Atheists of the Left – “Humanists” some call themselves – often reveal with unconscious irony how close Leftism is to Christianity: the same moral myopia, hubris, and sentimentality.
In order to enjoy the cheap emotional satisfaction of feeling they are “good people”, they go in for this sort of thing.
We quote from the Friendly Atheist at Patheos:
After the Daily Caller News Foundation posted a map of supposed “radical mosques” in the U.S., it wasn’t long before threats were made against them.
But in a wonderful gesture on Monday, the Humanists of the Palouse reached out to the Muslims, sending them a letter of concern and offering whatever help they could:
To our Muslim friends in the Moscow/Pullman area,
Recently, we have been made aware of threats to our community, centered on the Pullman Islamic Center and it and many other Mosques being mis-reported as “radical”. In today’s climate, these threats should not be taken lightly, and we certainly do not. We fully support your right to practice religion free from harm and harassment.
We recognize your members as valued residents of the Palouse. The Humanists of the Palouse want you to know that we will always defend religious freedom and cultural diversity, and threats against these are threats against our very way of life. We stand with you, and offer our support.
If you feel threatened, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to accompany anyone who feels that their safety is at risk (e.g. grocery shopping, on a walk around town, or just for someone to talk to). If we can advocate for you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, and know that you have friends and allies amongst The Humanists of the Palouse.
The Center’s Board of Trustees soon issued this heartfelt response:
The entire Board of Trustees of the Pullman Islamic Association joins me in thanking you and the Humanists of the Palouse generally for this powerful statement affirming civil rights in this country. We are especially moved that a humanist group so completely supports the local Muslim group, since Islam is the most disrespected group in this country. We have noticed that the correct way to define and appreciate humanist groups in general and yours in particular is as lovers and defenders of civil rights, individual and group democratic dignities and freedom of thought, not as haters of religion. Your group’s neighborly defense of freedom of religion in the Palouse demonstrates your focus on freedom and social justice. We are impressed by and thankful for your firm support and offer of assistance and solidarity.
One of our Board of Trustees members is meeting with an FBI agent today, which demonstrates that the federal police are taking this threat seriously. Given this sobering reality of threatened arson and violence your support will always be appreciated by the leaders and membership of the Pullman Islamic Association. We hope we will not need to ask for your offered assistance, but if we do need or want such support, we will indeed reach out to Humanists of the Palouse.
That’s how you do it, friends.
You can disagree on theological issues, but I’d hope local atheist groups around the country would be willing to reach out to Muslims who are actually being persecuted by overzealous conservatives eager to shut them down.
If they lose their religious freedoms, we all do.
Can they possibly not know that sharia law – inseparable from the ideology of Islam – condemns apostasy, which is what atheism is deemed to be? And prescribes death as the punishment for atheists? (Atheist men; women not always.) In some Islamic lands they are imprisoned rather than executed. But all risk their lives, and such freedom as anyone has in a Muslim majority country.
These are reports of atheists, apostates, free thinkers who have been sentenced to prison, and/or flogging, and/or death in Islamic countries recently – the crime of atheism often being euphemized into something else in court. And some who have been killed by their Muslim compatriots.
1. From the Economist, on Alexander Aan in Indonesia:
A MOB attacked Alexander Aan even before an Indonesian court in June jailed him for two and a half years for “inciting religious hatred”.
His crime was to write “God does not exist” on a Facebook group he had founded for atheists in Minang, a province of the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Like most non-believers in Islamic regions, he was brought up as a Muslim. And like many who profess godlessness openly, he has been punished. …
Sharia law, which covers only Muslims unless incorporated into national law, assumes people are born into their parents’ religion. Thus ex-Muslim atheists are guilty of apostasy—a hudud crime against God, like adultery and drinking alcohol. Potential sanctions can be severe: eight states, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Sudan have the death penalty on their statute books for such offences. …
Most atheists are prosecuted for blasphemy or for inciting hatred. (Atheists born to non-Muslim families are not considered apostates, but they can still be prosecuted for other crimes against religion.) Even in places where laws are lenient, religious authorities and social attitudes can be harsh, with vigilantes inflicting beatings or beheadings.
Many, like Kacem el-Ghazzali, a Moroccan, reckon the only solution is to escape abroad. The 23-year-old was granted asylum in Switzerland after people found out he was the author of an anonymous blog, Atheistica.com. …
Nahla Mahmoud, a 25-year-old Sudanese atheist … fled to Britain in 2010. …
Ibn Warraq, the pseudonymous Indian-born author of “Leaving Islam”, a collection of essays by ex-believers, … lives in exile and has received death threats for campaigning on the behalf of apostates. … Arguments for the death penalty [he says] are usually based on a Hadith, one of the sayings which, along with the Koran, form the basis of Islamic law: “The Prophet said: whoever discards his religion, kill him.” …
Ibn Warraq says that the nub of the problem is that sharia makes atheism the number one sin, ahead of murder. …
2. From the Guardian, on Ashraf Fayadh in Saudi Arabia:
A Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s nascent contemporary art scene has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam.
A Saudi court on Tuesday ordered the execution of Ashraf Fayadh, who has curated art shows in Jeddah and at the Venice Biennale. The poet, who said he did not have legal representation, was given 30 days to appeal against the ruling.
Fayadh, 35, a key member of the British-Saudi art organisation Edge of Arabia, was originally sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes by the general court in Abha, a city in the south-west of the ultraconservative kingdom, in May 2014. But after his appeal was dismissed he was retried earlier this month and a new panel of judges ruled that his repentance did not prevent his execution.
3. From Patheos, the Friendly Atheist itself, on Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia:
December 26, 2013 by Paul Fidalgo [who is admirably scathing in his disgust – ed).
Saudi blogger and religious dissident Raif Badawi has been cruelly punished and toyed with by the Saudi legal system for about a year now, and things have taken a darker turn. According to Badawi’s wife, now living in Lebanon, the high court will try Badawi on the charge of apostasy. If convicted, Badawi could be executed.
This comes after a court opted not to charge him with apostasy in January, but did put him up on charges of “insulting Islam and showing disobedience”. How did they come to this decision? Badawi is the co-founder of a website called the Liberal Saudi Network, which is bad enough, but imagine the horror that washed over Saudi society with this kind of action:
The evidence against him included the fact that he pressed the “Like” button on a Facebook page for Arab Christians.
As a result of this heinous behavior, in July, Badawi was sentenced to 600 lashes and seven years in prison.
Which was horrifying enough. But now it looks like Badawi is being brought up on apostasy charges in earnest. Badawi’s case is one of many being watched by the Office of Public Policy at the Center for Inquiry, where I work, and our Campaign for Free Expression. Browse the cases we have listed there, and you’ll see that, sadly, Badawi’s case is hardly unique.
Cases like this need more international attention, and those who position themselves as “allies” of Saudi Arabia, such as the United States, need to discover their consciences. How can the civilized world refer to itself as such when an ally practices such barbarism, it looks the other way?
The judge in Badawi’s subsequent appeal stiffened the original 2013 sentence – seven years in prison and 600 lashes – to 1000 lashes, ten years in prison and a fine of $266,000. See our post, The punishment of reason, January 12, 2015, where there is an eyewitness description of the first of the series of lashings Badawi is being subjected to.
Badawi had written, “My commitment is… to reject any repression in the name of religion… a goal that we will reach in a peaceful, law-abiding way.”
This was interpreted by the judge as “insulting Islam”.
Badawi’s health is now frail. He is unlikely to survive the lashings.
4. From Poetry Foundation, on Hashem Shaabani in Iran:
We were saddened and horrified today to learn of the death of Hashem Shaabani, who was executed on January 27th by the order of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
From Radio Free Europe:
An Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal reportedly had sentenced the poet to death, along with 14 others, last July on charges that included “waging war on God”.
Press reports said Shaabani was hanged after his sentence was approved by President Hassan Rohani.
In a statement on February 5, Freedom House said Shaabani was subjected to severe torture and interrogation during his three years in prison.
Human Rights Voices also reports on the execution, writing:
To those who knew him, was a man of peace and understanding struggling to extend spaces of individual freedom within the despotic Khomeinist system … In one of his letters from prison, made available to use through his family, Shaabani says … “I have tried to defend the legitimate right that every people in this world should have which is the right to live freely with full civil rights. With all these miseries and tragedies, I have never used a weapon to fight these atrocious crimes except the pen.”
5. From the Guardian on Avijit Roy and Rafida Bonya Ahmed in Pakistan:
No one could have predicted that the Bangladeshi writer Rafida Bonya Ahmed would make it to London last week. … In February, Islamist fanatics hacked her husband, Avijit Roy, to death with meat cleavers as the couple left a book fair in Dhaka. They nearly killed Ahmed too: slicing off her thumb and covering her body with wounds. …
Together, Ahmed and Roy ran a secular blog that promoted the writings of young liberal Bangladeshis They wrote on evolution and humanism; they condemned extremism fearlessly, as the title of Roy’s 2014 book The Virus of Faith makes clear. Seeing and fearing a courageous opponent, the enemies of free thought killed him for his ideas. …
6. From a Reuters report on Ananta Bijoy Das and others in Bangladesh:
Third Atheist blogger killed in Bangladesh.
A blogger was hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers in Bangladesh on Tuesday (May 12), the third killing of a critic of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority nation in less than three months.
Ananta Bijoy Das, a blogger who advocated secularism, was attacked by four masked assailants in the northeastern district of Sylhet on Tuesday morning, senior police official Mohammad Rahamatullah told Reuters.
Rahamatullah said Das was a 33-year-old banker.
He was also editor of science magazine “Jukti,” which means “logic,” and on the advisory board of “Mukto Mona” (Free Mind), a website propagating rationalism and opposing fundamentalism …
According to the monitoring service SITE Intelligence Group, Islamist militant group Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh said al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) had claimed responsibility for the attack. …
Imran Sarker, the head of a network of activists and bloggers in Bangladesh, said Das was “a progressive free thinker and a good human being”. …
Militants have targeted secularist writers in Bangladesh in recent years …
On March 30, Washiqur Rahman, another secular blogger who aired his outrage over [Avijit] Roy’s death on social media, was killed in similar fashion on a busy street in the capital, Dhaka.
Their deaths followed the killing in 2013 of Ahmed Rajib Haider, who backed calls to impose the death penalty on Islamist leaders accused of atrocities in Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence.
Why do our fellow atheists – of the leftist “Humanist” persuasion – not burn with anger against the ideology that persecutes atheism, secularism, rationalism, and shun the company of its devotees?
If they think they are earning the goodwill and tolerance of the Muslims towards whom they’re making this gesture, they’re pathetically deluded. Their nice little letter is not going to change sharia law, or the minds of those who want to impose it on us all.
They seem simply not to believe that the Muslims they contacted might be members of “radicalizing” mosques – which is to say, mosques with imams who urge them to support terrorist groups or join ISIS. There’s no hint that they explored the possibility. In their minds, the accusation must be wholly unjustified.
And one more thing. When those poor persecuted Muslims “in the Moscow/Pullman area” whimpered that “Islam is the most disrespected group in this country”, they are lying. The president of the United States is the son of a Muslim and an Islam lover who has brought Muslim Brotherhood advisers into his administration – and has clearly formed policies on their advice..
At the time of this writing there have been 27,322 deadly attacks carried out by Muslims since 9/11. (See the tally in our margin, taken from The Religion of Peace.) Muslim terrorists do all they can to terrify non-Muslims, and then cynically accuse them of an irrational fear of Islam, calling it “Islamophobia”.
Muslims are the target of few “hate crimes” in the US. But they perpetrate more than any others do.
We quote from an article by David J. Rusin at Islamist Watch. His staistics come from a December 2014 report of 2013 figures. (We await the 2014 report this coming December):
New FBI Hate Crime Stats: Another Blow to Islamist Fictions
There were 1,031 incidents inspired by religion last year, 625 (60.6 percent) of which were anti-Jewish. Anti-Islamic ones constituted just 13.1 percent.
On April 15, 2013, Muslim terrorists murdered three and injured hundreds at the Boston Marathon, prompting familiar warnings about an imminent anti-Muslim backlash. The FBI’s findings are proof that such collective punishment did not materialize — as it almost never does.
How have Islamist groups greeted the FBI data? With silence. It is the sound of disappointment on the part of radicals who need Muslim victims, preferably real ones, to serve as human shields for the Islamist agenda. Bad news for Islamists is once again good news for the rest of us.
The Democratic Party must be “in denial”. Is it really offering as its only candidates for the presidency an old communist – aka “a democratic socialist” – whose mind was badly made up never to change again way back in the last century; some other man no one knows or cares anything about; and, primarily, a hideously corrupt old female whose reputation is laden with more scandals than any other figure in modern American history, and is the subject of a criminal investigation by the FBI?
Yes, mirabile dictu, it is!
John Hawkins provides a useful summary of things the old woman has been and done:
Conservatives have been amusing themselves for months by watching Hillary Clinton supporters sputter out laughable answers when they’re asked to name her biggest accomplishments. You can’t blame them for not being able to come up with anything significant because Hillary has choked on the same question in interviews. That’s one of the reasons her staffers have been shielding her from the press like a mother standing between her child and Jared Fogle.
If you want to double down on the laughs, go read an actual list of “accomplishments” on her website.
All seven “accomplishments” are things Hillary didn’t have much to do with — like CHIP and the Family Medical Leave Act (Those went into effect when her husband was in office) or getting 9/11 first responders health care (Was that ever a question?). Alternately, they’re just ridiculous.
“Fought for children and families for 40 years and counting.”
“Told the world that ‘women’s rights are human rights’,”
“Stood up for LGBT rights at home and abroad.”
The very fact that Hillary Clinton considers those things to be “accomplishments” that she should be applauded for as opposed to things that should evoke eye-rolling and “Is she serious?” comments tells you a lot about why she shouldn’t be President.
Of course, the real problem Hillary has isn’t that she doesn’t have achievements; it’s just that they’re not exploits that anyone would want to base a run at the Presidency on.
1) She has been willing to endure America’s most humiliating marriage to achieve wealth and power: It’s fun to guess what Hillary Clinton would have done with her life if she hadn’t married Bill and ridden his coattails. City council member in Little Rock, Arkansas? EPA bureaucrat? A lawyer for Planned Parenthood? She’s a very small person who latched onto her husband’s very big last name.
In return, she had to stay married to a man who cheated on her. Constantly. Worse yet, not only did she know it, the whole world knows it.
Bill Clinton was impeached by the House for perjuring himself over an affair with Monica Lewinsky. He settled a sexual harassment case against Paula Jones. He was accused of sexual assault by Kathleen Willey. He was accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick. Then there’s Gennifer Flowers, Dolly Kyle Browning, Elizabeth Ward Gracen and undoubtedly dozens of other women he’s slept with. Given that some of the troopers who guarded him in Arkansas claimed they procured women for him and his confirmed trips to “orgy island”, the number may be in the hundreds and chances are, while you’re reading this, Bill is having sex with a woman who’s not Hillary Clinton. No normal woman would be so hungry for power over her fellow human beings that she would endure that and that does separate Hillary from the rest of us who aren’t as desperate for power.
2) Four people are dead in Benghazi because of her: It seems hard to believe that it’s even possible, but there were more than 600 ignored security requests related to Libya and the consulate in Benghazi. Had Hillary paid attention to those requests, it’s entirely possible that none of our men would have died in Libya. However, Hillary claims none of those requests reached her desk. Since it’s generally accepted that Hillary lies incessantly about anything and everything, maybe that’s another lie. On the other hand, given that she’s 68 years old, hasn’t driven a car since 1996 and clearly can’t handle her own email, maybe she just didn’t know what she was doing. Either way, if we had a different Secretary of State, those four men would probably be alive today. Most of us have made mistakes at work, but how many of us have the guts to ask for a promotion after four people DIED because we missed hundreds of requests for help from them?
3) She was one of the worst Secretaries of State in U.S. history: Donald Trump calls her “the worst Secretary of State” in American history, but this is an old country that has had a lot of people in that position; so that may be unfair. Maybe she’s just one of the worst Secretaries of State in American history. Look at what happened on her watch.
We helped radical jihadis take over in Libya and that country is falling apart. Benghazi also happened and while she was publicly telling the world a video caused it, she was privately telling people it was a terrorist attack. Additionally, we backed a radical jihadi takeover of the government in Egypt that thankfully fell apart. We pulled all our troops out of Iraq, which set the stage for ISIS to move in. Our relationship with the Israeli government deteriorated. So did our relationships with China and Russia. To top it all off, the State Department lost track of 6 billion dollars while she was Secretary of State. It would be easy to write Clinton off as a pitiable character whose ambition led her to take a job that was far too big for someone of her meager abilities, but unfortunately she’s trying to use her miserable failure as Secretary of State as a stepping stone to the presidency where she could do even more damage.
4) She managed to turn a career in government service into immense wealth: Hillary and her husband managed to become filthy rich one percenters because of their government service. Granted, they did cut a few corners in the process. For example, while Bill was governor, Hillary got away with taking a nearly $100,000 bribe from Robert L. “Red” Bone via sleazy cattle futures deals. While she was Secretary of State, money poured into the pockets of her husband and the Clinton Foundation from defense contractors and foreign governments that got fat contracts from the State Department. Among the governments that funneled money into the Clinton bank account via speeches are Iran, North Korea [actually, the State Department did not permit that one! – ed] the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia and China. They paid the Clintons an awful lot of money and if Hillary becomes our next President, people might be surprised at how much those foreign governments end up getting in return for making the Clintons rich.
5) She’s better at surviving sleazy scandals than anyone else: Hillary Clinton has been tied into more scandals than any other five politicians combined. Where she goes, an ocean of corruption, sleaze and controversy always follows. It’s amazing in a horrific way that Hillary is still considered a serious candidate for the presidency despite having more gaffes and scandals than the entire GOP field COMBINED. It would take a book to fully detail all of them, but just to name a few, there’s Emailgate, Pardongate, Whitewater, Travelgate, using the IRS to attack her political opponents, looting the White House, illegally acquiring FBI files on her Republican opponents, the Boeing payoff, the Uranium One payoff, the Norway embassy payoff, the Congo payoff, ripping off AIDS patients in the Third World, taking bribes via cattle futures, lying about landing under “sniper fire” in Bosnia, laughing about tearing apart a 12 year old girl in court to get a child rapist off and Benghazi. There are mob bosses with cleaner records than Hillary Clinton and yet, not only has she avoided prison so far, she’s running for President.
An appalling record. Yet it leaves out the worst thing Hillary Clinton accomplished.
She it was who insisted that Libya be attacked from the air to help anti-Gaddafi rebels depose the dictator. That they did (and tortured him to death). Tritely she squealed, “We came, we saw, he died.” And since then, Libya has been in chaos. From its shores untold multitudes of “refugees” sail for Europe. Many drown. Families are torn apart. Europe sinks.
If she could do so much harm as secretary of state, how much more could she do as president?
Poetry is taken very seriously in Iran.
It is taken very seriously by the rulers of Iran, who stand high among the rulers of the darkness of this world.
And have been further elevated by the president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, who has bowed deeply to them, and crawled at their feet, and grovelling there has begged them to use him as their footstool.
The highest of them all, the Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, writes poems.
They know what a poem is. What it should be. What it must be: a hymn to Allah. If it is not that, it is not a poem.
And if anyone writes something about anything else and dares to call it a “poem”, he or she deserves at the very least to be flogged and flogged and flogged again, and shut away for many years, and have their writings banned. Some deserve nothing less than to be shot or bled to death.
Amir Taheri writes at Gatestone:
Does a seminar on reforming the meter and rhyme schemes of Persian poetry violate “Islamic values” and threaten the foundations of the Islamic Republic of Iran?
That is the view of the Islamic Court in Tehran, which last month sentenced two poets, Fateme Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mussavi, to nine and 11.5 years in prison respectively, plus 99 lashes of the cane for each in public.
One of the two, Mrs. Fateme Ekhtesari, was sentenced to 11.5 years for “undermining the security of the Islamic state” by composing and reciting in public a number of “poems full of ambiguity and capable of being read in deviant and dangerous ways”.
So if any of her images turns the devout reader’s imagination to blasphemy, flog her, imprison her, and ban the evil poem.
Ekhtesari is a surrealist poet whose verse could, and indeed is intended to, be read in many different ways. One of her diwans (collections of verse), for example, is called Crying on the Shoulder of An Egg. Another comes under the title A Feminist Discourse Before Baking Potatoes.
In the case of Iranian women – of all women under the yoke of Islam – we understand the need for a “feminist” movement; a movement to set them free, whatever it may be called.
And we do not argue with any poet’s subject matter, even if it is religious.
Feminism is a strong theme with Ekhtesari, who insists that, as God created both men and women from the same “red mud” mentioned in the Koran, there is no reason to prevent the latter from enjoying any freedoms available to the former.
In Islam, for a woman to claim equality with men is a sin, a crime, an enormity.
The Tehran Islamic Prosecutor insisted that Ekhtesari’s “ambiguous poems” were meant to pass “dangerous political messages that could encourage people to distance themselves from the True Faith”.
“She writes something but means something else,” the prosecutor claimed. “Her trick is to avoid saying anything in a straightforward way, creating space for all manner of dangerous thinking.”
The prosecutor based part of his case on the claim that what matters in Islam is “zikr,” that is to say, a constant remembrance of God by repeating, if necessary in silence and to oneself, the formula “There is no God but Allah”. Those who abandon “zikr” for its opposite — which is “fikr”, that is to say, thinking — move away from the Path of Faith.
Zikr versus Fikr. Faith versus Reason. The aim of Islam is to smother the world in Zikr. Snuff out Fikr. Put an end to Reason – the most dangerous thing in the universe.
The irony in all this is that Ekhtesari is not a political poet. In fact, she has written that those who try to use poetry to advance political ideals betray both.
As editor of the monthly literary magazine Only One Tomorrow, Ekhtesari offered space to writers and poets across the ideological spectrum, including some Khomeinists. Her magazine was shut down soon after Hassan Rouhani became president.
However, as a poet, Ekhtesari cannot but be affected by the ambient social and political order in her homeland. She cannot turn her face the other way when she sees ugliness, oppression and terror – themes that force their way into some of her poems.
Ekhtesari is also an original theoretician of poetic modes. Her collection of essays entitled Linguistic Tricks in Postmodern Sonnet [Ghazal] is both intriguing and instructive.
Ekhtesari’s fellow convict-cum-poet is Mehdi Mussavi, who received a six-year [or nine-year?] sentence. Mussavi is the founder and principal animator of a poetry workshop in Tehran where Ekhtesari has often spoken and recited her poems. The workshop is supposedly dedicated to developing a new form that Mussavi calls “postmodern ghazal”. The classic form of Persian sonnet, ghazal, has been the subject of numerous attempts at modernization, notably by Simin Behbahani, one of Iran’s greatest contemporary poetesses.
To call the ghazal a sonnet is misleading. It is a traditional form with rules, as is the sonnet, but its form is nothing like that of the sonnet. But we’ll let that pass.
What matters here is Mehdi Mussavi’s moral wickedness as a poet and the danger it poses to the Iranian state.
Like Behbahani, Mussavi argues that, having experimented with modern forms, including European-style prose-poetry, for almost a century, Persian poets need to return to traditional forms, albeit with changes to reflect modern realities.
Mussavi rejects the argument of the older generation poets such as Ahmad Shamlou, who claimed that the traditional ghazal is so beholden to the musicality of its meter and rhyme schemes that it cannot relay any meaning in a powerful way.
According to Mussavi, once the Persian poet has learned to play by the traditional rules, he could invent virtually countless meters and rhymes capable of expressing any sentiment.
Just literary controversy, you might say. Insiders chat. But in Islam, the literary is political, every idea is political, because Islam is a totalitarian religio-political ideology.
Literary opponents of Mussavi’s theories, especially on the left, argue that he, like Behbahani and other reformers of the ghazal before them, suffers from a sense of insecurity in a changing world where the Iran they knew is being remolded into something repulsive in the name of Islam.
The Islamic Court charged Mussavi with propagating “immoral images” in his poetry and thus “insulting sacred values of the Islamic ummah”.
Equally painful is the Islamic Court’s decision to impose a blanket ban on the publication and recital of any poems by Ekhtesari and Mussavi. Under an edict issued by the Islamic Guidance Ministry in 2003, people like Ekhtesari and Mussavi, who are found guilty of “insulting Islam” and thus put on the official index, become “non-persons” – even their names and pictures are banned.
Both Ekhtesari and Mussavi had spent several months in prison two years ago, but were released after the Islamic Prosecutor Ayatollah Ra’isi failed to prove any political crime.
That is why this time, the prosecutor focused on a claim that the poets had attacked “the sacred tenets of the faith”.
The sentencing was made easier thanks to a recent lecture by “Supreme Guide” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei laying down the rules of what he believes “good Islamic poets” should observe when writing poetry. …
Iran is one of the few countries in the world where poetry has always been regarded as the highest form of literary creation. In Iranian cities, streets and parks were more often named after poets than conquerors or empire-builders or, until the mullahs seized power, Islamic saints and/or theologians. If an Iranian home has at least one book, it is likely to be a collection of poems.
And yet, with the seizure of power by mullahs in 1979, Iran has experienced one of the most dangerous phases in its long history, as far as poets – and intellectuals in general – are concerned.
Another irony is that both the founder of the regime, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and his successor as “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei, cast themselves as amateur poets. Khomeini banned publication of his own divans while he was alive, believing that appearing as a poet might soften the dour persona he was building as leader of a revolution that could execute 4000 people on a weekend.
Since his death, however, hundreds of his poems, most of them traditional-style sonnets (ghazals) have been published by the foundation bearing his name.
Ali Khamenei does not publish his poems, but organizes private readings with a few dozen “appreciators” once or twice a year and is reportedly “in seventh heaven” when his entourage quote one of his verses.
Ekhtesari and Mussavi have been sent to jail, not killed. Other poets have not been so lucky.
Hashem Shaabani was hanged on the eve of President Rouhani’s visit to Ahvaz in 2014. Shaabani was not the first Iranian poet to be murdered by the mullahs. The left-wing poet Sa’id Sultanpour was abducted on the day of his wedding on Khomeini’s orders, and shot dead in a Tehran prison. Rahman Hatefi-Monfared, writing under the pen-name of Heydar Mehregan, had his veins cut and was left to bleed to death in the notorious Evin Prison. Under President Hashemi Rafsanjani, a plan to kill a busload of Iranian poets on their way to a festival in Armenia failed at the last minute. Nevertheless, Rafsanjani succeeded in eliminating more than a dozen writers and poets. The worst spate of killings happened under President Khatami, when more than 80 intellectuals, including the poets Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad-Ja’far Pouyandeh, were murdered by the Islamic regime’s security agents.
In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled A Path Out of the Middle East Collapse, Henry Kissinger wrote:
ISIS’s claim has given the millennium-old split between the Shiite and Sunni sects of Islam an apocalyptic dimension. The remaining Sunni states feel threatened by both the religious fervor of ISIS as well as by Shiite Iran, potentially the most powerful state in the region. Iran compounds its menace by presenting itself in a dual capacity. On one level, Iran acts as a legitimate Westphalian state conducting traditional diplomacy, even invoking the safeguards of the international system. At the same time, it organizes and guides nonstate actors seeking regional hegemony based on jihadist principles: Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria; Hamas in Gaza; the Houthis in Yemen. Thus the Sunni Middle East risks engulfment by four concurrent sources: Shiite-governed Iran and its legacy of Persian imperialism; ideologically and religiously radical movements striving to overthrow prevalent political structures; conflicts within each state between ethnic and religious groups arbitrarily assembled after World War I into (now collapsing) states; and domestic pressures stemming from detrimental political, social and economic domestic policies … The U.S. should be prepared for a dialogue with an Iran returning to its role as a Westphalian state within its established borders.
What was Kissinger talking about? What did he mean by “a legitimate Westphalian state”? What does “Westphalian” mean?
Commander J. E. Dyer views what is happening in the Middle East – and so in the world – very much as we do (though she approaches it from a different angle). She discusses Kissinger’s article and explains what is meant by “Westphalian”.
Reading Henry Kissinger’s typically well-considered and intelligent article for the Wall Street Journal this weekend (“A Path out of the Middle East Collapse”), I had a growing sense that it isn’t so much a prescription for the future as a description of the past.
We wholly agree. Dr. Kissinger is not seeing the world as it is. He has not grasped – or been hit by – the import of the events that are unfolding: millions of Sunni Muslims, terrified of the power America has put in the hands of Shia Iran, flowing in a great tidal wave out of the Middle East to break on Europe’s shores and swamp the continent.
The sense began with the first paragraph, in which Kissinger defines the scope of what’s collapsing, and dates it only to 1973, when the U.S. moved to stabilize the Middle East during the Yom Kippur War.
But far more than recent U.S. policy on the Middle East is collapsing today. What we’re seeing is more like the collapse of “Rome” itself: the organization of Western power as a Europe-centric territorial phenomenon, setting unbreachable boundaries north, south, and west of a restless and perennially “unorganizable” Middle East.
Last year, we might have said that it was “Sykes-Picot” that was collapsing: a popular shorthand reference to the European colonial disposition of Middle Eastern boundaries at the end of World War I. But that was last year. Now it’s 2015, and with the utter paralysis of Western nations in the face of massive and unforeseen, unarmed migration, it’s clear that Roman Europe itself is no longer a meaningful reality.
Consider: the Roman Empire in its heyday would not have tolerated this migration. Neither would the Europe of muscular Christendom, or the Europe of trading monarchies, of the Westphalian nation-state era, of the “concert of Europe” era, or of the Cold War. As long as Europe had a civilizational idea of defending and preserving itself, the legacy of Rome was alive. Altered, perhaps, with the passage of time and the emergence of new ideas, but still kicking.
Today, the legacy of Rome looks to be an empty shell. There is territory left, of course – but there is no idea. In fact, the West has spent much of the last 50 years apologizing for ever having had its signature idea, and vowing to no longer have it.
Without that idea, the West has no motive to organize itself against destruction, either internal or from an external source. The idea of the West is ultimately what has collapsed, at least as an organizing principle that preserved for many centuries, and for multiple purposes, the security boundaries of “Rome.”
And with that collapse goes the whole structure of expectations that made Dr. Kissinger’s prescription for American policy possible.
This point crystallized for me at the end of his article, when he wrote these words (emphasis added):
The U.S. role in such a Middle East [i.e., with a stability structure supported by U.S. policy] would be to implement the military assurances in the traditional Sunni states that the administration promised during the debate on the Iranian nuclear agreement, and which its critics have demanded.
In this context, Iran’s role can be critical. The U.S. should be prepared for a dialogue with an Iran returning to its role as a Westphalian state within its established borders.
But that’s just the problem. Without a dominant European idea – the civilizationally confident Europe of “Rome” – there is no such thing as a Westphalian state. There is no form of power or authority that can enforce Westphalian rules. Nor is there any great nation with a motive to enforce them.
This is too big a subject to bite off all of in a single blog post.
We found that too. This is a vast, deep, and overwhelmingly important subject. It will take much thinking about, beyond the bewilderment of the present moment.
So let me just look at two aspects of the proposition here. One is Westphalianism itself, and why we should recognize that it must be under assault from today’s events.
Ultimately, what we call Westphalianism, after the Treaty of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years’ War in 1648, is an attempt to enable nation-states to coexist pragmatically – a good in itself, enshrined as the “advantage of the other,” or the “common good” – without settling theological questions. …
The nations of 1648 had no intention of ceasing to see themselves as Christian organizations on the earth. What they intended to do was cease making theological disputes (i.e., Protestant versus Catholic disputes, which were the main ones among the belligerents at the time) a casus belli between them.
Westphalia was a watershed statement … that the armed might of the state should not be used, implicitly against the common good, to vindicate or enforce specific theological interpretations of God. The genius of Westphalianism is that the scope of national sovereignty is held to be not limitless, but limited. … Westphalianism leaves the things of God to God, and attends to the things of Caesar. Westphalianism is based on a moral assumption, but is essentially an idea of pragmatism.
This is why the resurgence of apocalyptic Islam is antithetical to Westphalianism. … Predatory Shia Iran and the rise of Sunni state-Islamism – not only in the form of ISIS, but in the form of the longer-organized Muslim Brotherhood – are real and meaningful evidence that the bloody, thrashing Islamism of today is not Westphalian, and cannot be. …
Which is to say, “is not tolerant, and cannot be”.
The premise of Westphalianism is that all the nations are trying to get along, and need a modus vivendi to regularize things.
The premise of Islamism is that nationhood itself doesn’t matter – indeed, is there to thwart Islamic unity, and must be overset.
These two premises can’t coexist. The Treaty of Westphalia was signed by a group of nations that all agreed on nationhood. Even internationalist Communism, the horseman of apocalypse in the 20th century, had uses for nationhood that could keep it pragmatically satisfied for decades. Communism was willing to accept that the state would eventually wither away, but still act like a state in the meantime.
Islamism sees the nation-state as a rampart of evil, blocking the path of the caliphate. Islamism has the excuse of belief for not respecting the rules of state sovereignty under Westphalianism.
We can’t assume away the strength or pervasiveness of the Islamist challenge to Westphalianism. Maybe as recently as 2014, it was possible to be complacent about that. But the earthquake of migration into Europe has reached a level that is proving against Europe, on a daily basis, that Westphalianism is not even in operation anymore. This is the second aspect of the problem that we have to consider.
The current migration crisis means Westphalianism is dead.
If Westphalianism were still in operation, the migrant crisis wouldn’t have reached its current proportions. Westphalian states would see it, properly, as something to defend themselves against, and would take pragmatic measures to stem the tide. Those measures would include intervention abroad, to stabilize foreign conditions, and paying other nations to take the migrants, as well as setting strict limits on immigration and advertising clearly that the doors were closed. Deportation and physical barriers would be seen as regrettable, perhaps, but hardly as moral evils.
The Westphalian view is clear that humaneness doesn’t demand sacrificing the benefits of national sovereignty for hundreds of millions of people. Yet that self-abnegating idea is the default proposition governing the response of Europe – and even of the United States – to the current migration crisis.
If the West won’t enforce Westphalianism in defense of its own territory and communities, there’s no reason to think Westphalianism will be enforced on Iran. The unenforceability of the JCPOA on Iran’s nuclear program arises from the same deficit of Western confidence in the use of state power.
And because the fundamental clash going on is between Islamism and a collapsing idea of Western civilization, this dynamic is too big to be put in balance by a mere restoration to the framework of 1973 or 1919. That’s not actually possible, in any case – and even 1818 and 1648 don’t go far enough back. Those dates were about Christian states proving things to themselves.
It’s Islamism to which the evolutionary Western idea of multilateralism, limited sovereignty, and freedom of conscience for peoples has now to be proven. This is a real geopolitical crisis point, not an abstraction. If necessary, the Western idea has to prove itself over Islamism.
In the process of doing that, “Westphalianism” will inevitably evolve, to some extent. We will end up rewriting it. I think we’ll preserve most of it, but it will have to find a way to stand, and not give way, before a religious concept that negates Westphalianism’s very foundation; i.e., the limited-sovereignty nation-state. I’m not sure we can foresee at the moment what it will all look like when we’re done.
One thing we can say as we part here, however, is that this tremendous crisis in world affairs represents an opportunity, for people who love limited government, freedom, and hope.
Only with that last sentence we disagree. Commander Dyer’s website is called the Optimistic Conservative. Ours, at this point, though similarly conservative, is pessimistic.
We see the world changing for the worse. We see the idea of liberty slipping away, because the liberal democracies of the West no longer want it.
We do not understand why they don’t want it, but it seems plain enough that they don’t.
So this man, Barack Hussein Obama, the son of an American hippie and a Communist member of the Luo tribe of East Africa …
educated for a few years in an Indonesian madrassa …
then in America promoted through affirmative action to position after position beyond his abilities …
all the way to being elected to the presidency of the United States of America, and so nominally to the leadership of the free world ….
has had, as a result of his inadequacy of understanding, his pusillanimity of character, his political puerility …
an enormous effect on the direction history is taking.
He has not just voluntarily but insistently surrendered the West to the mullahs of Shia Iran, empowering and enriching them to such an extent that millions of Sunnis are fleeing their homes and making for Europe in fear of them.
And the Europeans have no idea what to do about it. They dither about being humane, welcoming refugees, sharing what they have with their Muslim brothers and sisters. Christian-style. Self abnegation. Self-sacrifice. Not resisting evil. Forgiving. Not being racist. Caring. It makes them feel good. They probably even expect gratitude …
… And, as nations, they are dying.
Already ISIS, who seized territory from the erstwhile and short-lived states of Iraq and Syria, has announced that Sweden will be the first European country to come under its caliphate.
This drift of populations, this overwhelming of the liberal democracies, is no longer hypothetical. It is WHAT IS HAPPENING.
And it is not only changing geopolitical conditions, but also the very ideas on which Western political order and civilization are built.
The European leaders who are letting it happen, are all at sea. They don’t know what they’ve done or what the consequences will be.
Nothing anyone says will change their minds. But reality will. Reality has a nasty way of continuing to accrue consequences regardless of whether it is reckoned with or not. The result is the end of the liberal democratic nation-state.
Who are the people who have let this happen?
They are the bien pensants, the Great and the Good; climate alarmists plotting world government; and the people who meet at Bilderberg get-togethers (like Peter Sutherland, the man we wrote about and quoted yesterday), who believe that they are the natural movers and shakers, the best qualified to steer the good ship Mankind.
They have steered it to shipwreck.
Obama is the man who shakes hands with himself.
Amir Taheri writes at Gatestone:
Sometime this week, President Obama is scheduled to sign an executive order to meet the Oct. 15 “adoption day” he has set for the nuclear deal he says he has made with Iran. According to the president’s timetable the next step would be “the start day of implementation”, fixed for Dec. 15.
But as things now stand, Obama may end up being the only person in the world to sign his much-wanted deal, in effect making a treaty with himself.
The Iranians have signed nothing and have no plans for doing so.
The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has not even been discussed at the Islamic Republic’s Council of Ministers. Nor has the Tehran government bothered to even provide an official Persian translation of the 159-page text.
The Islamic Majlis, the ersatz parliament, is examining an unofficial text and is due to express its views at an unspecified date in a document “running into more than 1,000 pages”, according to Mohsen Zakani, who heads the “examining committee”.
“The changes we seek would require substantial rewriting of the text,” he adds enigmatically.
Nor have Britain, China, Germany, France and Russia, who were involved in the so-called P5+1 talks that produced the JCPOA, deemed it necessary to provide the Obama “deal” with any legal basis of their own. Obama’s partners have simply decided that the deal he is promoting is really about lifting sanctions against Iran and nothing else. So they have started doing just that without bothering about JCPOA’s other provisions.
Britain has lifted the ban on 22 Iranian banks and companies blacklisted because of alleged involvement in deals linked to the nuclear issue.
German trade with Iran has risen by 33 percent, making it the Islamic Republic’s third-largest partner after China.
China has signed preliminary accords to help Iran build five more nuclear reactors.
Russia has started delivering S300 anti-aircraft missile systems and is engaged in talks to sell Sukhoi planes to the Islamic Republic.
France has sent its foreign minister and a 100-man delegation to negotiate big business deals, including projects to double Iran’s crude oil exports.
Indian trade with Iran has risen by 17 percent, and New Delhi is negotiating massive investment in a rail-and-sea hub in the Iranian port of Chah-Bahar on the Gulf of Oman.
With help from Austrian, Turkish and United Arab Emirates banks, the many banking restrictions imposed on Iran because of its nuclear program have been pushed aside.
“The structures of sanctions built over decades is crumbling,” boasts Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Meanwhile, the nuclear project is and shall remain “fully intact,” says the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Akbar Salehi. “We have started working on a process of nuclear fusion that will be cutting-edge technology for the next 50 years,” he adds.
Even before Obama’s “implementation day”, the mullahs are receiving an average of $400 million a month, no big sum, but enough to ease the regime’s cash-flow problems and increase pay for its repressive forces by around 21 percent. …
The mullahs see the “deal” as a means with which Obama would oppose any suggestion of trying to curb Iran.
“Obama won’t do anything that might jeopardize the deal,” says Ziba Kalam, a Rouhani adviser. “This is his biggest, if not only, foreign policy success.”
Let’s pause and contemplate that for a moment! This farce of a deal, this green light to one of the most oppressive regimes on earth to go ahead and become a nuclear power, is - Obama’s “biggest, if not only, foreign policy SUCCESS”!
More follows on this success:
If there have been changes in Tehran’s behavior they have been for the worse. Iran has teamed up with Russia to keep Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria, mocking Obama’s “Assad must go” rhetoric. More importantly, Iran has built its direct military presence in Syria to 7,000 men.
Tehran has also pressured Iraqi Premier Haidar al-Abadi’s weak government to distance itself from Washington and join a dubious coalition with Iran, Russia and Syria.
Certain that Obama is paralyzed by his fear of undermining the non-existent “deal” the mullahs have intensified their backing for Houthi rebels in Yemen. Last week a delegation was in Tehran with a long shopping list for arms.
In Lebanon, the mullahs have toughened their stance on choosing the country’s next president.
And in Bahrain, Tehran is working on a plan to “ensure an early victory” of the Shiite revolution in the archipelago.
Confident that Obama is determined to abandon traditional allies of the United States, Tehran has also heightened propaganda war against Saudi Arabia, now openly calling for the overthrow of the monarchy there.
The mullahs are also heightening contacts with Palestinian groups in the hope of unleashing a new “Intifada.”
They have done so. (See yesterday’s post, immediately below.)
“Palestine is thirsty for a third Intifada,” Supreme Guide Khamenei’s mouthpiece Kayhan said in an editorial last Thursday. “It is the duty of every Muslim to help start it as soon as possible.”
Obama’s hopes of engaging Iran on other issues were dashed last week when Khamenei declared “any dialogue with the American Great Satan” to be “forbidden”.
“We have no need of America” his adviser Ali-Akbar Velayati added later. “Iran is the region’s big power in its own right.”
Obama had hoped that by sucking up to the mullahs he would at least persuade them to moderate their “hate-America campaign”.
“Death to America” slogans, adorning official buildings in Tehran have been painted afresh along with US flags, painted at the entrance of offices so that they could be trampled underfoot.
None of the US citizens still held hostages in Iran has been released, and one, Washington Post stringer Jason Rezai, is branded as “head of a spy ring “in Tehran. Paralyzed by his fear of undermining the non-existent deal, Obama doesn’t even call for their release.
Government-sponsored anti-American nationwide events are announced for November, anniversary of the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran.
The annual “End of America” week-long conference is planned for February and is to focus on “African-American victims of US police” and the possibility of “self-determination for blacks.”
Iran is inciting rebellion and treason among Americans.
According to official sources “families of Black American victims” and a number of “black American revolutionaries” have been invited.
Inside Iran, Obama’s “moderate partners” have doubled the number of executions and political prisoners. Last week they crushed marches by teachers calling for release of their leaders. Hundreds of trade unionists have been arrested and a new “anti-insurrection” brigade paraded in Tehran to terrorize possible protestors.
The Obama deal may end up as the biggest diplomatic scam in recent history.
Those Americans (of various political persuasions) who say it is not necessary for the US to have a strong military for any reason except defense of the homeland and then only if it is actually attacked; who say that the US should not be the “policeman of the world”; who say (as Donald Trump does) “let the Russians fight ISIS”; who say “let the Muslims kill each other, it’s of no concern to us”; who say the only business we should have with other countries is trade; who say they share President Obama’s opinion that America is not better than any other nation and that no country should dominate any other – watch what will happen now as their ideal becomes reality and Obama’s doctrine is put into practice:
J. E. Dyer, who has had many years’ professional experience of defense issues and has thought long and hard about these matters, writes at Liberty Unyielding:
U.S. and Russian officials are still discussing how to share the combat space in Syria. But all things military are ultimately decided by political leverage. I assure you, it is impossible for U.S. forces to maintain a posture of “making things crystal clear to the Russians”, if there is no political respect for the Obama administration itself on the Russian side.
The lack of respect will be for a reason – and it will be for the same reason that American forces won’t be able to hold any line in Syria. They won’t have reliable back-up from the White House. Time will quickly erode the U.S. military position on how to share the battle space, and Russia will simply dictate the conditions in which our forces operate.
I doubt we can really conceive how fast things are going to move from this point on. Reports continue to flood in that Iran is deploying troops in large numbers to Syria, and that Russia and Iran will mount a major ground offensive there soon. For the military task at hand, their weapons and skills are not as good as ours, but they will fight ruthlessly and without compunction, which we have not done at any time in the last 25 years. Where we have fought delicately, to “encourage” a new status quo that could last without us, Russia and Iran will fight brutally to hold territory they mean to stay on, in one form or another.
I don’t think even geopolitics specialists really appreciate how dangerous a precipice we stand on.
There is no assumption of our current order that is not up for grabs now. We haven’t seen a situation like this for many hundreds of years.
Things you think can’t possibly come up for rearrangement – how the Suez Canal operates; who if anyone keeps it safe to navigate the waters of the Mediterranean; how freely air traffic moves between Europe and Asia; whether the Strait of Malacca is open to everyone; whether military outposts targeting the United States proliferate in the Americas – all these things are in the realm of the “thinkable” now.
The protection of the United States has been lifted from the world.
On what else will the nations cease giving ear to anything the Obama administration says? We’re going to find out.
Russia has brought fighter planes, air-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft batteries to Syria. He has put military “boots on the ground” there too. The aerial bombing and ground fighting have started. Command centers have been established. Russia is there to stay.
An editorial in Investor’s Business Daily deplores the fact that Russia is now the dominant great power in the Middle East.
And it is a fact. Obama has handed the region to Putin as on a golden platter.
And what’s worse, with Russia comes China and Iran. We can’t see Putin sharing power with any other country for very long. But right now, the Vast Nasty Country Conspiracy is in full operation. (See here, here, and here.)
Moscow won’t just be destroying IS; it will be replacing us as dominant power in the Mideast, where the oil the free world needs is. And Putin won’t be alone.
According to Russian Sen. Igor Morozov, who sits on Russia’s international affairs committee, Chinese forces are joining Russia against IS. “China has joined our military operation in Syria,” Morozov said in Pravda. “A Chinese cruiser has already entered the Mediterranean, and an aircraft carrier follows it.”
With Iranian Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani believed to have met with Russian officials this month, the “genuinely broad” coalition against terrorism in which “Muslim countries are to play a key role” may end up as Russia, China and Iran.
Meanwhile, London’s Daily Express reports on German reporter and author Jurgen Todenhofer’s book, “Inside IS — Ten Days in the Islamic State.”
In it, he warns that the free world “is drastically underestimating the power of ISIS’, which “intends to get its hands on nuclear weapons”, then undertake “the largest religious cleansing in history”. Years ago, all these would have seemed laughable predictions. But Obama’s new world of American decline is full of such terrifying surprises.
Charles Krauthammer thinks, as we do, that Putin has little interest in defeating the Islamic State.
He writes, also at IBD:
If it had the wit, the Obama administration would be not angered, but appropriately humiliated. President Obama has, once again, been totally outmaneuvered by Vladimir Putin.
Two days earlier at the United Nations, Obama had welcomed the return, in force, of the Russian military to the Middle East — for the first time in decades — in order to help fight the Islamic State.
The ruse was transparent from the beginning. Russia is not in Syria to fight the Islamic State. The Kremlin was sending fighter planes, air-to-air missiles and SA-22 anti-aircraft batteries. Against an Islamic State that has no air force, no planes, no helicopters?
Russia then sent reconnaissance drones over Western Idlib and Hama, where there are no Islamic State fighters. Followed by bombing attacks on Homs and other opposition strongholds that had nothing to do with the Islamic State.
Indeed, some of these bombed fighters were U.S. trained and equipped.
Asked if we didn’t have an obligation to support our allies on the ground, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter bumbled that Russia’s actions exposed its policy as self-contradictory.
Carter made it sound as if the Russian offense was to have perpetrated an oxymoron, rather than a provocation — and a direct challenge to what’s left of the U.S. policy of supporting a moderate opposition.
The whole point of Russian intervention is to maintain Assad in power. Putin has no interest in fighting the Islamic State.
Indeed, the second round of Russian air attacks was on rival insurgents opposed to the Islamic State. The Islamic State is nothing but a pretense for Russian intervention. …
Just three weeks ago, Obama chided Russia for its military buildup, wagging his finger that it was “doomed to failure”. Yet by Monday he was publicly welcoming Russia to join the fight against the Islamic State.
He not only acquiesced to the Russian buildup, he held an ostentatious meeting with Putin on the subject, thereby marking the ignominious collapse of Obama’s vaunted campaign to isolate Putin diplomatically over Crimea.
Putin then showed his utter contempt for Obama by launching his air campaign against our erstwhile anti-Assad allies not 48 hours after meeting Obama.
Which the U.S. found out about when a Russian general knocked on the door of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and delivered a brusque demarche announcing that the attack would begin within an hour and warning the U.S. to get out of the way.
In his subsequent news conference, Secretary Carter averred that he found such Russian behavior “unprofessional.”
Good grief. Russia, with its inferior military and hemorrhaging economy, had just eaten Carter’s lunch, seizing the initiative and exposing American powerlessness — and the secretary of defense deplores what? Russia’s lack of professional etiquette.
Makes you want to weep.
Consider: When Obama became president, the surge in Iraq had succeeded and the U.S. had emerged as the dominant regional actor, able to project power throughout the region.
Last Sunday, Iraq announced the establishment of a joint intelligence-gathering center with Iran, Syria and Russia, symbolizing the new “Shiite-crescent” alliance from Iran across the northern Middle East to the Mediterranean, under the umbrella of Russia, the rising regional hegemon.
Russian planes roam free over Syria attacking Assad’s opposition as we stand by helpless. Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of state beseeches the Russians to negotiate “de-conflict” arrangements — so that we and they can each bomb our own targets safely. It has come to this.
Why is Putin moving so quickly and so brazenly? Because he’s got only 16 more months to push on the open door that is Obama.
He knows he’ll never again see an American president such as this — one who once told the General Assembly that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation” and told it again last Monday of “believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion.”
They cannot? Has he looked at the world around him — from Homs to Kunduz, from Sanaa to Donetsk — ablaze with conflict and coercion?
Wouldn’t you take advantage of these last 16 months if you were Putin, facing a man living in a faculty-lounge fantasy world?
Where was Obama when Putin began bombing Syria? Leading a U.N. meeting on countering violent extremism.
Go on, weep.
That’s what we’re doing, figuratively at least.
This article by Ryan Mauro is titled “The Five Ways Iran Has Disarmed The West”.
Iran did not do it without help from the West itself, chiefly from President Obama.
The deal with Iran does not disarm the regime of its nuclear weapons capacity, but it does go a long way towards disarming the West.
There are five ways that the deal handcuffs the U.S. and its allies by undermining their options against Iran in the future.
1. Disarming the Sanctions Option
The deal’s supporters claim that the international sanctions that collapsed the Iranian economy will immediately “snap back” if the regime violates the deal, so why not give it a try?
To believe that claim, you have to believe that our international partners are willing to hurt themselves in order to hurt Iran a little at our request. These governments and influential companies will be making a fortune off of business with Iran. The regime is alreadymaking companies salivate with enticements to invest in its energy sector. Iran is hoping to sign $100 billion in oil and gas deals with Western companies.
Europe is more concerned about its energy dependence upon an increasingly aggressive Russia than Iran. Turkey wants to act as a corridor for Iranian natural gas shipments to Europe, in addition to importing more natural gas for itself. If Iran must be punished, are we really to believe that Europe would give up that business with the regime, accept higher oil prices and revert to being held hostage by Russia?
And even if the international community were to go along with the “snapback” sanctions, they would likely be fruitless. The Iranian regime believes — and with good reason — that all it needs is to be able to withstand the economic pain until a nuclear weapons arsenal is finished. … That’s a period of about one year maximum.
In 2005, Iranian President Rouhani (then the regime’s chief nuclear negotiator) gave a speech where he boasted of advancing the nuclear program through deception and by dividing the West’s ranks. He denied seeking nuclear weapons, but pointed to the example of how Pakistan got nuclear weapons. The world shouted as Pakistan built nuclear weapons but once it did, the world accepted it and moved on.
“If one day we are able to complete the [nuclear] fuel cycle, and the world sees that it has no choice … then the situation will be different,” he said.
2. Disarming the Military Option
Once the interim nuclear deal was signed, Russia announced that the changed situation meant that Iran could finally receive its advanced S-300 air defense system. Four modernized versions of the system are due to arrive in Iran by the end of this year. Military experts warn that once they become operational, they will be “game-changers,” especially for the Israelis. In addition, Russia is expected to provide advanced combat jets.
Within five years or less, the U.N. arms embargo will be lifted. Iran will be allowed to modernize its military by buying combat aircraft, large artillery systems, attack helicopters, warships and missiles. Iran says it will also continue developing ballistic missile technology.
Iran understands that the question isn’t whether the U.S., Israel and other enemies can bomb its nuclear program. The question is whether the political leadership would consider it a viable option. By increasing the cost of potential military action, Iran decreases the chances of that military action taking place.
Military action may only push the Iranian nuclear program back by a few years. Is that worth the casualties, monetary expense, the possibility of pilots being held captive, Iran’s retaliation or the political risk for the elected Western leaders? Iran wants a negative answer to those questions.
3. Disarming the Sabotage Option
There is a long list of apparent covert operations against Iran’s nuclear program, with the Stuxnet cyber attack on Iran’s centrifuges being the most famous. The steady pace of apparent sabotaging stopped with the interim deal and now, under this deal, the West must actually help Iran stop future sabotage.
The deal refers to, “Cooperation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.”
4. Disarming the State/Local Initiative Option
Another effective option against Iran has been divestment measures implemented in 30 states. There are five forms of legislation that have been passed, as pushed by United Against Nuclear Iran: Contracting legislation; divestment legislation/policies; banking legislation; insurance legislation and state authorization legislation.
The deal requires that the federal government must pressure these state and local governments into ending these measures. It states that the U.S. must “take appropriate steps, taking into account all available authorities” to “actively encourage officials at the state or local level” to lift sanctions.
This language would not be in the deal if these measures didn’t hurt Iran. Its inclusion also means that the administration has some kind of game-plan to bend the states’ arms into complying with the deal.
5. Disarming the Regime Change Option
The deal runs the risk of stabilizing the regime and saving the Iranian Islamic Revolution. To date, the ideology has brought nothing but misery to Iranians. If the deal produces an Iran on steroids, the regime will be allow to do something it never could do before: present its Islamic Revolution as a viable ideology, one that produces strength and prosperity.
As Democratic Senator Bob Menendez pointed out, the regime would never sign a deal that undermines itself. As I’ve explained previously, the deal will fatten the wallets of the oppressors of the Iranian people far more than the average Iranian. One of the top priorities of the so-called “moderate” President Rouhani has been dramatically increasing the budget of the security services that keep the regime in power.
The Iranian regime’s future has turned bright. Whereas in 2009 its survival was in question, the regime now can look forward to years of growth where its strength increases and its adversaries are increasingly disarmed of their most useful options against it.
Will the theocrats of Iran be grateful to Obama for establishing them firmly, bringing them vast riches, and making their country a nuclear power?
And we wonder: did he hope they would be? Or is he unconcerned, just as long as they pursue jihad, destroy Israel as soon as they can, and then turn on America?
Insanity? Stupidity? Or just craven submission to Obama, the Dear Leader?
Democrats say what’s wrong with the Iran deal, then say they support it: