Holy murder 4

John Brennan, who is Deputy National Security Adviser – Obama’s chief adviser on counter-terrorism[!] –  instructs the  nation that the terrorist enemy should not be described as jihadist because, he says,  jihad” does not mean “holy war” but only “a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community”, and “there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.” He  insists that “those plotting attacks on the United States should not be described in ‘religious terms’.”

Even if, like the Fort Hood jihadist for instance, they shout “Allahu Akbar” as they commit their mass murders?  (Enter Fort Hood massacre in our search slot for several posts on this Islamic atrocity.]

Is Brennan an idiot, or does he think everyone else is?

Here is today’s list of murderous terrorist attacks carried out in the name of Islam. It comes from that excellent, reliable, informative site The Religion of Peace, which publishes such a list every day:

2010.05.28 (Lahore, Pakistan) – Orthodox Sunni terrorists stage a bloody grenade and firearms assault on two mosques belonging to a minority sect. Over eighty worshippers are murdered.

2010.05.28 (Mogadishu, Somalia) – Two children are among three civilians blown to bits by Islamic militia bombers.

2010.05.27 (Mosul, Iraq) – Mujahideen gun down a civilian and mortar a factory, wounding eleven people.

2010.05.27 (Bajur, Pakistan) – A married couple and their son are brutally gunned down in their home by Islamic fundamentalists.

2010.05.26 (Mogadishu, Somalia) – Six people are counted dead following an al-Shabaab militia attack around a city square.

2010.05.26 (Mosul, Iraq) – Three policemen are murdered by Mujahideen.

These are all actions of Muslims pursuing jihad, a duty their religion lays on them.

We wonder what Brennan thinks the Taliban, with whom tens of thousand of American soldiers are engaged in battle, are all about?

Or – expert as he claims to be on counter-terrorism – what he thinks the motive was of the Muslims who carried out the attacks on 9/11?

Much as Brennan and Obama may hate the fact, that was a deeply religious act.

Billy Budd, three Navy Seals, and the spirit of the law 0

Billy Budd, by Herman Melville, is the story of an innocent, good young man, an illegitimate orphan, who is impressed into the Royal Navy when England is at war with France in 1797. The Captain of the ship on which he serves loves him, and so do all the crew except for one man, John Claggart, the Master-at-Arms. Motivated by malice, hate, and envy, Claggart falsely accuses Billy of planning mutiny. An astounded and disbelieving Captain Vere has to confront Billy with his accuser. Billy cannot answer the charge. Not only is he bewildered by the accusation which he only understands as a blatant lie, and has no idea how to convey his denial having never been taught to express himself, but in addition he is hampered by a speech impediment. In his frustrated and  desperate need to defend himself, he strikes out at Claggart and accidentally kills him. Captain Vere has no choice now but to have Billy court-martialled. As the only witness to the event, he defends Billy, sincerely believing in his profound innocence. But then, deeply paining his own feelings, he himself actually persuades the court-martial panel to sentence Billy to death, because although it is unjust, it is what the law prescribes. If an enlisted man kills an officer in a time of war, even accidentally, the law says he must be executed. So Billy Budd, a personification of human goodness, is hanged as a criminal.

What has recalled Billy Budd to our minds is the case of three Navy Seals in Iraq. One of them, Petty Officer First Class Julio Huertas is being tried today in Baghdad on charges relating to the hitting of  an enemy captive. The accusation has been brought by the captive himself, Ahmed Hashim Abed.

The US Marines had been searching for him as the leader of a murderous attack on four Blackwater contractors. Abed and his fellow Islamic savages killed the Americans, dragged their mutilated and burnt bodies through the streets of Falluja, and hung two of them on a bridge.

In what seemed like a triumph for justice, three brave Seals captured Abed, for which they should be commended and rewarded.

They handcuffed and blindfolded him, and proceeded to interrogate him. Later the prisoner was to complain that one of them had struck him. If so, the Seal was surely being all too merciful, considering that servicemen are paid not merely to strike but to kill the enemy. Astoundingly, however, all three of the Seals are to be court-martialled.

The other two are Petty Officer 2nd. Class Matthew McCabe  and Petty Officer 2nd. Class Jonathan Keefe.

Huertas and Keefe – who is also to be tried in Iraq – are charged with dereliction of duty, not taking more tender care of their captive.

McCabe is the one accused of hitting the terrorist murderer. He’ll be tried next month in Virginia.

Who, we’d like to know,  made the decision to try these three men, and why? Are they torn in their consciences like Captain Vere? Or are they merely small bureaucratic minds, long gone blind to justice as they scurry about in the purlieus of legal minutiae, intent on obeying the letter but not the spirit of the law?

Jillian Becker  April 21, 2010

Update April 22, 2010: Petty Officer First Class Julio Huertas has been cleared of all charges.

Courting lies – and terrorists 0

This is interesting, but more than interesting, it is important.

It is interesting because it shows how an Obama administration’s think-tank works for it – with a rather naive and transparent cunning, which they must mistake for  brilliant deception.

It is important because it confirms that Obama wants to join hands not only with hostile Muslim states like Iran, but also with actively inimical Muslim terrorists like Hizballah.

Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, writes:

Can things get worse with the Obama Administration’s foreign – and especially Middle East – policy? Yes, it’s not inevitable but I have just seen personally a dangerous example of what could be happening next. In fact, I never expected that the administration would try to recruit me in this campaign, as you’ll see …

First, a little background. One of the main concerns with the Obama Administration is that it would go beyond just engaging Syria and Iran, turning a blind eye to radical anti-American activities throughout the region.

To cite some examples, it has not supported Iraq in its protests about Syrian-backed terror, even though the group involved is al-Qaida, with which the United States is supposedly at war. Nor has it launched serious efforts to counter Iran’s help to terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan or even Tehran’s direct cooperation with al-Qaida. …

Beyond this, though, there has been the possibility of the U.S. government engaging Hizballah. It is inadequate to describe Hizballah as only a terrorist movement. But it is accurate to describe it as: a Lebanese Shia revolutionary Islamist movement that seeks to gain control over Lebanon, is deeply anti-American, is a loyal client of Iran and Syria, uses large amounts of terrorism, and is committed to Israel’s destruction. Hizballah engages in Lebanese politics, including elections, as one tactic in trying to fulfill these goals.

We have seen steps by the current British government toward engaging Hizballah. And the rationale for doing so is based partly on the fact that Hizballah is now part of the Lebanese governing coalition. Of course, in playing a role in that coalition, Hizballah tries to ensure Syria-Iranian hegemony, threatens the lives of American personnel, and other activities designed to destroy any U.S. influence in the region.

And let’s remember that Hizballah may well have been involved in the murder of courageous politicians and journalists in Lebanon who opposed Syria-Iran-Hizballah control over their country. True, direct involvement hasn’t been proven but they are accessories since they have done everything possible to kill the international investigation into the matter. And the trail certainly leads back to their Syrian patrons.

Here’s where I come in. I have received a letter asking me personally to help with a research project. … The letter says that this is a project for the Center for American Progress and that the results “will be presented to senior U.S. policymakers in the administration.”

I am asked to participate by giving my opinions on how the United States can deal with Hizballah “short of engagement” and “would Israeli leaders see benefit in the U.S. talking with Hizballah about issues which are of crucial importance to Israel?”

Answer to first question: Oppose it in every way possible.

Answer to second question: What the [insert obscene words I don’t use] do you think they would say!

The letter continues:

“As you’ve noted, some like John Brennan [advisor to the president on terrorism] is already thinking about a more flexible policy towards Hizballah and it would be extremely useful to get your views on this to ensure anything decided is done properly.”

I read this letter … as saying that the Center for American Progress is going to issue a report calling for U.S. engagement with Hizballah, and that it has been encouraged to do so by important officials in the Obama Administration.

The phrase “to ensure anything decided is done properly,” I take as a give-away to the fact that they are going to push for direct dealing with Hizballah but want to be able to say that they had listened to alternative views. They merely, I am told by those who know about this project, intend to talk to some who disagree for appearances’ sake and throw in a sentence or two to give the report the slightest tinge of balance.

The person heading this project has already endangered the lives of brave Lebanese. For example, he claimed without foundation that Christians were planning to launch a war on Hizballah, providing a splendid rationale for Hizballah to murder opponents on the excuse of doing so in self-defense. Accepting Hizballah rule is defined as the Christians recognizing they are a minority and trying to get along with their Muslim neighbors.

In other words, those opposing Hizballah are presented as aggressors while Hizballah is just the reasonable party that wants to get along. Moreover all this leaves out the community, about the same size as the Christians and Shia Muslims, that has been leading the resistance to Syria, Iran, and Hizballah: the Sunni Muslims.

In short, the person directing the project talks like a virtual agent of Hizballah and its allies, basically repeating what they tell him.

Aside from the fact that Hizballah is not and will not be moderate there are two other problems that these silly people don’t comprehend.

The first is the signal that such statements send to Arabs and especially Lebanese. Concluding that the United States is selling them out and jumping onto the side of the Islamist revolutionaries (an idea that sounds implausible in Washington but very easily accepted as true in Riyadh, Beirut, Amman, and Cairo), Arab moderates will be demoralized, rush to become appeasers, and seek to cut their own deals with what they perceive as the winning side.

The second is the signal that such statements send to the radicals themselves. Concluding that the United States fears them and acknowledges their moral superiority and strategic success, they will be more arrogant and aggressive. …

The last time I was in this situation, it involved a government-funded report about Islamist movements. What I didn’t know is that the word had been passed to the project director from the government agency that he was supposed to urge engagement with Islamists. The intention was to keep out anything critical of the idea. At first, then, I was told to my surprise that my paper would be responded to by another paper written by a supporter of engaging Islamists.

When my paper was submitted, however, it was apparently too strong, it was quickly rejected in an insulting way, and I wasn’t paid for my work. The fix was in and those involved were richly rewarded for saying what was wanted, though the actual implementation of such a policy would be disastrous for U.S. interests, as well as for millions of Arabs as well as Israelis.

Friends of mine have had similar experiences recently regarding papers arguing, for example, that engaging Syria is a great idea and that Damascus can be made moderate and split away from Iran. This is all nonsense, but honors and money are to be gained by saying such things.

So I’m not going to help provide a fig leaf for something masquerading as a serious study but set up to advocate a dreadful policy. It would be the equivalent of participating in a mid-1930s’ project designed to show that Germany had no more ambitions in Europe, a mid-1940s’ project that the USSR wanted to be friends, or a late 1970s’ project that Ayatollah Khomeini was a moderate and that an Islamist Iran would pose no threats.

It’s bad enough to live through an era of dangerous and terrible policy decisions, it’s much worse to be complicit in them.

A state condemned 3

“Condemn” is a very strong word in diplomat-speak. It’s the word most American presidents would apply only to the activities and policies of hostile and extremely delinquent states.

Obama is applying it to Israel.

What has Israel done that is very wrong? Let’s see.

Not long ago it reluctantly agreed under American pressure to suspend building new houses for Jewish occupants on the West Bank, but expressly excluded Jerusalem from the agreement, and the exclusion was accepted by Obama’s State Department.

So when it announced recently that planning permission has been given for some additional apartments in an area to the north of Israel’s capital city, Israel did not expect an objection to be suddenly raised. The development, begun a dozen years ago, does not and will not encroach on any Arab neighborhood. Nobody has objected to it before. The ground had not previously been in use for housing or anything else. Some 18,000 Jews live there now with families growing up. There are normal needs for expansion of accomodation.

But because the piece of wasteland was taken in a war waged against Israel in 1948, and held until 1967 by the British-created state of Jordan, Obama wants it to be rid of its Jewish residents and kept in reserve to be “returned” to Arab possession when there is a state of Palestine.

So the routine announcement that long-planned building in that part of Jerusalem will go ahead has been taken by Obama to be such an insult “to America” that Israel must be condemned for it. The result is a crisis of relations between the two countries.

We contend that the announcement was a handy excuse; that the crisis was engineered; that any pretext would have done.

But what is it Obama needs a pretext for?

Caroline Glick’s answer is this:

Why has President Barak Obama decided to foment a crisis in US relations with Israel? …

Obama’s new demands follow the months of American pressure that eventually coerced Netanyahu into announcing both his support for a Palestinian state and a 10-month ban on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria. No previous Israeli government had ever been asked to make the latter concession.

Netanyahu was led to believe that in return for these concessions Obama would begin behaving like the credible mediator his predecessors were. But instead of acting like his predecessors, Obama has behaved like the Palestinians. Rather than reward Netanyahu for taking a risk for peace, Obama has, in the model of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, pocketed Netanyahu’s concessions and escalated his demands. This is not the behavior of a mediator. This is the behavior of an adversary. …

Obama’s assault on Israel is likely related to the failure of his Iran policy. Over the past week, senior administration officials including Gen. David Petraeus have made viciously defamatory attacks on Israel, insinuating that the construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem is a primary cause for bad behavior on the part of Iran and its proxies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza. By this line of thinking, if Israel simply returned to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, Iran’s centrifuges would stop spinning, and Syria, al-Qaida, the Taliban, Hizbullah, Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards would all beat their swords into plowshares. …

Even more important than its usefulness as a tool to divert the public’s attention away from the failure of his Iran policy, Obama’s assault against Israel may well be aimed at maintaining that failed policy. Specifically, he may be attacking Israel in a bid to coerce Netanyahu into agreeing to give Obama veto power over any Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear installations. That is, the anti-Israel campaign may be a means to force Israel to stand by as Obama allows Iran to build a nuclear arsenal. …

Obama … seeks to realign US foreign policy away from Israel. Obama’s constant attempts to cultivate relations with Iran’s unelected president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad’s Arab lackey Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, and Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan make clear that he views developing US relations with these anti-American regimes as a primary foreign policy goal. …

[And] he  is using his manufactured crisis to justify adopting an overtly anti-Israel position vis-à-vis the Palestinians. …

Likewise, the crisis Obama has manufactured with Israel could pave the way for him to recognize a Palestinian state if the Palestinians follow through on their threat to unilaterally declare statehood next year regardless of the status of negotiations with Israel. Such a US move could in turn lead to the deployment of US forces in Judea and Samaria to “protect” the unilaterally declared Palestinian state from Israel.

General Petraeus has even suggested putting the “Palestinian territories” under his central command.

We don’t believe the Palestinians’ threat. If they declare a state they’ll need to declare its boundaries, and if the boundaries do not embrace the entire state of Israel plus Gaza plus Judaea and Samaria, they’ll  be acknowledging the right of Israel to exist. Borders have two sides. “This side  the State of Palestine; that side the State of Israel”. The pretence of their now being willing to settle for a “two-state solution”  – when they’ve been rejecting such a thing for more than six decades – would instantly be exposed as the lie it is.

But Obama wants there to be a Palestinian state. And if it cannot, because it will not, be a second state in the region, will he then insist that it should be the only state?

We see no reason why there should be a 22nd Arab state.

We see no reason why the 21 existing Arab states shouldn’t assimilate the refugees of the Palestine region just as Israel assimilated the Jews who were expelled by the Arab states in 1948.

We see no reason why Jews shouldn’t live in Arab/Muslim countries just as Arabs/Muslims live in Israel, with full voting and property-owning rights, paying the same taxes, protected by the same laws equally.

We would be happy to see only one state in the region – the State of Israel, not Palestine.

But Obama, and the huge bloc of Islamic countries, and Europe, and Russia, have a vision of a 22-state Arab judenrein Middle East.

If America withdraws diplomatic support, as it is likely to do now; if Iran, bent on destroying Israel, is soon to be nuclear armed with Obama’s consent; and if, in addition, American forces are to be sent to the West Bank to aid Palestinian forces against their Israeli enemy as has been proposed, how good is Israel’s chance of surviving?

Oh really, O’Reilly? 0

We find it hard to believe that Charles Krauthammer or Brit Hume would obey instructions as to what they may say or not say on Fox News.

Yet it does seem that Fox has sold its soul to the devil.

This is from Family Security Matters:

Former prominent guests on Fox News, including Walid Shoebat, contend that the News Corporation has surrendered its “fair and balanced” coverage of Islam and events in the Middle East for a fistful of Saudi cash.

Their contention is based on a series of recent developments within the media giant.

The first development was the news that Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corporation, invested $70 million in the Rotana Group, an enterprise owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of Saudi King Abdullah. The Rotana Group operates a host of TV channels throughout the Middle East and is a leading producer of Arabic movies.

Next came Mr. Murdoch’s decision to make Abu Dhabi, the headquarters of the News Corporation’s global media operations in the Middle East.

On Monday, the Fox Business Network announced that it will dispatch a full-time correspondent to the Middle East in order to inform Americans of the unique business opportunities in such places as Syria, a country that provides shelter for Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah and support the insurgents in Iraq.

In the wake of this announcement, Fox news commentators – including Glenn Beck, Charles Krauthammer, A.B. Stoddard and Bill Kristol – condemned Geert Wilders, a well-respected Dutch dignitary and critic of radical Islam, as a “fascist” and a “demagogue.” …

In the past, the former member of the Dutch National Parliament was a frequent guest on Fox News. Last February, Bill O’Reilly welcomed Mr. Wilders to America, while condemning a scared Britain for banning him entrance to the country.

Other news about the parent company of Fox News began to surface, including reports that Kingdom Holding owns at least 7 percent of the News Corporation and has become the second largest shareholder in the Murdoch conglomerate. Some speculate that the actual shares controlled by Kingdom Holding through a hedge fund may exceed 25 percent.

Kingdom Holding is owned by Prince Talal …

Listed by Forbes as the world’s 22nd richest person, Prince Talal also owns substantial shares of Time Warner, Apple, eBay, Disney, and Citibank.

As for charity, he gives millions to Hamas and other pro-Palestinian organizations.

Critics say that Prince Talal’s sizeable investment in the News Corporation accounts for Fox News programs critical of Israel, including a series of special reports in which Carl Cameron and Brit Hume [even he? – JB] alleged that Israel gathered information about the attacks of 9/11 and failed to warn the American people.

Walid Shoebat, a former member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who converted to Christianity, charges that Fox News now prohibits critics of Islam and Islamic terror from appearing on its broadcasts.

“He himself (Prince bin Talal) said, ‘I just had to make a phone call to [tell them to] stop using the word Muslim’ regarding the rioting in France,” Mr. Shoebat notes. “Bill O’Reilly says to Ibrahim Hooper, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), that he is an upstanding citizen. Since when was the head of CAIR an upstanding citizen?”

Mr. Shoebat adds that viewers will no longer be seeing any so-called “Islamophobes” on Fox.

“Today, I’m not invited at Fox News. Neither is Robert Spencer or Brigitte Gabriel,” he laments. “But Ibrahim Hooper is invited to speak at Fox News. It used to be that experts on terrorism who are critical of the Islamic views [were] able to get a voice on Fox News. Those days are gone.”

Mr. Shoebat says that instead of airing those critical views of Islam, Fox News now legitimizes Hooper, the spokesman for CAIR, a group which he maintains is a front for Islamic terrorists.

The blood-dimmed tide 0

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

– W. B. Yeats

*

We were for the war and regime change in Iraq. We were glad Saddam Hussein was deposed and hanged. We would like to see all despots brought to the same end.

But we never believed in Iraq’s becoming a true democracy, however many Iraqis cast their votes in however many elections. Nor is it.

The ritual imitation of democratic procedures is now being performed again.

Here’s a graphic report (perhaps a little too strained for emotional effect) on election campaigning Iraqi-style:

The slaughter of the al-Kaabi family last week horrified Iraqis who had prayed that the parliamentary elections next Sunday would be free from political violence.

Eight-year-old Ahmed was found hanging from a ceiling fan, blood dripping from slashed wrists tied behind his back. Little Rafel, her throat cut, was still in the purple and pink T-shirt she had worn to bed. The killers had gunned down Hussein al-Kaabi, 46, the children’s father, when he opened the front door last Monday night. They then appear to have gone methodically through the house in the Al-Wehdah district in southern Baghdad, knifing his wife and six children, some of them as they slept.

Photographs from the scene are shocking. Pretty nine-year-old Rafel looks almost peaceful, with locks of her dark hair hiding the wound on her neck. Seven-year-old Mais has a scarf wrapped around her mouth, obscuring the bloody wound on her neck. Ahmed looks painfully young and fragile, his football shirt evidence of his obsession with the game. Their mother, Widad, 36, was pregnant when she was shot and butchered. Family members said she appeared to have been running to help her husband.

Relatives said the only crime committed by Hussein, a guard for a wealthy farmer, was to have been hanging posters for Entifadh Qanbar, a candidate standing for the Shi’ite Iraqi National Alliance (INA).

“It was a premeditated act of political terror,” said Abdullah al-Kaabi, 52, Hussein’s cousin. “The people who did this are trying to make people fearful of working for their candidates, or scared to vote.” …

Qanbar [the candidate] blamed members of Saddam Hussein’s [banned] Ba’ath party for the killings. …

Many Iraqis had hoped the vote would be an opportunity to move past the old divisions but the slaughter of the Kaabis suggest they are still raw.

Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, is running as head of a secular Shi’ite-led bloc … [His] support has waned as his claim to have brought security to Iraq was undermined, not only by the murder of the Kaabi family, but also by a series of spectacular bombings.

Last month suicide bombers mounted co-ordinated attacks just minutes apart on Baghdad hotels that had been expected to house foreign election observers, killing 36 people and injuring 71. Following in the wake of similar attacks in August, October and December, they wrecked what had been a fragile but growing sense of security in Baghdad.

Since last summer, army and interior ministry security forces have assumed sole responsibility for security after the withdrawal of American troops from patrolling Iraqi cities. Officials had already warned that violence would escalate in the run-up to the vote.

Survivors of the blasts blamed hardline Ba’athists, believed to be allied with Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown terrorist group linked to Osama bin Laden.

Maliki’s government, already under fire for a lack of tangible improvement in basic services, and allegations of corruption, is facing its toughest challenge from the INA, whose main partners are the pro-Iranian Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and Moqtada al-Sadr, the anti-US cleric whose strength comes from the mostly poor Shi’ite majority.

The cloud of knowing 5

Traces of some very abstruse reasoning emerge tantalizingly from the Cloud of Knowing – the thinkers who influence current US foreign policy. Secretive ends are being pursued. Can we discern what they are, or guess what they might be, from the clues dropped by the press?

The Washington Post reports:

American foreign policy is handicapped by a narrow, ill-informed and “uncompromising Western secularism” that feeds religious extremism, threatens traditional cultures and fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights, according to a two-year study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

So, according to a body that calls itself the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, secularism “feeds” religious extremism. Presumably that means it nourishes it, energizes it, makes it stronger than it would otherwise be.

Now how could it do that? Does it drive the religious mad by simply being non-religious? And if so, is it to blame for that, or are the religious perhaps over-reacting?

Wait. It’s not any old secularism that is guilty of annoying the religious; it is specifically Western secularism. Other sorts – if there are sorts of secularism – are not bad, or not as bad.

Why? Apparently because Western secularism, in contrast to, say, Eastern secularism if it exists, is “uncompromising”. But how should not-being-religious compromise? Should it be a little bit religious? If so, how much? And would it then still be secularism?

One may begin to suspect that here is another formulation of the now familiar accusation from the left that the West has only itself to blame for being attacked by religious extremists – aka Muslim terrorists – because it is not Muslim. Or is that leaping too quickly to an as yet unwarranted conclusion?

Let’s proceed cautiously. As well as “feeding” religious extremism, this Western secularism also “threatens traditional cultures”. How? Does it proselytize non-belief? Not that anyone’s heard. Does it try to force non-belief on believers? Again, no, not noticeably. Then does its mere existence raise questions that endanger the belief of “traditional cultures” – in which case what would the Chicago Council on Global Affairs have it do to lift the threat from those intimidated folk?

Wait again – the list of accusations against this dangerous force called secularism is not yet exhausted. It also “fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights”.

Which groups would those be – could we have some names, please? And why can they only carry out their noble mission if they are encouraged?

Answers to these questions cannot be found in the Washington Post story.

What it does tell us is that it took this body two years to reach its conclusion. So we  should not brush it off as nonsense: in two years it is possible to go very deeply into grievances.

What’s more, the conclusion requires, and will elicit, action by the government of the United States.

The council’s 32-member task force, which included former government officials and scholars representing all major faiths, delivered its report to the White House on Tuesday. The report warns of a serious “capabilities gap” and recommends that President Obama make religion “an integral part of our foreign policy”. 

A serious capabilities gap? Not a mere pothole in the diplomatic road to perfect global accord? And it could be filled in by – what exactly? A state religion? No – that could not be the recommendation of 32 officials and scholars representing all major faiths.

Just a generalized religiosity then?

But how is religion, whether specific or a mere aura of sanctity assumed by the State Department, going to improve American foreign policy, soothe the extremists of foreign creeds, reassure traditional cultures,  and stiffen the backbone of groups (presumably different from the religious extremists) intent on virtuously promoting peace  and human rights?

We are not told, and can only hope that the Chicago Council’s report to the White House provides answers to these difficult questions.

Thomas Wright, the council’s executive director of studies, said task force members met Tuesday with Joshua DuBois, head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and State Department officials. “They were very receptive, and they said that there is a lot of overlap between the task force’s report and the work they have been doing on this same issue,” Wright said.

Something is already being done by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to make religion in some way an integral part of US foreign policy? It would be most interesting to know what exactly.

DuBois declined to comment on the report but wrote on his White House blog Tuesday: “The Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership and the National Security Staff are working with agencies across government to analyze the ways the U.S. government engages key non-governmental actors, including religious institutions, around the globe.”

Ah! He’s not being exact, but there’s a clue in here somewhere.

The Chicago Council isn’t as influential as the Council on Foreign Relations or some other Washington-based think tanks, but it does have a long-standing relationship with the president. Obama spoke to the council once as a state senator and twice as a U.S. senator, including his first major foreign policy speech as a presidential candidate in April 2007.

It could depend on his sympathy then, with whatever it is they want done.

Michelle Obama is on the council’s board.

Again, ah!

Now we learn that the problem, however obcure it may seem to the public, has been troubling smart people for quite some time.

American foreign policy’s “God gap” has been noted in recent years by others, including former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright.

Well, she has been associated with a few faiths in her time – Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism. So perhaps she would be especially aware of a shortage of religious belief in the State Department. Could have struck her forcibly when she assumed office.

“It’s a hot topic,” said Chris Seiple [read something very politically correct that he’s written here], president of the Institute for Global Engagement in Arlington County and a Council on Foreign Relations member. “It’s the elephant in the room. You’re taught not to talk about religion and politics, but the bummer is that it’s at the nexus of national security. The truth is the academy has been run by secular fundamentalists for a long time, people who believe religion is not a legitimate component of realpolitik.

Come now, politics can hardly be avoided by a Council of Foreign Relations. But you say that religion is “the elephant in the room”? And it is “at the nexus of national security” ?

The Chicago Council’s task force was led by R. Scott Appleby of the University of Notre Dame and Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.

Who is Richard Cizik, and what is the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good? According to Newsweek he was the Washington lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals for nearly 30 years, and then, towards the end of 2008, he announced “the formation of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, a group devoted to developing Christian responses to global and political issues such as environmentalism, nuclear disarmament, human rights, and dialogue with the Muslim world”.

Hmm.

“Religion,” the task force says, “is pivotal to the fate” of such nations as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and Yemen, all vital to U.S. national and global security.

So the particular religion they have in mind is Islam?

Not necessarily … don’t jump to conclusions …  it could also be  .. hmmm-mmm … Hinduism and …  Christianity and … who knows what?:

“Despite a world abuzz with religious fervor,” the task force says, “the U.S. government has been slow to respond effectively to situations where religion plays a global role.” Those include the growing influence of Pentecostalism in Latin America, evangelical Christianity in Africa and religious minorities in the Far East.

All of which feel threatened by Western secularism? Are crying out for it to compromise a little?

But okay, mostly Islam:

U.S. officials have made efforts to address the God gap, especially in dealings with Islamic nations and groups. The CIA established an office of political Islam in the mid-1980s. … During the second Bush administration, the Defense Department rewrote the Army’s counterinsurgency manual to take account of cultural factors, including religion.

Could that have had something to do with the shooting of soldiers by an “extremist” Muslim officer at Fort Hood? Just wondering.

The Obama administration has stepped up the government’s outreach to a wider range of religious groups and individuals overseas

… even, say, the Dalai Lama if he’ll use the back door …

…  trying to connect with people beyond governments, said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Very hush-hush stuff this.

The effort, he said, is more deliberate than in the past: “This issue has senior-level attention.”

He noted that Obama appointed a special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference …

The envoy being a Muslim and a terrorist sympathizer [see our post The trusted envoy, February 20, 2010], and the Organization of the Islamic Conference being a major instrument of the Ummah for the conquest of the non-Muslim world, chiefly by methods of “soft jihad” in Europe.

… and created a new Muslim outreach position in the State Department. In the past year, he said, embassies in Muslim-majority countries have held hundreds of meetings with a broad range of people not involved in government.

Huh? Muslim-majority countries have had hundreds of meetings with individual people not involved with government? What people? Why? To what end? How does the government know about them?

Whatever was going on with that, it was apparently too “episodic and uncoordinated”. Now there must be something more programmatic, more official, more formal, more defined, and definitely involving government:

To end the “episodic and uncoordinated nature of U.S. engagement of religion in the world,” the task force recommended:

— Adding religion to the training and continuing education of all foreign service officers, diplomats and other key diplomatic, military and economic officials. …

— Empowering government departments and agencies to engage local and regional religious communities where they are central players in the promotion of human rights and peace, as well as the delivery of health care and other forms of assistance.

Leaving aside the code words “human rights” and “peace” which in such a context as this usually mean “leftism” and “Islam” – diplomats, and military and even economic officials should deliver health care?

But here comes the stunner. (Remember that “clarify” in diplomatic talk always means “take it back and say something more to our liking”.)

— Address and clarify the role of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy.

Cizik said some parts of the world — the Middle East, China, Russia and India, for example — are particularly sensitive to the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom and see it as a form of imperialism.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IS A FORM OF IMPERIALISM?

We give up. Such nuanced thought is beyond our grasp.

The religion of peace 1

In our margin we reproduce, as a fixed feature, an ever mounting tally of vi0lent attacks carried out by Muslim terrorists since 9/11 in the name of their faith. It comes from The Religion of Peace, a website that has proved itself an indispensable source of information in this era of unremitting war waged by Islam against the rest of the world.

Every day it publishes a list, of which today’s is typical:

010.02.04 (Kandahar, Afghanistan) – Three people are dismembered by a Shahid suicide bomber.

2010.02.03 (Narathiwat, Thailand) – A rubber tapper working with his wife is shot in the back by Muslim militants with a shotgun

2010.02.03 (Swat, Pakistan) – Four children are among nine people killed when the Tehrik-e-Taliban bomb an opening ceremony at a girl’s school.

2010.02.03 (Karbalah, Iraq) – A Fedayeen bomber passes out fruit to children before detonating, killing nearly two dozen.

2010.02.03 (Baghdad, Iraq) – Sunni bombers send a Shia pilgrim straight to Allah.

2010.02.02 (Karbalah, Iraq) – Three Shia pilgrims are murdered by Sunni bombers.

The total at the time of this writing: 14,784

A realm of deadly failure 0

‘The most destructive address in the history of American foreign policy’, is the verdict of Ralph Peters on President Obama’s Cairo speech. We agree.

This is the worst time imaginable to have a pro-Islam leftist occupying the Oval office.

Taking a realistic, and consequently pessimistic, survey of the Islamic lands from the Mediterranean to the border of India – and the sole exception to their failure, the small singular Jewish state beleaguered among them – Peters writes in the New York Post:

No region — not even sub-Saharan Africa — competes with the greater Middle East when it comes to wanton savagery, thwarted opportunities and the danger posed to innocent populations around the world. With fanatical terrorists of unprecedented brutality, Islamist extremists pursuing nuclear weapons, rogue regimes, disintegrating states and threats of genocide against Israel, the lands of heat and dust between the Nile and the Indus form a realm of deadly failure that will haunt the civilized world throughout our lifetimes.

A survey of the region’s key countries — and problems — doesn’t offer much good news for the Obama Administration’s naive foreign policy efforts:

LEBANON: This isn’t a country — it’s a temporary stand-off. Recently, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose father, Rafik, was assassinated by Syria, had to make a humbling visit to Damascus. Syria’s decades-long penetration of the government in Beirut and various Lebanese factions (not least, its backing of the Hezbollah terror organization) has kept Beirut dependent on Damascus to break the political gridlock in parliament. Meanwhile, Hezbollah has been rearming mightily in the wake of its 2006 war with Israel. A new war would devastate much of Lebanon — if internal strife doesn’t do it first.

EGYPT: A US client long counted among the most stable states in the Middle East, Egypt faces a potential succession crisis as octogenarian president Hosni Mubarak, who’s ruled the country for almost three decades, grooms his singularly unimpressive son, Gamal, to take over upon his death. The government and armed forces are more factionalized than they seem to outsiders, Islamist movements have proven ineradicable, and violence against Egypt’s minority Christians is on the rise again…

TURKEY: Long in NATO, but denied membership in the European Union, Turkey has grappled with an identity crisis. Increasingly, its political bosses back an Islamic identity. The ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) soft-peddles its religious agenda when dealing with the West, but has been methodically dismantling the secular constitution left behind by Kemal Ataturk — who rescued Turkey from oblivion 90 years ago… Will the military move to preserve the legacy of Ataturk? Unlikely. But if the generals did move, the Obama administration would back the Islamists

SYRIA: The neighborhood’s in such awful shape that this police state’s beginning to look like a success story… On the other hand, the Assad family’s government backs terrorism, harbors remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime, still hopes for Israel’s destruction — and wouldn’t mind having nukes, if it could figure out how to get them. When Damascus looks like a beacon, it’s getting awfully dark in the Middle East.

ISRAEL: Civilization’s last hope in the region, Israel remains the target of international leftists dreaming of another, more-thorough Holocaust. The “peace process” will continue to fail. Arabs need Israel to blame for their failures. And President Obama empowered the worst Arab elements with his Cairo speech, which convinced the dead-enders there’s no need to compromise with Israel — that the US would shift its support to the Arab cause. That Cairo speech may prove to have been the most-destructive address in the history of American foreign policy.

IRAQ: Can’t say we didn’t try. After years of serious progress toward a national compromise, Shia political agents close to Iran recently banned over 500 influential Sunni candidates from standing in Iraq’s upcoming elections. Reconciliation has come to a screeching halt. The Shia are smug, the Sunnis feel betrayed, and the Kurds are still denied title to the traditionally Kurdish city of Kirkuk. Every faction’s fighting for a greater share of oil revenues. And the Obama administration’s AWOL (this was Bush’s war — we wouldn’t want a positive outcome)… the old blood feuds and thirst for vengeance go deeper than we thought

SAUDI ARABIA: Its two main exports are oil and fanaticism. Saudi funding supports a global effort to drive Muslims into the fold of its severe Wahhabi cult — and to prevent Muslims (including those in the US) from integrating into local societies. The Saudis care nothing for the fate or suffering of fellow Muslims (check out the Palestinians). They care only for their repressive version of Islam. The birthplace of Bin Laden, Saudi Arabia’s differences with his terror organization are over strategy and tactics, not over their mutual goal of forcing extremist Islam on all of humanity.

IRAN: Racing to acquire nuclear weapons, delighting in the prospect of a cataclysmic war that would lead to the “return of the hidden imam,” beating the hell out of its own people in the streets, murdering members of the intelligentsia, and explicit in its vows to destroy Israel, the government of Iran continues to be protected by China and Russia. There will be no meaningful sanctions. Over the next few years, we’ll see a nuclear test in the southeastern desert region of Baluchistan. Will Israel strike first? Perhaps. Would the US? Not under this administration. The best hope is for a miracle that leads to a popular overthrow of the current maddened regime. But strategy can’t be based upon the expectation of miracles.

YEMEN: It’s Saudi Arabia without oil, running water or literacy. Perhaps the most-backward country in this stubbornly backward region, Yemen has harbored terrorists for years (we really didn’t want to know). Its government cannot control its territory, its tribes are so fanatical they alarm the Saudis (who have had to fight them), and Iran backs the Shiite minority in its revolt against the state. Throw in Yemen’s strategic position astride the world’s most-sensitive oil-shipping routes, and this pretense of a country looks far more important than Afghanistan.

DUBAI: The late Michael Jackson’s flirtation with this high-rise bazaar apparently couldn’t rescue an economy built on sand…

AFGHANISTAN: We’re there, and we don’t know why. We know why we went in 2001, but al Qaeda’s long gone. Initially, we were welcomed. Now, the more troops we send, the stronger the Taliban becomes. We’re tied to a corrupt, inept government despised by the people. Afghans won’t fight for that government, but they’ll give their lives for the Taliban. And we’re determined to turn the place into Disney World.  Should we just leave? No. Afghanistan provides a crucial base for striking the terrorists across the border in Pakistan… Afghanistan is worthless in itself. Instead of concentrating on killing our enemies, we’re buying worthless real estate with American blood.

PAKISTAN: 180 million anti-American Muslims, thanks to generations of politicians who took American aid while playing the anti-American card with their constituents. The government won’t crack down on the Taliban factions it’s preserving for a reconquest of Afghanistan after we exit… Promised another $7.5 billion in aid, Pakistan’s response has been not only to bite the hand that feeds it, but to gnaw it to a bloody pulp. And, in an act of strategic folly, we’ve left our troops in Afghanistan dependent upon a single supply line that runs for over a thousand miles through Pakistan. .. Isn’t it about time we got a grip? Around Pakistan’s throat? … Leaving the greatest power in history at the mercy of the impossibly corrupt regime in Pakistan guarantees that our troops lives are wasted next door in Afghanistan. Afghanistan isn’t our problem. Pakistan’s the problem.

A victory for what and whom? 0

The Obama plan for Iraq is to hand over law enforcement to the ‘democratic’ Iraqi government so that American troops can be withdrawn without loss of face.

So how’s it working out?

From the New York Times:

A female suicide bomber attacked a column of Shiite pilgrims on the outskirts of Baghdad on Monday, part of a convulsion of violence that has hit the capital in advance of national elections in March.

At least 41 people died and more than 100 were wounded in the attack, which took place in an industrial district on the northern edge of the city, according to initial reports from security officials, who said the toll could rise…

Hundreds of thousands of Shiites from Iraq, Iran and other countries make their way to Karbala, south of here, during a pilgrimage that marks the end of mourning for Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad who died in battle in the seventh century.

Many make the journey on foot, which can take days and even weeks, stopping at tents that provide food, water and shelter. They do so in defiance of almost daily attacks that have included gunfire, grenades and bombs.

The processions clog roads headed to Karbala for days ahead of the holiday, Arbaeen, which is Friday. Despite road closings and other measures to heighten security, the attacks continue as relentlessly as the marchers.

The suicide bomber in this case struck near a tent in Bob al-Sham that was filled with pilgrims making their way from Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad. The toll was one of the highest in months by an individual suicide bomber.

The bombing came a week after suicide car bombs devastated three hotels in Baghdad, followed a day later by another against a forensics lab belonging to the Interior Ministry.

The main insurgency group here, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for those attacks, which were highly coordinated and clearly intended to attack the credibility of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government.

Even as word spread of the Monday attack, a spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command, which oversees security in the capital, announced that “a large number” of 134 officers and soldiers under investigation in the wake of the earlier incidents would face courts-martial for negligence and dereliction of duty.

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