Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thoughts on the P5+1 negotiations with Tehran

  By Daniel Pipes

The Nov. 24 deadline came and went for an agreement between Western powers and the Islamic Republic of Iran; on that date, they managed only to extend the existing interim deal for another seven months. The ayatollah crowed and U.S. senators stewed. Looking beyond these responses, the current situation spurs several thoughts:

• If one assumes, as I do, that the apocalyptically minded Iranian leadership will do everything it can to acquire the bomb, then economic sanctions only serve to slow its course, not to stop it. Put more forcefully, the debate over sanctions is peripheral and even diversionary. The arcane financial and scientific minutiae of the negotiations tend to bury the only discussion that really matters -- whether or not some government will use force to reverse the nuclear program.

• That said, should the 114th Congress pass legislation with a veto-proof majority, this would be an unprecedented blow against U.S. President Barack Obama and would presumably serve as a low-water mark of his presidency. But this signal event for American domestic politics is unlikely to affect the Iranian program.

• Some governments (Russian, American) have the means but not the intent to destroy the Iranian facilities. Others (Saudi, Canadian) have the intent but not the means. This leaves only one player that sort of has the means and sort of has the intent: Israel. Given its in-between status, whether it will act is the ‎‎$64,000 question. This is what preoccupies me and, I suggest, what others too should focus on.

• Israel's conundrum appears genuine: On the one hand, it is the only state to have knocked out nuclear programs (twice, in 1981 and 2007); on the other, the logistical challenge and supremely high stakes make this round far more daunting.

• Not for the first time, the 8 million people of Israel have an outsized international role. There's a reason it has the highest per capita number of foreign correspondents: Whether it's classical music virtuosity, religious passions, high-tech breakthroughs, U.N. Security Council resolutions, or warfare, the Jewish state globally punches far above its weight class.

Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bret Stephens: “A Scenario for Global Disorder”

Here is a paragraph from Bret Stephens’s book America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder which should catch Bibi’s, Bogie’s, and as of today, Gadi Eisenkot’s attention.

In early April 2018, a series of seismic events, each at precisely one o’clock in the afternoon on four successive days, were detected in the desert of southern Iran.  The Islamic Republic announced that I had tested four nuclear devices, and that it would not hesitate to share them with Hezbollah. The scale of the test suggested that Iran’s total arsenal was several times larger, and that it had fielded it over the space of several years even as it pretended to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement

Reprinted from AMERICA IN RETREAT : The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder with permission of Sentinel, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright (c) Bret Stephens, 2014.
The World’s Policeman

In the nearly nine years that I have been the foreign affairs columnist for The Wall Street Journal, I have received tens of thousands of letters from readers, many of them warm, a few of them rude, others critical or constructive. I publish my e‑mail address,, at the foot of my column, read every note, and try to answer as many of my readers as I can. But there are times when a letter deserves a more extended reply than I have time for in the course of an ordinary workday. One reader, responding to a March 2014 column advocating a muscular U.S. stance against Russia’s seizure of the Crimean peninsula, wrote me just such a letter.

In response to your editorial today, please repeat after me: “We should not be the world’s policeman.” Repeat again. And again. apparently, you just do not get it that an overwhelming majority of Americans would agree with this declaration. Unfortunately, you do not. So, given that, I encourage you to form your own volunteer army to police the hotspots around the globe. Please do not remit any bills to the U.S. government.

Barack Obama agrees with my reader. “We should not be the world’s policeman,” he told Americans in September 2013. So does Rand Paul: “America’s mission should always be to keep the peace, not police the world,” the Kentucky Republican told an audience of veterans earlier that year.
This book is my answer to that argument.

In formulating the answer, it’s important to acknowledge that the wish not to be the world’s policeman runs deep in the American psyche. “For wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us,” John Winthrop warned his fellow Massachusetts Bay colonists in 1630 as they were aboard the Arbella on their way to the New World,

soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of god and all professours for Gods sake; wee shall shame the faces of many of gods worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into Cursses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land whether wee are going. . . .

Though the phrase “city upon a hill” is taken from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (“A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid”), Winthrop’s admonition is pure Old Testament. The Lord’s blessing depends not on our worldly striving but on our moral performance. The fate of the enterprise rests on the virtue of its people. A bad reputation in the opinion of mankind can be fatal. The great task for Americans is to be supremely mindful of our business, not of someone else’s. Our security as well as our salvation lie in the proper care of our souls, not the acquisition or exercise of power.

To study American history is to understand that Winthrop’s admonition has been honored mainly in the breach. The citizens of a city upon a hill may be in “the eies of all people.” But those citizens, in turn, will be able to see far over the surrounding lowlands. At a glance, they will see rich plains stretching in every direction. They will seek dominion over those plains and their scattered inhabitants, whether through purchase and treaties or confiscation and war. Beyond the plain they will find

oceans to harvest and traverse. They will meet enemies on the seas, and to defeat those enemies they will build a navy. In faraway ports they will find wealth and wonders but also double- dealing and cruelty, arousing their appetite and greed— but also their conscience and charity.

And in mixing with the world they will become part of the world. Yet they shall still think of themselves as a city upon a hill.

So it is that America’s encounter with the world has always been stamped with ambivalence about the nature, and even the necessity, of that encounter. It is an ambivalence that has often been overcome—because the temptation was too great, as it was with the war with Mexico, or because the danger was too great, as it was during the Cold War. But the ambivalence has never been erased. Nearly 240 years after our birth, we Americans haven’t quite made up our minds about what we think of the rest of the world. Every now and then, we’re tempted to return to our imaginary city, raise the gate, and leave others to their devices.

It says something about the politics of our time that I have no idea whether the reader who wrote me that letter is a Republican or a Democrat, a Tea Party activist or a lifelong subscriber to Mother Jones. This is new. Until recently, the view that “we should not be the world’s policeman”

was held mainly on the political left. Yes, the view also found a home on the fringes of the right, particularly among small- government libertarians and latter- day Father Coughlins such as Pat Buchanan. But it was typically the left that wanted America out: out of Southeast Asia, Central America, the Middle East, even Europe. And it was usually the left that made the case for a reduced role for the United States in global politics and for a radical rebalancing of spending priorities from guns to butter.

The case for “America Out” is still common on the left. But now it’s being made from within the mainstream of the conservative movement. Many things account for this change, including the deep mistrust, sometimes slipping to paranoia, of the Obama administration’s foreign policy aims. Many conservatives have also conceded the argument that the wars they once ardently supported in Iraq and Afghanistan were historic mistakes, and that imbroglios in Central Asia, Eastern Europe, or the South China Sea are other people’s problems, best kept at arm’s length.

The upshot is that there is a new foreign policy divide in the United States cutting across traditional partisan and ideological divides. It’s no longer a story of (mostly) Republican hawks versus (mostly) Democratic doves. Now it’s an argument between neoisolationists and internationalists: between those who think the United States is badly overextended in the world and needs to be doing a lot less of everything—both for its own and the rest of the world’s good—and those who believe in Pax Americana, a world in which the economic, diplomatic, and military might of the United States provides the global buffer between civilization and barbarism.

Some readers of this book will reject these categories. They will note that there are vast differences between liberal and conservative internationalists;between, say, Samantha Power, President Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, and John Bolton, her predecessor in that job under George W. Bush. Or they will claim that the term “neoisolationist” is a slur on people who really should be thought of as “noninterventionists” or simply “Realists.” They will point out that labels often do more to cloud thinking than to clarify it. They’re right, up to a point. But labels also capture emotional reflexes, ideological leanings, and tendencies of thought that in turn help predict policy preferences and political behavior.

Where do you fall on the spectrum between internationalists and
neoisolationists? Ask yourself the following questions:

• Does the United States have a vital interest in the outcome of
the civil war in Syria, or in Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians,
or in Saudi Arabia’s contest with Iran?

• Should Americans take sides between China and Japan over
which of them exercises sovereignty over the uninhabited
Senkaku Islands? Similarly, should we care whether Ukraine
or Russia controls Crimea?

• Is America more secure or less secure for deploying military
forces in hot spots such as the Persian Gulf and the South
China Sea?

How you answer any one of these questions will likely suggest how you answer most if not all of the others. And how you answer all of the questions will be an excellent indicator of how you are likely to think about other foreign policy crises, now or in the future.

This book takes a side in this debate. No great power can treat foreign policy as a spectator sport and hope to remain a great power. A world in which the leading liberal-democratic nation does not assume its role as world policeman will become a world in which dictatorships contend, or unite, to fill the breach. Americans seeking a return to an isolationist garden of Eden—alone and undisturbed in the world, knowing neither good nor evil—will soon find themselves living within shooting range of global pandemonium. It would be a world very much like the 1930s, another decade in which economic turmoil, war weariness, Western self-doubt, American self-involvement, and the rise of ambitious dictatorships combined to produce the catastrophe of World War II. When Franklin Roosevelt asked Winston Churchill what that war should be called, the prime minister replied “the unnecessary war.” Why? Because, Churchill said, “never was a war more easy to stop than that which has just wrecked what was left of the world from the previous struggle.” That’s an error we should not wish to repeat.

A final preliminary: To say America needs to be the world’s policeman is not to say we need to be its priest, preaching the gospel of the American way. Priests are in the business of changing hearts and saving souls. Cops merely walk the beat, reassuring the good, deterring the tempted, punishing the wicked. Nor is it to say we should be the world’s martyr. Police work isn’t altruism. It is done from necessity and self-interest. It is done because it has to be and there’s no one else to do it, and because the benefits of doing it accrue not only to those we protect but also, indeed mainly, to ourselves.

Not everyone grows up wanting to be a cop. But who wants to live in a neighborhood, or a world, where there is no cop? Would you? Should the president?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Matthew Kroenig: Apply more pressure on Iran


By Matthew Kroenig

An extension of the international negotiations with Iran may be better than the talks breaking down altogether, but an indefinite string of extensions does not make for a sound long-term strategy.

Continued extensions leave Iran as a nuclear weapons threshold state, raising the risk that Iran eventually builds nuclear weapons. In addition, even if Iran never builds nuclear weapons, its current capability causes severe challenges for global non-proliferation efforts, Middle Eastern security and human rights inside Iran.
If we were prepared to live with this situation, we could simply declare the status quo to be a "comprehensive" deal and be done with the matter. But we are not. The temporary deal struck last year was never meant to be permanent.
Moreover, extensions on their own don't get us any closer to a final deal. The failure of diplomacy to date has not been the result of insufficient time. The diplomats have been at it for over a year. The problem is that Iran's supreme leader is not yet ready to make the necessary concessions.
The solution, therefore, is to bring more pressure to bear on Iran. We could immediately slap tougher sanctions on Iran, but Iran might use this as a pretext to walk away from the talks, and many would (wrongly) blame the U.S. Congress, not Iran, for diplomacy's failure.
This would be problematic because international support will be required for the continued success of the sanctions regime and for possible tougher measures down the road.
Rather than additional sanctions, therefore, the Obama administration and Congress must make it clear to Iran and to our international partners that July 1 is a firm deadline. There will be no more extensions.
Iran has several months to make a hard decision, and if it does not, the international community will impose the harshest remaining sanctions on Iran. With the option of another extension off the table and the no-deal path looking increasingly unattractive, this approach offers our best hope of getting Iran's supreme leader to place verifiable curbs on his nuclear program.

Matthew Kroenig is an Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Georgetown University, a Senior Fellow in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at The Atlantic Council, a former adviser on Iran policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the author of A Time to Attack: The Looming Iranian Nuclear Threat.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The cowards of P5 + 1

These are the leaders who out of cowardice or just sheer stupidity are leading us all towards a nuclear confrontation with Iran

History will judge these 6 appeasers the same way it judges this appeaser:


The following quote from Bret Stephens’s new book America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder is appropriate:

“It would be a world very much like the 1930s, another decade in which economic turmoil, war weariness, Western self-doubt, American self-involvement, and the rise of ambitious dictatorships combined to produce the catastrophe of World War II. When Franklin Roosevelt asked Winston Churchill what that war should be called, the prime minister replied “the unnecessary war.” Why? Because, Churchill said, “never was a war more easy to stop than that which has just wrecked what was left of the world from the previous struggle.”  That’s an error we should not wish to repeat. 

Iran Cheats, Obama Whitewashes

The administration thinks a nuclear Iran is inevitable—but lacks the courage to say it


Does it matter what sort of deal—or further extension, or non-deal—ultimately emerges from the endless parleys over Iran’s nuclear program? Probably not. Iran came to the table cheating on its nuclear commitments. It continued to cheat on them throughout the interim agreement it agreed to last year. And it will cheat on any undertakings it signs.
We knew this, know it and will come to know it all over again. But what’s at stake in these negotiations isn’t their outcome, assuming there ever is an outcome. It’s the extent to which the outcome facilitates, or obstructs, our willingness to continue to fool ourselves about the consequences of an Iran with a nuclear weapon.
The latest confirmation of the obvious comes to us courtesy of a Nov. 17 report from David Albright and his team at the scrupulously nonpartisan Institute for Science and International Security. The ISIS study, based on findings from the International Atomic Energy Agency, concluded that Iran was stonewalling U.N. inspectors on the military dimensions of its program. It noted that Tehran had tested a model for an advanced centrifuge, in violation of the 2013 interim agreement. And it cited Iran for trying to conceal evidence of nuclear-weapons development at a military facility called Parchin.
“By failing to address the IAEA’s concerns, Iran is complicating, and even threatening, the achievement of a long term nuclear deal,” the report notes dryly.
These are only Iran’s most recent evasions, piled atop two decades of documented nuclear deception. Nothing new there. But what are we to make of an American administration that is intent on providing cover for Iran’s coverups? “The IAEA has verified that Iran has complied with its commitments,” Wendy Sherman, the top U.S. nuclear negotiator, testified in July to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It has done what it promised to do.” John Kerry went one better, telling reporters Monday that “Iran has lived up” to its commitments.

The statement is false: Yukiya Amano, the director general of the IAEA, complained last week that Iran had “not provided any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures” related to suspected work on weaponization. Since when did trust but verify become whitewash and hornswoggle?
That’s a question someone ought to ask Mr. Kerry or Ms. Sherman at their next committee appearance, especially since it has become clear that the administration has a record of arms-control dissembling. To wit, the State Department under Hillary Clinton had reason to know that Russia—with which the U.S. was then in “reset” mode—was violating the 1987 treaty on Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces. Yet it didn’t disclose this in arms-control reports to Congress, nor did it mention the fact prior to the Senate’s 2010 ratification of the New Start treaty on strategic weapons.

“We’re not going to pass another treaty in the U.S. Senate if our colleagues [in the administration] are sitting up there knowing somebody is cheating.” That was then-Sen. John Kerry in November 2012, complaining about the coverup. The administration only came clean about the Kremlin’s breaches last summer, presumably after it had finally given up hopes for its Russian reset.
Why the spin and dishonesty? Partly it’s the old Platonic conceit of the Noble Lie—public bamboozlement in the service of the greater good—that propels so much contemporary liberal policy-making (cf. Gruber, Jonathan: transparency, lack of). So long as the higher goal is a health-care bill, or arms control with Russia, or a nuclear deal with Iran, why should the low truth of facts and figures interfere with the high truth of hopes and ideals?
But this lets the administration off too easily. The real problem is cowardice. As a matter of politics it cannot acknowledge what, privately, it believes: that a nuclear Iran is undesirable but probably inevitable and hardly catastrophic. As a matter of strategy, it refuses to commit to the only realistic course of action that could accomplish the goal it professes to seek: The elimination of Iran’s nuclear capabilities by a combination of genuinely crippling sanctions and targeted military strikes.
And so—because the administration lacks the political courage of its real convictions or the martial courage of its fake ones—we are wedded to this sham process of negotiation. “They pretend to pay us; we pretend to work,” went the old joke about labor in the Soviet Union. Just so with these talks. Iranians pretend not to cheat; we pretend not to notice. All that’s left to do is stand back and wait for something to happen.
Eventually, something will happen. Perhaps Iran will simply walk away from the talks, daring this feckless administration to act. Perhaps we will discover another undeclared Iranian nuclear facility, possibly not in Iran itself. Perhaps the Israelis really will act. Perhaps the Saudis will.
All of this may suit the president’s psychological yearning to turn himself into a bystander—innocent, in his own eyes—in the Iranian nuclear crisis. But it’s also a useful reminder that, in the contest between hard-won experience and disappointed idealism, the latter always wins in the liberal mind.
Hello, Bibi and Bogie – it is time to act! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

JP Exclusive: Cornered but unbound by nuclear pact, Israel reconsiders military action against Iran

Israeli official cites "sunset clause" in proposed comprehensive deal, which guarantees Iran a path into the nuclear club and may corner Israel into war.

WASHINGTON  Historic negotiations  with Iran will reach an inflection point on Monday, as world powers seek to clinch a comprehensive deal that will, to their satisfaction, end concerns over the nature of its vast, decade-old nuclear program.

But reflecting on the deal under discussion with The Jerusalem Post on the eve of the deadline, Israel has issued a stark, public warning to its allies with a clear argument: Current proposals guarantee the perpetuation of a crisis, backing Israel into a corner from which military force against Iran provides the only logical exit.

The deal on the table

World powers have presented Iran with an accord that would restrict its nuclear program for roughly ten years and cap its ability to produce fissile material for a weapon during that time to a minimum nine-month additional period, from the current three months.

Should Tehran agree, the deal may rely on Russia to convert Iran's current uranium stockpile into fuel rods for peaceful use. The proposal would also include an inspection regime that would attempt to follow the program's entire supply chain, from the mining of raw material to the syphoning of that material to various nuclear facilities across Iran.

Israel's leaders believe the best of a worst-case scenario, should that deal be reached, is for inspections to go perfectly and for Iran to choose to abide by the deal for the entire decade-long period.

But "our intelligence agencies are not perfect," an Israeli official said. "We did not know for years about Natanz and Qom. And inspection regimes are certainly not perfect. They weren't in the case in North Korea, and it isn't the case now – Iran's been giving the IAEA the run around for years about its past activities."

"What's going to happen with that?" the official continued. "Are they going to sweep that under the rug if there's a deal?"

On Saturday afternoon, reports from Vienna suggested the P5+1 – the US, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany – are willing to stop short of demanding full disclosure of any secret weapon work by Tehran.

Speaking to the Post, a senior US official rejected concern over limited surveillance capabilities, during or after a deal.

"If we can conclude a comprehensive agreement, we will have significantly more ability to detect covert facilities – even after its duration is over – than we do today," the senior US official said. "After the duration of the agreement, the most intrusive inspections will continue: the Additional Protocol – which encompasses very intrusive transparency, and which Iran has already said it will implement – will continue."

But compounding Israel's fears, the proposal Jerusalem has seen shows that mass dismantlement of Iran's nuclear infrastructure – including the destruction, and not the mere warehousing, of its parts – is no longer on the table in Vienna.

"Iran's not being asked to dismantle the nuclear infrastructure," the Israeli official said, having seen the proposal before the weekend. "Right now what they're talking about is something very different. They're talking about Ayatollah Khamenei allowing the P5+1 to save face."

Officials in the Netanyahu government are satisfied that their ideas and concerns have been given a fair hearing by their American counterparts. They praise the US for granting Israel unprecedented visibility into the process. 

But while those discussions may have affected the talks at the margins, large gaps – on whether to grant Iran the right to enrich uranium, or allow it to keep much of its infrastructure – have remained largely unaddressed.

"It's like the chemical weapons deal in Syria," the official said. "They didn't just say: Here, let's get rid of the stockpile and the weapons, but we will leave all the plants and assembly lines."

'Sunset clause'

Yet, more than any single enforcement standard or cap included in the deal, Israel believes the Achilles' heel of the proposed agreement is its definitive end date – the sunset clause.

"You've not dismantled the infrastructure, you've basically tried to put limits that you think are going to be monitored by inspectors and intelligence," said the official, "and then after this period of time, Iran is basically free to do whatever it wants."

The Obama administration also rejects this claim. By e-mail, the senior US administration official said that, "'following successful implementation of the final step of the comprehensive solution for its duration, the Iranian nuclear program will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT – with an emphasis on non-nuclear weapon."

"That has in no way changed," the American official continued, quoting the interim Joint Plan of Action reached last year.

But the treatment of Iran as any other signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty –189 countries are members, including Iran – would allow Tehran to ultimately acquire "an industrial-sized capability," the Israelis say. "The breakout times [to a nuclear weapon] will be effectively zero."

Israel and world powers seek to maximize the amount of time they would have to identify non-compliance from a nuclear deal, should Iran choose to defy its tenets and build a bomb.

But in the deal under discussion in Vienna, Iran would be able to comply with international standards for a decade and, from Israel's perspective, then walk, not sneak, into the nuclear club.

"You've not only created a deal that leaves Iran as a threshold nuclear power today, because they have the capability to break out quickly if they wanted to," the Israeli official contended. "But you've also legitimized Iran as a military nuclear power in the future."

From the moment this deal is clinched, Israel fears it will guarantee Iran as a military nuclear power. There will be no off ramp, because Iran's reentry into the international community will be fixed, a fait accompli, by the very powers trying to contain it.

"The statement that says we've prevented them from having a nuclear weapon is not a true statement," the Israeli official continued. "What you've said is, you're going to put restrictions on Iran for a given number of years, after which there will be no restrictions and no sanctions. That's the deal that's on the table."

Revisiting the use of force

Without an exit ramp, Israel insists its hands will not be tied by an agreement reached this week, this month or next, should it contain a clause that ultimately normalizes Iran's home-grown enrichment program.

On the surface, its leadership dismisses fears that Israel will be punished or delegitimized if it disrupts an historic, international deal on the nuclear program with unilateral military action against its infrastructure.

By framing the deal as fundamentally flawed, regardless of its enforcement, Israel is telling the world that it will not wait to see whether inspectors do their jobs as ordered.

"Ten, fifteen years in the life of a politician is a long time," the Israeli said, in a vague swipe against the political directors now scrambling in Vienna. "In the life of a nation, it's nothing."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened the use of force against Iran several times since 2009, even seeking authorization from his cabinet in 2011. Iran's program has since grown in size and scope.

According to his aides, the prime minister's preference is not war, but the continuation of a tight sanctions regime on Iran's economy coupled with a credible threat of military force. Netanyahu believes more time under duress would have led to an acceptable deal. But that opportunity, in his mind, may now be lost.

Whether Israel still has the ability to strike Iran, without American assistance, is an open question. Quoted last month in the Atlantic magazine, US officials suggested that window for Netanyahu closed over two years ago.

But responding to claims by that same official, quoted by Jeffrey Goldberg, over Netanyahu's courage and will, the Israeli official responded sternly: "The prime minister is a very serious man who knows the serious responsibility that rests on his shoulders. He wouldn't say the statements that he made if he didn't mean them."

"People have underestimated Israel many, many times in the past," he continued, "and they underestimate it now."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Iran nuclear deal


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ibn Warraq speaks at Yale


Editor’s note: The renowned scholar of Islam recently spoke at Yale. Here is an outline of the talk he gave. — RS)
First, I should like to thank The William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale for inviting me. I should also like to thank my friends and colleagues whose ideas have profoundly influenced what I am going to say today: Sebastian Gorka, Katherine Gorka, Robert Reilly, and Hugh Fitzgerald.
James Burnham’s book Suicide of the West is full of insights on US Foreign Policy, which I find relevant to this day. In fact one has only to substitute “Islam” for “communism” in many of his observations to realise their continuing pertinence. I shall limit myself to one of his observations from Chapter XII, Dialectic of Liberalism:
“The communists divide the world into “the zone of peace” and “the zone of war”. The zone of peace means the region that is already subject to communist rule; and the label signifies that within their region the communists will not permit any political tendency, violent or non-violent, whether purely internal or assisted from without, to challenge their rule. The “zone of war” is the region where communist rule is not yet, but in due course will be established; and within the zone of war the communists promote, assist and where possible lead political tendencies, violent or non-violent, democratic or revolutionary, that operate against non-communist rule. Clear enough, these definitions. You smash the Hungarian Freedom Fighters, and support Fidel Castro; you know where you are going.” Pp.227-228. The above could easily have been a dictionary definition of the Islamic doctrine of Jihad, and its notions of “Dar al-Islam” –the Zone of Peace, and Dar-al Harb –Zone of War”
Now onto my main points:
Our foreign policy should be guided by understanding and admitting the following realities:

  1. We are engaged in a war of ideas, with our principal enemy: an ideology.
An ideology that will not collapse out of economic incompetence.
  1. The ideology of the terrorists is religiously based and derived from Islam and its founding texts, the Koran, hadith, and the sunna, and the history of the early caliphate.
  2. One, but not the only, way we know this is because they tell us so. First , if you want to understand the enemy “Read what they say”. They constantly justify their acts with accurate and apt citations from the Koran and Hadith. They also refer to, among others, Sayyid Qutb’s work Milestones, Abdullah Azzam’s Defense of the Muslim Lands, S. K. Malik’s The Quranic Concept of Power, and Ayman Al-Zawahiri’s Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner. Some of the latter have doctorates from recognized Islamic universities, and to hear John Kerry trying to tell them their ideas have nothing to do with Islam is comical.
  3. Islamic terrorism is not caused by “poverty, lack of education, sexual deprivation, psychological problems, or lack of economic opportunity..”, Western Imperialism, or Western decadence, or the Arab-Israeli conflict.
  4. There are two kinds of Jihad: terrorism, and slow penetration of Western institutions subverting Western laws and customs from within.
  5. Ignorance, naivety, arrogance, political correctness , sheer laziness, sentimentality, and Saudi, Qatari and Iranian money have led to Islamist successes in penetrating Western institutions, from the Voice of America, The Pentagon, CIA, FBI, DHS, PBS, to the universities and colleges where Islamic propaganda is shamelessly and openly disseminated.
  6. While groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, and others are non-state actors, they are funded by states such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. These three countries, for example, also provide the necessary Islamic support, framework, and propaganda that spews forth anti-Western and and anti-American hatred. They should be warned or face the consequences.
  7. It is also important to point out that it is not something we have done that is impelling the Islamists. Constantly apologising, Mr President, is pointless; they will not like or respect you the more.
  8. We must learn the lessons of the cold war, for there are striking similarities between the Islamist ideology and that of Soviet Russia [Cf B.Russell, Jules Monnerot, Maxime Rodinson]
  9. Speak out in support of the Christians who are being persecuted, and being killed almost every day in Islamic countries. Profound importance of this act of solidarity not realised by many in West.
  10. In order to succeed we need urgently to recover our civilizational self-confidence.
  11. One way we can fight jihadist ideology is to undermine their certainties, and one can accomplish this with Koranic Criticism. In the West, Spinoza hastened the Enlightenment by his Biblical Criticism.
There is an obvious need to understand the Islamic ideology to understand the mindset of the Islamic terrorists. Terrorism is not caused by poverty, and so on. It is their ideology that motivates them and is the source of its moral legitimacy. Without it, terrorism cannot exist.Terrorists are produced by a totalitarian ideology justifying terrorism.
While America has had some impressive tactical successes, and has managed to kill Osama bin Laden (May 2011) and Anwar al-Awlaki (in Sept.2011) it still fails to understand their goals, their ideology. The reasons for this failure are many:
First, there is a reluctance to address the religious inspiration of the acts of terrorism,to admit that their ideology is derived from Islam and its founding texts, the Koran, the Hadith, the Sunna and the early history of the Caliphate. Instead, the present administration exhorts us to use euphemisms such as “violent extremist”. “WhereasThe 9/11 Commission Report, published under the presidency of George W. Bush in July 2004 as a bipartisan product, had used the word Islam 322 times, Muslim 145 times, jihad 126 times, and jihadist 32 times,The National Intelligence Strategy of the United States, issued by the Obama administration in August 2009, used the term Islam 0 times, Muslim 0 times, jihad 0 times.” Now Obama’s policy applies to internal government documents as well, which can only have disastrous consequences for our understanding of political groups and events in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and South and South East Asia. “How can one possibly analyze the power and appeal of this ideology, the way that ideas set its strategy and tactics, why it is such a huge menace if any reference to the Islamic religion and its texts or doctrines isn’t permitted?”
Perhaps it was only in 1946, when George Kennan’s wrote his classified ‘Long Telegram’ that America began to understand the nature of the Soviet Union, why it acted the way it did, how the Kremlin thought, and why the USSR was a grave threat to America. In other words it took three decades to understand the mind of the enemy.
To complicate matters further, today there are two enemies: first, non-European, religiously informed non-state terrorist groups, like ISIS. Second, and equally dangerous, states that, in fact, fund and support them. There is evidence that, as the The Atlantic reported in June, 2014, “Two of the most successful factions fighting Assad’s forces are Islamist extremist groups: Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). And their success is in part due to the support they have received from two Persian Gulf countries: Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”
Our ability to fight al Qaeda and similar transnational terrorist actors will depend upon our capacity to communicate to our own citizens and to the world what it is we are fighting for and what it is that the ideology of Jihad threatens in terms of the values we hold so dear.
To quote Sun Tsu, in war it is not enough to know the enemy in order to win. One must first know oneself. However, with the end of the Cold War America and the West understandably lost clarity with regard to what it was about its way of life that was precious and worth fighting for.
James Burnham explains with exemplary clarity the reasons for this loss of self-confidence, and what he wrote is still, mutatis mutandis, relevant:
“Judging a group of human beings- a race, nation, class or party- that he considers to possess less than their due of well-being and liberty, the liberal is hard put to it to condemn that group morally for acts that he would not hesitate to condemn in his fellows.
“When the Western liberal’s feeling of guilt and his associated feeling of moral vulnerability before the sorrows and demands of the wretched become obsessive, he often develops a generalized hatred of Western civilization and of his own country as a part of the West. We can frequently sense this hatred in …[journals like] The Nation.”
In order to succeed we need urgently recover our civilizational self-confidence.
Ronald Reagan was able to succeed because he was supremely confident of the moral and spiritual superiority of his cause. He was thus able to state with certainty and without hesitation that the SovietEmpire was evil. He was not afraid to confront reality. He was able to defend our values because he believed in them totally. He told an audience at Moscow State University, “Go into any schoolroom [in America], and there you will see children being taught the Declaration of Independence, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights-among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness-that no government can justly deny….”
John Lenczowski describes what Reagan advocated unapologetically, “Altogether, the various ideas of freedom, democracy, human rights, moral order, and the dignity of the human person were promoted not only by the President’s rhetoric and personal moral witness but by the Administration as a whole in numerous forms: in Voice of America editorials, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty broadcasts, in articles in United States Information Agency-published magazines targeted at Soviet-bloc populations, on the USIA-run billboard on the sidewalk outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow, in American diplomats’ addresses at various international fora, in the distribution of books to Soviet bloc audiences and U.S.libraries abroad, in films distributed abroad, and so on.”
To quote Asian columnist Banyan in the Economist,“For all its flaws and mis-steps, [America] represents not just economic and military might, but an ideal to aspire to, in a way that China does not. And when American leaders appear to give less weight to that ideal, they not only diminish America’s attractions, they also lend more credence to the idea of its relative economic and military decline.”
The rest of the world recognizes the virtues of the West. As Arthur Schlesinger remarked, “when Chinese students cried and died for democracy in Tiananmen Square, they brought with them not representations of Confucius or Buddha but a model of the Statue of Liberty.”
Ibn Warraq is the author of Why I Am Not A MuslimDefending the West, and many other books. His latest is Christmas in the Koran.