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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

US Launches Air Strikes on Islamists in Syria

Representatives from 26 countries attended a conference in Paris on the 15th of September 2014.  Diplomats from the UN, Russia, China, the USA, France, Germany, Canada, Britain and the Arab world attended. At the conclusion of the conference a statement was issued that condemned the Islamic State and ‘showed support’ for the newly elected government of Iraq.

Eight days later, on the 23rd of September, a coalition comprising the USA, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates and Qatar began an assault on Islamic State (IS) positions in Syria.  They had notified the tyrant Bashar al-Assad of their intentions before commencement of operations but only because they did not want Assad’s forces shooting down the coalitions airplanes.

A couple of observations then:

ISIS is the unintentional progeny of Sunni extremism and yet they are also the predictable consequence of uncritical Muslim thought throughout Muslim history. The vision of a Global Caliphate is the cornerstone of this religious thinking.

The debate in Muslim history has always centered round the methodology of achieving a global caliphate (an empire ruled exclusively by and for the Muslim faithful). Accord has taken direction from military conquest; in modern times by creeping migration and incremental acceleration of demands for internal self-determination; and by hostile international diplomatic posturing.  It is inevitable that today it is being attempted by a combination of all three.

Islamist movements never saw themselves as anything but transnational.  They arose according to the contemporary ideological environment and if not checked, did not remain isolated to one geographical region. Fabulous economic wealth helped to propel the extremist ideology of the Islamic Levant onto a greater world stage but militancy was always present even when unable to express itself openly.

Charles Allen described one particular sect, the Wahhabis, as “God’s Terrorists.” They arose in Saudi Arabia in the 18th Century and are now concentrated in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE.  Wahhabis represent the governing aristocracy and administration of Saudi Arabia and have therefore provided the principle funding for a ruthless ultra-conservative version of Islam via its worldwide network of schools and mosques.  And Qatar is the world’s wealthiest country (per capita).  It also, has helped to spread the chaos - by providing much of the funding for the HAMAS movement. Moreover, it has funded the more extreme Islamist al Qaeda linked factions that oppose the Shiite regime in Syria.

A couple of years ago a scandal erupted in Britain when a newspaper investigation revealed a Saudi funded private school network that provided textbooks which taught children the ‘proper’ way to cut off the right hand and left foot of thieves. Exhortations to remain separate rather than to integrate into British society were part of the school ethos.  Some people will point out that Western foundations spread the ideals of democracy, equality and human rights in overseas aid programs, and they object to this teaching because it is a foreign, and to them, an alien and unwelcome implant.  This then, is one of the arguments liberals use for excusing schools that teach their children how to commit torture and mutilation, as punishment, in the name of their faith. While I disagree with this argument for the simple reason that a democracy is unlikely to kill those with whom it disagrees, the speed with which we try to excuse the behavior of Islamic organizations preaching the antithesis of our democratic system is far more worrying.

Extremism taught as Normal Behavior

Salafism follows the literal traditional texts of the first three generations of the founders of the 7th Century Islamic faith.

Wahhabis are also referred to as Salafis (even as many view the former as no more than a subset of the latter).   Both are universally recognized as being more extreme than the adherents of the Muslim Brotherhood which, has a similar ideology but is less inclined to maintain the strict defining code of Salafism. 

ISIS is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  ISIL is the same movement but stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The Levant defines the territorial ambitions of IS in far more grandiose terms unless both Iraq and Syria are viewed through ‘secular’ Ba’athist imperialist ambitions.   We may choose to place a Salafi label on them but whatever label we select to assign to them, the grisly and barbaric behavior of IS (the Islamic State) represents the logical consequence of the ideas behind Islamic purity.

The estimated 31,000 jihadis fighting for IS are not going to be cowered by a US led coalition of authoritarian Muslim regimes.  With ideological sympathy from amongst the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis they will disperse when attacked and hide amongst their coreligionists across the Arab and greater Muslim world.

In order to permanently degrade ISIL and prevent it from rising again we have to first accept that their genocidal theology and as a consequence, their abhorrent methodology will find resonance amongst many Muslims in every society. Until we accept this alarming fact we will not seriously approach the subject of how to a) initially contain this phenomenon and how to b) ultimately destroy it.

This is Part 1 of a 3 Part series.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Israel’s Foreign Policy Dilemma

The news headlines screamed out the terrible news “Turkey kills deal on gas with Israel”.  Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz stated that the deal was dead unless (until) Israel made peace and Gaza’s needs were fulfilled.  More specific he said that Israel must “instate a permanent peace there with all its elements”.  “All its elements” means to include all those Muslim Nazis who support a permanent state of war with the Jewish people.

For a generation or more the Western press has been incapable of relating to a theocratic justification for genocide so it ignores it.

An Egyptian lawyer, a woman, promotes her online video which advises all Muslim men to go out and rape Israeli women as punishment for Israel’s actions against its enemies.  This is from the Arab country where rape appears to have become a national leisure time sport.  Eighty three per cent of Egyptian women have experienced sexual harassment and 98% of foreign female visitors have suffered a worse fate if, they stupidly assume a right to appear in public.

A senior Palestinian official, Abbas Zaki in 2014 tells the faithful that “Allah is gathering the Jews (to Israel) so we can kill them.”

The Arab world assumes superiority over the rest of us because the prophet ‘chose’ the Arab peoples to conquer the globe for Islam.  This racist Aryan style doctrine has not always been at the center of the Arab self-image.

Moving forward from the late 19th Century, Western thought on nationalism heavily influenced Islamists who were deeply disturbed by the Muslim inability to shake off Western encroachment on their own conquered territories.   From the 1850’s onwards the period of European exploration in Africa excited Western audiences.  But articles and books that described the activities of the Arab slave traders in Africa deeply unsettled Western opinion as the barbarism of their trade was slowly revealed.  This need to protect Africans became the pretense behind Western colonialism in Africa.

The nation state of Israel did not exist in 1860 nor had the forced demographic superiority of the Arabs been disturbed.  However, from the 1860’s nationalism was an intellectually satisfying means of understanding Arab weakness against the infidel. It has continued to inform the Arab relationship with both Muslim and non-Muslim nations whether under the guise of Pan-Arabism or Ba’athism.

The Jewish state remains no more than an excuse pursued by racists for the partial failure of Arab racial or religiously inspired imperialism.

Turkey tried to ignore the political, tribal and religious nature of this inter-Muslim conflict. Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkish foreign minister (now Prime Minister) stated his policy as “Zero problems with its (Muslim) neighbors”.  But this doctrine soon turned out to be unworkable as instead, it alienated all of its neighbors. Syria fell into civil war, ‘accidentally’ shelling Turkish border towns in the process.  Egypt’s Muslim fundamentalist government seemed to desire nothing less than the bankruptcy of the entire country and events in Iraq threatened to spill over into Turkey, destabilizing Turkey’s south eastern (Kurdish) provinces.  Turkish military aid to their preferred insurgency groups added further oil to the flames of the Syrian inferno and helped to further destabilize the rest of the region.

Persia (Iran) and Turkey (Neo-Ottoman) are both former imperialist Muslim powers and like the Arabs, history is central to their identity, to the active exclusion of any other ethnic or religious group.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the current Prime Minister of Turkey has sagely informed Israel that Jews lived ‘better’ under Muslim protection and therefore they should return to this previous barbaric era of religiously prescribed slavery.   In the aftermath of Israel’s latest conflict with Gaza a respected Turkish journalist calls for Jews who live in or do business with Turkey to be taxed in order to pay for rebuilding Gaza. This is one way to blame a minority for something that is beyond its control and we can assume that it is not meant to demonstrate Islamic grace or charity towards one if its previously persecuted minorities in spite of Davutoglu’s dissimulation.

Prime Minister Davutoglu is a keen advocate of Neo-Ottomanism based on Islamic principles. To assume a humanly rational and ethical attitude from a religious bigot is naïve and demonstrates a dangerously unsophisticated knowledge of human nature. He was formerly chairman of the department for international relations at a Turkish university.  Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu like his president, Recep Erdogan, has no moral qualms about his nations seedy past or their present imperialist pretensions.

The Turkish president Recep Erdogan accused Israel of excessive use of force in its most recent conflict with HAMAS in Gaza.

President Erdogan accused Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinian people. He declared that “Israel has surpassed Hitler in its barbarities.”

I shall respond to those charges:

The number of dead in all of Israel’s conflicts since the 1880’s (in over 120 years of warfare) is estimated at between 100,000 and 200,000 victims of Jewish, Druze, Christian and Muslim faith. During a shorter period of recent history Turkey murdered between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 Christian Armenians. It murdered up to 500,000 Assyrian Christians. Turkey murdered some 900,000 Greek Christians. Estimates vary but up to 3,500,000 Christians were murdered between the Armenian massacre of 1895 and the Anatolian massacre of 1922.  Up to 500,000 Kurds were murdered by Turkish nationalists

Turkey is an infamous trend-setter.  It was the rapidity with which the world forgot Turkey’s crimes against humanity that encouraged Hitler to undertake his genocidal war, a war which eventually killed over 60,000,000 people.  That is the entire population of Britain or France.  As late as 2012 it was reported in the German press that the Turkish Neo-Ottoman military gassed Kurds, yet another barely reported crime against humanity ignored by the United Nations Organization.  Turkey is guilty of ethnic cleansing, of occupying Northern Cyprus and transferring the Kurds into illegal settlements (a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention).  In one of Turkeys more ironic crimes against humanity Kurds, forced off their own land have been transferred into land that is not theirs to settle.

Since the bloody massacres that crowned the Muslim conquest of Constantinople in 1453 Turkish Muslim rule has been an abomination of bloodshed and division, and saying sorry is rarely tolerated.  A journalist can be jailed for even referring to the past.

So excuse me if I become a little confused at Turkeys’ demands for Jewish restraint when confronted with thousands of mortar rounds and thousands more missiles deliberately fired by Arab supremacists at our civilian schools, at our civilian buses and at our civilian hospitals.

There are people, call them ‘moderates’ if you wish, they believe that being tolerant of bigots reaps a reward. They think that passion and self-censorship are unnecessary between people in conflict. They believe that trust can be achieved even after the most acrimonious of divorces and relationships can be mended over time.  They do not live in the real world where such anger as exists has an inter-generational memory seared into the consciousness of its adversaries, on both sides.

Just as the fascist left has taught many Jews and their non-Jewish supporters some important lessons about betrayal, so Israel’s relationship with the Muslim world in the Near East and beyond is approaching a crossroads.  The Left is in denial.  It has failed to address the religious element in the war between the two (Jewish and Muslim) civilizations.

Hate destroys but it also presents a warning to those people who are willing to listen. Calls from the past, calls for the rapist to attack the weak and calls from the idealist with his or her revanchist dreams are not meant to intimidate an adversary. They are messages from an enemy of their intent to demolish bridges not build them.

Israel must deliver a message that it will neither forget Turkish aggression nor will it turn the other cheek. It must begin by accepting the loss of its trade with Turkey. It should break off diplomatic relations with Turkey and not just because Turkey supports Israel’s enemies against it.  Incitement against minorities justifies its cultural dominance.  Turkey has actively encouraged the Muslim Brotherhood whether under the guise of al Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front or in its latest disguise, the Islamic State.

Israel needs Turkey as a major strategic ally, but not unless it can be trusted.

The reason that Israel has stayed clear of replacing Turkey with Greece is that Greece’s past antisemitism is both entrenched and unimpeded by any necessity it may feel warrants the establishment of closer ties.  If Israel is isolated in the world then acknowledging its own failures without complete reciprocity can neither create trust nor improve the relationship.

Sadly then, there is a perception that one of Israel's possible foreign policy options is 'that it is better to deal with the devil you know than the devil you don't.'

Unfortunately, this appeasement never works.  Turkey often behaves like a national criminal enterprise. It is the last nation in the world that should lecture Israel on ethical conduct during war-time. It is the last nation in the world that should set conditions for its participation in energy deals that profit it more than it profits Israel.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Progressivism and Radical Redemption

The spark that ignites a revolution may initially be progressive but in the aftermath of all that is created is embedded the seed for self-extinction. This is because in order to maintain the momentum of its creative spark, paradoxically, the revolution becomes reactionary, expending all of its energies strengthening its grip on a population that must be impelled to embrace the self-evident virtue of the embryonic political entity.  The rulers become bogged down in the minutiae of administration and the initial creative surge is followed by slow deterioration fed by the only thing left to them in order to retain control over the revolutions’ captive neophytes, terror. Fascism is the legacy of all revolutions and death, its inheritance. 

Note: The US and Israeli wars for independence were revolts against injustice and I would argue that they were not therefore true revolutions even if their birth surge created revolutionary changes to their societies.  But the impetus to the initial revolt was not revolutionary change but the overthrow of an oppressive master.

The central issue of the revolutionary process is that if the initial outburst is the expression of a violent ‘popular’ will and if its purpose is the overthrow of one or more tyrannies, it is inevitable that what replaces it will be another tyranny.  Idealism may drive revolution but it is often a cover for gross injustice.  As soon as it is challenged by an opposing ideology it can only justify its control by the willingness of its followers to continue to take orders.  Those people that are unwilling to follow must be excluded, marginalised even killed. Self-justification demands converts.  The greater the corruption of the cause, the higher is the price to be paid by those people that oppose it. This is how incipient religious faith develops its theological infrastructure; by sowing fear in friend and foe. 

It is ironic that while Communism may be a non-theistic faith, it remains the closest in structure to modern Islam.  Like all orthodoxies, deviation from the norm is viewed as ideological distortion and a threat to the prevalent camp.  If theology is the study of the supreme being and the attributes of divinity, then texts viewed as holy writ are to be regarded as inviolate truths and approached with appropriate reverence.

A theology that excludes the non-believer quickly adopts measures to enshrine its dominance over both public and private life. The ends cannot begin to justify the means but I can think of no revolution that has not used terror to enslave the masses even when the many embrace the terror for their own benefit against the minority.

The ends not justifying the means remains a key post-exilic, post second temple period, Jewish religious concept and it is the single most rigid reason that anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox Jews enjoy a measure of sympathy amongst ultra-orthodox communities worldwide. A state not begat by God, cannot be founded by men (and women).

Progressivism means moving forward.  It is defined as advocating progress, change and reform; viewed as moving towards an improved society and ‘therefore’ it has to oppose the status quo.  It must inevitably be measured by substantive improvement in the socio-economic conditions of its populace.  Democratic choice has no logical standing in the progressives’ revolution.  Clarity of vision demands personal subjugation to the greater ‘good’ and that can only be achieved by embracing fascism or dictatorship. Contempt for our opponents fosters dehumanization.  The increased sophistication of communication eases the commoditisation of human society.  When the granularity of existence has been reduced to the level of commodity worship, human beings become mere disposable objects. This happened in Roman times, it happened with Fascism in the 20th Century and in the 21st Century  it promises to depersonalise and objectify all human beings.

In its lust for the violent validation of its superior purpose the Islamic world could be compared with the era of western piracy that began with Henry IV of England (early in the 15th Century).  State legalised privateers engaged in acts of war but because of the privatisation of their activities this transfer of ‘services’ to the private sector effectively prevented all-out conflict from erupting between nations while successful privateers enriched the English treasury.  Exploited by governments eager to take advantage of the profits that acts of piracy generated, the down-side to this activity was the fear and destruction piracy sowed in weaker nations.

Piracy ultimately precipitated the degradation or collapse of society wherever it was tolerated.

To survive, nations were forced to rise up against it. Islamists today are being ignored in a not dissimilar, short-sighted policy of both benefit and fear.

Those people who preach hatred can rarely if ever withdraw from the language of violence.   To argue that time cools the passions of the radical thinker is to discount history, theology and the limitless influence of modern technology to reach out to poison the hearts and minds of every human being.

That fear manifests itself in the paralysis displayed by Western governments in dealing with all forms of violence. Hate is one of these violent expressions of extremism we refuse to adequately challenge.

One definition of fascism is that it is anything that is opposed to the established order. Fascism is characterised by chauvinism, authoritarianism and militant intolerance. Intellect without ethics leads in turn, to an apocalyptic betrayal of human values.  Harold James in “A German Identity 1770-1990” described progressive radicalisation as a loss of inhibition which contributes to its own momentum.  An ideocracy (a government derived from the claim to be fulfilling a supreme purpose) enables genocide to be explained away as the fulfillment of that supreme purpose. 

While Israel’s enemies often employ theocracy as justification for their prejudice, Operation Protective Edge created the excuse for an expansion (perhaps to the next level) of global antisemitism, an excuse that was masked as a protest against the war.  Radicals, hiding behind a unitary ethical conviction that has a sole victim (in Palestinians) and a multi-dimensional aggressor (in Israelis-Jews-Zionists) will never accept the concept of a war being waged by (radical) Muslim HAMAS against (Jewish) Israel.

Redemption enables the bigot to bed down with people whose usual behaviour would make them social lepers.  By equating Israel’s actions with that of World War 2 Germany not only are all debts cancelled but equally of importance, the revulsion we feel for past crimes may be transferred to a new global pariah. Redemption, like baptism, washes away not only sins of commission but also sins of omission and any future sins we hope to commit.

Redemption is a miraculous thing. In the Western world the ongoing breakdown of social order has created a radicalization of dissent.   Totalitarian political correctness has led to the cessation of cultural dialogue amongst the majority in society and a repetition of 1950’s style McCarthyism that leads to denunciation and suppression of any viewpoint running counter to the accepted political orthodoxy.  This time it is an unholy alliance of Islamists, left wing fascists, radical Greens and anti-globalisation activists who strive to exercise control over the global media.  Those of us who fight them are accused of harbouring hegemonic pretensions; it helps too, if we are Zionists. The clichéd Orwellian response of the fascist to any complaint by supporters of Israel is always to stifle our debate for the sake of their freedom of speech.

The doublespeak expresses itself most eloquently in examples such as follows: “Understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important.”  (Judith Butler)  When we scrutinize the ersatz philosophy of the Judith Butlers of the academic world we reveal the emptiness of the ideas they express.  It is frightening that they hold positions of intellectual authority in our universities because they are charlatans but more important than this, because they sanctify the bigot.

Zionism pictured a Jewish utopia in Palestine. Its vision was of a pluralistic, technologically advanced, secular society with equality for all.  Zionism, by its utopian nature was naïve. Nevertheless, its founding vision remains the only true progressive vision for the Near-East.  The question that remains is how to counter the reactionary totalitarian response to it as the anti-Israel movement bares its antisemitic teeth and builds a momentum fuelled by Muslim immigration and a ‘progressive’ fascist disinformation war that Israel has, until recently, refused to acknowledge, let alone engage.