Three novels written in the year of the author’s birth provide insight into how England has changed.
by Theodore Dalrymple
The past has always interested me more than the future. This backward-looking tendency has only been reinforced by reaching, somewhat unexpectedly, the age of 70. I can’t say that I don’t feel my age because I don’t know what feeling any particular age is like—but one repeatedly hears that 60 is the new 40, 70 is the new 50, and so on; certainly, the human aging process has slowed since I was born. When I look at photos of people who were 50 in the year of my birth, 1949, they look much older and more worn-out than do 50-year-olds now; and if I had lived only to my life expectancy at birth, I would be dead these last four years.
So progress must have occurred in the intervening time, despite the pessimism that infects those who, like me, are of retrospective temperament and hypersensitive to deterioration. It is not hard to enumerate many things that have improved. They relate principally, but not only, to material conditions. My best friend when I was very young was one of the last children in Britain to suffer from polio, which paralyzed him from the waist down. The quickest form of written communication was then the telegram, and anything other than local telephone calls had to go through an operator. To call across the Atlantic required a reservation and was ferociously expensive; the resultant conversation always seemed to take place during a violent storm. In England, the food was generally disgusting, and meals were to be endured as a regrettable necessity instead of enjoyed (it puzzles me still how people could have cooked so badly). Cars broke down frequently, and every November, pollution produced fogs so thick that you couldn’t see the hand in front of your face (I loved them). Rationing continued for eight years after the war, and disused bomb shelters, present in every park, were where illicit sexual fumbles and smoking took place. Incidentally, for an adult male not to smoke was unusual (75 percent did so); we must have lived in a perpetual fog of foul-smelling tobacco, to judge by the distaste caused by even a single lit cigarette in these virtuous times. Poverty, as raw necessity, still existed. Murderers were sometimes hanged—as well as, more rarely, the innocent. Overt racial prejudice was, if not quite the norm, certainly prevalent.
Yet not everything has improved, though the deterioration has been less tangible than the progress. To give one example: by age 11, I was free to roam London, or at least its better areas, by myself or with a friend of the same age. The sight of an 11-year-old child wandering the city on his own did not suggest to anyone that he was neglected or abused. I remember, too, the evening papers piled up at newsstands; people would throw coins on top of the pile and take their copy. It never occurred to anyone that the money might get stolen; nowadays, it would never occur to anyone that the money would not be stolen. The crime statistics bear out this sea change in national character.
The enormous progress and increase in prosperity notwithstanding, I have not been able to rid myself of a nagging awareness that I was born into a country in relentless decline, of the kind, say, that Spain went through from the latter two-thirds of the seventeenth century to the present day. Of course, Britain’s decline has been relative, not absolute, but Man being a creature who compares, it is felt all the same; and whether an increase in life expectancy compensates for an increased, and justified, fear of crime is a matter of individual judgment.
In an effort to assess what has changed, for better or worse, and what, if anything, has remained unchanged, I thought it would be interesting to consider three English novels published in the year of my birth. I am aware that this is not a scientific procedure: I chose the novels simply because they had long rested unread on my shelves and were the first ones published in 1949 that I came across. A novel, moreover, is not necessarily a true reflection of anything, let alone a complete depiction of a complex modern society. Indeed, the very difficulty or impossibility of grasping such a society whole is one of the causes of a prevalent anxiety, for no one can truly say that he knows what is going on in his own society, or that he fully understands it. Still, we feel impelled to try—and novels, whether they intend to or not, reflect the time and place of their writing, and therefore may help in our understanding, both as to the way things were and the way they are.
Two of the novels were by, respectively, Nigel Balchin and R. C. Hutchinson, writers well regarded in their time but now mostly forgotten, while the third was by Ivy Compton-Burnett, who still has her admirers. They were quite different authors, but each had an unmistakable quality of unreconstructed English national identity, such as no writer about London—where two of the novels are set—or anywhere else in the country could now convey.
It is not that foreigners could not be found in 1949 London, which was then still a port city of some importance. In Hutchinson’s book, Elephant and Castle, set largely in the East End, one of the main characters is half-Italian, and foreigners of various nationalities have walk-on parts. But they in no way affect the strongly English character of the city. Today’s London, by contrast, seems more like a dormitory for an ever-fluctuating population than a home; even much of its physical fabric has been completely denationalized by modernist architecture of a sub-Dubai quality. It is not a melting pot, for little is left to melt into; a better culinary metaphor might be a stir-fry, the ingredients remaining unblended—though, with luck, compatible.
The other two novels are Balchin’s A Sort of Traitors and Compton-Burnett’s Two Worlds and Their Ways. Balchin was a scientist by training, Compton-Burnett a classicist; Hutchinson had studied politics, economics, and philosophy. They were not a perfect cross-section of the population, perhaps, but they collectively had a broad spectrum of knowledge and experience.
The action of Balchin’s novel takes place in a bacteriological laboratory, where scientists have made a discovery that can serve either civil or military purposes—to prevent or to spread epidemic disease. It is not long after World War II, and a reaction has set in against the kind of unthinking patriotic feeling that characterized the war years. An excess of patriotism was blamed for the military cataclysm, and now the scientist-protagonists of the novel wonder whether the proper locus of their moral concern should be their country or humanity as a whole. The question would not have arisen for them four years earlier.
Their laboratory is a government one, and officials want the work to be kept secret, in case the enemy (now, by implication, Soviet Russia rather than Nazi Germany, though never named as such) gets hold of it and uses it as a weapon against the scientists’ own country; the scientists, however, are thinking of the epidemics that could be prevented in India and China. The lab director, Professor Sewell, wants to publish his results; the chief scientific advisor to the government, Sir Guthrie Brewer—not himself a bacteriologist—comes to persuade him otherwise, but fails.
Sir Guthrie is a hybrid, a scientist-turned-apparatchik. “I’m sorry to be a nuisance,” he says, in that suave, hypocritical English way, which is at once admirable and disagreeable. This manner of speaking, of never saying quite what you mean, was illustrated in a French book of the time, La Vie anglaise, which tried to explain English manners to the French. When an Englishman says, “We must meet again,” the author explains, he means: “I hope never to see you again”; and when he says, “I know a little about,” he means: “I am an expert in,” or possibly even “the world-expert in.”
Alas, this indirect way of speaking, always tinged with irony and humor, has almost disappeared in favor of a cruder and less amusing manner of communicating. Literal-mindedness has replaced subtle codification, and with it, a people who were once subtle, if sometimes perfidious, have become crass and often aggressive. Irony, which the whole population once both understood and employed, and was so strong an aspect of the national character, has now disappeared, replaced by a disposition to querulousness and indignation.
Professor Sewell says things that would nowadays see him hounded out of his job, as Sir Tim Hunt, a Nobel Prize–winning scientist, was hounded out of his position by a mixture of simulated outrage and official pusillanimity when he said, en passant and as a joke, that he thought men and women often did not work together well in a laboratory because sexual attraction got in the way. In the novel, Sewell’s deputy says that a female laboratory worker has “rather a tough personal life.” Sewell responds: “Women always have. . . . [They] are either in love or not in love. In either case it makes a complicated private life and interferes with their work.” He continues: “And this feeling about time. Men haven’t got it. But women are all clock-watchers. Only about thirty years, you see, to have their babies in. And anything which isn’t to do with having babies is a waste of time. That’s why they’re no good to science.”
No one would dare utter such a sentiment today, even if he thought it true. Walls and phones have ears (and now video cameras), and we live in fear not of the secret police, as did, say, the East Germans, but of the vastly enlarged ranks of the intelligentsia that obtain their sense of purpose from feeling outrage and can spread it round the world in an instant. Unlike our forebears, we hesitate to express ourselves. This fear undoubtedly does prevent some unworthy or even disgusting opinions from being expressed, but our need to be thought good by our peers, or at least not bad, is now far greater than our desire to be free.
A Sort of Traitors is set during a period when Britain had elected an avowedly socialist government—as it might again—but with an important difference: the postwar socialist government was patriotic, whereas a new socialist government would, at least if led by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, make hatred of its own country the beginning and end of its political morality.
In the novel, the government minister in charge of research, Gatling, calls Sewell to his office to persuade him not to publish. He is an old socialist, but (though a working-class autodidact) also a sophisticated man. The war and governmental responsibility have changed his ideas. Sewell says to him:
I am not a patriot. I have never felt that because I was born in this country, it was the only country that mattered. I have tried to give it a fair return for what it has given me. But after that my loyalty is to the world. I seem to remember a time, sir, when you and some of your colleagues in the Government felt the same in your sphere. You seem to have changed your minds. I haven’t.
Here Sewell is referring to the Labour Party’s pacifistic opposition to British rearmament before the war, an effective contribution to the country’s unpreparedness when war came. But unlike Sewell, Gatling has learned from the experience. “Professor Sewell,” he asks, “do you realise the present state of the world?”
Sewell’s attitude is summed up when he tells Gatling, “I might easily feel that since an ignorant Government was acting against the interests of an even more ignorant society, it was my duty to defy both.” In private, Gatling is contemptuous of Sewell: “He’s bogus all through, but he doesn’t know it. . . . He can’t even sit down sincerely. And all this stuff about humanity. He wouldn’t know humanity if he met it in the street.”
In the conflict between Sewell and Gatling, the minister triumphs—temporarily. But in the longer term, in cultural influence, Sewell and his like have won. With the decline of patriotism and the spread of tertiary education, loyalty among the intelligentsia has detached itself from the nation and attached itself to large abstractions, such as humanity and the planet, with the European Union as the only intermediate political body between the individual and the world that now attracts its loyalty.
Ivy Compton-Burnett was a very English figure—the upper-class conservative subversive. All her novels, including the one published in 1949, took place in the seemingly golden age of Edwardian upper-class England, but she was intent on finding the worm in the bud—and for her, it was the institution of the family, upon which her literary work was a concerted attack, lasting 45 years. She might have been shocked if someone used in her presence the lower-class word “mirror” for “glass,” but she brought her little charge of dynamite to the foundation of the society that she probably thought would, in essence, last forever.
Compton-Burnett’s novels are extremely distinctive. They consist largely of dialogue and require intense concentration to read, for the author sometimes does not help out with interjections such as “he said” or “she said,” such that after 20 lines, it can be difficult to work out who is saying what to whom if one’s attention has wandered even momentarily.
The conversations are always brittle, a mixture of pedantry and Wildean aphorism. The novelist Elizabeth Bowen wrote in 1941 that “to read . . . a page of Compton-Burnett dialogue is to think of the sound of glass being swept up, one of these London mornings after a blitz.” Here, taken at random, is an exchange in Two Worlds and Their Ways:
“Come, my pretty, let us go downstairs. We have done our best and must leave it. No one can do more.”
“We have done nothing,” said Maria.
“Well, that is usually people’s best,” said her stepson. “Their worst is something quite different.”
“Well, let us say good-night to the victims of our indecisions.”
The indecisions in this case are over whether to send two children, a son aged 11 and a daughter, 14, to school, or to continue to have them tutored at home in a country mansion: a matter of small consequence, one might think, in the years leading up to World War I, but taking place in a family atmosphere of tension, cruelty, power struggle, and petty snobbery. By the high standards of Compton-Burnett’s novels, the family depicted in this novel is not particularly vicious or dysfunctional, though it’s bad enough: all conversation is like an ill-tempered cross-examination in court, except that all the participants are barristers waiting to pounce upon any lapse into foolishness or inconsistency. Everyone talks for victory rather than for meaning or communication, and while Compton-Burnett could not be described as a social realist, she undoubtedly captured an aspect of conversation in England—brittle, conducted with asperity, apparently unfeeling but with a deep undercurrent of emotion—that has now all but disappeared, which is both loss and gain, the two often being united in a dialectical relationship.
The novel by R. C. Hutchinson is sprawling, far too long (692 closely printed pages), and, in places, badly written and full of wind. Alone of the three novels, it attempts to portray lower-class life in the East End of London, though the story is that of an upper-class girl who marries “beneath” her and allies herself to an inarticulate working-class man, in whom she espies deep qualities—the nature of which, however, the author fails to convey. When not actually grunting, he speaks throughout in mere fragments of speech and is no better in this respect at the end of 15 years covered by the narrative than at the beginning.
The young woman, with the unusual name of Armorel, early on witnesses an episode in which the man whom she later marries, the half-Italian Gian, attacks and severely injures a policeman. (In the course of the novel, policemen are several times depicted as patrolling the streets, a vast change from today, when they fill out forms rather than patrol.) Actually, Gian’s attack is unjustified, but when he receives a three-month jail sentence, Armorel thinks it unfair. She decides to marry Gian and then to make something of him by badgering him to undertake education and training. But his horizons remain limited: unlike her, he is content to rise only a little in the world. For him, earning a respectable living and getting by with some minimum of comfort is enough.
The difference in what they want eventually estranges them. The denouement of this almost-interminable novel is the murder of Armorel by Gian’s father, who thinks that she is at the root of his son’s misery. At the end, as she lies dying, she realizes that she should have loved Gian for what he was, not tried to mold him into a creature of her own choice.
The story is implausible, though I wasn’t reading it mainly for literary pleasure, but for what it might tell me about changes in national character. And there were two that struck me. The first was that, despite the poverty depicted being incomparably greater than any known now, the inhabitants of the East End, as Hutchinson writes of them, had as lively a sense of irony as their social superiors. When, in the story, a hearse on its way to an interment nearly runs over a boy, he shouts, “Off t’bury the one you knocked over last week, eh cock!” Nowadays, as likely as not, the vehicle and its driver would be physically attacked.
Second, most of the poor people whom Hutchinson describes have an intense desire to be and remain respectable—that is, to be independent, living within the law, not foulmouthed, and to have their children within marriage. Of course, Hutchinson might have been mistaken, or exaggerating, but I doubt that he was: other sources suggest the same thing. What his characters consider bad language would now be almost genteel; and nowadays, the very notion of respectability probably would not be understood, self-esteem having triumphed over self-respect as the desideratum of the population.
One last thing: all these books testify to the astonishing decline in the value of money. In A Sort of Traitors, for example, one of the main characters considers buying himself a full meal (almost certainly not a good one, but a meal nonetheless) for one shilling and ninepence. In nominal terms, the cost of that meal would now buy you about one-ninth of an inland postage stamp, or a 40th of a cheese sandwich in a gas station. Not everything has risen in price so drastically as cheese sandwiches, however. To buy a novel such as A Sort of Traitors or Two Worlds and Their Ways would cost you, in nominal terms, only about 25 times as much as in 1949, the year of my birth.
Hillary Clinton’s disgraceful performance at Elijah Cummings’ funeral
by Gary Fouse
The funeral of Elijah Cummings (D-MD) was held today in Baltimore. Among the speakers was Hillary Clinton. In classical Hillary Clinton fashion, she used the event to attack not only President Trump, but Melania Trump as well. It was an obscene display in which she compared the Trumps to the Biblical figures of Ahab and Jezebel.
It is not my intent here to dishonor the memory of Elijah Cummings. I was not a member of his fan club, but it is time to respect the dead. What Clinton did in her 9+ minute address was to profane Cummings' service by making a thinly-disguised comparison between "our Elijah" who fought government corruption, to the "Old Testament Prophet (Elijah), who stood against the corrupt leadership of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel." The audience recognized immediately what she was referring to and broke out in sustained applause. To be accurate, she was not the only one. Former President Barack Obama and Cummings' widow, Maya, also made veiled references to President Trump without mentioning him by name. At least they didn't compare Melania to Jezebel.
For those readers who want to view the whole thing, it can be watched here. The relevant portion comes at the 2:33 mark.
Of course, Hillary Clinton is incapable of getting through a speaking appearance without demonstrating her total lack of dignity and class. What also shines through is her sheer hypocrisy. If there is any couple in American political history that could be compared to Ahab and Jezebel, it is Bill and Hillary Clinton. Think what you will about Donald Trump though his alleged corruption remains unproven. To compare Melania Trump, our current first lady, to Jezebel is an obscenity. What has she done to merit this? Melania has conducted herself with much more grace and dignity than Hillary did as first lady--or as anything else.
A funeral service is an occasion to honor the dead, not to attack the living. Ms. Clinton, however, is a lowlife. Her very presence casts a pall over any event. Today's performance just added another tawdry chapter to her biography.
In addition, Jewish students and Jewish professors are being driven off campus and out of academic associations, or forced to walk a dangerously unpleasant gauntlet of campus anti-Israel/pro-Palestine demonstrations (Israel Apartheid Week), and BDS resolutions in favor of boycotting one country only (Israel).
In 2003, when I published “The New Anti-Semitism,” I received many letters from Jewish professors who were already struggling with being penalized and ostracized for their pro-Israel fact-based views. Free speech was awarded to those with anti-Israel views, not to those who dared defend the Jewish state. With their permission, I turned these letters over to the Education editor at the New York Times who was very interested in doing a story about this. Unfortunately, unsurprisingly, she was “stopped at the highest levels.” This same editor was also not allowed to review my own book. Since then, I have exhausted myself by writing countless articles about how the Western intelligentsia have, once again, betrayed the Jews.
I am not sure how successful any of us have been in breaking this cognitive war blockade. Linda Sarsour, no longer a women’s rights leader, now the Pro-Palestine activist that she has always been, continues to appear on campuses around the country as do countless others who share her views.
This anti-Semitic/anti-Zionist onslaught also exists online, in private groups devoted to other academic subjects (psychology, psychiatry, the history of feminism), where no one is particularly expert in Middle East matters. This does not stop the poisonous propaganda from appearing.
In my time, I have left two online groups and was forced out of a third. Always, always, the same two reasons were at issue. An outpouring of raw anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism which was allowed to dominate the conversation—or an undigested piece of pro-Palestine and pro-Islamist propaganda which took pride of place instead of our usual discussion. Holding another, more knowledgeable or more positive view on Israel or a critical view of Islam, even in terms of women’s rights, was always interpreted as a Thought Crime, a High Crime, a traitorous act, and as proof of racism, Islamophobia, and right-wing conservatism.
Encountering this was always sobering, enraging, demoralizing, and sometimes even traumatic. But what most got my attention was either the pile-on (when and if it occurred) or, something far more ominous: The silence, the utter silence of the bystanders.
Recently, I unexpectedly experienced yet another online anti-Semitic rant. I decided to share it with one of my Shabbos guests, a 92-year-old survivor of three Holocaust-era forced labor camps. I wanted her view of the matter.
Luna Kaufman is an amazingly beautiful and distinguished Polish-American Jew. She attended High School with the “Polish Pope,” (John Paul II), is committed to interfaith work, is also a musicologist—and believes that all important matters are exceedingly complex.
I told her about a woman, an early feminist whom I’ve never met and who had just visited Poland for the first time to get in touch with her Polish roots. She raved, online, about the Polish people. One woman in the group (not me), said that the Poles, however charming, once murdered Jews and that one might mention that as well. Silence prevailed for some hours. I did not want this single voice to stand alone and so I suggested some books about Polish anti-Jewish pogroms and massacres to develop a more balanced picture of the Poles. Why not read Anna Bikont about what happened in Jedwabne or Jan T.Gross on this?
The woman responded. “I knew it would not be long before I heard from you, I was just waiting.” And then she let unleashed some filthy Jew-hatred. “Unless your writer has substantiation, this is defamation. Where are the accounts of this, the photos, the arrests, the police records, the death records? The Jews have exaggerated the role of Poles in the Holocaust; at least one hundred Poles died trying to save Jews—what about them? I am sick and tired of Jews who are still maligning certain countries in order to get financial reparations.”
And then, unbelievably, she writes: “My most recent boyfriend was Jewish...There is no natural animosity between Polish workers and Jewish workers. If there was any acrimony between Jews and Poles, I feel it is class-based NOT religion-based. Poor Jews were just as abandoned by RICH JEWS as they were by rich Poles. Poor Jews in the USA were just as oppressed by capitalist owners (in fur factories) as were poor Polish workers. Don’t be gullible Phyllis. There are many tricks they use when they are publicizing a cause.”
Appealing to class warfare and class solidarity did the trick. The first woman who spoke said that maybe she should “drop her grudge.”
What this woman wrote was raw, hot, and resentful, a function of newly found pride wounded to the quick. It was also totally ignorant.
However, what had my attention was how silent the online group became, how no one wanted to challenge or upend this Big Lie and risk being bullied. This kind of fearfulness, cowardice, avoidance of feared punishment—or silent approval—is precisely how Hitler triumphed.
Luna nodded her head gravely and said nothing. We sat in silence for a minute. Then, she agreed with my observations and concerns. I continued.
“Perhaps many members in this online group missed this exchange entirely. Maybe they got to it weeks later, if ever, and felt it was too late to comment, the group had moved on. Everyone was already talking about other things. Two women wrote to me privately, safely, cautiously, but did not weigh in on this subject publicly, for all to read. Privately, I asked one woman:
“What would Flo Kennedy, (a high profile African-American feminist), have said if another feminist claimed that slavery had not existed, or if it had, that there had not been too much of it, and that at least 100 white people had died trying to save black slaves and that anyway, black people are now exaggerating the extent of slavery in order to get reparations?”
Her response: Flo would have given them a piece of her mind and moved on.
Readers: I said I would never again speak online in this group and I moved on. Yet again. Which is not always a good thing if one wishes to remain connected to cherished colleagues and to remain “in the know.” This is the danger involved when pro-Israeli or Israeli professors are not invited to speak—or may do so only under conditions of extreme hostility and harassment; when their papers are not accepted by academic journals, their projects not funded, etc.
Then, Luna told me a story.
“You know, Jews were also brutal to other Jews who were under their whip. That’s how it seemed to me when I was a young teenager in the camps. One man, a Jew, was put in charge of the selections for who would go to Auschwitz. I hated him. But he told me that he knew who was dying anyway and that’s who he tried to pick.
Still, he had an awful job but he performed it with great vigor. But things were complicated. This same kapo was in charge of the barracks where sick people were warehoused. The ‘hospital.’ I was there, I was quite sick. When the Russians came to liberate us, he knew that they were going to kill everyone who was sick or dying. He rushed in and threw me out of the barracks. This saved my life. So, when he was put on trial for his crimes, I refused to testify against him. They hanged him anyway.”
And so: Things were complicated.
What useful conclusion, if any, may I draw? That one of these silent, bystander women may one day hide a Jew on the run? Or that this woman with Polish, Christian ancestry may one day come to regret her ignorant and hateful words and try to make amends? I no longer know how to relate to those with whom I once honorably served in battle in another war—but who are now my opponents in the war against the Jews.
What FDR, Churchill, and Stalin agreed to at Tehran is still visible in Europe 76 years later.
by Conrad Black
Last Sunday’s Fox News programSpecial Report, on the Tehran Conference of 1943 (about which their news anchor, Bret Baier, has just published a book), revisited the postwar division of Europe and the Cold War that followed for 45 years. Because President Roosevelt died at 63, in office and without writing any memoirs or diaries, he became an easy target for McCarthyite Republicans claiming he was duped by Stalin, disgruntled British imperialists blaming FDR for the evaporation of their empire, Gaullist French alleging that the Anglo-Saxons couldn’t protect Europe, and neutralist social democrats, such as West Germany’s Willy Brandt and Canada’s Pierre Trudeau, arguing that Roosevelt and Churchill had given the Kremlin eastern Europe as a sphere of influence. They all failed to remember that in 1940 Germany, Italy, Japan, and France (after it surrendered to Germany) were all hostile dictatorships, and five years later they were all on the way to being prosperous democratic allies of the Americans and British. In the interim, as between the Big Three, the Soviet Union took 90 percent of the casualties sustained in subduing Nazi Germany, and all they had to show for it was the unpopular occupation of Eastern European countries they had pledged to vacate and a Cold War they could not win.
The Baier program made the point that the British were reluctant collaborators in D-Day, as they were fearful of failure and wanted to continue to wear Germany down with the air campaign and peripheral actions such as Italy while leaving the Soviet Union to sustain 10,000 casualties a day fighting the Germans. It also alleged that Roosevelt was “complicit” in the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe after the war. Churchill and his chief of the general staff, Sir Alan Brooke, thought that D-Day would be a disaster like Dunkirk, and Roosevelt thought that if a serious operation was launched in France, once it got across the Rhine, the Germans would continue to fight like tigers against the Russians but would give way quickly in the West, to put their country in the hands of civilized enemies with whom Germany had observed the Geneva Convention. He was also concerned that if Stalin thought the western Allies were just waiting for Germany and Russia to bleed each other to death, they would make a new pact and control the whole Eurasian land-mass with the Japanese.
The key to the Tehran Conference was that since the U.S. legation at Tehran was outside the city, and traveling between the embassies would involve security risks, it was advisable for Roosevelt to stay in either the British or the Soviet embassy. He chose the Soviet because he wanted to line up Stalin behind the cross-Channel invasion of France rather than attacking up the Adriatic or in league with Turkey (a neutral state), as Churchill was proposing. Stalin entirely agreed with Roosevelt, as Roosevelt ascertained a few minutes after he arrived, and he was able as conference chairman (because he was the only chief of state of the three — King George VI and Soviet president Kalinin were his technical protocol analogues) to call upon Stalin to express his preference for the main western Allied attack on Hitler’s Europe (Italy was a comparative side show). Churchill and Brooke believed Stalin had gulled Roosevelt and only favored the cross-Channel landing because he too thought the Germans would hurl the Anglo-Americans into the sea and facilitate his westward advance. Stalin may have believed that, but Roosevelt thought Churchill and Brooke had been traumatized by their experiences on the Western Front in World War I and underestimated what could be achieved by overwhelming Allied advantages in tanks and aircraft.
Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin all recognized that, as in all European wars since the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, whoever controlled Germany would be the winner. The Allied foreign ministers had already established a European Advisory Commission, whose chief task would be to determine the Allied occupation zones of Germany. Roosevelt was opposed to this because of his belief that the western powers could take almost all of Germany. Churchill was afraid that because the British land forces on the western front would be only about 300,000, a fifth of the American contingent and much smaller than the Russian, Britain would end up with a small occupation zone, so he agreed with the Soviet proposal for three approximately equal zones. At the Tehran Conference, in complete secrecy, unknown even to the European Advisory Commission members, Poland’s eastern and western borders were both moved 200 miles to the west, as a preliminary concession to the Soviet Union for having borne the German invasion. By the summer of 1944, it was clear that this would have the effect of making most of the Soviet occupation zone of Germany part of pre-war Poland. It was also clear that large numbers of ethnic Germans, from as far east as the Volga, were moving west ahead of the retreating German army and being evacuated from the Baltic states by ship. When Roosevelt and Churchill met at Quebec for the second time in September 1944, the western Allies had liberated Paris and were approaching the Rhine. The Russians were at Warsaw, and it appeared that the West would have a good chance to occupy most of post-war Germany, so Roosevelt consented to the Churchill-Stalin occupation-zones proposal.
Roosevelt’s service chiefs told him that if the atomic bomb was not successful, Japan would have to be subdued in an amphibious landing, and as many as a million Allied casualties would result (the Americans would take nearly 80,000 casualties at Iwo Jima and Okinawa alone). Accordingly, they urged him to obtain Soviet participation in the Japanese war to absorb some of the casualties. Stalin was going to take what he wanted from the Japanese anyway. Stalin did agree to enter the war against Japan three months after the end of the war with Germany, and did so. Stalin also agreed to participate in the United Nations Organization, which Roosevelt intended as a means of disguising by collegialization the post-war domination of the world by the chief victorious powers, and as a method of sugar-coating the defeat of the domestic isolationists by making the world seem less dangerous than they had feared. At the Yalta Conference, Churchill and Roosevelt also obtained Stalin’s agreement on the Declarations on Poland and Liberated Europe, which assured their liberation, independence, and democratic selection of government.
Roosevelt’s plan was to use America’s nuclear monopoly and economic might to secure Stalin’s compliance with the terms of the Yalta agreement, once the atomic bomb was known to be effective and the Japanese had surrendered. He was “complicit” in the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe to the extent that he helped ensure that the Red Army cleared the Germans out of those countries, but he and Churchill never acquiesced in durable Soviet occupation of what became the Iron Curtain countries. President Eisenhower opened the first Great Power summit conference in ten years at Geneva in 1955 by demanding that the USSR adhere to its commitments to liberate Eastern Europe. It was Roosevelt’s strategic team: President Truman, Generals Marshall, Eisenhower, and MacArthur, Dean Acheson, George Kennan, and Charles Bohlen, who designed and led the institutions, especially NATO and the Marshall Plan, that ultimately won the Cold War. As was mentioned on the Baier program, Churchill was not blameless in creating the myth of his own perfect insight and Roosevelt’s naïveté; he told the king that “the British donkey is between the Russian bear and the American buffalo, but is the only one that knows the way home.” He also said, of Roosevelt and Truman, that at the decisive moment, “one was too ill to act and the other too new to the task to know what to do.” This was inaccurate and self-serving. There is plenty of credit owing to do justice to them both.
Six men have been convicted of grooming vulnerable girls in Huddersfield and treating them as "objects to be used and abused at will". Jurors at Leeds Crown Court were told how three socially isolated girls were lured into associating with older men, before being treated as sexual commodities against their wishes.
Prosecutors told how the complainants, who were aged between 12 and 16, were deliberately targeted, and were offered cigarettes, alcohol and drugs in an attempt to lure them into submitting to the men.
On Thursday, following more than 24 hours of deliberation, jurors convicted six men of their roles in abusing the girls between 2005 and 2008.
The trial was the fifth in West Yorkshire Police's Operation Tendersea investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse in Huddersfield.
Full results from court:
Banaris Hussain, 36, of William Street, Crosland Moor, Huddersfield, found guilty of one count of rape.
Umar Zaman, 31, of William Street, Crosland Moor found guilty of two counts of rape;
Samuel Fikru, 31, of HMP Armley, found guilty of two counts of rape;
38-year-old man, from Huddersfield, found guilty of one count of attempted rape;
32-year-old man, from Huddersfield, found guilty of one count of rape;
32-year-old man, from Huddersfield, found guilty of four counts of rape and one count of rape of a girl under 13.
Their names cannot be reported for legal reasons.
A 39-year-old woman was cleared of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, while jurors were unable to reach a verdict on whether a man aged 31 had committed a single charge of rape.
The prosecution said a decision on whether or not to re-try him would be made when those who were convicted are sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on November 1.
Another man, 32-year-old Mohammed Arif, of New Hey Road, Huddersfield, was cleared of a single count of rape.
Zaman and Hussain, both of William Street, Huddersfield, Fikru, who is in custody, and the three other convicted defendants gave no reaction as they were told the jury's verdicts.
France’s Latest Headscarf Row and Marie Laguerre’s Viral Slap
by Hugh Fitzgerald
The BBC reported last Thursday that “French President Emmanuel Macron has warned against ‘stigmatising’ Muslims or linking the Islamic religion with the fight against terrorism. ‘We have to stand together with all our fellow citizens,’ Mr Macron said during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday. It came as a French woman said she was taking legal action against far-right politicians who criticised her for wearing an Islamic headscarf in public.”
All this calls to mind the slap of Marie Laguerre, as an instructive case of what happens to women who do not wear an Islamic headscarf in public. A CCTV video in July 2018 went most usefully viral. It shows a French girl, and a young Muslim male who had been following her on a Parisian street, making unwelcome remarks, and when she told him to “shut up” he came up to her and slapped her hard, before calmly walking away. According to the girl, 22-year-old engineering student Marie Laguerre, who posted the video on Facebook, along with more details about the incident, she had been minding her own business when she started to be followed by her unknown assailant, who made obscene and degrading comments and “noises with sexual connotations” to her while she was making her way home in the 19th district of Paris in July.
She said that when told him to “shut up,” he reacted first by throwing an ashtray, which narrowly missed her, and then he came towards her, wordlessly struck her with a hard slap, then walked away. There were plenty of eyewitnesses, and several men got up as if they meant to stop him, but no one dared to actually attempt it. Nowadays, we have all learned to be wary of maddened Muslims.
Fariz M. (French courts do not allow the last name of defendants to be given out) was eventually identified by the police, and brought to trial, where he was found guilty of “violence with the use or threat of a weapon” (that ashtray) but not of sexual harassment, after prosecutors said there were insufficient grounds for that charge. He was fined €2,000 (£1,770) in damages and was sentenced to a further six months suspended sentence. He was also “ordered to undergo psychological care and take a course about gender-related violence.”
French people are said to be outraged by this judgement, which occurred just as the government is considering new legislation on sexual harassment, designed to allow for on-the-spot fines to be levied by the police, obviating the need for any arraignment, defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges, trials — all of which mean long delays and unnecessary state expense. If this proposed law on sexual harassment is passed, the police will be able to take immediate action, interviewing the victim, talking to eyewitnesses, instantly reviewing CCTV tapes to corroborate a complaint and if the accused has been collared, levy a fine then and there.
Why is this case important? Because it offers one small but significant example, with which any girl or woman can identify, and that apparently touched many, of a widespread phenomenon: the contempt for women, and especially for Infidel women, exhibited by so many Muslim males. This contempt has been expressed in various ways, most far worse than harassing talk, a thrown ashtray, and a slap. There were the 1,400 English girls who were treated as “easy meat” and passed around to be used sexually by the Muslim grooming gangs of Rotherham, in the U.K., a horrific business ignored for so long by the British authorities. There were the mass sexual assaults by 2,000 Muslim men on 1,200 German girls and women on New Year’s Eve, 2015/2016 in Cologne and other cities. There have been the mass rapes of non-Muslim Yazidi girls in northern Iraq by members of the Islamic state. These things are terrible, but they are different only in degree, and not in kind, from the angry contempt for non-Muslim women shown in this recent video from Paris.
There are two aspects of Islam that come together in this incident. The first is the sheer misogyny of Islam. Men are, according to the Qur’an and the testimony of Muhammad himself in the hadith, superior to women:
“Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them.” — Qur’an 4:34
The same Qur’anic verse explicitly sanctions the beating of disobedient wives, as a last resort if other means — first admonishing them, then sending them to separate beds — fail to obtain obedience. And as we know from the hadith, Muhammad once punched his favorite wife Aisha hard in the chest, behavior which then became permissible for others emulating the Perfect Man and Model of Conduct:
“Muhammad ‘struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you?’” — Aisha (Sahih Muslim 2127)
The inferiority of women can be found in the fact that a woman’s testimony is worth only half that of a man (2:282), while a daughter inherits only half that of a son (4:11). In the hadith Muhammad explains the reason for a woman’s testimony being valued at half that of a man “because of the deficiency in her intelligence” (Bukhari 3.48.226).
The rules concerning marriage and divorce reinforce the notion of female inferiority. Polygyny — one husband, plural wives — is sanctioned in Islam, and reduces the value of women who are in the position of having to share a man. To obtain a divorce, a Muslim husband need only utter the tripe-talaq; he need not give a reason. A Muslim wife, however, must return the mahr, the sum given to the bride at her marriage, either by her groom or the groom’s father, to her husband, and must provide a good reason for wanting a divorce, for unlike what is permitted the husband who wants a divorce, it is not automatically granted to a wife.
Muslim women have a duty to cover themselves — depending on where they live, the kind of cover will differ. It might be merely a hijab in Turkey or Tajikistan, or a niqab in Saudi Arabia, a niqab, or a chador in Iran, This is necessary because without the cover women are too sexually alluring to men, who cannot be expected to contain their animal lust. If anything untoward should occur, it’s the uncovered woman’s fault.
But if women are inferior in Islam, and dangerously alluring unless covered, Infidel women are even more definitely to be despised. For the Qur’an describes all Infidels as “the most vile of creatures” (98:6), while Muslims are, by contrast, “the best of peoples” (3:110). An Infidel girl, doubly inferior as a female and as a non-Muslim, who walks shamelessly around without any cover, like Marie Laguerre, is simply asking for it, and Farid M. was there to give it to her. How dare she tell him to “shut up”? He knows he did nothing wrong, even if the French Infidels, applying their ludicrous laws, think otherwise and impose a fine.
Because of the appearance of this video on YouTube, where it went viral, a stronger law making sure that sexual harassment is treated as a crime is now likely to pass. But making it a crime won’t stop it. The problem is large, and growing, on the streets, in the cafes, on buses and subways, with Muslim boys and men harassing non-Muslim girls and women in microaggressions that, unlike here, are seldom caught on tape. They are females, and therefore inferior. They are Infidels, and therefore they are vile and deserve our Muslim contempt. They walk around, without a hijab, wearing lipstick and makeup, in short skirts or pants — for Muslim men, these are come-hither signals, and these women cannot hypocritically pretend they were not asking for it. What else could their dress and attitude possibly mean?
If the new law on sexual harassment is put into effect, it should give some relief to the girls and women who have had to endure this eruption of sexual assault — a verbal one, full of insults and innuendo — that menacingly suggests an actual physical one might follow. It should cut down on the intolerable behavior of Muslim males toward French girls and women, for it is they who are responsible for this epidemic of sexual harassment in France.
Marie Laguerre was disappointed with the court’s verdict:
Speaking to the French publication Libération before the hearing, the 22-year-old victim described the development [that the state decided not to bring a charge of sexual harassment] as a “harsh blow” symbolically and a “disappointment.”
“My attacker will not be able to understand the misogynistic and sexist nature of what he is accused of,” she said (in French).
“We are missing out on teaching him a lesson to make him aware that it’s no longer possible to treat women like pieces of meat.”…
From her comments, it is unclear whether Marie Laguerre recognizes, even if she does not state explicitly, that the “misogynistic and sexist nature” of her attacker’s behavior arises naturally out of the texts and teachings of Islam. If she does, one can sympathize with her unwillingness to state this directly, given the real threat of harm from those who won’t tolerate such public criticism of their “peaceful, tolerant” faith.
Of the millions of Muslim males in France, how many think it is wrong to approach Infidel females, to follow them along the street, to make remarks to them about sex, in short, to sexually harass them? After all, these women are both inferior to men, and contemptible (“most vile creatures”), as Infidels. And how many Muslim males, having been told by the French authorities that females are the complete equals of men, and that non-Muslims are fully the equals of Muslims, who deserve to be treated with the same respect, will manage to do so? Which are Muslims in France more likely to follow — what the French Infidels tell them, or what they are taught in the Qur’an and hadith?
A haunting, troubling social problem is whether we, society, should honor people who have achieved fame in some form of intellectual or artistic achievement but have committed an act or acts that are despicable. Can we distinguish between the creator and the creation? Will a potential Immanuel Kant Prize for Perpetual Peace be given to Kim Jong-un, or a United Nations award to Charles Lindbergh, brave aviator but proponent of antisemitism? The issue is made more uncertain by two factors: certain fields, especially science, may be more conducive to separability of the celebrated work and the person than others that are less quantitative and tangible fields; or the act under criticism may be considered in the context of the times. In any case, the line for acceptability or rejection of Awards is not automatic.
Ideologies of the 20th century and behavior caused by or related to the Nazi and Fascist regimes have been at the core of this problem of who should be rewarded or rejected. France was troubled by the problem of Louis-Ferdinand Celine, novelist and physician, a literary innovator who adopted a modernized style of writing, with slang and vulgarities, that influenced many literary figures. But if some regarded him as one of France’s greatest 29th century novelists, he was also the author of antisemitic pamphlets, caustic about the influence of Jews on French society, later a Holocaust denier, and a supporter of the Axis regimes during World War II. After the war, he was convicted in absentia, since he had fled to Denmark, by a French court of collaboration with the Nazis.
Should Celine be honored? He was excluded from the list of 500 French cultural icons to be honored in 2011. More controversial was the attitude of the prestigious publisher Gallimard. It was prepared to publish a 1,000 page edition of Celine’s work, including the antisemitic pamphlets, but in 2018 suspended, though it did not “renounce” publication.
Perhaps the most questionable issue was that of Ezra Pound, poet who helped James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and D.H Lawrence, but was an advocate of Italian fascism, who lived in Italy and during the War broadcast on Italian radio anti American and antisemitic diatribes and propaganda. After the War, he was arrested and put in a mental hospital. While there in 1949, and while he was under indictment for treason for his broadcasts, he was given the Bollingen-Library of Congress Award for his Pisan Cantos. For the donors, Pound’s poetic achievement was more significant than his political utterances. Paradoxically, some who were also critical of his poetry such as Robert Frost, called the Award an “unendurable outrage.”
The problem of the creator and the creation has visited many organizations giving awards. Nobel officials ducked the question by holding it was not in the mandate of the Nobel Academy to balance literary quality against political considerations.
The Norwegian Knut Hamsun, poet, dramatist, pioneer of psychological literature, was an admirer and advocate of Nazism and Fascism, welcomed the Nazi occupation of Norway, and met Hitler in Bavaria, was also the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920. He even gave his prize to Joseph Goebbels, Nazi minister for propaganda. Nevertheless, he was honored in October 2019 on the anniversary of his birthday, with musical and theatrical festivities which Queen Sofia opened, and with creation of the Hamsun Center. Hamsun may have written great and highly regarded novels, but he was an associate of Nazis. Again, the essential problem is whether his literary output and his vile behavior receive equal attention or priority.
There has been controversy over whether Nobel Prizes have sometimes been given to the undeserving, such as Pearl Buck, prolific author, the first American woman to win for Literature, given the Award in 1938 for “her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China, and for her biographical masterpieces,” or Dario Fo, Italian actor and playwright, anarchic clown of a dramatist, in 1997, or Barack Obama in 2009 who accepted it not as “recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.” Equally, there has been surprise regarding those who did not receive the Award for Literature: James Joyce, Leo Tolstoy, Marcel Proust, and Anton Chekov.
But these cases are different from the dilemma of the unworthy. The latest case is the Nobel Award for Literature in 2019 given to the 76 year-old Austrian writer Peter Handke, and the $915,000 with it for, according to the awarders, his “influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience” in the words of the Academy.
Handke is a prolific author, a provocative literary stylist and a cultural icon. As a 23 year old, he was active at the legendary meeting in Princeton in April 1966 of the Gruppe 47, the group of leading West German writers, including Hans Werner Richter, Heinrich Boll, Gunter Grass and Uwe Johnson. Handke broke the rules of the group by declaring that the writings by his contemporaries were meaningless, portraying the descriptive impotence of German prose. He rose rapidly in the literary world and in the media while exhibiting a difficult personality of extreme moods.
In the 1990s he became familiar with Serbian politics, wrote a report on his trip to Serbia, and met Radovan Karadzic, Bosnian Serb president of the autonomous Republika Srpska, and later convicted war criminal. Handke is notorious for his support of the Serbs in the wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s in which the Serbs were pitted against the Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Kosovars, and for his denial of the Srebrenica genocide in which more than 8,000 Muslim men and youngsters were massacred by Bosnian Serbs.
Handke’s most notorious act was, after he had attended the trial at The Hague, a eulogy at the funeral in March 2006 of Slobodan Milosevic, the “Butcher of the Balkans,” notable for his ethnic hatred and violence, convicted of war crimes. The Butcher died in prison in 2006 before being punished for his crimes. Salman Rushdie humorously remarked that Handke should get the runner up prize for international moron of the year for his series of impassioned apologies for the genocidal region of Milosevic; he would be second to actor, film Moses, and gun lobbyist Charles Heston.
At one point, Handke compared the plight of the Serbs to that of the Jews in the Holocaust. He has been condemned by a variety of fellow writers, such as French intellectual Alain Finkielkraut who spoke of Handke as “an ideological monster,” and Jonathan Litthell who commented Handke “might be a fantastic artist, but as a human being he is my enemy.” The Pen America president Jennifer Egan stated we are dumbfounded by the selection of a writer who used his public voice for undercutting historical truth, and offering public succor to perpetrators of genocide. “We reject the decision that a writer who has persistently called into question throughly documented war crimes deserves to be celebrated for his linguistic ingenuity.”
One can ask a simple question for the Nobel committee, why can’t it chose an individual who is celebrated as an artist and as a human being, rather than one who is ethical blind or a propagandist for an evil regime? After all Alfred Nobel himself spoke of honoring those whose discoveries created the greatest benefit to mankind.
Admitting that literary personalities may be bohemian, possibly subversive and Dionysian, or are affected as was the Greek warrior Philoctetes by an internal wound that never heals, they glory in free expression, are not marginal in contemporary societies but are privileged and are influential. Nor are Awards always given to those offering the “greatest benefit to mankind.” The Nobel Prize committee which gives Awards to those figures lime Handke who are irresponsible or malignant must have Van Gogh’s ear for music.
In “The Nobel winner who couldn’t call himself Muslim,” by Pooja Singh in LiveMint Thursday, we read about Anand Kamalakar’s “Salam: The First ****** Nobel Laureate,” which “follows the life of a Pakistani physicist who achieved great feats but was ostracized by his own countrymen.”
Abdus Salam shared the Physics prize with Stephen Weinberg and Sheldon Glashow. He was an Ahmadi, which meant that in his own country of origin, Pakistan, he was not considered to be a real Muslim, and on all official documents in Pakistan he was not permitted to identify himself as a Muslim, but only as an Ahmadi. Even on his gravestone, which originally bore the word “Muslim,” that word has been effaced to make sure everyone knows he was not a Muslim. If Muslims do not consider him to have been a real Muslim, either in life or in death, why should he be considered as such? The Pakistani government proclaims this Pakistani a non-Muslim. Who are we Infidels to differ?
Salam went to England just after getting his MA in Pakistan. At Cambridge, he got a double-BA, and then a doctorate from the Cavendish Laboratory, finally completing a BA degree with Double First-Class Honors in Mathematics and Physics in 1949. Then he received his doctorate, again from Cambridge. He returned to Pakistan, but at the time of he murderous anti-Ahmadi riots in Lahore, he promptly left Pakistan and returned to Cambridge, as a professor of mathematics, and then in 1957 took a chair at Imperial College, London, and went on with colleagues to set up the Theoretical Physics Department at Imperial College.
In 1957, Punjab University conferred an honorary doctorate on Salam for his contribution in particle physics. The same year, Salam launched a scholarship program for his students in Pakistan. Salam retained strong links with Pakistan, and visited his country from time to time. At Cambridge and Imperial College, he formed a group of theoretical physicists, the majority of whom were his Pakistani students. In 1959, at age 33, Salam became one of the youngest persons to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). Salam took a fellowship at Princeton University that same year. He returned to Pakistan in 1960 to take charge of a government post, but within a few years had decided to return to Europe. In 1964, Salam founded the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, in the northeast of Italy, and served as its director until 1999.
He returned to Pakistan later, but in 1974, Abdus Salam left Pakistan again for London in protest, after the Parliament of Pakistan passed unanimously a bill declaring members of the Ahmadiyya movement to which Salam belonged to be non-Muslims. The epitaph on his tomb initially read “First Muslim Nobel Laureate.” The Pakistani government removed “Muslim” and left only his name on the headstone. Being an Ahmadi, according to the definition provided in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, meant that one could not be considered a Muslim.
Muslims take a great interest in who is awarded the Nobel Prize. They know that unflattering comparisons are always being made with Jews — they do it themselves — who, with less than .0.2% of the world’s population, have received about 22.5% of the Nobels. This means the percentage of Jewish Nobel laureates is at least 112.5 times or 11,250%, above average. Muslims, on the other hand, who make up about 24% of the world’s population, have received — at most — 12, or 1.4%, of the Nobels. Should Abdus Salam be counted as a Muslim Nobel winner, or as a non-Muslim Ahmadi Nobel winner, as his own country insists? It makes more sense, given the ferocity of the campaign to deny Ahmadis the right to be considered Muslims, not to question but to accept that Abdus Salam was not, for most Muslims, a Muslim. All of Salam’s education in science, beyond his first M.A., took place in England. All of his major theoretical work took place in Oxford, London, and Trieste, far from the mental and other constraints of Muslim Pakistan. One wonders if he had remained in Muslim Pakistan both for his education and his work, would he have accomplished anything like what he did with a solid Western education and Western colleagues and research institutions?
And still worse, 7 of the 12 Muslim Nobels are in the category of Peace, which is the most subjective, even doubtful, of all the prizes. Those who win in Chemistry, Physiology, and Physics are nominated, and judged, by outstanding researchers in those fields. But the Peace Prize is chosen by Norwegians with a left-handed axe to grind. They did, after all, give a Peace Prize to Yassir Arafat, who before Osama bin Laden was the world’s most famous terrorist. They preferred to overlook his monstrous record and to encourage his supposed move toward peace with his signing of the Oslo Accords, which, in fact, greatly favored the Arab side. Anwar Sadat was similarly given a Nobel Peace Prize for agreeing to take back the entire Sinai, which Israel had won in the Six-Day War. Mohammed Yunus shared a prize for fostering micro-loans among the very poor in Bangladesh. Mohamed El Baradei shared a prize for his work as director general of the international Atomic Energy Agency, though the Americans were not always impressed with his work in Iraq and Iran. His judiciousness may be judged from his claim that Israel is the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East.
Other Muslims won their prizes for defending the rights of women (Shirin Ebadi, of Iran), the rights of girls to obtain an education (Malala Yousafzai, of Pakistan) and for taking part in Yemen’s version of the Arab Spring, with special attention to securing rights for women (Tawakkol Karman, of Yemen). In other words, these three women were trying, though they would not wish to put it that way, to change misogynistic aspects of Islam. Tawakkol Karman, incidentally, was a strong supporter of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. What’s more, she has expressed her admiration for Ahed Tamimi, the mediagenic “Palestinian” defender of terrorists, including her own relatives who took part in planning the Sbarro Pizza massacre.
Given the regimes in Iran, Pakistan, and Yemen whose misogyny they are protesting, it takes courage but does not, I would argue, in any way stand out for the brilliance and effectiveness of their undertakings. Shirin Ebadi has, in fact, admitted that her hope of reforming Iran from within has come to naught, and only regime change, getting rid of the unelected Supreme Leader, and replacing the theocrats with a secular democracy, will have any effect. Malala Yousafzai now lives in London, and travels the world. She’s written a self-regarding autobiography modestly titled I, Malala — she’s a dab hand at self-promotion — but despite her prize, her effect on children’s education in Pakistan appears negligible. As for Tawakkol Karman, the Yemeni civil war grinds on, and she appears now praising the Saudis, then denouncing them.
What about the five remaining Muslim Nobels? Two were awarded in literature. One was awarded to the monstrously prolific Egyptian novelist and chronicler of Cairo’s lower classes, Naguib Mahfouz. If you don’t know the language of the writer you are judging, as literature is above all a phenomenon of language, you must take on faith that he, or she, is impressive enough to be awarded the Nobel Prize. The Swedish Academy, that awards the prize, appears not to have any Arabic speakers in its ranks. The members have accepted the judgment of outsiders who know Arabic and insist that Mahfouz is a great writer. Perhaps he is. Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish writer, was also awarded the Nobel in literature, and he has been counted as one of the “Muslim” Nobels. But Pamuk himself seems to reject that label, describing himself as a Cultural Muslim who associates the historical and cultural identification with the religion while not believing in a personal connection to God. A “cultural Muslim” is not a Believer; the phrase allows one to disarm critics who might all one, dangerously, an apostate, and Orhan Pamuk is clever enough to avoid that. But how many Muslims would call someone who does not believe “in a personal connection to God” a real Muslim? Pamuk grew up in a very secular Turkey, pre-Erdogan; he’s never given any sign of interest in, or affection for, Islam. Should he really be counted as a Muslim Nobel winner?
Now we come to the three scientists who are claimed as Muslim Nobel winners. One is Ahmed Hassan Zewail, who received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Chemistry from Alexandria University before moving to the United States to complete his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing his PhD, Zewail did postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley, supervised by Charles Bonner Harris. Following this, he was awarded a faculty appointment at the California Institute of Technology in 1976, and he was made the first Linus Pauling Chair in Chemical Physics. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States on March 5, 1982. Zewail was the director of the Physical Biology Center for Ultrafast Science and Technology at the California Institute of Technology.
In other words, all of Zewail’s graduate work was done in the United States. His doctorate was obtained from the University of Pennsylvania. He did postdoctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley. Then he become a faculty member of the California Institute of Technology, where he remained ever since. He is Egyptian by birth, but completely American in his scientific formation. The resources he relied on, and the mental freedom he enjoyed to pursue his research — these were to be found in America, not Egypt.
Still, he was born and remained a Muslim, though apparently not particularly observant.
The third, and final, Muslim scientist to win a Nobel is Aziz Sancar, a Turkish-American: Ph.D. at University of Texas at Dallas. Then he spent five years at Yale, and then moved to UNC/Chapel Hill, where he has remained ever since. He may be a Muslim for identification purposes, but he is clearly secular. He donated his original Nobel Prize golden medal and certificate to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, with a presidential ceremony on May 19, 2016, which was the 97th anniversary of Atatürk initiating the Turkish War of Independence.
So he’s clearly an admirer of Ataturk, who did everything he could to constrain the practice of Islam in Turkey, shutting down mosques those clerics were not submissive, giving women the right to vote, encouraging Western dress, having the Qur’an translated into Turkish, along with a translated Qur’anic commentary, or tafsir, so as to limit the influence of the retrograde Arabs, and to better monitor what went on in mosques and madrasas.
Ataturk made his contempt for Islam clear: “This theology of an immoral Arab [presented as Islam] is a dead thing. Possibly it might have suited tribes in the desert. It is no good for a modern, progressive state. God’s revelation! There is no God! These are only the chains by which the priests and bad rulers bound the people down. A ruler who needs religion is a weakling. No weaklings should rule! I have no religion, and at times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea. He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap. My people are going to learn the teachings of science.”
Another remark by Ataturk about Islam was even more ferocious: “Islam — that theology of an immoral illiterate Arab bedouin — is a decaying corpse that is poisoning all of our life.”
By leaving his Nobel medal and certificate at Ataturk’s mausoleum, Aziz Sancar was signalling his deep admiration for Ataturk (and, no doubt, also his distaste for Erdogan). This tribute strongly suggests to me that he is not a Believer, but merely a Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only Muslim.
It’s fascinating that three of these Nobel winners have been the object of attacks meant to kill them. Anwar Sadat was murdered by a member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, for making a peace treaty with Israel, the very thing for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and by which he won back the entire Sinai. Naguib Mahfouz was stabbed several times in the neck by a Muslim because of his support for Sadat’s peace treaty with Israel and because the attacker found his works insufficiently Islamic, but Mahfouz recovered. Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban for daring to promote Western, that is, non-Islamic — education. She, too, recovered.
So let’s sum up, beginning with the initial figure of 12 Muslim winners of Nobels. Of the seven peace winners, all but one (Shirin Ebadi) shared their prize with others. Arafat, Rabin, and Peres shared the prize for the Oslo Accords. Anwar Sadat shared the prize with Menachem Begin for the Camp David Accords. Mohammed Yunus shared the award with the Grameen Bank. Mohamed el Baradei shared the award with the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency) that he headed — it seems the Nobel Committee wanted to send a message of support to El Baradei because of American unhappiness with him. Tawakil Karman shared the Nobel that was jointly given to her, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Leymah Gbowee, “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation” in society. Malala Yousafzai shared her prize, given for work on promoting children’s rights, especially education, with Kailash Satyarthi.
By my count, there is only one undeniable Muslim Believer, Ahmed Zuwail, among the science Nobel winners. And there is only one undeniable Muslim Believer who has won a literature Nobel. That means there have been nine, not twelve, Muslim Nobels, seven of them in the doubtful category of Peace. How seriously can one take an award that is given to Yassir Arafat? (Or to Barack Obama for “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”?)
The statistics on Muslim Nobels are thus even less impressive than we have been led to believe.
Here’s a question for study and discussion: why? Why are there so few Muslim Nobels in the subjects that really count — the sciences? The three science winners received almost all of heir education in the West, enjoying in their work the mental freedom that only the West, and not their countries of origin, could supply. Isn’t it plausible that there is something about Islam itself, its deep suspicion and discouragement of free and skeptical inquiry, while the habit of mental submission is encouraged, that accounts for this? Could it be that all the time and mental energy that so many Muslims devote to learning the Qur’an by heart, some even memorizing the whole thing in order to attain the condition of hafiz, takes away from time that might be spent not on memorization, but on comprehension, analysis, discussion? Is it possible that Islam stunts mental growth? Look at the confusion, illogicality, and hysteria of so many Muslim spokesmen, television guests and hosts, now on permanent view at www.memri.org. How many of us would wish our children to acquire what passes for an education in Muslim lands? Is it possible that, in addition to all its other unattractive features, Islam stunts mental growth?
Shamima Begum, the Isil bride, chose to go to Syria and can only blame “her own actions” if she is in danger, the Government said on Tuesday as it argued against her return to the UK.
The Bethnal Green schoolgirl fled to join the terror group when she was 15 with two other friends and married a Dutch fighter with whom she had three children.
Her re-emergence into the public eye prompted Sajid Javid, then Home Secretary, to revoke her British citizenship to prevent her travelling home. Her newborn child died days later.
On Tuesday, a legal challenge launched by Ms Begum, now aged 20, reached the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in London, as her lawyers tried to get the decision ruled unlawful. A solicitor for her family, Tasnime Akunjee, has said that Ms Begum is a rape victim and had been brainwashed.
At the start of a four-day preliminary hearing Tom Hickman, QC, told Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing that al-Roj, the refugee camp where Ms Begum now lives, was “wretched and squalid”.
All three of Ms Begum’s children have died, including Jarrah, who died of pneumonia less than three weeks after his birth in February. Mr Hickman said that the ”tragic death” demonstrated the poor conditions.
In written submissions Ms Begum’s lawyers said that she had told UK media of her continued support for Islamic State because she feared for her safety and that of her unborn son while in a camp with other Isis members.
“The Bangladeshi government has made clear it will not allow the appellant to go to that country. It has said that if she arrived covertly she would be hanged,” the lawyers wrote.
Ms Begum was a student at Bethnal Green Academy when she left for Syria with her classmates Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, in February 2015. They used stolen jewellery to fund flights to Istanbul and travelled to the Syrian border to be smuggled to Raqqa, which was the de facto Isis capital.
However, the Home Office rejected these claims in written submissions presented to the court and suggested Ms Begum’s current plight was her own fault. The argument, prepared by Jonathan Glasson QC, said: “It is relevant that the appellant is in Syria because of her own actions; and is detained in a camp run by the (Syrian Democratic Forces) as a direct consequence of her own actions; the Secretary of State has no role in the running of that camp; and no role in the decision of the SDF to detain the appellant there.
The Government claimed Ms Begum had “not presented any evidence” to show she was at risk of being deported to either Bangladesh or Iraq.
Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing is expected to reserve her judgment at the end of the four-day preliminary hearing in London.
It is not expected to examine the “national security” allegations against Ms Begum this week, which may include claims, first reported by The Telegraph, that she was an enforcer in Isil’s morality police.
The Valley of the Fallen includes Gen. Francisco Franco's tomb.
I thought I knew the wheat from the chaff. Can’t we be friends?
The world today if full of dictators, at least 19 in sub-Saharan Africa, 12 in the Middle East and North Africa, 8 in Asia, and 1 in Europe. All are characterized by similar features: concentration of political power, no social liberty or personal freedoms, absence of the rule of law, manipulation of the media, personally cruel and frightening. Figures of the recent past were plentiful; Ido Amin in Uganda, Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Francois Duvivier in Haiti, Pol Pot in Cambodia, not to mention the archetypal exemplars, Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Close to the letter two was Generalisimo Francisco Franco, exponent of severe repression, suppression of dissidents, concentration camps, forced labor, and executions.
The world has the unusual experience of what to do with fallen and dead dictators? The problem has arisen in democratic countries that experienced dictatorial regimes in pre-World War II Europe. Symbols of Hitler and Stalin are gone, as are those of Saddam Hussein in Bagdad, but Franco remains in a place of honor, the last standing monument to former dictators in Europe. The present controversy is over the exhumation of Franco from that monument. Will exhumation be, according to Pedro Sanchez, prime minister of Spain, a great victory for Spanish democracy, or, as opponent argue, a political ploy to help the electoral campaign of Sanchez on November 10, 2019?
The issue was raised in 2007 with a law for exhumation, but no action was taken. At bottom, the memory of the brutal Spanish civil war remains as does the consequent dictatorial rule of Franco, 1939-1975, during which many thousands were killed or imprisoned.
Born on 1892, Francisco Franco joined the army and was prominent in control of Morocco 1912-26, where he was wounded. He became a general at age 33, the youngest in Europe. in 1931 the King of Spain Alfonso XIII was deposed and the Second Republic formed which reduced the power of the military. Franco was reprimanded for criticizing the more liberal ruling group, and was banished to El Ferrol, his birthplace, and later to the Canary Islands. He became the army chief of staff in 1935, and began discussing a coup with army colleagues. At first he hesitated taking action, but joined the coup in July 1936 after the assassination of a radical monarchist Jose Calvo Sotelo. The leaders of the coup obtained assistance from fellow fascists, Germany and Italy, with arms, and other assistance. The liberal republicans received aid from the Soviet Union and International Brigades. The civil war began on July 8, 1936 and lasted until 1939.
Franco was the Generalisimo of the army in the civil war, getting support from the Catholic Church, the fascist and monarchist political parties, and dissolving all other political parties. Madrid fell to his forces in March 1939, and the military conflict ended. The attention of the world was drawn to the conflict by various factors: the extraordinary painting of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, his most powerful political statement, done because of the Nazi bombing of the Basque town; the Hollywood film For Who the Bell Tolls, 1943, based on a story by Ernest Hemingway; and George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia which showed the complexity of the groups on both sides fighting in the war, as well as outside fascists and communists on the two sides.
That complexity was illustrated by the mixed nationalist groups supporting Franco: the brutal Spanish Foreign Legion, which massacred prisoners, but which in spite of its name was composed mostly of Spaniards; the regulares who were essentially Muslims recruited in Morocco which engaged in gang rape of Spanish women; the Catholic Church the main group supporting Franco. Anti-Franco forces were divided among socialists, communists, Trotskyists, anarchists, unionists, political rivals which fought each other, as well as Franco.
In the war 500,000 combatants and civilians died, and the memory of their deaths lingers.
After the war Franco was head of state, sometime referred to as Caudillo, from 1939 to 1975, and was responsible for many thousands killed or imprisoned, elites who were critical of the regime being murdered, and a population largely intimidated. Catholicism was the only tolerated religion, and Catalan and Basque languages were forbidden. A secret police force was created to survey citizens.
Though Spain did not directly participate in World War II, Franco was not neutral. He sent 50,000 volunteers to ally with Nazis against the Soviet Union, opened Spanish ports to Nazi submarines, and invaded the international city of Tangier in Morocco.
Franco died on November 20, 1975 aged 82. His funeral was attended among many others by Prince Rainier of Monaco, and Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet. Richard Nixon called General Franco “a loyal friend and ally of the United States, who earned the world-wide respect for Spain through firmness and fairness.” Franco was honored by an elaborate tomb, the Valley of the Fallen, the colossal Valle de los caidos basilica ,in the granite mountains, 55 km from Madrid.
The memorial covering 3,300 acres has a prominent feature, a 500 feet high Christian cross, said to be the largest cross in the world. The memorial was ordered by Franco, who talked of it as meant to be a national act of atonement and reconciliation. It took 20,000 men, many of them political prisoners, 20 years to build, and opened in 1959. The king and queen of Spain at that time attended the opening ceremony in Franco’s honor. Thousands, more than 34,000, from both sides of the civil war, pro and anti-Franco, mostly unidentified, are buried in the Valley. So is Franco himself along with army colleagues. Interestingly, only Franco, and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the neo-fascist Falange party, have a marked grave,
The monument has been the scene of many demonstrations. Fresh flowers are laid on Franco’s grave every day. This and other signs of support for Franco led Spanish governments in 2007 to ban political events. The controversy over Franco continues.
A motion on May 11, 2017 to exhume Franco’s remains was approved, 1981-1 with 140 abstentions. A decree on August 24, 2018, stated that only those who died in the civil war would be buried in the Valley. Therefore, Franco who did not die in the war was to be exhumed. Having Franco in the Valley was a lack of respect for the victims buried there. Again, on September 13, 2018, the Congress of Deputies voted 176-2 but with 165 abstentions. to remove Franco’s body from the monument.
The problem continues. The leaders of the Spanish Catholic Church have opposed exhumation using the argument that agreement from interested parties and family must be obtained. Franco’s family did write to the Prior of the site Benedictine abbey to block the action. However, In June 2019 the Spanish Supreme Court suspended the process of removing Franco until all the legal appeals had been ruled. The acting prior at the basilica, Father Santiago Canterra did object , but on September 24, 2019, the Court ruled in favor of exhuming the body of Franco. It decided he would not be reburied with military honors, as his family proposed, in the La Amadena Cathedral in the heart of Madrid, but in a municipal cemetery outside of Madrid.
Franco died on November 20, 1975, aged 82, was succeeded by Prince Juan Carlos as king, and Spain, with a short interruption, has been a democratic country. After the civil war, an unwritten agreement, legalized in 1977, called the Pact pf Forgetting, was a decision by both left and right parties in Spain not to have investigations of the civil war or the nature and consequences of the Franco regime, or of the 400,000 people who were in prisons, camps, or forced labor battalions. It remains tp be seen if the controversy of the exhumation has ignited the debate over the civil war and its consequences, and whether division will replace reconciliation.
As is well known, slavery was formally abolished in Saudi Arabia as late as 1962, and then only after terrific pressure had been applied to the Saudis by Western governments. And today, when we speak of slavery in the Muslim world, we think of Mauritania (with 600,000 slaves), as the report in the past hour discussed, Niger (600,000 slaves), Mali (200,000 slaves), and Libya (where slave markets have opened in nine sites during the last two years). Most of us assume that in Saudi Arabia, slavery is no longer tolerated.
But most of us are wrong.
Slavery may have been formally abolished, but the cruel and savage treatment of foreign domestic workers, their inability to free themselves from arduous work conditions because their employers keep their passports and other documents, amount to slavery in all but name.
A report on one group of domestic slaves — Vietnamese women — by reporter Yen Duong, who interviewed former workers who had made it back to Vietnam, was published last year in Al Jazeera here:
Overworked, abused, hungry: Vietnamese domestic workers in Saudi Arabia.
Women say they are forced to work at least 18 hours a day, denied food, assaulted and refused the right to return home.
Pham Thi Dao, 46, says she worked more than 18 hours a day and was given the same one meal to live on – a slice of lamb and plain rice.
Dao, 46, was a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia for more than seven months until she returned to Vietnam in April.
“I worked from 5am until 1am in the morning, and was allowed to eat once at 1pm,” Dao told Al Jazeera of her experience in the port city of Yanbu. “It was the same every day – a slice of lamb and a plate of plain rice. After nearly two months, I was like a mad person.”
According to statistics from Vietnam’s labor ministry, there are currently 20,000 Vietnamese workers in the kingdom, with nearly 7,000 working as domestic staff for Saudi families…
The same harsh conditions which Vietnamese have endured have also been reported by the Filipino, Indonesian, and Sri Lankan workers, in Saudi Arabia. And they have also been endured by domestic workers in the the Emirates and Kuwait. In addition to the harsh working conditions, there is the persistent threat of sexual assault by their Arab masters. Some domestic workers have been raped and murdered by their Arab employers. Yet it has been almost impossible to bring employers to justice for such crimes.
Some who escaped have recounted slave-like working and living conditions.
“I understand that as [domestic] workers we need to get used to difficult working conditions,” said Dao, who is vocal on social media about her experience. “We didn’t ask for much, just no starvation, no beatings, and three meals per day. If we had that, we would not have begged for rescue.”…
“As soon as I arrived at the airport in Riyadh, they (employees from a Saudi company providing domestic workers) pushed me into a room with more than a hundred of others,” she said. “When my employer picked me up later, he took my passport and employment contract. Most women I’ve talked to here experience the same thing.”
By seizing the workers’ passports, the Saudi employers have complete control over them. They cannot leave the country, nor move about inside Saudi Arabia, nor go to work for another employer. And if they don’t have their employment contract, which has been seized by their employer, they have no way of knowing if the onerous conditions they endure violate the contract’s provisions. They are captives of their employer in every sense.
Like Dao, she said she was given one meal a day and worked 18-hour shifts.
Another domestic worker, who requested anonymity, showed Al Jazeera her contract stipulating a nine-hour working day – a standard given the contracts are composed by Vietnam’s labour ministry.
Dao shows notes from the Arabic lesson she took before her trip. Vietnamese domestic workers are entitled to classes on language, skills and culture but the sessions are poorly executed, say the workers.
When Linh asked to be moved to another family – a workers’ right according to their contracts – staff at the Vietnamese broker company shouted at her and tried to intimidate her.
She went on a hunger strike for three days until her employer agreed to take her back to the Saudi company…
Leaving an employment contract carries a hefty fine, plus the price of a ticket back to Vietnam, if the worker is unable to prove abuse at the hands of their employers.
The cost of quitting is usually between $2,500 and $3,500.
If workers get, at best, $388 per month, that means that if they manage to persuade their employer to give them back their passports and to let them leave, they will still have to come up with between seven and nine months of salary that must be paid back. And that assumes that they will be paid the highest amount ($388/month) and will have all other expenses, during that period of seven-to-nine months, paid by their employer.
Tuyet told her partner in Vietnam by phone that she is being abused by the family she works for in Riyadh.
Bui Van Sang’s partner, Tuyet, works in Riyadh.
He said she is being beaten and starved.
The Vietnamese broker company asked him for $2,155 for her return, but refused to put anything in writing, he claimed.
Her phone has been taken away and Sang is only able to contact her every two to three weeks, “when her employer feels like [allowing her]”.
These domestic workers are totally at the mercy of their Arab employers. They cannot even contact anyone in the outside world unless the employer “feels like [allowing her].” They are, essentially, prisoners whose brutal living and working conditions are set by the employer, who answers to no one. That constitutes slavery, whether or not it is called by that name.
By the time he had raised the $2,155, the Vietnamese broker company demanded double the payment, he said.
He travelled 1,500km from his southern Vietnamese home province of Tay Ninh to the capital, Hanoi, to beg the broker, but was turned away….
The Vietnamese brokers are akin to slave traders. They round up the “slaves” (domestic workers), hold out the promise of decent work and pay which, once those they traffic in arrive in Saudi Arabia, is simply ignored. The slaves have been delivered, the brokers paid by the Saudi employers, and the living conditions, of 18-hour days, with one meal a day, are now the norm. For beatings and sexual assaults, there is no recourse for these Vietnamese domestics. Meanwhile, Saudi employers hold onto those passports without which these workers cannot leave the country.
There are no independent organisations in either Saudi Arabia or Vietnam which ensure the safety of domestic workers.
In the past few years, reports of abuse have prompted Saudi authorities to suggest amendments to existing labor regulations, but rights groups say they fall short.
Whatever regulations are talked about, Saudi employers still do pretty much what they want in setting the conditions of work for domestic helpers.
Workers and their relatives have to rely entirely on the Vietnamese broker companies for support.
Linh, the domestic helper in Riyadh, said when she contacted the Vietnamese company that brought her there, they told her the employment contract is only valid in Vietnam, not in Saudi Arabia.
In other words, the Vietnamese brokers, having been paid by the Saudi employers, have washed their hands of the Vietnamese workers sent to Saudi Arabia. The employment contracts on which these domestic workers were relying are, they now admit, worthless in Saudi Arabia. These women have no guarantee of any rights; whatever their Saudi employer wishes to impose is what they must accept. Hence the 18-hour days, seven days a week, and the single meal each day. How is this not akin to slavery?
“They [the Vietnamese companies] are supposed to protect our rights, but all they do is yell at us,” Linh said by phone. “Now I just want to leave the country. If I go to the police, at least they’d bring me to the detention centre, and I’d be deported and allowed to leave.”
She recently livestreamed a video detailing the treatment that she and many fellow Vietnamese domestic helpers face while working in Saudi Arabia.
The video has been viewed 113,000 times.
“Many women I know here just want the same thing – they just want to leave,” she said. “But they are afraid, threatened, and don’t even dare to speak out.”
Their fear is palpable. If they complain of their working conditions, will they be beaten by their employers? Will they be given even more unpleasant or difficult tasks? Will the 18-hour day become a 20-hour day, as one Vietnamese man reported his wife had had to endure, that is with only four hours of sleep allowed? Will even the one slice of meat they are now given be reduced still further, or will they perhaps not be given meat at all? Will they no longer be allowed to call home even twice a month? Not all Saudi employers are simon-legrees, but a great many appear to be. The point is that domestic workers ought to have rights enshrined in the Saudi law, but they do not. And the conditions which they endure are scarcely distinguishable from slavery.
The Saudis are not alone in such mistreatment of their domestic workers. The Kuwaitis and the Emiratis have been difficult masters, too, but the conditions of domestic workers appear to be especially harsh in Saudi Arabia. The mentality that lies behind this mistreatment rests on two things. First, there is the deep belief that slavery is legitimate, given that Muhammad himself owned slaves, and does not become illegitimate in Islamic societies just because Western pressure has led to its formal prohibition. The slave-owner mentality remains. Second, these domestic workers — Vietnamese, Filipino, Thai, Indonesian, Sri Lankan — are almost all non-Muslims, and the treatment they receive is commensurate with their description in the Qur’an, as being “the most vile of creatures.” It would be interesting to compare the working conditions of the non-Muslim domestic workers in Saudi Arabia with those who, from Indonesia, are themselves Muslim. But that’s a subject for another occasion.
The smartest thing the devil ever did was convince people that he doesn't exist. Taking a page from the devil's operating manual, the "smartest" and one of the most conniving things the Democrats ever did was convince the majority of their base that they aren't revolutionaries.
What does it look like when a large part of the polity are revolutionists who think they are patriots? It looks like our current political culture of intolerance (driven by the hyper-"tolerant" Left); hatred; and socialist/communist, utopian, globalist fantasies.
American politics is now upside-down because our government, founded and built by men and women who well understood that any government is a necessary evil, is now viewed by too many of the revolutionary Left as the facilitator of solutions and the solver of problems that were never thought to be or constructed to be within its purview. This confusion puts the country now in an unpleasant and dangerous contretemps.
That a great many on the revolutionary Left believe that the country is a racist failure (and always was) fuels their grotesque justifications to fundamentally change it. Any chief executive who exposes these frauds for what they are would necessarily be cruelly attacked, simply out of a survival impetus from the forces of corruption and revolutionism. That corruption is so closely tied to these revolutionary forces of the Left makes for a perfect storm of bitterness to oust the duly elected president, whose mission is to expose and expel them all, regardless of party affiliation. The vicious personal attacks now faced by the president are similar in tone, but ramped up in vitriol in comparison, to those faced by John Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, and Reagan. In effect, the attacks on President Trump are unprecedented because the times themselves are so overwrought with excess, hyperbole, corruption, and ignorance.
There are certainly overt revolutionary forces at work on the Left — Antifa and their allies and the proud socialist/communist junior representatives in particular — but the Democratic Party itself now proposes revolutionary plans to fundamentally change the government and the economy. Moreover, the party aims to empower the government in a way unforeseen and unwanted by anyone other than communists and utopian revolutionaries. The Democratic Party is a socialist/communist movement to undermine the government, society, and economy of the country to bring about its version of socialist/communist utopia. All the while Democrat leadership proclaim their love of the Constitution and the country (with several loud exceptions), they actively undermine both. It's an astonishing and dangerous turn of events that all decent Americans should acknowledge and oppose.
The utopian imperative is a universal flaw in the human species, much like addiction or depression or mental illness. This desire for utopian solutions is not the result of logical, rational, or critical thinking. Rather, it is ages-old utopian fascism rearing its ugly head. What is the body count of the various utopian ideologies and movements across the centuries? Certainly, the answer is no less than hundreds of millions of victims.
History and precedent are not in play here because the fantasists of the Left believe that though everybody else before them (and in Venezuela, too) "got it wrong," they will most assuredly "get it right"!
There is a portrait of Andrew Jackson on the wall of the Oval Office for a specific reason: Trump knows that Jackson is the model of clearing the Washington swamp of corruption. This sort of exposure and eradication of corruption at the seat of power must occur every few generations to keep the institutions of the country functioning correctly and protected from the self-aggrandizers and careerists (and worse) who see duty not as a national and personal responsibility, but as an opportunity for the exercise of power and influence and the acquisition of wealth at the expense of the people.
The utopian socialist/commie Democrat revolutionists who think they are patriots protecting the Constitution and the state while they undermine both are elements of the moral corruption and ignorance now so widespread across this troubled land.
History is both linear and cyclical; we've seen this sort of lunacy and corruption and revolutionism before. Whittaker Chambers wrote a book about it, called Witness, which ought to be required reading in every American school from high school to university. In this era of the leftification of the academy, it is understandable (though inexcusable) that perhaps 0.01 percent of university students and recent graduates will have even heard of it.
Chambers, an intellectual and onetime editor of Time magazine, had been an active participant in communist cells, networks, and organizations in the 1930s, some of them involved in subversion or worse, whose purpose was to overturn the Constitution and country. A day came when he realized that communism was inherently evil, and he turned. In this turning, he became a hero, fighting the very spies and subversives he once called "comrade." Chambers's HUAC testimony against senior State Department official Alger Hiss was an essential element of perhaps the most important legal case of the Cold War and exposed the great threat to the nation posed by the communists of that era. Chambers is an American hero, and his book should now be read by all decent people because it is a blueprint from the 1930s of our own time.
History is cyclical — we are in a period of great dangers with enemies of the Constitution active in the open. Now they are in the halls of power, throughout the media, and across the popular culture. The dirty, hidden conflict of the 1930s now plays out in plain sight on front pages and in the halls of the Congress.
Most Democrats will deny that they are revolutionists just as most of the possessed are unaware of their own possession. The leader who fights entrenched corruption in the halls of power will always be vigorously opposed by the corrupt and the corrupted — whose only purpose under the harsh light of scrutiny is self-preservation.
All Americans who love freedom and the Constitution should feel empowered in this essential conflict now underway in our country. It is not only moral, ethical, and political corruption that we are fighting, but a political party whose membership is widely unaware (and tragically so) that their efforts to "save the country" are actually revolutionary efforts to destroy it.
It is an extraordinary moment, and ambivalence now is acquiescence to disaster. The devil will always get his due by those corrupt people who deal with him, and the revolutionists will be exposed and defeated by those who love freedom and understand, just as our founders did, that government is a necessary evil, not the utopian godhead to drive the bogeyman away. Whittaker Chambers saw the bogeyman; he once helped him, and then fought him. We can see the bogeymen — they all must be delegitimized and defeated in discourse and at the voting booth.
When the president is re-elected and a new House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) is reconstituted to hold the revolutionists and the corrupt accountable, one can hope that beside the American flag there will be a portrait of Andrew Jackson on the wall.
The Link Between The Ten Commandments And Anti-Semitism
by Nonie Darwish
Many have speculated about the causes of anti-Semitism and why it has persisted throughout history in both ancient and modern societies. From the Early Roman times, to Muhammad’s obsession to kill them wherever they are, then through Germany’s Adolf Hitler and today’s comeback.
After years of repentance with “never again” of the sins of the Holocaust the world is now witnessing the ugly comeback of anti-Semitism. This comeback is not coming from the usual anti-Semitic suspects but has been building up in the West especially among Leftist groups that have traditionally been regarded as bearers of the torch of tolerance, inclusion and diversity. Today, openly Anti-Semitic politicians and groups are operating from the halls of European parliaments and recently even the US congress.
Having been born and raised in a brutally anti-Semitic culture where Islamic anti-Semitism had touched every aspect of life, I am now focused on asking ‘why’? Why is this now moving to the West? What is it exactly that is causing this deep-seated challenge to the human condition when it comes to the Jewish people? What is behind the creation of such irrational hatred, anger and blame? Why is it when things go wrong humanity resorts to blaming the Jews? Why would some world tyrants and dictators often give preferential treatment to Jews sometimes but in other times they flip and turn against them? What is it about the way of life of the Jews that shook the core of figures in history like the prophet of Islam, Muhammad?
Could this challenge be summarized in The Ten Commandments? From the beginning the Ten Commandments represented a challenge to humanity. Isn’t it true that every tyrant in history had to violate the Ten Commandments in order to achieve his wicked goals?
Ever since Moses came down with God’s incredible commandments, humanity was challenged and had to adapt. The human side of Moses himself was angered causing him to shatter the tablets when he saw his people, the Israelites, slipping into a style of life that was contrary to what God had entrusted him to bringing down to his people.
Even though the Jewish people had their struggles with adapting to the laws God has given them, they eventually and as a group, repented and chose not to yield to the temptation of the golden glitter of idol worship. From that time on, the laws of Moses became the criteria for right and wrong in Jewish life. They often struggled but always kept their focus and preserved their Commandments for thousands of years and to future generations.
But that is not where the story ends. From that point on, and since the Jews adopted their revolutionary criteria of right and wrong, the world took notice. The Jewish people have not only raised the bar on themselves but the rest of humanity felt the challenge of measuring up.
What was so unique about The Ten Commandments is that Jews had to apply them to all of humanity. ‘Thou shall not kill’ did not apply only to not killing members of one’s tribe or sect but it applied to all of humanity. The prevalent tribal laws in the Mideast area often prohibited not killing members of one’s group or sect but did not apply the same law when strangers from the outside were murdered. Islamic law for instance applies the death penalty on a Muslim only if he kills another Muslim but will not apply it if he kills a non-Muslim.
Amazing universal Jewish traditions immerged that blessed, but at the same time attracted violence against Jewish communities. The Israelites did not only raise the bar on themselves but also by their mere existence among the rest of humanity, they have shown by example certain prohibitions that the old world did not understand and thus have become a challenge to the rest of the world. Societies that came into contact with Jewish communities were mesmerized but also challenged.
Non-Jews had to face the same challenge the Israelites had faced long ago when Moses came down mount Sinai. The bar has been raised and every society that came into contact with Jewish culture and standards was challenged. Some were happy to emulate Jewish traditions and allowed themselves to be inspired and built upon the Jewish doctrine. For example Christians adopted Sunday as their day of rest and Muslims adopted Friday.
But some cultures could not cope with the challenge and felt the bar of the Ten Commandments was too high to live by resulting in horrific anger, envy and hatred. Such anger and envy eventually turned into rebellion against Jewish ethics, some even went as far as robbing Jewish heritage, bending, reshaping and twisting it to fit their own needs and agenda, then claim them as their own. Islam is perhaps the most prominent doctrine for that example.
The Islamic ideology is the embodiment of what a counter-ideological movement against the Bible, and specifically The Ten Commandments, would look like. The mere existence of Jewish tribes in the Arabian Peninsula was probably the single most challenging threat to Mohammad’s world. Muhammad had a love hate relationship to those strange but disciplined people called the Jews who worshipped one God. Muhammad started with deep admiration and wish to emulate the People Of The Book, Jews and Christians, but he was soon confronted with the reality of the commitment to following in the footsteps of an Abrahamic monotheistic religion. Muhammad wanted the glory but not the self-discipline.
In the middle of his Islamization mission, Muhammad realized that the Abrahamic faith he claimed to be a part of was all about self-control, a commitment and devotion to values of the Torah. When Muhammad realized that the Bible and the Ten Commandments advocated values and rules often contrary to what his own life and culture was all about, he flipped. Muhammad came to the realization that if he was to remain loyal to the Abrahamic faith he claimed to be part of, then his proud Arabian culture and Muhammad’s own lifestyle had to undergo a total change, even more than what Moses required from his own people many centuries ago.
By then Muhammad was already deep in his advocacy of Islamic ‘Abrahamic’ monotheism to his people. After ten years of a more or less peaceful existence Muhammad’s admiration of the Jews evolved into deep envy and rejection. Islam thus started to quickly change from appreciating of the People Of The Book to deep resentment.
The obvious holiness of the Ten Commandments turned into a burden for Muhammad and stood in the way to his ambitions to forcefully spread Islam and making it the supreme religion of the region. Mohammad declared that the Jews and Christians intentionally falsified the Bible, and that his Koran was the true message of God.
Muhammad could not succeed in his forceful mission without violating all of the Ten Commandments. Every Jew he saw was a reminder of his unholy acts. He used deception, lying, murder, stealing and rape against his perceived enemies, both Jews and Arabs who resisted his mission, and who were called in the Koran, not only the enemies of Muhammad, but the enemies of Allah himself.
Even the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob Himself had to pass the test of Islamization and Arabization. Allah, the God of Islam, now has human enemies mentioned in many pages of the Quran. Every Muslim follower of Muhammad was to convert Allah’s enemies to Islam or kill them.
Many cultures, such as Arabia under Muhammad that did not or could not adapt to Biblical values of the Ten Commandments found the solution to their problems not in self-awareness and analysis but in blaming the Jews. At varying degrees, Muhammad’s solution of blaming the Jews became the extreme classic response to not measuring up to God’s Ten Commandments. Thus, to the anti-Semite, Jews represent Moses when he descended from Mount Sinai to his people who were caught red handed worshipping idols of gold.
Now, why is it that Jew hatred is making a come back today in Western nations, Europe and even America? Why are Ten Commandments displays being removed by secular Leftist from courthouses around the US? Why would a universally accepted set of laws that harm no one and that have brought order and harmony to society, be a threat to anyone secular or not? The answer again lies in the same human instinctive rebellion against self-discipline, obedience to God and taking responsibility to make the world a better place.
Western modern societies and institutions that claimed to be the bearers of the torch of tolerance and human rights are now regressing back to a different kind of tolerance; that is tolerance of anti-Semites. Today the West has forgotten their commitment to ‘never again’ and is embracing cultures, ideologies, religions and people who wear anti-Semitism as a badge of honor.
The evils of anti-Semitism have plagued the world ever since the Jews brought to the world a truly divine culture of self-awareness, self-control and treating others the way you want to be treated. Until today when ever the golden glitter of the “Me” generation takes a hold of a culture, instead of looking within, some humans choose to blame the Jews.
Before waving the banner of human rights, compassion, brotherhood of man and freedom, the world needs to understand the complex dynamics of the stranglehold of anti-Semitism and how humanity keeps falling into its trap over and over again.
Moses’s descent from Mount Sinai with his tablets is still having a huge ripple effect on the world today.
The Nobels In Literature: Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Several friends of mine always wait for the Nobel announcements to finish each year before they then tote up the “scores” for various nationalities and religions. Although these awards are for individual (and for the Peace Nobel, sometimes institutional) achievement, my friends can’t help themselves: they want to know, first of all, “how many Americans won?” (“we got eight this year,” a friend told me yesterday, as if he and I had had something to do with it). Another friend, though not Jewish, always wants to know how many Jewish Nobels there are, for he has long been impressed with how many there have been, and he can’t figure out why (“an unusual year,” he told me yesterday, “only two Jewish winners this year”). Still another acquaintance, a Moroccan barber I know, told me today that this year “we got a Nobel – the Peace one. That’s the best.” By “we,” he meant the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. He was referring to the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who had a Muslim father and a Christian mother. But I didn’t want to puncture his pride by pointing that out; still less was I inclined to note that while Ahmed’s prize could be considered a “one-half Nobel” for “the Muslims,” Ahmed’s behavior suggests his Christian side dominates. I can find nothing in the public record that suggests he is now a practicing Muslim or, indeed, if he ever was one.
Which brings me to the two Nobels in Literature that were awarded. One was to the Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, another to the Austrian Peter Handke. The first has an important positive link to Jews; the second has been almost alone in his denunciation of the Muslims in Bosnia, and his expressing over the decades his sympathy for, and solidarity with, the Serbs who have been painted as irredeemably wicked, murdering innocent Muslims.
Olga Tokarczuk’s most ambitious work, The Books of Jacob, centers on the historical figure of Jakub Frank, a Jewish-born 18th-century religious leader. Frank, believed to have been born with the name Jakub Leibowicz, oversaw a messianic sect that incorporated significant portions of Christian practice into Judaism; he led mass baptisms of his followers. According to the critic Ruth Franklin, “the book delivers a picture of the many intricate and unpredictable ways in which the story of Poland is tied to the story of its Jews.” “There’s no Polish culture without Jewish culture,” Tokarczuk told Franklin.
Tokarczuk has repeatedly described her own country, Poland, as one that had “committed horrendous acts as colonizers, as a national majority that suppressed the minority [Jews], as slaveowners, and as the murderers of Jews.”
In recent years, she has spent many of her public appearances on denouncing antisemitism in Poland, which has won her enemies among some elements of the nationalist right. It will likely be one of the main subjects of her Nobel speech. She is not merely against antisemitism, but is positively philosemitic, as were two previous Polish Nobels in Literature, the poets Czeslaw Milosz and Wislawa Szymborska.
Peter Handke, a writer, scriptwriter, and journalist, is – outside of his writing – known most for his defense of the Serbs in the Balkan wars of the 1990s. He was virtually alone among non-Serbs in attempting to understand their fears and to stand up for them when no one else would. Handke thought the outside world was too quick to condemn the Serbs, not just for the atrocities they did commit, but for others that, he claimed, they did not commit, and furthermore, was willing to overlook many Muslim atrocities committed against the Serbs. For the world had already made up its mind. The Muslims were only innocent victims, the Serbs only cruel victimizers.
Handke was also mindful of Balkan history (his own mother was Slovenian, another people, like the Serbs, brutalized by the Ottomans). He understood the Serbian anxiety about Muslim behavior, reflecting such things as the Serbs’ historic memory of the devshirme, which was the forced levy of Christian children by the Ottomans, who took the young Christians back to Istanbul, had them converted, and trained them to serve the Ottoman state as Janissaries. He spoke and wrote frequently about the Serbs, asking for an understanding of their history and consequent fears. And he asked that Muslim atrocities not be given a pass. In some ways he was vindicated. In 2018, for example, the Bosnian Muslim wartime commander Atif Dudakovic and 16 senior members of his unit were charged with carrying out atrocities against Serbs in western Bosnia during the 1992-95 war. Handke was concerned both with the failure of the West to look into Muslim misdeeds. He also wanted the people of Europe to learn more about Serbian history that he thought would make them more understanding of Serbian fears.
His 1996 travelogue, “A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia,” caused a storm, and in 1999 he returned Germany’s prestigious Buechner prize in protest at NATO’s bombing of Belgrade.
Peter Handke attended the Serb leader Radovan Milosevic’s war crimes trial at The Hague and even delivered a eulogy at his funeral. In an interview in 2006, he said of Milosevic: “I think he was a rather tragic man. Not a hero, but a tragic human being. I am a writer and not a judge.”
In the same interview, he said he did not expect the Nobel Prize because of the controversy. “When I was younger I cared,” he said. “Now I think it’s finished for me after my expressions about Yugoslavia.”
Peter Handke clearly finds the long history of Muslim mistreatment of Christians — especially of Serbians – in the Balkans, as explaining and, to some extent, justifying Serbian behavior. Needless to say, there has been fury in the Arab and Muslim media — see Al Jazeera — over this Nobel award to Handke. In this country members of PEN huffed and puffed about Handke’s being given the prize. One would love to interrogate some of the offended to find out what they know about the history of Muslim rule in the Balkans, about the Bosnian SS divisions, about the plan of Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegovic for Islamic rule.
In Europe, the award should cause some to look again at the evidence of Muslim Bosniak and Kosovar atrocities against Serbs in the 1990s, and possibly to develop a modicum of sympathy, given not just recent history, but the centuries of Ottoman Muslim oppression, for the maligned Serbs.
The two Nobels in literature this year were thus, in their political views, to be welcomed. Olga Tokarczuk has been a stout defender of Jews, attacking antisemites — denouncing those Poles who were “murderers of Jews” — with her accustomed ferocity, and bravely declaring, in a country where antisemitism is again in fashion, that “there is no Polish culture without Jewish culture.”
As Olga Tokarczuk has gone on the offensive against antisemites in Poland, Peter Handke was for a long time, and almost alone, on the offensive against the Muslims in the Balkans. He discovered evidence of their atrocities, until recently ignored in the West. He reminded the public of how the Ottoman Muslims, too, had treated the Serbs, which explained their fear of the Muslim Bosniaks. He took every occasion to stand with the Serbs; even attending Slobodan Milosevic’s trial for war crimes, and speaking at his funeral. He considered Milosevich not a sinister villain, but a “tragic figure” with a deep anxiety about his threatened people. He attacked the Bosnian leader Alija Izegtbegovic, who during World War II had supported the Muslim Waffen-SSHandschar Division, but was given a pass by the West. Handke reminded people of Izetbegovic’s published plan to set up a Muslim state, a prospect which terrified the Serbs – this plan, too, like Izetbegovic’s support for a Muslim SS Division, was ignored by the West. Yet it turned out that there was enough evidence to put Izetbegovic on trial as a war criminal; the investigation of his atrocities ended only because he died.
Handke has not commented publicly in recent years on the growing Muslim presence in Western Europe. But everything he has said in the past about the cruelties of Ottoman rule in the Balkans, and the Muslim Bosniak and Kosovar threat to Serbs in the 1990s, suggest that he is a well-informed critic of Islam and of those Muslims who take the Qur’anic verses commanding violent Jihad to heart. This is one aspect of his life and work that we should keep gratefully in mind, just as we should be grateful for Olga Tokarczyk’s philosemitism. And perhaps, when he makes his Nobel acceptance speech, he will return to this subject. It could be a salutary breach in the wall of media disinformation about Islam, if Handke asks, and answers, what those tens of millions of Muslims now in Western Europe mean for its future.
“It is the wise man who knows where courage ends and stupidity begins.” – Jerome Cady
by G. Murphy Donovan
Kurdish fighters weeping
Gun slinger is one of those good news/bad news metaphors. President Donald Trump might be the poster child for that kind of ambivalence.
First, there’s good news. Getting off the first shot, especially with a new policy, has the virtue of surprise and takes the initiative away from opponents. The bad news, for policy hip shots, is just as obvious. Gun slingers are ever in danger of shooting themselves in their Guccis.
And so it was the other day when Donald Trump gave Recep Tayyip Erdogan a signal to invade Syria under the pretext of suppressing Kurdish “terrorists.” The Trump bluff or retreat, real or imagined, is a win for everybody except Europe, America, and the Kurds. Numbers of deployed GIs don’t matter either; the optics of getting played or bested by Erdogan or Islamists are awful.
Turkey, a rogue NATO member now savages the very people who made the recent “victory” against ISIS in the Levant possible.
Perfidious Turks, who artfully avoided the recent fight against ISIS, are now exploiting the vacuum in north Syria to settle generational scores with long suffering Kurdish minorities. The ISIS genocide against Yazidis and Kurds is now replicated by brutal Turkish ethnic cleansing.
During the ISIS war, Turks sat back and watched Syrian and Kurd bleed whilst the Erdogan family ran a black market oil smuggling racket from conflict zones in the south to Turkish sanctuaries in the north.
Throughout, Turkey has provided cross border sanctuary to terrorists and Islamists alike. The Erdogan regime, unlike the Atatürk model, is run by a recidivist Islamic party. Like Iran, Turkey has been looking backwards for two decades or more.
Adding fuel to flames, Turk troops are liberating ISIS prisoners across the region. Humanitarian Kurds and Yazidis will rue the day that they put ISIS fighters and families in humane camps instead of up against the wall or on the gallows. Ankara and Washington have, in effect, breathed new life into ISIS.
Of course, ISIS, like al Qaeda, was never really beaten anyway. Theater is not war. Now, Islam’s cut throats have license for mayhem in a region where we thought they had already done their worst.
Absent a big power ally, Kurds are now driven to the tender mercies of Damascus and Moscow for survival, raising the specter of a shooting war between Syria and Turkey. By treaty, NATO is “obliged” to support the Ankara aggressors.
In fact, the Kurdistan war, the ISIS war, and the so-called “war on terror” are just symptoms of impotence in Brussels. The EU and NATO are paper tigers. Yugoslavia was dismembered in the Clinton years. Two new European Islamist states, Kosovo and Bosnia, were hatched as a consequence in the heart of Europe. Now Erdogan threatens the EU with another 3 million plus Syrian Muslim refugee tsunami while Brussels whimpers about sanctions.
If Trump is determined to end the endless procession of Muslim small wars, why begin the end by throwing the Kurds under Turkish tanks? Kurdistan was the best of a very bad lot in the Ummah. Ironically, as the Kurds were set adrift, boat loads of new arms were arriving at the House of Saud, those unindicted 9/11 co-conspirators.
Alas, Kabul is the perennial and bleeding ulcer of small wars pathology. Why not start the disengagement there after 30 feckless and costly years? Even the Russians had the good sense to leave Afghanistan after ten years.
Insult now compounds irony. The Syrian skedaddle now makes withdrawal from Afghanistan dicey – or turns a retreat into a global rout. Think of all the potholes across America that might have been filled were it not for the billions squandered in Kabul. Mullahs, imams, and ayatollahs worldwide should be dancing in the streets.
Uncle Sam appears to be folding like a cheap tent.
Not so fast! The abrupt Turkish strike into Syria, and the equally abrupt US brokered cease fire, does not pass the smell test. If you assume the land grab was staged by Messrs. Trump and Erdogan, the game is “plus sum” and the outcome is win/win. The US gets troops out of Syria and Erdogan gets his zone sanitaire, in effect a buffer between Turk and Syrian Kurds. The American vice-president gets bonus points as peace maker.
Sadly, the hidden costs here are Syrian national sovereignty and Kurdish national integrity. And how is Russian meddling in Georgia and Ukraine to be condemned whilst a NATO/Turkey land grab in Syria is blessed by Washington?
America’s kinetic adventures with Islam inexorably go from bad to worse. The Syrian fiasco is underwritten by a single truth that Brussels and Washington will not accept. America and Europe cannot save Islam from itself.
The clash of civilizations is a thing.
Heretofore, there were only two allies worthy of American blood and treasure in the Mideast. Now that the Kurds are lost, the Israelis are sure to think twice about American assurances.
And why on God’s green earth would you light another fuse in the Levant midst domestic travails like an impeachment drama and a toxic national election?
Ending all those “endless” Muslim small wars is a noble goal. If we are honest, we should recognize that many Pentagon campaigns have taken a page out of our welfare books. Programs, once begun, ignore their origins and purpose, and assume a life of their own. After a while, results do not matter.
Victory, for most Americans, is not a thing anymore. Thus the beginnings of national folly are easy; endings are difficult if not politically impossible.
President Trump’s instincts about Muslim small wars might be prudent, courageous or both. Unfortunately, starting with Kurdistan, he may have shot valiant Kurds in the head and American assurances in the foot.