Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Obama Administration Says: Hooray for Jihad! (Proper Jihad, of course)

By Barry Rubin. I made a similar comment (in two sentences!) on this matter on 8th but Prof. Rubin spells out the matter much more fully below -- JR

I’m beginning to understand the Obama administration strategy, at least in its initial phase, as a “bridge too far” approach. That expression came after the heroic Allied operation at Arnheim in World War Two, when what seemed a clever idea—to capture a key bridge far ahead of the existing Allied lines—turned into a military disaster.

For example, take Obama’s Cairo speech. He didn’t just try to build good relations with Muslims but to whitewash the history and practices of Islamic polities and peoples completely. Or he doesn’t just try to engage Iran but to do so by removing all criticisms of the regime and most of his potential leverage over it. (Yes, I know that movement toward increased sanctions is supposed to be happening but the Obama administration has been taking its time and, to use another expression: Too little, too late.)

This reflection is generated by a major speech just given by John O. Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism advisor. He declares the “war on terrorism” is over and redefines it as a war on al-Qa’ida and its partners.

Much argumentation is adduced to justify this alteration and some of it is certainly persuasive. But there are two extraordinarily important points that go unnecessarily too far and may be extremely damaging in the future.

The first is that the United States is not at war with “terrorism” in general but only those terrorists who directly attack the United States. But what about terrorists who attack allies? While most obviously this refers to Israel—does the United States not view Hamas and Hizballah as its adversaries any more?--there are many other examples.

“Fortunately,” one might be able to define terrorists in Indonesia, the Philippines, Morocco, Algeria, perhaps Somalia, and Afghanistan as linked to al-Qa’ida but what, for example, about those attacking India, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Russia, Colombia, China, or Lebanon (those shadowy Syrian-directed groups)?

In other words, this new administration position could be defined as a counterterrorist isolationist policy which sends the message: Know, thou terrorist, that you can attack anyone but the United States and we will not view you as full enemies.

So, American allies, if your people are blown up at a movie theatre or gunned down at a school or if someone explodes a bomb on an airliner full of passengers, you better hope that you can link the group responsible to al-Qa’ida or forget about getting strong U.S. support.

Second, and really shocking, is that the U.S. government has validated the concept of Jihad. Can one think of another example in history where the United States officially defined a religious concept?

Here are Brennan’s words: “Nor does President Obama see this challenge as a fight against `jihadists.' Describing terrorists in this way--using a legitimate term, `jihad,’ meaning to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal--risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve. Worse, it risks reinforcing the idea that the United States is somehow at war with Islam itself. And this is why President Obama has confronted this perception directly and forcefully in his speeches to Muslim audiences, declaring that America is not and never will be at war with Islam.”

The U.S. government has now officially defined Jihad as a purifying act taken to achieve a moral goal. In Washington this seems brilliant—we will deny the terrorists the ability to use Islamic symbols and show they are not really properly Muslims but renegades!

Yeah, that will show them, no doubt. But, you see, there’s one problem. Hundreds of millions of Muslims are unconcerned with how the U.S. government defines their religion. The definition of Jihad in practice has been—depending on your viewpoint—either altered or applied much more vigorously during the last few decades.

For example, and this is really an innovation, suicide bombing under proper conditions--that is, killing the "right" people--has been defined by many clerics whose credentials to issue fatwas are stronger than Brennan's as a purifying act in pursuit of a moral goal. Wiping Israel off the map has been defined as a moral goal, too.

In fact, the Obama administration's fatwa used precisely the same definition employed by al-Qa’ida in attacking the World Trade Center. The United States, it argues, attacks Muslims both directly and indirectly, by supporting governments like those of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, for example. Holy struggle? Check! To obey God and smite the devil’s allies. Moral goal? Check! The defense of Islam and Muslims against ruthless aggression.

What will Muslims make of this new U.S. policy? Some, those who are least politically active, will like it. Others, the most extreme, will view it as a lying trick and ignore it. And still others, supporters of revolutionary Islamism but more “moderate”--in purely relative terms, of course, as they still back the transformation of society into an Islamist dictatorship--will consider it as a signal of support for their cause.

Almost every influential, publicly active Islamic cleric defines murdering Israelis as appropriate Jihad. A very large number, probably a majority define killing Americans in Afghanistan or Iraq as proper Jihad. Even in general, the issue in defining "proper" Jihad is not so much to avoid killing civilians but killing “innocent” civilians, and that definition can be rather problematic.

And, no, it doesn't matter if you find Muslim professors or writers in North America or Europe who give you their personal, reformist, view of Islam along with a more benign interpretation of Jihad. We are not talking here about a theoretical or academic issue but the actual interpretations used by those clerics who influence thousands of followers in the Middle East.

Does a group of amateurs with the most limited grasp of Islamic theology and law—and whose expert advisors are often not much better—really need to decide that Jihad is legitimate and always good? Do we now have official U.S. government approval for the wars of Islam in the seventh century as good and proper?

What next? A definition of the Crusade in Christianity as a purifying struggle for a moral goal? After all, they sought to free the Holy Land from the infidels, right? All those massacres were regrettable byproducts but justified at the time, just as the definition of Jihad justifies such things today.

And by the way, Brennan also said that while Hizbzllah began as a purely terrorist organization in the early 1980s it has evolved significantly over time: “I am pleased to see that a lot of Hizballah individuals are, in fact, renouncing their type of terrorism and violence and are trying to participate in the political process in a very legitimate fashion.”

I can't think of a single "Hizballah individual'"who has done this--not one! Yes, they participate in the political process because that is the job given them by the organization, while others carry on with their militia and terrorist activities. Do they act in "legitimate fashion"? Well, if you consider using Iranian money to buy votes and threats of mayhem to keep people from criticizing them, I don't think of this as "normal" politics in any democratic sense of that term.

But now we have the presidential advisor on counterterrorism acting as an apologist for Hizballah. Scary, right?

Like many moves of the Obama administration, in domestic policy also, this is visibly mistaken. Spotting these errors is simple and should have led to their being avoided. But so sure is it of its ideological approach; so arrogant over its class and credential privileges, so certain that criticism of media and academia is silenced or turned into praise, that warnings of, "Hey, captain, change course. You're heading right for the rocks!—aren't being heard, much less heeded.

This is the basic formula for policy disaster throughout history. Funny that all those songs about the Vietnam war have come home to roost for those who think they are doing the opposite. Here’s how the Stalinist troubadour Pete Seeger put it referring to President Lyndon Johnson:

“Well, I'm not going to point any moral;
I'll leave that for yourself
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We're -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.”


Britain's police are now the useless uniformed wing of New Labour

Our useless and complacent police can now see their doom staring them in the face. The people of a Southampton suburb have clubbed together to hire private security men to do what the modern police ‘services’ refuse to do – patrol the streets. As one resident of the area said: ‘We do see the police now and again round here but they are always busy with other things.’

And so they are. This week we learned that two female police sergeants and a ‘Community Support’ officer had shrouded themselves in Islamic gear, apparently to find out what it was like. It must have made a change from going round telling people to nail down their possessions and barricade their houses because the police can’t do anything about thieves. Or going on diversity training.

Much better if they had tried living as lonely pensioners on a lawless estate, listening to the jeers of knots of drunk or drugged-up youths smashing bottles against their walls and urinating in their front gardens.

Or how about being really, really adventurous, dressing up as British police officers instead of members of the LAPD, ditching the huge club, the scowl, the pepper spray and the cuffs and going round the towns and cities alone, approachable and on foot? Forget it. That’s not what the modern police are for. They’re useless for a reason, not by accident.

They have become the uniformed wing of New Labour, not preventing crime or seeing that it is punished – but mediating neutrally between ‘victim’ and ‘offender’ and spying out political incorrectness, in their own ranks and beyond.

Sooner or later, millions of people will catch on to the fact that the police in this country aren’t on their side and don’t want to do what we pay them for. Those who can afford it will hire their own protection. Everyone else will just suffer. The three main political parties will do nothing.


One battle the feminists have lost

Good looks more important than a good CV. Report from Australia

PHOTOGENIC marketing assistant Susie Warwick has never been rejected for a job. The 20-year-old has been working for six years and believes workplaces employ staff based as much on their appearance and demeanour as their experience and CV. "All companies want to hire someone who is going to present themselves well and someone who dresses neatly," she said. "It's all about personality, too. It just depends what kind of business you're in. Some businesses are a lot more superficial than others."

A University of Sydney study of nearly 200 fashion and jewellery retailers has revealed "lookism" is rife in the rag trade, where physical appearance is more important than previous experience. But experts warn the retail industry isn't the only culprit, with hospitality, tourism and telecommunication markets equally as guilty. Nearly all clothing retailers surveyed said they hired new employees based on "personality" while 84 per cent said they relied on those who had the "right appearance". In comparison, only 44 per cent took into account a prospective employee's qualifications and less than 80 per cent someone's "previous experience".

Survey co-author and senior lecturer in work and organisational studies at the University of Sydney Diane van den Broek said the findings suggest employers pay little attention to CVs. "Beauty is big business – both for those achieving it and those exploiting it," she said. "As such, we are all implicated in this phenomenon." Dr van den Broek said it was extremely difficult to gauge how often retailers asked for photographs with job applications. However, it was becoming increasingly prevalent in the bar and hospitality industry, she said.

Talent2 director John Banks said physical appearance was still a large part of the hiring process. In some cases, it was the determining factor 90 per cent of the time. "People like people who look good and first impressions count," he said. "(In jobs) where there is a lot of exposure to the public, appearance is still an important factor."


Contempt for Australian society is rife among Australian Muslims -- and it shows

Most leading Muslims and their followers are a blight on what is otherwise a peaceful and tolerant society

By Paul Sheehan

It takes more than an hour for 75,000 people to pass by, even when they are in a hurry. Yesterday, as the record field in this year's City2Surf ran, scampered or shuffled along New South Head Road, they made an uplifting and democratic sight on a beautiful winter morning and in a beautiful setting. Diversity, frivolity, community. This is who we are - one country, one law, one common language, one community, where the great majority of people are not political, not ideological, and not concerned with dictating their beliefs to others.

This is the social glue that makes Australia work.

A surfeit of ideological passion brings problems and pain, and the reason Australia is not riven with social schisms is that the demographic ballast is provided by the apolitical tolerance of the great majority. The subcultures that do have a surfeit of desire to dictate to others are small in number. The most problematic of these subcultures are devout adherents of sharia. As believers in the primacy of sharia and the divine truth of the Koran, they are deeply compromised by living in a society built on civil law and secular customs. Our legal system is an imposition on them.

The events in Sydney and Melbourne in the past week, with the arrest of five Muslim fundamentalists whose contempt for Australia is manifest, is a reminder that the argument propagated in our universities, human rights bureaucracies and sections of the media that Muslims are a put-upon minority in Australia, sells this country short. There are problems. The problems are self-evident. But they are not, in the main, the product of prejudice.

All five of those arrested on terrorism charges were treated with great generosity by Australia as they set up new lives here. But their behaviour in court has been an exemplar of the problem of reconciling sharia with civil law. One of the accused, Wissam Fattal, refused to stand as the magistrate read out the charges and followed this with a torrent of abuse as he was led out of the court. Another of those charged, Nayef El Sayed, informed the court he would stand for no man, only for his God. In other words, they accept only sharia, the rest is a charade.

Even the family and supporters of the accused went out of their way to express contempt for the legal system and, by extension, the society it represents. Reporters were called ''faggots'' and ''dickheads'' amid a general attitude of animus recorded by the journalists covering the proceedings.

I have observed the same thing first-hand numerous times during criminal trials involving Muslim defendants, families and supporters. In every case, the idea that Muslims are in trouble because they have been ''marginalised'' by society is reality turned on its head. They are the ones who have marginalised a society they are happy to exploit but not respect.

The most-quoted apologist for the argument that Muslims in Australia are oppressed by prejudice is Keysar Trad, a self-appointed spokesman and ubiquitous quote machine who has been a media darling for years. Trad describes himself as the head of the Islamic Friendship Society - but friendship is not what he is about and his society is invisible. His main claim to fame has been as the long-time spokesman, and chief rationaliser, for the prominent and Muslim cleric, Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilaly, whose corrosive pronouncements are infamous. Al-Hilaly and Trad are mainstream figures in Australian Muslim society. They are not fringe dwellers.

I have always believed Trad to be a vexatious litigant, a lobbyist, a person who, even if he has good intentions, has been someone who divides, not unifies, while professing the opposite. For 10 years I have marvelled at the free run Trad has had in the media and academia. It finally came to a crashing end recently when he collided with one of the finest judges of Australia, Peter McClellan of the NSW Supreme Court.

Trad is a veteran complainant across the entire spectrum of the human rights machinery - the courts, the Human Rights Commission, the Anti-Discrimination Board, the Australian Press Council, the broadcasting tribunals. One of his numerous forays as a complainant was a defamation action against radio station 2GB, and the presenter Jason Morrison, after Morrison described him as ''gutless'' and ''trouble'' on air in 2005.

Justice McClellan threw out Trad's action. Not only did the judge describe Morrison's description of Trad as true, he summarised Trad as a man who ''incites acts of violence, incites racist attitudes, is dangerous and, perhaps most significantly, is a disgraceful individual''.

This is a thunderous and overdue dose of reality from a judge with an exemplary record of recognising the deformities within the legal system and doing something to reform them. His judicial excoriation of Trad is not even the most damning element of Trad v Harbour Radio.

The cost of this litigation has been about $400,000 as Trad spent almost four years using the legal system to wage ideological trench warfare. Now he faces the prospect of having to foot the entire bill.

It is the time, cost and hypocrisy of this complaint that is critical.

Justice McClellan's judgment should be required reading for every media executive and every lawyer and functionary at the Human Rights Commission, the Anti-Discrimination Board, and the various media tribunals. His judgment exposes the fatal weakness in the ever-burgeoning human rights industry. It is the complaint, not the outcome, that is most important to the complainant. The sheer bloody-minded willingness to engage in legal hand-to-hand combat, the threat of formal complaints, and the effort and distraction of responding to complaints, is the entire point. The process itself is the outcome. The object is to chill debate and critical scrutiny.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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