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

Monday, July 30, 2007

Brookings Reports

If we are to believe the majority leadership in the House and Senate, an overwhelming percentage of the MSM, and the polling data collected from the citizenry in the US, the war in Iraq is lost. The conventional wisdom is not without many truths—inept decision-making in the early years of the war, tragic loss of life among our troops and the Iraqi citizenry, intra-Iraqi violence on a significant scale, and little political progress. If we are to believe usual suspects, virtually nothing has gone right, we’ve made few, if any, gains, and we should leave in defeat at the earliest possible time.

In today’s New York Times, Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution (a well-respected liberal think tank), self-described as “two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq,” have recently returned from Iraq and state: “we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.”

Whoa! "Sustainable stability?" It's just not possible, is it? It runs counter to the prevailing narrative, and yet, O’Hanlon and Pollack suggest there may be reason for hope.
Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

In Ramadi, for example, we talked with an outstanding Marine captain whose company was living in harmony in a complex with a (largely Sunni) Iraqi police company and a (largely Shiite) Iraqi Army unit. He and his men had built an Arab-style living room, where he met with the local Sunni sheiks — all formerly allies of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups — who were now competing to secure his friendship.

In Baghdad’s Ghazaliya neighborhood, which has seen some of the worst sectarian combat, we walked a street slowly coming back to life with stores and shoppers. The Sunni residents were unhappy with the nearby police checkpoint, where Shiite officers reportedly abused them, but they seemed genuinely happy with the American soldiers and a mostly Kurdish Iraqi Army company patrolling the street. The local Sunni militia even had agreed to confine itself to its compound once the Americans and Iraqi units arrived.

We traveled to the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. This is an ethnically rich area, with large numbers of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside. A local mayor told us his greatest fear was an overly rapid American departure from Iraq. All across the country, the dependability of Iraqi security forces over the long term remains a major question mark.

But for now, things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).

Later in the article O’Hanlon and Pollack address an issue that is anathema to those who insist the we should leave Iraq immediately
In war, sometimes it’s important to pick the right adversary, and in Iraq we seem to have done so. A major factor in the sudden change in American fortunes has been the outpouring of popular animus against Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups, as well as (to a lesser extent) against Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

These groups have tried to impose Shariah law, brutalized average Iraqis to keep them in line, killed important local leaders and seized young women to marry off to their loyalists. The result has been that in the last six months Iraqis have begun to turn on the extremists and turn to the Americans for security and help. The most important and best-known example of this is in Anbar Province, which in less than six months has gone from the worst part of Iraq to the best (outside the Kurdish areas). Today the Sunni sheiks there are close to crippling Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies. Just a few months ago, American marines were fighting for every yard of Ramadi; last week we strolled down its streets without body armor.

Wretchard of the Belmont Club cites the same article and then comments.
Interestingly, al-Qaeda chose to make Iraq its decisive arena of confrontation with the United States. The US came to Iraq primarily to topple Saddam Hussein and remove one "state sponsor of terrorism" but it was Al-Qaeda that rushed in to stake its reputation there. A networked insurgency with followers in many Muslim countries could have chosen to attack America elsewhere. But instead it decided to focus its efforts on driving the US from Iraq. For that purpose its leadership established al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and funneled recruits into it from all over the world. This force was tasked with the explicit political goal of creating a Islamic Caliphate that would provide a prototype for a future Islamic state after the hated Americans had been driven out. Therefore much of the post-Saddam violence was probably the consequence of al-Qaeda's decision to flood all the resources of world terrorism into Iraq. Clearly Zarqawi's clear intention from the Samarra mosque bombing onward was to incite as much violence as he could. Given that al-Qaeda made Iraq the center of its global efforts, O’Hanlon and Pollack's admiration of MNF-I's decision to focus against it seems perplexing. Surely Petraeus had no alternative? Surely he was simply picking up the gauntlet? But that would not quite be true. Through much of 2005 and 2006 a variety of lines were suggested. Some argued that the US should lash out against Syria or Iran for allowing "militants" to transit their borders. Some believed Shi'a militias should be the primary target operations. Until recently many argued -- and still argue -- that al-Qaeda didn't exist in Iraq at all; so how could MNF-I focus against what was not there? So while taking on al-Qaeda now seems the obvious choice, in retrospect there were many other candidates vying for the title of Center of Gravity. Those bad guys still remain, but MNF-I saw al-Qaeda in Iraq as the key to the position and that choice, according to O’Hanlon and Pollack, appears to be the right one.

al-Qaeda wasn’t the reason that we went into Iraq, but in an odd way, our blundering approach in past years has placed al-Qaeda in harm’s way in Iraq – and it appears that they are losing, not winning. Sure, horrific bombs are still detonated and people die, but these Islamofascist thugs have shown their true colors to Iraqis and the populace has turned on them. That is a major strategic achievement for the US, even if it happened accidently.

Of course, if we are to listen to the usual suspects—every Democratic presidential candidate, the Congressional leadership, and much of the MSM—we should leave post haste – the war is lost. But Brooking’s O’Hanlon and Pollack are the antithesis of neo-cons, and they appear to see something that the usual suspects refuse to see.

The usual suspects are willing to guarantee a major strategic defeat for the USA. A defeat that invariably will strengthen every one of our Islamist enemies from Iran to Gaza to Indonesia. They are willing to risk a blood bath that will result in the murder of Iraqis who’ve helped us and an all out civil war that could result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. I suppose if you’re unwilling to examine all of the the facts on the ground, you’re equally unwilling to look into a future that precipitous withdrawal will assuredly bring.

Thankfully, O’Hanlon and Pollack have the honesty and integrity to report things as they’ve seen them, rather than through a warped ideological filter. Maybe we should take a breath and listen to what they have to say.

Update (7/31/07):

Not surprisingly, the O'Hanlon and Pollack report has become the focus of debate on both the Left and the Right. Although the veracity of the authors’ contentions can be debated, it appears that some on the Left cannot bear to even consider that maybe, just maybe, some progress is being made in Iraq, and the cause is not entirely lost. Michael Barone reinforces this sad reality when he writes:
Their [O'Hanlon and Pollack] argument is one many Democrats in Congress don't want to hear. Literally. This is the transcript of the response of freshman Rep. Nancy Boyda [a Democrat] of Kansas at a House Armed Services Committee hearing last Friday to the optimistic testimony of Gen. Jack Keane, one of the original advocates of the surge:

And I just will make some statements more for the record based on what I heard from—mainly from General Keane. As many of us—there was only so much that you could take until we in fact had to leave the room for a while. So I think I am back and maybe can articulate some things—after so much of the frustration of having to listen to what we listened to.

But let me first just say that the description of Iraq as in some way or another that it's a place that I might take the family for a vacation—things are going so well—those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country instead of saying, here's the reality of the problem. And people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue.

Read that last sentence again. "And people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue." The reality, that is, of how she sees it. Which is, apparently, that Iraq is a totally lost cause. She can't bear to hear anyone say anything otherwise.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Our Friends

Most of us know that significant monies from Saudi Arabia are used to fund Madrassahs worldwide and more than a few mosques in Europe and the US. Troublesome, but freedom of religion and all that.

But I'll bet you didn't know that Saudi money is also being used to fund the development of “middle eastern studies” curricula and teaching materials for the K – 12 level in the USA. Stanley Kurtz explains:
How did they do it? Very carefully...and very cleverly. It turns out that the system of federal subsidies to university programs of Middle East Studies (under Title VI of the Higher Education Act) has been serving as a kind of Trojan horse for Saudi influence over American K-12 education. Federally subsidized Middle East Studies centers are required to pursue public outreach. That entails designing lesson plans and seminars on the Middle East for America’s K-12 teachers. These university-distributed teaching aids slip into the K-12 curriculum without being subject to the normal public vetting processes. Meanwhile, the federal government, which both subsidizes and lends its stamp of approval to these special K-12 course materials on the Middle East, has effectively abandoned oversight of the program that purveys them (Title VI).

Enter the Saudis. By lavishly funding several organizations that design Saudi-friendly English-language K-12 curricula, all that remains is to convince the “outreach coordinators” at prestigious, federally subsidized universities to purvey these materials to America’s teachers. And wouldn’t you know it, outreach coordinators or teacher-trainers at a number of university Middle East Studies centers have themselves been trained by the very same Saudi-funded foundations that design K-12 course materials. These Saudi-friendly folks happily build their outreach efforts around Saudi-financed K-12 curricula.

So let’s review. The United States government gives money — and a federal seal of approval — to a university Middle East Studies center. That center offers a government-approved K-12 Middle East studies curriculum to America’s teachers. But in fact, that curriculum has been bought and paid for by the Saudis, who may even have trained the personnel who operate the university’s outreach program. Meanwhile, the American government is asleep at the wheel — paying scant attention to how its federally mandated public outreach programs actually work. So without ever realizing it, America’s taxpayers end up subsidizing — and providing official federal approval for — K-12 educational materials on the Middle East that have been created under Saudi auspices. Game, set, match: Saudis.

Would it be “Islamophobic” to suggest that these materials should be carefully vetted for factual accuracy, balance, and intent? Would it be “racist” to suggest that any curriculum discussing the Middle East consider both the good and the bad. The bad would have to include Jihadist suicide bombers, honor killings and the (sometimes violent) subjugation of women, virulent homophobic and anti-Semitic cultures, theocratic regimes, repressive dictatorships, and a culture that according to a UN study, is an economic basket case, ranks poorly in technological innovation, secular scholarship … the list is long.

Bet the Saudi-sponsored curriculum doesn’t broach those subjects. After all, the K-12ers don’t have a need to know, do they?

But there’s nothing to worry about. After all, the Saudis are our friends.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Avi and Hirsi

Avi Lewis is a Canadian TV commentator who is, to put it mildly, considerably progressive.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a best-selling ex-Moslem author with an amazing life story who is currently living in America. Although she is brilliant, eloquent, black, Somali, and a woman, she is almost invisible among American MSM outlets. The problem for Ms. Ali is that her message does not fit the multicultural mime that has become standard fair within the MSM. But back to Avi Lewis.

On his TV program, “On the Map,” Avi Lewis interviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Using almost every Liberal argument that is espoused when discussing Islam and the USA, he goes on the attack.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, with a soft voice and calm demeanor, takes .. him .. apart. It’s wonderful television and available on YouTube . Take a look.

The money quote occurs at the end of the interview, with Avi Lewis commenting on stolen elections, rampant homophobia and blatant racism in the USA. It's as if he memorized a library of Leftist tropes.

Hersi Ali, responds in her soft, accented voice, "I lived in countries that had no democracy … You grew up in freedom and you can spit on freedom because you don’t know what it is not to have freedom.”

The interview ended with that comment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


There are two types of warfare that are relevant in our attempts to defeat Islamofascism.

The first, Kinetic Warfare, is the on-going physical battle against specific Jihadist groups and infrastructure. In essence, we try to kill or capture them before they kill or kidnap us. Our efforts in this arena are well-documented and marginally effective, although dramatically constrained by a uniquely western overlay of concern for collateral damage, proportionality, the “rights” of Jihadists when captured, and other “morally” based issues. Islamofascists use these self-imposed constraints against us quite effectively. The result, I fear, is that we cannot win in kinetic warfare as long as we constraint the actions of our military. And worse, it’s likely that the constraints I mention will grow more restrictive in the coming years as Left-leaning leadership prevails throughout Europe and the United States.

The second type of warfare, Information Warfare, has been discussed in a lengthy report by Daniel Kimmage and Kathleen Ridolfo of Radio Free Europe. Their findings are summarized by Wretchard of The Belmont Club:
Sunni insurgents in Iraq and their supporters worldwide are exploiting the Internet to pursue a massive and far-reaching media campaign. Insurgent media are forming perceptions of the war in Iraq among the best-educated and most influential segment of the Arab population.

1. The Iraqi insurgent media network is a boon to global jihadist media, which can use materials produced by the insurgency to reinforce their message.
2. Mainstream Arab media amplify the insurgents’ efforts, transmitting their message to an audience of millions.
3. The insurgent propaganda network does not have a headquarters, bureaucracy, or brick-and-mortar infrastructure. It is decentralized, fast-moving, and technologically adaptive.
4. The rising tide of Sunni-Shi'ite hate speech in Iraqi insurgent media points to the danger of even greater sectarian bloodshed. A wealth of evidence shows that hate speech paved the way for genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
5. The popularity of online Iraqi Sunni insurgent media reflects a genuine demand for their message in the Arab world. An alternative, no matter how lavishly funded and cleverly produced, will not eliminate this demand.
6. There is little to counter this torrent of daily press releases, weekly and monthly magazines, books, video clips, full-length films, and even television channels.
7. We should not concede the battle without a fight. The insurgent media network has key vulnerabilities that can be targeted. These include: A lack of central coordination and a resulting lack of message control; A widening rift between homegrown nationalist groups and Al-Qaeda affiliated global jihadists

These findings coincide with those of a counterterrorism expert I recently heard speak who concluded that the messages emanating from Iraq were radicalizing Muslims in Western countries to a dangerous degree. It was this radicalizing message, with its theme of Muslim victimization and the duty to Jihad repeated time and again, which motivated cells to act in general concert with other cells of which they often had no explicit knowledge.

We are losing the InfoWar badly, and worse, our politicians do not understand it or the way to fight it. Our MSM, instead of assisting in the fight, acts as a tool of the Jihadists and in many ways enhances their InfoWar fighting capabilities.

The conventional thinking – completely wrong in my opinion – is that we need to “get our message across” to Islam using outreach to Imams in mosques, placing pro-Western news stories in Arab and Islamic media, being certain never to antagonize Islam, and of course, “addressing the grievances” that have so roiled Islam. At some level, a majority of Congress and a substantial percentage of the American people believe that an exit from Iraq will blunt the Jihadists InfoWar advantage.

Wretchard comments:
An American retreat from Iraq would change the details, but not the general tenor of the terrorist narrative. Other pretexts will be found -- the Balkans, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Mindanao -- to justify further attacks. The only way to counter a narrative is to produce a counter-narrative -- a plausible version of events and a roadmap to the future which will compete with that of the Jihad's …

But these religious precepts [contained in Jihadist’s narrative] are cleverly packaged. Like the standardized formats of the Western infotainment; the soap opera, sitcom and cop-show, the Jihadis offer an equivalent menu of time-tested genres based on Islamic culture. There are scriptural texts, inspirational stories, martyr biographies and even -- for the literary minded -- poetry. The media varies. There are books, audiovisuals, videotaped attacks, etc. And unlike the Western media which sees it as a duty to criticize their societies and their governments, Jihadi media is frankly partisan. Only Western civilization has no advocate in the raging debate; bereft of even so much as a public defender.

But what is this counter-narrative? In my view, it must be designed to exploit divisions in Islam (e.g., Sunni vs. Shia) using the narrative of each group to inculcate fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the Jihadist path throughout the Moslem world. And it must do so using Jihadist words and images, reworked to show inconsistency, retooled to exploit internal hatreds, redefined to show that the path Islamofascism advocates is not the path defined by the Koran.

It must be relentless and unpitying, using video produced by Jihadists in a way that confronts all of Islam with the Barbarism Jihadists advocate. It must be unapologetic in its images and tone, suggesting that, for example, Al Qaeda’s slaughter of an entire village in Iraq (something that was not, unsurprisingly, reported by our MSM) could come to your village in Jordan, or Gaza, or Afghanistan, or Morocco. It must play on tribalism, mistrust, and century-old feuds. It must seek to divide. It must, seek to destroy the Jihadist message by using the Jihadist message.

It must be hardcore. It must be InfoWar. And we haven’t even begun to understand it, let alone fight it.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

One Woman's War

A relatively obscure online journal, The Middle East Quarterly, [hat tip, The Belmont Club] recently published an article by Shannen Rossmiller, a mother of three children, ex-municipal court judge, and now, a civil litigation specialist with the Montana attorney general's office. It’s a story that in any other context would get her interviewed by Oprah, Diane Sawyer or Matt Lauer. In fact, in a lot of ways, it’s a story that could become a movie (starring Julia Roberts, no doubt). But it won’t, because it's a story of an American woman who decided to fight Islamofascism in her own way, in her own time, and with success – and that’s something that doesn’t seem to interest the MSM.

Rossmiller begins her story:
Before 9-11, I had no experience with the Middle East or the Arabic language. I was a mother of three and a municipal judge in a small town in Montana. But the terrorist attacks affected me deeply. I wondered how it could happen. What kind of people could carry out such an atrocity and why? I began to read vociferously about Islam, terrorism, extremist groups, and Islamist ideology.[1] Some of the books satisfied; many did not.

In November 2001, I saw a news report about how terrorists and their sympathizers communicated on websites and Internet message boards and how limited government agencies were in their ability to monitor these web communications. This news report showed me how extensively Al-Qaeda used the Internet to orchestrate 9-11 and how out of touch our intelligence agencies were regarding this Internet activity. Apparently, there were not procedures in place for tracking communications and activity on the Al-Qaeda websites and Internet forums at the time.

The Internet address named in the news report was "" I wrote it down and proceeded to see for myself what all the fuss was about. I entered another world when I logged on to that site for the first time. I did not know Arabic, so I clicked away at random, looking at featured pictures depicting such things as dead bodies lying around in the aftermath of a car bombing and other atrocities.

Early in January 2002, I began taking an Arabic language course online for eight weeks from the Cairo-based Arab Academy,[2] which, that autumn, I supplemented with an intensive Arabic course at the State University of New York at Buffalo. As I learned more Arabic, the jihadi websites opened for me. Certain individuals stood out for either their radicalism or the information that they sent. I followed and tracked these individuals and kept notebooks detailing each website and person of interest.

Gradually, as I put to use the knowledge and skills I was developing of the Arabic language, I started posting messages on Internet forums and message boards. However, it was not until I was able to find an Arabic language translator through an online translation service[3] who was willing to assist me with constructing contextually accurate messages that I began to elicit responses from individuals at these Internet sites. As time went on, and through the process of trial and error, I eventually figured out what to say and how to say it to start the process of passing myself off as a jihadist sympathizer.

She proceeds to uncover a plot to sell stolen Stinger (anti-aircraft) missles and unearths an embedded Jihadist sympathizer within a National Guard unit tasked to Iraq. In both cases, her work disrupted dangerous terrorist activities.

Odd, isn’t it, that you haven’t heard about Shannen Rossmiller until now. It’s such a great human interest story –- almost too Hollywood to be real – and yet, it is.

But the MSM—broadcast, print, and film—looks the other way. To get their attention, she’d need to "save the world" from global warming like Al or stop starvation in Africa like Angelina and Brad, or negotiate a peace settlement in Darfur like, well … never mind. All wonderful goals, but very, very big problems that are easy to pontificate about, but extremely difficult to solve. So talk is cheap, and action is, well, just symbolic.

Shannon decided to address a much smaller problem set, one that she had a chance of solving. She took specific actions and got results that helped her country. In her own small way, Shannen Rossmiller is a bigger American hero than Al or Angelina will ever be.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Summer, 2007

It’s summer, 2007. The Lebanese government has decided that terrorists who pose a threat to Lebanon's national security must be stopped. To accomplish this they have waged an eight-week assault on the “Palestinian Refugee Camp” in Nahr al Bared Lebanon. At least 210 people have been killed.

Reuters reports
Witnesses said the army was bombarding the camp, often at a rate of 7 to 10 artillery shells per minute. Black smoke billowed from the camp's battered buildings, most of which have been reduced to rubble. Lebanese navy gunboats also took part in the shelling.

Bulldozers cleared the rubble and soldiers erected barricades at the camp's edges, creating fortified army positions. Security sources said a Lebanese civilian was killed by a stray bullet a few kilometers away from the camp.

Although reports of this action have appeared in the MSM, there has been no breathless outrage and condemnation of the Lebanese army. There are few pictures of civilians killed as part of collateral damage, few (staged) images of wailing Palestinians in front of building reduced to rubble, almost no op-ed pieces decrying “disproportionality” when tanks and heavy artillery are used against “militants” with rifles and grenade launchers.

Now, think Hizballah and the summer of 2006. Why is it that the Lebanese get a pass and the Israelis were the target of most of the MSM and many human rights organizations? Interesting, huh?

Amnesty International, whose main headline today is: “Israel/Hizballah war casualties await justice” makes no mention of the 2007 Lebanese action on their Web site home page. The NYT has no editorials, CNN mentions the action in passing, but without any real negative spin against the Lebanese.

But Lebanon is protecting their own country, you might protest. Israel wasn’t? But there are real grievances here. Were 2,000 rockets crossing an international border not a real grievance?

Could it be blatant media bias against the Israelis? Could it be that human rights groups look at the world through a lens that is grossly distorted? Nah, those things would be despicable, unprofessional, and wrong.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Politics in the United States has never been pretty, has always been contentious, and has often been both illogical and despicable. But in recent years, it seems that politics has begun to taint science in ways that are particularly troubling.

Today’s New York Times reports on the Bush administration's efforts to shape science policy by controlling its former Surgeon General, Richard H. Carmona, who testified before a Congressional panel:
The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

It’s perfectly acceptable for the administration to have political opinions about each of these issues, but these opinions cannot and should not be used to distort or suppress scientific fact. It appears that the Bush administration has decided that ideology trumps science, and that brings them perilously to the kind of ideological ignorance that this country is fighting throughout the Moslem word. It surprises me that no one in the administration sees the irony in their position, but then again, politics is often illogical and despicable.

I suspect that some Right-leaning readers and every Left-leaning reader will agree with this assessment. But understand that ideological dominance of science cuts both ways. The current suggestion that humans are the primary cause of global warming is not supported by any reputable scientific fact. Yet many scientists, most politicians, and virtually everyone on the left side of the political spectrum has decided that ideology trumps science on this important issue. If the Bush administration should be rightly condemned for its ideological attempts to control scientific inquiry and reporting, the Left should be equally culpable for accusing those who suggest that scientists and others (included yours truly) who suggest that global warming may have other, more likely causes, are “deniers.” Deniers of what? Politically motivated ideology? Bad science? Agenda-driven politics? Guilty on all counts.

Whether it’s George W. Bush or Al Gore, the use of science to further ideological goals is both illogical and despicable. It should be condemned by any person who believes that science is the never-ending search for an understanding the world around us.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Moderates - II

George W. Bush and England’s new Prime Minister Gordon Brown tell us that the “vast majority” of Islam are moderates who are against Jihadism. They are probably correct. But over one billion people are Moslems and if only 1/10th of one percent are Jihadist, that means that 1 million people want to destroy the West and install a world wide caliphate. If 5 percent of Islam has Jihadist sympathies (that number is conservative by most estimates), 50 million people support Islamofascism in some way.

But let’s not dither over percentages. Irshad Manji argues that Islam’s “moderates” aren’t the people who matter.
While the vast majority of Muslims aren't extremists, a more important distinction must start being made - the distinction between moderate Muslims and reform-minded ones. Moderate Muslims denounce violence in the name of Islam - but deny that Islam has anything to do with it.

By their denial, moderates abandon the ground of theological interpretation to those with malignant intentions - effectively telling would-be terrorists that they can get away with abuses of power because mainstream Muslims won't challenge the fanatics with bold, competing interpretations.

To do so would be admit that religion is a factor. Moderate Muslims can't go there.

Reform-minded Muslims say it's time to admit that Islam's scripture and history are being exploited. They argue for re-interpretation precisely to put the would-be terrorists on notice that their monopoly is over. Re-interpreting doesn't mean re-writing. It means re-thinking words and practices that already exist - removing them from a seventh-century tribal time warp and introducing them to a twenty first-century pluralistic context.

Un-Islamic? God no. The Koran contains three times as many verses calling on Muslims to think, analyze, and reflect than passages that dictate what's absolutely right or wrong. In that sense, reform-minded Muslims are as authentic as moderates, and quite possibly more constructive.

Although we worry about our own security, it is Islam that is in great danger. We worry about WMDs in major Western cities (a justifiable concern) but in reality, bomb blasts in subways, shopping malls or schools, if successful and continuous will cause the West to reach a tipping point. Multiculturalism and political correctness will evaporate among those who are chartered with political leadership, and as the dark joke that circulated on the Web phrased it, we’ll begin to play Cowboys and Moslems. The end will not be pretty.

Reformist Moslems must take control and convince the moderates that it’s in their own best interest to reject Jihadism completely, without equivocation. If that doesn’t happen, moderates, as well as Jihadists, will be responsible for the darkness that is almost sure to follow.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


The recently released movie “A Mighty Heart” is the story of Danny Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped by Islamofascists in Pakistan and beheaded, his body cut into many peaces and dumped at the side of the road. Pearl was killed because he was an American, a reporter, and oh yes, a Jew.

The movie is mediocre at best, focusing on the anguish of Pearl’s wife, the efforts of reporters and Pakistani police (at least one of them) to find Pearl, and deemphasizing and in subtle ways justifying the barbarity of the Jihadists. Like many “artistic endeavors” that come out of Hollywood, it falls into the Leftist trap of moral equivalence—since we have Quantanamo, what are the poor, oppressed Jihadists supposed to do? After all, they have to fight back, don’t they? Beheading – is that any worse than a US soldier with an automatic weapon? Blah … blah … blah.

Judah Pearl, Danny’s father, is a life long progressive, who is far more at home at NPR and in the pages of the New Republic that he would be at the WSJ. Yet on the matter of moral equivalence, he has had a epiphany. He writes in The New Republic:
I used to believe that the world essentially divided into two types of people: those who were broadly tolerant; and those who felt threatened by differences. If only the forces of tolerance could win out over the forces of intolerance, I reasoned, the world might finally know some measure of peace.

He goes on to note “a famous paradox formulated by Bertrand Russell in 1901 … Any person who claims to be tolerant naturally defines himself in opposition to those who are intolerant. But that makes him intolerant of certain people--which invalidates his claim to be tolerant,” suggesting that there can be no such thing as unqualified tolerance.

On the movie about his son's murder, he writes:
Drawing a comparison between Danny's murder and the detainment of suspects in Guantánamo is precisely what the killers wanted, as expressed in both their e-mails and the murder video. Obviously Winterbottom [the Movie’s director] did not mean to echo their sentiments, and certainly not to justify their demands or actions. Still, I am concerned that aspects of his movie will play into the hands of professional obscurers of moral clarity.

Judah Pearl is a progressive who has been mugged by a horrific reality—the brutal murder of a child. He has concluded that moral equivalence has bounds.
Danny's tragedy demands an end to this logic. There can be no comparison between those who take pride in the killing of an unarmed journalist and those who vow to end such acts--no ifs, ands, or buts. Moral relativism died with Daniel Pearl, in Karachi, on January 31, 2002.

There was a time when drawing moral symmetries between two sides of every conflict was a mark of original thinking. Today, with Western intellectuals overextending two-sidedness to reckless absurdities, it reflects nothing but lazy conformity. What is needed now is for intellectuals, filmmakers, and the rest of us to resist this dangerous trend and draw legitimate distinctions where such distinctions are warranted.

Islamofascists hide behind moral equivalence, comforted in the knowledge that useful idiots among the "intellectuals, filmmakers, and the rest of us" will give them cover. Turn on CNN, read the NYT or the Guardian and you'll assuredly see reckless absurdities masquerading as deep thinking and even-handedness. Have the wisdom to reject this nonsense -- even if you're labeled "intolerant."