August 28, 2010
A Test Question for Muslims: "Is Hamas a Terrorist Organization?
Imam Dawoud Kringle of the New York State prison system is portrayed as a "moderate," and mouths all the politically correct things about how Islam and terror are incompatible, indeed how Islam forbids terror. Yet when asked whether Hamas as terrorist organization, he wouldn't give a direct answer. Start watching at 3:00
Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, and has been on the list for years. If you're not familiar, "Hamas" is an acronym for Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamat al-Islāmiyyah, which means "Islamic Resistance Movement", and they are the Palestinian terrorist group that has control of Gaza. In January of 2006 they won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament in their parliamentary elections, but that wasn't good enough. Fighting broke out between them and their rival Fatah, and by June 2007 they had defeated Fatah in Gaza and controlled it. They're basically a bunch of murderous thugs.
So whatever one thinks of Israeli policy or the fate of the Palestinians on the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) or Gaza, it should not be too hard to call Hamas organization and to condemn them outright Yet some Muslims cannot, and all too often these are the same people who mouth all the right pieties about how much they oppose terror. Like the Imam in the video above, they sound all very fine when talking about terror in the abstract, but ask them to condemn any Muslim terror organization other than al Qaeda and suddenly they get tongue tied.
There are some genuine reform-minded Muslims who reject all this, and I've profiled them here at Redhunter; search in "Islam" under "categories" at right.
But so many will not call Hamas, or for that matter Hezbollah, terrorist organizations. Why not?
Andy McCarthy provides some answers:
Why They Can't Condemn Hamas
Rauf and his friends employ different methods, but they are on the same team National Review
by Andy McCarthy
August 28, 2010
If you want to know whether an ostensible Muslim "moderate" is really moderate, ask him if Hamas is a terrorist organization.
It is really not a hard question, even if Feisal Rauf can't -- or won't -- answer it. Rauf, the would-be imam of the controversial Ground Zero mosque, is also a stud in the State Department's stable of ready-to-travel-on-your-dime "moderates." That same State Department has branded Hamas a terrorist organization, and we can't even get it to say that about the Taliban, the guys we're fighting in the overseas contingency operation formerly known as the War on Terror.
During a WABC radio interview, Aaron Klein three times pressed Rauf to admit that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Rauf bobbed and weaved in classic Islamist style. "I'm not a politician," he replied, as if only politicians trouble themselves over whether terrorists are terrorists. "I try to avoid the issues. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question."
With due respect to Imam Kringle and Islam's other American cheerleaders, this neither "twists up the religion to serve a political agenda" nor "hijacks" Islam. Hamas, to the contrary, accurately quoted Islamic scripture. As the scholar Andrew Bostom observes, the pronouncement by Mohammed about Muslims killing all remaining Jews on the Day of Judgment comes straight from a canonical hadith, Sahih Muslim, Book 41, No. 6985. Hadiths are collections of the prophet's words and deeds, and the one in question flows seamlessly from the Koran itself, from verses like Sura 2:61, which condemns Jews for purportedly rejecting Allah's signs and "slaying his Messengers." That indictment, reiterated in Sura 3:112, is echoed in the Hamas charter's opening passages: "They have incurred anger from their Lord, and wretchedness is laid upon them. That is because they used to disbelieve the revelations of Allah, and slew the Prophets wrongfully." Thus, the charter warns, "Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors."
This is why Imam Rauf and his friends get so tongue-tied when it comes to Hamas. Like many of Rauf's principal supporters in the United States, Hamas is part of the Muslim Brotherhood; in fact, it is its Palestinian branch. Don't take my word for it. Here's what Hamas itself says, in the charter:Article Two: The Link between Hamas and the Association of Muslim Brothers: The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era. It is characterized by a profound understanding, by precise notions and by a complete comprehensiveness of all concepts of Islam in all domains of life: views and beliefs, politics and economics, education and society, jurisprudence and rule, indoctrination and teaching, the arts and publications, the hidden and the evident, and all the other domains of life.
Again: no separation of the spiritual and the temporal, of Islamic and civil law. They are one. And, it turns out, the top priority of Rauf's Cordoba Initiative is the Sharia Index Project, which is designed to plant and expand Islamic law in every country. Wonder of wonders, that just happens to be the Muslim Brotherhood's top priority -- the installation of sharia being the necessary precondition to the Islamicizing of a society. And, lo and behold, Rauf's partners in the Sharia Index Project include Jamal Barzinji and his International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT).
This is the background and all very accurate. The Muslim Brotherhood is the guiding light behind Hamas, and no doubt many of Rauf's buddies are associated with the Brotherhood. It has infiltrated many or most Muslim organizations in most countries, such are it's tentacles.
Here's the key: Rauf and many other Muslims won't condemn Hamas because they don't consider it's attacks on Israeli's to be terrorism.
The WABC with Rauf was a PR disaster, and Rauf's office quickly tried to repair the damage. McCarthy again:
Rauf's office put out a statement: "Imam Feisal has always condemned terrorism (see his . . . hundreds of speeches). Hamas is both a political movement and a terrorist organization. Hamas commits atrocious acts of terror. Imam Feisal has forcefully and consistently condemned all forms of terrorism, including those committed by Hamas, as un-Islamic."
These are clever assertions. They give Rauf's admirers ammunition to plead his case but leave his Brotherhood friends pacified. Yes, Rauf now appears, finally, to concede that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Yet it is one he cannot bring himself to condemn because, voila, it's also a "political movement" (just like the Muslim Brotherhood!). Rauf condemns "terrorism" in the abstract, but don't ask him to condemn specific terrorists. Being against "terrorism" is safe: The Brotherhood does not consider attacks by Hamas to be "terrorism" -- they are resistance (as in "the Islamic Resistance Movement" -- Hamas). Rauf declares that "targeting civilians is wrong," but when it comes to Israel, a country fighting for its survival, Brotherhood ideology emphasizes that all Jewish men and unmarried women are drafted into the armed forces, and most remain in the reserves for years thereafter; therefore, most Jewish Israelis are not considered civilians by Hamas.
But wait a second, you say: Didn't Rauf declare outright that he is a "supporter of the state of Israel"? He certainly did, but he was careful not to say in what form. In fact, he supports a state of Israel stripped of its Jewish character. Earlier this week, a 2005 speech was uncovered in which Rauf explained that he sees Israel, with its growing Arab sector, becoming "post-Zionist," "secular," and "multicultural." He perceives its "identity" as a Jewish state having "shifted enormously" since its founding. Consequently, he rejects the so-called "two-state solution" -- the American government dream of a Jewish state and a Muslim state, co-existing side-by-side in peace. Instead, Rauf concluded, "My own personal analysis tells me that a one-state solution is a more coherent one than a two-state solution."
And there you have it; what they really want is to destroy Israel and put a Muslim state governed by some form of the sharia. Jews and Christians can live there, but only as dhimmi. No thanks.
August 25, 2010
Reform Muslims, not Moderates, are the Answer
I've long pushed for us to embrace reform-minded Islam over simply "moderate" Islam. As such, those who search the category "Islam" at right will be rewarded with many posts on the subject.
The difference between moderate and reform Islam is pretty straightforward. Moderate Islam sees terror and extremism (as in Hamas) as big problems, but denies that Islam itself has anything to do with it and that the religion has simply been hijacked by a few extremists. Reform Islam says that the problem is that Islam needs the sort of Reformation and Enlightenment that the West experienced several centuries ago.
Unfortunately, far too many in the West do not see this distinction. They are infatuated with moderate Islam and do not see the need for any deeper intellectual or academic debate within the religion. While I understand that this is due to the standard pandering that comes with political correctness, I've always thought it odd coming from people whose way of life was formed by the great reform movements that took place in the West.
In a recent column Andy McCarthy wrote about how moderate Islam is not the answer because it ignores some realities of Islam:
Inventing Moderate Islam
It can't be done without confronting mainstream Islam and its sharia agenda.
August 24, 2010 4:00 A.M.
'Secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society." The writer was not one of those sulfurous Islamophobes decried by CAIR and the professional Left. Quite the opposite: It was Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual guide and a favorite of the Saudi royal family. He made this assertion in his book, How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah, an excerpt of which was published by the Saudi Gazette just a couple of months ago.
This was Qaradawi the "progressive" Muslim intellectual, much loved by Georgetown University's burgeoning Islamic-studies programs. Like Harvard, Georgetown has been purchased into submission by tens of millions of Saudi petrodollars. In its resulting ardor to put Americans at ease about Islam, the university somehow manages to look beyond Qaradawi's fatwas calling for the killing of American troops in Iraq and for suicide bombings in Israel. Qaradawi, they tell us, is a "moderate." In fact, as Robert Spencer quips, if you were to say Islam and secularism cannot co-exist, John Esposito, Georgetown's apologist-in-chief, would call you an Islamophobe; but when Qaradawi says it, no problem -- according to Esposito, he's a "reformist."
And he's not just any reformist. Another Qaradawi fan, Feisal Rauf, the similarly "moderate" imam behind the Ground Zero mosque project, tells us Qaradawi is also "the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today."
The sad fact, the fact no one wants to deal with but which the Ground Zero mosque debate has forced to the fore, is that Qaradawi is a moderate. So is Feisal Rauf, who endorses the Qaradawi position -- the mainstream Islamic position -- that sharia is a nonnegotiable requirement. Rauf wins the coveted "moderate" designation because he strains, at least when speaking for Western consumption, to paper over the incompatibility between sharia societies and Western societies.
Qaradawi and Rauf are "moderates" because we've abandoned reason. Our opinion elites are happy to paper over the gulf between "reformist" Islam and the "reformist" approval of mass-murder attacks. That's why it matters not a whit to them that Imam Rauf refuses to renounce Hamas: If you're going to give a pass to Qaradawi, the guy who actively promotes Hamas terrorists, how can you complain about a guy who merely refuses to condemn the terrorists?
Meanwhile, individual Muslim reformers are branded apostates, meaning not only that they are discredited, but that their lives are threatened as well. The signal to other Muslims is clear: Follow the reformers and experience the same fury. As Qaradawi put it in the 2005 interview, public apostates are "the gravest danger" to Islamic society; therefore, Muslims must snuff them out, lest their reforms "spread like wildfire in a field of thorns."
Today, "moderate Islam" is an illusion. There is hardly a spark, much less a wildfire. Making moderation real will take more than wishing upon a star. It calls for a gut check, a willingness to face down not just al-Qaeda but the Qaradawis and their sharia campaign. It means saying: Not here.
The proposed mosque near to ground zero is not really a religious institution. It would be -- as many mosques throughout the nation are -- a terrorist recruitment, indoctrination and training center. It is not the worship of Islam that is the problem. It is the efforts to advance Sharia Law with its requirement of Jihad and violence that is the nub of the issue.
There is a global effort to advance Sharia Law and make it the legal system of the world. Most major banks and financial institutions offer Sharia Compliant Funds which have their investments vetted by the most fundamentalist and reactionary of clerics to assure that they advance Sharia Law. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the founder of the proposed Mosque, helps to prepare a Sharia Index which rates countries on their degree of compliance with Sharia Law. In the United Kingdom, many courts have recognized Sharia as the governing law on matters between two Muslims.
Not only is Sharia Law a vicious anti-female code which orders death by stoning, promotes child marriage, decriminalizes abuse of women, and gives wives no rights in divorce, but it also explicitly recognizes the duty of all Muslims to wage Jihad against non-believers and promotes violence to achieve its goals. In this respect, violent Jihad is as inherent in Sharia Law as revolution is in Communist doctrine.
But there are non-Sharia mosques where peaceful and spiritual Muslims worship God in their own way without promoting violence. A soon-to-be published study funded by Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, found that 20% of the mosques in the United States have no taint of Sharia and simply promote peaceful worship. But 80% are filled with violent literature, Sharia teachings, and promotion of Jihad and its inevitable concomitant -- terrorism.
Terror is a problem, but only one aspect of it. People such as Imam Rauf want to slowly introduce sharia into the West, one step at a time. They do so under the guise of "diversity" and "tolerance" and "multiculturalism;" which is to say they are using our own policies against us. There is a sort of creeping sharia whereby a totalitarian system of oppression is slowly being introduced into the West, and oddly it is mostly the left which is aiding and abetting the movement.
As the title of one of McCarthy's books says, many have a Willful Blindness about all this. I can explain it a million ways, but in the end you either see the danger or you don't.
This video illustrates the problem perfectly. Imam Dawoud Kringle of the New York State prison system is portrayed as a "moderate," and mouths all the politically correct things about how Islam and terror are incompatible, indeed how Islam forbids terror. Yet when asked a simple question, "Is Hamas a terrorist organization?" he won't give a direct answer. Start watching at 3:00
Pathetic. Andy McCarthy, who is debating Kringle in the clip, commented afterwards that
This is a game that sharia-promoting Islamists like Feisal Rauf have raised to an art form. As I explain in the debate, it is why they can look you in they eye, claim in all apparent earnestness that they condemn "terrorism," and yet excuse Hamas, call for the "one-state solution" for Israel, and support the Iranian theocracy -- the leading terrorist state in the world. They do not consider the killing of non-Muslims whom they portray as opposing Islam to be terrorism -- they call that "resistance." They know if they merely say they deplore "terrorism," the media and the Left will swoon and call them "moderates." But what you think you're hearing, and what they're actually saying, are two very different things.
August 22, 2010
Tanks in Action!
Today we'll take a break from the usual subjects for something completely different. This past weekend the American Wartime Museum in Prince William County, Virginia held an open house, and yours truly went to see the exhibits. I'd never heard of them before, but a few weeks ago I got an unsolicited email from them about the upcoming open house. The email didn't really make it clear what they had to show, but did make mention of tanks and military reenactors. I didn't have any pressing business on Saturday, and although I wasn't quite sure what to expect, or if it would turn out to be any good, I decided to go and take a look. It was about an hours drive, which made me a bit wary in case it was totally bogus, but on the other hand the event was free so if I didn't like it I could still salvage most of the day.
It turned out much better than I expected. Whoever owns this private museum has done a good job of gathering military hardware from around the world.
Imagine my surprise at seeing this Swedish S-Tank, or Stridsvagn 103 (Strv 103). I'd expected a few WWII vehicles and some Cold War stuff, but certainly not this unique turret-less tank. It employed a complex hydraulic system to make minute adjustments in elevating the tracks and adjusting the suspension. It's not in service anymore, but it was the mainstay of the Swedish Army during the latter half of the Cold War.
You can view all 70+ photos I took that day on my photobucket site.
The Cold War
Here's a British Centurion, their first good post WWII tank. As with most of these tanks, it has served in many armies. Most notably, perhaps, it was the mainstay of the IDF when they defeated the Egyptians, Syrians, and Jordanians in the 1967 war.
And in action
Here, I believe, is an American M-60 Patton, the main battle tank of our military in the latter half of the Cold War. The Marines were still using them as late as Desert Storm
And of course their counterparts from the Warsaw Pact where there. First up is the venerable T-54/55 in action
This T-54/55 has an additional armor skirt around the front of the turret, something I'd never seen before
The more modern T-72G. We faced this tank in Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom
There were some Vietnam reenactors, all decked out in period gear and weaponry beside an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC). I talked with these guys for awhile, and like all reenactors I've encountered they knew the history of their unit backwards and forwards.
The BMP was the world's first Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV). The difference between an APC and an AFV was that the former was designed to simply carry men into combat whereupon they would exit the vehicle and fight, whereas the APC could not only carry troops, it could itself fight and the men inside could shoot with their rifles through small holes in the side. The American M113 had only machine guns for firepower; the BMP a 73mm cannon and at least one machine gun. Here is a BMP with some enthusiastic reenactors
Warsaw Pact Headquarters
World War II
The British Valentine, a light infantry tank. It doesn't look like much, but was very useful in North Africa, where it served the British well
The first American heavy tank, the M-3 Lee/Grant (I'm not sure which version this one is). My understanding was that the unusual arrangement was due to our inability to produce a turret strong enough to house the main gun. Despite this, it was better than most British tanks and was a match for the German tanks of the time.
The ubiquitous M-4 Sherman, the main and best of the heavy American and British tanks of the war. They had two there, this one with welded plate construction, and another with a cast hull. The latter was the later design and considered better protection. Any weld point is a weak point.
The T-34/85 was one of the best tanks of the war and won the war for the Soviets. Some Red Army reenactors are standing by this one
Waffen SS reenactors
The Wehrmacht's version of the half-track, called the Sd.Kfz. 251 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251)
and the American M3 Half-track. I'm not sure how this played out in performance, but it's interesting to note that although the American vehicle had a smaller track, it had front wheel drive, whereas the front wheels of the German vehicle were unpowered.
A few more photos are at my photobucket site. Any additional information commenters have about any of these historical military vehicles is most welcome.
August 19, 2010
Nancy Pelosi to Bring Back House Un-American Affairs Committee
So Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says that "There is no question that there is a concerted effort to make this a political issue by some, and I join those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque (is) being funded."
And just as Obama had to "clarify" his remarks on the Cordoba House "Ground Zero mosque" after they raised a stink, the Speaker had to "clarify" a few days later, insisting that no, she did not mean to say that she wanted a congressional inquiry." Like, you know, the House Un-American Affairs Committee.
Worse, she evidently forgot that some rather prominent Democrats have come out against the mosque, such as former governor of Vermont and DNC Chairman Howard Dean and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Oops.
This sort of kookery, dear reader, is one reason why the Democrats are going to lose big this November. It's bad enough that they ram through unpopular legislation after a smorgasbord of deal-making that would make even Bismark wince, but they have incompetent leaders to boot.
Don't get me wrong; the GOP has had it share of nincompoops in charge as well. Speaker of the House Denny Haskert and Chair of the RNC Michael Steele come to mind, as does Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. But the Democrats are the ones in charge now, and it is they who will be held to account.
How is it that Pelosi can say something so obviously stupid and wrong?
One of if not the most insightful bloggers anywhere is Richard Fernandez, who writes the Belmont Club blog, now at Pajamas Media. Read his entire post on the matter, but here is the gist of it:
Nancy Pelosi thinks the reason why questions about the Ground Zero mosque are following her around is because it's been "all ginned up" and she has called for an investigation into who is funding those raising the questions. Pelosi's remarks provide an insight into a world in which nothing happens unless it is bought and paid for. Since these are the rules the denizens of that universe have lived by, they cannot conceive of a world that does not run on pure corruption.
In the world they live in, everything has a price. Whenever anything is observed to happen, the question is always "who sent you"?
The Ground Zero mosque issue serves two functions, both of which are important. The first is to raise the question of how accountable the administration and the cultural elites are to the sensibilities of the country; and the second is to draw attention to the particular interests that are driving this issue.
The important thing to remember is that Pelosi's call for an investigation into those opposed to building of the mosque are geared towards preventing any further discussion on the subject, not expanding it. Since the administration and its allies control vast prosecutorial resources and powers of publicity, an investigation of the Ground Zero mosque's backers and those opposed will certainly focus on the opposition. The backers will be given a free ride.
We see the same thing with the Tea Party. Rather than discuss the issues that brought about the Tea Parties in the first place; of spending and the role of government in determining health care delivery, they try and change the subject with the McCarthyite charge that the Tea Partiers are all a bunch of racists.
As I said in my last post, the way Obama has handled the issue of the Ground Zero mosque shows him to be wildly out of touch with mainstream America. The way Nancy Pelosi has reacted shows her to be out of sync as well. That Harry Reid responded in a normal manner wont' save them.
Note that my analysis is not so much based on that Obama and Pelosi are for the mosque and Reid against it. Anyone with a lick of political sense knows that being in favor of the mosque is a losing political issue, so if you must be in favor of it just make a few bland statements and move on. Obama and Pelosi have gone off the deep end, though, and this is something the American people will not forget.
Finally... yes I know Nancy Pelosi isn't going to bring back HUAC, so shoot me. It's an attention-getting title and it got you to read the post.
August 18, 2010
Obama's Post-American Moment
Last Friday, at the White House Ramadan Dinner President Obama endorsed the plan.
"Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground," Obama said at a White House dinner celebrating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. "But let me be clear: As a citizen and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances."
Then on Saturday he flipped again
But on Saturday, Obama seemed to contradict himself, telling reporters at one point, "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That's what our country is about. And I think it's very important, as difficult as some of these issues are, that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about."
Unfortunately for the President, the New York Times has the scoop in a story last Friday:Aides to Mr. Obama say privately that he has always felt strongly about the proposed community center and mosque, but the White House did not want to weigh in until local authorities made a decision on the proposal, planned for two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
At best this is yet another example of how Obama is now out of touch with the American people. At worst is shows that he really is a post-American president. Sadly, I'm inclined toward the latter view.
Americans as a whole always give a new president every chance to prove himself. Indeed as often as not a majority of the opposition party goes along with most of his new legislation. What makes Obama unique is that he completely alienated the opposition party and pushed through a series of massive bills that have already made him the most divisive president in modern American history (I examined his record in congress as against other presidents and major pieces of legislation, so I don't say this lightly).
"Not One of Us"
The danger to Obama is not one of being on the wrong side of an issue. This is not about politics or political philosophy.
As the New York Times piece above says, Obama "has always felt strongly about the proposed community center and mosque"
People, and I don't mean conservatives, but middle-of-the-road Joe and Sally Suburban, are going to start looking at Obama and saying "he's not one of us>"
And no, I don't mean "not white" or "not Christian." Obama is something else. He's... just not really American like the rest of us. And I mean "rest of us" regardless of whether you are on the right or left.
But there is a certain weirdness, otherworldlyness if you will, about Obama, that we haven't seen with other recent Democrat presidents. Jimmy Carter had been a U.S. Navy officer in Rickover's nuclear submarine fleet. Bill Clinton was more pragmatic than hard left. It's hard to imagine either of them proclaiming himself a "citizen of the world," as Obama did in his July 2008 speech in Berlin. And if they, or any Republican, made such a remark, we'd know that they meant it in a totally different way than Obama means it.
There is an ultimate political question of "who are you?" Throughout history this has been answered in different ways. It was usually answered in terms of religion or social class. Until the American Civil War many in this country owed their primary political allegiance to their region or state. The modern Western nation-state grew out of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, and over time turned into the concept of nationalism that we've seen over the past few hundred years. Most Americans today answer that ultimate political question with an "I'm an American."
But Obama thinks himself beyond nationalism. He's past thinking of himself as an American first. He's post-American.
Bactk to Cordoba House
I've blogged on this before, but a bit more can't hurt.
Let's be clear about what this "Cordoba House" mosque is and is not about.
This has nothing to do with rights, the First Amendment, tolerance, or any of that. There are hundreds of mosques and Islamic community centers in the United States, and there is no serious opposition to them. We have a bunch of Sikh temples in my area of Loudoun County VA, and no one cares about them, either. We are the most tolerant nation on earth.
Rather, this is a direct in-your-face-screw-you to the "Great Satan." It is a strong statement that they are stronger than us, that their religion is stronger. That we are a bunch of idiot weaklings who can be pushed around. That Islam can build on (virtually on, damn close enough) to the rubble of the "Great Satan" to show its superiority.
It is therefore no mistake that it is called "Cordoba House" after the great mosque in Cordoba Spain build on the top of a church after the Muslims conquered that country.
Behind this no doubt is the Muslim Brotherhood and their mentality. They are conducting a "civilizational jihad" (their term from the 1991 document "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America") against us.
Make no mistake - this is not about a mosque. This is about the "grand jihad," which is the attempt to reestablish the caliphate and institute the sharia. It proceeds one small step at a time.
But many, mostly but not exclusively on the left, have taken what Andy McCarthy calls an attitude of "Willful Blindness" to what is going on. So sad that it is those who proclaim themselves the guardians of civil liberties to be the ones defending Islamism, an ideology that would destroy all that they, we, hold dear. I can explain it in a million ways, but either see the danger or you don't.
Reagan v Today's Democrats
"Those Voices Don't Speak for the Rest of Us"
Made by the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of House conservatives, this video shows our 40th President as contrasted with today's Democrat leadership. The differences could not be more stark. The Democrats come across as silly and childish, while Reagan demonstrates leadership and command of the issues and our founding principles.
This November the choice is equally clear. The Democrats believe in big-government solutions for everything, which also gave us government run health care and the "stimulus." Republicans stand for responsible reform guided by our free market principles.
As Reagan says in the video, the American people can plan their lives better than "a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital." More, "a government can't control the economy without controlling people, and they know that when it sets out to do that it must use force and coercion to achieve it's purpose."
Reagan's words ring as true today as they did then. Free market principles and individual freedom are the keys to a strong, prosperous, America.
August 15, 2010
Book Review - While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within
I had to remind myself many times while reading this book that Bruce Bawer is not a conservative, let along a "neo-conservative," and most likely voted for Barack Obama. A writer by profession and proponent of gay marriage, and the rest of the gay agenda, he positively despises the Christian right. Indeed, he left the United States to live in Europe precisely because of what he calls "Protestant fundamentalism."
Born in 1956 and raised in New York, he decided that he could know America better if he had something to compare it to, and the only way to get that was to go and live abroad for a number of years. What turned him off about America attracted him to Europe. He saw them as more tolerant, secular, and accepting of his gay lifestyle. He also wanted to learn more languages, and it's clear throughout the book that Bawer is one to whom learning a new language comes fairly easily.
He left America for Amsterdam in 1998 expecting to find a continent that had all of the left-liberal social values that America didn't. What he found instead shocked him into writing this book. Modern liberal Europe, he discovered, is on the verge of being destroyed by radical Islam.
While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, was published in 2006, so I'm several years behind in reading it. It wasn't that I hadn't heard of it, but rather just that there was just always another book that seemed a bit more important. I'd heard so much about Bawer and his influential book that I always intended to get around to reading it, so last year I put it on my Christmas list, and being only available in paperback it was easy for my relatives to pick up as a cheap extra. The reason it's taken me until August was that there was another half-dozen books on that list too.
Muslim children in Europe do not receive a European eduction. Some are sent abroad for their schooling, some to private Islamic academies, and others simply instructed at home after their day at public school. Either way, the brainwashing is completed and they are taught to hate the West and think that it should be replaced by the Caliphate. They're taught all the other Islamic values; that polygamy is acceptable, that women should be punished for adultery and if they are raped, but the men should mostly get off Scot-free. Homosexuals should be put to death.
The American Christian v the European Muslim "Religious Right"
Bawer recognizes the difference between what he calls Protestant fundamentalism and Muslim fundamentalism. As much as he hates the religious right in America, he realizes that while they don't want gay marriage, they have no intention of killing anyone. Muslims do. Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson are "unsavory characters," but he sees that they don't want to kill their daughters if they "dishonor" the family and of course don't want gays killed. What gets Bawer is that Europeans don't see that they have a religious right that is quite dangerous.
Because he hates Christianity in the United States, Bawer was at first glad to see that it was on the decline in Europe. But what he came to realize was that Christian faith wasn't replace by something that he could see as better, but with nothing at all. Not having any belief system of their own caused two problems for Europeans. First, they did not at all appreciate the religious fervor of Muslims. Two, they had no moral basis upon which to oppose it.
Why They Don't Get It
Most Europeans simply cannot grasp the ideological dedication of Islamists. They do not believe that Muslim radicals really mean to act on their radical rhetoric, or that any serious number of Muslims would follow them. They dismiss it all for one reason or another.
As stated above, Bawer thinks that the biggest reason for this is that Europeans lost their own religion a long time ago. It has been decades since Christianity was taken seriously by a majority of Europeans. As a result, religion itself is an oddity, an exotic concept. They cannot imagine a life directed by a religion.
Americans, on the other hand, are surrounded by religion. Even those who are not practicing Christians or Jews understand its power. We know full well what religion can do to unstable personalities, those who seek power for its own sake, or those who for whatever reason are susceptible to control by others.
Americans have an amazingly diverse media compared to Europe, where all outlets pretty much tell the same story the same way. In the United States we have robust liberal and conservative outlets; MSNBC v Fox News, The New York Times v The Wall Street Journal, National Review v The Nation v The New Republic, Rush Limbaugh v ... no one. For that matter we've also got Think Tanks all over the place; The Heritage Foundation v The Institute for Policy Studies v The Cato Institute.
In Europe you've got nothing of the sort. Sure, there are a few vaguely conservative outlets like the London Telegraphy, but the vast majority are best described as "establishment left" (my term, not Bawer's, but based on his writing). But for the most part they all take the same line on any issue; they all bash Israel, attack American-style capitalism and laud the European social-welfare state, and so on. They all pay attention to the same stories, and ignore the same stories. There simply is no journalistic diversity.
And they all pretend that Muslims are not a problem in Europe, and that anyone who does is a fascist.
We have a strong tradition of integrating immigrants into our society. There's a process of give-and-take, whereby we pick up some new things from them and they learn and adopt our language and customs.
Not so in Europe. The problem is on both sides; the Europeans don't want to integrate the Muslims and the Muslims don't want to be integrated. It's an entirely different psychology than in the States.
Europeans, or at least the elite, will give as their reason for not wanting to integrate newcomers is that they "respect their differences." The real reason, Bawer came to suspect, was "a profound discomfort with the idea of "them" becoming "us."" In other words, while anyone can eventually become an American, no one but a native can really become a German or Swede. For all their liberal piety, Europeans are really quick nativist in their outlook.
More, the European establishment has taken a condescending romantic view of their Muslim immigrants. They are "victims" of Western imperialism or some such, and so any criticism of them is racist or fascist. Any problem within the Muslim community must be due to racism of the white natives.
They view Islamic culture as "exotic" and something to be preserved in its entirety. It is impermissible to talk about any Islamic cultural trait that might be antithetical to Western values. Worse, any Muslim who tries to "break from the pack" and criticize any aspect of Islam or any Muslim leader is seen as a cultural traitor and is him or herself deemed more of a threat than Islam itself. Ayan Hirsi Ali is a pariah.
But as mentioned, integration is a two-way street. Until recently it was assumed that Muslim immigrants would intermarry with natives. However, statistics show that this has not been the case. More, under "family reunification" laws, European Muslims have traveled back to their country their families came from (Pakistan, Turkey, etc), married someone there, and brought him or her back to Europe.
And Narrow-Minded, Too
Although Americans tend to see Europeans as open-minded and sophisticated, and Europeans certainly see themselves that way, the truth is closer to the opposite. If anything, they are a "tribal society. For example, although few Norwegians attend church or think of themselves as Christian, they insist on following Christian rituals such as having their children confirmed. They also follow other national traditions "religiously," although there is absolutely no meaning behind any of it.
The Reaction to Sept 11
It is a favorite of American liberals to claim that George W Bush squandered or lost European sympathy over 9-11 with by invading Iraq or some such. "Everyone agreed on invading Afghanistan" we are told. Bawer shows how this is so much balderdash.
The truth is that Europeans, especially the elites, didn't want us to invade Afghanistan at all. We were supposed to wallow in our misery after the attacks, morn our dead, and possibly apologize to the Arabs for our alleged imperialism, but not much else.
It wasn't a simple disagreement over tactics or strategy, either. A vicious America hatred the likes of which Bawer said he had never seen before and certainly thought impossible took hold. The shift didn't take weeks or months, either, but less than two days. The answer to violence, they said, was not more violence.
To many Europeans, America was the enemy, and Osama bin Laden (and by extension all Muslims) was the victim.
Most Europeans, certainly the ones Bawer ran into, were unable to comprehend a country where people were willing to die for things like freedom and liberty. It was a difficult enough concept for them to grasp that one might die for your country's own freedom, but that one might die for anothers was truly mind-blowing. This the notion that we thought it honorable to die so that Iraqis might be free was dismissed as a cover for wanting to steal their oil or some such.
Even basic talk about freedom and liberty is dismissed as so much emotional, overheated, rhetoric. To most Europeans, all such rhetoric does is provide a cover for the evils of American-style capitalism and imperialism.
It took President Clinton, for example, to do in the former Yugoslav republics what the Europeans should have done themselves. To be sure, part of their problem was their pathetically weak militaries, but mostly it was lack of will. Americans generally want to get rid of the Milosevics of the world, the Europeans don't see the point.
Why the Muslim Rage?
What else should we expect, Bawer says, from young Muslims who have been educated to believe that they are superior and are made to rule over the infidels? They're told that Western women are whores, the West is corrupt and seeks to destroy Islam, and democracy is a joke. They know their rights under Western law perfectly well, and as such know that they will be well treated no matter how badly their behave.
Because the Europeans do not wish to integrate them (and they don't wish to be integrated), they congregate in their own communities, ghettos if you will. In France they're called cites (with the apostrophe above the "e").
The elites say that the causes of Muslim alienation are racism and poverty, but it's not that simple. Yes the natives don't want to integrate them, but that's not racism unless you're reaching. Modern Europe is about as anti-racist in philosophy as you can get. On average their incomes aren't that great, but they all have cell phones and dress fashionably enough. It's certainly not the poverty of the Third World.
These young Muslims present a huge challenge, and it's one that most Europeans want to ignore. Only the older generation remembers a time when manners and good behavior were not only expected but demanded.
Parallel to an increasingly assertive Islam in Europe is the rise, or re-rise, of antisemitism. While Muslims are not the only guilty parties, as a group they are certainly the largest offenders. Muslim adults routinely harass Jewish children, while the reverse never happens. Bawer relates incident after incident, some quite violent and appalling, to drive home the point.
In 2004 the EU ordered an investigation into the matter, and the resulting report was titled "Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the European Union". But the report was never released, "presumably because it points out significant Muslim involvement in European anti-Semitism." Under pressure, the EU did finally issue a report, but spun it to downplay the role of European Muslims.
European elites assume that anti-Semitism by Muslims, while officially deplorable, is "understandable" because of Israeli oppression, poverty, the legacy of colonialism; in other words, the standard liberal-guilt list.
Perhaps Laurence Weinbaum of the World Jewish Conference summed up the European attitude best when he said that "in Western Europe there is sympathy for dead Jews, it's the live ones they cannot tolerate."
Indeed, the situation is such that Bawer wonders whether any Europeans at all would try and save Jews as they did during World War II if another holocaust loomed. As one of his friends put it, "They've been reeducated." If Muslims started rounding up Jews for concentration camps, "It would be racist to resist." Such is the degree to which "racism" has been perverted.
A Few Europeans Who Get It
A few European politicians get it. Unfortunately, most are either dead or in exile.
Pim Fortuyn was an openly gay Dutch politician who spoke openly and plainly about the danger to Western freedoms from an intolerant Islam that he saw holding sway in his country. Thrown out of the Dutch Labor Party party for his views, he formed his own, the Pim Fortuyn List. He was murdered in 2002 by Volkert van der Graaf, who said that he did it because of Fortuyn's views on Islam.
Theo van Gogh, a descendant of artist-painter Vincent van Gogh, was another. Theo was a filmmaker, columnist, actor and author. In 2004 he worked with Somali-born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali to produce a 10 minute film calledSubmission, which was critical of how Islam treated women. Theo too was murdered in 2004 by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Muslim immigrant from Morocco, because of his criticism of Islam.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali escaped assassination, but after a contrived controversy about her citizenship status in The Netherlands moved to the United States. She now has a position with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C. (Wikipedia says she has temporarily moved to the Netherlands but intends on moving back to the U.S.)
Although many Europeans were deeply shocked by the murders of Fortune and van Gogh, others said the fault was their own for their harsh criticism of Islam. Many presented their murders as "isolated events" and said that it was insulting to think that Islam in Europe could pose any sort of threat.
The Best and the Worst Countries
As of the publication date of 2006, Denmark was making strides toward reforming it's policies so as to mitigate the threat of radical Islam. Queen Margrethe took the lead and set the tone when she said that the West had to take the threat of fundamentalism islam seriously and that "there are certain things of which one should not be too tolerant" i.e. we're not going to be tolerant of a fundamentalist Islam that is antithetical to Wester values.
At the other end of the spectrum was Sweden. Crime rates are (again as of 2006, anyway) going up every year, with most perpetrators being Muslims. Sweden now has a murder rate twice that of the U.S., many of them "honor killings." One of it's biggest cities, Malmo, is now 40 percent Muslim, a city where the number of rapes and robberies had skyrocketed. Anti-Semitism is rampant. Meanwhile, the official position of the Swedish government is that the fault is racism on the part of native Swedes.
"Hate Speech" Laws
Many European countries have taken steps to limit free speech in a way that would violate our First Amendment and would undoubtedly be struck down 9 - 0 by the Supreme Court. For example, in April of 2005 the Norwegian legislature passed a law that prohibited saying anything "discriminatory" or "hateful" about someone's skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion. Violators could face fines and prison time. What was most remarkable is that there was virtually no public debate on the law. No one seemed to care.
In 2005 British House of Commons passed the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill. Fortunately, the House of Lords killed it, but had it taken effect it would have made it a crime to criticize the very radicalism that had killed 56 Britons in the "7/7" bombings.
Just as bad as the wave of anti-free speech legislation is self-censorship. Not only is this practiced in the monolithic media, but among artists and writers. Plays are canceled, movies not shown, "offensive" works of art not included in exhibits, on and on. So much for the idea of the brave artist, unafraid to challenge the establishment.
For all the talk about "moderate Muslims" they seem amazingly scarce. While surveys showed that most did not approve of violence, they didn't carry that opinion any farther. When it came to opposing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq they would turn out by the thousands for large demonstrations, but demonstrations against Muslim terror turned out only a few dozen.
The fact is that there is a sizable number of "silent Muslims" who on the one hand deplore the violence committed in their name, yet refuse to speak out against it. Worse, they refuse to accept that Islam might have anything to do with creating terror or violence. And worse than that, they reserve their real vitriol for anyone who would dare to criticize Islam. Religious solidarity keeps their heads low.
Upon examination most "moderate" Muslim leaders aren't so moderate. Bawer goes through several supposedly moderate Muslim leaders whose views turned out to be quite appalling.
Finally, there is a system of intimidation within Islam that the extremists use to keep critics within their ranks silent. The intimidation doesn't just use the threat of violence, but other things such as job loss and exclusion from the community and Mosque.
Bawer is quite pessimistic about the prospects for Europe. Although a few extremist Imams are deported and a few groups banned, for the most part native Europeans are acting like dhimmis. European Imams still preach hate and get away with little or no criticism, much less legal action. European governments still subsidize Islamic Mosques and schools, and Islamic "councils" and "associations" are given quasi-official status as government advisory bodies. Worse, sharia law courts are being set up as a parallel legal system for some issues.
The Europe of today is philosophically 180 degrees from the Europe of Winston Churchill. His speeches today would be dismissed as the rantings of a warmonger.
European anti-Americanism would not be a danger into itself, but what it breeds is the danger within from Islam. Making the problem worse are those Americans who denigrate their own country while in Europe. Whether they do so because they are anti-Bush/Republican/conservative liberals or just want to ingratiate themselves with their hosts (or some combination of the two) is irrelevant. They are doing damage far beyond their personal situations. Bawer calls them traitors; not to the United States per se, but to the West and all the good things it stands for.
In the "Afterward to the paperback edition," evidently written a year or so after the hardback, Bawer laments that far from awakening, most of Europe is still fast asleep. A few get it, but most are still oblivious to the danger
While Europe Slept is a depressing and at times maddening book to read. The anti-Americanism is not just on this or that policy, more often than not it is just loony-tunes stuff. The aggressiveness of Muslim leaders and the timidity native Europeans is overwhelming. It is good that we in the U.S. argue and debate over whether things like The Patriot Act is an infringement on our civil liberties; in Europe they give up their liberties at the drop of a hat in order to appease the Islamists.
Because Bawer is a traditional liberal taking what can be called a conservative position on Islam and the situation in Europe, he is in the same genre, or the same type, as Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens is much admired by the American right for his stance on the Iraq war and Islam in general. Bawer is less-well known, but I have heard him interviewed by conservative radio-talk show hosts such as Dennis Miller.
Bawer isn't as clever as Mark Steyn, whose 2006 America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It remains one of the most entertaining and informative books of the decade. On the other hand, his writing holds you much better than Walter Laqueur, whose writing in The Last Days of Europe was rather dry. In short, you will not be bored by Bruce Bawer.
The biggest criticism of While Europe Slept is no doubt that Bawer relies almost exclusively on anecdotal evidence. While much of the book deals with big newsworthy events we have all heard of like the "cartoon jihad," much of it is his personal observations and interactions. The counter to this is that Bawer is well traveled and read himself, is a professional writer who spends all of his time on this sort of thing, speaks several European languages (at least well enough to get along), and lots of anecdotal incidents do add up to something when you add to them the daily news.
As such, this book comes highly recommended, and despite it being several years old, is well worth your time.
August 14, 2010
To Shop or Not to Shop at Target?
This is insane for so many reasons:Target Apologizes for Donation to Conservative Candidate
ST. PAUL, Minn. (Aug. 6) -- The head of Target Corp. apologized Thursday over a political donation to a business group backing a conservative Republican for Minnesota governor, which angered some employees and sparked talk of a customer boycott.
Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel wrote employees to say the discount retailer was "genuinely sorry" over the way a $150,000 contribution to MN Forward donation played out. Steinhafel said Target would set up a review process for future political donations.
MN Forward is running TV ads supporting Republican Tom Emmer, an outspoken conservative opposed to same-sex marriage and other gay-rights initiatives that have come before Minnesota's Legislature.
Steinhafel said the contribution from the corporate treasury to a political effort, which until this year wasn't allowed, was designed to support Emmer's stance on economic issues. Ads run by the group were focused on budget policy, not social issues.
But wait, it gets worse:Liberal groups push to exploit Target backlash
Liberal groups try to exploit backlash against Target for helping anti-gay marriage candidate
Friday, August 13, 2010
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Protesters have been rallying outside Target Corp. or its stores almost daily since the retailer angered gay rights supporters and progressives by giving money to help a conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota. Liberal groups are pushing to make an example of the company, hoping its woes will deter other businesses from putting their corporate funds into elections.
A national gay rights group is negotiating with Target officials, demanding that the firm balance the scale by making comparable donations to benefit candidates it favors. Meanwhile, the controversy is threatening to complicate Target's business plans in other urban markets. Several city officials in San Francisco, one of the cities where Target hopes to expand, have begun criticizing the company.
"Target is receiving criticism and frustration from their customers because they are doing something wrong, and that should serve absolutely as an example for other companies," said Ilyse Hogue, director of political advocacy for the liberal group MoveOn.org, which is pressing Target to formally renounce involvement in election campaigns.
But conservative organizations are likely to react harshly if Target makes significant concessions to the left-leaning groups.
The flap has revealed new implications of a recent Supreme Court ruling that appeared to benefit corporations by clearing the way for them to spend company funds directly in elections. Companies taking sides in political campaigns risk alienating customers who back other candidates.
Target's $150,000 donation to a business-oriented group supporting Republican Tom Emmer, an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, was one of the first big corporate contributions to become known after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out prohibitions on corporate spending in elections earlier this year.
The Minneapolis-based chain has gone from defending the donation as a business decision to apologizing and saying it would carefully review its future giving. But the protests have continued.
Demonstrators gathered near Target's Minneapolis headquarters on Thursday, and two Facebook groups focused on gay rights are organizing protests at Target stores nationwide this weekend. Immigrant rights supporters have joined the protests, citing Emmer's tough stance on illegal immigration.
The company is in talks with the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights organization that wants Target and electronics retailer Best Buy Co., which gave $100,000 to the same group backing Emmer, to match their donations with equal amounts to help gay-friendly candidates.
Fred Sainz, the group's vice president for communications, said he is optimistic both companies will respond to the demand. Target has long cultivated a good relationship with the gay community in Minneapolis, and its gay employees have protested the donation.
"The repair has to be consistent with the harm that was done," Sainz said.
MoveOn, which had feared a heavy flow of corporate donations to groups that help conservative candidates after the Supreme Court decision, protested outside Target headquarters last week.
On the other side, conservatives have begun to rally to support Target, but in smaller numbers. A Facebook page urging "Boycott Target Until They Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics" has more than 54,000 fans. A page declaring "I will NOT Boycott Target for supporting a Conservative candidate" has a little more than 400 fans.
A Target spokeswoman said the company had nothing to add to chief executive Gregg Steinhafel's statement of apology last week. At Richfield Minn.-based Best Buy, a spokeswoman said the company is reviewing its process for political donations and intended the Minnesota contribution to focus "solely on jobs and an improved economy."
The story goes on, but you get the point.
I don't particularly like Target and this mess just gives me one more reason to avoid them.
The lesson is; do not make contributions as a company to any political candidate or cause. Left or Right. Period.
August 9, 2010
NotSailing Into the Yellow Sea
On the Meaning and Importance of Freedom of the Seas
A few weeks ago the navies of the United States and South Korea (Republic of Korea) conducted naval exercises in the Sea of Japan. This was in response to the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan by a torpedo fired from a North Korean(Democratic People's Republic of Korea) Yeono class miniature submarine. The centerpiece of the U.S. forces that engaged in the exercises was the U.S.S George Washington, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
The purpose of the exercise was to send a message to the DPRK that they are messing with a superior force that has the capability to destroy them. It was as much a show of force as it was a chance the the navies to practice fighting battles.
But the message may have been lost, or at least muddled. South Korea wanted to hold the exercises in the Yellow Sea, but China objected. According to this story at Fox News, "at the last minute, word came from the exercises would happen east of South Korea (and well east of China) in the Sea of Japan. U.S. officials denied to us there was any cave-in to Beijing."
This isn't just a matter of where to hold naval exercises, or "respecting China's request," or whatever. This involves freedom of the seas and who will have hegemony, or primary influence, in this area.
The fact is that the values and policies of the government of the People's Republic of China are antithetical to our own. While we are hardly perfect in who we support and the governments we help create and influence, at the end of the day we'd like to see other countries with a pluralistic systems of government. China doesn't care about these things. It is therefore not good if they are the ones who determine who may sail where.
Freedom of the sea is a good thing. It is good for economics, politics, and a stable world order. We need to be able to ensure all of these, and doing so requires a strong navy that can sail in international waters everywhere.
So the first problem we have is a United States government that caved to the wishes of the Chinese. Not too long ago we would have just bulled through and have been done with it. Our messages would certainly not have been mixed.
It has been reported that the Chinese are fielding or preparing to field an medium range ballistic missile called the Dong-Feng 21
An Associated Pres story carried by Yahoo got much attention last week. Money quoteU.S. naval planners are scrambling to deal with what analysts say is a game-changing weapon being developed by China -- an unprecedented carrier-killing missile called the Dong Feng 21D that could be launched from land with enough accuracy to penetrate the defenses of even the most advanced moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 1,500 kilometers (900 miles).
According to Wikipedia, the latest version has a range of some 1,900 miles, and allegedly has a terminal guidance system capable of targeting large ships. It might have been tested in 2005 or 2006, though results are uncertain.
Certainly it makes sense to try and develop such a weapon. Asymmetric can make sense, and investing in this technology may be a better bet than to try and develop their own carrier and come after us World War II style; they've read about the Battle of Midway too. Reports I have read have it that the Soviets tried but abandoned the concept.
Whether the DF-21 is a viable concept I do not know. It might be a modern V-1 or V-2. Those Nazi "wonder weapons" were terrifying in concept and caused much destruction in and around London, but had no effect on the outcome of the war. All the Chinese may get for their investment are large splashes in the ocean. Hopefully of course our intelligence services have discerned the truth.
In the end though it might not matter whether the DF-21 will work or not. What matters is whether we think it will work. Between that and our new found timidity, the end of U.S dominance may be upon us and we've barely begun to recognize it.
There will always be new technical challenges to overcome. If the DF-21 is indeed a threat, we can certainly find a way to counter it, whether it be an upgraded Standard 3 missile on board our Aegis-equipped ships (Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Burke-class destroyers) or something new is something for the technocrats to figure out. But to lose our dominance through choice, that would be a real tragedy, and the world will be the worse off for it.
Stuart Koehl, writing at The Weekly Standard, gives some good reasons why missiles like the DF-21 do not spell the end of the aircraft carrier but are simply another threat we can successfully counter. It won't be easy, as the weapon is nothing to take lightly, but neither is it the wonder-weapon it's advocates seem to think. Koehl explains that carriers are amazingly hard to find, and even if targeted can employ a plethora of active and passive defenses.
August 8, 2010
Andy McCarthy Gets It Right Both on Jeffrey Kuhner and the Ground Zero Mosque
Jeffrey Kuhner writes op-eds for the Washington Times and has an afternoon radio show. I consider him too extreme for my taste, so I generally avoid him.
The other day he wrote a typically over-the-top editorial about the "Cordoba House Mosque" that has been approved to be built so near Ground Zero in New York City. Andy McCarthy takes him to task over at NRO's The Corner, and while doing so lays out the case in much more intellectual fashion as to why the Mosque is a bad thing.Jonah (Goldberg), I appreciate that, big guy, and admiration is very much a two-way street.
On the GZ mosque, Jonah and I are substantially in agreement. I don't mean to weasel, so let me elaborate. I say "substantially" because my sense is that I think the Ground Zero mosque is a bigger deal than Jonah does. To be clear, I am not saying he doesn't think it's a big deal, just that I am somewhat more alarmed about it. But, as I interpret what Jonah has written, we both agree with the NRO editorial on the subject. And I could not agree more that we have not been conquered, we haven't surrendered to Islam, and we are not the United States of Arabia.
Still, while I think Jeffrey Kuhner's op-ed is overheated in spots, I am not as put off by it as Jonah seems to be. There are two things he says that go too far: (a) that America has been "conquered" (such that the GZ mosque would stand "as a testament to the Islamist conquest of America"), and (b) that America has "surrendered." Two things are lacking in Kuhner's perspective.
First, there is a big difference between a desecration and a conquest. The GZ mosque would be an atrocious monument to permit in that particular spot. But let's get a grip: the U.S. was not "conquered" by the 9/11 attacks. However unsavory it would be, placing a giant Islamic center next to the site of the worst of the 9/11 strikes would be orders of magnitude less horrific than the slaughter of 2700 people and the accompanying devastation of lower Manhattan. We should not let it happen, but it would not be a "conquest" even if Islamists would announce it as one (just as they insist it was they who "conquered" the Soviet Union). The GZ mosque could be an important marker in their ultimate victory -- for they win if they change us from who we are - but that remains to be seen.Which gets me to Kuhner's second hyperbole: surrender. What the GZ mosque episode powerfully demonstrates is the growing divide between the American people and the progressive ruling class. The latter, I believe, are gradually surrendering. Hard leftists (who have a lot of sway with the current ruling class) do not like the country anyway, so they aren't so much surrendering as exploiting their opportunities. Much of the rest of the ruling class thinks appeasement of Islamists is the way to go -- just as the ruling class's instinct is to appease all our enemies. They don't think of themselves as "surrendering"; they think they are moving us toward a better, smarter policy that will reduce the threat by making our enemies like us better. And even that is sort of "surrendering," they figure it's only surrendering in what they can't help thinking of as George Bush's war, which they were always ambivalent about anyway. They tell themselves -- and us -- that if there were a real threat to the United States, no one would be more fierce in our defense than they would, blah, blah, blah.
Most of the American people are in a much different place. They see Islamists advancing, they are beginning to grasp that Islamists (not just terrorists but the whole Islamist movement) mean to change us in very fundamental ways, and therefore they understand that every such advance is a defeat for freedom. Every advance emboldens a determined enemy to press ahead. Over time, we could be conquered in that our way of life would be drastically altered.
Americans also realize that when our country looks like it doesn't have the stomach to face down bad people and noxious ideologies, we are significantly less safe. Though weary, the people of the country want to see resolve. They think they understand their principles a lot better than the ruling class does, and they are tired of lectures from the Obamas and Bloombergs who, in the name of abstractions that they presume to call "our values," would have us sell out our principles and our security. The people haven't surrendered, and they appreciate that when American credibility is on the line, it's important to win.
Most of all, Americans are tired of the shroud of political correctness the ruling class has placed around Islam. We don't object to anyone's freedom of conscience, and we abide countless places for Muslims to gather and worship even though we know a very high percentage of the Islamic centers and mosques are heavily influenced by Islamists. But we're tired of being told things that aren't true: e.g., that Islam is peaceful, tolerant and non-threatening; that sharia -- which is relentlessly authoritarian, discriminatory, and, in parts, savage -- is something we need to accommodate; and that there is no connection between Islamic doctrine (which is supremacist and belligerent), Islamist terror, and the broader Islamist threat to our civilization. We're tired of being told that people who can't bring themselves to condemn Hamas are "moderates" deserving of being taken seriously and having their endless grievances against America addressed. And we're tired of being told that we shouldn't examine or object to an authoritarian ideology just because it travels under the label of "religion."
This is why I think the Ground Zero controversy is so significant. It sorts out those who get it from those who don't, and forces us to ask: Why are we letting those who don't get it run the show?
August 5, 2010
Of Course the Mosque Near Ground Zero is a Bad Idea
This is one of those things where you either get it or you don't. Your instinct should tell you that whatever the motives of those behind building Cordoba House, and I do certainly question those motives, building it so near the destroyed World Trade Center buildings in New York City is a world-class stupid idea.
The proposed Cordoba House mosque and cultural center would be built on the site of a building damaged by the Sept 11 attacks, which itself is only 600 feet from where the World Trade Center buildings stood.
Now, I've been there, although my photos are pre-digital so I can't share them. I've stood in the observing areas and seen the gaping hole in the ground. I've stood on an adjacent building and seen the damaged building that is to be razed to make way for this Cordoba House. And I'm telling you right now that given the gargantuan size of everything in that area 600 feet is spitting distance.
We don't even need to get into the questionable funding behind the project. I'm sure some of it is coming from Muslim Brotherhood or Wahabist sources.
We don't even need to get into the statements and political views of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the chief proponent behind the project. Sure, on September 30, 2001 he told CBS's 60 Minutes: "I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened. But the United States' policies were an accessory to the crime that happened." He is an apologist for Hamas, and when asked to denounce terror instead said that "The issue of terrorism is a very complex question."
And we don't even have to get into the choice of "Cordoba House" as the name. Sure, despite what it's proponents say it might be named after the Great Mosque of Córdoba, which was considered one of the greatest mosques of it's era. Built in 987 A.D. in Cordoba Spain on the site of a church, it was a symbol of the Muslim conquest of the Iberian peninsula. When the Christians recaptured it a few centuries later in 1236, they reconverted it into a church. There just might be some symbolism here.
These things are important and matter, but as disturbing as they are they're not vital to a sound case against this mosque.
The bottom line is that you'd have to be eye-deep in the fever swamps of political correctness not to see Cordoba House as the direct challenge that it is. The Muslims behind this are saying "We will build one of our most important religious buildings on one of your most sacred sites and by doing so will show who has the power over whom." and "All of your Aircraft Carriers look impressive but we will subvert your own homeland from within." Oh yes, that's what it's about.
It's all part of the Jihadism and the War of Ideas that so many have talked about in the years since we woke up on Sept 11.
And let's face it; Ground Zero in New York is a sacred site. That it's not religious-sacred is irrelevant, for non-religious symbols and places can assume sacred relevance. Think of the U.S.S. Arizona laying at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. The National Archives which house the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Every nation, every people, have them.
Those behind the project describe their mission as "Improving Muslim-West Relations." Sure. I think that a better way to foster Muslim-West relations is for Muslims to work to end the tyranny that exists in most Muslim countries and end sharia law wherever it exists.
We're told by the liberal elite that those of us who oppose this project are bigoted and intolerant. We're instructed that our tradition of religious freedom demands that we let this project go forward.
You can't just build a church or synagogue anywhere you want. Congregations must be sensitive to neighborhoods, road networks, and the like when developing their plans.
More, this is not a zoning dispute over whether they will pay for road improvements. This is symbolism. This is about power, about a group of Muslims trying to show that they have power over us.
Muslim nations for the most part do not allow anyone to build churches or synagogues in their countries. Saudi Arabia, which controls the most holy sites in Islam, Mecca and Media, certainly does not. The double standard must be called out and the Muslims behind this project told to give an answer.
The people of this nation, and of New York City in particular, are very much against this project. They instinctively know that it is wrong, whatever our "betters" like Mayor Bloomberg may say.
Build your mosque, but build it someplace else.
August 4, 2010
The Danger of Low Defense Budgets
Old Weaponry to Face Modern Adversaries
A recent article in The Weekly Standard got me thinking again about our defense structure. We're so committed to so much social spending, and have so many people thinking we don't need to worry about our military, that I fear that we could come off second best in a war with an adversary like China.In (a May speech at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas, Secretary of Defense Robert) Gates stated that the U.S. military has more than 3,200 tactical combat aircraft--an impressive number. What he did not mention is that the vast majority of the planes have been flying for years, were designed decades ago, and are supported by a tanker fleet that first entered the force six years before Barack Obama was born. Critically, fewer than 150 of these combat aircraft are top-of-the-line, stealthy F-22s, production of which has been capped at 187. Yet even this number doesn't quite capture how limited the force is. Consider the F-22s needed for training, the dispersal of the remaining number among various bases, and the reality that for every plane on station there are two or three in queue, and you get a sense of just how few air-dominance planes we might have on hand during a crisis.
The Air Force
The F-22 Raptor is the world's best air-superiority fighter, but with production stopped at 187 by Obama we've got precious few to fill our world-wide requirements
For the rest of this post I'm going to recycle some things I've written before.
Most of our weapons are getting very old. The F-15 Eagle first flew in 1972. The F-16 Falcon in 1979, and the F-18 Hornet 1982. The first Los Angeles class submarine was launched in 1976. The CH-53 first flew in 1981, and the H47 in 1962.
Bombers? The last B-52 rolled off of the assembly line in 1962, and we've only got about 90 operational ones left. The B-1b Lancer is an upgraded 1970s design, with only 66 active. The B-2 Spirit is the most impressive of all... but we've only got 20 of them.
But that's ok, because our tanker fleet of KC-10 and KC-135s are about as old, and we're running out of them too.
The F-35 Lightning II
Yes all of the above systems have undergone major upgrades. I know all this. But you can only do so much with an old airframe. Sure, we could build a new helicopter instead of the tilt-rotor V-22 and it would be better than what is in the inventory. But we are really at about the limit of what you can do with helicopter technology, so it would be an exercise in the point of diminishing returns.
Instead of the F-22 Raptor we could rely on the somewhat less expensive F-35 Lightning II JSF. This, however, would have been the equivalent of canceling the F-15 and relying on the F-16. Ask any pilot about the wisdom of that potential decision.
Russia and China are building new aircraft like there's no tomorrow; see this list at the Federation of American Scientists. The newer aircraft are very good, and are being exported to many countries around the world. Besides the Russian and Chinese aircraft, the ones coming out of Europe are very good and they hope to sell them to countries that, who knows, we may have to fight one day. China is cranking out ships and submarines too, and is looking to have an aircraft carrier by the end of the decade, from what I read.
Supporters of the decision to cut further production of the F-22 need to hope that we don't get into any shooting wars in which our planes are shot down, and ex-pilots start going on TV saying "if only we'd had the F-22..." No matter how good Obama's diplomacy, events can spiral out of control. Right or left I think we can all agree that there are a lot of crazies running countries right now.
Back to the piece inThe Weekly StandardGates also noted that the U.S. battlefleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined. True. But what he didn't say is that the current number of ships in the fleet, 286, is substantially below the minimum set by several previous studies of what the Navy requires to carry out all the tasks it is charged with around the world. Nor does he mention that this number is shrinking--and will shrink, if the budget stays as is, to levels not seen since the early 20th century. Undoubtedly, the ships of today are far more combat-capable than those of even 15 years ago. Still, numbers matter. Typically, for every ship on station there is one being refurbished after deployment and one undergoing training and work-up prior to deployment. Add to that the fact that the Navy is needed virtually everywhere--protecting the sea lanes, providing support for the wars, gathering intelligence, acting as a missile defense shield, and helping deter the likes of Iran, China, and North Korea--and one quickly comes to appreciate why a much smaller fleet, more widely dispersed, will become a strategic problem.
More than this, remember that our navy must be in all places of the world all of the time; so although it is big it is spread out. Potential enemies such as China, Iran, or Russia can concentrate their force all in one area.
And more than that, they will have land bases nearby the scene of the battles, whereby our air force planes will have to fly longer distances, and carriers are sinkable.
We've gone from 15 or so carriers to 11 and soon to 10. They're all Nimitz class which seems impressive, but again a 1070s design. They ships suffer from a lack of electricity. There are a zillion more gizmos today than there were 30+ years ago, and even a nuclear reactor can produce a finite amount of power. The first of the Gerald R Ford class won't hit the water until 2015.
But that's ok, because with the retirement of the F-14 Tomcat we've barely got enough F-18 Hornet and Super Hornets to fill the carrier decks, and the replacement F-35 Lightning II is barely out of flight testing and into production. More, there's no guarantee our dear president won't cancel or limit production of it too just like he did the F-22.
Why Does it Matter?
I probably should have put this first, but couldn't work it in. Again from TWS:The strategic success of the United States rests on achieving three things: the defense of the homeland, including all of North America and the Caribbean Basin; safe access to and the ability to exploit the "global commons," including the seas, the skies, space, and cyberspace; and a favorable balance of power across Eurasia. For all this to work as a "system," each piece must be in working order.
In other words, we have to keep out homes safe, guard the sea lanes to ensure freedom of navigation, and ensure that no adversary gains too much power in Europe and Asia. I think those are worthy goals, and worth spending money on. Much more so than any "stimulus" that is mostly just a payoff to Democrat interest groups.
Stark Raving Mad
Does Democrat Representative Pete Stark (CA-13) come across as crazier in the first video or the second? You decide:
About a week ago...
"The federal government can do most anything." No big surprise that Stark doesn't seem to recognize any limits to what the federal government can do. There are a whole slew of Democrats who agree with him.
h/t Powerline for both)
... and on October 18, 2007:
Bush just likes to blow things up!" Soldiers in Iraq are being killed "for the President's amusement!"
All of us say a few things every now and then that are off base, but really, this guy is too much.
August 2, 2010
History Shows that Cutting Defense Spending is Dangerous
American History follows a predictable pattern. During every war, and we'll throw in the Cold War, we build up our military and usually defeat the enemy. After it's over, we dramatically cut back. Then another war takes us by surprise, and we discover our military is too small for the task. We suffer, often grievously at first, but eventually build back up. Repeat.
In the past we could sort-of get away with this because we didn't spend that much on social programs, so, there was a lot of room to build the military back up. Today we spend more than ever on social programs, and as we all know once in place they're almost impossible to cut.
Max Boot reminds us of the folly of cutting defense spending too much in times of relative peace:Impact of past defense cuts should warn of risks
The Washington Post
by Max Boot
Friday, July 30, 2010
The prospect of an exit from Iraq and Afghanistan has sparked rumblings on Capitol Hill that it's time to cut the defense budget. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, says, "I'm pretty certain cuts are coming -- in defense and the whole budget." Defense Secretary Bob Gates is already pushing to cancel some big-ticket programs and to wring savings out of the existing budget.
If there were ever evidence that it's impossible to learn from history -- or at least that it's difficult for politicians to do so -- this is it. Before they rush to cut defense spending, lawmakers should consider the consequences of previous attempts to cash in on a "peace dividend."
After the American Revolution, our armed forces shrank from 35,000 men in 1778 (plus tens of thousands of militiamen) to just 10,000 by 1800. The result was that we were ill-prepared to fight the Whiskey Rebellion, the quasi-war with France, the Barbary wars and the War of 1812 -- all of which might have been averted if the new republic had had an army and a navy that commanded the respect of prospective enemies, foreign and domestic.After the Civil War, our armed forces shrank from more than a million men in 1865 to just 50,000 in 1870. This made the failure of Reconstruction inevitable -- there were simply too few federal troops left to enforce the rule of law in the South and to overcome the ruthless terrorist campaign waged by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups. Segregation would remain a blot on U.S. history for another century.
After World War I, our armed forces shrank from 2.9 million men in 1918 to 250,000 in 1928. The result? World War II became more likely and its early battles more costly. Imagine how Hitler might have acted in 1939 had several hundred thousand American troops been stationed in France and Poland. Under such circumstances, it is doubtful he would ever have launched his blitzkrieg. Likewise, Japanese leaders might have thought twice about attacking Pearl Harbor if their homeland had been in imminent danger of being pulverized by thousands of American bombers and their fleet sunk by dozens of American aircraft carriers.
After World War II, our armed forces shrank from 12 million men in 1945 to 1.4 million in 1950. (The Army went from 8.3 million soldiers to 593,000.) The result was that ill-trained, ill-armed draftees were almost pushed off the Korean Peninsula by the North Korean invasion. Kim Il Sung was probably emboldened to aggression in the first place by the rapid dissolution of America's wartime strength and indications from parsimonious policymakers that South Korea was outside our "defense perimeter."
After the Korean War, our armed forces as a whole underwent a smaller decline -- from 3.6 million men in 1952 to 2.5 million in 1959 -- but the Army lost almost half its active-duty strength in those years. President Dwight Eisenhower's New Look relied on relatively inexpensive nuclear weapons to deter the Soviet Union and its allies, rather than a large, costly standing army. The Army that was sent to Vietnam was not prepared to fight guerrillas -- an enemy that could not be defeated with a hand-held Davy Crockett nuclear launcher.
After the Vietnam War, our armed forces shrank from 3.5 million personnel in 1969 to 2 million in 1979. This was the era of the "hollow army," notorious for its inadequate equipment, discipline, training and morale. Our enemies were emboldened to aggression, ranging from the anti-American revolutions in Nicaragua and Iran to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. We are still paying a heavy price for the Iranian Revolution, with Iran on the verge of going nuclear.
After the end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf War, our armed forces shrank from 2.1 million personnel in 1989 to 1.3 million in 1999; the Army went from 769,000 soldiers to 479,000. The result: an Army desperately overstretched by its subsequent deployments. Part of the reason too few troops were sent to stabilize Iraq in 2003 was that senior officials thought there simply weren't enough to go round.
We are still suffering the consequences of the post-Cold War drawdown. The Navy is finding it hard to fight Somali pirates, police the Persian Gulf and deter Chinese expansionism in the Western Pacific. The Army and Marine Corps are forced to maintain a punishing operational tempo that drives out too many bright young officers and NCOs. The Air Force has to fly decades-old aircraft until they are falling apart.
It might still make sense to cut the defense budget -- if it were bankrupting us and undermining our economic well-being. But that's not the case. Defense spending is less than 4 percent of gross domestic product and less than 20 percent of the federal budget. That means our armed forces are much less costly in relative terms than they were throughout much of the 20th century. Even at roughly $549 billion, our core defense budget is eminently affordable. It is, in fact, a bargain considering the historic consequences of letting our guard down.
The writer is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
August 1, 2010
The Financial Cost of Iraq and Afghanistan
I wrote the title the way I did to distinguish my subject from the human cost, which is an entirely different matter.
Whatever the reasons for our budgetary problems, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are most certainly are not part of it. More, while there may be good reasons for abandoning one or both of those countries (though I'd disagree with them), financial cost is not one of them.
From a July 24 story in the New York Times:
Since I can't make this any clearer, you can view the original on the Times website here.
The conclusion is that the cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is very low. The only reason it seems high and a strain is that we spend so much more on various social programs.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq took up 1.2 percent of GDN in 2008, whereas World War I took up 13.6 percent and World War II a whopping 35.8 percent.
From a post on this subject I did in April of 2009:
Some of the charts and numbers below are from Truth and Politics, and other charts from Heritage. Unfortunately most of the charts and numbers don't cover the past few years. If I can find more tomorrow I'll fill in the gaps.
My apologies that the charts are not totally clear. I could make them larger but then they'd be blurry. Follow the links to see them more clearly.
Military Spending as a Percent of GDP
First, as a chart from Truth and Politics
This chart from Heritage is pretty up to date
Another chart from Heritage showing National Defense Spending as a Percentage of GDP, 1962-2007
Then, the actual numbers from Truth and Politics
After the year is the amount we spent as a percentage of GDP
So excluding World War II, spending peaked during the 1950s but has mostly fallen since.
As a Percentage of Discretionary Outlays
US military spending as a percentage of discretionary outlays, 1962--2003
First, as a chart from Truth and Politics
Then from Heritage
Wikipedia has it as
U.S. Defense Spending as a Percent of Total Budget Outlays
Then, the numbers from Truth and Politics; US military spending as a percentage of discretionary spending, 1962--2003
Again, we see the same pattern.
Operation Iraqi Freedom as compared to past wars. The chart is via National Review and as of January 23 2006. Of course we've spent more since then but even so it wouldn't really change the chart that much.