Sunday, May 04, 2008

A most "incorrect" view of GWB

(The author below, Paul Johnson, is a distinguished historian whose studies of history have gradually led him away from his original Leftist stance)

I don't regard George W. Bush as a lame-duck president. Between now and next January all sorts of challenging and unexpected events may take place. We can rely on President Bush to react promptly and decisively to them. We saw this on Sept. 11. The President was as surprised as everyone else, as we grasped from the dramatic photograph of him taken as he was given the dreadful news at an elementary school. But he buckled down quickly to this unprecedented attack on America, determined that such a treacherous outrage should never occur again.

Nor has it. It is worth inquiring why. There is no doubt that attacking the American homeland remains the prime objective of Muslim fundamentalist leaders. Yet they have not done so. One reason for this is the success of Mr. Bush's team in learning the lessons of Sept. 11 and building a security system of impressive strength and sensitivity. It has yet to be breached. Also, the suicide bombers fear being sent to Guant namo more than they fear death itself. It is right that the prime defender of democracy and freedom should strike terror into the hearts of terrorists.

Equally, if not more important, is the way in which Mr. Bush--partly by accident but mainly by design--has switched the war's theater of operations to the death-dealers' territory. At the time of Sept. 11 the battlefield was the undefended West, with its great, peaceful cities. The civilian population was exposed to mass murder at the hands of carefully trained and well-equipped fanatics. Now, thanks to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan-- which were achieved at relatively minor cost--the battlefield has been decisively switched to the Muslim heartlands. And in the Middle East the war is being waged against the fundamentalists by the highly trained and superbly equipped professional armed forces of the U.S., Britain and other nations. The results of this are reflected in the casualty figures.

It's true that more than 4,000 U.S. servicemen and -women have been killed in this five-year conflict. But considering the extent of the operations, the importance of the war and the threat to the U.S. populace posed by these terrorists, this total is small. In World War I up to 60,000 casualties were inflicted in a single day. And there were many occasions during World War II when the U.S. and Britain lost more than 4,000 men in a one-day operation.

On the other hand, the number of Muslim fanatics who have been killed by the Allies in their operations or who have killed each other in Sunni-Shia clashes must be reckoned in the hundreds of thousands. We shall never know the true tally, but it is plainly enormous.

Each of those terrorists was capable of inflicting huge losses on the civilian populations of the West. To dispose of them, one by one, in the West is extremely difficult and expensive. In the Middle East, however, they congregate and can be killed more easily and in large numbers by Western firepower. Moreover, the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan has attracted most of the bravest and most determined of the fundamentalists. They have swarmed there from all over the world--not least from Western cities--to achieve (as they believe) martyrdom, to fight and be killed. We must remember that every extremist killed in the suburbs of Basra or Baghdad or in the hills around Kabul or Kandahar means scores, perhaps hundreds, of Western civilian lives saved.

Clearly mistakes have been made in this war, some of them serious. Intelligence has been faulty. But then those of us who have served in our countries' armed forces know that it always is. It's far better for America's President to react swiftly to intelligence reports of weapons of mass destruction being in the hands of his nation's dedicated enemies than to ignore the warnings and risk such weapons being used against the U.S. and the West.

Mr. Bush was right to adopt a no-risk policy, accepting the partisan criticism of his party's political opponents. This is what a President does in his capacity as Commander in Chief. Indeed, no President worthy of the office could have decided otherwise.

Looking back over the last few years, I find it hard to fault Mr. Bush on any major point. He has always been brave. He has never shown the slightest fear of unpopularity, putting the needs of the nation before his political fortunes. He has shown himself ready at all times to make big, risky and venturesome decisions, being persuaded they were in the U.S.' (and the West's) interests, and then sticking to them. Indeed, if there's one thing that exceeds Mr. Bush's courage, it's his resolution, his pertinacity, his steadfast consistency.

He is a leader who will not give way to threats, criticisms and abuse, a man of valor when times are hard. In this election year, when the Constitution demands that he must give way to another President, I salute him and applaud his conduct of affairs.

Some may call President Bush obstinate; others may say, with some reason, that he is not skilled in explaining his policies. But I insist that beneath it all he has been a heroic leader in a time of testing, and I am glad that he will still be in charge for the rest of this year. May his successor show the same dauntless determination.


Muslims under pressure in Italy

Leandro Comacchio, a Northern League leader, is outside a suburban supermarket in Padua collecting signatures for a referendum to stop the construction of a mosque. The campaign, he claims, is not aimed at Muslims. It is, rather, a protest against the "permissive" centre-left council which, he alleges, is giving away council land for construction of the 2,300sq ft mosque. He contends that the council tolerates unchecked immigration, which has in turn exacerbated street crime, urban decay and drug dealing.

Immigration, and the perceived crime spree, has become a key issue in the city once best known for its ancient university and elegant piazzas - so much so that Northern League supporters have set up vigilante groups. "We have formed citizen street patrols, together with residents' associations," Mr Comacchio said. "A minimum of four people, but often up to ten, all with phosphorescent jackets carrying the Lion of St Mark, the symbol of the Veneto region." Mr Comacchio does not like the term vigilantes, prefering instead "concerned residents" who call the police when necessary.

Muslims at the provisional mosque in a derelict supermarket on the other side of town are feeling under siege. The mosque, which has to close by next month because the owner is reclaiming the site, is next to Via Anelli, a dilapidated immigrant housing estate, around which the authorities erected a metal fence - the Wall of Padua - in an attempt to contain drug dealing and prostitution two years ago. Maher Selmi, a Moroccan student who is the mosque's spokesman, said that there was worrying prejudice against foreigners as Italy shifted to the Right. In national elections last month a centre-right coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi, which included the separatist Northern League and the "postFascist" Alleanza Nazionale, swept the board. Gianni Alemanno, also of Alleanza Nazionale, was elected Mayor of Rome this week. "We don't want confrontation," Mr Selmi said. "We want dialogue with all parties to find common ground."

The League, led by Umberto Bossi - who once said that those arriving by sea should be fired on by the navy - doubled its national vote to more than 8 per cent. In Padua, where this week there was an outcry when a teacher was suspended for telling Muslim schoolgirls to take off their veils, it tripled its vote from 5 per cent to 15 per cent, according to Mariella Mazzetto, a Northern League councillor.

Last year Ms Mazzetto took a pig to the abandoned farmhouse where the mosque is due to be built next to a nomad encampment. Pork is anathema to Muslims but Ms Mazzetto denies that she or the League are racist or xenophobic. "I made a provocative gesture with the pig to arouse debate," she said. "The League has grown in strength because it is in tune with concerns of ordinary people."

The campaigners, who need 5,000 signatures to force a referendum, have so far collected more than 1,600. Flavio Zanonato, the centre-left mayor, said he was confident that Paduans would support the 860,000 euro mosque, which the Muslim community would fund by paying rent to the council. Maurizio Conte, a League leader in the Veneto, said that the mosque would attract "uncontrollable criminals and fundamentalists."


Flying Blind in the War on Terror

Imagine that following the bombing of Peal Harbor in December 1941, that FDR had prohibiting the use of the terms "Nazi" or "Japanese Imperialism" due to pressure brought to bear by German and Japanese-American lobbying groups. Or at the height of the Cold War that the US government had determined to ban the use of "Soviet" or "communism" for fear of offending the sensibilities of Russian-Americans or European socialists.

Yet that is precisely what has happened following the revelation last week by the Associated Press that the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security has issued guidelines banning the use of "jihad", "mujahedeen" and other Islamic terminology with reference to Islamic terrorism. This move lays bare the ideological prison house of political correctness in which our top policymaker's reside. The strictures are so ridiculous that even President Bush can't help himself in violating the guidelines.

No one can claim in defense of this move that it has been rooted in years of serious study and assessment of the issue at the highest levels of government. If so, where might these studies and assessments be found? What series of government publications outlines the strategic threat doctrine of our enemy in the War on Terror, similar to that prepared on Soviet doctrine in the early years of the Cold War? What comprehensive doctrinal assessment may our military and political leaders consult to inform themselves on the tactics and strategy of our enemy? Such does not exist, and the adoption of the government's new "lexicon" is an admission that such a strategic threat assessment of our enemy will not be done. This new effort means that in essence we have chosen to fly blind in the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

The categorical failure of our political leadership nearly seven years after 9/11 to engage in even the slightest effort to assess exactly who the enemy is and how they propose to attack and defeat us borders on treason. What could possibly represent the complete abdication of responsibility by our political leaders than deliberately avoiding addressing this pressing, and for our men and women in uniform a life-and-death, issue?

So on what basis have our public officials made this recent decision? This new effort is being driven by politics, not public safety, as demonstrated by the fact that such pandering measures adopted by the British government which the State Department guidelines appear modeled after have completely failed to abate the terrorist threat there. And it reveals that our national security policy is being determined more by public affairs officials driven by political correctness than sober reflection by our nation's intelligence, military and law enforcement personnel.

It has already been observed that the Islamic organizations identified by the Justice Department as being directly tied to terrorism (Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North American, Muslim American Society, the Institute for International Islamic Thought, et al.) are the same ones who have been openly promoting the adoption of this new "lexicon". I would note that last September I provided a critical analysis of this "Truespeak" lexicon here at The American Thinker, observing that the sources of Islamic law relied upon do not match how the new policy's advocates have represented them.

The government does not have a very good track record in identifying Islamic extremists in its outreach efforts since the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Just one example is the relationship that the government forged with supposed "moderate" Abdurahman Alamoudi, as noted last week by columnist Diana West, who the Pentagon tasked to establish the military's Islamic chaplains corps. Today, Alamoudi sits in a federal prison serving a 23 year sentence following his conviction on terror-related charges and for conspiring with Libyan intelligence to assassinate the Saudi Crown Prince.

Another example would be the series of White House meetings Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian held with Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before heading to prison on terrorism support charges. Al-Arian also hobnobbed with Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and Karl Rove. There are any number of similar embarrassing incidents that could be cited here, but suffice it to say that the US government cannot point to a single success when it comes to identifying Islamic extremists in the past quarter-century.

To fully understand the gravity of the problem posed by the government's new "lexicon", consider that nearly 30 years after the Islamic revolution in Iran that religion might play a role in the rise of Islamic terrorism is itself a controversial proposition in government circles. Noting such a connection between elements of Islam and Islamic terrorism cost Pentagon J2 analyst Stephen Coughlin his job earlier this year. And yet Coughlin's groundbreaking study, "To Our Great Detriment: Ignoring What Extremists Say About Jihad", which poses a direct challenge to those who would exclude religious considerations in discussing Islamic terrorism, has not been addressed or critiqued by any of those promoting the government's guidelines.

There are two false assumptions that seem to underlie this new effort. One is narrowly limiting the enemy in the GWOT to Al-Qaeda alone. But this excludes many terrorist organizations, some of whom have openly allied with Al-Qaeda, that have already committed terrorist acts against Western targets and non-compliant Muslims in Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and Europe. It also fails to account for the radicalization process that is essential for the growth of Islamic terrorism, as noted in a study last summer by the New York Policy Department's intelligence unit, "Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat".

Another misguided assumption is the belief that through engagement and appeasement, we can make Islamic radicals "our extremists". One might think that this policy -- tried and found wanting in our efforts to leverage the "Arab Afghans" that became Al-Qaeda in order to tie up the Soviet Union in Afghanistan -- would be thoroughly discounted. But in fact, following my recent exposure of the American Muslims for Constructive Engagement strategic partnership between a prominent government-funded defense and intelligence think tank and several extremist organizations, one of the top officials involved in the effort defended the alliance on claiming that such engagement would affect the moderation of Islamic extremists (my rejoinder can be found here).

So what is to be done? At this point it must be admitted that in the absence of any assessment of the strategic threat posed by Islamic terrorism and identification of exactly who and what the threat is, any Islamic outreach efforts are not only premature but potentially damaging to our national security. While some claim that such outreach is necessary, virtually no consideration has been given to what exactly Islamic extremists might be able to gain through such efforts. And in light of the appalling past record of the US government in this regard, no action is infinitely preferable to flawed action. But if such outreach is conducted, it should occur with the full knowledge and approval of counterterrorism officials -- something that has not been done in the past.

We also must utilize existing tools to address existing terrorist support organizations already operating inside the US. Trial exhibits offered by the Justice Department in the Holy Land Foundation trial revealed the intent of Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups to wage a "civilizational-jihadist process", intending to wage a campaign of cultural warfare against the US from within:
The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions.
As noted by my friend and colleague Army LTC Joseph Myers here at American Thinker following these revelations, he concluded that existing Defense Department regulations and guidelines, these groups should be listed as hostile foreign agents and threat organizations:
In its own documents, the Ikhwan in America has defined itself as a hostile threat to the American constitutional order. It has identified itself as a "foreign agent" of the greater global jihad, and exists as part of the transnational "Ikhwan Movement." The Holy Land Foundation trial has established evidence of material support to terrorism by Brotherhood entities and ties to international terrorism, namely Hamas and likely other jihad terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood in America meets all three criteria of DoD Directive 5240.1-R.
The irony of this situation is, of course, that any discussion of the Muslim Brotherhood's "grand jihad" is prohibited by the government's new guidelines.

Additionally, congressional leadership on these issues is sorely needed. While Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) recently unveiled her 10-point plan to begin addressing the domestic terrorist threat entitled, "Wake Up America", these tactical efforts do not mention the larger strategic issues of assessing and identifying the doctrinal foundations of Islamic terrorism and the process of radicalization that it relies upon. Her plan, however, is a welcome alternative to the current policy of congressional negligence with reference to the domestic terror threat. A proactive Congress asking administration officials hard questions will be requisite to turn back the ill-considered State Department and Homeland Security's new policy.

But the key component needed for any future government policies regarding terrorism must be the long overdue assessment of our enemy's strategy and ideology. The present guidelines effectively prohibit any such analysis. Until such a comprehensive study by our intelligence, military and law enforcement communities is complete, we are left flying blind in the war on terror. As we should have learned on 9/11 at the cost of lives of three thousand innocent civilians, the enemy's vision is not likewise obscured


Call to adopt the tyrannical and much-criticized Canadian approach to "discrimination" in Australia

The usual Leftist devotion to crushing individual liberties below. Hans Bader has emailed me the following comment on it: "The Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tom Calma, has made the pernicious proposal to put the burden of proof on people accused of racism to prove themselves innocent, rather than the government having to prove them guilty. Worse, he claims that that is how it is done in America. That is a false claim, since under U.S. federal antidiscrimination law, it is the plaintiff and government -- not the defendant -- that has the burden of proof, according to the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks (1993) and Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine (1981)". I reproduce a comprehensive article by Bader immediately after the article below

A STUDY of racial discrimination laws in several Western countries has prompted a call for the Government to toughen Australia's 33-year-old laws. Race Discrimination Commissioner Tom Calma wants the burden of proof in cases of racial discrimination to fall on the alleged offender, instead of the person making the complaint. Mr Calma said Australia's laws made it difficult to prove there had been discrimination.

A Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission analysis of other countries, including the US, Britain and Canada, shows that in those countries the onus of proof shifts to the person who has been accused of discrimination once the complainant has established an initial case. In Australia, the burden of proof rests on the person making the complaint.

Mr Calma will ask the Federal Government to review the Race Discrimination Act, which was established in 1975 and was the first human rights legislation introduced in Australia. The only amendments to the act were the introduction of racial hatred provisions in 1995. Mr Calma said some people who had been racially discriminated against did not lodge a complaint because they felt the process was too hard. "It is a difficult exercise to be able to get that evidence together and if the offending party doesn't want to co-operate then you can't progress it," he said. "We do get occasions where people don't want to co-operate, and then we're forced to terminate a case, and then the case might have to be taken forward to a court." The alleged offender can be summoned to court to defend themselves, but then it gets very expensive.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the Race Discrimination Act had been a "strong and effective protection against racism". He said the Government had committed to conducting a wide-ranging national consultation on how to best protect the rights and responsibilities of Australians. "The courts have not identified significant areas of deficiency or inconsistency in the operation and interpretation of the act, which could be resolved by amending the act," he said. The Age believes that consultation could start by the end of the year. The nation's attorneys-general have also agreed to examine options to make Commonwealth and state anti-discrimination laws more consistent.

Mr Calma said if people were forced to defend themselves, it might make them think twice before offending. These kinds of complaints were usually a last resort. "A lot of people will tolerate behaviour, consider it a joke, until it comes to crunch point," he said. "You don't get vexatious complaints for the sake of complaints."

Peter van Vliet, executive officer of the Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria, said Australia's racial discrimination laws needed to be strengthened. "There is a serious power imbalance, particularly between larger organisations and individuals who are being discriminated against," he said. "We certainly have a large body of anecdotal evidence that systemic racial and religious discrimination, particularly with regards to employment, exists in Australia."


Using International "Law" to Subvert Basic Legal Protections and Democracy

Article below by Hans Bader. Bader is legal counsel to the Competitive Enterprise Institute and has had experience in bringing and defending race discrimination claims in the U.S. courts. For a short time he also helped adjudicate discrimination claims at the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. The original of the article below has numerous links

International courts and "human rights" bodies issue rulings that purport to have the force of law. But much of their reasoning is based not on written laws found in any law book, or agreed to by any legislature or citizenry. Instead, it is based on vaguely-defined "customary international law," principles of so-called "natural law" derived from a supposedly "clear consensus" by enlightened people across the globe. But that "consensus" is often illusory, since it can easily be fabricated, manipulated, or distorted by international lawyers.

Lawyers are, on average, further to the left politically than the average citizen. And so-called international lawyers are even more so. (I used to practice international law at Skadden, Arps). Just as the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence, lawyers often claim that the law is more liberal elsewhere in the world than in their own benighted country, and that such liberal norms - at odds with their own country's law - constitute customary international law. Thus, it is commonly argued that customary international law bans the death penalty for mass murderers, and requires countries to ban disfavored forms of speech (such as "hate speech," or criticism of any religion), although in reality, the strongest support for bans on such speech actually comes from undemocratic regimes like Cuba and China.

It is hard to fight these claims even when they are false, because ordinary people (and even most lawyers) don't know much about foreign law. The lawyers who fashion "customary international law" are thus largely unaccountable. Perhaps as a result, customary international law is generally of poorer quality than domestic law. Scholars have cited this fact in celebrating the Supreme Court's recent decision in Medellin v. Texas (2008), which refused to make Texas hear yet another challenge to a murderer's conviction (which had already twice been upheld by different court systems) when ordered to do so by the International Court of Justice (a ruling at odds with the fact that virtually all ICJ member countries permit only one appeal of a conviction, not successive appeals).

Misleading the public about foreign law is common among "human rights" officials. For example, an official in Australia's new Labour government claims that people accused of race discrimination should have to prove themselves innocent, rather than being proved guilty. To justify this outrage, he and Australia's "human rights" commission claim that is the practice in America, when in fact it is quite the contrary.

American law puts the burden of proof on the complainant and the government, not the alleged offender, in discrimination cases. The U.S. Supreme Court explicitly so ruled in Texas v. Burdine (1981) and St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks (1993). But Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tom Calma, and the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission falsely claim that under American law, "the onus of proof" is on "the person who has been accused of discrimination." (See "Call to Switch Onus on Racist Offenses," The Age, News, April 5, 2008).

Joseph H.H. Weiler, a law professor who co-drafted the European Parliament's Declaration of Human Rights and Freedoms, made American legal thinking seem more liberal than it is, by inviting to Europe to represent it two of America's most radical law professors: the University of Michigan's Catharine MacKinnon, who considers most heterosexual sex to be rape; and Harvard Law School's Duncan Kennedy, who advocated having law school professors periodically exchange their positions with college janitorial staff in order to promote diversity and social equality.

By contrast, when laws across the world are more conservative than a law professor's own, they are studiously ignored in formulating "human rights" law (like the world-wide aversion of most countries' legal systems toward civil punitive damages and late-term abortions, which U.S. law often permits).

The very international "human rights" lawyers who insist that "hate speech" should be curbed are often radicals who are blind to certain forms of prejudice. A classic example of this is the disturbing Richard Falk, recently appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate Israel. Falk, a liberal Princeton professor emeritus, has likened Israel to the Nazis, praised the Ayatollah Khomeini (the Iranian dictator whose regime ordered the killings and torture of many religious and ethnic minorities in Iran), and promoted 9/11 conspiracy theories that accuse the U.S. government of complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Falk's wackiness may offend the general public and Israel, which plans to bar him from coming to Israel, but it apparently does not offend lawyers and state judges very much: it did not stop the Washington State Supreme Court from citing his advocacy of affirmative action to uphold a discriminatory, gender-based affirmative-action set-aside in public contracting, in Southwest Wash. Chapter v. Pierce County, 667 P.2d 1092 (1983).



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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