Sunday, June 25, 2006


Richard Perle has a terrific op-ed in the Washington Post today, "Why did Bush Blink on Iran?",
essentially stating that Condi Rice, rather than cleaning up the State Dept. bureaucracy, has become one of them, and thereby diverting the President from what needs to be done on Iran onto a path of extended and interminable negotiation with a malefide opponent. It does seem that Bush has become excessively passive on both Iran and on North Korea. The question must be asked, has Iraq so weakened the administration that is unable to cope with the rest of the "axis of evil"?

One of the key unstated arguments for the Iraq war was geography: having an American forward force on the borders of Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia (and out of Saudi Arabia proper) would be a valuable reminder to rogue regimes of the dangers of provoking America as well as a rapid deployment platform for a day of reckoning with those governments. But our enemies seem to have employed jujitsu, turning our dagger into an albatross. Or have they? The answer turns on whether we use our forces in Iraq as a weak pawn, as we have to date, or as a springboard and forward strategy. War and chess both rely on leveraging advances into gains as opposed to incremental moves followed by holding actions. Rumsfeld once understood this with his lightning strike across the Iraqi desert. But as the elder Bush said, "It is not clear what we would do once we entered Baghdad." That lack of foresight has been the cloud hanging over our nation's intervention in Iraq. Rather than using our forces in Iraq to pressure Iran and Syria, we have allowed them to hold us hostage in Iraq. That is the true quagmire. It is all the more tragic as there are real options against Iran as interim measures prior to either a peaceful resolution or military conflict - Bret Stephens laid these out last month:
* An open letter to Ayatollah Khameini
* Retooling Radio Farda along the old model of Radio Free Europe
* Freeze Iranian financial assets around the globe
* Support the labor and student movements in Iran as we did with Solidarity in Poland
* Lock out gasoline imports to Iran, which has a very poor refining capacity, and imports 40% of its gasoline.

And now comes North Korea brandishing a new ICBM. It is interesting how Iran and North Korea employ a tag team strategy of arrogating the world's attention. One wonders if they aspire to be the 21st century version of Germany and Japan, using not territorial conquest but shadow wars and serious threats, while the great power(s) are repeatedly caught flatfooted. But we are flatfooted only if we choose to be.

The curse of the 2nd term - without an election to concentrate the mind of the leadership, distractions and dithering take over. Bush once struck me as immune to inertia. Yet he seems intent on proving me wrong. I hope not, for all of our sakes.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Democratic Alliance

Just to flesh out my thoughts a bit more on my post from this week on summoning an alliance of democracies, I think this could be made to work by having charter members, associate members, and perhaps an observer tier. Charter members would be established democracies, say having had stable democracies for >25 yrs. This would be not just the West but also India and Japan. After achieving 25 years of democracy with stability and respect for the normal societal protections, countries would join the first rank. This would serve as an aspiration magnet: countries would see that benefits of this club (free trade with the West, India, Japan, some sort of military umbrella, cultural and scientific exchange, and so on) were real yet earnable. A positive ideal of carrots without the fluff and corruption and garbage of the UN to complement the steel backbone necessary to take out the trash. The Cold War's battle of ideas was won by a positive vision; something similar should be deployed by the US and friends, and the sooner, the better. It brings to mind the exchange from Star Trek:
Spock: "One man cannot summon the future"
Kirk: " But one man can change the present"

Moderate Muslims?

In a front page piece, the NY Times promotes Zaid Shakir and Hamza Yusuf
as US-bred moderate Muslim Imams:

Throughout most of the complimentary article, this pair makes several good and hopeful statements to the effect of promoting nonviolence and standing against Wahhabism.

But the final statement, of wishing for "America to become a Muslim country" and that any honest Muslim wishes the same is chilling. Even though I am Hindu, I do not wish America to become a Hindu country. Americans need to communicate to all of the different groups that make up the fabric of our nation the values that make our country unique - one of the key ones being that all religions are welcome and treated equally, another being the separation between church and state. The latter keeps religion from being contaminated by politics, and frees politics from the chains of self-righteously infallible dogma. The obvious retort of America being a "Christian country" is met by Christ's own "Render unto God what is God's, and render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." This goes to the crux of whether a Muslim Enlightenment/Reformation is possible - whether a mosque-state separation can be effected or set as a goal by "moderates." It is our duty to engage with those who abjure the sword for the pen and employ our finest methods of suasion to this end. Those who are open to reason must be convinced of the essentiality of an areligious arena of politics, where "I don't know" is the beginning of policymaking.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Way Forward

Now that the site has been updated to include previous columns and essays, I'm ready to start posting fresh material. Here's my very first original post:

As a liberal hawk, I have watched the events of the last several years with increasing dismay. Caught between the deranged rants of the loony leftists who are hijacking the Democratic Party and the painfully worsening incompetence and incoherence of the Bush Administration ever since the premature victory lap on May 1, 2003, those like myself, who recognize the existential danger of radical Islamic fundamentalism and the centrality of American ideals & resolve to the free world’s defense, have become marginalized as dark clouds have gathered.

I started this blog to offer a forum and platform for constructive criticisms of current policy paired with hopefully pathbreaking ideas that hitch reality to vision. While I am a liberal, I want President Bush to succeed, because his failure at such a critical time in history, will be a failure for America with potentially catastrophic consequences. So let me put my 2 cents worth of perspective on the table.

While the received wisdom is that Bush’s difficulties stem from poor postwar planning (not securing the border and ammunition dumps after the war, insufficient troops, various political stumbles), I think an equally big yet perhaps unrecognized problem was his lack of putting forward a positive vision. He missed 2 critical opportunities to do so, after 9/11, and in April/May 2003. What do I mean by this? Bush’s thesis – that a lack of democracy/freedom/opportunity feeds resentment and dysfunctional societies which tolerate and foster the crazies who want to take over the world in the name of Islam, has value as a diagnosis. But there has not been a coherent approach to addressing that. We won the Cold War because our country came together, as a society, to offer not only resolve but also a positive goal to aspire to, for Americans and for others.

After 9/11, recognizing that we faced a generational war of arms and ideologies, Bush could have gotten just about anything he wanted. A call to national service would have been a tremendous and transforming opportunity to engage young people from all walks of society and would have provided much-needed resources many of our current challenges in service personnel – military, border patrol, teachers, nurses, first responders, etc. as well as provided a mechanism to encourage young people to go into science and engineering. Further, it could have been used to promote American ambassadorship abroad by the young for efforts in civil society development, health care delivery, seeding of infrastructure, and so on. I bring up these “soft” efforts not as a “touchy-feely” criticism of Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” but to make the point that the military is doing everything in Iraq, and having a foreign service corps could have sped up reconstruction and smoothed the American presence abroad while relieving the military of non-core responsibilities.

In the international arena, Bush, like Clinton, suffered from a huge blind spot in marrying objectives to ideals. Clinton, casting about after the Cold War for “a big idea”, settled on free trade as one of his signal achievements in foreign policy – NAFTA and the WTO are probably 2 of his most long-term achievements. Bush was greeted with disaster soon after entering office and rose to the challenge militarily, but he too has failed to transform the ideals of America into aspirations for others. While the Republicans recognize the deep flaws of the UN, a credible alternative, one that would be great for the world and great for America, has so far been incredibly missed. After 9/11, Bush rightly saw that the attacks were an attack on freedom, in the sense that freedom and democracy are an alternative world-view irreconcilably opposed to the Islamist utopia, and the only antidote the toxins of the Middle East. Recognizing the danger to freedom, Bush could have marshaled an Alliance of Democracies. This is not as hare-brained or pipe-dreamy as it sounds. How marvelous it would have been for Bush after 9/11 to summon the democracies of the world – the US, India, Britain, Brazil, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, Israel, Turkey, Indonesia, Italy, the East European countries, Spain, Mexico, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand? (I am of course deliberately excluding France). Such an alliance, a D-NATO if you will (Democratic Nations Against Terrorism Organization) would have had great potential – a common front against terrorism, mutual support against threats such as Iran and North Korea, interlinking of political bases to help support the secular democrats in Turkey and Indonesia and pro-US forces in Spain, Germany, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, etc., Such an alliance would have several purposes:

  • Foreign affairs: mutual military assistance and support, a united system of economic sanctions against rogue states, cooperativity on energy independence
  • Economics: most favored nation status for countries that were free at home, an orderly system of immigration among the democracies
  • Social: a round table of exchange and cooperation on health, education, and scientific issues (again, sounds soft, but would have significant benefits)

What I am proposing then is a union of military, economic, and political objectives in a Democratic Alliance. Clinton’s mistake in the WTO was thinking free trade would free China. Rather, linking free trade and orderly immigration to freedom and good governance at home would allow economics to leverage ideals into actionable goals. Having the democracies united would be a powerful message against Chinese expansionism, Islamic fundamentalists, and assorted tyrants. The diplomatic cover and advantage of international support for military action would be much easier and much more morally relevant than with an ethically bankrupt and kleptocratic UN. Last but not least, a union of democracies would also offer substantial support to the emerging democracies threatened by non-democratic forces (e.g., Turkey, Indonesia), to build up vulnerable poor democracies (e.g., Botswana, Mongolia, Mozambique) and to embattled democrats in places like Iran and Venezuala. What I am proposing would be a means to transform beacons of freedom into magnets of investment and bulwarks against terrorism and tyranny.

I do not subscribe to the “it’s all America’s fault” crowd. The cheap canard that invading Iraq after 9/11 would have been like invading Mexico after Pearl Harbor is nonsense – we actually invaded North Africa after Pearl Harbor to fight the Axis in a place favorable to us. But the true problems are to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and not to repeat them. The Iranian coup of 1953 leads in a straight line to Khomeini, American support of Saddam against Iran, having to deal with Saddam, and not having to deal with Iran. American support of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan enabled and fostered Islamic fundamentalism. I bring these up not to say that America is evil, but to recognize that America has a unique responsibility to fix the problems of our past policies, and just as important, not to repeat them with our current support for Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and the Saudis. The America-bashers gain credibility whenever we hypocritize not only our long-standing principles but also our current statements on the importance of freedom.

Dealing with the America-bashing crowd and with the fence-sitters is essential to America’s future. And dealing means not yelling or ignoring, but turning a negative into a positive, to harness our promise to powers of persuasion. Wretchard at Belmont Club touched on this by commenting on the war on terror’s sterility in new concepts for marrying strategy to law, for not developing a new rulebook in how to deal with terrorists so that American need not always seem arbitrary and unpredictable. But the problem is more than that. Forgive me for quoting from Al Gore, but a cynic is just a dreamer yearning to dream again. America can reinfuse the dream of America with the clarity of challenges facing the 21st century and a forward-looking vision. Continued small-mindedness and inability to acknowledge mistakes will hobble that effort. Bush, or his successor, must find the means to invoke Kennedy’s call to service and a twilight struggle against the night, and FDR’s ability to bring together peoples and nations.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Comparing the Candidates

Published 10/26/04 at the Duke Chronicle

How is a hawkish classical liberal to vote Nov. 2? For swing voters who largely fall into this category, this vote seems to be about whom to vote against rather than a vote in favor of someone. But let me attempt to lay out the pros and cons of each candidate.

On domestic issues, drunken-sailor spending mated with irresponsible tax cuts, corporate-run policies, Orwellian-termed environmental policies like “Clear Skies, Healthy Forests,” gun delimitation and the spectre of a stacked Supreme Court militate for a change of helm. One wonders whether the current administration realizes it is driving national finances into a ditch or consciously trusts faith-based economics.

But this election will come down to Iraq and terrorism. Here the decision is most anguished. On one hand, President George W. Bush is guilty of, at the least, grave incompetence—not planning and not listening to others enough to guard ammunition dumps and minimize border infiltration and not cultivating public opinion in key countries around the world (and conservatives, I don’t mean France, but rather the republics of Turkey, India, Australia, Japan, Russia, etc., societies whose long-term support will be crucial to our success). At his worst, Bush continues to coddle the real axis of evil—Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the financial, logistic and ideological nests of radical Islamic fundamentalism—and has let Iran and North Korea fester by concentrating our resources to Iraq. Shirking of accountability, utter distortions of the truth, plain stupidity and a lack of grace and magnanimity characterize this presidency. Bush’s obtuseness of mind is matched only by his hamness of hand.

Still, Bush has presented a vision and is relatively predictable. Bush seeks to reform the entire Middle East with a democratic domino theory; even if you disagree with it (which I do not), he has a goal that is optimistic and a credible alternative to continued “stability” whose only wage will be immense pain all around. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., seems bereft of vision and unmoored from objectives. Certainly, Kerry’s emphasis on doing more to protect the homeland is welcome and necessary, yet grossly insufficient. Having a less polarizing figure than Bush may be salutary for building strategic alliances, yet one wonders whether Kerry’s signals would be interpreted by the terrorists as a strategic retreat, emboldening them. Kerry seems stuck on Sept. 10, treating al Qaeda as a law enforcement issue. Honor does not accrue to the ostrich. It is unacceptable to set a goal of reducing terrorism to the level of prostitution or gambling, each of which are legal and thriving in various states and countries. To acknowledge that every terrorist and radical Islamic fundamentalist cannot be eradicated does not mean the attempt should be avoided; while the world still has Nazis and Communists, they know their ideology and outlook is bankrupt and discredited largely at America’s hand, which must be the goal now.

Although Bush’s team has done poorly domestically, credit is due to Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft for the fact that there has not been a significant attack in the United States since Sept. 11. It would be helpful to know Kerry’s picks for key cabinet positions, his thoughts on the roots of terrorism are (Does he recognize the threat of radical Islamic fundamentalism, or does he whitewash it with the laundry of foreign policy mistakes?) and his vision for American victory is or if he has any.

My gut says if the trigger needs to be pulled, Bush will pull the trigger, whereas with Kerry it’s not sure. My head says Bush is driving the long-term solvency of the country into a ditch, and that this is a more serious issue than generally realized. My heart wishes we could dump both of these candidates in favor of someone with both brain and backbone. It is a dark time for classical liberals—the proud mantle of FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Scoop Jackson and Pat Moynihan lies forlorn in the attic of a storied history, waiting to be unfurled as the banner of a new horizon.


Written Fall 2002

Energy independence from the Middle East requires a determination to reduce demand for fossil fuels, which entails shifting income tax to gas consumption taxes, improved mass transit, and redoubled efforts on renewable sources. Domestic challenges should be met with a focus on fairness in education, health care, and taxation, and a recognition of the looming fiscal disaster that awaits the baby-boomer retirement.

On domestic affairs, Democrats have great opportunities to craft innovative and creative solutions to America’s 2 most pressing issues: homeland security and replenishing the wellsprings of our prosperity.

Where national security meets domestic affairs, Democrats should grill the administration on its grossly misguided priorities in energy policy and law enforcement. The single-minded focus of the Bush administration on oil in Alaska is demonstrably pointless, as reserves there are nowhere near what we need to wean ourselves from Middle Eastern oil. Energy independence, an important goal, should be met through dramatic but achievable efficiency upgrades, emphasis on mass transit, technological investment in fuel cells, gasification, and gas-electric hybrids, developing natural gas and oil shale, harnessing renewable energy sources, and shifting imports to Russia, Mexico, and other friendly nations.

Democrats must also challenge the administration on why it feels 5th amendment protections of due process and judicial review are elastic but the 2nd amendment is inviolable, a position that, through the gun show loophole, has allowed Hezbollah and Osama bin Laden associates to buy assault rifles at gun shows in America itself.

The recently passed Homeland Security Bill is a prime example of the administration’s exploitation of good means for bad ends. Tucked within the bill are measures implementing an Orwellian “Total Information Awareness” program (led by John Poindexter of Iran-contra infamy) to track virtually every facet of Americans’ lives (except of course weapons purchases), exempting companies from prosecution under environmental, health, & safety laws, barring federal employees from “whistleblowing” such violations, and specifically exempting Eli Lilly, a major Republican campaign donor, from liability on using mercury derivatives linked to autism in children’s vaccines.

Turning to restoring the foundations of our nation, Democrats should berate the Republicans on their lack of coherent plans for economic revitalization, educational renewal, health care reform, environmental protection, and rediscovering integrity.

The fiscal irresponsibility of bankrupting the treasury to give hundreds of billions of dollars to the rich has kept long-term interests rate high despite the Fed’s rate cuts, sucks needed money towards interest payments on the ballooning national debt, and makes the day of reckoning with safeguarding the solvency of Medicare and Social Security that much harder. Blaming the deficit on 9/11 is the Republican’s latest installment of “fuzzy math”; what is clear is that the promises of paying off the debt, safeguarding Social Security, and a humongous tax cut for the very rich were based on fake math that continues to sap our economy and cloud our future prosperity. Targeted tax relief for the middle class, help for states and cities in dire fiscal straits, increasing limits on tax-deferred savings accounts, and rolling back egregious parts of the tax cut should all be on the table. Republicans remain obstructionist in reforming the accounting industry and pigheaded in privatizing Social Security despite recent events, both of which destroy credibility in economic policy.

On education, health care, the environment, and political integrity, the Democrats can come up with novel solutions, bearing in mind that national problems should be met with national initiatives. Public schools, students, and teachers should be challenged with rigorous standards and curricula and given the resources to meet that challenge to level the playing field. Small-bore maneuvers like faith-based vouchers supporting private schools without regulation blur the distinction between church and state, may open the door to future public funding of madrassahs and corrode the foundation of our society’s “melting pot.”

Health care has been taken over by insurance, drug companies, and administrators, transforming patients into “customers” and eroding the doctor-patient bond. A candid national conversation on what services should be paid for, curtailing the marketing of drugs that perverts medical care and drives up costs, regulation of pharmaceutical prices in exchange for free access enjoyed by drug companies to NIH-funded scientific breakthroughs, pragmatic copayments to prevent needless utilization, and a single-payer system that clears out administrative deadwood should all be considered.

On the environment, Democrats should insist that one of capitalism’s four pillars, exclusivity (that the costs and benefits of a product are borne by the product and consumer and not by society or the guy downstream of a factory), be met, e.g., in the form of pollution taxes. Renewed commitment to curbing greenhouse gas emissions, clean air & water standards, and clean-up of toxic sites is also essential.

With respect to restoring integrity in politics, the Democrats should push for public financing of campaigns, free TV time for candidates in exchange for the cheap licenses to public airwaves enjoyed by broadcast media, fairness in advertising to curb excesses of negative campaigning, and full disclosure of political donors.

And of course there are the ideas that capture the imagination, that stir the soul, rally the spirit, e.g., setting as goals cures for AIDS or cancer, or landing a man on Mars, ideas that define the American can-do spirit of optimism to rise to any occasion and meet any challenge.

Democrats and liberals have been sleepwalking off a cliff. When we stop, we will find a vast arena of opportunities for Democrats to dust off the ideals of liberalism, speak truth to power, and present uplifting solutions for national priorities.

Fifth columns?

Written Fall 2003

Throughout the 1990s prescient Cassandras warned of the dangers of madrasahs in Pakistan and the West Bank teaching hatred of disbelievers to children and teenagers, and of their Saudi Arabian fountainhead of philosophy and money. They were screaming into the wind to an audience of the willfully deaf. It is thus deeply disturbing to read what is being taught now in America.

It is poignant that Islamic fundamentalist indoctrination is deeprooted in New York City, where Islamic schools use hate-filled textbooks to brainwash schoolchildren. Fifth and 6th graders at the Ideal Islamic School in Queens learn “Jews killed their own prophets and disobeyed Allah.” The Muslim Center Elementary School uses, “What Islam is All About.” Some of its pearls: “Jews subscribe to a belief in racial superiority…their religion teaches to curses worship places of non-Jews! They arrogantly refer to non-Jews as gentiles, equating them with sin….The Christians worship statues…Many Jews and Christians lead such decadent lives that lying, alcohol, nudity, pornography, racism, foul language, premarital sex, homosexuality, and everything else are accepted in their society, churches, and synagogues.” Another textbook, “The Messenger of Allah”, teaches “The reasons for Jewish hostility lies in their general characteristics described in the Koran…You will ever find them deceitful…You will find the most implacable of enemies to the faithful are the Jews and pagans.” “Mercy to Mankind”, used by Ideal Islamic School, teaches “Allah revealed to Muhammed that the Jews had changed the Torah, killed their prophets, and disobeyed Allah. And the Jews did not want the Arabs to know about these shameful things.” One of the books’ publishers, Yahya Emerick, head of Islamic Foundation of North America, defends these hate manuals, “Islam believes its program is better than others. I don’t feel embarrassed to say that” and writes guidelines for Muslims on “how to make America an Islamic country.”

Elsewhere, the Muslim Students Association of University of Washingon defines jihad on its website as “8 stages followed by armed conflict when there is enough strength to do so for the establishment of the domination of Islam over all other systems of life, all over the world.” The Islamic Education Center in Potomac has a banner in its school teaching over 1,000 Muslim-American children that “those who struggle against the US will be rewarded by God”, and its officials praise suicide bombers and claim “Muslims will deal the death blow to Jews.” At the al-Qalam All-Girls School in Virginia, 7th graders learn that Osama bin Laden may not be a villain but a victim of Americans’ prejudice against Muslims and Islamic leaders.

Some maintain their version of “true” Islam holds the key to solving problems, and want to see it conquer America, e.g., the chairman of the Council on American-Islamic relations, Omar Ahmad, told a California audience in 1998 that “The Quran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” The American Muslim Council’s executive director proclaimed “I support Hamas and Hezbollah” in front of the White House. Imam Mohammad Asi of the Islamic Education Center in Potomac praising 9/11 as a “grand strike against New York and Washington” at the National Press Club soon after 9/11. The Toronto Khalid bin Al-walid mosque crystallized the attitude of Islamic fundamentalists: “wishing someone a Merry Christmas is like congratulating someone for murdering someone or having illicit sexual relations.”

It is clear the cancer of Islamic fundamentalist imperialism has spread to US shores as well not only in terrorist action but in noxious ideas. It is imperative to acknowledge and fight this menace not only with military and police actions but on an intellectual level. Those who constantly say Islam is peace must match words with actions, delegitimizing the inciteful imams, hateful textbooks, and embryonic madrasahs in the Muslim-American community and removing them from any role in manipulating beliefs or propagating hatred; till then, silent indifference equals complicit assent.

But too many “liberals” and “moderate” Muslims equate criticism of Islamic fundamentalism with attacks on Islam. Irresponsible allegations often reveal the true nature of the accuser. It is unacceptable to blur lines between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism, for obfuscation provides cover for terrorists and makes upstanding Muslims targets for suspicion; both further religious colonialism of Islamic fundamentalists, who usurp public discourse and purge moderates on their way to conquest.


Written Summer 2002

People remark the war on terrorism is unwinnable because it is not a war against a country but with ideas. But while one cannot destroy an idea, one can discredit it and destroy its manifestations and proponents.

Requisite is honest appraisal. At the start of this academic year, I stated this war is about whether America’s ideals will destroy or be destroyed by radical Islamic fundamentalism and I laid out what I believed America stood for. The next step is to recognize what radical Islamic fundamentalism is.

Clarity is critical: glamorizing suicide bombing by Islamic fundamentalists and fringe leftists perverts freedom struggle’s meaning. Linking suicide-bombing to Patrick Henry is false and disgusting. True heroes of modern times include not just Gandhi, Mandela, and King, who showed the power of virtue. Every region has heroes: Havel (Czechoslovakia), Walesa (Poland), Chammorro (Nicaragua), Aquino (Phillipines), the Dalai Lama (Tibet), Suu Kyi (Burma), Sakharov & Solzhenitsyn (Russia), Ramos-Horta (East Timor), Landsbergis (Lithuania), Alberdi (Argentina), Aylwin (Chile), the anonymous Chinese man who blocked a tank in 1989, and many others show nonviolence’s power against oppression. .

We must end excusing terrorism. Nouveaux chic morality only makes Islamic fundamentalist bloodlust fashionable. Ultimately any cancer will kill you. In the words of Burke and FDR, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Not being radical Islamic fundamentalists, most of us turn away from it, hoping it will go away like a bad dream, or try to ascribe it to psychobabble victimology of “root causes.” This denial is dangerous and dishonest; much as we learned when someone says they want to kill you or “Death to America”, they mean it, it is time we take Islamic fundamentalists at their word regarding their aims.

It is surprising that despite the wide availability of writings of Osama bin Laden, his International Islamic Front, Mohammed Atta, and their comrades, so few familiarize themselves with their objectives and ideas. They believe the world should be modeled after 7th century Arabia, with shar’ia as the code of justice, and everyone converted to their perverse brand of Islam.

Their domestic objectives were exemplified by the Taliban. Slaughter of political opponents, gender apartheid, repression of women and banning of women’s education (let alone basic rights), theocracy, and shar’ia law are their highlights. The last includes stoning of gays and adulterers (including women impregnated by rape), death for those who leave Islam and death for blasphemy, cutting off hands of thieves, women having ½ the legal credibility of women and ½ the right to inheritances, and banning of the practice of other religions. These occurred not just under the Taliban but also to varying degrees in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, and some other Islamic countries. It is a vital to remember that throughout the 1990s many people, not just fundamentalists but numerous sympathizers among “moderate” Muslims held up Iran and the Taliban as role models for regimes best representing Islamic values on earth. The results are visible for all to see – poverty and deep despair for people under the rule of Islamic fundamentalists. Notable results of Islamic fundamentalism include the Taliban’s beating girls for going to school, Saudi police keeping girls from fleeing a burning school because they did not have their head-scarves on (condemning them to incineration), Sudan’s institutionalization of slavery, Nigeria’s stoning sentence for a woman impregnated by rape, Dubai’s jailing a Frenchwoman who was gangraped for adultery under sharia, and Iran’s mullahs considering legalizing prostitution under the rubric of “chastity houses” and “temporary marriage” run by the government (presumably officials would get revenue and other pleasures generated by these). Multiculturalists insisting on equality of cultures turn a blind eye; hypocritical racism of low expectations for other peoples is perhaps too painful to acknowledge.

Rather than look hard in the mirror with a no-holds-barred self-examination of societal rot, many in the Islamic world (including their governments, some of their people, terrorists, and sympathizers among “liberals” and self-proclaimed “moderate” Muslims) blame America and Israel for their problems.

Everyone should realize the threat of Islamic fundamentalist imperialism, and recognize that shariatopia and theocracy are one-way tickets to misery. Separation of church and state, consigning the barbaric and medieval practices of shari’a to history’s unmarked grave of lies, true freedom, democracy, and equality of all people regardless of religion are essential values that must be adopted and embraced for Islamic countries to move forward in the 21st century.

From Yahya to Musharraf

Written Spring 2002

Recently declassified White House documents from the Nixon administration reveal an appalling nonchalance to the depraved genocide practiced by Pakistan in 1971, a willful blindness by a Republican President to craven dictators that is being repeated by the current administration.

General Yahya Khan, the military dictator of Pakistan in 1971, refused to seat the winning East Pakistan party in parliamentary elections, triggering protests which he met with the most intense genocide of Muslims in history, killing 800,000 Bangladeshis in 8 months (by comparison, even the Taliban were only able to kill 1.5 million Muslims in 5 years, while Israel in 8 years of 2 intifadas has killed fewer than 3,000 Palestinians) and triggering a refugee wave of 10 million into India (the largest refugee crisis in history). Consul General Archer Blood of the US in then East Pakistan cabled home, “Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities…, while at the same time bending over backwards to placate the West Pakistan government... Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy”. Blood documented the selective genocide of East Pakistanis by the Pakistani military, writing “Full horror of Pak military atrocities will come to light sooner or later. I, therefore, question continued advisability of present US posture of pretending to believe Pakistan's false assertions...” US Ambassador to India Keating telegrammed, “"Am deeply shocked at massacre by Pakistani military in East Pakistan, appalled at possibility these atrocities are being committed with American equipment, and greatly concerned at United States vulnerability to damaging allegations of association with reign of military terror. I believe US should

(a) promptly, publicly and prominently deplore this brutality;

(b) should privately lay it on the line with Pakistan and so advise India; and,

(c) should announce unilateral abrogation of one time exception military supply agreement, and suspension of all military deliveries under the 1967 restrictive policy.

It is most important these actions be taken now, prior to inevitable and imminent emergence of horrible truths and prior to Communist initiatives to exploit situation. This is time when principles make best politics."

Even machiavellian Henry Kissinger recommended that the US lean on Pakistan to end killing and pave the way for East Pakistani autonomy. Nixon’s curt reply: “To all hands, don’t squeeze Yahya”, underlining “don’t” thrice. Further, the US military continued giving weapons to Pakistan despite a Congressional ban, and Nixon stated that “If there is a war, I will go on national television and ask Congress to cut off all aid to India.” Further, the Nixon administration encouraged China to intervene on Pakistan’s behalf and sent a naval task force to intimidate India. Fortunately, India was able to stop the genocide.

What is the point of this? Over the next thirty years, Republican Presidents have armed and financed Pakistan, which has been a military dictatorship for most of its history, despite its brutal violence towards its own people (besides the Bangladeshi genocide, use of chemical weapons against its Baluchi citizens in 1974), fostering of Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan (which came back to haunt the US on 9/11), and export of terrorism to India (where 10 times as many people have died to Islamic fundamentalist terrorists as on 9/11). The latest Pakistani dictator, General Musharraf, continues his sponsorship of terrorists, and is a man of treachery: India’s 2 summit initiatives in recent years were rewarded by an invasion and attempts to destroy India’s Parliament and Kashmir Assembly, while Musharraf makes a travesty of democracy with sham referenda and rigged elections.

Musharraf’s defenders say he is important in fighting terrorism and the alternatives are worse. This is unadulterated nonsense; Musharraf is an Arafat in suit-and-tie who speaks English. Pakistan created the Taliban, Pakistani intelligence links to al Qaeda are well-documented, and Pakistan is very likely Osama bin Laden’s landlord. Just as important, Pakistan has exported nuclear technology to North Korea not only for years but this past July, after 9/11, using C-130s provided by the US to boot. If God forbid North Korea drops nukes on the 37,000 US troops in South Korea, it will be courtesy of US-provided planes and money to Pakistan.

President Bush’s arms-open, eyes-closed embrace of Gen. Musharraf and the Saudi royals is appalling. It continues a tradition of hypocrisy bereft of foresight by Republican administrations (e.g., support for Saddam Hussain, Afghan mujahadeen) that have led to a careening cascade of colossal catastrophe. Will present US support for Pakistan cost us dearly in 10 or 20 years; will we rue this day of fellowship with fiends with events making 9/11 look like a spring picnic? It is unfathomable why President Bush has bartered his moral clarity for situational ethics, expediency for principle, reason for incoherence. Mr. Bush’s most memorable statements included “We will make no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them…Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” By supporting Pakistan’s military dictator and the Saudis, the real axis of evil, President Bush has cost his lot (and ours) with kingpins of terror.

Lessons from the fall of Iraq

Published 4/18/03 at the Duke Chronicle

Iraqis' jubilation at the end of Saddam's reign holds lessons for all. It's time to demolish the petulant idiocies of the anti-American crowd:

1) Freedom must be achieved by those who seek it: Freedom is a precious gift but not one that should be denied because someone had the misfortune of being born under Saddam Hussein. And when the absence of freedom spawns nests of terrorism, aggression, genocide, and pursuit of nuclear weapons, it is morally imperative to intervene. If America must be the one to take out garbage others are unwilling or unable to face, so be it.

2) War is always a failure: When the U.S. galvanizes resources and American public support in the pursuit of a just aim, war is sometimes the only option that can accomplish anything of value. The UN was formed to keep the great powers from destroying each other; in that and in humanitarian assistance, it is effective. But the UN is incapable of "collective security" as each nation ultimately will look after its own; just as each nation will determine what affects its security, so will the U.S. There is no world government and given the nature of the rest of the world, that is a good thing. Much as courts would be impotent without enforcement, so are handwringing of naifs and idle talk of the Security Council. If America must be the enforcer that others are unwilling or unable to be, so be it.

3) Saddam is a bad guy, but...: The yes-but brigade has been clamoring since Sept. 11 pinning the blame for everyone's problems on the U.S. Stop. In a battle between imperfect good and pure evil, there is no choice. The U.S. is responsible for many bad things, but the U.S. is responsible for many more good things, more so than most nations and more than any great power ever; we must make our country better, which requires constructive criticism, not the whining self-loathing that's displaced patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel.

4) We should not attack those who did not attack us: The president must not just react but anticipate. If Clinton had invaded Afghanistan in 1999 to "get" Osama bin Laden (as reportedly he was to until Gen. Musharraf seized power in Pakistan), all the current protesters would have protested then as well. But they would have been wrong, just as they are wrong today. It is not acceptable to U.S. security for tyrants with any conceivable access to any terrorists to get nuclear weapons. Pakistan and North Korea are already two such states, and two too many; the U.S. can't let this club grow. Waiting for a mushroom cloud over Los Angeles is stupid and insane.

5) The consequences will be unpredictable, with more terrorism, instability, etc.: The consequences of inaction in the face of terrorism in the last 20 years (TWA, Beirut, World Trade Center I, USS Cole, the embassy bombings) are clear. The consequences of stability of Middle Eastern regimes in cesspools that pass for societies are clear. For Iraqis, the consequences of leaving Saddam in power far outweigh the regrettable and unintended civilian casualties of war. Fortune favors the bold. Analysis isn't an excuse for paralysis. The self-appointed spokesmen for the Iraqi people who did everything in their power to perpetuate Saddam's reign should be ashamed of themselves.

To the protesters that said "not in our name": Iraqis' freedom and joy are indeed not in your name. The lives of countless Iraqis who would have been killed by Saddam for years to come are not in your name. The light that now pierces the darkness of fear in the Middle East is not in your name. Nonetheless, admit the obvious and be happy for all those no longer under Saddam's boot.

The silent majority

Published in abridged version 4/9/03

Liberalism is disgraced by those who usurp its mantle to propagate anti-American and anti-Israeli hateful drivel. Protestors not only have the right but the duty to state beliefs; that is the democratic, indeed the patriotic thing to do. But those with signs “We support our troops –when they shoot their officers!” are repulsive. Celebrators on of Asan Akbar, soldier who murdered 2 of his colleagues, are disgusting. Sedition’s pinnacle was scaled by Prof. Nicholas deGenova of Columbia University wishing, “Peace anticipates a world where the US has no place…I personally would like to see million Mogadishus” for US forces in Iraq.

These are not liberals; they are an unholy alliance of Stalinists & Islamic fundamentalists. Many anti-war protests have been organized by ANSWER, subsidiary of the World Workers’ Party. Protestors should reflect on WWP’s pedigree. It split from the Socialist Workers Party over the USSR's 1956 invasion of Hungary; WWP supported the invasion. WWP and ANSWER supported China’s massacre of Tiananmen Square, supported Milosevic after the butchery of Srebenica, and today support North Korea in the mass starvation of its citizens, Saddam Hussein, Iran’s repressive mullahs, Hamas’ suicide-bombers, and Colombia’s narco-terrorists. Par for the course – at recent protests, their speakers have condemned the “United Snakes of America” and declared the difference between Bush and Saddam is that “Saddam was elected.”

The other engine of protests are apologists or abettors of Islamic fundamentalism. Protestors labeling America and Israel as terrorist states routinely excuse suicide bombers who target civilians in Tunisia, Israel, India, Russia, Bali, and New York. It’s time to review their activities. Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, leader of the University of Idaho’s Muslim Students Association (MSA) is under arrest for visa fraud and suspected of facilitating online networking of terrorists, and collaborating with the Islamic Assembly of North America in laundering money to Iraq; the IANA is a Saudi-funded group that propagates jihad recruitment tapes and fatwas approving suicide bombing, terrorism, including a fatwa in May 2001 stating, “The mujahid must kill himself if this will kill a great number of enemies…this can be accomplished with bringing down an airplane on an important location.” The MSA of Queensborough Community College recently hosted a talk featuring leaders of al-Muhajiroun, the London-based group that celebrates 9/11 as a towering day in history; speaker Muhammad Faheed proclaimed, “We reject the UN, reject America, reject all law and order. Don’t lobby Congress because we don’t recognize Congress! The only relationship you should have with America is to topple it!…Eventually there will be a Muslim in the White House dictating Shariah.”

Recent decades have sadly witnessed liberals fall prey to cheap philosophies of relativism and self-loathing, a culture where, in the words of the late Patrick Moynihan, “articulation of purpose is valued over achievement of good”, enabling the above-noted imbeciles to hijack the left’s cockpit. Sadly, genuine debates about the merits of the war focusing on credible analyses of risks and benefits are poisoned by these loons’ anti-American agenda. Protests have degenerated into a menagerie of people ejecting body fluids into public places, exclusion of Iraqis who suffered under Saddam, and silly slogans. Those who decried UN sanctions now promote them; others say Saddam should be removed, but not by force. Laments of action’s risks omit inaction’s consequences.

American and British protestors who say the war is counterproductive have some credibility; others who feign moral outrage are hypocrites of the highest order. They did not and do not demonstrate against Saddam’s rape rooms or gassing of 100,000 Kurds, Algeria’s repression, the Taliban’s forcing Hindus to wear yellow stars and destruction of ancient Buddhas while killing 1.5 million Afghans, Syria’s murder of 20,000 in Hama in one week, China’s occupation of Tibet, Egypt’s persecution of Copts, Saudi Arabia’s gender apartheid, Pakistan’s genocide of Bangladeshis, Syria’s occupation of Lebanon, Pakistan’s invasion of India, Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, Iran’s and North Korea’s continuous repression, and countless other atrocities that not only dwarf unintended casualties of US action but which are also deliberate. Where are human shields, fulminations, and boycotts for those victims? Disdain for democracies has morphed into tolerance of tyranny, a tragic betrayal of liberalism’s deepest values.

It is time for the liberal silent majority to retake the captaincy of the left in standing against enemies who would destroy everything liberals cherish. The need for struggle is not grounds for avoidance. Let us once more recall Moynihan, “Liberalism falters when it cannot cope with truth.”

Whitewashing Truth

Abridged version published 3/19/03 at the Duke Chronicle

Sugarcoating and whitewashing Islamic fundamentalism has become a pastime for an odd assortment of loony leftists, so-called self-proclaimed “moderate” Muslims, warmed-over ex-Communists, and perennial anti-Americans. The 9/11 aftermath witnessed these terrorist apologists issue blaming the CIA or Mossad for the attacks (the Saudi Interior Minister continues to blame Zionists for 9/11), spreading the idiotarian & bigoted canard about 4,000 Jews missing work that day, and simultaneously saying it was just punishment for the US. Those guilty of imbecilic dissonance demonstrate refusal to deal with inconvenient facts and damning reality. Rather than expressing contrition for these lies or mercifully shut up, they switched to blaming the attacks on Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “globalization”, or US “imperialism”, further proving themselves unmoored from reality, untethered from fact.

Their logical leaps and contorted convolutions never cease, now excusing the mass murder of Australian tourists in Bali on resentment over repression of Palestinians. The suicide bombing of a bus in Manila, torching of churches and worshipers in Nigeria, and throat-slitting and beheading of unveiled Kashmiri women are also no doubt due to resentment over repression of Palestinians. When will this weirdly wicked farcical falsehood yield to the truth, which is uttered by Islamic fundamentalists themselves? When a French oil tanker was rammed by explosives, the Islamic Army of Aden declared, “We would have preferred to hit a US frigate. But it is no matter-the French are also infidels.” It is time to take fundamentalists at their word – they want to kill or convert all “infidels” to their perverse brand of Islam.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has little to do with Islamic fundamentalist hatred of others. Islamic fundamentalists seek to form over decades a caliphate state stretching from the Phillipines to Spain, and they have suicide bombed Filipinos, firebombed tourists in Indonesia, massacred Hindus in temples in India , enslaved and performed genocide on Coptic Christians & animists in Sudan, and try to impose sharia on Christians in Nigeria. What does any of this have to do with Israel and the US?

All of this would be happening whether or not the US or Israel existed. 9/11, the suicide-bombing of civilians in Israel, and all the other recent attacks, are part of the ideology that is Islamic fundamentalist imperalism. This ideology holds that non-Muslims are worthy only of conversion to Islam or death, sharia should obliterate the difference between church and state, the ideal society is 7th century Arabia (the Taliban being a close second), mass-murderers of “infidels” get 72 celestial virgins in heaven, and peace on earth will come when the whole world is “dar-al-Islam” (Islamic), a peace of the grave. Sheikh Abu Hamza of London spoke for many, “If a kafir person (non-believer) goes in a Muslim country, he is like a cow. Anybody can take him. That is the Islamic law…If a kafir is walking by and you catch him, he's booty. You can sell him in the market…if Muslims cannot take them and sell them in the market, you just kill them. It's OK. I say the reality that's in the Muslim books. Whether I say it or not, it's in the books." The Toronto Khalid bin Al-walid mosque crystallized the attitude of Islamic fundamentalists: “wishing someone a Merry Christmas is like congratulating someone for murdering someone or having illicit sexual relations.”

We must stop sugarcoating Islamic fundamentalist imperialism, whether by romanticizing or justifying suicide bombing or passing off grotesqueness as “cultural difference.” Justifying suicide bombers anywhere by any grievance bestows Mohammad Atta justification by his grievances. Moral relativism is popular because it enables the obtuse to rationalize cowardice. Without moral absolutes there is no need to choose between good and evil, and no shame in choosing evil. Further, if all is relative, one need not even admit to abetting evil. But ultimately any cancer will kill you. Nouveaux chic morality only makes Islamic fundamentalist bloodlust fashionable. In the words of Burke and FDR, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Moderate" Muslim-Americans too often indulge in a PC combination of issue-avoidance, subject-changing, blame-shifting, and victimology seemingly designed to deflect reality & confuse the unknowing, e.g., passing off "jihad" as inner cleansing & spiritual upliftment (while simultaneously attacking the word "crusade"). Just last week, al-Azhar University, perhaps the world’s most esteemed Islamic seminary, called for jihad by all Muslims on all Americans. In the real world, jihad kills. Some have written that the Quranic verses I presented in prior columns that I found inflammatory were misinterpreted or mistranslated; but then why do so many imams and sheikhs use those same translations to incite terrorism? If indeed such verses are mistranslated, it behooves Muslims to discredit & defrock the imams and sheikhs who commit blasphemy to justify mass murder; till then, silent indifference equals complicit assent.


Published in abridged form on 2/26/03 at the Duke Chronicle

Glamorizing suicide bombing by Islamic fundamentalists and fringe leftists perverts freedom struggle’s meaning. History demonstrates self-determination doesn’t require mass murder. Besides Gandhi & Mandela, every region has heroes: Havel (Czechoslovakia), Walesa (Poland), Chammorro (Nicaragua), Aquino (Phillipines), the Dalai Lama (Tibet), Suu Kyi (Burma), Sakharov & Solzhenitsyn (Russia), Ramos-Horta (East Timor), Landsbergis (Lithuania), Alberdi (Argentina), Aylwin (Chile), the anonymous Chinese man who blocked a tank in 1989, and many others show nonviolence’s power against oppression.

Desire to destroy others by one’s own destruction is fueled by craven clerics selling murder for sex by peddling depraved fantasies of 72 celestial virgins for “martyrdom”. Modern suicide bombing is bereft of honor: even kamikazes attacked battleships and carriers, targets that could shoot back, unlike today’s suicide-bombers who hurl themselves not at tanks but buses, towers, discos, and restaurants.

Squeaky wheels don’t deserve grease, especially when suffering that seduces is needless or self-inflicted. Why are groups employing suicide-bombing deserving of sympathy/intervention? Why are Palestinians worthier than Kurds, Iraqi Shiites, Tibetans, or southern Sudanese who have suffered more? Won’t political success of suicide-bombing inspire others? Justifying suicide bombers anywhere by any grievance bestows Mohammad Atta justification by his grievances.

The inhuman brutality of Muslim to fellow Muslim (800,000 Pakistanis killed by Pakistan in 8 months in 1971, 20,000 Syrians killed in a week by Syria in 1982, 1.5 million Afghans killed by the Taliban in 5 years, 200,000 Iraqis killed by Saddam in 1988, 5,000 Palestinians killed by Jordan in one month in 1970, 300,000 Palestinians ethnically cleansed by Kuwait in 1991) dwarfs anything done by Israel (3,000 Palestinians killed in 8 years of both intifadas) or the US; those ceaselessly blaming Israel & America forget these, revealing their indignation as hollow. Suicide bombing is not due to occupation, for then Kurds would be blasting pizza-parlors in Baghdad, Lebanese blowing up buses in Damascus, Western Saharans blowing up resorts in Rabat, Tibetans leveling discos in Beijing, and Palestinians would have practiced it for the first 29 years of occupation and on their Jordanian and Kuwaiti tormentors. Suicide bombing is due to brainwashing in media, madrassahs, and mosques by “clerics” and “leaders” drunk with lust for power and happy to barter their followers’ children’s blood. We must stop being seduced by Palestinians claiming monopolies on suffering or occupation. Many have grievances, yet only Islamic fundamentalists glorify and practice suicide-bombing on a mass scale. While every community has terrorists, only Islamic fundamentalists have global reach & aspirations of conquest, oil money, esteem of multitudes, and men with fantasies of celestial virgins.

Palestinians must acknowledge there was a good deal 3 years ago (removal of settlements, an independent demilitarized Palestine with 98% of the West Bank & Gaza (and further compensatory land from Israel proper), right of refugee return to Palestine (and aid for those who don’t), sovereignty over East Jerusalem, free access to all holy sites for all faiths; this was rejected by Arafat who demanded right of return for refugees to Israel itself and total control over the Temple Mount/Haram-al-Sharif, which constitute forfeiture of Israel’s political and religious reasons for existence. Palestinians must recognize that Israel has a right to exist and will not go away, there is a political price to pay for starting 3 wars & losing, and it was galactically stupid to spurn good-faith offers from Clinton-Barak to pursue idiotic violence with Sharon & Bush. Proponents for Palestinian self-determination should realize no one will care about that more than Palestinians—Arab countries who never offered Palestinians independence pre-1967 and keep refugees in hell-holes while bankrolling teenagers blowing themselves up are happy to fight Israel to the last Palestinian, Europeans will feign sympathy to keep trade concessions, and in the US, goodwill of many Americans sympathetic to self-determination was irreparably destroyed by Palestinian celebrations of 9/11 which were unforgivable (even Vietnamese did not celebrate 9/11). Suicide-bombing conveys that self-determination is secondary to destroying Israel, which is unacceptable and unattainable. If Palestinians don’t care about self-determination (blowing oneself up rejects life, requisite for self-determination), why should anyone else?

Ultimately, moral judgment must be rendered on suicide bombing and Islamic fundamentalism by Muslims themselves. Due to church-pedophilia scandals, Catholics felt shame as Catholics, and forced out a cardinal; it is incumbent upon Muslims to defrock imams sanctioning mass murder. Ideals which Muslims proclaim are belied by revolting realities practiced in their name – love dies where hatred is preached, freedom wilts under despotry, wisdom withers when all problems are blamed on Jews, Hindus, & America, learning is unattainable when free scholarship is banned, tolerance flees where dissent earns death, equality is a sham when women and minorities are enslaved, justice is mocked by shari’a with a travestic set of rules for believers and another for women and “disbelievers”, and peace is a veiled fraud when the peace of the grave is pursued by killers with Hitler’s enthusiasm. Silent indifference equals complicit assent.

Free Speech, Slavery, and Islam

Abridged form published 2/15/03 at the Duke Chronicle

It is tragically morbid that champions of civil rights, liberals, now seem to cover for the most illiberal force on the planet, Islamic fundamentalists, who destroy free speech and enslave blacks, and heap blame on US policy but ask not the Muslim world to take a hard, long look in the mirror.

These trends converge in Europe, where Michael Houellebecq, a French writer who stated that “Islam is the stupidest religion.” That dumb and wrong remark landed him in a criminal trial, where a Muslim plaintiff and spokesman for a Paris mosque stated, “Words have a price. One can kill with a word. Freedom stops when Muslims feel insulted.” Echoing Salman Rushdie’s death fatwa is ominous: if Western’s society’s bedrock is no match for Muslim grievance, the future of public discourse is bleak. This is not isolated: Islamic activitists in Europe seek to ban Oriana Fallaci’s book The Rage and the Pride, and most ironically, Somali Muslim Ayaan Ali, who immigrated to Holland, was forced by Islamic fundamentalists’ death threats to flee the nation that has been a haven for refugees for centuries, because she criticized domestic violence among Muslims.

In America, Muslim author Kola Boof and UCLA law professor Khaled abou el Fadl received death threats from Islamic fundamentalists and no support from free speech advocates. A Muslim legal group tries to censor Alan Dershowitz’s writings. David Frum, who defended Isioma Daniel (the Nigerian journalist whose commentary earned a fatwa and Islamic fundamentalist riots killing hundreds), received a letter reminding him of “the fatal consequences” of ignoring what is objectionable to Muslims. Bat Ye’or & Andrew Bostom were shouted down at Georgetown by Muslim students preventing them from speaking on history of Jews under Islamic rule. Political correctness yoked to Islamic fundamentalist intolerance bodes ill for free society, portending a Trojan horse of sharia disguised as multiculturalism corroding freedom and justice. Where are the guardians of free speech, liberals, defending Boof, el Fadl, Fallaci, Hirsi Ali, Houellebecq, Ye’or, Bostom, Frum, Daniel, and Dershowitz? Preoccupied championing convicted terrorist Laura Whitehorn?

Now, to slavery. Liberals blinded by PC to Islamic fundamentalist imperialism’s evil are committing historicide, whitewashing slavery’s history in Islamic empires as “not as bad as the Atlantic slave trade.” Slavery in Islamic empires for centuries involved castration of men guarding harems and religious sanction for masters to sleep with slave-girls, persisting today in Sudan openly and covertly in Saudi Arabia as concubinage. Those saying Quranic verses justifying slavery and sleeping with slave-girls are acceptable given 7th century mores forget that the Constitution’s three-fifths compromise has been rightly judged immoral; in any case, such verses compromise shari’a as a timeless, complete, and immutable rulebook of ethics, hence, other verses inciting violence should also be questioned. Slavery is always wrong; it is time for the Islamic world to ask forgiveness for its legacy of slavery and conquest much as several Western leaders have apologized for colonialism and slavery.

Shari’a law and imams justify slavery today. Islamic terrorist groups quote Hadith (Sahih Muslim 8:22 and 8:29) that coitus interruptus is permitted with slave-girls and captives (to avoid impregnating women and consequent reduction in ransom value) and that is permitted to have intercourse with captive women, as their marriages are abrogated on capture. Official Saudi cleric Sheikh Saad Al-Buraik told “Muslim brothers” in 2002 to “not have any mercy on Jews, their blood, their money, their flesh. Their women are yours to take, legitimately. God made them yours. Why don't you enslave their women?” In Sudan, a fatwa in 1992 endorsed by the oil-funded theocracy states “a non-Muslim is a non-believer standing against the spread of Islam, and Islam grants the freedom of killing him”.

Hundreds of thousands of black Africans in Sudan and Mauritania are enslaved by Arab masters invoking justification of Quranic verses cited in earlier columns. According to Abannik Hino of Wingate University, over 2,000 Sudanese slaves are shipped to the Arab world annually. Dr. George Ayittey, a Ghanaian-born professor at American University, commented on lack of Western outrage: “We feel betrayed, not only by our leaders in Africa, but by our fellow Africans in the diaspora. While African-American leaders played important roles in dismantling apartheid in South Africa, they maintain a passive stance on Arab apartheid and enslavement of black Africans.” Where indeed are liberals, inheritors of abolitionism? Too busy divesting from Israel & bashing America? Rage sadly is not opposite of cowardice: “liberals” frothing is reserved for democracies that provide freedom for slanderous prattle, not Islamic fundamentalists who would end freedom of speech and freedom from bondage.

Liberals’ blind eye to imams’ words is epitomized in Denmark, where Imam Mustafa Aden said, “It is good for girls to be circumcised. It is a sign they are true Muslims”, recommending removal of clitoris and labia for girls and stating Islam takes precedence over Danish law. While female genital mutilation has nothing to do with Islam, this is a clear example of Islamic fundamentalists perverting religion without opposition from liberals or moderate Muslims.

Imbued with Wahhabism and Salafism, sects borne in Saudi Arabia, Islamic fundamentalists view most Muslims as apostates. With oil money, they’ve exported toxic notions and hatched terrorism from Indonesia to Nigeria. Now they want to achieve Islamic fundamentalist empire. Liberals and moderate Muslims must open their eyes: Islamic fundamentalist imperialism suppresses free speech and nourishes slavery as well as wallows in mass murder.

Defining a religion

Abridged form published 1/15/03 at the Duke Chronicle

Religions are defined not only by ideals but by realities, not just by their deepest & most beautiful insights, but by their adherents’ behavior. So while Christianity’s profoundest principles are mercy and forgiveness, the reality of Christianity in the Middle Ages and colonial period was inquisitions & empires. When moderate Muslims state terrorist attacks are disconnected from Islam, they ignore the reality that Islamic fundamentalist imperialists act in the name of Islam and Muslims, claiming “true Islam’s” mantle from conspicuously absent moderates. This reality must be confronted especially because many Muslims argue against separating church from state, hence, Islam exists as spiritual ideal and political reality. Until the realization that theocracies cannot be democracies (and thus have no place in politics or law) dawns throughout the Islamic world, actions of self-declared Muslims perpetrating violence in Islam’s name define key realities of the Islamic world. Saying terrorism is disconnected from Islam is a smokescreen employed to abdicate responsibility to face reality.

Over centuries, Christians broke the Church’s stranglehold over politics and ended religious persecution with moral and physical force, teachings and wars. The founding moral flaw of the US, slavery, was confronted intellectually and ended in 4 years of titanic war; persistent racism was assailed with the castration of the KKK, civil rights movement, etc., requiring active participation of colossal leaders and ordinary people. Due to the church-pedophilia scandal, Catholics felt shame as Catholics, and forced change. Yet Islamic fundamentalist imperialism has usurped the face of Islam with little resistance from moderate Muslims. Today when some Americans oppose conflict with Iraq, they protest “Not in my name” or “No blood for oil”; where are moderate Muslims protesting the actions of Islamic fundamentalists with “Not in our name” banners or “No blood for Quran”? There are countless demonstrations by Muslim-Americans against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, but perhaps none against Osama bin Laden’s treatment of Americans. Replies that Islamic fundamentalists don’t represent Muslims are irrelevant; they claim to without a murmur of renunciation and are esteemed by multitudes throughout the Islamic world cheering bin Laden as Robin Hood, e.g., 2/3 of Kuwaitis believe 9/11 was justified. It’s vital not to let others speak in your name if you disagree, especially if they speak with guns and bombs. Rather than take on terrorist co-religionists, Muslim-American organizations compare themselves to Jews in Weimar Germany, an offensive depiction of America that is absurd when one notes FBI reports that twice as many Jews as Muslims have been victims of hate crimes in America since 19 Muslims killed 3,000 Americans.

Nowhere is silence of moderate Muslims’ voices more deafening than in discourse on suicide bombing, which glues the hydra-headed Islamic fundamentalist imperialism. Numerous imams, including at the holy mosque of Mecca and the esteemed al-Azhar university in Egypt, issue fatwas approving suicide bombing, while “opposing” Muslims remain silent, state it is merely counterproductive while being nonjudgmental, ignore the enticement of 72 celestial virgins, or proffer inane excuses for the inexcusable. Apologists for suicide bombing who qualify moral judgment with equivocal “Yes, but”s have regard for neither history nor consequence. Why are groups employing suicide bombing and terrorism more deserving of sympathy or intervention? With regard to account, why are Palestinians more worthy than Kurds, Tibetans, or southern Sudanese who have suffered much more? With respect to precedent, won’t political success of suicide-bombing inspire other groups to use it? Squeaky wheels don’t always deserve grease, especially when suffering that seduces (i.e., suicide-bombing) is needless or self-inflicted.

Saying suicide-bombing is used by the weapon-less is nonsense: Gandhi, Mandela, and King achieved tremendous success without violence. Waving them off as unique reveals a soft bigotry that Palestinians and Muslims cannot distinguish right from wrong, valor from cruelty, or self-determination from mass murder. Every region has heroes: Havel (Czechoslovakia), Walesa (Poland), Chammorro (Nicaragua), Aquino (Phillipines), the Dalai Lama (Tibet), Suu Kyi (Burma), Sakharov & Solzhenitsyn (Russia), Ramos-Horta (East Timor), Landsbergis (Lithuania), Alberdi (Argentina), Aylwin (Chile), the anonymous Chinese man who blocked a tank in 1989, and many others show nonviolence’s power against oppression. Most achieved success, and others continue fighting despite overwhelming odds without murdering civilians, even if their opponents do.

Another platitude, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” romanticizes suicide bombers as comparable to Washington, Che Guevara, Patrick Henry, or de Gaulle. This is the menace of cliché: statements without substance pervert history, as those leaders targeted military assets, never sending suicide-bombers to kill opponents’ civilians or children. Even kamikazes attacked battleships and carriers, unlike today’s cowardly suicide bombers who attack not tanks but buses, towers, and restaurants.

The world cannot afford the luxury of waiting centuries for Islamic societies to evolve.
Denial equals criminal indifference; the prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever sees evil, let him change it with his hand, and if not able then with his mouth and if still not able then hate it within his heart …Allah does not punish the general public because of wrongdoing of specific people unless they see evil while able to stop it and do not.” Justifying suicide bombers anywhere by whatever grievance bestows Mohammad Atta justification by his grievances.

Moderate Muslims must choose whether or not to let megalomaniacs, liars, misogynists, and murderers hijack societies and religion and pilot them into destruction’s abyss. Ideals which Muslims proclaim are belied by revolting realities practiced in their name by Islamic fundamentalists – love dies where hatred is preached, freedom wilts under despotry, wisdom withers when all problems are blamed on Jews, Hindus, & America, learning is unattainable when free scholarship is banned, tolerance flees where dissent earns death, equality is a sham when women and minorities are enslaved, justice is mocked by shari’a with a travestic set of rules for believers and another for women and “disbelievers”, and peace is a veiled fraud when the peace of the grave is pursued by killers with Hitler’s enthusiasm. Sidelines are not moral high ground; silent indifference equals complicit assent. Unequivocally repudiating and forswearing terrorist methods and imperialist aims of Islamic fundamentalism by moderate Muslims is overdue. This requires calling the present jihad by mujahadeen and martyrs awaiting paradise its name, hirabah (unholy war) by mufsidoon (evildoers) bound for jahannam (hell).

Democrats must oppose Islamic dictatorships

Published 12/4/02 in abridged form at the Duke Chronicle

Overdue introspection by Democrats is sadly dominated by those who would sacrifice principles for power and those who would sacrifice both for ego. Too many “Democrats” mimic Republicans to win office (failing to wonder why voters wouldn’t vote for the real thing) and too many “liberals” chase chic causes like bashing America & globalization or whitewashing Islamic fundamentalism for sheer narcissism.

A coherent vision for America that is superior to the President’s has yet to emerge. There is no shame in being liberal, either in foreign policy or domestic affairs. On both counts, Democrats have great scope to challenge the Republican agenda.

After Vietnam and Iran’s hostage crisis, Democrats ceded defense and foreign affairs to Republicans for a quarter century. Yet liberals have an honored and esteemed record in this arena. All 3 of the 20th century conflicts in which America fought and built democracies in the aftermath (World Wars I and II, Korean War), as well as the Berlin Airlift and Cuban missile crisis, were won by Democratic Presidents; the mantle of Wilson, FDR, Truman, and Kennedy should be reclaimed by Democrats in contrast to the cynical support of dictatorships which is the hallmark of Republican administrations.

It is therefore past time that the Democrats challenge the President on why he continues to mollycoddle Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The first is the prime exporter of ideology and money for Islamic fundamentalists, the breeding ground of 15 of 9/11’s hijackers (for which there has yet been no apology and no change in the brainwashing that passes for society and education in that country). While evidence accumulates that the wife of the Saudi ambassador to the US sent tens of thousands of dollars to the wife of a man who gave thousands of dollars to 2 of 9/11’s hijackers, the administration ignores, suppresses, or brushes off these connections. This blind eye is of a pattern with Bush administration efforts to spirit out the relatives of bin Laden after 9/11 prior to interrogation, efforts to block the 9/11 victims’ lawsuit against the Saudi royals, and the appointment of Henry Kissinger (with long connections to Saudi royals and Pakistani dictators) to chair the 9/11 inquiry. Might long personal and financial connections between the Bush family and the Saudi royals through the Carlyle financial group have anything to do with all this?

Meanwhile, Pakistan is a country where the Islamic fundamentalist gunman who killed motorists in Langley, Virginia, was honored with a moment of silence in its National Assembly (as well as a hero’s funeral). Pakistan’s leading exports are nuclear weapons to North Korea and terrorists to India (ironically coupled to their import of terrorists besieged in Kunduz last year). Pakistan traded nuclear weapons technology for ballistic missiles from North Korea not just for years before 9/11 but this past July, using American military transport planes provided after 9/11 to boot (conveniently ignored by the President)! Bush administration officials now seek to give billions of dollars more aid to General Musharraf, continuing the fine Republican tradition of supporting military dictators, especially Pakistani ones (including Yahya Khan who committed the most intense genocide ever of Muslims, on Bangladeshis, in 1971 and Zia, who was instrumental in propagating shari’a in Pakistan and arming the Afghan mujahadeen).

“Allies” Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are dictatorships (one by mullahs and royals, the other by the military) that created the Taliban and continue to succor Islamic fundamentalists; their regimes are charter members of the axis of evil. During the Cold War, Republicans pioneered the tradition of foreign policy predicated on hypocritical expediency for the sake of oil or geopolitical games, engineering coups against democratically elected leaders in favor of military or right-wing dictators in Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, and Zaire. This sorry saga of supporting dictators is now reaching new heights in the Bush administration with policies on Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Eritrea, and the administration’s support for the military coup in Venezuala earlier this year. Pinnacles of perversity are scaled by President Bush’s hosting 9/11’s checkbook terrorist paymasters at his ranch and his giving hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars to subsidize General Musharraf, landlord of much of the Taliban and al Qaeda, and quite possibly Osama bin Laden himself. Support of Saddam Hussein and the Afghan mujahadeen during the Reagan era returned to haunt us, as myopic and colossal errors in the guise of pragmatism. The US is poised to repeat these mistakes on a much larger scale with its continued support of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan; the argument that current regimes beat the alternatives is self-servingly dishonest, for the current regimes succor terrorists to blackmail others. It is incumbent on Democrats to challenge the President’s folly by emphasizing that holding fast to our democratic ideals best serves our interests in fighting Islamic fundamentalist imperialism.

Other domestic issues offers many opportunities for Democrats to lay out an agenda for progress with creative and innovative solutions for national problems, which I will explore in a subsequent column. But on national security, candor compels that the Democrats make the President realize that by continuing support for Saudi Arabia & Pakistan, he betrays the moral clarity he donned as the mantle of his presidency.