Police arrested eight people on Tuesday night as more cars were torched in several areas around Stockholm, with rioters terrorizing the streets for the third night in a row.
Rioters lit fires in cars in western and southern Stockholm, and threw stones at police officers and fire fighters. Cars were torched in Rinkeby, Skarpnäck, Norsborg, Kista, Fittja, Bredäng, Flemingsberg, Edsberg, and Tensta.
"These are places that have not been affected by this before and this is sad to hear. It feels like people are taking the opportunity in other areas because of the attention given to Husby," Kjell Lindgren of the Stockholm police told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
"I'm scared that it will get worse. It's going to become like France," one Kista resident told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
Tuesday night's activities mark the third consecutive night of unrest around Stockholm, where over one hundred cars were burned out on Sunday night, and more than one hundred people rioted on Monday.
"...It's not the first time something like this has happened, and it's not the last. This is the kind of reaction when there isn't equality between people, which is the case in Sweden," Rami al-Khamisi, a law student and founder of local youth organization Megafonen, told The Local.
On Monday, local newspaper editor Rouzbeh Djalaie said the shooting probably provided the spark. "There's frustration in Husby and it risks spiralling out of control."
The man who was shot was aged 69 and was holding a woman prisoner in one of the flats while wielding a machete. He refused to surrender to police. One school of thought ponders whether the police prevented an 'honour' murder.
The areas affected have a high immigrant population, over 85% in Husby where the riots started on Sunday night. Eye witnesses in the Swedish language publications report that many rioters were in Islamic dress and crys of Allah Akbar could be heard as the police were attacked and cars exploded.
The escalation of the violence to a second night was blamed on the police failure to treat the ethnic differences with the respect they require. The police officer's language should have been dealt with by an official complaint; it did not justify burning cars, schools and shops.
Like every major Islamic terror attack, the Boston Marathon bombing of April 15, should have been the occasion of serious reflection and reconsideration of national policies concerning terrorism. However, it was quite disconcerting to note that the whole issue in fact evoked little valuable reactions and did not in the least spark a debate among the larger public; the Americans - apart from the counter-jihad movement that could point out the usual failings of the intelligence services and the lethal consequences of the political correctness pervading government institutions - seem to have grown weary of analyzing terrorism as well as of terrorism itself. This is noteworthy, because some ten years ago many analysts remarked how advanced American views on the Islamic threat were, while Europeans were still struggling to form their first properly anti-Islamic (and not simply anti-immigration or pseudo-fascist) movements.
Today the roles are reversed, and of course in the long term this was destined to happen since the Islamic problem is so much more acute in Europe. In the case of the recent attacks in Boston, this equivocal American response to Islamic terrorism is also caused by an attitude that, ironically, guaranteed American strength in the past: namely, the tendency not to seek the blame with oneself when enemies oppose the country, as opposed to the European tendency to “internalize” guilt. As The Economist noted, this has led to a certain smugness among American public opinion, because in this case neither the work of the intelligence agencies nor the approach of the government were questioned, and while Americans certainly did not blame themselves, the equally problematic attitude began to prevail that in fact nobody was to blame and that such attacks (and the appearance of the “lone wolves” who carry them out) simply can’t always be avoided. In Europe, on the contrary, it is highly probable that the by now familiar phenomenon of “education by terror” got a boost after the Boston attacks, especially now that more and more Europeans are connecting their day-to-day negative experiences with Muslim immigrants with events in the wider world. The European public, excepting the willfully neglectful political elite and the bien-pensant sections of the middle class who are behaving like tourists in their own countries, are gradually forming their own coherent overview of the nature of the Islamic threat and of Islam itself.
But Europe cannot save the west on its own, because while its population is speedily waking up to the dangers of Islamic immigration, this danger in itself needs a forceful response that is unthinkable in the current political landscape, and, moreover, is compounded by three non-European factors, namely the role the United States will play in the coming conflict with Islam; the question if Turkey, now an openly Islamist country, will stand by idly in the confrontation between Europe’s non-Islamic and Muslim populations, and, almost unnoticed, but probably the most important and unnerving question: what will be the fate of Russia in the coming decades? In terms of intensity, the Boston attack was not noteworthy, and probably that was one of the reasons why the American public saw it as kind of anti-climax: it didn’t constitute real proof of a great jihadist threat in most people’s opinion, and in a country like America with a relatively small Muslim population, a link between Islamic immigrants’ behavior and mentality did not come as readily to mind as in Europe. Nevertheless, the incident was revealing in other senses, first of all because it laid bare this dangerous American tendency no longer to analyze such events carefully, but secondly because it offers us a perfect view of the worrying enmity that exists between two of the countries that should at this moment be joining forces to combat the rise of Islam: the United States and Russia.
Both sides have engaged in slandering each other, and the common view is that the Russians are to blame to the largest degree. A virulent, irrational anti-Americanism has survived the collapse of their Soviet dream, and therefore this country – or at least its leaders - will always be opposed to US interests as well as the American goal of safeguarding democracy and human rights in certain countries. To a large extent this is true: a significant segment of the Russian population, including the current leadership, suffers from Stockholm syndrome, feeling nostalgia for the times when under barbaric, inhuman despotism, their country was one of the two superpowers; they will always see the USA, under whatever government, and whatever policies they pursue, as the incarnation of pure evil. This tendency has indeed poisoned Russian-American relations since the end of the Cold War, and has prevented reaching a relation of understanding between the two countries. This anti-Americanism goes hand in hand with a reversion from free market economics and the western idea of democracy and rule of law: the Putin administration has effectively appealed to the authoritarian mentality engrained in Orthodox civilization and played the demagogue instead of making the effort needed to transform his country into a modern nation. Moreover, this anti-western mentality has, not surprisingly, resulted in some foreign policy blunders which will only become obvious within the coming decades, such as Russia’s support of Iran, the Assad regime, and North Korea; and in general, its cooperation in the forming of a world-wide anti-western bloc.
But that does not mean that the United States is not to blame for the increasingly sour relations between Washington and Moscow, and the Boston bombing was a case in point. For a while it seemed as if the Russians were simply indulging in their characteristic obsession with conspiracy theories, when some of their media reported that the Chechen brothers had in fact been American spies, but in the aftermath of the attack compromising information became available about American involvement in the Chechen conflict – information that not only discredits American neoconservative criticism of Russian foreign policy, but also sheds new light on the relations between the US and the Putin administration’s enemies. Americans and especially the hard-line American neoconservatives of the nineties, have morally supported the Chechen uprising since its beginning in 1994, but apparently the support was not only moral: American NGO’s have sluiced funds to the Chechen rebels in order to destabilize Russia or at least prevent the rebirth of a militarily powerful Russia. Shockingly, but hardly surprising if one comes to think of the whole affair in its totality, one of the brothers was briefly trained in an American-funded camp on Georgian soil for terrorist activities against Russia.
We are clearly dealing with a case of “blowback” here; but unlike in the eighties when the US bankrolled the Taliban, there are no softening circumstances here; the US government was perfectly aware of nature of Islamic terrorism in the Northern Caucasus and the possible threat it could eventually come to pose to other countries than Russia, but most importantly, the US was not fighting a totalitarian country in this case. That the Chechen cause was interpreted as the desperate struggle for freedom of a suppressed nation, is only symptomatic of the naivete of the neoconservatives, who stuck to the Afghan scenario and believed that every people fighting the malign and godless Russian was necessarily in the right and freedom-loving; that there was no such thing as the political religion of Islam that did not fit in their pattern of universal establishment of democracy, according to which all peoples’ discontent necessarily meant discontent with lack of human rights.
A remark on the Chechen question. In the West it is often claimed that this conflict only became “jihadist” in the later years of the second Chechen War, but this is clearly a misinterpretation that stems from the common failure of western apologists to understand that there are several types of Islamic extremism, and that in fact most Islamic extremists at the moment are trying to achieve their goals peacefully, and not by terrorism. The Chechen conflict did not suddenly become jihadist because the Chechen Muslims resorted to terror as a means of achieving their goals; the conflicts in the Northern Caucasus have been linked to Islam since their beginnings in the late eighteenth century. It nonsense that Russia was the initial “imperial aggressor”: although the wars derailed and expanded in later decades, the primary cause were the raids carried out by Islamic tribesmen on Russian farm-land to the North. The Chechen cause cannot be seen loose from a jihadist cause, because Chechnya as a nation was shaped and defined by Islam of a radical Sunni brand. Moreover, one can wonder whether those idealistic Chechens –not only their leaders- who claim the right to live according to their own customs and free from Russian interference, would also exhort their compatriots in Russian cities to respect the Russian way of life, religion, and government, or indeed, would even want to concede that Islam is not eventually destined to rule the world. An then again: a brutal theocracy of the sort which many Chechens are dreaming of, does not have any rights since a country that does not respect the rights of its own citizens, especially of women, minorities, and homosexuals, cannot appeal to international law on any conceivable grounds.
Bearing in mind these considerations, it seems somewhat cynical to blame Russia for its “tyrannical” or irresponsible behavior in foreign policy, and Chechnya is only the example that drew my attention to the overall picture. Russia is certainly making a great mistake and behaving cruelly in supporting Iran and other rogue states, but at the same time the US and the EU are bankrolling the Morsi regime in Egypt, supporting the Gulf monarchies, notorious for their role in the spread of Islamist propaganda and their funding of terrorism, and shamefully ignoring the ordeal through which Christians and other minorities in the Islamic world are going at the moment. It seems there are no really “moral” players in the Islamic world, only potentially moral players; rather, two power blocs are exploiting conflicts in the Middle East, the most prominent of which is the Sunni-Shiite divide, and are preoccupied with attempting to offset each other’s influence and diminish each other’s power. But both blocs, namely the western and the Russian-dominated bloc, are in fact destroying themselves in trying to destroy each other, since the only winner in this rivalry is emergent Islam (although, of course, on the western side policies are now more determined by genuinely pro-jihadist and anti-Zionist, anti-western ideology than by simple rivalry with Russia and China, or just by neglect and lack of will-power.)
There is some confusion about the term “blowback”, which must be resolved before we further analyse the Russian case in its implications for Europe – a confusion which is exploited to the full by progressives and libertarian peaceniks, like Justin Raimondo, who collected some useful evidence about the attacks but drew idiotic conclusions from it. It is basic knowledge that military actions, whether justified or not, will always lead to some sort of reaction. However, the fact that a reaction occurs in itself does not tell us anything about whether the reaction is justified or the original actions are unethical, and this distinction is slyly avoided by the anti-American apologists of Islam: the fact that, according to their own statements, the Chechen brothers (as well as numerous terrorists, not least among them Bin Laden and his accomplices) were taking revenge for America’s role in the Islamic world, is reason enough from the progressives to fool the American public into thinking that our foreign policy is immoral and thus the real cause of Islamic extremism and terrorism. First of all, however, Islamic extremism (or simply, Islam shorn of its 19th century embellishments) would be on the rise whatever the infidel powers would be doing; also, the number of people killed by American intervention pales into insignificance compared to the semi-genocides inflicted upon Muslims by their own rulers (no calls for “justice” to be heard then, if the topic is even discussed). Secondly, the Muslim world only has itself to blame for American (and Russian) involvement, since this civilization has been backward and unstable for far longer than only the twentieth century. The USSR intervened in the Middle East not only because of its imperialist ambitions but simply because they were invited by many groups and regimes; others then sought the alliance of the US, or America was simply forced to counter Soviet influence. But the instability was of the making of the Muslims themselves. While terrorism is certainly a reaction to American policies, this does not in the least mean that the US is committing moral errors, but it just learns us the vital lesson the progressives want to conceal from us: that an irrational Islamic totalitarianism is on the rise, and that it is bent on destroying every civilization that does not comply with its own rules.
So, when the term “blowback” is used here, it should not be confused with the politically correct use of the word. Blowback occurs when, out of foolishness or negligence, a country helps certain groups or governments who are certain later on the bite the hand that fed them; it does not mean – or at least does not bear any moral connotation of disapproval of the country in question – that extremist enemies of that country may want to take revenge for entirely justified policies of that country which happen to thwart them. Thus, the Chechen case I have discussed here is a genuine case of blowback, but needless to say, it was not the US government that caused radical Islam to flourish in the Northern Caucasus, like it was not the US that made Islam arise in Afghanistan. Islam is an ideology with a dynamism of its own, that simply unfolds all the faster when its enemies make strategic mistakes; but that it will always unfold with all its barbaric implications if it gets the chance, is a given. Similarly, Russia will increasingly be dealing with its own blowback by supporting Shiite terrorism, since of course Hezbollah and the Iranian mullahs just consider the Orthodox Russians as useful idiots the struggle against the US, and will turn upon this kuffir nation as well when they have built up sufficient strength. Both powers are in fact increasingly looking like giants on clay feet, inherently on the moral side of the infidel-Islamic conflict, but constantly making strategic blunders.
It is hard to say on which of the two sides the mistakes made will have the gravest consequences. At the moment, America and the EU are delivering and have already delivered large swathes of territory in the Middle East to the reign of Islam, while Russia is encouraging another type of Islamic revolution in Iran; but I believe the threat to be the greatest on the Russian side, because this threat will also decisively change the course of events in Europe if not properly dealt with.
This threat is mainly connected with a domestic issue of Russia, that has escaped the western public, namely the growth of Russia’s Muslim population. Although Muslims still mainly live in traditionally Islamic areas like the Caucasus, more and more are emigrating northwards to the cities, especially Moscow. Since the fall of the USSR, the Muslim population has grown by forty percent, while the ethnic Russian population is declining at a frightening speed. Even if ethnic Russian birth rates will rise to the level of those in Western Europe, Russia’s Muslims, already numbering more than twenty million, are reproducing at a significantly faster pace than in western countries, and migration to traditionally non-Muslim areas is increasing every year. Tragically, while ethnic Russians have become fed up with the aggressiveness of Muslim immigrants and don not suffer from the western European indoctrination with political correctness, the government seems to have more urgent business to handle, first of all maintaining Russia’s standing as great power that can rival with the United States. In a way, the neglect of the Muslim problem in Russia also stems from this foreign policy imperative: it is well known that Putin does not regard Russia as a western or European country, but as a “Eurasian” empire with multiple identities, which he hopes will gave Russian power a more stable base. Thus, Russia’s Muslims are to a large extend protected by the government, as in western Europe; in essence, one could add, the Eurasian idea, although its origins are different and complex, is simply a variation on the multiculturalism of western Europe. To summarize, Russian politics and society are even more schizophrenic at the beginning of the 21st century than western-European: on the one hand the country is grappling with its domestic Islamic threat, but on the other hand is forced by its foreign policy to support the rise of global Islamism in Iran and elsewhere and to stress its non-western character.
As the Chechen example illustrates, however, American intervention and the automatic antagonism of neoconservatives toward Russia are prolonging this schizophrenia; its seems as if America and the EU are ready to use all their diplomatic weapons to besmear Russia’s image and harm its interests, while dealing supinely with more dictatorial regimes. It cannot be denied that the Russian overture toward the United States after 9/11 was rebuffed by an over-confident, even arrogant America; also, after the revelations about the Boston bombing, we should deal more critically with western media’s reporting of Russia’s human rights violations and its alleged evolution to dictatorship. The main critics of the regime, as well as Chechen “freedom fighters”, draw support from neoconservative circles; and the question here is not whether the Putin government is corrupt and increasingly authoritarian, but whether the alternative offered by certain dissidents will not replace Putin by a European-style politically correct elite. Among Russia’s middle class opposition, Islam in Russia does not even rank as a problem, while an Islamic takeover of Russia, and with it of the “heartland”, to speak in geopolitical terms, is a possibility if the current trend is not reversed; and an Islamic Russia with easy approach to Europe, in combination with Turkey and Europe’s Muslim population, will inevitably mean the fall of one of the two strongholds of western civilization.
Since I only analyze situations and trends, I cannot offer any solution to the tangled web we are currently caught in. Resolving the enmity between Russia and the west, with both sides at fault, will demand a strenuous mutual effort, since in effect it would mean the emergence of either a new type of government in Russia (neither authoritarian and schizophrenic as today, nor politically correct, but a government genuinely committed to western values) that will necessarily have to be endogenous, or a reversal in western mentality and policy leading not only to appreciation of the Islamic problem (which is only the first step), but also to a commitment to save strategically vital Russia. But what is certain, is that Russia, as younger brother of the western civilization, urgently needs to be incorporated in an alliance against Islam, and that in any case a united west will possess more self-confidence and will-power to deal with its greatest problem. Only thus will the survival of the west be ensured. This thesis and advice have already been offered by the French writer Alexandre Del Valle, although I do not include China in an alliance against Islam, and believe Russia has its foreign policy mistakes just like the United States. Russia determines the fate of the west: already, in 1917, the chances of the west to continue to flourish were thrown away with the communist takeover in Russia, which resulted in seventy years of European and later global civil war and chaos; now, once again, the chance to save the west by saving Russia is offered us, but once again, seems to go by largely unnoticed.
Like some of the nation’s prominent chief executives, Apple’s Timothy D. Cook has a simple proposal to help spur the economy and encourage corporate tax compliance: give American companies a tax break to bring to the United States untaxed profits parked overseas.
But much of that money is already home.
Multinationals based in the United States now hold more than $1.6 trillion in cash classified as “permanently invested overseas.” These funds will face the 35 percent federal corporate tax only if it is returned to the country.
In the convoluted world of corporate tax accounting however, simple concepts like “overseas” and “returned to the country” are not as simple as they appear.
Apple’s $102 billion in offshore profits is actually managed by one of its wholly owned subsidiaries in Reno, Nev., according to the Senate report on the company’s tax avoidance. The money is tracked by Apple company bookkeepers in Austin, Tex. What’s more, the funds are held in bank accounts in New York.
Because the $102 billion is technically assigned to two Irish subsidiaries, however, the United States tax code considers the money to be under foreign control, and Apple is legally entitled to avoid paying taxes on it.
Tax experts say that such an arrangement is not uncommon among American multinationals. During the last several years, major companies like Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Google and Abbott Labs have lowered their tax bills by arranging for their billions in profits to flow to subsidiaries that are technically offshore — even though some of the money is placed in United States Treasury bonds and other government securities.
Because the money is nominally held by the offshore companies, the tax code deems the money nontaxable, even if the funds are physically held in the United States. The savings to American companies is huge: the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that if foreign profits of United States corporations were fully taxed it would generate an additional $42 billion this year for the government — about half the amount of the automatic spending cuts enacted as part of the so-called sequester.
The companies say that they need to shield their money overseas, however, because the official corporate rate of 35 percent is the highest in the world and puts them at a competitive disadvantage. And while the offshore money may be in American banks and controlled from home, executives say it would be irresponsible to return the money to their shareholders or invest it in the United States because of the high tax rate.
Just last month, Apple announced it would pay for its dividends to shareholders by taking on $17 billion in debt rather than tap into the untaxed foreign profits. Mr. Cook said it would have been a disservice to shareholders to use the “offshore” earnings and pay the 35 percent federal income tax.
But Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who heads the committee, brushed aside those claims. “You can bring the money home,” he said. “You’d just have to pay your taxes on it.”
Apple is one of about 20 major corporations that have been pushing for a fresh tax break, known as a “repatriation holiday,” which would allow them to bring the money to the United States at a drastically reduced rate. John T. Chambers, chief executive of Cisco, has led a sustained lobbying effort for such a policy, promising that it would act as a stimulus to encourage investment and increase jobs in the United States.
A similar policy was enacted in 2004, which prompted American companies to return more than $300 billion in foreign earnings at the reduced rate of 5.25 percent. But it led to no discernible increase in American investment or hiring. On the contrary, some of the companies that brought back the most money laid off thousands of workers, and a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research later concluded that 92 cents on every dollar was used for dividends, stock buybacks or executive bonuses. A study by the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that a similar program would result in $79 billion in forgone tax revenue over a decade.
Opponents of the repatriation tax break say that Apple’s accounting maneuvers show how easily major companies can shield their profits from the government, even putting companies without aggressive tax departments at a competitive disadvantage.
“The offshore companies are a fiction and the statement that the money is offshore is a fiction,” said Edward D. Kleinbard, former staff director for the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. “What they are asking for is a reward for having gamed the system.”
More than 2,400 children and young people were confirmed to have been victims of sex abuse gangs in just 14 months, a Home Office minister has revealed. Lord Taylor of Holbeach said the figure - which he described as “dramatic” - hinted at the true scale of organised sex abuse in Britain. Police found 2,409 children and young people had been confirmed as victims of sexual exploitation in gangs or groups between August 2010 and October 2011, said Lord Taylor.
Lord Morris of Aberavon, the Labour former attorney general, told the House of Lords that more than 50 alleged child grooming gangs were being investigated. He asked: “Is it collective amnesia that has blinded us to the underlying circumstances, whereby at least 27 police forces are investigating 54 alleged child grooming gangs?
“Why has investigating and prosecuting in so many different parts of the country taken so much time?
“Is it the fear of racialism, or is it the fact that many of these vulnerable girls come from care homes?”
LONDON (Reuters) - Two Saudi princes on Tuesday sought to extricate themselves from a London legal battle with a Jordanian businessman who accuses them of laundering money for Hezbollah, an allegation their lawyer called "fanciful".
Prince Mishal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, a brother of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, and his son Prince Abdulaziz bin Mishal, had previously argued they had sovereign immunity from suit but the courts rejected that stance.
They also tried to keep details of the case secret on the grounds that making the allegations public would damage Saudi relations with Britain and the United States, which considers Hezbollah a terrorist organisation, but that failed in the Court of Appeal last week.
The Hezbollah allegation is likely to raise concern in Saudi Arabia, because Hezbollah is backed by foe Iran, and Hezbollah fighters are supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria while Saudi Arabia is a major backer of rebel forces.
John Wardell, a lawyer for the princes, told the High Court on Tuesday that Faisal Almhairat, an estranged business partner of Prince Abdulaziz, had fabricated "incredible tales" that were "fanciful", and argued that his clients should not be parties to the case at all.
He said Global Torch - the British Virgin Island company the younger prince is said to control - and not the princes should be the party at the trial when it comes to court in January.
CLAIMS AND COUNTER CLAIMS
The complex legal dispute stems from a tussle between Prince Abdulaziz and Almhairat over control of Fi Call Limited, a joint venture registered in London in 2009 and aimed at developing software to allow free calls over the Internet.
Global Torch, a shareholder in Fi Call, initiated the court proceedings, and Almhairat responded with several counter-claims about the princes. None of the main individuals involved has attended court.
Judge Geoffrey Vos said the allegations may seem "far-fetched" but that did not mean they were untrue. He said it would be for a trial judge to decide that.
In a court document filed in December 2011 and seen by Reuters, Almhairat says Prince Abdulaziz instigated a deal in Beirut in March 2010 whereby Fi Call issued a $5 million bank guarantee to a Hezbollah intermediary named as Abdul Razzak.
Almhairat says this was part of a money-laundering arrangement that earned Prince Abdulaziz $5 million, and that when Almhairat questioned the deal he was threatened with death.
"We deal with whoever we want to deal with, whether it's Hezbollah, the Mafia or even the Jews," Prince Abdulaziz was quoted as saying in a phone call to Almhairat.
"Do as you are instructed. Otherwise your head will be at my feet without your body," the prince was alleged to have said.
Almhairat has said he recorded conversations with the princes on his telephone and made transcripts of what was said, but that the recordings were later stolen.
The document also quotes Prince Mishal telling Almhairat during a separate conversation at a Dubai hotel in April 2011 that he was involved in money-laundering.
Prince Mishal, 86, is a former defence minister and now chairs the Allegiance Council that will oversee the succession to the Saudi throne.
"You know that I move huge amounts of money for people like our friends the Mubaraks. We've been doing this business for years. We can move money for everyone, including the Iranians, because nobody dares to challenge us," Prince Mishal was quoted as saying by Almhairat.
In the document, Almhairat also alleges that in early 2011, Prince Abdulaziz arranged for Fi Call to pay $202,000 for a chartered flight from Nairobi to Amman, supposedly to transport the prince's camping equipment.
Almhairat says he discovered the true purpose was to smuggle minerals and precious stones from Congo worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the benefit of Prince Abdulaziz and possibly his father.
The hearing, scheduled to last three days, continues.
U.S. Administration Wrongly Advocates the Islamist Interpretation of Islamophobia
The State Department issued a report denouncing what it called "a spike in anti-Islamic sentiment in Europe and Asia." It said that "Muslims also faced new restrictions in 2012 in countries ranging from Belgium, which banned face-covering religious attire in classrooms, to India[,] where schools in Mangalore restricted headscarves."
The State Department report confuses religious persecution, which is to be condemned, with politicization of religions, which is a matter of debate and includes strategies of which the U.S. government should not be a part. If countries ban the right to pray, broadcast, and write about theology -- any theology -- this would be against human rights. But Belgium and India do not ban religions per se. In fact, they are more tolerant regarding diverse religious practice than most of the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The Obama administration is not criticizing secular European and Asian governments for deciding to ban prayer or theologically philosophical dissertations, but rather criticizing these countries for banning the hijab or niqab in public places.
The administration understands the wearing of the hijab as a religious injunction for all Muslims. This is not the case, as senior theologians have decreed, including al Azhar, and the niqab is not a universal Muslim obligation, as one can see in 53 Muslim-majority countries. It is a matter of choice. The organized groups calling for a systematic imposition of the niqab are Islamist forces. This translates politically into an official endorsement on the Obama administration's part of the Islamist political agenda under the camouflage of religious rights.
The Obama administration, by using the charge of Islamophobia against countries that oppose the political agenda of an ideological and political faction comprising those known as Salafists and Khomeinists, has become a partner with these factions against secular, liberal, reformist movements who do not abide by the niqab rule. It is one thing to defend religious communities and something else to defend the agenda of ideological factions. The niqab is part and parcel of the ideological agenda advocated by the Islamists, not a tenet held by all Muslims. If the Obama administration is worried about the Islamist agenda not yet met by European and Asian countries, it should claim so, but the administration cannot claim defense of a religious injunction to all Muslims while the latter have no consensus on the matter.
It has been noted over the past few years that U.S. foreign policy towards the Middle East, the Arab world, and Muslim-majority countries has come increasingly under the influence of pressure groups, identified also as "lobbies," implementing the doctrinal and political agendas of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian Khomeinist regime. The State Department has been made to believe that the Islamist agenda and the beliefs and values of all Muslims are one, which is a grave mistake.
The Obama administration should have learned from recent lessons as well as those from the past. First, it should have learned that popular majorities in the countries of the Arab Spring, particularly in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen, are not necessarily followers of Islamist principles. Rather, strong oppositions representing a vast swath of civil society are demonstrating vividly against the Islamist regimes produced by the Arab Spring.
The issue of hijab and niqab is one of the many that divide Muslim-majority societies. The Brotherhood and the Iranian regime claim that the veil should be a matter of the female's uniform --not only in the region, but also for the women of Muslim communities in the West. This is the reason their lobbies are portraying the hijab and niqab as an obligation to all Muslim women -- and thus a collective religious right above all other considerations in secular societies, including gender equality and public security matters. Yet the veil, as simply an expression, cannot be imposed on all Muslims, nor can it be extrapolated to be understood as a fundamental right to all members of society.
We therefore recommend that the U.S. government and other governments around the world make a basic distinction. The rights of prayer and its offshoots are universal to Muslim communities; such rights should then have consequences in and on Western and other non-Muslim countries. But the matter of hijab and niqab is a political right, not a religious one. And as a political right, it follows the limitations placed on it by the laws of the land. Even political rights can be obtained given hospitable circumstances, but the United States should not be siding with one political faction against another in an ideological debate in the Muslim world and among Muslim communities in the West and Asia.
If Washington espouses the agenda of Islamists, it becomes part of the industry of Islamophobia -- that is, to create fear about religious persecution in order to support the political agenda of authoritarian Islamist factions.
Dr Walid Phares is a professor of international relations and the author of The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East. www.walidphares.com
C’est une très bonne nouvelle pour les Français. Dix mille malades atteints de mécréance pourront bientôt recouvrer une bonne santé, physique et spirituelle. Grâce aux bons soins des musulmans de France.
La mécréance, une maladie très répandue en France et ailleurs en Europe, intéresse au plus haut point les théologiens et les oulémas musulmans. Plus encore, elle les obsède. Les hante. Les musulmans ne peuvent tout simplement pas vivre dans la sérénité tant que des mécréants vivotent dans leur environnement immédiat et lointain.
Aussi se sont-ils mobilisés pour leur apporter leur aide en organisant un événement annuel de type téléthon dont le but est de collecter des fonds pour aider à traiter ce genre de maladie. C’est le Da’wathon. Une campagne de prosélytisme pour un remède simple et efficace : les malades sont invités à rejoindre la religion d’Allah. La guérison est garantie.
Le Da’wathon n’est pas nouveau. Il a déjà tenu une première édition en mai de l’an dernier. La deuxième aura lieu dans quelques jours, du 25 au 27 mai courant.
Il s’agit, expliquent les organisateurs, d’une « campagne de collecte qui vise à récolter un maximum de dons pour financer des supports adaptés à la transmission de l’Islam ». Il faut avouer que c’est très original. Généralement, dans le domaine médical, on récolte des fonds pour stopper la transmission de quelque chose, une bactérie ou un virus. Mais l’islam n’est ni l’un, ni l’autre. Tout le contraire. L’islam, lui, c’est la panacée (même s’il s’apparente lui-même à une déficience spirituelle dégénérative).
La communauté musulmane est appelée à aider à transmettre l’islam à travers un don symbolique de 2,50€. C’est le prix d’un « Coffret Da’wah » qui, précisent les organisateurs, contient « des supports validés par des prêcheurs reconnus qui nous permettent, grâce à l’aide de Dieu, de transmettre notre religion aux moins initiés ». C’est, ajoutent-ils, un coffret « qui, nous l’espérons, sera la cause d’un grand nombre de conversions ».
Chaque coffret contient un fascicule expliquant le but de cette initiative, un CD audio présentant l’islam, un livret reprenant les versets du Coran traitant des fondements de la foi musulmane et, en guise de cadeau, une « surprise ».
La première édition a permis de financer 3.162 coffrets. On peut imaginer qu’il y a eu autant de corniauds guéris par les miracles du coffret…
Cette année, le Da’wathon revient avec « des ambitions et des moyens plus importants ». Les organisateurs ambitionnent de collecter des fonds pour financer et produire 10.000 coffrets. Trois plus que l’an dernier. Soit un potentiel de dix mille mécréants qui vont enfin être soulagés de leurs maux et de leur handicap.
On en a les larmes aux yeux. Comment ne pas être reconnaissants à ces bons samaritains ?
Les organisateurs appellent les musulmans à participer massivement à cette campagne de prosélytisme. « Chacun d’entre nous devrait se sentir concerné par la transmission du message de l’Islam », soulignent-ils.
Les coffrets seront distribués à travers toute la France par les soins d’une association dite « Oumati » (« Ma communauté » ou « Ma nation ») qui a pour but de « sensibiliser les non-musulmans à l’islam par la distribution de supports de communication et l’organisation de conférences et débats ».
Un véhicule de cette association, baptisé « Oumaticar », sillonnera les villes françaises pour faire découvrir l’islam aux malheureux impies de ce pays.
Braves musulmans adorés, sillonnez la France comme il vous sied. Labourez-là selon votre bon désir, elle est à vous. Elle vous appartient.
La France est omniprésente dans l’esprit des musulmans. Dieu n’a-t-il pas dit : « la France est pour vous un champ de labour. Allez à votre champ comme (et quand) vous le voulez » ? D’accord, ce n’est pas tout à fait au sujet de la France qu’il a dit ça, mais à entendre les musulmans tout le temps crier « Nique la France », on est bien tenté de le penser.
L’opération Da’wathon est organisée en partenariat avec « Islamic Deal », un site qui propose des produits et services à des prix réduits « dans le respect des règles islamiques » et de « bons plans adaptés à la communauté musulmane ».
Ce qui est le plus alléchant dans cette affaire, c’est la « surprise » contenue dans le coffret. On a bien envie d’en prendre un. Juste pour la surprise. Connaissant les cadeaux offerts par nos concitoyens musulmans, avec un peu de chance on pourrait tomber sur un ticket aller simple pour Damas. Ou Tombouctou. Ce sont de hauts lieux de tourisme actuellement. Ou, avec un peu plus de chance, sur un ticket aller-retour dans les régions exotiques d’Afghanistan ou du Pakistan…
C’est une opération réellement courageuse qui suscite l’admiration. Surtout qu’elle tombe au moment même ou ailleurs, comme au Maroc, on promet de raccourcir d’une tête toute personne qui s’aventurerait à quitter le chemin d’Allah.
L’islam tient l’affiche. Ici, vous êtes invités à y entrer. Là-bas, vous êtes sommés de ne pas en sortir. Deux opérations bien synchronisées et bien harmonieuses. Le tout dans un grand silence. Le silence du Vatican. A quand une « fatwa » de Sa sainteté interdisant aux catholiques de se convertir à l’islam ? Juste par réciprocité amicale.
L’auteur de ces lignes, musulman de par ses parents, païen de par ses aïeux et enfin singe animiste de par ses origines, a promis d’acheter deux coffrets Da’wathon. Pas pour lui, mais pour les offrir. A Mélenchon et Désir. Ils continuent aussi à figurer parmi les « moins initiés »…
Oui, il veut bien leur offrir ces coffrets, à Mélenchon et Désir.
THE trial of ten men accused of sexually exploiting a young girl for more than four years has begun. Proceedings in the Operation Ribbon trial began at Oxford Crown Court on Monday afternoon.
The case continues today but no evidence will be heard as barristers discuss a number of legal points for the trial, which is expected to last between six and eight weeks.
A jury will be sworn in on Wednesday morning before the Crown opens its case against the defendants, who are mostly from High Wycombe.
The ten men deny the charges against them. They are:
Iblal Fiaz, 21, of St George’s Close – Four counts of rape of a child under 13, seven counts of rape, two counts of conspiracy to rape, eight counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation, two charges of sexual activity with a child and one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Khasim Fiaz, 22, of St George’s Close – two counts of rape of a child under 13, one count of rape, two counts of conspiracy to rape and one count of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Ammar Rafiq, 19, from Kent Road in west London – four counts of rape.
Mohammed Adnan, 21, of Upper Green Street – two counts of rape.
Mudassar Hussain, 29, of Abbey Barn Road –three counts of rape.
Jubrion Khan, 21, of Rutland Avenue – one count of rape and two counts of conspiracy to rape.
Khasim Dadd, 23, of Gibbs Close – one count of rape and one count of conspiracy to rape.
Rameez Ali, 21, of West End Street – two counts of rape.
Janaid Sharif, 26, of Cambridge Crescent – two counts of rape.
Asif Hussain, 21, of Plumber Road – one count of rape
Watch the Somali journalist, her face brimful of intelligence, and then watch, and compare, the smooth mendacity of the Swedish female prize-winning journalist who it is clear, participated in a campaign against the Somali for daring to expose a connection between an Islamic preacher in Rinkeby and Somalis who then took Islam to heart, and the consequence was their leaving to help Al-Shebaab in Somalia. The awful Swedish journalist, con una faccia da schiaffi (the kind of face you want to smash in), is a parody of herself, with her "we [the Royal We, or the Swedish left-wing We?]never judge anything" repeated for emphasis, for what, in her little world, could be worse than judging Nazis, Communists, those who take the hatred of Infidels that Islam so obviously inculcates, to heart? The name of that Swedish journalist -- she's forgettable, but remember her name just in case -- is Randi Mossige-Norheim.
Let's join right now in judging her -- summary judgmeent is called for, in the case of Randi Mossige-Noheim. IWe've weighed her, and found Randi Mossige-Norheim wanting.
RIO DE JANEIRO — The Brazilian police have arrested a businessman listed by the United States as a member of Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group, under suspicion of operating a fraudulent scheme in the clothing industry — a far cry from the arms, drugs, explosives and counterfeit bills that American officials have suspected him of trafficking in during the past.
Officials with Brazil’s Civil Police said the suspect, Hamzi Ahmad Barakat, 50, a Lebanese citizen with ties to the Triple Frontier region of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, was arrested Thursday in the city of Curitiba in southern Brazil in connection with creating a network of front companies to defraud Lebanese immigrants who had recently arrived in Brazil.
The arrest focuses new attention on the Triple Frontier, a smugglers’ haven that has long been under the scrutiny of intelligence agencies from the United States, Israel and South American nations. In 2006, the Treasury Department designated Mr. Barakat as a member of Hezbollah and said he owned and managed a store in Paraguay that “served as a source of funding” for the group, which the United States considers a terrorist organization.
Cassiano Aufiero, the police investigator in charge of the case, said officials were aware that Mr. Barakat had been linked to Hezbollah, but added that their investigation was in connection to other activities. Mr. Aufiero said charges against Mr. Barakat would include embezzlement and the creation of false documents in schemes involving the resale of clothing.
“He was preying on his own countrymen, using their identities to create companies to carry out schemes,” Mr. Aufiero said. He said Mr. Barakat had been held in a state penitentiary in Curitiba since his arrest.
John Sullivan, a spokesman for the Treasury Department in Washington, said the description of Mr. Barakat as a Hezbollah member still stood.
After the Treasury Department described the links of Mr. Barakat and eight others in the Triple Frontier region to Hezbollah, Brazil’s government responded by saying there were no signs of terrorism financing in the border region, which has long attracted large numbers of immigrants from the Middle East.
In 2004, the Treasury Department called Mr. Barakat’s brother, Assad Ahmad Barakat, one of Hezbollah’s “most prominent and influential members,” and said he used an electronics wholesale store in the Triple Frontier as a cover for raising funds for Hezbollah. The Brazilian police arrested Assad Ahmad Barakat in 2002 and deported him to Paraguay, where he went to prison for tax evasion.
Ralph Peters is a retired officer who is often sensible about the uses of military force, and he takes a dim view of the Arabs. He is also said to be a scholarly sort, with books in Russian and German in his library (at least, this is what the articles about him unfailingly convey). So why doesn't he exercise the same caution, and engage in the same kind of mental preparation, in proceeding to make assumptions and utter pronouncements about Islam? This is especially necessary in light of the dreamy idea that Occupied Iraq is not a whit different in its prospects from Occupied Germany or Occupied Japan after World War II -- and that all those who claim differently must either be appeasers or Nay-Sayers, when in fact some of those Nay-Sayers want the "Light Unto the Muslim Nations" Project stopped not because they do not worry about Islam, but because they really worry about it.
They worry most not about the "war on terror" but about the likely islamization, through Da'wa and demography, of Western Europe, and having studied the history of Islam, they agree with Reza Afshari and Ibn Warraq and Ali Sina that the sharia and human rights are flatly incompatible with Western values: free conscience, free speech, equal treatment of women and minorities are all impossible under the Sharia, or under a legal system that "takes its inspiration" from the sharia, as the Egyptian legal code does, or as the "new" Iraqi Constitution, which gave in so much to the Islamists, does -- infuriating Allawi (he could not have been pleased with the naivete of Noah Feldman et al).
This unwillingness to study Islam -- to study first the Qur'an and a few hundred of the hadith, and then the sira, or to immerse oneself in the classic scholarship about Islam ("classic" meaning not the shallow apologetics of the past 40 years, which includes Esposito, Sells, Ernst, et al) -- means that no one has a right to utter an opinion about Islam without such study, or at least paying attention to those who have engaged in such study. And that includes those whose instincts and heart may be in the right place, but who have not permitted their minds to follow.
One hopes, in the case of Peters, that he will allow himself the leisure to read -- beginning, perhaps, with Bat Ye'or's The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam and then, perhaps, looking at Muir's biography of Muhammad (not outdated), at Ibn Warraq's Why I Am Not a Muslim, and at a number of the articles to be found online at www.secularislam.org and www.faithfreedom.org. Ibn Warraq's essay on the similarities between "Islam and Fascism" should also be studied.
If Ralph Peters is reading too much Schwartz et al in the pages of The Weekly Standard, that might explain the problem. Amir Taheri is the best of their writers on Islam, but even he has to, at times, pull his punches.
He is seemingly unable to sit down with the texts, and is willing to substitute his own anecdotal evidence for facts: a visit to Senegal, his impressions of the marabouts, that sort of thing -- no different from what Madeleine Albright or Tom Friedman do when they collect their impressions, or what Paul Wolfowitz did when he learned all about Islam as the dynamic, take-charge, get-out-in-the-field ambassador in Jakarta.
I took note of that inability here at Jihad Watch two years ago, but I was too hopeful that he would start to study, too trusting that he would stop substituting his own anecdotal evidence for the study of Islamic tenets, immersion in Qur'an and Hadith and Sira, and further immersion in the history of Islamic conquest and subsequent subjugation of non-Muslims. Instead, this "author of 21 books" substituted his own travels, his own brief encounters, in countries where he did not know the languages (but he is careful to demonstrate, on every conceivable and some not-so-conceivable occasions, his knowledge of Russian and, especially, German) and in which the Muslims he saw were not in the Arab lands, but on the periphery -- countries where specific local conditions had diluted the effect of Islam, had blended it with local easygoing ways and easygoing customs (those marabouts of which he speaks, for example -- and of which V. S. Naipaul also writes with far greater keenness in his Among the Believers and Beyond Belief.
Ralph Peters fails to see that where he finds Islam acceptable, or unmenacing, it may be for reasons having to do with the fact that the Muslims he sees are not the full-blooded thing. It would be as if he took the Ahmadi sect -- treated as non-Muslims by the orthodox -- as representative of Islam, or took Andrey Sakharov as a representative product of Soviet Communism, or Oskar Schindler as a typical member of the Nazi Party. He sees, but uncomprehendingly. What’s more, on those lightning-tours to places where neither English nor German nor Russian (his apparent languages) are spoken, he is an Important Personage. Those to whom he is introduced are those who would not mind meeting this Important American Personage.
He comments on Senegal. But why not ask black Africans from Niger, students in France who return to Niger from time to time, what they have to say about the effect of Saudi money and Saudi mosques and Saudi-funded madrasas on the practice of Islam in Niger -- where that syncretism, and those marabouts, are on the run, and everywhere now the once-unknown burqa can be seen.
All kinds of people have spent "time in the Muslim world." Bassam Tibi has, so has Ibn Warraq and Ali Sina, and Azam Kamguian and Irfan Khawaja, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Many intelligent people have not only "spent time" in the Muslim world but were born into it, and raised in it, and finally, upon coming to live in the West and being able to breathe and think freely, have chosen to leave Islam. They do so only after having carefully analyzed what Islam teaches, what they hear being said in the mosques about Infidels, behind those Infidel acts. They know perfectly well the attitudes and atmospherics of societies suffused with Islam. Why does Ralph Peters think that his visits “from Senegal to Sulawesi, from Delhi to Dearborn,” with “no end of vibrant, humane, hopeful currents in the Muslim faith” have given him an understanding and insight superior to that of these articulate, intelligent, thoroughly pleasant and altogether reasonable, and almost always humorful people – not to mention others who offer testimony that can be found, in book form (see Leaving Islam) or at such websites as www.faithfreedom.org?
There is nothing hate-filled and hysterical about any of these people, who are adamant in their implacable opposition to Islam, in their dismay at those Westerners who fall for every bit of taqiyya-and-tu-quoque, who seem never to get their fill of that “dialogue” or never to quite understand why it is that Islam cannot conceivably be reformed – god knows a few people, in the last century, tried, but kept coming up against the reality of the Qur’an and the Hadith, and the figure, or rather Model, of Muhammad.
Why does Ralph Peters think his impressions, “from Senegal to Sulawesi,” are more important and accurate than what these defectors tell us? Why, for that matter, does he think that the Islam analyzed in such piercing detail by Snouck Hurgronje or St. Clair Tisdall or Arthur Jeffery or another hundred people who devoted their lives to studying the subject, are to be so easily dismissed by him, for their views on the impossibility of the reformation of Islam, and their analysis of its suppression of free and skeptical inquiry, and encouragement of the habit of mental submission, are everywhere so evident in their writings, but when others, today, say or write the same things, Peters finds them “islamophobic” and “hate-filled”?
Perhaps Peters will beg to differ. But at least he should be willing to read Ibn Warraq, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ali Sina and Walid Shoebat and many others. And he ought to actually read those books about Islam some of which have apparently (according to my informants) been sent to him, and the contents of which so disturbed him that he immediately lapsed into the “all religions do it” argument that some find so soothing to believe, but others – those who count on them for instruction – will find unacceptable as a response.
I was too kind to Peters when I wrote about him here two years ago. I believed him capable, though a product and participant, apparently, in the Cold War, of being able to learn new and sometimes difficult things. The difficulty comes first in learning the doctrine, and then in seeing how the phrase "moderate" Muslim is distinctly unhelpful, because there is no bright line separating the "moderate" from the "immoderate" Muslim, and the "moderate" in many ways furthers the Jihad -- which Peters apparently conceives of only as one involving violence as its instrument, rather than recognizing that jihad fi sabil Allah is the struggle to spread Islam by whatever means are most effective, including the use of the money weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, and demographic conquest. He leaves all this out. In this respect, he is a True Believer in the Administration and in the policy, based on the smug assumption that there is no problem with Islam, but only with those "terrorists" who "hate freedom" -- and which has led to tarbaby Iraq, and the squandering of men, money, and materiel, now too obvious to hide.
And while Peters, that ex-military man who is careful to bring journalists to his home to see his library of German and Russian books, which never fail to be mentioned, as if that were a guarantee of something, he appears not, after all, to be such a great reader, such a dutiful student. It was permissible on 9/10/2001 to know nothing about Islam. In the five years since, it has become impermissible for any one to comment on Islam without having studied it first.
"A well-respected military analyst and author, Ralph Peters, is sure that Eurabia is a myth. I don’t know if he’s right but take a look at 'The Eurabia Myth'..."
-- from a reader
"Well-respected" by whom, and for what? One cannot simply attach an epithet, and expect others to salaam-salaam. Peters is sometimes sensible, sometimes wild, even ludicrously so. He has had a hard time of it with Islam, makes all kinds of pronouncements. I think he has been delicately dismembered by Andrew Bostom, but possibly also at this website. He says one thing, and then another thing, and they don't always make sense. For a long time he was a great supporter of the idiocy in Iraq. He still can't quite understand what the Americans should want to be the outcome -- clearly, a weakening of the Camp of Islam -- and still can't figure out, insists upon overlooking, the obvious way to achieve this, by exploiting (that is, by doing nothing to prevent) the sectarian and ethnic fissures that Iraq presents us with on a platter.
Hugh, I’m surprised at your rebuking of my description of Ralph Peters as “well respected”. “By whom and for what?”, you insultingly ask. --from the same reader
When I parried your adjective -- that epithet "well-respected" that you simply placed, without more, in front of the name "Ralph Peters" -- with those interrogatives "by whom?" and "for what?" I was indeed taking issue with the whole notion, as currently offered, of "authority." I have known professors of English who were incapable of writing a simple English sentence and knew very little of the corpus of English literature. I have seen professors of French who cannot speak French, and whose notion of what constitutes "French literature" bears no relation to what a well-educated French person would offer. And so on, all through much of academic life.
And I have seen, on the nightly news, all kinds of on-retainer "experts" on this or that, some of whom are the most oleaginous apologists (see Fawaz Gerges), or portentous summarizers of the absolutely obvious (see Anthony Cordesman), or military analysts who for some reason are called upon as "experts" on a place called "Iraq" (see O'Hanlon), not to mention kristols and kagans by the dozen.
I don't like to be told, by the press, or by anyone, that so-and-so is "well-respected." Is Jimmy Carter "well-respected" as an "international humanitarian"? Well, he thinks he is, and no doubt there are others who agree with him. Is Desmond Tutu, another of the self-described "Elders" who has gone to Darfur with Carter, a "great man"? He thinks he is. There are so many of these people. Is this or that magnate, who gives away a teeny-tiny bit of his fortune, to be hailed for his "generosity"?
And what about all those "experts on Islam"? Do you doubt that before the name "John Esposito" some will put the adjective "well-respected"? Or "the respected scholar of Islam, Noah Feldman, author of 'After Jihad'." You tell me if you think the adjectives there are misplaced. And you tell me if you think the telling of an audience that so-and-so is great, respected, or connected to a "prestigious university" (which prestige, like fairy dust, supposedly rubs off on all those who manage to teach at it, whether they are professors of elementary particle physics, or professors of hip-hop studies -- the latter, incidentally, being the new hire announced by the new President of Harvard, undoing, deplorably, what the deplorable -- in other ways -- Summers at least managed, during his brief tenure, to prevent).
Peters has a shtick. It is the "Military Man As Intellectual." Reporters interviewing him are inevitably treated to a view of all those German and Russian books in his library, and then they dutifully report this, being duly impressed, They fail to realize, as does their audience, that such being impressed merely demonstrates an unwitting condescension toward members of the military, as if it is quite amazing, worth reporting, that someone who was a career officer in the army could have such books, and presumably read them, in that German, in that Russian. What condescension toward the American military. I'm not having it.
Peter's' comments on Islam and Iraq have been a farrago of confusion. Here, I'll do just what you asked: I'll post below the thing he wrote, in 2006, pooh-poohing all those fearful cassandras, from Bat Ye'or on, whose numbers include Bernard Lewis, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Pavel Kohout, and Philippe de Villiers, and Ibn Warraq, and the late Oriana Fallaci, and a great many others who, "well-respected" or not, know a good deal more about Europe, and about Islam, and about Islam in Europe, than Ralph Peters, the sudden scholar of Islam and Eurabia.
I won't bother to criticize the article of his upon which you request comment. I find it best, in cases of obvious idiocy, to let the thing stand without comment. It's a technique used by the Austrian writer Karl Kraus, in his one-man (from 1911 to 1936) journal, "Die Fackel." Sometimes, No Comment Necessary is the best comment. But I'll put up what a writer in Belgium, Paul Belien, wrote in response to that crazed piece by Peters.
So look at Peters' article-- and indeed, let everyone have a look, at what Ralph Peters wrote -- he's the dismissive one, he's the complacent one one -- about all those who are alarmed, and with reason, with the demographic conquest of Western Europe by the forces of Islam. Just look, and see what you think, what in that article gives good grounds for that complacency and that dismissiveness, instead of the foreboding and alarm everyone of sense should by now be feeling.
Added On May 21, 2013 after I discovered that "The Eurabia Myth" is no longer among the accessible pieces at The New York Post:
If Ralph Peters had wanted to, he could easily have chosen not to include the following about Iraq, which clearly shows mental muddle:
“We had our chance to extend the peace and keep both Iran and Wahhabi crazies at bay after we defeated Iraq’s insurgencies. But a new American president, elevating politics over strategy, walked away from Baghdad, handing Iraq to Iran. Now it’s too late. If George W. Bush helped trigger the Arab Spring, Barack Obama made this Arab Winter inevitable."
Over the years, he has been taken to task many times at NER, mainly by Rebecca Bynum. You can simply put the name "Ralph Peters" into the Search Box, and a dozen articles will come up that mention him. Sometimes he gets close to the truth, sometimes he writes something outrageous. Most outrageous, in my view, was his article "The Eurabia Myth," which can no longer be found because when you try to retrieve it from the New York Post, it doesn't come up, but has been deliberately removed from the normally accessible data post. Removed at the request of whom?
But much of that article has been preserved, in a posting by Rebecca, and I’ve included that preserved part of “The Eurabia Myth” below:
“It's the difference between the messy Turkish execution of the Armenian genocide and the industrial efficiency of the Holocaust. Hey, when you love your work, you get good at it.
Far from enjoying the prospect of taking over Europe by having babies, Europe's Muslims are living on borrowed time. When a third of French voters have demonstrated their willingness to vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front - a party that makes the Ku Klux Klan seem like Human Rights Watch - all predictions of Europe going gently into that good night are surreal.
I have no difficulty imagining a scenario in which U.S. Navy ships are at anchor and U.S. Marines have gone ashore at Brest, Bremerhaven or Bari to guarantee the safe evacuation of Europe's Muslims. After all, we were the only ones to do anything about the slaughter of Muslims in the Balkans. And even though we botched it, our effort in Iraq was meant to give the Middle East's Muslims a last chance to escape their self-inflicted misery.
AND we're lucky. The United States attracts the quality. American Muslims have a higher income level than our national average. We hear about the handful of rabble-rousers, but more of our fellow Americans who happen to be Muslims are doctors, professors and entrepreneurs.
And the American dream is still alive and well, thanks: Even the newest taxi driver stumbling over his English grammar knows he can truly become an American.”
'Dies Gloriae', XXI: From The Inventor Of The Question Mark To The Father Of English History Who Taught Us How To Number The Years
"Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei,
quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit."
(“And do not listen to those who keep saying, 'The voice of the people is the voice of God,'
because the tumult of the crowd is always close to madness.”) Alcuin of York.
There really isn’t much to say about this week’s crop of saints and holy men because their lives are pretty much self-explanatory. Some few of them are very much a part of our culture whilst some of the others were brave in the face of the enemy – the devil-inspired Mohammedans. The remainder were simply good men – and, heaven knows, there have always been few enough of them.
Those who were, and are, part of our culture demonstrate exactly why I am writing this series. You may be a believer, an agnostic or an atheist, but the one thing that you have to acknowledge, no matter what your position may be, is that the saints helped to make our world. They, just like the Christianity that they believed in, were instrumental in pushing us along the path of history that has inexorably led us to the free societies that we live in today, and some of them made contributions to the way that we thought and lived that influence us profoundly as we go about our daily round.
Those who fought, often hand to hand, to expel the Mohammedan mad dogs from Europe, and, unsuccessfully, from all the other lands that they have occupied illegally, deserve our endless thanks. Had it not been for them then we would be living in an unbelievably dark and horrendous world dominated by the satanic belief system of Mohammedanism – a system that places evil, and the worship of evil, at its very centre, and a system that is devoid of all the virtues and that doesn’t know the love of G-d.
In what follows you will find soldiers who fought bravely to free their lands, and priests who laid down their lives in their attempts to bring the pagan Mohammedan hordes to G-d. Tens of thousands of others who did the same things are unknown to us, so let those we do know about stand for all.
The first saint for the week – for the nineteenth of May – is the Blessed Alcuin of York, who sometimes gets called Albinus, Alrinus, Flaccus, or even Ealhwine. He was born circa AD730, probably at York, or somewhere near York (perhaps even in Northumbria), in England. We know next to nothing about his childhood and our records of him start when he went to School at York, to the school that had been founded by Saint Paulinus in AD627 and that operated out of the Cathedral, and that we know today as Saint Peter's School. He studied under Bishop Ecgbert and Saint Colgan during a very peaceful time when York was part of the territory of King Eadberht of Northumbria.
Bishop Ecgberht had been a disciple of The Venerable Bede, whom I’ve mentioned often in this series, and he had a great respect for learning and the ways of peace and Alcuin thrived there. It was at York that he developed his love of poetry of the Classical era. The York school was renowned as a centre of learning in the liberal arts, literature, and science, as well as in religious matters. He revived the school with the trivium and quadrivium disciplines, writing a codex on the trivium, while his student Hraban wrote one on the quadrivium. Eventually Alcuin became the headmaster of the school and a much-respected figure for his learning as well as his religious observance – he became a deacon of the Cathedral sometime around AD767.
The vast York Minster - the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York - as it is today.
The present Cathedral was built on this ancient site of Christianity about AD1080.
In AD781 King Ælfwald I of Northumbria sent Alcuin to Rome bearing a petition to the Pope asking for the elevation of the Metropolitan Diocese of York to an Archdiocese and also asking for the recognition of the election of the new Archbishop, Eanbald I. This proved to be a turning point in Alcuin’s life for he met the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne at the small Italian city of Parma. He was persuaded to join Charlemagne’s court as a member of a group of scholars that the Emperor had gathered around himself and that he used as expert advisors. These scholars were the driving force behind the Carolingian Renaissance and such luminaries as Peter of Pisa, Paulinus of Aquileia, Rado and Abbot Fulrad were counted amongst their number.
He was welcomed to the Palace School of Charlemagne in Aachen (Urbs Regale) in AD782. It had been founded by the Emperor's ancestors as a place for the education of the royal children (mostly in manners and the ways of the court). However, Charlemagne wanted to include the liberal arts and, most importantly, the study of the religion that meant so much to him, and to Alcuin, and from which he derived some of his authority as Emperor.
All that’s left of the Palace at Aachen that now serves as the Town Hall.
Alcuin obliged and from AD782 to AD790, he taught Charlemagne himself, his sons Pepin and Louis, the young men sent to be educated at court and the young clerics attached to the palace chapel. He brought from York his assistants Pyttel, Sigewulf and Joseph, and he revolutionised the educational standards of the Palace School, introduced the liberal arts that the Emperor wanted, and he created his own personalised atmosphere of scholarship and learning, to such an extent that the institution came to be known as the 'School of Master Albinus'.
In AD790 Alcuin went back to York. He stayed there for some time, but Charlemagne then invited him back to help in the fight against the Adoptionist heresy, which is too complicated to go into here. At the Council of Frankfurt in AD794, Alcuin upheld the orthodox doctrine and obtained the condemnation of the heresiarch Felix of Urgel. It seems also that he disapproved of the conduct of King Æthelred and so he never went home again.
He was back at Charlemagne's court by at least the middle of AD792, and he wrote a series of letters to Æthelred, to Hygbald, the Bishop of Lindisfarne, and to Æthelhard, the Archbishop of Canterbury, that dealt with the Viking attack on Lindisfarne in the July of AD793. These letters and Alcuin's poem on the subject, ‘De clade Lindisfarnensis monasterii’, provide the only significant contemporary account of these events. In his description of the Viking attack, he wrote: "Never before has such terror appeared in Britain. Behold the church of Saint Cuthbert, splattered with the blood of God's priests, robbed of its ornaments."
In AD796 Alcuin was in his sixties. He hoped to be free from court duties and he was given the chance, upon the death of Abbot Itherius, when Charlemagne put Marmoutier Abbey at Tours into Alcuin's care - with the understanding that he should be available if the Emperor ever needed his counsel.
Alcuin died at Tours on the nineteenth of May in AD804, some ten years before the Emperor, and he was buried at Saint Martin's Church in Marmoutier Abbey at Tours under an epitaph that partly read:
Dust, worms, and ashes now...
Alcuin my name, wisdom I always loved,
Pray, reader, for my soul.
Alcuin, needless to say, made the Abbey school into a model of excellence and many students flocked to it. He had many manuscripts copied using outstandingly beautiful calligraphy, usually the Carolingian minuscule based on round and legible uncial letters. Had it not been for the scribes at Marmoutier under Alcuin's close supervision much of the writings of Classical Rome, and earlier, would not have come down to us. Also, he and his scribes invented the cursive script – joined up writing – which made writing less time consuming.
He wrote many letters to his English friends as well as to people such as Arno, the Bishop of Salzburg, but above all he wrote to Charlemagne. These letters, of which three hundred-and-eleven have survived, are filled mainly with pious meditations, but they form an important source of information as to the literary and social conditions of the time. Alcuin was the most prominent figure of the Carolingian Renaissance, and he also developed manuals used in his educational work including a grammar and works on rhetoric and dialectics. These are written in the form of dialogues, and in two of them the interlocutors are Charlemagne and Alcuin himself. He wrote several theological treatises: a De fide Trinitatis, commentaries on the Bible and much else besides. He is renowned for having invented the first known question mark, although it didn't look much like the symbol that we use today.
Alcuin transmitted to the Franks the knowledge of Latin culture which had existed in Anglo-Saxon England. A number of his works still exist. His letters and his poetry are equally interesting. Besides some graceful epistles in the style of Venantius Fortunatus, he wrote some long poems, and notably he is the author of a history (in verse) of the church at York, ‘Versus de patribus, regibus et sanctis Eboracensis ecclesiae’.
The collection of mathematical and logical word problems entitled ‘Propositiones ad acuendos juvenes’ (‘Problems to Sharpen Youths’) is attributed to Alcuin. In a letter to Charlemagne in AD799 Alcuin said that he had sent "certain figures of arithmetic for the joy of cleverness," which some scholars have identified with the ‘Propositiones’. The text contains about fifty-three mathematical word problems, with solutions, in no particular pedagogical order. Among the most famous of these problems are: four that involve river crossings, including the problem of three anxious brothers, each of whom has an unmarried sister whom he cannot leave alone with either of the other men lest she be defiled (Problem 17); the problem of the wolf, goat, and cabbage (Problem 18); and the problem of "the two adults and two children where the children weigh half as much as the adults" (Problem 19). Alcuin's sequence, a mathematical discovery, is the solution to one of the problems of that book.
All in all, Alcuin was an all-round scholar who progressed the culture of his times and influenced an Emperor to kinder ways – he persuaded Charlemagne to get rid of the death penalty for paganism by force of reason - Alcuins argument was that Faith is a free act of the will, not a forced act and that one must appeal to the conscience, not compel it by violence, since one can force people to be baptised, but one cannot force them to believe. Contrast that with what the disgusting Mohammedans practice today.
He was buried in the church of Saint Martin at Tours but his grave – along with those of many others – did not survive the French Revolution when the Abbey and its church were razed to the ground in a misguided attempt by the revolutionary idiots to stamp out the cultus of Saint Martin. Saint Martin’s tomb was found again later on, and a new church to house it was built on part of the original site, but Alcuin’s tomb has yet to be recovered.
By the way, Alcuin College, one of the colleges of the University of York in England, is named after him. Alcuin also revised and reorganised the Latin liturgy, preserved many of the ancient prayers, and helped develop the plain chant that many of us know and love today. It’s amazing to think that the scholarship that the Church in England had carefully protected for generations was exported back to Europe and propagated by people like Alcuin. It’s easy to see why many of his contemporaries, and subsequent generations of scholars, thought him to be truly blessed. Their judgements are the ones that we accept today and we call him, rightly, The Blessed Alcuin of York.
Also on this day I am going to memorialise the Blessed Peter de Duenas. He was born in AD1378 at Valencia in Spain. He was a Franciscan, but we don’t know very much about his early years but we do know that in AD1396, along with his fellow Franciscan the Blessed John de Cetina, he very bravely began to preach the good news to the occupying Mohammedans in Granada. Naturally, they were both seized and imprisoned and tortured for the fun of it by their gaolers.
In AD1397 they were both beheaded at Granada and Peter is remembered to this day for his courage in trying to tell the truth to the devil’s minions called Mohammedans. He is, today, are rightly regarded as Blessed and a Martyr. John is remembered on the twenty-second of this month (below).
I am also going to remember on this day Saint Pudens of Rome. He was a layman of the Church at Rome and his father is the Pudens mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21, “Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren” – KJV. According to tradition, Saint Peter the Apostle stayed in the family house at Rome and Pudens senior was baptised by him. His father was called Quintus Cornelius Pudens and he was a Roman Senator, and our Saint Pudens, his son, had two sons of his own, Novatus and Timotheus, and two daughters, Praxedes and Pudentiana, who all became saints.
Cornelius Pudens, the father, was martyred during the reign of the Emperor Nero (reigned AD54 to AD68), but his son, whom we commemorate today, was martyred later, but his daughters were probably not martyred until about AD150, at which time it is generally believed that their brothers were martyred also. We don’t know where the male Pudens are buried – probably in a family space in one of the catacombs, but we do know that Pudentiana and Praxedes, revered as pure maiden martyrs, are entombed in the very ancient eponymous churches of Saint Pudentia and Saint Praxedes (Santa Pudenziana and Santa Prassede) at Rome, and both churches have some of the finest early mosaics, dating from the third and fourth Christian centuries, in existence. The church of Saint Pudentia on the Via Urbana was built on the site of the Pudens’ family home and is the oldest church at Rome – it was originally the home of the Popes until, in AD313, the Emperor Constantine offered them the Lateran Palace.
Church of Saint Pudentia at Rome. It is
the most ancient church at Rome dating back
to the time of the Apostle Paul. It was originally,
in ancient times, two smaller churches:
Titulus Pudentis and Titulus Pastoris, the latter
named after Saint Pastor, the brother of Pope Pius I
(reigned AD140 to AD155). A ‘titulus’ church is one
that a Cardinal is the titular priest of.
The unassuming entrance to Saint Praxedes. This church provided
the inspiration for Robert Browning's poem called 'The Bishop Orders
His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church.'
This family is frequently mixed up with that of Aulus Pudens, the centurion friend of Martial the writer, whose wife, Claudia Rufina, was immortalised in several poems by Martial and described in his ‘Epigrams’ at IV:13 (and that Claudia is frequently mixed up with other ladies called Claudia whom Martial also knew and wrote about). However, such mix-ups do a great disservice to the family who all died as martyrs for the Faith and who are all, today, rightly remembered as saints.
On the twentieth of May let us remember the Blessed Anastazy Jakub Pankiewicz who was a Franciscan priest and who was born in AD1882 at Nagórzany near Podkarpackie, Sanok in Poland. He was the son of Thomas, a farmer, and Tekla Lenio, and he attended elementary school at Nowotaniec (which was the headquarters of his home parish), then he went to the high schools at Sanok and Lviv (up to AD1899).
He was ordained AD1906, and after completing his theological studies he worked in the monastery of Mine, as well as holding other church offices. Between AD1932 and AD1939, with the help of numerous sponsors, he supervised the construction of the monastery and High School at Lodz. In AD1937 he helped to found the Congregation of the Sisters of Christ the King, Antonianek (see here for information about the Congregation).
On the sixth of October in AD1941, during the mass arrests of priests in Lodz and the surrounding area, he was arrested and taken to a transit camp at Konstantynów Lodz. On October the thirtieth, along with other prisoners from Konstantynowskiego camp, he was transported to the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. During his incarceration he continued to be a priest for those around him, carrying out his calling in a most courageous way.
He died on this day in AD1942, on the road leading to the Hartheim Euthanasia Centre near Linz in Austria. Hartheim was a Nazi killing centre that was part of their euthanasia programme that was referred to as 'Action T4'. It was housed in Hartheim Castle at Alkoven near Linz in Austria, and, apart from almost one hundred thousand other victims, mostly all either mentally or physically disabled, a total of three hundred and ten Polish, seven German, six Czech, four Luxemburg, three Dutch and two Belgian priests were murdered. The Nazi's referred to the programme carried out at Hartheim as 'disinfection'.
Hartheim Castle (Schloss Hartheim). The castle was built by Jakob von Aspen in AD1600.
It is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Austria. In AD1898, His Highness
Prince Camillo Heinrich Starhemberg (AD1835 – AD1900) donated the castle as a gift
to the Upper Austria Charity Organisation. With the help of additional donations,
they used the castle from the beginning of the twentieth Christian century
as a psychiatric institution. Under the Nazis it became notorious as
one of a series of euthanasia for the disabled centres.
(I find the whole concept of the Hartheim Euthanasia Centre and what was done there to be completely unChristian, indeed anti-Christian, and very upsetting. Please go to this site for pictures, and an explanation, of the place, and to this site for an explanation of what was done there. Remember, Mohammedans to this day support these Nazi so-called ideals and treat their disabled in the most appalling way.)
Father Pankiewicz helped a fellow prisoner to board the collection vehicle and a German soldier deliberately closed the door of the ‘bus on him, almost cutting off both of his hands in the process. His body was burned and the ashes were scattered in the same manner as those of the other victims of the Hartheim facility. Pope John Paul II beatified him in Warsaw on the thirteenth of June in AD1999 along with one hundred and seven other Polish Martyrs. There is no doubt in my mind that today he is rightly remembered as Blessed.
On the twenty-first of May let us turn our attention to Saint Collen of Denbighshire, who is sometimes called Colan, or Gollen, of Denbigh and whose name means ‘hazel tree’ in Welsh. He was born sometime around AD600 in Wales and he is said to have died about sixty years later. His father was a Welshman but his mother, called Ethni, was of Irish extraction. The facts of his life are scant but the stories that have grown up around his memory are wonderful fairy tales in the allegorical model. What we know for certain is that he was a monk in Wales, in Brittany and in Cornwall. He made a pilgrimage to Rome in Italy and at one stage in his life he lived as a hermit in a small cave near Glastonbury Abbey. It seems certain that he was, at some time, the Abbot of a monastery in Wales. The Welsh town of Llangollen (Collen’s enclosure) in Clwyd (pronounced ‘Kloowid’) is named after him, and it generally reckoned that it formed around his hermitage and church.
The ruins of the enormous Abbey Church at Glastonbury.
The parish church of Saint Collen at Llangollen in Clwyd in Wales, which stands on the site of
the original seventh Christian century church that was likely built of wood.
The parish church of Saint Colan on the north coast of Cornwall, which was rebuilt in the time of Bishop Branscombe of Exeter, about AD1250, and that was given by him to the Canons of Glasney College which he had founded at Peryn, is dedicated to our Saint Collen. It is the only dedication to Saint Collen in England, but there is a church at Langolen near Briec in Brittany that is dedicated to him and he is, naturally, the patron of Llangollen in Clwyd, where he is buried.
The parish Church of Saint Colan near Quintrell Downs by Newquay in Cornwall.
This building was built over Saint Collen’s original church in AD1250.
However, the tales that have grown up around the life or Collen are lovely and they are strong indications of the troubles that he must have had in the process of evangelising his people. There are tales of him slaying a Welsh giantess to save the people of Llangollen (the church there still has an image of him in this triumph) and of him washing his sword in the Ffynnon Gollen spring (Collen’s Fountain), and other stories of him fighting a duel with a Saracen, a Mohammedan that is, in front of the Pope. We have mostly forgotten how to read these old allegorical stories – as I never tire of pointing out to you, but it is obvious that the giantess is supposed to stand for the old pagan ways and that the Mohammedan stands for the devil. The stories also have Collen being taken to the land of faerie, but always as a Christian, and always showing the power of God over the old ways.
Legend says that Collen was once invited to dine with the King of the Fairies; some versions say that he was asked by a man, some others say by a fairy, and some say by a talking peacock. The saint declined three times, but finally accepted. Although the king appeared to live in an enormous castle, and to be wealthy, and fair, and surrounded by courtiers and servants, and seated before a table groaning under the weight of good and fancy food, Collen knew him for the lying spirit he was. The saint reminded the king of the fate of the G-dless, then he sprinkled holy water in all directions and in an instant there was nothing left but an angry, demonic bird, flying away from the scene.
Another story has it that Collen, whilst he lived as a hermit near Glastonbury, was summoned to settle the eternal May Day struggle of Gwynn ap Nudd, Lord of the Underworld, with Gwyther, Lord of Summer, for the hand of the fair Creiddylad, the Maiden of Spring. Collen ordained that the quarrel would be resolved on Doomsday, and not before. Then with a sprinkle of holy water, the faerie folk and fortress disappeared.
They are all delightful stories but for us today they obscure the hard work done by the saint as he brought many to the Faith and helped the poor. Our ancestors would have understood them better than we do. They revered Collen as a saint also, and it is their judgement that we must trust and say that he is rightly so venerated.
On this day, also, I want to remember Saint Godric (sometimes spelled Godrick) of Finchale (pronounced ‘finkul’), who was born in AD1069 at Walpole in Norfolk in England. He was the oldest of three children born to a freedman Anglo-Saxon farmer called Ailward and his wife Edwenna. An adventurous seafaring man, Godric spent his youth in travel, both on land and sea, as a peddler and merchant mariner first along the coast of the British Isles, then throughout Europe. Sometime a sailor, sometime a ship’s captain, he lived the seafarer’s life of the day, and it was hardly a religious one. He was known to drink, fight, chase women, con customers, and, in a contemporary manuscript, he was referred to as a ‘pirate’. He was the captain of, and may have been the owner of, the ship that conveyed the great Crusader King Baldwin I of Jerusalem to the city of Jaffa in AD1102.
During one of his voyages he visited the holy isle of Lindisfarne off the north-east coast of England, and he was touched and converted to the Faith by the record of the life of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. Thereafter he undertook pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the holy land, to the shrine of Saint James the Apostle at Saintiago de Compostela, to the shrine of Saint Gaul in Provence in France, and to Rome in Italy. As part of a self-imposed austerity, and as a way to always remember Christ’s lowering himself to become human, Godric never wore shoes, regardless of the season. He lived as a hermit in the holy land and worked in a hospital near Jerusalem. Later, on his return to England, he lived as a hermit at Finchale in County Durham in England, first in a cave then later in a more formal hermitage. It is said that he was led to its site by a vision from Saint Cuthbert. He gave himself a hard life. He went barefoot, lived in a wattle and daub hut, wore a hair shirt under a metal breastplate, stood in icy waters to control his lust and lived for a while off berries and roots. He was badly beaten by Scottish raiders who, strangely, thought he had a hidden treasure.
As the years passed his reputation grew, and Thomas Becket and Pope Alexander III both reportedly sought Godric's advice as a wise and holy man. However, Godric is best remembered for his kindness toward animals and many stories recall his protection of the creatures who lived near his forest home. One of these stories records that he hid a stag from pursuing hunters, and according to another story he even allowed snakes to warm themselves by his fire – but, once again, these might be allegorical stories that need interpretation.
Reginald of Durham recorded four songs of Saint Godric's and they are amongst the oldest songs in English for which the original musical settings survive. Reginald describes the circumstances in which Godric learnt the first song - apparently, in a vision the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Godric with "two maidens of surpassing beauty clad in shining white raiments" who pledged to come to his aid in times of need, and then the Virgin herself taught Godric a song of consolation to overcome grief or temptation ('Saintë Marië Viergenë' – listen here):
Saint Mary, Virgin,
Mother of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,
Receive, shield, help your Godric,
When received, bring him solemnly
With you into God's kingdom.
Saint Mary, Christ's bower,
Maiden's purity, mother's flower,
Destroy my sin, reign in my heart,
Bring me to bliss with the very same God.
He also wrote poetry in Medieval English and he brief song ‘Sainte Nicholaes’ by him is one of the oldest in the English language, and is believed to be the earliest surviving example of Medieval English lyric poetry. Incidentally, the novel entitled ‘Godric’ (AD1981) by Frederick Buechner is a fictional retelling of Godric's life and travels and it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Godric lived a very long life and he died in AD1170 in his hermitage at Finchale revered by all for his gentleness and wisdom. I see no need to disagree with those medieval Christians who considered him a saint.
Looking across the River Wear to the ruins of Finchale Priory. Saint Godric of Finchale was buried
in the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist, the dedication that he gave to his hermitage, that was
built on the site of his hermitage immediately after his death. The Chapel was incorporated into
Finchale Priory and it still contains Godric’s tomb and can still be seen today.
That brings us to the twenty-second of May and on this day we must commemorate Saint Bobo of Provence, who is sometimes known as Beuvon of Provence. We don’t know exactly when he was born, but it was sometime around AD940 in the castle (no longer in existence) at Noyers-sur-Jabron, nor do we know very much about his life apart from that he was the son of Adelfrido and Odelinda who were the nobles in charge at Noyers. However, the records which have survived tell us that he was a soldier, quite probably a knight (a European cataphract), from Provence in France who distinguished himself fighting against the invading Mohammedan horde of thieves, pillagers, rapists and looters.
He fought victoriously alongside Count Guillaume I de Provence (William I of Provence) at the Battle of Tourtour in AD973 that finally expelled the appalling Mohammedan slave traders, raiders and pirates from Provence and from their occupied fortress of Fraxinet, which is sometimes known as Fraxinetum, or La Garde-Freinet, (for a fuller explanation of this please see my saint for the twenty-seventh of February, Saint John of Gorze, behind this link and see this site for the Massif des Maures and how to get to the commemorative, seven yards high Cross of the Moors).
La Croix Des Maures (The Cross of the Moors) on the Massif des Maures
near La Garde-Freinet in Provence in France. There is some scholarly debate
about whether or not the word ‘Moor’ as applied to the nasty Mohammedans
comes from the name for this area or if the name comes from some foul attribute
of those disgusting people.
Eventually Bobo grew tired of constantly fighting and felt himself called to a deeper expression of the Faith that he had spent his life fighting for. He retired from soldiering and lived as a hermit. He undertook a pilgrimage to Rome and died on the return journey at Voghera near Pavia in Lombardy in Italy in AD986. For some unknown reason, but probably because Voghera has been a cattle town since preRoman times, he is often regarded as one of the Patron Saints of cattle, but anyway he has been adopted as the Patron Saint of Voghera as well. He is widely venerated both in Provence and in Lombardy and, for his courageous battles against the Mohammedan brigands and for his love of G-d and the Faith he is, today, rightly remembered as a saint. He is interred in the church of San Pietro Borgo San Bovo at Voghera (263 Via Emilia - 27058 Voghera).
Today, we must remember also the Blessed John of Cetina. His details are the same as those for the Blessed Peter de Duenas whom I wrote about for the nineteenth of May (above). For his courage in defying the Mohammedans and attempting to teach them the truth he is, today, rightly remembered as Blessed and a Martyr.
On this day we must remember also Saint Peter Parenzi. We don’t know when he was born but we do know that he was born at Rome in Italy. He served Pope Innocent III who sent him to be the Governor of Orvieto in Italy in AD1199. He was charged with investigating, countering and, if possible, suppressing the Cathar heresy. However, he never got a chance to execute his Papal commission as the Cathar heretics murdered him soon after he arrived in Orvieto. Murdering people who they didn’t like was a well-known Cathar trademark at the time – they murdered my saint for the twenty-ninth of April, see here, for the same reason. Behind the same link you will also find some more details about the Cathars and their murderous ways.
Peter Parenzi died in AD1199 at Orvieto for, and in, the Faith and for that reason he is, today, rightly remembered as a saint and martyr.
On the twenty-third of May we must memorialise Saint William of Rochester, who is sometimes known as William of Perth. He was born sometime in the latter half of the twelfth Christian century at Perth in Scotland, which at that time was one of the important cities of Scotland, and by all accounts he led a wild and misspent youth. However, on reaching manhood he settled down and became a baker (though some accounts say that he was a fisherman, but one often finds that trade applied to saints as a pious fiction simply because some of the Apostles were fishermen), attended church regularly and customarily set aside every tenth loaf that he baked for the poor – many people, even some quite poor folk, took tithing seriously in those times.
Almost everything that we know about William comes from the ‘Nova legenda Anglie’ that was compiled by John of Tynemouth (died circa AD1290), John Capgrave (AD1393 – AD1464) and Wynkyn de Worde (died circaAD1534) and you can find the full text of that book behind this link. The text states that William cared especially for the poor and neglected children and that one day, on his way to church, he found an abandoned infant. Without any hesitation he took the child in and adopted him, naming him David. "But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." – KJV, Matthew 19:14.
As the boy David grew up William taught him his trade. Some years later, in AD1201, the two of them set out on a pilgrimage, either to the Holy Land or to Rome. When they had gotten as far as Rochester in England David turned on his adoptive father, clubbed him, cut his throat, robbed the body, and fled. Apparently a local insane woman found William’s body, and plaited a garland of honeysuckle flowers for it. She placed the garland on William, and then took it back and placed it on herself whereupon, according to the story, her madness was cured. The local monks, seeing this as a sign from G-d, interred William in Rochester Cathedral and immediately began work on his shrine. His tomb, and a chapel at his murder scene called Palmersdene, soon became sites of pilgrimage and of donations, even by the crown. Remains of the chapel can be seen near the present Saint William’s Hospital in Rochester on the road leading by Horsted Farm to Maidstone.
William’s relics were lost, maybe even destroyed, at the Reformation, but to this day pilgrims who journey to the Cathedral still climb the Pilgrim Steps, now worn by the many thousands of pilgrims, ancient and modern, who have visited the place, and they usually light candles at the William of Perth prayer-station in front of the oratory. William was murdered whilst on a holy journey, and because of that, he is considered a martyr. He is rightly considered a saint because he followed Christ’s instructions about charity and children even though by doing so he died, and also because of the miraculous cures later reported at his tomb.
The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary at Rochester in England. The present church
dates from AD1080 and it is the Cathedral for the smallest See, but the second oldest after Canterbury,
in England. The See was founded by Justus who was one of the companions of
Saint Augustine of Canterbury.
I think it apposite to remember William’s treatment of vulnerable, poor children and to contrast his behaviour with the behaviour towards vulnerable children that Mohammedan males are exhibiting in the U.K., and everywhere else, I have no doubt, today. The behaviour of the Mohammedans, behaviour countenanced, indeed ordered, by their vile belief system is stomach churning and intensely evil.
On the twenty-fourth of May we return once again to the Franciscan Order in the person of the Blessed John del Prado, or John of Prado. He was born at Morgobresio in what was then the Kingdom of Léon in Spain, but we don’t know exactly when. We do know that he studied theology at Salamanca in Spain and that he was ordained a priest. He was a member of the Barefooted Franciscans of the Strict Observance and he was sent by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to missionise the Mohammedans in Mohammedan illegally occupied Morocco sometime around AD1634. He was extremely good at the task and his success attracted the attention of the Mohammedan occupying authorities. They imprisoned him and tortured him for the fun of it for many months before burning him to death on this day in AD1636 in Marrakesh in occupied Morocco with two other Spanish friars whose names, regrettably, have not come down to us.
For his courage in evangelising the vile Mohammedans and for his steadfastness in the Faith even under extreme duress, John of Prado is rightly remembered as truly Blessed.
On this day, also, I want to commemorate the Blessed John of Montfort. He was probably born in Brittany, although there is some little evidence to suggest that he might have been an Austrian from Vorarlberg, and he became a courageous Knight (a European cataphract) Templar of Jerusalem. In one of the never-ending series of battles that were fought to end the baleful influence of the pagan Mohammedans over the Holy Land John was wounded. This brave soldier underwent the rigours of a journey to Nicosia on Cyprus for medical treatment. However, he never fully recovered and he died there in AD1177. His name means the ‘gift of G-d’ and we should thank G-d for his bravery in laying down his life in a wonderful attempt to repulse the vile Mohammedan horde. He is still venerated on Cyprus and we should revere and remember him today as truly one of the Blessed.
Saint Joanna the Myrrhbearer1 is also a saint who we must memorialise today. She was a first Christian century lay woman who was married to Chusa, the steward of King Herod Antipas. She was also a disciple of Jesus, and she is mentioned at Luke 8:3 (“And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto Him of their substance.” – KJV) as providing for Jesus and the Apostles.
There is a lovely ancient Eastern tradition says that she is the person who gave the head of John the Baptist an honourable and decent burial, and it’s such an ancient tradition that it may well have some truth in it. She was also one of the women of whom Luke says at 24:10 that they discovered the empty tomb on the first Easter when she went to anoint the body (“It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.” – KJV).
We don’t know when or where she was born and we don’t know when or where she died. The scholars Richard J. Bauckham and Ben Witherington III indicate that they think that the disciple Joanna is the same woman as the Christian Junia mentioned by Paul in his Epistle to the Romans at 16:7 ("Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me." – KJV)2. Paul says that Junia was famous among the Apostles and that she was in the Lord before him, which must be therefore prior to AD34. She is likely to have been a witness of everything from the time of the baptism of John.
Apparently, an ossuary has been discovered bearing the inscription, "Johanna, granddaughter of Theophilus, the High Priest" and, naturally, that has given rise to some speculation that the woman so memorialised was maybe the Joanna whom I am writing about here – the one mentioned in the Bible. Joanna is one of the saints ‘bout whom we know nothing, or only a very little. We must, therefore, trust those Christians of the time of the Apostles, the time of the very beginnings of the Faith, and say that they rightfully regarded her as a saint and that we do so as well.
That brings us to the last day of this sennight – the twenty-fifth of May. This day is the Feast Day of one of the best known holy men in English culture – Saint Bede the Venerable, also known as The Venerable Bede, or The Father of English History. I have referred to his writings on numerous occasions throughout this series of Dies Gloriae posts. He was born in AD672 at Wearmouth in England, just about the time that England became fully Christian. He was raised from the age of seven in the joint monasteries of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth and its companion monastery, Saint Paul's in Jarrow and he lived there for the rest of his life.
He was a spiritual student of the founder of the twin monasteries, Saint Benedict Biscop, and he was ordained in AD702 by Saint John of Beverley. He was a teacher and a prolific author. He wrote about history, rhetoric, mathematics, music, astronomy, poetry, grammar, philosophy, hagiography, homiletics, and he found the time to write Bible commentaries. He was known as the most learned man of his day, and his writings started the idea of dating our Christian era from the birth of Christ – he didn’t invent the idea, the credit for that goes to a monk called Dionysius Exiguus (circa AD470 to circa AD544) – but he popularised it to such an extent that it has become almost universal.
Saint Paul’s Church and the remains of the Jarrow part of the twin monastery of
Monkwearmouth-Jarrow that Bede lived in.
The very ancient Saint Peter’s Church, which is all that is left of the Monkwearmouth part of the twin monastery.
Our knowledge of England before the eighth Christian century is mainly the result of Bede’s writings. Together with the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ (text at this site) the works of Bede are of fundamental importance to the study of medieval England (and, to a certain extent, the study of the medieval world in general) and his importance cannot be over estimated. He simply couldn’t stop writing and even on his deathbed he was dictating work to his scribe, a boy named Wilberht. At three o'clock in the afternoon on this day in AD735, Ascension Day as it happens, knowing that he was dieing, he asked for a box of his to be brought and he distributed among the priests of his monastery "a few treasures" of his: "some pepper, and napkins, and some incense" (quotes are from the letter of Cuthbert, a student of Bede’s, to Cuthwin, about whom nothing has come down to us). That night he dictated a final sentence to Wilberht, and died soon afterwards. He was canonised and declared a Doctor of the Church on the thirteenth of November AD1899 by Pope Leo XIII.
His ‘Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum’ (English translation in PDF here, original Latin at this site) confirmed him in the title of the Father of English History, but it is only one amongst a plethora of writings that has contributed to his lasting status and fame. It is safe to say that without the works of Father Saint Bede the Venerable the English people, and many of the English speaking peoples for that matter, would have a much lesser understanding of themselves and their place in history than they actually do. Bede, who today is the Patron Saint of lectors (lector – one who reads, usually, but not invariably, in church and out loud), was buried in the monastery church at Jarrow, but in the eleventh Christian century his remains were translated to Durham (pronounce ‘durum’) Cathedral. His tomb was looted at the Reformation in AD1541, but his remains were re-interred in the Galilee Chapel of the Cathedral. Today he is rightly regarded as a saint and a great Englishman and scholar. Raise a glass to his memory and be thankful for the long hours of effort that he undertook in his scriptorium long before the invention of word processors!
Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St. Cuthbert of Durham at Durham. Up until
the nineteenth Christian century the See of Durham was a Palatine See and the Bishops were
correctly referred to as the Prince Bishops of Durham. The Cathedral houses the remains of
The Venerable Bede (Father Saint Bede The Venerable).
That’s all folks. More next week, if G-d so wills it.
1) You can find the following paragraphs on the Myrrhbearers in the entry for my saint of the seventeenth of March in Dies Gloriae, XII.
In John's Gospel Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloes and in two of the Gospels Saint Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body in linen before laying Him in the tomb and it’s generally accepted that myrrh would have been used during the wrapping. The Gospel of John in the King James Version at Chapter 19 in verses 38 to 39 reads: "(Verse 38) And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. (39) And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight."
Saint Joseph and Saint Nicodemus are listed amongst the Myrrh Bearers. These are customarily given as Mary Magdalene (often regarded as the same as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus), Mary, the wife of Cleopas, Martha of Bethany also Sister to Lazarus, Joanna who was the wife of Chuza the steward of Herod Antipas, Salome who was the mother of James and John (the sons of Zebedee called “The sons of thunder” – KJV, Mark, 3:17), Susanna, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, and the Gospels also mention "Mary, the mother of James and Joses" (Matthew, 27:56 and Mark, 15:40). It is generally accepted that there were other Myrrhbearers whose names are not known. The second Sunday after Easter is called the 'Sunday of the Myrrhbearers' and they are all commemorated on that Sunday. The week that follows is called the 'Week of the Myrrhbearers'. Many of the Myrrhbearers also have separate feast days on which they are commemorated individually and Joanna’s occurs, as is obvious, on the twenty-fourth of May.
Bauckham, Richard J., 'Gospel Women', Grand Rapids, Mich. by Eerdmans, 2002, pp. 109-202.
Witherington, Ben, III, 'Joanna: Apostle of the Lord—or Jailbait?’, in Bible Review, Spring 2005, pp. 12 to 14+.
HASKELL COUNTY, Kan. — Forty-nine years ago, Ashley Yost’s grandfather sank a well deep into a half-mile square of rich Kansas farmland. He struck an artery of water so prodigious that he could pump 1,600 gallons to the surface every minute.
Last year, Mr. Yost was coaxing just 300 gallons from the earth, and pumping up sand in order to do it. By harvest time, the grit had robbed him of $20,000 worth of pumps and any hope of returning to the bumper harvests of years past.
“That’s prime land,” he said not long ago, gesturing from his pickup at the stubby remains of last year’s crop. “I’ve raised 294 bushels of corn an acre there before, with water and the Lord’s help.” Now, he said, “it’s over.”
The land, known as Section 35, sits atop the High Plains Aquifer, a waterlogged jumble of sand, clay and gravel that begins beneath Wyoming and South Dakota and stretches clear to the Texas Panhandle. The aquifer’s northern reaches still hold enough water in many places to last hundreds of years. But as one heads south, it is increasingly tapped out, drained by ever more intensive farming and, lately, by drought.
Vast stretches of Texas farmland lying over the aquifer no longer support irrigation. In west-central Kansas, up to a fifth of the irrigated farmland along a 100-mile swath of the aquifer has already gone dry. In many other places, there no longer is enough water to supply farmers’ peak needs during Kansas’ scorching summers.
And when the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains.
This is in many ways a slow-motion crisis — decades in the making, imminent for some, years or decades away for others, hitting one farm but leaving an adjacent one untouched. But across the rolling plains and tarmac-flat farmland near the Kansas-Colorado border, the effects of depletion are evident everywhere. Highway bridges span arid stream beds. Most of the creeks and rivers that once veined the land have dried up as 60 years of pumping have pulled groundwater levels down by scores and even hundreds of feet.
On some farms, big center-pivot irrigators — the spindly rigs that create the emerald circles of cropland familiar to anyone flying over the region — now are watering only a half-circle. On others, they sit idle altogether.
Two years of extreme drought, during which farmers relied almost completely on groundwater, have brought the seriousness of the problem home. In 2011 and 2012, the Kansas Geological Survey reports, the average water level in the state’s portion of the aquifer dropped 4.25 feet — nearly a third of the total decline since 1996.
And that is merely the average. “I know my staff went out and re-measured a couple of wells because they couldn’t believe it,” said Lane Letourneau, a manager at the State Agriculture Department’s water resources division. “There was a 30-foot decline.”
Kansas agriculture will survive the slow draining of the aquifer — even now, less than a fifth of the state’s farmland is irrigated in any given year — but the economic impact nevertheless will be outsized. In the last federal agriculture census of Kansas, in 2007, an average acre of irrigated land produced nearly twice as many bushels of corn, two-thirds more soybeans and three-fifths more wheat than did dry land.
Farmers will take a hit as well. Raising crops without irrigation is far cheaper, but yields are far lower. Drought is a constant threat: the last two dry-land harvests were all but wiped out by poor rains.
In the end, most farmers will adapt to farming without water, said Bill Golden, an agriculture economist at Kansas State University. “The revenue losses are there,” he said. “But they’re not as tremendously significant as one might think.”
Some already are. A few miles west of Mr. Yost’s farm, Nathan Kells cut back on irrigation when his wells began faltering in the last decade, and shifted his focus to raising dairy heifers — 9,000 on that farm, and thousands more elsewhere. At about 12 gallons a day for a single cow, Mr. Kells can sustain his herd with less water than it takes to grow a single circle of corn.
“The water’s going to flow to where it’s most valuable, whether it be industry or cities or feed yards,” he said. “We said, ‘What’s the higher use of the water?’ and decided that it was the heifer operation.”
The problem, others say, is that when irrigation ends, so do the jobs and added income that sustain rural communities.
“Looking at areas of Texas where the groundwater has really dropped, those towns are just a shell of what they once were,” said Jim Butler, a hydrogeologist and senior scientist at the Kansas Geological Survey.
The villain in this story is in fact the farmers’ savior: the center-pivot irrigator, a quarter- or half-mile of pipe that traces a watery circle around a point in the middle of a field. The center pivots helped start a revolution that raised farming from hardscrabble work to a profitable business.
Since the pivots’ debut some six decades ago, the amount of irrigated cropland in Kansas has grown to nearly three million acres, from a mere 250,000 in 1950. But the pivot irrigators’ thirst for water — hundreds and sometimes thousands of gallons a minute — has sent much of the aquifer on a relentless decline. And while the big pivots have become much more efficient, a University of California study earlier this year concluded that Kansas farmers were using some of their water savings to expand irrigation or grow thirstier crops, not to reduce consumption.
A shift to growing corn, a much thirstier crop than most, has only worsened matters. Driven by demand, speculation and a government mandate to produce biofuels, the price of corn has tripled since 2002, and Kansas farmers have responded by increasing the acreage of irrigated cornfields by nearly a fifth.
At an average 14 inches per acre in a growing season, a corn crop soaks up groundwater like a sponge — in 2010, the State Agriculture Department said, enough to fill a space a mile square and nearly 2,100 feet high.
Sorghum, or milo, gets by on a third less water, Kansas State University researchers say — and it, too, is in demand by biofuel makers. As Kansas’ wells peter out, more farmers are switching to growing milo on dry land or with a comparative sprinkle of irrigation water.
But as long as there is enough water, most farmers will favor corn. “The issue that often drives this is economics,” said David W. Hyndman, who heads Michigan State University’s geological sciences department. “And as long as you’ve got corn that’s $7, then a lot of choices get made on that.”
Of the 800 acres that Ashley Yost farmed last year in Haskell County, about 70 percent was planted in corn, including roughly 125 acres in Section 35. Haskell County’s feedlots — the county is home to 415,000 head of cattle — and ethanol plants in nearby Liberal and Garden City have driven up the price of corn handsomely, he said.
But this year he will grow milo in that section, and hope that by ratcheting down the speed of his pump, he will draw less sand, even if that means less water, too. The economics of irrigation, he said, almost dictate it.
“You’ve got $20,000 of underground pipe,” he said. “You’ve got a $10,000 gas line. You’ve got a $10,000 irrigation motor. You’ve got an $89,000 pivot. And you’re going to let it sit there and rot?
“If you can pump 150 gallons, that’s 150 gallons Mother Nature is not giving us. And if you can keep a milo crop alive, you’re going to do it.”
Mr. Yost’s neighbors have met the prospect of dwindling water in starkly different ways. A brother is farming on pivot half-circles. A brother-in-law moved most of his operations to Iowa. Another farmer is suing his neighbors, accusing them of poaching water from his slice of the aquifer.
A fourth grows corn with an underground irrigation system that does not match the yields of water-wasting center-pivot rigs, but is far thriftier in terms of water use and operating costs.
For his part, Mr. Yost continues to pump. But he also allowed that the day may come when sustaining what is left of the aquifer is preferable to pumping as much as possible.
Sitting in his Ford pickup next to Section 35, he unfolded a sheet of white paper that tracked the decline of his grandfather’s well: from 1,600 gallons a minute in 1964, to 1,200 in 1975, to 750 in 1976.
When the well slumped to 500 gallons in 1991, the Yosts capped it and drilled another nearby. Its output sank, too, from 1,352 gallons to 300 today.
This year, Mr. Yost spent more than $15,000 to drill four test wells in Section 35. The best of them produced 195 gallons a minute — a warning, he said, that looking further for an isolated pocket of water would be costly and probably futile.
“We’re on the last kick,” he said. “The bulk water is gone.”
Ralph Peters, Chastened, Wisely Restrained On Syria But Not Yet Willing To Recognize The Iraq Folly
Ralph Peters steadily supported, to the hilt, and up until yesterday, the fantastic American effort in Iraq, an effort based on a goal both unattainable and unwise -- that of creating a unified and prosperous Iraqi state. It was untattainable, because the violence, aggression, conspiracy theories, and inability to compromise fo those raised in societies suffused with Islam will not come to terms, and it was not possible for the Sunnis to acquiesce in their loss of power to the despised Shi'a, and not possible for the Shi'a to truly share their newly-gained -- thanks to the American military -- power over Iraq's government with the Sunnis whose rule they had rejected back in the 1920s, with a revolt by Shi'a tribesman, and had never really accepted, and had been murdered by Saddam Hussein's Sunni-officered army by the hundreds of thousands after the Gulf War.
And that goal -- of a unified and prosperous Iraqi state -- was unwise because it was exactly the wrong goal. The Americans, and all non-Muslims, should be thinking of ways to exploit the pre-existing fissures -- sectarian, ethnic, and economic -- within the Camp of Islam, instead of trying at great cost to narrow those fissures, as they did with Sunnis and Shi'a in Iraq. It was a policy that makes no sense.
Ralph Peters continues to be unable to be admit that the Iraq venture, a decade of squandering of men, money, materiel, and morale, was folly. I have put in bold, below, in an otherwise perfectly reasonable article the sentence that shows his inability to admit that the Iraq business was wrong -- much less be able to detail the two reasons (given above) as to why the Iraq business did not make sense.
Here's his article:
The Arab collapse
By RALPH PETERS
May 19, 2013
The Arab Spring has unleashed the Arab Collapse. Everybody still standing in the region is picking the flesh of the helpless. The Islamist cancer proved more virulent than Arabs themselves expected, while dying regimes behave with unrestrained ruthlessness.
And our diplomats still think everyone can be cajoled into harmony.
We’re witnessing a titanic event, the crack-up of a long-tottering civilization. Arab societies grew so corrupt and stagnant that violent upheaval became inevitable. That’s what we’re seeing in Syria and Iraq — two names, one struggle — and will find elsewhere tomorrow.
We can’t stop it, we can’t fix it, and we don’t understand it. But we can stay out of it.
When the US is in the Middle East, the Arabs want us out. When we’re out, they want us in. But our purported Arab (and Turkish) allies consistently agree that Uncle Sam should pay the party bill, while they take home all the presents.
Yes, Syria’s humanitarian crisis is appalling. And no, I don’t like to see innocents dying or suffering. But the calls from the region for American action are nakedly cynical.
Turkey has the largest military in NATO after our own, but cries “helpless” crocodile tears over Syrian refugees — while dreaming of rebuilding the Ottoman Empire upon their ruined lives. Our Saudi “friends” spent decades building the most-sophisticated military arsenal in the Middle East, apart from Israel. Now the Saudis wring their hands over Syria’s misery — but won’t intervene directly to stop the killing.
The Saudi position is always “You and him fight!” As long ago as Desert Storm, Saudis joked about renting the American army and our bumpkin gullibility. (Try to find one US officer who’s worked with the Saudis and doesn’t hate their guts. . .) Now they want Washington to spend our blood and treasure to open the mosques of Damascus to their Wahhabi cult.
Well, the Assad regime is horrible, but not al Qaeda horrible. Better poison gas than poisoned religion, as far as our own security’s concerned. This is an Arab struggle (with Turkish and Iranian vultures overhead). This time, we need to let them fight it out.
The region’s outdated order is disintegrating. But Washington’s still mesmerized by the artificial boundaries on the map.
Nine decades ago, the diplomats at Versailles ignored the region’s natural fault lines as they carved up the Middle East, forcing enemies together and driving kin apart (while Woodrow Wilson turned his back on the Kurds). Only brute force and dictators kept up the fiction that these were countries. Now the grim charade has reached its end.
Iraq was carved out for British interests, while Syria was France’s consolation prize. Now Syria’s collapsing in a too-many-factions-to-count civil war. And Iraq’s in the early stages of its own dissolution; even a would-be dictator — another of our one-time “friends,” Nouri al-Maliki — can’t keep the “country” together.
We don’t even know how many new states will emerge from the old order’s wreckage. But the Scramble for the Sand is on, with Iran, Turkey, treacherous Arab oil sheikdoms and terrorists Sunni and Shia alike all determined to dictate the future, no matter the cost in other people’s blood.
We had our chance to extend the peace and keep both Iran and Wahhabi crazies at bay after we defeated Iraq’s insurgencies. But a new American president, elevating politics over strategy, walked away from Baghdad, handing Iraq to Iran. Now it’s too late. If George W. Bush helped trigger the Arab Spring, Barack Obama made this Arab Winter inevitable. [this paragraph shows that Peters still maintains that "the surge worked" -- worked to do what? -- and indicates that he thinks the Americans should not have "walked away" but remained in Iraq]
We must not be lured into the current fighting — centered, for now, on Syria — by cries of humanitarian necessity. The local powers could step in to stop the killing. But they won’t. Once again, they want us to pay the bill. (It’s time for the Saudis, especially, to give their own blood.)
We’ve paid enough. Rhetoric and red lines notwithstanding, we need to back off from Syria, if for no other reason than a strategist’s golden rule: If you don’t understand what a fight’s about, stay out.
Arabs attack non-Arab Muslims -- Kurds, Berbers, black Africans in Darfur -- as they are now attacking Tuaregs in northern Mali. In Afghanistan, the Arabs of Al-Qaeda treated the Afghans with contempt, which caused great resentment. For the Arabs, it is not Muslims but the Arabs themselves who are the best of peoples, and it is the non-Arab Muslims who must turn toward Arabia to pray five times a day, must read (and memorize) the Qur'an in Arabic, must take Arab names and, ideally, adopt the manners and customs of the Ansar, the 7th-century Arabs who were Muhammad's supporters.
These Arab attitudes, and this Arab behavior, cannot be denied by any non-Arab Muslim who has been on the receiving end. And that is a wedge between Arabs and non-Arabs that deserves to be exploited. If the Western world were better run, its leaders would be talking openly, loudly, about all the ways that Islam has been, is, and always will be a vehicle for Arab supremacism.It's a useful way to shake the faith of non-Arabs in Islam, a way to make them reconsider their devotion, often fanatical and unshakable, to Islam, the "gift of the Arabs."
The report. from Reuters, of Tuareg-Arab clashes in northern Mali:
Armed Tuareg and Arab groups clash in northern Mali
BAMAKO (Reuters) - Fighting has broken out in northern Mali between Tuareg separatists and local Arab-led gunmen, only days after the African country won a $4.2 billion aid pledge to help it recover from a conflict with Islamists affiliated to al Qaeda.
Rebel and military sources both confirmed the clashes, although they differed over precisely which groups were involved.
The violence highlights how pockets of fighters who escaped a four-month French-led offensive against the al Qaeda-linked militants in the north are undermining efforts to restore state authority ahead of a presidential election set for July 28. France said this week the 'terrorists' had been defeated.
The MNLA, a Tuareg rebel group, said its forces were attacked in the town of Anefis by a column of Islamist fighters on Friday. Its Paris-based spokesman, Moussa Ag Acharatoumane, said fighting continued on Saturday morning, with two of the group's fighters and at least seven Islamists killed so far.
The MNLA said it was fighting MUJWA, an Islamist group that occupied the town of Gao for months until earlier this year and has launched a series of guerrilla-style counter-attacks on the town since it was retaken in the French offensive.
A Malian army officer, who asked not to be named, confirmed there had been heavy fighting, likely stemming from long-standing rivalries between Tuareg and Arab communities that make up northern Mali's array of armed groups.
However he said the clashes were between the MNLA and the MAA, a group made up of Malian Arabs based north of Timbuktu. It was not possible to independently confirm the information.
In a sign of the outside world's concern about stability in Mali, international donors promised 3.25 billion euros ($4.22 billion) on Wednesday to help the country recover and prevent a resurgence by the Islamist rebels.
French President Francois Hollande dismissed comparisons between Mali and Afghanistan, which provided safe haven to al Qaeda when it was preparing the September 11 attacks and is still fighting a Taliban insurgency 12 years later.
"In Mali, the terrorists have been beaten. I don't say there are none left, I don't say there is no risk, but there is no longer any fighting," Hollande said.
The Tuareg MNLA launched a rebellion in January last year, citing years of marginalization by the government as justification for carving out an independent desert state from Mali's north.
It initially fought alongside a mix of al Qaeda-linked Islamist forces seeking to impose Islamic law on Mali's north, and the uneasy coalition swept aside government troops in March 2012.
The MNLA was later sidelined by the better armed Islamists, but has now taken advantage of the French offensive to re-occupy several northern towns it had lost to them. Having watered down independence claims, it is demanding talks with the government over a degree of autonomy.
French forces are reducing their numbers and are due to hand over security responsibilities to a United Nations peacekeeping mission that will be rolled out in July.
NABI CHIT, Lebanon — At the entrance to this village in Hezbollah’s Bekaa Valley heartland, under a sign welcoming visitors to “The Citadel of Resistance,” workers on Monday hoisted a freshly printed banner honoring a young man the group called one of Hezbollah’s latest martyrs — killed in battle not with Israel, the foe the group’s guerrillas train to fight, but with Syrian rebels.
Down the road, another dead fighter’s uncle, Fayez Shukor, welcomed mourners under a tent overlooking the valley as the sun set on a day that had seen Hezbollah’s death toll rise to unexpected heights as the group joined Syrian forces trying to storm the rebel-held Syrian city of Qusayr. His nephew, he had said earlier, died on Sunday alongside 11 other Hezbollah fighters killed in a single rebel attack.
Lebanon reeled Monday from the twin realizations that Hezbollah, the nation’s most powerful military and political organization, was plunging deeper into a war the country has tried to stay out of, and that the group was taking unaccustomed losses. Mr. Shukor, a former government minister from Lebanon’s Arab Socialist Baath Party, walked a careful line between supporting Hezbollah’s declaration that Syria’s fight is its fight and acknowledging the contradiction of fighting fellow Arab Muslims instead of Israelis.
“I wish all this blood had been shed in the south, fighting Israel,” he said, but added that the rebels battling Hezbollah’s ally, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, were “infidels and garbage” serving Israel; the West, he said, should recognize that they are Al Qaeda-linked extremists and help wipe them out.
He then repeated the charge that extremists among the Sunni Muslim rebels have flung at Hezbollah’s Shiites. “They are not Muslims,” he said.
Lebanon and the region have been electrified by the fierce fighting in Qusayr and the role of Hezbollah. Fighters on both sides said rebels continued to hold the north of the city against Hezbollah, the Syrian Army and pro-government militias.
Ali, a Lebanese Shiite with ties to Hezbollah, said that a relative and other fighters, updating him by text message from the battlefield, were struck by the rebels’ tenacity. One Hezbollah fighter, he said, told him that even after being shot, rebels “got up and attacked in a brutal way.”
The growing stream of funerals suggests that in Qusayr, Hezbollah is asking followers for their deepest sacrifice in Syria yet, one that it has no choice but to embrace and explain. The exact toll is unclear, as Hezbollah does not always announce deaths right away or specify dates and locations.
At least 14 Hezbollah fighters were killed over the weekend, according to Hezbollah Web sites and relatives of fighters. Phillip C. Smyth, a University of Maryland researcher who studies Hezbollah, listed on the Jihadology Web site 20 fighters whose deaths were announced by official and unofficial Hezbollah sites, a number he said could grow. Syrian opposition activists, eager to claim an underdog victory, say more than 40 have died.
Either way, the numbers stand out. In its 34-day war with a stronger foe, Israel, in 2006, Hezbollah acknowledged losing 250 fighters, about 8 a day. (Outside estimates hover around 500 total.) Hezbollah supporters explain the toll in Syria by noting that Hezbollah trains to defend its own territory, not to attack opponents who are defending their own turf.
The scale of the fighting — among the most intense ground battles in Syria’s war — has forced Lebanon to contend anew with a perennial problem. Hezbollah, stronger than the Lebanese Army, has the power to drag the country into war without a government decision, as in 2006, when it set off the war by capturing three Israeli soldiers.
Hezbollah’s critics also complained that the Lebanese Army’s seeming complicity in allowing a large Hezbollah force to cross the border could be viewed as Lebanon’s entering the war — a charge that Hezbollah and Mr. Assad’s supporters have leveled for the opposite reason, as Lebanese Sunnis flow into Syria to join the rebels.
An official with the March 14 movement, Hezbollah’s main political rival, said that with Hezbollah’s help Mr. Assad could probably take Qusayr, a crucial area because it lies near the border and links Damascus with the rebel-held north and the government-held coast. But, the official said, it could cost Hezbollah hundreds of fighters.
He questioned why Hezbollah would want to sink itself into “Dien Bien Phu,” a barbed suggestion that the group would endure the fate of French troops defeated by Vietnamese insurgents in 1954 in a decisive blow to French colonial power.
The Free Syrian Army, the loose-knit rebel umbrella group backed by the United States, issued a statement bound to fuel its frontal battle with Hezbollah, attacking the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah. “We are today calling Nasrallah a killer of the Syrian people,” a spokesman, Louay Mekdad, told the Al-Arabiya channel.
The battle also increasingly seemed to pit Hezbollah, the region’s most battle-hardened Shiite force, head-on against Sunni jihadis, some accused of affiliation with Al Qaeda. Rebels flying the black banner often used by Al Nusra Front, the extremist rebel group — listed, like Hezbollah, as a terrorist group by the United States — filmed themselves attacking armored vehicles at close range with machine guns and taking deadly fire.
The heat of the fighting brought into sharp relief the danger of a regional nightmare, all-out war between Shiites and Sunnis. [why would an "all out war between Shiites and Sunnis" be a "nightmare"? It wouldn't be a nightmare for America, Europe, Israel, or for non-Muslims anywhere. Why use such a word? Why not write: "The heat of the fighting brought into sharp relief the possibility -- or likelihood -- of all-out war bertween Shiites and Sunnis." Doesn't that make better sense for American readers?]Some rebel supporters urged on the fighters against the “impurity” of Hezbollah, a phrase that resonates as a slur against Shiites.
Echoes of the fight rippled across Lebanon, divided between supporters and opponents of Mr. Assad roughly, though not entirely, along sectarian lines. In the northern city of Tripoli, which supplies Sunni fighters to rebel ranks, three Lebanese soldiers were killed Monday in clashes with rebels.
In Shiite areas, people prayed for relatives fighting with Hezbollah, and for victory in a battle the group has framed as both a proxy fight with Israel and an intervention to defend Lebanese and Syrian Shiites and other minorities from an uprising they view as driven by Sunni extremists.
In the Bekaa Valley, Hezbollah’s normally airtight public-relations machine seemed momentarily off balance. The party has vowed never to “hide our martyrs,” and Mr. Shukor proudly invited reporters to his nephew’s funeral. But Hezbollah operatives politely barred them and escorted them out of town. They were allowed back only after Mr. Shukor raised a fuss.
Bouquets of roses lined the marble banisters leading to a terrace where a dirge played quietly for the fighter, Hassan Faisal Shukor, 23. Mr. Shukor said he was the son of his favorite sister, “like a son to me.”
“This is a very deep loss for us,” he said. “But it’s an honor.”
NYPD Operation nets Palestinians including one involved in 1994 Brooklyn Yeshiva Student Death
Credit New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly with busting mega million cigarette smuggling ring. Tagged Operation Tobacco Road, the operation captured 16 Palestinians including the king pins in the network arrested in New York and Maryland, with connections to the Muslim Brotherhood Blind Sheik Omar Abdel- Rahman and Hamas. One of those ensnared in the raid may have been an accomplice after the fact who supplied the weapon in the 1994 attack on a van crossing the Brooklyn Bridge sprayed with automatic fire. That attack resulted in the death of 16 year old Ari Halberstam All but two of the Palestinians ensnared in the scheme entered the US illegally.
The ring had purchased more than $55 million in cigarettes in both Virginia and Maryland and wholesaled the contraband cigarettes to bodegas in the outer boroughs of New York City avoiding more than $80 million in state taxes. A significant portion of the profits may have been funneled to Hamas, to further Jihad. The NYPD counterterrorism program may have trumped the FBI on this bust of Hamas funding. The DOJ and the ACLU have defended Muslim Charities. See the NER story: “Zakat and Terrorism”.
Some of those arrested in the bust have links to Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind sheik, and Rashid Baz, who opened fire on a van of Yeshiva students on the Brooklyn Bridge, killing Ari Halberstam. “We're concerned because similar schemes have been used in the past to help fund terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah”.
Note this from the NY Daily News Story about the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas connections of the network:
All 16 of those charged are Palestinian and all but two were living illegally in the U.S. One managed to flee to Jordan before the arrests late Wednesday.
Kelly said the group included several “individuals on our radar with links to known terrorists,” starting with Mohammad Seif, 39, a cigarette reseller from Brooklyn.
Kelly said Seif lived in the same three-story walkup with the personal secretary of Hamas’ main fund-raiser in the U.S., Mousa Abu Marzouk, who was deported from the U.S. in 1997. Marzouk continues to raise money for Hamas in Egypt.
Note this about the extent of illegal profits made in the cigarette smuggling scheme:
Investigators in the case, dubbed Operation Tobacco Road have so far found evidence the group pocketed $22 million in profits, of which authorities have found only $7.8 million in cash and bank accounts.
The Jewish Press had details on the 1994 Brooklyn Bridge Van attack that resulting in four injuries including the death of Yeshiva Student, Ari Halberstam:
On March 1, 1994, Lebanese-born immigrant Rashid Baz shot many rounds of automatic fire at a van carrying 15 Lubavitch students on the Brooklyn Bridge. Four students were hit, two were very seriously injured. Ari Halberstam, 16, died four days later from a shot to the head. Another student, also shot in the head, suffered permanent major speech impediments. Muaffaq Askar, Baz’s “Palestinian uncle,” has long been suspected of supplying the weapon to convicted killer, according to the NY Daily News.
Now Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has announced Askar’s arrest as part of a multi-state cigarette smuggling ring with terrorist ties.
The Baltimore Sun Crime Blog story, referred to by Corcoran in her RRW post, has more on the two Palestinian brothers living in Ocean City, Maryland:
The Palestinian immigrant and his brother lived next door to each other in homes in West Ocean City, over the years opening a number of businesses throughout the area — three pizza shops, a Mexican restaurant, a liquor store, gas stations, and development companies, court records show.
This week, however, authorities in New York alleged that Basel, 42, and Samir Ramadan, 39, were also at the top of a multimillion-dollar cigarette-smuggling ring and said they believe members of the organization may have funneled some of their proceeds to terrorist groups.
[. . .]
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said the case highlights that cigarette smuggling is a booming business. His office is working with New York authorities to track down additional Maryland businesses that may have been involved in the ring.
"Cigarette smuggling in the past has always been a mom-and-pop operation, but because it's so lucrative — more lucrative than smuggling heroin — and the penalties are so small, organized crime is moving into it," Franchot said Friday.
New York's Attorney General said that one Brooklyn distributor being listened to on a wiretap boasted to Basel Ramadan, "This business is better than selling drugs."
The Maryland brothers were being held without bond in Worcester County, awaiting extradition to New York. Attorneys were not listed, and phone numbers for their various businesses were disconnected.
Each of the 16 defendants faces charges of enterprise corruption, money laundering, and related tax crimes in New York, and if convicted could be sentenced to 25 years in prison.
How much of the $14.2 of missing cash found its way to Hamas is the obvious question? Moreover, which agency at the federal level should have been monitoring the cigarette smuggling operation.
The US Secret Service has been the spear point in investigation of similar Food Stamp scams as the US Department of Agriculture is involved. Note this recent report of the arrest of a Daytona, Florida convenience store owner and his son, Bassam Sale Abu Diab 55 and Matthew Bassam Abu Diab. Given the expansion of the Food Stamps program over the past several years, at issue is how much of that expansion could have been similarly used to coin illegal profits for funneling funds to Hamas and other terrorist Groups.
The most disturbing element of this criminal enterprise is how 14 Palestinians could have entered this country illegally, without detection by the ICE over several years. The US Department of Home Land Security and the FBI may have to provide answers at a possible Hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee chaired by Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-TX).
Ann Corcoran noted this in her RRW post:
We don’t know how these Palestinians got into the US (the mainstream media is rarely curious about that), but readers here at RRW should know that the US State Department and refugee contractors are now taking some Palestinian “refugees” to your towns and cities (101 so far this fiscal year)
Note this graphic illustration on how the Palestinian cigarette smuggling scheme worked: