US government promotes Islam in Europe 1

This is from Gatestone, by Soeren Kern:

The project — Muslims in the Eyes of Czech Schoolchildren — is being spearheaded by a Muslim advocacy group and is being financed by American taxpayers through a grant from the US Embassy in Prague. (The US State Department is also promoting Islam in other European countries.)

The group says the Czech Ministry of Education has authorized it to organize lectures and seminars aimed at “teaching Czech schoolchildren about Islamic beliefs and practices” and at “fighting stereotypes and prejudices about Muslims”.

But critics — there are many — say the project’s underlying objective is to convert non-Muslim children to Islam by bringing proselytizing messages into public schools under the guise of promoting multiculturalism and fighting “Islamophobia”.

The group’s website says the first phase of the project involves “analyzing the accuracy of the information about Islam in Czech textbooks on history, geography and social sciences, and mapping the level of teaching about Islam in Czech grammar schools and other secondary schools”.

The second phase of the project involves the implementation of a three-level program that will “acquaint both pupils and teachers with Islam and Muslims” and help them to develop better “critical reception skills” when analyzing supposedly Islamophobic information.

Develop “critical reception skills”? What is a “reception skill”? The ability to swallow any tosh that’s shoved down your throat? As for critical skill, that’s exactly what Muslims don’t want to have brought to bear on their holy texts.

This is a farce, a ruse, a sly cover for proselytizing. “Dawa” they call it. The wonder is that the Czech Ministry of Education cannot see that that’s the case – or doesn’t care that it is.

According to the group’s website:

“The first level acquaints the reader with the history of Islam, the basic religious concepts of tradition and contemporary issues such as family [Sharia] law, the veiling of women and Islamophobia.”

Notice how  (unfortunately non-existent) “Islamophobia” is added on to the fact of “the veiling of women”, so that it seems to be equally factual.

“The second level offers a deeper look at the issues and puts more emphasis on the involvement of the pupils.… Pupils will be divided into three groups within which they will study any of the following topics: the veiling of women, media coverage of Islam, and Muslims in the Czech Republic.

The veiling of women, we have little doubt, will be explained to seem a Very Good Thing; and “media coverage of Islam and Muslims” will be objected to wherever it says anything that Muslims don’t like to have said, regardless of whether it is true or not. Any media discussion of Islam which is not obsequious will be condemned as “Islamophobic”.

Each group will be led by an experienced tutor, who will acquaint students with the problems by means of prepared materials and subsequent debate.

The experienced “tutor” will be a trained indoctrinator. The debate on his side will amount to “‘Shut-up,’ he explained.”

“The third level provides schools with artistically oriented projects or discussions with Muslims and professionals dealing with Islam. Artistic activities would involve making a film or taking photographs focused on a day in the life of a Muslim or art workshops and competitions focused on the possibility of integrating Muslims into Czech society.”

But not making cartoons of Muhammad, or there will be Muslim riots from Britain to Bangladesh.

A thought in passing: it seems that Muslims really believe that Islam is attractive; that once infidels know about it, they will be irresistibly drawn to it. Women to subjugation. Men to putting their foreheads on the ground five times a day. And perhaps even more amazing – there are apparently thousands  of men and women who are drawn to it. Is it possible, we wonder, that the constant condemnation of our civilization by a dominant left-intelligentsia, our failure to teach the virtues of individual freedom, capitalism, and reason, is leaving our children easy prey to any confidence trickster with a mission, any ideological mountebank who comes along and offers them his certainties?

But to return to the text:

Do the Czech Muslims want to integrate? There’s yet more sly wording to confuse the easily gulled Ministry of Education. When they get down to the nitty-gritty in those classrooms, the “tutor’ will demonstrate that, as Sharia law cannot be reconciled with Czech law, it would be best to have just Sharia. “After all,” he will say, smiling all the while, “it is the word of Allah.”

The group also organizes thematic lectures, workshops and debates for schools or groups of students, many of which are held at the Municipal Library in Prague — and which are more openly geared toward converting Czech youth to Islam.

One such lecture entitled “Paths of Young Czech Women to Islam” answers questions such as: What makes a young Czech woman want to become a Muslim? It is the main motive always falling in love with a Muslim man or are there other reasons? How does one convert to Islam? How can new Muslims cope with non-Muslim relatives?

Another lecture entitled “Koran, Sunna and the Internet: Where to Do Muslims Get Their Information?” answers questions such as: Where can one get information about the Muslim faith? Is the Koran the only source of information about Islam or are there other sources? Where can one find information that is not mentioned directly in the Koran? The lecture is supplemented by providing students with hands-on opportunities to work with various Islamic texts, including the Koran and the Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet Mohammed].

Students wanting to participate in the lectures but lacking previous knowledge of Islam are advised to attend a 15-minute introductory course that “represents the characteristics of Islam and advocates it in the context of Christianity and Judaism.” The lectures are “suitable for children from about the age of 15, although it is possible to customize the program for younger pupils.”

A statement on the group’s website justifies the project this way:

The Muslim community in the Czech Republic is small, but it raises strong emotions. Issues relating to Muslims or Islam appear almost daily in television news, newspapers and Internet debates. But the topic is discussed only marginally in regular school lessons. This condition leads to acceptance and subsequent consolidation of prejudices and stereotypes that are supported by latent Islamophobia. We would like this project to contribute to improving the situation. We provide information about Islam that is factually accurate. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with Muslims and get to know them before forming an opinion of them.

We would laugh at the idea that Islam is dead keen on factual accuracy, if we were not depressed over this whole enterprise, and the degree of pusillanimity among Western governments that it so maddeningly illustrates.

One of the co-founders of the project, a Czech-Palestinian named Sadi Shanaah, was quoted by the Prague Post as saying, “School lessons do not pay sufficient attention to Islam. Pupils want to learn more about it.”

Czech school-children are clamoring to learn about Islam? A lie that is instantly contradicted by the group itself:

But the group recently ran an advertisement promising to pay 250 Czech korunas ($13 dollars) to any student aged 15 to 18 years who would agree to attend a two-hour presentation about Islam.

The ad — which indicates that the American embassy in Prague was financing the April 2 event — states:

Event will take place at a school in New Butovice (7 minutes’ walk from the metro station). You get a brief introduction to Islam through which you can learn more about the veiling of Muslim women, media coverage and Muslims in the Czech Republic. Then you will have the opportunity to meet with Amirah, a Malaysian Muslim who is studying medicine in Prague, and to ask her everything you want about Islam or Muslim life in the Czech Republic.

… Most Muslims in the Czech Republic are immigrants from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria and Turkey. But a study produced for the Czech Interior Ministry in 2007 … found … a large number of Czech converts to Islam. It is estimated that at least 2,000 Czechs have converted to Islam since the end of Communist rule in 1989.

They got to like being oppressed? Couldn’t bear being unyoked?

Many are women who have married Muslims, but just as many are young males who are “looking to Islam in their search for spirituality,” according to Radio Free Europe. …

As the Muslim population grows, so do tensions with the population at large.

In November 2013, two Muslim women threatened to file an anti-discrimination lawsuit against a nursing school in Prague after they were asked to remove their hijab head covering in class.

“The principal summoned me and told me: ‘If you want to be in the school, you must not wear the scarf.’ I said this was against my religion as I am a Muslim,” Nasra, one of the women, told Czech Television.

The school defended itself, saying that although Czech law does not regulate the wearing of headgear, the school’s dress code bans the practice. The school also said the women, one from Somalia aged 23, and another from Afghanistan aged 25, disagreed with the compulsory physical education and the conditions of compulsory practice.

More recently, Muslims in the Czech Republic have tried to ban a book about Islam they say is Islamophobic.

The book, Islam and Islamism, was written by Lukas Lhot’an, a former Muslim who is now an apostate from Islam. Released in 2011, the book describes how some Muslims are abusing the ideology of multiculturalism to infiltrate Czech schools.

Lhot’an … says Muslim institutions in the country are now headed by Islamists who dominate the entire Islamic community. He accuses Muslim extremists of giving lectures aimed at recruiting converts and new jihad fighters, and alleges that Czech mosques are being controlled by Saudi Arabia.

The Islamic Center of Prague has filed a ten-page criminal complaint against Lhot’an, accusing him of promoting hatred, while the head of the Muslim community in Brno, Muneeb Hassan Alrawi has this to say about Lhot’an: “He is a hyperactive idiot, but also an unhappy man. He makes his living from doing harm. The police investigation will only provide publicity to him. He desires nothing but this.”

But others say the objective of the criminal complaint is obvious: Its aim to prevent Lhot’an from disseminating his view of Islam. … [His]  book describes extremist tendencies inside the Czech Muslim community and tries to highlight their contempt for democracy and women’s rights and their justification of suicide bombers.

And the Obama administration, through the State Department, is providing them with your money to help them.

It’s a Red, Red world 5

Why did the West fail to claim an ideological or moral victory at the apparent end of the Cold War?

Did the West really even win the Cold War? 

Diana West asks these questions. She goes on:

If we go back in time and listen, we hear no consensus click over signs that an unalloyed US-led triumph over communist ideology had taken place; nor do we find a sense of national thanksgiving for the forces of good – or, at least, for the forces of better – in their triumph over the forces of a non-abstract evil as manifested in Gulag or KGB or famine or purge history. “Mustn’t gloat” was about as joyous as the White House of Bush No. 41 ever got.

The inability to proclaim victory loud and clear derives from the Christian injunction to be humble.

Almost everything that handicaps our civilization comes from its Christian legacy; and everything that drives it forward to discover and innovate, to attain greater prosperity, longer life – whatever  general conditions are needed for such happiness as we may individually be capable of – is the legacy of the Enlightenment, the awakening from the long dark nightmare of “God’s” reign, the rise of reason. It only  happened to the West. Reason and its children Science, Freedom, and the United States of America, made the West great; not, as those  lovers of the darkness, the god-worshipers, like to intone, the “Judeo-Christian” tradition.

All religions are the ideological enemies of the West. But yes, the Red ones,  Communism and its conjoined twin Environmentalism, are the most dangerous at present. They suffuse and weaken our culture and our civilization.

They are the New Christianities.

Diana West is right to diagnose Communism as the transforming blight.

Was the official non-reaction due to that “crisis of confidence” we always hear about — specifically, that “politically correct” failure to believe in the worth of the West? I used to think exactly that and no more. The self-loathing West, failing to see anything of value in itself, was simply unable to take satisfaction, let alone pride, in the demise of its mass-murdering nemesis. “After all,” the PC catechism goes, “Who’s to say the Western system is ‘better’ than any other?”

But there is far more to it. At a certain point, it becomes clear that what we are looking at isn’t a West that fails to appreciate itself anymore, but rather a West that isn’t itself anymore.

Decades of subversion by communist infiltrators and American traitors, collaborators and “useful idiots” have helped make sure of that. So, even if the military enemy went away after the dissolution of the USSR on Christmas Day 1991, our ideological enemy never even had to break step.

Cold Warriors might have prevailed abroad, but America lost the ideological Cold War at home. 

This helps explain why our college campuses are outposts of Marx, our centralizing government is increasingly invasive and dictatorial, and our culture is one of metastasizing decadence …

President Obama’s recent speech in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union, reveals the chasm between what we have become and what we are supposed to be. Wearing his “Leader of the Free World” hat, Obama made the case against Russia’s annexation of Crimea by conjuring a Manichaean split between free societies and dictatorships. But does it fit? 

According to the president, there are free societies where “each of us has the right to live as we choose,” and there are dictatorships where the rule is “ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs.” Americans confronting government-mandated health insurance would do well to wonder exactly which society they live in.

Obama continued: “In many ways, the history of Europe in the 20th century represented the ongoing clash of these two sets of ideas.” That contest, he explained, swerving wildly away from historical fact, was won “not by tanks or missiles, but because our ideals stirred the hearts” of Eastern Bloc anti-communists.

Omitted was the fact that these revolts were mainly crushed without US aid. Omitted also was the decisive role that President Reagan’s “tanks and missiles” – and missile defense – played in the military contest.

In this post-World War II era, Obama declared, “America joined with Europe to reject the darker forces of the past and build a new architecture of peace.”

Russia’s annexation of Crimea, in sum, is an attack on that “architecture,” and, as such, is bad.

On closer examination, however, that same US-EU “architecture” doesn’t support the free-society paradigm so much as what the president calls the “more traditional view of power” – the one that sees “ordinary men and women (as) too small-minded to govern their own affairs.”

This latter view aptly describes the “soft” tyranny of the EU nanny state, whose early lights, after all, were Belgian Socialists and Nazi sympathizers with visions of a unified pan-European welfare state. In Brussels, their political progeny – unelected bureaucrats – increasingly dictate political and social norms across a “United States of Europe”.

In the US, the medical totalitarianism of Obamacare – not to mention Obama’s serial usurpations of power (not enforcing legislation he doesn’t like, making up and enforcing legislation he does like) – makes it all too clear that this president has a dictatorial temperament.

This is unsurprising when you consider that his political baby, his engine of transformative change – state-mandated health care – happens also to have been an early program of the Bolsheviks, and had as one of its earliest US boosters a noted Stalinist named Henry Sigerist. This seems like as good a moment as any to remind readers that the UN and the IMF, those leading institutions of globalist infrastructure, were fostered into post-World War II existence by a pair of notorious American Soviet agents – Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White.

Truly, it’s a Red, Red world.

Obama’s shattering success 3

In just five years, Barack Obama has succeeded in crippling the American economy and shattering the world order under the Pax Americana.

Americans feel the grave economic effects of his domestic policies more immediately and urgently, but it is the shattering of the world order that will ultimately change their lives for the worse.

President Vladimir Putin found that “he could  annex Crimea without firing a single bullet”. He has good reason to think that “he will later be able to do the same with the rest of Ukraine”. But he will probably “wait until the situation worsens and the impotence of the United States and Europe becomes even more obvious”.

That is part of the picture of the crumbling world order, described here by Professor Guy Millière (of the University of Paris), at Gatestone.

[Putin] apparently considers that he has in front of him a weak and declining America. And the general demeanor of the present U.S. administration tends to prove him right. The United States seem in full retreat. U.S. military budgets continue to fall. For the last five years, Barack Obama spoke of “ending” the wars in which the U.S. was involved, and he depends on Russia’s cooperation for further negotiations with Iran, for dismantling chemical weapons in Syria, and for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Putin doubtless thinks that Obama will not enter into an open conflict with Russia. Sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States are insignificant, and Putin has every reason to think they will not increase. …

[He] evidently considers Europe even weaker than America. The way European leaders speak and act shows that he is not wrong. For decades, Western European countries relied on the U.S. defense umbrella; none of them today has an army capable of doing more than extremely limited operations. Their foreign policy positions converge with the Obama administration positions. They all have deep economic and financial links with Russia and cannot break these links. The UK needs the Russian capital invested in the City of London. France cannot cancel its Russian warship contract without having to close its shipyards in Saint Nazaire, and without being confronted with major social conflicts. Germany could not survive long without Russian oil and natural gas. Overall, Russia provides thirty percent of the natural gas consumed in Western Europe. Putin apparently thinks that Europe will not enter into an open conflict with Russia. …

Either the West will stand up to Putin, and it will have to do it fast, or Putin will win. Obviously, Europe will not stand up. Polls indicate that Americans are turning sharply toward isolationism.

Showing his view of the situation, Obama recently said that Russia is nothing but a “regional power”, acting “out of weakness”.

What is Russia’s “region”?

Russia covers ten time zones and has borders with Europe, the Muslim Middle East, China, North Korea, and Alaska.

Yes, Russia has a common border with the United States. The US is in its region.  

If massing troops on the borders of Ukraine and annexing Crimea are signs of “weakness,” by its evident impotence, America appears even weaker.

Will Putin be content with annexing Crimea, or even the whole of Ukraine?

Several plebiscites have been held since 2006 in Transnistria, a strip of land between Ukraine and Moldova, and each of them has indicated a willingness to join Russia. Estonia includes a large Russian minority, and Russian leaders in Moscow speak of the need to “protect” the Russian population of Estonia.

Estonia is a member of NATO. If Russia were to attack it, NATO, according to Article 5 of its charter, should defend it with prompt military action. But would it?  NATO’s military power is America’s military power. Under Obama,what chance is there that America would go to war in Europe?

The world order built after the Second World War was shaped by America. For almost five decades, its goal was to contain Soviet expansion. In the late 1980s, the Soviet empire collapsed, and another phase began: an arrangement in which America would keep the peace and assure the survival of liberty.

America has apparently abrogated that responsibility.

And if Russia is not deterred, other powers will be encouraged to advance their interests abroad by force.

Rogue leaders around the world are watching and drawing their own conclusions.

[The Iranian Ayatollah] Khamenei sees no reason to stop saying that America is the “Great Satan” and that Israel has to be wiped off the map. China sees no reason to hide its intention to occupy the Senkaku/Diyaoyu Islands. Last week, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un fired six missiles into the sea of Japan. [President] Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela reaffirmed its alliance with Russia and positioned Russian missiles in Caracas.

Guy Millière predicts that the chaos will increase and speed up. He sees disaster coming fast.

If we do not see the Ukraine as a warning signal, we could quickly discover that life could now easily enter the state of nature in Hobbes’s Leviathan: [solitary, poor,] nasty, brutish and short.

How will it be? 23

Contrary to Marxian dogma, no historical development is inevitable. And all actions have unintended consequences. So prophecy is a risky enterprise.

But we have to calculate the probable outcomes of what we do.

Daniel Greenfield has prophesied - plausibly, we think – what will happen when America ceases to be the predominant power in the world.

International organizations will be good for little except sucking up the last drops of wealth and prestige of the United States. It will be a chaotic place with everyone out for themselves. …

There will be three post-ideological powers, no longer global in scope, and one worldwide ideological alliance.

The United States, Russia and China are post-ideological states. Russia and China have abandoned Communism. The United States is even abandoning nationalism; to say nothing of capitalism, democracy or freedom. Its rulers cling to scraps of global leftist ideology that isolate them from their own people.

Russia and China are run by powerful corrupt elites who emerged from the old Communist order to build economic oligarchies enforced by the ruthless use of force. The United States is increasingly run by an oligarchy of ideological bureaucrats, corrupt technocrats and leftist academics that has a distant resemblance to the USSR and the PRC; but its long march through the institutions hasn’t turned fully totalitarian yet. That may be less than a generation away.

Russia, China and the United States are all demographically unstable. Russia and the United States are both on track to become majority-minority countries. China’s demographic disaster will be the outcome of its one child policies, gender abortion and its war on the countryside. The United States will probably weather its demographic problems better than Russia or China, because the former faces a fatal Muslim demographic takeover and the latter a conflict that will tear its society apart, but like Russia and China, the demographic crisis in the United States will be exacerbated by the lack of common bonds to see it through a period of social stress.

Russia and China will fall back into their own history, collapse and isolationism for China, barbarian rule for Russia. The United States has no such history to fall back on and its elites have abandoned any meaningful national identity that doesn’t rely on pop culture and liberal pieties.

There is little to unify Russia or China … The KGB oligarchs of Russia and the Communist princes of China are as globalist as any Eurocrat. They have few national commitments. Their goals are wealth and power for their families and associates.

Unfortunately there is even less to unify the United States after the left embraced multiculturalism at the expense of exceptionalism. The erosion of everything from free speech to the free market has reduced the American Dream from individual opportunity to vulgar exhibitionism. Uncontrolled immigration has imported masses of hostile populations everywhere from Nashville to Minneapolis radically changing quintessentially American cultures and replacing them with balkanized minority coalitions who have little in common except a mutual hostility against the United States.

In contrast to the cultural vulnerabilities of the three powers, Islam, the defining global ideological alliance, lacks a superstate as the center of its empire, though it has many state bases, but enjoys the allegiance of a worldwide population larger than any of the three powers. Demographic projections continue to favor the growth of Islam over China, Russia and the United States.

It would be a mistake however to think that China, Russia and the United States are in a conflict with Islam. While Islam is in a conflict with them, each of the three powers divides Muslims into three groups; those Muslims that are within the “empire”, part of China, Russia’s Eurasian Union or the United States, those that are outside the “empire” but allied to it, e.g. Syria for Russia, Saudi Arabia for the United States and Pakistan for China, and those that are its separatist or terrorist enemies.

Instead of coming to terms with a global struggle with Islam, each power largely concentrates on fighting Muslim separatist or terrorist groups that destabilize its sphere of influence while arming, funding and supporting those Muslim separatist and terrorist groups that destabilize rival powers.

It is therefore simplistic to act as if America, Russia and China have a common interest in fighting Islam. While that may be true, that is not how the leaders of the three powers see it. Putin fights some Islamists while incorporating others into his allied clergy and helping still others go nuclear. The United States bombs the Taliban, but would never consider bombing their paymasters in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

Muslim terrorists operate in all three powers, but are dismissed as unrepresentative aberrations. That is wishful thinking, but empires are shaped to fight their own kind. Islam, like Communism, is something different. It is an ideology and post-ideological powers … are poorly adapted to fighting it. Instead many of their elites secretly admire its dedication. …

Like a hyena trotting after prey, Islam is a cultural carrion eater consuming the skills and knowledge of superior civilizations to sustain its warlordism …

The collapse of the Pax Americana under Obama has freed up Russia and China to begin their campaigns of territorial expansionism. Obama’s failure to deter Russia in Ukraine will encourage China to use force as a solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. These events will wake the world from the dream of the Pax Americana in which American power kept the peace in much of the developed world.

The end of the Pax Americana also means the end of international law. Instead of a post-American world ushering in a stable multilateral order … no single power will predominate, but … any country or militia that can seize a piece of land or a natural resource will go ahead and do so. …

The First World may wake up to discover that it is once again living under Third World rules.

Those most immediately affected by the decline of the United States will be the Asian and European countries that outsourced their defense to the United States after WW2. Japan has a limited time in which to turn around its economy, demographics and military to be able to face down China.

Europe was able to turn inward without having to make the hard choices and its elites were even able to drag the United States into implementing their vision internationally. But that is coming to an end. …

The European Union may implode in the coming years, but whether it does or does not, Western Europe will continue to be defined by the quarrels between the UK, France and Germany. The various other players have never been anything other than places to put factories, launder money or import cheap labor from. …

Europe, unlike the United States, has not been known for its altruism, and its nations face a crippling combination of problems. Europe suffers from Japanese birth rates, Russian demographics, Chinese corruption and American economics (though it would be more accurate to say that America suffers from EU economics.) Despite its size and population, Europe does not have an optimistic future. …

Russia will not stop with Ukraine and NATO will dissolve, officially or unofficially. It may stay around and limit itself to providing humanitarian aid internationally while expelling Poland and any countries that Russia is likely to want to add to its collection. …

The budding Russian empire will find that fighting a new wave of Muslim insurgencies in formerly peaceful republics will consume too much of its time and energy. The soldiers who will march on the scattered pieces of the old red empire will be Muslims and the Eurasian Union will become a Muslim empire with a handful of churches. Like Rome, its fall will come at the hands of its own barbarians.

Iraq and Afghanistan will not prove to be as psychologically devastating to Americans as Vietnam, but they will help discourage further deployments overseas. Severe military budget cuts and a campaign against the warrior culture will leave the military in no shape for anything except peacekeeping missions.

The United States will face escalating domestic unrest, less from militias than from gangs, terrorism and the economic collapse of entire cities. It will no longer be in a position to act abroad.

None of this has to happen, but it will if the same bad decisions continue to be made.

If eight years of Obama are topped by eight years of Hillary, this is where we will end up.

The writer points out that if the civilized world fails to resolve its “economic, demographic and military crises … the civilization in which we have grown up and which we have known all our lives will die and a long interregnum of darkness will follow in its wake”.

Yes, that’s all too probable, and profoundly horrible.

But it may be that an entirely different kind of civilization will emerge. That technologies – already in the womb of time – will set the individual freer than he could ever possibly have been before. That governments will lose power. That social elites without technological skills will lose credibility. That law-making will be done by new procedures, and the nature of law and the manner of its enforcement will change to fit new ideas of how liberty may be protected. That religion – so outworn and squalid a thing, a mere relic of an ignorant past – will wither away, perceived at last to be worse than useless.

There now, we ourselves have ventured beyond speculation and touched on prophecy. And because prophecy cannot be accurate, we are not likely to be right. But by the same token, we may not be entirely wrong.

A different, darker vision 5

Anne Applebaum, one of a small but distinguished team of conservative columnists at the otherwise heavily left-leaning Washington Post, is also one of the most well-informed writers anywhere on Russia and East Europe.

Today she writes (in part):

Openly or subconsciously, since 1991, Western leaders have acted on the assumption that Russia is a flawed Western country. 

In the 1990s, many people thought Russian progress … simply required new policies: With the right economic reforms, Russians would sooner or later become like us. Others thought that if Russia joined the Council of Europe, and if we turned the G-7 into the G-8, then sooner or later Russia would absorb Western values. …

Still others thought that Russia’s forward progress required a certain kind of Western language, a better dialogue. When the relationship deteriorated, President Bush blamed President Clinton. President Obama blamed President Bush. …  Back in 1999, the New York Times Magazine ran a cover story titled Who Lost Russia? Much discussed at the time, it argued that we’d lost Russia “because we pursued agendas that were hopelessly wrong for Russia” and given bad economic advice. In The Post last week, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Jack Matlock, echoed President Putin and argued that the United States, by “treating Russia as the loser,” is responsible for the current crisis. …

[But] Russian politics have never been all about us. In truth, we’ve had very little influence on Russian internal politics since 1991, even when we’ve understood them. The most important changes — the massive transfer of oil and gas from the state to the oligarchs, the return to power of men formed by the KGB, the elimination of a free press and political opposition — took place against our advice. The most important military decisions — the invasions of Chechnya and Georgia — met with our protests. Though many appear to believe otherwise, the invasion of Crimea was not primarily intended to provoke the West, either.

Putin invaded Crimea because Putin needs a war. In a time of slower growth, and with a more restive middle class, he may need some more wars, too. …

But … the Crimean invasion might have a bigger effect on the West than even he intended. In many European capitals, the Crimean events have been a real jolt. For the first time, many are beginning to understand that … Russia is not a flawed Western power. Russia is an anti-Western power with a different, darker vision of global politics.

For twenty years, nobody has thought about how to “contain” Russia. Now they will. … Strategic changes … should flow from our new understanding of Russia. We need to re-imagine NATO, to move its forces from Germany to the alliance’s eastern borders. We need to reexamine the presence of Russian money in international financial markets, given that so much “private” Russian money is in fact controlled by the state. We need to look again at our tax shelters and money-laundering laws, given that Russia uses corruption as a tool of foreign policy. Above all we need to examine the West’s energy strategy, given that Russia’s oil and gas assets are also used to manipulate European politics and politicians, and find ways to reduce [Europe's energy] dependence [on Russia].

Obama is doing everything he can to make sure the Russian nuclear arsenal will be bigger and more technologically efficient than ours.  He, and the Left in general, will not call Russia an enemy – but that’s what Russia is: the enemy of the West. Could it possibly be the case that Obama and the Left in general are on Russia’s side? Does the Left see an ally in any country or ideology that is against America?

*

Is Estonia next on Putin’s list for invasion and annexation? It is a member of NATO. Will Putin risk war with NATO? Or does he calculate that the US under Obama will not permit NATO to obey it’s own charter ( in particular Article 5) and defend any member state that is attacked?

The BBC reports:

Russia signaled concern on Wednesday at Estonia’s treatment of its large ethnic Russian minority, comparing language policy in the Baltic state with what it said was a call in Ukraine to prevent the use of Russian. Russia has defended its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula by arguing it has the right to protect Russian speakers outside its borders … “

(We took the quotation from this article – Why Obama Scares Me – by Mona Charen at Townhall.)

Head count 1

From Tundra Tabloids:

Abdurahman … can be seen on You Tube with a bloody knife behind five cut-off heads. [Though it seems that he counts them as one -ed.] He is originally from Iraq, and has lived more than ten years in The Netherlands. He lived there from social security as he was found unfit to work and used drugs against claustrophobia and schizophrenia.

In 2012 an AFP picture emerged on which Abdurahman could be seen next to a dead body, while he was reading the Koran. Initially he joined the Jabhat-al Nusra movement in Syria, which is linked to Al Qaida. It seems that he has now moved to the even more barbarian ISIS jihadis. It is claimed that the heads were cut off from Al Nusra fighters.

ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The group is also “linked to Al Qaida”.

Posted under Europe, Islam, jihad, Muslims, Netherlands by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, March 19, 2014

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A silly and evil plan 1

A Palestinian Muslim spells out what is wrong with “the Kerry plan” for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  It could not be clearer, but we don’t expect Secretary of State John Kerry to understand it. Even if he could and did, we doubt that he’d change or abandon his silly and evil plan, because – plain to see – the intention of Obama and his coven is to destroy the State of Israel.

This is from Gatestone, by Daoud Assaf:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently warned that “the status quo between Israel and the Palestinians” cannot continue, noting that while there is prosperity and momentary security in Israel, it is “an illusion” that is bound to change if [peace] talks flounder. “The risks are very high for Israel,” Kerry said. “People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure. We all have a strong interest in this conflict resolution.”

In short, Kerry is threatening Israel with a boycott and even security unrest if it does not accept the peace plan he says he will deliver in two weeks. Is Kerry actually endorsing the anti-Israeli boycott that delegitimizes America’s only stable and democratic ally in the region? Also, what is the peace plan Kerry is so determined to force on the Israelis and Palestinians?

Kerry’s talk of boycotting Israel comes at a time when the anti-Israeli boycott rhetoric is becoming shrill; one day after Kerry’s talk, two major European banks decided on actions against their Israeli counterparts. Sweden’s Nordea Bank, the largest in Scandinavia, asked for “clarifications” from Israel’s Bank Leumi and Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank regarding their activities in the West Bank. Also Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, said on its website that it was boycotting Israel’s Bank Hapoalim for “legal and ethical” reasons, again in reference to its operations in the West Bank.

Recently, the $200 billion Dutch pension fund PGGM also decided to divest from the five largest Israeli banks, ostensibly because of their involvement in the West Bank.

Kerry’s comments were not only a stab in the back that any country would not expect from its closest ally; they also provided support to the enemies of Israel – such as the smiling, racist members of the European Union.

For decades, the EU and many European nations have been secretly funneling hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ euros to organizations that work towards overthrowing Israel. The EU also, despite mountains of evidence, could not even bring itself to declare Iran’s proxy organization, Hizballah, a terrorist group; and if Iran is legitimized, so probably will be Iran’s other proxy terrorist group, Hamas.

Joining this club of racists is the United Nations, whose record of one-sided anti-Israel hostility is so pronounced that even one of its own translators commented on it. This record not only includes the frequent resolutions condemning Israel, as opposed to any other nations that commit far worse human rights violations than those Israel is [falsely] accused of committing, but also the openly racist Durban Conferences, ostensibly organized to counter racism, but which, as anyone can see, in fact promote it.

The cumulative effect of this pile-on against Israel only provides approval for the enemies of Israel to intensify their attacks — including anti-Israeli boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS] campaigns — even more.

Kerry, and many others in the West, understand perfectly well that boycotting Israel reduces job opportunities not only for Jews, but also for Palestinians who work for in Israeli factories, farms and settlements, inside Israel as well as in the West Bank. The Palestinians who work there often receive ten times the remuneration, as well as better working conditions, than they would find among their own people, as has been revealed recently by the workers at companies that have actually been building real bridges of peace such as SodaStream, rather than organizations that have been sanctimoniously blowing up the bridges for peace, as Oxfam has. As usual, the Europeans know what will happen if there are fewer ways for the Palestinians to earn a decent living, as they knew when they left all their colonies. … The Europeans evidently care more about flagellating Israel than helping Palestinians. …

The question then arises: Why do those in the West who claim such hand-wringing concern for the Palestinians seek to harm Israeli businesses that offer them jobs? Do they forget that the Arabs refused to accept a partition plan in 1948, and started all subsequent wars to prevent Israel’s existence? Do they think that if Israel just withdraws to the 1967 line that the Palestinians will disregard their Charters, which view Israel as one big settlement and which assume a Palestine “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea”?

In our view, it is past time that Israel set its borders – and they should be from the river to the sea.

In other words, is the Arab-Israeli Conflict — which it is, far more than a Palestinian-Israeli Conflict — actually about territory, or about the existence of Jews who have come home to the land given to them by the Holy Qur’an, Sura 7 [Al-A'raf; "The Heights"] 137: ” And We made those who had been persecuted inherit the eastern and western lands which We had blessed. Thus your Lord’s gracious promise was fulfilled to the children of Israel, for they had endured with patience; and We destroyed all that Pharaoh and his people had wrought, and all that they had built.”

An interesting quotation that, of a sura that most Muslims seem to ignore.

Of course, even though we Muslims might prefer it if the Israelis were someplace else, as a Muslim, I must ask why are Israelis always found guilty for defending themselves? Could it be that the old, politically-incorrect anti-Semitism has now simply been replaced by a new, supposedly politically-correct anti-Israelism?

Also, what is this peace plan Kerry is so determined to force on Israel?

Kerry’s plan, recently outlined in the media, includes: the division of Jerusalem; Israel’s withdrawal from most of the West Bank, while it would retain control over the largest Jewish settlements there; a land swap to compensate the Palestinians for the settlement bloc [one can only imagine the years of wrangling about what a "commensurate piece of land" would consist of in each instance, thereby perpetuating the conflict a few more millennia]; recognition by the Palestinians of Israel as a “Jewish state”, and compensation for Palestinian refugees who would no longer have a “right of return” to Israel.

But it does not include compensation for the Jews who were expelled from Arab lands or forced to flee, and had all their property confiscated.

In addition, the London-based newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, reported on January 8, 2014 that Kerry’s plan actually revolved around solving the Palestinian refugees’ problem through “settling them in Jordan under Jordan’s king and granting the king $55 billion for hosting the Palestinians for five decades.”

And where would they go after that, Mr Kerry?

Actually, that is where they belong. Jordan was created to be Arab Palestine by the British. They took some 80% of the Palestine region over which they were granted a mandate by the League of Nations after World War I,  and handed it to Emir Abdullah, the Hashemite Sharif of Mecca, to be – as “the Emirate of Transjordan” –  an Arab-only area in which no Jews would be allowed to live, although the explicit provision of the Balfour Declaration was that Jews should be “settled closely” on the the land. And it was for that purpose the League of Nations had given Britain the mandate.

A careful look at the [Kerry] plan, however, raises the following issues: 

Palestinian Authority President Abbas has already said he would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. But the real problem is that even if he did, he or his successor could easily change his mind and retract the recognition of Israel after it had already given back the West Bank …  as in the time-honored tradition of Hudaibiyya which his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, repeatedly invoked in Arabic to justify signing the Oslo Accords.

“Hudaibiyya,” a footnote explains, “is the story of Mohammed’s promise to the tribe of the Qurayesh in Mecca not to attack for ten years; but after assembling a powerful army, Mohammed returned after three years, conquered the tribe, occupied the city and gave tribes’ members the choice of either becoming Muslims, or leaving their homes and going elsewhere.”

So much for treaties, as can presently also be seen in the ongoing Palestinian abrogations of UN Resolutions 242 and 838, as well as of bilateral agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel — again endorsed by Secretary Kerry.

Palestinians also say Abbas does not represent them because he has overstayed his four-year term by six years, and therefore has no legitimacy, or mandate, to sign anything. Abbas would undoubtedly also be regarded by many Palestinian hard-liners as a traitor — as was Egypt’s President, Anwar al Sadat — and almost certainly be assassinated. …

Kerry also wants Israelis, including those who live in settlements, to be surrounded by a Palestinian state. If I were a Jew, I would frankly not want to be living in a tiny country or a settlement surrounded by people who are incited day-in and day-out [by being told that] that their mission in life is to kill you, let alone that the entire country is regarded by many Arabs as one big settlement …  It is bad enough when a country — now home to over a million Arabs, who have all the same opportunities as the Jews — is slandered in a lie that it is [an] apartheid [state], but for a new Palestinian state to be legally born [an] apartheid [state], officially free of Jews, after having had to listen to the international community unjustly hurl that word around all those years — seems both legally and morally indefensible.

Last of all, it is important not to forget that historically, whenever Israel gives land for “peace,” as in Egypt, southern Lebanon and Gaza, instead of rewards it gets concussions. …

Despite everything, the Israeli government has recently exhibited a willingness to accept Kerry’s plan.

As a tactic only, we hope.

The Palestinians have, as usual, rejected the plan: senior Palestinian Authority official Yasser Abed Rabbo called Kerry’s plan “Israeli ideas.” In addition, last month, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told an audience at a conference in Munich he could never agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

To this author, Kerry’s peace plan seems to be based on assumptions that are likely not to materialize or … The Palestinians have been offered a state many times since 1947; each time they have rejected the offer. It seems, looked at dispassionately, that they are less interested in having a Palestinian state than in destroying a Jewish state.

At the same time, Kerry’s boycott threats only embolden Israel’s many adversaries, including the Europeans, who seem to enjoy colluding with the Arabs, probably for the money, to launch new BDS campaigns, as they high-handedly compromise the interests and legitimacy of Israel, the only ally on which America can actually depend in the unstable Middle East.

Tyranny’s wife 1

The EU is a much prettier version of tyranny than rough Russia.

One might say it is the feminine version. It dresses nicely. It has its hair styled. It paints its nails. It smiles. It thinks it is alluring. It spends more than it has.

It is easy to understand why half the Ukrainians want to live with it. With her. Rather than with unshaven, violent, shabby, ill-mannered Daddy Russia.

Her corruption is prettily packaged.  Her despotism has a gentle touch. It really is more pleasant to live with her than with him.

But it would be better for the Ukrainians if they just took off on their own.

Bruce Bawer offers that very advice. He writes at Front Page:

It’s in Europe, and it’s huge – after Russia and the top five EU members, it has Europe’s largest population, and twice as many inhabitants as all the Scandiavian countries put together – but Ukraine isn’t a nation we often think of in the West, except when, as in recent days, it’s in the midst of a crisis. It has spent most of its history being conquered and brutalized by its more powerful neighbors, and in the last century underwent one savage chapter after another: 1.5 million people died in the civil war that ended with its absorption into the USSR; millions more died in Stalin’s deliberately engineered famine in 1932-33; during World War II, Hitler slaughtered an additional three million in what was intended to be the first stage of a program of exterminating two-thirds of the country’s population and enslaving the rest.

And, it should be added, its own historical record of brutal persecution and oppression is fully equal to any of its neighbors’. (See here and here and here.)

Today, unsurprisingly, Ukraine is a basket case of a country, riddled with corruption and living in the shadows of its historic horrors. It’s also a linguistically and philosophically divided land, torn between a western chunk whose people speak Ukrainian and identify with Europe and an eastern chunk whose people speak Russian and still feel an attachment to their massive neighbor to the east.

Viktor Yahukovych, the corrupt, autocratic president who disappeared last weekend in the face of mounting public unrest, is a Russiophile whose fatal error was his decision to strengthen bonds with Moscow (which coveted Ukraine as a key ally in a new Eurasian Union) and to turn down a free-trade agreement with the EU; most of the rioters who sent him packing are Europe-oriented types, the majority of whom are eager to see Ukraine become a Western-style democracy free of Putin’s influence, but some of whom, it should be noted, are neo-Nazis who look westward to Germany for the least attractive of reasons.

Most of the Ukrainians who favor European ties also want to see their country join the EU – which, in their eyes, as one Swedish newspaper put it the other day, is “above all…a symbol of a society free of corruption”.  Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister who was sprung from prison on Saturday after Yahukovych took it on the lam – and whose own years in office (ending in 2010) were far from corruption-free – told the Kiev crowds shortly after her release that she’s “sure that Ukraine will be a member of the European Union in the near future and this will change everything”.

Change everything! What is it that makes presumably liberty-loving Eastern European politicians talk about the EU as if it were a magic freedom elixir, a miracle cure for former victims of tyranny?

I suppose part of the explanation is that these politicians travel to the great cities of Western Europe and take in the relative freedom, the relative prosperity, and the relative lack of corruption and thuggery, and assume that all this has something to do with the EU. And part of it, naturally, is the ceaseless stream of pro-EU propaganda poured out by the Western European media and, not least, by the Western European politicians whom the likes of Tymoshenko consort with when they visit the West.

Yet how odd that the superstate’s economic woes haven’t put a dent in the magic for people like Tymoshenko. How odd that even the merest glimpse of the way things work in Brussels – where corruption is, needless to say, very much alive and well, even though it doubtless falls far short of Ukrainian levels – doesn’t give them pause. And how odd that when they witness the arrogance that’s characteristic of virtually all Brussels bigwigs – their habit of responding to any reasonable criticism of the EU not with cogent arguments but with vicious ad hominem attacks – they don’t immediately recognize that they’re observing tyrants in the making, the sort of folks that you’d think they’d had more than enough of over the centuries, thank you very much.

Take European Council president Herman van Rompuy, that colorless, Politburo-style mediocrity, who in a 2011 speech blithely ignored the essentially undemocratic nature of the EU, describing it – outrageously – as “the fatherland, or the motherland of democracy”.

Or take European Commission president José Manuel Durrão Barroso, who started his political career as a Maoist, and who in 2012 argued that the EU’s democracy deficit isn’t a bug but a feature: “Governments are not always right. If governments were always right we would not have the situation that we have today. Decisions taken by the most democratic institutions in the world are very often wrong.”

What he says is not untrue (even democratically-elected governments are almost always wrong), but he is making an argument for despotism.

Or take halfwit EU Foreign Affairs honcho Catherine Ashton, whose 2011 Guardian article lecturing Hosni Mubarak on the need for democracy in Egypt was widely (and rightly) ridiculed as the work of someone who, as Brendan O’Neill neatly put it in the Telegraph,

… has never once bothered the ballot box, never once ventured into the rowdy arena of public opinion to win the masses’ backing, and who was elevated to her current position as the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs through backroom wheeling and dealing.

Noting Ashton’s enthusiasm, in her Guardian piece, for what she called “deep democracy”,  O’Neill explained that “she doesn’t mean deep as in profound – she means bureaucracy, the grey and unaccountable sphere that she haunts, the removed realm of experts and unelected high representatives” – a phenomenon Ashton contrasted (favorably, of course) with mere “surface democracy”, the undesirable, old-fashioned sort of system in which elected officials actually seek (horrors!) to honor their constituents’ wishes.

Even a cursory look at the careers and pronouncements of these unelected demigods, these self-regarding technocratic hacks, is to recognize them as people who itch to rule an empire and who are, quite simply, outraged at anyone who dares to stand in their way for a moment. Given the transparency of their lust for monolithic power – a power, moreover, utterly liberated from any notion whatsoever of responsibility to an electorate – it’s baffling that so many observers can actually take the EU seriously as a formula for European peace rather than for European autocracy.

What Europe has in Barroso, Ashton, & co., after all, is a pack of men and women who have done their level best to impoverish real political debate, to blunt its impact, and to make it seem obsolescent, counterproductive, and in every way undesirable.

Former Czech president and staunch EU critic Václav Klaus asked in his 2011 book Europe: The Shattering of Illusions:

Do we have real politics in Europe today – the political conflict of opinions – or have real politics been in fact eliminated by reducing the weight and importance of the nation states and by the self-confessed apolitical ways of Brussels?

Which is another way of saying that Brussels isn’t a city of politicians who have different political philosophies and who come together to debate ideas and hammer out compromises; it’s a city of technocrats who share an ideology and who work together as a team to translate that ideology into policy – never mind what the rabble think. (Or, as Klaus put it even more bluntly: “the European Union is no longer the symbol of democracy it pretends to be.”)

Klaus has coined the term “Europeism”. It’s a useful word, because it places the unreflecting, reality-defying enthusiasm for Europe in the category it belongs to, along with other, earlier European-isms. Among much else, Europeism views the free market as uncivilized and anarchic, places collective rights above individual rights, and strives, as Klaus excellently puts it, “for a homogenized, ‘decaffeinated’ world (with no flavour, aroma, and smell)”.

Europeists, he writes,

… do not believe in spontaneous, unregulated and uncontrolled human activity. They trust the chosen ones (not the elected ones), they trust themselves or those who are chosen by themselves. They believe in a vertically structured and hierarchized human society  …  They want to mastermind, plan, regulate, administer the others, because some (they themselves) do know and others do not. They do not want to rely on spontaneity of human behavior and on the outcomes resulting from this spontaneity because they think that rationalistic human design is always better than an unplanned result of interactions between free citizens, constructed and commanded by nobody. Even though we thought that after the collapse of communism all this was a matter of the past, it is not so. It is around us again. Europeism is a new utopism and, I add, it is an extremely naive and romantic utopism.

Above all, writes Klaus, Europeism “is based on the idea that states, more precisely the nation states, represent the Evil – because they were once the cause of wars among other things – while the supranational, continental and global entities represent the Good, because they – according to eurocrats – eliminate all forms of nationalist bickering once and for all”. This understanding of things, he adds, “is obviously childish, yet it is generally accepted in Europe”. Yes, it’s accepted because millions of today’s Europeans have been brainwashed into thinking that national feeling – patriotism – was the root of all of the worst things that happened to the continent in the twentieth century. No, ideology was the root – ideology in the form of Nazism, fascism, and Communism. And Europeism – which, by the way, has multiculturalism and fanatical environmentalism built into it – is the twenty-first-century heir of those wretched systems of thought.

Which brings us back to the latest developments in Ukraine. Tymoshenko’s speech on Saturday night was followed on Sunday by the news that the EU – notwithstanding its own massive financial difficulties – is now ready to hand over bushels of cash to the newly Europe-friendly government in Kiev. …

Note to Ukrainians: accepting the EU’s money is one thing. Go for it. But why this longing, on the part of Tymoshenko or anyone else in your country, to board the Superstate Express? Set aside, if you wish, the economic downside of the whole project, the looming disaster that is the eurozone, and just ask yourselves this: after spending most of your history taking orders from far-off imperial capitals, most of the twentieth century living under the nightmare of Communism, and most of the greater part of the generation that followed under the gravitational pull of post-Soviet Kremlin despotism, why be so desperate to subordinate yourselves to yet another set of haughty, high-handed foreign rulers? Why slip away from being under one thumb only to voluntarily place yourself under another?

Ukraine, here’s one simple piece of unsolicited advice: vote for sovereignty. Vote for freedom. Take the money and run.

Stay out of the EU.

Ending the pax Americana 2

We are in principle against intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. But we are not for isolationism or pacifism – we regard either philosophy as a formula for national suicide. If other countries become belligerent, build up their armed strength, send their warships towards our shores, establish bases in countries on our borders, and declare their aggressive intentions towards us, the politics of those countries become our business. That is happening now. We are under threat – because Obama is deliberately weakening America. And his reaction to the result is to weaken America even more.

The conditions for major war develop much more easily when the U.S. is too weak. They are developing as we speak. 

To a meaningful extent, the significant increase we’ve seen in unrest around the globe since 2010 has been made possible, and inevitable, by the retraction of American power. Even where we still have power in place, it has become increasingly obvious that we aren’t going to use it. 

We quote from a website interestingly named Liberty Unyielding. The article on the extreme folly of the Obama administration’s moves to weaken America is by Commander Jennifer Dyer, now retired from the US navy. (Her own blog is at Theoptimisticconservative.wordpress.com):

The collapse of order in the Arab nations in 2011 was the first significant stage of the process. The perception that the United States would do nothing about a Hezbollah coup in Lebanon was tested in January of that year. The perception proved to be true, and when protests erupted in Tunisia and Egypt, for causes both natural and manufactured, a set of radical Islamist actors – the “establishment” Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni jihadists, Iran – saw an opportunity. The establishment Muslim Brotherhood has largely won out in Tunisia, but the battle still rages among these radical actors for Egypt, Syria, and now Iraq. Lebanon is being incrementally sucked into the maelstrom as well.

In multiple venues, Russia has watched the U.S. and the West effectively back Islamists in Russia’s “near abroad”: in Turkey (with support for the now struggling Erdogan government); in the Balkans, especially Bosnia and Kosovo; and in Syria. …

There was a time when the implicit determination of the U.S. to enforce the “Pax Americana” order – the post-World War II alignments of the region – held Russia in check. The Russians still derived some security benefit from that order, after all … It appears to me, however, that 2014 will be the year in which it becomes clear that, according to Russians’ perception, they no longer benefit from the old order. If we’re not going to enforce it, Russia will do what she thinks she has to.

In fact, Moscow’s pushback against the plan for Ukraine to affiliate with the EU constitutes just such a blow for perceived Russian interests. It is of supreme importance for Westerners to not misread the recent developments. The EU and the U.S. did back down when Russia pushed hard last fall. The only ones who didn’t back down were the Ukrainian opposition. I predict Vladimir Putin will try to handle the opposition factions cleverly, as much as he can, and avoid a pitched battle with them if possible. He respects what they are willing to do. But he has no reason to respect Brussels or Washington.

And that means he has more latitude, not less, for going after the regional props to the old order, one by one. As always, Russia’s inevitable competition with China is a major driver, along with Russia’s concern about Islamism on her southern border. The whole Great Crossroads – Southwest Asia, Southeast Europe, Northeast Africa, the waterways that snake through the region – is, if not up for grabs, at least in ferment. Look wherever you like: there are almost no nations where there is not a very present menace from radicalism, or where governments and even borders are not gravely imperiled by internal dissent.

Israel is the chief standout for politically sustainable stability and continuity. Romania and Turkey seem likely to at least retain their constitutional order in the foreseeable future, but Turkey’s geopolitical orientation, in particular, is less certain. Greece and Kosovo – even Bosnia – have serious internal problems. Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia all remain in crisis at various levels. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are relatively stable, and the Arab Persian Gulf states relatively so as well. But their neighborhood is going downhill fast. Iran is riding a wave of radical confidence, and the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan.

In this tumultuous region, it’s actually a little funny that Pakistan looks stable and staid compared to Iran, Afghanistan, and neighbors west. We can hope that Islamabad’s perceived need to maintain a symmetrical stance against India will keep Pakistan’s loose federation of intransigents federated, and the nukes under central control. But as we move across South Asia, we near another boiling pot. Thailand – long an American ally and pillar of stability in the region – has been rocked in recent months by national unrest of a kind not seen in Southeast Asia for decades. Islamist radicalism is a growing threat in Indonesia, and an unpacified one in the Philippines, after more than a decade of U.S.-Philippines collaboration in fighting it.

And, of course, China is making real, transformative moves against regional security with her proclamations about air space and maritime rights off her southeast coast.

This disruptive process, like the battles for many of the Arab nations, is already underway. We’re not waiting for something to happen; it’s started.

China assumes, quite correctly, that there will be no effective pushback from the United States. But two other nations with power and means will regard it as intolerable for China to dictate conditions in Southeast Asia: Japan and Russia. The dance of realignment among these nations has implications for everyone in Central Asia and the Far East. The day may be on the horizon sooner than we think when maintaining a divided Korea no longer makes sense to at least one of the major players. The day is already here when Chinese activities in Central Asia are alarming the whole neighborhood, just as Chinese actions are in the South China Sea. …

Russia and Iran are advancing on the US through Central America:

It’s no accident that as radical leftism creeps across Central America (falsely laying claim to a noble “Bolivarian” political mantle), the maritime dispute between Nicaragua and American ally Colombia heats up – and Russia shows up to back Nicaragua and Venezuela – and so does Iran – and unrest turns into shooting and government brutality and violence in Venezuela – and Hezbollah shows up there to openly support the radical, repressive Maduro government.

Now Iran has a naval supply ship headed for Central America, very possibly with a cargo of arms that are not only prohibited by UN sanction, but capable of reaching the United States if launched from a Central American nation or Cuba.

We’re not still waiting for the shocks to start to the old order. They’ve already started. I haven’t surveyed even the half of what there is to talk about …

She looks at the latest defense cuts with dismay and considers what the consequences will be:

This is the world in which the United States plans to reduce our army to its lowest level since before World War II, and eliminate or put in storage much of its capabilities for heavy operations abroad (e.g., getting rid of the A-10 Warthogs, moving Blackhawk helicopters into the National Guard). It’s in this world that DOD proposes to cease operating half of our Navy cruisers, while delaying delivery of the carrier-based F-35 strike-fighter to the Navy and Marine Corps. These cutbacks come on top of cuts already made to training and maintenance expenditures in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force that will affect unit readiness for years to come. …

Then comes what should be a shocking observation:

By cutting back on defense so drastically, America is deciding, in essence, to “fight fair”: to give whatever opponents emerge more of a chance to kill our soldiers, damage our interests, and drag out conflicts.

That would be hard to believe of any American leadership – until now. It is ludicrous. Worse, it is lunatic. But Obama has never concealed or disguised his wish to weaken America’s military capacity.

The decision “to further limit our capabilities to use power in politically relevant ways” will result in “even more global unrest: more conflict, more shooting, more blood, more extortion and political thuggery menacing civil life in the world’s poorer and more vulnerable nations”, and that cannot be good for America. The point is that -

These unpleasant trends will spill over into civil life in the wealthier nations soon enough

As it has, she points out, in Ukraine, Thailand, and Venezuela, “whether directly or through second-order consequences”.

Peace and freedom have to be tended constantly; they are not the natural state of geopolitical indiscipline, but its antithesis. …

We’re extraordinarily unprepared for the world that is shaping up around us. …

[And] a world that doesn’t want quiescent trade conditions, tolerance of dissent, the open flow of ideas, and mutual agreements, peacefully arrived at, will not have them.

That’s the world we are sentencing ourselves, for now, to live in. Perhaps we will learn from the consequences how to think again: about what it takes to guard freedom, and indeed, about what freedom actually is. 

It is Obama who needs to think again, but there is no reason to hope that he will. It could hardly be more obvious that he does not care for freedom.

Art is dear and life is cheap 16

The State Department has spent millions of taxpayers’ dollars acquiring Art. That is to say, paying for objects that its resident or consultant aesthetes swear are works of Art, worth every penny.

The acquisitions were apparently a priority for Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State. If you would see her monument, tour US embassies and look about you.

Fashionable Art doesn’t come cheap. So there was no money left to pay for such a humdrum thing as effective protection of the US diplomatic and CIA missions in Benghazi. Denied the security they needed, four Americans, including the ambassador, were killed there by savage jihadis. Well – Hillary might say – there has to be human sacrifice on the altar of Art, it makes all the difference, and if you don’t understand that, you are a philistine bourgeois.

Look on the bright side. The Art is displayed in many a US embassy. Americans can be proud.

In London, there’s a granite wall built by Sean Scully that cost $1million. We couldn’t find a picture of it, but it’s like this one displayed in an art gallery.

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Daniel Greenfield illustrates an article on the subject – which inspired this post – with these pictures of works by Cy Twombly. The  top one is at the embassy in Rome.  

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From his text:   

Beijing [embassy] contains $23 million worth of art. Bern has $1.2 million and Luxembourg has $2.2 million.

And here is the grave of Ambassador Stevens, murdered at Benghazi. We don’t know how much it cost, or who paid for it.

*

Post Script: Here is some wall art that really has meaning. The wall is part of the US mission in Benghazi. The paint is blood. A hand put it there the night of the attack. It might have been the hand of Ambassador Stevens himself – or of one of his brutal killers. One does not have to read Arabic to know who signed in for the event on the other wall.

(Hat-tip: our reader and commenter donl)

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