America’s Red Guard 12

We often quote Daniel Greenfield because we often like what he says and how he says it.

Here he is writing about America’s Red Guard (we quote his article in part):

As the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution approaches some of the former students who participated in its Red Guard terror have been trying to make amends to their victims. If China’s former leftist fanatics feel some remorse for the atrocities they participated in, the same can’t be said of their American counterparts.

Even as the Cultural Revolution was dying down in China, it flared up in the United States. The Weather Underground drew inspiration from China’s Red Terror. Their founding manifesto cited the Red Guard as a model for a “mass revolutionary movement.”

Bill Ayers, among others, had signed a letter, “Long live People’s China. Long live Comrade Mao.”

The American counterparts of China’s Red Guard remain largely unrepentant because here the  Cultural Revolution never ended. Instead it went mainstream. Its members were never disavowed and their acts of terror continue to be celebrated, minimized and whitewashed by a left that finds them alternately embarrassing and thrilling.

The terrorists became celebrities and the radicals became part of the system and set the rules. There was less violence, but more authoritarianism. Instead of carrying on a futile campaign of bombings and bank robberies, the radicals used the vast wealth and power of the system to train the next generation of the Red Guard. And that next generation did the same thing.

Each wave of the Cultural Revolution in the United States has eroded civil rights and illiberally undermined a liberal society. Though the Red Guards have chosen to work within the system, they are animated by an unmistakeable contempt and hatred for the country and its institutions. Their endgame has not changed. Only their tactics have.

Barack Obama, a child of the Cultural Revolution, is the very model of a modern Red Guard. The mark of a successful revolution is that the revolutionaries no longer need extreme rhetoric since they can do anything they want. The Weather Underground engaged in extreme rhetoric and actions. Obama dispenses with the extreme rhetoric and gets right down to the extreme actions. He is calculating enough to avoid the verbal vindictiveness of an Ayers or a Wright, but he still chose them as his mentors. …

The virtue of the creative individual was displaced by the Red Guard’s virtue of outrage. Its members mistake the thrill of abusing others for the rightness of a moral crusade. They celebrate the elimination of all restrictions that prevent them from punishing their victims as a revolutionary act.

This form of crowdsourced political terror by elites and their pet mobs isn’t new. It’s only new to the United States.

Political outrage is the supreme virtue of both the American and Chinese Red Guard. The denunciations leading from that outrage show off their revolutionary commitment to everyone.

The lines of scapegoats paraded through the media for some petty crime against political correctness are a modern digital version of the Red Guard’s denunciations and humiliations. The politics and the poisoned power motives are the same. The only difference is that the Red Guard lacks the license to commit real violence, as of now, and must instead settle for economic and social violence.

The virtue of outrage leads to a state of authoritarian lawlessness. Legislatures and laws are replaced with an alliance between the executive authority of Barack Obama and the Red Guard activists. The activists demand, the media manufactures outrage and Obama uses executive orders to deliver. …

When outrage displaces the process of the law, what remains is either authoritarianism or anarchy. And despite the occasional Circle-A embroidered on a pricey jacket, the progressive Red Guard are not anarchists. What they are after is not less authority, but more of it. Not more freedom, but less of it. Their rhetoric about banks and corporations disguises what they intend for the rest of us.

They are not fighting against power. They are fighting for power.

The Red Guard, whether it’s the Occupiers or Barack Obama, abide by no rules except those of their own ideology. The United States Constitution and the rule of law mean nothing to them. The rules of their ideology are expressed formally in private, but publicly as outrage or empathy.  …

The momentum of emotion has no room for argument or dissent. There is no possibility of negotiation or compromise. Everything exists in black and white. Reason is not even a factor. There is nothing to debate. Either you agree or you are the enemy.

Under the rule of the Red Guard … freedom of speech and thought are only provided to those who say and think the right things. The same is true for all else. There are no rights, as we know them anymore.  Only a binding mandate of social justice. The right to speak your mind or donate to a political cause is valid only if it serves that mandate. …

“Social justice” of course means injustice. It means government using its monopoly of force to take wealth away from those who have earned it and give it to those who haven’t.

Justice [to the left] is not blind. She’s a community organizer coming out on the side of the social justice faction against the greedy and ignorant majority. The entire system, political, cultural and legal, is a means of enforcing the mandate. Its administrators are an elitist faction whose contempt for the people leads them to believe that tyranny is the only way to equality. …

The artificial and extraordinary force of the Red Guard is a perverse parody of mob rule. Our Red Guard, like many in China’s Red Guard, are the sons and daughters of the elites. Their violence is a ferocious assault of the top against the middle in the name of the low.

They manufacture an elitist populism in order to call for despotism.

In New York City, the sons and daughters of the elite stopped shaving, set up camping tents opposite Wall Street and clamored for the radical change that their parents were already busy implementing.

Occupy Wall Street, like every modern manifestation of the Red Guard in the United States, and like the original Red Guard, was a cynical power move by a ruling elite. The fake populism of 1 percenter brats shrieking about income inequality while campaigning to destroy the middle class and what’s left of the working class was true despotism.

The new Cultural Revolution is aimed at shrinking the already narrow power and prosperity of the majority for the sake of the minority. Not the minority of racial or ethnic minorities, but the minority of elites that is determined to get its way by any means necessary.

The 50th anniversary of China’s Cultural Revolution will coincide with a national election in the United States that will serve in part as a final referendum on the Red Guard reign of the previous eight years. Like the Chinese, Americans will be forced to confront the ruin of their institutions, the polarization of their society and the victims of the Red Guard’s political inquisitions.  

50 years from now, will the students eagerly tearing down a liberal society and replacing it with outraged denunciations and media purges also regret their role in the new Cultural Revolution?

We doubt they will. Bill Ayers never matured sufficiently to regret his acts of terrorism, or his admiration for the atrocious regime of Mao Zedong. He comes from the wealthy middle class. He owes all he has, including his comfortable living, his freedom and his celebrity to the open system of capitalist America. A softly-reared child of privilege,  prosperity, and tolerance (extended to extreme indulgence in his case), he wouldn’t last long under actual communism as enforced by Mao or Stalin or Castro.

Unless Americans of his sort are brought to want, hunger, physical wretchedness and real political oppression, they will never comprehend the true nature of communist totalitarianism. And their reduction to those conditions is unlikely to happen despite all their blind efforts to bring about the system that would guarantee them. Capitalism will go on looking after its aberrant children for decades yet, even though the Red establishment will do all it can to hinder it and demonize it. As Daniel Greenfield says, the Red Guards in power are of Bill Ayers sort. Barack Obama himself belongs to the “1%” he and his minions denigrate. So does Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and the Clintons.

As we have often done before, we quote Joseph Conrad on the sort of people they are. He is writing here specifically about women. What he says perfectly describes Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Valerie Jarrett, Bill Ayers’s wife Bernadine Dohrn, and Barack Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. (See our post Daisyville, April 22, 2013).

For all their assumption of independence, girls of that class are used to the feeling of being specially protected, as, in fact, they are. This feeling accounts for nine tenths of their audacious gestures. …

She had acquired all the appropriate gestures of revolutionary convictions – the gestures of pity, of anger, of indignation against the anti-humanitarian vices of the social class to which she belonged herself. … 

She was displaying very strikingly the usual signs of severe enthusiasm, and had already written many sentimental articles with ferocious conclusions.” 

- Joseph Conrad (The Informer)

Conrad’s scornful portrait of privileged women playing with revolutionary ideas applies equally well to the male of the species.

The transformation of America into a communist state … can it be stopped? 5

David Horowitz was a “red-diaper baby”. In his own words:

I was a leftist as early as I can remember. Raised in a Communist family and surrounded by radicals my entire childhood, I could hardly be anything else”.

- Until

A  friend of mine named Betty Van Platter was murdered by the Black Panthers in 1974. … I  was forced to question my most basic beliefs, and that began my long and difficult journey to sanity.”  

We’ve just received a booklet from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, titled Rush Limbaugh’s Conversation with David Horowitz. (The whole of the conversation, which took place six months ago in November, 2013, can be read here.)

The following  are extracts from it:  

Horowitz: … According to a Pew poll, 49% percent of young Americans have a favorable view of socialism. What is socialism? It is a system that leads to mass misery, mass impoverization, and human slaughter. That’s what it means. Yet almost half of the young think it’s benign …

RUSH: … I look at so-called conservative commentators in Washington who seem to be content to commentate, but they don’t have any interest in beating this back. I don’t want to mention names, but most of them are that way. Same thing with the Republican Party. You come from the left. You’re one of the founders of the New Left. You’ve emerged; you were in the inner circle. You’ve spent much of your career trying to explain who these people are, the destructive, vicious malice that they have.

HOROWITZ: Yes.

RUSH: And you don’t think — this is astounding to me — you don’t think that the Republicans or conservatives really yet comprehend the seriousness of the threat.

HOROWITZ: No.

RUSH: Wow.

HOROWITZ: No. Otherwise they wouldn’t be squabbling among themselves so much. There’s another thing going on, and that is that the left controls the language. Our universities, our schools, our mainstream media are gone [into the hands of the left] — so if you pick a real fight with the left, you get tarred and feathered, as you know all too well. Conservatives are brought up in a healthy way; they mind their reputations, they don’t want to be bloodied, they don’t want to be looked at as kooks and extremists, which are the terms of abuse that are used.

RUSH: That’s true.

HOROWITZ: Obama is a compulsive, habitual liar. He makes Bill Clinton look like a Boy Scout. Clinton spun things and he did lie about something very personal and embarrassing to him, but Obama lies about everything, and all the time. And yet it’s taken five years for people to start saying this. Including conservatives. Take so-called single payer health care. Why do we use phrases like “single payer?” It’s communism! If the state controls your access to health care, which is what this is about, they control you.This is a fundamental battle for individual freedom, which is what conservatives are about, or should be. But who’s saying this about Obama’s plan to organize health care along communist lines?

RUSH: Let’s talk about persuasion a second. I’ve got true believers in my audience, and I’ve also got elements of the low-information or the swing-voter segment, and then a few leftists who listen. One thing I have discovered over the course of my career is that whenever I’ve used the word “communism” to describe, say, typical modern-day liberals, people say, “Oh, come on, Rush! They’re not communists!” It ends up being counterproductive, because I have found people don’t want to believe that about somebody like Obama. How do we go about persuading people that it is what it is?

HOROWITZ: That’s a very good question. … I think the language problem is a very serious one. I once tried to launch the word “neo-communist.” We talk about neo-fascists, so how about neo-communists? But that doesn’t work. People look at you as a relic if you use the term. But you have to at least say what their agenda is, and their agenda is controlling, is destroying individual freedom. That’s the way I would do it. By continually reminding people of what their agenda is. It’s anti-individual freedom. You can’t talk about the national debt just as an accounting problem. It’s taking away the freedom of future generations. It means that you have to work for the government instead of yourself. Currently we work something like half our lives for the state. Every other day we’re working for the government instead of for ourselves. What Obama is doing is diminishing the realm of freedom. Conservatives need to keep bringing that up all the time. …

RUSH: You pointed out that Democrats are always in lockstep, in contrast to Republicans, who are all over the place rhetorically and strategically. You said, and I’m quoting here, “The result is that a morally bankrupt, politically tyrannical, economically destructive [Democrat] Party is able to set the course of an entire nation and put it on the road to disaster.” David, people always ask, my callers ask me, “Why don’t the Republicans do ‘x’? Why don’t they do this? Why don’t they do that?” So let me ask you why. Aside from what you’ve said, that there’s a fear of being castigated by the media, mischaracterized. … Republicans simply don’t want to have mean things said about them. They want to be liked by the people who run Washington, D.C. But I don’t even see any pushback from the Republican Party. They’ll go after Ted Cruz and they’ll go after Sarah Palin and they’ll go after Mike Lee, but they won’t go after Obama.

HOROWITZ: Exactly. I have never seen Republicans conduct such bloody warfare as they do against conservatives. They don’t do that to Democrats, ever. And I think it’s great that all the people that you mentioned, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, are people, finally, who don’t care what The Washington Post says, don’t care what The New York Times says, and don’t care what the Republican establishment says. That’s the way it has to be done. I will tell you that the big difference between the left and the right that I saw when I came into the conservative movement 30 years ago was that the right had no ground army. I watched as the Democratic Party was pushed to the left by the activists in the streets — the MoveOn.org people, the Netroots — until it’s now just a left-wing Party. It was Howard Dean, a 60s leftover, who launched the anti-Iraq war campaign that shifted the whole Democratic Party. But on the Republican side, there was nobody pushing from the right. There was no ground war, no force pushing on Republicans from the grassroots. Now we have the Tea Party.

RUSH: You come from the belly of the beast. …  You lived this stuff. You were a leader of the left in your youth. Talk about MoveOn.org — these are average Americans. They may make $50,000 a year. The Netroots, they’re a bunch of people in their pajamas, sitting there blogging and posting. What do they think is in it for them? They are not people Obama is prospering.

HOROWITZ: What’s in it for them is the fact that progressivism is a religion, or a crypto-religion. Like religious people, they believe the world is a fallen place. But they also believe that they can be its saviors. Salvation and redemption are … going to come … from the movement they are part of, from the organized left. What they get out of this is the consolation of religion. They get a sense of personal worth; they get a meaning to their lives. That’s what drives them. It’s not money. It’s much more powerful. When Whittaker Chambers left communism, he said, “I’ve left the winning side for the losing side.” Why did he think that? Because communists have ideas they’re willing to die for, and conservatives don’t. Conservatives have to get that idea. They have to understand that their freedom will be lost if we don’t stop the left.

RUSH: About stopping them. …  Can the right triumph ever again?

HOROWITZ: I remain an optimist, which brings me to the second problem with conservatives. In addition to their decency and their not wanting to make enemies and not wanting to turn politics into war, they’re fatalists. If you think you’re going to lose, you can’t win. That’s very basic. I believe there’s a lot of hope. The ideas of the left are bankrupt. They don’t work. We’re seeing this now with Obamacare. Ludwig von Mises wrote a book in 1922, titled: Socialism. He explained that you can’t centrally plan a large economy, and he showed why. 1922. That’s almost 100 years ago, yet the Democratic Party rammed through Obamacare, ignoring what the last 100 years has proved. They’re going to organize the health care of 300 million Americans with their computers. It’s lunacy. Yet it’s the policy of the whole Democratic Party. They’ve staked their political future on this. … To sell Obamacare, they claimed — lied — that it’s to cover the uninsured. But it doesn’t even do that. Everything they said about Obamacare is a lie. Why? Because their real agenda is not health care. It’s to create a socialist state. To do that they need comprehensive control over people’s lives. I never thought I’d be saying this, because I didn’t see it even in a remote future, but we’re on the brink of a one-party state if they were to succeed. If you are ready to use the IRS politically, if you have access to every individual’s financial and health care information, and if your spy agency can monitor all communications, you don’t need a secret police to destroy your opponents. Anybody you want to destroy, you’ve got enough information on them and control to stop them. That’s how close we are to a totalitarian state. They want to control your life — for your own good of course — even to the point of whether you can buy Big Gulps. That’s not incidental.

RUSH: No, it’s not. Now when this kind of thing happens … I wonder about the average American, somebody who’s not an activist like you or me. Do they not see this, and if they don’t, how can they be made to see it?

HOROWITZ: I don’t think they see it. Most people are averse to politics and don’t pay that much attention. However, Obamacare is going to make them pay attention because his plan affects so many people. You have to start using moral language against these people. I want to hear our guys saying, “This is a threat to individual freedom. You are attacking the freedom of every American when you run up the debt like this. You are attacking the freedom of every American when you put them all in a government-controlled program like this. Government should not have this information.”  …  Every time they have a program that hurts individual liberty, we need to stop talking about it as though it was just about money. The money figures are so big, trillions, nobody can even grasp them, unless they’re very involved in the economy and understand it — and then they probably are Republicans. …  

RUSH: … Freedom requires personal responsibility. …

HOROWITZ: … We need to use a moral language. Notice when the left attacks, it’s always using moral language. Racist, sexist, homophobic, whatever. These attacks sting. We don’t use language like that. We need to. It’s they who are racist. …  Why are we letting them get away with their destruction of inner-city minority communities? Detroit, Chicago: why weren’t the disasters Democrats have visited on these cities huge in the Republican campaign last time? Democrats control these cities, they’ve controlled them for half a century and more. They’re ruining, destroying the lives of young black and Hispanic kids in these cities, and poor whites there as well. They’re 100 percent responsible for that, yet we never mention it. It is beyond me. … They don’t want to be at war, and particularly a moral war, with other Americans. But that is the reality. The left has already made it that. Republicans are treated as though they’re of the Party of Satan. That goes with the religious nature of leftist beliefs. Progressives believe that they are creating the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and that people who oppose them are the Party of the Devil. That’s the way they fight. We have to use that kind of language. Fight fire with fire.

RUSH: You’re nailing it. You came up with something … that I think is worth repeating, and to me it’s brilliant. I would never have seen it had you not pointed it out. You write that the fall of soviet communism had the unforeseen effect of freeing leftists from the burden of defending failed Marxist states, which in turn allowed them to emerge as a major force in American life. That’s so right on. The failure of communism, ironically, led to a rebirth of it in this country. We wipe it out in the Soviet Union, and a shining example of its atrocities goes away, and it becomes a tougher sell to educate people what it is. 

HOROWITZ: Exactly, and leftists saw that at the time. That’s the first thing they said about it. …  That’s why connecting them to the communists is very important. It’s part of the battle. Republicans, and conservatives as well, have let the foreign policy issue, national security, slip off the political radar. Barack Obama is a supporter of the Islamofascists. He’s supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that wants to … destroy America. Obama and Hillary have supported them. Their Administration is infiltrated by Islamist agents. That’s why Benghazi is so important, and why I’m really encouraged that Republicans haven’t let it totally disappear. …

If conservatives and Republicans do learn at last to “fight fire with fire”, can America’s leftward slide be stopped? Can America be restored to a country that values and protects the freedom of the individual? Rush asks Horowitz if the rule of the left – of the Democratic Party – will “implode”.

HOROWITZ: I think they’re going to go down in flames in the coming election. I’m hoping for that, and I can’t see how that won’t happen.

So David Horowitz, at this point, is optimistic.

We would like to share his optimism. But we have one difference of opinion with him which makes us less sanguine that a Republican victory - even if led by a person such as Ted Cruz who understands the urgency of the need to recover from the leftward slide – is almost certain.

He says, in the same conversation, “we need morality, religion, laws”. Morality and laws, yes, we need them. But religion? He means a religion with a god – to oppose the communist religion which has no god. He observes with wonder the inability of the left to learn from the horrible history of their religion that it only creates widespread misery and sheds lots of blood. Yet he fails to learn from the much longer horrible history of god-worshipping religions that they created widespread misery and shed lots of blood.

We immensely admire the great work David Horowitz has done, and continues to do, teaching Americans the awful truth of the left’s ideology, and actively combating it.

But if the right insists on sticking “God” into its political platform, the left is much less likely to “go down in flames”.

Extreme obscenity 4

As the prurient news media have made known around the planet, a lubricious narcissist named Anthony Weiner persistently and compulsively stands for public office while disseminating pictures of his private parts, by means of the world wide web, in the hope of setting young women on fire with lust for him – figuratively speaking. His sexual perversion would be of little interest to the world if it were not for the odd fact that, despite being in public disgrace, he is standing – sometimes in underwear – as a Democratic candidate for election to the office of Mayor of New York.

What is less known and hardly at all discussed is that his wife, Huma Abedin, has helped to set a part of the planet on fire literally, along with her bosom friend Hillary Clinton. (See also here and here and here.)

DianaWest asks, most pertinently, in her Townhall column today:

Isn’t the Abedin-Clinton national security story at least as newsworthy as Weiner’s private parts?

Anthony Weiner, candidate for mayor of New York City, turns out to be a recidivist pervert.

Abedin is also a veritable Muslim Brotherhood princess. As such, the ideological implications of her actions — plus her long and privileged access to US policy-making through Hillary Clinton — must be considered, particularly in the context of national security. …

If the Abedin-Muslim Brotherhood story rings any bells, it is probably because of Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. Last summer, Bachmann, along with four other House Republicans, raised the issue of Huma Abedin among other examples of possible Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the federal policy-making chain. They asked inspectors general at five departments, including the State Department, to investigate their concerns, but nothing happened – nothing, that is, except that Bachmann was crucified, by Democrats and Republicans alike, for asking urgently important questions about national security.

This made the entire subject, already taboo, positively radioactive – with Huma Abedin becoming the poster victim of this supposed “McCarthyism” redux.*

Someone who has looked into “the Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the federal policy-making chain”, in particular Huma Abedin’s amazing success in becoming chief adviser to the Secretary of State, is Andrew C. McCarthy.

He writes at National Review Online:

Ms. Abedin worked for many years at a journal that promotes Islamic-supremacist ideology that was founded by a top al-Qaeda financier, Abdullah Omar Naseef. Naseef ran the Rabita Trust, a formally designated foreign terrorist organization under American law. Ms. Abedin and Naseef overlapped at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (JMMA) for at least seven years. Throughout that time (1996–2003), Ms. Abdein worked for Hillary Clinton in various capacities.

Ms. Abedin’s late father, Dr. Zyed Abedin, was recruited by Naseef to run the JMMA in Saudi Arabia. The journal was operated under the management of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, a virulently anti-Semitic and sharia-supremacist organization.

And yet Huma married a Jew. A Clinton-favored Jew. Bill Clinton performed the wedding ceremony. Who would believe this story if it were fiction?

When Dr. Abedin died, editorial control of the journal passed to his wife, Dr. Saleha Mahmood Abedin — Huma’s mother.

Saleha Abedin is closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and to supporters of violent jihad. Among other things, she directs an organization – the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child. The IICWC, through its parent entity (the International Islamic Council for Dawa and Relief), is a component of the Union for Good (also known as the Union of Good), another formally designated terrorist organization. The Union for Good is led by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the notorious Muslim Brotherhood jurist who has issued fatwas calling for the killing of American military and support personnel in Iraq as well as suicide bombings in Israel. (As detailed here, the Obama White House recently hosted Qaradawi’s principal deputy, Sheikh Abdulla bin Bayyah, who also endorsed the fatwa calling for the killing of U.S. troops and personnel in Iraq.)

Like Sheikh Qaradawi, who helped write the charter for the IICWC, Saleha Abedin is an influential sharia activist who has, for example, published a book called Women in Islam that claims man-made laws enslave women. It reportedly provides sharia justifications for such practices as female-genital mutilation, the death penalty for apostates from Islam, the legal subordination of women, and the participation of women in violent jihad. Dr. Abedin has nevertheless been hailed in the progressive press as a “leading voice on women’s rights in the Muslim world” (to quote Foreign Policy). …

Back to daughter Huma. In the late mid to late Nineties, while she was an intern at the Clinton White House and an assistant editor at JMMA, Ms. Abedin was a member of the executive board of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at George Washington University, heading its “Social Committee.” The MSA, which has a vast network of chapters at universities across North America, is the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s infrastructure in the United States. Obviously, not every Muslim student who joins the MSA graduates to the Brotherhood — many join for the same social and networking reasons that cause college students in general to join campus organizations. But the MSA does have an indoctrination program … a lengthy process of study and service that leads to Brotherhood membership — a process “designed to ensure with absolute certainty that there is conformity to the movement’s ideology and a clear adherence to its leadership’s authority”. The MSA gave birth to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the largest Islamist organization in the U.S. Indeed the MSA and ISNA consider themselves the same organization. Because of its support for Hamas (a designated terrorist organization that is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch), ISNA was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case, in which several Hamas operatives were convicted of providing the terrorist organization with lavish financing. …

The MSA chapter to which Ms. Abedin belonged at George Washington University has an intriguing history. In 2001 [to be clear, that is after Ms. Abedin had graduated from GWU], its spiritual guide was . . . Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda operative who was then ministering to some of the eventual 9/11 suicide-hijackers. Awlaki himself had led the MSA chapter at Colorado State University in the early nineties. [He] is far from the only jihadist to hone his supremacist ideology in the MSA’s friendly confines. In the eighties, Wael Jalaidan ran the MSA at the University of Arizona. He would soon go on to help Osama bin Laden found al-Qaeda; he also partnered with the Abedin family’s patron, Abdullah Omar Naseef, to establish the [aforementioned] Rabita Trust — formally designated as a terrorist organization under U.S. law due to its funding of al-Qaeda.

While Huma Abedin “served as one of Secretary of State Clinton’s top staffers and advisers at the State Department”, it became US foreign policy to support the Muslim Brotherhood. 

During that time, the State Department strongly supported abandoning the federal government’s prior policy against official dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood. State, furthermore, embraced a number of Muslim Brotherhood positions that undermine both American constitutional rights and our alliance with Israel.

To name just a few manifestations of this policy sea change:

  • The State Department had an emissary in Egypt who trained operatives of the Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations in democracy procedures.
  • The State Department announced that the Obama administration would be “satisfied” with the election of a Muslim Brotherhood–dominated government in Egypt.
  • Secretary Clinton personally intervened to reverse a Bush-administration ruling that barred Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the Brotherhood’s founder and son of one of its most influential early leaders, from entering the United States.
  • The State Department collaborated with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of governments heavily influenced by the Brotherhood, in seeking to restrict American free-speech rights in deference to sharia proscriptions against negative criticism of Islam.
  • The State Department excluded Israel, the world’s leading target of terrorism, from its “Global Counterterrorism Forum,” a group that brings the United States together with several Islamist governments, prominently including its co-chair, Turkey — which now finances Hamas and avidly supports the flotillas that seek to break Israel’s blockade of Hamas. At the forum’s kickoff, Secretary Clinton decried various terrorist attacks and groups; but she did not mention Hamas or attacks against Israel — in transparent deference to the Islamist governments, which echo the Brotherhood’s position that Hamas is not a terrorist organization and that attacks against Israel are not terrorism.
  • The State Department and the Obama administration waived congressional restrictions in order to transfer $1.5 billion dollars in aid to Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood’s victory in the parliamentary elections.
  • The State Department and the Obama administration waived congressional restrictions in order to transfer millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian territories notwithstanding that Gaza is ruled by the terrorist organization Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch.
  • The State Department and the administration hosted a contingent from Egypt’s newly elected parliament that included not only Muslim Brotherhood members but a member of the Islamic Group (Gamaa al-Islamiyya), which is formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization. The State Department refused to provide Americans with information about the process by which it issued a visa to a member of a designated terrorist organization, about how the members of the Egyptian delegation were selected, or about what security procedures were followed before the delegation was allowed to enter our country.
  • On a trip to Egypt, Secretary Clinton pressured General Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the military junta then governing the country, to surrender power to the parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and the then–newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, a top Brotherhood official. She also visited with Morsi; immediately after his victory, Morsi had proclaimed that his top priorities included pressuring the United States to release the Blind Sheikh. Quite apart from the Brotherhood’s self-proclaimed “grand jihad” to destroy the United States . . . the group’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, publicly called for jihad against the United States in an October 2010 speech. After it became clear the Brotherhood would win the parliamentary election, Badie said the victory was a stepping stone to “the establishment of a just Islamic caliphate.”

As more recent events remind us, this is not an exhaustive account of Obama-administration coziness with the Muslim Brotherhood. It is just some of the lowlights.

When a handful of House conservatives tried to draw the attention of the State Department’s inspector general to some of these matters – wondering how on earth someone with Ms. Abdein’s background could have qualified for a top-secret security clearance – they were castigated by the Obama White House and the Beltway Republican establishment.

As reaffirmed in the last 24 hours, Ms. Abedin’s connections to prominent Islamic-supremacist figures and groups are deemed unsuitable for public discussion – Egyptians may be able to eject the Muslim Brotherhood, but in today’s Washington it is raising questions about the Muslim Brotherhood that gets you run out of town.

Naturally, what did get Washington chattering was a scandal far more typical in Clinton circles — the lucrative arrangement Ms. Abedin struck with Mrs. Clinton’s State Department that allowed her, after returning from maternity leave, to draw a $135,000 State Department salary while remaining in New York, not actually working at Foggy Bottom, and moonlighting as a “strategic consultant” for an outfit called Teneo – founded by Bill Clinton’s chum Doug Band.

Andrew McCarthy ends his article on a note of justified outrage, which we share with him.

What a racket. The marriage to Huma Abedin, a Clinton insider, enables Anthony Weiner to resurrect a debased career and deflect attention from his psychotic antics even as he continues them. The marriage to Anthony Weiner, a prominent Jewish progressive, enables Huma Abedin to deflect attention from her associations with various Islamic supremacists even as, during her tenure as a top State Department official, American policy embraces Islamic supremacists.

This political story is extremely obscene. Yet the prurient news media will not tell it.

 

* Diana West has recently published an important book, American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character (St. Martin’s Press, New York), in which she demonstrates that the demonized Joseph McCarthy was right to have done what he did.

The marriage of Julia 1

The prime lesson of the last 100 years for political leaders and heads of government is: if you go left you will take your country to economic failure.

It is a lesson that President Obama either has not learnt, or has learnt well and wants just that result.

At his second inauguration (painful words!), “the apostle of the ever-expanding state” delivered “an ode to collectivity”. So Charles Krauthammer writes.

The media herd is stunned to discover that Barack Obama is a man of the left. After 699 teleprompted presidential speeches, the commentariat was apparently still oblivious. Until Monday’s inaugural address, that is.

Where has everyone been these four years? The only surprise is that Obama chose his second inaugural, generally an occasion for “malice toward none” ecumenism, to unveil so uncompromising a left-liberal manifesto.

But the substance was no surprise.

After all, Obama had unveiled his transformational agenda in his very first address to Congress, four years ago. It was, I wrote at the time, “the boldest social democratic manifesto ever issued by a U.S. president.”

Nor was it mere talk. Obama went on to essentially nationalize health care, 18% of the U.S. economy — after passing an $833 billion stimulus that precipitated an unprecedented expansion of government spending.

Washington now spends 24% of GDP, fully one-fifth higher than the postwar norm of 20%.

Obama’s ambitions were derailed by the 2010 midterm shellacking that cost him the House. But now that he’s won again, the revolution is back, as announced in Monday’s inaugural address.

It was a paean to big government. At its heart was Obama’s pledge to (1) defend unyieldingly the 20th century welfare state and (2) expand it unrelentingly for the 21st.

The first part of that agenda — clinging zealously to the increasingly obsolete structures of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — is the very definition of reactionary liberalism.

Social Security was created when life expectancy was 62. Medicare was created when modern medical technology was in its infancy. Today’s radically different demographics and technology have rendered these programs, as structured, unsustainable. Everyone knows that without reform they’ll swallow up the rest of the budget.

As for the second part — enlargement — Obama had already begun that in his first term with ObamaCare.

Monday’s address reinstated yet another grand Obama project — healing the planet. It promised a state-created green energy sector, massively subsidized (even as the state’s regulatory apparatus squeezes fossil fuels, killing coal today, shale gas tomorrow).

The playbook is well known. As Czech President (and economist) Vaclav Klaus once explained, environmentalism is the successor to failed socialism as justification for all-pervasive rule by a politburo of experts. Only now, it acts in the name of not the proletariat but the planet.

Monday’s address also served to disabuse the fantasists of any Obama interest in fiscal reform or debt reduction. This speech was spectacularly devoid of any acknowledgment of the central threat to the postindustrial democracies (as already seen in Europe) — the crisis of an increasingly insolvent entitlement state.

On the contrary. Obama is the apostle of the ever-expanding state. His speech was an ode to the collectivity.

For Obama, nothing lies between citizen and state. It is a desert, within which the isolated citizen finds protection only in the shadow of Leviathan.

Put another way, this speech is the perfect homily for the marriage of Julia — the Obama campaign’s atomized citizen, coddled from cradle to grave — and the state.

In the eye of history, Obama’s second inaugural is a direct response to Ronald Reagan’s first. On Jan. 20, 1981, Reagan had proclaimed: “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

And then he succeeded in bending the national consensus to his ideology — as confirmed 15 years later when the next Democratic president declared, “The era of big government is over.”

So said Bill Clinton, who then proceeded to abolish welfare. Obama is no Clinton. He doesn’t abolish entitlements; he keeps old ones and creates new ones to pursue a vision of a more just social order where fighting inequality and leveling social differences are government’s great task.

Obama said in 2008 that Reagan “changed the trajectory of America” in a way that Clinton did not.

He meant that Reagan had transformed the political zeitgeist, while Clinton accepted and validated the new Reaganite norm.

Not Obama. His mission is to redeem and resurrect the 50-year pre-Reagan liberal ascendancy.

And take it as far left as he possibly can. To mold a poorer, more subservient, more weakly defended, mediocre America under dictatorial government.

How far will Americans let him take them in that direction?

The Obamas and the fable of the Tsoig 5

Bill Clinton claims that he feels your pain. Do you believe him? Do you think it possible?

Michelle Obama, self-titled “the mom-in-chief”, wants you to understand that her communist-born-and-bred, Islam-promoting husband – incredibly the president of the USA! – should govern you because he’s a loving sort of a guy, and he cares about you:

I see the concern in his eyes … and I hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, “You won’t believe what these folks are going through, Michelle … it’s not right. We’ve got to keep working to fix this. We’ve got so much more to do.”

Do you believe he cares about each one of you? Like the Christian god is alleged to do? Do you think that even if Obama did, even if it were possible which it is not, it would be a good reason why he should govern you?

Do you think you should be loved by your government, even if it were possible for a government to love, which it is not?

Should a government act as if it were loving? Should citizens be nurtured by their government? Should we all be kept on Social Security, fed by food stamps, cured by a national health service, taught what to know and believe by a government department of education? Do you want to to be rocked in the arms of the state?

Do you want to live under Socialism?

Socialism (political pornography!) is secularized Christianity.

Christianity (moral pornography!) commands you to love everybody. Do you think you could? Or should? Would it be just to love bad people? Would behaving towards them lovingly instead of punitively dissuade them from doing harm?

Might you not, perhaps, feel filthied and abased by a politics slimed with such hypocrisy, affectation and sentimentality?

If so, you may appreciate the fable of the Tsoig, which now follows.

*

THE  TSOIG

The Tsoig is unique as a species in that it is both animal and plant, and also sapiens: animal in its beginning, plant in its maturity, and in both conditions able to think and talk much like us.

Tsoigs had been known on the Mainland for centuries, but at last one came to the Island.

It arrived on some raft, it was thought, since though Tsoigs can walk until the age of about one hundred they cannot swim; and had this one merely been cast on the waves, the tides would have carried it in quite a different direction. So from the very beginning, one must assume, this particular Tsoig had a positive intention of coming there – a design on the Island, one might say.

On arrival it walked at once to what it judged to be the center of the Island, and there sent down its roots which were already fairly well grown and needed only to be burrowed in for the Tsoig to attain a firm grip and commence its thenceforward vegetable life, spreading very slowly at first.

Contrary to many a tale now told of it, it never did demand that it be ‘worshipped like a God’. To attribute such an idea to it is to give it at once a totally mistaken character. It never ‘demanded’. It never ordered. It had no peremptoriness, no shortness of tone, no sharpness of expression. It had so much self-confidence that it never needed to resort to a commanding or an oracular manner. It always used a tone of gentle persuasion; it wooed, it soothed, it sympathized. There was a touch of the mournful in it at all times, to the point at last of reproachfulness, but never the least trace of insistence or officiousness.

‘Confide in me,’ it would plead, in a rather bland, not very deep voice. ‘Let me be a comfort to you in your trouble.’ That sort of thing. ‘You can rely on me.’ ‘Come and tell me all about it.’ And when you had told it what you had to tell, when you had confided in it, it would say little but ‘There, there, I am sorry.’ For it was not a solution-giver. It hardly seemed to want troubles to end or ills to be cured. Indeed, some biologists are of the opinion that Tsoigs need human sorrow for survival as they need air, water, light and the salts of the earth: that they thrive on sadness, regret, heartbreak; that human sighs are the food of its spirit. And of course if a Tsoig by its spiritual nature could take in our unhappiness, transmute it, and give out happiness, as by its ordinary vegetable nature it takes in the carbon-dioxide of our breath and changes it daily into the oxygen we need, the species would surely be among the most valuable of earthly creatures. However, they do nothing of the kind.

Still, this particular Tsoig was much valued for its mere willingness to absorb whatever was complained to it. Valued by women, that is. Men did not take to it.

The women liked to sit on its root-humps, leaning up against the rather soft ‘bark’ of its trunk (known in the timber and hide trades as Sorgderm, or, more colloquially, Soigeen), and telling it all sorts of nonsense that women can fortunately seldom find anyone to listen to. What the Tsoig gave them, apart from soothing sounds and plenty of attention, were its flowers – rather small, of a dullish pink, and of a slightly unpleasant scent if any at all. It shed them lavishly on these ladies, who persistently expressed their gratitude and insisted to their indifferent husbands that it was ‘a kind old thing’.

But most of all it was sought by the children. And to confound the theories of biologists it seemed to require nothing of children but their delight. It tossed them in its branches, gently and tirelessly, and set them down again lightly on the ground. ‘Climb me, jump on me, play all over me,’ it invited them, and they did. ‘I love, love, love you, little ones,’ it would say, in a phlegm-thick voice, so that it sounded like ‘I l-huv, l-huv, l-huv you, l-hittle ones’.

And on them it showered its all-the-year-round fruits, luscious things, over-ripe as soon as formed, full of juice (known as Tsoigdrain), thin of skin, so that they always burst, you could never find one whole, and the flavour was sickly-sweet, relished by children – and at first by the women, who soon got tired of it. Certain medicinal properties were attributed to Tsoigdrain, but were never proved. The children would overeat of course, and sometimes get sick on the stuff. And all of them, as they grew up, would begin to find the fruit too cloying, and it was seldom that anyone over the age of fifteen would touch Tsoigsimmon (as the fruits of the Tsoig are called).

And when a boy reached the age of fifteen or thereabouts – a little later if he was backward, a little sooner if he was forward – he would not only stop eating the plenty which the Tsoig provided, but would even start shunning the tree, as he might an aunt who continued to treat him as a child too long: and even perhaps developed some sort of unconfessed fear of the thing – its reaching branches, its spreading roots, its ‘come hither’ tones, its ‘I I-huv you so, why don’t you come close and let me I-huv you, I don’t ask anything of you but that you let me l-huv, l-huv, l-huv you’. It moaned too, and got rather moist round the joins where the branches came out of the bole, and gummy in the ‘eyes’ where lesser branches had dropped off.

But the children continued to play on it, and women to confide in it until the men began to notice that the Tsoig was spreading too far and taking up too much space.

‘You must stop spreading,’ they told it, ‘or you will grow right into and through and over our houses, and take up so much of the land that we shall not be able to use it.’

‘I only want to please you all,’ it replied in a hurt tone, ‘and protect you all, and shelter you all, and feed you all … if you have me to do all this for you, you do not need houses or land.’

‘Stop!’ they begged it. But the Tsoig shed gummy tears, and spread a little further, saying, ‘Why do you retreat from me, and speak to me so roughly? Why do you want to hurt my feelings? I only wish for your good. I do everything for you. I l-huv you. Come near and let me embrace you. Here, here, here are flowers for you. Here is fruit – eat, eat!’

‘Just don’t go too far,’ the men said, who didn’t really want to be hard on the Tsoig. And grumbling a bit they went away and left it to the women and children.

But the Tsoig spread further yet, and went on spreading, until at last the men had to tell it, ‘You must go. Get up if you can, and leave the Island. If you can’t we’ll help you. But you must let go with your roots, and take them up, and let us lift you and put you on a raft and take you to the Mainland. There is not enough room on the Island for you and us. Either you must go or we must go, and as we are many and you are one, we suggest that you go somewhere else, where there is more space for you.’

The tree moaned and wept. But it told the Islanders that it would forgive them their cruelty. And the children were full of compassion for the Tsoig, and sat in its branches, and leant their cheeks against its soggy derm, and stroked the oozy bumps and humps of the good old Tsoig.

So the tree stayed, and spread. And it shed so much fruit on the earth that the rank smell of the Island was detectable far out at sea, and even on the Mainland.

‘The Island has been cursed with a Tsoig,’ the Mainlanders said. ‘They should have killed it before it rooted itself firmly. Once a Tsoig has established itself there’s no way to destroy it. The Islanders will soon be putting out to sea.’

‘Tsoig,’ the people of the Island pleaded – this time the women too, ‘please, please go, or else we must leave our homes, and leave the Island, and leave you here all alone. We know that you like to be where there are people. You love people, don’t you? Well, if you went to the Mainland and took root there, all the people of the Mainland would come and see you, and there are many more people there than here, and plenty of room for all. You could spread and spread for another hundred years. And you would not be lonely. But on the Island there is not enough room for you and us. We are many and you are one. You should go. If we go we shall be scattered, separated from one another. We shall have to go to strange new lands and work hard for years to build new houses and recover what we have lost. And we shall be lonely, and homesick for the Island we were born on.’

But the Tsoig only wept, and spread faster, further and further, and splattered its round wet fruits on them.

Then the women took the children into the houses and shut the doors and drew the curtains and the men fetched axes and saws. Ignoring the sobs and cries of the old tree, they hacked furiously at it. But they soon found there was no way of cutting it down or cutting it back; for as fast as a Tsoig is wounded it heals itself, and as fast as its limbs are cut off it grows more, stronger than before, and it had grown too tough to be poisoned. Whatever was poured on its roots and leaves seemed only to nourish it.

So the people had no choice but to get into boats and put out to sea.

Because of the tides those who left from one side of the Island never again found those who left from the other side. Families were broken, and friends lost each other. And worst of all some of the smaller children were snatched up at the last moment by the Tsoig, swung up high, and held fast and unreachable in the embrace of the tree they had trusted. Their parents could not rescue them, and had to abandon them to the Tsoig.

To these young children, clasped helplessly and desperately weeping in the coils of the wet, fruit-erupting branches of the ever more lovingly, closely holding, the ever growing, ever more tightly tangling tree, the Tsoig expounded the moral of its story: ‘L–huv Conquers All.’

 

Jillian Becker

He said he said 0

The pointless Israeli-Palestinian talks proceed. Or maybe not.

Tuesday the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, stormed out of a meeting with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon. The cause of his fury? He proposed that there should be a Palestinian state in which only Arabs and no Jews would be allowed to live, and a second Palestinian state  - where the State of Israel with its mixed population of Jews and Arabs now exists – in which Jews would be allowed to go on living. At least some Jews. For a time. Perhaps.

Ayalon rejected the proposal.

So if the talks that were started without any remote chance of bringing any result whatsoever break down despite all Obama’s pressure to keep them up, it will be Israel’s fault.

It’s always Israel’s fault when the dear old talks break down.

Bill Clinton now blames Natan Sharansky for the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian talks held under his auspices at Camp David in 2000, when Prime Minister Barak made an extremely generous offer to Arafat, which Arafat turned down.

[Foreign Policy magazine] claimed that Clinton talked about a conversation that he had with Natan Sharansky, who, according to Clinton, was the only Israeli minister to reject the comprehensive peace agreement Clinton proposed at the Camp David Summit in 2000.

“I said, ‘Natan, what is the deal [about not supporting the peace deal],’” Clinton was quoted as saying. “He said, ‘I can’t vote for this, I’m Russian… I come from one of the biggest countries in the world to one of the smallest. You want me to cut it in half. No, thank you.’”

Sharansky … denied Wednesday that the alleged conversation ever took place. “A report of President Clinton’s comments has been brought to my attention which I hope is inaccurate.”

“However, as to the basic facts, I was never at Camp David and never had the opportunity to discuss the negotiations there with President Clinton,” said Sharansky.

I suppose it depends on what “said” means. If Sharansky “said” no in Clinton’s imagination, does that mean Clinton is lying?

Good grief! Would Bill Clinton lie?

Posted under Israel, News, Palestinians by Jillian Becker on Thursday, September 23, 2010

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Of liberty, libertarians, and charity 0

A nice column by John Stossel at Townhall explains what a libertarian is/believes.

We think it likely that most of our regular readers are, like ourselves, libertarians, and need no such explanation.

Still, the column is a good read. Here’s a taste of it:

Libertarians want government to leave people alone — in both the economic and personal spheres. Leave us free to pursue our hopes and dreams, as long as we don’t hurt anybody else.

Ironically, that used to be called “liberal,” which has the same root as “liberty.” Several hundred years ago, liberalism was a reaction against the stifling rules imposed by aristocracy and established religion.

I wish I could call myself “liberal” now. But the word has been turned on its head. It now means health police, high taxes, speech codes and so forth. …

When I first explained libertarianism to my wife, she said: “That’s cruel! What about the poor and the weak? Let them starve?”

For my FBN [Fox Business Network] show tomorrow, I ask some prominent libertarians that question, including Jeffrey Miron, who teaches economics at Harvard.

“It might in some cases be a little cruel,” Miron said. “But it means you’re not taking from people who’ve worked hard to earn their income (in order) to give it to people who have not worked hard.”

But isn’t it wrong for people to suffer in a rich country?

“The number of people who will suffer is likely to be very small. Private charity … will provide support for the vast majority who would be poor in the absence of some kind of support. When government does it, it creates an air of entitlement that leads to more demand for redistribution, till everyone becomes a ward of the state.” …

David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, took the discussion to a deeper level.

“Instead of asking, ‘What should we do about people who are poor in a rich country?’ The first question is, ‘Why is this a rich country?’ …

“Five hundred years ago, there weren’t rich countries in the world. There are rich countries now because part of the world is following basically libertarian rules: private property, free markets, individualism.” …

Before the New Deal, people of modest means banded together to help themselves. These organizations were crowded out when government co-opted their insurance functions, which included inexpensive medical care.

Boaz indicts the welfare state for the untold harm it’s done in the name of the poor.

“What we find is a system that traps people into dependency. … You should be asking advocates of that system, ‘Why don’t you care about the poor?’”

I agree. It appears that when government sets out to solve a problem, not only does it violate our freedom, it also accomplishes the opposite of what it set out to do.

It should be taken as a general rule that everything government does it does badly. Even the one thing it alone can and must do – protect the nation and the individual – it messes up. The less we allow government to do, the better for all of us.

As for helping the helpless (other than privately), here’s an idea. Why not shift all responsibility for welfare on to the churches? After all, Christians claim that their earthly mission is indiscriminate loving, giving, caring. The churches will need much more money than their congregations willingly give, but they can easily raise it from liberals, from innumerable Bill Clinton types who say they feel the pain of others, from all who sigh for the poor because it makes them feel they’re good persons –  a numerous crowd in every Western nation. Let the churches have the honor of being the soul distributors of such prospectively vast funds to those condemned to be, through no fault of their own, at the receiving end of charity; and also – because they’ll not be able to avoid it – to those who’ll demand a share whether they need it or not.

Aide-memoire 3

Here’s a happy snap: the Clintons with the Godfather of Terrorism

Posted under Commentary, Diplomacy, Islam, middle east, Muslims, Terrorism, United States by Jillian Becker on Saturday, March 27, 2010

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America and the Taliban: a dialogue of the credulous and the cunning 1

There’s an old quip about the British Foreign Office, that just as the Ministry of Defence is for defence [British spelling], the Foreign Office is for foreigners. Another in similar vein: They found a mole in the Foreign Office – he was working for Britain. And who can forget if he’s once seen it the episode of ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ in which an especially slithery FO official, informed by the PM that he’s being posted to Israel, protests, ‘But you know I’m on the Arab side!’ and the PM retorts, ‘I thought you were on our side.’

Career diplomats, at least in the First World, tend to lose sight of what their job is really all about – to look after the interests of their country in dealings with other countries – and instead come to believe that their high, almost priestly, calling is to maintain amicable relations with their foreign counterparts; so as soon as a conflict of interest arises, they are ready to negotiate the terms of their surrender. In Britain this standard maneuver is called the pre-emptive cringe.

A perfect illustration is the US State Department’s transactions with the Taliban. The history is related in some detail by Michael Rubin in Commentary (Taking Tea with the Taliban, February 2010). ‘The story the documents tell,’ he writes, ‘is one of engagement for its own sake – without any consideration given to the behavior or sincerity of an unambiguously hostile interlocutor.’

The exercise in futility, a dialogue of the credulous and the cunning, began in February 1995 when US diplomats met seven Taliban spokesmen in Kandahar. The diplomats wanted information. They got none. Therefore they reported that ‘the Taliban appeared well-disposed toward the United States’.

‘Later the same week, another US diplomat met a Taliban “insider” who told the official what he wanted to hear: the Taliban liked the United States, had no objection to elections in Afghanistan, and were suspicious of both Saudi and Pakistani intentions. This was nonsense, but it was manna for American diplomats who wanted to believe that engagement was possible.’

America wanted the Taliban to stop sheltering Osama bin Laden. When the Taliban took Kabul and became the de facto government of Afghanistan, the US ambassador to Pakistan, Thomas W. Simons, met with Mullah Ghaus, who bore the title of Foreign Minister, to ‘discuss the fact’ that they were giving safe haven to terrorists. Ghaus said there weren’t any terrorists, but if the US would give the Taliban money, they might possibly be ‘more helpful’ to the US. What could he have meant – that they’d find some terrorists lurking about after all? Clarification was not requested, however, and by this hopeful suggestion Simons apparently felt much encouraged.

Even without getting American aid, the Taliban had scored a success. They had violently seized power, but were being negotiated with by the US State Department as a legitimate government. It was enough and more than enough to gratify them, and they had achieved it without making a single concession: they still sheltered bin Laden, and could carry on savagely torturing prisoners and making the lives of Afghan women unrelenting hell without it costing them anything at all.

The US was grateful to the Taliban just for being willing to talk, and the Taliban were grateful to the US for being willing just to talk – because they knew that as long as the talk went on, the Americans would do nothing else. It was a match made in diplomat’s heaven. But what the State Department or President Clinton thought they now had to bargain with, only heaven could tell.

In 1997 Madeleine Albright became Secretary of State and was eager to continue the engagement. ‘Diplomats met Taliban representatives every few weeks … What resulted was theater: the Taliban would stonewall on terrorism but would also dangle just enough hope to keep diplomats calling.’

The very refusal on the part of the Taliban to expel bin Laden seemed to the Clinton administration a compelling reason to go on talking. Not to talk to them would ‘isolate’ them, and that, the National Security Council reckoned, would be a dangerous consequence. Instead they were to be shown yet more goodwill by the US: they were given the money they’d asked for. Of course the funds were carefully labeled: this for providing schools for girls; this for sowing new crops in the fields that had hitherto grown only poppies for the heroin trade. The Taliban took the money, spent it on arms or whatever they liked, continued to deny education to girls, left the poppies in the fields, and pocketed the lesson that the more obstinate they were the more they’d get from the United States.

The US had no compunction about leaving the Northern Alliance isolated, ‘the group of one-time rebels and chieftains that constituted the only serious resistance to the Taliban’. In April 1998 the American ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, went to Afghanistan and deceived himself into believing that he brokered a cease-fire between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban, while in fact the fighting between them intensified and continued until the US invasion three years later.

For yet more talks, the Clinton administration then welcomed Taliban delegates into America. The issues were again the treatment of women and terrorists using Afghanistan as a base. An ‘acting minister of Islam and culture’ explained that it was Islamic custom to treat women the way the Taliban did, implying that in the name of the American idea of multicultural tolerance Americans could raise no objection to it. As for bin Laden, they promised to keep him isolated and subdued.

So subdued was he kept that shortly afterwards, in August 1998, his al-Qaeda terrorists carried out their plots to attack the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. Clinton retaliated by having a factory flattened in the Sudan, destroying a terrorist training camp with a cruise missile in Afghanistan – and continuing diplomatic engagement with the Taliban.

The Taliban were furious about the training-camp. Mullah Omar, ‘spiritual head’ of the Taliban, phoned the State Department and complained angrily about it. The plots had not been hatched in Afghanistan he insisted, and it was grossly unfair of the US to avenge itself on his country. But he was open to dialogue, he conceded – to the relief of Madeleine Albright. The Taliban’s ‘foreign minister’ Maulawi Wakil Ahmed, met the US ambassador to Pakistan, William B. Milam, and reiterated that they would not expel bin Laden, whose presence in Afghanistan he referred to as a ‘problem’, by which he might have meant for the Americans than rather than the Taliban, but the word made Milam feel hopeful. The ‘diplomatic pressure’, he concluded, was working, and must be kept up. So the talks continued.

When a court in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan found bin Laden not guilty of being involved in the East African attacks, a suspicion rose in the mind of Alan Eastham, a diplomat in the Islamabad legation. “It is possible that the Taliban are simply playing for time,” he wrote; but nevertheless he thought “it is at least [also] possible that they – some of them – are serious about finding a peaceful way out.” [My italics]

Unable or unwilling to see that the Taliban and al-Qaeda were two claws of the same beast, and disregarding all proofs that the Taliban were acting in bad faith, the Clinton State Department insistently proceeded with its pointless, fruitless, self-defeating dialogue. The Taliban and al-Qaeda ‘exploited American naiveté and sincerity at the ultimate cost of several thousand [American] lives.’ For while the talks were proceeding, bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were putting their heads together in Tora Bora to plot 9/11.

When George W. Bush became president, the talks were broken off. And when, after 9/11, America struck at Taliban-ruled, al-Qaeda-harboring Afghanistan, it won a swift military victory – but then lingered on to try and transform the primitive tribal nation with a long history of unremitting internecine strife into a peaceful democracy.

The Taliban fought back, and are winning. And President Obama is returning to the policy of engagement. His administration has revived the fiction that there is a good Taliban and a bad Taliban, and in their desperation to end the war without seeming to be beaten, they are trying to include the Taliban in the farcical ‘democratic’ government that has been established under American auspices. It’s a weird concept: you win a war if you empower your enemy, pretending that he has been born again as your friend.

Now General McChrystal will try to persuade America’s allies at a London conference that the surge he is planning with 30,000 extra troops will lead to a negotiated settlement. But the Financial Times of January 25, 2010, reports that the general acknowledges his ‘growing skepticism about [winning?] the war’.

This seems to be the best he is hoping for: ‘By using the reinforcements to create an arc of secure territory stretching from the Taliban’s southern heartlands to Kabul, Gen McChrystal aims to weaken the insurgency to the point where its leaders would accept some form of settlement with Afghanistan’s government. … But the general warned that violence would rise as insurgents stepped up bombings to try to undermine his strategy.’

The allies he needs to persuade at the conference ‘suffered a 70% rise in casualties last year ‘ and they doubt the credibility of the Afghan government. No wonder there is not much vigorous, confident hope to be detected in the general’s expectations of his allies’ response or in his own strategy if the FT report is to be trusted. It conveys deeply dispiriting indications of McChrystal’s state of mind. The one thing it claims that he and the Taliban agree on is that ‘110,000 foreign troops should go home’. The Afghan government, it says, has ‘little incentive to alter the status quo while atop a lucrative war economy’. And ‘with Barack Obama planning to start withdrawing US troops in mid-2011, the Taliban may believe it has far more resolve than the west’ – meaning, presumably, that it has only to wait and the whole country will be back in its bloodstained hands again.

McChrystal bears the responsibility of saving Obama’s face, which unfortunately is also America’s face. For this desperate if not entirely ignoble purpose the lives of brave soldiers in the magnificent fighting forces of the United States are now being hazarded.

Meanwhile bin Laden apparently lives and al-Qaeda grows, and they continue to plot death and destruction. It seems that diplomacy is not after all the most effective means of stopping them.

Jillian Becker January 26, 2010

Killing with kindness 0

It is extremely bad for poor people to become dependent on hand-outs from government. It is also extremely bad for poor nations to become dependent on hand-outs from rich nations. Haiti is a case in point. It is a country of despair, and foreign aid has helped to make it so.

From the Wall Street Journal, by Bret Stephens:

It’s been a week since Port-au-Prince was destroyed by an earthquake. In the days ahead, Haitians will undergo another trauma as rescue efforts struggle, and often fail, to keep pace with unfolding emergencies. After that—and most disastrously of all—will be the arrival of the soldiers of do-goodness, each with his brilliant plan to save Haitians from themselves.

“Haiti needs a new version of the Marshall Plan—now,” writes Andres Oppenheimer in the Miami Herald, by way of complaining that the hundreds of millions currently being pledged are miserly. Economist Jeffrey Sachs proposes to spend between $10 and $15 billion dollars on a five-year development program. “The obvious way for Washington to cover this new funding,” he writes, “is by introducing special taxes on Wall Street bonuses.” In a New York Times op-ed, former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush profess to want to help Haiti “become its best.” Some job they did of that when they were actually in office.

Kindness comes to Haiti, but too much kindness can kill.

All this works to salve the consciences of people whose dimly benign intention is to “do something.” It’s a potential bonanza for the misery professionals of aid agencies and NGOs, never mind that their livelihoods depend on the very poverty whose end they claim to seek…

For actual Haitians, however, just about every conceivable aid scheme beyond immediate humanitarian relief will lead to more poverty, more corruption and less institutional capacity. It will benefit the well-connected at the expense of the truly needy, divert resources from where they are needed most, and crowd out local enterprise. And it will foster the very culture of dependence the country so desperately needs to break.

How do I know this? It helps to read a 2006 report from the National Academy of Public Administration, usefully titled “Why Foreign Aid to Haiti Failed.” The report summarizes a mass of documents from various aid agencies describing their lengthy records of non-accomplishment in the country.

Here, for example, is the World Bank—now about to throw another $100 million at Haiti—on what it achieved in the country between 1986 and 2002: “The outcome of World Bank assistance programs is rated unsatisfactory (if not highly so), the institutional development impact, negligible, and the sustainability of the few benefits that have accrued, unlikely.”

Why was that? The Bank noted that “Haiti has dysfunctional budgetary, financial or procurement systems, making financial and aid management impossible.” It observed that “the government did not exhibit ownership by taking the initiative for formulating and implementing [its] assistance program.” Tellingly, it also acknowledged the “total mismatch between levels of foreign aid and government capacity to absorb it,” another way of saying that the more foreign donors spent on Haiti, the more the funds went astray.

But this still fails to get at the real problem of aid to Haiti, which has less to do with Haiti than it does with the effects of aid itself. “The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape,” James Shikwati, a Kenyan economist, told Der Spiegel in 2005. “For God’s sake, please just stop.”

Take something as seemingly straightforward as food aid. “At some point,” Mr. Shikwati explains, “this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unscrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the U.N.’s World Food Program.” …

A better approach recognizes the real humanity of Haitians by treating them—once the immediate and essential tasks of rescue are over—as people capable of making responsible choices. Haiti has some of the weakest property protections in the world, as well as some of the most burdensome business regulations. In 2007, it received 10 times as much in aid ($701 million) as it did in foreign investment.

Reversing those figures is a task for Haitians alone, which the outside world can help by desisting from trying to kill them with kindness. Anything short of that and the hell that has now been visited on this sad country will come to seem like merely its first circle.

And from Slate, by Anne Applebaum :

Outside expertise will be unacceptable to many Haitians, who will see it as a colonial imposition, unwarranted interference in local affairs, cultural imperialism. Armed U.S. Marines may wind up in fire fights with .. violent gangs. Local elites—those who remain—may plot to swindle the aid missions out of their food and money.

I hope I am wrong. I am sure there are optimists out there, people who think this is Haiti’s chance to reconstruct itself, literally and figuratively, to rebuild government institutions, to attract donors and investment. Bill Clinton is such an optimist, and I am very, very glad that he and his wife spent their honeymoon in Haiti. How fortunate, at this moment, that the country has such powerful friends. Yet I also know that a successful recovery and reconstruction will require not just friends, not just money, and not just optimism, but a profound cultural and political change, the kind of change that normally takes decades. And Haiti does not have decades, it has days—maybe hours—before fresh disasters strike.

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