Ending the pax Americana 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then comes what should be a shocking observation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What lies behind 0

The government of Turkey and its terrorist group IHH, using an assortment of useful Western idiots as cover, planned and carried out the recent incident off the coast of Gaza when Israelis enforcing the blockade of Gaza were attacked and some of the terrorists were killed. President Obama called it a “tragedy”. It was certainly not a tragedy that nine Islamic terrorists were killed; it was a small triumph. But the motivation behind the Turkish plot could be bringing about a tragedy on an immense scale.

Ryan Mauro writes this (in part) about Turkey and its Prime Minister Erdogan:

The most significant outcome of the Mavi Marmara incident is that there can no longer be any doubt that Turkey has joined the anti-Western bloc that includes Hamas, Iran and Syria. The Muslim country was once devotedly secular, an ally of Israel, and remains a member of NATO [scandalously and dangerously – it should have been expelled – JB], but under the direction of Prime Minister Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (often referred to as the AKP), Turkey has gone in the completely opposite direction with enormous strategic consequences. …

Erdogan … founded the AKP [in 2001], which took a omore moderate line, portraying itself as committed to separation of mosque and state but “faithful governance,” as Dr. Essam El-Erian, the chief of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political bureau, described the AKP’s “moderate Islamist” ideology. There was no anti-Western rhetoric and the party strongly supported membership in the European Union. [Of course they did – they wanted to inject as huge Muslim population into the EU.] The group won a large victory in the 2002 elections, resulting in Erdogan taking the post of Prime Minister.

Dr. El-Erian praised Erdogan’s victory, saying that it was the result of the “exposing of the failure of the secular trend.” El-Erian confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood had close ties to the AKP, but the West treated Turkey as if nothing had changed. It wasn’t until Turkey steadfastly refused to allow U.S. soldiers to transit their territory to overthrow Saddam Hussein [which was when and why it should have been expelled from NATO.] that the West began questioning the allegiance of Erdogan’s government.

The Erdogan government soon began a concerted effort to fuel anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment, knowing that such feelings help the AKP politically and hurt its opponents in the secular military that have long ties to the West. The Turkish media consistently reported alleged U.S. atrocities, fanning the already massive anti-war sentiment. The outrageous claims can only be compared to the anti-Israeli propaganda seen in the Arab world and Iran, echoing similar themes such as the use of chemical weapons against civilians and the harvesting of organs from killed Iraqis.

The AKP won an even larger share of the vote in the July 2007 election and had even more dominance over the government. Since then, the ideology of Erdogan has become more apparent as Turkish opinion has become less hostile to anti-Western Islamism. Shortly after the victory, Turkey’s moves towards Iran and other enemies of the West became more visible and aggressive. ..

Erdogan’s government simultaneously became more anti-Israeli, particularly once the Israeli military offensive into Gaza began in response to the rocket attacks of Hamas. …

The Turkish-Syrian alliance began shortly after Erdogan came to power, with Syrian President Bashar Assad visiting Turkey and a free trade agreement being signed.

Turkey has also moved closer to Sudan, refusing to describe the situation in Darfur as a genocide. Erdogan’s government also opposes the International Criminal Court’s indictment of President Omar al-Bashir for human rights violations. His defense of Bashir is that “no Muslim could perpetrate a genocide.”

Now, Turkey is taking center stage in the wake of the Mavi Marmara incident. Turkey is openly considering cutting off all diplomatic ties with Israel and is saying that its warships will escort future convoys to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. There are reports that Erdogan himself may actually join a convoy. Erdogan now openly says, “I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization…”

Today, the government has begun the country’s “largest-ever crackdown” on the military, prosecuting 33 current and former military officers for allegedly planning a coup to overthrow the AKP government in 2003 including the former head of the special forces. Those arrested have been accused of planning to carry out acts of terrorism including the bombing of mosques, which they deny. Given the military’s pride in acting as the guardian of Turkey’s secularism, it isn’t surprising that elements of the military would desire to see the AKP overthrown. …

Erdogan’s defense of the vessel [the Mavi Marmara] owned by the IHH, a Turkish Islamist group tied to Hamas and other terrorist activity, is particularly insightful. Any true opponent of terrorism and radical Islamism would ban the group or at least officially investigate them. In 1997, the Turkish authorities raided the IHH’s office in Istanbul and made numerous arrests. IHH operatives were found with weapons-related materials and the French counterterrorism magistrate said that they were planning on supporting jihadists in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. “The essential goal of this Association was to illegally arm its membership for overthrowing democratic, secular, and constitutional order present in Turkey and replacing it with an Islamic state founded on the Shariah,” the French magistrate’s report said.

If the goal of the IHH is to establish Sharia Law in Turkey, and Erdogan’s government is describing them as a “charity,” what does that say about Erdogan’s plans? …

The West’s loss of Turkey has frightening strategic consequences. They are so frightening that the West refused to acknowledge the trend until it became undeniable in recent weeks. …

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are hostile to Iran’s ambitions now face an even more threatening bloc that has been enlarged by the defection of Turkey. The temptation for them to surrender the mantle of leadership to the Iranian-Syrian-Turkish bloc in order to save themselves will now reach unprecedented levels, regardless of whether Iran obtains nuclear weapons or not.

To make matters worse, Erdogan’s prestige as the preeminent challenger of Israel will lead to competition with Iran, sparking an escalation where each side tries to establish superior anti-Israeli and anti-Western credentials. Israel is now in its most isolated and dangerous situation since its birth in 1948.

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

Policy that passes understanding 0

We invite our readers to ponder this information:

From CNS News:

The State Department has awarded 1,011 special “diversity visas” allowing Yemeni nationals to immigrate to the United States since 2000, the year 17 U.S. sailors were killed when the USS Cole was attacked by terrorists in the Yemeni port of Aden.

The “diversity visas” are designed to encourage immigration from countries that do not otherwise send significant numbers of immigrants to the United States.

The State Department roster of all countries whose nationals have received “diversity visas” to immigrate to the United States in 2010, for example, shows that 2 of these immigrants will be from Luxembourg, 3 from the Solomon Islands, 4 from French Guiana, 5 from Reunion, 6 from Cape Verde, 7 from Malta, 8 from Guinea-Bissau, 9 from Comoros, 10 from Suriname–and 72 from Yemen. Nationals of the four states listed by the State Department as state sponsors of terrorism–Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria–also received “diversity visas” from the State Department to immigrate to the United States in 2010. These include 98 from Syria, 298 from Cuba, 1,084 from Sudan, and 2,773 from Iran.

That the U.S. would encourage immigration from Yemen during the past decade is of interest because of the terrorist problem in that country.

Of interest? Or is it, maybe, scandalous?

Yemen has long been a focus of U.S. security concerns because of terrorist activities there, including not only the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole but also a 2008 bombing attack on the U.S. embassy. Recently, the concerns about terrorism eminating from Yemen has intensified because Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian terrorist who attempted to detonate explosive underwear on a Delta Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, reportedly joined an al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen and was groomed there for his would-be suicide attack.

In his Saturday radio address, President Obama himself specifically pointed to Yemen as the country of origin from Abdulmuttalab’s terrorist plot, and on Sunday the State Department closed the U.S. embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa for fear of a terrorist attack.

Winning applicants are selected at random by computer and sent a notification letter. They are given an interview date at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their country, and, if they pass the interview, are allowed to enter the United States as legal permanent residents. Examples of jobs that applicants can use in lieu of a high school diploma to qualify for the diversity visa lottery range from physicist and surgeon to librarian, park ranger, and choreographer.

What Americans aren’t prepared to risk to gain a few more choreographers isn’t worth mentioning.

Trusted voices for a better world 1

How can we bear to miss it?

From Politico:

Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe plan to address negotiators at international climate talks in Copenhagen next week. …

The assistant president of Sudan [ you know, where Dafur is], Nafie Ali Nafie kicks off the speeches at noon on Wednesday. Nafie chairs the G-77 group, a block of developing nations pushing hard for more money and stricter emissions cuts from rich countries.

Mostapha Zaher, director-general of Afghanistan’s Environmental Protection Agency [who knew there was such a splendid thing?], is listed as the final speaker. …

Question 1

It ‘s not surprising but it is exasperating that Obama is now laying gifts at the feet of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the blood-soaked criminal who rules over the Sudan.

Jonathan Tobin writes:

Now the chief liberal icon of the moment [Barack Obama] has taken his philosophy of “engagement” with dictators to the next level by a policy of outreach to the government that the United States has accused of genocide in Darfur. On Monday, after months of internal arguments about the best way to deal with Sudan, the administration announced it would reward the country’s murderous dictator, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir — a man currently under indictment by the International Criminal Court for his role in directing the murder of hundreds of thousands of people — with economic incentives to try and bribe him to stop behaving in such a beastly fashion.

The idea of appeasing al-Bashir was enough to give even the Obama cheerleading squad at the New York Times editorial page pause; it demurred from its usual unflinching support to express a degree of skepticism about the idea that lifting sanctions will change the behavior of this rogue regime or cause it to no longer grant safe haven for terrorists. While this switch from sanctions to engagement fits in with the Obama foreign-policy template, can the same people who were appalled by Bush’s failure to act be persuaded that al-Bashir can be charmed into abandoning genocide?

What needs to be done is the total destruction of  the Janjaweed – the Arab Muslim terrorist bands who are killing, torturing, raping, and despoiling their non-Arab Muslim compatriots – and the execution of al-Bashir.

The question is, should America do it ?

It goes without saying that the actual leader America has now would never consider doing anything of the sort, but what is the answer in principle?

Should America use force abroad only where American interests need defending?

Or does the single superpower in the world, one that possesses the economic and military strength to intervene effectively and has a tradition of aiding other peoples in critical times, have a perpetual moral responsibility to save and protect the victims of tyrannous oppression?

Or at least to prevent genocide?

Or is the defense of freedom always in America’s interest?

Posted under Africa, Arab States, Commentary, Defense, Diplomacy, Islam, Muslims, Pacifism, Terrorism, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, October 21, 2009

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Cookies for kids and countries 0

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, Obama’s special envoy to Sudan, whose president has been indicted for war crimes, is a true believer in kindergarten diplomacy as favored by Obama and his advisers (see our post Who are you calling insane?, September 28).

REDSTATE  reports Gration as saying:

‘We’ve got to think about giving out cookies. … Kids, countries, they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement.’

Posted under Africa, Commentary, Diplomacy, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, September 29, 2009

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The despicable failure of feminism 9

Read all of the article by Robert Fulford in the National Post from which we quote this:

Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, an angry Khartoum journalist who works for the UN in Sudan, has started a campaign against shariah law by elevating a local police matter into an international embarrassment: She’s invited the world to witness her judicial flogging, thus making her case part of the struggle between religious traditionalists and independent women … 

In Khartoum, the General Discipline Police Authority patrols the streets, charged with maintaining shariah standards of public decency. Recently it raided a restaurant and arrested 13 women, including al-Hussein, for the crime of … wearing trousers.

Since 1991, that’s been a violation of the Sudanese criminal code. More precisely, it is classified as a violation of public morality. While erratically enforced, the rule is serious enough to carry a penalty of 40 lashes. Ten of the women arrested with al-Hussein pleaded guilty and received a reduced sentence of 10 lashes. But al-Hussein and two others demanded their day in court and al-Hussein decided to provoke a scandal by distributing 500 personal invitations to her trial. She expects to be found guilty (she won’t be allowed a lawyer or a chance to speak), so she informed her guests that they’ll also be expected at her flogging.

The French government has condemned the law, and in Cairo the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has launched a campaign to defend al-Hussein and the others. ANHRI also protested a suit brought by the police against another journalist, Amal Habbani, for an article praising al-Hussein ( “A Case of-Subduing a Woman’s Body”). The police claim that the mere act of defending female pants-wearing also violates General Discipline.

When stories such as al-Hussein’s flash around the world, there’s usually a missing element: The feminist movement rarely [never – JB] becomes part of the narrative. The rise of shariah law constitutes the major global change in women’s status during this era, yet Western feminists remain pathetically silent.

Feminist journalists like to speculate about the future of activism among women today, but you can leaf through a fat sheaf of their articles without encountering a mention of Muslim women. Feminist professors, for their part, show even less interest. Trolling through the 40-page program of the European Conference on Politics and Gender, held in Belfast last winter, I found feminist scholars (from Europe, the United States and Canada) dealing with women’s political opportunities, the implications for women of new medical technology, the politics of fashion and even women’s response to climate change. What I couldn’t find was even one lecture or discussion devoted to so-called “honour killing.” Nor was there any mention of the thousands upon thousands of women routinely flogged, raped, imprisoned or stoned to death, often with the tacit or explicit agreement of Islamic governments.

Jihad on the sea 0

 Walid Phares writes:

The so-called Somali pirates are strategically different from their historical predecessors in the Caribbean or from their contemporary colleagues in archipelagoes around the world. They aren’t a vast collection of individual thugs, acting as bands replicating what successful sea gangs have accomplished for centuries before them. There are too many of them, operating from extremely long shores, all using similar methods, and are backed from hinterland forces.
 
They may seem like pirates as they seize ships and negotiate for the ransom. But these water thugs actually belong to a wider chess game. The grand ensemble of the army of little boats is in fact part of a regional Jihadi apparatus being deployed in the horn of Africa and beyond. The Jihadi grand circle building in the region is not limited to the pirates but involves hostile forces from the mid Red Sea to East Africa. The Somali pirates are merely one facet of this grand circle…
 
The end aim is to create a vast zone of insecurity stretching from East Africa to the Red Sea. A closer look allows strategists to easily realize that these are the maritime passages from the Oil rich Gulf to the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal and also parts of the East African alternative routes the most economic via Cape Town… This operation is of regional-international dimensions. It is about holding these passages hostage… It is a maritime Jihad striking at the Western/international lifeline on high seas to bring about a change in balance of power…
 
The so-called pirates are being used by land-based forces to drag the enemy [the non-Muslim world] into a wider war in the region …
 
Two months ago, Eritrea and the Iranian regime signed an agreement granting naval facilities to the Khomeinist military ships to use the country’s ports and eventually build a base on the Red Sea. Last month, reports signaled an alignment of military intelligence between the Sudanese and Iranian regimes and Hezbollah’s networks in the region…
 
Read it all here.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Thursday, April 23, 2009

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The dangerous pretensions of the International Criminal Court 0

 Daniel Hannan writes in the Telegraph:

A fearful blow has been struck against national sovereignty. The International Criminal Court has launched a prosecution against a head of state – a state, moreover, that has not signed the ICC treaty. International human rights apparatchiks are enjoying the warm glow of self-righteousness; but they have just made the world a darker and more dangerous place.

Don’t get me wrong: the man they have arraigned, Omar al-Bashir, is an unutterable swine. Having seized power in a military putsch, he has maintained himself in office by displacing and terrorising millions of his citizens. Some 300,000 Sudanese are estimated to have been killed in his civil wars and, while the government does not bear sole responsibility for each of those deaths, it must be reckoned the worst offender.

How, then, could I possibly object to bringing such a monster to trial? If the defunct Sudanese legal system can’t deal with him, shouldn’t someone else?

Well, maybe: but this will mean conquering Sudan. Bashir is the head of state, the supreme repository and exemplar of Sudanese sovereignty. Indicting him amounts to a declaration of war. Now there may well be an argument for military intervention in Sudan. Quite apart from having presided over the genocidal purges in Darfur, Bashir has given the rest of the world ample cross-border provocation. He turned his country into a base for terrorists of every stripe: the Ugandan child-kidnappers of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Carlos the Jackal, even Osama bin Laden. I’m not a big fan of invading other countries but, if we’re going to pick on one, Sudan is a pretty good candidate.

Except that the international community is emphatically not proposing an invasion. The prosecution is a narcissistic act, intended to make liberal internationalists feel superior and to bolster the ICC’s damaged reputation (its first case, against a Congolese militia leader, has just collapsed) rather than to ameliorate the lot of the Sudanese. Declaring war without meaning to wage it – which is what the indictment means – will simply deter the ghastly Khartoum regime from reaching any kind of accommodation with its opponents. Rather like an insistence on unconditional surrender, the prosecution will serve chiefly to make the autocrats more determined.

That’s the problem with these international law codes. By definition, the only countries on which they have any effect are democracies: tyrants simply ignore them. For the sake of being rude about Bashir – without any practical consequences – the ICC will substantively and genuinely diminish the sovereignty of free nations

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, July 16, 2008

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