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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.
GS

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list

THURSDAY, August 31, 2006

Katrina.  Then and Now.  I'm pleased to say that I have nothing to say in hind-sight: I said it all, in rapid response, in the offering of Monday - Wednesday, August 29-31, 2005.  Check it out. True then; true now.  And are we ready for the next one?

GS

WEDNESDAY, August 30, 2006

Apart from the gratuitous and piled-on blasphemy by this sad performer, the real disgrace is in the fact that so many of today's younger generation are simply groupies, lemmings, following the least common denominatior of their surroundings...just to "fit in".  What a shame, and what a loss - to themselves and to society.  GS

==================================================
ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome
==================================================

Madonna's Roman Outrage; an Unfit Facade
A Singer Crosses the Line, and a City Shrugs

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, AUG. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Blame it on the August heat, but I've been in high
dudgeon all week.

On Aug. 6, 2006, Rome was sacked. This time it wasn't by Visigoths running rampant
though the streets, or by mercenary soldiers murdering and plundering. But the same
blasphemous spirit that drove the Landsknechte to stable their horses in the Sistine
Chapel permeated the city once more. This time, however, many Romans joined right
in.

The occasion was pop singer Madonna Louise Ciccone's only Italian concert. Like many
barbarians of old, she showed no respect for religious traditions. In fact, she
exploited the history of sacrifice and mocked the most sacred imagery of
Christianity to provide hype for her show. During her number "Live to Tell," she
staged a "crucifixion" of herself wearing a crown of thorns on a mirrored cross. As
background video, she mixed footage of Benedict XVI together with Mussolini and
Hitler.

>From her earliest appearances, Madonna has used Christian imagery to shock the
public and boost sales. Wearing a rosary around her neck and flaunting the name of
the Blessed Virgin, Madonna was clearly out to get attention. Rebellion against her
Catholic upbringing, and most obviously her Father -- in every sense -- worked to
put her on the map. She has used Christian themes in almost every album, at times
to her own detriment, as when her "Like a Prayer" video lost her a lucrative
contract with Pepsi for its blasphemous content.

Pathetically, Madonna at 47 remains stuck in the rebellious teen-ager phase. After
25 years of outrageous behavior, she still can't move beyond taking shots at the
tradition that she could not have existed without.

Perhaps the saddest part of the story, though, concerns the majority of Christians
among the 70,000 who crowded into the concert venue that night. It is strange that
no hint of disappointment, resentment or moral disapproval was voiced during or
after the show. If the faithful take Christ's crucifixion as just an image to be
distorted or manipulated at will, perhaps the vivid and brutal rendering of Christ's
death offered by Mel Gibson was even more necessary than many thought.

Ironically, while Gibson is being castigated in the press for his drunken
anti-Semitic statements, Madonna, stone-cold sober, was hailed for her "art" as she
mocked the most important image of Christianity, and compared the leader of the
Roman Catholic Church to Hitler and Mussolini.  If she went to Jerusalem and staged
a number where she sang inside a mirrored gas chamber, one wonders whether she would
still be praised for putting on a good show.

Rome houses the memories of many women and men who were tortured and killed for
their belief in Christ's redemptive sacrifice. Piazza Navona, where St. Agnes (not
"like," but really, a virgin) was stripped and humiliated before being beheaded, or
Santa Cecilia, where the material-girl-turned-martyr gave away all her clothes and
jewels, are but two of scores of places where Christians can find role models that
offered a freedom more authentic than Madonna's tired mantra of sexual promiscuity.

In this city, we tread in the footsteps of apostles, saints and martyrs who taught
us to "express yourself" as believers in Christ even unto persecution and death. And
yet, on Aug. 6, modern Rome allowed their memory to be mocked without even a word
from her citizens.

Several clerics spoke out against the show, asking Madonna to at least abstain from
the crucifixion number. Father Manfredo Leone of the city's Santa Maria Liberatrice
Church warned Romans that it was "disrespectful."

"A blasphemous challenge to the faith," was the comment by Cardinal Ersilio Tonini,
speaking with the approval of Benedict XVI.

But what about the lay people? Strangely silent throughout. Pop culture is part of
the secular world, a world that lay people in particular are called to evangelize.
If lay people really want more "responsibility" in the Church, a good start would be
learning to take responsibility for how their own actions affect the culture. Buying
the tickets, the CD and the videos isn't neutral or harmless; it tells the world
that Catholics don't take their own religion seriously.

Yet Rome's Christians seemed only too happy to separate their faith from their
entertainment on Aug. 6. One celebrity attendee of the show was Francesco Totti, the
Roman soccer star still basking in the glory of the Italian World Cup victory. Totti
has made much of his Catholic faith, with public vows at the shrine of Divino Amore.
Yet after witnessing Madonna's onstage antics, he didn't say a word. No objection,
no regret. If the idol of every Italian child won't speak up for his faith, who
will?

* * *

Milanese Misfire

Madonna's Italian tour met quite a different reception from lay people in Milan.
While Cardinal Tonini and Father Leone were fighting a lonely battle in Rome to
uphold the sacredness of religious imagery, clerics in Milan were selling sacred
space to the highest bidder. Even as Madonna was mocking the crucified Christ and
Pope Benedict, the Cathedral of Milan allowed a giant poster ad for a clothes
company featuring Madonna to be placed on the scaffolding covering the facade.

This time it was the lay people who rose to the occasion. Residents, neighboring
townspeople and even tourists recoiled at seeing Madonna's face under the golden
statue of the Blessed Virgin crowning the Cathedral of Milan.

The golden Madonna of Milan has watched over the city through plagues and invasions
for centuries. The archpriest of the cathedral, Monsignor Luigi Manganini, however,
told Italy's Ansa news agency: "It's just an ad, certainly not a canonization. When
it was accepted, the poster seemed all correct and appropriate for its place, and it
still is.''

One wonders what the illustrious and saintly archbishops of Milan past would make of
this. Somehow I doubt that St. Ambrose, who stood up to the emperor Theodosius,
excommunicating the most powerful man in the world until he did public penance, or
St. Charles Borromeo, spearhead of Church reform, who walked among the plague-ridden
victims of the city, would have stood by in silence.

Archbishop Federico Borromeo of Milan, immortalized in Alessandro Manzoni's novel
"The Betrothed," among his many reforming efforts wrote the treatise "On Sacred
Art." In those pages, he deplored the collapse of the distinction "between the
sacred and the profane," and took to task artists who have more respect for the
"rules of art than the piety and sanctity of places, times and things."

TUESDAY, August 29, 2006

Life and Death
Western guilt confronts Islamic extremism.
By SHELBY STEELE
August 22, 2006 Wall Street Journal

The simple back-and-forth of war can create the illusion that both sides have a legitimate point to make even when this is not so, and it is clear that Hezbollah's cause has greatly benefited from war's "equalizing" effect. This Shiite militia seems to have known that merely fighting Israel would gain legitimacy for its cause. A cease-fire would make it a "partner" in peace. The Goliath Israeli military would make it a David whose passion proved the truth of its cause. But amidst all the drama of this war there has been very little talk of exactly what Hezbollah's cause is.

And, of course, it is not just Hezbollah's cause. There is Hamas, one more in a family of politicized terrorist groups spread across the Muslim world. Beyond these more conventional groups there is the free-floating and world-wide terrorism of groups like al Qaeda. In Europe, there are cells of self-invented middle-class terrorists living modern lives by day and plotting attacks on modernity by night. And around these cells there is often a nourishing atmosphere of fellow traveling. Then there are the radical nation-states in league with terrorism, Iran and Syria most prominent among them. From nations on the verge of nuclear weapons to isolated individuals -- take the recent Seattle shootings -- Islamic militancy grounded in hatred of Israel and America has become the Muslim world's most animating idea. Why?

I don't believe it is because of the reasons usually cited -- Israeli and American "outrages." No doubt Israel and America have made mistakes in the Middle East. Certainly, Israel was born at the price of considerable dislocation and suffering on the part of the Palestinians. And yes, there will never be a satisfying answer for this. Yet every Israeli land-for-peace gesture has been met with a return volley of suicide bombers and rockets. Palestinians have balked every time their longed-for nationhood has come within grasp. They have seemed to prefer the aggrieved dignity of their resentments to the challenges of nationhood. And Hezbollah launched the current war from territory Israel had relinquished six years earlier.

If this war makes anything clear, it is that Israel can do nothing to appease the Muslim animus against her. And now much of the West is in a similar position, living in a state of ever-heightening security against the constant threat of violence from Islamic extremists. So here, from the Muslim world, comes an unappeasable hatred that seems to exist for its own sake, a hatred with very little actual reference to those it claims to hate. Even the fighting of Islamic terrorist groups is oddly self-referential, fighting not for territory or treasure but for the fighting itself. Standing today in the rubble of Lebanon, having not taken a single inch of Israeli territory, Hezbollah claims a galvanizing victory.
* * *
All this follows the familiar pattern of a very old vice: anti-Semitism. The anti-Semite is always drawn to the hatred of Jews by his own unacknowledged inadequacy. As Sartre says in his great essay on the subject, the anti-Semite "is a man who is afraid. Not of Jews of course, but of himself." By hating Jews, he asserts that his own group represents the kind of human being that God truly wants. His group is God's archetype, the only authentic humanity, already complete and superior. No striving or self-reflection is necessary. If Jews are superior in some ways, it is only out of their alienated striving, their exile from God's grace. For the anti-Semite, hating and fighting Jews is both self-affirmation and a way of doing God's work.

So the anti-Semite comes to a chilling place: He easily joins himself to evil in order to serve God. Fighting and even killing Jews brings the world closer to God's intended human hierarchy. For Nazis, the "final solution" was an act of self-realization and a fulfillment of God's will. At the center of today's militant Islamic identity there is a passion to annihilate rather than contain Israel. And today this identity applies the anti-Semitic model of hatred to a vastly larger group -- the infidel. If the infidel is not yet the object of that pristine hatred reserved for Jews, he is not far behind. Bombings in London, Madrid and Mumbai; riots in Paris; murders in Amsterdam; and of course 9/11 -- all these follow the formula of anti-Semitism: murder of a hated enemy as self-realization and service to God.

Hatred and murder are self-realization because they impart grandeur to Islamic extremists -- the sense of being God's chosen warrior in God's great cause. Hatred delivers the extremist to a greatness that compensates for the ineffectuality in his world. Jews and infidels are irrelevant except that they offer occasion to hate and, thus, to experience grandiosity. This is why Hezbollah -- Party of God -- can take no territory and still claim to have won. The grandiosity is in the hating and fighting, not the victory.

And death -- both homicide and suicide -- is the extremist's great obsession because its finality makes the grandiosity "real." If I am not afraid to kill and die, then I am larger than life. Certainly I am larger than the puny Westerners who are reduced to decadence by their love of life. So my hatred and my disregard of death, my knowledge that life is trivial, deliver me to a human grandeur beyond the reach of the West. After the Madrid bombings a spokesman for al-Qaeda left a message: "You love life, and we love death." The horror is that greatness is tied to death rather than to achievement in life.

The West is stymied by this extremism because it is used to enemies that want to live. In Vietnam, America fought one whose communism was driven by an underlying nationalism, the desire to live free of the West. Whatever one may think of this, here was an enemy that truly wanted to live, that insisted on territory and sovereignty. But Osama bin Laden fights only to achieve a death that will enshrine him as a figure of awe. The gift he wants to leave his people is not freedom or even justice; it is consolation.

White guilt in the West -- especially in Europe and on the American left -- confuses all this by seeing Islamic extremism as a response to oppression. The West is so terrified of being charged with its old sins of racism, imperialism and colonialism that it makes oppression an automatic prism on the non-Western world, a politeness. But Islamic extremists don't hate the West because they are oppressed by it. They hate it precisely because the end of oppression and colonialism -- not their continuance -- forced the Muslim world to compete with the West. Less oppression, not more, opened this world to the sense of defeat that turned into extremism.
* * *
But the international left is in its own contest with American exceptionalism. It keeps charging Israel and America with oppression hoping to mute American power. And this works in today's world because the oppression script is so familiar and because American power cringes when labeled with sins of the white Western past. Yet whenever the left does this, it makes room for extremism by lending legitimacy to its claim of oppression. And Israel can never use its military fire power without being labeled an oppressor -- which brings legitimacy to the enemies she fights. Israel roars; much of Europe supports Hezbollah.

Over and over, white guilt turns the disparity in development between Israel and her neighbors into a case of Western bigotry. This despite the fact that Islamic extremism is the most explicit and dangerous expression of human bigotry since the Nazi era. Israel's historical contradiction, her torture, is to be a Western nation whose efforts to survive trap her in the moral mazes of white guilt. Its national defense will forever be white aggression.

But white guilt's most dangerous suppression is to keep from discussion the most conspicuous reality in the Middle East: that the Islamic world long ago fell out of history. Islamic extremism is the saber-rattling of an inferiority complex. America has done a good thing in launching democracy as a new ideal in this region. Here is the possibility -- if still quite remote -- for the Islamic world to seek power through contribution rather than through menace.

MONDAY, August 28, 2006

GS

SUNDAY, August 27, 2006

This is [reportedly] a true story and the author, Rick Mathes, is a well-known leader in prison ministry.

The Muslim religion is the fastest growing religion per capita in the United States, especially in the minority races!

Last month I attended my annual training session that's required for maintaining my state prison security clearance.

During the training session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, who explained each of their beliefs.

I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say.

The Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam complete with a video. After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers.

When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Imam and asked: "Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the  world. And, that by killing an infidel, which is a command to all Muslims, they are assured of a place in heaven. If that's the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?"

There was no disagreement with my statements and without hesitation, he replied, "Non-believers!"

I responded, "So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can go to Heaven. Is that correct?"

The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a little boy who had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

He sheepishly replied, "Yes."

I then stated, "Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Dr. Stanley ordering Protestants to do the same in order to go to Heaven!"

The Imam was speechless.

I continued, "I also have a problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me. Let me ask you a question. Would you rather have your Allah who tells you to kill me in order to go to Heaven or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to Heaven and He wants you to be with me?"

You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame.

Needless to say, the organizers and/or promoters of the "Diversification" training seminar were not happy with Rick's way of dealing with the Islamic Imam and exposing the truth about the Muslim's beliefs.

I think everyone in the U.S. should be required to read this, but with the liberal justice system, liberal media, and the ACLU, there is no way this will be widely publicized.

SATURDAY, August 26, 2006 What happened to the high-minded morality of this country expressed so well initially in our founding documents?  As a matter of fact, our Founding Fathers were not so high-minded in action either.  See the recent book by Gary B. Nash entitled "The Forgotten Fifth: The African Americans in the Age of Revolution" (Harvard University Press, 2006) The message: in dealing with human nature, work for the good; prepare for the bad. GS

FRIDAY, August 25, 2006

A word from our sponsor.  The world of Blog has evidently exploded onto the stage of public discourse...so much so that print media are beginning to write their own obituaries.  What did Mark Twain say?  Something like: "News of my death has been greatly exaggerated".  If a substantial percentage of Americans have decided that they can get all the news that they need from the "Blogosphere", aka "Bloviosphere", then we have entered the decline and fall of the American experiment in democracy that stands or falls on public information and motivation.

I don't believe that.  Meanwhile, this section is not exactly a Blog: it is not interactive.  And it is not merely "MySpace".  Note that many if not most of my opinions, although mine, are supported by specific references to extensive sources of facts.  This work does wonders for my blood pressure.  And if it also provides public information and motivation, all the better.

GS

THURSDAY, August 24, 2006

From Unknown...

>>Robin Williams, wearing a shirt that says "I love New York" in Arabic.
>>
>>You gotta love RobinWilliams......
>>Even if he's nuts! Leave it to Robin
>>Williams to come up with the perfect
>>plan. What we need now is for our
>>UN Ambassador to stand up and
>>repeat this message.
>>
>>Robin Williams' plan...(Hard to
>>argue with this logic!)
>>
>>"I see a lot of people yelling for peace
>>but I have not heard of a plan for
>>peace. So, here's one plan."
>>
>>1) "The US will apologize to the world for our "interference" in their
>>affairs, past & present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Tojo,
>>Noriega, Milosevic, Hussein, and the rest of those "good 'ole' boys", we
>>will never "interfere" again.
>>
>>2) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with
>>Germany, South Korea, the Middle East, and the Philippines. They don't want
>>us there. We would station troops at our borders. No one allowed sneaking
>>through holes in the fence.
>>
>>3) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and
>>leave.We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder will be
>>gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of whom or where they are.
>>They're illegal!!! France will welcome them.
>>
>>4) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 days
>>unless given a special permit!!!! No one from a terrorist nation will be
>>allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself and don't hide
>>here. Asylum would never be available
>>to anyone. We don't need any more cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers.
>>
>>5) No foreign "students" over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If
>>they don't attend classes, they get a "D" and it's back home baby.
>>
>>6) The US will make a strong effort
>>to become self-sufficient energy wise. This will include developing
>>nonpolluting sources of energy but will require a temporary drilling of oil
>>in the Alaskan wilderness. The caribou will have to cope for a while.
>>
>>7) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a barrel for
>>their oil. If they don't like it, we go someplace else. They can go
>>somewhere else to sell their production. (About a week of the wells filling
>>up the storage sites would be enough.)
>>
>>8) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we will
>>not "interfere." They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds, rain,
>>cement or whatever they need. Besides most of what we give them is stolen
>>or given
>>to the army. The people who need
>>it most get very little, if anything.
>>
>>9) Ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island someplace. We don't need
>>the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, the building would make a
>>good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.
>>
>>10) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can
>>call us "Ugly Americans" any longer. The Language we speak is
>>ENGLISH...learn it...or LEAVE...Now, isn't that a winner of a plan?
>>
>>"The Statue of Liberty is no longer
>>saying "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses." She's got a
>>baseball bat and she's yelling, 'you want a piece of me?' "
>>
SATURDAY through WEDNESDAY, August 19 through 23, 2006

From Unknown...

>   Please pause a moment, reflect back and take the following multiple choice test. The events are real. So are the answers highlighted in red
>
>   Do you remember?
>
>
>
>   1.       1968 Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by?
>   a. Superman?
>   b. Jay Leno?
>   c. Harry Potter?
>   d. a Muslim male extremist between the ages of 17 and 40?
>
>
>
>   2.       In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by?
>   a. Olga Corbett?
>   b. Sitting Bull?
>   c. Arnold Schwarzenegger?
>   d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40 ?
>
>
>
>   3.                 In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by:?
>   a. Lost Norwegians?
>   b. Elvis?
>   c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women?
>   d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40?
>
>
>
>   4.     During the 1980's a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:?
>   a. John Dillinger?
>   b. The King of Sweden?
>   c. The Boy Scouts?
>   d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40?
>
>
>
>   5.     In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:?
>   a. A pizza delivery boy?
>   b. Pee Wee Herman?
>   c. Geraldo Rivera?
>   d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40?
>
>
>
>   6.       In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70 year old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by:?
>   a. The Smurfs?
>   b. Davey Jones?
>   c. The Little Mermaid?
>   d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40?
>
>
>
>   7.       In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by:?
>   a. Captain Kidd?
>   b. Charles Lindberg?
>   c. Mother Teresa?
>   d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40?
>
>
>
>   8.       In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by:?
>   a. Scooby Doo?
>   b. The Tooth Fairy and The Sundance Kid?
>   d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40?
>
>
>
>   9.       In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by:?
>   a. Richard Simmons?
>   b. Grandma Moses?
>   c. Michael Jordan?
>   d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40?
>
>
>
>   10.     In 1998, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by:?
>   a. Mr. Rogers?
>   b. Hillary Clinton, to distract attention from Wild Bill's women problems?
>   c. The World Wrestling Federation?
>   d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40?
>
>
>
>   11.     On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take out the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers. Thousands of people were killed by:?
>   a. Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd?
>   b. The Supreme Court of Florida?
>   c. Mr. Bean?
>   d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40?
>
>
>
>   12.            In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against:?
>   a. Enron?
>   b. The Lutheran Church?
>   c. The NFL?
>   d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40?
>
>
>
>   13.            In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:?
>   a. Bonnie and Clyde?
>   b. Captain Kangaroo?
>   c. Billy Graham?
>   d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40?
>
>
>
>   Nope, I really don't see a pattern here to justify profiling, do you?
>
>   So, to ensure we Americans never offend anyone, particularly fanatics intent on killing us, airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people. They must conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the President's security detail, 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winning and former Governor Joe Foss, but leave Muslim Males between the ages 17 and 40 alone lest they be guilty of profiling.
>
...guilty of profiling.  "STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES".  GS

THURSDAY and FRIDAY, August 17 and 18, 2006

GS

TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, August 15 and 16, 2006

GS

SATURDAY through MONDAY, August 12 through 14, 2006

Short and to the point:

GS

FRIDAY, August 11, 2006

Since the following offering is by the pre-eminent authority on Islam and the Middle East during the last fifty years, a person not given to hyperbole or spin, this  is really scary!    And yet the Democrats, in the persons of Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid, still don't get it...claiming that yesterday's foiled airline plot shows that the Iraq war was a diversion.  Dumb as stumps!

GS

ITEM 2: Bernard Lewis: August 22

[Bernard Lewis, professor emeritus at Princeton, is the author, most recently, of "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East.  KMJ]

By BERNARD LEWIS
August 8, 2006  Wall Street Journal

During the Cold War, both sides possessed weapons of mass destruction, but neither side used them, deterred by what was known as MAD, mutual assured destruction. Similar constraints have no doubt prevented their use in the confrontation between India and Pakistan. In our own day a new such confrontation seems to be looming between a nuclear-armed Iran and its favorite enemies, named by the late Ayatollah Khomeini as the Great Satan and the Little Satan, i.e., the United States and Israel. Against the U.S. the bombs might be delivered by terrorists, a method having the advantage of bearing no return address. Against Israel, the target is small enough to attempt obliteration by direct bombardment.

It seems increasingly likely that the Iranians either have or very soon will have nuclear weapons at their disposal, thanks to their own researches (which began some 15 years ago), to some of their obliging neighbors, and to the ever-helpful rulers of North Korea. The language used by Iranian President Ahmadinejad would seem to indicate the reality and indeed the imminence of this threat.

Would the same constraints, the same fear of mutual assured destruction, restrain a nuclear-armed Iran from using such weapons against the U.S. or against Israel?
* * *
There is a radical difference between the Islamic Republic of Iran and other governments with nuclear weapons. This difference is expressed in what can only be described as the apocalyptic worldview of Iran's present rulers. This worldview and expectation, vividly expressed in speeches, articles and even schoolbooks, clearly shape the perception and therefore the policies of Ahmadinejad and his disciples.

Even in the past it was clear that terrorists claiming to act in the name of Islam had no compunction in slaughtering large numbers of fellow Muslims. A notable example was the blowing up of the American embassies in East Africa in 1998, killing a few American diplomats and a much larger number of uninvolved local passersby, many of them Muslims. There were numerous other Muslim victims in the various terrorist attacks of the last 15 years.

The phrase "Allah will know his own" is usually used to explain such apparently callous unconcern; it means that while infidel, i.e., non-Muslim, victims will go to a well-deserved punishment in hell, Muslims will be sent straight to heaven. According to this view, the bombers are in fact doing their Muslim victims a favor by giving them a quick pass to heaven and its delights -- the rewards without the struggles of martyrdom. School textbooks tell young Iranians to be ready for a final global struggle against an evil enemy, named as the U.S., and to prepare themselves for the privileges of martyrdom.

A direct attack on the U.S., though possible, is less likely in the immediate future. Israel is a nearer and easier target, and Mr. Ahmadinejad has given indication of thinking along these lines. The Western observer would immediately think of two possible deterrents. The first is that an attack that wipes out Israel would almost certainly wipe out the Palestinians too. The second is that such an attack would evoke a devastating reprisal from Israel against Iran, since one may surely assume that the Israelis have made the necessary arrangements for a counterstrike even after a nuclear holocaust in Israel.

The first of these possible deterrents might well be of concern to the Palestinians -- but not apparently to their fanatical champions in the Iranian government. The second deterrent -- the threat of direct retaliation on Iran -- is, as noted, already weakened by the suicide or martyrdom complex that plagues parts of the Islamic world today, without parallel in other religions, or for that matter in the Islamic past. This complex has become even more important at the present day, because of this new apocalyptic vision.

In Islam, as in Judaism and Christianity, there are certain beliefs concerning the cosmic struggle at the end of time -- Gog and Magog, anti-Christ, Armageddon, and for Shiite Muslims, the long awaited return of the Hidden Imam, ending in the final victory of the forces of good over evil, however these may be defined. Mr. Ahmadinejad and his followers clearly believe that this time is now, and that the terminal struggle has already begun and is indeed well advanced. It may even have a date, indicated by several references by the Iranian president to giving his final answer to the U.S. about nuclear development by Aug. 22. This was at first reported as "by the end of August," but Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement was more precise.

What is the significance of Aug. 22? This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind.

A passage from the Ayatollah Khomeini, quoted in an 11th-grade Iranian schoolbook, is revealing. "I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [i.e., the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."

In this context, mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, would have no meaning. At the end of time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter will be the final destination of the dead -- hell for the infidels, and heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement.

How then can one confront such an enemy, with such a view of life and death? Some immediate precautions are obviously possible and necessary. In the long term, it would seem that the best, perhaps the only hope is to appeal to those Muslims, Iranians, Arabs and others who do not share these apocalyptic perceptions and aspirations, and feel as much threatened, indeed even more threatened, than we are. There must be many such, probably even a majority in the lands of Islam. Now is the time for them to save their countries, their societies and their religion from the madness of MAD.

THURSDAY, August 10, 2006

Red Alert!  Did we really need this "wake-up call" today.  For many citizens and politicians out there, a resounding YES.  Too many Americans are fat, complacent, and deluded regarding the very dangerous world in which we live.  And how often can we be lucky in thwarting a terrorist attack before it happens?  Do we need more reason to practise pre-emptive self-defense against the visible supporters of those mad-men, instead of trying to fight shadows?

We are most fortunate to have in office a President and an administration who know how to lead and who know what to do in these dangerous circumstances.  And for those, like the leftist Democrats, and like John Dean of the Nixon administration who frets in his recent book over "authoritarian" leaders, there are the U.S. Constitution and statutes and judicial procedures available to test the boundaries of such leadership.  Meanwhile, most Americans owe those leaders the benefit of the doubt much more than they owe anything to those who wish to do us harm.  I think that our citizens will reflect precisely that in the coming November elections.

GS

MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, August 7 through 9, 2006

Say it isn't so, Joe.  "What's it all about, Alfie?"  The result of the Democratic Senatorial primary race in Connecticut yesterday has the ultra-liberal cabal and their one-note groupies spinning like tops in their efforts to avoid "Buyer's Remorse".  After all, wasn't it smart to try to fire a three term U.S. Senator with a fist-full of seniority, including a leadership position on the Senate Armed Services Committee - this in a State that depends so heavily on military issues?  And won't it be better for Connecticut to be represented by an unknown millionaire whose only political experience to date was a seat as Selectman for the town of Greenwich, that hot-bed of social, economic and security problems?   What's wrong with that?

You ninnies!  Now you will have to beat both the Republican Party Senate candidate and an independently running and moderate Joe Lieberman in November...and you won't.  In fact, if Americans have any sense at all, they will throw out all idiologues and polarizing politicians in favor of effective moderates who can get something done at long last.  And this refers to both Republicans and Democrats.  Meanwhile, I will personally do all that I can to assist in the re-election of Senator Lieberman, whose career and integrity I have admired since I first met him, as the then-Attorney General of Connecticut, in 1984.

GS

SATURDAY and SUNDAY, August 5 and 6, 2006

THE MIDDLE EAST.  A QUAGMIRE MANY CENTURIES OLD.

"Past Is Prologue".   And nowhere more so than in the Middle East.
As the U.N. engages in its usual flatulence relating to "Resolutiions" which its members prefer to effective real world action, it pays to contrast "outcome determinative" historical fact with the confusion of cynicism and naivete coming even from respected commentators.  The facts can be profitably obtained from recent books including: 1) "Storm From The East", by Milton Viorst, The Modern Library, 2006; 2)  "Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy", by Fawaz A. Gerges, Harcourt, Inc., 2006; and 3) any of the work of Bernard Lewis over the last fifty years. The confusion appears in several articles published in today's NYTimes,(Week In Review), by Ethan Bronner, Michael Slackman, David Brooks, Nicholas D. Kristof, and in the Times Editorial.  These all seek causes and effects.  But none has a real clue about how the U.S. should now deal with the complex situation on the ground: a "real politik" approach.  This administration knew or should have known at least the 20th century history of that tortured area of the world, and of how the self-serving machinations of France and Great Britain throughout the 1920's and 1930's and again after WW ll poisoned the well of good feeling that the Arab world briefly had for America.  They knew of the Israel-Palestine issue; but that turned to be a small part of the whole picture.

The events of 9/11 and the intelligence we had thereafter justified attacks on both Afganistan and on Hussein's Iraq.  But we should have been prepared for the aftermath of initial victory in that part of the world.  Writing about the treachery which the Arabs encountered throughout much of the 20th century at the hands of Western nations, Viorst states: "Their nationalism, fueled by righteous rage, had an all-or-nothing quality, sparking eruptions that wasted blood and resources." (p73).

That was then.  This is now.  Notwithstanding the many national and factional sub-plots being played out in death and destruction, America must now be guided by only one thing: American self-interest.  The rest of the world should try to "lead, follow, or get out of the way", since its own self-interest is intimately bound up with that of the U.S.  In this effort, we must talk with everyone, and talk plainly: with Syria; with Iran; with North Korea; with Chavez.... No one should be allowed misconceptions regarding our goals and our plans.  Only in this way might we avoid WW III.

GS

THURSDAY and FRIDAY, August 3 and 4, 2006

Having done such a wonderful job in Washington since January, our honorable United States Representatives and Senators are taking the month of August off.  Instead, they should be kept in a hot room for summer school until they get something right.

Instead, we have excesses and polarization.  What America needs now is moderation...from both the Republican and Democratic sides of the spectrum.  Both sides have their irrational ideologues who have been consumed by their own hysteria and who have forgotten the art of compromise.  The one thing that the average citizen can do to improve this situation is to shun polarizing ideologues of both sides and to vote for moderates.  On the Democratic side, shun any candidate whose only message is to be anti-Bush.  On the Republican side, recognize that there are hardly any anti-abortion candidates to vote for...and vote based upon other important positions.  That is your mission, if you choose to accept it.

GS

TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, August 1 and 2, 2006

Developments in Israel and Lebanon hold risks greater than those in Iraq and Afganistan.  The photos and stories are disheartening...and incessant in the American media, no less than presented for the Arab street.  War has always been a terrible business, but even more so when one side regularly hides its fighting men and armaments within civilian populations...and fights from those positions.
The Day yesterday posted an article by Tom Teepen that describes the Israeli dilemma, and that of America as well ("Iran, Not Hezbollah, Is What Spooks Israel The Most," Commentary, pA7).  "Israel can't go on endlessly playing tit-for-tat, attack and response, which much of the world shrugs off as roughly fair.  That is slow motion attrition, a game Israel loses in the long run.  There are 7 million Israelis, encircled by 165 million Arabs and, in Iran, Persians.  Make that 250 million if Jordan and Egypt were to backslide.  Some even-handedness, that.  Only Israeli military dominance levels the field and now that is in long-run jeopardy from a potentially nuclear Iran."
What is needed to clarify this matter, and the stakes for all involved, is for the U.S. to declare unequivocally that we will never, under any circumstances, allow Israel to fail.  Then let the craven Europeans, the Muslim madmen, and the hundreds of millions of moderate and tolerant people of the Middle East make their long-term plans.

GS


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