As the 50th anniversary of the 1972 election approaches, it is time to reconsider the Watergate controversy that preceded and ultimately partially undid it. I’ve just completed a review for the New Criterion of Michael Dobbs’ new book about Watergate, King Richard. The book repeats endlessly, without any attempt at substantiation, that the Nixon presidency came apart and was righteously legally assaulted because of the infamous “cover-up” consisting mainly in the “hush money” Nixon authorized to be paid to Watergate defendants in order to “keep them quiet.” Once again, and as always, not one whit of evidence was presented in support of the argument that Nixon authorized these payments for any such purpose. It has passed into the universal history of the modern world that he did, but he always denied it. So did some of the defendants, and an exhaustive examination of the very extensive tapes and documents permits a different interpretation.
To the end of his life, Nixon claimed that he authorized the payments in order to assist the defendants in paying their legal bills and taking care of their families. This was particularly urgent in the case of Howard Hunt, whose wife died in an airplane crash shortly after the Watergate affair began. Nixon foresaw the zeal of hostile prosecutors and he knew that any jury in the District of Columbia would be hostile to Republicans. Moreover, as an experienced lawyer, he certainly knew that any large payments to groups of defendants obviously in exchange for silence or false testimony would be an open-and-shut case of obstruction of justice, and would qualify as a high crime justifying his impeachment, removal as president, and subsequent criminal prosecution. Yet this allegation is the core both of the impeachment charge against Nixon in 1974 and of the popularly accepted and endlessly repeated Watergate saga.
It is certainly time that Richard Nixon received balanced historical treatment. He must, of course, take principal responsibility for the disgrace and embarrassment of Watergate; he permitted, and at times encouraged, a tawdry atmosphere within the White House in which legalities were often treated a bit casually and Nixon rather self-servingly applied the Truman-Eisenhower latitudinarian version of national interest and the president’s practically unlimited right to define it. These were terrible tactical errors and no one can deny that Nixon paid heavily for them. But against that, and despite the fact that he was the first president since Zachary Taylor in 1848 to take office with neither house of Congress in the hands of his own party, Nixon enjoyed one of the most successful single terms in the history of the U.S. presidency.
He ended the almost constant rioting and skyjackings that racked the country, completed the desegregation of schools without having to implement the court-ordered bussing of tens of millions of children all around metropolitan areas out of their neighborhoods and against the wishes of their parents for racial balance; he founded the Environmental Protection Agency, reduced the crime rate, and ended the draft. And in foreign affairs he normalized relations with China, triangulated great power relations with the USSR, started the de-escalation of the Cold War, and signed the greatest arms control agreement in the history of the world with the Soviet Union.
He extracted the United States from the Vietnam War while maintaining a non-Communist government in Saigon which would have had a chance of survival if the Watergate crisis had not prevented him from resuming aerial bombardment of the North when that country, as had been expected, violated the peace agreement and resumed its invasion of the South. These are the reasons, and not any minor political skulduggery, that President Nixon was reelected by 18 million votes in 1972, a plurality that has not been approached in the subsequent half-century even though the electorate has grown steadily larger.
Not only does Richard Nixon deserve a sober reevaluation, but some of his more vocal critics deserve a sober second look as well.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are still active and apparently somewhat influential commentators on contemporary American politics and the absurdly antagonistic and muckraking treatment that they have frequently inflicted on some of Nixon’s successors must reflect on the credibility of their coverage of the Watergate affair that so durably influenced public and international opinion about Nixon.
Many readers will remember Woodward’s fabrication in his book Veil, a fable to resolve the Iran-Contra debacle by imagining that he had gained entry as a hospital orderly into the room of former CIA director William Casey and had extracted from him a confession of wrongdoing in that murky episode. Security for the room made that impossible and medical records clearly establish that Casey was comatose at the time. Woodward was given a free ride for his fairy tale. Almost all of his and his sidekick Carl Bernstein’s revelations about Watergate were the sour grapes of “Deep Throat” (Mark Felt), and most of that was just malicious gossip prompted by the source’s failure to be elevated to succeed J. Edgar Hoover as director of the FBI.
Bernstein has been considerably more egregious in slouching out of our television screens with alarming frequency throughout the Trump era. Bernstein in 2018 favored viewers with his alarm, unique to him as far as could be discerned, that the country was already in the midst of a “constitutional crisis” because Trump was trying to dismiss Justice Department officials who were investigating him. His entire competence to govern was undermined by mental instability, Bernstein contended, to the point that the 25th Amendment should probably be invoked.
On Sunday, Bernstein solemnly asserted to the porcine CNN Trump-hater Brian Stelter, that Trump is “an American war criminal operating within his own country,” and that “when we’re talking about Trump, we’re obviously talking about a kind of delusional madness.” On a gentle probing from Stelter, Bernstein elaborated that his status as a war criminal consists of his “crimes against humanity” which ”he has perpetrated upon our people, including the tens of thousands of people who died because of his homicidal negligence in the pandemic.”
Naturally, the fact that Trump probably saved millions of lives around the world with his facilitation of an early vaccine went unmentioned and his homicidal contact was not remotely identified. Bernstein continued, saying Trump’s “actions in terms of fomenting a coup in which to hold onto office and which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has now compared . . . to Hitler . . . to brownshirts, to the Reichstag fire.”
This is unspeakable and demented nonsense; certainly the chairman of the Joint Chiefs should be fired.
Born on December 16, 1899 in the south-west London suburb of Teddington in a family of lower middle class, genteel poverty, son of an unsuccessful piano salesman but with an ambitious mother, he had little formal education and trained as a child as a dancer and actor who made his stage debut at the age of 12, but he became an astonishing polymath, one of the highest paid writers of his times, and for many the Grand Old Man of British drama and the entertainer of the world and an international celebrity.
He became the epitome of charm and a life of luxury with his Rolls-Royce, travelling first class, displaying bright turtle necks, flamboyantly using a long cigarette holder, and living part of the time in a house in Jamaica where he died in March 1973. He was the embodiment of art and style, characteristics that had an international impact on the fashion and culture of his time.
Sir Noel Coward was one of the twentieth century’s most prolific playwrights, wrought more than 65 plays, and also extraordinary as a versatile actor, novelist, theater producer and director, film maker, songwriter, TV and cabaret performer, autobiographer, and even in war time a spy. In everything he touched, personal and impersonal, Coward was the incarnation of impeccable style, sophistication, expressing both verbal and artistic wit. His work remains influential. Many of his plays, such as Hay Fever, Private Lives, Blithe Spirit, Design for Living, remain in the contemporary repertory of theatre and film.
Sir Noel Coward is currently being honored in a major exhibition at the Guildhall Art Museum in London which coincides with the 100th anniversary of the West End, London, acting debut of the 19 -year old playwright. The exhibition illustrates the ways in which Coward, often referred to as The Master, and his creative circle, influenced fashion and culture, and indicated some of the aspects of his extraordinary 60 year long career.
The exhibition drawn from the Coward archives is an eclectic assortment of the items and features of art, costumes, and memorabilia from his homes, personal wardrobe, theater productions, letters, photos, medals, videos original artworks, home movies, sheet music handwritten notes, pieces of art, his favorite scent, Caron’s Narcisse Noir, his make up kit, white kid gloves , cream silk foulard and extravagant ties. However, it only very indirectly hints at his gay identity.
What are most significant are particular items. Some are the vintage dresses by the famous couturiers who worked for Coward productions., especially the iconic Molyneux white satin dress worn by Gertrude Lawrence in the play Private Lives. Coward hired and worked with the most gifted theater designers and original set and costume designers. Among them are Oliver Messel, Cecil Beaton, Victor Stiebel, Norman Hartnell, Doris Zinkeisen, and Rex Whistler. Stage productions in which these designs appeared influenced international theatrical and general fashion. Other outstanding items on view are the legendary dressing gowns that Coward was prone to wear on stage.
Considering the Coward’s highly productive output, and the popularity of so many of his works until later in his life, continuing until a 2021 film version of Blithe Spirit, it prompts the question of whether Coward can rank in the classical comic tradition of Congreve, Sheridan, Oscar Wilde, and GBS. It is worth considering the extraordinary diversity of his output.
His early plays set in elegant drawing rooms, dwelt with the collapse of social norms, with a touch of darkness, and taboos such as cocaine addiction, adultery, promiscuity and a menage a trois. His first great West End , the equivalent of Broadway, success The Vortex featured a nymphomaniac socialite and cocaine addicted son. The characters rarely express their true feelings. At one time he had four plays being performed at the same time in the West End. He wrote not only a number of hit plays but revues, operettas, and musicals.
In Private Lives, which he wrote in 4 days, he simultaneosly mocked and celebrated modern mores, featuring a divorced couple, with clever repartee, acerbic barbs, flippant remarks, and demonstrating how romance and rivalry were quickly rekindled. Coward featured patriotism: in war time he wrote In Which We Serve and acted as the upper-class captain of a destroyer, a role he modelled on his friend Lord Mountbatten. He tried current history in Cavalcade, set against the major historical events of the early 20th century. He himself appeared in 70 stage productions. In his work he also parodied, as in Stately Homes of England, upper-class rules and idiosyncrasies. Yet he also wrote both a story , made into the film Brief Encounter, directed by David Lean, which may be considered the most romantic movie ever made, and the dark comedy Blithe Spirit.
He exhibited sentiment and spectacle with operattas such as Bitter Sweet, inspired by Die Fledermaus. Though not a composer like Gershwin or a lyricist like Johnny Mercer, and joked in Private Lives, “strange how potent cheap music is,” Coward composed a number of carefully crafted melodies that are virtually standards, “I’ll see you again”, “I’ll follow my secret heart,” “Someday I’ll find you .”
He became an elegant cabaret performer, first in London at the Café de Paris, and then in June 1955 in Las Vegas. Sometimes during his performance he might pen new lyrics to Cole Porter’s list songs. To the melody of “Let’s do it” he wrote, “in Texas some of the men do it, others drill a hole, then do it, West Point cadets forming fours do it, people say all those Gabors do it.”
Yet, Coward’s biggest and most successful creation was himself. “I am,” he said, “an enormously talented man, and there’s no use pretending that I’m not.” Certainly, the British entertainment world did not, and called him the Master. He did everything with style including his own creation with his particular staccato manner of language, clipped diction speech, and appearance. On continual display, on and off stage, was his unique personality, debonaire, insouciance, flamboyance, chic, poise. If James Bond is typified with his dinner jacket and cocktail, Coward is personified by signature, his luxurious and very expensive dressing gowns and long cigarette holder. In all this he did not publicly convey his real sexual orientation, though known as gay by the British theater community. Though he had long term homosexual relationships, they were kept secret from the general public.
For some time Coward has been remembered in many ways including a bust in the foyer of the Theater Royal of Drury Lane.
Adept at social climbing, Coward entered chic circles of theater and public figures of men and women: among the latter were Gertrude Lawrence, Joyce Carey, Judy Campbell, Tallulah Bankhead, and Marlene Dietrich, and even Rebecca West and Virginia Woolf, and the Queen Mother. His male circle included John Gielgud, his rival in musical shows Ivor Novello, Terence Rattigan, and a possible dalliance with prince George , then Duke of Kent, and in the private background his fellow homosexuals. He was a generous person. Gielgud got his real start as Coward’s understudy in The Vortex in 1925. He discovered Elaine Stritch and starred her in a musical in London and on Broadway.
In his practice of using art and style, and elegance, on and off stage, Coward was concerned with the visual style. He hired the best artists and designers of his time. He use courtiers such as Cecil Beaton, Victor Stiebel and Norman Hartnell, and set designs by Gladys Calthrop and Doris Zinkeisen. Not surprisingly, these spectacular productions were admired and had an international influence on fashion
Coward was a gifted verbal wit as he showed not only in his comic songs, “Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun,” “ I went to a marvelous party” but in general. The totally bald Yul Brynner was “curly.” Gertrude Stein was “literary diarrhea”. The duke of Windsor pretends “not to hate me, but he does, and it’s because I’m queer and he’s not, but unlike him I don’t pretend not to be.”
Coward learned foreign languages, and performed his star role in the play Present Laughter in French in Paris in 1948. He lifted the spirits of the nation in the years of the Great Depression and wartime , while lifting himself at the same time, never boring, as he said, the living hell out of the public.
He also said , “I have taken a lot of trouble with my public face.” That face and his image of impeccable style and sophistication continues to be admired fifty years after his death.
How many New English Review readers over the years, I wonder, have switched off their television set at bedtime on Sunday -- the posh channel, of course -- their minds full of stories from renowned novelists of proud lords, duplicitous bishops and scheming social climbers and sighed at the thought of the paltry office politics they will face in the morning? For them, Walter Bagehot, the British constitutional scholar and editor of The Economist in the mid-19th century, had a word of consolation. One of those novelists, William Thackeray, he says, had a compulsion to “amass petty detail to prove that tenth-rate people were ever striving to be ninth-rate."
Scotland Yard was today criticised for failing to catch a knifeman five days after he stabbed a Christian preacher wearing a Charlie Hebdo T-shirt at Speakers' Corner, as counter-terrorism officer continue to investigate.
An estimated 30 witnesses saw Hatun Tash, 39, being slashed across the face in broad daylight at Hyde Park on Sunday with some filming what happened (screen shot left) in an area of Central London that is packed with CCTV cameras.
The force are believed to be holding a meeting today to discuss how they police Speakers' Corner going forward, but questions are being asked about how the attacker got away so easily after stabbing the preacher.
Some witnesses have claimed police quickly dispersed the gathered crowd after the attack without taking witness statements, and a film crew who are regularly at the site have published a clear picture of the alleged knifeman.
Ms Tash since claims to have had police officers turning up at her house trying to speak to her and pressurising her not to talk to broadcast media, before she did an interview with GB News on Wednesday.
When she arrived at Paddington station ahead of the chat she was escorted to the GB News studios by police, who have also turned up at the offices of the Christian Legal Centre, which is representing her, trying to find her. The incident is not being treated as terror-related, despite Ms Tash being from the DCCI (Defend Christ Critique Islam) Ministries group which 'seeks to preach the Gospel to Muslims using apologetics and polemics'.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, told MailOnline: 'It is extraordinary that the attacker is still at large given the video evidence and witnesses at the scene, some of whom, we believe, know him. The footage clearly shows an attempt to kill, or at least seriously harm, a Christian woman in broad daylight in front of the police. Speakers' Corner is one of the most monitored places in the UK.'
'This is not the first time that Hatun has been threatened and assaulted at Speakers' Corner. The threats and attacks are intended to shut down any critique of Islam. If that's what happens the attacker wins. We are also concerned that blaming the victim for wearing a Charlie Hebdo T-shirt amounts to an acceptance that it is OK to shut down opposition to Islam through extreme violence. An attack like this is an attack on us all. It strikes at the heart of what our society was built upon - freedom. Freedom to believe, freedom to disagree, freedom to move and speak without fear.'
Responding to the criticism by Ms Williams, a Met Police spokesman told MailOnline today: 'No arrests have been made at this stage, but officers from the Met's Counter Terrorism (SO15) are working hard to follow up all lines of enquiry and identify the person responsible for this attack. We would urge any witnesses or anyone with information who has not yet come forward to contact police. The incident is not being treated as terrorism-related at this time.'
Asked whether they turned up at Ms Tash's home, the spokesman said: 'Officers from SO15 have been providing support to the victim.' He added that the force was not prepared to discuss this further.
The Met did not comment on whether the force are discussing policing arrangements for Speakers' Corner.
In few countries does the recent past weigh more heavily than in South Africa. It was not to be expected that when the peaceful handover of power from the apartheid regime to the African National Congress occurred, all would go smoothly.
The peaceful handover was made possible by the downfall of the Soviet Union. There was no longer any possibility of the new regime receiving immense subsidies from that source in return for political and strategic support. The doctrines of the South African Communist Party, which had infiltrated and powerfully supported the ANC, and which was one of the most Stalinist and doctrinaire of all the communist parties in the non-communist world, suddenly became an anachronism, an irrelevance, almost an embarrassment and an absurdity. The ANC would from now on concentrate on capitalist kleptocracy rather than on socialist kleptocracy. It soon found out what should have been obvious from the first: that there was more to steal in the former than there would ever have been in the latter.
Nelson Mandela shed his distant communist and terrorist past and, though his undoubted personal dignity, became father to the nation. When the South African rugby team, the Springboks, won the rugby world championship, he donned the Springbok rugby shirt (at the time, rugby was an almost all-white sport) to show his enthusiasm: no gesture could have reconciled the white population more to the new dispensation.
But gestures, while important, go only so far and warm and fuzzy feelings do not last very long, nor do they by themselves ameliorate harsh physical and economic realities.
South Africa had a long history of redistributionism and positive discrimination. Indeed, it might be possible to see apartheid itself as a redistributionist project: not principally between black and white, but between the English-speaking and Afrikaans-speaking white populations. Within living memory, the term race relations in South Africa meant not relations between blacks and whites, but those between Anglos and Afrikaners. So firmly was white rule entrenched, the blacks were nugatory and of no account where power politics were concerned, and it was beyond any white South African’s imagination that they, or some part of them, would one day take over.
The (Afrikaner) Nationalist government which took over in 1948 was determined to redress the economic, social, and cultural balance between Anglo and Afrikaner. The former held the economic power, the latter were numerically stronger. The former saw the latter as ignorant, crude, and rather stupid peasants; the latter regarded the former as not being fully committed to the country, calling them salt-penises because they had one foot in South Africa and one in England. (For the purposes of the dichotomy between Anglo and Afrikaner, the very important and successful Jewish population, almost entirely of emigrants from Lithuania, counted as Anglo.)
The Afrikaner policy of positive discrimination was successful: it raised the status and economic power of Afrikanerdom. The Afrikaner nationalists understood that the liberalism of the Anglos was only relative and even hypocritical. The Anglos were prepared to extend a little more leeway to blacks, and especially to the coloureds, as people of mixed race, Malays and Indians were called, and to allow them some political representation, but at heart they were white supremacists just like the Afrikaners, and would not revolt to produce a fundamental change. The conflict between the Anglos and the Afrikaners ceased to be about anything fundamental.
Like many who have been in power for a long time, the Afrikaner nationalists overestimated the solidity of their position. When in 1975, after 27 years in power, they attempted to impose Afrikaans as a language of instruction in black schools, there was an unprecedented uprising which, though it was put down, shook their confidence by showing what black contestation could do. The sheer weight of demography made the previously unthinkable not only thinkable but likely, even inevitable.
When the Afrikaner nationalists ceded power to the African nationalists, the new government was faced with a dilemma. It could, in theory, have opted merely to sweep away the unjust laws that obstructed African advancement and left it at that, allowing for a natural progression of the African population that was now legally able to compete and rise by its own unaided efforts. Or it could opt for the model of positive discrimination that the Afrikaner nationalists had used.
Not surprisingly, it opted for the latter, though only after some delay. The hopes and expectations of the population had been aroused. Understandably, it wanted immediate and considerable amelioration of its condition. It would have been to expect what is not in human nature to expect the population to accept a gradual spontaneous ascent that might take decades to achieve, leading ultimately to parity, or what is now often called equity: if it were achieved at all, that is. The cards had been so long and so heavily stacked against the black population that it was natural that they should want more than mere legal equality, and positive discrimination was the obvious way to achieve it.
The possibility of external subventions to compensate for grossly uneconomic policies had been removed. But what had worked for a small minority population could not possibly work for a population that was an overwhelming, and increasing, majority. Moreover, the Afrikaner nationalists had ensured that their positive discrimination encompassed a drive towards a high educational level and technical competence, possible with relatively small numbers. The problem for the African nationalists was infinitely more difficult.
They knew that they could not kill the goose that laid the golden eggs, which severely limited the scope of redistribution. Outright confiscation (a policy once advocated by the ANC in its communist-influenced days) would therefore be inadvisable. Any redistribution would have to be limited and selective.
Again, it was only natural that those who had contributed most, politically, to the liberation of the country from apartheid should consider themselves most entitled to the spoils, less total than might once have been hoped for. But every person thus entitled to an important share had also a clientele of relatives, associates, and tribe, who had to be satisfied. One didn’t have to take only for oneself: one had to take on behalf of others.
Since redistribution had its limits, this meant that there was little left over for the great mass of the population. In some ways, its situation did not improve, it deteriorated. Crime, for example, impunity for which BLM seems to consider a benefit received rather than yet another impediment to a good life, increased; in 2021 there were 16,000 murders in South Africa, and 99,000 car hijackings. While a majority of South Africans still feel safe walking in their neighbourhoods by day, only 40% still do by night. The electricity and water supply has become ever more insecure and wasn’t perfect to begin with. A third of the population is unemployed.
More than half the population wasn’t born when apartheid ended, and not more than a third would have any real recollection of what apartheid was like (and of that third, a fifth would be white). While hopes and expectations remain, memories either fade or are non-existent. The ANC government has now been in power three quarters as long as the Afrikaner nationalist government before it and can no longer rely on any gratitude for having liberated the country from apartheid. It has become a government like any other, and not a particularly good one (though again, it has to be remembered that there are worse). And the spectacle of legalized, or tolerated, wholesale looting by a political class gives to retail looters a moral justification that they might otherwise have lacked.
In addition, the imprisonment of the former president, Jacob Zuma, for contempt of court, having failed to give evidence to a judicial enquiry into corruption in which he was implicated (to say the least), was easily felt to be or presented as an ethnic injustice. Why Zuma? Because he is a Zulu, not a Venda (as is the present president) or a Xhosa (as was Mandela). Many people in KwaZulu Natal saw him not as a looter of the country with the most doubtful record of personal conduct to boot, but as a victim himself. Ethnic tensions are never far beneath the surface in such situations.
The government was reluctant to use force to put down the rioting for fear of appearing like its Afrikaner predecessor. A South African correspondent told me that there was rioting, looting, and arson nearby without the presence of a single policeman or any effort to stop it. As is usually the way, it was not only the most necessitous who looted, and they did not loot only items of primary necessity. The burnt-out stores reminded me of the days when Afrikaner police would say of African rioters that they were only ‘fouling their own nest,’ and therefore were best left to it.
The memory of apartheid is strong enough to inhibit the government in its use of force, but not strong enough to excuse it in the eyes of much of the population. The long-term auguries are not good—but then, they never were.
Palestinians Accuse Hamas of Storing Weapons in Civilian Areas
by Hugh Fitzgerald
How satisfying it is to see Israel’s claims about Hamas deliberately storing weapons in residential areas is now being backed up by the Palestinians themselves – to wit, 133 Palestinian NGOs who have denounced this dangerous and cruel practice by Hamas. The story is here: “Palestinians accuse Hamas of storing weapons in residential areas,” by Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, July 24, 2021:
Palestinian factions and human rights organizations have called on Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups to stop storing weapons in residential areas following another explosion that killed one person and injured 14 others on Thursday [July 21].
They also demanded a thorough investigation into the explosion in order to hold those responsible accountable.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said that the explosion took place in a warehouse used by Hamas for storing weapons.
The “warehouse” was, in fact, an ordinary three-story residential house in the Al-Zawiya market area in the middle of Gaza City. Scores of civilians would have been in and around the house at all times.
Hamas said it has launched an investigation into the explosion, but has not provided any details….
Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza views the explosion incident with grave seriousness, as there have been repeated incidents of internal explosions in houses in overcrowded residential neighborhoods for various reasons in the past, which resulted in the killing of a number of civilians and the destruction of homes and public and private properties,” the statement read.
From the Palestinian horse’s mouth: “there have been repeated incidents of internal explosions in houses in overcrowded residential neighborhoods” which “resulted in the killing of a number of civilians.” This was not the first such explosion of a Hamas weapons warehouse that killed civilians, but only the latest of many, all of which could have been avoided had the terror group placed its weapons well away from residential areas. But the terror group has always insisted on maximizing the danger to Palestinian civilians, by warehousing weapons in their midst, in the hope of avoiding Israeli attacks.
“Accordingly, Al-Mezan reiterates its call for a comprehensive and serious investigation into this incident and other similar events, to publish the results of the investigation publicly, and to take the necessary measures to ensure that it does not recur in order to preserve the lives and property of citizens.”
The “necessary measures to ensure that it [such an explosion] does not recur” would mean an entire overhauling of Hamas’ policy on weapons warehousing would have to take place. The weapons would be moved from populated places and placed far from civilian areas — where of course they will be more easily detected by the IAF. As far as Al-Mezan goes, that’s just too bad.
The Palestinian NGO Network, an umbrella organization comprising 133 member organizations, also called for a “serious and transparent” investigation into the explosion. “The Network stresses the need to expedite the provision of all forms of assistance and support to those affected,” the group said. “It also stresses the need to announce the results of the investigation and to take serious measures to prevent such explosions from happening again.”…
It looks like the Palestinians are at the end of their tether, fed up with Hamas’ practice of deliberately storing its weapons ammunition in the midst of civilian areas where the danger of unintended explosions and civilian casualties is high. And they are now making public their pent-up fury, even though their complaint about the terror group’s practices echoes, and buttresses, the claims made by Israel about Hamas.
Fadel Al-Manasfeh, a Palestinian writer, echoes the Israelis: “Hamas chooses popular markets as a safe place for its ammunition warehouses because it knows that Israel does not target such places.” The Israelis try to pinpoint their attacks on these warehouses so as to minimize civilian casualties, and before launching them the IDF makes sure to warn civilians to leave the immediate area, through telephone calls, emails, and the “knock-on-the-roof” technique. Not all the civilians always leave in time, and sometimes the hoped-for precision of the bombing is not achieved. But Israel never deliberately “targets” civilian areas. Al-Manasfeh has it right: “Israel does not target such places” as those “popular markets” within or near to which Hamas stores its ammunition and weapons.
The next time the Jewish state is attacked in the UN Genera Assembly for causing “civilian deaths,” Israel’s ambassador should read out the Jerusalem Post article posted above, taking care to point out that the Palestinians themselves have accused Hamas of deliberately storing their weapons in civilian areas, in the hope that either Israel will be forced to refrain from attacking or, if it does decide to attack, any civilian casualties that result – Hamas doesn’t give a damn about what happens to them – will make Israel look bad. Let the Ambassador read out to the General Assembly what the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has to say about this latest explosion at a house in the midst of the Al-Zawiya market area, and why the 133 Palestinian NGOs have called for a thorough investigation, and what the Palestinian writer Fadel Al-Manasfeh said about the terror group Hamas’ practice of deliberately placing weapons in civilian areas (like markets), because it knows that Israel would be unlikely to target them. Having read all that out – quoting only Palestinians themselves – he can then tell the stunned Assembly (and the furious delegate from the “State of Palestine”) that “I rest my case.”
Cuba: An opportunity to right the ship on Latin America
by Steve Hecht
If Joe Biden follows his new sanctions on Cuba with additional measures, as he announced, the dictatorial regime could lose power. That would free Latin America from 60 years of regime efforts to impose the Cuban model, first by force of arms and then, since 1990, through internal subversion.
At the same time, it would conflict with and doom current State Department (DOS) policy in Latin America, which has for decades imposed leftist preferences. An about turn from DOS would also be good news for Latin America.
Cuba is the head of the poisonous snake that bites countries throughout the hemisphere. The regime has two objectives: (1) gain allies for their transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and (2) impede the emergence of any prosperous society that could counter Cuba’s failed authoritarian model.
Cuba was instrumental in establishing dictatorships in Venezuela and Nicaragua. Cuba played a key role in destabilizing Chile and is prominent in the communist takeover of Peru. Colombia is currently under criminal assault, including from Venezuela, Cuba and TCOs.
DOS favors socialists throughout the hemisphere, with only toothless condemnations of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. DOS congratulated Peru on a supposedly model election before it was completed and despite the many charges and indications of fraud. DOS is silent about the vandalism and the role of Venezuela, Cuba and TCOs in the attempted overthrow of Colombia’s government.
In Guatemala, DOS partners with the successors of the Fidel Castro-supported guerrillas. Now that Guatemala’s authorities are rebelling against DOS control of their justice system, the Biden regime is openly leading the socialist charge. The regime has sanctioned and defamed Guatemalans whose only crime has been using courts and the media to challenge DOS-favored judges and prosecutors.
The Maduro regime in Venezuela survives on narcotrafficking and support from China, Iran and Russia. Illegal drugs mostly flow by air and sea from Venezuela to Honduras and Guatemala and then by land to Mexico. Sending contraband by air and sea directly to the United States is riskier than going by land.
Colombia and Guatemala are two key points in the contraband land route. If the TCOs overthrow the Colombian government, the flow of contraband by land will increase significantly. With DOS control of Guatemala’s justice system since 2011, socialists have kept the nation’s borders open. DOS went against President Donald Trump and now works hand in hand with the Biden regime.
If the Cuban regime were to fall, the effects throughout Latin America would be palpable. The Venezuelan and Nicaraguan dictatorships and the communist movements throughout South and Central America would be weakened, probably to the point of collapse.
Biden said, “This is just the beginning—the United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for oppression of the Cuban people.”
Some members of Cuba’s security forces are reluctant to take harsh acts against fellow citizens. Biden could accentuate this reluctance by warning the Cuban military that its members could face consequences in a liberated Cuba for abusing their fellow citizens’ human rights.
Biden could form and lead a coalition with countries—such as Brazil, Canada and Ecuador—that have expressed support for Cuban liberty. The dictatorship survives partly from the Club of Paris’s easy credit. Biden could convince members to tighten financial restrictions until the regime respects its citizens’ human rights.
Latin America has been limited by its tradition of centralization and abuse of power since Europeans arrived about five centuries ago. That made Latin America ripe for communist conquest.
Living under communism or facing communism exported from Cuba has taught many people throughout the region that limited government, separation of powers, and rule of law are the way forward. Many leaders have emerged throughout the continent eager to pursue this path, which would be of great benefit to their people and the United States.
DOS career officials tend to see only the faults of regimes they criticize. This leads them to support those who oppose those regimes without examining who they are and what they would do once in power.
For instance, DOS supported Daniel Ortega for president of Nicaragua in 2007. Ortega aligned with Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who depended on Cuba for repression and crime. Even DOS now views Ortega as a dictator. However, DOS does not learn what it does not want to learn. In Chile, Peru, Colombia and Guatemala, DOS supports Ortega types who promise paradise but deliver hell.
The spontaneous, brave demonstrations by everyday Cubans have opened the possibility of freeing not only Cuba but the rest of Latin America. The people Biden’s Latin America team support in the region would be severely weakened if the Cuban dictatorship were to fall. If Biden fails to do as he announced and the Cuban regime survives, his Latin America team will continue their policies uninterrupted.
For the cause of liberty in Latin America and the United States, we must hope Biden’s newfound, late engagement against the Cuban dictatorship is real and that it continues. If so, more practical people in the Biden regime will have prevailed against Biden’s Latin America team.
The Supreme Leader is worried. The Ayatollah Khamenei has had the army try to suppress the continuing protests in Ahwaz, the capital of Khuzestan, the Iranian province where almost all of that country’s oil is produced. But force hasn’t worked. Even though a half-dozen of the protestors in Ahwaz have been killed so far, the marchers, furious with the regime for many reasons, but at this point especially angry over the lack of water in the largely Arab province, refuse to disperse. So Ayatollah Khamenei is now trying another tack, expressing understanding of, and sympathy with, the rioters, in the hopes that a soft answer will turneth away wrath. The latest report on the protests in Khuzestan is here: “Five dead during Iran water shortage protests, Khamenei comments, Reuters, July 23, 2021:
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday [July 22] that Iranians protesting over water shortages cannot be blamed, and called on officials to deal with the water problem.
Street protests over water shortages spread from the oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan province to a nearby area overnight [the province of Lorestan] where one youth was shot dead with pellet guns and seven were injured, a police official said, blaming “counter-revolutionaries.”
When the police in Iran claim that protesters were killed by “counter-revolutionaries,” everyone understands perfectly — it’s the police.
“The people showed their displeasure, but we cannot really blame the people because the issue of water is not a small one especially in Khuzestan’s hot climate,” Khamenei was quoted by state TV as saying, in reference to the protests.
Khamenei might have done as he has done many times before: call down the power of the army to suppress the protesters, then arrest the ringleaders, and throw them in prison. But this time, he admitted that they should not be blamed. There is indeed a water problem. However, the Supreme Leader still puts the blame on nature: Iran is suffering its worst drought in 50 years. That human folly – the mismanagement and corruption of his own government might also have contributed to the disastrous lack of water in hot Khuzestan – is not discussed.
“Now, thank God, all the various agencies, governmental and non-governmental, are working (to resolve the water crisis) and should continue with all seriousness,” Khamenei added.
How will all these “various agencies” manage to “resolve the water crisis”? Will the heavens open? The main thing that the Iranian government can do is to cease its policy of diverting what water there is in Khuzestan to other areas of the country where not Arabs, but Persians live. This favoring by the Islamic Republic of the roughly 50% of the Iranian population that is Persian over the four other major ethnic groups – Arabs, Azeris, Kurds and Baloch — is a source of great unhappiness to those groups. The Arabs of Khuzestan have other grievances, too. Almost all of the oil that Iran produces comes from Khuzestan; the Arabs live amidst that wealth, they see the black gold being pumped out of their ground and hauled away in trucks; they are keenly aware that they share very little of the resulting riches, that end up being spent by the government in Tehran mainly on the privileged Persians and on making mischief abroad.
Demonstrators in the town of Aligudarz in Lorestan province marched to voice support for protesters in neighboring Khuzestan late on Thursday on the eighth night of protests. Videos showed protesters chanting slogans against Khamenei.
Khamenei must be alarmed. Not only are the protests in Ahwaz among the Arabs not dying down, but they have spread to Lorestan, a province just to the north of Khuzestan, where marchers shouted their support for the protesters in Ahwaz. And in Lorestan, two-thirds of the people are Kurds, which means that, as in Ahwaz, it is not only fury over the mishandled water problem, but also ethnic resentment of the domineering Persians that feeds the seemingly unassuagable anger.
Other videos from Aligudarz showed two young men who appeared to have been shot….
At least one policeman and three young men had been shot dead in earlier protests. Officials have blamed “rioters,” but activists said on social media the protesters were killed by security forces in Khuzestan….
Eight killed so far — as of July 22 — in Khuzestan and Lorestan. Will the killing continue, or is Khamenei’s new-found “kinder, gentler” approach now going to prevail, filtering all the way down to the Iranian soldiers trying to contain the protesters? They might discover that the Supreme Leader is right; letting the protesters march and shout themselves hoarse is the best way to calm the figurative waters. And while the ethnic resentments of Arabs in Khuzestan and Kurds in Lorestan will always remain, at least the anger over the drought can be mitigated. All Tehran has to do is to collect the water that has been taken out of Khuzestan and Lorestan and redirect it to It those parched provinces. It will buy the Supreme Leader time, while his monstrous regime waits, expectantly, for the capitulation by the Americans on the Iran deal, which when it happens will bring in so many hundreds of billions of dollars to Tehran that can be used to buy, once again, the temporary loyalty of Iran’s disaffected minorities.
Right now Iran is teetering on the edge of economic disaster which, on the Iranian street, is translated into political rage. But don’t worry, Supreme Leader. Before your regime collapses, the Bidenite cavalry will come to the rescue, not of beleaguered fellow Americans, but of the malevolent regime that manages to survive, just, in Tehran. Those four horsemen of the apocalypse, Biden, Blinken, Sullivan, and Malley, will lift those crippling sanctions, and provide Iran with a new burst of unfreedom that, as long as the Bidenites rule, shall not perish from the earth.
There is another pandemic that, in the long run, may be more harmful to the health of humanity than that of COVID-19. It will ultimately cause the loss of many more years of human life, if it does not already do so.
Whether pandemic is quite the right word for it might be disputed. I am referring to the vast increase in obesity in most parts of the world in recent decades. The word pandemic suggests illness, but is obesity in itself an illness? That it causes illness, no one will dispute: but many things cause illnesses without being themselves illnesses.
Increasingly, however, medical journals write of obesity, as they do of addiction, as if it were in the same category as, say, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, that is to say an unfortunate mischance. There is now, after all, surgery for obesity which works; drug companies research drugs to reduce obesity from which, if found, they will make fat profits, if I may be allowed a slight pun.
On the other hand, most people think, with varying degrees of reticence to express their thoughts in public, that obesity is the consequence of weakness of will. Greed is not illness but a sin, or at least a moral failure. We are fat because we give into temptation, that which Oscar Wilde said was the only thing that he could not resist.
The British government is thinking of paying people, bribing them in effect, to buy and eat healthier, less fattening foods. It will reward them financially for their weight loss or for the choices they make in supermarkets. This, of course, flies in the face of the illness concept of obesity: not even a British government would think of paying patients with hypothyroidism to produce more thyroid hormone from their own glands.
There is no doubt that obesity is a problem in Britain, where it is more prevalent than in most countries. This clearly results from the eating habits of the population, now inculcated early in childhood. Not long ago, for example, I witness in a baker’s shop in my small town a fat and slatternly mother force a cake on her three-year-old child, who was slightly overweight but not yet fat.
The child had not asked for a cake, nor did he want it when presented with it, but the mother insisted that he eat it as if it were his duty to do so, as once children were told to eat up their greens. She was like an evangelist for obesity, and it is amusing to note how often fat people have fat dogs. Botero, the Colombian painter, was not just an artist, but a prophet.
The proposal to pay people according to their behavior (made possible by information technology) is a sinister extension of state power, but there is no denying that it has a certain logic.
Where people surrender their right to choose how to meet their medical needs, and hand over responsibility to the state (or for that matter, any third-party payer), it is hardly surprising that they will before long surrender their right to choose how they behave.
If someone else pays for the consequences of your actions, it is only natural that, one day, he will demand to control your actions. After all, freedom without responsibility creates an unjust burden on others.
Why should I pay, either through taxation or insurance premiums, for the consequences of the choices of others, when the proposal to bribe them into better choices is a recognition that their choices are under conscious control? (Such bribery has been tried in the cases of alcoholism and addiction to heroin, and work to an extent.)
It is easy to see what the justification for such bribery would be. If it works, it may produce savings to the state greater than its cost. (I leave aside the health benefits to the successfully bribed.)
This, of course, assumes that the state, or some third-party payer, must bear the medical costs of treating the consequences of eating too much, especially of the wrong things. It also assumes that utilitarian calculation is the be-all and end-all of ethics. If it works, it is good; if it doesn’t, it is bad.
The problem for libertarians is that it is very difficult to ensure that individuals bear the entire semi-predictable costs of their conduct (not every obese person becomes expensively ill as a consequence of his obesity). Given the enormous costs of medical treatment, which third-party payment inflates, some system of such payment is inevitable.
Either the insurance disregards the conduct of the insured, which is unjust towards those who behave responsibly, or it gives the insurer, state or private, the locus standi to interfere endlessly in the most intimate aspects of the lives of the insured.
Most of us are probably willing to bear some costs of predictably dangerous behavior, for example that of mountaineers. The additional costs are trivial, and therefore not worth bothering about either for the sake of a reduction of costs or of philosophical consistency; but it has been estimated that the additional cost of treating disease caused by obesity in Britain amounts to $150 per head per annum, that is to say $600 for a family of four.
And, of course, the burden of taxation (which in Britain pays for most health care) falls unevenly on the population, the obese being, statistically, in the class that pays the least. Many families must pay $3000 or more, which equates to $5000 of gross income, to pay to treat the obese.
But no civilized country could possibly refuse treatment of the obese merely because they had eaten their way to ill-health and were therefore the authors of their own misfortunes. Thus we are faced by a stark choice: either pay up or allow the government to supervise and interfere in the smallest detail of our lives.
The former is probably the better choice in the circumstances, albeit that taxation is a form of interference. The best would be if people behaved responsibly, and they would be encouraged to do so if they bore the costs of their behavior: but that is not possible.
What is needed, then, to reconcile freedom of choice with sensible conduct, is a kind of mass religious revival with diet as its object. Naturally, I proceed on the assumption that it is best for people not to be obese, but the obese may think differently.
Manchester Arena bomber's brother Hashem Abedi 'refusing to take part in de-radicalisation programmes' in prison
I'm not surprised (although it is a perfect opportunity for taqiyya) so why is anybody else. From the Manchester Evening News
Manchester Arena mass murderer Hashem Abedi is refusing to take part in any 'de-radicalisation' programmes in prison, a new TV investigation claims.
Abedi, who plotted the 2017 terror attack alongside his brother, suicide bomber Salman Abedi, is being held in a 'prison within a prison', says ITV News. In a report due to air on Wednesday at 10pm, ITV claims Abedi is in a 'separation centre' at HMP Frankland, near Durham. It's said to be reserved for prisoners with extreme views who pose the gravest ideological risk of radicalising other prisoners.
The programme was given access to Frankland and HMP Full Sutton, near York, home to some of the most dangerous terrorists and killers.
His prison interview with two inquiry lawyers was recorded - and he confessed to being a supporter of 'violent jihad and a supporter of the institutions of Sharia law through violence'. Abedi also admitted to being a supporter of Islamic State.
ITV says he is not co-operating with specialist de-radicalisation programmes while serving his sentence.
While inside HMP Frankland, the programme says it also observed a man believed to be Hashem Abedi on CCTV security footage socialising with another inmate identified as a former Taliban fighter who was jailed for plotting terror attacks in the UK.
While locked in their cells, 'separation centre' prisoners talk to one another by shouting through open windows.
Richard Vipond, a probation officer and prison offender manager at HMP Frankland told of an incident with one inmate. "One particular person I was working with, we opened his cell door and he said 'I'm not going talk to you, you're an enemy of Islam, you're an Islamophobe, you're my enemy'," he said. "There are some people that are so entrenched in their views, in their ideologies and their beliefs that we just become a holding centre for them."
Ms Tash, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, said that she has been verbally and physically attacked in the past while preaching at Speakers' Corner at the park.
Speakers' Corner is known for being a place where people can freely express their opinions.
Ms Tash said: "I am upset and disturbed by what has happened to me. I am asking myself if have done anything wrong?. . . I am convinced I have not broken any law or incited hate. All I did was question Islam and I wanted to debate discuss and to tell people about Jesus Christ. Speakers’ Corner is a great place to do this, it is a shame that this has happened at the home of freedom of speech."
She said she believed the attacker's "intention was clearly to kill me".
Ms Tash added: "I can’t believe this has happened in broad daylight at Speakers’ Corner. You do not expect such things to happen in Great Britain."
She claimed a lack of action from police contributed to her being knifed. "My attacker was not even afraid of the police as he did it right in front of them," she said. "It is heartbreaking that we live in a society where police do not want to arrest a Muslim for fear of being called ‘Islamophobic.’”
Tash, who is from Turkey but moved to the UK eight years ago, told The Times that she was a former Muslim who converted to Christianity.
She began preaching at Speakers’ Corner in 2013 and said: “In my early days Speakers’ Corner was a much calmer place. Now it is not and I am regularly attacked by a Muslim mob.”
She said the atmosphere had become unacceptable: “We don’t live in Pakistan, we don’t live in Saudi Arabia. I am Christian and by default I believe that Muhammad is a false prophet. I should be allowed to say that in the UK.”
As an aside that is an interesting difference of house style there from the two newspapers. The Times, the newspaper of record and generally percieved as the 'posh people's' paper calls Miss Tash by her surname, as if she was a member of the ranks or a parlourmaid. The Sun, seen as rather vulgar and plebeian gives her the courtesy of the title Ms. But I digress.
Two weeks before she was stabbed, Ms Tash started legal proceedings against the Met Police over allegations of false arrest and imprisonment. Ms Tash is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre with her legal action against the police. She claimed she was illegally held in December and again in May this year in relation to clashes with groups of Muslims.
In relation to Ms Tash's claims, a Met Police spokesman said: "We can confirm the MPS is in receipt of a claim made by a woman in her 30s in relation to interaction with police on two occasions. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."
The force also confirmed no arrests have been made.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Tash, described the most recent incident as “harrowing”, adding: “If Hatun is silenced by violence at Speakers’ Corner, we are all silenced.”
Former German Foreign Minister (1998–2005) and Green Party leader Joschka Fischer published a column on July 23 that, perhaps inadvertently, well summarizes the confused strategic worldview of the traditional German political parties, which is steadily diverging from the interests of the United States.
Fischer, like more than 95 percent of other Germans who have an opinion on these things, recognizes the monstrous wickedness of the Nazi regime, and accepts the fact that it had to be destroyed and Germany had to be unconditionally and overwhelmingly defeated in World War II, ultimately for its own good as much as for the sake of any other country. He acknowledges that only the military guarantee of the United States kept Stalin and his successors out of Western Europe.
Fischer glosses over that the French tried to veto German entry into NATO and even Winston Churchill’s Great Britain, heavily burdened as its leader was with the desperate struggles with a belligerent Germany in both World Wars, was unenthused about welcoming Germany to NATO. President Dwight Eisenhower forced his allies to accept Germany in NATO, recognizing the need to bind it as an ally to the West as the most important country in Europe, and to assist in the maturation of Germany’s political judgment by tying it to such close and strong allies.
I have long believed that the greatest single act of statesmanship since World War II was when Konrad Adenauer, West Germany’s first chancellor, declined Stalin’s offer of German reunification in exchange for neutrality in the Cold War, and he carried West German public opinion with him. Eisenhower’s sponsorship of Germany as a respectable and civilized ally was close behind.
Fischer’s version of what followed, and here he speaks for a wide swath of German opinion, is the following: “A degree of political distrust on the part of the U.S. persisted, but German ‘trans-Atlanticists’ refused to see it. From their perspective, the alliance had supplanted all previous antipathy and that was that. They were wrong. Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. pursued a multi-pronged strategy, both deterring the Soviet Union and maintaining control over Germany, in recognition of its vital position at the heart of Europe. … In terms of raw interests in political economy, significant differences remained.
“Since the mid-1950s, for example, the transatlantic perspective competed with a more distinctively European one and with German Chancellor Willie Brandt’s Ostpolitik in the 1970s—which coincided with the nascent détente between the U.S. and the Soviet Union—the protector and the ward’s diverging interests became even more obvious.”
It was at this time that Germany, in particular, began to claim her right to coast altogether on the American military budget, claiming some kind of offsetting parity between greater American “burden-sharing” and greater European and specifically German “risk-sharing,” as if the United States were responsible for Germany being in the center of Europe and it was America’s duty to make up for Germany’s proximity to Russia with an immense defensive umbrella.
In the great subsequent debates over the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Western Europe, the German left took the position that in the event of hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union in Europe, intermediate-range missiles would confine the damage to Europe, and while they didn’t explicitly state this, their preference was that the Americans and the Russians should settle any such problems by an exchange of ICBM’s over the heads of the Europeans.
The United States could have the high honor of guaranteeing the military safety of Western Europe from the Soviet Union, but if necessary would have to exercise that privilege in the direct exchange of hydrogen-warhead intercontinental missiles with Russia and not with any incrementalism of the use of less destructive weapons in Western Europe.
Deterring Soviet Occupation
The alliance managed through all this, but the Germans, including Fischer, were frequently hearing the forest murmurs. Fischer did graciously acknowledge that as the Soviet Union disintegrated, the Russians, the British, and the French were all opposed to the reunification of Germany but the Americans were steadfastly in favor and never wavered. The United States was the only Atlantic country that had no fear of a united Germany.
Fischer’s perspective is widely held, but it’s essentially nonsense. Franklin D. Roosevelt (who knew Germany well and spoke German) and Stalin both realized that World War II would be won by whoever occupied Germany. He was always confident that once the Western allies got across the Rhine, the Germans would fight savagely in the East but surrender fairly quickly in the West in order to be occupied by the Western Allies who accepted the Geneva Convention, and would be civilized occupiers.
The prearranged zones of occupation, which Roosevelt opposed but both Stalin and Churchill approved in order to assure themselves of large zones, were superseded by the secret Tehran Conference agreement to move both the eastern and western borders of Poland 200 miles to the west. Most of Russia’s German zone fell in Poland and 12 million Germans preceded the Red Army west in order to avoid Russian occupation. The result was that the Western allies held more than 75 percent of the German population. Germany accepted the leadership of the United States as the only force that could deter Soviet occupation.
Post Soviet Union
After the Soviet Union disintegrated, Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1982–1998), remained thoroughly loyal to the Western alliance. His successor, Gerhard Schroeder (1998–2005), accepted material inducements from the Russians and began the reduction of German military capability. In the long regime of Angela Merkel (2005–), Germany continued to be courted by Russia.
China became her greatest trading partner and under pressure from the left, Merkel shut down the ambitious German nuclear power program and has transformed Germany into a virtual energy satellite of Russian natural gas. Its defense sector has dwindled to an absurdly low position for a country that was for most of 75 years the most militaristic in the world.
Fischer declares that the Trump presidency “did more serious damage to U.S.-German relations than anything else since World War II,” and “the question for president Joe Biden is whether the U.S. can regain its allies trust.”
As usual in comments of this kind, no time is wasted explaining what was “wrong” with Trump’s policy toward Germany. He was critical of the anemic German defense commitment, effectively leaving the United States to defend Germany altogether, and intervened to prevent the completion of the Nord Stream Pipeline which, Trump alleged with some reason, made the concept of defending Germany from Russia incongruous. Merkel has refused to do anything to show any recognition of the Chinese threat to the West.
The real question is whether, if Germany continues to make no effort on defense and to ease China’s way into full penetration of the European Union commercially, the interests of the United States are best served in close collaboration with Russia, if it ceased to irritate America and most of its former republics and shifted gradually into a modified containment alliance opposite China with India, Japan, the United States, and other countries.
We are in an interregnum now; Merkel is on her way out, Biden’s administration is immobilized but what is coming soon is a choice far more profound than Fischer realizes: If Germany is gulled by China, a profound rapprochement between the United States and Russia could result in Russia being a more worthwhile ally than Germany. The ability of Germany to fumble into such a position should not be underestimated.
Why We Should Not Heed Ilhan Omar’s Call for a Special Envoy to Fight ‘Islamophobia’
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Never mind that the very term “Islamophobia” is used to silence all legitimate criticism of Islam. Such criticism is said to be based on an “irrational hatred” (a phobia) of Islam and of Muslims, but many of us believe that anyone who studies both the text of the Qur’an, and the observable behavior of Muslims toward non-Muslims both now, and during the past 1400 years, has good grounds for alarm about the Muslims in our midst.
Ilhan Omar’s proposal that a special envoy be appointed who would monitor and fight islamophobia, is discussed previously at Jihad Watch here, and here also: “Omar leads lawmakers in calling for US envoy to combat Islamophobia,” by Aris Folley, The Hill, July 20, 2021:
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and other Democratic lawmakers have signed onto a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging him to appoint a special envoy tasked with monitoring and combatting Islamophobia.
In the letter sent Tuesday [July 20], Omar and two dozen other lawmakers cited the spike in Islamophobia seen in recent years as well as the “persecution of Muslims manifesting itself around the world.”
What “spike in Islamophobia” is that? Hasn’t she noticed that during the past decade the Western world has flung open its gates to millions of Muslims who have been allowed to settle in the very midst of European states, deep behind what Muslims are taught to regard as enemy lines? Muslims have brought a “spike” in crime rates and in terrorism wherever they live. By taking advantage of every possible benefit that the generous welfare states of Western Europe offer – free or highly subsidized housing, free education, free medical care, family allowances, and more, Muslim migrants have cost the European taxpayers tens of billions of dollars – and counting.
All of this surely contributes to the “rational” antipathy that Europeans increasingly feel toward the Muslim migrants now in their lands, who largely refuse to integrate, supplement their welfare payments with crimes of property, and threaten the security on the streets of both women and of Jews. Meanwhile, both governments and the media confuse the public, in some cases by failing to identify Muslim terrorists as Muslims, or if they are so identified, the public is so often told by the police that the perpetrator was likely suffering from a “mental illness.” No one bothers to investigate what is in the Qur’an that explains perfectly such behavior by Muslims, including their duty to “strike terror in the hearts of the Unbelievers.” Mainstream journalists, and the police, are hellbent on ensuring that the public does not learn the contents of the Qur’an. Big Tech companies – including Google and Facebook – are willing collaborators in this effort, making it harder for islamocritical sites such as Jihad Watch to reach their potential audience. Public figures, from presidents on down, bend over backward to assure the public that Islam is a “tolerant and peaceful religion,” and tell us that “we mustn’t allow extremists to define Islam. We must not make the mistake of blaming Islam. For if we do, the terrorists will have won.”
Meanwhile, in the real world, since 9/11/2001 there have been nearly 40,000 separate terrorist attacks by Muslims.
When people start to mistrust or dislike Muslims, such feelings are based on what they observe of Muslim behavior and attitudes. It is based on real evidence, and does not reflect a pathological mental condition. Antisemitism is a very different phenomenon. It is a pathological condition; Jews are hated not for what they say or do, but for who they are. And nothing they say or do will change the mind of the convinced antisemite.
Antisemitism is a much bigger problem than anti-Muslim attitudes; outside Muslim countries themselves, where sectarian strife is common, anti-Muslim attitudes rarely result in violence. Jews in the U.S. are 2.5 times as likely to be attacked than Muslims. Outside the U.S., in Europe, anti-Jewish attacks are 5 ties more likely than anti-Muslim attacks.
The lawmakers also pointed to a recent annual report released by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in which the office identified multiple countries with “patterns of mistreatment and human rights violations against either their entire Muslim populations or particular sects of Muslims.
Obviously the situation of Muslims in China, where one million Uighurs are in re-education camps, a carefully-bowdlerized Qur’an is the only version of the book that Muslims may possess, imams are humiliated by being made to dance in public and declare their allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party, the observance of Ramadan is made more difficult by forcing restaurants to remain open all day but then to close at night before the Iftar dinner, long “Islamic” beards must be cut, and Muslim first names are forbidden, is very bad. But other than China, and to a much lesser extent Myanmar, there is very little mistreatment of Muslims except in Muslim lands themselves. In Pakistan, Sunni terrorist groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba specialize in killing Shiites, destroying their mosques and schools. Also in Pakistan, Ahmadi Muslims are by law not allowed to identify themselves as Muslims; they are despised as “Qadianis” who are guilty of “blasphemy” for believing that the 19th-century founder of the sect was indeed the Last of the Prophets. Ahmadis are a frequent object of both government repression and of private parties desirous of inflicting their own murderous punishments for blasphemy on the Ahmadis.
In Saudi Arabia, the Shi’a, almost all of whom live in the Eastern Province of al-Hasa where the oilfields are located, are mistreated by their Sunni political overlords; the Shi’a-populated province receives less aid from the central government to build much-needed infrastructure than any other region; it is also difficult for the Shi’a to obtain government employment. In Iran, it is the reverse. The Sunni Baloch in eastern Iran, on the border with Pakistan, are discriminated against by the Shi’a central government. Finally, in Afghanistan, the uber-Sunni Taliban was in the process of massacring the Shi’a Hazara in 2001 when the American troops arrived and rescued them; the Taliban have this year already renewed attacks on the Hazaras, not even waiting for all of the American troops to leave.
Ilhan Omar and her fellow lawmakers again:
“In addition to state-sponsored policies of Islamophobia, we have seen a disturbing rise in incidents of Islamophobic violence committed by individuals connected to larger transnational white supremacist networks, including but by no means limited to the mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019 and the recent murder of a Muslim Canadian family in London, Ontario,” the lawmakers wrote.
Other than China, where are there “state-sponsored policies of Islamophobia”? Only Myanmar comes to mind, for its attempt to drive Muslim Rohingya, regarded as a security threat by the Burmese Buddhists, into Bangladesh. But certainly there are none anywhere in Western world, where governments and the media have dedicated themselves to minimizing domestic Muslim threats. As for Omar’s reference to “larger transnational white supremacist networks,” neither Brendon Tarrant, who carried out the mosque shooting in Christchurch, nor Nathaniel Veltman, who ran over a Muslim family in Ontario, had connections to such networks. They were lone wolves.
The lawmakers went on to strongly urge Blinken to establish the new role dedicated to combatting Islamophobia, calling it “a genuinely global problem that the United States should tackle globally.”
Ilhan Omar and her fellows want this proposal for the appointment of a special envoy on Islamophobia to achieve two goals. First, they want to impress upon the world that Muslims are every bit as much the victims of irrational hatred as the Jews whom Ilhan Omar thinks get far too much attention. Second, they want to use the charge of “Islamophobia” as a way to silence all legitimate islamocritics from continuing their work and, especially, to reduce their presence online.
This would make worldwide bigotry worse, not better.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom report that members of Congress reference various issues of religious intolerance, including antisemitism and intolerance towards Muslims. It also describes bigotry against Sikhs, Hindus, Yazidis, Christians and specific Christian sects like Copts and Jehovah’s Witnesses….
It would be interesting to know if Ilhan Omar would support the appointment of a special envoy on anti-Hinduism, who would have to focus on Muslim persecution of Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Would she want our government to establish a special envoy to report on the persecution of Sikhs in Pakistan? And what would Ilhan Omar say if President Biden were to appoint a special envoy on the persecution and murder of Christians worldwide, which — always excepting China and North Korea — is almost entirely the handiwork of Muslims in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey, and Nigeria?
I suspect – don’t you? –that Ilhan Omar would resent any attempt to enlarge the number of such envoys; she wouldn’t want anything to distract from the attention paid to the work of the newly-appointed envoy on “Islamophobia.” Why, she might even volunteer to take on the task herself.
If Ilhan Omar has her way, this new envoy would focus only discrimination by “white supremacists” against Muslims. Muslim discrimination against other Muslims, which affects tens of millions of Sunnis, Shia, Ahmadis, and Sufis, would simply be ignored.
Hatred of Jews is not based on rationality. It is, rather, a pathological condition. It has nothing to do with what Jews do or do not do, whether they are capitalists or communists, deeply religious or atheists, Little-Enders or Big-Enders. For this hatred, it is sufficient that they are Jews.
Whatever an antisemite loathes most is the very quality he will attribute to the Jews. Reality does not matter. If he hates the rich, the Jews are “shylocks of high finance.” If he is against vaccines, Jews are “pushing vaccines to cause sterility among the Gentiles.” And so on, with so many possibilities to pin on “the Jews,” each more absurd than the last.
Omar cannot abide the focus on antisemitism. The Jews, the Jews, always the Jews, she can’t stand it: “What about the Muslims? What about Islamophobia?” She wants to push Muslims forward as equally the victims – no, even greater victims – of unreasoning hatred, than are Jews. None of the statistics on hate crimes compiled by the FBI bear her out; Jews are 2.5 times as likely to be the victims of hate crimes as Jews. Furthermore, she specifies in her statement about a special envoy on Islamophobia that “white supremacists” are to be blamed, just as they to be blamed for antisemitism. Neither is true. It’s not white supremacists, it’s not even non-Muslims, but other Muslims of rival sects, who pose the greatest danger to Muslims.
Antisemitism is “the oldest hatred” in time and the one with the farthest range in space. In its violence and virulence, it far outdoes any of the other ethnic or religious hatreds. It can be found all over the lands of what was once Western Christendom. It can be found, too, all over the Muslim lands. Those who feel antipathy for Muslims do so because of what Muslims believe and do. Those who feel that extreme antipathy for Jews known as antisemitism do so no matter what Jews believe and do.
Antisemitism is a hatred that, in its obsessiveness, is like no other, and to be properly combated requires a long period of mental immunization that has to begin in early adulthood. This hatred can never disappear, though the number of its adherents can be reduced to manageable proportions. But no one, least of all a crude antisemite such as Ilhan Omar, should be allowed to divert energy and attention away from that fight by claiming, both falsely, and with malice aforethought, that “Islamophobia” is just as bad. There are six million ghosts who beg to differ.
Listen: I’ve been told that the Afghan men who Western countries have rescued, have left their first, older wives behind, taking all the children, together with their second, younger wives. Such men are not likely to assimilate. Who will? The educated women, those with careers. Yesterday, someone connected me to some women in Afghanistan and to some women here who work with Afghan women. We exchanged emails—and foolishly, I sent a list of questions their way, then thought better of it, and withdrew.
Imagine what might happen if a member of the conquering Taliban finds their computers and sees what they’ve been saying and to whom they’ve been talking.
Yes, I think girls and women, especially feminists, should get out of that country right now, gays and dissidents, too—as well as the persecuted Hazaras: on foot, by bus, by plane, on a camel, or on the top of a truck. Disguised as boys or men if the women can pull it off.
So easy for me to say—not so easy to accomplish. Who can leave their families, friends, students, patients—or their orphan charges? And for an unknown, certainly difficult future? Just like Biblical Jews leaving Egypt for the wilderness. How many can the West afford to absorb?
However, if such endangered Afghans can get themselves to an American Embassy or to any Western Embassy in a neighboring country they could apply for political asylum. I hope they do so.
Ben & Jerry's new motto: "hate, strife, and boycotts"
by Lev Tsitrin
Ben & Jerry's motto "Love, peace, and ice-cream" is so passe in our age of outrage, whether real or imagined (I say "imagined" because the tragedies that inflamed the BLM movement -- the deaths of Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, have nothing whatsoever to do with racism , either personal or systemic; and the "progressive" outrage over Israel's treatment of the Palestinians strangely ignores Palestinian treatment of the Israelis that is rooted in the refusal to acknowledge the basic implications of the Arab conquests in which, after Mohammed's death, Arabs conquered and settler-colonized half of the then-know world, Palestine -- the Jewish homeland for centuries before Arab conquests -- including). So why not follow the spirit of the angst-filled age?
With two alternatives of happiness in balance -- one of giving a measure of creature comfort to all via a cool treat and making good living in the process, the other, satisfying one's deep-seated need for releasing the suppressed hatred, the board of Ben & Jerry's chose the latter, announcing the decision to stop sale of its ice-cream in what it declared to be "occupied Palestinian territories," though it is really a disputed territory -- not just the Arab land occupied by the Israelis but also the Jewish land occupied by Arabs, the Jews being at the very least as "native" to the land as the later-comers, the Arabs.
Ideology and facts don't mix. To an anti-Semite, Jews being in the right is no proof that Jews are not in the wrong. I recently had a couple of comical Twitter encounters in which the opponents told me that there never was Jewish presence in Palestine, that the proper study of history showed that it was in the possession of Palestinians essentially since the day of the Creation. I offered a mainstream timeline: Jewish presence from Exodus of about 1,200 BC to the Roman exile of about 300 AD, Arab presence since 636 AD. That was lies, was the reply. In support of my timeline, I twitted back a link to a Wikipedia entry on Palestine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine_(region) but it was pronounced a lying, manufactured history, too: by citing Wikipedia I engaged in Israeli propaganda. I asked the respondent if it were possible that he projected on me his own mindset, and that whenever he saw a fact that supported the Jewish position he automatically filtered it out, simply because he bore the Jews ill will; to that he did not reply. I guess while we prefer to believe that antisemitism is but an unfortunate byproduct of ignorance, in fact the opposite is often true, wilful ignorance being a deliberate, consciously-cultivated product of antisemitism.
Needless to say, to an ideologue the Big Truth is his espoused ideology, the Big Lie is the facts that contradict it. There is a certain logic to it: if the ideology is inherently right, than the facts that counter it must of necessity be wrong, and therefore, be expunged from the record. This is how all ideology-based regimes -- Communism, or Nazism, or Islamism operate. In a Western empiricist's mind, the facts are primary; they are the building blocks of the systemic view of the world. A fact that was disproved calls for rethinking the validity of the system. It is the exact opposite to the ideologue's mind (it that which does not think can be called "a mind"): "rethinking" the doctrine is unthinkable; a fact that contradicts it is no fact, and must be ignored (hence, the constant suppression of the opposing voices. I still remember my father sitting on a low stool in front of his huge lamp radio set patiently turning the tune button in a hope of finding a gap in the maddeningly relentless monotonous hum that was jamming the Voice of America.) It being the Big Truth that the innocent, native Palestinians are the victims of foreign imperialist Jews, no amount of evidence to the contrary can shake it. Historical record and archaeological evidence are but parts of the Big Lie.
This is apparently how the Ben & Jerry's board sees the matters. Though businessmen by profession, its members are "progressive" ideologues by avocation, so facts be damned. The avocation prevailed over the business sense, Ben & Jerry's joining the "progressive," anti-Israel crowd. Its policy (if there was any rational policy to it at all rather than a purely emotional, ignorant, ideological antisemitic urge), is I think best summarized by contemptuous reference to the Soviet eagerness to conform which I heard, more than once from my grandfather quoting a backwoods Buelorussian saying (I replaced in my translation its racy moniker for the part of anatomy it references with an official medical term): "everyone heads into the rectum, so I will head into the rectum, too."
Ben & Jerry's is of course free to head wherever they want, but we will not join them. That place, filled by "progressives" of all stripes, is claustrophobic and stinky; and the companion groups, like the BDS-supporting academics, are but noisy ignoramuses, and miserable companions. We will continue to strive for "love, peace, and ice-cream" -- though not of Ben & Jerry's variety, this latter being filled with hate, strife, and boycotts -- hardly the best ingredients of enjoyable life.