The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Everyone from James Baker to Condoleezza Rice to EU leaders continues to argue in favor of a Palestinian state – as if all the problems in the ME would disappear if one materialized. Caroline Glick comments:
And so it is that as statesmen and activists worldwide loudly proclaim their commitment to establishing the sovereign State of Palestine, they miss the fact that Palestine exists. And it is a nightmare.

She is, of course, correct. The Israelis unilaterally and with great pain (recall the often violent removal of Israeli settlers from their homes by the IDF) left Gaza in the Summer of 2005. Since then, the Palestinians have had freedom to run their own affairs.

Glick describes the result:
In the State of Palestine 88 percent of the public feels insecure. Perhaps the other 12 percent are members of the multitude of regular and irregular militias. For in the State of Palestine the ratio of police/militiamen/men-under-arms to civilians is higher than in any other country on earth.

In the State of Palestine, two-year-olds are killed and no one cares. Children are woken up in the middle of the night and murdered in front of their parents. Worshipers in mosques are gunned down by terrorists who attend competing mosques. And no one cares. No international human rights groups publish reports calling for an end to the slaughter. No UN body condemns anyone or sends a fact-finding mission to investigate the murders.

In the State of Palestine, women are stripped naked and forced to march in the streets to humiliate their husbands. Ambulances are stopped on the way to hospitals and wounded are shot in cold blood. Terrorists enter operating rooms in hospitals and unplug patients from life-support machines.

In the State of Palestine, people are kidnapped from their homes in broad daylight and in front of the television cameras. This is the case because the kidnappers themselves are cameramen. Indeed, their commanders often run television stations. And because terror commanders run television stations in the State of Palestine, it should not be surprising that they bomb the competition's television stations.

Those on the Left (and Pat Buchanan) would argue that this is all because of the Israeli “occupation.” But wait, Israel left Gaza. Oh, never mind ... it’s because Israel and the US have cut off Palestinian funds (welfare). Hold on …
As Ibrahim Gambari, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, noted last Thursday, official Western aid to the Palestinians, not including Arab and Iranian support for Hamas and Fatah, increased by 10 percent in 2006 over 2005, and stood at $1.2 billion.

The Palestinians, who receive more aid per capita than any people on earth, are needy not because they lack funds. They are poor because they prefer poverty, violence and war to prosperity, peace and moderation. So it is that 57 percent of Palestinians support terror attacks against Israel.

So to those who lobby for a “two state solution,” you’ve already got one. The problem is, one of the states (remember, 57 percent of the populace support terror attacks against Israel) has no intention of building a future, no desire for peaceful coexistence, no mandate but violence, no vision except a warped sense of victimhood and a delusional sense that the world owes them an existence.
Glick concludes:
The hordes of political leaders mindlessly squawking about "visions" and "two-state solutions" should know: This is Palestine. Enter at your own risk.

Unfortunately, the world’s political leaders are not at risk, but the other party —Israel—who might someday have to live with this delusional vision truly is.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Double Fault

I have written many times about the Left’s propensity to act in a manner that Freudian pychologists call “reaction formation.” According to Wikipedia, reaction formation is “a defense mechanism in which anxiety-producing or unacceptable emotions are replaced by their direct opposites.” We all look at the frightening irrationality and barbarity of Islamofascists. Some of us recognize that they, and only they, are responsible for their world view and their actions Our reaction to them should not be one of “understanding” or “tolerance,” but rather of outright condemnation and when necessary, confrontation. Others however, cannot absorb the irrationality and barbarity and instead blame the victim and express rage the someone else’s actions are the cause for Islamofascism. That someone else is the USA. The latter line of thinking is comforting really, because it provides those who believe it with a illusory solution. If only we’d change our ways, be less confrontational and more tolerant, less greedy (for oil, of course) and more capitulatory, all this would resolve itself – peacefully, of course.

Wretchard of The Belmont Club comments:
There is the unfortunate tendency to regard America as responsible for everything in the world. Michael Young [in the WSJ] performs the invaluable service of pointing out that the actions and decisions of others matter too. Iran's assertive behavior, beginning with the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, not to mention its meddling in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Iraq have poured as much gasoline into the campfire as anything else. Michael Young argues that the illegitimacy and fragility of many Sunni states drives aggressive and paranoid behavior to compensate for weakness at home. And the mixture is lethal.

The less sophisticated version of the West's own paranoia -- the idea that whatever bad thing happens it has somehow deserved -- of which the "we caused 9/11" is a prime example, has the sad effect of sometimes misdirecting analysis. Perhaps not everything is "our fault". The sad truth is that terrorism and the networked insurgency probably would have emerged from the Middle Eastern pressure cooker whatever America did. The concoction of backward, illegitimate regimes, fantasy ideology, abundant oil money, a conflict with Israel, sectarian rivalry. Who would not have imagined such a stew to be incapable of producing terrorism? No one, possibly, except those wedded to the idea that the US is the sole actor in the world. Maybe the basic problem with the idea of "bringing democracy to the Middle East" is that it puts the onus on someone else. It sets up the problem such that America cannot guarantee the outcome. It creates a process whose ultimate product no American President can honestly promise to deliver. Not everything is America's fault; and not everything is in America's power to answer.

Maybe, just maybe, none of this is our fault. Maybe, just maybe, we are in a “clash of civilizations” that could ultimately lead to the destruction of everything liberal, everything progressive, everything, dare I say it, modern and civilized.

And the great irony is that those who have the most to lose, those who cherish freedom of expression and ideas, are the first in line to blame their own country and culture -- a country and culture that has supported these ideals throughout its short history. Sad.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Rope Anyone?

The MSM breathlessly reports every percentage drop in President Bush’s approval rating, as if the plummeting numbers somehow serve to justify their unrelenting 24/7 negative stories on everything Bush does—not just in Iraq, but everything. In reality it’s the other way around.

The media’s 24/7/365 drumbeat against this president drives the poll numbers downward and it is … well .. just a bit frightening. It’s as if the left-leaning MSM has deciding to take this guy down, and because they control virtually every medium of mass communication (FoxNews and the WSJ excluded), they can damn well do it.

Ben Stein comments after listening the ABCs coverage following the State of the Union:
And suddenly it hit me. The media is staging a coup against Mr. Bush. They cannot impeach him because he hasn't done anything illegal. But they can endlessly tell us what a loser he is and how out of touch he is (and I mean ENDLESSLY) and how he's just a vestigial organ on the body politic right now.

Now, Bush has screwed up, and certainly the media has every right to criticize. It’s what they do. But the level of vituperation is noteworthy. Again Stein comments:
True, we are mired in a war without end, costing us far too may great young and old Americans and too many limbs and wrecked families and vastly too much money. But we all know we're getting out soon. It was a huge mistake, but I'd like to see a President who did not make immense mistakes. Compared with the mistakes of Truman and FDR and Kennedy, Iraq is a mistake, but not worse than theirs.

True, we have virtually no federal oversight of corporate looting and executive suite misconduct, but we didn't have any under Clinton either. The rich get away with murder. That's what happens in the real world. Bush is to blame, but all politicians cater to the rich, and Hillary will and Barack Obama will, too. It's nauseating and I fight it constantly, but that's life.

In fairness, it's only reasonable to state that like every President, Bush has had his successes. A housing boom resulting in more Americans that ever in homes of their own. Near full employment. A solid GDP. The prescription drug program for seniors. A deficit that is on its way down, and no terror attacks since 9/11. Like him or not, these pluses are real. But even good news is spun into bad.

In an AP report just yesterday, the headline reads: “U.S., Iraqi troops clash in Baghdad.” My God, now we’re at war with Iraqi troops, our allies!! Man, this thing is really screwed up!! Oh … wait. The story under the headline … you know, the words that many people never read … tells us that “U.S. and Iraqi troops battled Sunni insurgents hiding in high-rise buildings on Haifa Street in the heart of Baghdad Wednesday, with snipers on roofs taking aim at gunmen in open windows as Apache attack helicopters hovered overhead.” But the headline said … oh, never mind.

Stein concludes:
My point: let's be aware that Bush has presided over a lot of success in addition to substantial failure. My second point: no one elected the media to anything. If we let them lynch the man we elected as President we are throwing out the Constitution with the war in Iraq. In the studios and newsrooms, there is a lynch mob at work. Let's see it for what it is. We have a good man who has made mistakes in the Oval Office. He's the only President we have, and I trust him a lot more than I trust unelected princes of the newsroom.

Rope anyone?


At first, I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s about time the new majority party explicitly delineated the threat we face. I was beginning to think they’d prefer to speak, hear, and see no evil. After all, labeling any group as "evil" is so judgmental, so counter to post-modern thinking.

But no, I was wrong. A prominent Democrat, a senator, no less, made an unambiguous statement against the Islamofascists who threaten everything that liberals stand for. Jeff Jacobi reports what was said:
"We are engaged in a war against an axis of Islamists, extremists, and terrorists. It is an axis of evil. It has headquarters in Tehran and Waziristan. But because of the unconventional nature of this war, it also has headquarters in cities throughout Europe and Asia and Africa and the United States of America, in cells that operate in the shadows but are prepared to strike us again as they did on September 11th, 2001.

"The enemy we are fighting is . . . totalitarian. It is inhumane. It has a violent ideology and a goal of expansionism and totalitarianism. It threatens our security, our values, our way of life as seriously, in my opinion, as fascism and communism did in the last century."

Must have been one of the presidential contenders, leading Democrats all—Hillary? Barack Obama? John Edwards? Joe Biden? Chris Dodd? John Kerry? (oops, forgot, he's not a contender anymore).

Nope. None of the party leaders said that. Wanna know who did?

Joe Lieberman, that’s who. That’s the same Joe Lieberman who some Democrats in Connecticut tried to remove from office. Good thing they failed, because without Joe, the silence would indeed be deafening.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Plan D

Sam Ser of The Jerusalem Post (hat tip: The Belmont Club) relates the following story:
The meeting in London was doomed from the outset. The Arab strongman's envoy held all the cards - three craft had already been hijacked, their passengers and crew held hostage in an inhospitable and almost unreachable land. The American ambassador knew the ransom demand would be high, but even he could not have imagined just how exorbitant it would be. To meet it would require one-tenth of America's annual budget.

Lest the adventurous Yanks dare to contemplate a military attack to rescue their captured comrades, Abd al-Rahman al-Ajar provided a most unpleasant revelation: the Koran declares that any nation that does not bow to the authority of the Muslims is sinful, and it is the right and duty of Muslims to make war upon it and take prisoner any of its people they may find. Further, any Muslim slain in battle against such an enemy would be promised a place in Paradise.

"We ought not to fight them at all unless we determine to fight them forever," the furious but helpless ambassador relayed to his government. Congress would authorize no such fight, however, and voted instead to pay the ransom.

And that is how America first capitulated to Arab terrorism, some 220 years ago.

In a discussion of this, Wretchard of The Belmont Club comments:
It's now forgotten that capitulation didn't work. Simply didn't work. The Barbary Pirates raised their demands until the Pashas were taking nearly 20 per cent of Federal Revenue. But in the beginning the policy of appeasement seemed perfectly [fine]. The initial extortion demand of $70,000 was far smaller than the astronomical $2 million dollars requested by Thomas Jefferson to build a Navy [to defeat the Muslim pirates]. In the end it proved cheaper to crush them.
Rather quickly, American ships bring the North Africans to heel, cementing the United States' role as a power broker in the Middle East. Before he revised it in the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key's "Star-Bangled Banner" - which would become the American national anthem - described "turbaned heads bowed" to the "brow of the brave." No longer weak, then, America invites no more insults. Strengthened, in fact, it begins to deliver a few of its own.

Those who refuse to learn from history … and all that.

Of course, as Wretchard rightly notes, it’s 200 years later and much has changed. It is intriguing to note however, that our attempts to democratize the Middle East in the early 1800s (and to convert Moslems to Christianity) were doomed from the onset.

From Sam Ser:
"Might as well attempt to convert bricks into bride-cake as the Orientals into Christians," author Herman Melville snipes in his account of his Middle East travels.

So let’s recapitulate. History informs us that appeasement will not work. It also suggests that isolationism will not work. It further indicates that negotiation with Islam is a one way street -– all give, no take – and that agreements defined in terms of Western values are meaningless.

Wretchard comments further:
Today we are told that it is America's support for despots and authoritarian regimes in the Middle East that incites hatred against it. In the next breath one is assured that a military response to today's terrorists will raise all of Islam against us. Finally we are assured that the certain cultures are irredeemable and that any attempts to "bring Democracy to the Middle East" are an exercise in folly. Those are Plans A, B and C. Are there any Plan D's?

Indeed, are there any plan D’s?

Sunday, January 21, 2007


If you accept bad information without critical evaluation and then use it to make important (and even not so important) decisions, you’re bound to come up with bad results. For example, the Bush administration accepted bad information about Iraq – not just the presence of WMDs, but also the judgment that post-War Iraq would be a calm and accepting place -- and made very bad decisions as a consequence.

On a societal level, decision makers –- the President, congress, local politicians and bureaucrats -- are supposed to assess the information that is presented to them critically and then act to make responsible decisions. That doesn’t happen very often. Instead, often whipped by a media-inspired frenzy that is driven by the MSM’s continuous attempt to encourage a state of fear, decision makers accept bad facts and junk science as reality and make bad decisions accordingly.

On January 18th, announced its top 10 junk science moments of 2006. Topping the list is Al Gore’s much applauded documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” In the movie, Gore uses half truths, distortions, and 100 year “models” to make a case for dramatic reductions in emissions. Just one example – Gore’s film claims that seas will rise by 20 feet over the next 100 years, resulting in the inundation of mach of the populated coast of the US. The WSJ reports:
The U.N. climate panel [certainly not a right wing organization] expects only a foot of sea-level rise over this century. Moreover, sea levels actually climbed that much over the past 150 years. Does Mr. Gore find it balanced to exaggerate the best scientific knowledge available by a factor of 20?

Or Gore’s claim that sea ice is shrinking at an alarming rate. Again from the WSJ:
He considers Antarctica the canary in the mine, but again doesn't tell the full story. He presents pictures from the 2% of Antarctica that is dramatically warming and ignores the 98% that has largely cooled over the past 35 years. The U.N. panel estimates that Antarctica will actually increase its snow mass this century. Similarly, Mr. Gore points to shrinking sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere, but doesn't mention that sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere is increasing. Shouldn't we hear those facts?

Why is this important? After all, all of us want to see a responsible energy policy and no one wants to pollute our environment.

The Left is very concerned about “social justice” and income equality for the world’s poor. Yet, they seem to discount the enormous cost associated with remedying a future that Gore’s junk science projects. A cost that will hurt poor nations much more that rich ones.
The U.N. Climate Panel suggests that if we follow Al Gore's path down toward an environmentally obsessed society, it will have big consequences for the world, not least its poor. In the year 2100, Mr. Gore will have left the average person 30% poorer, and thus less able to handle many of the problems we will face, climate change or no climate change.

There are, of course, hundreds of examples of junk science that lead to bad public policy. With the singular exception of ABC’s John Stossel, virtually no MSM outlet chooses to question junk claims, particularly if the claim fits their political bias. That’s a bad thing for all of us.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Jimmah -- II

In 1987, Martin Bartesch, a Chicago janitor, was found guilty by US authorities of being a Nazi war criminal. From The New York Sun:
Bartesch, who had immigrated to the U.S. and lived in Chicago, admitted to Sher's office and the court that he had voluntarily joined the Waffen SS and had served in the notorious SS Death’s Head Division at the Mauthausen concentration camp where, at the hands of Bartesch and his cohorts, many thousands of prisoners were gassed, shot, starved and worked to death. He also confessed to having concealed his service at the infamous camp from U.S. immigration officials.

Seems like old news, except for one small fact: In that same year, someone wrote a handwritten note on behalf of this war criminal, saying "I hope that, in cases like this, that special consideration can be given to affected families for humanitarian reasons.” His note was attached to Bartesch’s daughter’s letter asking the US Justice department for leniency.

Who was that person?

None other than Jimmy Carter, ex-President of the US.

So … we have Jimmah, pleading for a Nazi war criminal. When you think about it for a moment, it’s perfect symmetry.

Twenty years later, Jimmah’s screed of a book implies that Israel is a mistake, an apartheid state. It’s seems perfectly reasonable, given his actions in 1987 that today he argues in favor of the 21st century Nazi’s, Islamofascists like Hamas.

I’m still waiting for senior Democrat leaders to explicitly condemn his words and his position. The man is an embarrassment to his party and to this country.

Update: (1/18/07)

The Web, unlike the MSM, tends to vet every claim, almost immediately. There have been questions raised about the source of this story, althought there is no hard proof that it is not, in fact, the truth. I'll provide additional updates, but until then, it appears that Carter did write the note.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


In the UK, Channel Four Television hosts a respected documentary program called Dispatches. Overall, the tone of the segments on Dispatches tend to lean to the Left – anti-corporate, pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel, subtly anti-US, etc. The network's Left-leaning tilt makes their latest documentary, Dispatches: Undercover Mosque, (available via YouTube) even more compelling.

Spend the time to view it in its entirety. One can only wonder whether the same venomous attitudes pervade mosques in the US. I can only hope they do not, but the documentary doesn’t lead me to great optimism in my position.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Jefferson’s Quran

Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press reports that Keith Ellison, America’s first Muslim congressman suggested that
… he used the Quran during his oath of office because the Islamic holy book helped influence the founding fathers of America.

Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, garnered international attention Thursday when he used a Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson during his ceremonial swearing-in ceremony for the House of Representatives.

The Quran is "definitely an important historical document in our national history and demonstrates that Jefferson was a broad visionary thinker who not only possessed a Quran, but read it," Ellison said in an interview with the Free Press. "It would have been something that contributed to his own thinking."

Hmmm. Christopher Hitchens sets the record straight:
A few years later, in 1786, the new United States found that it was having to deal very directly with the tenets of the Muslim religion. The Barbary states of North Africa (or, if you prefer, the North African provinces of the Ottoman Empire, plus Morocco) were using the ports of today's Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia to wage a war of piracy and enslavement against all shipping that passed through the Strait of Gibraltar. Thousands of vessels were taken, and more than a million Europeans and Americans sold into slavery. The fledgling United States of America was in an especially difficult position, having forfeited the protection of the British Royal Navy.

Under this pressure, Congress gave assent to the Treaty of Tripoli, negotiated by Jefferson's friend Joel Barlow, which stated roundly that "the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen." This has often been taken as a secular affirmation, which it probably was, but the difficulty for secularists is that it also attempted to buy off the Muslim pirates by the payment of tribute. That this might not be so easy was discovered by Jefferson and John Adams when they went to call on Tripoli's envoy to London, Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman. They asked him by what right he extorted money and took slaves in this way. As Jefferson later reported to Secretary of State John Jay, and to the Congress:

"The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise."

The reason that Thomas Jefferson owned a Quran was to better understand his enemies. Has a contemporary feel to it, don’t you think?

Sadly, the use of distortion and half-truths is the stock in trade of many politicians. I’ll give Ellison the benefit of the doubt and assume he quickly learned this technique from more senior members of Congress.

There is, of course, another interpretation – that Ellison has contributed to the continuation (albeit a small one) of the information war that Islamists fight every day. Terrorist supporters/sympathizers (think: CAIR) use distortions and half-truths regularly and then label anyone who questions their assertions as an “Islamophobic.”

Ellison’s Web site makes him appear moderate enough, but actions, not marketing copy, are what matter. Many of us will be watching his votes and evaluating his words over his first term in Congress. Then, and only them, can we ascertain Keith Ellison’s true positions.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Therapeutic Generation

Over the last month or so, I’ve commented on the way many in the West have stepped through the looking glass, characterizing those who fight evil as evil, those who foster oppression—of women, minorities, other religions, gays—as the oppressed, those who speak out against oppression (of the parties noted) as “islamophobic,” those who support terrorism (think: CAIR) as civil rights groups … a mirror world in which nothing is as it seems.

But an even larger percentage of those in the West seem to have lost the will to confront barbarism, oppression, and tyranny. Bruce Thornton draws a depressing parallel between public support during WWII and our current situation:
But we were a different people sixty-five years ago, more spiritual, more mature, more confident in the rightness of our beliefs, and thus more accepting of the grim truth that sometimes the good must kill some people now so that the evil don’t kill more people later. No more. We are the therapeutic generation that wants to eat its cake and have it, to achieve all goods without risk or cost or hard trade-offs. We loudly profess our love of freedom, rule by law, human rights, and prosperity as goods all people deserve; we weep for the victims of tyranny and oppression and all who lack such goods; and we chastise our leaders for allowing such misery to flourish. But we don’t want actually to pay the nasty, bloody price of acting on those beliefs and destroying those who don’t respect them.

The “therapeutic generation” indeed. At an abstract level, our desire to achieve moral purity when fighting our enemies is commendable— no civilian casualties, no matter what; no US military casualties (“even one death is too many”); never any attempt at preemption – better to take the punch first and then strike back – but only proportionately, never with fury, and on and on. But in the real world, where millions want to kill us and hundreds of millions want Sharia law to be the worldwide standard, our moral purity is a significant liability.

Almost all of us, myself included, have bought into the mime that Iraq is lost, that we have “failed.” The drumbeat of the MSM over the past three years has ensured that “failure” is the only way to look at Iraq. Thornton comments:
But worse is the constant assertion that the U.S. has “failed” in Iraq. No one has “failed” yet, and it is a sign of our collective failure of nerve that we want to quit in the middle of the game. But it is not we who are “failing.” Hussein and his WMD capacity are gone, and a lethal threat has been removed. If worst comes to worst and Iraq doesn’t stabilize, a fractured Iraq that looks like Lebanon will still be preferable to a regime controlled by a psychotic Saddam Hussein flush with oil money and ultimately freed, as he likely would have been, from U.N. sanctions and weapons inspectors.

The fact is, it is the Iraqi people who are failing, the Arabs who are failing, and Muslims who are failing. The same cultural pathologies that keep Palestinian Arabs sullen welfare clients, that keep Lebanon a political basket-case, that keep millions of Middle-Eastern Muslims mired in poverty and oppression and ignorance and gender apartheid, are the same forces that are keeping Iraqis in some Road Warrior dystopia — not our blunders, cultural insensitivity, arrogance, or whatever other excuse concocted by self-loathing Americans.

Stop for just a second and think about all of this. Could Thornton be right?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

History Slaps

In an op-ed in the WSJ Opinion Journal Mark Bowden, the author of Black Hawk Down comments on the wonderfully idealistic, but ultimately futile American notion that all the world’s people want “freedom” and that if given the chance, they will discard centuries old hatreds and form a cohesive democracy.
We Americans consistently underestimate the deep hatreds that divide people. Our political system is designed to wrestle peacefully with the divisions of race, class, ethnicity, religion and competing ideological or geographical interests, and has generally worked as intended--the Civil War being the one glaring exception. Generations have struggled to live up to ideals of tolerance and diversity. When we look out at the world, we tend to see millions longing to get past the blood feuds, to be, in short, more like us. George Bush and the neocon intellectuals who led us into Iraq are just the latest in a long line of evangelical Americanists. No matter how many times history slaps us in the face, the dream persists.

And for all of the lamentation associated with our war in Iraq, trying to give the Iraqi people a chance at freedom is, indeed, a noble goal. But like others before them, the Iraqis slap us in the face, something we should bear in mind as we deal with over a dozen of other regions that are now being roiled by Islamofascist thugs.

In virtually every case, tribal hatreds serve the purposes of islamists and work against our best efforts. Bowden continues his commentary:
Nine years ago, in the epilogue to "Black Hawk Down," I quoted an unnamed State Department official (he was Michael Sheehan, ambassador for counter-terrorism) as follows: "The idea used to be that terrible countries were terrible because good, decent, innocent people were being oppressed by evil, thuggish leaders. Somalia changed that. Here you have a country where just about everybody is caught up in the fighting. You stop an old lady on the street and ask her if she wants peace, and she will say, 'Yes, of course, I pray for it daily.' All the things you would expect her to say. Then ask her if she would be willing for her clan to share power with another to have that peace, and she'll say, 'With those murderers and thieves? I'd die first.' People in these countries . . . don't want peace. They want victory. They want power. Men, women, old, and young. Somalia was the experience that taught us that people in these places bear much of the responsibility for things being the way they are. The hatred and killing continues because they want it to. Or because they don't want peace enough to stop it."

The statement is too harsh, as Mr. Sheehan himself agrees (he was at that point a veteran of Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia). Any effort to characterize millions with the expression "these people" is unfair and wrong. But there is a principle here struggling to emerge: Before a state can exist where there are deep-rooted, competing interests, there must be some broadly accepted concept of a nation strong enough to at least compete with parochial interests. There must be some generally accepted idea of a nation.

In most of the regions of the world that have spawned significant Islamofascist elements, the only “broadly accepted concept” is Islam. It can and does co-exist with “the blood feuds” that make any attempt at an fostering an ideology that competes with radical Islam a futile exercise. Only Islam can offer an alternative to Islamofascism, and to date, it has remained silent. Makes you wonder.