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Profiles in Courage

November 26th, 2013 - 4:08 pm

There is something very strange about the political situation. You can call it a failure of “Profiles In Courage.”  Profiles In Courage was a book that people think was written by President John F. Kennedy, but in fact was written by Professor Jules Davids. Professor Davids, who was my dissertation advisor, was a wonderful man. I’m always irritated that he is not given the credit for what Kennedy pretended to write. Profiles In Courage is a book about the heroism shown by senators who took an unpopular position and even went against what was popular or partisan politically because they knew it was right–for example, the people who voted against the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson after the Civil War, because they knew it was the right thing to do (1868).

What is shocking is that there are so few profiles-in-courage moments at present. In other words, in other words, the judgemetn of a statement is not whether its true but whether it serves indoctrination. Just think of how many Democrats are willing to publicly contradict Obama; how many people have rethought their assumptions; how many journalists are willing to report the truth, even if it is in contradiction of ideology. Just think how few people are even willing to prepare a balanced course for teaching or non-slanted teaching. How many New York Times stories are non-biased?

It seems, I believe, that only 1% of the “Progressive” elite are doing this professional job. Also consider how few people are willing to contradict the cowardly leadership of the Republican Party, even though they must understand that it is only opportunism and careerism that make them follow the current leadership. This cowardice and dereliction of duty–by those who know that there’s something wrong here–is calling public decency and democracy into question. That institutions are pretty broken, that money is being wasted, that lies are being told, that Obamacare is very dangerous, is often simply ignored. I am ashamed and shocked by this failure of the journalistic and academic system.

In 1948, there were hopes that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be resolved in the long-run. But it wasn’t. In 1967, there was hope that the magnitude of Israeli victory meant that the Arabs would eventually come to terms (Egypt and Jordan did in a way, although the final word has not been written). In 1982, people believed that the conflict could still be solved, but it wasn’t. And finally, during the negotiations from 1993-2000, there were renewed hopes that the conflict would be resolved. It wasn’t.

Today, the conflict is even further from being resolved, especially with the entry of Iran, Islamism, and the radical government in Turkey. Maybe it is time to conclude the Arab-Israeli conflict will never be resolved.

There have since been at least three more examples following the same pattern. The first is obviously Iran, its nuclear intentions, its trickery, and its desire to dominate the region.

But that’s not all; consider what the U.S. has done to Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. It is probable that Iran is going to give Syria a victory in the civil war. The fact is that Iran, Hizballah, and the Syrian government are on one side, and Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have been on the other side. But now, in essence, the U.S. has objectively sided with Iran, and that is one of the reasons that the Saudis are angry. Here is what the Saudi ambassador to England, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, said:

“Appeasement hasn’t worked in the past, and I don’t think it will work in the 21st century,” he was quoted as saying. “That is why the frustration really is toward the main players within the United Nations Security Council, that’s their responsibility. And they will share also the blame, whatever deal comes out, they are responsible for it.”

The statement from the Saudi ambassador to London also expressed in his Times of London interview an unusually abrasive criticism of the West for what he said was a too-soft approach toward Iran, calling Washington’s “rush” to engage with Tehran “incomprehensible.”

A senior Saudi diplomat issued a rare direct threat to Iran, warning that “all options are available” should the international community fail to rein in Iran’s alleged drive to acquire nuclear weapons.

This statement could easily come out of the mouth of an Israeli politician. It is amusing that with this parallelism to Israel’s viewpoint, the senior diplomat had to deny that he saw something in common with Israel. In other words, Saudi Arabia feels that it has been betrayed by the United States, and will respond to that betrayal.

Then there is Egypt. Let’s review American behavior. Two years ago, the United States basically helped and celebrated a Muslim Brotherhood electoral victory. Every anti-Islamist knows this. When the Egyptian military coup happened a year later, the U.S. opposed it. In other words, if the Muslim Brotherhood had won and crushed freedom by staying in office, it would be have been backed by the United States, but since there was a coup, the election was stolen.[1]

Doesn’t everyone in Egypt know that if the coup had not taken place, the U.S. would have the supported the Muslim Brotherhood government? Don’t the Egyptians know that the United States would be willing to sell Egypt into Islamic fundamentalist slavery? Would anyone believe the United States would protect any of its other allies?

But suddenly, the U.S. turned around and Kerry actually said that the Muslim Brotherhood had “stolen” the revolution.[2] And that is why the Egyptians are turning toward Russia today and do not trust the U.S. Frankly you would think that the Obama administration wants to sabotage U.S. Middle-East policy.

By the way, the Egyptians were so angered by their perception of Turkey cuddling up to Iran and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, that they threw out the Turkish ambassador.


[1] Catherine Chomiak, “Kerry: Egyptian Revolution ‘Stolen’ by Muslim Brotherhood,” NBC News, November 20, 2013, http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/11/20/21550530-kerry-egyptian-revolution-stolen-by-muslim-brotherhood

*David Gerstman has kindly sent this three-year-old article to me, which is still relevant today.

We must now face an extremely unpleasant truth: even giving the Obama Administration every possible break regarding its Iran policy, it is now clear that the U.S. government isn’t going to take strong action on the nuclear weapons issue. 

Note that I didn’t even say “effective” action, that is, measures which would force Iran to back down. I’m neither advocating nor do I think there was ever any possibility that the United States, even under Obama’s predecessor, might take military action.

I’m saying that they aren’t even going to make a good show of trying seriously to do anything at all.

Some say that the administration has secretly or implicitly accepted the idea that Iran will get nuclear weapons and is now seeking some longer-term containment policy. I doubt that has happened. They are just not even this close to reality.

From their behavior they still seem to expect, incredibly, that some kind of deal is possible with Tehran despite everything that has happened. Then, too, they may hope that the opposition—unaided by America–will overthrow the Iranian government and thus solve the problem for them. And they are too fixated on short-term games about seeking consensus among other powers two of which–China and Russia–are clearly not going to agree to do anything serious. This fact was clear many months ago, but the administration still doesn’t recognize it.

Not only is the Obama administration failing the test, but it is doing so in a way that seems to maximize the loss of U.S. credibility in the region and the world. A lot of this comes from the administration’s philosophy, almost unprecedented concepts of guilt, apology, defeatism, and refusal to take leadership never seen before among past liberal Democratic governments from Franklin Roosevelt through Bill Clinton.

Yet the British, French, and Germans are ready to get tough on Iran, yearning for leadership, and not getting it.

All of this is watered down in media coverage, focused on day-to-day developments; swallowing many of the administration’s excuses plus its endlessly repeated rhetoric that action is on the way. When the history of this absurdly failed effort is written the story will be a shocking one, the absurdity of policy obvious.

It was totally predictable that the Iranian government would not make a deal. It was totally predictable that Russia and China weren’t going to go along with higher sanctions. It was totally predictable that a failure by the United States to take leadership and instead depend on consensus would lead to paralysis. And it is totally predictable that a bungled diplomatic effort will produce an even more aggressive Iranian policy along with crisis and violence.

First, the administration set a September 2009 deadline for instituting higher sanctions and then, instead of following a two-track strategy of engagement plus pressure, postponed doing anything while engaged in talks with Iran.

Second, it refused to take advantage of the regime’s international unpopularity and growing opposition demonstrations due to the stolen election. On the contrary, it assured the Iranian regime it would not do so.

Third, the administration set a December 2009 deadline if engagement failed, then refused to recognize it had failed and did nothing. It is the failure even to try to meet this time limit by implementing some credible action that has crossed the line, triggered the point of no return.

Fourth, the U.S. government kept pretending that it was somehow convincing the Chinese and Russians to participate while there was never any chance of this happening. Indeed, this was clear from statements repeatedly made by leaders of both countries. Now, this duo has sabotaged the process without any cost inflicted by the United States while making clear they will continue doing so.

Here is something tremendously ironic: The British, French, and Germans want to act. Obama has the consensus among allies that he says is required. But he’s letting himself be held back by China and Russia. The three European allies now have the opposite problem they felt with Bush. They wanted to pull back the previous American president. Now with Obama, they can’t drag this guy forward!

Fifth, high-ranking U.S. officials continually speak of their unending eagerness to engage Iran, begging it to fool them with more delays. But Tehran doesn’t have to do so since the same officials speak of at least six months more discussion before anything is done about sanctions.

Sixth, the administration now defines sanctions as overwhelmingly focused on the Revolutionary Guards, which it cannot hurt economically, thus signaling to the Iranian regime that it will do nothing effective to damage the country’s economy. This means that even if sanctions are increased, they will be toothless. The White House ignored the face-saving way out given it by Congress, where the vast majority of Democrats supported an embargo on refined fuel supplies and other doable measures.

All of these steps tell Iran’s regime: full speed ahead on building nuclear weapons; repress your opponents brutally, and the United States will do nothing. It isn’t a good thing when the world’s most dangerous dictator is laughing at you, and your friends in the region are trembling because they have been let down.

After these six failures, the United States is now–in effect–resting. And that is the seventh failure. There are no signs that anything is changing in Washington. To believe that the administration has learned anything from experience, we would have to see the following:

An angry U.S. government that feels Iran’s regime made it seem a sucker. A calculating administration that believes the American people want it to get tough, and thus it would gain politically from being seen as decisive. A great power strategy that it would make an example of Iran to show what happens to repressive dictators who defy the United States and spit on its friends and interests. And a diplomatically astute leadership that understands how threats and pressure must be used even by those who want to force an opponent into a compromise deal.

There is not the slightest indication that the Obama administration holds any of these views. On the contrary, without any apparent realization of the absurdity of the situation, high-ranking officials keep repeating in January 2010 as in January 2009 that some day the United States might do something to put pressure on Iran. Perhaps those in the administration who do understand what’s wrong don’t have the influence to affect the policy being set in the White House.

At a minimum, the administration should implement the tough sanctions envisioned by Congress and supported by its European allies, an attempt to cut off the maximum amount of fuel supplies, loans, and trade from Iran. If this hurts average Iranians, it also sends the signal that the current regime is unacceptable and aids the opposition. In diplomatic history, this is how sanctions have always been viewed.

Instead, while the United States does nothing, Russia is completing Iran’s Bushire nuclear reactor and China is finishing up a massive oil refinery in Iran. While Obama fiddles, the regime is getting stronger, not more isolated.

This sad debacle is going to be a case study of how failing to deal with a problem sooner, even if that requires some diplomatic confrontations, will lead to a much bigger and costlier conflict later involving military confrontations.

When I read what I wrote back in September 2009–four months before the article you are reading now was written–I find that every point made has proven true.

Obama vs. Lincoln at Gettysburg

November 21st, 2013 - 3:25 pm

Unless a civilization or country has continuity, it cannot exist. And that goes for America, too.

For example, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and honest elections must define America. Immigrants and new generations must be trained in this system:

This is the basis of America and democratic government. If the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were defining moments of America, the second defining moment was the Civil War.

Think of that! The first war to end slavery and one where tens of thousands of people–few of them slaves themselves–fought, were wounded, or died to battle it, at the risk of national survival. Now that’s inspiring! (Of course the war wasn’t only for that cause, but it wouldn’t have happened without it.)

This month, President Barack Obama did not go live to Gettysburg. Perhaps, he had a golf game or some banquet to attend, or some accusation of racism to level. But, in fact, the trip would have been incredibly convenient. He even could have dropped by the Camp David presidential resort. All he had to do was travel a short distance to Frederick, Maryland, and drive north to Gettysburg.

I cannot tell you how upset and angry this has made me. Obama could have claimed this was a natural act to sell his agenda. For example, he could talk about racism that is at the heart of America, he claims. But there is a curiosity here, because in fact, if Obama had given this address, he would have actually proven the contrary: that America’s history proved the opposite, that this was a central act to oppose racism, that it was risky but it would be worthwhile to wager the whole nation on this outcome.

In other words, he would have shown that America was an anti-racist country and the first country that had a civil war to end slavery.

If he had gone to Gettysburg, he would have needed to show the theme that America was against racism implicitly. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they were endowed by their Creator by certain inalienable right, that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But he wanted to hint that America’s essence was pro-slavery.

Second, he wanted to reject the interpretation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and to substitute this with the regulation, dependence, and the definition of others’ idea of happiness.

My ancestors did not arrive in the United States until after the Civil War. Still, I understand this centrality, just as I understand the Revolution, Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. It seems Obama does not understand these things.

And incidentally, if center-stage commemoration of the Civil War does not exist today, will, for example, World War II–the victory over Nazism–be commemorated in future decades? I think that this is highly symbolic.

It is time to call this the first officially atheistic regime in history. Note that in his Gettysburg Address speech (and in other speeches), Obama omitted the phrase “under God” from the quotes.

If a president can censor the Gettysburg Address or the Declaration of Independence, what else can he censor? Perhaps he can censor that “everybody will be able to keep their insurance policies.”

May I point out that the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves, and Obama may have an interest in that.

But then I assume that he wants to imply that the slaves were never freed and that racism in fact forever persists.

“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain–that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom–and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” –Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

Israel: The Impudence Accompanying Betrayal

November 11th, 2013 - 2:03 pm

I’ve always been amazed that anyone thought the United States would ever act against the Iranian nuclear threat. There was never any chance that such a thing would happen. The United States would never go to war with tens of millions of people.

Moreover, there was never any chance the United States would let Israel “attack” Iran.

In a Huffington Post article by Steven Strauss, the author quotes Netanyahu:

“‘I believe that we can now say that Israel has reached childhood’s end, that it has matured enough to begin approaching a state of self-reliance… We are going to achieve economic independence [from the United States].’ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Joint Session of the United States Congress – Washington D.C., July 10, 1996 (Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs).”

Unfortunately, today, almost 20 years later, this is not a fair statement to quote. Strauss continues: “In 1997, Israel received $3.1 billion in aid from the U.S. In 2012, Israel was still receiving $3.1 billion annually in U.S. aid.”

This, however, is not an appropriate comparison today. Let us look at the current situation: Egypt will receive $2 billion in U.S. aid; Saudi Arabia will receive military aid as well as the anti-Asad Syrian rebels; Turkey will receive billions of dollars and probably military equipment. Moreover, the United States and Europe will also reach out to Iran, and Hizballah and Syria will receive aid from Iran. In addition, the Palestinians have not made the least bit of commitment on a two-state solution. In other words, only Israel would lose. And this is the childhood’s end?

Strauss further notes, “Israel has become an affluent and developed country that can afford to pay for its own defense.” But the point is that other hostile countries will be receiving more while Israel will get the same amount.

He continues, “… Israel has a well developed economy in other ways.” But again, Israel will be placed at much more of a disadvantage.

The article’s claim, “Other countries/programs could better use this aid money,” does not state the reality.

“Even domestically, the aid that goes to Israel could be useful. Detroit is bankrupt, and our Congress is cutting back on food stamps, and making other painful budget cuts.” Again, the United States does not face an immediate threat from its neighbors, while Israel does. Moreover, this is shockingly implying that Israel is stealing money from poor people in the United States.

In other words, this is not equivalent.

“Israel and the United States have increasingly different visions about the future of the Middle East.” But again, so what? This is absolutely irrelevant.

“A major (bipartisan) goal of the United States has been the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Once again, this is a policy that is impossible, but the United States is going to try to force it on Israel anyway.

Note that the less security the United States and the West provide to Israel, the more difficult it makes it to secure or promote a desirable two-state solution. Strauss adds, “However, the current Israeli government is clearly not committed to the U.S. vision, and has done everything possible to sabotage American efforts.”

The problem with this last point is that the Palestinians have always tried to sabotage this. If this concept hasn’t gotten across in a quarter century, I can’t imagine when it will get across.

The current Israeli government has tried for many years to achieve a two-state solution and has made many concessions. And if Kerry can’t take Israel’s side on this issue, then I can’t imagine how decades of U.S. policy has been carried out. To say that the Israeli government is not committed is a fully hostile statement. This claims Israeli settlement and not Palestinian intransigence has blocked the peace process.

Note that the author of this article has “distinguished” credentials: “Steven Strauss is an adjunct lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.”

Yet if this is what the U.S. government understands, it will end badly. Moreover, the issue of Iran and nuclear weapons is not the important point; rather, it is the transformation of the U.S. Middle East position that is significant. I do not believe there is any chance Iran will use nuclear weapons. The problem is that this is reversal of the U.S. policy. In other words, it is like going back to 1948 and opposing partition.

Finally, what this is all about is money and greed. Many European countries are drooling about the money to be made. For example, Vittorio Da Rold writes (Il Sole 24 ore),Italian SMEs are hoping for a rapid agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue in order to return as soon as possible to trade without limits with Tehran and the rich Iranian market in hopes of finding new markets in a time when the European market flirts with deflation.”

Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East

During the 1930s and 1940s, a unique and lasting political alliance was forged among Third Reich leaders, Arab nationalists, and Muslim religious authorities. From this relationship sprang a series of dramatic events that, despite their profound impact on the course of World War II, remained  secret until now. In this groundbreaking book, esteemed Middle East scholars Barry Rubin and Wolfgang G. Schwanitz uncover for the first time the complete story of this dangerous alliance and explore its continuing impact on Arab politics in the twenty-first century.   Rubin and Schwanitz reveal, for example, the full scope of Palestinian leader Amin al-Husaini’s support of Hitler’s genocidal plans against European and Middle Eastern Jews. In addition, they expose the extent of Germany’s long-term promotion of Islamism and jihad. Drawing on unprecedented research in European, American, and Middle East archives, many recently opened and never before written about, the authors offer new insight on the intertwined development of Nazism and Islamism and its impact on the modern Middle East.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center of the Interdisciplinary Center, Israel. He is the author of many books and publishes frequently on Middle East topics. He lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.  Middle East historian Wolfgang G. Schwanitz is visiting professor at the Global Research in International Affairs Center of the Interdisciplinary Center, Israel, and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum of Pennsylvania. He lives in New Jersey.

Published by Yale University Press. Available February 25, 2014. Pre-order here.

Several students from Students for Justice in Palestine have just written a letter to the university newspaper. They asked why Jewish students on campus weren’t open to a more moderate pro-two-state solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. I will tell you the secret of why that is.

First of all, Israel has a great deal of experience, in fact, repeat experience for 50 years. Israel had many experiences that prove that the Palestinian leadership and the great majority of Palestinians are not interested in a long-term two-state solution. This is both in terms of Hamas and in terms of the Palestinian Authority. There have been tens of thousands of cases that show that both organizations want to destroy Israel.

True, Israel often wanted to give them a chance–indeed, from 1983 to 1993, it certainly tried. I remember clearly on the day the Oslo agreement was signed, I reached out to shake the hand of a Fatah official, who (even then) reluctantly accepted. Three years later, I stood on the street corner watching ambulances race to the scene of a bus terrorist attack, which was not condemned by the PA. In fact, out of many thousands of articles, I can only remember one when a PA official, a military commander, explained why terrorism was really bad for the PA.

Once at a private dinner with a PA official (who later became a PA foreign minister), he said Arafat was stupid for not agreeing to a compromise two-state solution.

Again, even many liberal and left-of -center Israelis know that peace and a two-state solution are not going to happen, at least not without a major ongoing strategic threat to Israel and also terrorism.

Certainly there are those individuals and groups open to peace with Israel, but these are mostly Turks, Kurds, Lebanese, Jordanians, Egyptians, Iranians, North African Arabs, Berbers, some Christian Arabs, and Druze.

In addition, Israel has not been given real security by the UN and Europe and most recently the United States. It has no reason to feel secure even in the furthest extent of concessions that Israel can afford to make.

Even if one is sincere, it appears there is no comprehension of what conditions Israel is facing nor of the hostility to ever accept Israel. This shows a lack of understanding of the structural situation. There is no concept or understanding of the situation, nor is any informed advice offered, yet such people want to risk the lives of Israelis.

This is ludicrous. Maybe one will come to understand in the future how ridiculous this is or perhaps this is known already.

If you would like to see into the future, here is what I predict:

  1. Hamas will continue the violent conflict and stage as many episodes of violence as possible, even if a future state of Palestine doesn’t want to. Hamas will commit terrorist acts, and the government of Palestine will not do much to stop this or punish them.
  2. Whenever a future Palestinian state indulges in violence, it will do so with state support. If Fatah or other government coalition groups engage in terrorism, it the state will usually do nothing to stop it and will deny it.
  3. The West and Europe will usually ignore violence because they want to pretend and suggest the peace process really worked.

It is unfortunately that this is true since the overwhelming majority of Israelis would prefer to have peace.

I was actually astonished at how this column was even more valid than it was when it was first written. See if you agree:

Underlying any other factor regarding attitudes toward Israel in the Media-University-Government (MUG) complex  is the programmatic and ideological problem faced in honestly understanding and explaining Israel’s behavior.

To report truthfully would require comprehending and communicating the following two paragraphs:

 –Most Israelis believe, on the basis of their experience during the 1990s’ Oslo era and with the “peace process” generally, that Palestinian leaders cannot and will not make peace, and that most Arabs and Muslims still want to destroy Israel. As a result, they explain, past Israeli concessions have made Israel’s situation worse, risks to show that Israel wants peace have not persuaded onlookers, withdrawals from territory have only led to that territory being used to launch attacks on Israel. 

–In justifying their stance, Israelis cite the extremism of Iran; the advances of Hamas and Hizballah; the growing radicalism and Islamist influence in the Egyptian revolution, and other such factors. In addition, they worry that the Obama Administration policy is undermining Israel and enabling a growing extremism in the region. This is a prevailing viewpoint across the political spectrum.

I could have chosen to make additional points but this shows the main factors. Since the Israeli argument is so cogent and backed by facts and observable realities, it would be dangerously persuasive to those who  actually get to hear it. 

 Instead, the muggers of MUG must insist:

–Peace would be easily and quickly obtained if not for Israel’s policies.

–Settlements and not Arab/Muslim positions are the factor preventing peace, even though it could be pointed out that if the Palestinians made peace all the settlements on their territory would be removed.

–If Israel only had a different government the peace process would rapidly advance.

 –Obama and his supporters want to save Israel in spite of itself and they, not Israel’ own leadership, knows what’s best for the country.

 –Israelis “know” that Obama is right which is why public opinion polls, statements, and evidence to the contrary is suppressed or spun away. American Jews can support anti-Israel policies in the firm belief that they are really “pro-Israel” policies.

–They have only replaced demonizing the “other” with romanticizing the “other.” Never underestimate the importance of ignorance or of its common form—believing that other people think and act just like themselves. The “great experts” really know very little about the issues. (I could give you a long and amusing list on that point.)

–It is far more pleasant to believe that conflict can be made to disappear, hatreds quenched. If they are all our fault than we can easily fix them.

(No sooner did I write this that up pops a great example of the genre! It’s all Israel’s fault, Netanyahu never showed he wanted peace, blah, blah, blah.)

 Or, in short, “Why do they hate us?” because we’ve behaved so badly but we can fix it by behaving properly.

 Consequently, the systematic misrepresentation isn’t because these people are mean or that they hate Israel as such (well, actually, a lot of academics but relatively few journalists or government officials do) but because their worldview and political line–including 100 percent support for Obama–requires it.

Equally, their systematic view that revolutionary Islamism isn’t a real threat but just a marginal movement of those who misunderstand Islam and want to hijack it, requires it. Equally, their systematic view that to portray certain peoples as hardline, intransigent, “irrational,” etc., is a form of racism and Islamophobia.    

I constantly receive letters from Iranians, Turks, Lebanese, Egyptians, and Syrians about their despair at losing their country, being oppressed, or seeing so much bloodshed in their struggle for democracy and to avoid being crushed by Islamist or radical nationalist dictatorships.

Genuinely moderate Muslims in the West have similar complaints and experiences. One case that typifies many is of a courageous man who is shunned by the politicians, virtually barred from the two mosques in his small city, and sees those who threaten him being praised in the media and feted by local politicians.

These people often have similar symptoms. They are depressed, often close to tears, deeply frustrated, and bewildered. What makes their lot even more bitter is the lack of sympathy for the Western MUG that praises their enemies (and all of ours) at the same time. They, too, are victims of the same syndrome that Israel suffers from.  

One of the worst things in life is for someone to wake up and discover he’s been supporting evil. Indeed, not only an evil in the abstract but forces and ideas that threaten his own freedom and happiness. A lot of people in the West have already woken up but many more need to do so.

These are tales of contemporary America.

It began when I visited a family with children in Maryland in my son’s old school and the cute kid showed his school assignment. My friend took a photograph of it and wrote to me:

PLEASE, if you want to publicize it do so, BUT please white out the handwritten answers, because in this age of totalitarianism, they could easily go after/persecute the child and his family. [Note:  The school might be able to identify the child from his handwriting.]

Such is the fear now.

The fifth grade was learning vocabulary, supposed to choose the appropriate word from a list to replace the phrases in one of the words on the list.  The subtle indoctrination is horrifying.

  1. The speaker called on us to take part in the organized refusal to attend performances of theatres that use non-union actors.
  2. Greenpeace is taking part in a series of actions to stop the killing of whales.
  3. The king of Norway presents the Nobel Peace Prize in a formal event in honor of the occasion held in Oslo.
  4. The separate companies were brought together and formed into one large corporation.
  5. The people in the courtroom eagerly awaited the decision at the end of the trial.
  6. Conditions in the jail take away the self-respect of the prisoners housed there.
  7. The immigrants were kept from going on their way by inspectors who demanded to see their papers.
  8. Students felt that their privacy was being treated in a disrespectful and improper way when their lockers were being searched in a rude manner.
  9. The separation of the different races in public schools was outlawed in 1954.
  10. During the fire drill, students moved out of the school in an orderly way.
  11. The children will remain in the state’s care and control until their parents can be located.

Just to make the point clear, I did not cherry-pick these examples. These are the first 11 which constitute the first page.

I don’t know if it is necessary to say this, but it is an extraordinary degree of politicization and it is all toward the left side.

If you need a list of why, I say this:

  1. Union activism (the teachers all belong to one; Right to Work states? Corruption, the union I was a member of betrayed the workers.)
  2. Environmentalist cause.
  3. Undeserved prize won by their leader
  4. Monopoly; evil corporations.
  5. Possibly neutral but law and order; no justice
  6. Prisoner rights
  7. Poor treatment of immigrants
  8. Poor treatment of students; the radical Weatherman of the 1960s called their school policy, “Jailbreak.”
  9. Racism! Injustice of America.
  10. But you have to obey our authority. We are only justifying rebellion when we tell you to.
  11. Remember we own you if we decide to do so.

Just to show some potential different questions:

5. Potentially dangerous problems in the jail, where violent criminals were kept, required strict conditions.

7. The inspectors did their job and protected the public by keeping immigrants from going on their way by demanding to see their papers.

8. Unfortunately, the amount of drugs and weapons in school required violating the privacy of some students because of a disrespectful and improperly behaving minority.

9. It was a proud day for America when school discrimination was ended in 1954.

 

Bonus story: One friend, who is a lecturer of sociology, said that the far right controls the media in America! She also teaches her students that the corporations are doing better than ever, making record profits, because they’ve downsized and are overworking everyone. [Obamacare makes it tempting to make workers part-timers so greedy companies get blamed!]

The pro-Obama people seem to think there’s an economic recovery, but then are telling me that they haven’t seen so many empty storefronts of businesses that have closed!

“I had always thought wishful thinking a motive frequently underrated in political analysis and prediction.”  –WALTER lAQUEUR

 

If you have never understood U.S. Middle East policy here it is: The  (wrong) response to September 11.

What do I mean? Simple.

There are two ways to respond to September 11:

A. There is a struggle on with revolutionary Islamists which is a huge battle that is parallel to the Cold War or the Allied-Axis conflict. America must organize a united front to fight this battle against the Islamists”: Sunnis or Shia; Turkish, Iranian, or Arab; the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafist, and al-Qaida. Hamas, Hizballah. And the Taliban

B. Or, what appears more easy having a lot more allies and fewer enemies (I said seems) only to focus on al-Qaida. That’s the problem! After all, who else attacked the United States, Great Britain, Spain, and Kenya? Etc.? .And anyway the conflict is probably America’s fault or a lack of communication anyway.

That’s it. Honest. And guess what? The Washington insiders, “expert” (anything but), officials, lots of intelligence (people and also John Brennan, the head of the CIA), a lot of military officers, and lots of sectors of the Republican party (especially Senator John McCain) believe this.

It is not healthy in Washington for one’s career not to believe it.

But after all, it is understandable (albeit also inaccurate and stupid).

Look at this point:

Who do you believe is an enemy who wants to fight and hurt America and the West?

A. The Syrian and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhoods, the Salafists, al-Qaida. Hamas, Hizballah, the Taliban, Iran, and Turkey.

B. Just al-Qaida?

See what I mean?

Think some more:

Suppose we could get all these not al-Qaida Islamists as allies?

Suppose we could get all these not al-Qaida Islamists to repress al-Qaida and so stop terrorist attacks? Wouldn’t that be an easier task? One less involved theoretically in costing American lives? In costing money? Be popular with voters?

Of course.

And finally, of course, that’s what the president and mass media believe.

The problem is, though, that gets the Islamist ideology wrong. Al-Qaida and the other revolutionary Islamist have different tactic but not different goals. Learning that lesson will take years and be very painful. The wrong ideas are deeply embedded in large parts of the arrogant, ignorant, and financially interested establishment.

You should understand that: It is not acceptable in official Washington or its peripheral sectors, to say that the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt, Syria, Hamas) is a terrorist group.

It is not acceptable in official Washington or its peripheral sectors, to say that the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt, Syria, Hamas) is an anti-American group.

BUT  iT IS PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE TO CLAIM THAT THE REPUBLICAN ARE TERRORISTS, HOSTAGE-TAKERS, AND ANTI-AMERICANS.

STRANGE, HUH?

Well, consider this from my mentor Walter Laqueur who is now in his 92nd year and still writing brilliantly”:

“Another factor frequently overlooked is the reluctance to admit mistakes which also seems hardwired to the human brain.  Perhaps most important of all is the crucial factor of moving with the right crowd.  As Jean Daniel put it:  Better to be wrong with Sartre than right with Raymond Aron (originally it was Camus). Sartre might have been consistently wrong in his political judgment and Aron almost always right. But did it really matter very much?  Aron and Isaiah Berlin might have been right but during the cold war they were pro-American and this was not good at all– even if their American connections were mainly  with  liberals. This is how reputations quite often develop and how they endure. It is an interesting  issue certainly in need of further investigation.”