kill someone without that person posing an imminent threat to security interests,” said Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The information that we have, from the government’s own press releases, is that he is somehow loosely connected, but there is no specific evidence of things he actualized that would meet the legal threshold for making this killing justifiable as a matter of human rights law.”
ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner said that Aulaqi had been targeted for nearly two years and that the government would appear to have a very elastic definition of imminent threat.
The former senior intelligence official said the CIA did reviews every six months to ensure that those targeted for possible killing remained threats as defined by law and presidential findings.
The administration describes al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as an associated force of the original terrorist group that was led by Osama bin Laden until he was killed, making AQAP subject to congressionally authorized military force. Officials said Aulaqi was part of an enemy force and posed an ongoing, immediate danger.
A British High Court determined Friday evening that the arrest of Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel’s Northern Branch, upon landing in the United Kingdom two months ago, was illegal, and as such, Salah is eligible to receive compensation from the state.
The Birmingham court will convene on Monday to discuss Salah’s appeal of his deportation order and ban on entering the country.
Salah was released from detention after two weeks, but his movements in London have been restricted since that time.
The Islamic Movement expressed satisfaction at the court’s decision and said that it proved that Salah’s arrest was due to a political witch-hunt against him, resulting from pressure exerted on the British government by the “Zionist lobby” to quash Salah’s voice.
Salah was arrested at the hotel he was staying at after returning from a lecture that he delivered in Leceister on June 29. Although Salah is permitted to leave the country, he has claimed ever since that his arrest is unjustified and has expressly stated on multiple occasions that he intends to fight the edicts in court.
A week after Salah was originally arrested, a London court dismissed his first appeal of the decision to arrest him and deny him entry to the country. His insistence on appealing a second time has borne fruit.
Al-Awlaki And Those Who Crazily Bleat About His "Due Process Rights"
The Constitution of the United States, and especially the Bill of Rights contained in the first 10 (or more exactly, first eight) amendments, flatly contradicts, in letter and spirit, the Shari'a, that is the Holy Law of Islam. This does not prevent Muslims in the United States from becoming quite adept at invoking, and exploiting in any way they can popular misunderstandings about, what the Constitution permits the government to do. Look at the ACLU, and what it takes an interest in, and how many of its personnel turn out, nowadays, to be Muslims determined to further the cause of Islam, and not terribly interested in the survival of the Constitution, or for that matter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
You will not be surprised to learn that Ron Paul, too, is greatly alarmed and outraged by the killing of Al-Awlaki. Presumably, if only Al-Qaeda recruited even more Americans,American forces would not be allowed to kill them but only to try -- in the most hellish circumstances -- to capture them and bring them back to the United States for trial. The absurdity and impossibility of this is obvious to all those who are not fellow-travellers, like Ron Paul -- the reasons for his behavior can be understood if you recognize his longstanding antipathy to Israel -- and to Defenders of the Faith, so many of whom now have jobs, and important ones, at the ACLU.
Leon Panetta was having none of this, Al-Awlaki, he said, was taking part in a war against the United States, against Americnas. .He gave instructions on the justification for murdering Americans to Major Nidal Hassan, who faithfully carried out what Al-Awlaki suggested. He urged others to do, and recruited and trained the Nigerian who has entered history as the underpants bomber.
Would an American found fighting for the Nazis, or a whole regiment of American citizenss found fighting for the Nazis, be immune from kililng by American soldiers or American agents because that was an "unconstitutional" thing to do? It's absurd.
Al-Awlaki, and any Musilm who engages in a war against the United States, whether a citizen or not (and it hardly matters, given the sole loyalty to Islam that not only the "extremists' but all Muslims are supposed to show, and to obey man-made Infidel laws only when these do not conflict with the Sharia, or when they must do so to further, prudentialy, the long-term interests of Muslims, and of Islam. They are permitted to make an outward show of compliance, to "smile, and smile, and be a villain," if that display of Taqiyya or Kitman prevents Infidels from grasping the nature of Islamic beliefs, or the attitudes, inculcated in Islam, of Muslims who are faithful to the Total Belief-System that is Islam.
He's dead. And Samir Khan are dead. And there are many others who, while they prefer to conduct Jhad using methods that are less sensational and no doubt more effective, should never have been allowed to enter this country, to live in this country , to settle deep behind what they are taught in Islam to regard as enemy lines, the lines delineating Dar al-Islam. The large-scale presence of such people in this country, or in any of the Infidel lands, has for the indigenous non-Muslims and for the non-Muslim immigrants (including those fleeing persecution in Muslim lands) has created a situation of unpleasantness, expense, and physical insecurity that would not exist without a large-scale Muslim presence.
Nothing is immune from being turned into a weapon of Jihad, and that includes the deliberate misreading of the Constitution, and the attempt to make it, as Mr. Justice Jackson said we are not obligated to make it, into "a suicide pact. "
Jihad El-Khazen Offers A Perfect Example Of The Hysterical Hate Directed Not Only At Israelis, But At All Non-Muslims Who Refuse To Yield To Muslim Demands
Ayoon Wa Azan (I Tell the Terrorist and His Government That All of the Land Belongs to Palestine)
Wed, 28 September 2011
The Palestinian application for full membership of the United Nations will remain in safe hands, or two safe hands to be precise, those belonging to Lebanon’s Ambassador Nawaf Salam, the President of the Security Council until the end of the month. After that, well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
I became tearful as I heard Abu Mazen delivering his speech on behalf of Palestine in the General Assembly last week, and so did Nawaf. While a man may adopt any posture he likes, tears are more honest, and the Lebanese ambassador came across as a patriot as I know him to be, while Benjamin Netanyahu came across as a liar and an international terrorist, also as I know him to be. The Israeli impostor claimed that Hezbollah controls the Lebanese government, and that subsequently, a terrorist organization is heading the body responsible for ensuring security around the world.
I say that Hezbollah is a national liberation movement confronting Israeli terrorism, Nazism and racism, and that Israel is the biggest threat to world security. The president of the council, meanwhile, is an Arab from Lebanon and he hails from a well-known family, and is not a Khazari immigrant who changed his family name like Netanyahu, because he is a mongrel like every Israeli Prime Minister before him. It is a fact that each and every one of them had changed his or her family name.
After Abu Mazen’s speech, I went with Nawaf Salam to the office of the President of the Council. He summoned some members of the Secretariat for consultation on dealing with the Palestinian application. If he could have, he would have gathered the members in the afternoon to hand them the application. However, that was impossible since the 15 member states must be notified in advance of the time and reason for the meeting.
Thus, the Council met on Monday and received the application, and it was decided that the application would be considered on Wednesday, where I believe it would probably be referred to the Membership Committee composed of one representative from each member state of the Security Council. I know that the President will also seek to hold another meeting of the Security Council to discuss this issue this week, before Lebanon’s presidency expires.
Nigeria will succeed Lebanon as President of the Security Council next month, and it along with Gabon are supposed to be among the African group that unanimously endorsed the Palestinian application. However, the United States is putting immense pressure on both countries, and also on Bosnia. The United States is attempting to convince the Palestinians that they will not get a majority of nine votes in the Council otherwise required for their application to be passed, at which point the U.S. would be compelled to cast its veto to overturn it. The United States does not want for this to happen so as not to infuriate the Arabs and Muslims further against the Obama administration, although it is impossible to fool them with the outcome of a vote against the Palestinians. For one thing, this can only happen under American pressure, i.e. a stance that backs the occupation, killings, and terrorism, and yet dares tell the Palestinians that international resolutions do not create a homeland, and that the only way forward is through negotiations.
The Palestinians have been engaged in peace talks since 1993, without achieving anything. Perhaps they would have succeeded in the nineties, were it not for the terrorist Netanyahu who served as Prime Minister of Israel between 1996 and 1999. He thus ruined the chance for peace before Bill Clinton could make a breakthrough in his second term, a breakthrough that would have culminated with the establishment of the State of Palestine on 22 percent only of Palestinian land. [fascinating to recall that it is Israel (that is, Mandatory Palestine which existed solely in order to become the Jewish National Home, that is Israel) that was left, after the unilateral action at the Cairo Conference by the British, who closed all of Eastern Palestine off from the provisions of the Mandate that pertained to Jewish immigration and settlement], I say to the terrorist impostor and his government and the settler rabbis that all of the land belongs to Palestine, from the Sea to the River, and they are nothing but murderers and thieves. I say to President Obama, as well, that he achieved nothing through negotiations, from early 2009 until near the end of 2011, and will not achieve anything either.
As The Tempest is a "romance" and largely fantasy, featuring goddesses, witches, goblins and sprites, there is a tendency to receive it almost as one might a fairy tale. (Collington, 84) That would be to short-circuit critical faculties when they are most needed. To give this problematic text such benefit of the doubt is surely to confer a doubtful benefit. As we deal with issues of growth and maturity, these cannot be responsibly addressed if we allow ourselves to encounter them in the manner of "once upon a time." more>>>
I stopped feeding the unicorn and looked at our Armenian manuscript translator in some surprise.
“Hashtag Hayastan Hambartsum Hashtagian, you worry needlessly,” I chided gently, “if there was a problem with our spiritual or worldly purity then I am sure that the Churchmen in our party would have mentioned it to me before now.” more>>>
I had had enough of Islam and all its works last week and decided to attend and report on something a bit more uplifting. So after attending my own church's Harvest Festival last Sunday my husband and I went to the City of London Guildhall for the Harvest Festival Parade of the Pearly Kings and Queens of London. more>>>
I have been preoccupied of late with my day job, hence the light posting. Senior management made colossal and utterly foreseeable mistakes in a commonplace tale of human folly, known to many as the Emperor's New Clothes. As one of the little boys - in fairyland, that is - who proclaimed the nakedness of the emperor, I have been under considerable stress. I have been called a Cassandra by those with just little learning enough not to know that the noteworthy point about Cassandra was that she was right.
And the emperor has been proved naked. Even the stupid, the blind and the terminally corporate can see it. Sadly, as is so often the way, the whole affair has ended not with a bang but a whimper. My few fellow Cassandras, or little boys - age and gender are, after all, immaterial in this age of diversity - have been disappointed not to see more blood on the carpet. The emperor is gone, but has slipped out by the back door "to pursue other interests" in the namby pamby phrase. We Cassandras wanted to see him plummet past our window. Or even better, as my very British colleague put it, we wanted to see him "do the perp walk". From Wikipedia:
A perp walk, or walking the perp,[note 1] is a common custom of American law enforcement, the practice of taking an arrested suspect through a public place at some point after the arrest, creating an opportunity for the media to take photographs and video of the event. The defendant is typically handcuffed or otherwise restrained, and is sometimes dressed in prison garb
I first came across the word "perp", short for perpetrator, in Patricia Cornwell's once excellent murder mysteries. I have always liked it.
All the best Americanisms are short, homely and to the point. All the worst are long, abstract and circumlocutory. We British adopt too many of the latter and not enough of the former. We should all do the perp walk.
One of Edmund Burke's famous quotes from Reflections on the Revolution in France sums up the contemporary official attitude to architecture and planning: “I cannot conceive how any man can have brought himself to that pitch of presumption, to consider his country as nothing but carte blanche, upon which he may scribble whatever he pleases.” This is the universal versus the particular. more>>>
“Who in this audience is really content with life and has never had a fly fall into his macaroni?”
Thus would the comical 14th-century Saint Bernardino of Siena launch into one of his famously zany sermons. “You…over there…sleeping….I come here to bring you the word of God and you settle yourselves down to sleep so that I have to interrupt my sermon to wake you!” more>>>
What a dope Ford was [for having suggested that Bill Clinton should have checked into a clinic for his "sex addiction".] But his dopiness reflects a more general dopiness.
The very idea that behavior that has been going on since time began should be called an addiction and treated therapeutically, when it just the usual behavior of a large number of men -- the womanizer, tombeur de femmes, donnaiolo, okhotnik do bab -- annoys.
Not an "addict" deserving of clinical treatment or sympathy, Clinton was unseemly in his behavior, and cruel in his indifference to his victims, always chosen -- perhaps that was the best he could do -- from those far beneath him in status, and whose lives, or at least some of them, have been permanently ruined by him. That is quite unlike the womanizing of Kennedy, who picked on women his own size, women who knew what they were doing.
Ford's "sex-addiction" represents the Triumph of the Lack of Will, the Triumph of the Therapeutic. Back to Deep Biology and hormones, but that too is not an excuse, for not everyone behaves like Bill Clinton. Behavior is modified by civilization. Men -- and women -- learn to keep things in check, to make things more interesting, to slow things down, to make them part of an elaborate system. and, as well, for all kinds of reasons that make sense, to control their impulses, should they have them.
We need not mimic the cavemen. Instead of the club, or the palaeolithic come-on -- say, want to see my wall etchings? (see Lascaux, see Altamira), over time other ways have developed. In the Western world, romantic love. See Denis De Rougemont. Horace and Propertius. The troubadours. Cours d'Amour. Lancelot and Guinevere. Petrarch. Elizabethan sonnet-cycles. The 1930s tenor who rhymes "moon" and "June." The shy boy carrying the shy girl's books back from high school. The soda-fountain date, with the soda jerk watching Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. The tango, Argentinean, Polish, Russian. The Personals Columns: "Love long walks on the Vineyard. Weekends in Umbria and Normandy. Bouley and Nobu. Pachelbel Canon by candlelight." All of it.
Clinton was more like a caveman, that's all. A smooth-talking and plausible caveman, and apparently a crowd-pleaser, but a primitive caveman nonetheless. No need to consult the Handbook of Psychiatric Disorders. The language employed in, say, 1940, or 1840, or 1740, meets the case.
MWMM, financially secure, seeks SW aged 9 to 19, for fun and fourth wifedom, to make my family life complete. Friends tell me I have smoldering come-hither looks, and am incredibly handsome; wives unanimously insist I am Ghassan Massoud look-alike. Piercing brown eyes, nicely-trimmed beard, athletic and fit. Very careful about watching what I eat. South Tehran sincerity, North Tehran income. Widely-travelled (chiefly European capitals, including Vienna and Paris, but also within Middle East) in the past, but really prefer to stay at home with a good book (last book read: Qur’an). Enjoy halal cooking. Wives 1, 2, and 3 have all won pistachio-and-honey pastry bakeoffs. Hobby: haggling for bargains with the bazaaris and haunting old bookshops (last purchase: leather-bound Qur’an with silver metalwork from Meshed). Collect old tapes of Qur’anic recitation, also examples of Qur’anic calligraphy from Qom. Secret dream: being put in charge of redecorating Andalucia as long-term project on popular television series This-Old-Dar-Al-Islam. Outgoing, solid citizen, long-time member of Oversight Council for the Guardians of Virtue. Much-decorated Revolutionary Guard and Basij veteran. Accomplished hands-on former mayor of major metropolitan area, not a thinker but a doer. Proven track record of following through on special projects, from earliest planning stage to final execution.
Unpretentious, good father, history buff (special interest: 7th century Arabia). Solid Mideastern values. Grew up on a farm outside Tehran, like to think I retain that basic rural outlook. Still passionate about most large animals (Ayatollah Khomeini’s “How to Treat Your Barnyard Animals” was favorite bedtime reading during teenage years). Famous for my irreverent humor (jokes about the weather a specialty). Adventurous in spirit, yet thoughtful and quiet in manner, with a truly global approach to the world’s problems. Strong proponent of nuclear program as environmentally-friendly alternative source of power for Iran. Believe that family, tribe, and Umma come before all else. Successful, strongly motivated, never satisfied until all goals completely achieved no matter what the sacrifices.
Hoping to find that special someone of similar background, submissive and quiet, content to be good cook and house-cleaner, happy in her chador, who cannot drive and understands that for women, even more than for men, thinking is greatly overrated.
Pet peeves: sculpture, painting, music, wine, dogs, Infidels.
Marriage first, then possibly getting to know each other, just a little bit, later.
If interested, please send picture (eye-slit only), and contact information (if under the age of 11, please include parents’ contact information) to: Office of the President, Big White Palace With The Gold Leaf Domes and Carpets and Vases and Other Stuff Inside, Islamic Republic of Iran, Tehran, Iran.
For half a century, authorities in the USSR followed an ideological policy to condemn Hebrew as a "reactionary tool" of the upper classes, the ultra-religious and Zionism. In this view, only Yiddish could be considered as the legitimate mother tongue of those "toiling masses" of Jews interested in maintaining a national existence. more>>>
A Round Table Discussion with Emanuele Ottolenghi by Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates (October 2011)
High drama occurred both inside and outside the 66th UN General Assembly Sessions on Manhattan’s East side in late September, 2011. President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (PA) filed an application for full membership for the Palestinian "state" with the UN Security Council on September 23rd. more>>>
For the past year, audiences of Christians in the United States and Great Britain have been treated to an anti-Israel extravaganza, With God on Our Side. Produced by Rooftop Productions in 2010, this 82-minute movie purports to be a documentary about Christian Zionism and its impact on the prospects for peace between Israel and its adversaries in the Middle East. more>>>
Bat Ye’or, an exiled Egyptian Jew, gave up a budding career as a novelist to engage full time in chronicling the all too human experience of non-Muslims who lived as subjugated persons or dhimmi (protected persons) in lands conquered by Islamic jihad. She personally knew the perils of dhimmitude. Both she and her parents were ejected from Egypt in the wake of the Suez Crisis of 1956 more>>>
An Egyptian Jew in Exile: An Interview with Bat Ye’or
by Jerry Gordon (October 2011)
I first encountered Gisèle Littman, better known as "Bat Ye’or," through her book, The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islamwhile browsing through a Judaica section of a Barnes & Noble book store in Westport, Connecticut in 1985. Reading it opened my mind to the historical evidence of the subjugated treatment of Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims under shari’a in the wake of Islamic Jihad over conquered lands. more>>>
At a dinner party recently, it was suggested to me that classical music was supposedly elitist but largely populated by composers on the left. The consequent conversation was edifying, and I thought I would share its main themes with readers of the New English Review. For stylistic reasons, I have resisted the temptation to present this article as a semi-fictionalised dialogue and have opted instead for a fairly conventional essay form, concentrating on the four composers named above. They were the ones we kept coming back to as the evening progressed. In vino veritas! more>>>
Yesterday I drove to the nearby mission hospital, an island of modern medicine in a sea of rural underdevelopment, in this unusually peaceful African country, in order to see if I still had malarial parasites in my blood. We drove through the surreal expanses of the mechanized farms, a donor driven, and so far successful project producing much food for an expanding population. more>>>
Until very recently, the role of father was one of great respect in our culture and the image of the good father was a source of societal integration or at least one of widespread social agreement. Mass entertainment, including movies and television, generally supported the idea that to aspire to being a good father, was something noble as well as commonplace and accessible. The father was loved, trusted and revered. The image of the good father was everywhere. more>>>
The government makes me angry, but my wife makes me much angrier (as well as much happier, of course). This is yet another illustration of the truth of Doctor Johnson’s dictum that public affairs vex no man, at least not very greatly and not within quite a wide range of government policy. The personal may or may not be political, but it is definitely what concerns us most. Let the heavens fall, so long as we are happy at home.
Paul Hollander’s new book, Extravagant Expectations (Ivan Dee), is not only about the personal, but about the personals, those small-ads in various publications in which people seek what used to be called a lover, paramour or consort, but must now be called a partner. more>>>
John Mearsheimer Further Beclowns Self. Film at Eleven.
by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 26, 2011
David Bernstein calls this a “rambling” reply to charges of anti-Semitism leveled against John Mearsheimer, but that doesn’t go far enough. Mearsheimer’s “response” is a selective one that doesn’t even come close to touching on the most appalling and disgusting of Gilad Atzmon’s past remarks on Jews.
Fortunately, commenters to Mearsheimer’s post do an admirable job of calling him out. See here, here, here, here, here, and here. I am sure that there will be others after I finish writing this blog post, of course.
I wrote previously that “[e]ither, John Mearsheimer–via his endorsement of the vile and repulsive ‘ideas’ of the loathsome Gilad Atzmon–has outed himself as an anti-Semite, or he is completely ignorant of what Atzmon professes, and Mearsheimer has outed himself as a fool. I can’t see a third option.” I cannot believe that Mearsheimer hasn’t taken the time by now to fully acquaint himself with Atzmon’s oeuvre–assuming that he didn’t know much about Atzmon’s writings and speeches before offering a favorable blurb to Atzmon’s book–so while I can still accuse Mearsheimer of foolishness, I am forced to conclude that I have to accuse him of a whole lot more.
This is a pathetic and despicable turn of events for a once-highly renowned scholar. I would ask Mearsheimer to be ashamed of himself, but it appears that neither he, nor Stephen Walt–who offered Mearsheimer space to write out his wholly inadequate explanation–are capable of that.
UPDATE: Somewhat defying my earlier expectations, Andrew Sullivan addresses Mearsheimer’s remarks. I write the words “somewhat defying,” because while Sullivan surprises me by (a) addressing this issue at all, (b) admitting that Atzmon is an “avowed anti-Semite,” and (c) further admitting that “Atzmon strikes me as a disturbed figure wont to write obviously explosive things,” he still states that he has “a hard time commenting on this since [Sullivan has] not read the book in question.”
Bear in mind, however, that Mearsheimer’s attempts to explain away Atzmon’s remarks should not merely be confined to addressing comments made in the book Mearsheimer favored with a complimentary blurb. In Mearsheimer’s post, he states that he “cannot find evidence in [Atzmon's] book or in his other writings that indicate he ‘traffics in Holocaust denial.’” But if the following doesn’t qualify as Holocaust denial, then I don’t know what does:
I am left puzzled here; if the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war? Why didn’t the Jews wait for their Red liberators?
I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start to ask the necessary questions. We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative that is sustained by political pressure and laws. We should strip the holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place.
Emphasis provided by ModernityBlog, which quite properly adds the following: “I hope that those who previouslysupportedAtzmon, or maybe made excuses for him, will see the implicit holocaust denial embedded in his words, when he writes: ‘…if the Nazis …’.”
In a 2005 opinion piece David Aaronovitch criticized Atzmon for writing in his essay “On Anti-Semitism” that “We must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously.” and “American Jewry makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion‘ are an authentic document or rather a forged irrelevant. American Jews do control the world, by proxy. So far they are doing pretty well for themselves at least”; Aaronovitch said Atzmon was “a silly boy advancing slightly dangerous arguments.”Aaronovitch also criticized Atzmon for circulating an essay by Paul Eisen defending Holocaust denierErnst Zundel and supporting many aspects of Zündel’s Holocaust denial theories. Aaronovitch wrote that Atzmon said he had a “slightly different” view than Eisen: “the Holocaust like any other historical narrative is a dynamic process of realisation and interpretation.” Atzmon has said he does not deny the Holocaust or the “Nazi Judeocide” but insists “that both the Holocaust and World War II should be treated as historical events rather than as religious myth. . . . But then, even if we accept the Holocaust as the new Anglo-American liberal-democratic religion, we must allow people to be atheists.” In a 2006 opinion piece in The Guardian, David Hirsh cited Atzmon’s “On Anti-Semitism” essay, and particularly its Jewish deicide claim that “the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus,” as an example of Atzmon’s “openly anti-Jewish rhetoric.” In response to a question about this quote from Lenni Brenner, Atzmon replied that he meant “I find it astonishing that people today happen to be offended by such accusations.”
Emphasis mine, and the bolded part undermines Atzmon’s claims later in the paragraph that he really doesn’t deny that the Holocaust happened. Atzmon, by the way, has stated in the past that he is “happy” to have circulated Holocaust denial claims.
From Jeffrey Goldberg, who Mearsheimer–and Stephen Walt, for that matter–would do better to listen to than to viciously attack, we have the following words from Atzmon:
I must admit that I have many doubts concerning the Zionist Holocaust narrative. Being familiar with many of the discrepancies within the forcefully imposed narrative, being fully familiar with the devastating tale of the extensive collaboration between the Nazis and the Zionists before and throughout the Second World War, I know pretty well that the official Holocaust narrative is there to conceal rather than to reveal any truth.
Still more, and the following is directly from The Wandering Who?. You know, the book Mearsheimer says he read. The book he gave a favorable blurb to. The one which Mearsheimer “found it thought provoking and likely to be of considerable interest to Jews and non-Jews.” The one that supposedly didn’t contain a hint of Holocaust denial, or justification:
The Holocaust religion is, obviously, Judeo-centric to the bone. It defines the Jewish raison d’etre. For Zionist Jews, it signifies a total fatigue of the Diaspora, and regards the goy as a potential irrational murderer. This new Jewish religion preaches revenge. It could well be the most sinister religion known to man, for in the name of Jewish suffering, it issues licences to kill, to flatten, to nuke, to annihilate, to loot, to ethnically cleanse. It has made vengeance into an acceptable Western value.
[. . .]
To a certain extent, we are all subject to this religion; some of us are worshippers, others are just subject to its power. Those who attempt to revise Holocaust history are subject to abuse by the high priests of this religion. The Holocaust religion constitutes the Western ‘real’. We are neither allowed to touch it, nor are we permitted to look into it. Very much like the ancient Israelites who were to obey their God but never question Him, we are marching into the void.
[. . .]
From this point onward, I shall maintain that the Holocaust religion was well-established a long time before the Final Solution (1942), well before Kristallnacht (1938), the Nuremberg Laws (1936) and even before Hitler was born (1889). The Holocaust religion is probably as old as the Jews themselves.
And of course, when The Wandering Who? isn’t busy implicitly or explicitly denying the Holocaust, it is busy implicitly or explicitly trying to justify it:
65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz we should be able to ask – why? Why were the Jews hated? Why did European people stand up against their neighbours? Why are the Jews hated in the Middle East, surely they had a chance to open a new page in their troubled history? If they genuinely planned to do so, as the early Zionist claimed, why did they fail? Why did America tighten its immigration laws amid the growing danger to European Jews? We should also ask what purpose Holocaust denial laws serve? What is the Holocaust religion there to conceal? As long as we fail to ask questions, we will be subjected to Zionist lobbies and their plots. We will continue killing in the name of Jewish suffering. We will maintain our complicity in Western imperialist crimes.
[. . .]
The present should be understood as a creative dynamic mode where past premeditates its future. But far more crucially, it is also where the imaginary future can re-write its past. I will try to elucidate this idea through a simple and hypothetical yet terrifying war scenario. We, for instance, can envisage a horrific situation in which an Israeli so-called ‘pre-emptive’ nuclear attack on Iran that escalates into a disastrous nuclear war, in which tens of millions of people perish. I guess that amongst the survivors of such a nightmare scenario, some may be bold enough to argue that ‘Hitler might have been right after all.’
So much then for Mearsheimer’s claim that he “cannot find evidence in [Atzmon's] book or in his other writings that indicate he ‘traffics in Holocaust denial.’” Either Mearsheimer didn’t use Google with the proficiency a five-year old would display in searching for information on the Internet, or he tried to pretend that the evidence of Atzmon’s Holocaust denial doesn’t exist. Both in The Wandering Who?, and in other writings, Atzmon traffics in both Holocaust denial, and Holocaust justification. To say otherwise, while at the same time being aware of the passages I cited is to lie. And given that Mearsheimer says he read Atzmon’s book, he is charged with actual and constructive knowledge of its contents, including those passages–which frankly, are too shocking for any reasonably intelligent person to miss.
We also have the following from Mearsheimer:
Let me now turn to the specific claim that Atzmon is an “apologist for Hitler.” Again, I am somewhat reluctant to do this, because this charge forces me to defend what Atzmon said in one of his blog posts. But given the prominence of the charge in [Jeffrey] Goldberg’s indictment of Atzmon (and me), I cannot let it pass.
Plus, I see that Walter Russell Mead, who is also fond of smearing Steve Walt and me, has put this charge up in bright lights on his own blog. Picking up on Goldberg’s original post, Mead describes Atzmon’s argument this way: “poor Adolf Hitler’s actions against German Jews only came after US Jews called a boycott on German goods following Hitler’s appointment as German Chancellor. Gosh — if it weren’t for those pushy, aggressive Jews and their annoying boycotts, the Holocaust might not have happened!”
It is hard to imagine any sane person making such an argument, and Atzmon never does. Goldberg refers to a blog post that Atzmon wrote on March 25, 2010, written in response to news at the time that AIPAC had “decided to mount pressure” on President Obama. After describing what was happening with Obama, Atzmon notes that this kind of behavior is hardly unprecedented. In his words, “Jewish lobbies certainly do not hold back when it comes to pressuring states, world leaders and even superpowers.” There is no question that this statement is accurate and not even all that controversial; Tom Friedman said as much in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago.
From that same March 25th post of Atzmon’s that Mearsheimer cited–which I am sorry I am compelled to have to link to–we have an excerpt that indisputably shows that Goldberg’s and Mead’s characterization of Atzmon’s comments (and Atzmon himself) was correct:
“The Obama administration’s recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel is a matter of serious concern,” AIPAC said in its statement. AIPAC’s reaction came after a weekend of U.S. recriminations and demands, following Israel’s provocative announcement that it had given preliminary approval for the construction of 1,600 more apartments for Jewish settlers in a Palestinian neighborhood of eastern occupied Jerusalem. Unlike President Obama, who seems to be prioritizing issues like the health care reform bill and United States economic recovery, AIPAC claims to know what America’s ‘real’ interests are and how to achieve them. “The administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests”. AIPAC also suggested that theAmerican leadership should concentrate on a confrontation with Iran. “The escalated rhetoric of recent days only serves as a distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done with regard to the urgent issue of Iran’s rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons”.
Jewish lobbies certainly do not hold back when it comes to pressuring states, world leaders and even super powers. AIPAC’s behavior last week reminded me of the Jewish declaration of war against Nazi Germany in 1933.
Not many people are aware that in March 1933, long before Hitler became the undisputed leader of Germany and began restricting the rights of German Jews, the American Jewish Congress announced a massive protest at Madison Square Gardens and called for an American boycott of German goods.
I obviously do not think that Obama has anything in common with Hitler. There is not much the two leaders share in terms of their philosophy, their attitude to humanism or their view of world peace.(1) However, it is hard to turn a blind eye to the similarity between AIPAC’s behaviour last week and the Jewish American Congress’ conduct in 1933.
On March 24, 1933, The Daily Express (London) published an article announcing that the Jews had already launched their boycott against Germany and threatened a forthcoming “holy war”. The Express urged Jews everywhere to boycott German goods and demonstrate actively against German economic interests.
The Express said that Germany was “now confronted with an international boycott of its trade, its finances, and its industry….in London, New York, Paris and Warsaw, Jewish businessmen are united to go on an economic crusade.”
Jewish texts tend to glaze over the fact that Hitler’s March 28 1933, ordering a boycott against Jewish stores and goods, was an escalation in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership. In fact the only Jewish enclave that is willing to admit the historical order of events that led to the destruction of European Jewry, is the anti Zionist Jewish Orthodox sect known as the Torah Jews. I assume that, similarly, once things turn sour between America and its Jewish lobbies, Jewish tribal ideologists will be the first to forget that it was the Jewish American establishment that worked so hard to nourish the inevitable animosity.
The line that Jews issued a “declaration of war against Nazi Germany in 1933″ should alone be sufficient to show that Atzmon was engaged in excuse-mongering on behalf of Hitler and the Nazis. If that’s not enough, we have a long passage from Atzmon which is clearly meant to convey the message that the restriction of the rights of Jews by Hitler was a direct and foreseeable response to the supposed Jewish “declaration of war against Nazi Germany in 1933,” which caused Germany to be “confronted with an international boycott of its trade, its finances, and its industry….in London, New York, Paris and Warsaw.” The notion that the Jews provoked Hitler is clear in Atzmon’s writing when he states that “Jewish texts tend to glaze over the fact that Hitler’s March 28 1933, ordering a boycott against Jewish stores and goods, was an escalation in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership,” and that in essence, Jews started “the historical order of events that led to the destruction of European Jewry.”
Of course, Mearsheimer doesn’t excerpt all of this language in his blog post; just a part of it. He evidently believes that his readers are too lazy, and too stupid to click on the link he provided to Atzmon’s site, to read Atzmon’s words in whole, and to conclude–as Goldberg and Mead quite accurately did–that Atzmon was indeed stating that when it came to Hitlerian persecution of the Jews, the Jews asked for it. Concerning the language, Mearsheimer only states in passing that “the Jewish boycott had negative consequences,” and that Atzmon simply believes that “Jews are not simply passive victims of other people’s actions. On the contrary, he believes Jews have considerable agency and their actions are not always wise.” Mearsheimer assures us that he thinks that this view is incorrect, but he wants you and me to believe that it is not controversial, and not meant to state that the Nazis only persecuted the Jews because they were provoked by “the worldwide Jewish leadership.” Atzmon’s own words undermine Mearsheimer’s attempt to paper over their meaning.
Later on, Mearsheimer states that he does not believe that Atzmon is an anti-Semite, despite Mearsheimer’s belief that Atzmon is “unequivocally” a self-hating Jew. I don’t know how anyone who says the following could not be considered an anti-Semite:
It seems I didn’t learn the necessary lesson because when we studied the middle age blood libels, I again wondered out loud how the teacher could know that these accusations of Jews making Matzo out of young Goyim’s blood were indeed empty or groundless. Once again I was sent home for a week. In my teens I spent most of my mornings at home rather than in the classroom.
I asked the emotional tour guide if she could explain the fact that so many Europeans loathed the Jews so much and in so many places at once. I was thrown out of school for a week.
Otto Weininger helped me grasp who I am, or rather who I may be, what I do, what I try to achieve and why my detractors invest so much effort trying to stop me.
Thanks to Weininger, I realised how wrong I was – I was not detached from the reality about which I wrote, and I never shall be. I am not looking at the Jews, or at Jewish identity, I am not looking at Israelis. I am actually looking in the mirror. With contempt, I am actually elaborating on the Jew in me.
You may wonder at this stage whether I regard the credit crunch as a Zionist plot or even a Jewish conspiracy. In fact the opposite is the case. It isn’t a plot and certainly not a conspiracy for it was all in the open.
And more on classical anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews–and note, the following is from The Wandering Who?. You know, the book Mearsheimer says he read. The book he gave a favorable blurb to. The one which Mearsheimer “found it thought provoking and likely to be of considerable interest to Jews and non-Jews.”
Fagin is the ultimate plunderer, a child exploiter and usurer. Shylock is the blood-thirsty merchant. With Fagin and Shylock in mind, the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians seems to be just a further event in an endless hellish continuum.
And more–also from The Wandering Who?:
Anne Frank wasn’t exactly a literary genius. Her diary is not a valuable piece of literature. She wasn’t exceptionally clever either. She was in fact a very ordinary girl and this is exactly her power within the post WWII Western cultural discourse. She was just an innocent, average girl. In fact, the attempt to make Anne Frank into a cultural hero may be a genuine reflection of the Jewish ideological inclination towards sameness. Frank mirrors the desperate attempt to prove to the world that ‘we, the Jews’ are people like other people. Moreover, the success of Anne Frank’s Diary is there to suggest the West’s willingness to accept Jews as people amongst other people.
Still more from The Wandering Who? regarding David Rosenberg, and Julia Bard, two non-religious Jewish socialists:
In spite of Julia and David’s dismissal of the Jewish faith, they still very much want to be part of the Jewish community. I wonder why? What is it that they need from the Jewish community? Why don’t they just ‘get on’ with their ‘socialist agenda’ and join the human family as ordinary people?
Evidently, Jews aren’t part of “the human family as ordinary people.”
Is it any doubt that these are the words of an anti-Semite? Bear in mind that throughout Mearsheimer’s essay, he claims that people like Jeffrey Goldberg have to resort to attacking Atzmon’s blog posts to attack Atzmon, and by extension, Mearsheimer. The implication–and it’s more than an implication, really–is that there is nothing in The Wandering Who? that should have set off alarm bells in Mearsheimer’s brainpan, and that as a consequence, Mearsheimer cannot be accused of explicitly or implicitly endorsing anti-Semitic claptrap. Quite clearly, that Mearsheimerian line of attack–along with his entire defense of his actions–has fallen apart.
Mearsheimer, of course, addresses none of Atzmon’s offensive and sickening comments in their totality. I don’t know how anyone can claim that he didn’t beclown himself, given the pathetically weak nature of his defense of Atzmon, and of his own decision to give a favorable blurb to The Wandering Who?. As for Sullivan, remember that he has “a hard time commenting on this since [he has] not read the book in question.” The offensive passages in The Wandering Who? are all available via a Google search, and I have excerpted them, and other Atzmonian writings in this blog post (there is more that I could have excerpted, but I frankly didn’t have the stomach for it). I don’t know if Sullivan will continue to have “a hard time commenting on this,” given the availability of the offensive passages for all to read, but given Sullivan’s ability to deny superb and compelling arguments debunking the fatuous school of Trig Trutherism, I wouldn’t put it past him to try to concoct some kind of weird excuse for Mearsheimer’s plainly reprehensible stance on this issue.
ANOTHER UPDATE: An unequivocal condemnation of both Atzmon and Mearsheimer from Sullivan. Good for him; I am relieved that for all of our disagreements, we appear to be of one mind on this issue.
[why is it a "tragedy" when the obsessive antisemitism of this or that person -- Mearsheimer, Walt -- becomes obvious to everyone. The word "tragedy" does not fit. Possibly the word "comedy" does, or better, the word "farce" to describe those who, like Mearsheimer and Walt themselves, allow themselves to believe, and still more farcically want others to believe, that they do not suffer from that peculiar mental pathology that affects, in the West, in the best of times, some 10% of the population. Some may think "professors at the University of Chicago and Harvard can't be antisemites." Why not? What makes that subset of the population exempt from a general distemper?]
There's been a recent and very significant development involving Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago. A few days ago, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote an entry pointing out that Professor Mearsheimer had written a book blurb for Gilad Atzmon's, The Wandering Who. The title at Goldberg's entry is not subtle: "John Mearsheimer Endorses a Hitler Apologist and Holocaust Revisionist." I hoped to blog something about it, but being the big birthday weekend, I put it off for a bit. In the meantime, a number of other writers have picked up on the story, and the implications for Mearsheimer are nothing short of devastating. In addition to The Israel Lobby, Professor Mearsheimer is the author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, a work of neorealist international relations theory that received general acclaim in the discipline. The book argues that great power politics is tragic, especially for the leading states in the system, since the structure of the realm impels them to seek greater power and act more aggressively, with revisionist aims for international mastery. Since opposing great powers share the same incentives to offense and expansion, states are fated to perpetual conflict. And thus the prospects are dim for international peace.
I think the prospects for internal peace are dim for Professor Mearsheimer. By that I mean that while both Mearsheimer and his co-author Stephen Walt have received withering criticism since the publication of "The Israel Lobby" in 2006 (and the full-length book in 2007), this latest controversy is a definitive confirmation of the attacks on Mearsheimer by his critics. As will be seen below, amid these developments, I can't imagine how Mearsheimer will ever live down the allegations of anti-Semitism that have followed him for years -- he will be fated to unsuccessfully fighting these battles for the remainder of his career. Personally, I've always held back on making such allegations. I was late to the debate in the first place, and the full weight of all the writings and responses took me a while to absorb. And frankly, there's hardly any more ugly attacks than to call someone anti-Semitic, especially a scholar whose work could be evaluated on scientific grounds. But I can't any longer make those arguments in good faith. After reading all the commentary on this, it's undeniable that Gilad Atzmon, whose book Mearsheimer blurbed, is a despicable and ugly Hitler apologist and Holocaust denier. What's also particularly disturbing is that Professor Stephen Walt joined the debate to explicitly defend Mearsheimer against the allegations of anti-Semitism. The two together are fighting a rearguard action with virtually no prospects for success. Readers will recall that I've hammered Walt on occasion, for example, when he spoke at the Code Pink convention earlier this year, where the roster of sponsoring organizations was a veritable "one-stop shop for the global left's international solidarity movement." It would be one thing to offer up a controversial theory of Israel as the primary focus of American foreign policy. It's quite another thing to actively join forces with the global left's Israel extermination industry, but that's what Stephen Walt has done. I find that tragic too, since Walt was someone who I studied a great deal in graduate school, and I wrote my dissertation with some of his theories as the starting point. Now the both of them have dug down deep to defend against this backlash, and it's just pathetic. These two eminent scholars have destroyed their reputations by peddling the most base anti-Israel stereotypes that simply can longer be defended on academic grounds. When you traffic with Holocaust deniers --- no, when you champion them --- you've pretty much given up the game.
Mearsheimer accuses his critics of suggesting that he must be an anti-Semite, given that he is intellectually in bed, so to speak, with the likes of Gilad Atzmon. Certainly, it’s reasonable to suspect Mearsheimer of anti-Semitism as this point, given that the main alternative explanation, that he is simply a fool who endorses highly polemical books attacking Jews and Israel without reading them closely or knowing anything about the author, has now been rebutted by Mearsheimer himself. But one could also posit Mearsheimer has decided to adopt a “Popular Front Strategy”, willing to accept any anti-Israel allies even from the blatantly anti-Semitic fringe. Regardless, it’s a pathetic fall from grace for Mearsheimer, and it’s disappointing to see that his co-author Walt is enabling him rather than pulling him back from the brink.
Mearsheimer was given a chance by Walt on this website to "defend" himself against the "smears" of Goldberg. Walt thus associated himself with Mearsheimer's choice to back Atzmon. He also asserted Goldberg was more inclined to make ad hominem attacks than to address the substance of U.S.-Israel relations. This is of course, absurd as, agree with him or not, no one can deny that Goldberg has written extensively on the subject and, to his credit, comparatively little about the two professors.
Mearsheimer's defense is stunningly lame. He begins with an attack on Goldberg. He then quotes the blurb and edges slightly away from the book by saying he doesn't agree with everything in it. He then repeats his admonition that Jews and non-Jews should read the book ... although I can hardly imagine how many Jews will be moved to buy a book on the recommendation of John Mearsheimer.
That said, he goes on to say that he has taught courses about the Holocaust and is therefore not a Holocaust denier. That said, Goldberg never said he was a Holocaust denier. He said he had endorsed one. Goldberg's assertion, based on Atzmon's writings, is that Atzmon has sought to both minimize the event and to explain away its origins as something at least in large part provoked by the Jews. What is this if not revisionism and there is no disputing that by blaming the Jews in part for their fate, Atzmon is, in fact, as accused a full-fledged apologist for Hitler.
I may be missing a couple of the responses I saw while researching this post, and I'll update if I find anything with added value. That said, this Harry's Place entry is probably the most precise examination of Gilad Atzmon's anti-Semitism: "Mearsheimer and Walt defend antisemite who thinks Hitler will be proved right." (And note that Harry's Place includes examples of Atzmon's anti-Semitism found in The Wandering Who, the very book that Mearsheimer reviewed.)
Check back for updates. Goldberg and Rothkopf are left-of-center, so Mearsheimer's taking a hit from those closer ideologically than myself. It's fascinating, and sad too, the way the authors of The Israel Lobby have kept digging when they long ago should have just stopped.
Senator Kirk Rethinks, Suggests Cutting Aid To Pakistan
Kirk backing off support of aid to Pakistan
Tony Arnold September 6, 2011
Illinois' two U.S. Senators are arguing about how much financial support the U.S. should send to Pakistan.
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk made a policy speech Tuesday at the Union League Club, proposing a new warning against Pakistan.
"I think that we should rethink assistance to Pakistan, that it's naïve at best and counterproductive at worst," Kirk said.
It's a reversal for Kirk, who earlier this year cautioned against cutting aid to Pakistan. He just got back from a trip to Afghanistan and said the Pakistani government supports a group of terrorists called the Haqqani network. Pakistan's government has reportedly denied those claims.
Kirk said if relations don't improve, the U.S. could get additional help from India, a heated rival of Pakistan.
But Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin disagrees.
"I will tell you that I think that would be cataclysmic," Durbin told reports Tuesday at an unrelated news conference when asked by reporters what he thought of bringing India into talks with Pakistan.
Durbin defended supporting the Pakistani government in fighting terrorism, saying the U.S. government gives a limited amount of money to the country. Spokesmen for Durbin and Kirk says the U.S. has given Pakistan $22 billion in the last decade. [no, the real figure, counting for example what is hidden in the Pentagon's general budget, is about $30 billion]
It’s easy and tempting to think that a 99% Muslim country is going to turn toward Islamism. Yet this may be happening in Turkey despite the fact that less than 10% of Turks describe themselves as “fully devout” (KONDA’s “Religion, Secularism and the Veil in Daily Life” Survey). For tens of millions of Turks, religiosity is a private matter, an attitude parallel to that in the United States.
The problem is that there is a minority of pro-Islamists who have been allowed to take control of Turkey’s ruling party, the AKP, although at the ballot box, the party represents nearly half of the Turkish people due to a combination of the ineptitude of the opposition, the AKP’s far superior organization, and its exploitation of state power.
Despite its claims to be a moderate centrist party “on the pattern of Europe’s Christian Democrats” and a good manager of the economy and foreign relations, there is much evidence that the AKP has increasingly been fundamentally transforming Turkey while tolerating rampant cronyism, which has effectively lead to a redistribution of wealth and power. Consequently, a small percentage of Turkey’s population — also only a segment of the AKP voters — have been politically and financially empowered at the expense of the rest of the Turkish people.
As a result of a highly centralized, top-down system, the party leader, in this case Prime Minister Tayyip Erdo?an, practically chooses every parliamentary candidate. The parliamentary system allows him as prime minister to control both the executive and the legislative branches of the government. The current regime has advanced steadily to add control over the courts and media, and now even the military is under severe pressure.
In Turkey, the president is supposed to be above political parties once elected and has traditionally played such a role. However, that tradition appears to have ended with the 2007 election of Erdo?an sidekick Abdullah Gül by the Turkish parliament.
Before 2010, the judicial branch was rather independent. Corruption existed but the courts did balance the prime minister and the executive-legislative branch controlled by him.
In September 2010m the regime conducted a referendum that clearly violated the EU Venice Commission’s own Code of Good Practice on Referendums, which states: “There must be an intrinsic connection between the various parts of each question put to the vote, in order to guarantee the free suffrage of the voter.” Instead, however, popular provisions to increase freedom and democracy were used to gain a vote in favor of a text that included anti-democratic changes to the judiciary.
As a result, now the judiciary is all but controlled by the prime minister. It may appear that the system has become more democratic, but members of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges & Prosecutors are now chosen, for all practical purposes, by one man. With the prime minister controlling all three branches of the government, Turkey has taken a critical step toward a possible dictatorship.
There is more. Prior to the ruling AKP party’s takeover of Turkish politics in 2002, state institutions such as the YÖK (Higher Education Board) and Diyanet (Directorate of Religious Affairs) were infected with considerable corruption. Each institution was controlled by a different special interest group. In the post-2007 era, all have been overtaken by pro-AKP interest groups. Nearly all formerly independent bodies have become attached to the government ministries. The lack of real checks and balances has placed the nation’s resources at the disposal of the prime minister and his government for full exploitation.
Yet despite this grab of growing power and its use to change Turkey’s system, much of the Western media has been touting Erdogan and the AKP as the new, improved “vibrant” democracy in Turkey:
The same language has also been used by the AKP itself. Here is the Turkish president speaking to students at the College of Europe at Natolin, Poland, June 7, 2011:
Turkey is also becoming a source of inspiration of a vibrant democracy… in the region.
However, the reality may point to a situation quite different: Turkey has fallen from the 99th spot in 2006 to 138th in 2010 in the Press Freedom Index with more than 50 journalists jailed since 2007.
When U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone finally spoke up against the erosion of media freedom, he was bluntly told to mind his own business. The State Department’s 2010 Human Rights Report indicates that “the law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, the government at times did not observe these prohibitions.”
The goverment has even tackled Turkey’s scientific institutions, issuing a decree giving itself tighter control of Turkey’s two main scientific organizations: the funding agency TÜB?TAK and the Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA).
Hundreds of people have been jailed under the investigations called Ergekenekon and Sledgehammer, which began in July 2008 and July 2010, respectively. Yet not a single conviction has been achieved to date. Ergun Poyraz, first detained in July 2007 and the author of over eight anti-AKP or anti-Erdo?an books, has now spent four years in jail with no end in sight. This appears to be the pattern that will affect other victims.
Gareth Jenkins, one of the most knowledgeable analysts on Turkish political matters, writes:
Not only is the evidence in both cases deeply flawed, there are also increasing indications that much of it has been fabricated.