Leaders of the Western world, including Obama talking from his behind, want us to believe that Islam is a beautiful and peaceful religion.
Here are scenes, pictured or described, showing how beautiful and peaceful Islam really is. -
Musicians punished for making music. Wonderfully made musical instruments smashed to pieces.
Boys killed for watching football.
Men killed for breeding pigeons.
Homosexuals hurled from the top of tall buildings.
The words and pictures come from the Daily Mail:
Islamic State religious police have been filmed beating musicians and destroying their instruments as punishment for playing an “un-Islamic” keyboard.
The men were pictured being hit across the back and legs with a wooden stick in a public square after ISIS’s fanatical Islamic enforcers ruled the electric keyboard was “offensive to Muslims”.
Another picture shows two keyboards and what appears to be a lute smashed to pieces after raids thought to have taken place in Bujaq, a few miles to the east of Aleppo in Syria.
Musicians in Syria were given 90 lashes each after they were caught by the Islamic State’s religious police playing an electric keyboard …
Pictures show the men being beaten on their backs and legs by tribal elders in a public square believed to be in Bujaq, a town to the north east of Aleppo. …
The men were apparently caught playing electronic keyboards, and what appears to be a lute, instruments that were deemed to be “un-Islamic” by ISIS’s fanatical religious police …
Earlier today, it was reported that at least 15 pigeon breeders in eastern Iraq were rounded up after ISIS ruled the sport distracted them from praising Allah.
Three of those held by the group in the eastern province of Diyala have reportedly been killed, according to a security official.
Abu Abdullah, a farmer, said a total of six gunmen barged into his home earlier this week and dragged away his 21-year-old son. Mr Abdullah’s son is just one of the 15 young men – all aged between 16 and 22 – who have reportedly been captured in the province for breeding birds.
Yesterday it was reported that 13 youngsters were killed by firing squad in Iraq’s second city of Mosul for watching an Asian Cup football match between Iraq and Jordan.
Activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, which operates out of Syria, reported that the teenagers were shot in public and their bodies left there as their parents are too afraid to go and get them.
The boys’ ‘crime’ – breaking religious laws by watching football – was read out on a loudspeaker before their executions.
It came just days after ISIS released a video showing two men being thrown off the top of a tower block in Raqqa, Syria, for being gay.
A masked Islamic State fighter announced the charges against the accused using a small handheld radio, before declaring them guilty of engaging in homosexual activities.
He said they should be punished by death, in accordance with Islamic State’s radical interpretation of Sharia law.
The men were then bound and blindfolded before being pushed off the 100ft tower block to their death.
If it sears the mind of a decent person merely to imagine the suffering of Raif Badawi as he is subjected to his punishment of 1000 lashes, administered 50 at a time once a week for 20 weeks, knowing what the punishment is being inflicted for could make his blood boil.
First, here’s a short description of the first day of Raif’s lashings from a site we’ve never visited before named 360NoBS:
A Saudi blogger declared guilty of insulting Islam was brought after Friday prayers to a public square in the port city of Jeddah and flogged 50 times before hundreds of spectators.
Reports further stated that he would receive 50 lashes once a week for 20 weeks. …
Despite international pleas for his release, Badawi, a father of three, was brought from prison by bus to the public square on Friday and flogged on the back in front of a crowd that had just finished midday prayers at a nearby mosque.
His face was visible and, throughout the flogging, he clenched his eyes and remained silent, said the witness.
The witness, who also has close knowledge of the case, said the lashing lasted about 15 minutes.
Badawi has been held since mid-2012 after he founded the Free Saudi Liberals blog. … He used it to criticise the kingdom’s influential clerics …
He was originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in relation to the charges, but after an appeal the judge stiffened the punishment.
Following his arrest, his wife and children left the kingdom for Canada.
Rights groups argue that the case against Badawi is part of a wider crackdown on freedom of speech and dissent in Saudi Arabia since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. Criticism of clerics is seen as a red line because of their prestige in the kingdom, as well as their influential role in supporting government policies.
The man shackled to a whipping post in this picture from 360NoBS may or may not be Raif Badawi,
but in any case it serves to illustrate Islam’s infliction of agony, humiliation, misery, and despair .
Denis MacEoin writes at Gatestone:
[Raif Badaw’s] first 50 lashes were administered Friday. After the noon prayers, outside the mosque, Saudi writer and blogger Raif Badawi, 30, received a sentence perhaps worse than death. Accused of “insulting Islam,” he is to receive 1000 lashes: 50 per week for 20 weeks — nearly half a year. “The lashing order says Raif should ‘be lashed very severely,'” a twitter notice read. “If they lash him again next week we do not know if he is going to survive. He has no medical assistance,” another notice said.
After that, he is to spend ten years in prison and pay a fine of $266,000. If he ever leaves prison, his life will have been destroyed…
His wife and three children have been given asylum in Canada. Her family has filed for divorce on the grounds of his supposed apostasy. …
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.”
He is alleged to have criticized the Wahhabi clergy who run his country hand in hand with the royal family. Muslims seem not to be able to handle questions, reasoned criticism or satire. …
Nadeem Malik, the UK Director of the Bahu Trust, a Sufi Muslim charity that “espouses the virtues of tolerance, peaceful co-existence and equality” said: “Our Prophet would have been absolutely crystal clear and unequivocal in condemning any such action. That’s not in the name of Islam at all, and Muslims are sick of having their faith hijacked in this manner.”
I do not doubt Mr. Malik’s sincerity, and I respect the Islamic tradition (Barelwi) from which he comes as one more in keeping with a non-violent interpretation.
We are sick of hearing that this or that group of violent Muslims have “hijacked” the religion of Islam. Islam enjoins violence.
It is a myth that Sufis are against violence. The Muslim murderers of some 385 people, including 186 small children, at a school in Beslan, Russia, in September 2004, were Sufis.
But his statement sharply points out why there is a problem. He was – quite innocently, I am sure – completely wrong.
The writer shouldn’t be sure. We unhesitatingly doubt his innocence. Either he knows he is lying, or he is unable to understand the words of the Koran, the Sunna, and the Hadith, and knows nothing of Islam’s own tales of Muhammad.
There is an inspiration for attacks like those on writers, cartoonists, and film-makers: France’s Charlie Hebdo journalists; Amsterdam’s Theo van Gogh; Denmark’s Kurt Westergaard, Carsten Juste, and Flemming Rose, and Sweden’s Lars Vilks – as well as the assassination attempt on the Nobel Prize winning Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz and the fatwa for the murder of the British writer Salman Rushdie. The inspiration for this behavior is not that the Prophet Muhammad was lampooned or criticized or mocked. The inspiration for this behavior is that Muhammad himself would have ordered or approved such attacks as revenge for assaults on his honour.
Shortly after his move from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE, for instance, when he became the effective ruler of the town, opponents emerged in the Jewish and wider communities. Poets wrote lampoons and disrespectful verses. Muhammad had them killed. Not just poets, but almost anyone who disagreed with him and his “revelations.”
In 624, for example, a Jewish poet named Ka’b ibn al-Ashraf wrote verses condemning the killing of notables from Mecca. He later became a one-man Charlie Hebdo, writing obscene and erotic verses about the Muslim women. Muhammad took offense and instructed one of his companions, Muhammad ibn Maslama, to assassinate Ka’b. When Ibn Maslama expressed doubts about having to lie to Ka’b in order to trick him into going with him, Muhammad told him lying was permissible for such purposes. Ibn Maslama and some other Muslims went out with Ka’b under false pretenses and murdered him.
Ka’b ibn al-Ahraf was not Muhammad’s only victim. … There is a list in WikiIslam of 43 people – as well as all the men from the Jewish tribe of the Banu Qurayza – who were killed on Muhammad’s orders or whose murders were sanctioned by him.
Today the lashes of Raif Badawi stand with the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo as further symbols of the determination of many extremists to reject the norms of reason, tolerance, pluralism, equality, the Universal Declaration human rights and the value that begins every chapter but one of the Qur’an: mercy.
This cannot be said often or emphatically enough: It is not a case of Islamic “extremists” rejecting reason, but of Islam itself being an ideology totally in opposition to reason.
All “faiths” reject reason by definition. Islam punishes it.
Islam is as puritanical as it is cruel. A pernickety fastidiousness over minor “moral” infractions lives in the primitive minds of IS [ISIS/ISIL] alongside an insatiable appetite for inflicting pain, terror, and atrocious murder.
This report comes from the International Business Times:
In a grotesque twist of the saying “live by the sword, die by the sword“, an Islamic State executioner in Syria who carried out beheadings for the jihadist group has been found with his head cut off.
The body of the Egyptian man, known to be the deputy emir of the feared al-Hesbah (or Hisbah) force in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, was recovered near a power plant in al-Mayadeen city, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The corpse showed signs of torture and carried the message “This is evil, you Sheikh” written on it. The severed head had a cigarette in its mouth. … The message was obvious.
Islamic State’s ban on cigarettes is one of its signature polices.It has imposed a strict set of Sharia laws barring the use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes in the territories it has conquered across a swathe of Iraq and Syria.
IS has declared smoking “slow suicide” and demands that “every smoker should be aware that with every cigarette he smokes in a state of trance and vanity is disobeying God”.
We didn’t know God was a non-smoker. After all, he’s smoked a lot of people in his time. (We did know that he isn’t a vegetarian.)
Hisbah is IS’s religious police who perform the role of enforcing the group’s twisted version of sharia in the self-styled caliphate.
“Twisted version of sharia”? What is the “untwisted” version, we wonder.
Last year, Vice News released a documentary on what life is like under Hisbah in Raqqa during Ramadan. The footage shows how the religious police check on shops and scrutinise produce, while at the same time ensuring their strict rules on women’s appearances are adhered to.
And the Express reports:
“Songs and music are forbidden in Islam as they prevent one from the remembrance of god and the koran and are a temptation and corruption of the heart,” according to a statement issued by Isis.
This state of affairs is just like that of Geneva when Jehan Calvin (1509-1564) was its dictator.
We quote from our own post, Calvin: a chapter in the terrible history of Christianity, April 10, 2010:
“[Calvin] instituted a totalitarian reign of terror. He was as convinced a collectivist as Hitler, Stalin, Mao and the rest. He would allow “no liberty, no freedom of the will, for [a] man could only misuse such privileges. … [He, Calvin] must frighten him … until he unresistingly accepts his position in the pious and obedient herd, until he has merged in that herd all that is individual within him, so that the individual, the extraordinary, vanishes without leaving a trace.”
So wrote Stefan Zweig in his devastating dissection of Calvin and Calvinism, The Right to Heresy. He goes on:
“To achieve this draconian suppression of personality, to achieve this vandal expropriation of the individual in favour of the community, Calvin had a method all his own, the famous Church ‘discipline’. A harsher curb upon human impulses and desires has hardly been devised by and imposed upon man down to our own days [pre-Second World War]. From the first hour of his dictatorship, this brilliant organizer herded his flock … within a barbed-wire entanglement of … prohibitions, the so-called ‘Ordinances’; simultaneously creating a special department to supervise the working of terrorist morality … called the Consistory [which was] expressly instructed to keep watch upon the private life of every one in Geneva. … Private life could hardly be said to exist any longer … From moment to moment, by day and by night, there might come a knocking at the entry, and a number of ‘spiritual police’ announce a ‘visitation’ without the citizen concerned being able to offer resistance. Once a month, rich and poor, the powerful and the weak, had to submit to the questioning of these professional ‘police des moeurs’. “
The moral police poked into every corner, examined every part of every house, and even the bodies of those who lived in it. Their clothes and shoes, the hair on their heads, was inspected. Clothes must be dark and plain; hair must not be artificially curled.
“From the bedroom they passed on to the kitchen table, to ascertain whether the prescribed diet was not being exceeded by a soup or a course of meat, or whether sweets and jams were hidden away somewhere.”
They pried into bookshelves – only books approved by the Consistory were permitted.
“The servants were asked about the behaviour of their masters, and the children were cross-questioned as to the doings of their parents.”
Visitors to the city had their baggage examined. Every letter, in and out, was opened. Citizens could not write letters to anyone outside the city, and any Genevan permitted to travel abroad was watched in foreign lands by Calvin’s spies. …
As far as he could, Calvin put an end to pleasure. Music – except for what Calvin deemed to be sacred – was forbidden. So was dancing, skating and sport. Theaters and all other public amusements including popular festivals, were prohibited. Wheeled carriages were not allowed. People had to walk to wherever they needed to go. Guests at family celebrations, even weddings and baptisms, were limited in number to twenty. (The names parents could give their children had to be from an approved list.) The red wine of the district could be drunk in small quantities, but no other alcohol. Innkeepers were not allowed to serve their guests until they had seen them saying their prayers, and had to spy on them throughout their stay and report on them to the authorities.
Punishments included imprisonment in irons, hanging, decapitation, burning to death.
If ever the expression “soul-mates” applied to any two people, it surely applies – regardless of the distance of time between them – to Jehan Calvin and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of IS/ISIS/ISIL.
ISIS is blowing up Shi’a mosques and shrines, and other ancient monuments, the heritage of mankind.
From the Assyrian International News Agency:
ISIS is planning to destroy the walls of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire and one of the most important archaeological sites in Iraq. Nineveh was sacked in 612 B.C. when the Assyrian Empire was overthrown.
Residents of the Bab Nergal area of Mosul said ISIS has informed them that it will blow up the walls of Nineveh with the start of operations to liberate Mosul by the Iraqi army.
In the last month ISIS has seized the content of the cultural museum in Mosul as well as destroyed Assyrian monuments in the city, which ISIS claims “distort Islam”.
Assyrians are the the only indigenous people of Iraq, going back to 4750 B.C. In 2003, just before the U.S. invasion, there were 1.5 million Assyrians living in Iraq. Today there are about 500,000 remaining. A sustained, low grade genocide perpetrated by Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds drove hundreds of thousands of Assyrians into exile in Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.
On August 7 of 2014, ISIS moved into the Nineveh Plain, the last stronghold of Assyrians in Iraq, forcing nearly 200,000 Assyrians to flee their homes and villages, where they now live as refugees in the Dohuk and Arbel areas.
The remains of the walls of Nineveh in north Iraq
Less to be regretted is that ISIS also plans to blow up the Kaaba, if it manages to capture Saudi Arabia, and if this report – of which we’re somewhat skeptical since ISIS is a Sunni organization and the Kaaba is a Sunni shrine – is true:
Representatives of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) stated that they will ruin the Kaaba after capturing Saudi Arabia. …
ISIS member Abu Turab Al Mugaddasi said that they would destroy the Kaaba in Mecca: “If Allah wills, we will kill those who worship stones in Mecca and destroy the Kaaba. People go to Mecca to touch the stones, not for Allah.”
The politically correct establishments and media of the Western world protect Islam from criticism no matter what is done in its name. But they have made an exception of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL). Or rather, they claim – ludicrously – that IS/ISIS/ISIL has “nothing to do with Islam”.
That exception explains why a documentary about Muslim men of IS/ISIS/ISIL selling Yezidi women and girls as slaves, was actually produced by the BBC.
Here’s the clip:
The Independent reports: “ISIS executes 150 women for refusing to marry militants and buries them in mass graves.”
We’re not sure if this picture of a barren field, used by the Independent to illustrate its story, is the actual graveyard. But the picture seems to us to convey a feeling of the sad, bleak, lonely, hopeless life of a middle eastern Muslim woman, living her life – long or short – in a black bag.
At any moment, at the whim of their savage men, such women are likely to be killed – for his “honor”, for her disobedience, or just for their fun.
An Egyptian atheist dares to speak the truth about Islam on television, and argues with a – thoroughly deluded, or deliberately lying – imam:
It would say a lot for Egypt under President Sisi if Ahmad Harqan can speak this freely with impunity. But is that the case?
This information accompanies the YouTube video captured by Memri:
“In an October 21 TV interview, Egyptian human rights activist Ahmad Harqan explained why he had become an atheist and said that Islam is a “harsh religion”, which was being implemented by ISIS and Boko Haram. They are doing “what the Prophet Muhammad and his companions did”, said Harqan. According to media reports, Harqan and his pregnant wife survived an assassination attempt on October 25, and when they went to the police to complain, were arrested for disrespect to Islam.”
We hope we will learn what happens to them.
After World War I, the Gaza Strip, which for centuries had been part of the Ottoman Empire, came under a British mandate. From 1949 to 1959, it was governed by Egypt, ostensibly under the authority of the Arab League. In 1959, the Strip was incorporated by Egypt, though the population was not granted Egyptian citizenship.
In 1967, the territory was occupied by Israel in the course of its defensive Six-Day War. Thousands of Israelis settled in the Strip and established industries there. But in 1993, by the tragically misconceived Oslo Accords, Gaza came under the administration of a “Palestine National Authority” (PNA). In its perpetual pursuit of peace with the Arabs, Israel agreed to remove the settlers. They resisted, and the Israeli government had them removed by force. They left acres of excellently functioning and highly lucrative greenhouses to the Arabs – who promptly destroyed them.
So it was that a Judenrein Gaza Strip became an autonomous “Palestinian” region, officially administered by the PNA.
In 2007, the terrorist organization Hamas, after an internecine struggle with the PNA, seized control of the Strip and proceeded to launch attacks on Israel with suicide bombers and rocket fire. Israel dealt with the suicide bombers by putting up a protective fence, and from time to time responds to the rocket fire with bombing raids. The world thinks Israel is not being fair to the Palestinians by taking these measures.
The world, chiefly the Western powers, has chosen to keep the population of Gaza as a perpetual beggar nation, dependent on aid. The children of Gaza are taught in schools run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) – created specially for the purpose of keeping generations of Palestinians as “refugees’ – and under its tutelage are raised to be Israel-haters and terrorists. The result is the perpetuation of intense hostility, which makes a mockery of the pretense of those same Western powers to be honest brokers of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Now the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) has infiltrated the Strip and is threatening to take over control of it from its fellow Sunni-Muslim terrorists, Hamas.
This is from an article by Khaled Abu Toameh at Gatestone:
It is always dreamlike to see one Islamist terror group accuse the other of being too “lenient” when it comes to enforcing sharia laws. But it is not dreamlike when a terrorist group starts threatening writers and women.
That is what is happening these days in the Gaza Strip, where supporters of the Islamic State are accusing Hamas of failing to impose strict Islamic laws on the Palestinian population — as if Hamas has thus far endorsed a liberal and open-minded approach toward those who violate sharia laws.
Now, however, almost everyone is talking about the Islamic State threats against poets, writers and women.Until this week, the only topic Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were talking about was how to rebuild homes and buildings that were destroyed during the last war between Hamas and Israel.
It is no secret that the Islamic State has a presence in the Gaza Strip. According to sources there, many disgruntled members of Hamas and other radical salafi-jihadi groups have already joined the Islamic State, with some fighting together with ISIS groups in Syria and Iraq.
Earlier this year, it was revealed here that Islamic State has already begun operating inside the Gaza Strip – much to the dismay of Hamas.
Hamas, nevertheless, continues to deny any presence of Islamic State inside the Gaza Strip. “There are no members of Islamic State in the Gaza Strip,” said Eyad al-Bazam, spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry.
Many Palestinians, however, do not seem to take Hamas’s denials seriously, and remain unconvinced.
Over the past few days, two separate leaflets signed by Islamic State threatened to target Palestinian poets and writers for their “wantonness” and “atheism.” The leaflets mention the poets and writers by name – a move that created panic among many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
The leaflets also included an ultimatum to Palestinian women to abide by Islamic attire or face the Islamic State style of punishment — presumably being stoned to death. The threat leaves one with the false impression that, under Hamas, women can wear swimming suits at the beach and walk around the streets of Gaza City in mini-skirts.
But this is what happens when one fundamentalist group believes that the other is not radical enough.
“We warn the writers and poets of their wanton sayings and atheist deeds,” one of the leaflets reads. “We give the apostates three days to retract their apostasy and wantonness and enter the religion of Islam anew.”
The threats issued by Islamic State have drawn strong condemnations from many Palestinians. This is the first time that such threats have been made against poets and writers or women.
Although Hamas has denied any connection to the threats, Fatah officials [aka the PNA] in the West Bank were quick to accuse the Islamist movement — which has been in control of the Gaza Strip since 2007 — of being behind the leaflets. …
Palestinians point out that the two leaflets were not the only sign of the presence of Islamic State inside the Gaza Strip. They say that Islamic State flags can be seen in many parts of the Gaza Strip, especially at football stadiums and public buildings. In addition, Islamic State stickers can be seen on the windshields of many vehicles.
More recently … families have begun attaching the Islamic State emblem to wedding invitations sent out to friends and relatives. Photos of Palestinians who were killed while fighting with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria appear in many places, especially mosques and educational centers.
Of course, all of this is taking place while Hamas continues to insist that the Islamic State is not operating in Gaza.
Those who are taking the threats seriously are the women and writers whose names appeared in the leaflets.
Amal Hamad, a member of the Palestinian Women’s Union, expressed deep concern about the threats made by Islamic State. “We are headed toward the worst in the Gaza Strip,” she complained. “We hold the Hamas security forces responsible for the leaflets of intimidation and terror.” She and a large group of women in the Gaza Strip held an emergency meeting to discuss the repercussions of the threats.
Judging from reactions, it is clear that many Palestinians – including Hamas – are extremely worried about Islamic State’s presence in the Gaza Strip. Even if the terror group still does not have many fighters in the Gaza Strip, it already has countless followers and admirers.
It is also clear that if and when the Hamas regime collapses, the Gaza Strip will not fall into the hands of less-radical Palestinians.
The Gaza Strip has already been turned into an “Islamist Emirate” that is run by Hamas and other radical groups such as Islamic Jihad.
While Islamic State may have succeeded in infiltrating the Gaza Strip, its chances of entering the West Bank are zero. This is thanks to the presence of the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas are well aware that without the Israeli security presence in the West Bank, the area would easily fall into the hands of Hamas or Islamic State.
It is important to keep in mind that the countries in Europe now voting for a Palestinian state may effectively be paving the way for a takeover by Islamic State.
We wonder how many people living in Gaza secretly wish the alleged Israeli “occupation” were real, and are nostalgic for the days when it was. Their lives were better, and more secure, under Israel than under the PNA or Hamas.
Now they – especially writers, poets, and women it seems – must dread the prospect of life under the rule of the Islamic State.
But if the Islamic State does absorb Gaza, its population will be stateless no longer. As citizens of the Caliphate they may be miserable, but they will no longer be “refugees”.
No more UNWRA. No more exploitation of the Palestinians by the Arab States as “victims” of Israel.
Of course, the attacks on Israel will not stop. They will very likely intensify. Will the world object as much to Israel defending itself against the Islamic State as it does to Israel defending itself against Hamas?
Time may tell.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State is taking possession of the minds of millions of Muslims all over the world. If it is not growing territorially at this moment, it is certainly growing as an ideal.
An ideal of savage cruelty and enslavement! Islam triumphant.
The Egyptian Goddess Isis
(just for decoration)
President Obama believes that America is arrogant.* If his foreign policy can be explained by anything, it would be his intention to bring America down a peg or ten. Looked at like that, the disasters we see happening in many parts of the world are testimony not to Obama’s failure, but to his success.
Not that President Obama can have any objection to arrogance as such. He is an arrogant man. He just doesn’t want America to be proud of its superiority. He hates the very idea that it is superior. But while he would not even acknowledge its political-moral superiority as a republic constituted for liberty, he cannot deny that it is economically and militarily stronger than any other country. So he’s been working to change that for the last six years.
The whole world is the worse for his efforts.
This is from Front Page, by Bruce Thornton:
The 6 years of Barack Obama’s foreign policy have seen American influence and power decline across the globe. Traditional rivals like China and Russia are emboldened and on the march in the South China Sea and Ukraine. Iran, branded as the world’s deadliest state sponsor of terrorism, is arrogantly negotiating its way to a nuclear bomb. Bloody autocrats and jihadist gangs in the Middle East scorn our president’s threats and behead our citizens. Countries in which Americans have shed their blood in service to our interests and ideals are in the process of being abandoned to our enemies. And allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia are bullied or ignored. All over the world, a vacuum of power has been created by a foreign policy sacrificed to domestic partisan advantage, and characterized by criminal incompetence.
Incompetence is what it looks like. But if failure is the aim, then either the incompetence is only an appearance, or it is a means to the end.
How we have arrived at this point, the dangers to our security and interests if we don’t change course, and what must be done to recover our international prestige and effectiveness are the themes of Bret Stephens’ America in Retreat. The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder. …
A clear sign of American retreat is the precipitous decline in military spending. “In the name of budgetary savings,” Stephens writes, “the Army is returning to its June 1940 size,” and “the Navy put fewer ships at sea at any time since 1916.” The Air Force is scheduled to retire 25,000 airmen and mothball 550 planes. Our nuclear forces are being cut to meet the terms of the 2010 New Start Treaty with Russia, even as its nuclear arsenal has been increasing. Meanwhile Obama … issues empty threats, blustering diktats, and sheer lies that convince world leaders he is a “self-infatuated weakling”.
Unfortunately, 52% of the American people agree that the U.S. “should mind its own business internationally”, and 65% want to “reduce overseas military commitments”, including a majority of Republicans. This broad consensus that America should retreat from global affairs reflects our age’s bipartisan isolationism, the centerpiece of Stephens’ analysis. This national mood is not a sign of decline, according to Stephens, who documents the enormous advantages America still enjoys globally, from its superiority in research and entrepreneurial vigor, to its healthy demographics and spirit of innovation. But it does bespeak a dangerous withdrawal from the policies that created the postwar Pax Americana – even though this global order policed by the U.S. defeated the murderous, nuclear-armed ideology of Soviet communism, and made possible the astonishing economic expansion that has lifted millions from poverty all over the world. …
For Stephens, isolationism has not been the only danger to American foreign policy success. What he calls “the overdose of ideals”, specifically the “freedom agenda” of the sort George W. Bush tried in Iraq and Afghanistan, has misdirected our efforts and squandered our resources in the pursuit of impossible goals. The success of the Cold War and the subsequent spread of democracy and free-market economies suggested that the world could be not just protected from an evil ideology, but “redeemed” by actively fostering liberal democracy even in countries and regions lacking the necessary network of social mores and political virtues upon which genuine liberal democracy rests. But in attempting to redeem the world, Stephens notes, policy makers “neglected a more prosaic responsibility: to police it”.
The failures to create stability, let alone true democracy, in Iraq and Afghanistan have enabled what Stephens calls the “retreat doctrine”, one to be found in both political parties. Barack Obama is the master of this species of foreign policy, incoherently combining idealistic democracy-promoting rhetoric with actions that further withdraw the U.S. from its responsibility to ensure global order. Under the guise of “nation-building at home,” and in service to traditional leftist doubt about America’s goodness, Obama has retreated in the face of aggression, and encouraged cuts in military spending in order to fund an ever-expanding entitlement state.
But also, equally, in order to make America weaker.
Meanwhile, “Republicans are busy writing their own retreat doctrine in the name of small government, civil liberties, fiscal restraint, ‘realism’, a creeping sense of Obama-induced national decline, and a deep pessimism about America’s ability to make itself, much less the rest of the world, better.”
The “retreat doctrine” is dangerous because global disorder is a constant contingency. The remainder of Stephens’ book approaches this topic first from the perspective of theory and history, and then from today’s practice. History teaches us that all the substitutes for a liberal dominant global power have failed to prevent the descent into conflict and mass violence. The ideas of a balance of power, collective security, or the presumed peaceful dividend and “harmony of interests” created by global trade did not prevent World War I or its even more devastating sequel. Nor are they any more useful in our own times.
As for today, Stephens identifies several challenges to a global order fragilely held together by the commitment to liberal democracy, open economies, and the free circulation of ideas and trade. The “revisionists” attack this model from various perspectives. Iran sees it as a fomenter of godlessness and hedonism, Russia is moved to oppose it by “revanchism and resentment”, and China believes that it “is a recipe for bankruptcy and laziness”, lacking a “sense of purpose, organization, and direction”. All three see evidence for their various critiques in the failure of the U.S. to exercise its massive power in the face of challenges, and in the willingness of American elites to revel in guilt and self-doubt. These perceptions of national decline invite rivals and enemies to behave as if the U.S. is in fact declining.
The other international players that could worsen disorder are “freelancers” and “free radicals”. The former include those countries like Israel or Japan who, convinced that America will not act in its own or its allies’ interests, will understandably take action that necessarily entails unforeseen disastrous consequences. Much more dangerous are the “free radicals”, the jihadist gangs rampaging across 3 continents, and the nuclear proliferators like Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan, whose collaboration with each other and rogue regimes like Venezuela endangers the world through provoking even further proliferation on the part of rivals, or by handing off nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations. And then there are “free radicals” like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, who have undermined global order by publicizing the necessarily covert tools, practices, and institutions that undergird and protect it.
Finally, there are the structural weaknesses of the globalized economy and its continuing decline in growth, which may create “breaks” in national economic systems that “will be profoundly disruptive, potentially violent, and inherently unpredictable”. Add America’s retreat from world affairs and reductions in military spending, and in the “nearer term”, Stephens warns, “terrorists, insurgents, pirates, hackers, ‘whistleblowers’, arms smugglers, and second-rate powers armed with weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles will be able to hold the United States inexpensively at risk”, provoking further American retreat from world affairs and the inevitable increased aggression by our enemies and rivals. …
So what can be done? In his conclusion Stephens applies to foreign affairs the “broken windows” tactics of urban policing that caused rates of violent crimes to plummet over the last few decades. Thus “the immediate goal of U.S. foreign policy should be to arrest the continued slide into a broken-windows world of international disorder”.
This foreign policy would require increasing U.S. military spending to 5% of GDP, with a focus on increasing numbers of troops, planes, and ships rather than on overly sophisticated and expensive new weapons. It would mean stationing U.S. forces near global hotspots to serve as a deterrent and rapid-reaction force to snuff out incipient crises. It would require reciprocity from allies in military spending, who for too long have taken for granted the American defense umbrella. It would focus attention on regions and threats that really matter, particularly the borderlands of free states, in order to protect global good citizens from predators. It means acting quickly and decisively when conflict does arise, rather than wasting time in useless debates and diplomatic gabfests. Finally, it would require that Americans accept that their unprecedented global economic, cultural, and military power confers on us both vulnerability to those who envy and hate us, and responsibility for the global order on which our own security and interests depend. …
No matter how understandable our traditional aversion to military and political entanglements abroad, history has made us the global policeman, one committed to human rights, accountability, and political freedom. If we abdicate that position, there is no country powerful, or worthy enough, to take our place.
We agree with that.
And Thornton tantalizes us with this:
Stephens ends with an imagined “scenario” of how a serious global disruption could occur, one grounded in current trends and thus frighteningly believable.
When we’ve found out what that scenario is, which is to say when we’ve read the book, we’ll return to this important subject.
* “In his first nine months in office, President Obama has issued apologies and criticisms of America in speeches in France, England, Turkey, and Cairo; at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and the United Nations in New York City. He has apologized for what he deems to be American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, and for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, and for feeding anti-Muslim sentiments; for committing torture, for dragging our feet on global warming and for selectively promoting democracy.” – Mitt Romney, quoted by PolitiFact.com
… all add to the gaiety of nations.
As the world order disintegrates, its leaders and elites laugh and play merrily. We should all join the greatest party of all time.
If recognizing breakaway countries can stabilize the unstable Middle East, just think of how much stability it can bring to Europe. Now that Sweden has solved the problem of Muslim violence in the Middle East, perhaps a few breakaway republics will solve Muslim violence in Sweden.
Daniel Greenfield writes in the only way this subject – the absurd step Sweden has taken in “recognizing” a non-existent State of Palestine – deserves to be written about: with brilliant sarcasm.
And he puts forward a great plan to reward Sweden for solving the central problem of the world with the pronouncing of one magic formula.
On Thursday, Sweden finally solved all the problems in the Middle East by recognizing the State of Palestine.
For decades all the instability in the region had been blamed on the lack of a PLO state. Foreign policy experts stood in line to tell us all that the only thing that could end terrorism in the Middle East was a terrorist state. …
Our leaders kept the faith. The White House’s Middle East coordinator insisted that Israel’s obstinate refusal to create a Palestinian State, against the wishes of the unelected president of the Palestinian Authority who refuses to negotiate one or to stop the terrorism, was causing instability in the region.
Secretary of State John Kerry had denied that ISIS [the “Islamic State”] was Islamic, but blamed Israel for ISIS recruitment.
The Obama administration, and most other governments, also deny that ISIS is a state. But it has a government, a huge and growing army, it collects taxes and has a thriving economy from the sale of oil, it runs hospitals and schools, collects garbage, and maintains order by a system of instant decapitation for any head that pops up too far. True, it has no fixed borders, but then neither does “Palestine”.
But it wasn’t John Kerry who saved the Middle East from instability. Instead Sweden did it by recognizing a terror state whose leaders stopped bothering with the onerous duty of holding elections once they realized that the Eurocrats and Obama would keep shoveling money at them even if they chose their unelected terrorist leaders by playing Russian Roulette.
Sweden’s new Palestine not only dispensed with elections, routing the business of governance through its core PLO organizations, but also has no economy, instead employing an army of people who are paid not to run a country that doesn’t exist with money sent over by America, Europe and Japan.
Some would call that a scam, but it’s remarkably similar to how the European Union works.
In addition to lacking such luxuries as an elected government and an economy, the State of Palestine also doesn’t control Gaza, which is run by another terrorist group, Hamas. The international community has been ignoring that minor problem because it wouldn’t do for a bankrupt terrorist state which happens to be our last best hope for stability in the Middle East to be disqualified just because it’s actually two quarreling bankrupt terrorist states. …
With Sweden’s bold step, a bright future dawns over the Middle East. ISIS recruitment is bound to start falling as the Canadian and Swedish Jihadis with their Burqaed brides heading to kill as many Yazidis as they can will realize that there’s no more need for them to behave the way that their religion has for over a thousand years.
There’s a Palestinian State now. All their grievances have been met. A million cartoons and a thousand YouTube videos couldn’t outrage them now. Unless they were about Mohammed.
I wouldn’t be surprised if ISIS transformed into a humanitarian agency for gluing back all the Yazidi, Christian and Shiite heads that it cut off back on the bodies it beheaded. Even now, Sunnis and Shiites are hugging each other all over Iraq and only occasionally blowing themselves up in the process.
Sweden should be rewarded in kind:
Sweden has given a great gift to the world. It’s only a question of how to properly repay it and the answer is obvious. If Sweden recognizing a micro-nation inside Israel’s borders will stabilize the region, it’s only right for Israel, and all right-thinking people, to recognize a micro-nation inside Sweden.
Sweden ended the occupation of Norway, but it continues to occupy such embryonic nations as the Royal Republic of Ladonia and the Republic of Jamtland.
A “Royal Republic”? Hail, Ladonia, land of the brave and free!
While many of us might know Lars Vilks for his Mohammed cartoons, he also founded the Royal Republic of Ladonia after some of his other artwork was censored by Swedish authorities.
The Royal Republic of Ladonia was founded in 1996, three years after the Palestinian Authority, making it only slightly younger and a lot less violent than that micro-nation.
While Ladonia is only around a third of a mile in size, it has a government, a newspaper, a lot of citizens and almost as many nobles.
Queen Carolyn I rules over the constitutional monarchy while President Christopher Matheoss was recently elected by a wide margin over such candidates as Count Wrigley, Antonio Maria De Grandis and Alexander Nevzorov III.
Unlike Palestine, Ladonia holds elections making it a much more legitimate country. And unlike both Palestine and Sweden, Ladonia has freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.
Considering how many newly created countries lack either, the Royal Republic of Ladonia has more of a claim on existence for its mere willingness to extend these freedoms to all.
Israel should recognize the Republic of Ladonia. So should the United States. It’s the only hope for stabilizing Sweden which continues to experience outbursts of Muslim violence in its major cities.
A better case for independence can be made for the Republic of Jamtland, which unlike Palestine, has an ancient history and was an independent peasant republic before the Muslims even invaded Jerusalem.
It declared independence in 1963, a year before the PLO was founded …
Despite generations of Swedish occupation, the Jamtlanders have not turned to violence. At least not in several centuries. Ten of thousands gather for their Freedom Festivals. Their Jamtland Republican Army remains peaceful even when it sets up its own tolls and checkpoints. The only violence there can be seen from the Jamtland Republicans, a local American football team, vigorously playing on the field.
Jamtish, a dialect, is spoken. The flag of the Republic, blue for the sky, green for the forests and white for the snow, is waved. And the European Union and the Swedish government are denounced.
Considering the peacefulness and antiquity of the Republic of Jamtland, its sizable population and unique cultural heritage, recognizing this micro-nation would be the right thing to do. It’s time for Sweden to end the long occupation of Jamtland’s rivers and forests and for this brave republic to take its rightful place among the free and democratic nations of the world.
Sweden chose to recognize two terrorist states inside Israel’s borders. It would only be proper for nations of goodwill to recognize two wholly peaceful republics inside Sweden’s borders. …
Sweden saved the Middle East. Now maybe someone can save Sweden.