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Friday, August 11, 2017

Even Naftali Bennett apparently does not understand the nature and magnitude of the Iranian threat. Scary!




“In this context, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, namely M.A.D. (Mutual Assured Destruction) , would have no meaning.  At the End of Time, there will be general destruction  anyway.  What will matter is the final destination of the dead-- hell for the infidels, and the delights of heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, M.A.D. is not a constraint; it is an inducement... “


Thursday, August 10, 2017

On Radical Islam, Trump Has Lost His Focus


There’s no ‘extreme vetting,’ no outreach to moderates, and too much coziness with Riyadh.


By  Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Candidate Donald Trump vowed to take a fresh approach to Islamic extremism. He ditched the politically correct language of the Obama administration by declaring that we were mired in an ideological conflict with radical Islam, which he likened to the totalitarian ideologies America had defeated in the 20th century.

Mr. Trump also promised, as part of his immigration policy, to put in place an “extreme vetting” system that screens for Islamic radicalism. He vowed to work with genuine Muslim reformers and concluded with the promise that one of his first acts as president would be “to establish a commission on radical Islam.”

Mr. Trump has had more than six months to make good on these pledges. He hasn’t gotten very far. The administration’s first move—a hastily drafted executive order limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries—backfired when it was repeatedly blocked in court.

Worse, subsequent moves have tended to run counter to Mr. Trump’s campaign pledges. Aside from a new questionnaire for visa applicants, there has been no clarity regarding the promised “extreme vetting” of Muslim immigrants and visitors. The promise to work with and empower authentic Muslim reformers has gone nowhere. The status of the promised commission on radical Islam remains unclear.

Perhaps most discouragingly, the administration’s Middle Eastern strategy seems to involve cozying up to Saudi Arabia—for decades the principal source of funding for Islamic extremism around the world.

Some administration critics have blamed the loss of focus on Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who became White House national security adviser in February. The most charitable formulation of this criticism is that military men who slogged their way through wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have an aversion to the argument that we face an ideological opponent, as opposed to a series of military problems.

But I put the responsibility on Mr. Trump. With regard to radical Islam, he simply seems to have lost interest.

Is all hope of a revamped policy on radical Islam lost? Not necessarily. Prominent members of Congress—among them Sens. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Reps. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) and Trent Franks (R., Ariz.)—understand that Islamism must be confronted with ideas as well as arms.

And this need not be a partisan issue. In the early years after 9/11, Sens. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) worked together to analyze the threat of Islamist ideology. Even President Obama’s former representative to Muslim communities, Farah Pandith, who visited 80 countries between 2009 and 2014, wrote in 2015: “In each place I visited, the Wahhabi influence was an insidious presence . . . Funding all this was Saudi money, which paid for things like the textbooks, mosques, TV stations and the training of Imams.” In 2016, addressing the Council on Foreign Relations, Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) sounded the alarm over Islamist indoctrination in Pakistan, noting that thousands of schools funded with Saudi money “teach a version of Islam that leads . . . into an . . . anti-Western militancy.”

We have already seen one unexpected outbreak of bipartisanship in Washington this summer, over tightening sanctions on Russia in retaliation for President Vladimir Putin’s many aggressions.

I propose that the next item of cross-party business should be for Congress to convene hearings on the ideological threat of radical Islam. “Who wants America on offense, with a coherent and intelligible strategy?” Newt Gingrich asked in 2015, when he called for such hearings. Then as now, if the executive branch isn’t willing—if the president has forgotten his campaign commitments—lawmakers can and should step up to the plate.

Ms. Hirsi Ali is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford, and founder of the AHA Foundation.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A conditio sine qua non to understanding the Middle East



Letters to the Editor,   August 7, 2017


Melanie Phillips, in “An open letter to Jared Kushner” (As I See It, August 4), is spot on. But in order to understand why Ms. Phillips is right, Mr. Kushner needs to read these three books first: Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, Ibn Warraq’s The Islam in Islamic Terrorism: The Importance of Beliefs, Ideas and Ideology, and Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam. (Murray’s book may well be the one that changes the course of European history.) Mr. Kushner and his father-in-law, US President Donald Trump, had better read, learn and not repeat the mistakes Europe has made.

MLADEN ANDRIJASEVIC
Beersheba 





Friday, August 4, 2017

The facts that shock: The economy of North Korea is 1/50th the size of South Korea’s economy



Was reading The Economist,  and got a shock when I read this:

“IT IS odd that North Korea causes so much trouble. It is not exactly a superpower. Its economy is only a fiftieth as big as that of its democratic capitalist cousin, South Korea.

 A fiftieth?   So I went to the CIA world factbook, and indeed:

                                                                S Korea                                 N.Korea
                                                            
 GDP (purchasing power parity):  $1.934 trillion (2016 est.)           $40 billion (2015 est.)
 Population                                    50,924,172 (July 2016 est.)        25,115,311
 GDP - per capita (PPP):               $37,900 (2016 est.)                   $1,700 (2015 est.)

The above facts may be obvious to economists and journalists who closely follow the conflict.  To me, it came as a surprise. The last time I reacted similarly was when I realized that the economy of Belgium is greater than that of all Africa put together, excluding South Africa.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dennis Prager to Bret Stephens: Read the book I am sending you, "The Strange Death of Europe"



My Response to Bret Stephens 
Written by Dennis Prager



Your new colleagues' beliefs tell you all you need to know about the real threat to the West

Bret Stephens devoted his New York Times column last week to admonishing me for my tweet from two weeks ago and critiquing my follow-up column last week explaining the tweet.

The tweet reads, "The news media in the West pose a far greater danger to Western civilization than Russia does."

Since he wrote the column as a "Dear Dennis" letter to me, I will respond in kind.

Dear Bret: I'll try to respond to the most salient arguments you made. I'll begin with one of the most troubling.

You wrote: "Wiser conservatives — and I count you among them, Dennis — also know that when we speak of 'the West,' what we're talking about is a particular strain within it. Marx and Lenin, after all, are also part of the Western tradition, as are Heidegger and Hitler."

I was taken aback that such a serious thinker could write that nihilist communists and nihilist Nazis are all "part of the Western tradition." 

That's what the vast majority of professors in the social sciences teach: There's nothing morally superior about Western civilization — it's as much about Hitler and Lenin as it is about Moses and Thomas Jefferson. And, anyway, Moses never existed and Jefferson was a slaveholding rapist. Among those professors' students are virtually all those who dominate the Western news media.

Am I wrong? Do you think your colleagues at the Times or the Washington Post or Le Monde or BBC believe in the moral superiority of the West? 

Of course they don't. Most believe in multiculturalism — the doctrine that all cultures are equal — and it is therefore nothing more than white racism to hold that Western civilization is superior. Didn't nearly all of your (nonconservative) colleagues who commented on President Trump's speech in Warsaw call it a dog whistle to white supremacists?

On those grounds alone, my tweet was accurate. 

I am surprised that anyone — especially you — thinks Vladimir Putin's Russia poses a greater threat to the survival of Western civilization than the Western left. No external force can destroy a civilization as effectively as an internal one — especially one as powerful and wealthy as the West. The Western left (not Western liberals) is such a force. Western liberals always adored the West.

I was also stunned by your saying, "I'm not sure that Justin Trudeau declaring there is 'no core identity, no mainstream in Canada' counts as a Spenglerian moment in the story of Western decline."
The prime minister of Canada announces with pride that his country has no core identity and you don't think that counts as an example of a declining civilization?

And here's another upsetting sentence: "To suggest that Vladimir Putin is a distant nuisance but Maggie Haberman or David Sanger is an existential threat to our civilization isn't seeing things plain, to put it mildly."

The reason I found that troubling is I never cited Haberman or Sanger, and you well know that no generalization includes every possible example — that's what makes it a generalization. But I did specifically cite the writers in The Atlantic who equated Western civilization with white supremacy, and your substitution of your New York Times colleagues for The Atlantic commentators allowed you to avoid dealing with The Atlantic writers' and others media attacks on Western civilization.

Despite the fact that neither my tweet nor my column said a word about Trump, you devoted almost half your column to denouncing the president. Yet, as I wrote in the column, my tweet would have been just as accurate had I sent it out during former President Obama's administration or Hillary Clinton's, if she were president.

Bret, to your great credit, you are a lonely voice of strong support for Israel at your newspaper (your readers should see the videos on the Middle East you made for Prager University; they have eight million views for good reason). Doesn't the almost uniform hostility toward Israel in the media and academia trouble you? Does it trouble you that most Democrats in America hold a negative view of Israel? That Jewish students at many American, not to mention European, universities fear expressing support for Israel or just wearing a yarmulke on campus? That so many young American Jews, influenced by the media and their professors, loathe Israel? I am certain all of that greatly troubles you. Is any of that Putin's doing? Or is it all the result of the media and academia? 

You mentioned that you will be sending me a birthday gift, a book about Putin's Russia, "Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible" by Peter Pomerantsev. I promise to read it. And I request a promise in return: Read the book I am sending you, "The Strange Death of Europe" by the eminent British thinker Douglas Murray. The book describes Europe's suicide at the hands of its progressive elites — in particular, its multiculturalism-affirming political leaders and mendacious news media. To the best of my recollection, in describing the death of European civilization, Murray doesn't mention Putin once. (Regarding the mendacious media, read the report published this week in Germany about the dishonesty in the German media, which routinely substitutes left-wing opinion for facts in reporting the immigrant crisis in Germany.)

Perhaps the most troubling part of your response was your penultimate line: "Don't be a hater, Dennis."

Where did that come from? You cite not a single hateful word in my column — because there are none to cite. And "hater" has become the all-purpose left-wing epithet to dismiss all conservatives. Why would my friend Bret Stephens use it?


***


Indeed. Bret Stephens should read The Strange Death of Europe.  It is the only book I’ve recently read which could change the course of European history.  Bret Stephens should read the book first and only then respond to Dennis Prager. 


Bret Stephens's New York Times  article: