Nearly a hundred years ago, the Ottoman Empire was brought to an end when the German-Turkish alliance was defeated in the First World War. Its former territories in the Middle East became independent states or temporary mandates of European powers.
Efraim Karsh, reviewing a new book* on the subject, corrects errors of fact on which its author relies – and which have been all too generally accepted.
The corrections are important, so we reproduce the entire article:
A century after the catastrophic blunder that led to the destruction of the then longest-surviving empire on earth, culpability is still ascribed to the European powers. Rather than view the Ottoman entry into the First World War on the losing side for what it was – a failed imperialist bid for territorial aggrandizement and reassertion of lost glory – the Muslim empire has been portrayed as the hapless victim of European machinations, driven into the world conflict by overbearing powers eager to expedite its demise and gobble up its lands.
Emblematic of the wider tendency to view Middle Easterners as mere objects, whose history is but a function of their unhappy interaction with the West, this conventional wisdom has proved remarkably resistant to the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and Eugene Rogan’s The Fall of the Ottomans is no exception to this rule.
To begin with, in an attempt to underscore the Ottoman Empire’s untenable position on the eve of the war, Rogan reproduces the standard depiction of the protracted period preceding the empire’s collapse, or the Eastern Question as it is commonly known, as the steady European encroachment on Ottoman territory. “The looming prospect of a European general war”, he writes, “raised the imminent threat of a Russian annexation of Istanbul, the straits, and eastern Anatolia – and the ultimate dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire among the Entente Powers. France was known to covet Syria, Britain had interests in Mesopotamia, and Greece wished to expand its grip over the Aegean.”
Reality, however, was quite different. Far from setting their sights on Ottoman lands, the European powers had consistently shored up the ailing Muslim empire for well over a century, saving it time and again from assured destruction – from Muhammad Ali’s imperialist bid of the 1830s, to the Balkan crises of the 1870s, to the Balkan war of 1912–13. And it was none other than Russia that acted as the Ottoman Empire’s latest saviour, halting its former Bulgarian subject at the gates of Istanbul, not once but twice: in November 1912 and March 1913. Several months later St Petersburg joined London and Berlin in underscoring “the necessity of preserving the Turkish Realm in its present form”.
All this means that by the outbreak of the Great War, the Ottoman Empire was scarcely a spurned and isolated power in danger of imminent destruction. Rather, it was in the enviable position of being courted by the two warring camps: the German-Austro-Hungarian Central Alliance wished its participation in the war, while the Anglo-French-Russian Triple Entente desired its neutrality. So much so that on August 18, 1914, less than a month after the outbreak of hostilities, the Entente’s ambassadors to Istanbul assured the Grand Vizier of the empire’s continued survival were it to stay out of the war, while the British Foreign Secretary vowed the preservation of Ottoman territorial integrity “in any conditions of peace which affected the Near East, provided she preserved a real neutrality during the war”. Five days later, at Ottoman request, the three powers put down this pledge in writing.
Had the Ottomans accepted this guarantee and kept out of the war, their empire would have readily weathered the storm. But then, by the time the Entente made its far-reaching proposal, Istanbul had already concluded a secret alliance with Germany that had effectively transformed it into a belligerent. This, nevertheless, didn’t prevent it from maintaining the false pretence of neutrality vis-à-vis the Entente, or even feigning interest in joining its ranks, while at the same time laying the groundwork for war and exploiting Berlin’s eagerness for the immediate initiation of hostilities to extract substantial military and economic benefits.
Preserving the myth of immaculate Turkish victimhood, Rogan claims that “the Ottoman leadership had no wish to enter a general European conflict” and was grudgingly driven to the German embrace by the Entente’s indifference, if not hostility, to its predicament. His proof is the supposed French rebuff of an alliance proposal, allegedly made during a visit to Paris in July 1914 by the military leader Djemal Pasha, as well as the British requisition of two warships commissioned by the Ottomans. “The British decision to requisition the ships was treated as a national humiliation in Turkey and ruled out the possibility of any accord between Britain and the Ottoman Empire”, Rogan writes. “The very next day, 2 August 1914, the Ottomans concluded a secret treaty of alliance with Germany.”
The problem with these well-worn stories is that there is no shred of evidence of Djemal’s alleged overture (its only mention is in his memoirs, written after the war and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire with the clear aim of exonerating himself from responsibility for this calamity), while the requisition announcement was made on August 3 – a day after the conclusion of the secret Ottoman-German alliance.
But even if the announcement had been made a few days earlier, it would have made no difference whatsoever for the simple reason that the terms of the Ottoman-German alliance had already been agreed on July 28. Moreover, it was the Ottomans rather than the Germans who had opted for an alliance within days of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 – weeks before the outbreak of hostilities; who were the driving force in the ensuing secret negotiations; and who largely prevailed over their German counterparts in deciding the alliance’s broad contours. As Kaiser Wilhelm ordered his more sceptical negotiators: “A refusal or a snub would result in Turkey’s going over to Russo-Gallia, and our influence would be gone forever … Under no circumstances whatsoever can we afford to turn them away”.
The truth of the matter is that the Ottoman Empire was neither forced into the First World War in a last-ditch attempt to ensure its survival, nor manoeuvred into it by an overbearing German ally and a hostile Entente, but rather plunged head on into the whirlpool. War, for the Ottoman leaders, was not seen as a mortal danger to be averted, but a unique opportunity to be seized. They did not seek “an ally to protect the empire’s vulnerable territory from the consequences of such war” but a powerful underwriter of their imperialist ambitions; and apart from their admiration for Germany and their conviction that it would ultimately be victorious, the Entente had less to offer by way of satisfying these ambitions, first and foremost “the destruction of our Muscovite enemy to obtain a natural frontier to our empire, which should include and unite all branches of our race” (in the words of the Ottoman declaration of war).
Just as the fall of the Ottoman Empire was not the result of external machinations but a self-inflicted catastrophe, so the creation of the modern Middle East on its ruins was not an imperialist imposition but the aggregate outcome of intense pushing and shoving by a multitude of regional and international bidders for the Ottoman war spoils in which the local actors, despite their marked inferiority to the great powers, often had the upper hand.
While Rogan occasionally alludes to this reality, these allusions are far too sparse and timid to break from the standard misrepresentation of the post-war regional order as an artificial Western creation. He aptly notes that “the map drawn by Sykes and Picot bears no resemblance to the Middle East today”, yet reiterates the standard depiction of the agreement as a colonial imposition rather than a British effort “to reconcile the interests of France with the pledges given to the [Arabs]” (to use Albert Hourani’s words), or indeed – the first-ever great power recognition of Arab right to self determination (well before President Woodrow Wilson turned this principle into a driving force of international politics). He similarly observes that Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia (or the Hijaz, as it was then known) “achieved independence within frontiers of their own devising”, yet parrots the conventional wisdom that the imperial powers outlandishly “imposed the borders and systems of governments of most states in the region”.
In fact, most states in the region were established pretty much as a result of local exertions. The modern state of Iraq, to give a prominent example, was created in its present form (rather than divided into three states in accordance with the existing realities of local patriotism and religious affinities) on behalf of Emir Faisal of Mecca and at his instigation, while Jordan was established to satisfy the ambitions of Faisal’s older brother Abdullah. Likewise, the nascent Zionist movement exploited a unique convergence of factors to harness British support to its national cause, to have this support endorsed by the international community and incorporated into the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, and to cling tenaciously to these achievements until their fruition in the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948.
Eugene Rogan acknowledges that “the borders of the post-war settlement have proven remarkably resilient”. Yet he fails to draw the selfevident conclusion that this state of affairs reflects their congruity with local realities, instead echoing the common refrain that ascribes the region’s endemic volatility to the supposed dissatisfaction with these boundaries.
Had this actually been the case, Arab leaders would have seized some of the numerous opportunities they had over the past century to undo the post-Ottoman order and unify the so-called Arab Nation; and they could have readily done this by peaceful means rather than incessant fighting. But then, violence has hardly been imported to the Middle East as a by-product of European imperialism; it was a part of the political culture long before. And if anything, it is the region’s tortuous relationship with modernity, most notably the stubborn adherence to its millenarian religiously based imperialist legacy, which has left physical force as the main instrument of political discourse to date.
But to acknowledge this would mean abandoning the self-righteous victimization paradigm that has informed Western scholarship for so long, and treating Middle Easterners as equal free agents accountable for their actions, rather than giving them a condescending free pass for political and moral modes of behaviour that are not remotely acceptable in Western societies. Sadly, The Fall of the Ottomans signals no such paradigm shift.
* The Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan. The review first appeared in the Times Literary Supplement and was reprinted in the Wall Street Journal.
Q: When is a terrorist organization not a terrorist organization?
A: When Barry Obama says so.
This is from Front Page, by Daniel Greenfield:
You know the country responsible for killing hundreds of marines, which provided sanctuary to Al Qaeda and whose terrorist proxies helped give Al Qaeda the skills to carry out 9/11? They’re no longer terrorists. Sure their terrorist groups currently control parts of Lebanon and Yemen, but they’re not terrorists.
Because if Iran was a state sponsor of terrorism, then Obama letting them have the bomb might look bad. This way it’s fine.
An annual report delivered recently to the US Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, removed Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terrorism threats, after years in which they featured in similar reports
In describing Iran’s regional role, the report noted the Islamic Republic’s “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and de-escalate tensions with Saudi Arabia”, but cautioned that “Iranian leaders — particularly within the security services — are pursuing policies with negative secondary consequences for regional stability and potentially for Iran”.
The only time the report mentions Hezbollah is when describing it as a victim of attacks.
Lebanon faces growing threats from terrorist groups, including the al-Nusrah Front and ISIL. Sunni extremists are trying to establish networks in Lebanon and have increased attacks against Lebanese army and Hizballah positions along the Lebanese-Syrian border. Lebanon potentially faces a protracted conflict in northern and eastern parts of the country from extremist groups seeking to seize Lebanese territory, supplies, and hostages.
That clarifies that Obama no longer considers Hezbollah an enemy (not that he ever did). Instead it’s an ally that is classed together with Lebanon, rather than a threat to it.
Here’s what Obama chose to turn his back on.
“The worst part for me is that nobody remembers,” Mark Nevells said last year on the anniversary of the Hezbollah bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut.
A Marine had thrown his body in front of the truck to try and stop the vehicle. And afterwards, for five days, Nevells and other Marines had dug through the rubble for the bodies of the men they had served with.
One of the first Marines on the scene heard voices coming from underneath the rubble. “Get us out. Don’t leave us.”
The Marines lost more people that day than at any time since Iwo Jima and the number of Americans murdered that day by a terrorist group was a record that would stand until September 11.
And more of it still.
The Marines who died in the bombing were lucky. Another Marine did not die as quickly.
Colonel William R. Higgins was captured by Hezbollah, the terrorist group acting as Iran’s hand in Lebanon, and tortured for months until his body was dumped near a mosque.
An autopsy report found that he had been starved and had suffered multiple lethal injuries that could have caused his death. The skin on his face had been partially removed along with his tongue and he had also been castrated.
Fred Hof, a diplomat who had been a friend of the murdered man, said, “I am one of a small handful of Americans who knows the exact manner of Rich’s death. If I were to describe it to you now – which I will not – I can guarantee that a significant number of people in this room would become physically ill.”
Like Higgins, William Francis Buckley, the CIA station chief, was also captured and tortured for months. On video tapes released by his Hezbollah captors, he was incoherent and his mind had been broken by the horrors inflicted on his ravaged body and his soul.
“They had done more than ruin his body,” CIA Director William Casey said. “His eyes made it clear his mind had been played with. It was horrific, medieval and barbarous.”
Robert Stethem, a Navy diver, was brutally murdered when Hezbollah terrorists took over TWA flight 847. The Iranian-backed terrorists, one of whom was Imad Mughniyah, beat and kicked him to death.
“They were jumping in the air and landing full force on his body. He must have had all his ribs broken,” Uli Derickson, the stewardess, described. “I was sitting only 15 feet away. I couldn’t listen to it. I put my fingers in my ears. I will never forget. I could still hear. They put the mike up to his face so his screams could be heard by the outside world.”
Obama wants you to believe that the 47 Senators who stood up to him on Iran are traitors. The truth is he’s the traitor.
And he is a terrorist. To condone acts of terrorism is to co-author them.
Nice to see a (beautiful) Lebanese woman, as a TV host, silencing a (repulsive, obstreperous, arrogant) imam she is interviewing:
Yes. It would be greatly good if the savage fight now underway between two Muslim armies in Iraq, Sunni and Shia, could end in the destruction of both.
We quote from an article at American Thinker, by Mike Konrad, who argues the desirability of leaving the two sides to fight it out:
I know, I know, the recent ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) gains have everyone scared. No doubt, the Islamophilic administration will want to step in, and save Islam from itself once again. Let me advocate a course of action that will make sense to all sides in America; the left and right; from militarists to pacifists: Let the Muslims kill each other. …
ISIS is presently a large group of thugs with guns. They have no navy, no air force, except for a few captured helicopters, which they will soon break. The only ones they can threaten are their fellow Muslims. If they take over Iraq, who cares? They will soon reduce the Levant to the seventh century.
And this is a problem to us? OK, oil prices may spike for a while, but they are going to need to sell their oil because they’ve got nothing else to produce for export and can’t produce any of the fruits of modern industry. Meanwhile, the high prices will encourage domestic drilling and production of our nearly boundless reserves held in shale deposits, to the point where we will become a major oil exporter ourselves.
These mujahadeen are incapable of maintaining the weapons they already have. Weapons need upkeep. Weapons have to be oiled, cleaned, and upgraded. Upkeep interferes with raping, pillaging, and chopping off heads. Within two years, they will be slaughtering each other with scimitars and rusty AK-47s.
Iraq’s president, Maliki has asked for US assistance. Oh really?
Iraq insisted on setting up its country with an Islamic constitution; against our advice, and now he wants American help. For what? So Iraq’s Shia can continue to run arms to Syria and Hezb’allah in Lebanon?
We’d rather President Maliki wasn’t helped at all, but we like the idea of putting these conditions on any help he gets from the US:
If our State Department had men and women with intelligence instead of a love of the Qur’an, they would tell Maliki that our help would be predicated on four conditions:
1) Get rid of the Islamic constitution, and set up a secular state
2) Recognize Israel
3) Naturalize the Palestinians in your state
4) Break off ties with Iran
If Maliki says no, we say “Fine, have your Islamic state. We are not going to decide which flavor.”
Whether Maliki agrees or not, he loses:
He has no choice. No matter what he decides, the West wins. Should ISIS take over, Iran will be cut off from land routes to Syria’s Assad, and Lebanon’s Hezb’allah. How does this hurt the West?
Sure! Iraq may go down. The Sunni officers in the Iraqi army will not fight for a Shia majority Iraqi state. In fact, many Sunni officers are already joining ISIS. The Shia, who are mere foot soldiers, are not prepared to fight the better trained Sunni. So what?
When thieves fall out, honest men prosper. When Muslims fall out, civilization prospers. …
Now, Iran is scared. …
Iran sent two battalions of Iranian Revolutionary Guards to help the Iraqi government in its battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is hugely important, if not totally surprising given Iran’s intervention in Syria. Iran has the power to crush ISIS in open combat. But Iranian intervention could also make the conflict inside Iraq much worse …
Iran is hurting. Iran may have to decide between arming Hezb’allah or the Shia in Iraq. And this hurts the West how?
Other sources are reporting that Iran has called for international assistance to crush ISIS. Iran needs our help! The nation which has thumbed its nose at the West for 35 years, now wants our help?
Iran officials call for international response to ISIS violence …
Let them ask for Russian help, or Chinese assistance. I am sure the Russians and Chinese will be more than happy to make their nations targets for Islamic revenge. Nothing makes Muslim group A angrier than knowing that you have helped Muslim group B. And if the Russians or Chinese do intervene, good for them. Maybe international terrorism will re-direct their wrath eastward. Tell them it will be like the Chechnyans on steroids.
If Iran is really desperate to save its supply lines across Shia Iraq to save Assad, we could strike a deal.
You want our help. We want the Israelis to inspect your nuclear power plants; or you can go fight your fellow Muslims yourselves. Tell them, “Remember the first Iraq-Iran war.” Make the offer public. No help until the first Israeli technician comes out of the Isfahan plant and says, “All clean.”
Tell them up front they have to stop aiding Hezb’allah. Tell them that we are enjoying this.
At the same time, we should encourage all Euro-Muslim males to join the fight, and when they are gone, revoke their right of return to the West. Tell them, Allah Wants You; and send them off with halal meat and enough weapons to keep the Mideast in turmoil for another hundred years.
Why is this a problem? Even if ISIS wins the Caliphate, it will revert to seventh century technology soon enough.
Jordan is scared, now. She might be overrun. Supposedly, she is a Western-oriented state, which has the rudimentary forms of a democracy. Of course, honor killing and wife beating are still not prohibited; and Jordan refuses to take in more Palestinians.
If they want our help:
1) Saudis and Jordanians have to start naturalizing Palestinians
2) Set up truly secular states
3) protect their women
Be upfront about it. Of course, they won’t agree. So let them shoot it out. When the Mideast is a flaming wreck, the administration should encourage Putin or China to intervene. Nothing sinks empires faster than trying to tame the Muslims. We will get out, and avoid our own collapse.
If our administration intervenes in any way, it would be foolish. Over the past two years our administration has made blunder after blunder in the Mideast, regarding Libya, Morsi, Sisi, Arab Spring, etc.
This time it is so easy.
All the administration has to do is … NOTHING!
It is that simple. … If it does intervene, it will be clearly seen as an attempt to prop up Islam, once again.
Let the Shia and Sunni kill each other. In the words of the late Mayor Ed Koch, “root for whoever is losing.”
We like Mike Konrad’s suggestions. (And we understand that he is not being wholly serious.) But more needs to be considered.
There is the strong possibility, astonishing though it may seem at first, that fanatically Shia Iran has been giving aid to the Sunni insurrectionists – as well as the Shia government – in Iraq. Why ? In order to bring about upheaval and chaos, so the mullahs will be called upon to restore order.
Another surprise: it is the Obama administration itself which has made this information public – that Iran has assisted the Sunni insurrectionists.
Paul Mirengoff writes at PowerLine:
A mere six weeks ago, the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism concluded that Iran is actively working to undermine Iraqi stability through terror groups. Significantly, for present purposes, the report assessed that Iran was facilitating both Shiite and Sunni terror activities.
With respect to Sunni terrorism, the State Department said this:
Iran allowed al Qaeda (AQ) facilitators Muhsin al-Fadhli and Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and also to Syria. Al-Fadhli is a veteran AQ operative who has been active for years. Al-Fadhli began working with the Iran-based AQ facilitation network in 2009 and was later arrested by Iranian authorities. He was released in 2011 and assumed leadership of the Iran-based AQ facilitation network.
In addition, of course, Iran has “trained, funded, and provided guidance to Iraqi Shia militant groups” both inside and outside of Iraq. The training has included instruction in “the construction and use of sophisticated improvised explosive device technology and other advanced weaponry.”
The terrorist activities of the Iran-supported Shia militants have undermined stability in Iraq and undermined support for the government among Sunnis. But, again, Iran is destabilizing Iraq from both ends by also facilitating Sunni terrorism.
If anything, Obama should be punishing the Iranians by continuing, and indeed escalating, a sanctions regime. Instead, he seems determined to cozy up to the mullahs. In all likelihood, this means granting them additional concessions when it comes to negotiations over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Why else would Iran help the U.S?
The mullahs have always understood that an unstable Iraq not only can’t threaten or complete with Iran, but may well be forced to become a virtual client, as might now happen. But the mullahs could only have dreamed that an unstable Iraq would cause an American president to come before them as a supplicant.
Yet this too may now be about to happen.
And still another surprise. Amazingly, for once we find points to agree with in an opinion from the Left:
Among many assertions in the same column which we do not agree with, Richard Cohen, columnist for the Washington Post, writes some that we find ourselves nodding at:
Whose fault is the current debacle in Iraq?
It could be Nouri al-Maliki’s since he is the country’s strongman and has alienated the minority Sunnis.
It could be George W. Bush’s because he started the whole thing off …
The one person who is not at fault, we are told over and over again, is the current president of the United States. …
But with that he does not agree. He takes Obama to task for his failure to do anything effective against the gassing of Syrians by Bashar Assad:
Foreign policy [is] the area where a president’s power is substantially unchecked. … Other than avoiding war, it’s hard to know what Obama wants. I know what he says, but actions always speak louder than words.
For instance, he wanted Bashar Assad to cease using chemical weapons. His language was strong, nearly warlike.
“Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children. The images from this massacre are sickening: Men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas. Others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath. A father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk.”
What happened next? Virtually nothing.
All those poisoned kids were soon forgotten and so, too, were all those people killed in the war, perhaps as many as 200,000. Those of us who advocated more forceful action were denigrated as war lovers who wanted to send in the infantry. (Better boots on the ground than head in the clouds — but I prefer neither.)
He disagrees with Mike Konrad’s idea that nothing at all should be done about the war in Iraq:
Airstrikes and such might not have worked, but doing nothing never does.
This is a serious, depressing discussion. Countless lives have been lost. A civil war that might have been stopped in its tracks was allowed to fester. The Syrian dictatorship survived and the war has spilled into Iraq. It has the potential to engage the whole Middle East — Jordan, for sure, and then that tiny nation west of the Jordan River: Israel. The madmen of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria don’t only kill Muslims; they would gladly drop a bomb on Tel Aviv.
Right. But he doesn’t say that the bomb could be nuclear. And that two, or twenty, could be dropped on Israel.
Or that there could be targets in Europe, or even in America, since the mullahs have long-range missiles.
He rightly finds the idea of the US and Iran being in alliance “preposterous”:
The U.S. may now find itself on the side of Iran — a majority Shiite nation much like Iraq. What could be more preposterous? What could be more ironic?
Worse, we could find ourselves engaged in a religious war — Sunni vs. Shiite. …
He fears non-intervention more than involvement:
Or maybe we should just wash our hands of the whole thing and turn over a hunk of the Middle East with its oil to a terrorist organization — one that boasts of committing massacres. …
You thought you can’t get more evil than al-Qaida? Look at who’s pillaging Iraq, a terrorist group that even al-Qaida can’t stomach. …
The one thing we do know is that things can get worse. They did in the Middle East, where Obama settled for a victory jog around the political infield after getting Assad to give up most of his chemical weapons. He now must deal with a region that is so much worse than anyone imagined.
Where does the fault lie? Where it always has — where the buck stops.
By which presumably he means Obama. He means that the fault lies with Obama!
How many members of Obama’s enormous media fan club, or of the Democratic Party, find him at fault over the carnage in Syria and Iraq, we wonder.
And will their disapproval induce Obama to act?
If so, how? Richard Cohen expresses his disgust, or frustration, or irritation – but he doesn’t say what Obama should do.
We say Iran should be stopped by all possible means, late though it is to take action, from becoming a nuclear power. And that is obviously not what Obama intends or wishes to do.
Barack Obama is a great leader of Islam.
A report that he told an Egyptian Foreign Minister on January 19, 2010, “You will see what I will do for Islam” and “I am a Muslim” is very likely true.
Here are just some of the great things he has done for Islam:
He has made it easy for Iran to acquire a nuclear arsenal.
He has brought the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization, into the government of the United States to help formulate its policies.
He supports Hamas with funding and diplomacy, thus legitimizing a terrorist organization.
He has done the same for Hizbollah, except (as far as we know) for the funding.
He is helping the Taliban regain power in Afghanistan.
He restrained the government of Nigeria from cracking down on Boko Haram, the murderous Muslim organization whose mission is to kill as many Nigerian Christians as it can.
He continues to provide massive aid to Pakistan, one of the most repressive states among repressive Islamic states.
He is allowing Muslim terrorists to enter the US, in some cases more easily than other, law-abiding, applicants.
He refuses to admit that the mass-killing of US servicemen and women by a Muslim at Fort Hood was an act of Islamic terrorism, although it was carried out in the name of Islam, insisting that it be dealt with by the law as “workplace violence”.
He’s had army instruction materials on the subject of terrorism purged of all reference to Islam.
He is allowing the Muslim murderers of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, to go unpunished.
He will not allow the condign punishment of a Muslim who deserted from the US army.
He instructed NASA to make “reaching out to the Muslim world” one of the space agency’s top priorities.
He has set five Taliban leaders free, described as “the worst of the worst“, in exchange for a US army deserter.
Can there be any doubt that Islam has become an ever increasing menace to the non-Muslim world, and an ever increasing cause of death even within the Muslim world, since and because Obama became president of the US?
We register in our margin the daily toll of lethal Islamic terrorist attacks since 9/11/2001 as recorded by The Religion of Peace.
The number has reached 23,121 today.
The Washington Times reported and commented on August 12, 2012:
Mr. Obama has used the occasion of Ramadan to rewrite US history and give Islam a prominence in American annals that it has not earned.
In this year’s greeting, Mr. Obama said –
The rituals of Ramadan remind us of the principles that we hold in common and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality. And here in the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country.
That Islam has had a major role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings may come as a surprise to Muslim women. Young Afghan girls who are having acid thrown in their faces on the way to school might want to offer their perspectives. That Islam is “known” for diversity and racial equality is also a bit of a reach. This certainly does not refer to religious diversity, which is nonexistent in many Muslim-majority states. This is a plaudit better reserved for a speech at the opening of a synagogue in Mecca.
Most puzzling is the president’s claim that “Islam has always been part of America”. Islam had no influence on the origins and development of the United States. It contributed nothing to early American political culture, art, literature, music or any other aspect of the early nation.
Throughout most of American history, the Muslim world was perceived as remote, alien and belligerent. Perhaps the president was thinking about the Barbary Pirates and their role in the founding of the US Navy, or Andrew Jackson’s dispatch of frigates against Muslim pirates in Sumatra in the 1830s. Maybe he was recalling Rutherford B. Hayes’ 1880 statement regarding Morocco on “the necessity, in accordance with the humane and enlightened spirit of the age, of putting an end to the persecutions, which have been so prevalent in that country, of persons of a faith other than the Moslem, and especially of the Hebrew residents of Morocco”. Or Grover Cleveland’s 1896 comment on the continuing massacre of Armenian Christians: “We have been afflicted by continued and not infrequent reports of the wanton destruction of homes and the bloody butchery of men, women and children … “
The picture of US Secretary of State John Kerry with Nabih Berri, head of the terrorist Amal movement and speaker of the Hezbollah-dominated Lebanese parliament, and the text beneath it come from an article at Front Page, by Daniel Greenfield.
We overheard the conversation in our imagination:
Kerry: “You really would allow ME to lick your boots?”
Berri: Why not?
The Amal movement kidnapped US Marine Colonel William R. Higgins who was slowly and brutally tortured to death. (Follow the link if you are feeling strong.)
What could these two chums be laughing about?
Maybe it’s the autopsy report that found Higgins had been “starved and had suffered multiple lethal injuries that could have caused his death. The skin on his face had been partially removed along with his tongue and he had also been castrated.”
Remember Tony Blair? He was Prime Minister of Great Britain in President G.W. Bush’s era.
Well, he’s found out that Islam is a threat.
Muslim immigrants poured into Britain under his watch. But suddenly he’s discovered that it was a bad idea.
The Clarion Project reports:
Tony Blair, the Former British Prime Minister, delivered a keynote speech at Bloomberg HQ in London entitled Why the Middle East Still Matters. In it he described radical Islam as the greatest threat facing the world today.
He specifies “radical Islam”, and speaks of “Islamism”, so evading the stark fact that there is only one Islam, and that it is Islam per se that is the greatest threat facing the world today. Its armies are actively waging the jihad by terrorist tactics.
Islam is not a race or a nation. It is an ideology. But like a nation, when it goes to war, its armed forces do the fighting, not everyone born into it or adopting it.
Blair is not a clear – let alone a deep – thinker. But he has at last come to an understanding that the non-Islamic world is under attack by Islam:
Wherever you look – from Iraq to Libya to Egypt to Yemen to Lebanon to Syria and then further afield to Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan – this is the essential battle.
Addressing those who regard these conflicts as distinct he said:
There is something frankly odd about the reluctance to accept what is so utterly plain: that they have in common a struggle around the issue of the rightful place of religion, and in particular Islam, in politics.
Not a good way of putting it. No Reagan-like plain speaking, let alone any felicitous Churchillian phrasing.
Yes, in all those countries Muslims fighting the Islamic jihad are engaged in the same “struggle”. But it would be hard to find a jihadi who would say that his “strugge” is “around the issue of the rightful place of religion, in particular Islam, in politics”.
Blair means that they are fighting a religious war, and he doesn’t think that religion should be a political issue. Religion has a “rightful place”, and it is not on a battlefield. He seems to have the thought swimming round in the shallows of his mind that religious wars are not the thing nowadays; that wars are fought in modern times over up-to-date political differences. (And that implies that he doesn’t see Nazism and Communism as the religions they most certainly are.)
He does see that the war is global.
He argued that this struggle does not end at the borders of the region. Rather, “The reason this matters so much is that this ideology is exported around the world.”
He asked listeners to “Take a step back and analyze the world today: with the possible exception of Latin America (leaving aside Hezbollah in the tri-border area in South America), there is not a region of the world not adversely affected by Islamism and the ideology is growing.”
Bravo, Blair! You have seen that the battle is also being fought by immigration, propaganda, and intense proselytizing:
He notes that:
The Muslim population in Europe is now over 40million and growing. The Muslim Brotherhood and other organizations are increasingly active and they operate without much investigation or constraint. Recent controversy over schools in Birmingham (and similar allegations in France) show heightened levels of concern about Islamist penetration of our own societies.
He gets better still:
The main thrust of the speech focused on “two fascinating things.”
The first is the absolutely rooted desire on the part of Western commentators to analyze these issues as disparate rather than united by common elements. They go to extraordinary lengths to say why, in every individual case, there are multiple reasons for understanding that this is not really about Islam, it is not really about religion; there are local or historic reasons which explain what is happening. There is a wish to eliminate the obvious common factor in a way that is almost wilful. …
The second thing is that there is a deep desire to separate the political ideology represented by groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood from the actions of extremists including acts of terrorism.
He acknowledged the motivation behind these fears, saying “We feel almost that if we identify it in these terms, we’re being anti-Muslim, a sentiment on which the Islamists cleverly play.”
And then he gets almost very good:
Blair swept these distinctions aside, acknowledging the laudable motives behind such interpretations, but ultimately pinpointing the profound danger posed by the Islamist ideology, and that it is fundamentally incompatible with the modern world.
He urged the West and indeed the entire world, to unite against the ideology Islamic extremism.
It’s a speech that may help to wake up European leaders. Though it has its weakness, and the columnist Douglas Murray, clear-sighted as always, put his finger on it:
Douglas Murray argued in the Spectator that Blair went too far in his efforts to brand Islamism as disconnected from Islam and called on moderate Muslims to help combat radicalism by driving extremists from their communities.
Blair came on to suggesting what might be done about the profound danger he’d identified:
Blair outlined potential foreign policy options for the West vis-a-vis various Middle Eastern countries in order to combat Islamists and to support religiously open and tolerant elements.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any – there cannot be any – “open and tolerant elements” among Muslims. Unless they are Muslims-in-name-only. (MINOs?)
In particular he focused on Egypt saying:
On the fate of Egypt hangs the future of the region. Here we have to understand plainly what happened. The Muslim Brotherhood government was not simply a bad government. It was systematically taking over the traditions and institutions of the country. The revolt of 30 June 2013 was not an ordinary protest. It was the absolutely necessary rescue of a nation.
All of these different policies are facets of the same policy:
Across the region we should be standing steadfast by our friends and allies as they try to change their own countries in the direction of reform. Whether in Jordan or the Gulf where they’re promoting the values of religious tolerance and open, rule based economies, or taking on the forces of reaction in the shape of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, we should be supporting and assisting them.
Hmm. Right about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt having to be overthrown. Wrong about the West having friends and allies among Arab and other Muslim countries. None want reform of a kind that would turn them into reliable friends and allies.
Perhaps this statement by Blair sums up the message of his keynote speech best: “When we consider the defining challenges of our time, surely this one should be up there along with the challenge of the environment or economic instability.”
It’s his saying “up there with the challenge of the environment” that shows how his mind is still murky with leftist pollution. But for a leftist to put Islam “up there” with climate change is an admirable advance. He deserves loud and quite long applause. Even more so if his speech encourages other European politicians to start facing the truth: that war is being waged on their countries by the barbarous hordes of Islam.
The Clarion Project does not report the last paragraph of the speech. Blair ended with this:
Consider for a moment since 9/11 how our world has changed, how in a myriad of different ways from the security measures we now take for granted to the arenas of conflict that have now continued over a span of years, there is a price being paid in money, life and opportunity for millions. This is not a conventional war. It isn’t a struggle between super powers or over territory. But it is real. It is fearsome in its impact. It is growing in its reach. It is a battle about belief and about modernity. It is important because the world through technology and globalisation is pushing us together across boundaries of faith and culture. Unaddressed, the likelihood of conflict increases.
Applause, applause. But then:
Engagement does not always mean military involvement. Commitment does not mean going it alone. But it does mean stirring ourselves. It does mean seeing the struggle for what it is. It does mean taking a side and sticking with it.
While it is true that military engagement alone won’t stop Islam’s subjugation of the West, and that the West needs to stir itself, and that every European country should side against Islam, if there is going to be reluctance to use military force at all, the war will be much harder to win. Perhaps he knows this, but feels it necessary to acknowledge – as he does – that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken away the West’s appetite for war.
The full text of the speech can be found here. Those who read it will find that Blair erroneously believes – or at least says – that Islam has a “true message” which “Islamists” distort. And that he praises Secretary of State John Kerry for his (absurd) attempt at yet another Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” and thinks his “commitment has not been in vain”. (It has been, and could not have been anything else.)
So – two cheers for Mr Blair. And let’s hope his speech stirs up the dhimmis of Europe to start resisting the onslaught of Islam.
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.
Continuing the theme of the post immediately below, here’s a story of how the big Shiite terrorist organization Hizballah is terrified of being attacked by terrorists.
This comes from DebkaFile:
The Lebanese Shiite Hizballah, itself a listed terrorist group, was forced Thursday, Feb. 13 to cancel its most solemn annual event in memory of fabled “special security chief” Imad Mughniyeh, over an inability to keep the event safe from terrorist attacks. …
Hizballah and its Shiite following in Lebanon live in fear of devastating suicide bombing attacks by al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists. Since last July, they have staged 10 attacks and claimed scores of lives in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon over Hizballah’s participation in the Syrian war. In a single attack last year, the bombing of the Iranian embassy, 25 people were killed.
Its Syrian expedition has left the Hizballah short of manpower for self-protection. This situation has become more acute since an intelligence tip was received disclosing that the terrorists were now gunning for Nasrallah [present leader of Hizballah] and other top operatives. This has necessitated doubling up security on their persons.
A special counterterrorism command center has begun operating at the Iranian embassy in Beirut. …
This center was set up by a high-ranking Iranian intelligence delegation … [which] had arrived in Beirut to tackle the terrorist threats to their Lebanese proxy. It was composed of senior IRGC Al Qods Brigades [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Jerusalem Brigades] operatives and high officials of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
The decision to cancel the Mughniyeh memorial assembly was taken by the new counterterrorism center at the Iranian embassy for four reasons:
1. Iranian undercover agents in Syria discovered that al Qaeda elements were plotting to hit the assembly for mass casualties.
2. This information was confirmed Wednesday, Feb. 12, by three women captured in the Lebanese Beqaa on their way to conduct suicide bombings at the Beirut event. Under interrogation, the captives revealed that several more female suicide bombers were heading for Shiite targets across Lebanon.
3. Hizballah is in the middle of a campaign to raise additional Shiite volunteers for the different Syrian warfronts … A new wave of anti-Shiite terrorism in Lebanon would quickly derail this effort, especially in view of the hundreds of Hizballah fighters who have already laid down their lives in Syria. The organization is intent on concealing the real figure, but cannot hide all the funerals.
4. Its Iranian bosses understand that … Hizballah’s manpower resources cannot be stretched both for providing security at home and for augmenting its fighting personnel input for the Syrian war.
For the first time in the 1,000-day civil war, the Americans find themselves in greater sympathy with Russia, Iran, Assad and Hizballah than the rebel cause.
According to DebkaFile, Bashar Assad is winning the civil war (or uprising against his dictatorship). So the Obama administration has stopped supporting the rebels to the extent, and in whatever way they ever did, and is now romancing Bashar Assad. The new policy follows naturally from the exciting new love-in Obama is having with the Shia tyrants of Iran.
The conquest Sunday, Dec. 8, of Nabuk in the Qalamoun Mountains on the Syrian-Lebanese border is a signal strategic breakthrough for Bashar Assad’s army, climaxing a row of battleground successes that have cast the rebel forces into deep disarray. Nabuk fell after a two-week siege by the combined forces of Syria, Hizballah, Iraqi Shiite units and the Iranian Al Qods Brigades. The Qalamoun range which separates central Syria from central Lebanon is at their mercy.
Assad and his allies, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, can chalk up four major war gains:
1. The highway from Damascus to Syria’s two port towns, Latakia and Tartus on the Mediterranean coast, is now open through the wayside town of Homs.
2. The last remaining rebel supply routes from Lebanon are cut off. Syrian rebels can no longer use Lebanon as a supply base for reinforcements and new recruits or as a destination for their casualties to receive treatment.
3. The Damascus-Beirut highway is now under Hizballah control, providing its Beirut headquarters vitally direct access to the forces posted to Damascus, and easing liaison and communications among Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah military units in the field.
4. Pushing the rebels out of their Qalamoun strongholds was the last step before loosening their two-year grip on the eastern suburbs of Damascus. Under relentless Syrian army siege, many rebel commanders holding on to those suburbs are crossing the lines and handing sectors over to Syrian army officers.
The Assad regime has reached a stage in the civil war at which the rebels no longer pose a military threat to his hold on power and have lost the capacity for more more than terrorist attacks or sporadic mortar shelling.
The Syrian rebel movement has lost its coherence as a fighting force. In desperation, they are releasing a stream of false claims of successes and unfounded accusations that Assad has reverted to chemical warfare. …
Since the only anti-Assad forces still in fighting shape are the two Al Qaeda affiliates, Jabhat al Nusra and the Iraqi branch, Washington is turning its back on the Syrian rebel movement as a whole and instead [is] ready to talk indirectly to Syrian army elements loyal to Assad as well as Hizballah. …
Indeed, in consideration of Hizballah’s military kudos and rising political clout in Beirut, the Obama administration has opened up a back channel to its leaders, mostly through British diplomats.
It turns out that the same coalition which contrived the nuclear deal in Geneva on Nov. 24 – the US, Russia and Iran – is going into action again on the Syrian issue with a favored spot for Iran’s Lebanese Shiite pawn [Hizballah].
We think this DebkaFile report is likely to be true in its main thrust: that US policy has changed, and America is now in alliance with Russia and Iran and in negotiation with one of the world’s most savage terrorist organizations.
And if it is true, it is an enormity – an extreme wrong.
It is not that the rebels are any better than Assad. Both sides are evil. Both sides seem to be peopled by vicious murdering torturing cannibals. Neither should be supported. But Assad is Iran’s client. Hizballah is Iran’s creation. What matters here is the colossal boost to Iranian power. The US has conceded the territory to the mullahs.
Under a pretense by their traitorous leaders that it is better to negotiate than risk a war with belligerent enemies, the American people are being led into capitulation.
Iran will be nuclear armed. Hizballah can claim legitimacy, and the cost to Lebanon and Israel is dreadful to think of. Russia’s power and prestige is being enhanced with each disastrous move Obama makes in the region of the Middle East.
And the US is no longer the protector of the free world. The erstwhile free world no longer has a protector.