Monthly Archives: November 2006

The Mau-Mauing Imams

Are the flying imams mau-mauing airline passengers?

From a report in the Washington Times:

Air marshals, pilots and security officials yesterday expressed concern that airline passengers and crews will be reluctant to report suspicious behavior aboard for fear of being called “racists,” after several Muslim imams made that charge in a press conference Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Six imams, or Muslim holy men, accused a US Airways flight crew of inappropriately evicting them from a flight last week in Minneapolis after several passengers said the imams tried to intimidate them by loudly praying and moving around the airplane. The imams urged Congress to enact laws to prohibit ethnic and religious “profiling.”

Federal air marshals and others yesterday urged passengers to remain vigilant to threats. “The crew and passengers act as our additional eyes and ears on every flight,” said a federal air marshal in Las Vegas, who asked that his name not be used. “If [crew and passengers] are afraid of reporting suspicious individuals out of fear of being labeled a racist or bigot, then terrorists will certainly use those fears to their advantage in future aviation attacks.”

…The imams say they were removed from the Phoenix-bound flight because they were praying quietly in the concourse. They had been in Minnesota for a conference sponsored by the North American Imams Federation.

But other passengers told police and aviation security officials a different version of the incident. They said suspicious behavior of the imams led to their eviction from the flight. The imams, they said, tested the forbearance of the passengers and flight crew in what the air marshal called a “[political correctness] probe.”

“The political correctness needs to be left at the boarding gate,” the marshal said. “Instilling politically correct fears into the minds of airline passengers is nothing less than psychological terrorism.”

The passengers and flight crew said the imams prayed loudly before boarding; switched seating assignments to a configuration used by terrorists in previous incidents; asked for seat-belt extensions, which could be used as weapons; and shouted hostile slogans about al Qaeda and the war in Iraq.

Flight attendants said three of the six men, who did not appear to be overweight, asked for the seat-belt extensions, which include heavy metal buckles, and then threw them to the floor under their seats.

Robert MacLean, a former federal air marshal, expressed the fear yesterday that the situation “will make crews and passengers in the future second-guess reporting these events, thus compromising the aircraft’s security out of fear of being labeled a dogmatist or a bigot, or being sued.”

It Is The Oil, Stupid!

How oil empowers the bad guys.

Victor Davis Hanson writes:

With the gruesome killing of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, Vladimir Putin’s Russia stands accused of poisoning yet another critic.

Meanwhile, Syria continues to mastermind the murders of Lebanese democrats. Israeli-free Gaza is as violent as ever. Hezbollah is busy replenishing its stock of Iranian missiles. The theocracy in Iran keeps promising an end to Israel. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is slowly strangling democracy in Latin America in a manner that an impoverished Fidel Castro never could.

And then, of course, there’s Afghanistan and Iraq.

It’s easy to think that all of this violent instability across the globe is unconnected. But, in fact, in one way or another, oil and its huge profits are at the bottom of a lot of it.

Islamic jihadists, fed from petrodollar wealth of the Middle East, have the cash to arm and plan operations from Baghdad and Kabul to Madrid and London. Thanks to oil, unhinged leaders like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran and Chavez in Venezuela can stay in power (and demand the world’s attention) despite policies that ultimately harm their people, ruin their economies and imperil their neighbors.

Russia, meanwhile, is essentially threatening Eastern Europe with energy cutbacks and reviving the old Soviet nuclear and arms industries. It’s stirring up an already volatile Middle East by selling radical Islamists everything from nuclear reactors to high-tech anti-tank guns. President Bush may have seen, as he attests, something reassuring in the heart of President Putin. But Russia’s new oil riches offer a fast track back to superpower status — which we’re already seeing them use to silence critics at home and abroad.

Hanson’s remedy:

To remedy this mess, a good start would be to lower our own oil consumption, expand American production and diversify our energy sources with solar, nuclear and ethanol power and coal gasification. Only by taking these steps can America — the most desperate of all oilaholics — collapse the world price and thus erode the assets of our adversaries.

With a divided U.S. government and a slight dip in world prices, there is a window of opportunity. Democrats can ask for more mandated conservation and alternate energy; in exchange, Republicans can bargain for more drilling and nuclear power.

In World War II, an energy-independent United States bombed the oil fields of the Third Reich to stop Hitler’s killing. Today a wartime but energy-hungry America is daily enriching our worst enemies.

Those Poor Flying Imams

The Islamists are brilliant at the game of victimology. Such is the recent case of the “Flying Imams” who were removed from a plane after passengers complained about their highly suspicious behavior.

Powerline takes a look at this behavior.

What We Are Up Against

Are the British waking up to the Islamic threat?

Janet Daley writes in the London Daily Telegraph:

…How is a liberal democracy to deal with an illiberal religious minority in its midst?

To understand the life-or-death significance of what the Pope does and says when he arrives in Istanbul, it is necessary to see this confrontation for what it is. This will involve some traumatic re-adjustment for most of the opinion-forming class in Britain. The first assumption that will have to go is the premise that Islamist terrorism can be understood in pragmatic, politically rational terms: in other words, that it can be addressed with the usual mechanisms of negotiation, concession and amended policy.

The most readily accepted version of this is that a change to our policy in the Middle East will remove the grievances that “fuel” Muslim terrorism. The Cabinet has apparently been advised that all foreign policy decisions over the next decade should have the goal of thwarting terrorism in Britain and that this should involve “a significant reduction in the number and intensity of the regional conflicts that fuel terror activity”. So Britain is contemplating constructing a foreign policy, specifically in the Middle East, that is designed to give in to terrorist blackmail.

Never mind that the hereditary grievance of almost all British-born Muslim terrorists is the Kashmir question, to which the almost entirely irrelevant Palestine issue has been tacked on by political manipulators with larger ambitions. (The easiest way to make a connection between the Palestine-Israel conflict and the problem of Kashmir is to construct a global theory of persecution in which British-born Muslims may see themselves as born into a victimhood perpetrated by all non-Muslim nations upon Islam.

That, as it happens, chimes perfectly with the true goal of Islamism, which is global supremacy.) So this ignominious posture – what you might call the “save our own skin; who cares what happens in the rest of the world?” view – is based on a false premise. It is not adjustments to our stance on Israel-Palestine that the international Islamist terror movement wants.

That demand was just a bin Laden afterthought that went down a treat with the old reliable anti-Semitic interest in Europe. What Islamic fundamentalism plans to achieve (and it has made no secret of it) is a righting of the great wrong of 1492, when the Muslims were expelled from Spain: a return of the Caliphate, the destruction of corrupt Western values, and the establishment of Sharia law in all countries where Muslims reside. That is what we are up against.

The Pope characterised it as a battle between reason and unreason. Scholars may debate the theological and historical soundness of his analysis. But what is indisputable is that this is not an argument that is within the bounds of diplomatic give and take, the traditional stuff of international policy argy-bargy. What we could plausibly offer to the enemy, even at our most craven, would never be sufficient.

What is being demanded is the surrender of everything that Western democracy regards as sacred: even, ironically, the freedom to practise one’s own religion, which, at the moment, is so useful to Muslim activists. We are forced to accept the Islamist movement’s own estimation of the conflict: this is a war to the death, or until Islamism decides to call a halt.

But we do not have to accept all that Islamism claims for itself: most importantly, the idea that it alone embodies the true principles of its faith. The argument that the Islamic religion is inherently violent, which the Pope was thought to have supported in his Regensburg lecture, is academic, in both the literal and metaphorical senses.

What matters for us now is that a great many Muslims – including some enthusiastic converts who cannot even lay claim to a life history of persecution or injustice for their beliefs – are prepared to use their religious affiliation as a justification to commit mass murder. How are we to deal with this? There is only one way: we must, with the co-operation of the Muslim majority, separate the faith from its violent exponents.

Liberal democracy reached an understanding with religion a long time ago: your right, as a citizen, to observe your faith without persecution will be explicitly protected by the state. In return, you will agree to make your peace with the civil law and respect the rights of others to pursue their beliefs. That’s the deal. We cannot make exceptions either by removing Muslims who accept their side of the bargain from that protection, or by permitting those who refuse to accept it to flout our law (on, say, sexual equality or the overt slavery of forced marriages).

What Hath Realism Wrought?

Christopher Hitchens on what James Baker’s “realism” hath wrought:

The summa of wisdom in [realist] circles is the need for consultation with Iraq’s immediate neighbors in Syria and Iran. Given that these two regimes have recently succeeded in destroying the other most hopeful democratic experiment in the region—the brief emergence of a self-determined Lebanon that was free of foreign occupation—and are busily engaged in promoting their own version of sectarian mayhem there, through the trusty medium of Hezbollah, it looks as if a distinctly unsentimental process is under way.

This will present few difficulties to Baker, who supported the Syrian near-annexation of Lebanon. In order to recruit the Baathist regime of Hafez Assad to his coalition of the cynical against Saddam in the Kuwait war, Baker and Bush senior both acquiesced in the obliteration of Lebanese sovereignty. “I believe in talking to your enemies,” said Baker last month—invoking what is certainly a principle of diplomacy. In this instance, however, it will surely seem to him to be more like talking to old friends—who just happen to be supplying the sinews of war to those who kill American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. Is it likely that they will stop doing this once they become convinced that an American withdrawal is only a matter of time?

At around the same time he made this statement, Baker was quoted as saying, with great self-satisfaction, that nobody ever asks him any more about the decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power in 1991. It’s interesting to know that he still feels himself invested in that grand bargain of realpolitik, which, contrary to what he may think, has not by any means been forgotten. It’s also interesting in shedding light on the sort of conversations he has been having in Baghdad. For millions of Iraqis, the betrayal of their uprising against Saddam in 1991 is something that they can never forget. They tend to bring it up, too, and to fear a repetition of it. This apprehension about another sellout is especially strong among the Shiite and Kurdish elements who together make up a majority of the population, but it seems from its public reports so far that the ISG has not visited the Kurdish north of the country. If Baker thinks that the episode is a closed subject, it shows us something of what the quality of his “listening” must be like.

In 1991, for those who keep insisting on the importance of sending enough troops, there were half a million already-triumphant Allied soldiers on the scene. Iraq was stuffed with weapons of mass destruction, just waiting to be discovered by the inspectors of UNSCOM. The mass graves were fresh. The strength of sectarian militias was slight. The influence of Iran, still recovering from the devastating aggression of Saddam Hussein, was limited. Syria was—let’s give Baker his due—”on side.” The Iraqi Baathists were demoralized by the sheer speed and ignominy of their eviction from Kuwait and completely isolated even from their usual protectors in Moscow, Paris, and Beijing. There would never have been a better opportunity to “address the root cause” and to remove a dictator who was a permanent menace to his subjects, his neighbors, and the world beyond. Instead, he was shamefully confirmed in power and a miserable 12-year period of sanctions helped him to enrich himself and to create the immiserated, uneducated, unemployed underclass that is now one of the “root causes” of a new social breakdown in Iraq. It seems a bit much that the man principally responsible for all this should be so pleased with himself and that he should be hailed on all sides as the very model of the statesmanship we now need.

Today, another anti-Syrian Lebanese politician bites the dust.

What Iran Cannot Ignore

Finally someone, Henry Kissinger, states the unpleasant but unavoidable truth:

The nuclear negotiations [over Iran] are moving towards an inconclusive outcome. The Six eventually will have to choose between effective sanctions or the consequences of an Iranian military nuclear capability and the world of proliferation it implies. Military action by the United States is extremely improbable in the final two years of a presidency facing a hostile Congress. But Tehran surely cannot ignore the possibility of a unilateral Israeli strike [emphasis added].

I would say “possibility” is way too mild a word. I cannot see how Israel has any choice but to strike Iran before Iran strikes Israel.

Is Everything on the Table?

If a peaceful Iraq is so important, we should forget the Iraqis and do the job ourselves.

Michael Goodwin writes in the New York Daily News:

Everybody is talking about Iraq, but nobody knows what to do about it. The White House, Congress and the military say all possible ideas are being considered and that “everything is on the table.”

I beg to differ. Not everything is on the table. Every idea mentioned is a slight variation of what we’re already doing. It’s nipping and tucking around the edges while hoping for dramatically better results. I don’t think that’s going to work. We need to consider something really different if we want to stop the downward spiral.

Maybe it’s time to bypass the lame Iraqi military and the lamer Iraqi government and do the damn job ourselves. Let’s go in with massive force – 100,000 extra troops – and flatten the resistance and sectarian killers once and for all. Let’s crush the bastards and be done with it.

Why Does Europe Hates Us?

Answer: we’re not Muslim. Or how Europe is in the process of becoming (if it hasn’t already become) an Islamic continent.

Jonathan Last writes in a review of Mark Steyn’s new book:

Islam is, by definition, both a religion and a political system. As the population of Europe withers away, Muslim immigrants are amassing power, bringing the political culture of Islam into close conflict with Western liberalism. Steyn wonders what will happen when the laws of sharia smack up against the mores of Europe.

It is not an unfounded concern. Consider Bertrand Delanoë, who in 2001 became the first openly gay mayor of Paris. In October 2002, Delanoë was stabbed by a Muslim immigrant in the middle of a public festival. As Steyn writes, the good news is the would-be assassin wasn’t a “terrorist.” The bad news is he was merely a Muslim who hated homosexuals.

From the Danish cartoon riots to the persecution of Ayaan Hirsi Ali to the murder of Theo van Gogh, you can hardly go a fortnight without seeing some story of Muslim aggression in Europe. While one could see such crimes as the inevitable result of large numbers of people suddenly thrust into an alien culture, Steyn sees a wider significance to them: Such incidents are the precursors to conflict between a declining population with one set of values and a rising population with very different ones.

The European reaction thus far has been accommodation. In 2005, for instance, England’s chief inspector of prisons banned flying the flag of England on prison grounds, since it featured the cross of St. George, which might be offensive to Muslims. Britain’s version of the department of motor vehicles has also banned the English flag, as has Heathrow Airport.

Yet none of this has helped Europeans avoid trouble. Take the words of Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed to Lisbon’s Publica magazine shortly after the March 11 terror attacks in Spain: “We don’t make a distinction between civilians and noncivilians, innocents and noninnocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value.”

As Steyn observes, there are no “root causes.” There is only an ideology that requires submission of the host culture. Even in a country as amenable as France. The French are hostile toward both Israel and America, they were against the Iraq war, and they are in favor of allowing Iran to pursue its nuclear dreams. If you’re an Islamist, what’s not to like?

Yet five days before the 2005 Bali slaughter, Steyn writes, “nine Islamists were arrested in Paris for reportedly plotting to attack the Metro.” When extremist terrorists attacked a French oil tanker, the group responsible, the Islamic Army of Aden, released a statement saying, “We would have preferred to hit a U.S. frigate, but no problem, because they are all infidels.”

"Realists" To The Rescue?

This is realism?

Gerard Baker writes in the Times of London:

It’s true now that most commentators are heaping praise on the first Bush Administration for its maturity and realism and contrasting it with the infantile idealism of his son’s. But the record of the Bush-Baker-Gates team deserves more scrutiny than this.

Was it realism that caused them at the end of that war to urge the Shia Arabs in southern Iraq to rise up against Saddam Hussein? Or was it maturity that caused them to abandon quickly those same Shia when they were mown down by Saddam’s stormtroopers (who were conveniently empowered by the decision of the Bush-Baker-Gates realists to let the Iraqi Army use its helicopters after it had been expelled from Kuwait)? Was it maturity or realism that led that same team, when Mikhail Gorbachev was ousted in a chaotic coup in 1991, not to denounce the plotters but to call for a measured transition to whatever might come next?

And do the free people of Eastern Europe today have the maturity of Mr Baker and Bush Senior to thank for their liberation from the Russian yoke? Or was it Bush’s realism that caused him to warn Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans in his infamous “Chicken Kiev” speech in 1991 against “suicidal nationalism” after the collapse of communism?

Borat and the Racist, Anti-Semitic Idiotic Bush Voters

David Brooks looks at the underlying connection between Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat and its audience:

Cohen understands that when you are telling socially insecure audiences they are superior to their fellow citizens there is no need to be subtle. He also understands that any hint of actually questioning the cultural suppositions of his ticket-buyers — say by ridiculing the pretensions of somebody at a Starbucks or a Whole Foods Market — would fatally mar the self-congratulatory aura of the enterprise.

Cohen also knows how to rig an unfair fight, and to then ring maximum humiliation and humor out of each situation. The core of his movie is that he and his audience know he is playing a role, and this gives him, and them, power over the less sophisticated stooges who don’t. The world becomes divided between the club of those who are in on the joke, and the excluded rubes who aren’t. The more tolerant the simpletons try to be toward Borat, the more he drags them into the realm of anti-Semitism and vileness. The more hospitable they try to be, the dumber they appear for not understanding the situation.

In a society as fluid as ours, snobbery is constantly changing form, and in the latest wave of condescension media, various strains come together. We Jews know all about Borat’s Jewish snobbery — based on the assumption that Middle America’s acceptance of Jews must be a mirage, and that underneath every Rotarian there must be a Cossack about to unleash a continental pogrom.

There’s also that distinct style of young person’s snobbery. Young people haven’t accomplished much yet so they can only elevate themselves by endlessly celebrating their own superior sensibilities. Finally, there’s blue America snobbery, as people on the coasts try to fathom those who would vote for George W. Bush. The only logical explanation is that they are racist, anti-Semitic idiots who can be blamelessly ridiculed.