Monday, September 12, 2011
The war on terror is a war of ideas
by Jeff Jacoby
AMERICA'S WAR ON TERROR was launched when the heroes of United Flight 93 rushed the hijackers over Shanksville, Pa., aborting what would have been al-Qaeda's fourth 9/11 attack. In the decade that began on that terrible day, the goal of disrupting and crushing the Islamist terror network has been pursued with remarkable versatility: The United States has fought this conflict with military, diplomatic, and financial weapons; it has relied on aggressive intelligence-gathering and sensitive counterinsurgency; it has reshaped airline security and rewritten civil-liberties law. Jihadists have been killed with Predator drones abroad, detained as enemy combatants at Guantanamo, and thwarted in undercover stings at home.
Yet in the long run it may turn out that more significant than any of these was the war of ideas that followed 9/11.
Almost from the outset, President George W. Bush recognized that the United States was engaged in an ideological struggle. During the Cold War two decades earlier, Ronald Reagan had argued that the promotion of freedom should be a key priority in American foreign policy. By advancing the ideals of liberty and human dignity, Reagan told the British Parliament in 1982, America and its allies would undermine the Soviet Union and eventually relegate Communist totalitarianism to "the ash-heap of history." In much the same way, Bush saw, radical Islam could be weakened by deploying the moral force of liberal democracy and equality.
Just nine days after 9/11, addressing a joint session of Congress, Bush began to lay out an ideological strategy for defeating the jihadist threat.
"Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime, but its goal is not making money," Bush said. "Its goal is remaking the world -- and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere." Terrorism was not caused by the religion of Islam but by the Islamists' political fanaticism. "They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power -- they follow in the path of fascism and Nazism and totalitarianism."
The war on terror, Bush accurately foretold, would be a long struggle fought on many fronts. But ultimately the only way to prevent al-Qaeda and its allies from imposing an "age of terror" was for America to sustain an "age of liberty, here and across the world." While Bush would get plenty of things wrong after 9/11, this ideological insight -- that the root of Islamist terrorism was the lack of freedom in the Middle East -- was one of the big things he got right.
There were plenty who didn't. Many voices insisted that terrorism was fueled by poverty or lack of education. Other analysts rushed to explain 9/11 as the fruit of US "arrogance," or as a reaction to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In reality, as Princeton economist Alan Krueger demonstrated in a 2007 book, What Makes A Terrorist?, the best predictors of terrorism are "the suppression of civil liberties and political rights, including freedom of the press, the freedom to assemble, and democratic rights."
Bush's campaign to democratize the Middle East -- what came to be known as the "freedom agenda" -- was rooted in the conviction that the way to break the back of jihadist hatred was to drain the swamps in which it breeds: the dictatorships and theocracies of the Muslim Middle East. "Terrorists thrive on the support of tyrants and the resentments of oppressed peoples," he said in 2003. "When tyrants fall, and resentment gives way to hope, men and women in every culture reject the ideologies of terror, and turn to the pursuits of peace."
For decades, foreign-policy "realists" argued that stability in the Arab world was more important than liberty, and so it was better to tolerate oppressive regimes than to risk the upheaval that democratic change might bring. That was the roadmap that led to 9/11.
Today, 10 years after 9/11, the region is more unstable than it has been in generations. Iraq's dictator is dead, Libya's is on the run, and demands for freedom and democratic reform have shaken regimes from Tunisia to Syria to Iran. Yet who wouldn't prefer today's churn and ferment to the illusory stability of 2001?
No, Islamist terror hasn't been eradicated. Liberal Muslim democracy has a long way to go. But we have engaged the struggle of ideas. And as we fight not just the terrorists, but the poisoned ideas that motivate them, we are slowly winning the war that began on 9/11.
Putting baby in nursery 'could raise its risk of heart disease' because it sends stress levels soaring
There has been evidence of increased stress for some time. Little kids belong in a loving home, nowhere else
Sending babies and toddlers to day-care could do untold damage to the development of their brains and their future health, a leading psychologist has claimed.
Aric Sigman, a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, has warned that spending long periods being cared for by strangers in the first years of life can send levels of stress hormones soaring.
This could raise the odds of a host of problems, from coughs and colds in the short-term, to heart disease in the years to come.
Children deprived of their mother’s attention during the vital years in which the brain blossoms may also find it harder to form relationships as adults.
Dr Sigman, who has worked with the Department of Health on education campaigns, said that the emphasis on women’s rights, including the right to return to work after becoming a mother, means that the potential dangers of day-care are ignored.
He added: ‘The uncomfortable question remains: which is better for a young child during weekdays – the biological mother or a paid carer at an institution?’
With half of British mothers going out to work before their child is 12 months old, the claims will make uncomfortable reading for many. But other experts have disputed his views, arguing that attending nursery may help equip a child for the challenges of day-to-day life.
In an article for The Biologist journal, Dr Sigman cites studies which show higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in children who go to day care.
The increase only appears up until the age of three or so, but Dr Sigman says it is still important, as the brain develops rapidly during these years.
High levels of cortisol are linked to lower resistance to infection in the short-term and heart disease in the long-term.
Dr Sigman concludes: ‘The effects of day-care on the child continues to be discussed through the prism of adult sexual politics and women’s rights.
‘This has been a significant impediment, involving a serious conflict of interest: Women’s rights and self-fulfilment are not the same issue as a child’s well-being and may often compete for precedence.’
But Dorothy Bishop, professor of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford University, said: ‘There is broad consensus that day-care influences cortisol levels in the short term, but there is no evidence that this has long-term detrimental consequences.’
Dr Stuart Derbyshire, a University of Birmingham psychologist, added that children in day-care may have higher levels of cortisol not because they are stressed, but because they run around more.
Crimes against the British disabled 'ignored by police and courts' leaving them living in fear of harassment
Thugs who attack and intimidate the disabled hardly ever face punishment, an inquiry has found. Instead it is the victims who are more likely to be asked to change their lives to stay away from tormentors, it said.
The report blamed a series of institutions for failing to do anything about victimisation of the disabled, including police and the courts, housing associations, local authorities, social workers, and schools.
It said: 'Hundreds of thousands of disabled people regularly experience harassment or abuse but a culture of disbelief is preventing public authorities from tackling it effectively.'
The Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry follows the case of Fiona Pilkington, the mother who killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca Hardwick, 18, in 2007 following a decade of abuse which was repeatedly dismissed by police.
Researchers looked at ten other cases, nine of which ended in a death. They said: 'Perpetrators rarely face any consequences for their actions, while their victims continue to live in fear of harassment. There is often a focus on the victim, questioning their behaviour and vulnerability, rather than dealing with the perpetrators.'
It said 1.9million disabled people were victims of crime last year and they were more likely to be targeted by criminals than others. But police and public sector managers failed to notice what was going on, researchers said.
The report also called on courts to ensure that those convicted of assaults, theft or harassment of the disabled face 'appropriate sanctions'.
The researchers cited the case of David Askew, a 64-year-old with learning disabilities who died of a heart attack in his garden last year, shortly after a gang had thrown his wheelie bin around and tampered with his mother's mobility scooter.
Mr Askew was targeted by 26 different people over 12 years, but the response by Manchester police was often slow and his family's housing association put pressure on the Askews to move.
After Mr Askew's death one man was prosecuted and sentenced to 16 weeks in prison. However he was released immediately because he had been on remand before his trial.
EHRC commissioner Mike Smith said the police only recorded 1,567 cases of disability hate crime last year. He said it was probably 'a drop in the ocean' compared with the high proportion of people reporting disability-related harassment.
Australia: Lesbian foster couple put six year old boy in girl's clothes and post photos on Facebook
How did such messed-up people get given a boy to look after? Political correctness has got a lot to answer for
A SIX-year-old boy placed in the care of a lesbian foster couple was dressed in girl's clothes and the humiliating pictures were posted on the couple's Facebook page. One of the women was preparing for a sex change to become a man at the time, while her girlfriend was undergoing fertility treatment.
The boy and his 12-year-old sister have since been moved but former Children's Court magistrate Barbara Holborow yesterday called for a full inquiry into the decision to put them there. "Oh my God, what are we doing?" Ms Holborow, who has fostered eight children, said.
Families Minister Pru Goward has demanded a full explanation from child welfare service Barnardos, which had recruited the couple. "I am seeking advice from Barnardos to confirm that care arrangements were appropriate and the wellbeing of the children was paramount," Ms Goward said yesterday.
The children's story, described as one of the saddest in the state, has been revealed in a Supreme Court judgment posted last month in Children's Law news compiled by the NSW Children's Court.
Their mother had tried but failed in the Supreme Court to win back custody of her son, given the pseudonym Campbell by the court. His current foster parents want to adopt him.
Campbell was taken into care in November 2006 at the age of 18 months along with his four stepbrothers and two stepsisters after complaints of physical and mental abuse at the hands of the parents.
Campbell and his sister Abby, then 12, were placed with the lesbian couple in early 2009. The placement did not work out for Abby and after she was moved, Campbell was dressed in girl's clothes and his photograph placed on the couple's Facebook page.
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.