The uses of walls 1

The Berlin Wall was not defensive. It was built by the Communists to keep their serf populations from escaping. As Europe celebrates its fall, a Muslim, Shiraz Maher, writes in Standpoint about barrier walls built by Islamic states, never noticed by those who vituperatively condemn the defensive barrier Israel has erected against suicide bombers and other terrorist attackers:

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. During that time scores of other barriers and walls have gone up around the world …

Of course, the one we’ve all heard about is the Israeli security fence which attracted fierce criticism after its construction in 2003. Built in response to the Palestinian intifada which claimed more than 900 lives since September 2000, the fence has dramatically halted the number of terrorist attacks inside the country.

Excuse the pun  but from the wall-to-wall coverage it received  you could be mistaken for thinking that Israel’s decision to defend itself in this way was unprecedented. Yet, not only is this wrong but, ironically, a lot of the physical barriers currently in place are located in the ‘Muslim world’.

The Saudi-Yemeni border is just one place where a physical barrier is used by a Muslim regime to defend itself against ‘smuggling’ and ‘terrorism’. … Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen has always been problematic, providing a trafficking route for weapons smuggling. Indeed, the explosives used in the 2003 Riyadh bombings which targeted compounds housing western expatriates were blamed on Yemeni smugglers. It was not the first time Saudi Arabia blamed the Yemenis for not doing enough to stop terrorism. Yemeni smugglers are also believed to have helped facilitate the bombing campaign against US military bases in the mid-1990s.

Once the Saudi government lost confidence in Yemen’s ability to curb domestic terrorism, they decided to build a physical barrier. Much of it runs through contested territory. According to the 2000 Jeddah border treaty between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, a demilitarised ‘buffer zone’ should exist between both countries, protecting the rights of nomadic Bedouin tribes which live in the cross-border area. Yet, parts of the Saudi barrier stand inside the demilitarised zone, violating the 2000 agreement and infuriating Yemen. …

More recently, Saudi Arabia has also built a physical barrier along its border with Iraq to stop jihadists from the Kingdom going over to join the mujahideen. …

Beyond the Middle East, Iran’s 900 km border with Pakistan is currently being replaced by a concrete wall (10 feet high, 3 feet thick), fortified with steel rods. Ostensibly built to thwart drug traffickers and terrorists, the local Baloch people oppose its construction as it cuts across their land and separates communities living on either side of the divide. The opposition leader of Balochistan’s Provincial Assembley, Kachkol Ali, has bitterly opposed the wall saying his people were never consulted about it and that it cuts off families from one another. … A number of Baloch communities, particularly in the Kech district of south-western Balochistan, straddle the Iranian-Pakistani border area. After Iran began construction of its wall, many of those residing on its side were forced back across the border into Pakistan where they are separated from their families and land. …

There are plenty more examples of this within the Muslim world too. In the Western Sahara desert Morocco has built a massive wall, spanning more than 2700 km. Its primary aim is to guard against Sahrawi separatists who organised themselves into the Polisario Front – a political and terrorist movement – which seeks independence for the Sahrawi people. Much of the wall is lined with barbed wire and landmines, which is something it shares in common with parts of the Pakistan-Indian border (particularly in Kashmir).

Twenty years on from the collapse of the Berlin Wall physical barriers continue to be employed around the world. They may not be pretty, but they are effective. Indeed, even Israel’s biggest critics would have to concede that suicide bombings have fallen away sharply ever since the construction of the security fence in parts of Gaza and the West Bank. Yet, Islamists and parts of the political left obsess only about Israel but do not extend similar condemnation to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, or Pakistan. …

Posted under Commentary, Defense, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, jihad, middle east, Muslims, Saudi Arabia, Terrorism, War by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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Lessons of the fall 0

Melanie Phillips writes:

Twenty years ago today, supporters of freedom and human rights cheered and wept for joy as the Berlin Wall was torn down by jubilant young Germans.

To so many, that heady day seemed to herald the emergence of a better world. The spectre of communism had finally been laid to rest. Liberty had triumphed over tyranny.

The end of the Cold War even led some to proclaim that this was ‘the end of history’ — which was to say that liberal democracy was now the dominant and unchallengeable force in the world. However, the 9/11 attacks on America tragically proved this to be absurdly over-optimistic. The eruption of radical Islamism revealed that, while the West may have been rid of one enemy in the Soviet Union, another deadly foe had risen to take its place.

So much is, sadly, all too evident. But what is perhaps less obvious is that communism did not just vanish in a puff of historical smoke.

The Soviet Union was defeated and fell apart, for sure. But the communist ideology that fuelled it did not so much disintegrate as reconstitute itself into another, even more deadly form as the active enemy of western freedom.

Soviet Communism was a belief system whose goal was to overturn the structures of society through the control of economic and political life. This mutated into a post-communist ideology of the Left, whose no-less ambitious aim was to overturn western society through a subversive transformation of its culture. …

The collapse of communism was actually a slow-burning process. Its moral and political bankruptcy became obvious decades before that glorious Berlin day in November 1989. … But as communism slowly crumbled, those on the far-Left who remained hostile towards western civilisation found another way to realise their goal of bringing it down. This was what might be called ‘cultural Marxism’. It was based on the understanding that what holds a society together are the pillars of its culture: the structures and institutions of education, family, law, media and religion. Transform the principles that these embody and you can thus destroy the society they have shaped.

This key insight was developed in particular by an Italian Marxist philosopher called Antonio Gramsci. His thinking was taken up by Sixties radicals — who are, of course, the generation that holds power in the West today.

Gramsci understood that the working class would never rise up to seize the levers of ‘production, distribution and exchange’ as communism had prophesied. Economics was not the path to revolution. He believed instead that society could be overthrown if the values underpinning it could be turned into their antithesis: if its core principles were replaced by those of groups who were considered to be outsiders or who actively transgressed the moral codes of that society.

So he advocated a ‘long march through the institutions’ to capture the citadels of the culture and turn them into a collective fifth column, undermining from within and turning all the core values of society upside-down and inside-out. This strategy has been carried out to the letter.

The nuclear family has been widely shattered. Illegitimacy was transformed from a stigma into a ‘right’. The tragic disadvantage of fatherlessness was redefined as a neutrally-viewed ‘lifestyle choice’.

Education was wrecked, with its core tenet of transmitting a culture to successive generations replaced by the idea that what children already knew was of superior value to anything the adult world might foist upon them. The outcome … has been widespread illiteracy and ignorance and an eroded capacity for independent thought.

Law and order were similarly undermined, with criminals deemed to be beyond punishment since they were ‘victims’ of society …

The ‘rights’ agenda — commonly known as ‘political correctness’ — turned morality inside out by excusing any misdeeds by self-designated ‘victim’ groups on the grounds that such ‘victims’ could never be held responsible for what they did. …

This mindset also led to the belief that a sense of nationhood was the cause of all the ills in the world, precisely because western nations embodied western values. So transnational institutions or doctrines such as the EU, UN, international law or human rights law came to trump national laws and values.

But the truth is that to be hostile to the western nation is to be hostile to democracy. And indeed, with the development of the EU superstate we can see that the victory over one anti-democratic regime within Europe — the Soviet Union — has been followed by surrender to another.

For the republic of Euroland puts loyalty to itself higher than that to individual nations and their values. It refused to commit itself in its constitution to uphold Christianity, the foundation of western morality. …

We agree with most of what she says, but not with the value she places on the Christian religion and Christian morality. We do not believe that the greatness of Europe is due to Christianity. We share with Edward Gibbon the opinion that Christianity brought a thousand years of darkness down on Europe. What made Europe great was the Renaissance and the Enlightenment: the rediscovery of Greco-Roman civilization, the displacement of a deocentric by an anthropocentric world-view, the rise of scientific enquiry, the revival of the Socratean questioning of ideas in general, the ideal of personal liberty, the triumph of rationality. In other words, by the loosening and finally the casting off of the shackles of religion, even though Christianity, in proliferating variety, continued to exert a malign influence on Europe’s history for some centuries after Spinoza and Hume crippled it.

The dark ideologies of Leftism and  Islam cannot be overcome by the darkness of another religion, but only by reason. Physical force may be necessary, and should not be shirked when it is. But victory in war – as victory in the Cold War demonstrated – is not sufficient if the ideology lives on, whether openly or incognito under new names. It is the argument that must be won, however hard it is to change by reason a view that has not been arrived at by reason. Reason’s victory is enormously aided by its practical achievements in science and technology. Even the dark-age Muslims extant in our world want vaccinations, organ-transplants, aircraft, telephones, television, computers, the internet, refrigerators  – and also, ever more determinedly and dangerously, nuclear weapons. The West failed to keep those out of the hands of Communist and Muslim states, which is why war may be necessary again quite soon. Our side, the side of reason, demands that our weaponry should always be more advanced than the enemy’s. As long as we can innovate, we can win. Innovation is the child of freedom and rationality.

Thoughts at an execution 1

Mark Steyn repeats a column he wrote seven years ago about the Washington, D.C. sniper Muslim terrorist, John Allen Muhammad – who, we are happy to inform our readers, is to be executed today. Mark Steyn rightly observes that what he wrote then serves as apt comment on the recent Fort Hood murders by a Muslim terrorist:

Broadly speaking, in these interesting times, when something unusual and unprecedented happens, there are those who think on balance it’s more likely to be a fellow called Mohammed than, say, Bud, and there are those who climb into the metaphorical burqa, close up the grille and insist, despite all the evidence, that we should be looking for some angry white male. I’m in the former camp and, apropos the sniper, said as much in the Telegraph’s American sister papers. I had a bet with both my wife and my assistant that the perp would be an Islamic terrorist. The gals, unfortunately, had made the mistake of reading The New York Times, whose experts concluded it would be a “macho hunter” or an “icy loner”.

Speaking as a macho hunter and an icy loner myself, I’m beginning to think the media would be better off turning their psychological profilers loose on America’s newsrooms. Take, for example, the Times’s star columnist Frank Rich. Within a few weeks of September 11, he was berating John Ashcroft, the Attorney-General, for not rounding up America’s “home-grown Talibans” – the religious Right and “the anti-abortion terrorist movement”. In a column entitled “How to Lose a War” last October he mocked the administration for not consulting with abortion clinics, who had a lot of experience dealing with “terrorists”.

You get the picture: sure, Muslim fundamentalists can be pretty extreme, but what about all our Christian fundamentalists? Unfortunately, for the old moral equivalence to hold up, the Christians really need to get off their fundamentalist butts and start killing more people. At the moment, the brilliantly versatile Muslim fundamentalists are gunning down Maryland schoolkids and bus drivers, hijacking Moscow theatres, self-detonating in Israeli pizza parlours, blowing up French oil tankers in Yemen, and slaughtering nightclubbers in Bali, while Christian fundamentalists are, er, sounding extremely strident in their calls for the return of prayer in school.

John Allen Muhammad had been a soldier in the US army, as John Allen Williams, before he converted to Islam. Nidal Hasan was a Muslim when he joined the army. After coming under suspicion as a subversive, he was promoted, incredibly, to the rank of major. (Almost as incredibly, he was a psychiatrist. Considering that ‘Islam’ means submission, and psychiatry questions and probes thought and feeling, an ‘Islamic psychiatrist’ would seem to be something of an oxymoron.)

We have said that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in the armed forces. The exclusion could be enforced  politely by telling Muslims that as they belong to ‘the Religion of Peace’, they are not required to serve. They can be excused from military service, like Quakers and other conscientious objectors.

Seems to us the lesson to be learnt is that the army should ideally consist of nothing but insensitive, aggressive, conservative, heterosexual, arrogantly patriotic men. ‘Male chauvinist pigs’, if you like. Highly disciplined, but fierce. They could bother God or any number of gods to their hearts’ content, only not Allah. We atheists would positively recommend to any of those brave brutes who need to believe in supernatural powers that they revive Mithraism, the rude, rough, bloody cult of the Roman army. It would be entirely suitable.

Such an army is at present a pipe dream. It is unlikely to be raised in this era. Elsewhere, Mark Steyn writes of ‘the collapse of confidence’ of the West at the same time as the Berlin Wall collapsed. He speaks of the ‘enervation of the West’. We would also call it the feminization of the West. What hope do we have of recovering?

Yesterday the fall of the Berlin Wall was celebrated in Germany. The fall of the wall marked the beginning of the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. As tens of thousands of people poured through the opened gates into West Berlin twenty years ago, the atrocious creed of Communism itself was visibly exposed as the enemy of the human spirit. Chief among the causes of the fall was the resolute opposition to Communist tyranny by the United States. But  – Oh, the painful ironies of history! – who was it who stood and spoke yesterday in Berlin as representative of the United States? Hillary Clinton, disciple of the Communist revolutionary Saul Alinsky, who had wanted to turn America into the very same hell that East Germany had been!

A tide flooding the bridge 0

Here’s part of an eyewitness report of the day the Berlin Wall came down:

Then came the now-famous press conference given by Günter Schabowski, the East German Politburo member and ex-editor of the Communist Party newspaper Neues Deutschland. Mr Schabowski, yellow and utterly exhausted, sat on a podium before the world’s media and read out utterly confusing details of the regime’s draft travel law – including the announcement that the right to travel to the West came into force immediately.

Within about an hour the first West German reports started coming in about East Germans gathering at crossing points. We leapt into a car and raced to the centre of Berlin. The watchtowers and guard houses were manned with their customary Kalashnikov-toting sentries. There was nothing to report.

Following the Wall northwards, we wound through a maze of dimly lit streets until we began to see single people walking towards us. Single people turned into groups. We thought: “They are just inquisitive West Berliners taking a look.” But then the groups turned into a small crowd and we had to park the car and start walking.

What confronted us at the Bornholmer bridge was beyond belief: a vast tide of people, some in tears, many just looking stunned, flooding across. Behind them were the huge glaring arc lights, guard huts, raised barriers and a line of puffing Trabant and Wartburg cars. Two East German border guards stood there looking bewildered. One, I remember, was crying. With no orders from above, the guards had simply buckled under the pressure of a 20,000 strong crowd of East Berliners chanting “Open the gate!” and raised the barriers.

Posted under communism, Germany, liberty by Jillian Becker on Monday, November 9, 2009

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In commemoration of the fall of the Berlin wall 0

Today, November 9, 2009, is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

It was one of the greatest events of history.

The wall both literally and symbolically marked the division between tyranny and freedom.

It was erected on Sunday, August 13, 1961, to prevent people living under the Soviet-controlled Communist regime in East Germany from fleeing into free West Berlin.  About 1500 people a day had been migrating westward.

Within 24 hours West Berlin was sealed off from the so-called Democratic Republic of Germany.

At first it was a fence consisting of barbed wire, spread over some 96 miles.

In 1962 an inner wall was built. The 100 yard gravel area between the fence and the wall was booby-trapped with trip wires, and mined.

In 1975  a stronger, higher, thicker wall made of concrete and reinforced with mesh fencing and barbed wire was constructed. It was known as the ‘Grenzmauer 75’. Soldiers stationed in some 300 watchtowers had a clear view of the space, and orders to shoot down anyone attempting to cross it.

Over 100,000 people tried to escape to freedom. Some 5,000 succeeded, mostly in the early years before the ‘Grenzmauer 75’ was built. Later, successful crossings were made through tunnels. Two families succeeded by hot-air balloon, and one man in a light aircraft. At least 136 people were killed in the attempt, most famously 18-year-old Peter Fechter, shot on August 17, 1962, as he tried to climb the wall. He lay for hours in the space between the wall and the fence, crying out for help while he bled to death. The East German border guards waited for him to die before they carried him away.

Twenty-five years later, on June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan of the United States stood on the west side of the Brandenberg Gate beyond which the wall ran, and said to the Russian leader in a famous speech, ‘Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’

The speech was symptomatic of the firm stand he maintained against the Soviet Union.

Two and a half years later the wall was brought down.

Its fall heralded the collapse of Soviet Russia and its evil empire. It marked the end of the Cold War and the victory of the free world, led by the United States of America.

The conquering hero of that stupendous victory was President Reagan. How he won the Cold War is the subject of volumes, but win it he did.

Of inestimable help to him was Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain.

A few days ago Mikhail Gorbachev, George H. W. Bush who was president of the US when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, and Helmut Kohl who was Chancellor of West Germany at the time, met on the stage of a Berlin theatre to commemorate the fall of the wall.

Margaret Thatcher, who had not wanted the reunification of Germany but nevertheless played a decisive part in defeating the Communist tyranny over Eastern Europe, was not included.

The president of the United States, Barack Obama, has refused to attend any of the celebratory ceremonies in Germany. His excuse is that he is ‘too busy’.

Jillian Becker  November 9, 2009