The instant crisis over the 90-day ban of some categories of foreigners from the United States is a sideshow and will pass quickly. But, like the treatment of the Mexican-wall issue, it has had some ham-handed aspects. It will not be possible for a while to determine when the president is making a calculated lurching move or a startling utterance – one intended to put down a marker and disconcert opponents before he executes a tactical retreat to where he originally wished to end up — and when he has just been impetuous and has not prepared his initiative with adequate care, as apparently occurred with the executive order on immigration.
What Trump’s foreign and domestic enemies have called “the Muslim ban” is, of course, nothing of the kind, and the administration has made it clear that it is not a sectarian exclusion. About 10 percent of the absurd overreaction to the ban is sage comment that the administration really has to think these initiatives through and formulate them in ways that are less vulnerable to legitimate legal and policy challenge. Opening windows for such ferocious criticism, and Democratic mischief and insubordination by the Obama-appointed deputy attorney general while the confirmation of the attorney general–designate is delayed for partisan reasons, is very stressful for the president’s supporters who fear that too much confrontation could imperil his legislative program. That program is so radical that it will require united and contented Republican congressional majorities and the odd reasonable Democrat as well. (This does not excuse Republican senators McCain and Graham from their irritating habit of masquerading as a judicious and urbane third party of two dispensing unctuous dissent like an oracle.)
The partial entry ban, as modified, is reasonably acceptable for 90 days. In the Mexican affair, the president apparently feels that Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto reneged on some of what he had promised when they met in July. But Mexico, an important country that has made great political and economic progress in the last 25 years, should be treated with more careful diplomacy, as the president effectively promised in his Friday press conference with the British prime minister, Theresa May. The correlation of forces between the two countries is almost as one-sided as it was when President Polk lifted 1 million square miles (about as much as both the Louisiana Purchase and the total territory of the original 13 colonies) on a flimsy legal basis in the war of 1846–48. The president made too much of the formula that the Mexicans would “pay for the wall” when what he meant, as he occasionally explained, was that the reduction in the trade deficit with that country would pay for it. Mexico should be treated more respectfully, but the more vocal Mexican supporters should not be allowed to get away with inciting the inference that Mexico has a perfect right to export unemployment to the United States while depositing millions of its unskilled people in the American welfare, education, and justice systems.
The executive order on the 90-day ban was sufficiently sloppily formulated that it has brought all of Trump’s foes snorting out of the undergrowth, from the far and soft left to the comparatively intellectual right; all are doing a Saint Vitus Dance, imputing the most fantastic incompetence and malice to the president. The administration has responded with a see-saw combination of placatory clarifications and defiance of critics, and seems to be holding a majority of domestic opinion. The main arguments have nothing to do with the textual contents of the order, and are just another fulmination of concern that Trump is a bigot, a madman, and a terminal vulgarian. (The first two concerns are unfounded and the last is an overstated matter of taste.) Critics, hyped by the desperate media, whom about 70 percent of Americans and 86 percent of Republicans don’t trust, claim that the whole world is “nervous” and that this “is just the beginning” of Trump’s dictatorial madness and that all Muslims in the world are about to be reactively transformed into becoming jihadist sympathizers. I don’t think so.
On the night of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush said that the United States would make no distinction between terrorists and states that tolerated terrorism. That line has become blurred and the leaders of many Muslim countries, as well as the bulk of Islamic clergy, have to be shaken into taking sides on these issues. To a large degree, the Islamic terrorists are, in Maoist terminology, “swimming like fish in the sea of the people” in Muslim countries. Most of those governments are very inadequately scourging out extremists, though there has been some improvement since 9/11. The Pakistani sheltering of bin Laden was indicative of the fright and malice that induce ostensibly friendly Muslim governments to straddle this most crucial issue. The reduction of U.S. oil imports will undercut the activities of several terrorist-sponsoring petro-states.
Islam is essentially a congregational religion, with no central authority, unlike most Christian churches, but the record of its elders is a checkered one. Anyone who thinks we are going to defeat terrorism by avoiding the use of the phrase “Islamic extremism” as President Obama and Hillary Clinton did, or by absurd, groveling apologies to the Muslim world such as Mrs. Clinton made on behalf of the United States to cover up the terrorist origins of the Benghazi tragedy, is mistaken. Such weakness only incites escalated outrages, as the under-reaction of the Clinton administration to the initial terrorist outrages (the first World Trade Center bombing, Khobar Towers, East African embassies, USS Cole) demonstrated.
The alarmists about the new regime should note that the most important public statement the president made about foreign policy last week was “A strong and independent Britain is a blessing to the world.” This replaces Obama’s threat to put “Britain at the back of the queue” if it left Europe, and is the beginning of rebuilding the Western Alliance on the great precedents of Roosevelt and Churchill (whose bust has returned to the Oval Office), and Reagan and Thatcher.
As usual in Trump matters, most observers have missed the point and contentedly assured the many millions of nodding and knowing heads that Trump has struck out in the White House after ten days. Some Trump critics have jubilantly announced that Trump has managed to shut down his own honeymoon. There has been no honeymoon and if there ever is one for this president, it will be some time coming. Trump declared war on the entire governing elite of the country — all factions of both parties, almost all the media, Hollywood, Wall Street, academia, the lobbyists, and the federal bureaucracy. He ran a populist campaign to take over one of the main political parties, a little like William Jennings Bryan and the bimetallists in 1896. But he won the election with a campaign that was both radical and in policy terms, conservative.
Though the Clintons, Obamas, and Bushes have gone from Washington, the national media, so accustomed to immense influence in creating and legitimizing and reassuring the groupthink that has governed in the post-Reagan era, remain in the front lines of a fierce defensive action as Donald Trump continues his war against the main body of the political elites, which he and his scores of millions of supporters regard as an anthill of corruption, hypocrisy, and cowardice. This battle will continue to escalate. The Democrats have promised scorched earth; they have no more been honeymooners than were Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows when Ralph Kramden punched his left hand with his right fist and shouted “Pow! To the moon, Alice!” The Democrats are trying to sandbag Trump’s Cabinet nominees, especially those who have promised to promote charter schools, crack down on the abuses of labor organizations, strip all the bunk about global warming out of environmental policy, promote oil and gas production, incentivize job-creating economic growth, reform health care, and reactivate the Justice Department. The Democrats will probably not be able to stop confirmation of his Cabinet nominees, but he will have to engage in some degree of cajolery from the driver’s seat of the Trump bulldozer to get his program through.
The level of antagonism of his opponents is obvious almost every day, and is not unrequited by the president and his supporters. Two of the most vivid examples last week were the New YorkTimes’ outright invention of the claim that Trump had banished the bust of Martin Luther King from the Oval Office, which, as he made clear, was not just false but an accusation of racism, which is also false. The mouthy late-night-talk-show hostess Chelsea Handler said she would not have Melania Trump on her program because “she can hardly speak English.” Against such witless and compulsive animus, the president and his supporters should prevail, but he might like to be more careful and have occasional recourse to subtlety. The reason the country appears so divided is that it is divided. About half the country thinks the entire power structure is flabby, corrupt, and useless; and the other half, including the serried ranks of its members, think it is adequate to commendable and that it has been assaulted by a maniacal demagogue. Most of the Trump program will work if he can enact it, and then he will have his honeymoon.
We are witnessing a struggle for the heart and mind of America, and for the apparatus of its government, on a scale that has not been seen since the Civil War.
“M.I.” refers to the Muslim Interlocutor who has invited others to “Ask a Muslim” any questions they may have about Islam. Once the M.I. has answered (or tried, or refused, to), possible responses to him are given below, merely as a guide and not meant to be exhaustive:
1. What is the meaning of Jihad?
“Jihad” in Arabic means “struggle.” More specifically, it is the central duty of all Muslims, the “struggle” to spread Islam all over the globe until all Unbelievers either convert to Islam or accept the status of dhimmis and pay the Jizyah, or capitation tax. Jihad can take many forms, such as defending Islam from its critics, migrating to foreign soil for the purpose of propagating Islam, demographic conquest, and supporting its growth financially. a central duty of all Muslims. But Jihad’s main meaning involves violence. No major Muslim group has ever repudiated the doctrine of armed Jihad. Violent Jihad is founded on many verses in the Qur’an, but in the Ask-the-Muslim context, have at the ready to quote, especially, the Verse of the Sword: (9:5, “Then when the sacred months are past, slay the idolaters wherever you find them…”).
M.I. will claim that the “real” meaning of Jihad is something like a “struggle within one’s soul” to become a better person, or “self-improvement.” He may offer that hadith where it is written that “Upon his return from battle Muhammad said, ‘We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad’ (i.e. the struggle against the evil of one’s soul).” But this hadith is of doubtful authenticity. It does not appear in any of the six sahih sittah (“reliable collections”) of hadith. One Muslim authority speaks for all of them when he writes that “this hadith has no source, nobody whomsoever in the field of Islamic Knowledge has narrated it. Jihad against the disbelievers is the most noble of actions, and moreover it is the most important action for the sake of mankind.” And he concludes that the evidence used as proof that Jihad on the battlefield is Jihad Asghar (lesser Jihad) and Jihad against the desires and Shaitan is Jihad Akbar [greater jihad] are weak if not false hadith. (Then urge onlookers, who will have been suitably impressed with your response, to google “Lesser Jihad” and “Greater Jihad” to find out more about this canard.)
2. Why are Christians and Jews required to pay the Jizyah to Muslims?
“Jizyah” is the capitation or poll tax that non-Muslims must pay to the Muslim state in order to be allowed to stay alive and practice their faith. It is the main, but not the only disability, inflicted on those non-Muslims who are the ahl al-dhimma, the People of the Pact, or dhimmis. While your Muslim propagandist will argue that the “jizyah” is not now exacted everywhere, it remains a permanent part of Islamic doctrine (and is, in fact, collected in the Islamic State). Remind your listeners that some Muslims in the West, such as Anjem Choudary, gloating over the vast amounts of benefits Muslim immigrants receive, call these benefits “the Jihad seekers’ allowance.”
3. Why does it say in the Qur’an that Muslims should not take Christians and Jews as friends, for they are friends only with each other?
Here you hope that your Muslim interlocutor simply denies this passage’s existence altogether. You then quote in full Qur’an 5:51, which is at the ready on your smartphone or on notecards. And to get to the reason for 5:51 (and many other passages of similar import, as 3:28, 3:85, 3:118, 7:44, 9:23 could also be quoted), Muslims are in a state of permanent war – violent Jihad, but Jihad conducted by whatever means, including peaceful ones. To prevent any relapse into Unbelief, to keep the Jihad fervor up, they are taught to distrust, and distance themselves from, all non-Muslims, who are depicted as if in a conspiracy (“they are friends only with each other”) against Muslims. It makes no sense for the “best of peoples” (Qur’an 3:110) to become friends with the “vilest of creatures” (Qur’an 98:6).
4. It says in the Qur’an that “there is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an 2.256). If there is no compulsion in religion, then why are people who leave Islam threatened with death?
The M.I. will have no answer to this, except possibly to claim what is being punished is not an apostate’s loss of belief but, rather, with that apostate’s proclaiming that turn to unbelief and thus harming Islam. The implication is that if an apostate does it quietly then there will be no punishment. But you can have ready 4:89: “They wish that you should reject faith as they reject faith, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.” 2:217, 9:73-74, 88:21, 5:54, 9:66 are ready examples from the Qur’an and Hadith that make no mention of an apostate only being killed if he makes public his apostasy. Have at the ready as well some of the hadith, as for example these:
Sahih Bukhari (52:260) – “…The Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’ “
Sahih Bukhari (83:37) – “Allah’s Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, was killed (in Qisas,) (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle and deserted Islam and became an apostate.”
Sahih Bukhari (84:57) – [In the words of] “Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'”
To which M.I. has NO reply.
5. Why did the Ayatollah Khomeini lower the marriageable age of girls to 9?
The Ayatollah Khomeini was a learned cleric, and he knew that Muhammad, the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil) and Model of Conduct (uswa hasana) had consummated his marriage to little Aisha when she was nine (she was betrothed to him at the age of six). What’s right for Muhammad is right for every Muslim, forever. Hence his eagerness to reduce the marriageable age to that of Aisha. Under the secularizing Shah, of course, the marriageable age of Iranian girls was 18 – for a good Muslim like the Ayatollah Khomeini, that was an abomination. Others, but possibly “not my Muslim friend here,” no doubt feel differently.
Again, NO reply.
6. What is the surest way for a Muslim to get to Heaven?
The surest way to Jannah (Muslim Paradise) is by engaging in violent Jihad and dying as a “martyr” while fighting in the path of Allah.
Such people go directly to Paradise,
Quran (8:15-16) – “O ye who believe! when ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them. If any do turn his back to them on such a day – unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own)- he draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and his abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed)!” Not only does Muhammad lay down the principle that a Muslim can serve time in Hell, but they may find themselves there for neglecting to kill unbelievers when directed to do so.
Quran (9:39) – “If ye go not forth He will afflict you with a painful doom…” It isn’t enough to believe. Muhammad is telling his soldiers (who do not want to fight) that they will be sent to hell if they do not join the battle.
Quran (3:169-170) – “Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord; They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve.“ Martyrs go directly from life to paradise, where they wait for those who must first go through the Day of Judgment.
There are other ways to get to Paradise, some not requiring violence. But if he does so, you must come back to those Qur’anic passages, especially 3:169-170, that rank dying in Jihad as the SUREST AND FASTEST way.
LAHORE, Pakistan — Ten million dollars does not seem to buy much in this bustling Pakistani city. That is the sum the United States is offering for help in convicting Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, perhaps the country’s best-known jihadi leader. Yet Mr. Saeed lives an open, and apparently fearless, life in a middle-class neighborhood here.
“I move about like an ordinary person — that’s my style,” said Mr. Saeed, a burly 64-year-old, reclining on a bolster as he ate a chicken supper. “My fate is in the hands of God, not America.”
Mr. Saeed is the founder, and is still widely believed to be the true leader, of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group that carried out the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, in which more than 160 people, including six Americans, were killed. The United Nations has placed him on a terrorist list and imposed sanctions on his group. But few believe he will face trial any time soon in a country that maintains a perilous ambiguity toward jihadi militancy, casting a benign eye on some groups, even as it battles others that attack the state.
Mr. Saeed’s very public life seems more than just an act of mocking defiance against the Obama administration and its bounty, analysts say. As American troops prepare to leave Afghanistan next door, Lashkar is at a crossroads, and its fighters’ next move — whether to focus on fighting the West, disarm and enter the political process, or return to battle in Kashmir — will depend largely on Mr. Saeed.
At his Lahore compound — a fortified house, office and mosque — Mr. Saeed is shielded not only by his supporters, burly men wielding Kalashnikovs outside his door, but also by the Pakistani state. On a recent evening, police officers screened visitors at a checkpoint near his house, while other officers patrolled an adjoining park, watching by floodlight for intruders.
His security seemingly ensured, Mr. Saeed has over the past year addressed large public meetings and appeared on prime-time television, and is now even giving interviews to Western news media outlets he had previously eschewed.
He says that he wants to correct “misperceptions.” During an interview with The New York Times at his home last week, Mr. Saeed insisted that his name had been cleared by the Pakistani courts. “Why does the United States not respect our judicial system?” he asked.
Still, he says he has nothing against Americans, and warmly described a visit he made to the United States in 1994, during which he spoke at Islamic centers in Houston, Chicago and Boston. “At that time, I liked it,” he said with a wry smile...
I am in Birmingham, England's second city (so they claim) for a few days. So this evening we decided to look in and observe the Birmingham section of the national demo called to protest President Trump's policy regarding immigration for seven Muslim countries.
It was called at short notice for outside the Town Hall. I read the exact time on one of the university websites. I would say that the majority of demonstrators were students, very many young women, mostly idealistic, a little naive but well meaning. There were the usual sprinkling of wooly hatted older people, some families, the usual suspects from the Trades unions and Socialist Worker. There is something pulling their strings from the rear but it was in hiding tonight. The Muslims were groups of young women of the smiling hijab sort; there were no obvious organised groups that I saw from Birmingham's many mosques.
These are the self proclaimed badest Trots in the West Midlands
Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here. According to local newspaper the Express and Star the speakers were Labour Councillors.
Photographs EWeatherwax and her husband England January 2017
Boycotting Historians Denounce Blacklists Just as They Call for Blacklisting Israeli Academics
By Richard L. Cravatts, PhD
American Historical Association founders
Of the many examples of the shameful degradation of values in academia, few are more intellectually grotesque than academic boycotts, which, in their present form, are almost exclusively targeted at Israeli scholars and institutions. In the latest example, at their January annual meeting the American Historical Association (AHA) debated among their members two petitions: the first, which was ultimately rejected by the AHA’s Council, urged the AHA to review investigate “credible charges of violations of academic freedom in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories,” whether by “constituting a fact-finding committee, authorizing a delegation or issuing an investigative report.”
The second petition recommended that the AHA issue a statement, which it did, affirming “the rights of students, faculty and other historians to speak freely and to engage in nonviolent political action expressing diverse perspectives on historical or contemporary issues.” Putting aside the absurdly paranoid notion that any anti-Israel activism is suppressed or otherwise limited on campuses anywhere, what actually terrified these intellectual hypocrites, it seemed, was the possibility that, once they had publicly announced their enmity for Israel, Zionism, and Jewish affirmation, they would be held accountable for their toxic views, that they would be named for what they are: anti-Israel activists whose rabid ideology can, and should, be made transparent, exposed, and understood.
The AHA statement made this hypocrisy clear when it meretriciously stated that, “We condemn all efforts to intimidate those expressing their views. Specifically, we condemn in the strongest terms the creation, maintenance and dissemination of blacklists and watch lists —through media (social and otherwise)—which identify specific individuals in ways that could lead to harassment and intimidation.”
The so-called “blacklists” and “watch lists” referenced in the statement are such databases as Canary Mission (mentioned specifically), Discover the Networks, Campus Watch, the AMCHA Initiative, and other similar organizations, all of which have as their intention to provide students, faculty, and others with information on the ideology, scholarship, speeches, and writing of radical professors and students. These are individuals (and groups) who have very public records of pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel activism and whose words and behavior have been catalogued so that the politicization of scholarship can be exposed and students can avoid courses taught by professors with a predetermined and evident bias against Israel.
The craven AHA members are not the first representatives of the professoriate to recoil in terror at the thought of being included in one of these databases, even though they are perfectly willing, if not eager, to signal their virtue in the first place by publicly expressing their obsessive disdain for the Jewish state. In 2014, for instance, 40 professors of Jewish studies published a denunciation of a study that named professors who had been identified as expressing “anti-Israel bias, or possibly even antisemitic [sic] rhetoric.”
While the 40 academic “heavyweights” claimed they, of course, rejected anti-Semitism totally as part of teaching, they were equally repelled by the tactics and possible negative effects of the report, produced by the AMCHA Initiative, a comprehensive review of the attitudes about Israel of some 200 professors who signed an online petition during the last Gaza incursion that called for an academic boycott against Israeli scholars—academics the petitioners claimed were complicit in the “latest humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israel’s . . . military assault on the Gaza Strip,” just as the AHA members alleged that because Palestinians were being denied access to education as a result of Israeli policy, Israeli academics deserved to be collectively shunned.
Calling “the actions of AMCHA deplorable,” the indignant professors were insulted by the organization’s “technique of monitoring lectures, symposia and conferences,” something which, they believed, “strains the basic principle of academic freedom on which the American university is built.” That was a rather breathtaking assertion by academics, just as it was when the AHA members repeated the same idea; namely, that it is contrary to the core mission of higher education that ideas publicly expressed by professors should be examined and judged, and that by even applying some standards of objectivity on a body of teaching by a particular professor “AMCHA’s approach closes off all but the most narrow intellectual directions.”
Specifically, reports like the AMCHA product clearly indicate which professors have demonstrated that they bring to their teaching a clear bias against the Jewish state; in fact, they have gone even further with that enmity by mobilizing as part of the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement to turn Israeli academics in intellectual pariahs by excluding them from the intellectual marketplace of ideas.
Can anyone believe that had the AMCHA Initiative or other organizations issued a report that revealed the existence of endemic racism, or homophobia, or sexism, or Islamophobia in university coursework, and had warned students who might be negatively impacted to steer clear of courses taught by those offending professors, that these same 40 feckless professors or the AHA’s historians would have denounced such reports being “McCarthyesque” or somehow undermining the civility of higher education by actually holding academics responsible for some of the intellectually deficient or corrupt ideologies to which they adhere and which they are more than happy to foist on others—including, of course, their students.
Why should a professor’s political attitudes not be known to students, especially, as in these cases, when those anti-Israel attitudes are extremely germane to their area of teaching, namely Middle East studies and history? None of the mentioned organizations furtively investigated the private lives of the 200 professors, or historians, or campus radicals, nor did they hack into emails accounts, or take testimony from anonymous sources, or delve through association memberships, reading habits, or private writings without the individuals’ knowledge or consent. They were not spied upon nor their courses videotaped furtively by students.
The findings were based on the public utterances, published works, and social media posts of professors and students, behavior and speech they apparently had no problem with making public and for which they were not hesitant, at least initially, to take responsibility. In fact, as often happens when anti-Israel academics are called upon to defend their libels and intellectual assaults against the Jewish state, they wish to freely pontificate on the many perceived defects of Israel but do not like to be inconvenienced by being challenged on those often biased, and intellectually dishonest, views by others with opposing viewpoints.
More hypocritically, these morally self-righteous historians denounced their placement on so-called blacklists but wished to do the very same thing to Israeli scholars by proposing to essentially blacklist an entire nation’s professoriate for the actions of that country’s government—over which, of course, academics, even if they actually agree with those policies, have little or no influence. And the extent of their blacklist is more onerous and less intellectually honest, since they are blacklisting an entire group of academics, irrespective of ideology, without any distinction between those who might share their views and those who hold views that are ideologically opposed to theirs. In its indiscriminate nature, an academic boycott is morally perverse, since, unlike the efforts of Campus Watch, the AMCHA Initiative, Discover the Networks, or Canary Mission (which deal with specific individuals and their publicly professed and articulated beliefs), an academic boycott against a whole nation of scholars is so random and untargeted that it has to be more about anti-Jewish bigotry than a sincere effort to effect productive change and move the Israelis and Palestinians towards peace.
There is no surprise that an academic association like the AHA would call for a boycott against only one country—Israel—precisely because a large number of its ranks are evidently steeped in a world view defined by post-colonial, anti-American, anti-Israel thinking, and dedicated to the elevation of identity politics and a cult of victimhood. That they profess to hold high-minded, well-intentioned motives, and speak with such rectitude, does not excuse the fact that their efforts are in the end a betrayal of what the study of history and the university have, and should, stand for—the free exchange of ideas, even ones bad, without political or ideological litmus tests.
“People we used to think of as harmless drudges pursuing mouldy futilities,” observed the wry Edward Alexander, professor emeritus at the University of Washington, in speaking about a professoriate that has lost its intellectual compass, “are now revealing to us the explosive power of boredom, a power that may well frighten us.”
Richard L. Cravatts, PhD, President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.
A new sheriff arrived in town with the appointment of Nikki Haley, former Governor of South Carolina, as US Ambassador to the United Nations. In her first speech, she indicated the disproportionate contribution by the United States, 22 % of the UN budget and 28% of UN peacekeeping operations, to the world organization. The UN budget should be subject "strategic cutting," and sometimes withholding of dues.
In picturesque language, Haley spoke of the need for a strong US role at the UN. She had already made clear during her testimony on December 25, 2016, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the UN had been more consistent and more outrageous in its bias against Israel, the close ally of the US, than regarding any other country.
Implicitly, she criticized the policy of President Barack Obama regarding Israel when the US abstained on the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 23, 2016 that condemned Israeli action on settlements and thus allowed the Resolution to be passed. According to President Donald Trump his administration will never abstain when the UN proposes any action that comes into direct conflict with the interests and values of the U.S., or encourages a boycott of Israel.
Political interests and international law are closely intertwined in matters affecting Israel. Condemnations of Israel almost always quote international documents to support political objectives. Ambassador Haley ought now, following a French Appeals Court (the Third Chamber of the Court of Appeal of Versailles) decision on March 22, 2013, to call into question the use of treaties and international conventions by the United Nations, the "international community" in general, and Palestinian-oriented organizations, in order to propose and pass resolutions condemning Israeli "occupation" of Palestinian territory as well as to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
That Versailles decision follows a number of previous complicated legal, largely technical, proceedings, in French courts. The legal dispute began in October 2007 when the AFPS (Association France-Palestine Solidarite) joined by the Palestinian Authority (PA) filed a lawsuit against two French companies, Alstom, the French multinational company in rail transport, and Veolia Transport, in the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Nanterre, France.
The charge concerned the two companies that had signed a contract in July 2005 to build 37 passenger coaches and more than 50 locomotives and to operate a light rail project that crosses Jerusalem to the east side of the city and the disputed territories, an area under Israeli administration since 1967.
The Palestinians argued that the project should be cancelled because it violated international law since the Israeli presence in any area of the West Bank, such as east Jerusalem, was illegal. They argued that the French companies were aiding Israel's occupation and commission of war crimes, and were violating international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention of August 1949, and parts of the French Civil Code.
The Nanterre Tribunal in April 2009 ruled, and was upheld by an Appeals Court, that it had jurisdiction to hear the case, but it held the PLO could not be a co-plaintiff. The International Court of Justice has indicated that the Conventions only contain obligations for states, and individuals have no rights to claim the benefit of those obligations.
After examining the texts of international law and treaties to rule on the legality of the rail construction, the Tribunal on May 30, 2011 rejected the Palestinian claim that the contract to build the project should be cancelled. The AFPS and the PLO, that were ordered to pay costs, appealed the decision.
Work on the light rail through Jerusalem was completed in August 2011. The PLO then filed a complaint in the High Court , the Tribunal in Versailles, against the two French companies arguing that the construction was illegal because international organizations, the UN, the European Union, and others, considered that the Israeli presence in areas of the light rail, "illegally occupied Palestinian territories,” was illegal. The Tribunal decided that construction of the tramway did not constitute a beach of human rights or humanitarian law. The AFPS and PLO appealed this ruling.
The Versailles Court of Appeals on March 22, 2013 ruled the suit was not admissible on the grounds that the international agreements in question were obligations between states, and not private companies. The court ordered AFPS and the PLO to pay 30,000 euros to each of the companies for their expenses during the lawsuit.
The PLO claimed that the construction of the light rail system was illegal because international bodies had considered that Israel illegally occupies Palestinian territories. The Court however decided that the building of the light rail in Jerusalem was legal.
However, the court did not address the question of the legality of the Israeli occupation or the Israeli settlements, or allegations of violations of international humanitarian law. But it did recognize that there was nothing illegal about Israel as the occupier governing the territory, nor was Israel prohibited from constructing and operating the light rail.
Palestinians and other critics of Israel presence in the West Bank always quote Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva convention: “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Instead the Court heeded Article 43 of the Fourth Hague Conventions that stated that an occupier “shall take all measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.
The Versailles Court rejected the various Palestinian arguments. Israel had not violated the 1907 Fourth Hague Conventions. The light rail construction had not resulted in the deportation of the Palestinian population nor the destruction of Palestinian buildings and homes. Israel had not violated the law relating to the protection of cultural property.
The Court held that Israel was entitled to ensure peace and order in the region and the light rail helped do this. The occupying power can use all activities generally exercised by state authorities. The political demands of the PLO do not override the well-being of the inhabitants of the area. The law cannot be based solely on the PLO’s assessment of a political or social situation.
The decision of the Versailles Appeals Court has no direct affect on international law but it is and ought to be considered a guide to the objective, unbiased, discussion of the disputed territories and of the behavior and role of Israel. Certainly Ambassador Haley should heed the verdict, and make plain at the UN at least two points. One is that a corporation or organization cannot be faulted for participating in an Israeli project that partly takes part in the disputed territory, and that boycotts are unjustified. The other point is that the Geneva and Hague conventions so often quoted are often misused and are not an excuse for the Palestinians to avoid entering into peaceful negotiations.
Dozens of Syrian refugees already living in the Unites States may have ties to terrorism and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is downplaying it, claiming federal agents missed “possible derogatory information” about the immigrants due to “a lapse in vetting.” Among those who slipped through the cracks is a man who failed a polygraph test after applying to work at a U.S. military installation and another who communicated with an Islamic State leader.
Information about this scandalous security lapse comes from federal agents with firsthand knowledge of the situation. They spoke to a mainstream newspaper on condition of anonymity, as many Judicial Watch sources who expose delicate information do, out of fear. This is the type of case the government works hard to keep quiet and consequences could be serious for those who blow the whistle. The news article reveals that federal agents are now “reinvestigating the backgrounds” of the dozens of Syrian refugees because somehow DHS discovered that the lapse in vetting allowed refugees with “potentially negative information in their files to enter the country.” The newspaper attributes the information to “U.S law enforcement officials” who were not authorized to discuss the matter.
Coincidentally, on the day this story broke a national newswire service reported that President Donald Trump drafted an executive order to stop accepting Syrian refugees. The president also plans to suspend issuing visas for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Under President Barrack Obama’s lax immigration policies, large numbers of terrorists from some of these nations entered the U.S., including members of ISIS and other radical Islamic groups. They include individuals who have engaged in or attempted to engage in acts of terrorism, conspired or attempted to conspire to provide material support to a terrorist organization or engaged in criminal conduct inspired by terrorist ideology. Some have been convicted and sentenced in American courts.
Additionally, the Obama administration was very generous in granting citizens of Muslim nations special amnesty protections and residency benefits in the U.S. During a five-year period, Obama’s DHS issued around 680,000 green cards to foreigners from Muslim countries, according to the agency’s figures. Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Libya were among the nations. In 2015 Judicial Watch reported on a special “humanitarian” amnesty program offered to illegal aliens from Yemen, an Islamic Middle Eastern country well known as an Al Qaeda breeding ground. Yemen is the headquarters of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the State Department has revealed that AQAP militants carried out hundreds of attacks including suicide bombers, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), ambushes, kidnappings and targeted assassinations.
Circling back to Syrian refugees, as Obama let thousands settle in the U.S. his own intelligence and immigration officials admitted that individuals with ties to terrorist groups used the program to try to infiltrate the country and that there is no way to properly screen them. In 2015 the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) confirmed that individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria tried to gain entry to the U.S. through the refugee program and that the program is “vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups seeking to send operatives to the West.” Before that the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Matthew Emrich, admitted during a congressional hearing that there’s no way to adequately screen Syrian refugees because the Syrian government doesn’t have an intelligence database to run checks against. Additionally, FBI Assistant Director Michael Steinbach conceded that the U.S. government has no system to properly screen Syrian refugees.
Importance of Trump’s Executive Order might not be fully understood for generations
by Brian of London
Separating ourselves from the hysteria over Trump’s Executive Order on immigration, this is the crucial paragraph if you want to understand what Trump’s Administration is doing (full text of the statement here). At the end of this article I’ll explain it line by line.
In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.
As we find ourselves at the end of the first week of the Trump era, we see this weekend’s screaming press outrage over Trump’s Executive Order and the complete shock that he’s enacting one of the core planks of his campaign. For some reason people have been conditioned to believe that promises made by politicians during election campaigns will all be broken.
There’s only one thing that’s happened this weekend which anyone should be mildly concerned about; it has to do with reports of Green Card holders having issues at airports. It’s reasonably clear from the text of the order that this shouldn’t be happening; either the reports are false or rogue elements in the Immigration Service are deliberately being overzealous to cause public issues. David French at National Review has a very good article on the hysterical overreaction:
However, there are reports that the ban is being applied even to green-card holders. This is madness. The plain language of the order doesn’t apply to legal permanent residents of the U.S., and green-card holders have been through round after round of vetting and security checks. The administration should intervene, immediately, to stop misapplication. If, however, the Trump administration continues to apply the order to legal permanent residents, it should indeed be condemned.
The press have gone into a meltdown over the immediate clamping down on movements of people from seven specific countries. Interestingly, the only country mentioned by name in the order is Syria. Seth Frantzman also noticed this and dug a millimetre deeper than the entire rest of the press:
Go back and read it again. Do a “ctrl-f” to find “Iraq”. Where is “Iraq” in the order. It’s not there. Only Syria is there. So where are the seven nations? Where is the “Muslim ban”? It turns out this was a form of fake news, or alternative facts. Trump didn’t select seven “Muslim-majority” countries. US President Barack Obama’s administration selected these seven Muslim-majority countries.
The Department of Homeland Security targeted these seven countries over the last few years as countries of concern. In February 2016, “the Department of Homeland Security today announced that it is continuing its implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 with the addition of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as three countries of concern, limiting Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals who have traveled to these countries.” It noted “the three additional countries designated today join Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria as countries subject to restrictions for Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals.” [read the rest]
Central to what the press and the usual grievance mongers (CAIR, ACLU, ADL and the usual alphabet soup of far left groups) are doing is to draw a false analogy between refugees from the Middle East today and Jews who tried to flee the genocide of the Nazis. Signing the order on International Holocaust Memorial day (and making a mistake by not specifically mentioning Jews) ensured that the press would jump on this bandwagon. This is done with carefully constructed (sometimes faked) photographs, especially of children. Dead child on a beach and dazed child in a hospital: I don’t even need to include photos, these are etched into your heads.
So I was just wondering if I could ask something of all those people quick to claim that Syrian refugees are the new 1930’s Jews.
UNHCR persons of concern refugee numberFor those Jews who managed to escape Nazi Germany, where were the refugee camps, like the ones in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan today hosting 4,088,099 registered refugees (6th Sept). Because I’ve never heard anyone mention them. I’m sure a lot of Jews must have been saved in those camps.
As far as I know, in 1939 there were precisely zero Jewish countries and zero safe and secure refugee camps. I suspect if there had been a Jewish country or even a refugee camp it would have taken in some refugees. Worse: the major nations of the world, especially Britain, blocked Jews from reaching safety and sent them back to be murdered by Hitler.
Interestingly, the UNHCR “Persons of concern” website where I got my numbers from doesn’t seem to be working right now, so I can’t check for new numbers. The main number still stands: there were no refugee camps for Jews in 1939 and there are today many millions of Muslim refugees in (relatively) safe camps across the Middle East.
What has changed since I wrote that post is the seething societal problems currently ripping apart Europe. Every European nation that has accepted refugees is going through huge internal upheavals. I scarcely need to enumerate the problems, ranging from mass groping all the way up to huge mass casualty terror attacks in Nice, Berlin, Paris and elsewhere. Additionally, also since I wrote about the false equivalence, the UK voted to leave Europe and controlling immigration was one of the big factors in that.
But don’t tell CNN’s chief national security correspondent, who last night tweeted this:
False. False. False. Religious considerations are by law part of refugee policy. And it is entirely reasonable to give preference (though not exclusivity) to members of minority religions. Finally, you can read the entire executive order from start to finish, reread it, then read it again, and you will not find a Muslim ban. It’s not there. Nowhere. At its most draconian, it temporarily halts entry from jihadist regions. In other words, Trump’s executive order is a dramatic climb-down from his worst campaign rhetoric.
So I’ll come back to the very first paragraph I showed you. That is the one that indicates what this new administration is actually thinking. And I believe it indicates that they know exactly what they’re doing. This isn’t something they put together in a week; this is evidence of their entire thinking on Islam and the defence of the west.
They’re going to treat Islam as a hostile political ideology. That is what has been needed for decades. It is the reversal of the “Islam is a religion of peace” doctrine set in place by Bush on September 17, 2001.
In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.
That statement should, quite rightly, strike terror into the hearts of anyone looking to promote Islamic law above the United States’ existing constitution. That is made even more explicit with the next sentence:
The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.
This would apply to a communist overthrow of the United States (I guess), but the only real threat on the global stage today is the ideology of Islamic supremacy.
In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.
If you read that paragraph and immediately think #MuslimBan, then you’re bringing your own impressions of Islam. The text doesn’t mention Islam, but we all know that the leading ideology that sanctions bigotry, hatred, violence against women, and oppression is not Buddhism.
This section, again without mentioning Islam or Muslims, arrives at the heart of the problem. Islamic values always lead to intolerance. Islam’s guiding texts are all fundamentally devoted to separating the world between believers and non-believers. All of our liberal freedoms and our equality stem from a Judeo-Christian belief that all men are created in the image of God and are equal before equitable laws. That is not at the heart of Islam.
Reaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilization in which harmony is established between this life and the hereafter and knowledge is combined with faith; and the role that this Ummah should play to guide a humanity confused by competing trends and ideologies and to provide solutions to the chronic problems of this materialistic civilization.
The idea that God made Islam the best nation is not a statement of equality. It is a supremacist statement. The Constitution of the United States doesn’t and obviously shouldn’t begin with “God made White America the Best Nation”. Every Islamic nation considers Islam to be superior to any other ideology.
That is what we are dealing with: 56 nation states and millions of indoctrinated followers who are religiously compelled (with a depth of fervour the godless left can no longer comprehend) bound to profess the supremacy of their civilisation, whilst anyone with open eyes knows the United States Constitution is one of the greatest acts of foundational liberal freedom in history.
America is an astonishing social experiment. If it continues to open its borders, it will be overrun like Europe by those who desire its destruction, and could quite literally sink back into darkness. Whilst being so harshly condemned by those whose freedoms they are safeguarding so determinedly, Trump’s team, in its first week, has put out a document the importance of which might not be fully understood for generations.
A witness, who asked to remain anonymous, told CBC’s French-language service Radio-Canada that two masked individuals entered the mosque.
“It seemed to me that they had a Quebecois accent. They started to fire, and as they shot they yelled, ‘Allahu akbar!’ The bullets hit people that were praying. People who were praying lost their lives. A bullet passed right over my head,” said the witness.
Nick O'Malley in writing about Australia's political party, One Nation, mentions our contribution to its platform, i.e., Islam is not a religion, in the Sidney Morning Herald.
Pauline Hanson and Steve Dickson of One Nation
...This week [One Nation leader Pauline] Hanson announced she was appointing Steve Dickson to be One Nation's leader in Queensland This was a substantial coup. Dickson is not only a sitting MP for the Liberal National Party, but a former state minister. He intends to immediately begin introducing One Nation legislation to Queensland Parliament.
Such is the strength of the resurgent party, which received 20 per cent of the senate vote at some Queensland booths during the federal election, that it could secure balance of power at the coming state election.
"It is very humbling. I have never been the leader of a political party before … and I am very excited about it," Dickson told media at a press conference with Hanson.
Hanson said she would "drain the Billabong".
Addressing the issues, he said he wanted to get on with an 80-year-old plan to drought-proof the state known as the Bradfield scheme.
And he had this to say about Islam: "We welcome anybody from all over the world to come to Australia … If you want to come here and have two or three wives, if you want to treat women like dogs, if you want to mutilate little girls, there are many countries you can do that but none of them are called Australia.
"We are not going to take a backwards step, this is a positive campaign with positive policies."
Dickson has fallen into line with the policies of his new party.
In launching both One Nation's Queensland and Western Australian campaigns, Hanson focussed on a plan to ban the wearing of burqas.
"We're going to lead the way in Queensland, so no drivers' licenses wearing the burqa or anything like that," she told Sky News, though at present Australian law does not permit women to have drivers' licence photographs taken while wearing the burqa.
The party's website details a slew of policies targeted at Islam or Muslims, ranging from the banning of the construction of new mosques to the video surveillance of existing ones to Trump's own suspension of immigration from Muslim countries.
But it is the argument made in Hanson's policy statement that Islam is not a religion that Dorling says reveals much about how right-wing ideas are being transferred from the American right to the Australian.
"Islam sees itself as a theocracy, not a democracy. Islam does not believe in democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the press or freedom of assembly," reads the policy document in part.
"It does not separate religion and politics. Many believe that it is solely a religion, but the reality is that it is much more, for it has a political agenda that goes far outside the realm of religion. Islam regulates the Muslim's social and domestic life, their legal system and politics – their total life. Its religious aspect is fraud; it is rather a totalitarian political system, including legal, economic, social and military components, masquerading as a religion."
Dorling notes that though the idea that Islam is not a religion might be a "radically new proposition within Australian public life", it is an idea with a history among right-wing evangelical Christians in the US, where anti-Islamic sentiment rose after the September 11 attacks.
"As early as June 2007 the conservative American Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson told his national radio audience that 'we have to recognise that Islam is not a religion. It is a worldwide political movement meant on domination of the world'," Dorling writes in the Australia Institute paper.
"In April 2008 he broadcast that 'I want to say it again, and again, and again: Islam is not a religion, it is a political system meant on – bent on world domination, not a religion. It masquerades as a religion, but the religion covers a worldwide attempt to exercise power and to subjugate the world to their way of thinking'."
This line of reasoning can be found discussed Breitbart, the online news outlet that helped foster the alt-right movement, as the new white nationalist movement in America has been called. Breitbart's former chief executive is Steve Bannon, who now serves as the Trump's senior counsellor, having helped help run his election campaign and write his "America First" inauguration speech.
Dorling traces the intellectual history of the argument to back further to virulently anti-Islamic scholars and activists.
One is Iranian-born Canadian ex-Muslim activist Ali Sina, who argues that Islam is not a religion but rather "an unreformable, violent, militant political cult".
Sina has offered $50,000 to anyone who can disprove his charge that the prophet Muhammad was "a narcissist, a misogynist, a rapist, a paedophile, a lecher, a torturer, a mass murderer, a cult leader, an assassin, a terrorist, a madman and a looter".
Dorling quotes Sina's website: "I find the word 'Muslim' very derogatory and insulting. It is synonymous to stupid, barbarian, thug, arrogant, brain dead, zombie, hooligan, goon, shameless, savage and many other ignoble things. I don't know whether this most disgusting word elicits the same meanings in you or not. So when I want to show my despise [sic] of someone I call him 'Muslim'. But because Muslims are stupid, they don't know all these things and they are proud of this name. This is a win/win situation because I insult them and they are happy and thank me for it. Isn't that smart?"
Sina's writing has been quoted by Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders, who travelled to Australia last year to help launch the Australian anti-Islam party Australian Liberty Alliance.
Dorling traces similar ideas to Rebecca Bynum, publisher and managing editor of the British far-right New English Reviewand an otherwise obscure American former professor of engineering, Bill French, who writes under the name Bill Warner.
Kind of funny that Warner and I are portrayed as agreeing, though our fundamental approach to Islam differs. Warner says the religious aspects of Islam are irrelevant. I tackle Islam as a religion and argue that by theological comparison to other world religions and taking into account what we expect a religion to do for society, Islam should not be classified as a religion at all. Oh, and NER is neither far-right nor British.
Warner has published "statistical analyses" of the Koran and other Islamic texts to argue that Islam is "political, not religious. Islam is a political ideology."
The contention that one of the world's three great Abrahamic religions is not in fact a religion serves a specific purpose in the American context. It allows religious critics of Islam, such as the evangelical right, to argue that it should be stripped of constitutional protection extended to religious thought and expression in the US bill of rights.
Similarly in Australia, he writes: "One Nation seeks to deny Islam's status as a religion and thus deny Australian Muslims constitutional protection for their human rights of freedom of religion and belief."
The paper notes that when asked how the party established its position that Australia was at risk of being "swamped by Muslims", One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts told Channel 10's The Project: "We've got an adviser who goes into all of that called Frank Salter."
Salter is an Australian academic who undertook post-doctoral research at the former Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology in Germany. He contends that discrimination against ethnic minorities is an "inborn response" all humans have, Dorling writes.
"In his view monocultural societies are inherently 'fitter' than multicultural ones, and that ethnic diversity leads to corruption, weak public services and a decline in government institutions. South Africa's former apartheid regime is described as an example of 'aggressive social control' used to preserve the 'fitness' of society."
Both Salter and Hanson declined to be interviewed for this story.
Speaking with Fairfax Media, Dorling said the political purpose of One Nation's adoption of its stance on Islam was simple. Hanson, he said, launched her career by attacking Asians and Indigenous Australians. She is renewing her support by harnessing an international fear of terrorism linked to Islamic extremists.
But, says Dorling, the significance of the development is broader.
He notes that when One Nation first arose in Australia, Parliament House was not linked to the internet, Hanson had no political experience or brand and her ideas were not buoyed by an international movement.
All of that has changed, says Dorling, and today's One Nation is now an effective Australian portal to the ideas of a far-right that is surging in Europe and North America.
"The Trump administration is going to present [One Nation] with a slew of ideas, and the justification of applying the ideas and policies of the emerging Australian alt-right."
Donald Trump will be popular, and Canada will adapt
by Conrad Black
Not since the most tumultuous days of Vietnam and Watergate have American political people and events been so prevalent in the Canadian media. The election, formation, and entry into office of the Trump administration have provided much substantive news. But there has also been a good deal of the usual Canadian media’s condescensions to conservative American politicians and obsequious whitewashing of American liberal office-holders and seekers. The world fears strong American leaders, except when it needs them for their own protection.
Trump has capitalized brilliantly, before and since the election, on the fact that about two thirds of Americans don’t trust the media, and he has used social media and his powerful supporters in the talk-radio industry to counter, confront and overwhelm the sniggering, gibbering claque of the leftist Washington-New York-Los Angeles media and entertainment communities. The American media were part of the problem in not seriously highlighting the passive acceptance of the invasion of the country by 12 million unskilled alien foreigners and the toleration of decades of incompetence in public debt and the international balance of payments.
Canadian governments have not committed errors on this scale and the Canadian media have not been as sleepy and partisan as the Americans; as in most things, we have pursued a middle course. But the foreign media generally take their feed from their American analogues, and don’t realize that they are part of the opposition in the U.S., and have suffered a more severe defeat than the Democrats and the traditional Republicans.
The Canadian media have joined quite wholeheartedly in the pre-electoral chorus of abuse of Donald Trump, and as late as last week the CBC National News hauled in the 20 years-retired Pauline Neville-Jones, once of the British Foreign Office, to attest to the likely credibility of the source of the obscenely frivolous Golden Shower allegations (that Donald Trump had once commandeered a group-urination by prostitutes on a bed once slept in by the Obamas in a Moscow hotel). This scatological canard had drifted for months around the American media, and not even that rutting mink-farm of never-Trumpery would touch it until the scurrilous left-wing blog BuzzFeed picked it up and CNN then claimed it as a scoop that was the fruit of their immense journalistic enterprise. The CBC should have known better than to touch such rubbish, since all sources and supposed Russian contacts of the-then president-elect were anonymous. It was aberrant for the Canadian media to be so risqué, and so irresponsible.
More interesting than continuing lapses into Trump-alarmism on what used to be the character issue — all the bunk and hype about Trump being a sexist and racist and possibly a madman — which has evaporated as he forms his administration and starts to govern, is the awakening recognition of the impact of his presidency on Canada. First is the contrast between the energy with which he is moving to enact his rather radical program and the laid-back pace of the Trudeau government throughout its honeymoon of about a year.
The process of installing Trump’s cabinet members, which requires approval by the Senate, is being dragged out, but cannot be stopped in the teeth of the Republican majority, as he has named an Environment Protection Agency director who wants to dismantle the agency, apart from combatting pollution and promoting painless conservation; an Education secretary who wants to dispense with teachers’ unions, a Labor secretary who wants to protect the workers but decertify the unions, and an Energy secretary who wants to maximize oil and gas production and end the balance of payments deficit. Trump stormed to his narrow victory on a populist pitch focused on dealing with illegal immigration and disadvantageous trade agreements. In his first week he announced that the U.S would not join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and wished to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement, and ordered the beginning of the construction of a wall to assure the impermeability of the southwestern border, something that his numerous critics claimed was impossible. (It was never clear why they thought this — the Chinese Great Wall is 4,000 miles long and was built between the 3rd Century BC and the 17th Century. The concept is not challenging.)
At the same time, he has pitched straight to the traditional conservative and independent middle of the country by announcing the beginnings of health-care reform and nominating department heads who will so radically move to reverse the decline in public education, eliminate the importation of energy, something every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has advocated unsuccessfully, reduce taxes for middle and small income-earners and corporations, end the fiscal free lunch for Wall Street, and reform the manure-heap of campaign financing (as the only candidate in modern times who paid for his own campaign for his party’s nomination). He has a mandate to do all this and has the congressional majorities to put it through and has come out of the gate like a fire-engine. While it was greeted with hilarity or indifference at first, this whole plan of using a populist message to win the Republican primaries, mixing it with a conservative message to win the election, and moving to implement both pieces of his program at once at maximum speed, has been thought out carefully and is being executed with consummate skill.
The circumstances in which the Justin Trudeau government was elected and took office are as different as Canadian politics and sociology are from American. (It is a little-recognized fact that there isn’t much in common between the two countries except about half of their geography and the fact that the majority in both countries speak English.) At the start of the last Canadian election, Liberals were the third party for the first time in history. The polls had a post-dissolution flirtation with the NDP, but that party lost ground to the unambiguous federalists and separatists in Quebec, where it had tried to straddle, and took a node-dive on side-issues of commendable principle. The nine-year Harper government took the lead in the polls, but as fatigue with the incumbents grew, the failure to portray Trudeau as a pretty-faced air-head with a famous name but no capacity to lead floundered. The government was reduced to demagogy about preventing the arrival of “400,000 refugees from Syria” and Muslim female headgear at a couple of citizenship ceremonies, and the torch was fumbled on to the Liberals.
The great achievement of the incoming government was to prove that Justin Trudeau is a plausible prime minister, and he is. But there hasn’t been a very well-defined program. The Liberals have played a fairly artful game of making placatory noises to the environmental and First Nations militants without doing anything completely foolhardy where the militants would lead us into insane measures. But now the Prime Minister is reduced to saying that he was misunderstood when he spoke of “phasing out the oil sands,” and is being sand-bagged in the press when questioned about the unspeakable mismanagement of the energy sector, especially electricity, in Ontario by the provincial Liberals, the more astute of whom have made the life-saving jump to Ottawa.
Justin Trudeau is only the third Liberal leader after John Turner and Paul Martin not to enjoy a stacked deck of massive Liberal support in Quebec, since Edward Blake (who handed over to Wilfrid Laurier in 1887). The Liberals can’t win four out of five elections, as they did from 1921 to 2006 (18 out of 25 in fact, but 15 full terms to four for the Conservatives), all based on a strangle-hold on Quebec that Brian Mulroney ended, or a fragmented opposition that Stephen Harper ended. Trudeau’s re-election is not assured, though he should have an edge if the Conservatives revert to a unilingual leader whom 20 to 25 per cent of the people of the other official language group have to listen to through an interpreter. There will be plenty of time to assess the Conservative leadership race, but we now have the NDP Alberta premier Rachel Notley cheering President Trump’s revival of the Keystone pipeline, and a good deal of overdue Liberal back-pedaling and lane-changing on carbon use and trade.
There is nothing insane about the Trump program and it will be popular, and the administration is not a bit anti-Canadian; presumably, the customary adjustments to sea changes in Washington will be made. Where Trudeau had a honeymoon and didn’t use it, Donald emerged from so acrimonious and revolutionary a campaign that there is no honeymoon — it will come and the skirmishing will end when his program is enacted and seems to work.
Meanwhile, Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), Samuel L. Jackson, Lena Dunham (“Girls”), Neve Campbell (“House of Cards”), Natasha Lyonne (“Orange is the New Black”), Cher, Miley Cyrus, Barbra Streisand, Chelsea Handler, Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Keegan-Michael Key, George Lopez, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the reprobate posturer Al Sharpton, are among those Americans who promised to emigrate if Trump were elected, and most promised to come to Canada. Apart from Sharpton, it would be a more up-market intake than the anti-Vietnam War fugitives of 50 years ago, and they would add to our talent pool, but they seem not to be moving.
He’s one of a small army of I’m-A-Muslim-Ask-Me-Anything propagandists, moving about our land, attracting small groups of onlookers, and then posting his exchanges with them, which always end with a hug from a newly-enlightened non-Muslim, on YouTube. Here’s one treacly example.
The questions posed are usually of the most anodyne and simple-minded sort, but even these sometimes require a little prefabricated taqiyya, delivered in the most deeply sincere way. In order to make it easier for those who’d like to upset the applecart of these ambulatory propagandists, I’ve made a list of “anythings” that you might want to ask, should you run across one of these Ask-Me-Anything Muslims. Of course, there is always the possibility that once your interlocutor realizes that you actually know something about Islam, and taqiyya is out of the question, he might accuse you of being an “Islamophobe” not interested in “real dialogue,” and attempt to get those onlookers to take his side against you, the troublemaker. You have to be ready with sweetness-and-light, affecting an innocent goshdarnit I-just-want-to-know attitude, which may help, experience suggests, to keep the bystanders on your side and increasingly skeptical of the Ask-Me-Anything mountebank.
You should come prepared with a few dozen questions, to which you possess the answers, with the relevant supporting passages from the Qur’an or Hadith or Sira easily retrievable from your smartphone or notecards. Even though your Muslim interlocutor sees that you are well-prepared, he can’t cut you off right away; he’s got to let you ask at least a few anythings. He may try to find excuses to end the entire Q-and-A session, or at least to stop taking your questions. But that will make him look bad, which is precisely what you want. All of a sudden, the Muslim who made such a big deal about his openness shows himself unwilling to answer perfectly reasonable questions. Your goal is to rattle him, to get him to try to cut you off in front of others, who will then realize that this business of “Ask Me Anything” stops the minute anyone raises an unappetizing aspect of Islam. You’ve spoiled his game, no matter what he does.
Whether you make use of the list below or make up your own (fun for the whole family), you can share these lists with friends eager to do exactly what you’ve been doing, by making life difficult for any Ask-Me-Anything Muslim they might run across. And of course both you, and they, should have a videographer present to capture the discombobulation of the Ask-Me-Anything Muslim, so as to post it for all the world to see on YouTube.
Here’s that Starter Kit of Ask-Me-Anything Questions:
1. What is the meaning of Jihad?
2. Why are Christians and Jews required to pay the Jizyah to Muslims?
3. Why does it say in the Qur’an that Muslims should not take Christians and Jews as friends, for they are friends only with each other?
4. It says in the Qur’an that “there is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an 2.256). If there is no compulsion in religion, then why are people who leave Islam threatened with death?
5. Why did the Ayatollah Khomeini lower the marriageable age of girls to 9?
6. What is the surest way for a Muslim to get to Heaven?
7. Why did Muhammad attack the Jewish date farmers at the Khaybar Oasis?
8. How many wives did Muhammad have, and why was he allowed more than anyone else?
9. Did Muhammad own slaves?
10. Did Muhammad approve of slavery?
11. Why is Muhammad called the Perfect Man (“al-insan al-kamil”), and the Model of Conduct (“uswa hasana”)?
12. Exactly how many prisoners of the Banu Qurayza tribe were killed while Muhammad watched?
13. How many military expeditions did Muhammad take part in?
14. When, according to the Qur’an, is killing Infidels prohibited?
15. How did Muhammad react when he heard that Asma bint Marwan had been killed?
16. How did Muhammad react when he heard that a 120-year-old Jewish poet, Abu ‘Afak, had been killed?
17. How are non-Muslims described in the Qur’an? (see 98.6)
18. How are Muslims described in the Qur’an? (see 3.110)
19. Why do so many non-Arab Muslims take Arabic names?
20. When does the doctrine of “abrogation” (naskh) in Qur’anic interpretation apply?
21. Under what conditions can a Muslim man beat his wife?
22. What is the Muslim Heaven like?
23. When can a Muslim father punish his daughter without fear of being punished himself?
24. According to Islamic law, what must a Muslim husband do to be divorced from his wife?
25. Why is the testimony of a Muslim woman worth only half that of a Muslim man?
26. In what ways does Islam tend to favor Arabs over non-Arabs?
27. How did Islam spread all the way from the Hejaz to the Iberian peninsula?
28. Why did Muslims blow up the Bamiyan Buddhas?
29. Why did Muslims threaten to blow up a church in Bologna with a fresco depicting Muhammad?
30. Why have there been more than 30,000 terrorist attacks by Muslims since 9/11/2001?
31. Who was Kinana, and what did Muhammad order should be done with him?
32. Does Islam have a Golden Rule?
33. What is the doctrine of al-wala’ wal-bara’?
34. Why are there so many people in Pakistan named “Sayid”?
Fourteen people were arrested in Austria on Thursday as some 800 police investigating possible members of the jihadist group Islamic State carried out raids in Vienna and Graz, authorities said.
The raids however were not related to the arrest in Vienna last week of a 17-year-old suspected Islamist extremist, and investigators did not believe a terror attack was imminent, reports said.
Eight men were initially detained, including three Austrians "with a migration background", two Bosnians, a Syrian, a Bulgarian and a Macedonian, all aged between 21 and 49, a spokesman said. Four of the arrests were in Vienna and four in Graz.
A further three men and three women from the Balkans were later also arrested in Graz. Two of the women are wives of the male suspects, prosecutors said. Up to three Salafist hate preachers were among those arrested, whose ages range from 21 to 49.
Media reports said that as well as apartments, police also raided unofficial mosques, mostly in Graz. They also said the operation targeted individuals from the former Yugoslavia suspected of establishing a jihadist network in Austria.
The Kronen Zeitung tabloid reported that the raids focused on the network of a Muslim preacher from Bosnia who was jailed for 20 years last July in Graz for recruiting young fighters to the Islamic State group.
He was convicted last July for the promotion of jihad and the recruitment of more than 160 fighters for ISIS in Syria, and a bomb-making guide was found on his computer. Numerous speeches about jihad and extremism were uploaded to the internet, and the prosecutor’s office alleges he told a fellow extremist that "the blonde mouse, the Austrian, should be torn apart like a bag of crisps".
Two teens who were brainwashed to join barbaric ISIS in 2014, 17-year-old Samra Kesinovic and her schoolfriend Sabina Selimovic, 15, were the group's “pin-up poster girls” for jihad. Samra, one of the teenagers he recruited, is widely believed to have been killed by ISIS. She reportedly tried to escape several times after being passed around as a sex slave, a former prisoner claimed.
No tears, no fears, today or tomorrow. It was pleasing irony that British Prime Minister Theresa May on January 26, 2017, speaking in the city where the American colonies declared their independence from the mother country, heralded the opportunity to "renew the Special Relationship" between Britain and the United States in this new age. That renewed relationship, she argued, if enthusiasically overstated, can lead the world toward the promise of freedom and prosperity, and one of the greatest forces for progress the world has ever known,
For his part, in a symbolic gesture on his first working day, President Donald Trump brought back to the White House Oval Office the bust of Winston Churchill by Jacob Epstein that President Barack Obama had removed. It was an indication both that the two countries share historical memories, and that they can rely on each other and stand together.
In her speech on January 26 to Republican leaders in Philadelphia, May emphasized those historic links between the two countries as well as the economic and commercial ties, and political similarities. Speaking as a “fellow Conservative” May emphasized the similarities: the qualities and attributes include liberty, dignity of work, nationhood and national self-determination, patriotism, family values, and a democratic system. The two countries are bound by history, by family, by common interests, military, financial, cultural, and political factors.
The Special Relationship, started more than 70 years ago, indeed needs renewing. On May 11, 1953 in the House of Commons Winson Churchill, repeating what he had said to General de Gaulle on the eve of D Day in 1944, made plain British priorities. If Britain had to decide between Europe and the Open Sea it would always choose the Open Sea.
But in the post-World War II period the US, particularly as expressed by President Dwight Eisenhower, did not regard Britain as an equal or as a great or imperial power. In a cutting remark on December 5, 1962 at West Point, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, in debunking the Special Relaionship, remarked that Great Britain had lost an empire and had not yet found a role.
With Churchill back in the White House, the Special Relationship is bound to ignite. At the moment there does not appear to be any deep personal relationship between the incongruous pair who met in the White House on January 27, 2017. Yet it was a fruitful meeting between the exuberant 70 year old President, real estate mogul and television personality turned successful politician, and the less flamboyant 60 year old daughter of an Anglican vicar, who has held a number of government positions and who has been married to the same man since 1980. This does not appear to resemble the warm relationship that existed between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
Yet sometimes opposites attract. Even with the different personalities it was meaningful that Theresa May was the first world leader to meet with the President.
Her gifts to the President suggest better things to come. Though Trump is a non-drinker, the Prime Minister gave him a quaich, a Scottish drinking cup given to clan leaders in Highland chivalry as a sign of friendship and welcome. Trump after all did have a Scottish mother, and has two Scottish golf courses.
The Special Relationship has both political and economic implications. While other issues are important, May’s immediate concern is to lay the foundation for a trade deal with the US. This is a crucial part of May’s policy to see the future of Britain, after its exit (Brexit) from the EU, as a sovereign free nation able to form free trade agreements with countries throughout the world. Discussion of a free trade agreement between the US and UK was therefore central in her policy meeting with President Trump.
The US has a formidable investment in the UK, $5 billion of corporate assets, 22 % of total US corporate assets abroad. Britain is the largest foreign direct investor in the US. About a million jobs in US are said to depend on British companies based in the US. Companies in both countries are eager to trade in the other country. Yet there is assymetry. The US remains Britain's largest single trading partner, while the UK is only the 7th largest trading partner of the US.
For his part, Trump called Brexit a "great thing," and asserted that Britain had taken its country back. For May, the US and the UK would lead the world together in a variety of ways. It is clear that the Special Relationship is both uneven and subject to sharp differences. Those differences on NATO, climate change, Syria, sanctions on Russia, Iran, illustrate the problem and sometimes the inferior position of the UK. It was Jeremy Greenstock, UK Ambassador to the UN, who remarked that during the Iraq War "Britain was always sitting in the second carriage not in the engine room."
The two leaders are not idelogical soulmates, especially on the fundamental issue of protection or free trade. Trump appears, though it is not clear, to be a protectionist, while Prime Minister May advances free trade and a global Britain. But the two share similar views on the fight against Islamist terrorism, defense and security cooperation. Moreover, Trump who approverd of Brexit, has in a manner exactly opposite to former President Obama, stated that Britain would be at the front of the queue for a bilateral trade arangement.
This is significant even if it needs caution and time since no deal with can be signed until Britain formally leaves the EU. It is also important because Trump in his inaugural speech said that "from this day forward, it's going to be only American first." Yet the free trade deal, and more areas open to competition, is politically as well as economically important. One recent illustration of this is that UK bought US F-35 strike aircraft for UK aircraft carriers.
Of course there are issues on which the two countries will not immediately agree, but many important others in which the countries stand side by side. Both countries agree not only on the fight against ISIS but also on its ideology, Radical Islamist, behind it. And both countries agree on the importance of dealing with the problem of immigration and control of borders.
There is a symbolic relevant reminder of the Special Relationship. Prime Minister May sent President Trump a copy of the speech made on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1941 by Winston Churchill, whose mother was American, talking of his sense of unity and fraternal association with the United States. It would be admirable if Trump, born of a Scottish mother, reciprocates this feeling, and renews the Special Relationship in an ardent manner.
The other day I received an email from a schoolgirl in Moscow; New Year’s salutations, thanks for a gift, and a request that read:
“Get your troops out of Poland; love, your Russky niece.”
I laughed about her presumption about my influence on US troop movements. At the same time, I couldn’t help but think of her mother, Tatyana Arkadyevna Malkina, “the girlfriend of Russian democracy.” Apparently, true grit is genetic, that rare courage of a few to speak truth to power.
Malkina was the sole journalist who, at age 24, had the courage to defy the Kremlin establishment, recidivist coup plotters who would have undone the Russian elections, that “revolution without guns” in 1991; those Gorbachev, then Yeltsin, reforms. The ancien regime, totalitarian Communists, were humiliated by a girl who had the courage to face down the old guard and ask: “Could you please say whether or not you understand that last night you carried out a coup d’etat?”
Faced with an accusation of sedition and treason, the coup plotters slunk back into the dustbin of history. The long dark night of totalitarian Communism was over in Russia.
Since 1991, Tanya Malkina pursued a distinguished career in Russian arts and letters, reporting on social issues, editing a culture magazine, and hosting a thoughtful TV weekly.
Tanya later married an American. She now has two children, two cats, and a vintage tortoise. Although Malkina was once a fixture of the Yeltsin, then Putin, press entourage; she has never been a knee-jerk echo of Kremlin cant nor any party line.
Hot flashes of deja vu
The events of 1991 and Malkina’s brass got me to thinking about American coup plotting in Washington circa 2016; the efforts of Beltway establishment totalitarians to cook the primaries, undo an election, and discredit a new president; all under a smoke screen of dissent and fake news.
The parallels between Moscow in 1991 and Washington in 2016 are a tale of two coups, the first a clear failure and the latter still playing out.
Alas, the Trump revolution has no “girl friend of American democracy.” Not yet anyway.
The feminist American left now whines and protests in Washington, captive to a bimbo’s tantrum over a flawed heroine who lost badly in November. Sexist hysteria, hypocrisy, childish pique, misandry, and sour grapes are now regularly conflated with principled dissent. Geriatric Hollywood matrons like Madonna Ciccone say they are thinking about “blowing up the White House.”
Secret Service supervisor Kerry O’Grady says that she will “not take a bullet” for President Trump. Apparently no one at CIA and the Secret Service has heard of the Hatch Act.
Hysteria indeed! American feminists have few adult profiles in courage like Malkina today.
And the CIA, unlike the late KGB, also stages public rebukes to the new POTUS and erstwhile notions of American democracy. For good or ill, Russian intelligence operatives at home, unlike their American counterparts, seem to be under civilian control.
Ironically, some of the best political analysis on these matters comes out of the Kremlin these days. Sergei Lavrov, contrasted with John Kerry, seems to know the difference between an Islamic terrorist and a freedom fighter. And Vladimir Putin is perceptive enough to observe that Obama’s political party, and an American press corps that calls itself “democratic,” is giving democracy a bad name.
And when Obama’s intelligence sycophants are called out by Donald Trump for partisanship during the recent primaries and the election, CIA Director John Brennan plays the victim, openly attacking the president-elect before and after the inauguration. Prior to the election, Brennan’s colleagues, James Clapper (DCI), Michael Morrel (CIA), and Michael Hayden (NSA) were all on the hustings for Hillary Clinton right up to her November defeat.
Clearly, CIA is signaling the 15 other intelligence satraps, that the “dump Trump” campaign should continue into 2017. Brennan has cooked the books on the Islamic threat for eight years. Small wonder that he seeks to torpedo the realpolitik of Mike Flynn and Donald Trump.
CIA partisans, unlike Caesar’s wife, are not above reproach.
Washington, DC voted for Clinton in November by wide margins. A demographic of hostile federal apparatchiks, including intelligence officers and FBI agents, are digging in as Donald Trump takes office.
Beltway national security nabobs, inveterate regime change aficionados, are now on the wrong side of world history. With any luck, the coup plotters are also on the wrong side of Donald Trump – and in the crosshairs.
If the president intends to drain the swamp, he could do worse than start with sedition in the intelligence community and the Justice Department. The first great political struggle of 2017 may be with a partisan, DC based 5th column inside the Beltway.
The loser’s revolt is not confined to the intelligence community. State Department and Department of Defense fixers have done their level best to paint Trump into a corner at the UN and in Eastern Europe. That UN vote against Israel and those 11th hour tank deployments to Poland come to mind.
I do not have an answer for Malkina’s daughter, Agatha in Moscow, or her prescient observation about the stupidity of US tanks in Poland. Were it my choice to make, I would send troops to Chicago, Illinois or Langley, Virginia sooner than send them to the Russian frontier.
After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, John Kennedy is alleged to have expressed a desire to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces.” After Kennedy was assassinated, such sentiments were seconded by Harry Truman. Indeed, Truman expressed profound regret about the rogue agency he had created. The Truman warning, like later Eisenhower cautions, were early symptoms of national “security” corruption, clandestine cowboys, and regime change fiascos.
The Chicago threat is existential, especially to black Americans. Pervasive sedition in the American intelligence community may be existential too, especially to democracy in America. The Russian threat, at best, is a ploy to ignore the Islamist threat; Putin, on his worst day, is a US DOD budget emolument.
Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Truman must be rolling in their graves today.Trump haters, coup vultures, have come home to roost inside the Beltway.
As new American policy unfolds in 2017, let’s hope that Trump has adults calling domestic and foreign policy shots. Withal, we might hope that America finds its own girlfriend of democracy too.
Sooner is better.
G. Murphy Donovan is a former USAF intelligence officer who writes about the politics of national security. The “girlfriend of Russian democracy,” circa 1991, can be seen in action at:
Full Transcript of Theresa May's Speech in Philadelphia
Majority Leader McConnell, Mr Speaker, Distinguished Members of the Senate and Representatives of the House.
I would like to thank Congress and the Congressional Institute for the invitation to be here today. The opportunity to visit the United States is always special. And to be invited to be the first serving Head of Government to address this important conference is an honour indeed.
I defy any person to travel to this great country at any time and not to be inspired by its promise and its example.
For more than two centuries, the very idea of America – drawn from history and given written form in a small hall not far from here – has lit up the world.
That idea – that all are created equal and that all are born free – has never been surpassed in the long history of political thought.
And it is here – on the streets and in the halls of this great city of Philadelphia – that the founding fathers first set it down, that the textbook of freedom was written, and that this great nation that grew “from sea to shining sea” was born.
Since that day, it has been America’s destiny to bear the leadership of the free world and to carry that heavy responsibility on its shoulders. But my country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has been proud to share that burden and to walk alongside you at every stage.
For the past century, Britain and America – and the unique and special relationship that exists between us – have taken the idea conceived by those “fifty-six rank-and-file, ordinary citizens”, as President Reagan called them, forward. And because we have done so, time and again it is the relationship between us that has defined the modern world.
One hundred years ago this April, it was your intervention in the First World War that helped Britain, France, our friends in the Commonwealth and other allies to maintain freedom in Europe.
A little more than seventy-five years ago, you responded to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour by joining Britain in the Second World War and defeating fascism not just in the Pacific but in Africa and Europe too.
And later, in the aftermath of these wars, our two countries led the West through the Cold War, confronting communism and ultimately defeating it not just through military might, but by winning the war of ideas. And by proving that open, liberal, democratic societies will always defeat those that are closed, coercive and cruel.
But the leadership provided by our two countries through the Special Relationship has done more than win wars and overcome adversity. It made the modern world.
The institutions upon which that world relies were so often conceived or inspired by our two nations working together.
The United Nations – in need of reform, but vital still – has its foundations in the Special Relationship, from the original Declaration of St James’ Palace to the Declaration by United Nations, signed in Washington, and drafted themselves by Winston Churchill and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund, born in the post-war world at Bretton Woods, were conceived by our two nations working together.
And NATO – the cornerstone of the West’s defence – was established on the bonds of trust and mutual interests that exist between us.
Some of these organisations are in need of reform and renewal to make them relevant to our needs today. But we should be proud of the role our two nations – working in partnership – played in bringing them into being, and in bringing peace and prosperity to billions of people as a result.
Because it is through our actions over many years, working together to defeat evil or to open up the world, that we have been able to fulfil the promise of those who first spoke of the special nature of the relationship between us. The promise of freedom, liberty and the rights of man.
“We must never cease”, Churchill said, “to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law, find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence”.
So it is my honour and my privilege to stand before you today in this great city of Philadelphia to proclaim them again, to join hands as we pick up that mantle of leadership once more, to renew our Special Relationship and to recommit ourselves to the responsibility of leadership in the modern world.
And it is my honour and privilege to do so at this time, as dawn breaks on a new era of American renewal.
For I speak to you not just as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but as a fellow Conservative who believes in the same principles that underpin the agenda of your Party. The value of liberty. The dignity of work. The principles of nationhood, family, economic prudence, patriotism – and putting power in the hands of the people.
Principles instilled in me from a young age. Principles that my parents taught me in the vicarage in Southern England in which I was raised.
I know that it is these principles that you have put at the heart of your plan for government.
And your victory in these elections gives you the opportunity to put them at the heart of this new era of American renewal too.
President Trump’s victory – achieved in defiance of all the pundits and the polls – and rooted not in the corridors of Washington, but in the hopes and aspirations of working men and women across this land. Your Party’s victory in both the Congress and the Senate where you swept all before you, secured with great effort, and achieved with an important message of national renewal.
And because of this – because of what you have done together, because of that great victory you have won – America can be stronger, greater, and more confident in the years ahead.
And a newly emboldened, confident America is good for the world.
An America that is strong and prosperous at home is a nation that can lead abroad. But you cannot – and should not – do so alone. You have said that it is time for others to step up. And I agree.
Sovereign countries cannot outsource their security and prosperity to America. And they should not undermine the alliances that keep us strong by failing to step up and play their part.
This is something Britain has always understood. It is why Britain is the only country in the G20 – other than yours – to meet its commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence, and to invest 20% of that in upgrading equipment. It is why Britain is the only country in the G20 to spend 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development. It is why my first act as Prime Minister last year was to lead the debate in Parliament that ensured the renewal of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent. And it is why the Government I lead will increase spending on defence in every year of this Parliament.
It is why Britain is a leading member – alongside the United States – of the coalition working successfully to defeat Daesh; why we have agreed to send 800 troops to Estonia and Poland as part of NATO’s forward presence in eastern Europe; why we are increasing our troop contribution to NATO’s Resolute Support mission that defends the Afghan government from terrorism; and it is why we are reinforcing our commitment to peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, South Sudan and Somalia.
And it is why Britain is leading the way in pioneering international efforts to crack down on modern slavery - one of the great scourges of our world - wherever it is found. I hope you will join us in that cause – and I commend Senator Corker in particular for his work in this field. It is good to see him here today.
As Americans know, the United Kingdom is by instinct and history a great, global nation that recognises its responsibilities to the world.
And as we end our membership of the European Union – as the British people voted with determination and quiet resolve to do last year – we have the opportunity to reassert our belief in a confident, sovereign and Global Britain, ready to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.
We will build a new partnership with our friends in Europe. We are not turning our back on them, or on the interests and the values that we share. It remains overwhelmingly in our interests – and in those of the wider world – that the EU should succeed. And for as long as we remain members we will continue to play our full part, just as we will continue to cooperate on security, foreign policy and trade once we have left.
But we have chosen a different future for our country.
A future that sees us restore our parliamentary sovereignty and national self-determination, and to become even more global and internationalist in action and in spirit.
A future that sees us take back control of the things that matter to us – things like our national borders and immigration policy, and the way we decide and interpret our own laws - so that we are able to shape a better, more prosperous future for the working men and women of Britain.
A future that sees us step up with confidence to a new, even more internationalist role, where we meet our responsibilities to our friends and allies, champion the international cooperation and partnerships that project our values around the world, and continue to act as one of the strongest and most forceful advocates for business, free markets and free trade anywhere around the globe.
This is a vision of a future that my country can unite around – and that I hope your country, as our closest friend and ally, can welcome and support.
So as we rediscover our confidence together – as you renew your nation just as we renew ours – we have the opportunity – indeed the responsibility – to renew the Special Relationship for this new age. We have the opportunity to lead, together, again.
Because the world is passing through a period of change – and in response to that change we can either be passive bystanders, or we can take the opportunity once more to lead. And to lead together.
I believe it is in our national interest to do so. Because the world is increasingly marked by instability and threats that threaten to undermine our way of life and the very things that we hold dear.
The end of the Cold War did not give rise to a New World Order. It did not herald the End of History. It did not lead to a new age of peace, prosperity and predictability in world affairs.
For some – the citizens of Central and Eastern Europe in particular – it brought new freedom.
But across the world, ancient ethnic, religious and national rivalries – rivalries that had been frozen through the decades of the Cold War – returned.
New enemies of the West and our values – in particular in the form of Radical Islamists – have emerged.
And countries with little tradition of democracy, liberty and human rights – notably China and Russia – have grown more assertive in world affairs.
The rise of the Asian economies – China yes, but democratic allies like India too – is hugely welcome. Billions are being lifted out of poverty and new markets for our industries are opening up.
But these events – coming as they have at the same time as the financial crisis and its fall out, as well as a loss of confidence in the West following 9/11, the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and sporadic terrorist attacks – have led many to fear that, in this century, we will experience the eclipse of the West.
But there is nothing inevitable about that. Other countries may grow stronger. Big, populous countries may grow richer. And as they do so, they may start to embrace more fully our values of democracy and liberty.
But even if they do not, our interests will remain. Our values will endure. And the need to defend them and project them will be as important as ever.
So we – our two countries together – have a joint responsibility to lead. Because when others step up as we step back, it is bad for America, for Britain and the world.
It is in our interests – those of Britain and America together – to stand strong together to defend our values, our interests and the very ideas in which we believe.
This cannot mean a return to the failed policies of the past. The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over. But nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene. We must be strong, smart and hard-headed. And we must demonstrate the resolve necessary to stand up for our interests.
And whether it is the security of Israel in the Middle East or Estonia in the Baltic states, we must always stand up for our friends and allies in democratic countries that find themselves in tough neighbourhoods too.
We each have different political traditions. We will sometimes pursue different domestic policies. And there may be occasions on which we disagree. But the common values and interests that bring us together are hugely powerful.
And – as your foremost friend and ally – we support many of the priorities your government has laid out for America’s engagement with the world.
It is why I join you in your determination to take on and defeat Daesh and the ideology of Islamic extremism that inspires them and many others terrorist groups in the world today. It is in both of our national interests to do so. This will require us to use the intelligence provided by the finest security agencies in the world. And it will require the use of military might.
But it also demands a wider effort. Because one of the lessons of fighting terrorism in the last 15 years or so is yes, killing terrorists can save innocent lives. But until we kill the idea that drives them, the ideology, we will always have to live with this threat.
And as they are defeated on the ground, the terrorists are exploiting the internet and social media to spread this ideology that is preying on vulnerable citizens in our own countries, inspiring them to commit acts of terror in our own cities.
That is why the UK has led the world in developing a strategy for preventing violent extremism, and why the British and American governments are working together to take on and defeat the ideology of Islamist Extremism. I look forward to working with the President and his Administration to step up our efforts still further in order to defeat this evil ideology.
But of course, we should always be careful to distinguish between this extreme and hateful ideology, and the peaceful religion of Islam and the hundreds of millions of its adherents - including millions of our own citizens and those further afield who are so often the first victims of this ideology’s terror. And nor is it enough merely to focus on violent extremism. We need to address the whole spectrum of extremism, starting with the bigotry and hatred that can so often turn to violence.
Yet ultimately to defeat Daesh, we must employ all of the diplomatic means at our disposal. That means working internationally to secure a political solution in Syria and challenging the alliance between the Syrian regime and its backers in Tehran.
When it comes to Russia, as so often it is wise to turn to the example of President Reagan who - during negotiations with his opposite number Mikhail Gorbachev - used to abide by the adage “trust but verify”. With President Putin, my advice is to “engage but beware”.
There is nothing inevitable about conflict between Russia and the West. And nothing unavoidable about retreating to the days of the Cold War. But we should engage with Russia from a position of strength. And we should build the relationships, systems and processes that make cooperation more likely than conflict – and that, particularly after the illegal annexation of Crimea, give assurance to Russia’s neighbouring states that their security is not in question. We should not jeopardise the freedoms that President Reagan and Mrs Thatcher brought to Eastern Europe by accepting President Putin’s claim that it is now in his sphere of influence.
And progress on this issue would also help to secure another of this nation’s priorities – to reduce Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East.
This is a priority for the UK too as we support our allies in the Gulf States to push back against Iran’s aggressive efforts to build an arc of influence from Tehran through to the Mediterranean.
The nuclear deal with Iran was controversial. But it has neutralised the possibility of the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons for more than a decade. It has seen Iran remove 13,000 centrifuges together with associated infrastructure and eliminate its stock of 20% enriched uranium. That was vitally important for regional security. But the agreement must now be very carefully and rigorously policed – and any breaches should be dealt with firmly and immediately.
To deal with the threats of the modern world, we need to rebuild confidence in the institutions upon which we all rely.
In part that means multinational institutions. Because we know that so many of the threats we face today – global terrorism, climate change, and unprecedented mass movements of people – do not respect national borders. So we must turn towards those multinational institutions like the UN and NATO that encourage international cooperation and partnership.
But those multinational institutions need to work for the countries that formed them, and to serve the needs and interests of the people of those nations. They have no democratic mandate of their own. So I share your reform agenda and believe that, by working together, we can make those institutions more relevant and purposeful than they are today.
I call on others, therefore, to join us in that effort and to ensure they step up and contribute as they should. That is why I have encouraged Antonio Guterres, the new UN Secretary General, to pursue an ambitious reform programme, focusing the United Nations on its core functions of peacekeeping, conflict prevention and resolution. And it is why I have already raised with my fellow European leaders the need to deliver on their commitments to spend 2% of their GDP on defence – and 20% of their defence budgets on equipment.
It is also why I have already raised with Jens Stoltenberg – the Secretary General of NATO – the need to make sure the Alliance is as equipped to fight terrorism and cyber warfare, as it is to fight more conventional forms of war.
America’s leadership role in NATO – supported by Britain – must be the central element around which the Alliance is built. But alongside this continued commitment, I am also clear that EU nations must similarly step up to ensure this institution that provides the cornerstone of the West’s defence continues to be as effective as it can be.
Yet the most important institution is – and should always be – the nation state. Strong nations form strong institutions. And they form the basis of the international partnerships and cooperation that bring stability to our world.
Nations, accountable to their populations – “deriving” as the Declaration of Independence puts it “their just powers from the consent of the governed” – can choose to join international organisations, or not. They can choose to cooperate with others, or not. Choose to trade with others, or not.
Which is why if the countries of the European Union wish to integrate further, my view is that they should be free to do so. Because that is what they choose.
But Britain – as a sovereign nation with the same values but a different political and cultural history – has chosen to take a different path.
Because our history and culture is profoundly internationalist.
We are a European country – and proud of our shared European heritage – but we are also a country that has always looked beyond Europe to the wider world. We have ties of family, kinship and history to countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and countries across Africa, the Pacific and Caribbean.
And of course, we have ties of kinship, language and culture to these United States too. As Churchill put it, we “speak the same language, kneel at the same altars and, to a very large extent, pursue the same ideals”.
And, today, increasingly we have strong economic, commercial, defence and political relationships as well.
So I am delighted that the new Administration has made a trade agreement between our countries one of its earliest priorities. A new trade deal between Britain and America must work for both sides and serve both of our national interests. It must help to grow our respective economies and to provide the high-skilled, high-paid jobs of the future for working people across America and across the UK.
And it must work for those who have too often felt left behind by the forces of globalisation. People, often those on modest incomes living in relatively rich countries like our own, who feel that the global system of free markets and free trade is simply not working for them in its current form.
Such a deal – allied to the reforms we are making to our own economy to ensure wealth and opportunity is spread across our land – can demonstrate to those who feel locked out and left behind that free markets, free economies and free trade can deliver the brighter future they need. And it can maintain – indeed it can build – support for the rules-based international system on which the stability of our world continues to rely.
The UK is already America’s fifth largest export destination, while your markets account for almost a fifth of global exports from our shores. Exports to the UK from this State of Pennsylvania alone account for more than $2 billion a year. The UK is the largest market in the EU – and the third largest market in the world – for exporters here.
America is the largest single destination for UK outward investment and the single largest investor in the UK. And your companies are investing or expanding in the UK at a rate of more than ten projects a week.
British companies employ people in every US state from Texas to Vermont. And the UK-US Defence relationship is the broadest, deepest and most advanced of any two countries, sharing military hardware and expertise. And of course, we have recently invested in the new F-35 strike aircraft for our new aircraft carriers that will secure our naval presence – and increase our ability to project our power around the world – for years to come.
Because of these strong economic and commercial links – and our shared history and the strength of our relationship – I look forward to pursuing talks with the new Administration about a new UK/US Free Trade Agreement in the coming months. It will take detailed work, but we welcome your openness to those discussions and hope we can make progress so that the new, Global Britain that emerges after Brexit is even better equipped to take its place confidently in the world.
Such an agreement would see us taking that next step in the special relationship that exists between us. Cementing and affirming one of the greatest forces for progress this world has ever known.
Seventy years ago in 1946, Churchill proposed a new phase in this relationship – to win a Cold War that many had not even realised had started. He described how an iron curtain had fallen from the Baltic to the Adriatic, covering all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe: Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Sofia and Bucharest.
Today those great cities – homes of great culture and heritage – live in freedom and peace. And they do so because of the leadership of Britain and America, and of Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan.
They do so - ultimately - because our ideas will always prevail.
And they do so because, when the world demands leadership, it is this alliance of values and interests – this Special Relationship between two countries – that, to borrow the words of another great American statesman, enters the arena, with our faces marred by dust and sweat and blood, to strive valiantly and know the triumph of high achievement.
As we renew the promise of our nations to make them stronger at home – in the words of President Reagan as the “sleeping giant stirs” – so let us renew the relationship that can lead the world towards the promise of freedom and prosperity marked out in parchment by those ordinary citizens 240 years ago.
So that we may not be counted with the “cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat”, but with those who “strive to do the deeds” that will lead us to a better world.
That better future is within reach. Together, we can build it.
The British National Health Service Is in Crisis: What Else Is New?
by Theodore Dalrymple
One of the most curious political phenomena of the western world is the indestructible affection in which the British hold their National Health Service. No argument, no criticism, no evidence can diminish, let alone destroy, it. The only permissible criticism of it is that the government does not spend enough on it, a ‘meanness’ (with other people’s money) to which all the service’s shortcomings are attributable. In effect, the NHS is the national religion. Yet again, however, the NHS is in ‘crisis.’ The British Red Cross has called the present situation an incipient humanitarian crisis, as if the country were now more or less in the same category as Haiti after a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster. The Red Cross says that it had been asked to help out at twenty hospitals. NHS crises, which are an inability to meet demand without prolonged and sometimes fatal waiting times (three patients died last week alone while waiting in the corridors of my local hospital), occur regularly, indeed monotonously so. I cannot remember a time without them. Conditions during these crises, including the present one, are regularly reported to be the worst within living memory, which suggests as much a failure of memory as any change in the system itself. For example, I remember a friend’s father being taken to hospital with renal colic and waiting for several hours for attention: and that was forty-five years ago. No one was surprised by it then, as no one would be surprised by it now. The current NHS has a budget 50 per cent greater than it had 10 years ago. It employs 25 per cent more doctors than it did then. It seems to me likely that these increases outstrip any increase in demand during that period, but the net result, according to those who say the present situation is the worst ever, is that it is less able than ever before to perform satisfactorily its most elementary tasks such as treating emergencies promptly. The excuse that demand has escalated is, in fact, in contradiction to one of the now-forgotten founding justifications of the NHS back in 1948: namely that universal healthcare paid for from general taxation, and free at the point of use, would so improve the health of the population that its cost would soon fall rapidly. This, of course, now seems astonishingly naïve, but perhaps the founders may be excused for not having foreseen the immense technical and technological progress of medicine, as well as the increase in longevity, that would drive up costs of healthcare everywhere in the world. Almost certainly, they haven’t finished rising yet. Very quickly after its inception, the NHS established itself as a sacred cow in the mind of the British population. A certain historiography of healthcare became an unassailable orthodoxy: that before the service was established, proper healthcare was not available for the majority of the population which, if it was treated at all, was maltreated. Memoirs of cruelty and neglect under the old system were written, no doubt all of them true or mostly true, for under any conceivable system there will be horror stories. Similar stories could be written after the inception of the service, of course, but somehow they rarely get the traction of the older stories and are treated as regrettable anomalies, as not being representative in the way the old horror stories were representative. The NHS was founded in the great egalitarian aftermath of the Second World War, when a brave new equal world would arise from the ashes of the old. If healthcare were provided to everyone irrespective of his ability to pay, on a foundation of a highly progressive tax system, how could the system fail to be egalitarian? It was its egalitarianism that appealed so strongly to the population. Perhaps there was also the hope that one would get more out of it than one had put into it, that it was a kind of lottery with a much higher chance of a winning ticket than in a normal lottery. Oddly enough, however, and unnoticed by the population or by the NHS’s ideological praise-singers, the NHS had no egalitarian effect, rather the opposite. The difference between the health of the top economic decile of the population and that of the bottom decile, which had been more or less steady for decades, began to widen immediately. Curiously enough, this widening accelerated precisely at a time when most money was spent on the system. The difference in the standard mortality rate of the richest and poorest is now almost double what it was when the NHS began. Now of course, this widening of the difference may not be the fault of the NHS: the health of a population is only partially dependent on its healthcare system. For example, it has been estimated that as much as a half of the difference in life expectancy of the richest and poorest may be attributed to differences in the rate of smoking. But the health of the two deciles, top and bottom, began to diverge even before their smoking habits did so. At the very least, the NHS cannot be said to have had an egalitarian effect. But the myth that it is egalitarian lives on, perhaps because it appears to spread its inconveniences over the entire population equally (but only appears to do so – the reality is very different). Another myth that persists among the British is that foreigners somehow envy them their health service, which might just be true in Nigeria but is certainly not true of any European anyone has ever met. On the contrary, the NHS has a dismal reputation among all Western Europeans and its hospitals are to be avoided like night-time excursions in Dracula country. Very occasionally, support for the mythology comes from elsewhere in the world and is given wide publicity. For example, in 2014 the Commonwealth Fund of New York, a foundation whose purpose is to promote an effective, efficient and equitable health care system, published a report in which it compared 11 western health care systems. According to the report, the British NHS was best on all measures except one, in which it was the worst apart from the US system. The measure on which it was next to worst was the number of deaths preventable by health care. On every other measure it was simply splendid: but this rather reminded me of the Nineteenth Century surgeon’s refrain, ‘The operation was a success, but the patient died.’ No doubt it is naïve of me, but the prevention of preventable deaths seems to me the whole, or at least the most important, purpose of a health care system. If it fails in that, it fails in everything. Nonetheless, when the report was published a lot of publicity was given to the fact that the NHS came out top on the majority of measures. The fact (or perhaps I should say the estimate, for facts are never quite indisputable in this field) that thousands of people die every year in Britain who would have been saved in any other country in Europe simply did not register, any more than that repeated scandals in the Health Service destroy the national affection for it. The response to the report of the Commonwealth Fund’s report reminded me very strongly of an old Soviet joke. A commissar is giving ideological training to the troops when one soldier puts up his hand and asks, ‘Comrade Commissar, is it true that in the United States they have more cars than we in the Soviet Union?’ The commissar thinks for a moment and replies, ‘Yes, comrade, it is true; but we in the Soviet Union have more parking spaces.’
Sweden, even by European standards, is a curious country. I have visited the country three times and for 20 or so years have dabbled at learning the language. Scandinavia is (or was) a fantastic region in Europe, beautiful, clean and orderly. That has all changed now at least in the larger cities. While Denmark and Norway are also struggling with the massive influx of migrants and refuge seekers from the Middle East and North Africa, Sweden has the worst problem of all of them. It is mostly their own doing. Long having considered themselves a liberal paradise full of welfare and social benefits, Sweden decided it was too homogeneous and in need of immigrants from the third world. The results have been disastrous as thousands upon thousands of unassimilated migrants and now asylum-seekers have poured in and made the streets unsafe.
Every student of history knows that Sweden sat out World War II. Rather than invade Sweden, Hitler decided to use it. The Swedes allowed the German military to transit their territory to and from occupied Norway-which the Norwegians have never forgotten. True, Swedish diplomats like Folke Bernadotte and Raoul Wallenberg distinguished themselves by saving lives in the closing months of the war, and Sweden received smuggled Danish Jews saving them from Hitler's death camps, but Swedish neutrality is still a subject of debate among Swedes.
During the post war era, Sweden developed itself into a liberal welfare society while taking shots at the US for its perceived human rights failures and involvement in the Vietnam war. The country became a place of refuge for US military deserters and draft dodgers. Prime Minister Olaf Palme was a fierce critic of the US. He was assassinated while still in office in broad daylight without any bodyguards. Today, his killer has still yet to be caught or even identified.
Many of the Danish Jews who landed in Sweden during the war settled in their port of disembarkation, Malmö, the third largest city in the country and right across the straight from Copenhagen. Today, that once vibrant community is dwindling due to the hostile environment caused by the Muslim immigrant community, which now makes up about 25% of the city's population and is largely concentrated in the Rosengård section, a notorious "no-go" zone where crime and riots have taken over. The city's ex-mayor Ilmar Reepalu, a fierce Israel critic, was openly antagonistic to the Jews of his city because of his perception that they were not critical of Israel. He invited them to leave if they were not happy. And leave they have. The same is true of Stockholm and Gothenburg. Just this week, a young Swedish Jew from Gothenburg wrote an open letter to the foreign minister, Margot Wallström, explaining why he was emigrating to Israel. There are now an estimated 15,000 Jews left in Sweden. Wallström, like most in the Swedish government, is openly hostile to Israel. In fact, aside from the government, Sweden has more NGOs dedicated to working against the Jewish state than any other European country.
Meanwhile, Sweden is now known as the rape capital of Europe, a fact driven home again days ago when three armed Middle Easterners were arrested in the act of gang raping a young Swedish woman and live-streaming it on Facebook for three hours.
Like most other European countries, Sweden tries to keep its citizens ignorant about just who is making the country so unsafe. They try to keep the identity of rapists and murderers secret lest the natives develop negative attitudes toward the foreigners-as if they already haven't. Newspapers and police describe the perpetrators as "youth".
Up to this point, the current Swedish government has yet to learn its lesson about what is happening to its country. While they have gained the "diversity" they wanted, it has been at great cost in public safety and increased welfare costs. Though there has been a small tightening up of admittance procedures, the problem persists.
The only glimmer of hope seems to lie in the Sweden Democrats party under the leadership of Jimmie Åkesson, a young and charismatic politician who is part of the new wave of conservative leaders trying to put a stop to the madness that prevails in Europe. Whether they can take power in traditionally liberal Sweden remains to be seen.
It is easy to feel sorry for the Swedish people, but on the other hand, it is a clear case of the chickens coming home to roost. They are knowingly trading their productive Jewish community (mostly from Malmö, the city that once gave them refuge) in exchange for a rapidly growing community of the same people who are driving the Jews out-restive and unassimilated Muslims, who have no regard for the society they chose to immigrate to. So to Sweden I say, "Enjoy the trade-off". For me, I wonder why I ever bothered to try and learn the language.
Facing Future Wars: Ancient Lessons on Strategy for President Trump
by Louis René Beres
“For by wise counsel, thou shalt make thy war.” (Proverbs)
President Trump comes into office with a clear determination to “win” all ongoing and future American wars. Nothing unusual about this. After all, such determination seems plainly ordinary, traditional, even indisputable.
Upon closer reflection, however, it becomes evident that the standard criteria of victory and defeat may already have become effectively meaningless in certain expected strategic circumstances, and also that there are some important lessons to be learned about this significant transformation from the ancient world.
More precisely, therefore, here is what the new President needs to understand. Whether the United States will ultimately “win” or “lose” in current theaters of military operation, or in any other future arenas of conflict, the core vulnerability of American cities to both mass-destruction terrorism and ballistic missile attack could plausibly remain unaffected. Already, major Jihadist training and planning areas are shifting to include such far-flung places as Mali, Sudan, Bangladesh, Yemen, and even Chechnya.
Shall Mr. Trump plan to send US forces there as well, in order to “win?”
In part, at least, the times have changed with regard to the security implications of any conceivable military victory or defeat. At Thermopylae, we may learn from Herodotus, the Greeks suffered a stunning defeat in 480 BCE. What happened next is a conceptual “benchmark” for understanding where we are today. It should be duly noted by our senior military policy planners.
Then, Persian King Xerxes could not even begin to contemplate the destruction of Athens until he had first secured a decisive military victory. Only after the Persian defeat of Spartan King Leonidas, and his defending forces, could the Athenians be forced to abandon Attica. Transporting themselves to the island of Salamis, the Greeks would then bear tragic witness to the Persians triumphantly burning their houses, and destroying their temples.
Why should this ancient Greek tragedy still be meaningful for our new president and his advisors? Here is the chief answer. Until the actual onset of our nuclear era, states, city-states, and empires were essentially safe from homeland destruction unless their armies had already been defeated. To be sure, some national homeland vulnerabilities arose even earlier together with air power and air war, but these would generally still require “official” penetrations by a national enemy air force.
Before 1945, in war, a capacity to destroy had always required an antecedent capacity to win. Without a prior victory, intended aggressions could never really amount to much more than expressions of military intentions. Moreover, in August 1945, a non-aggressor United States was able to inflict absolutely unimaginable nuclear destruction upon Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki without first defeating the Japanese armed forces.
Indeed, bringing about such a final military defeat was precisely the consuming rationale of these two atomic strikes. Then, in a stark inversion of what had been sought at Thermopylae, the American objective had been to kill large numbers of enemy noncombatants in order to effectively prod the surrender of Japanese armies.
In essence, from the standpoint of ensuring any one state’s national survival, the “classical” goal of defeating an enemy army and preventing a military defeat has already become a secondary objective. After all, what can be the cumulative benefits of waging a “successful” war if the pertinent enemy should still maintain an effectively undiminished capacity to harm? In this connection, a consequential enemy of the United States today could be a state, a sub-state terror group, or myriad forms of a “hybrid” (state, sub-state) coalition.
For President Trump and his defense planners, the deeply complex strategic implications of this genuinely transforming development – a revolutionary development in warfare – are tangibly far-reaching, and thus manifestly worth examining. Intellectually, any such examination must always proceed dialectically, according to principles of reasoning first unraveled by Plato in Philebus, Phaedo, and the Republic. Accordingly, the task here is to ask and answer key questions, continuously, unhesitatingly, through thesis and antithesis, to an always-tentative but still needed “solution.”
Now, back to ancient history, from ancient philosophy. After suppressing revolts in Egypt and Babylonia, Xerxes was finally able to prepare for the conquest of Greece. In 480 B.C.E., the Greeks decided to make their final defense at Thermopylae. This specific site was chosen because it offered what modern military commanders would call “good ground.”
This was a narrow pass between cliffs and the sea, a geographically reassuring place where relatively small numbers of resolute troops could presumably hold back a very large army. For a time, Leonidas, the Spartan king, was able to defend the pass with only about 7000 men (including some 300 Spartans). But in the end, by August, Thermopylae had become the site of a great and distinctly memorable Persian victory.
For those countries currently in the crosshairs of a determined Jihad, and this includes the United States, Israel, and at least certain major states of Europe, there is no real need to worry about suffering a contemporary Thermopylae. There is, however, considerable irony to such an alleged “freedom from worry.” After all, from our present American vantage point, preventing any form of classical military defeat can no longer assure our safety from either mega-aggression or mega-terrorism.
This means, inter alia, that the United States might now be perfectly capable of warding off any calculable defeat of its military forces, and perhaps even of winning some more-or-less identifiable military victories, but in the end, may still have to face extensive or even existential harms.
Ultimately, Mr. Trump’s senior defense planners must inquire, what does this mean for our principal enemies? From this adversarial point of view, it is no longer necessary to actually win any war, or – in fact – to win even any particular military engagement. Our enemies needn’t necessarily figure out complex land or naval warfare strategies; in the main, they likely well understand, they don’t have to triumph at “Thermopylae” in order to burn “Athens.”
For our most focused enemies – state, sub-state and hybrid – there is really no longer any reason to work out what armies typically call “force multipliers,” or to calculate any optimal “correlation of forces.” Today, whatever our own selected “order of battle,” these disparate enemies could possibly wreak varying levels of harm upon us without first eliminating or even weakening our armies and navies. In some respects, at least, still seemingly critical war outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan may could turn out to be largely beside the point.
What are the vital lessons of all this thinking for Mr. Trump? To date, we have not necessarily done anything wrong. Rather, our national vulnerabilities generally represent the natural by-product of constantly evolving military and terrorist technologies. We must, of course, do whatever possible to ensure that useful technological breakthroughs are regularly made on our side, but such required efforts can also carry no ironclad guarantees of perpetual success.
Rapid technological evolution in warfare can never be stopped or reversed. On the contrary, our current vulnerabilities in the absence of any prior military defeats may “simply” represent a resolute and intransigent fact of strategic life, a fully irreversible development that must soon be duly acknowledged, and then continually countered.
To ensure that these vulnerabilities remain safely below any insufferable existential threshold – by definition, an indispensable goal – the United States will soon have to refine a complex combat orthodoxy involving advanced integration of all deterrence, preemption, and war-fighting options, together with certain bold new ideas for more productive international alignments. Naturally, President Trump will also have to take a fresh and expansive look at viable arrangements for both active and passive defenses, and at all corollary and intersecting preparations for more effective cyber-defense and cyber-war.
In crucial matters of war and peace, our new president must soon acknowledge, there can be nothing more practical than a well thought out and appropriately nuanced strategic theory. Immediately, therefore, he must learn to face the stubborn fact that our always-fragile American civilization could sometime be made to suffer, and perhaps even offer a humiliating obeisance to certain significant adversaries, without first going down to any traditional forms of national military defeat. This will be a difficult lesson for us to learn, especially for President Donald J. Trump, but the alternative could cause the United States to allocate scarce military resources according to basically misconceived operational objectives.
Going forward, this sort of misallocation could prove unacceptably perilous for the United States. In facing future wars, strategic theory will be an indispensable “net.” Only an American president who chooses to “cast,” therefore, can expect to “catch.”
It took a jury six hours to return a unnanimous verdict this afternoon, convicting five men of 21 offences relating to the sexual exploitation of two young girls that took place in the Eastwood area of Rotherham between 1999 and 2001. Three of the men - Basharat, Nassar and Tayab Dad - involved in the gang are brothers.
Judge Sarah Wright has adjourned the case until February 2, when all five men will be sentenced.
During the three-week long trial at Sheffield Crown Court, the jury heard evidence from both victims that detailed the sexual abuse and exploitation they suffered at the hands of the child abuse gang.
THE ROLE AND CONVICTION OF EACH DEFENDANT:
- Tayab Dad of St Lawrence Road, Tinsley, Sheffield, rape.
- Basharat Dad, 31, of Eldon Road, Rotherham, six counts of rape, five counts of indecent assault, two counts of sexual intercourse with a girl under 13.
- Nassar Dad, 35, of Cranworth Road, Rotherham, has been convicted of two counts of rape, two counts of sexual intercourse with a girl under 13, one count of inciting indecency with a child.
- Nassar and Basharat Dad have been jointly convicted of false imprisonment.
- Nassar Dad was acquitted of one charge of rape and one charge of inciting indecency with a child
Pictured top row left to right: Tayab Dad, Nasar Dad, Basharat Dad
Bottom row left to right: Matloob Hussain, Mohammed Sadiq, Amjad Ali
Why I want to head the National Endowment for the Arts
by Richard Kostelanetz
Having received from the National Endowment for the Arts the whopping sum of ten (yes, ten) individual grants between 1976 and 1991, I feel a certain obligation to give back, as we say. If we accept the principle that cultural funding should make happen what would not otherwise occur, we’d agree that some of these grants to me were worth public funds.
One, from the Visual Arts Program for “services,” enabled me to prepare an anthology of American sound poetry that, once finished, was accepted for publication as Text-Sound Texts (William Morrow, 1980). This book is still regarded as classic. Another grant from the NEA Visual Arts department supported my book-art, which I continue to this day. In this latter genre I subsequently produced work distinguished enough to be acknowledged in critical histories of the genre.
From the Media Arts program of the NEA, I received a grant to compose a radio program of and about the sound of the language of prayer. Invocations (1981, 1984) was later broadcast around the world before becoming a lp record still in print, now as a cd, from Folkways-Smithsonian. One hour long, elaborately produced, Invocations has been acknowledged in some critical histories of contemporary electronic music. Another Media Arts grant supported another hour-long audiotape of and about the sound of New York City. It too was broadcast by public stations around the world, initially as part of the Metropolis series at Westdeutscher Rundfunk.
My NEA-funded audio fugues about the first two books of the New Testament, The Gospels and Die Evangelien (both 1984), likewise had a distinguished history. Whereas the latter was broadcast and then rebroadcast over German and Swiss-German radio station, the former became a cd that the renowned art collector Peter Norton distributed as his Christmas gift in 1990. Another NEA grant supported the composition of Americas’ Game–another hour-long electro-acoustic composition of and about the sound of baseball; but it, to my surprise, has less public history.
As none of these works would have happened without NEA support, I remain indebted. Over the past three decades I’ve also written critically of the NEA, mostly of its literature program. Need I add that no previous chairman of the NEA ever received a single grant prior to assuming the position; none had ever published criticism of its operations or its results. Indeed, more than one chairman seemed barely familiar with how the NEA worked, let alone what it had done and thus could do.
While a few stupid foolish grants two decades ago provoked Congressional ire, the NEA survived, only to become, however, increasingly invisible and inconsequential, unfortunately and unnecessarily. One reason is that the individual grants (like the ones I’ve received) were abolished in all departments except literature, oddly. This absence presently denies younger artists (people like myself three decades ago) opportunities that might otherwise be realized. An admonitory history of its decline could be written; but since the NEA has become so invisible, may I doubt if it would be published and thus doubt if it would ever be written, certainly not without support from a donor expecting benefits.
Much as Donald Trump would like “to make America great again,” so would I like to do likewise by the increasingly decrepit NEA. Were I its chairman, I would simply encourage on every level the support of excellence, greatness, and the best. Given the importance of those key values for the survival of art in any culture, all other claims should be set aside, especially when some of them, say on behalf of legitimate social minorities, are better served by other government agencies.
On behalf of these principles of excellence, greatness, and best, I would try to conduct every judicial meeting possibly open to me if only to repeat those crucial principles to everyone within earshot–administrators as well as panelists. On behalf of the best in American culture, a leader must instill direction and encourage cultural class, which have been two qualities recently absent at the NEA.
Years ago, certain self-defined activists spoke of “culture wars,” usually on behalf of one or another supposedly disadvantaged social interest. By rejecting grants that the panels had legitimately awarded, the NEA chiefs stupidly gave some second-rate artists an opportunity for more publicity than they deserved, eventually to the detriment of the NEA. (I would joke with colleagues that flacking for lousy artists was not appropriate for the NEA.)
However, in truth, in the history of art, especially in America, the only true and continuing conflict has been between excellence and its enemies. Now that the distribution of culture has become ever more commercialized, to the unfortunate neglect of excellence that is often lost, public funding should focus upon supporting the highest noncommercial quality, again making happen valuable work that would not otherwise happen, as it did for me. The enemy is censorship by commerce, which is no more acceptable than censorship by any state. While the first is obvious and readily exposed, the results of the second are hidden and thus its social costs less obvious.
Simply, with this goal of making the NEA great again clearly in mind, the NEA would benefit from a leader with a history of advocating excellence and nothing less. My record on this level is strong, dating back to the anthology On Contemporary Literature (1964, 1969) and including American Writing Today, which I organized in the early 1980s for the Voice of America, among other books since. If not me, perhaps someone else similarly working at the highest cultural levels. Need I add that giving the job to sometime movie stars, producers of commercial art, veteran cultural bureaucrats, political hacks, or retired military pros probably won’t turn around the NEA.
First of all, I would restore the individual grants. Even if the NEA was designed by Nelson Rockefeller to subsidize large institutions controlled by rich people (like himself)–literally to socialize their costs–support for new work by strong individuals gave the NEA credibility within the arts community.
Secondly, I would recommend that panelists in various departments be appointed to serve for six years, much as the NEA Counselors are. The recurring problems when panelists serve only for one year, particularly in the literature department, is that they tend to reward their students-lovers-protégées before safely returning home, Transient panelists thus accounting for the sense, particularly in the NEA literature fellowships, that the winners appear to be those supplicants that senior people like best.
Having been the victim of NEA administrative high-handedness (that I’ve exposed in print), I would want to examine personally the exclusion of every applicant disqualified by the staff.
I would question applications from the grants hustlers, as I call institutions that exist primarily to solicit public funds without much public produce, let alone much visible excellence.
Given the increasing presence of writing in Spanish in the US, some of it very good, I would also rule that the literature program could accept applications in Spanish, with or without English translations, in Americas’ other language, which was incidentally spoken by my own maternal grandparents.
If this move is successful, the NEA should consider supporting American literature in yet other languages, such as Russian (spoken by my paternal grandparents) and French (favored between both sets of my grandparents). One historic truth that should be recognized by the NEA is that many great books were written in the United States in languages other than English.
The commitment to the best notwithstanding, I would also support the establishments of website in which every writer, every artist, and every composer, say, satisfying minimal standards of professional seriousness, could make publicly available a self-chosen sample of his or her work along with a statement of intentions; so that any colleague or possible sponsor could quickly glean basic information. These individual web pages could also be indexed to facilitate connecting American artists to possible audiences and sponsors.
I would reverse certain policies, some of them imposed a dozen years ago, to make NEA more superficially “acceptable” to newspaper writers and Congresspeople. One unfortunate move changed the preference in film documentaries from those more likely to be artistically excellent (and this remembered by discriminating people) to those more likely to be broadcast over public television, where the lifespan of most new documentaries is only a little longer than Hollywood’s.
My favorite bête noir was the NEA’s support Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home (2005), which was produced from interviews and other footage supplied by Bob Dylan’s manager Jeff Rosen. I cannot think of a distinguished arts documentary in history in which the subject controlled so much, even if a celebrated film impresario–literally, a brand-name–took credit as “director.” Controlled publicity is what hired flacks do.
I would also discourage support of such secondary cultural activities as the distribution of books already published or, say, the teaching classic English literature here. Support for performing Shakespeare in American high schools should, in my judgment, be the job of the British external cultural agency, much as the dissemination of American literature abroad has been a function of the USIA (for which I once organized American Writing Today ). Certain efforts, though intrinsically laudable, really belong to other federal agencies that are better funded. The NEA should not be in the biz of either educational enhancement or social affirmative actions; both are distractions from any effort to make great again its efforts toward American excellence.
On the wall of my NEA would be three icons. The first would honor Nancy Hanks, whose name already graces the NEA office building, because she realized that an American arts agency should support artists as well as institutions, her friend Nelson’s designs notwithstanding. This is the practice is nearly all other first-world countries, if not the measure of a first-world culture, beginning with our next-door neighbor Canada. I know because my work received support there and in Germany and Sweden for three. Only an American-hating subversive would want the USA to be culturally less than first-world.
My second hero is Brian O’Doherty, an Irish artist and writer long resident in America. Previously a critic and editor of art magazines who’d also published books, he headed first the visual arts program and then media arts from the 1970s into the 1990s. In the former O’Doherty typically instituted more sophisticated arts categories for individual fellowships that acknowledged more than painting and sculpture (such as book-art and artists’ services, both of which rewarded me). By contrast, say, in the literature program, to the traditional categories of poetry and prose has been added only translation. Credit O’Doherty also with initiating NEA support of art in public places which incidentally made NEA’s name permanently visible across the country. He understood profoundly what a government cultural agency could do, again making happen excellence that otherwise would not be.
For his second position a chief of Media Arts, an individual Wikipedia entry credits O’Doherty with, among other activities, initiating the public television series Great Performances and American Masters, the latter incidentally taking the title of a 1973 book he wrote only about American painters. Many programs from both these series are rebroadcast years later, for one measure of their lasting value. His achievements illustrate a rule I learned while working in Europe: One measure of the best cultural administrators is that they had, like O’Doherty, all published real books.
My third hero is H. R. Gross, the Iowa Congressman who between 1949 and 1975 was the most prominent government cost-cutter, for instance famously refusing to grant Jackie Kennedy a federal pension because “she didn’t need the money.” For that good reason alone, I would have opposed the NEA’s funding of Scorsese’s Dylan, as, apart from issues of ultimate quality, neither it nor they needed public money. Tis said that Gross saved tax-payers millions of dollars not only in opposing executive extravagance but also in putting his colleagues on notice that in their proposals he would spot unjustified superfluous costs.
Simply, a government agency entrusted with an important cultural mission on a modest budget can’t afford to be either distracted or wasteful. The first goal is making the NEA great again, the equal of comparable agencies in the great Western cultures, incidentally reflective of a country that is truly first-world rather than, as it has unfortunately become, second- or third-. The second goal is making American art greater. Given these purposes, may I further suggest that only someone who has received NEA grants, who understands their significance, should be entrusted with directing the NEA, much as only a sometime fireman should be a fire chief.
It’s been a while since I’ve read the magnificent Golding allegory I allude to in my title, but last weekend my high regard for it was renewed.
I’d been having a dollop of trouble tracking alt-Left gimmicks. For example, I’ve known it has grievances – indeed, ‘grievance’ is high on its list of Favorite Words – but alt-Left incoherence made that polemic and many others too entropic to follow. Its ideology seems theological, its morality therefore dogmatic, applicable only to its presumed adversaries: a one-way street, confusing but surely heading toward a Higher Good. It looks for “coded” language, and acolytes will find it, everywhere. (The problem with “make America great again,” it seems, is the ‘again’ – we know what that means.) It largely consists of the privileged yet nevertheless attacks “the privileged” and claims, paradoxically, to be “the victimized.” It is caring – another key word – in the abstract, so that any grand federal plan to achieve a more or less wholesome goal becomes fetishized, no matter its egregious ground-level downside.
It is fond of inventing concepts (like ‘cisgendered’, often used as a term of abuse) and of “communities,” groups who (necessarily) have been “victimized,” with a “special hell” reserved for community members who, not experiencing victimization, do not sign up for membership. (This labeling matters; it facilitates deification and demonization and is especially helpful if it can be summarized by a series of letters; I am a member of one such abused victim-group, the DCS, that is, the Differently Color-Sighted – dare you call me color “blind”?) It decries the “appropriation” of one culture’s features by members of another (thereby, of course, “victimizing” the former: a one-way boulevard). And it exhibits itself, demonstratively, its idiom being very strong emotion, which grants to it an absolute remit (permitting, for example, vile attacks on a ten-year-old). Moreover –
But I desist, because at last the incoherence has been neatly packaged: the cruelty, the febrile hatred, the celebratory irrationality – all of it conveniently bundled by the Women’s March, by women who, for example, excluded other women (too much diversity), or who cheered Ashley Judd’s semi-sociopathic rant and Madonna’s wet dream of bombing the White House (why not? CNN had already discussed the implications of a Trump assassination) and the burning of a limousine, or who . . . (I harbor the hope that at least a few participants have PMSS, Post-March Shame Syndrome.)
So wherefore my renewed appreciation for Golding’s novel? It gets the alt-Left right. When, at the end of the book, Jack’s febrile, painted, tribal herd, having risen to power on that ghastly island, is closing in on Ralph, the last vestige of civilization who has already been demonized, an adult shows up and puts a stop to it. It seems Donald Trump – for whom I could not vote – has come ashore just in time.