Friday, April 28, 2006

Iran or ... Darfur?

Lawrence F. Kaplan, a senior editor at The New Republic, fears that the left’s opposition to Iraq will prevent it from supporting unilateral military action to save those dying in Darfur. As he points out, those on the left who advocate intervention in Darfur are for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq regardless of the bloodbath that would ensue. He sees a contradiction here. I don’t.

For the left, the sin of intervention in Iraq isn’t “going it alone,” “being pre-emptive,” or using military might. In Kosovo, we acted without the U.N. and before the anticipated genocide; and we bombed Serbia—a nation that had no WMDs or history of anti-American terrorism. The sin of our Iraqi policy, in the eyes of the left, is that we acted out of self-interest. Thus, Kosovo and Darfur do not resemble Iraq and Iran.

Kaplan quotes the Bible as it implores us not to “stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor.” And while generosity and decency may motivate this honorable impulse to rescue those under siege, running the world and settling disputes in every corner of the earth is clearly an impossible burden to bear. The left, however, is not inconsistent: they want our priorities to be inverted. To the degree that we have no interest in this region is the degree that we are duty-bound to help.

In the comment section of my last post, I argued that the left has secularized the most abject altruism while the right, with its explicit commitment to religion, has retained a skepticism towards a foreign policy driven by the devotion to serving the needs of those who’s values and disposition are inimical to our interests and, indeed, in many cases inimical to our very existence. I wrote:

Since Kant secularized abject altruism (which holds that one’s duty is to sacrifice for others no matter whom they are and what they value) it is found more on the left than the right. Prior to Kant one often read about the right to self-preservation in British philosophers from Hobbes to Locke that clearly and proudly upheld the ultimate right to defend one’s life and protect one’s family.

Kant’s duty-bound categorical imperative disparaged self-interest and the common sense notions of self-preservation to absurd extents. The moral became a commandment—to be blindly followed. There’s Kant’s well known example against lying even if a craven killers asks you where to find his intended victim. Of course, Kant throws in the improbably idea that something unexpected may keep the killer from carrying out his plan. But what sane person would not lie under such a situation? It’s not as if people will hold you as untrustworthy because you lied to a deranged killer.

Far from being an academic exercise we see this principle operative today. The left talks as if we have to wait until we’re hit by a nuclear attack. “How do you know Saddam has WMDs? How do you know Ahmadinejad will use those nukes?” (Read Steyn on that one.) The benefit of the doubt, not matter how unreasonable, must go to the enemy no matter how deranged they are. The left will tout categorical imperatives of “international law” and argue against pre-emption. However, if the purpose is altruistic, as it was in Kosovo, then all of a sudden pre-emption is fine, international law is inconvenient, and the preponderance of the evidence mandates our military action. Iraq was motivated by defense and it is self-interest which poisons the cause for the left as it would for Kant.”

Let me now add that the right is vulnerable to the moral attacks made by the left. As D. Eastbrook points out in my comments section of the last post: “Iraq was based on many self-interested premises. But notice how Bush is really not capable of stressing those. As time has passed, all he really is capable of praising about the campaign are its selfless elements; the liberation of the Iraqis and their power to vote in elections.” I fear that our President may want to prove his altruistic devotion by committing troops, either directly or through the U.N., to Darfur as he’s done in Liberia and Haiti. All the while, the threat of Iran looms.

The need for a coherent and proper self-interested foreign policy is greater than ever. We are drifting without a clear idea of our principles, the enemy’s nature, and the proper order of our priorities. Mr. Kaplan doesn't help. But neither does Mr. Bush. While both may be well-meaning gentlemen, they are bound by tacit cultural assumptions they are unable to explicate and question. We need new leadership in both word and deed.

Update: TNR continues to beat the war drum for Darfur.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Is Democracy Enough?

This is the question I asked last year when commentators argued that democracy would transform societies into civilized, peaceful, and prosperous nations. I questioned the fundamental nature of this notion and called it a “parliamentary dialectic” to draw parallels to Marx’s reversal of cause and effect.

That democracy isn’t enough to secure a just society is discussed in Aristotle’s Politics. He warned of what Tocqueville called tyranny of the majority. Aristotle argued for the rule of law, checks and balances, and the need to cultivate professional political leadership. Aristotle used the word “democracy” to denote the “rule of many” in its most pernicious form. Our founding fathers were also critics of “democracy” which they understood to be unlimited majority rule. They advanced the notion of a republic that includes a parliamentary electoral system limited by a constitution.

This is why it was disheartening to read some conservatives talking about democracy in simplistic terms over the past few years. One conservative writer even applauded the prospect of an Islamic democracy in spite of (or perhaps because of) its theocratic potential. There were a few who warned that democracy would have the opposite effect in the Islamic world as I also noted last year.

Commentators were shocked by Afghanistan's imposition of the death sentence for conversion to Christianity even though it was clear what Sharia law meant in Afghanistan by previous outrages. It took the election of Hamas to remind people that, like Hitler, an electoral system can help tyrants rise to power. And although the elections in Iraq were a hopeful sign, tribal and religious loyalties, and not sound political principles of individual rights, are still the determining factor in Iraqi politics ... so far.

That is why it is interesting to finally read in The Weekly Standard that a “disturbing trend emerges: the rise of illiberal democracy in the Middle East.” By George, they’re catching on! “Elections are an integral part of a democracy--but they are not a substitute for a liberal democratic culture.” They must have read my masthead above! “Almost half of today's ‘democratizing’ countries can be classified as what Fareed Zakaria dubs ‘illiberal democracies’: Although they hold regular elections, they also violate their citizens' human rights, political liberties, and religious freedom.” Zakaria? Who’s he? How about Aristotle, Madison, Burke, Tocqueville, etc.? Finally the writers at TWS ask a question raised by Daniel Pipes a year ago. “Will democratization end up unwittingly empowering the enemies of the West?” They answer:

“It is only after the rise of liberal institutions such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion that Middle Eastern elections can provide the vibrant alternatives that we expect truly democratic systems to provide. … [A] democratic culture cannot be built overnight. [It] must be measured by the level of liberalism it engenders. ”
That's good as far as it goes. But isn't there a problem that they aren't addressing?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Iran and the War At Home

The Iranian Threat

First, let’s consider quotes from several authors who can face the Iranian threat:

1. Caroline Glick (via Atlas, also Thrutch):

“This week Iran presented the US with the ultimate challenge and Washington must now make a decision. Is it fighting to win? …

“Over the past five years this new member of the nuclear club [i.e. Iran] has become the undisputed leader of the global jihad. It controls Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad. It has open and warm ties with al-Qaida. It has transformed Hamas and Fatah into its clients. Syria has become its vassal. It controls the majority of Iraq's Shi'ite politicians and militias. It is feared by Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It is respected and revered by European Muslims. …

Iran, the single greatest enemy of the US and everything it stands for, which has repeatedly stated its goal of destroying America and erasing Israel from the map of the world, is now on the verge of acquiring a nuclear arsenal. …

“That is, the US has placed the responsibility for meeting what it has itself admitted is the greatest threat to global security in the hands of nations that do not share its assessment of Iran. By seeking Security Council action on Iran, the US has delegated the power for contending with the Iranian nuclear threat to China and Russia which have both assisted Iran in developing its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. … [T]he US's policy towards Iran serves not to thwart Teheran's nuclear aspirations but to facilitate them. It serves not to expand America's options for contending with this grave and gathering threat to its national security and global interests, but to limit them.

America is the greatest nation on Earth and it does have the ability to defend the world against regimes like Iran and its allies. … But America cannot, and it will not accomplish any of these goals if it continues to abide by strategies and frameworks that serve only to strengthen its enemies and permit its "allies" to behave perfidiously. …

“This week Teheran threw down the gauntlet. The greatest battle of this war - the battle to prevent the world's most dangerous regime from attaining the most dangerous weapons known to man - has begun. The moment has arrived for President George W. Bush to make clear if he is, in the final analysis, the leader of the free world or its undertaker.”

2. Robert Tracinski (via CapMag):

“No one is yet willing to face the fact that Iran is already at war with the United States—and that Iran is the central enemy we have to defeat if we are going to win the War on Terrorism. … He has openly boasted that Iran wants to "wipe Israel off the map." … Iran's religious establishment recently released a fatwa sanctioning the use of nuclear weapons. …

“There is no need to invoke the doctrine of pre-emption against Iran. Iran is already fighting a war against the United States. We just haven't been fighting back. We have held our fire as if Iran were protected by a shield of nuclear weapons. How much more aggressive will the Iranians become when they are actually protected by such a nuclear shield? …

“The mullahs who rule Iran's system from behind the scenes maneuvered Ahmadinejad into power last year because they knew he had the fiery fanaticism to go on the offensive, pressing Iran's advantage in the face of American wavering on Iraq.

“Everywhere you look in the Middle East, if you ask who is the biggest threat to America's interests, you will find the same answer—Hamas in the Palestinian territories, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Assad regime in Syria, the Sunni terrorists and Shiite militias in Iraq—directly or indirectly, Iran is supporting them all. …

There can be no victory in the War on Terrorism until we confront—and defeat—the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the real war, and it's time we started fighting it.”

3. Amir Taheri (via Sixth Column)

“Last year, it was after another khalvat that Ahmadinejad announced his intention to stand for president. Now, he boasts that the Imam gave him the presidency for a single task: provoking a "clash of civilisations" in which the Muslim world, led by Iran, takes on the "infidel" West, led by the United States, and defeats it in a slow but prolonged contest that, in military jargon, sounds like a low intensity, asymmetrical war. …

“Ahmadinejad's strategic guru, Hassan Abassi, known as the "Dr Kissinger of Islam", President George W Bush is an aberration, an exception to a rule under which all American presidents since Truman, when faced with serious setbacks abroad, have "run away". …

“The Iranian plan is simple: playing the diplomatic game for another two years until Bush becomes a "lame-duck", unable to take military action … Thus do not be surprised if … Ahmadinejad announces a "temporary suspension" of uranium enrichment as a ‘confidence building measure’. … Such manoeuvres would allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director, Muhammad El-Baradei, and Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, to congratulate Iran for its "positive gestures" and denounce talk of sanctions, let alone military action.”

Denial of the Threat

Now, let’s consider the opposition to vigorous military action:

4. Christopher de Bellaigue (New York Review of Books):

Russia and China seem unlikely to join in the policy of sanctions against Iran that the US, Britain, and France hope that a coalition of countries will adopt … Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA's director general, has some sympathy for the Russian and Chinese positions. He called on the parties to avoid an "escalation" and engage in more talks. …

“As the Bush administration sees it, the main "underlying issue" is that Iran's fanatical and unpopular regime is secretly trying to build a bomb with which to threaten Israel and other countries. Only by asserting the possibility of sanctions or preventive war … can the US and other influential nations stop this from happening. his reading of the Islamic Republic's position is misleading, however. First, it ascribes to a fractured and secretive state a transparency of intent and an ideological rigidity that it [Iran] does not have. Second, it absolves the US of any responsibility for Iran's refusal to abandon its ambitions to have a fuel cycle, …

“The Iranians' ability to behave with startling pragmatism was first displayed during the Iran-contra scandal of 1986 … Iran's enmity toward Israel is more nuanced than Ahmadinejad's statements suggest. … But Iran's senior civilian and military officials have insisted that Iran will strike Israel only if Israel strikes first [and maintains that] longstanding demand for a referendum on the status of Israel that would involve all Palestinian refugees. This official position would not seem to be consistent with an ambition to destroy Israel by force …

“Seeking clues, one could do worse than review the deterioration in relations between Iran and the US since early 2002, when Bush included the Islamic Republic in his "axis of evil." At the time, I was told by Iranians connected to the clerical elite that this speech had convinced Iran's leaders that Bush intended to bring down the Islamic Republic. Iranian insecurities were subsequently heightened by the American invasion of Iraq, even though it got rid of one of Iran's worst enemies—and by the US's stated ambition to democratize the Middle East. …

“Achieving a nuclear fuel cycle and the ability to build a bomb would give Iran's leaders a different degree of protection altogether. It would be in a position to deter attacks by any hostile power. … The Bush administration has apparently adopted a policy of regime change toward Iran, although there seems no way it could accomplish this by military force.


Bellaigue’s analysis is standard boilerplate lifted from the left’s support for communism or, equivalently, it’s opposition to anti-communism.

His first point is that Iran isn’t an ideologically driven enemy but a flexible and pragmatic nation open to discussion. We are to believe this because the Iranian leaders have contradicted pure ideological dogma. Thus the argument boils down to: they aren't religious fanatics because they are hypocrites. A brief review of history makes such a claim laughable. Hypocrisy is not rare among fanatics but only a much needed reprieve to enable survival and continue the crusade with renewed enthusiasm.

I have reviewed how the left and left-liberals used pragmatism to evade the nascent evil of Stalin’s Russia. In the late 1920s, John Dewey, the most influential philosopher of American Pragmatism, returned from the USSR enthralled by the “noble experiment” of communism. He founded the emerging Stalinist regime to be flexible instead of doctrinaire. While he soon came to his senses, others on the left continued to praise Stalinist Russia on the basis of pragmatist experimentation throughout the 1930s. Indeed, Stalin was even seen as a pragmatist alternative to that rigid ideologue, Trotsky.

The leftist’s imagination of pragmatic flexibility and its dismissal of the power of religious ideology continue unabated. Edward Said, Columbia University professor and Palestinian terrorist, wrote the book that changed Middle East Studies in 1978: Orientalism. The eminent scholar, Martin Kramer, explains how Said embarrassingly dismissed, in his usual sarcastic manner, Western writers that see Islam as a potent social force. I say embarrassingly because in 1979, Khomeini rose to power in Iran. That philosophy or religion could move men’s minds and determine whole regimes is foreign to materialist Marxism and its post-modernist post-colonialist sympathizers.

Bellaigue’s second fantasy constructs an imaginary Iran, peaceful in nature, but it driven to belligerence by the evil Mr. Bush. This too is recycled anti-anti-communist tripe. Back in the Cold War, the left continued to dismiss USSR’s domination over Eastern Europe as an understandable defensive response to external aggression in the past (Nazism) and continued threats of aggression by America.

The left is completely intellectually bankrupt but it continues to dominate the influential mainstream media and major universities. However, the first group of authors who can face the Islamic threat, if joined by others, can and will win the most important fight: the intellectual fight here at home.

Update: Iran's warrior religion is similar in mindset to Japan's warrior culture.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Soul of the American Left

The most admired political writer in America’s universities is Noam Chomsky. David Horowitz has exposed this vicious fraud time and time again. Now Horowitz has published Paul Bogdanor’s “The Top 100 Chomsky Lies.” Paul follows each Chomsky quote with the truth. It is shocking how anyone can follow this Pied Piper of leftist absurdity.

If you know any naive college freshman who’s unprepared for the barrage of lies, you might want to inoculate him/her with a dose of Bogdanor’s medicine. Thank you, David and Paul.

Next we need an exposé on Howard Zinn.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Europe's Denial

Bruce Bawer, in this article, has an excellent introduction to Europe’s failure to face the Islamic threat. For select quotes and commentary visit IBA.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Next Stop Iran

Spengler has some interesting thoughts:

“Americans are a misunderstood people. … President Bush earned overwhelming support by toppling Saddam Hussein, a caricature villain who appeared to threaten Americans, but earned opprobrium by committing American lives to the political rehabilitation of Iraq, about which Americans care little. …

The Revolutionary Guards of 1979 now are middle-aged men who now at last have a chance to lead. … But Iran's motives for acquiring nuclear power are not only economic but strategic. Like [Adolf] Hitler and [Josef] Stalin, Ahmadinejad looks to imperial expansion as a solution for economic crisis at home … envisages a regional Shi'ite empire backed by nuclear weaponry. …

If conflict with Iran is indeed unavoidable, the Bush administration can re-emerge as a war government rather than as Wilsonian nation-builders, with every expectation of popular support.”

He predicts President Bush will take action before November. He is not alone. This from the UK Telegraph:

“It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is ‘inevitable’ if Teheran's leaders fail to comply with United Nations demands to freeze their uranium enrichment” program.

Update1: “We need to attack Iran, not just to keep it from developing nuclear weapons, but to topple the largest remaining state sponsor of terrorism, and to discredit Islamic rule. … Everywhere you look in the Middle East … who is the biggest threat to America's interests, you will find the same answer—Hamas in the Palestinian territories, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Assad regime in Syria, al-Qaeda and the Shiite militias in Iraq—Iran is supporting them all. This is the real war, and it's time we started fighting it.” Robert Tracinski (link unavailable.)

Update2: “Iran, of course, secure now behind its nuclear wall, will surely step up its campaign of terror around the world. It will become even more of a magnet and haven for terrorists. The terror training grounds of Afghanistan were always vulnerable if the West had the resolve. Protected by a nuclear-missile-owning state, Iranian camps will become impregnable” –Gerard Baker, The Times.

Update3: Mark Steyn. Hat Tip: Thrutch and TigerHawk and Sixth Column.

Update4: "In fact the United States and Iran have been in a state of war since November 4, 1979. The taking of a nation's embassy is usually interpreted as such under the international law that liberals hold in such high regard. Since that time Iran has waged war upon not just America but also infidels in general." - Grant Jones, the Dougout.

Update5: "You say it is unacceptable to choose between such alternatives. There must be a moderate, middle way to oppose Iranian nukes. What about diplomacy? sanctions? confidence- and security-building measures? The short answer is no. You are simply postponing the real choices, and effectively choosing something worse than either. …" - Angelo Codevilla

Update6: "All that has changed in the past six months is the growing Western realization that radical Islam thrives on appeasement, and really does mean what it says. … Far from withdrawing his pledge to wipe Israel out, President Ahmadinejad doubled-down on the boast by organizing formal Holocaust-denial conferences, the prerequisite for any Jew-hater who wishes to move from rhetoric to action. Unlike Hitler, however, Ahmadinejad outlined in advance not merely the intent but the method of his intended follow-up to the Holocaust …" - Victor Davis Hanson, Symposium on Iran.

Update7: "Iran intends to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment involving 54,000 centrifuges, the country's deputy nuclear chief said Wednesday, signaling its resolve to expand a program the international community has insisted it halt." - AP wire "If Iran can get 3,000 centrifuges on line by the end of 2006 and is otherwise ready to build its first bomb, it could have a nuclear weapon by this time next year." - Tiger Hawk

Update8: Gus Van Horn reviews Ahmadinejad's millennial worldview and our need to act soon. Hat Tip: Thrutch

Monday, April 10, 2006

Defending Americans

My recent schedule has left too little time to write on this blog as frequently as I'd like. However, with the increased number of excellent writers publishing online, let me direct you to some excellent hard-hitting articles. In this article the author, Amit Ghate, exposes the failure of our government to defend America and her citizens against the Islamic threat – a threat our leaders even refuse to name. Mr. Ghate notes:

For twenty five plus years, Islamists have isolated and targeted Western citizens around the world with impunity, and have succeeded in fostering fear in most citizens. They have effectively used a divide and conquer strategy, with little or no opposition.

Our government’s response has been to abdicate its primary responsibility: to defend the rights of each and every American citizen. Defending America means defending Americans.

If a [foreign] nation threatens one citizen, it threatens the nation, and we must do everything in our power, including going to war if necessary, to eradicate the threat.

Yet our publishers are frightened to publish simple cartoons that portray Mohammad as the violent man he was; our booksellers refuse to sell magazines out fear of Islamic attacks; and our political leaders apologize to the enemy for the thoughts expressed by private citizens – the very citizens our government refuses to defend against the threat of violent attacks.

Thus we must stand together and protect the lonely author who dares question a religion and who is sentenced to death because of it. We must stand together to defend his publishers who are firebombed for printing the book. We must stand together to defend the individual film-maker and political dissident who criticize Islam and are sentenced to death because of it. We must stand together to defend the benign cartoonist, who pens a simple cartoon, and is then forced into hiding by death threats and bounties.

Read the whole article and be prepared for the climatic last-three paragraphs.

Update: Islamic intimidation at a university in our heartland.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Islam: Imperialist Supremacist Ideology

Islam is an imperialist supremacist ideology that seeks to extend it rule and plunder subjugated populations. I’ve discussed this ideology on this venue over the past year—documented by this hyperlinked summary. And I’ve given several introductory books for those starting their study. However, Efraim Karsh, gives an excellent introduction in a single article published in the Wall Street Journal and Commentary Magazine. If this is an indication, his new book is surely worth reading. This article is perfect for those needing an introduction to the essential political nature of this ideology. Thank you, Prof. Karsh.

Monday, April 03, 2006

We Need More Danish Cartoons!

Wolfgang Bruno says there is a lesson for us in the cartoon jihad (hat tip Fjordman):

If we had some basic understanding of our enemy and watched him closely, we would see that he made at least two major mistakes during these recent cartoon events that we could exploit. First, he showed us his hand and his true intentions, thereby waking up millions of infidels just a little bit too early. Second: He also clearly demonstrated some of his weak points, both the extreme arrogance and the ridiculous hypersensitivity to even the slightest criticism. During the Muhammad cartoon affair, the Islamic world might as well have worn a gigantic neon sign saying: “We fear freedom of speech above all else. Give us bombs, just don’t send us rational criticism or mockery.” They scream “We love death,” yet cringe like shivering Christmas puddings in front of a few cartoons. If this is what they fear most, then this is where we should push harder.
I’ve made similar points in the past (as has Ali Sina):

In the past I’ve suggested that Islam is based on primitive concepts among them are the primacy of shame and humiliation. … Today, the West is the primary cheerleader for the ideology of Islam. It is nearly impossible to criticize Islam. While the Islamic revival is driven by internal forces, it gets a boost when praised by Western leaders – often the same leaders that will vilify their own culture. What would happen if we reverse that process? What would happen if we proudly trumpeted our superior culture and vilified the savage culture of Islam? … Never under estimate the power of a moral posture. It's time we affirm our greatness and act accordingly.
Bruno makes many excellent points. Read the whole article.

Of course, it's not cartoons that we need but clear hard-hitting criticism that goes for the jugular. Mohammad was a thug who plundered caravans to make a living. He terrorized Medina by having critics assassinated; and he ethnically cleansed Medina of Jews. This is Islam and we have nothing but complete contempt for this vicious irrational fascistic 7th century barbarian who created this monstrous creed.

On the other hand, you don't have to translate cartoons.

Update: Edward Cline expresses the same thought but with a Churchillian voice. Speaking of hard-hitting ...