Showing posts from November, 2011


The Donkey is Dead

Once upon a time a mad Caliph demanded of an old servant of his that he teach a donkey to talk for his amusement. If he refused, he would be put to death. If he failed he would be put to death as well. The old servant shrugged and asked for a year's time in which to complete the task. When other servants asked him why he had accepted, he answered. "A year is a long time. Either the Caliph will die, the donkey will die, or the donkey will learn to speak." It's been quite a few years and the donkey is on its last legs. Obama has done to half a dozen countries what Carter did to Iran. The Islamists are in ascendance and the Caliphate genie has been let out of the bottle. Down the road they may well implode, but for the moment they are a rising political force in the region. The handful of Muslim countries that could have been accused of having moderate governments are gone now. The posse of "Islamist Whisperers" in the press, lead among them Thomas Friedm

Muslim Anti-Semitism and the Arab Spring

Western columnists eager to bestow their blessing on the democratic impulses of the Arab Spring are troubled by its darker side, the bigotry, the sexual violence and religious fanaticism. Rather than admit that they may have gotten the Arab Spring wrong, they look at its dark side as an external factor, rather than an internal one. Case in point, Jeffrey Goldberg's recitation of Anti-Semitism in the Arab Spring leads to the same baffled attempts to understand. "On the surface this makes no sense: Arabs are rising up against Arabs, so what does this have to do with the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”?" he asks. The question isn't all that baffling if you look back at the historical context of the Protocols which emerged from the poison pens of two secret police agents of two different countries seeking ways to stifle reform by associating their opponents with a vast Jewish conspiracy. It took place in a century where the left and the right spent a good deal of

Yes Obama Wants to Win

It's downright strange that at a time when the field of Republican candidates has narrowed down to a few bad choices and the left has finally fielded its own answer to the Tea Party movement, that some pundits on the right are still cheerfully pushing the meme that Obama is all but done. Sure it would be great if Obama were lying on the floor in a pool of spilled beer while humming songs from Sesame Street, but that is not what's going on. And adding false self-confidence to the mix is about the worst possible thing to do. Yes Obama wants to win and worse still he's on track to win. It doesn't matter how low his ratings are, so long as his opponent's ratings are even worse. This is not a campaign that he has to win by being the better man, he just has to sit there and let the press destroy his opponent. Obama does have one thing in common with some of the pundits predicting his imminent demise, they're both sure that they can't lose. But Obama has g

The Myth of the Arab Spring Underdog

Ever since the Arab Spring began videos have been making the rounds of massacres in Syria and Bahrain, photos of violent protests in Egypt, excited tweets, bloodied faces, Molotov cocktails and all the rest of the revolutionary chatter. It is tempting to side with the people battling tanks, even when you don’t know why they are battling them. That was how Americans ended up cheering an alliance between the anti-American leftist Kifaya movement and the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo against the Egyptian government. Or backing an Al-Qaeda linked Islamist group against Gaddafi in Libya. America was built on revolution and sympathy for the underdog is in our national DNA. But it can also lead us to mistake a difference in force for a difference in moral standing. Just because one man has a Molotov cocktail and the other man has a tank, doesn’t mean that the man with the burning bottle in his hand is any more right than he is. In a conflict there are two possibilities. Either o

The Recession Hits the Green Movement

Do you know what Africa needs most of all? If you answered food or international peacekeepers, then you're wrong and clearly not cut out to work for the government of a modern country. No what a continent filled with genocide, starving children, female genital mutilation and warring factions needs is help fighting global warming. Even as Climategate 2.0 emails reveal that there's less of science and more hot air to the whole thing, global leaders will do their part to cut carbon emissions by flying to South Africa to discuss how to cap global warming, and not in the usual way someone gets capped on the streets of Durban. At stake in Durban is a whole lot of green or red or grey, depending on your country's color of currency. The 100 billion dollar Green Climate Fund is supposed to be finalized and Kyoto 2.0 is supposed to do something about all those flatulent cows who are dooming the planet. It's a serious problem, not because there are mobs of polar bears windsu

Friday Afternoon Roundup - So Much to be Thankful For

THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING There was a time long ago when Americans were sad and unhappy, when the world hated us, people were forced to work for a living and there were no inspiring leaders. But today in this wonderful age of free health care, free mobs and freedom for Islamists, there is so much for us to be thankful for. Like that new age of freedom and democracy breaking out like a rash across the Middle East. Sure women keep being sexually assaulted in the new liberated Egypt, but that's democracy for you. Or a democracy of Muslim men. Caroline Sinz, a French reporter for Channel 3, was the latest to experience Islam's historical tolerance for women who walk down the street unaccompanied by a male guardian. Her story is nearly identical to what happened to Lara Logan. The significance here is that there's nothing new about this. Egyptian women experience sexual harassment on a nearly universal basis. Egyptian were being assaulted in this way for years. I

The Future of Egypt

In the wake of the latest instability everyone has an opinion on the future of Egypt. But the future of Egypt is the past, not the distant past of its pre-Arab culture, but a repetition of the last century. In a region that has never escaped from the past, history is not a road, it is a circle. Travel far enough along it and you come back to where you were. There was once a time when the UK thought that Egypt and Jordan were the best regional prospects, but instead of becoming Arabic accented versions of Albion, today it is London that has taken on the accent and the Hijab. Cairo has been shedding its colonial cosmopolitanism for half a century. The Muslim Brotherhood arsons sped up the process, and the Islamization of Egypt has been gaining ground for some time, but the cause and effect is a little more complicated than that. Egypt wasn't really cosmopolitan, it was ruled by a Western power that was and the country's upper class mirrored their foreign rulers. That uppe

The Decline of Nations

No country falls but from within. Given a sufficient population and resources to hold off its enemies, the only sufficient explanation for its fall is internal. Take the decline of the West, which is often talked about and attributed to leftist conspiracies and Islamic colonialism. But why is Japan, a First World nation whose culture and geography differs dramatically from America and Europe also in a state of economic, political and cultural decline? Not to mention demographic decline. The Japanese left is certainly active, but blaming it for the country's decline is a more difficult proposition. Japan has a long history of Islamic outreach, but it isn't about to be Islamized and immigration is not a factor. Nor did Japan have a religious heritage that was lost to secularism. Nevertheless with its dwindling population, escapist culture, dysfunctional politics and tremulous foreign policy-- Japan's follies seem to resemble those of the West. The origins of its problem